Aligning vision, people
and performance

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Who does your culture attract?

A paraphrased excerpt from a client letter received by the CEO:

“…Yesterday I attended the event at your facility. During my visit, I was fortunate enough to meet many of the wonderful employees and owners. Your VP and I had a very lengthy discussion about the culture and growth plans and suggested I send you my resume.

I really was not looking for new opportunities, but after experiencing the warm, friendly family environment, I was bowled over. This is the culture I have been searching for in America…a company who values camaraderie, respect and company loyalty, all of which I found abundant at your organization.”

Would your culture produce the same results?

Business & Social Media-do we really use it?

The Alternative Board (TAB) recently reported some interesting stats when it comes to what small business owners really do!

The survey of hundreds of business owners revealed that 59% of business owners think social media is “Nice to have, but it’s not essential.” Other interesting stats include:

  • 18% of business owners have no social media presence
  • The majority of small businesses (67%) are putting their social media efforts in the hands of beginner-intermediate users
  • 64% of small business owners are monitoring their social accounts one time a week or less, 22% only check it a few times a year

So, there may be an untapped opportunity to promote your business as compared to your competitors. Small business, take note!

Do you really want that goal?

What goal have you not reached yet, that you really want? Maybe it’s a goal you set at the beginning of the year or even last year that is starting to feel way out of reach.

What are you TRYING to do right now where a little voice is whispering …”maybe you can’t do it”?

Is it about the goal or is it about you?

As a coach, I believe in having a coach. One of my mentors, Paul Martinelli, with the John Maxwell Team, recently shared a comment that cleared up any doubt about why you do and don’t achieve goals.

Paul said, “If you fight against your willingness to do it, you fight against your willingness to have it.”

Have you found yourself unwilling to take the next steps necessary to reach your goal?

What are you are fighting against right now?

Near the top of Ptarmigan Peak. Chugach Mountains, Alaska” by
Paxson Woelber
is licensed under CC by 2.0

Pat Dolen works with business owners and professionals who believe they have not reached their highest potential and are intentional about growing their businesses, professions and lives.

Count your F-I-G-S!

The business owners and professionals I coach often share a common frustration. This nuisance has become known as those FIGS that hold them back from achieving their highest potential.

Common complaints go like this…” I can’t get anything done during office hours, because the staff is always coming in and asking questions! Or…” I just get started on that project I need to give my undivided attention to and someone is always standing at my door…can’t they see I am busy?” And finally, “I know they need to learn, but it takes me longer to teach them than if I did it myself!”

A brilliant attorney I work with came up with this clever FIGS acronym -that I love- so if you feel overwhelmed, anxious and stressed-you probably need to step back and count your FIGS, too!

Here’s how. Keep track daily of the number of Fires, Interruptions and Guidance Situations you encounter during a week. Note who caused the FIG and how long it took to resolve. For my more detailed clients, segmenting their tracking sheet by hours of the day allows them to spot time-of-day trends. Tally each category, see if there is a person or persons who dominate each category and form a strategy as to how to alleviate yourself of the stress of that FIG.

You’ll feel better for it and truly have more time to achieve your highest potential.

Figs” by
Keith McDuffee
is licensed under CC by 2.0

Pat Dolen works with business owners and professionals who believe they have not reached their highest potential and are intentional about growing their businesses, professions and lives.

Acceptable in the Workplace?

See what bugs leaders most about employee attire…and what could cost you a promotion with this infographic from Simon Jersey.

Drive for perfection, yet strive toward excellence?

When my coaching clients are experiencing near- panic attacks over upcoming urgent and important deadlines, we stop and dissect the anxiety-is the root of your distress due to your expectation of perfection every step of the way? Or, can your perspective shift to consider accomplishing those steps in as excellent a manner as possible? Read on…

A guy who viewed himself as one of the most laid-back “happy go-lucky” executives in the world asked himself this question upon recuperating in the hospital from an unexpected bypass heart operation. How could the ticker lose its tock now, when it he had survived the early pressures of the infancy days of FEDEX losing $1million a month and when Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken threatened to go on the Johnny Carson show and blow the new CEO out of the water because he planned to change the formula of the gravy! Now, THAT was pressure.

My mentor, Frank Maguire shared his reflections below:


Perfection is being right.
Excellence is willing to be wrong.

Perfection is fear.
Excellence is taking a risk.

Perfection is anger and frustration.
Excellence is powerful.

Perfection is control.
Excellence is spontaneous.

Perfection is judgment.
Excellence is accepting.

Perfection is taking.
Excellence is giving.

Perfection is doubt.
Excellence is confidence.

Perfection is pressure.
Excellence is natural.

Perfection is the destination.
Excellence is the journey.

The original Senior Vice President of Industrial Relations for Federal Express, Frank Maguire is credited by CEO, Fred Smith, as creating the corporate culture that resulted in FEDEX being named “The Top Corporation of the Decade” by Fortune Magazine.

Eyeball” by
Miranda Granche
is licensed under CC by 2.0

Admit It. You Are Addicted.

Most of us know people who have damaged or destroyed their lives by abuse or addiction. Addiction doesn’t only affect the life of the addict, but often has a destructive effect on the people closest to them. In the workplace, any type of abuse and addiction can have a huge effect on productivity.

Whether we are talking about hard drugs, alcohol, gambling, or something more innocuous like caffeine, nicotine, or video games, most of us believe that danger increases as an individual crosses the line from moderation to compulsion. Over time, compulsive abuse is damaging and the symptoms of addiction are universal.

Technology is fabulous. For most of us, it would seem impossible to survive without it. The Internet was one of the most incredible advances in our lives and has created amazing opportunities. But is it possible that we have reached the point of diminishing returns in device use and may actually be losing productivity via abuse? Are electronic devices (EDs) really making us more effective and productive?

There is no doubt that a huge portion of society has become addicted to electronic devices. The statistics are over-whelming. According to new research from GlobalWebIndex, 80% of adults now own a smartphone, up from 21% in 2012. A study of 1,600 managers and professionals from Harvard Business School found that:

  • 70% said they check their smartphone within an hour of waking.
  • 56% check their phone within an hour of going to sleep.
  • 48% check over the weekend, including on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • 51% check continuously during vacation (is that really vacation?)
  • 44% said they would experience “a great deal of anxiety” if they lost their phone and couldn’t replace it for a week.

Even more revealing, in a survey of millennials by ME360, the following data emerged in response to the question “At work, how many times per hour do you check your smartphone or e-device for non-work related emails, social media updates, texts, emails or videos?”

  • 90% said they check at least 1-5 times per hour
  • 42% check at least 6-10 times per hour
  • 21% check more than 16 times per hour- that is more than once every 3.75 minutes! And this is at work! One may wonder when the actual work occurs…

Use becomes an addict’s best friend, and we witness ED abuse every day. At the dinner table, it’s become the norm to constantly check for texts, emails, tweets,Facebook, or SnapChat updates. In a theater, you can always find people abusing during the movie.

In restaurants, in church, while driving, at our kid’s performances and even when carrying on face-to-face conversations, the growing trend of smartphone addiction is becoming pervasive.

In the workplace, device abuse creates a focus upon urgent over important, focusing employee behavior on being reactive, not proactive. If you do not happen to be in the fire-fighting or first-responder business, this reactive/urgency focus is likely very damaging to your company value and bottom line.

Before we list addiction symptoms, please consider your own use of electronic devices. Also consider the use of EDs by your employees. Many executives believe that these devices enhance productivity. Used effectively (in moderation), this assertion is nearly indisputable. EDs certainly can improve productivity. Used compulsively (as a growing majority of ED-addicted owners, executives, employees, and their families use them), device use can actually have the opposite effect. In some cases, a devastating effect.

Take a look at the following list of symptoms and behaviors demonstrated by addicts:

  • The addict cannot stop – Loss of Control.
  • Social and/or recreational sacrifices – addicts consistently decline invitations for personal interaction or conversation. Degradation of intimacy.
  • Obsession/excess consumption – the addict invests increasing time and energy focusing on ways of getting another fix.
  • Withdrawal symptoms – in the absence of using, the addict will experience mood-related (and possibly physical) symptoms. These include cravings, moodiness, bad temper, poor focus, depression, frustration, anger, bitterness and resentment.
  • Insomnia – There is a compulsion to use first thing in the morning and last thing before sleeping, and even in the middle of the night.
  • Addiction continues despite health problem awareness – the individual continues abusing regularly, despite possible physical degradation. The desire to exercise diminishes.
  • Taking risks – in some cases the addicted individual may take risks in order to use (such as texting while driving)
  • Dealing with problems – an addicted person becomes dependent upon using in order to deal with their problems. Even worse, they increasingly ignore their problems, missing deadlines and commitments.
  • Secrecy and solitude – many addicts prefer to indulge alone, often in secret.
  • Stress & Anxiety – these escalate when the addict cannot use.
  • Forgetfulness – addiction consumes the mind and saps attention and focus.
  • Increased Narcissism – addicts have difficulty being concerned with anyone but themselves and develop a lack of respect and courtesy for others.
  • Reduced Self-Esteem – as an addict continues to surrender control, their self-worth declines.
  • Denial – most addicts are in denial. They are not aware (or refuse to acknowledge) that they have a problem.
  • Dropping hobbies and activities – addicts choose a fix over almost any other form of pleasure, and over important or productive activities. As addiction progresses, the individual may stop doing things he/she used to enjoy.

Do you know any device addicts that might be exhibiting some of these symptoms? If they work in your company, you may wish to consider an intervention. If the addicted individual happens to appear in your own mirror, if checking and rechecking your phone comes as naturally to you as breathing, or if you feel anxious or restless if 5 minutes pass without a smartphone fix, you are addicted. Depending upon the severity of your addiction, you may not require a full twelve-step program just yet. However, you might want to start with acknowledgement: “Hi, my name is Tom, and I am a device addict.” After making this declaration you may begin the detox and rehabilitation process:

Rule #1: Make a DECLARATION to live proactively. “I will only use my device during the following hours”. Pick 2 to 4 hours per day and shut it off for the rest of the day, perhaps an hour in the AM and an hour in the PM. Add 15 minutes midday, but only if absolutely necessary. Inform your employees, stakeholders, and family members that you are detoxing, and ask for their support. If you seek to improve productivity, it would be a good idea to ask your employees to follow suit.

Rule #2: Don’t text while driving. This rule isn’t only for you, but also for the safety of others. Risking lives just to give a quick response is simply insane.

Rule #3: Keep your phone out of the bathroom & bedroom. I can go on for days with this, but let’s just say that technology is not worth the sacrifice of intimacy or hygiene.

Rule #4: Respect others. Always turn off your smartphone during meetings. Using devices in meetings sends a clear message—“The person that is pinging me is MORE IMPORTANT to me than you are!” When ordering or checking-out, put the phone down and take care of business. There are customers behind you and they don’t want to hear your drama.

Rule #5: When going to bed, no more falling asleep while staring at your screen. Sure it’s fun to tweet, check the lives of friends on Facebook, and play games before zonking out, but overcoming an addiction requires discipline. Pick a shut-down time and stick to it. Turn the phone completely off at that time.

Rule #6: Turn your phone off at meals and when you’re with friends. Not on vibrate, OFF. I promise you will not miss out on anything life-altering. Each time you do this, you will become stronger and it will become easier.

Rule #7: Find a Support Group. This should be easy. Just look around. I would suspect that you know plenty of people who share your device addiction and would also like to get clean.

Rule #8: Go For it! Last but not least, when you’re able to manage these rules without suffering a panic attack, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting, start leaving your phone at home. This is the big, personal-freedom step – graduation day. Set a goal to spend a day each week without technology. If you feel strong and committed, go cold-turkey. If not, you can unplug yourself in small doses. Start off with a couple of hours and then progress to a whole day. Again, I promise, the world will not come to an end.

History has proven that just about anything that can be abused, will be. Technology is awesome. Electronic devices, used effectively in moderation, provide enormous advantages. If you have the discipline and self-control to use EDs without letting them rule your life or hinder those around you, congratulations. However, if you feel like your smartphone is an appendage, think catching up with friends and colleagues can only be accomplished through a screen, or consider Facebook, Twitter, or texting to be your BFFs, I’d encourage you to take some effective action today.

Thanks to Joe Zente for contributing this blog post.

“Too Connected” by Sean Hobson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Keeping your word with yourself…are you trustworthy?

Eight Flying Doves


As I work with senior executives and business owners, a frequent complaint is “employee lack of follow-through”.

So, ask yourself, what does it take for you to follow-through?

Consider these statistics shared by Association for Talent Development on your chances:

  • 10%       Hearing an idea
  • 25%       Consciously decide to adopt it
  • 40%       Decide when you will do it
  • 50%       Plan how you will do it
  • 65%       Commit to someone else that you will do it
  • 95%       Have a specific accountability appointment with
    person committed to

When was the last time you promised yourself to try something new, only to realize six months later you never started?

Leaders must coach to win!

“We’ve done lots of research over the past three years, and we’ve found that leaders who have the best coaching skills have better business results.”

V.P. of Global Executive & Organizational Development, IBM -The Dallas Morning News

We often hear about setting the example in leadership.  Sometimes it is just taking the “high road” and reacting to a situation with integrity and as much dignity as you can muster.

If you haven’t taken a look at yourself recently, take this simple self-check of 15 coaching behaviors.   Use this scale: 5 = always, 4=usually, 3=sometimes, 2=seldom and 1=never. If you are brave enough, let your trainee rate you.  It may be just the wake-up call you need to regenerate positive momentum in that relationship.

  1. _____Set high expectations
  2. _____Offer challenging ideas
  3. _____Help build self-confidence
  4. _____Encourage professional behavior
  5. _____Offer friendship
  6. _____Confront negative behaviors
  7. _____Confront negative attitudes
  8. _____Listen to what is said
  9. _____Recognize what is not being said
  10. _____Add specific activities that you believe would help
  11. _____Offer wise counsel
  12. _____Provide timely feedback
  13. _____Provide positive recognition
  14. _____Share personal experiences when appropriate
  15. _____Demonstrate care

If you scored 60 – 75, write a book!  You are doing it right and people seek you out for advice and counsel.

If you scored 45-59, share this rating scale with someone you coach and ask where you can improve.  Ask how you can demonstrate the coaching behavior they need from you and what they can do if you forget to do it again.

30-44, get yourself a coach who can help you develop these behaviors.  It will contribute greatly to the success of the group you lead and your own personal contentment.

15-29, what’s your employee turnover rate?  Unless, your employees have enlisted, they are not going to stick around very long!



Year-end Holiday Crazies!

Find yourself getting tense, critical and irritated as year-end and holiday season hits full swing?  Feeling pressed for time and interruptions agitate you?  Before you lash out, pull out the mirror!

Answer these John C. Maxwell  inspired questions:

  1. How well am I treating people from whom I can gain nothing?
  2. Am I quickly admitting wrongdoing without being pressed to do so?
  3. When I have something to say about people, am I saying it TO them or ABOUT them?

Build greater trust and have a positive impact on your staff, peers and family this season.  Become a Person of Influence and be the model of integrity your organization and family deserves.


Becoming a Person of Influence by John C Maxwell and Jim Dornan

"Pat brings her charm, wit and insight into her advisory relationships and shares the same with her audiences. She's got the systems to back up her concepts."

- Frank Maguire FEDEX Senior Founding Executive

John Maxwell


Profiles Int'l