Archive for October 2010

Create A Path For Little Wins To Build Momentum

October 29, 2010

In the book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath, several studies are sited which look at the likelihood of success when momentum is gained by some quick little wins.  We’ve found the same to be true on-boarding a new hire.

The importance of well-planned on-boarding process should not be underestimated.  Plan a few small easy projects for your new direct report so they build up their confidence with a few easy wins, and the rest of the organization sees the new person as an achiever with a focus on results.

By the time you delegate a larger, more significant project, your direct report should feel the momentum of success that should carry through to the milestones laid out for this bigger assignment.

Empower the success of your direct reports by building on little wins that lead to greater ones.


Think Tactically and Strategically When Developing Job Definitions

October 25, 2010

The left and right hemispheres of our brain provide different functions.  Our left brain focuses on tactical or analytical activities while our right brain is used for strategic or creative activities.  We function best when we focus our attention on one of the brain specialities at a time.  In fact, many leaders structure their meetings so as to deal with tactical and strategic thinking in different sessions; however there are times when employing both aspects are critical to the success of a given effort.

When developing your direct report’s job definition, whether using an accountability matrix or job description, use both tactical and strategic thinking.  The tactical components of a job definition include the specific required activities and the way in which they performed.  The strategic aspects of a job are the success factors and priorities as they relate to the organization’s strategic direction and initiatives.

Challenge yourself and empower your direct reports to include both tactical and strategic components in their job definitions for short term and long term success.

Challenge Your Direct Reports To Continuously Develop

October 18, 2010

In his book “The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains”, Nicholas Carr argues that our reliance on the internet is changing how our brains operate.  As we become more reliant on the internet, and electronics in general, our brains are required to do less memorization and deep reading.  With facts and data being just a few keystrokes away, why tax our brains with memorization?  Why read a complete article or book, when with a few clicks several summaries and reviews give us what we need to know?

The internet has made things much easier for our brains.  But the brain is like any other muscle and needs to be exercised or will atrophy.  How are you challenging your direct reports to exercise their brains?
One of our clients asked each of his direct reports to read the first chapter of a popular personal development book and send him a brief review of what they read and how their executive team could be more effective.  The direct reports enjoyed the exercise, the leader enjoyed the improvements, and the team became stronger.
Empower your direct reports to develop their brains and you too will enjoy success.

Feedback Should Be Timely, Specific, And Delivered With The Intent Of Seeing Your Direct Report Succeed

October 11, 2010

‘Tis the season…for football, dance, cheerleading, soccer, etc.  As I watched my favorite team scramble for a win on Saturday, I thought about all the coaching these players would get during and after the game, despite the win, as the team worked to improve.

Then I pondered all the feedback we’ve all gotten through the years, probably since we were tots, as we learned sports, the arts, or scholastics.  We expected and paid our coaches, mentors, and teachers to give us feedback.  We were all prepared for typical course corrections, and we didn’t cry about it, we didn’t complain, we used it to improve our next efforts and when we received praise, we knew we earned it.  We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that these leaders from whom we took direction wanted us to win, or succeed in however that’s measured.

So why, as business leaders, do we shy away from giving direct reports course corrections or positive feedback in a timely, specific, direct manner?  I frequently hear “the direct report will get defensive,” or “I don’t want to hurt their feelings,” but with all the experience they’ve had receiving feedback, we know they shouldn’t be fragile.  I can’t help but wonder if it is because we doubt our direct reports really believe our intention is to see them succeed.  Between traditional HR departments telling us “constructive criticism” must be documented in case we ever need to discipline a direct report or sever their employment, and employee representatives working to convince employees their supervisors are out to get them, our intentions are under severe scrutiny.

What if you explain individually to your direct reports you want them to be wildly successful and in order to do that you plan to give them more direct positive feedback and course corrections in a very timely manner, much like all the coaches with whom they grew up?  Look your direct report in the eye and convey your genuine desire to see them succeed and give them permission to challenge you if ever they begin to doubt why or how you are delivering the feedback.  Then watch the trust and productivity soar.

Empower your employees with candid feedback delivered with the commitment to their success and watch your team grow.

Assign A Time Estimate To Each Job Accountability

October 3, 2010

Hopefully you have a job description or accountability matrix for each of your key jobs.  This “report card” is essential for holding your direct reports accountable for their performance.

Most leaders do a pretty good job identifying job priorities and success factors, but expected time estimates are often overlooked.  Leaders and direct reports assume a “do whatever it takes” approach to allocating time to the job’s tasks.  While it is true, a direct report’s time needs to be managed to accomplish the job’s expectations, having a time guideline in place and reviewing the time spent can make both you and your direct report more effective.

For example, suppose a sales direct report is expected to spend 50% of their time prospecting, 25% closing, and 25% in admin.  But together you and the direct report realized they are spending 25% prospecting, 25% closing, and 50% in admin; what’s wrong?  You may be overwhelming your sales direct with unnecessary paperwork.  You may have a sales person who doesn’t like prospecting.  In either event you can’t fix the situation if you are not aware of how the job is being done.

Empower your direct reports to “guestimate” the percentage of time they spend on their accountabilities, review it with them, and you’ll be surprised at the success you’ll create.