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Showing posts from August, 2019

Don't Delay The Tough Conversation

If you have an employee who needs to improve his/her performance don't delay the tough conversation with them. If you don't address the issue right now, the employee has little chance to improve and you'll only get more frustrated. Most employees want to do a good job. Sometimes they  just  don't know they aren't performing up to the required standards. Waiting until the employee's annual performance appraisal to have the tough conversation is unhealthy for you and the employee. So, address the issue now. Sit down with your employee in a private setting. Look them in the eye. First, tell them what they do well. Thank them for that good work. Then, tell them where they need to improve. Be clear. Be precise. Ask them if they understand, and ask them if they need any help from you on how to do a better job. Explain to them that your taking the time to have the tough conversation means you care about them. You want them to do better. You believe they ca

Be A Leader Who Makes Decisions

A manager who can't make a decision or who can't make a timely decision will frustrate his/her employees. Equally bad, a lack of decision will impede the  progress  of the manager's team. Some managers make endless requests for data as a way to postpone their having to make a decision. Employees end up spinning in circles, slicing and dicing the information far beyond what is truly needed for the manager to make a decision. Some managers are simply afraid to make a decision in fear of making a "wrong" decision. These managers don't necessarily request needless data, but simply just never decide. Successful managers gather the data from their employees, make any truly necessary follow-up requests (probing beyond what their employee may have researched/gathered on their own), and then make their decision...knowing that in virtually all cases most decisions are not black and white "right or "wrong," but are the best decisions made at that

Pretend You Are Your Company's Customer

One of the best ways to determine if your service/business/organization is providing excellent customer service is for you, as a manager, to pretend you are the customer. Try it today. Contact your business via the phone, mail, and via the web. Use all three methods! Make a different contact each day for the next week. During those different instances, ask to reach a person where you only know their first name. Next time, ask for a person who no longer works at the business. Another time, complain about the service/product. Ask how to return a product. Or, you can pretend you want to talk to someone to learn more about the business. Try different scenarios that would be typical for your customers when they contact your business. Then, observe what happens. I bet you'll be surprised. Hopefully,  pleasantly  surprised. But, you may be shocked. In addition to likely getting helpful assistance, you may experience people being rude or unhelpful. You may get bounced from person

Get A Second Read On Important Documents

When writing important memos, policies, instructions and/or global communications, ask a co-worker or fellow manager to read your document before you distribute it. Getting that second opinion/read can be very helpful. Often, the other person will spot misspellings. Sometimes, she (or he) can help you tweak the tone to better fit your document's audience. And most important, she can point out areas that are unclear. Those in particular are the things you'll want to re-write. It likely won't take much time for your co-worker to review your document. And after she does, offer to return the favor the next time she has written something where she needs a second opinion/read. In my experience, every time I've asked a fellow employee to preview a document, they've always had good suggestions for improvement. About 99% of the time I've made the changes they recommended.

Be A Visible Leader

If you are a manager in a small business or not so large department, it's probably easy for you to be visible to your employees and co-workers. If you manage a large business, department or  organization , you'll want to make a conscious effort to be visible. Don't spend your days behind closed doors or constantly in meetings. Walk around. Make conversation with your team members. It's important that you maintain  visibility  with your employees. That also means associating with employees at all levels. Don't limit your time for only your direct reports. The benefits for your employees are that they get to know you better and feel that you are more in tune with what's going on. The benefits to you are that you'll build a stronger rapport with your team, and you'll undoubtedly hear about good things and bad things through casual conversation that you would have missed if you had been less visible.

Plan A Monthly Job Learning Day

Having your employees learn more about what their fellow employees do is invaluable. When everyone knows how each job/position on your team fits together, your team can accomplish so much more. Plus, the new-found knowledge drives a better appreciation for what everyone does, and proves to the team, that success comes only when all the pieces fit together like a well-oiled machine. So, plan a half day where you pair up employees. Once paired, one employee explains to his (or her) partner what he does in a "typical" day. Allow enough time for sharing samples of his work and for Q&A. Then, it's the second person's turn to share about their " typical " day. If your half day is a morning, suggest the pairs of employees have lunch together, where they can finish by incorporating more discussion about away-from-work hobbies and interests. Schedule your job learning days for once a month and have your employees meet with different partners each time. It&

Don't Take 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.

Don't Hire Someone Just Like You

Despite the temptation to hire someone like yourself,  hire someone to complement your skills  --not to duplicate your skills. Managers often find it easier, more comfortable, or less threatening to hire someone with similar skills and work habits. But, to build a well-balanced team and to achieve maximum success, you need to have employees who can fill in your weaker areas. So, if you are a great idea person, but a poor communicator, hire someone with strong communications skills. Similarly, if your team excels in sales but lacks organization, add an employee who leads in organization. This may all seem like common sense. And you obviously need to hire someone to meet certain/minimum skill sets and who will be a good overall fit. But, do what you can to avoid the trap or temptation to hire someone just like you.

How Not To Run A Meeting

At the next meeting you lead, don't: Hold it if the meeting will seem unnecessary  to your participants. Allow attendees to use their smartphones for personal reasons . Let participants interrupt   each other . Go beyond your scheduled time . Those don'ts are the  biggest meeting pet peeves  according to an Accountemps survey of 1,000 senior managers, reported in  USA Today awhile back. Instead, ensure you are doing these techniques to ensure you hold effective meetings: Limit attendance . Include only decision makers and key implementors. Use an agenda . Give each topic a time limit. Ask your staff to help set the agenda so they'll know the meeting will be relevant. Make sure attendees know at the meeting's beginning the benefit  of why they are in the meeting. Create a not-on-the agenda list  of topics that will be tabled for after the meeting or for another meeting. Set immediate deadlines  for carrying out all decisions that are made during the mee

Two Lessons From Good To Great

Here are two of my favorite quotes from the hugely popular leadership book,  Good To Great : "The good-to-great companies did not say, 'Okay, folks, let's get passionate about what we do.' Sensibly, they went the other way entirely;  We should only do those things that we can get passionate about ." "To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence. It requires the discipline to say, 'Just because we are good at it--just because we're making money and generating growth--doesn't necessarily mean we can become the best at it.'   The good-to-great companies understood that doing what you are good at will only make you good; focusing solely on what you can potentially do better than any other organization is the only path to greatness ."

Onboarding New Employees

If you lead an organization that uses employee ID badges, considering using a different color or a special designation on the badges for newly hired employees for at least their first 30 days and ideally up to 60 days. Imagine how welcoming it will be for your new hires when employees recognize your newly hired employees' status via their special badges and then when your longer term employees introduce themselves to the new employees in halls, on elevators, in your break room, in the parking lot and at large group meetings. Some people call this a "hello" culture.  It's a culture that helps to quickly develop relationships.  And, it's a culture that ensures your new hires feel welcome during their critical onboarding time period.

How To Be The Synergist To End Gridlock

Why do so many teams and groups fail to perform --achieving compromise at best and gridlock at worst? According to best-selling author  Les McKeown , the problem lays in conflicting personality types: the  Visionary  with big ideas and little execution. the  Processor  who insists on putting every detail through a system, slowing things. down the  Operator  who just wants to end the meeting and get back to the "real work." It takes a  Synergist , says  McKeown  to end the gridlock. A Synergist, who can take all three--the bold dreamers, the pragmatic realists, and the systems designers--and knit them together into a dynamic, well rounded team. " Most importantly, the Synergist is a role anyone can learn ," explains McKeown. And, he teaches that skill set in his new book,  The Synergist -- How to Lead Your Team to Predictable Success . A Synergist : sets their personal interests below the best interests of the enterprise as a whole. sees the big pi

11 Best Reasons To Do Employee Exit Interviews

Don't be the guy in the picture when an employee leaves your company. Instead, conduct exit interviews and surveys. Leigh Branham explains in his book,  The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave , what the most favorable conditions are for conducting the interviews and surveys. And, if you need convincing to read the book, take a look at these 11 best reasons for listening and gathering the data when an employee leaves: Bringing any "push-factor" root-cause reasons for leaving to the surface. Alerting the organization to specific issues to be addressed. Giving the employee a chance to vent and gain a sense of closure. Giving the employee the opportunity to provide information that may help colleagues left behind. Providing information about competitors and their practices. Comparing information given with the results of past surveys and employee data. Detecting patterns and changes by year or by quarter. Obtaining information to help improve recruiting. Possi

The Three Places To Interview Job Candidates

One of the reasons you want to  interview people in three different places  is that candidates will usually be at their very best in the first interview (likely  in your office ). After that, if they are pretending, the veneer will come off in subsequent meetings in out-of-the office locations. Also, because most employees can only be successful in their jobs in different locations as well, it makes sense to witness your candidates in different settings. So, consider interviewing the candidate  over a lunch  at a nearby restaurant. And, finally, consider interviewing them  in a group setting  where you invite a variety of your employees to be part of the group. If you do this, be sure to let each employee voice their "vote" regarding the candidate after the meeting. There are lots more great tips like this one in Thompson's and Tracy's book,  Now...Build a Great Business!

Be A Developing Leader

One of my favorite lessons from the book,  The DNA of Leadership , is the importance of being a  developing  leader. Developing leaders : Create the next generation of leaders Are great listeners Grow talent by challenging others to take on more than what they think they can do Are open, honest and direct Model the behavior they want to mentor for others If you haven't read Judith E. Glaser's book,  The DNA of Leadership , give it a read. You won't be disappointed.

Make It Easy For Employees To Volunteer

As a leader, if you are not already volunteering, what a great time to start. Make a commitment to yourself to start volunteering before next week starts! And, if you are a workplace leader who supports a volunteer program at your business, you already know that by encouraging employees to give back to your community you are: building teamwork motivating employees attracting new hires In fact, job seekers much prefer companies that have a strong volunteer program. And, a growing number of businesses are rewarding employees who volunteer by giving them extra vacation time and other incentives. Fortunately, throughout the U.S. there are hundreds of volunteer opportunities where employees can contribute individually, or where leaders can organize teams of employees to volunteer together on a routine and scheduled basis. To find organizations in need of volunteers, go to  Volunteer Match  and type in your zip code. You'll be presented a list of nearby volunteer opportuni

Be That Leader Who Addresses Nonperformers

Here's a powerful paragraph from the book, Execution -- The Discipline of Getting Things Done , by Larry  Bossidy  and Ram  Charan : "Most people know someone in their organization who doesn't perform well, yet manages to keep his job year after year. The usual reason, we find, is that the person's leader doesn't have the emotional fortitude to confront him and take decisive action. Such failures can do considerable damage to a business. If the  nonperformer  is high enough in the organization, he can destroy it." If you have a  nonperformer  bringing down your organization, show courage to confront that situation.

Welcome Ideas From Anyone

Great ideas for your business can come at any time from anyone on your team. So, as a leader, be sure you dig deep for ideas, and provide an easy way for all employees to make suggestions. Did you know that the idea for the microwave oven came to the inventor, Percy L. Spencer, when a chocolate bar melted in his shirt pocket as he stood in front of a magnetron, the microwave tube used to power radar? Carl Magee invented the parking meter when back in 1932 the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce asked Magee to solve problems caused by all-day parkers in the downtown business district. To jump-start your idea sharing program, encourage employees to: Tell you the obstacles they encounter Share what they are hearing from satisfied and unhappy (or lost) customers Explain what they think your business can do better than the competition

When To Coach And When To Counsel

A good manager is both a coach and a counselor .  Generally, coaching should precede counseling. As a coach ,   a manager: identifies an employee's need for instruction and direction and this need is usually directly related to his or her performance or career goals. Coaching is collaborative. It relies on mutual, progressive goal-setting, personal feedback, and an ongoing, supportive relationship. You coach to help retain employees and to show you care about your employees as individuals. It's best to coach when a new procedure is introduced, a job is changed, and/or a skill gap is identified. As a counselor , a manager first identifies a problem that interferes with an employee's work performance and then helps the employee to define specifically what behavior he or she needs to change in order to improve his or her performance or resolve a problem. So, the difference between coach and counselor is subtle, but important. And, as Sharon Armstrong further

Make A Plan As Part Of Your Goal Setting

As you establish goals for your team this year, be sure to include  making a plan  as part of your five-step process. Keep in mind that those five steps of goal setting are: Set goal Make plan Get to work Stick to it Reach goal Often, too many managers simply tell their team the goal, but fail to map out the  specific steps   of the plan  to reach that goal. So, don't forget to do step #2! Once your team is following your plan, be sure both you and they are sticking to the plan.  Don't let other activities and/or projects derail your progress.  It's surprising and unfortunate how often plans are abandoned in as little as three to four weeks. Finally, explain to your team the benefits to them and your organization for reaching the ultimate goal.  Help them to continually visualize that end result.

The Power Of Mentoring

Sports heroes mention their mentors at award ceremonies. Successful business people thank their mentors at career milestone celebrations. Young adults who later become accomplished acknowledge their mentors when asked who was influential in their success. Mentoring is indeed powerful . Most leaders have been both a mentor and a mentee at some point in their careers. Sometimes, though, not everyone understands the important difference between informal mentoring and formal mentoring. •   Formal mentoring is structured, intentional, and short-termed (typically about three to six months). It also requires the support of top management. As a leader in your workplace, consider establishing a formal mentoring program to supplement the informal mentoring that is surely taking place at your company/organization. And, to offer employees mentoring options for those who can’t participate outside the workplace.

A Manager's Handbook For Coaching Conversations

If you have a manager who isn't the best communicator, you can suggest he/she read Jane Murphy's and Khatun Huber's book,  What Could Happen If You Do Nothing? Actually, it's more of a handbook than a book, and it is best read by finding the section most applicable at the moment versus reading it start to finish. It's filled with mini-dialogues that demonstrate the impact of  engaged listening, deliberative questioning, and animating suggestions to facilitate change and action. For me, the most useful section is the list of a dozen or so questions (for each conversation category below) to ask an employee to: Start a conversation  with an employee Conduct a  meaningful follow-up conversation Clarify inconsistencies  in what you are hearing from an employee Build and further a conversation  on what's being said to move the conversation ahead Wind down  a conversation Solicit feedback Equally enlightening are these  questions from which a manager

Today's Leadership Thought

" Leadership is the process of creating an environment in which people become empowered ." -- Gerald Weinberg

How To Make Sure New Leaders Succeed

“ It has been estimated that 40% of executives fail within the first 18 months on the job, regardless of whether they were hired from outside the company or promoted from within ,” explain Dan Ciampa and David L. Dotlich , authors of the book, Transitions At The Top . Leadership transition is more complex than many realize, affecting the company’s strategy, operating efficiency, and culture. “ The key people involved with C-suite transitions have the power to ensure that the transition is successful if they understand their roles and follow the necessary steps ,” add Ciampa and Dotlich. Transitions At The Top teaches these all-important players the necessary steps. More specifically, it teaches what directors, the head of human resources, and the other senior managers must do individually and collectively to best ensure the handoff from an incumbent leader to the one who will step in to replace her/him in a planned transition. If you are wondering why the transition

Tips For Leaders When Listening, Learning And Persuading

Make good use of this advice from John Baldoni’s book, The Leader’s Guide To Speaking With Presence : When Listening As A Leader : Look at people when they are speaking to you. Make eye contact. Ask open-ended questions, such as “Tell me about…” or “Could you explain this?” Consider the “what if” question: “What if we looked at the situation like this?” Leverage the “why” question: “Why do we do it this way?” Employ the “how” question: “How can you do this?” When Learning As A Leader : Reflect on what people have told you. Think about what you have not observed. Are people holding back? If so, why? Consider how you can implement what you have observed. Get back to people who have suggested ideas to you and thank them. Look for opportunities to collaborate with others. When Persuading The Unpersuaded : Pay attention to the situation. Identify the factors that are influencing individuals as well as the group as a whole. Find common ground. Determine w

Tips For Setting Goals For Team Members You Manage

Here are some great tips for how to set goals from the book, One Page Talent Management , by Marc Effron and Miriam Ort: The Harder the Goal, the More It Motivates – There is a linear relationship between a goal’s difficulty and the amount of effort and performance the goal produces. Goals Aligned with Self-Interest Motivate the Most – Self-interest is a powerful motivational tool. The more likely we are to feel good when a goal is accomplished, the more motivational that goal will be. Specific Goals Create Higher Performance Than Urging, “Do Your Best.” Too Many Goals Reduce the Effort on Each One – An emerging body of research indicates that the more goals an individual has, the more poorly he/she performs on each. Thank you to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

The Leadership Playbook Of Bill Campbell

Trillion Dollar Coach is about Bill Campbell , someone you likely never heard of, who coached several of the biggest names in Silicon Valley during a 16-year tenure, and who’s behind-the-scene wisdom helped created over a trillion dollars in market value. Authored by Eric Schmidt , Jonathan Rosenberg , and Alan Eagle , they share that from Steve Jobs and Dick Costolo to Larry Page and Sundar Pichai, these big names in Silicon Valley give credit to Campbell for much of their success. Campbell, who died in 2016, started his career as a football coach at Boston College and Columbia then switched to business in 1979. As leaders at Google for more than a decade, Schmidt, Rosenberg, and Eagle had the benefit of experiencing Campbell’s executive coaching firsthand. In addition, for the book, the authors interviewed over 80 people with whom Campbell also worked. Through stories from those interviews, Trillion Dollar Coach features specific strategies and action steps to help

New Book: Unlocking The Customer Value Chain

Earlier this year brought the release of the book, Unlocking The Customer Value Chain , by Thales S. Teixeira , the Lumry Family Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He shows in his book how and why consumer industries are disrupted and what established companies can do about it—while highlighting the specific strategies potential startups use to gain a competitive edge. Among the insights revealed in the book are:  Startups do not disrupt existing markets – customers do. Customers, in effect, pay businesses with their money, time, and effort. These determine whether consumers will change their behavior or not. Most disruption in the marketplace occurs not because of new innovations in technology but as the result of new business models.  Lots of food-for-thought in this book. And, vivid insights from in-depth and exclusive accounts of both startups and reigning incumbents as they respond. Thank you to the book publisher

Seven Disciplines Of A Leader

T his book, S even Disciplines Of A Leader , published in 2015, teaches leaders how to help their employees, team, and organization achieve maximum effectiveness. Authored by Jeff Wolf with Ken Shelton , it’s a high-readable book, packed with stories and takeaway exercises. You’ll gain practical, real-world advice covering these seven leadership disciplines : Initiative and Influence : Seize the reins and set an example for others. Vision, Strategy, and Alignment : The progression from plans to accomplishments marks a true leader. Priorities, Planning, and Execution : Execution cannot succeed without the team’s acceptance and endorsement. Social/Emotional/Political Intelligence : The tribulations of leadership and their remedies. Reciprocation, Collaboration, and Service . Love and Leverage : There is no substitute for passion about work. Renewal and Sustainability : Those who practice renewal and sustainability avoid common pitfalls. Some of my favorite takeaways

Eight-Point Plan For A Powerful Team

Take some quality time to read the book by  C. Elliott Haverlack ,  Unbunde It , because it explores the issues you face as a leader with a twist that is different from many other leadership books.  Throughout, the book offers suggestions on how to  overcome the burden that complexity creates in our lives and businesses . Most intriguing for me is Haverlack's straight-forward, unbundled insights on  teams . "The healthiest teams trust each other," explains the author. "When we trust, we tend to be more transparent and are more likely to share the hurdles we need to leap. And, once trust becomes a competency, accountability comes much more easily." And, accountability is the key to delivering results. Haverlack's eight-point plan for a powerful team is : Engage a group that shares your core values. Set aspirational yet achievable goals for the company and every individual. Create an environment that encourages and rewards trust. Empower every indi

Four Questions To Ask When An Employee Leaves Your Business

As a leader, it's critical that you understand the real reasons employees leave your company. To do that, you need to  ask specific questions  that may not be ones you currently include in your exit interviews. Fortunately, Richard Finnegan, shares in his book,  Rethinking Retention in Good Times and Bad ,  four key questions you should include in your exit interviews : Why did you decide to leave us? Of all the things you've told me, what is the top thing that caused you to resign? It's great that you've found such a good opportunity, but why did you look? What one thing could we have done that would have caused you to stay? Your goal is to learn  the most important leave reason  rather than learn which three or five things contributed to your employee's decision to leave. The four questions above will help you learn the most important reason.