Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What The Most Successful CEOs Know About Internal Communication

Communications expert David Grossman of Your Thought Partner awhile back published a white paper – What the most successful CEOs know: how internal CEO communications shapes financial performance.

"CEOs who communicate often and well inside their organizations have better reputations – and that leads directly to better business results," explains David. "They’ve also got more engaged employees – another strong, measurable driver of positive financial outcomes."

David's white paper incorporates research compiled from a number of leading sources and points to some critical key headlines, including:
  • Internal communications helps drive organizational financial performance and other key business results, and enhances organizational reputation.
  • There’s a correlation between effective internal communications on topics the CEO is best prepared to address, such as explaining business conditions and challenges, providing information on organizational performance and financial objectives, superior financial performance and employee engagement.
  • Belief in senior leadership is one of the strongest drivers of employee engagement in multiple studies (and the very top driver in at least one), and there’s a correlation between confidence in senior leadership and employee agreement that senior leaders communicate well.
  • Trust in senior leadership is a significant variable in employee engagement – and there’s much ground to be regained by CEOs on this front (especially since they are not seen as the most trustworthy information source on almost any of the topics most important to employees).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Orbital Perspective

Astronaut Ron Garan

How can you not read a book that starts out, "I have wanted to write this book since returning to Earth from my first space mission in 2008"?

Well, that's exactly how astronaut Ron Garan's new book, The Orbital Perspective, starts.

Garan is a retired NASA astronaut who has traveled 71,075,867 miles in 2,842 orbits of our planet during more than 178 days in space and 27 hours and 3 minutes of EVA (extravehicular activity) during four spacewalks.

For Garan, living on the International Space Station (ISS) was a transformative experience – one he believes that can help us solve the world’s toughest crises. Though exploration in space led Garan to many new frontiers; perhaps his most important discovery came in the form of a parallel reality. On Earth, the former US fighter pilot during the Cold War fought the Russians; in space, the US and Russia worked as allies.

As he took in a spectacular view of the planet from the ISS, Garan’s “Orbital Perspective” took shape. If fifteen nationalities could collaborate on one of the most ambitious missions in history, then surely, we could apply that level of cooperation and innovation to creating a better world.

Garan wrote this book to communicate a call to action. To help create a global movement -- a movement of inhabitants of planet Earth who are willing to set aside their differences and work together toward our common goals.

"I am asking everyone to look for ways to create exponential, disruptive, positive action -- action that leads to exponential advancement toward solving the challenges facing our world," says Garan.

"I hope that after reading this book you will agree that we're on to something big that can potentially change the present trajectory of our global society and put it on a profoundly more positive path," he adds.

Garan explains that hovering above Earth he came to believe that the problem we face lies primarily in our inability to collaborate effectively on a global scale.

"There are millions of organizations around the world working to improve life on Earth, but for the most part these organizations are not engaged in a unified, coordinated effort. There is a great deal of duplication of effort, loss of efficiency, and unfortunately, in many cases, destructive competition that does not lead to better products or services," explains Garan.

 "If there's one thing I've learned in my travels around the world, it's that people are people. There are more things that we share in common than things that separate us," says Garan.

Fun Space Facts (from the book)
  • It took Garan three years and many weeks in space before his neck muscles really adjusted to sleeping without gravity.
  • On Earth, the ISS, which is bigger than a football field, would weigh over one million pounds.
  • Every night, Garan and his crew mate had a ritual of listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon while they set up their equipment for the next day, and Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” before heading out to space.
  • The temperature in the shade in space falls to –250ºF, and 250ºF in the sunlight.
Thanks to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Monday, February 23, 2015

How To Reduce Your Employee Turnover Rate

Knowing why an employee leaves your company can help you to reduce your employee turnover rate.

That's because you can use the reasons a departing employee provides to gather information about processes, people and departments that might need some redirection to correct situations that may have contributed to the employee's reasons for leaving.

So, do an exit interview whenever possible with each departing employee. Ask each person:
  • Why they are leaving
  • What they liked about their job
  • What they would have changed about their job
  • How they felt about the cooperation level among co-workers
  • How they felt about communication and interaction with co-workers
  • Whether they received the necessary training to do their job
  • Whether they received frequent coaching and balanced feedback from their supervisor
  • Would they recommend a friend apply for work at your company
  • How they felt about their pay
  • How they would describe the morale in the company and in their department
  • What they would change about their department and the company
  • Whether they received the necessary information to perform their job effectively
You can find other great advice about exit interviews in the book, The Essential HR Handbook, written by Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell. The book is a quick and handy resource for any leader, manager or Human Resource professional.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

How To Handle Conflict In The Workplace

Handling conflict is one of the most difficult things a leader has to deal with.  Unfortunately, conflict in the workplace is inevitable.
  • In fact, research shows that 42 percent of a manager's time is spent addressing conflict.  And, over 65 percent of performance problems are caused by employee conflicts.
Managers new in their leadership role typically have had little to no training on how to deal with conflict.

Fortunately, in Susan H. Shearouse's book, Conflict 101, you can learn:
  • How conflict is created
  • How we respond to conflict
  • How to management conflict more effectively
Shearouse explains that even though conflict is inevitable, it can lead to both growth and progress.  "There is little progress that is not preceded by some kind of conflict," says Shearouse.

I found particularly helpful in the book the definitions of the following five different types of conflict and then how best to deal with each:
  1. Problems to solve
  2. Disagreement
  3. Contest
  4. Fight
  5. Intractable situation
Also helpful are the "consider this" questions asked of the reader in at the end of each chapter, along with the list of "homework" to do's.

Shearouse does a good job of teaching effective ways to:
  • Confronting conflict at the earliest possible level when it's easiest to resolve
  • Become more aware of how different people deal with conflict
  • Have the courage to admit mistakes
  • Rethink anger
  • Foster compromises and collaborations
  • Keep a sense of humor and sense of empathy
  • Build trust among coworkers
  • Harness negative emotions
  • Encourage apologies and forgiveness
  • Use a solution-seeking approach
  • Say what needs to be said   
Shearouse has served as Executive Director of the National Conference on Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution and on the Advisory Board of the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George     Mason University. Her clients have included the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Moments That Significantly Impact Company Culture

In his new book, The Responsible Leader, Tim Richardson explains that to create a high-performance culture, you need to plan and prepare for the following moments to ensure the conversations surrounding them are both meaningful and intentional:

  • recruitment and induction of new team members
  • performance management discussions
  • promotion interviews and talent management discussions
  • coaching discussions
  • customer sales presentations
  • handling customer complaints and problems
  • briefings to the press, analysts and wider market
  • senior leaders' contact with, and briefings to, teams across the organization
  • internal presentations with executive committees
  • team meetings and management meetings
Richardson's advice to improve the quality of these conversations is to consider:
  • How clear is the principal message for the conversation? 
  • How can you ensure that the content of the discussion is focused on the key message(s)?
  • How can you ensure the quality of the listening by all parties?
  • How can you set a pace that is both focused and allows for real thinking?
  • What can you do to make the conversation a generative one that moves things forward?
  • How can you be responsible for holding parties accountable for responses and actions?
  • How will you ensure that decisions taken are mindful of the wider system and longer term as well as short term?
  • How will the organization's values be demonstrated openly and authentically in the conversation?
Richardson is a Director of Waverly Learning and Director of Its Original Ltd. Previously Head of Leadership Development and Talent Management at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, he has worked with corporate clients, such as HSBC, BBC, BOC, Zurich, Centrica, Llloyds TSB, Barclays and Uniliver amongst others.

Thanks to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Friday, February 20, 2015

How To Write Effective Performance Appraisals

Today's guest post is by:

Peggy Pedwano
Solutions Specialist at Halogen Software

As performance appraisal time draws near, managers are all too likely to be dreading the exercise.  According to a  report by the Wharton School, although 91% of companies worldwide have a performance review process, only 35 to 40% do it well, often because managers lack the training to write effective performance appraisals. 

Here are some ideas to help you write effective performance appraisals that can form the basis for a discussion that will actually add value to employee performance reviews.  
  • Begin with a clear understanding of what is important. If you and your employees have set performance goals or established other performance measurement criteria, this should be a relatively easy process. But even if you haven’t, taking the time to think through the year’s priorities and projects will help you focus your appraisal on what matters most. Consider projects where you have been able to observe or can collect objective performance data and identify the core competencies that are critical to success.
  • Keep notes throughout the year.  This simple tool makes writing effective performance appraisals much easier. Whenever you observe employees or have a performance discussion throughout the year, make notes of specific and objective examples to which you can refer. If you haven’t kept notes, think back to observations and prior performance discussions you may have had to identify specific examples. Identify enough examples to be able to document what the employee is doing well as well as what needs to improve.
  • Collect input from employees. Ask your employees to send you their own written thoughts about their performance. Be clear that you will be using their input as one of many sources in compiling an effective performance appraisal. If they do not already have them, supply employees with a list of the goals, competencies or other performance criteria that are the basis for their evaluation. But, by all means, resist the temptation to simply take employees’ self-evaluation, change a few words and adopt it as your own.
  • Collect input from other sources. It is likely that there are others who have worked closely with your employee throughout the course of the year. Ask for their assessment on the goals, competencies and other criteria you have identified as the basis for your appraisal. Weigh all these sources of input carefully to determine as accurate and complete a picture as possible. 
  • Watch out for subtle biases as you formulate your opinions of the employee’s performance. Factors such as personality compatibility can impact your attitude without your knowledge – guard against them. 
  • Consider employee career aspirations and include development plans. If the employee’s performance is generally good, include some elements that will help them progress toward the next step in their career. 
  • Be specific. Include descriptions of what went well and what could have been done better. Base your statements on the examples you have collected. 
  • Gauge the potential impact on the employee. Do not sugarcoat bad news, but be sure that you can support your opinions and choose language that will avoid triggering a defensive response.
Writing an effective performance appraisal is an essential part of a manager’s responsibility and has a significant impact on an employee’s performance, attitude and future. You owe it to them, the organization and your future relationship with the employee to take your time and create an objective, constructive and effective performance appraisal. 

Halogen Software offers an organically built cloud-based talent management suite that reinforces and drives higher employee performance across all talent programs – whether that’s recruiting, performance management, learning and development, succession planning or compensation.

Thanks Peggy for these great tips!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Trust-Building Tips

You can't lead if your employees, team or followers don't trust you.

Building trust takes energy, effort and constant attention to how you act.

To help build trust, follow these 16 tips, recommended by author Susan H. Shearouse:
  1. Be honest
  2. Keep commitments and keep your word
  3. Avoid surprises
  4. Be consistent with your mood
  5. Be your best
  6. Demonstrate respect
  7. Listen
  8. Communicate
  9. Speak with a positive intent
  10. Admit mistakes
  11. Be willing to hear feedback
  12. Maintain confidences
  13. Get to know others
  14. Practice empathy
  15. Seek input from others
  16. Say "thank you"

Monday, February 16, 2015

Six Ways To Jump-Start Your Business

As a leader in your business, try these six ideas to give your business a jump-start:
  1. Ask for ideas from employees in all parts of your business. Don't ask for ideas only from your product development or marketing departments.
  2. Be sure all employees clearly understand your vision and the mission of your business.
  3. Brainstorm ways to take advantage of your strengths.
  4. Determine how to overcome your business' weaknesses.
  5. Choose which opportunities you will prioritize to help keep everyone focused on a common goal.
  6. Celebrate your successes regularly and encourage learning from your mistakes.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Don't Be This Type Of Boss

A former co-worker shared a great blog post with me about the most common complaints about the annoying things bosses do without even realizing it. 

Here are the highlights:

1. Making social events unofficially required.

2. Pressuring employees to donate to charity.

3. Calling employees who are on vacation.

4. Holding endless meetings.

5. Not making hard decisions.

6. Delegating without truly delegating.

7. Hinting, rather than speaking straightforwardly.
Read on for the details behind each of the above statements.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Thought For The Day

"Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in a world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it." -- David Beckahm

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Don't Hog All The Credit

Insecure managers hog the credit for a job well done. Or, they hide the credit and don't give credit where credit is due. These managers are afraid to let their employees be in the limelight.

Secure and successful managers talk up their employees, highlighting the good performance they've done, and are eager to give credit where credit is due. They promote their staff to their supervisor and to others within their organization.

Successful managers know that they look good when their employees look good.

Giving credit where credit is due is a sign of a manager who is wise and confident. It's a sign of a manager who demonstrates good leadership skills. So, when your employees excel, allow them to take the spotlight.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why Giving Positive Feedback Is Better Than Giving Praise

There is an important difference between giving your employees positive feedback and giving them praise.
  • Positive feedback focuses on the specifics of job performance.
  • Praise, often one-or two-sentence statements, such as “Keep up the good work,” without positive feedback leaves employees with empty feelings.
Worse yet, without positive feedback, employees feel no sense that they are appreciated as individual talents with specific desires to learn and grow on the job and in their careers, reports Nicholas Nigro, author of, The Everything Coaching and Mentoring Book.
  • So, skip the praise and give positive feedback that is more uplifting to your employees because it goes to the heart of their job performance and what they actually do.
An example of positive feedback is:

“Bob, your communications skills have dramatically improved over the past couple of months. The report that you just prepared for me was thorough and concise. I appreciate all the work you’ve put into it, as do your team members.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Leadership And Life Quotes

These quotes truly inspire me:

“The three common characteristics of best companies -- they care, they have fun, they have high performance expectations.” -- Brad Hams

“The one thing that's common to all successful people: They make a habit of doing things that unsuccessful people don't like to do.” -- Michael Phelps

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." -- Harry S. Truman

“The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell. The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask.” -- Peter Drucker

“Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Good leadership isn't about advancing yourself.  It's about advancing your team.” -- John C. Maxwell

"People buy into the leader, then the vision.” -- John C. Maxwell

“Great leaders have courage, tenacity and patience.” -- Bill McBean

"People never learn anything by being told, they have to find out for themselves." -- Paulo Coelho

"We live in a time where brands are people and people are brands." -- Brian Solis

"In real life, the most practical advice for leaders is not to treat pawns like pawns, nor princes like princes, but all persons like persons." -- James MacGregor Burns

"The only source of knowledge is experience." -- Albert Einstein

"Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely." -- Auguste Rodin

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." -- Maria Robinson

“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” -- Arnold H. Glasgow

“I praise loudly, I blame softly.” -- Catherine II of Russia

“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.” -- Mohandas Gandhi

“A long dispute means that both parties are wrong.” -- Voltaire

“The least questioned assumptions are often the most questionable.” -- Paul Broca

"One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency." -- Arnold Glasow

“Managers assert drive and control to get things done; leaders pause to discover new ways of being and achieving .”-- Kevin Cashman

“It doesn't matter where you're coming from. All that matters is where you are going to.” -- Stephen Covey

“Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.” -- Samuel Johnson

“Strength doesn't come from what we can do. It comes from overcoming what we once thought we couldn't.” -- Rikki Roberts

“The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.” -- Alfred North Whitehead

“The most powerful predictable people builders are praise and encouragement.” -- Brian Tracy

“Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon them and to let them know that and trust them.” -- Booker T. Washington

“Ask because you want to know. Listen because you want to grow.” -- Mark Scharenbroich

“If you want execution, hail only success. If you want creativity, hail risk, and remain neutral about success.” -- Marcus Buckingham

“To get the best coaching outcomes, always have your 1-on-1's on your employee's turf not yours. In your office the truth hides.” -- Marcus Buckingham

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” -- Alan Kay

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” -- Winston Churchill

“I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” -- Bill Cosby

“The greatest accomplishment is not in never failing, but in rising again after you fall.” -- Vince Lombardi

Monday, February 9, 2015

Fail Fast Or Win Big

In his new book, Fail Fast or Win Big: The Start-up Plan for Starting Now, author Bernhard Schroeder gives you the edge he believes you'll need to be an entrepreneur who can launch a profitable business—in 90 days or less.

He draws on his work with many talented entrepreneurs (the founders of Yahoo! and Amazon included), and presents a proven expedient route to start-up success. That expedited route includes fostering entrepreneurship by facilitating the introduction of product and service “rough drafts” to customers, and then, based on feedback, swiftly adjusting—or dumping—them. Schroeder calls this The LeanModel Framework.

Readers will quickly become adept at:

  • Leveraging all the lean resources around them, from their own skill set, local community, and personal circles to professional networks, online resources, and technology tools.

  • Developing and evolving a solid business model, rather than agonizing over writing a formal business plan, with attention to their venture’s unique value, target segments, key partners, and creating a customer relationship “feeling.”

  • Rapid prototyping—developing a rapid prototype sample product or service and getting it out there quickly to test customer response, then seizing on that feedback to tweak, overhaul, or completely abandon their breakout offering.

  • Seeking out and trusting customer truth, which demands never assuming that they know what a customer wants or needs, relentlessly researching the marketplace and trends, and frequently talking with and always listening to real customers.

  • Getting their start-up off the ground with alternative sources of funding, with particular attention the payoff of crowdfunding and pointers on preparing an effective reward or equity campaign...and more

Schroeder is the Director of Programs at the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center at San Diego State University. He also teaches entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity courses.

Schroeder helped to create a $1 billion company CKS|Partners, the world’s largest integrated marketing communications agency. He has worked with American Express, Apple, Mazda, GM, Kellogg’s, Levi’s, Nikon, and Visa, among many outstanding firms and brands. He was also involved in the initial branding and marketing launches for Amazon, ESPN Online, Travelocity, and Yahoo! 

Thanks to AMACOM, the book publisher, for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Act Like A Leader, Think Like A Leader

This week, Herminia Ibarra will release her latest book, Act Like A Leader, Think Like A Leader.

Contrary to popular opinion, Ibarra argues that you have to act your way into a new type of leadership thinking instead of thinking your way into it. And to do this, you need to develop and practice outsight (versus insight).

To do that, you should:

  1. Redefine your job to make time for more strategic work and more work outside your function, unit and even organization.
  2. Diversify your network so that you connect to and learn from a bigger range of stakeholders.
  3. Get more playful with your sense of self so that you allow yourself to experiment with styles of behaving that go against your nature.
"Doing things -- rather than simply thinking about them -- will increase your outsight on what leadership is all about," explains Ibarra.

Here are three ways to do things at your office tomorrow:
  1. Sign up for one new project, task-force, professional association or extracurricular professional activity that takes you a bit outside your usual area of expertise.
  2. Reach out to three people in your company you always wanted to get to know and ask them for lunch or coffee.
  3. Identify two people whose leadership you admire and start watching them closely. What do they do especially well? Try to adopt some of what they do.
And, when you diversify your network, Ibarra explains that you will be using networking as an essential leadership tool by:
  • Sensing trends and seeing opportunities
  • Building ties to opinion leaders and talent in diverse areas
  • Working collaboratively across boundaries to create more value
  • Avoiding groupthink
  • Generating breakthrough ideas
  • Obtaining career opportunities
Finally, to act like a leader, Ibarra recommends you:
  • Let go of performance goals that can diminish how much we're willing to risk in the service of learning.
  • Allocate less time to what you do best to devote more time to learning other things that are also important.
Ibarra's book includes many useful self-assessments.

Ibarra is the Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning at INSEAD, and author of, Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career.

Thanks to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.