Archive

Posts Tagged ‘25 business lessons’

Work-life Lesson 5: Understand the Skills and Abilities that Differentiate You From everyone Else. Whenever You Have an Opportunity, Use Them.

by Glenn Remoreras, in collaboration with Ira Fialkow and Ivy Remoreras

It is common in business that companies conduct SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to assess themselves in the current environment. However, it’s rarely that you see individuals regularly pursue similar SWOT analysis to assess their own skills, talents and opportunities. Uncertainties created by ever changing economic conditions and shifting technology  means companies must continually adjust to meet the needs of their markets and insure they have the skilled resources to innovate and deliver more value than their competitors or risk extinction..  It thus becomes imperative for you to know the skills and abilities that set you above the rest.  Not only does it help place you above your competition but it also enables you to know what other skill sets you can fall back on if and when necessary.

When creating your personal SWOT analysis, be sure to include all your skills and talents. This means even those that may not be directly related to your current job description. This lesson is actually the flip side of Lesson 3 – “Be your own toughest critic”.  You can’t forget the areas where you already excel.  You need to use those skills often, develop them and create an outlet for them.  At the same time, you need to be able to develop new skills.  This is especially true for dynamic fields that are impacted daily by changing technology.  The technology (and the skills related to it) available when you were in university could be years away from today’s technology.  If you didn’t keep abreast of current trends and skills, you would be obsolete.

It is especially critical for yourself and your organization to avoid a scarcity mentality, where you tend to protect the skills and talents you have in an effort to “stay employed”.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of rationalizing “I have been doing it this way for twenty years, we’ve been successful and it works; so why change?”  They will soon have a rude awakening when they find themselves and their skills obsolete, and possibly their entire organization.

A healthy innovative perspective is that of an abundance mentality, where the thinking is – “We need to share our skills; there’s more for everybody because when we collaborate we are creating something new and different, something better.”  Think of shareware and how people not only learn from one another but also build on each other’s work, knowledge, and experience.  The end product is as Ira used to say “ideas that build on each other” which is always better and more useful than the original product ever can be…and the collaboration brought a sense of ownership and pride to all involved. Which then leads to another benefit; the pride of ownership and the culture of caring that comes along with it. 

Take advantage of skills you are good at but not necessarily expected of you

For example, while you may think organizing community events has nothing to do with your job as an administrative assistant, you are wrong. Skills do not always have to be work-related. As long as your skills are beneficial to the company and to your group in some way, it becomes advantageous to you.  However, it is not enough that you know what you’re capable of. You need to let other people, most especially upper management, know about your other skills and how they can add value. What’s the best way to do this? Just like extracurricular activities in school were important, so it is at work.  If there are opportunities for you to use or exhibit your talents, then volunteer. For example, if you are naturally community minded, offer to be part of the committee for the company’s annual food bank drive for the local church or volunteer to organize a fun and healthy community benefiting activity like the March of Dimes Walk-a-thon.

Some people consider joining committees or groups outside of their job description as a waste of time.  Instead, think of it as an opportunity to showcase and develop your other skills.  This helps management get a broader sense of who you are and what you are capable of.  In addition, these committees or groups help you connect and work with other people in the company you would otherwise not be able to. This is especially true of large projects where you tend to get more exposure.

Part of accountability is continuous self-improvement.  Not only do you look at what you’re already good at but also what else you can develop. For example, if you have an affinity for languages, why not learn a new language (especially one relevant to your company).  I know of some friends whose careers opened up because they could speak a third (and even fourth) language. You should always seek to develop new skills. In this way, you and your skills will always be relevant and up-to-date.

As a manager, encourage your people to use and develop their skills

If you want your company to take advantage of your people’s talents and abilities, you need to develop a company culture allows people to leverage their skills and benefit the company.  This means getting to know the people you work with – beyond job descriptions.  It makes sense to find out what your employees enjoy doing in their spare time. Are they involved in community projects? What sort of activities or hobbies do they enjoy? You need to learn what people’s talents are and help develop them.  People need to feel comfortable in speaking up about their talents and creating opportunities to develop them.  If the boss is not open to seeing his subordinates beyond job descriptions, many talents and skills that could be beneficial to the company will go to waste.

Work-life Lesson 5 Takeaways: 

  • Do not forget things you’re already good at – use it, develop it and find an outlet for it. It is important not only to know your strengths but also to create opportunities to use and expose them.
  • Develop an abundance mentality versus scarcity mentality.  Skills can become obsolete so you need to learn how to adapt and develop new and more relevant skills.
  • Take advantage of the skills you are good at but not necessarily part of your current job description.
  • As a manager, you need to develop a holistic approach to a person. There needs to be a company culture where the people are encouraged to hone and develop their skills.

Link to Previous Lesson: Business Lesson 4: Learn how to give first-rate presentations so that the message you’re trying to deliver is the same one the audience receives


About the collaborators:

Ira Fialkow is the SVP of Member Services at Peeriosity. Peeriosity is a confidential network of leading companies from across the world committed to collaborating openly with each other in a completely secure environment with interactions free of consultants and vendors. Prior to Peeriosity, Ira was EVP of Shared Services at CEMEX and Rinker Group (acquired by CEMEX is 2007) from 1990 through joining Peeriosity in October 2010. Rinker Group was the initial recipient of the Best Mature Shared Services Award in 2003. Ira lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and has been the champion of his fantasy football league in three of the past five years.

Glenn Remoreras is an IT Manager at CEMEX. He brings over 12 years of experience as an IT director, business processes manager, project leader, and consultant. He has focused on enabling business solutions through the use of IT capabilities. Glenn has been involved with various international post merger integration projects.

Ivy Remoreras is a marketing professional with eight years of extensive experience, particularly in product management, communications and promotions as a manager, university instructor and consultant. She believes in constant learning and has a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA). Having resided in Europe, Asia and North America, she speaks four languages.

Photos courtesy of Vlado and Master Isolated Images.

Work-life Lesson 4: Learn how to give first-rate presentations so that the message you’re trying to deliver is the same one the audience receives

By: Glenn Remoreras, in collaboration with Ira Fialkow and Ivy Remoreras

No matter how insightful, or powerful, innovative or fantastic your solution or idea is, if  your target audience doesn’t “get it”, then none of it matters. 

Is there a secret formula for success in business – and in your career?  Probably not. But I believe it makes sense to learn from the people I respect and who have been successful themselves. 

Case in point: Ira Fialkow was the Executive Vice President for Shared Services at CEMEX, until recently. His career spans 25 years and he is a highly respected leader in his field. This series marks the culmination of 25 business lessons documented and developed by Ira over the past 25 years of his career. Ira used to distribute these lessons to the team every year. In this series, I will endeavor to share the 25 business lessons that I’ve learned from Ira and our shared services team. 

This is part four of the series: 25 Lessons for Work (and Life!) – 3-Minute Coaching Sessions 

Nowadays, having good presentation skills seem to be a no-brainer.  In fact, there is plenty of information out there about how to give good presentations – for example, how to be a good speaker, which gestures to use, correct posture, how to capture your audience’s attention, etc.  However, I think it is just as important that the message of each presentation is delivered concisely and effectively.

First of all, if your audience doesn’t get your message, then you didn’t deliver it.  This is part of accountability – a common theme in all these 25 work-life lessons. The audience must be considered first.  It is your responsibility to ensure that the message your audience receives is exactly the same as what you intended to deliver. Secondly, if you are not able to deliver your idea or solution, then there is no innovation – the second repeating theme on these work-life lessons. No matter how insightful, or powerful, innovative or fantastic your solution or idea is, if  your target audience doesn’t “get it”, then none of it matters.

Make sure your message is the one they receive

Before you even create your presentation start with the end in mind by asking yourself: With what message do I want the audience to leave?  Business leaders that develop exceptional presentation skills do it by analyzing both their audience and their purpose for presenting. This message needs to be the exact message the audience receives.  To do this, you will need to consider  how your audience best processes information. For instance, will a story that relates to the solution you are offering going to engage your audience, or will it make them impatient?

In discussing this with Ira, he mentioned that whenever it came to issues related to change management, he would always try to engage the audience with a story that they can relate to. The story should be relevant to the current situation and help explain the “Why behind the what?” For people to engage in change, they first need to understand the need for the change. Without that understanding, there will be no desire to hear the message.

In giving a presentation to executives, usually they know the “why” and are primarily interested in the “what”, “who” “how much” and “by when”. However brief the presentation is, that too  needs to have a good story flow, but delivered in a much more summarized manner.

The success of your presentation is best measured by how well the audience understands or appreciates the subject matter after you finish speaking. Naturally, presentations will be very different depending on the target audience and the message being delivered. Your presentation should have a logical sequence and the message should tell a story that can be readily retold by the audience.  

Be brief. Be bright. Be gone.

A 2009 report on American consumers, published by the Global Information Industry Center of  the University of California – San Diego, stated that the average American receives about 33.80GB or more than 100,000 words of information per day. (Bohn & Short, 2009)  That’s a lot of information to process! If you want your message to be heard and understood, keep it short and relevant. Studies show that the average adult’s “undivided attention span” is roughly 30 seconds. So even if you have the most interesting topic or are the most exceptional presenter, you still can’t keep the audience’s undivided attention for so long. That’s why our advice in this lesson is, “be brief be bright, be gone.” The story or message needs to be brief and focused — compelling and worth retelling for it to stick. Everybody is busy and you have to be able to cut through the clutter.  You need to be able to present your idea concisely. We call it the “elevator speech” – a 30-second presentation you would give to your audience (such as your CEO) if you found yourself alone in an elevator with them (and you have their undivided attention).

Secondly, your message needs to be memorable. This is what “be bright” means. Your presentation needs to be impressive enough to cut through all of the other information that your audience receives. And finally, after you have delivered your message concisely and memorably, finish your presentation, and “be gone”. There’s nothing worse than having a drawn out presentation. For this, you need to assess your audience and determine if the message has been received or if more information is required. Remember that the closing part of the presentation is what the audience will remember the most. Repeat your purpose statement. By doing so, you deliver your key messages one final time.

Work-life Lesson 4 Takeaways: 

  • Know your audience. Each presentation must be tailor-made for the audience.
  • No matter how insightful, or powerful, innovative or fantastic your solution or idea is, if  your target audience doesn’t “get it”, then none of it matters.
  • Make sure that your message is the one they receive.  Your message should tell a story and it should be one worth retelling.
  • “Be brief, be bright, be gone”. It is important that you deliver your message concisely and memorably.

Link to Previous Lesson: Set your performance standards high and never give in to “good enough”. Be your own toughest critic.


About the collaborators:

Ira Fialkow is the SVP of Member Services at Peeriosity. Peeriosity is a confidential network of leading companies from across the world committed to collaborating openly with each other in a completely secure environment with interactions free of consultants and vendors. Prior to Peeriosity, Ira was EVP of Shared Services at CEMEX and Rinker Group (acquired by CEMEX is 2007) from 1990 through joining Peeriosity in October 2010. Rinker Group was the initial recipient of the Best Mature Shared Services Award in 2003. Ira lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and has been the champion of his fantasy football league in three of the past five years.

Glenn Remoreras is an IT Manager at CEMEX. He brings over 12 years of experience as an IT director, business processes manager, project leader, and consultant. He has focused on enabling business solutions through the use of IT capabilities. Glenn has been involved with various international post merger integration projects.

Ivy Remoreras is a marketing professional with eight years of extensive experience, particularly in product management, communications and promotions as a manager, university instructor and consultant. She believes in constant learning and has a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA). Having resided in Europe, Asia and North America, she speaks four languages.

Photos courtesy of Jscreationzs and Pixomar.

Work-life Lesson 3: Set your performance standards high and never give in to “good enough”. Be your own toughest critic.

By: Glenn Remoreras, in collaboration with Ira Fialkow and Ivy Remoreras 

Is there a secret formula for success in business – and in your career?  Probably not. But I believe it makes sense to learn from the people I respect and who have been successful themselves.

Case in point: Ira Fialkow was the Executive Vice President for Shared Services at CEMEX, until recently. His career spans 25 years and he is a highly respected leader in his field. This series marks the culmination of 25 business lessons documented and developed by Ira over the past 25 years of his career. Ira used to distribute these lessons to the team every year. In this series, I will endeavor to share the 25 business lessons that I’ve learned from Ira and our shared services team.

This is part three of the series: 25 Lessons for Work (and Life!) – 3-Minute Coaching Sessions

Set your performance standards high and never give in to “good enough”. Be your own toughest critic.

Success in your work and personal life is directly related to your productivity, commitment and performance. Therefore, setting performance standards for oneself is taking responsibility for one’s own career and life. Today, performance standards and goal setting in companies is routine and frequently performed in contexts as diverse as every level of the organization. In an individual’s life, setting one’s own standards can touch one’s personal and family life so as to significantly alter social, economic and personal well-being. As such, lesson three teaches us that setting high performance standards can beat mediocrity and achieve highflying goals.

Ira explained why this lesson made the list. He said, “I think one of my biggest frustrations as a manager is seeing someone with unlimited potential give in to ‘good enough’. On the other hand, it’s always a pleasure when someone takes accountability for their own career and always looks for an opportunity to improve things and themselves in the process.”

Personally, Ira had this epiphany when he was passed over for a promotion early in his career. He was upset, went to his manager and pointed out that he “had done everything expected and that had been asked of me.”  His manager simply answered, “Exactly. That’s why you have a job.”  The promotion was given to someone who wanted a career – someone who did things above and beyond what was expected.  He got the message.

This message is best articulated in Jim Collins’ book, “Good to Great”.  According to Collins, “Good is the enemy of Great”. Nothing is more true. We are driven to change when we hit bottom or get bad results – but nothing kills the energy and drive to being better than being “good”. We have to take personal accountability to ensure that we are always our own toughest critic and never give in to “good enough”.

Set your own goals first and set it with a high performance standard

Setting performance standards should start as a personal endeavor. Set performance standards high and don’t settle for mediocrity. If you are serious with achieving success in your career, regularly conducting self-assessment and goal setting is very important. Goal setting is a powerful process that not only ensures your performance standards support your goals, but also motivates you to turn your vision into reality. This necessitates setting high performance standards — not only for your team or organization — but more importantly, for yourself. You cannot expect high performance from others if you yourself cannot perform at the same or higher level.

In addition, setting your own high standards and goals prepare you better for commitment to work objectives expected of you. Self-assessment helps you determine your own capabilities and limitations. If you did your own self-assessment, you are in a better position to set performance standards and goals with others. Knowing your own skills and shortcomings allows you to determine if the performance standard expected of you (by your boss, for example) is reachable or not. And if not, you will be able to ask for the resources you need in order to be successful. Constant self-assessment is critical. You cannot expect nor wait for other people to critique your work. It is in your best interests to do it yourself, especially after every work objective (such as a project or implementation) is achieved (or not, as the case may be).  The basic questions to ask would be: Am I a good boss or co-worker? How could this have gone better? What can we learn out of this?

The process of setting high performance standards keeps you motivated. It increases the chances of success. If you have mediocre goals then you miss them, you totally fail. If you have high performance standards, it helps you go much further in your work and in life. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you need to concentrate your efforts. You’ll also quickly spot the distractions that can, so easily, lead you astray. Make sure you get agreement on how the performance will be monitored and how frequently. In order for the process to go forward, you need to monitor your own performance.

There are many formal methodologies for setting high performance standards. One method I like to use is “SMART” goals. SMART means they are: specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented and time-bound. The technique in controlling your productivity and success is knowing the extent of what you can achieve. Know your safe, reach and stretch targets. Safe targets are attainable goals. Your reach targets are goals that you can achieve with complete control and influence. Stretch targets are attainable but with certain conditions beyond your control. It should be attainable but if it isn’t, you should know the reasons why it is not.

I know Ira is a big fan of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In fact, for a few years, Ira had some of our team members become certified 7 Habits trainers and teach courses to their peers in shared services as a supplement to TQM training.  There are a number of methods for setting high performance standards; the key is to find something that works for you!

Why Your Inner Critic Is Your Best Friend

If you want to be the best you must always view your work with contempt and reservation. Not because you hate what you do but because you want to have the best result. Always critique your own work thoroughly and have a high standard. Come to think of it, you’d be in big trouble without an Inner Critic. Critics are actually a very important part of your performance, productivity and creative process. Since you can’t expect others to always criticize and challenge you, you can begin by making yourself your toughest critic. Your Inner Critic is your first level of assessing the quality of your performance and without it; you could end up with mediocre results. With yourself as your toughest critic, you will also raise your self-confidence, as you recognize your own ability and competence in achieving the goals that you’ve set.

Work-life Lesson 3 Takeaways: 

  • Your personal success in your work and life is directly related to your attitude, productivity, commitment and performance. Setting performance standards for oneself is taking responsibility of one’s own career and life.
  • Setting performance standards should start as a personal endeavor. Set performance standards high and don’t settle for mediocrity.
  • Critics are actually a very important part of your performance, productivity and creative process. Since you can’t expect others to always criticize and challenge you, you can begin by making yourself your toughest critic.
  • The enemy of great is good. Never give in to ‘good enough’.

Link to Previous Lesson: If Your Don’t Know, Say “I Don’t Know”


About the collaborators:

Ira Fialkow is the SVP of Member Services at Peeriosity. Peeriosity is a confidential network of leading companies from across the world committed to collaborating openly with each other in a completely secure environment with interactions free of consultants and vendors. Prior to Peeriosity, Ira was EVP of Shared Services at CEMEX and Rinker Group (acquired by CEMEX is 2007) from 1990 through joining Peeriosity in October 2010. Rinker Group was the initial recipient of the Best Mature Shared Services Award in 2003. Ira lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and has been the champion of his fantasy football league in three of the past five years.

Glenn Remoreras is an IT Manager at CEMEX. He brings over 12 years of experience as an IT director, business processes manager, project leader, and consultant. He has focused on enabling business solutions through the use of IT capabilities. Glenn has been involved with various international post merger integration projects.

Ivy Remoreras is a marketing professional with eight years of extensive experience, particularly in product management, communications and promotions as a manager, university instructor and consultant. She believes in constant learning and has a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA). Having resided in Europe, Asia and North America, she speaks four languages.

Photos courtesy of Renjith Krishnan and Simon Howden

Business Lesson 2: If You Don’t Know, Say “I Don’t Know”

February 22, 2011 7 comments

in collaboration with Ira Fialkow and Ivy Remoreras

Is there a secret formula for success in business – and in your career?  Probably not. But I believe it makes sense to learn from the people I respect and who have been successful themselves.

Case in point: Ira Fialkow was the Executive Vice President for Shared Services at CEMEX, until recently. His career spans 25 years and he is a highly respected leader in his field. This series marks the culmination of 25 business lessons documented and developed by Ira over the past 25 years of his career. Ira used to distribute these lessons to the team every year. In this series, I will endeavor to share the 25 business lessons that I’ve learned from Ira and our shared services team.

This is part two of the series: 25 Lessons for Work (and Life!) – 3-Minute Coaching Sessions

Business Lesson 2: If You Don’t Know, Say “I Don’t Know”.

Ira once told me, “This isn’t a school test where, if you don’t know the correct answer, you take a guess based on what you think is the best answer. If you don’t know the answer, then simply say ‘I don’t know.’ The worst thing that can happen is that decisions will be made and actions taken based on wrong or incomplete information.” Admitting that you don’t know something is taking responsibility and having accountability. 

This second lesson is about attitude. I once overheard Ira telling someone, “You’re lucky you KNOW that you don’t know. You now have an open mind and the opportunity to learn something new and find a real solution!”  This is simple and yet so difficult for many people to practice. In this article, we will look at two perspectives of this essential lesson – (a) learning to say “I don’t know” per se; and (b) openness to learning through the humble attitude of genuinely “not-knowing.”

Saying, “I Don’t Know”

The fact of the matter is, it is so difficult for people to say, “I don’t know.” Of course, it’s normal that you would always want to project yourself as knowledgeable to others; showing that you know (all the time!) is one of the best ways to look good. Most of us don’t like it when we ask subordinates at work to explain what went wrong, and instead of getting facts we are met with three little words: “I don’t know.” It’s frustrating, isn’t it? It’s worse, though, when you get “answers” composed of hardly verified truths and opinions. What happens when you take what you are told as fact and respond accordingly – for example, a customer complaint – and later find out that something completely different happened? By then, conflict has been created and it has further complicated the problem.

Of course, you can’t expect somebody to know everything. Here are two simple ways to say “I don’t know” and still be accountable:

  • The obvious – say: “I don’t know.” You can include an action or commitment, though, so say “I don’t know, but I’ll take responsibility to find the facts, or answers, for you and I’ll suggest a solution.”
  • If you have some knowledge to begin with, but you need to verify it, you may say, “I’m not as informed as I would like to be but this is what I think, based on the information I have. I will look into this further and get back to you right away.” Here you are being honest about the fact that what you think you know may not necessarily be accurate. So, if you are asked to speak out, your audience knows that it’s an opinion.

We grow up afraid of our own ignorance and terrified that it may show. I admire people who have the ability to admit, “I don’t know.” There are many ways to say this, but the most important thing is to be honest, concise and responsible about what you say.

“Not Knowing” as a Powerful Openness to Learn

Think about going to a meeting, seminar or training with the arrogant attitude that there is absolutely nothing new to be learned. Surely, you will arrive disinterested and full of your own perception of the subject matter. Chances are, you won’t learn anything new. The advantage of not knowing is the opportunity to experience learning. Genuine “not-knowing” is a sign of humility and openness that precedes the leap into finding true meaning. We question not only whether we’ll find answers to questions, but also how to learn new things. How many times have you gone to similar work sessions or training programs but learned something new every time? Maybe it’s from hearing someone else’s perspective and how they applied the knowledge. Maybe it’s an insight that helps you link multiple ideas together and come up with a new way of applying the knowledge to a problem. Or maybe it’s an open attitude that allowed you to listen in a new way.

Being open to new ideas shows a willingness to transcend what you know, to look beyond the conventional and obvious view, and to come up with new insights and use these to find solutions.

When people talk about innovation – this is what they are talking about!

Business Lesson 2 Takeaways:

  • Acknowledging that you don’t know something is akin to taking responsibility and having accountability.
  • People should not be discouraged from saying “I don’t know” in a company.
  • There are many ways to say, “I don’t know,” but the most important thing is to be honest, concise and responsible about what you say.
  • The positive side of not knowing is the opportunity it provides to experience learning, gain insights, and come up with a better solution.  
  • Genuine not-knowing is a sign of humility and openness that can lead to expanding one’s knowledge.

Link to Lesson 1: Have a mentor (even if they don’t know it). Be a mentor (someone is watching you).


About the collaborators:

Ira Fialkow is the SVP of Member Services at Peeriosity. Peeriosity is a confidential network of leading companies from across the world committed to collaborating openly with each other in a completely secure environment with interactions free of consultants and vendors. Prior to Peeriosity, Ira was EVP of Shared Services at CEMEX and Rinker Group (acquired by CEMEX is 2007) from 1990 through joining Peeriosity in October 2010. Rinker Group was the initial recipient of the Best Mature Shared Services Award in 2003. Ira lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and has been the champion of his fantasy football league in three of the past five years.

Glenn Remoreras is an IT Manager at CEMEX. He brings over 12 years of experience as an IT director, business processes manager, project leader, and consultant. He has focused on enabling business solutions through the use of IT capabilities. Glenn has been involved with various post merger integration projects. 
 
Ivy Remoreras is a marketing professional with eight years of extensive experience, particularly in product management, communications and promotions as a manager, university instructor and consultant. She believes in constant learning and has a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA). Having resided in Europe, Asia and North America, she speaks four languages.

25 lessons for work (and life)! — 3-minute coaching sessions

in collaboration with Ira Fialkow and Ivy Remoreras

” You can have as many mentors as you need – people that excel in different disciplines and that exemplify different values. In my career, I’ve learned that mentoring is a process of engagement and inspiration, in as much as it’s a process of learning from someone. Truly successful people raise others up. They don’t feel threatened. Instead, they find reward in seeing others succeed. “

Is there a secret formula for success in business – and in your career?  Probably not. But I believe it makes sense to learn from the people I respect and who have been successful themselves.

Case in point: Ira Fialkow was the Executive Vice President for Shared Services at CEMEX, until recently. His career spans 25 years and he is a highly respected leader in his field. I consider myself fortunate in having had the opportunity to work in his organization. Our collaboration continues, even today. I continue to learn from Ira, and he says he continues to learn from me! I believe that people thrive best, and succeed, when they have the opportunity to develop under the tutelage of those who precede them.

This series marks the culmination of 25 business lessons documented and developed by Ira over the past 25 years of his career. They were learned the hard way: through experience. Ira used to distribute these lessons to the team every year. The lessons changed slightly, over time, as new ideas emerged and new learnings were incorporated. In this series of 25 short articles, I will endeavor to share the 25 business lessons that I’ve learned from Ira and our shared services team.

The series is split across five sections.

  • Section 1 is about continuous self-improvement. In any endeavor, change begins with oneself. You cannot create a successful organization, nor be successful yourself, without the drive to do better and be better.
  • Section 2 is about creating a better work environment, and leads on from Section 1: Improving oneself means improving one’s professional atmosphere; no real change can be achieved without this.
  • Section 3 is about customer service: Every business unit has a customer, whether internal or external. And just because you don’t have direct dealings with the company’s external customers doesn’t mean you don’t have customers of your own. If you work for the payroll department of a large fast-food company, your customers are the employees in the payroll, and you need to know how to provide good customer service.
  • Section 4 relates to improving productivity. This includes eliminating bureaucracy and other things that hamper good service delivery. Let’s say you have great products and can provide good service. If it’s not affordable, easy to use, and timely to the customer, then it just doesn’t matter. 
  • Section 5 involves competitive advantage.  Much has already been written about competitive advantage, I know. But you’ll be surprised at some of the simple things you can do.

Section 1: Become addicted to constant and never-ending self-improvement

Each journey begins with a single step. In terms of change, this means starting with oneself. The six business lessons in this section suggest that everyone, irrespective of the successes already achieved, benefits from continuous self-improvement.

  

Business Lesson 1 : Have a mentor (even if they don’t know it). Be a mentor (someone is watching you).

 

Have a mentor (even if they don’t know it)

Most guides to mentoring start with advice on how to find the right mentor. This generally takes the following approach: (1) you have to look for a mentor with broad knowledge about the industry as well as expertise in the area you specialize in; (2) you have to find a mentor who is successful and on whom you can model your career; and (3) you have to formalize the relationship between mentor and mentee to make it long lasting and successful.

Given all that – how can you have a mentor(s), and they don’t know it?

Ira explains his philosophy: “Formal mentoring programs are great but why wait for one to come around? Mentoring is about  behavior. It’s about doing the right things in the workplace, because first and foremost, it’s about personal integrity and character – as well as the fact that someone is watching you, and will emulate your behavior. I was extremely lucky, early in my career, when I was able to work with some great co-workers and supervisors who had a solid set of personal values coupled with results-oriented work disciplines. I emulated many of these behaviors and they helped shaped my leadership style.”

What you do in the office is observed by the people you work with. Positive behavior creates positive impressions, which people will emulate. On the other hand, consistently below-par behavior can cause problems in the organization by creating dysfunctional teams.

Having a mentor means finding someone to emulate and learn from (even if they don’t know it). You can have as many mentors as you need – people that excel in different disciplines and that exemplify different values. In my career, I’ve learned that mentoring is a process of engagement and inspiration, in as much as it’s a process of learning from someone.

At its very core, mentoring (whether mentor or mentee) is about wanting to improve yourself, in alignment with your goals.

Be a mentor (someone is watching you)

The shared services organization that Ira established and led for many years was the first recipient of the SSON’s “Best Mature Shared Services” Award in 2003. How did the organization earn this prestigious award? Ira has always attributed success in shared services to excellence in providing service to customers at an overall value that is better than other options. We have a very strong customer service culture within the organization, and this culture actively encourages mentorship.

Ira explains: “If you choose a positive attitude, show respect towards your customers, and treat them as if they are the reason for your organization’s existence (which they are!), this behavior develops into norms and values and permeates your culture, subsequently becoming the core of your service culture.

“But creating an excellent service culture requires that you practice the positive behaviors that will govern the value system of all the members of the organization. Mission and values statements are all well and good, but it’s the consistent behaviors that are emulated and put into practice, that become the values of the organization.”

This lesson reminds me that I can become a mentor simply by doing the right thing. And I can do this in every aspect of my life, wherever I interact with people – in the office and at home. Mentoring is two-way, or multi-way, each individual learning from the other. However, if I want to be a mentor, I need to understand myself first. I have to work hard in pursuit of excellence and integrity, and I have to be generous in sharing my knowledge.

Douglas Lawson describes it well: “We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give.”  I believe truly successful people raise others up. They don’t feel threatened. Instead, they find reward in seeing others succeed.

Being a mentor means inspiring commitment, building insights and motivating people to focus on the goals and behaviors that matter.

Business Lesson 1 Takeaways:

  • Mentoring is about behavior and doing the right things in the workplace; not just because it’s right, but because someone is watching you and will copy your behavior. It becomes the norm, and the norm underpins the values of the organization.
  • Positive behaviors create positive impressions and people emulate them. Consistently observed poor behavior, on the other hand, could spell problems in the organization and create dysfunctional teams.
  • Creating an excellent service culture requires that you practice the positive behaviors of the organization’s value system. “Customers” are the reason you are there! 
  • At its core, mentoring (or having a mentor) is about seeking inspiration to improve yourself in alignment with your goals. Mentoring is two-way or multi-way, each individual learning from another.
  • Whether you know it or not, you are a mentor to someone right now.

 We encourage you to write (as comments in the post) your own thoughts and experiences about mentoring (in business and life). This will enrich the topic and discussion for all the readers. Thank you.

 


About the collaborators:

Ira Fialkow is the SVP of Member Services at Peeriosity. Peeriosity is a confidential network of leading companies from across the world committed to collaborating openly with each other in a completely secure environment with interactions free of consultants and vendors. Prior to Peeriosity, Ira was EVP of Shared Services at CEMEX and Rinker Group (acquired by CEMEX is 2007) from 1990 through joining Peeriosity in October 2010. Rinker Group was the initial recipient of the Best Mature Shared Services Award in 2003. Ira lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and has been the champion of his fantasy football league in three of the past five years.

Glenn Remoreras is an IT Manager at CEMEX. He brings over 12 years of experience as an IT director, business processes manager, project leader, and consultant. He has focused on enabling business solutions through the use of IT capabilities. Glenn has been involved with various post merger integration projects. 
 
Ivy Remoreras is a marketing professional with eight years of extensive experience, particularly in product management, communications and promotions as a manager, university instructor and consultant. She believes in constant learning and has a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA). Having resided in Europe, Asia and North America, she speaks four languages.

Photos courtesy of www.ssonetwork.com.

%d bloggers like this: