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Showing posts from June, 2011

What Employees Say Managers Don't Do

According to David Grossman, author of the new book, You Can't Not Communicate -2, here are eight things employees say managers don't do:
Don't keep employees informed.Don't explain the "why" behind decisions.Don't communicate frequently enough and in a timely way.Don't update employees on changes happening in the business.Don't share regular business updates and how the team is performing.Don't ask for feedback.Don't ask for or listen to concerns.Don't act on feedback (or at least close the loop as to why feedback wasn't incorporated into a decision) This is a great reminder for leaders of what not to do. 

And, perhaps number 8 on the list is the one where most managers fall short -- not explaining why they didn't incorporate feedback into their final decision.

What To Ask Your Team Before Acting On Their Recommendation

There's a great article in the June issue of the Harvard Business ReviewbyDaniel Kahneman that includes a 12-question checklist that is designed to unearth cognitive biases of teams making recommendations that leaders take into consideration before they make their decisions.

The questions include those the leaders should ask themselves and questions they should use to challenge the people proposing a course of action. 

Here are some of the recommended questions:
Is there any reason to suspect the team making the recommendation is motivated by self-interest?Has the team fallen in love with its proposal?Were the dissenting options within the team explored adequately?Are credible alternatives included along with the recommendation?Are the recommenders overly attached to a history of past decisions?Is the recommending team overly cautious?Where did the worst case scenario come from?  How sensitive is the recommendation to our competitors' responses?  What could happen that we have …

Southwest Airlines Shares 40 Lessons For Business Leaders

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Southwest Airlines is celebrating its 40th year and was kind enough to share in its in-flight magazine 40 lessons it learned since 1971.  The lessons provide good tips for business leaders.

If you missed the full list, here are some of the highlights:
Invent your own culture and put a top person in charge of itA crisis can contain the germ of a big idea.Simplicity has value.  For Southwest, simplicity means using 737s for most of its fleet, which makes maintenance more cost-effective and allows more efficient training for flight crews and ground crews.Remember your chief mission.Take your business, not yourself, seriously.Put the worker first.  For Southwest, that meant being the first U.S. airline to offer a profit-sharing plan, in 1974.  Employees now own 13 percent of the airline.The web ain't cool, it's a tool.  Southwest was the first U.S. airline to establish a home page.  By 2010, Southwest.com boasted more unique visitors than any other airline, and ranked as the se…

What Will Your Leadership Legacy Be?

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As a leader, you likely have asked yourself, "How do I want to be remembered as a leader?"

But, perhaps the more important question is, "How will I be remembered as a leader?" The answer to that question is likely going to be based on the valuable lessons you shared with those you led, among other things.

The Kansas City Star newspaper last year wrote a story about Marion Laboratories and its 60th anniversary. In its heyday, Marion had 3,400 employees with sales of nearly $1 billion and in 1989 merged with Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals.

Mr. Ewing Kauffman, fondly known as Mr. K, led Marion during its peak, and is remembered as one of the most effective, influential leaders ever in the Kansas City area.

Former employees quoted in the newspaper article remember Mr. Kauffman as a leader who shared these lessons with them:
"You can do anything you want if you set your mind to it and if you study your competition.""You can't be afraid o…

Grossman's Communications Book Is Your Business Must-Read Summer Book

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Can't decide what one business book to take on your summer vacation to accompany your "fun-reading" books?  I recommend David Grossman's, You Can't Not Communicate, 2." 
Why, because this updated installment of his previous best-seller with virtually the same title is an easy read and one you can finish in an afternoon.
More important, David gives you lots of practical, real-world, wise, straight-forward advice on how to communicate more effectively as a leader -- all tips and techniques you can start to do when you return from vacation.  So, taking an afternoon to read this book even while you are on vacation will be well worth it!
Particularly helpful are the: Top 10 must-do strategies for persuasive presentationsFive easy strategies for managing the company rumor mill Twelve must-have skills for effective two-way communication David also explains: the importance of having a "messagemap" ways leaders at all levels can build trust by aligning acti…

How May I Make You Smile?

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Walk up to the order taker at the new Unforked restaurant in Overland Park, KS and you'll be greeted with, "How may I make you smile?" Chances are just hearing that will make you smile. And, how refreshing that is to hear versus, "How may I help you?" This small, but creative wording change is a sign that the leader of the team at Unforked is thinking out of the box. As out of the box as the menu you'll find at Unforked, which includes burgers, tacos, salads, quesadillas and tortas -- all with a variety of out-of-the-ordinary ingredients. The new restaurant is a Sheridan's invention; the same company that serves its signature frozen custard from a number of locations throughout Greater Kansas City. Jim Sheridan, founder of Sheridan's Frozen Custard traveled the U.S. for the past 18 months researching restaurant concepts. Unforked's menu options reflect the growing trend toward offering foods that are free from gluten, antibiotics and hormones. The…

Now What Do You Ask A Job Candidate?

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Twenty-some years ago, my supervisor taught me to ask job candidates, "If you are stranded on an island and could choose to have with you only one book and one magazine, which book and magazine would you choose?"

Over the years, some of the same books and magazines were often named by many respondents, but the range of mentioned books and magazines was quite varied.  As the candidate's future leader, his/her answer gave me a deeper insight into that person, particularly when I would ask the person to provide the reason for their choice.

But, what does one ask today?  Perhaps the new question is, "If you are stranded on an island and could choose only one media channel, which one would you choose?"  And, perhaps you offer the candidate this list of options instead of leaving the question open-ended:
FacebookTwitterGoogleYahooHuluI wonder if the answers to this media channel question will be as, more, or less revealing than the former book and magazine question. …

Encourage Employees To Learn From Their Mistakes

Mistakes happen. The best thing you can do as a leader is to help your employee learn from his (or her) mistake.

If your employee is afraid of ever making a mistake, he will be paralyzed from taking action or taking even calculated risks. If he knows that mistakes happen in the course of doing business and that one learns from making mistakes, you will have a more productive employee.

Most important, be sure your employee knows that if he makes a mistake, he should let you know as soon as possible.

As soon as he does, quickly rectify the situation.

Then, discuss with him how the mistake happened. Find out what he did or didn't do. Ask him what he thinks he can do in the future to avoid the mistake from happening again. Chances are he has already figured this out. If not, teach him what he needs to do differently to avoid the mistake from reoccurring.

Finally, you may discover that the mistake happened because policies, procedures or your assignment instructions were confusing or u…

How To Lose Respect

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Picture this. You call an employee into your office for a meeting. As your employee is explaining something to you, you turn to your computer monitor to check e-mail. Or, you answer your phone. Or, you look at your mobile device. Or, you engage in a conversation with someone who enters your doorway.

Do any of these once and your employee will likely forgive you. Do any of these actions regularly and you'll quickly lose the respect of your employee!

Rarely is there a reason not to give your employee your full, undivided attention during a meeting/conversation. You can only be a good listener if you are maintaining eye contact with your employee and not multi-tasking.

Book Review: The Leader's Checklist By Michael Useem

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Wharton Digital Press' first eBook, The Leader's Checklist by Michael Useem, goes on sale on June 21, but you can download a free copy between June 21 and 28 wherever eBooks are sold.   The book will ultimately sell for $6.99.  I recommend getting your free copy. 
Because, within the 56-page book, Useem provides 15 core principles that will help you to develop the ability to make good and timely decisions in unpredictable and stressful environments. "When leadership really matters," explains Useem.
The book helps readers to test, retest, refine and update their preparedness for almost any situation, and among the 15 core principles for building a customized clear roadmap are: Articulate a visionThink and act strategicallyAct decisivelyEmbrace the front linesDampen over-optimismBuild a diverse top teamPlace common interest firstUseem also suggests that leaders:
Communicate in ways that people will not forget; simplicity and clarity.Build enduring personal ties with thos…

Leaders: Let A Team Member Lead The Meeting

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A great idea from the book, The Little Book of Leadership Development, is to ask each team member to lead a meeting to gain experience leading your team.

Authors Scott J. Allen and Mitchell Kusy suggest that you allow the team member to be responsible for:
Developing the agendaLeading the meetingDisseminating the meeting minutesAfter a full rotation of your staff, your team will better understand how difficult it is to set an agenda and guide a group of people with many opinions and competing commitments.

Most important, your team members will better understand how to lead a meeting and will actually become more effective team members.

And, here are a few tips for your team members:
Always distribute the agenda ahead of time.State how much time is being allotted to each agenda item and state whether it is an actionable item or merely a topic for discussion.

Don't Let E-mail Zap Your Empolyees' Productivity

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The typical at-desk employee in the workplace loses 2.1 hours of productivity every day to interruptions and distractions, reports Basex, an IT research and consulting firm.

Those interruptions come from e-mail alerts, instant messages, cell phones and handheld devices that constantly buzz.

The typical employee also checks e-mail 50 times a day. Each time, the employee gets sidetracked, and their attention span suffers. Productivity drops. Thinking time decreases.

As a leader in the workplace, work with your employees to manage e-mails and to lessen daily interruptions. Try these techniques:

Turn off all visual and sound alerts that announce new e-mail.Check e-mail at designated times during the day. Attempt to not check e-mail more often than every 45 minutes.Whenever possible, communicate by phone or face-to-face. This can actually save time and helps to build relationships, which suffer when e-mail is a workplace's predominant mode of communication.Resist usin…

How To Maximize Employee Involvement

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Here are 10 tips for how to maximize employee involvement: Have active ways to listen to your employees.Check often with employees to see if the information you are sharing with them is what they need and what they want.Share information about customer satisfaction with employees.Discuss financial performance with your employees and be sure everyone understands the importance of profitability and how they can contribute to profitability.Allow ad hoc teams among employees to form to address organizational problems and work with those teams to tackle the identified issues.Encourage employees to make suggestions for improvement whether those ideas are large or small.Take an idea from one employee and share it with other employees and teams and let everyone make a contribution to build upon that idea.Train!For long-term employees, find ways to keep their jobs interesting through new assignments and challenges.Conduct meetings around specific issues and brainstorm solutions."I…

Avoid These 8 Common Performance Appraisal Pitfalls

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Here is a good reminder from author Sharon Armstrong about how to avoid eight performance evaluation pitfalls. These are in what I consider is the best chapter of the book The Essential HR Handbook, that she co-authored with Barbara Mitchell.

1. Clustering everyone in the middle performance-rating categories
2. Overlooking flaws or exaggerating the achievements of favored employees
3. Excusing substandard performance or behavior because it is widespread
4. Letting one characteristic - positive or negative - affect your overall assessment
5. Rating someone based on the company he or she keeps
6. Rating someone based on a grudge you are holding
7. Rating someone based on a short time period instead of the entire evaluation period
8. Rating everyone high, to make you look good

There's other great information in this 250-page book that is valuable for any manager, and especially good for managers who are new in their leadership position.

When Armstrong isn'…

Be A Conductor

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Today, just a short, but powerful quote and advice for leaders:

"The great leaders are like the best conductors. They reach beyond the notes to reach the magic in the players." -- Blaine Lee