Communiqué July 18, 2012

Get Better - Behavior #7 of High-Trust Leaders

-Keith Smith, associate vice president, Agricultural Administration and director, OSU Extension

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler

Today’s technology, globalization, and the knowledge worker economy have increased the degree of difficulty and put us in a more challenging atmosphere to be successful in today's workplace. Unless we improve our capabilities dramatically, we’re going to be inadequate to the challenge, says Stephen M.R. Covey, in The Speed of Trust.

“One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure,” a quote by author John Gardner, of Excellence and Self-Renewal.

Get Better is based on the principles of continuous improvement, learning and change. It is what the Japanese call "kaizen," and it builds enormous trust. When people see you as a learning, growing, renewing person – or think of your organization as a learning, growing renewing organization – they develop confidence in your ability to succeed in a rapidly changing environment, enabling you to build high-trust relationships and move forward with incredible speed.

The opposite of Get Better is entropy, deterioration, resting on your laurels, or becoming irrelevant. With the pace of change in today’s world, if you are not making a conscious effort to Get Better, you’re not just standing’re getting farther and farther behind.

In seeking to Get Better, there are two strategies that are particularly helpful in maximizing your effort: seek feedback, and learn from your mistakes. What differentiates the best from the good companies is not whether they ask questions, it’s how they respond to the answers. You should always be responsible in following through. Otherwise your expression of intent will create a withdrawal of trust, and you’ll be worse off than if you had not solicited feedback in the first place.

“You learn nothing from your successes except to think too much of yourself. It is from failure that all growth comes, provided you can recognize it, admit it, learn from it, rise above it, and then try again,” said Dee Hock, founder and former CEO, Visa International.

Tips on how to Get Better:

  • The next time you make a mistake, rather than agonizing over it, reframe it as feedback.
  • If you have a leadership role in an organization, on a team, or in a family, take steps to create an environment that makes it safe to make mistakes. Encourage others to take appropriate risks and to learn from failure so you create high trust, high synergy, and high-level productivity.

I encourage you to continuously improve, increase your capabilities and be a constant learner. Don’t consider yourself above feedback, and don’t assume today’s knowledge and skills will be sufficient for tomorrow’s challenges.

Annual Conference - Save the Date

The theme for this year's Annual Conference is Embracing the Past. Building the Future. This theme reflects our goal to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Morrill Act. The all-employee conference on December 5 will be held at the Ohio Union in Columbus. The annual association meetings will be held December 4 at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center.

Ask an Expert Response Team - Prompt Action Required

Our current Ask an Expert (AaE) average response time is 63 hours, 1.3 times longer than our goal of responding within 48 hours. Here are some ways to help speed up our response rate:

1. Be sure to take some action as soon as possible, even if you are unable to answer the question. Your options include:

  • Answering the question. If you can answer the question, please do so quickly.
  • Asking for more information. You can reply with a request for more information or ask questions to clarify.
  • Assign the question to someone who can better answer the question.
  • Select the “hand off to a Wrangler” feature. This pushes the question back to a Wrangler so they can reassign the question.

2. Be sure your geographic and area of expertise settings are correctly set. This helps the Wranglers quickly assign questions to the right person.

If you have questions, contact Jerry Thomas (; 419-306-9400).

eRequest Approval Reminder

Some employee reimbursements and vendor payments are remaining unapproved in the eRequest system for longer than they should. Many approvers have been receiving notifications from the Business Office that a certain eRequest is ready for approval. This is done if the reimbursement has been in the system longer than one week. Employees seeking reimbursement for mileage only need to fully complete the request, with Business Unit, Org, Fund, Account and any user defined or project numbers. Remember to attach the mileage log because this is required for reimbursement. For employees requesting reimbursement for other expenses, the original receipts need to be sent to the Business Office before reimbursement may occur (food purchases for programs, office supplies…). If assistance is needed, the Business Office website (  has many aids and training on how to complete and approve an eRequest. For approvers who have turned off eRequest notification, it is your responsibility to log on to the eRequest system weekly to approve requests (

Staff Advisory Council Recognition Awards - Nominations Due August 31

It is time to nominate your outstanding co-workers for the 2012 Staff Recognition: Above and Beyond Awards and Shirley Brooks-Jones Award. This is brought to you by the CFAES Staff Advisory Council.

Nomination forms are due August 31! Questions can be directed to any CFAES SAC member or directly to Kathy Mann, (

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