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Review: Marshall Goldsmith’s Triggers – Creating Behavior That Lasts



Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts – Becoming The Person You Want To Be

By Marshall Goldsmith

Crown Business


Want to witness the worst version of me at work?

Sign me up for a day’s worth of training that kicks off with an ice-breaker followed by endless hours of role-playing with colleagues.

It won’t be fun for me, you or the workshop facilitator.

You can look forward to a master class in passive aggressive behavior. Without saying a word, I’ll let you know that I’d rather have a vasectomy, colonoscopy and root canal before a live studio audience.  I’ll doodle, constantly check my digital pacifier and stare at the ceiling. We will never make eye contact. I’ll never volunteer an answer.

Even if you don’t ask, I’ll remind you that this is my least effective way of learning. Skip the corporate reindeer games and just give me a book or a guest speaker.

But here’s the rub. I know I should pull up my big boy pants. I’m leading by bad example. My fellow introverts play along to get along and I’m nothing special.

My employer’s investing good money on my professional development.  There are far harder, and much worse, ways to spend a day and there lots of people who’d happily trade places with me.

And above all, it’s disrespectful. The facilitator who’s working hard to engage the room deserves better than dealing with a sullen 40-something who should know better.

So I’m past due for a behavior change. It’s not easy for adults to pull off but it can be done, says Marshall Goldsmith, an executive coach with 35 years experience and author of Triggers and the best-selling What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.

“It’s hard to initiate behavioral change, even harder to stay the course, hardest of all to make the change stick,” says Goldsmith. “I’d go so far as to say that adult behavioral change is the most difficult thing for sentient human beings to accomplish.”

Here’s one way to make it happen. Introduce a new evaluation form at the end of meetings, workshops and training days. Don’t ask us to weigh in on speakers, facilitators and presentations. Challenge us to evaluate ourselves instead.

“Here’s my radical suggestion,” says Goldsmith. “From now on, pretend that you are going to be tested at every meeting. Your heart and mind will thank you for it. The hour that you spend in the meeting is one hour of your life that you never get back. Why waste that hour being disengaged and cynical? By taking personal responsibility for your own engagement, you make a positive contribution to your company and begin creating a better you.”

Goldsmith recommends that we ask ourselves four questions that put the onus squarely on us:

  • Did I do my best to be happy?
  • Did I do my best to find meaning?
  • Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
  • Did I do my best to be fully engaged?

For each question, rate how hard you tried on a scale from one to 10. Instead of measuring outcomes, evaluate effort.

Outside of meetings, ask yourself two more daily questions.

  • Did I do my best to set clear goals?
  • Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals?

Daily self-questioning is one way to trigger behavior change, says Goldsmith. “If we fall short of goals eventually we either abandon the questions or push ourselves into action. We feel ashamed or embarrassed because we wrote the questions, knew the answers and still failed the test. When the question begins with “did I do my best to…” the feeling is even worse. We have to admit that we didn’t even try to do what we know we should have done.”

If you have a few regrets at work or on the home front, Goldsmith shows how to finally mend your ways with the people you respect and love.

“The pain that comes with regret should be mandatory, not something to be shooed away like an annoying pet. When we make bad choices and fail ourselves or hurt the people we love, we should feel pain. That pain can be motivating and in the best sense triggering – a reminder that maybe we messed up but we can do better. It’s one of the most powerful feelings guiding us to change.”







Review: Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock

work rulesThis review first ran in the Jan. 4th edition of The Hamilton Spectator.

Work Rules: Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

By Laszlo Bock

Hachette Book Group


Hoping to hire some all-star talent in 2016?

Be prepared to spend some serious money on recruitment.

And where will you come up with the cash to find and sign the best and brightest?

Google’s senior vice president of People Operations recommends raiding your training and development budget.

“The presence of a huge training budget is not evidence that you’re investing in your people,” says VP Laszlo Bock, author of Work Rules. “It’s evidence that you failed to hire the right people to begin with. Refocusing your resources on hiring better will have a higher return than almost any training program you can develop.”

Google front-loads its investment in people, says Bock. “The majority of our time and money spent on people is invested in attracting, assessing and cultivating new hires. If we are better able to select people up front, that means we have less work to do with them once they are hired.”

Google pays bonuses to employees who make successful referrals.  “In the early days and for many years, our best source of candidates was referrals from existing employees.” While the bonuses are generous, it turns out employees refer friends and colleagues for intrinsic reasons. They love their work and want others to experience it too.

Google also runs its own search firm. Staff who once spent their days screening resumes and scheduling interviews now proactively search for candidates. Google recognized that the best people aren’t looking for you or a new job. You need to find them.

“Hundreds of brilliant recruiters find and cultivate these individuals over time – sometimes over years,” says Bock. “Our in-house search firm finds more than half of our hires each year, at a cost far lower than using outside firms, with deeper insight into the market, and while providing candidates with a warmer, more intimate experience.”

Once you land your all-stars, be prepared to pay unfairly. Make compensation commensurate with contributions. “Your best people are better than you think, and worth more than you pay them,” says Bock. “If your best performer is generating 10 times as much impact as an average performer, they shouldn’t necessarily get 10 times the reward but I’d wager they should get at least five times the reward.”

Also enlist your high performers to train your low performers. “I promise you that in your organization there are people who are expert on every facet of what you do, or at least expert enough that they can teach others.”

Bock says your in-house trainers will understand your company and your customers better than any consultant or academic.  “It is generally far better to learn from people who are doing the work today, who can answer deeper questions and draw on current, real-life examples.  They understand your context better, they are always available to provide immediate feedback and they are mostly free.”

Free is a recurring theme in Bock’s playbook for building better organizations. The majority of Google’s people programs cost the company next to nothing or nothing at all. These programs have helped Google earn more than 100 awards as a top employer. FORTUNE magazine has named Google the best company to work for in the U.S. a record five times.

“The secrets of Google’s people success can be replicated in organizations large and small, by individuals and CEOs,” says Bock. “Not every company will be able to duplicate perks like free meals, but everyone can duplicate what makes Google great.”

And that greatness can help your organization recruit an unfair share of top talent in 2016.