Beware Of The Anchoring Bias When Making A Hire

Posted January 13, 2018 by The Metiss Group
Categories: Leadership, Selection

Everyone has biases, those unconscious inclinations that affect everyday decisions.  These mental shortcuts allow people to get through their day without having to analyze every thought, but often prevent them from making sound decisions.

Wikipedia defines the anchoring bias as the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first pieces of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions.

Hiring managers often make poor hires when they let the anchoring bias affect hiring decisions.  One hiring manager we worked with, Bob, needed to fill a key role and was initially presented with many poor candidates.  After many lousy interviews, Bob met with an “okay” candidate – Steve.  Compared to the earlier candidates, Steve looked like a star.  Though Steve wasn’t what Bob had envisioned, when anchored with the other candidates, he stood out enough to be offered the job.

The rest of the story is clear: Steve didn’t work out and Bob had to let him go.  Had Bob been aware of his tendency to rely on the first pieces of information, to be anchored, he probably wouldn’t have made the hire.

Empowered hiring managers understand their biases and make more successful decisions.

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Encourage Direct Reports To Think Strategically

Posted January 5, 2018 by The Metiss Group
Categories: Leadership, Performance Acceleration

According to a study conducted in 2013 by Management Research Group evaluating the leadership practices and effectiveness of over 60,000 managers and executives, a strategic approach to leadership was 10 times more important to the perception of effectiveness than other leadership behaviors.  This strategic focus was twice as important as communication and almost 50 times more important than hands-on tactical behaviors.

Strategic leaders take a broad, long-range approach to problem solving and decision-making that involves objective analysis, thinking ahead, and planning. They think in multiple time frames, identifying what needs to be accomplished over time and what has to happen now, in six months, in a year, and in three years. It means thinking systemically, and identifying the impact of their decisions on various segments of the organization.

Here are some ways leaders can help their direct reports think strategically:

  • Encourage them to set aside regular time for strategic planning;
  • Provide information on the market, the industry, customers, competitors and new technologies that influence your business, exposing relevant and broad business information to help direct reports elevate their thinking beyond the day-to-day;
  • Keep them informed on what is happening internally by sharing information across boundaries, allowing them to see the organization from a global perspective;
  • Connect them with a mentor known for keeping people focused on strategic objectives and the impact of actions on the broader organizational strategy;
  • Communicate a well-articulated philosophy, mission and goal statement throughout the organization, allowing them to understand the broader organizational strategy in order to stay focused and incorporate it into their own plans and strategies;
  • Reward direct reports for evidence of creating a culture in which problems are anticipated and avoided to discourage crisis management.

Leaders who empower their direct reports to think strategically experience more success.

The Holidays and Altruism – A Time For Some Direct Reports To Shine

Posted December 15, 2017 by The Metiss Group
Categories: Leadership, Performance Acceleration

According to a widely adopted behavior model developed by Dr. Eduard Spranger, we all have six common workplace motivators that inspire us to do what we do.  In order of national rank the motivators are: 

  1. Utilitarian: practical accomplishments, results and rewards for their investment of time, resources and energy.
  2. Social: opportunities to be of service to others and contribute to the progress and well-being of society.
  3. Theoretical: knowledge for knowledge’s sake, continuing education and intellectual growth.
  4. Individualistic: personal recognition, freedom, and control over their own destiny and others.
  5. Traditional: traditions inherent in social structure, rules, regulations and principles.
  6. Aesthetic: balance in their lives, creative self-expression, beauty and nature.

The challenge many leaders of “for profit” organizations face is the Social motivator is overly dominant for many of their direct reports (nationally it’s #2).  While this generally creates very unselfish team members who find great satisfaction in supporting others, it could negatively impact the bottom-line; much depends on the roles or scope of responsibility provided to these folks and their ability to find ways to otherwise satisfy this altruistic motivator.

By allowing direct reports an opportunity to represent the organization and fulfill that motivation in appropriate ways like contributing a holiday offering to some deserving organization on behalf of the team, or “adopting” a needy family, an important motivator to the individual is fulfilled and the organization gains credibility/respect for giving back to community.

Leaders who empower their altruistic direct reports to give back during the holiday season on behalf of the team experience success all year long.

Help Direct Reports To Become Better Thinkers

Posted December 7, 2017 by The Metiss Group
Categories: Leadership, Performance Acceleration

More and more leaders are realizing their competitive edge lies with their talent.  And with their talent, they realize the greatest opportunity for growth is to develop their critical thinking skills.

Leaders must first create a safe environment for people to make mistakes and to admit thinking errors.  If this isn’t accomplished, people may feel afraid of embarrassment, humiliation, and perhaps even loss of professional status.

Once people feel comfortable explaining their thinking process, the leader can coach them on their critical thinking.  The leader’s first impulse will be to correct the direct report, provide the proper solution, and move on.  Providing the solution and explaining the rationale rarely works to develop cognition.  The successful leader should ask questions to encourage the direct report to exercise that brain muscle and develop better critical thinking strength.  Some questions leaders may ask to coach for better critical thinking include:

  • “How did you come to that conclusion?”
  • “What are the facts that led you to that conclusion?”
  • “What other options have you considered?”
  • “What would happen next?”
  • “Have you considered your bias?”

Leaders who empower their direct reports to learn from mistakes develop them to become successful critical thinkers.

One-On-One Meetings Are Important-Not Urgent

Posted November 30, 2017 by The Metiss Group
Categories: Leadership, one-on-ones, Performance Acceleration

In 1994, Stephen Covey, along with A. Roger and Rebecca Merrill, introduced the four-quadrant importance and urgency matrix in their book First Things First.  In the book, Covey describes a framework for differentiating tasks that have long-term benefits (important-not urgent) from daily, more time-sensitive tasks (important-urgent). Without a concerted focus, the important-not urgent tasks are often neglected until they become important-urgent.

Regular (weekly or biweekly) one-on-one meetings between leaders and their direct reports fall into the important-not urgent category, but are often forsaken by leaders because they are too busy dealing with the important-urgent.  It’s in the one-on-one meetings that important-not urgent topics are discussed and dealt with before they become urgent.

During our leadership training sessions, we ask leaders to raise their hand if they’d like weekly one-on-one meetings with their boss (or would have liked them when they had a boss).  Nearly everyone in the room raises their hand (who wouldn’t want regular non-pressured meetings with their boss?).  We then ask the leaders to lower their hand if they conduct these meetings for their direct reports. Sadly, most leaders do not lower their hand.  Why is it that direct reports are willing to invest in the important-not urgent but bosses are not?

Empowered leaders conduct regular one-on-one meetings with their direct reports, and experience less important-urgent issues and more success.

How Much Effort To Spend Before Making A Hire

Posted November 21, 2017 by The Metiss Group
Categories: Leadership, Selection

Imagine an organization needs to make a $50,000 capital expenditure (equipment, IT, renovations).  Before making the investment, what actions might the team make?  Would the team gather with an objective expert to discuss the specifications needed?  Would they talk to several suppliers and assess various options?  Would they talk to references from the supplier to determine if they are trustworthy?  Would they make further purchases (insurance, warranties, training) after delivery to protect and maximize the investment?

Most leaders would answer, “of course, $50,000 is a lot of money and we don’t want to make a mistake.”  Why is it then that hiring managers don’t put forth as much effort when making a $50,000 hire?

Before making a hire, leaders should gather the job’s stakeholders to determine what is needed from the role and the type of person who fits best.  Hiring managers should interview and assess several candidates.  They should talk to candidate references to make sure they are the right fit.  Hiring managers should also invest in new hire training to ensure the new hire’s success.

And, unlike a capital expenditure, a talent investment will appreciate over time.

Effective leaders empower their team to treat their people investments with the same diligence as capital investments and experience more success.

Consider The Two Pizza Rule When Putting Teams Together

Posted November 17, 2017 by The Metiss Group
Categories: Communication, Leadership, Performance Acceleration

The two pizza rule states that the number of people working together should not exceed the number of people that can be fed by two pizzas.  The rule was popularized by Jeff Bezos at Amazon who believes two pizza teams create a decentralized and innovative workplace.

The idea behind two pizza teams is that the fewer the people working together, the more effective the communication becomes.  The number of communication links in a two person team is 1, a five person team 10, a ten person team 45, and a 20 person team has a whopping 190 communication links.  The U.S. Navy Seals have learned that four is the optimal size for a combat team.  Larger teams need more communication whereas smaller teams can have better communication.

When assembling a high-function team, a leader may be tempted to include team members from several areas just to make sure everyone is represented. That rarely works – look no further than our government to see what happens with large teams. Ideally, leaders should choose at most six or seven non-ravenous people if they want a highly functional team.

Empowered team leaders build teams using the two pizza rule and have more successful teams.