How About "Design" vs. "Work"?

Right now, you are either thinking about or designing an idea, product, service, or process.

Yet  most of us don't view ourselves as designers. It sounds like a specific, creative field in which we don't have formal education. But we do.

Design_industrial

 Earlier today I sent off a consulting agreement. As I proofread it I realized that 3 of the key elements were "Design': a workshop...learning materials. . .executive planning session.

So I looked over previous proposals and agreements and discovered that "design" is a huge part of my work.

I admit, I'm a design freak in general. Elegant design grabs my attention faster than usability. Elegant design plus usability gets my money.

 

Here's my point: Start thinking of yourself as a designer. Look at your work and your life through that lens and see what happens.

  • Are you designing new leadership and management approaches to a critical situation?
  • Is your suggestion for changing administrative work flow an example of great functional design?
  • What about your IT solution for simplifying internal communication?

Gotcha! You're a designer.

 

photo attribution: lucidream.com

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Do Your Leaders Coach?

That isn't a "gotcha" question. It's simply a direct one.

Regardless of the job title, if we're responsible for how other people perform then we're responsible for how they learn to perform even better. One of the things we now know from organizational research is that employees not only want a coaching relationship with their boss--they expect it. (If you want some coaching tips for yourself or to share, please download the free e-book in the column on the right).

So. . .

What Happens When Leaders Coach? Coaching_3

You may already have the right people to enable your company to "win"--however you define the word.

A couple of years ago I was involved in designing a leadership program to develop the top talent in a global company. We created a model that used the senior management team as coaches for the structured learning activities. First we coached the coaches on how to coach; then we turned them loose. It's been the most effective learning we've experienced in nearly 30 years of leadership development and design.

 

What's happening that works?  

  • The top leadership learns a lot about their own abilities.
  • They learn about their people while developing closer relationships with them.
  • The high potential participants receive coaching and company insight from the leaders who know it best.
  • The participants also "step up" their game. How often do you see the top leadership in a company totally dedicate two full days to the talent beneath them?

You Can Do It, Too

Leaders are the natural lighting rods for developing talent. Coaching isn't another job--it is their job.

Companies are always looking for ways to develop people economically but effectively. Every research study on the planet shows that employees are most influenced--pro or con--by their immediate boss. That's exactly why leaders at every level have the ability to make the most difference when it comes to grooming people for the future.

The mission: Give them the capability

actions leaders can begin now:

  • Appreciate: Focus on Identifying the very best in others.
  • Encounter:  Seek the truth, wherever that path will lead.
  • Improve: Insist upon personal responsibility for performance growth.

When leaders coach, we get "two personal bests" for the price of one.

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Paying Attention To People

Last week I was discussing the Hawthorne Effect during a speech on performance. It led to a lively Q&A, so I thought I'd re-visit this post from December, 2009. The original experiment and its impact on management and human behavior are timeless. 

In the 1920s, physiologist Elton Mayo conducted experiments at the Hawthorne Electrical Works in Chicago.

He was trying to confirm his theory that better lighting led to greater productivity. So, he had the lights on the factory floor turned up. Voila! As he expected, production levels increased, too. Done deal?

As an afterthought he decided to turn the lights down just to see what would happen. Production went up again. In fact, he found that whatever he did with the lighting, production increased.

Mayo

Novel thought: Mayo discussed his findings with the workers who were involved. They told him that the interest Mayo and his researchers showed toward them made them feel more valued. They were accustomed to being ignored.

While the increased lighting no doubt made things brighter and healthier, it was the increase in morale that most impacted improvement in productivity. This became known as the Hawthorne Effect

Most people schooled in management & organization development are well aware of the studies.  However, I'm finding more and more business folks who haven't been exposed to them; I thought it might be a good idea to revisit what is the beginning of the "human relations"  movement in management.

While scientists and pseudo-scientists have argued everything from methodology to the number of toilet breaks employees of that era received, the simple learning is this: When you pay attention to people, tell them what you are doing, and ask their opinion about things, the response--all else being equal--is a boost in morale and productivity. I dare say that Elton had stumbled upon Employee Engagement long before the term became popular.

I'm wondering: after 80+ years, why isn't this fundamental learning a part of every organization's modus operandi?

photo source: www.library.hbs.edu

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360 Feedback: All About the Conversations That Follow

Feedback_icon Finding out "how we're doing" is an important part of life, on and off the job.

360 degree feedback tools can be especially helpful when you want to know how you are doing in relation to your boss, your direct reports, and peers in the organization. I like 360's because they:

1. Let you see how others believe you are doing in specific areas that are important to on-the-job success

2. Provide a quick look at how each of your constituencies is experiencing you.

For example, your direct reports may be getting everything they need, while your peer group may tell you that they need something other than what they are getting now. So you know where to keep doing what you are doing now, and where to make some changes. That helps you prioritize things.

3. Offer the opportunity for a structured conversation.

When you want to talk about your performance it can be difficult to know just where to begin. The 360 process allows you to get specific feedback in specific categories. When you see the results, you can sit down and ask questions that address meaningful areas of work life. And, you are dealing with information already acknowledged as important by the different groups of respondents. It can be a lot easier discussing things that have already been generated--and therefore owned--by the people who are important to your success. You have a place to start--and isn't that sometimes the toughest part?

360: It's the Conversation That Matters

Raw data are just that. What's important is the "why" behind "what" was said. Without finding out the answers, you really don't have an accurate picture. Why not?

Always remember that feedback is more indicative of the sender than the recipient. Feedback says, "Here's what I think based on my expectations of you in these specific areas. The real payoff can come from discovering where you need to clarify or re-visit what's really expected and honestly discussing what's really possible. And, when people of goodwill have those kinds of discussions, it can lead to a quick boost in trust as well as new energy to move ahead.

Are you or your company using 360 feedback? Then make sure there are conversations that follow. Without them, no one knows the real meaning of the data. With conversations, you stand to get an exponential payoff in understanding, trust, and improved performance.

What has your experience been with 360 feedback? 

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Employee Retention: How About "Thanks!"?

Here are some thought-provoking statistics:

"Research by UK performance improvement consultants Maritz has found that almost one in five of us (19 per cent) have never been thanked for our efforts at work while more than a third only hear those two little words once or twice a year.

Perhaps not-entirely coincidentally, that's about the same proportion as another recent survey found have no loyalty towards the organisation they work for and couldn't care less about their job.

Yet at the other end of the spectrum, around a third of us do receive regular recognition and are thanked several times a week, something that (as more than eight out of 10 of those surveyed acknowledged) has a positive impact on their desire to remain with their employer."

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 11.29.05 AM

"Thank You" & the "War for Talent"

Check out the screen shot of my "the war for talent"  Google search: 138,000,000 results! Books, articles,  training programs, software systems, and academic research. Conferences are being held to ponder the meaning of talent acquisition and retention.

Let's assume for a minute that the statistics noted in the article are true. The third who receive thanks regularly feel positive about their employer and are inclined to remain at the firm.

My suggestion: Executives need to start thanking their managers regularly. Then they need to tell them to start thanking their people. Maybe we could get uppity and call it "Building a Culture of Thanks." Clearly, it would be more effective and less costly than conferences and software.

And it would make our mothers proud.


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How Do You Build Performance?

I'll tell you how. How to create the conditions for motivation, engagement, retention, and performance. 

If you are a manager giving an assignment, be crystal clear about the what--then let your people deliver on how it will be done. 

Why?

How_to_bowl_ Because you hired them for the how. Think about it. You looked at resumes and carefully selected people who had something that seemed unique or different from the others. 

When you tell people how to do their jobs you take away their identity. We all want to contribute. And that contribution is in the form of the unique way--how--we do our jobs.

Action: Define and get commitment on what you want done, then let people use their unique talents to decide how to do it. 

Does this mean you walk away and totally ignore how things are getting done? No. Your payoff comes when you orchestrate quality, deadlines, and feedback. 

There are certain jobs, especially those related to safety, that don't offer much variation on the "how.": airline pilot, nuclear power plant operator, brain surgeon. For most of us, though, trial-and-error works well to perfect our methodologies and offer a sense of accomplishment. 

This is why more and more employees are looking for managers who coach. If you are unsure of how to do that, go ahead and download the free guide available in the right-hand column. More than a thousand readers have found it helpful and I hope you do, too.

 

photo source: blog.modernmechanix.com/

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Managers: Increase Feedback, Reduce Stress

"Whatever is unresolved becomes a stressor"

Managers add stress to their lives by postponing important conversations and letting them build up until their heads start to feel like a balloon waiting to burst. Or, we try to submerge those thoughts until we discover that they tend to pop out in strange and often harmful ways. How many times have we received--or given--a terse comment that really was the result of some long- unspoken feeling?

Why Does Feedback Matter?

Feedback started as a term used to describe the signals sent from a rocket back to earth in order to determine the accuracy of the rocket's course. By tracking speed and trajectory, ground crews could determine when and where to make corrections.

At some point in time, the term Feedback was incorporated into business language as a way to talk about performance. And, as in rocket flight, it has been determined that the best way for a person to stay "on course" is to assess where one stands at any given moment in relation to the task or goal at hand.

Here's the really important point: The chances of impacting performance increase with frequency and timeliness of feedback. That implies the need for ongoing "How are we doing?" conversations. It's our best chance at knowing whether we're on track or not.

Feedback Where's Mine_600x425

So, What Gets In The Way of Giving Feedback?

1. Let's face it: few of us enjoy hearing about those areas of work life where we're coming up short. It's human nature. The flip side is that managers are people, too, and they have the same thoughts and feelings. So it's not exactly a peak experience being the proverbial "messenger" even though it comes with the job.

2. The term "feedback" has morphed into "Here's what you need to correct" instead of "Here's how I think we're doing."

3. Feedback has been institutionalized to the point where it is often done at yearly or semi-annual performance reviews. That's usually too far away from the actual performance for a person to make the kind of changes that will alter an outcome. So, it become  a "Gotcha!"

4. It takes a relationship built on trust to have meaningful conversations about performance.

Trust comes from a series of interactions where people have made agreements, talked about how things were going, and then lived up to what they said they would do. And if something goes wrong, one person points that out to the other. They talk about what to do differently. And they learn that, even if something does go wrong, they care enough to bring it up and do something about it. I've said this before: The people you trust the most are the people who tell you the truth--good and bad. If it's good, they offer encouragement. If it's bad, they offer ways to work with you to sort things out.

5. Lack of ongoing, natural conversation about work life gets in the way of building relationships that breed the level of trust we need to have ongoing, natural conversations. It's circular.

What Can You Do?

1. Managers: Start the conversation from Day 1.

Set the tone for the future early on by asking, "How are things going with project x?" What didn't we anticipate? What's going well? What isn't going well, so we can find out how to get it on track? Then make sure that both of you do what you say you'll do.

2. Employees: If there isn't a conversation, start one.

Turn the questions in #1 into statements. For example, "Here's how project x is going." "Here's what we didn't anticipate." Sure, maybe your boss doesn't like bad news. Here's a secret: Surprises are worse than bad news.If you start the conversation, you have a better chance of putting your boss at ease with the whole idea of "How are we doing?"

3. Keep talking about having conversations, not feedback.

Language conveys feeling. The whole notion of feedback has degenerated to the point where the word contains more negative connotations than positive. Why? Maybe because it was never meant to be associated with the human condition in the first place. From the time we're kids we have conversations. We talk about "What's going on" and "How are things going?"

4. Start having ongoing "How are we doing?" conversations. Start now.



I absolutely guarantee you that two people of goodwill can increase their combined performance and reduce their stress-inducing baggage by having regular, honest talks about their progress and the factors impacting it. These kinds of talks are the foundation of every good relationship, on and off the job.

Bonus Thought: The longer you wait, the larger the "negative" becomes and the more difficult it is to discuss. Regular, frequent conversations mean that the problem areas will be smaller and easier to talk about!

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What, Why, and How: Feedback

Why Is Feedback Important?

Feedback started as a term used to describe the signals sent from a rocket back to earth in order to determine the accuracy of the rocket's course. By tracking speed and trajectory, ground crews could determine when and where to make corrections.

At some point in time, the term Feedback was incorporated into business language as a way to talk about performance. And, as in rocket flight, it has been determined that the best way for a person to stay "on course" is to assess where one stands at any given moment in relation to the task or goal at hand.

Here's the really important point: The chances of impacting performance increase with frequency and timeliness of feedback. That implies the need for ongoing "How are we doing?" conversations. It's our best chance at knowing whether we're on track or not.

Feedback

What Gets In The Way of Giving Feedback?

1. Let's face it: few of us enjoy hearing about those areas of work life where we're coming up short. It's human nature. The flip side is that managers are people, too, and they have the same thoughts and feelings. So it's not exactly a peak experience being the proverbial "messenger" even though it comes with the job.

2. The term "feedback" has morphed into "Here's what you need to correct" instead of "Here's how I think we're doing."

3. Feedback has been institutionalized to the point where it is often done at yearly or semi-annual performance reviews. That's usually too far away from the actual performance for a person to make the kind of changes that will alter an outcome. So it's almost like a "Gotcha!"

4. It takes a relationship built on trust to have meaningful conversations about performance.

Trust comes from a series of interactions where people have made agreements, talked about how things were going, and then lived up to what they said they would do. And if something goes wrong, one person points that out to the other. They talk about what to do differently. And they learn that, even if something does go wrong, they care enough to bring it up and do something about it. I've said this before: The people you trust the most are the people who tell you the truth--good and bad. If it's good, they offer encouragement. If it's bad, they offer ways to work with you to sort things out.

5. Lack of ongoing, natural conversation about work life gets in the way of building relationships that breed the level of trust we need to have ongoing, natural conversations. It's circular.

What Can You Do About This?

1. Managers: Start the conversation from Day 1.

Set the tone for the future early on by asking, "How are things going with project x?" What didn't we anticipate? What's going well? What isn't going well, so we can find out how to get it on track?

Then make sure that both of you do what you say you'll do.

2. Employees: If there isn't a conversation, start one. Turn the questions in #1 into statements. For example, "Here's how project x is going." "Here's what we didn't anticipate."

Sure, maybe your boss doesn't like bad news. Here's a secret: Surprises are worse than bad news.

If you start the conversation, you have a better chance of putting your boss at ease with the whole idea of "How are we doing?"

3. Keep talking about having conversations, not feedback.

Language conveys feeling. The whole notion of feedback has degenerated to the point where the word contains more negative connotations than positive. Why? Maybe because it was never meant to be associated with the human condition in the first place.

From the time we're kids we have conversations. We talk about "What's going on" and "How are things going?"

Start having ongoing "How are we doing?" conversations. Start now. 

I absolutely guarantee you that two people of goodwill can increase their combined performance and reduce their stress-inducing baggage by having regular, honest talks about their progress and the factors impacting it. These kinds of talks are the foundation of every good relationship, on and off the job.

Bonus Thought: The longer you wait, the larger the "negative" becomes and the more difficult it is to discuss. Regular, frequent conversations mean that the problem areas will be smaller and easier to talk about!

 

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Encourage Talent If You Want It To Grow

Every so often I check the keyword searches that land people here at All Things Workplace. A lot of them have to do with "find my strengths" or "how do I manage talented people?"

People at work appear deeply invested in clarifying their own strengths and understanding the inherent talent in others. If that's so, I was wondering why there is so much angst about "growing talent." It seems that people are already interested and committed for the long term if their strengths and talents are being valued.

"Your Lips Say 'Yes-Yes' But There's 'No-No' In Your Eyes"

There is at least one reason why some people--including managers--shop their resumes even in bad times.In part, it has to do with verbally advocating development and then doing the opposite.

A real life example:

Jason (not his real name) is an operations manager in one of my client companies. He's quite experienced and has been in the manufacturing industry for 20+ years. He is also the most well-read client ever. Whenever I see him, he waxes poetically about the wonderful "new" managerial ideas he's picked up from the most recent leadership books he's read. And he's read all of them.

One of those ideas had to do with recognizing someone's small successes and following through with verbal encouragement or even a small reward (lunch, movie tickets, a $25 gift certificate. . .) Or better yet, acknowledge the person's accomplishment during a regular departmental meeting. He even made it a point to talk about the importance of those ideas during a meeting with his supervisors.

So what's the problem?

He wouldn't do any of those. So, I asked him why not.

His reply: "I'm not going to spend time rewarding or telling someone how good they are if the company is already paying them a salary. They are supposed to do good work."

What's baffling is this: He doesn't have the same approach with his kids. I've seen him at home, in action. He acknowledges them when they've succeeded at something. Anything. And he does it spontaneously.

Good grief:

Blog Insert.001

Every day we're all trying to learn or do something new. Let's be honest: part of our day is spent being a kid again when it comes to struggling with a new problem that needs a solution. And we could use a few encouraging words of recognition when we demonstrate a talent that helps the organization.

("Gee, that felt good. I think I'll do it again!)

What would a well-known, successful business person say about the importance of encouragement?

"My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me."
~ Henry Ford

A Final Thought to Encourage Encouragement
The human mind abhors a vacuum. In the absence of accurate information we'll create our own story to fill the space. Unfortunately, we humans usually create a more negative reality than actually exists. Therefore, the absence of acknowledgment and encouragement can very easily turn into the perception of a "critique." (If my boss isn't telling me I'm doing well then I must be doing poorly).
Find someone who is doing something well today and tell them so. You'll be growing talent.

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Feedback: What, Why, and How

Feedback started as a term used to describe the signals sent from a rocket back to earth in order to determine the accuracy of the rocket's course. By tracking speed and trajectory, ground crews could determine when and where to make corrections.

At some point in time, the term Feedback was incorporated into business language as a way to talk about performance. And, as in rocket flight, it has been determined that the best way for a person to stay "on course" is to assess where one stands at any given moment in relation to the task or goal at hand.

Here's the really important point: The chances of impacting performance increase with frequency and timeliness of feedback. That implies the need for ongoing "How are we doing?" conversations. It's our best chance at knowing whether we're on track or not.

Feedback

What Gets In The Way?

1. Let's face it: few of us enjoy hearing about those areas of worklife where we're coming up short. It's human nature. The flip side is that managers are people, too, and they have the same thoughts and feelings. So it's not exactly a peak experience being the proverbial "messenger" even though it comes with the job.

2. The term "feedback" has morphed into "Here's what you need to correct" instead of "Here's how I think we're doing."

3. Feedback has been institutionalized to the point where it is often done at yearly or semi-annual performance reviews. That's usually too far away from the actual performance for a person to make the kind of changes that will alter an outcome. So it's almost like a "Gotcha!"

4. It takes a relationship built on trust to have meaningful conversations about performance.

Trust comes from a series of interactions where people have made agreements, talked about how things were going, and then lived up to what they said they would do. And if something goes wrong, one person points that out to the other. They talk about what to do differently. And they learn that, even if something does go wrong, they care enough to bring it up and do something about it. I've said this before: The people you trust the most are the people who tell you the truth--good and bad. If it's good, they offer encouragement. If it's bad, they offer ways to work with you to sort things out.

5. Lack of ongoing, natural conversation about work life gets in the way of building relationships that breed the level of trust we need to have ongoing, natural conversations. It's circular.

What You Can Do

1. Managers: Start the conversation from Day 1.

Set the tone for the future early on by asking, "How are things going with project x?" What didn't we anticipate? What's going well? What isn't going well, so we can find out how to get it on track?

Then make sure that both of you do what you say you'll do.

2. Employees: If there isn't a conversation, start one. Turn the questions in #1 into statements. For example, "Here's how project x is going." "Here's what we didn't anticipate."

Sure, maybe your boss doesn't like bad news. Here's a secret: Surprises are worse than bad news.

If you start the conversation, you have a better chance of putting your boss at ease with the whole idea of "How are we doing?"

3. Keep talking about having conversations, not feedback.

Language conveys feeling. The whole notion of feedback has degenerated to the point where the word contains more negative connotations than positive. Why? Maybe because it was never meant to be associated with the human condition in the first place.

From the time we're kids we have conversations. We talk about "What's going on" and "How are things going?"

Start having ongoing "How are we doing?" conversations. Start now. 

I absolutely guarantee you that two people of goodwill can increase their combined performance and reduce their stress-inducing baggage by having regular, honest talks about their progress and the factors impacting it. These kinds of talks are the foundation of every good relationship, on and off the job.

Bonus Thought: The longer you wait, the larger the "negative" becomes and the more difficult it is to discuss. Regular, frequent conversations mean that the problem areas will be smaller and easier to talk about.

 

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Managers: Avoid Comparing People

When we were kids, my younger brother had to put up with teachers comparing the two of us throughout his school years. He was a star athlete, I was more of an academic. He didn't like the comparisons and neither did I. Most of all, the comments Comparison did nothing to change either of our lives for the better. To this day, he doesn't care much about "A's" and I still can't kick a field goal.

Adults at work hate those kinds of comparisons, too. "When Kris was in your job, she always contacted the sales managers to get the monthly updates. I think that was a better way than how it's being done now." These kinds of remarks don't prompt positive changes or win over employees. When you get the feeling to compare one person's work with another, simply stop and think about one or more of these:

What To Do?

1. Compare performance and behavior against agreed-to goals and expectations

2. Compare performance against the standards set to earn a bonus or reward

3. Compare performance against some desired goal that your employee has expressed

"He has a right to criticize who has a heart to help."

--Abraham Lincoln

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The Truth About Negative Feedback

Employees want development and developmental feedback. Every legitimate, broad-based survey from the past ten years confirms that as a fact.

Here's the challenge: most managers aren't very skilled at developing people over the long-term.

The data show that, although managers acknowledge the importance of development, they are usually ranked near the bottom in terms of there effectiveness and attention to "development." Related to this is the ability to deliver critical feedback, also a skill that receives a consistently low rating. In all fairness, colleagues and others in the organizational food chain aren't really any better when the data are analyzed. (Makes sense. Colleagues and others are also executives, managers, and supervisors).

Truth_Lie

What About High Potentials?

In a study done by Kaplan et al., in 1991, the findings revealed that high potential employees, especially executives, receive less feedback than others. (Subsequent research yields the same information). When high-po's do get feedback, it's more along the lines of how terrific they are. Feedback to high potentials is seldom specific and their bosses even tend to skip over the formal, face-to-face, yearly performance appraisal. We should all be so fortunate.

What to Do?

OK, let's agree that delivering pointed, negative feedback is uncomfortable for most people. It must be, otherwise there'd be more of it. 

The easiest way I know of to "get honest and developmental" is to sit down and agree on a set of specific skills or competencies needed to achieve strategic objectives. In general, we all lean toward the notion that skills can be developed and, when they are, it will bump up performance. Taking this approach makes it easier to discuss specific performance issues because each is tied to a skill that was agreed to at the outset.

Sure, it takes thoughtfulness and face time. If you need a little more motivation, research also shows that employees rate managerial/executive performance, in part, on the relationship established with direct reports. 

The very act of sitting down together is experienced as an indicator of managerial competency.

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Do You Have A "Success" Agreement At Work?


Chartered Management Institute  study of 1,684 managers in the U.K. that explored the same question as the title of this post. Here's a snapshot of the results:

  • "Nearly half of the managers polled said they judged success by the extent to which they developed their teams, yet only slightly more than a third believed their organizations felt the same way.
  • 25% thought that 'achieving a flexible lifestyle' was an indicator of professional success. Only six per cent thought that their employers shared the same view.

Apple-and-orange

  • Just 13 per cent said they were concerned with 'ensuring the organization is market leader' – yet nearly two thirds thought their employers made this a priority.
  • A similarly small percentage – 16 per cent – of managers believed securing 'sustainability' was important, yet more than half felt their organizations perceived this as a priority.
  • Worryingly, fewer than half of the managers polled believed they had actually achieved their true potential.
  • More optimistically, many planned to take action to change this, with more than a third planning to undertake development or further education courses during the coming 12 months."

Finally, a quote from a marketing and corporate affairs director:

"Managers should voice professional needs so their definition of success is known while the organization needs to create a clear understanding of its corporate objectives to ensure employees and future employees feel an alignment to the corporate culture."

Let's Analyze This

1. The statements talk about what the managers think the gap is between them and their employers.

2. It would be helpful to know how the "employers" responded to the same questions. We have no way of knowing what the actual gap is.

3. Is it unusual for any living human being to believe that he or she has achieved one's potential? The very definition of potential points toward possibilities.

4. Will managers expressing their definitions of success change the purpose and goals of an organization?

5. Will "feeling" an alignment to the corporate culture change one's personal definition of success?

The very best that I can glean from this is that managers don't think there is a lot of alignment with their employers on issues of personal importance. Drawing any other conclusions would really be a stretch.

What can we do with this?

Senior executives who see this study could use it as a starting point for a real conversation with their managers about what's important to organizational success; what's important to the managers; and how they can achieve as much of both as possible.

What else are you seeing? 

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Performance and Family Systems

I think the real advantage to reading and discussion is the opportunity to finally "hear" something and get it for the first time.

Do You Think Systemically? struck a chord, based upon  the Tweets and comments that followed. 

We participate until we find the voice and the language that finally makes us go "Aha!"

Today, I want to offer a couple of simple ways to look at the relationship between people and systems in order to highlight the nature of Systemic Thinking--and it's critical importance in our lives.

Tap-dance  Performance: Is It Talent or The System?

Yes.

Your favorite singer will disappoint you if the staging, lights, and sound don't offer the right technical support and atmosphere. A lousy singer won't sound any better in Carnegie Hall. In fact, the results may be worse because of the magnificent acoustical systems and orchestral support.

It takes a director (manager, conductor, pastor, lead operator) who can see how all of those elements are connected in a way that generates total performance and leads to a standing ovation.

What To Learn From Family Systems

Family counselors worth their salt know that an individual who comes with a "personal problem" is impacted in some way by the family system. If there is some normal dysfunction (you heard it right--people simply have problems that cause them to seek outside help), the counselor will look at the system in which the individual lives. The family.

Some families support and perpetuate unhealthy behavior. Even if the individual tries to change, there is an equilibrium that the family has established that simply won't allow it. I'm not saying that people aren't responsible for their own behavior. However, there is often a lack of awareness on the part of the individual and the family: they don't view themselves as a systemic entity. It becomes part of the counselor's task to help them see the connectedness within the system and the impact that each person--and the group as a whole--has on behavior (performance). When that begins to happen, healthy behavior (performance) can increase.

Organizations and the people in them can look at maximizing performance--and organizational health--using the same kind of thinking.

What To Do. . .

Instead of doing an amateur pop-psych number on someone whose talent seems to be faltering, ask:

1. "What part(s) of our systems are actually getting in the way of performance?"

After the deadly silence, which will last 10 seconds but seem like an eternity, the conversation will come. Ask clarifying questions to get to the heart of each issue. Note to leaders: You will always, in some way, be a part of the issue because of your role. It comes with the turf. You are also the biggest part of the solution. Listen without being defensive and you'll hear about barriers that you can remove, given your position and authority. Do it. The "leadership vision " thing is alluring and "sexy;" getting things out of people's way paves the highway to performance. That's leadership.

If the systems are actually pretty solid and connected, then ask yourself:

2. "Does this person have the willingness and ability to move forward with us?"

If the commitment (willingness) isn't there, then the person may flourish in another role or another organization. 

If the skill (ability) isn't there, look for a training & development solution.

And, of course, have the conversation directly with the person. Second-guessing will put you in the category of mystical soothsayer, a special role normally reserved for marketing researchers:-)

Where does your organization focus its attention when it thinks that the "talent isn't performing?"

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How To Build Performance

I'll tell you how. How to create the conditions for motivation, engagement, retention, and performance. 

If you are a manager giving an assignment, be crystal clear about the what--then let your people deliver on how it will be done. 

Why?

How_to_bowl_  Because you hired them for the how. Think about it. You looked at resumes and carefully selected people who had something that seemed unique or different from the others. 

When you tell people how to do their jobs you take away their identity. We all want to contribute. And that contribution is in the form of the unique way--how--we do our jobs.

Action: Define and get commitment on what you want done, then let people use their unique talents to decide how to do it. 

Does this mean you walk away and totally ignore how things are getting done? No. Your payoff comes when you orchestrate quality, deadlines, and feedback. 

There are certain jobs, especially those related to safety, that don't offer much variation on the "how.": airline pilot, nuclear power plant operator, brain surgeon. For most of us, though, trial-and-error works well to perfect our methodologies and offer a sense of accomplishment. 

This is why more and more employees are looking for managers who coach. If you are unsure of how to do that, go ahead and download the free guide available in the right-hand column. More than a thousand readers have found it helpful and I hope you do, too.


photo source: blog.modernmechanix.com/

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Leadership Coaching: Success Is In The Agreement

There is often an equal amount of fuzziness when it comes to Leadership Development and Leadership Coaching. As a result, the coaching issue can get blurred. So here are some suggestions after a lot of years wrestling with the issue.

Pay Attention to These


When it comes to coaching--or any kind of consulting activity--90% of the success or failure lies in the contracting phase. So:

1. Get clear about who initiated the coaching request. If it was a boss, be sure to understand what that person is looking for and why. Which means also asking, "Who really set this process in motion?" (Your boss may be the messenger).  Measure  

2. What are the specific results desired from the coaching engagement? While Leadership is a sexy, catch-all phrase, maybe the real issue is managing team performance, running better meetings, or initiating conversations with colleagues in other corporate locations. (All three have emerged after probing underneath the Leadership umbrella during contracting).

3. Is coaching the best way to get at the desired growth? The fact of the matter is that some things are skills than can be learned in other ways. And if you ask yourself how you best learned Leadership, the thoughtful answer will probably be "from leading." Be prepared to suggest expanded responsibility. People grow by being lifted up, then stepping up.

(Effective coaches know when it's time to simply hold the ladder).

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Performance Feedback Through The Back Door

Are you getting any real feedback on your performance at work?

Faux Feedback Disguised as 360 Assessment

1. I was asked late last year to provide coaching for a middle manager. During the exploratory meeting, I asked his boss how he (the middle manager) responded to the performance feedback that led to the coaching solution. The boss responded in a very general way, shuffled a bit, and said, "I guess I should sit down with him again. But I think using some kind of 360 feedback tool would really be helpful."

2. January brought about another coaching request at the executive level. Similar initial conversation, similar response, same "360 feedback tool" suggestion.

3. Three weeks ago...yep, it happened again. Along with the "360 might be helpful..."

FrontDoor_BackDoor  These are three different companies in three different industries with three different cultures.

My intuitive take: 360 Tools are seen by some as a way to satisfy the known need for feedback but to avoid having to provide it directly.

If the object of feedback were only to provide raw data, maybe that wouldn't matter. However:

Employees at all levels want feedback and direction first and foremost from their boss. That's the relationship that employees look to when making decisions about what to do, how to do it, and how well it's going. (

Dealing With Back-Door Feedback Through Front-Door Coaching

If you're a coach, then I will assume you adhere to this principle: You don't give feedback to a coaching client that he or she hasn't received from their boss. Period.

What to do?

I explained to each boss that I couldn't continue until their person had gotten all of the "what" and "why" feedback from them. That the coaching would be viewed as sneaky and unethical. And, that without the boss's direct contribution, it probably wouldn't have any real meaning.

The result? Each one agreed. This wasn't about an evil empire. It was about people who needed some help themselves.

So the first coaching session was with the boss to create the specific feedback and practice giving it.

And yes, we still did the 360 feedback because it really was desired by the people being coached.

What to take away: Be on the lookout for back door feedback requests and, regardless of your role, point people toward the front door before proceeding.

Photo Source: www.spareroom.co.nz

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Productivity, Management, and "Getting It"

According to a study of nearly 1,300 mid-level managers around the world by consultancy Proudfoot, vast amounts of the average manager's working day are spent on unproductive activities.

The Global Productivity Report found managers spent 34 per cent of their time on administrative tasks and just a tenth of their time on training and active supervision of their workers.

Their workers, too, were not exactly buzzingly productive. More than a third of their time – 34.3 per cent – was spent on unproductive activities, up from just over 32 per cent recorded the year before.

This meant workers were spending 1.7 days a week on unproductive workplace activities, it concluded.

Managers spent in total 18.5 per cent of their time on unproductive activities, or the equivalent of just under a full working day per week, it added.

Yet, for every five point increase in the share of time managers spent on active supervision, the productivity of their workers, or at least the amount of time they spent on unproductive activities, improved by one point, the survey also found.

The managers were also asked to list their top six barriers to improving productivity.

Topping the list was a shortage of skilled workers, followed by a lack of good internal communication, red tape, rules and regulations, poor employee morale, high staff turnover and, lastly, the quality of their own supervisors.

Chickens, Eggs, and People Who "Get It"

Let's assume that the survey results are valid and that the 1300 managers represented a scientific random sampling with an acceptable +/-% margin of error.

ChickeneggThe managers' list of 'barriers to improving productivity' is formidable. I couldn't help but notice:

1. The quality of their own supervisors. Productive workplaces are all about effective bosses. If this a universal problem then there is a systemic management issue at work globally.

2. Assuming the data are true, managers often aren't required to manage and develop people. They are administering the businesses instead.

3. An emphasis on paperwork would be consistent with red tape and rules and regulations.

4. I never know what good internal communications really means. I've written about it before. "Communications" is a catch-all phrase and one needs to ask probing questions to find out what is really underneath.

5. Well, if there is too much paperwork and not enough management it's not a stretch to see that employee morale would be down, prompting thoughts of leaving the company.

6. I intentionally saved 'skilled workers' for last. The skilled workers thing pops up constantly (think, "war for talent"). There are gazillions of talented people graduating from universities each year along with gabillions of experienced workers looking to make a move (see the research above).

Would someone please tell me:

a. What skills are absent to the extent that there is a seemingly universal crisis?

b. If these skills are in fact absent, what are companies and educational institutions doing--individually and in concert--to impact the situation.

All of the above are so behaviorally interrelated that one has to ask the, "What came first, chicken or egg?" question.

BTW: The answer is good management. In organizations, everything flows from that. If managers can't or won't manage, then one would expect to see this kind of survey result.

What I Am Seeing

Finally, an observation based on daily experience in organizations.

I'm not seeing a shortage of skills. I'm seeing a shortage of people who "get it."

  • People who come into work, scan the horizon, and say, "What's happening and how can I be most helpful?"
  • People who look at the bigger picture and the connectedness of themselves to the whole.
  • People who ignore the fine print in their job descriptions and look at "all other duties as may be assigned" as the operative part.

What's going on in your working world?

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Give Advice and Feedback That's Useful

"Asking for advice is how some people trap you into expressing an opinion
 they can disagree with." --Franklin P. Jones

Let's face it, most of us don't enjoy dishing out criticism; we do enjoy offering advice. The pinch comes in determining if "help" is really going to be helpful.

What Are Your Motives?

People give out advice or a variety of reasons: to flaunt their knowledge, boost their own egos, control someone else; or to be genuinely helpful with empathy, support, or good, timely information.

Note that some of these motives are noble while others are self-serving. Understanding your own motives at a given moment can help you decide whose interest you have at heart and whether it is really wise to serve up that "advice."

What Does The Other Person Really Want?

When people ask us for advice they aren't always clear about what they want. This doesn't mean they are being deceptive; after all, they're probably asking because they are a little confused about something. So it makes sense that the request may not be crystal clear. 

  • So, ask a few questions yourself. Does (s)he want to:
  • hear facts and critical information
  • know your opinion?
  • understand how you did something?
  • get some options to expand her thinking?
  • check his reasoning on an issue?
  • know what you've seen work successfully in similar situations?

Take time to ask some specific questions regarding what the other person really wants or needs. It'll save you time, avoid confusion, and generate a more helpful result.

Why-men-shouldnt-write-advice-columns
 

Put on Your Coaching Hat

Your most effective function may be to stimulate thought and options in a situation. Listen for missing data, tangents, fuzzy logic, and hidden dangers that the other person may not be "seeing."

Most of all, keep your friend or colleague's concerns in the forefront. When you listen using their interests as a filter, you're responses stand a much greater chance of being on target. 

__________________________________________

Speaking of good advice: I received some today in the form of a "Fix Your Factoid" email from keen-eyed Garrison Cox regarding  the homepage of www.steveroesler.com

There is a minor inconsistency in your "factoid" on your home page.  It begins:


Steve once made 59 speeches in 63 days while on a business speaking gig across the entirety of  South Africa. He fainted from exhaustion on speech #61 in front of an audience of 3,000.

But if you made only 59 speeches, you can't have been on "speech #61."  Maybe you meant "speech 59"?  At any rate, it has to be a number less than or equal to 59.

 

I'm an editor.  I can't help myself.  But it might help improve your credibility even further.

 

Regards,

Garrison

This was genuinely helpful and much appreciated. Who wants a mistake on their Home Page?! After a few email exchanges, I was equally smitten by how Garrison presents himself and his qualifications:

My "elevator pitch" is that I'm like the kid in The Sixth Sense who can see dead people:  I can see what people meant to say but did not, either by omission or commission.  Some clients pay me very well for that talent.

 For you, no charge.  But if you ever have a client with a technical piece of text that needs editing, I am a recovering lawyer with an MBA who can make anything simpler and clearer.  I also ghost write technical pieces for senior partners in Big Four accounting firms who want their names published but don't have time to write snappy articles in their areas of expertise.

 Best,

Garrison

Here's my take: After multiple online interactions with Garrison, he's the kind of guy I'd work with in a minute. He's quick-witted, sharp with the editing pen, and a very good synthesizer. If you're considering editing, tech ghost writing, or want a professional set of eyes, you can reach Garrison at garrison.cox@gmail.com

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Don't Let Halos and Horns Blur Your Expectations

What do your company's talent  conversations sound like?

If you've spent more than a few minutes managing, succession planning, or doing a performance review, you know that total talent conversations can morph into a bias founded upon a single experience. Here's what I mean.

The Halo Effect

The Halo Effect surfaces when someone has an outstanding characteristic and we allow our positive reaction to that singe characteristic to influence our total judgment of the individual. What follows is a high assessment on many traits because we believe the person is a star in one trait. We ascribe a range of related talents that simply may not now, nor ever will, exist.

AngelAndDevilAtWork We see this in the realms of celebrity and politics when a physically attractive person is presumed to have a host of other positive traits. We also see it in companies where "the smartest guy in the room" moves up the hierarchy until it's discovered that his "smartness" not only doesn't extend to other fundamental traits e.g., cooperation, teamwork, initiating communication--but the individual may actually get in the way of the flow of work.

The Horn Effect

This one, often called the "Devil Effect," is the flip side of the Halo Effect and doesn't get quite as much attention. I don't know why that is. Its organizational impact is equally profound. 

In this scenario, if a person seems particularly lacking in one key trait, then that person will often be assumed to be deficient in many other traits. A manager who is constantly overdue on  project delivery (possibly due to unreasonable work demands and a boss who won't renegotiate what makes realistic sense) is assumed to be uncommitted, perhaps a little lazy, and even negligent in their overall work life.

Expectations and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

We live up to our expectations. People who expect to be successful are more likely to succeed. People who expect failure are more likely to fail.

A manager's or supervisor's expectations about employees' performance will effect that performance. Period. Remember that performance evaluations and performance feedback will influence and mold future performance based upon the implicit and explicit expectations that managers convey.
(The same is true in families regarding the messages conveyed between spouses those between parents and children).

Today's thought: Be aware of how you might be contributing to self-fulfilling prophecies in your workplace and in your life. It's important, because you very often get what you expect. 

_______________________________

But that's not all! As we were hitting the "publish" key, The Leadership Carnival--Oscar Edition went online with more than top-notch articles on leadership by top-notch leadership writers. Be sure to add to your knowledge and check them out.

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Want Better Results? Look For "Plays Well With Others"

"Collaboration is a key driver of overall performance of companies around the world. Its impact is twice as significant as a company’s aggressiveness in pursuing new market opportunities (strategic orientation) and five times as significant as the external market environment (market turbulence).

As a general rule, global companies that collaborate better, perform better. Those that collaborate less, do not perform as well. It’s just that simple.”

That's a pretty powerful claim. It comes from a research study I read a few years ago that was conducted through a collaborative effort of Frost & Sullivan, Microsoft, and Verizon. 

Collaboration The researchers created a collaboration index to measure a company’s relative “collaborativeness” based on two main factors:

 

An organization’s orientation and infrastructure to collaborate, including collaborative technologies such as audioconferencing, Web conferencing and instant messaging

 

The nature and extent of collaboration that allows people to work together as well as an organization’s culture and processes that encourage teamwork

Do You Play Well With Others?

This may seem like an abrupt switch from the serious tone, depth, and breadth of the study. But I needed that kind of data to help lead into an important career trait: playing well with others.

The study is right on target by highlighting the need for the right tools, systems, and culture. Yet it ultimately comes down to the individual. If you work in a global organization, you've got some extra challenges: time zone differences, language differences, cultural differences in what constitutes teamwork...(add your own experience by sending a comment!)

I recently spent three hours coaching a client who is now forced to deal with a highly intelligent, high-performing manager who isn't viewed as collaborative. By anyone. No one at any of their worldwide locations gave him decent feedback on teamwork and collaboration. And this has been happening over a matter of more than a few years. (He continues to achieve all of the goals set out for him and no one dislikes him personally.)

His side of the story

I sat down and spoke with the manager some months ago about these perceptions and what that might mean to his career. He understood that people didn't see him as collaborative. His take on it is that they are universally wrong. He communicates when he believes it's necessary. I told him that he had to simply initiate more, share more information--even if it didn't make sense to him--and mend some strained relationships with those who thought he was actually hiding something. He  listened, gave intellectual rebuttals for why that didn't make sense, and chose not to do anything differently.

What happened?

His management career is finished with the current employer. He'll probably have a shot at being an individual contributor in a specific discipline; but upward mobility is no longer a possibility.

Some people burn bridges. He never built them. We should take seriously the lessons we can learn from this real-life situation:

1. Organizations thrive because of collaboration. If you want to be seen as a player, then be one.

2. A high IQ doesn't compensate for low EQ. Your Emotional Quotient--your willingness and ability to relate and connect--is important to your company and your career.

3. Task results don't always matter if your behavior disrupts the rest of the system.

4. The study I cited noted the importance of processes, systems, and culture. This company's culture valued teamwork. That was one of their systems. Roesler's rule: Unless you have 51% of the vote, don't fight the system. The system always wins.

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Feedback: Why, What, and How

Why Is Feedback Important?

Feedback started as a term used to describe the signals sent from a rocket back to earth in order to determine the accuracy of the rocket's course. By tracking speed and trajectory, ground crews could determine when and where to make corrections.

At some point in time, the term Feedback was incorporated into business language as a way to talk about performance. And, as in rocket flight, it has been determined that the best way for a person to stay "on course" is to assess where one stands at any given moment in relation to the task or goal at hand.

Here's the really important point: The chances of impacting performance increase with frequency and timeliness of feedback. That implies the need for ongoing "How are we doing?" conversations. It's our best chance at knowing whether we're on track or not.

What Gets In The Way of Giving Feedback?

1. Let's face it: few of us enjoy hearing about those areas of work life where we're coming up short. It's human nature. The flip side is that managers are people, too, and they have the same thoughts and feelings. So it's not exactly a peak experience being the proverbial "messenger" even though it comes with the job.

2. The term "feedback" has morphed into "Here's what you need to correct" instead of "Here's how I think we're doing."

3. Feedback has been institutionalized to the point where it is often done at yearly or semi-annual performance reviews. That's usually too far away from the actual performance for a person to make the kind of changes that will alter an outcome. So it's almost like a "Gotcha!"

4. It takes a relationship built on trust to have meaningful conversations about performance.

Trust comes from a series of interactions where people have made agreements, talked about how things were going, and then lived up to what they said they would do. And if something goes wrong, one person points that out to the other. They talk about what to do differently. And they learn that, even if something does go wrong, they care enough to bring it up and do something about it. I've said this before: The people you trust the most are the people who tell you the truth--good and bad. If it's good, they offer encouragement. If it's bad, they offer ways to work with you to sort things out.

5. Lack of ongoing, natural conversation about work life gets in the way of building relationships that breed the level of trust we need to have ongoing, natural conversations. It's circular.

What Can You Do About This?

1. Managers: Start the conversation from Day 1.

Set the tone for the future early on by asking, "How are things going with project x?" What didn't we anticipate? What's going well? What isn't going well, so we can find out how to get it on track?

Then make sure that both of you do what you say you'll do.

Coffee2. Employees: If there isn't a conversation, start one. Turn the questions in #1 into statements. For example, "Here's how project x is going." "Here's what we didn't anticipate."

Sure, maybe your boss doesn't like bad news. Here's a secret: Surprises are worse than bad news.

If you start the conversation, you have a better chance of putting your boss at ease with the whole idea of "How are we doing?"

3. Keep talking about having conversations, not feedback.

Language conveys feeling. The whole notion of feedback has degenerated to the point where the word contains more negative connotations than positive. Why? Maybe because it was never meant to be associated with the human condition in the first place.

From the time we're kids we have conversations. We talk about "What's going on" and "How are things going?"

Start having ongoing "How are we doing?" conversations. Start now.

I absolutely guarantee you that two people of goodwill can increase their combined performance and reduce their stress-inducing baggage by having regular, honest talks about their progress and the factors impacting it. These kinds of talks are the foundation of every good relationship, on and off the job.


Bonus Thought:
The longer you wait, the larger the "negative" becomes and the more difficult it is to discuss. Regular, frequent conversations mean that the problem areas will be smaller and easier to talk about!

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Are You Grateful Enough To Be Happy?

What do you do when surprised with a gift?

And what if it's at work?

Yesterday I was getting a tour of a corporate university when my hostess, the VP of Learning, was approached by a group of 5 employees. The next thing I knew, one of the guys was reading a short, heartfelt note of thanks from the group for her learning leadership, followed by the presentation of a small gift.

I moved back a few steps so they could savor the moment together. It was clearly a total surprise to the VP. What surprised me was how quickly and deeply she expressed her gratitude, and how articulate she was. It was also more than I think I could offer, given the same set of circumstances. After the group left she continued to beam and openly, but humbly, verbalize her feelings.

Gratitude and Gender

Gratitude--the emotion of joy and thankfulness when responding to receiving a gift--turns out to be one of the foundational ingredients for a good life. This comes from Todd Kashdan, associate professor of psychology at George Mason University. In a recent issue of Journal of Personality, Kashdan noted  the research revealed gender plays a role. Apparently, men are much less likely to feel and express (my italics) gratitude than women. 

No doubt women everywhere are now going, "We already did that research."

In one study, Kashdan interviewed both college-aged students and older adults. He asked them to describe, then evaluate, a recent instance in which they received a gift.

Thank-you What did he find?

Compared with men, women reported feeling less of an obligation and higher levels of gratitude when presented with a gift. Additionally, older men reported greater negative emotions when the gift-giver was another man.

Kashdan: “The way that we are socialized as children affects what we do with our emotions as adults. Since men are generally taught to control and conceal their softer emotions, this may be limiting their well-being.”

He also says that if he had to cite three factors that are essential for creating happiness and meaning in life they would be meaningful relationships, gratitude, and living in the present moment with an attitude of openness and curiosity.

What Does This Mean At Work?

Surveys consistently show that employees often say they don't receive any kind of recognition for a job well done. In many instances, survey data show that some bosses take the posture: "Why would I "recognize" you? That's why you get a paycheck."

Maybe there's more to this than just a lack of gratitude. If we follow the research, we're looking at a large portion of the population that may not even feel it to begin with. If this is true, then "a job well-done" is one more thing on the intellectual "checklist-of-life" and not something that will prompt recognition, even though that's all people may really need to get buzzed about their jobs.

So guys, the next time your wife or girl friend tells you what an ungrateful slug you are, at least you can respond with: "Yes, I understand the research indicates you are correct."

Let me know how that one goes.

If you enjoyed this, I think you might also like:

And, if you'd like to learn more about the research above, Professor Kashdan has written a book titled “Curious?,” which outlines ways people can enhance and maintain the various aspects of well-being.


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Changing Behavior: The Fun Theory

That headline ought to confuse the search engines.

Why does nearly every corporate meeting about "behavioral change" end up with some kind of a solution that involves sanctions or carrot-and-stick incentive programs that can only get bigger and more expensive to have any impact over the long run?

Which leads me to: "How can we make something so much fun that people can't not do it?"

Here's a look at The Fun Theory in action:

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Change And Delayed Gratification

"Aha. Time to Make a Change!"

I just met with what I thought was a former client. He called and said "I've got to talk with you about the assessment feedback you did with me (drum-roll) three years ago." He went on to say that he wants to explore some changes in his corporate career path and couldn't get our conversation out of his head since our original meeting. Fooled me.

Timeline If you're a manager, coach, or freelancer who gets a lot of satisfaction from seeing people develop, then delayed gratification is part of the game. You can change lots of "things" in an instant--but not people. When it comes to making professional changes (which are really personal when you get honest about it), we need to allow time for people to put new information into context, validate it, try it out in some private way, and then figure out what and how much to change. Then they decide the when question.

For Managers

If you are managing a performance issue, then it's your job to set the deadline for when. If you're working with high potential people whose development plans include four or five different areas, be prepared to delay gratification for a while. And if the organization really needs one of those areas to boost its performance, let the person know when and why. It can help speed up the learning process or enable the individual to realize "that's not for me."

Either way, you've laid the groundwork for an honest response that's going to benefit both the company and the person.


Photo attribution: Grolier 1999 Encyclopedia Multimedia Edition

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Is It Really Just About Strengths?

Have you ever noticed people making excuses for poor performance or ugly behavior by invoking the "It's just who I am" defense?

Research (and common sense) show that focusing on peoples' strengths can have a positive affect on engagement and results.

But any approach or new , misunderstood, can actually cause negative side-affects.

 Have you seen any of these?

- Using  "strengths" research as an excuse for managers to avoid uncomfortable performance discussions with employees. ("Everyone knows that James is difficult to work with and shirks his responsibilities. No one wants to work with him and clients complain about him...but he's a really good analyst. Let's not rock the boat.")

- Hiding behind strengths as an excuse for bad behavior. For example, "I'm sorry that I snapped at you and called you a bumbling idiot. I have a short fuse. That's just how I am. Sensitivity is not my strength. You'll just have to accept that."

Tug-o-war- Dumping mundane tasks (like paperwork, administration) on others because "it's not my strength." (For example, "Anne, you're so good at making the office coffee, cleaning out the pot and using the fax machine. Would you mind? I'm not good at that kind of stuff.") All jobs require doing some things we don't like, or aren't particularly good at...and most companies can't afford to give all of their employees an assistant to dump work on. Sometimes we just have to suck it up and do something, even though it's not our strength.

 All of that said, I'm still a huge believer in understanding one's strengths. I just get alarmed when I see a good concept spin out of control and become destructive.

What's Happening With The Strengths/Weaknesses Thing?

There are probably a number of reasons why, but I think there is a phenomenon that gets played out--at least in American business circles--whenever the latest and greatest thing hits the scene. And it's this:

What is actually a Principle is adopted as a Rule.

Instead of really taking time to understand all that lies underneath a principle, people run with the catch phrase and treat it as "the way." A book title becomes a buzzword that is then tossed around in meetings. It becomes problematic when the word doesn't have a shared meaning among the users. And that happens a lot. So it is with Strengths.

It's a lot easier to say "It's all about Strengths" than it is to live a life identifying and acknowledging our strengths; figuring out where we need to become at least adequate in some of our weaknesses; and respecting the people around us enough to behave unselfishly even when we "feel" like doing our own thing our own way.

When managers avoid uncomfortable performance discussions, they are showing disrespect for their employee. How can the person improve without hearing the truth, exploring ways to change, and growing as a result?

When we hide behind Strengths as an excuse for bad behavior, we're really saying "I don't respect you enough to bother to honor you with good behavior."

And when mundane tasks are dumped on someone else because "I'm not good at it," then I better ask myself just how I'm using my position power. Is one of my less attractive "strengths" the inclination to take advantage of others' weakness?

What I find ironic as I write this is: we're talking about Strength, yet the insidious culprit is Laziness.

What to do?

1. Take time to learn the "why?" behind the "what." When you can explain a concept accurately using everyday language, you've got it. If you or colleagues around you are still discussing things using buzzwords, stop and ask for an explanation of the meaning. That discussion could lead to shared meaning and deeper understanding.

2. When you hear a "performance excuse" disguised as a reason, follow up by asking: "What are you going to do about that? It's impacting other people and that's not acceptable." It's amazing how we'll make changes once we are called on our behavior and not allowed to explain it away.

3.  Make really bad coffee and jam the fax machine.

Related bonus post: From Lynn Mattoon: Millenials In The Workforce

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Managers Build Talent

You may already have the right people to enable your company to "win"--however you define the word.

We recently designed a leadership 'program' to develop the top talent in a global company. The model created used the executive management committee as coaches for the learning activities. First we Coaching coached the coaches on how to coach; then we turned them loose. It's been the most effective learning in nearly 30 years of leadership development and design.

 What's happening that works?

  • The top leadership learns a lot about their own abilities.
  • They learn about their people while developing closer relationships with them.
  • The high potential participants receive coaching and company insight from the leaders who know it best.
  • The participants also "step up" their game. How often do you see the top leadership in a company totally dedicate two full days to the talent beneath them?

You Can Do It, Too

Managers are the natural lighting rods for developing talent. Coaching isn't another job--it is their job.

Companies are always looking for ways to develop people economically but effectively. Every research study on the planet shows that employees are most influenced--pro or con--by their immediate boss. That's exactly why managers at every level have the ability to make the most difference when it comes to grooming people for the future.

The mission: Give them the capability.

Three things managers can start now:

Diagnose: Focus on identifying the very best talent in others.

Encounter:  Seek the truth then speak the truth, wherever that path will lead.

Build: Participate in the performance growth or your people.

When managers coach, we get "two personal bests" for the price of one.

Note: Even (smart) stars find a coach somewhere: Check out John Bishop's nice story at Leadership Is A Verb.

Whoa! Just as I was hitting the "publish" button an email came through from Fistful of Talent naming All Things Workplace in the Top 25 Talent Blogs again this year. Given their criteria and primo staff I'm truly honored. And if you are a seeker of talent info, be sure to subscribe to their feed.

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When Goals Can Get In The Way

Western society holds goal-setting in high esteem. But what happens if you decide to stick to your goal without seeing past it?

Elliptical-machine_300 It came to me yesterday at the gym. It was cardio day and time for interval training. So I set the elliptical machine for a certain time, distance, and speed. This is what happened:

When I reached the goal I still had lots of juice left. What to do? If I stopped, I had reached the goal. If I decided to keep going I'd exceed it. (I kept going and stopped somewhere around "The Best of Otis Redding" on my iPod).

Here's the thing: You have to have something to shoot for at work and in life. I wonder how many of us who manage sometimes get so focused on "the plan" that we overlook its capacity to limit accomplishments?

All of us can, on a certain day, exceed what's been set.

I know a lot of places that have "stretch" goals. My observation: they cause confusion. Am I going to be rewarded or punished for the budgeted goals or the stretch goals?

For me, the decision was personal because it had a combination of achievement, satisfaction, and personal payoff.

What does your organization do to support those three inherent energizers?

It's what management is all about.

Are You Smart?

There's an interview with me in Investor's Business Daily about how to manage smart people. It's fascinating that "smart" people often present challenges to those managing them and those around them.

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Leading: Meet People Where They Are

A client was of mine was told that he didn't jump in alongside his people to get new projects and improvements off the ground. As a result, things weren't getting done on schedule. So I asked him why he seemed to 'manage from a distance'. His response:

"My people are long time employees. They're highly educated and have a lot of experience. If I start managing too closely, they'll lose their motivation."

I'm thinking,"What motivation? Apparently they aren't getting much done!

His approach to the situation isn't at all unusual, is it? We live in a time when managers are getting messages that say they should be consultative and participative. OK. But what happens when the work group doesn't know what to do our how to do it?

When there is a change, people want clear, strong direction. We all want to know what, where, when, why, and then, if the situation warrants it, how. Think about it: when we face the unknown, we start to get a little insecure. What do we look for? Direction. Strong leadership. Clarity. Help.

It has nothing to do with longevity or advanced degrees. It has to do with diagnosing the willingness and ability of the people and then adjusting management style accordingly.

In the case of my manager friend, he used misguided assumptions instead of proven research in his initial approach.

Overview_graphic

Meet People Where They Are

I'm a big proponent of Situational Leadership and have been since it was introduced. Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard teamed up to introduce the practical application of the Ohio State Studies.

The principle is this: Before you know how close to manage or how consultative to be with your people, you need to know where their willingness and ability is in relation to the task at hand. The less people know, the closer you manage. The more mature and effective they become, the less you have to direct and the more consultative you can be.

If you've ever taught a child to ride a bike, then think of that as the model. When they start, you have to demonstrate, help them on the bicycle, hold onto them, and not leave their side. As they get a little confidence and are able to go a short distance on their own, maybe you jog alongside if you have to catch them. When you see them smiling and riding a block or so on their own, you shout encouragement. And when they disappear from view; well, yell "I'm going to the house for a cup of coffee." That way they'll know where you are if they need you.

Managing people is a constant series of diagnoses and appropriate responses. It's never all of one thing. And it's never all direction or abdication. It's what people need from you in order to move along the performance curve.

And just to emphasize the point once more: Change=More Managerial Direction. Any manager who is introducing something new has to be prepared to work closer and harder than usual to get things off to the right start.

What's your experience? Are you giving or getting the right thing at the right time?

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How To. . .

I'll tell you how. How to build individuals and teams. How to create conditions for motivation and engagement.

Here it is: If you are a manager giving an assignment, be clear about the "what"--then let your people deliver on how it will be done.

6a00d8341c500653ef00e54f688f6e8833-800wi Why? Because you hired them for the how. Think about it. You looked at resumes and then hired people who had something that seemed unique or different. When you tell people how to do their jobs, you take away their identity. We all want to contribute. And that contribution is in the form of the unique way--how--we do our jobs.

Action: Define and get commitment on what you want done--then let people use their unique talents to decide how to do it. They'll grow by using their own trial-and-error process to perfect their methodologies.

You'll be seen as the manager who knows how to develop and engage your team. Suddenly, you'll find people approaching you and asking "Hey, how do you do it?"

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When You Delegate, You're Still In It Together

One of the joys experienced by a new manager is having an array of people to call on to "get it done."

One of the challenges experienced by a new manager is having an array of people to call on to "get it done."

I can't think of a role that's more challenging than managing, at any level. One of the traps, though, is a mistaken sense of what delegation is all about.

Delegate What Successful Managers Do

1.Help people perform.

That means you have to spend time focusing on the people who do the task, not just the task.

Who needs help? How much? How much is too much? How often do you need to follow up to see how things are going? When you follow up, what do you really need to do to be helpful? (It may be to get out of the way, explain how to do something in detail, or something in between).

2. Invest in people, not use them.

We agonize over how to invest our earnings so that we reap personal financial growth.

When we delegate are we asking, "How can I invest in this person during this task in order to benefit all of us over the long run?"

Or is the question "What can this person do for me?"

Each question leads to very different outcomes. One is personal and organizational growth. The other is a sense of using and being used.

3. Be alongside, in front of, or close behind--but never absent.

No one--no one--is successful alone. However, it's really easy and unbelievably common to fail by thinking we can do it alone.

So the best managers I know live out a model that clearly shares responsibility. They provide direction and support; their people ask questions easily as a result of the "we're in this together" atmosphere.

What's up in your management/delegating life?

_________________________________________________

How about Static Leadership?. Find out more from Jim Stroup.

What happens when new leadership and cultures clash? Wally Bock dissects the clash at Home Depot with simplicity and clarity.

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Employees or Contractors: Who Gets The Most Feedback?

I don't know for sure. But you probably do.

Performance Speaks For Itself. . .  drew  comments that raised the debate about this question.

Becky Robinson is a freelancer who writes about leadership for Mountain State University. She feels that freelancers and consultants  "have to continually prove their worth to keep clients and work"--so it's important to be able to solicit performance feedback from clients.

Feedback1 That's certainly true. But management authority, consultant, and writer Wally Bock says: "
As for freelancers needing it more, it seems to me they need this kind of support less. Most freelancers are paid by the project and there's usually feedback on each one. Folks on the payroll tend to slip into the background."

If that's the case, then "contractors" get more information about their performance--and how to improve it--than employees.

Can that be?

Performance improvement is directly linked to the timeliness, frequency, and quality of feedback. If Wally's observation reflects reality in the workplace, then "outside" people are the recipients of better performance management than those on the payroll.

It would be helpful to know what's really happening out there. If you are an employee or a freelancer/coach/consultant, what's your experience? The answers could be quite fascinating--and revealing. Weigh in with a comment below.

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Which Comes First For You. . .

Job performance or job satisfaction?

Depending upon your own inclination, you may marvel--or frown--at the opposite choice. If you want to "get it" as a manager or as an individual contributor, then think about this: Statistically it's a 50/50 split. About half the population wants to work toward a specific goal in order to achieve satisfaction. . .

GreatJob1 The other half wants to make sure that the elements of their job offer a "good fit" so they can perform well.

I do a lot of individual assessments for organizations and have found that the inclinations are quite inherent. However, each type can learn how to adapt to what is required at the moment. Here's what to do:

1. Increase your awareness. Look at your own preference and then start watching those around you. Who has to work before they can play? Who is making sure that the group is in harmony before moving forward?

2. What does it take to achieve the goal? If you're in a crisis or up against a deadline, feeling-good-first may put you out of business. Get it done! When you are focused on long term projects which require a lot of cooperation and solid relationships, then take the time to build them. People will need to trust each other a lot in order to get through the inevitable difficulties that will take place. That can't happen if people are only allowed to pay attention to a checklist.

3. Both types want some sense of acknowledgment when goals are achieved. I have more than one client who has told me, "They get to keep their jobs. What else should I have to do?"

Well, human beings look for recognition of some type when they know they've done a really good job. It doesn't cost a thing to publicly acknowledge people by name and what they specifically contributed to a project.

And it might just create performance and satisfaction for everyone involved.

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Managers, Tough Conversations, and Training

Does your company provide solid, "how-to" training for supervisors and managers? I'm talking about the kind of training that helps them become good, effective managers of people, not just tasks. You know: the people who make and get your product/service out the door.

How to Experienced manager and training authority Wally Bock has some pithy thoughts related to the two posts here and here regarding Honesty, Boldness, and Sins of Omission:

Making Thing Worse By Trying Not To Make Things Worse

I think most of us have been raised to avoid/minimize confrontation. That's bad enough in the situations you describe. But it is corrosive if you have a supervisor who won't step up and call attention to behavior or performance that are not acceptable. Sadly, very few companies even consider this when they promote someone from individual contributor to a boss. Even fewer offer training in how to do confrontation well. This leaves us with a legion of bosses who are making things worse by trying not to make things worse.

I think the issue is different at work and in personal relationships. In the latter, there's a context and a history that is part of every honest conversation, whether it's specifically evoked or not.

At work, rank is always either part of the discussion or casting a shadow across it. So if you're going to talk about behavior or performance at work, you need a bit of a script to achieve the outcomes you describe above.

1. Start with What the conversation is about. Be specific. Describe behavior or performance without adjectives. Adjectives trigger emotions.

2. Say Why it's important to have the conversation. Describe the impact of or reaction to the behavior or performance.

3. Then Wait. Waiting is crucial. Without it, a conversation is unlikely to happen.


I believe Wally's observation and suggestions are dead-on. There was a stretch of time from the late 1970s through the mid 1990s where supervisors and managers were required to participate in training that gave them skills focused entirely on managing, guiding, and building people. That mandate has clearly diminished. Now we hear:

Two of My Favorite Myths

1. "Everyone is a leader!" 

Really?

Then explain the volumes of books, articles, and speeches lamenting the fact that there is a lack of leadership in (you name the organization, company, or government). Also: I've never seen someone lead effectively who didn't first know how to follow effectively. 'Following' isn't a weak, one-down posture. It's an entire set of thoughts, behaviors and skills that help a person understand how best to navigate an organization and what it means to serve and perform.

2. "We don't train people, we train dogs. We educate people."

Very cute.

Did you get "educated" in order to pass your driving test and parallel park? Do airline pilots and Space Shuttle commanders simply wave around their Ph.D's on "Aerodynamics and the Meaning of Life" or do they practice the right things over and over again before being allowed to fly? And is there some reason why you and your spouse look at each other and say, "Why does Duke the Dachshund behave better than Ashley and Jared?"

I'm sounding the trumpet call for "Here's how you do this" training for anyone who has to supervise anyone else.

Why?

Because it's the direct link to performance, retention, and creating an organization filled with people who know how to do the right things the right way.

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Engagement, Performance, and "The Right Things"

There is a bogus debate happening in employee engagement circles.

In reality, it is the opposing viewpoints of two different vendors whose products focus on one and not the other. One claims that “management” is the solution to engagement; the other says that its research reveals that organizations, not managers, are the cause of poor engagement.

Thinking Sound Somewhat Familiar?

This is reminiscent of the 20-year argument about the difference between management and leadership.  That argument has not, in my observation, contributed to anything substantive in the behavior, performance, or results of organizations. It probably has been useful in helping people identify when to wear their vision-casting, big picture hat and when to put on the “Let’s sit down and talk about how you/we are doing on this project” beanie.

The truth: If you are the person out in front, you are doing both. Every effective CEO with whom I’ve worked constantly toggles back and forth between “rallying the masses” and “managing performance”.

What’s the Issue?

Organizational rules, procedures, and processes certainly can get in the way of day-to-day engagement (as can a change of mission and purpose). So, it is possible for “the organization” to get in the way. That's why it's valuable for managers to  sit down with people regularly and find out what kinds of organizational stuff is interfering with success--then, take steps to remove it.

Forget the either/or debate. People are simply more likely to engage and perform when the organization’s policies and systems don’t get in the way. This frees up their managers to help them focus  their efforts at the intersection of talents, goals, and results.

What to think about: In business, as in life, people commit to a mission but they engage with people.

For more, join me at 1 pm ET today when we extend the conversation the HR.COM webcast; sign up for free here.

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What, Really, Is Employee Engagement?

How do you define Employee Engagement?

It's easy to toss the phrase du jour around in meeting rooms and cubicles; but when it comes to commitment and action, there has to be a common understanding of what we're really talking about.

The more I watch Employee Engagement discussed, the more I realize that the people in the room are coming at it from different viewpoints.

Wakeup The Conference Board researched the issue of definition and came to the same conclusion: different studies reflected different definitions of Employee Engagement. So they came up with a "blended" definition and some key themes that represented all of the studies.

The definition of Employee Engagement: "a heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work".

That makes sense and is easily understood.

What I think is truly helpful to those involved in creating Employee Engagement is the Conference Board's synthesis of 8 key drivers of engagement. These offer concrete targets for development:

  • Trust and integrity – how well managers communicate and 'walk the talk'.

  • Nature of the job –Is it mentally stimulating day-to-day?

  • Line of sight between employee performance and company performance – Does the employee understand how their work contributes to the company's performance?

  • Career Growth opportunities –Are there future opportunities for growth?

  • Pride about the company – How much self-esteem does the employee feel by being associated with their company?

  • Coworkers/team members – significantly influence one's level of engagement

  • Employee development – Is the company making an effort to develop the employee's skills?

  • Relationship with one's manager – Does the employee value his or her relationship with his or her manager?

What Do You Think?

For those of us who have to turn theory into practice, I like simple and concise one-liners that can lead to purposeful action.

How do you define Employee Engagement?

__________________________________

But there's more!

The ever-growing Employee Engagement Network begun by my friend David Zinger is a vibrant source--and discussion--of all things EE. If you haven't found it already, have a read...you'll want to join in once you get there.

Engagement by Mom: Wally Bock shows just how smart moms really are when it comes to keeping their kids engaged.

Reminder: Join me at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on May 12th at Performance Management Practices that Boost Employee EngagementHR Leader Kathy Anthony, of O’Sullivan Creel and I will tie together the software and people process elements of effective performance management and engagement. You can sign up here for free. The event is hosted by HR.COM and sponsored by Halogen Software.

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Purposeful Passion and Managing Engagement

No one I've ever met is actually against the idea of being passionate about one's work. But how passion is related to results, how it is channeled, and what keeps it going can generate a lot of buzz.

A good, hard look at passion shows that it is generated in great part by one's view of the value of that work, and not a mindless onslaught of emotional overload. As a result, the responsibility for channeling passion in organizations is the purview of managers and leaders.

Dr. Peter Vajda of SpiritHeart once noted that the soulful nature of a person's passion is "akin to an alchemic reaction that bubbles up from engaging activities."

Passion Purposeful Passion and Engagement

What we're seeing here is the truth coming to the surface. Although passion may be an individual  experience, in the workplace it's the manager who is the mediator of passion.

Matching the right tasks with the right people breeds the kind of productive experience that offer satisfaction as a result of accomplishment. That kind of matching means that managers have to know their people well enough to know what their individual talents are--then use them accordingly. This does at least four things (you may want to add more):

1. It offers the opportunity for the company to benefit from the strengths that it supposedly hired.

2. It shows the employees that their talents are, indeed, recognized, and that they (the employees) aren't just "human" resources.

3. It shows the employees that their managers know "who they are and what they are all about."

4. It offers a genuine chance at a reality of "excellence" rather than "excellence" as a buzzword.

Maybe we should start referring to this as "guided passion": understanding the best of what people bring to the job and  managing  more deliberately  to help people become productive in satisfying ways.

Note: Look, there are tasks that all of us have to do, regardless of the work we've chosen. We not only aren't passionate about them, we don't like them. It's part of life and being an adult. Managers aren't there to "make people happy." Happiness is a personal choice. But managers get paid to produce excellent results. They can't achieve that goal without bringing about excellence in their people. And I don't think I've ever heard anyone express disappointment at the opportunity to excel.

Management Engagement

That's what has to happen to make all of this a reality: management engagement. Employee engagement implies that there are vast numbers of workers malingering on the job--and we have to "get them engaged."

I would suggest that there are vast numbers of managers who don't know their people well enough to orchestrate work in ways that lift people's desire to engage. There are too many mismatches going on out there.

It ends up being, in great part, a relational issue.

Managing is not an easy job to do well. But it's impossible if a manager doesn't take the time to build relationships that allow insight into individuals' strengths and desires when they show up for work.

The employment agreement is a contract: We, the organization, need to accomplish this; and we're hiring you, the employee (regardless of level), because you bring this to the organization

The manager's job is to orchestrate all of this.

I like the idea of Purposeful Passion.

_____________________________

I hope you'll join me at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on May 12th at Performance Management Practices that Boost Employee EngagementHR Leader Kathy Anthony, of O’Sullivan Creel and I will tie together the software and people process elements of effective performance management and engagement. You can sign up here for free. The event is hosted by HR.COM and sponsored by Halogen Software.



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Management by Subtraction

The older more mature I get, the more convinced I am that really good managers spend a lot of time getting rid of things.

Most people actually do know how to perform their jobs. What gets in the way are outdated procedures, internal struggles, missing/incomplete communication between department heads, and a million other things that organization dwellers run into each day.

Obstacle Want to Be A Management Hero?

If you are a manager, your job is to pave the way for your people's performance. Sure, you have to give out assignments, follow up on tasks, and sit down to discuss performance. But good management isn't additive; it doesn't "pile on" until groups crumble under the weight of "more". Good management thrives as a result of focusing on what's important and then using your position power to help people deal with the right things in the right ways. Sometimes that equals "less". 

My management thought for today: Managers Are the Mediators of Success.


How would that single thought impact how managers operate?


Coming on Thursday: Mary Jo Asmus weighs in with a guest post on "When Silence Can Be Golden." Mary Jo's comment on Silence Is Not Golden Unless You Are A New Parent deserved some expanded coverage. I'm pleased that she's taking the time to serve it up!




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Caution: Your Self, Your Systems , and Quaker Parrots

You and I may have something in common (in addition to work).

Anytime I come across a parrot, I try to strike up a conversation to see if the bird will talk back. Don't you? For some reason, it's perfectly acceptable for humans to be seen in public attempting to talk with parrots. And if they talk back, it's a treat.

At least for a while.

The problem that arises is this: the darned bird has no idea what it's saying or why it's saying it. Parrots aren't into context. Which is why they, uh, "parrot" things.

Quakerparrot_train What does this have to do with you and systems?

Workplaces are all about systems, and rightfully so. Without systems we would waste time doing the same task differently at each attempt. Makes no sense.

So systems are good. Excellent, in fact. Learning what works and replicating it is a wise thing to do. All of you 5S, GTD, SAP, and PDQ Bach people know that.

So why is "Caution" up there in the headline?

There is a distinct difference between replicating successful systems and trying to mindlessly copy the behavior of managers or management "techniques" that have worked before. 

Take  inspiration from your mentors and models, but become a person who manages upon a foundation of guiding principles. Learn and understand why something worked in the past, taking into account the context in which it worked. That context will help you build a set of principles on which to base your management, your organizational life, and your career.

Use the best models out there to gain a better understanding of management and why you do what you do.

The caution?… None of your people really wants to speak with a managerial parrot.

Oh, why Quaker Parrots? According to this, they are "charming (with)comical personalities and a willingness to learn human speech; the Quaker Parrot is an excellent choice for those who want all the fun of a large parrot in a smaller package. They adapt well to living in a "human flock" setting, and enjoy spending time with their owners."

Could be better than having the teenagers around.

Bonus Alert: Dan McCarthy will get you TORC-ed up about what's most important to your career as well as a related hiring process. This is a primo post.

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"Happy Face" Performance Reviews Zap Everyone

Joane Bintliff-Ritchie, experienced HR and Talent pro, contributes this about "A" Players, Layoffs, and Missing Data:

 "I've actually lived this scenario with one exception. There were annual performance reviews for everyone but those employed <1year. However, the distinctions driving the 'who to cut' list were not matched in the reviews. Everyone had a performance rating of Acceptable or better, and the majority were better. So the legal eagles still stepped in and said our data was inconclusive and weak. We then had to fall back to data like time in position and years of service to identify the layoffs. We lost many strong performers and several new hires we had spent a great deal of $$ to recruit and onboard."

Now You Know, So. . .

Mediocre Managers: Start talking straight during performance reviews if you aren't already doing so. Everyone isn't "Acceptable" or better, unless your criteria for "Acceptable" are exceedingly low. If that seems to be the case, re-visit the level of your standards and look at the actual performance of your group. If everyone consistently has these ratings, you aren't looking closely enough at what "good" really is.

Then, document the reviews.

Employees: If you aren't getting a review, demand one. Those of you who know you are top-notch performers can help protect yourself in the kinds of situations we've addressed these two days. If your boss doesn't/won't document, then you write out the salient points of the discussion, send it as an email attachment noting the date of the meeting, and keep the file for later access.

This can help you in the event of a layoff scenario or, better yet, when an opportunity arises and you have the concrete information that reflects your outstanding performance.

Many of you are managers and HR professionals. What else can everyone be doing to avert problems down the road?

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"A" Players, Layoffs, and Missing Data

Here's a real-life situation that I'll bet is getting played out in more than one company:

1. Company X identifies a  legitimate need to reduce headcount

DFpencils_small_colour 2. Managers are asked to do an "A-B-C" performance ranking activity, with A being the stars and C being the lowest 10% (or whatever system is decided).

3. It is announced that retention decisions will be made based upon performance

4. It is then discovered that the "C" players (as well as others), many of whom have been with the organization since the first Reagan administration haven't received a written performance review since then, either.

5. All of those newly-identified low performers have also received regular pay raises over the years.

Ooops. I'm From Legal: Don't Do This.

  • No performance review means no supporting written documentation,
  • Regular pay raises imply satisfaction with performance.

The result? Your corporate legal eagles tell you that, absent defensible data, your downsizing will be done based on seniority--with the newest hires leaving first, regardless of performance.

If your organization hasn't demanded regular performance feedback and documentation, I hope this will cause all of that to change. In addition to the positive developmental aspect, having the data can protect your from what happened to the above organization:

1. Needing to manage lean in tough times.

2. Needing the very best people to do that.

3. Seeing some of the best people laid off while some of the lowest performers remain, hindering the ability to survive and hopefully thrive.

What's happening in your organization?

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Strengths, Weaknesses, and Genuine Growth

I decided to take a break for the past week, enjoy my family during the Thanksgiving holiday, and return renewed.

Doing What Comes Naturally was about paying more attention to what comes easily to us. Too often we ignore our talents because it doesn't "feel" like we are working very hard.

The reason I emphasized this is because of a tendency--beginning with elementary school education--to point out the deficiencies in one's performance based upon another's perceived sense of what is important, worthwhile, and desirable. We tend to hear more about our downsides than our inherent gifts. Later on in life, organizations tend to do the same thing with gap analyses based upon competencies. That's not bad at all if the competencies are related to your desired professional development. It works better if the gap analysis is tied into agreed-upon goals. That way, you are looking at performance vs. results instead of performance vs. behaviors which may not, in fact, have anything to do with your success. My experience with a number of competencies is that they fit into a textbook, social-engineering "this is how you should be" framework that can be inaccurate and merely reflect the fad-du-jour in management.

Strengths vs. Weaknesses: It's Not An Either/Or

Mindthegap If you are going to be really good and really satisfied with your life's work, you need to pinpoint--and accept--your talents and strengths. I say "accept" because they may not be what you want or what you had hoped for (or what your parents, teachers, and friends believe you ought to have).

Yet in order to reach star status, you'll need to bump up your game in other areas. I like this addition from Dr. Peter Vajda:

Focusing on one's strengths alone supports one to move from good, to better to best where they "are." Focusing on one's weaknesses, potential, ares for development, etc., supports one to move the action of their life forward, beyond where "I am"....towards a deepening self-actualization, and holistic sense of growth.

It's also well to remember that one's virtues often become one's vices...as when one becomes an "expert" at some ability, skill, or talent and often becomes overbearing in the way they feel they need to manifest that talent, etc. "When all you have is a hammer..."

Here are three related examples I've seen in the past month:

1. A PowerPoint pro unwilling to teach colleagues a few tips and tricks that would help them save time and improve the quality of their visuals. The issue is not blatant selfishness--it is unwillingness to stretch a bit in order to stand in front of a small group and "teach." However, the unwillingness is perceived in some circles as "not helping the team."

2. Global manufacturing manager not initiating conversations with boss in order to keep him up-to-date. When asked "Why not?", the response was, "It's just not me."

Fact: This guy is unbelievably knowledgeable and experienced.

Fact: He is perceived that way by the boss.

Fact: The boss needs information and will not allow this to continue, even if it means getting a replacement who is not quite as experienced but is more forthcoming with information.

3. Engineer using "I am an engineer, not a people person" as an excuse not to cooperate with others whose points of view are different. His posture: "This is what I was trained to do, this is why you hired me, this is my opinion, I don't need to 'defend' it to non-engineers."

Unfortunately, this example is one that has become more common. Technical prowess has been increasingly allowed to hold hostage the most basic elements of effective organizational behavior. In this case, the individual will retain a technical role but will end up losing managerial status. He's not willing to acknowledge weaknesses which, if addressed, could put him at the level he believes he "deserves" to be.

None of these people is using their talent to move their lives forward and contribute in bigger ways to their organizations. Each is talented, yet each is choosing not to broaden the impact of their talents. They don't have to be "as good" in the areas desired by others. They need to reach what may be considered, like vitamins, a "minimum daily requirement."

A good question to ask yourself is: "What else do I need to develop in support of my strengths?"

It may only be a minimum daily requirement.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Thanks to everyone who has been adding to this discussion:

Jackie Cameron at Jackie Cameron-Coaching and Communication

Entrepreneur Karin H. at The Kiss Business

Tom Magness, LeaderBusiness

Dr. Peter Vajda, partner at SpiritHeart

Michelle Malay Carter, consultant at Mission Minded Management

The talented Meg Bear at Talented Apps

Brain-based Dr. Ellen Weber at her new site Brain Leaders and Learners

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Feedback, Truth, and Love

Sodium is an active element found naturally only in combined form; it always links itself to another element. Chlorine is the poisonous gas that gives bleach its strong and offensive odor. When sodium and chlorine are combined, the result is sodium chloride--the common table salt that we use to preserve meat and bring out its flavor.

Salt_shaker Love and truth are a lot like sodium and chlorine. Love without truth is erratic, often blind, and even willing to attach itself to anything that seems desirable in the moment. On the other hand, truth by itself can be quite offensive, even poisonous. Spoken without the intent of kindness or a spirit of love, it can turn people away from what they really need to hear.

Feedback is a big deal in organizations. It can be used to guide people to greater heights of performance or break someone's spirit in an instant.

Before delivering what you know to be true, check out your mental salt shaker and let your heart catch up with your mind.

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Are You Using Professional Assessments Professionally?

How is your organization using professional and leadership assessments?

Assess Self-assessments, 360 degree feedback, assessment centers, and other similar tools are widely used in the workplace. What's your experience with them?

A lot of information is generated during the assessment process. I was reviewing some feedback that was coming in for a client and realized that there are many good uses for it. We may not always be taking the best advantage of the information and the potential process. So. . .

Would Some of These Help You and Your Organization?

Assessment feedback, by definition, is given to the subject of the assessment. That person is often asked to reflect  and decide what, if anything, to do with it. That's fine. Making changes is a choice. But here are some other ways to get the most from the data. You may be doing some are all of them now. If not, here are some thoughts that I hope you will find helpful:

1. In the case of 360 feedback, encourage the recipient (I'll use the word "Manager") to get together with the group that generated the data. It's an opportunity, at minimum, to acknowledge the time and energy they put into the activity.

Suggest that the Manager share the themes and take-aways from the data. 360 activities have some of the same dynamics as surveys. Participants want to know what happened with their input--and what will change as a result. This is a chance to do just that. And, if the Manager has misinterpreted something, the group can add clarity.

Yes, I know that the feedback is anonymous, blah blah. However, the act of inviting the respondents to come together also invites a deeper level of candor. And the fact of the matter is: These are people with whom the Manager has to work. Sooner or later it will be time to increase the honesty of conversations. This is an ideal framework in which to do that.

2. A Good Reason For A Good Conversation with "The Boss."

If you're the Manager, make an appointment with your boss. Tell what you think you want to do differently. Ask if the boss sees the data and your intended changes in the same way. Or differently. Here's the principle: Giving straight feedback is difficult for a lot, if not most, people. Including the boss. If you provide the data and ask for suggestions, you've done the work that your boss my find tough. It may be the most meaningful conversation you've had with that person.

3. A Good Reason For a Good Conversation with Your Reports.

If it's a 360, some or all of those folks provided feedback. I wouldn't call a departmental meeting and declare "Let's share." I would do one of these two:

  • Make it a point to informally share what you learned and are working on with each person. Do it in the course of normal conversation.
  • If you have a full group meeting coming up soon, take 10 minutes to talk about the assessment, the process, what you learned, what you are working on, and what kind of support you need to do those things. The payoff? You get help. You set the model that getting feedback and doing assessments is a valuable activity.

4. Self Assessments. Any or all of the above will be helpful to validate your self perception. We have ways of deceiving ourselves on both scales: positive and negative. Have the conversations that will give you an accurate picture.

Let's assume that you--or whoever is being assessed--will use the info for development. Here's the payoff you don't want to miss: the data provide an "objective" reason to have a "subjective" conversation. When you rally around the information, you are in an arena that's focused on performance factors and not necessarily you as a person. (That may be a result. Why not find out while you still have time to make changes?).

Most of all: an assessment offers  a legitimate reason to have the kind of conversation you've been missing.

Go for it!

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Want Effective Management? Check Your Paperwork.

Check this from Management-Issues:

According to a study of nearly 1,300 mid-level managers around the world by consultancy Proudfoot, vast swathes of the average manager's working day are spent on unproductive activities.

The Global Productivity Report found managers spent 34 per cent of their time on administrative tasks and just a tenth of their time on training and active supervision of their workers.

Their workers, too, were not exactly buzzingly productive. More than a third of their time – 34.3 per cent – was spent on unproductive activities, up from just over 32 per cent recorded the year before.

This meant workers were spending 1.7 days a week on unproductive workplace activities, it concluded.

Managers spent in total 18.5 per cent of their time on unproductive activities, or the equivalent of just under a full working day per week, it added.

Yet, for every five point increase in the share of time managers spent on active supervision, the productivity of their workers, or at least the amount of time they spent on unproductive activities, improved by one point, the survey also found.

The managers were also asked to list their top six barriers to improving productivity.

Topping the list was a shortage of skilled workers, followed by a lack of good internal communication, red tape, rules and regulations, poor employee morale, high staff turnover and, lastly, the quality of their own supervisors.

Chickens, Eggs, and People Who "Get It"

Let's assume that the survey results are valid and that the 1300 managers represented a scientific random sampling with an acceptable +/-% margin of error.

Chickenegg The managers' list of 'barriers to improving productivity' is formidable. I couldn't help but notice:

1. The quality of their own supervisors. Productive workplaces are all about effective bosses. If this a universal problem then there is a systemic management issue at work globally.

2. Assuming the data are true, managers often aren't required to manage and develop people. They are administering the businesses instead.

3. An emphasis on paperwork would be consistent with red tape and rules and regulations.

4. I never know what good internal communications really means. I've written about it before. "Communications" is a catch-all phrase and one needs to ask probing questions to find out what is really underneath.

5. Well, if there is too much paperwork and not enough management it's not a stretch to see that employee morale would be down, prompting thoughts of leaving the company.

6. I intentionally saved 'skilled workers' for last. The skilled workers thing pops up constantly (think, "war for talent"). There are gazillions of talented people graduating from universities each year along with gabillions of experienced workers looking to make a move (see the research above).

Would someone please tell me:

a. What skills are absent to the extent that there is a seemingly universal crisis?

b. If these skills are in fact absent, what are companies and educational institutions doing--individually and in concert--to impact the situation.

All of the above are so behaviorally interrelated that one has to ask the, "What came first, chicken or egg?" question.

BTW: The answer is good management. In organizations, everything flows from that. If managers can't or won't manage, then one would expect to see this kind of survey result.

What I Am Seeing

Finally, an observation based on daily experience in organizations.

I'm not seeing a shortage of skills. I'm seeing a shortage of people who "get it."

  • People who come into work, scan the horizon, and say, "What's happening and how can I be most helpful?"
  • People who look at the bigger picture and the connectedness of themselves to the whole.
  • People who ignore the fine print in their job descriptions and look at "all other duties as may be assigned" as the operative part.

What's going on in your working world?

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I Know You're Smart. Do You Play Well With Others?

"Collaboration is a key driver of overall performance of companies around the world. Its impact is twice as significant as a company’s aggressiveness in pursuing new market opportunities (strategic orientation) and five times as significant as the external market environment (market turbulence).

As a general rule, global companies that collaborate better, perform better. Those that collaborate less, do not perform as well. It’s just that simple.”Collaboration3

That is a pretty powerful claim. It is substantiated by a research study done through a collaborative effort of Frost & Sullivan, Microsoft, and Verizon. 

The researchers created a collaboration index to measure a company’s relative “collaborativeness” based on two main factors:

 
  • An organization’s orientation and infrastructure to collaborate, including collaborative technologies such as audioconferencing, Web conferencing and instant messaging
 
  • The nature and extent of collaboration that allows people to work together as well as an organization’s culture and processes that encourage teamwork

Do You Play Well With Others?

This may seem like an abrupt switch from the serious tone of the study. But I needed that kind of data to help lead into an important career trait: playing well with others.

The study is right on target by highlighting the need for the right tools, systems, and culture. Yet it ultimately comes down to the individual. If you work in a global organization, you've got some extra challenges: time zone differences, language differences, cultural differences in what constitutes teamwork...(add your own experience by sending a comment!)

I just spent 3 hours coaching a client who is now forced to deal with a highly intelligent, high-performing manager who isn't viewed as collaborative. By anyone. No one at any of their worldwide locations gave him decent feedback on teamwork and collaboration. And this has been happening for a few years. (He continues to achieve all of the goals set out for him--and no one dislikes him personally.)

His side of the story

I sat down and spoke with the manager some months ago about these perceptions and what that might mean to his career. He understood that people didn't see him as collaborative. His take on it is that they are universally wrong. He communicates when he believes it's necessary. I told him that he had to simply initiate more, share more information--even if it didn't make sense to him--and mend some strained relationships with those who thought he was actually hiding something. He  listened, gave intellectual rebuttals for why that didn't make sense, and chose not to do anything differently.

What happened?

His management career is finished...at least with his current employer. He'll probably have a shot at being an individual contributor in a specific discipline; but upward mobility is no longer a possibility.

Some people burn bridges. He never built them. We should take seriously the lessons we can learn from this real-life situation:

1. Organizations thrive because of collaboration. If you want to be seen as a player, then be one.

2. A high IQ doesn't compensate for low EQ. Your Emotional Quotient--your willingness and ability to relate and connect--can make or break your career.

3. Task results don't always matter if your behavior disrupts the rest of the system.

4. The study I cited noted the importance of processes, systems, and culture. This company's culture valued teamwork. That was one of their systems. Roesler's rule: Unless you have 51% of the vote, don't fight the system. The system ultimately prevails.

Photo source: Pacific Lutheran University

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"How'm I Doin?" Will Get You Some Feedback

EdkochIn the middle of lunch at Grand Central Station I looked up and heard a familiar voice from the past say, smilingly, "How'm I Doin'?"

It was, of course, Ed Koch.

Ed Koch was Mayor of New York City for from 1978-1989. And he was the Master of Feedback. His technique was quite simple. He would constantly turn to the people around him and ask, "How'm I doin'?"

He must have learned something from the answers in order to win three mayoral elections in New York City.

How Are You Doing?

Your boss and your co-workers all have impressions about how it is to work with you. Why not ask? Let's face it, if you wait until (drumroll) Performance Appraisal Time, you're likely to get information that is:

  • too old to do anything about now.
  • sandwiched between other kinds of  information, making it hard to sort out.
  • somewhat benign if you have a manager or supervisor who is uncomfortable telling it like it is--good or bad.

"But why should I even ask? I might hear something that I really don't want to hear."

Yeah, that's true. But you might also find out what you are really doing well.

You might also discover things that you need to do just a little more of or less of to stay on track with the boss or the team. In any event, no news is not good news.

No news means a total lack of awareness regarding how you stack up against peoples' expectations. The longer you wait to ask the question, the harder it becomes to get back on track. Why? If there's a problem, it grows larger and more aggravating with time. If you catch it straight away, it's smaller and easier to fix--and, it hasn't become a big bother to those around you.

Two Observations: 

1. Most people are more surprised when they hear really good feedback than the critical kind.

2. At some level, most of us know when we're falling short in some way. The longr we carry that around in our heads without getting an accurate read, the more distorted it becomes. We can blow it out of proportion or totally misconstrue the real issue. So: you won't know until you ask.

What will you ask about today?

Speaking of feedback: All Things Workplace has been nominated for Best of Leadership Blogs 2008. I'm grateful for the honor and hope you'll give a click and a vote.


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How Do You Measure Workplace Happiness?

I was checking the statistics here to discover the search engine queries that bring people to All Things Workplace. I figured that the keywords were going to be mostly about leadership or management.

I was wrong.

Smilekittenlarge_2

"Job Satisfaction"..."Happiness at Work"..."Where Can I Find the Best Job?"..."Strengths and Weaknesses"..."How Can I Find A Job Where the Boss Listens to Me?"...those were the themes. Career issues--sometimes disguised as communications--turned out to be the number one driver.

Make no mistake. People are searching for how to feel good at work. We want to do well...and we want to feel good in the process.

Think about two variables

There's a relationship between how much you love your job and how well you perform. That's not a mystery. But there is a dynamic you need to know about in order to manage yourself and others:

1. Some people have to feel good about their job and their workplace before they can get busy and perform at their max.

2. Others have to have to first achieve super results in order to feel good about their jobs.

It's a "Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" phenomenon. I picked up on this some years ago during a stretch where I was diagnosing "performance issues" for a client.

My conclusion: Managers hadn't caught onto the validity of the two approaches to performance. Naturally, the "feel good first" people were perceived as weenie-like non-performers. However, they actually had a huge commitment to doing well. They just needed something else to help them be able to get there.

What was it? They wanted the managers to understand who they were and what made them tick. That went along way to having the "right feeling" about the job.

The second category of people wanted a scorecard. They weren't about to "feel" good until they checked off their tasks and accomplishments.

Target yourself and your people

1. Which approach most naturally fits you? Figure out what that means to the way you work and the way your work is managed. Then talk with your manager about your desire to excel and how you might use this natural preference to make that happen.

2. Managers: The next time you're in a meeting (or one-on-one), have an informal conversation about the two approaches. Let people talk about what comes first for them. You'll learn a lot about how to manage each person; and they'll get more of what they need in order to hit the top of the job satisfaction/high performance curve.

Do you come onto the work scene each day with one of these in the front of your mind? How does that play out for your job satisfaction and performance?

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Are You Waiting For Them To Change?

Sure you are. Me, too.

And why not? "They" have received performance reviews, performance feedback, 360 feedback, assessment center feedback, team feedback, and feedback about the validity of the feedback.

Then, "they" were exposed to workshops, seminars, leadership and management development programs.

It's reasonable to think that we're going to see changed people; people who have learned and decided to use the very best knowledge and methods for managing their organizations.

Dan McCarthy started me thinking about this with his post about retaining middle managers and a related Knowledge at Wharton Article.

Dan's synopsis:

"OK, so we need to engage them, treat them with respect, and recognize their contributions. Sounds like the same things we need to do to develop and retain generation Y, generation X, diverse employees, or any other employee. This all seems to simple - and doesn't cost anything!

Mindthegap I've gotta believe any reasonably intelligent leader gets this. So why the big gap between "knowing" and "doing"??"

Why the gap?

I spend the bulk of my time working with organizations who want to answer that question and do something about it. Here's what I've observed:

After decades of verifiable research, first-hand observation, and workshops/seminars, etc., managers don't really exhibit much change--other than the fact that people "know" what they should do but often don't do it.

So, we have to go back to each organization and ask: "What are you really rewarding?" vs. "What do you say is right?"

What people "know" is that if they "do" a certain thing, it will either be rewarded or at least not punished.

If we watch each organization, we can find out the unspoken rules that actually drive managerial behavior. These can include systems that reward short-term cost cutting while asking for long-term growth; sales goals that are acknowledged as unrealistic but are still measured each month with a warning "from above" about the consequences of not making your target (even if we all know, (wink), that they can't really be reached; or, creating self-directed teams who discover at year-end that each has still been paid according to his/her individual scale with no financial acknowledgment of outstanding team performance.

Every time there is a mismatch between stated purpose and reality, there is an increase in the gap between "knowing" and "doing."

Why not? There's nothing to be gained by doing the requested "right" thing.

What's causing the knowing-doing gap in your organization?

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Even More on 360 Degree Feedback: Readers Speak

Sphere1 360 Feedback: It's About The Conversations That Follow prompted a series of thoughtful comments and reactions. They were so dead-on that I thought it would be useful to continue the topic by extending the thoughts of those who took time to weigh in.

This post will be a little bit longer than usual because I've listed a sample set of process steps near the end.

More Good Reasons to Use 360 Degree Feedback

1. Jim Stroup at Managing Leadership points out that "one-on-one verbal conversations can be problematic, because people want to be helpfully critical, but don't want their observations to become the basis for a confrontation."

The ability to start by responding in writing--then having a follow up conversation--allows both people time to think through things more clearly and have a discussion that's focused on the performance, not the person. And having a third party available to help the discussion is useful, if needed.CA

2. CA writes about a small business VP who wanted to do a 360 but said that comments about the CEO were off limits.

Well, 360's are used to provide feedback to specific people about their personal impact. So, it wouldn't be useful to comment about a third party anyway. I would wonder, though, about an atmosphere that intentionally stifled the impact of people related to performance. And I think a CEO would fall into that category!

3. CA also noted that it's "not personal." I understand what is meant by that, but the fact of the matter is, it's always personal. At least I've never seen anyone totally separate "themselves" from the feedback and remain detached.

The good news: More often than not, 360's give recipients positive information about areas in which they are exceeding expectations and performing even better than they realized.

4. Robyn McMaster added a powerful and easy-to-implement step with this:

"Ask the person what she likes most about your leadership style. And then ask what style the manager could use to engage more of "my" talents [employee].

My sense is that this is a two way street and that the manager can grow through this experience as well as the employee."

5. Dr. Ellen Weber, Robyn's associate at Brain-Based Business , says:

"I love the idea of discussion to follow the data -- and yet I have reservations when I do not know how the exchange will be facilitated.

. . .what about the guy who interprets the data funny to begin with or the gal who comes in with an agenda. Too many people are not getting feedback that doubles as a growth plan. Instead they get zapped with somebody's data. When possible, I like to create feedback as a process. . ."

Having a solid process is a hallmark of good 360 implementation.

Here Is One Process You Can Use

I'm in the middle of a series of 360s for a client company now. While this is not the only way to do 360's, it's what was decided and agreed to. And it is going well.

1. The sponsoring (in this case CEO) executive meets with the people who (s)he would like to receive 360 degree feedback. The purpose of the meeting is to explain what it is, why it's being done (developmental plan), and the logistics.

2. If the people involved don't already know me, I'm introduced and explain my role.

3. There are three constituencies who provide feedback:
a. The boss
b. Direct Reports
c. Peers/Colleagues. These are people outside of the reporting chain who rely on the recipients for information sharing, coordination, resources, etc. These people collectively reflect a manager's willingness and ability to work with and influence those who are important to a company's success but who don't provide the pay raise or deliver the immediate team results. Note: I always work with the individuals to designate who might be included here. This can sometimes be a revealing discussion in itself and offer some "Aha's."

3. All of the 360's I use are done online.

4. When the results are complete, I send them to the sponsoring executive to read. They are not to be discussed and I've not had anyone to date violate that.

5. I meet with the sponsoring executive to review and help interpret the developmental meaning of the data. We have a lengthy discussion until we're both satisfied that the possible/likely meaning within the data have been identified.

5. I then meet one-on-one with each of the recipients to review the results (which they have received and read). I start by asking them their "take" on the meaning, then we work through each of the elements together.

6. Each recipient prepares a personal development plan--albeit cursory--to discuss with the sponsor.

7. Then, each meets with the sponsor (CEO) and discusses ways to reinforce or improve, depending upon the issue. The sponsor is coached in advance NOT to ask for a shopping list of changes. The magic number is 3. If an executive can meaningfully improve 3 important aspects of organizational life, that's a huge win.

8. Depending on the agreement, either the sponsor, myself, or both of us follow up on progress. This adds importance to the activity and allows for re-direction as well as finding ways to help the individuals involved learn what they need to learn.

9. Sometimes another 360 is done to measure progress, sometimes not. The interesting thing about a second 360 is that expectations change. How people are "scored and commented on" differs from the first to the second. The expectations of those filling out the responses usually increases. They figure that if the executive took their first feedback to heart and had a chance to work on it, that they should certainly have improved. So when there is a second 360, it's more important to look at the behavioral comments than at the numerical scores.

Please join in with a comment on any aspect of 360 Feedback that you'd like the community to think about. This conversation is meaningful to a number of people.

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Photo Attribution: gregegan.customer.netspace.net.au

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The Steve Roesler Group
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