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Bill Catlette

Bill Catlette

Bill Catlette, @ContentedCows is an executive coach and business author who helps clients build lasting competitive edge by eliminating blind-spots and improving leadership habits.

For better than two decades, late night talk show host, David Letterman ran hilarious periodic segments, Stupid Pet Tricks, highlighting silly tricks that people had taught their pets to perform. In a somewhat similar fashion, most of us manager-types have, over the years and the course of our careers adopted or fallen into habits and thought processes that, when subjected to the harsh light of day, are equally silly, but with more serious consequence. An example…

By Bill Catlette

Recently, I came uncomfortably close to dying in a well-equipped, modern, metropolitan hospital emergency room, a building that I had walked into under my own power. The cause of the near death experience was preventable. It had nothing to do with staffing shortages, Obamacare, or a packed emergency department. Rather, it had a lot to do with listening, specifically the lack thereof. Listening, really listening.

For the past few years there has been a hue and a cry, joined of late by large numbers of HR professionals, suggesting that companies need to stop doing traditional performance appraisals. You know what we’re talking about – those semi-annual (usually), awkward, occasionally unpleasant, and never timely conversations where you and your boss are supposed to sit down and have a documented conversation about what has gone well, and not so well with your work performance.

In a presentation last week for a group of healthcare industry managers, I was asked to comment on “work-life balance.” My remarks were prefaced with the admission that I’m fairly certain I no longer know what “work-life balance” means.

At one time, the term implied that there is a point of demarcation where one’s work stops and our private (non-work) life begins, and that there is some reasonable balance between the two.

My last real (corporate) job was an eleven-year run with a very fast moving “550 mph warehouse” as the company’s founder and CEO has been known to put it.

Shortly after I accepted the job offer but before the start date, my new boss, a blunt talking former FBI agent summoned me for a little extra pre-game face time. A central theme of his message was that, in my new role, he expected a lot of mental errors to be made, without which he said, “You won’t be moving fast enough to stay relevant and impactful.”

Another new year has begun, and many of us are now in the process of embracing it, with hopeful ambitions to tidy up our bodies, our lives, habits, homes, you name it. Clearly, we do so with varying degrees of enthusiasm and Commitment (capital ‘C’ intentional), but to be sure, no one enters 2015 with the hope that things will actually get worse. Not to put a damper on the freshness of the season, but some things will get worse if we don’t pay proper attention to them.

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