Are You Winning? 4 Ways to Deal with Change

Posted on March 5, 2013 by Keith Sanders No Comments



How do you see change?

In your opinion, is it a good thing?

Are you able to keep a positive perspective even if you perceive change to be painful?

We do not control the events in our lives, but we do control our response to the events in our lives.  That is a huge power that each of us possesses, but we don’t always use.  For some, it is much easier to focus on the circumstances that landed us in hot water, rather than the choices we made to get there.  Put another way: some would prefer to claim the victim role, and blame other people for their own lack of success, while others will always choose to be the victor, accepting responsibility for their success, or lack of it.

There are four concepts to keep in mind when learning to deal with change:

1.)     Stay focused on what is important.

If the change in your life has been as a result of company decisions or cutbacks, use this as an opportunity for goal-setting and training.  Choosing to make yourself more valuable to your company should always be a priority, but especially when your group may be looking to eliminate the most “disposable” positions.

“Whether you’ve been downsized or are initiating your job change, now is the time to stop and re-assess what you’d really like in your next career move. Take this time to think through what you must have, would like to have, and what would be ‘icing” on the cake,” says Angie Horn, president of Nashville-based Catalyst, a firm that provides outplacement assistance and executive coaching.  “Also, a positive attitude is the most important tool in the job search process.”

2.)     Maintain a positive outlook.

Not many blessings come our way when we choose to curse everyone and everything around us.  Because we control our response, we heavily influence our outcome.  So, it almost goes without saying, the more negative our response to events, the more negative our outcome is likely to be.  However, the more positive one’s response, the more one can expect an outcome that is positive.  This is a relatively simplistic way of describing the concepts in “The Secret.”  The popular book and video is a recounting of the Law of Attraction, which states we tend to attract the people, events and material things into our lives that we focus on most.

Another way to stay focused on the positive is to look at the “big picture,” to better understand why the change happened, or is necessary.  This may likely take away the feeling that the change is directed toward you and is, in some way, “personal.”

3.)     Realize the need for change.

Confucius said, “They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.”  We absolutely must come to the understanding that if we are not changing, we are not growing.  And, if we are not changing, we are not standing still, but (because the world around us is changing) we are actually falling further and further behind.  There is an abundance of new information around us every day that can help us become more intelligent, more attractive, more popular, and more wealthy.  But, if one is not willing to change, out of fear, doubt or uncertainty, then one will not be motivated to even take in any of that new information and could suffer as a result.

4.)     Commit yourself to winning!

Each day, ask yourself what you are doing to make yourself better, not only for the sake of your relationships, but for your own growth.  Have you really decided you want progress in your life, or have you reached a point where you are comfortable?  If you are in the latter group, make sure it’s not because you have given up.  Winning means continuing to move forward with your action plan when nay-sayers proclaim it cannot be done.  Many people stop trying when the going gets tough, and try to convince themselves they are happy with what they have.  All the while, deep down, knowing they would like to be doing more, having more and being more.

So, when you hear the news about layoffs, the stock market and how fearful we should be about the economy, are you joining the whiners?  Or, the winners?

Comment on your best practices for dealing with change by clicking the comments link at the top of the page.

Take the “No Excuses” Pledge!

Keith Sanders

photo courtesy: stockimages/

3 Words You May Be Saying Wrong

Posted on February 5, 2013 by Keith Sanders 4 Comments


On the radio yesterday I heard a commercial that caught my attention, not because it was extraordinarily awesome, but because it contained a mispronounced word.

It was for a title company or mortgage service, and it sounded as though it was the client herself reading the script. What threw me off was the way she pronounced realtor. Yes, this was someone who obviously works with a lot of realtors, but then she proceeded to pronounce it “RE-luh-ter.” As though realtor was spelled RELATOR.

Ask yourself: Have I been saying it that way?

It is actually two syllables, not three. So, the correct way to say it is “REAL-ter.”

A pair of words that are often misused are affect and effect. You affect, or influence, someone else’s thoughts or actions. You don’t effect them. Affect is used as a verb, while effect is generally a noun, meaning result. As in, a drug may have adverse side effects.

Also, I heard a friend mention last week that someone he knew had prostrate cancer. Eh, Gary, it’s prostate. Prostate is the male body organ, prostrate (with an “r”) means lying on the ground.

Just doing what I can to keep YOU from embarrassing yourself in conversation with others. Glad to help!




What Were They Thinking?

Posted on January 27, 2013 by Keith Sanders No Comments


What is unacceptable behavior?  How do you deal with it?  If you watch the news regularly, you will find it difficult to escape the air time devoted to people’s weird and sometimes mysterious behavior.  In fact, you might find yourself saying “what were they thinking?”

From athletes using steroids, politicians attempting to exchange power for money, or reality TV parents looking for fame, we as a society tend to share our various opinions on what is still considered acceptable in our communities and what actions are outside the “norms”.  What about in your workplace?  Who determines the standard?  If you don’t clarify expectations for the people within your organization, then they will make their own rules.  If you are a part of a team that allows for that type of flexibility, then maybe you consider yourself lucky.  However, most organizations, no matter how open to employee input about standards, still realize the need for a few policies in order to smooth operations.

So, regardless of how you feel about these celebrities or their alleged shenanigans, how do you hold people accountable?  What about co-workers who knowingly break the rules?  If you are a manager or supervisor, what happens when team members don’t complete assignments on time?  Come in late?  Instigate arguments with other staff?  If you are a parent, what happens when your children are unruly?

There are essentially three approaches I teach.  We can:

  1. IGNORE IT – This is not the one I recommend, but it is worth mentioning because this is the option the majority of us leans toward.  Passive people who just want to keep the peace will feel like they are avoiding conflict if they ignore negativity or unacceptable behaviors.  However, ignoring it now might actually result in a bigger problem later after rumors spread or other employees start emulating the undesirable behavior.  One might think he or she is preserving the “relationship” with that one person, but may be helping sabotage any relationship they have built with the rest of the team.  If a manager continues to ignore behaviors that are detrimental to the function of the company, he or she can begin to expect resentment from those who feel they are following the “rules.”
  2. HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE – In the same way managers have a responsibility to clarify expectations for employees, employees also must understand they have a responsibility to restate and reaffirm those expectations for each other.  The strongest teams, I have found, possess individuals who are confident in their abilities and in communicating openly with each other regarding systems, strategies and procedures, even when management is not present.  When holding others accountable, especially when negative consequences or discipline is discussed, make sure the “punishment” fits the crime.  In other words, you can also expect resentment if other employees think you were too harsh in your approach.  Resist the urge to make an example out of an employee, instead sticking to the company’s written procedures for handling that behavior.  If your company does not have a plan of action, consider suggesting one.
  3. LAUGH IT OFF – Sometimes, finding humor in a stressful situation can be the best approach.  Before taking this stance, one must be sure this option is not going to produce a pattern of unacceptable behavior.  Laughing it off, simply stated, means realizing good people can occasionally make stupid mistakes.  If we are certain the person is truly remorseful, has learned from the experience and we do not expect a repeat performance, then we could possibly take this approach.  Also, one should ensure no customers or co-workers were harmed during the person’s moment of stupidity, so one must be willing to look at the “big picture” effects of the person’s behavior as well.  Did the company’s image suffer?  Did your customer still get what he or she needed from you?

The main issue to think about is, whatever your approach, that you yourself are establishing a behavior so employees or co-workers will know what to expect from you going forward.  If you have done an excellent job clarifying expectations and training staff on the front end, you will spend less time having to confront others about their unacceptable behavior.  That’s what makes a true “No Excuses” Leader.




photo courtesy imagerymajestic/


Can I Hold Employees Accountable as a Group?

Posted on April 18, 2012 by Keith Sanders 3 Comments

This is a question received following a webinar I delivered today on “Handling Difficult Conversations” and my response.  I trust it will be helpful for you too if you are dealing with difficult people in your workplace.

Q:   When should issues be addressed individually vs being addressed as a group? If it’s an issue that happens with a small group of people but not the entire staff?

A:   Great question.

I am vehemently opposed to “having a staff meeting” to address ONE person’s unacceptable behavior.  It can be a real morale killer when everyone must sit through a meeting while knowing who is the guilty party.  Because…many times, the accused leaves the meeting totally clueless, unaware the reason for the meeting was his or her unacceptable behavior or lack of performance.  So, in that case, individually.

However, if a historically passive-aggressive employee begins a “scene” in a staff meeting, calmly say “This is not the time to address that.  Let’s discuss that after this meeting.”  If they refuse to let it go, calmly repeat the same phrase.  If they persist, tell them their behavior is unacceptable and ask him or her politely to leave the room so you may conduct the meeting.  In this case, that person essentially “forced” you to hold him or her accountable in a public, or group, setting.  This would be acceptable.

Most times, I advise dealing with employees displaying difficult behaviors in private, with a witness present if you deem it necessary.

Even in a small group, the underlying causes of the problem may be different with each employee.  So, one-on-one discussions are the most effective to uncover potential problems that may be keeping the employee from performing up to standard and prepare an individual course of action to get back on track.

It may take more of your time now, but it should save you time in the long run by cutting down on repeat offenses.  Also, choosing to discipline in a group session could lead to legal issues for you or your company if someone feels he or she was mistreated, embarrassed in front of co-workers or if they feel their job was threatened.




mack2happy /

5 Most Annoying Events

Posted on February 24, 2012 by Keith Sanders 1 Comment

According to a poll, the following 5 events are considered by most people to be the most annoying.

Get a filling
Paying a bill late
Getting a parking ticket
Raining, with no umbrella
Arriving at bus stop late

So, what do all these things have in common?

Well, when I saw this story airing on a TV newscast, the first thing that struck me about this list is…all of these “annoying” events can easily be prevented.

Getting a filling can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene. Paying a bill late can be prevented with budgeting and sound money management. Parking ticket? Just follow some simple rules about where you can park and for how long.

The last two just require proper planning ahead of time.

Instead of blaming the event, true leaders (when they find themselves in these situations) ask the important question: “What do I need to do differently next time to prevent this from happening again?”

Are you doing the same things over and over, and getting frustrated by “annoying” events?  Make a commitment today to begin asking yourself the tough questions and commit to taking different actions today to produce improved results tomorrow.

Take initiative. Solve problems. Move forward.


Quick Tips for Staying Positive

Posted on February 23, 2012 by Keith Sanders 1 Comment

How to Stay PositiveSome would suggest the opposite of being negative is to simply be positive. And, some might practice this by showing up to work with a smile on their face or greeting co-workers with a hearty “Good morning.”

While those actions certainly contribute to more open communication and can make the workplace more pleasant, here are some other tips to help in your quest to eliminate, or at least combat the negativity in your office.

Declare a “no gossip” zone.

Communicate to everyone, even other managers, that you will be holding them accountable to spreading gossip or lies about other employees, but especially about your company’s clients.

If you let new employees know this up front, then they should not be surprised when you call them into your office to chat when they are guilty of this offense. They were warned!

One client of mine even put up a few signs around the office that had the word WHINING with the “Ghostbusters” red circle and slash marking it out. That is clarifying expectations.

Read, read, read.

In order to combat negativity that can zap motivation, consider reading uplifting literature. Rather than picking up that scandalous romance novel, dive into a business book or something spiritual or religious in nature.

Learn ways to be a more effective, more energetic person or read about great leaders and what they did right…so you can do the same.

The late Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said, “Leaders are readers.” And, Keith says, “If you want to be regarded as a visionary in your company, it means feeding your mind with positive information.”