Trust is the Key to High Performance

Building and maintaining trust in an organization takes consistent behavior and setting clear expectations.  Leaders should model direct and respectful communication and behaviors including honesty, understanding and a clear focus on high performance.  Disagreements are not feared. The successful navigation of disagreements builds a stronger team, and leads to better decision-making.  Excuses are not tolerated and follow through is essential.  When the team sees their leaders as trustworthy, feedback is honest and direct, and everyone holds themselves and others accountable to excellent performance. 

A clear mission statement and code of conduct are keys to creating the expectation of respectful interaction and excellent performance.  These documents must be front and center, used and reinforced constantly, helping the whole team make decisions.

We all would prefer to work in a respectful and productive environment where we are challenged and know what to expect of our leaders and co-workers.  Whether or not you are a leader, don’t underestimate your effect on others with your positive or negative influence.

Call Skill Builders!

Judy Preston can help you design your mission statement and code of conduct, and teach your whole team the practice of direct and respectful behavior and communication.

How to Be a Great Leader


We all want to be great leaders, and here are some ways to be great and support your team so they want to follow you:

  • Treat employees as partners. Instead of just issuing orders, ask your people for their opinions and rely on their expertise. Listen to their ideas and help them implement as many as possible.
  • Encourage everyone to be honest. Don’t get angry at bad news. Be patient when team members disagree with you. Remember, they know their jobs better than you do, and they may have important points to raise.
  • Create an expectation that all team members hold each other accountable to the values of the organization.  Model and teach others to be honest, open and respectful about things that are not going well.   Always say please and thank you.
  • Focus on their strengths instead of trying to fix weaknesses.  Your team will be more engaged and enthusiastic when they are able to use their strengths in their work.
  • Remember they’re human. People have feelings, desires, and personal interests. Don’t ignore them. In fact, set a goal for yourself to recognize your team members, personally and for the good work they do.  Celebrate their success and the organizations’s successes.  Ask how you can help them with their career goals, and show a genuine interest in their well-being.

Call Skill Builders!

Judy Preston is a certified Gallup Strengths Coach. She uses Strengths Coaching and Training to improve engagement and productivity in your team, which will improve your organization’s bottom line.

New Leadership Program in the Flathead

Taking Applications NOW!

Leadership Flathead Reservation

Keeping our communities healthy requires insightful leaders who have the ability to communicate and work effectively with others. To this end, many cities and rural counties around Montana provide a year-long leadership development program, and most are sponsored by local Chambers of Commerce. The programs are designed to facilitate development and growth of local leaders, provide opportunities to interact with other community members, and explore local relevant issues.
Lake County Community Development
Lake County Community Development Corporation, located in Ronan, Montana, is the sponsor of the Leadership Flathead Reservation program, which will launch its inaugural class in September. Applications are due by May 15th (see link below.)

The goals of LFR are:

  • To strengthen the ability of current and emerging leaders to encourage positive and cooperative economic and social change in our communities;
  • To develop a sustainable core of committed leaders who understand the key issues unique to our area, and
  • To motivate participants to listen and learn from others, and demonstrate a passion for working cooperatively to make our community the best it can be.

Participants will benefit by getting to know other local leaders, learning new leadership skills, and being exposed to the inner workings of Reservation communities.

Judy Preston and Gypsy Ray are Co-Chairs of the LFR Committee engaged in designing and promoting the program.

For additional information, call Judy at (406) 239-4576, or Gypsy at (406) 676-5901.

? View and download the 2017 LFR Application here….

View the Program Description here…

More about Lake County Community Development Corporation…

The Secret of Higher Performance

Strengths Based Management

Strengths Coaching

By explicitly acknowledging the uniqueness of each employee, companies energize their workers’ independent thinking and creativity.

Too often, when supervisors or managers have conversations with their employees, those interactions are focused on tasks. While it is helpful for managers to understand the tasks each employee is working on, a constant focus on fixing immediate problems can sabotage long-term productivity.

A more effective way to develop an employee is to center performance conversations on the employee’s strengths, which in turn leads to improved morale and employee engagement.

People who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job and three times more likely to be happier with their lives in general. Increased engagement translates to increased employee retention, and makes it easier to recruit new people.

Focusing more conversations on employees’ strengths helps them develop their natural talents and improve their work because they are able to emphasize how they naturally excel and how they’re uniquely equipped to get the job done. This also enables them to transfer how they have used their strengths from one task to another and to repeat the process.

Strengths based management highlights individual talents so each team member can understand how to use their strengths in every day situations. Giving ongoing feedback about how to use their strengths builds employee trust and enables better team performance.

Call Skill Builders!

Judy Preston is a certified Gallup Strengths Coach. She uses Strengths Coaching and Training to improve engagement and productivity in your team, which will improve your organization’s bottom line.

3 Tips to Engage Employees

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement adds real value to top-line growth and bottom-line performance. But like most good things in life, it takes time. That’s why deploying engagement initiatives is critical to preventing turnover. Consider this: a Gallup Poll found two-thirds of employees aren’t engaged at all. And an Allied Workforce Mobility Survey found that it can take more than a year for new employees to reach full productivity. What if you could fast-track improvements in engagement?

When you consider that organizations with high engagement rates are 78% more profitable than companies with average engagement rates, it makes sense to improve the engagement process. Here are three tips that you and your leadership team can use to engage employees:

  • Recognize and respond to your employees’ basic engagement needs. For example, your teams needs clear goals, opportunities to develop, recognition, and ongoing feedback.
  • Send out a pre-initiative survey to gauge the current state of employee engagement. Then after your engagement initiative is complete, send a post-initiative survey to measure before-and-after progress.
  • Offer employees well-rounded development initiatives that can help facilitate communication and engagement at work and in their personal lives. Assessments such as the StrengthsFinder and MBTI can do just that, by helping people understand what motivates them and the people around them (including your customer).

Providing opportunities for effective collaboration and communication shows your employees that you value them and that you want to invest in them as people. In fact, this kind of team building helps people feel like they belong and get the most from their career, which is key for employee engagement.

Call Skill Builders!

Judy Preston with Skill Builders, specializes in customized team building, leadership training, facilitations and coaching that help the whole organization work together in support of the overall mission. Judy is a Certified Myers-Briggs Practitioner, and a Certified Strengths Coach, and with over 20 years of management experience, she understands the challenges of developing and managing the culture of an organization.

Strategic Planning to Energize Your Team

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is used by many organizations at different times in their process, to help focus the team on current priorities and action steps.

Here are some of the components, (not necessarily in this order):

  • Mission, Vision, Values Statements
  • Code of Conduct (optional)
  • Situational analysis (SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
  • Issues and Goals
  • Strategies
  • Action Plans
    • Documents
    • Implement / Monitor / Adjust

It is helpful to gather as a group, establish where you all want to end up, and agree on a common direction and goals. Clear expectations and roles for each member should also be expressed, negotiated and agreed upon. Teams benefit from establishing ground rules for meetings, communication and decision making.

The bottom line is that your organization should go about planning, setting expectations and priorities in a way that works for the team. I’ve seen this type of planning process energize and engage employees — and ignite productivity.

Call Skill Builders!

Judy Preston provides facilitated planning services to help your organization create or update its overall plan.

Leaders Get People Moving

Employee Motivation

Leaders energize and mobilize people to take the organization to new and better places.  Teams and organizations need people to step up and take charge, and to inspire others to work toward the common goals of the organization.

As you know, leaders and team members need to understand themselves and their co-workers in order to function well as a team.  There are always new leaders coming up through the ranks of the organization who need to be supported and trained so the system continues to work well. 

My business, Skill Builders, specializes in customized team building, leadership training, facilitations, and coaching that help the whole organization work together in support of the overall mission.  It is gratifying to teach a group of new leaders the skills they need to be successful at productively leading their teams.

As a Myers-Briggs Certified Practitioner, and Certified Strengths Coach, I use MBTI and Strengths concepts as a basis to develop leaders and build teams that trust and respect each other.  With over 20 years of management experience, I understand the challenges of developing and managing the culture of an organization.

Call Skill Builders!

I look forward to exploring ways we might work together for the benefit of your organization.  Contact me today for a free consultation. ~ Judy

Say No Without Being Negative

Here’s how to say no without alienating people.

You can’t agree to every request from an employee, a co-worker, or even your boss. But saying no is never simple. Even if you have to deny a request or can’t help someone, you want people to know they can depend on your support and assistance. Here’s how to say no without alienating people:

• Say it clearly. Don’t duck confrontation by saying “Maybe,” or “I’ll see.” State your position in clear language: “No, I can’t do that.’

• Explain your reasons. Employees and colleagues don’t want to feel stonewalled. Explain clearly why you can’t do what they’re asking. For example, specific policies or priorities may make rejection necessary. Maybe you don’t have the skills to do a good job. Clarify the business needs behind your refusal so people are less likely to take it personally.

• Offer options when you can. When you close off one avenue, look for alternatives. For example, you may have to deny a request for time off during your team’s rush period, or turn down a bid for promotion if the employee needs more skills. However, you may be able to offer other days off, or coach the employee to develop those skills. Put some thought into your answer to make it the start of something positive.

— Adapted from Executive Matters

Skill Builders Courageous ConversationsSkill Builders can teach you and your people how to communicate expectations and hold each other accountable in a way that everyone wins. Assertiveness begins with each person suspending judgement and asking reasonable questions. Ask me about our 1-hour “Courageous Conversations” training, that will benefit your whole organization.

The Mindset of a Manager

Mindset is Key

Management skills are very different from the skills one needs to succeed as an individual contributor. Being a manager requires skills beyond those of being an excellent worker. Managers need to focus on people, not just tasks. They need to rely on others, not just be self-reliant. Managers are also team-oriented and have a broad focus, whereas individual contributors succeed by having a narrow focus and being detail-oriented.

In many ways, transitioning from the role of an individual contributor to a manager of others is similar to the difference between being a technician and being an artist. The manager is an artist because management deals with nuance and ambiguity, which involves a different mindset.

New managers need support and encouragement as they navigate the transition from being part of the group to leading the group. Skill Builders specializes in training and coaching for new managers.