Archive for January 2011

Critical Thinking Involves Many Different Thinking Skills

January 30, 2011

Critical thinking is more than using logic or problem solving.  The critical thinking test we use for selection and development measures how well an individual recognizes assumptions, evaluates arguments, and draws conclusions.

Recognizing Assumptions includes reading between the lines, defining/redefining issues and exploring different points of view.

Evaluate Arguments is the ability to evaluate arguments based on the strength of the evidence supporting them, as well as the ability to analyze them without allowing personal bias or emotions to influence the analysis.

Drawing Conclusions is gathering, weighing, and assimilating information to form a sound conclusion.

Logic tells us an individual’s ability to draw the right conclusions may well depend on their ability to Recognize Assumptions and Evaluate Arguments well.  Both of those components rely on the ability for an individual to step away from their own train of thought or to develop the ability to look at things from other perspectives.

How much better could your direct reports perform individually or as a team if they were to improve their critical thinking skills?

Empower the success of your direct reports by encouraging development of critical thinking skills.

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Include All Team Members In Your Group Discussions

January 24, 2011

We’ve all been in those meetings where the discussion is dominated by a select few.  Inevitably the more forceful team members monopolize the conversation and influence the crucial decisions.  After the session there is an uneasiness that the agreed-upon direction, though seemingly deliberated, is not best for the team.

As a leader, your opportunity lies in finding a way to engage the quieter, more contemplative team members in your decision making discussions.  Unfortunately, those less likely to speak-up often have the best ideas but are reluctant to interrupt or engage with the more forceful team members.  The team is missing out if they are not finding a way to capture the thoughts of their reserved team members.

The best ways for a leader to benefit from all team members is to:

  1. distribute talking points before the session and indicate what decisions are expected (this gives the reserved contributors time to formulate their thoughts and how they’ll articulate them);
  2. prior to the meeting, encourage all team members to participate in the conversation (this gives the reserved contributors permission to open up);
  3. curtail the more domineering team members from high-jacking the conversation (this gives the reserved contributors an opportunity to speak);
  4. before decisions are confirmed, ask all team members individually if they agree or have more to add (this gives the reserved contributors a non-confrontational time to express themselves).

The best leaders find a way to leverage the strengths of team members.  The ideas and thoughts of your more thoughtful direct reports may be the most insightful.  Empower everyone on your team to contribute and you’ll experience great success.

You Can Instill More Personal Accountability

January 16, 2011

Of the 23 personal talent skills we measure, the mean ranking for personal accountability is last – 23rd.  Perhaps our society has simply accepted the weak behavior trait and essentially enabled it.  You do not need to accept it and you can actually encourage and develop your direct reports’ personal accountability.

To instill greater personal accountability:

  1. Establish clear expectations and milestones with each direct report with their input.
  2. Be certain to follow-up at the designated milestones for discussions about being on-track toward the ultimate goal.
  3. If your direct report is falling off track, NEVER simply move the deadline without serious consideration of the behavior you’re reinforcing.
  4. NEVER ask how you can help (that simply allows your direct report to delegate up!).  Instead ask, “What obstacles do you need me to remove or what additional resources do you need to get yourself back on track?”

With this empowering approach you are communicating your confidence that your direct reports are capable of getting themselves back on track.  You’re allowing them to come up with plausible solutions, and you’re encouraging them to experience success in achieving what you both thought reasonable at the onset.

Empower your direct reports by holding them accountable for their commitments; then watch their personal accountability increase, and their achievements multiply.

Make Sub-Goals When Setting Your 2011 Goals

January 7, 2011

Psychologists who specialize in goal-setting theory advocate setting sub-goals that are of moderate difficulty in pursuit of much larger goals.  Setting smaller goals helps build confidence and creates success, momentum, and motivation towards achieving the ultimate goal.

As you layout your 2011 goals break them down into smaller sub-goals.  Remember to keep the sub-goals measurable and time-based.  For example, if your goal for 2011 is to read 10 business books, your first sub-goal might be “read 25 pages by January 15th.”  If your 2011 goal is to hire five new sales associates, your sub-goal might be “define the ideal sales associate profile by March 1st.”

Effective annual goals should be difficult and meaningful.  The best way to achieve those goals is by mapping out the smaller sub-goals, accomplishing them, and celebrating the success.

Empower your team to breakdown their goals into sub-goals for a successful 2011.

Take Advantage Of New Year’s Resolutions

January 3, 2011

Many people still make New Year’s Resolutions and begin the new year with much energy and excitement around them.  If you don’t believe this, just try to get on a treadmill at 6:00 pm in any gym from January through about March; they are all occupied by well-intentioned, at least temporarily dedicated people.

One very common resolution is to get a “better” job, or find a boss who appreciates his direct reports, improve home life by finding a job with more reasonable hours, etc.  All of this means great opportunity for you if you plan on doing any hiring in the first quarter of the year.  The reason it impacts you is because otherwise passive candidates are looking for new opportunities even if they have yet to update their resumes.

Historically we advised clients to take advantage of this phenomenon by running advertisements in the first Sunday paper following New Year’s Day.  While the newspapers may no longer be the hot spot for job searching, the logic still applies.  The difference is now you can take advantage of the whole week or two after New Year’s Day, by posting open positions on appropriate internet sites or tapping your network for referrals.

Just remember, after providing a title and maybe one sentence about hard skills required in the role, spend most of your advertisement describing the type of person you seek to fill the position.

Empower your hiring managers in trolling for talent by encouraging their participation in job posting the first week of the year.