C-Series: “2 Weeks!”

Author: Cara G. Parker, President/CEO of C Parker Consulting, Inc. (CPC)

Do you remember the 1980s movie starring Shelley Long and Tom Hanks, “The Money Pit?” If not, check it out. The famous line from that movie is…”two weeks!”   The premise was that any question asked in the movie had one answer – “it will be ready in 2 weeks!” Well, guess what? -  in 2 weeks, it’s January 1, 2018!   So, my question for you: “Is your business ready for 2018 in 2 weeks?”



I polled women serving in a variety of roles recently and asked them what their plan was in 2 weeks – In other words, what are they focusing on in the new year?  Below are a few of the responses I received:

President of a Member-based Association:

·         Implement the exciting new strategic plan recently created

·         Continue to mentor the staff to embrace challenges and stretch for personal growth


Leadership Development Legal Professional:

·         Launch a mother/daughter leadership retreat at Green Acres Farm in Cape May, New Jersey

·         Launch our Level II Management Development Series for Legal Managers


Director of large U.S. Based Shipping and Transportation Company:

·         Achieve a better work/life balance through eliminating non value-added activity

·         Take my department to a new level by implementing learning in ways our employees can get their learning when, where and how they want it


Manager in Analytics:

·         Become a better storyteller, as I believe this will help me in the work I do with individuals, teams, and organizations


Owner of a Financial Services Institution:

·         Develop more systems and processes for workflow. With the ultimate goal of passing off work to others [delegation], I'd like to create written documentation and procedures for others to follow. That way, at least there are some guidelines for how the work goes through the channel.


·         Earn a new certification in my career field

·         Start-up a leadership institute

What impressed me the most that when I put out the poll, these women responded immediately.  This speed tells me the most productive women are the ones that haven’t waited with only 2 weeks left to develop their 2018 plan.  It’s been in the works for quite some time. And my guess is, they have already started working it.

In the next 2 weeks, I encourage you to think about your plan for 2018 – both personally and professionally.   If you don’t know where to start, steal one of the goals above.  If you need further inspiration, most goals focus on areas like: financials, customer service, process improvement, marketing, learning and development, or philanthropy goals.  Once you develop your goals, write them down and send them to me via my website [below]!  I commit to helping you stay accountable through a gentle check in throughout the year.  That will be one of my 2018 goals!

Happy New Year and here’s to a productive 2018!

C Parker Consulting, Inc. is a strategic planning and leadership development firm located in downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Check us out at: www.cparkerconsulting.com

Perpetual Movement Toward Your Success!








I Didn't Know I Was Broken!

I didn't know I was so broke!

by  Cara Parker

didn't know I was so broke! These days, it seems everywhere I turn, someone is trying to "fix" me – whether it's 21 Day Fix that will "fix" my health concerns; Stitch Fix, which will "fix" my wardrobe malfunctions; or Apple Security Fix, which will "fix" hacker threats to my cyber presence.  It seems everywhere I go, someone or some entity is offering a solution to things I care about.  I thought I'd join in. 

In leadership, we are truly always looking for the latest "fix." Leadership, at its core, is about continuous improvement or "fixing."  Here's my opinion:  a lot (if not a majority) of organizational and leadership concerns can by "fixed" by simply having a conversation.  We hear so much about the "art of conversation," or "just get up and talk to the person instead of sending another e-mail."  What I'm talking about has a greater return on investment. Let me give you 2 examples: innovation and performance management.

Innovation:  How much money has your organization spent in trying to think up better processes, improved ways of doing business, or how to solve a problem that has plagued your company for years?  Do you know how to "fix" this?  By talking.  Your employees are your greatest assets for innovation.  By simply getting a few of the right employees in a room, they will talk a mile a minute about how to "make it better around here."  Using good facilitation techniques, you can moderate healthy debates and prioritize the ideas using an impact/effort grid.  Tackle the easy "quick fixes" first.  Next, focus on the harder ones that take longer, are more resource intensive, or take more investigation.

Performance Management (PM): PM does not belong in your Human Resources Office.  It's the responsibility of every manager.  There are 2 sides to performance management – the growth of employees, and then "fixing" the problem employees.   Talking solves both.  PM conversations and coaching should be ongoing, scheduled and intentional conversations – not just a one-time event annually.  Career pathing, succession planning, growth opportunities, and mentoring are conversations best owned by managers.  Imagine a group of managers getting into a room for 2 hours sharing the needs of their divisions and employees. Next, through action-based facilitation, they begin matching up developmental opportunities and problem solving.  It's worth any amount of dollars spent on an "outside consultant."

Instead of thinking we're "broken," we at CPC are more concerned about you leveraging the current resources and assets you already have in order to move toward process improvement.  Take a moment and consider 2 areas you'd like to "fix" and then go facilitate good conversations!

C Parker Consulting, Inc. is an organizational and leadership development firm located in downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia.  We offer facilitation of conversations to "fix" issues that leaders are overwhelmed by.  Our office, The Forum at CPC, provides a great place to parley these discussions.  Check us out at: www.cparkerconsulting.com

Perpetual Movement Toward Your Success!

What Role Do You Play on Your Team?

Ever served on a team and thought, "this is the most dysfunctional group of people, I've ever been in a room with?" (No, I'm not talking about your family!)  I'm talking about teams that just can't seem to get it together.  They seem to have all the necessary tools for success:  They know what their purpose is, they've identified their stakeholders, they are clear on their boundaries, and they may even have an adequate budget and IT tools, yet they still can't get their product/service out the door.


The issue is not the tools, it's the fact they may not know how to work together as a team.  It sounds so cliché and as senior leaders, we've all attended leadership trainings to help us be more effective. But… the practicality is that teams need to understand, appreciate and give space for various roles to step up and lead the team when the time is right for their role.


Here's an example, let's say it's 4th quarter and you are working on a team that is charged with developing a strategic plan for the next year.  At first, the meetings were dynamic – lots of good ideas and enthusiasm in the room.  Then, as the weekly meetings continued, the energy died and you felt like the team was spinning its wheels, having the same discussions, and not moving any closer to actually putting fingers to keyboard to write the document.  It's not that the project changed or new people came on the team.  It's likely that your team members are feeling unfulfilled. Let's dig deeper.  At first, when the team came together, there was excitement about what next year looked like – lots of brainstorming and idea sharing of what the future could look like.  It was fun.  You probably had people up at the white board drawing out ideas and then "selling" you on their positions.  Did you notice though that some people around the table had a skeptical look on their face, or others may have voiced a "Yeh, but" only to be silenced by the enthusiastic extraverts?  Often, these folks are seen as the naysayers, when what they are really good at is quality-checking ideas against reality. Or some may be scratching their heads because they know they will be responsible for overall implementation and with all the conflicting ideas flying around, they have no idea where to begin, so asking questions helps solidify their understanding.  But, instead, now they have been labeled as, "difficult," a "buzzkill" or "a downer."  Slowly these people disengage, sometimes forming an alliance to undermine the original purpose of the team.


Knowing the strengths of your team members can help set the stage better, allow for brainstorming in the initial stages of the project and then allow the project to come to conclusion minimizing conflict.


Fast forward a few more meetings…Let's say, Buzzkill Bob has finally been able to speak up, ask his questions, and is now coming to the meeting with a full blown task list and time line that will allow this strategic plan to be written.  He's excited and so are the colleagues that early on had asked quality questions and sought out additional information.  As he begins presenting "how" the team will write the plan, those early on visionaries start scowling.  They are suddenly feeling locked in to something they were originally just sharing ideas on.  Now, they begin to slink back in their chair wide-eyed in trying to make sense of the connection between their brainchild and this very structured project plan with task lists, assignments, time tables, budgets, etc.  Meanwhile, others are hanging on every word and meticulously adding in the details to get the job accomplished.

 Once can easily see how conflict can arise.

 Here's a different scenario:  A meeting is called with key business leaders with a goal to write a new strategic plan for the organization within 3 months.  At the first welcome meeting, the goals are outlined, budget factors, resources, and overall expectations of the product are clearly defined – just as before.  AND…in addition to all the business factors, each person in aware and can articulate their strengths, allowable weaknesses, and how they will best contribute to the team. These assets are stated up front so there are no surprises to responses during meeting discussions.  For example, the people who are great at ideas are needed early on to help solve difficult problems or brainstorm creative solutions.  Those that are not naturally creative should not be critical, but can take some nuggets of the generated ideas, gather more information, test it out, and formulate an implementation plan.  At the plan stage, those creatives, should not become frustrated with all the details, but they should recognize the strengths of those that can bring their ideas to life!


When teams recognize and appreciate each other's strengths and more importantly, give each other space to succeed, creative products can be delivered on time, within budget and with the highest of quality all the while creating a positive environment where team members are contributing, supporting each other and thriving!


Sound too good to be true?  It's not.  It's totally doable and is the premise of Belbin Team Roles.  Cara Parker is an accredited consultant to work with teams to maximize their performance using Belbin Team Role Theory coupled with her Project Management Professional Certification.  To inspire your team, contact her directly at 540.623.7454 or check out her website at: www.cparkerconsulting.com.


Are you serving on a high performing team?

Adopted from: Turning Point Consulting and The Grove Internationa

Most of us have been part of a successful team.  A few of us have been, at some point, part of high-performing team.  This is actually when members feel synergy and a sense of excitement in working together toward a common goal with great results. Members actually care about the success of their teammates, are clear about their goals, and know their specific purpose while serving on the team.   But here's the crux - high performing teams don't automatically exist, but rather are formed and developed through a process over time. In other words, developing a high performing team is an intentional act. And it takes time. 


That's what I like about the Drexler Sibbet's High Performing Teams Model – it identifies seven stages that each team must go through in order to be high performing.  Yes, let me say it again – it is seven stages and every team has to honor each and every stage.  You may be saying, "We have scarce resources – time being one of them – and we don't have the time to spend on seven stages!" I say, "You don't have the time not to spend." The hard truth is that without initiating the necessary time and space focused on your team, your project will not succeed. Period.


So, here it is – Drexler/Sibbet's seven stages.  (They are really quite simple and clear):


  1. Orient your team members to determine who's who and the role they serve on the team.  Establish your team's identity.
  2. Build trust based in forthrightness and reliability resulting in mutual regard for each other.
  3. Clarify the team's goal by articulating a shared vision and clearly state assumptions about the tasks.
  4. Gain commitment by assigning the right roles to the right people, allocating support where needed, clearly state boundaries articulating how the team makes decisions.
  5. Implement!  This is the fun stage where all the planning pays off.  (And OBTW, if stages 1-4 are in place, implementation is never as hard as you originally thought.)
  6. Rock the high performance.  This stage is marked by the team's high trust evidenced by the ease of flexibility and change when necessary.  Expectations are surpassed on deliverables.
  7. Renew the team.  Don't forget reward and recognition.  The team needs to be re-energized.  Revel in success, learn from mistakes, and actively prepare for a new cycle of action!


So, what stage is your team in?  I hope you are working your way through each stage in order to produce an effective and timely product or service.  But if not, that's ok.  Drexler/Sibbet makes it easy to diagnose the behaviors you don't want and turn them into behaviors you do want within each stage.

Cara Parker is a consultant who works with teams to maximize their performance. Drexler/Sibbet Model is one of the many great tools in her tool kit that helps diagnose team's successes and challenges.  To inspire your team, contact her directly at 540.623.7454 or check out her website at: www.cparkerconsulting.com.