Archive for May 2010

Start In The First Person When Delivering Course Corrections

May 24, 2010

Many of us still feel uncomfortable when giving course corrections. The last thing we want to do is de-motivate an direct report, or hurt the feelings of an direct report when something “is just not that big a deal” but should still be addressed.  The fact is: if we didn’t care about the direct report’s success or believe they made valuable contributions to the organization, we wouldn’t bother giving them feedback.

When giving feedback, starting in the first person prevents the direct report from being thrown on the defensive right from the first phrase.  If you begin in the second person, it can sound harsh and put the direct report in a defensive posture.

After starting in the first person, the direct report should get the distinct impression you have every confidence they have the ability to correct their course, be successful, and fix a situation on their own which creates an empowered, non-defensive response.

Remember, if it’s a direct report you believe is a successful contributor to your organization, empower them to correct their course by starting your message in the first person.

Seek Stakeholder Input When Defining A Job

May 15, 2010

Whether you are defining jobs using a traditional job description or an Accountability Matrix (our recommendation), you’ll want to get input from people who interact with the individual in the job when outlining the key requirements.

The supervisor and/or HR are generally responsible for defining the requirements for a job.  Soliciting input from those closest to the job provides two important advantages.  The people working closely with the job know whether it’s being done correctly or not — often because it impacts their work.  Gaining input from these stakeholders helps further define the success factors of the job.  Additionally, consulting the stakeholders creates a commitment from them to the individual in the job to succeed since they had a hand in defining it.  Just imagine the support felt by a new hire!

Ask for input from many people when defining your jobs and your direct reports will succeed.

Tip: Tie Selection to Performance

May 10, 2010

After you invested in developing Job Accountabilities and a Job Profile at the beginning of your selection process, you’ve noted the ease with which the decision of who to hire, and not to hire, has been.  Too often, we notice some leaders failing to get the real “bang for their buck” because that appears to be the end of the point at which the Job Accountabilities and Job Profile are used.

During your one-on-ones and quarterly performance reviews, be certain to go over the accountabilities and success factors by asking whether or not your direct report is on track or off track.  If off-track, ask the employee if they need additional resources or obstacles removed to get themselves back on track.  Also ask by what date should you expect to see them on track.

Additionally, the Job Profile can provide a path to reinforcing the right means by which to achieve those results.  So ask about the behaviors, motivators, and skills you defined as critical to the job at least as part of your quarterly reviews.  As an example:  please describe for me a time you demonstrated Goal Achievement or Personal Accountability in the last quarter.  The other option is to use the behavior based interview questions used with candidates to probe the right characteristics with employees.

Remember if the Job Accountabilities define WHAT we want done in a job, and the Job Profile defines HOW we want the job performed, a real superstar will accomplish both.  Use what you already have in place to drive the performance excellence you seek.

Strong Critical Thinking Skills Create More Behavior Flexibility

May 3, 2010

We all have natural behavior styles.  This hard wiring is the result of our personal DNA.  Ideally we perform best when we are matched with a job that requires us to use our natural skill set.

Though leaders should strive to fit jobs and direct report’s skill sets, rarely is there a perfect match for a person and a job.  We are all required to adapt our natural skills to those required in the job we are performing.  Those people with a more developed critical thinking or problem solving aptitude are better able to adapt to their natural skills for short periods of time to accomplish the job at hand.

When evaluating talent or considering job fit, pay particular attention critical thinking skills and aptitude.  An increased critical thinking ability provides much more job flexibility and likelihood for success  especially when the tasks within one job set are quite diverse.