Archive for August 2011

Focus Your Direct Reports On The Goal Not Just The Tasks

August 29, 2011

What’s more important:

  • Making 20 sales calls or closing $500,000 in new sales?
  • Conducting weekly cycle inventories or .5% inventory shrink?
  • Publishing regular newsletters or 97% customer retention?
  • Creating weekly collections reports or receivables less than 30 days?
  • Attending safety classes or zero days lost to workplace injury?

All too often leaders and direct report are so focused on the activities, they loose sight of the ultimate objective.  Leaders should make sure their direct reports understand their objective, have the resources available to achieve that objective, and then get out of the way.  Does it really matter that the sales associate made only 7 sales calls but still achieved the $500,000 sales objective?  Our tendency is to micro-manage the day-to-day activities because they are the easiest to affect.  Instead, clearly define your expectation – objective, time-frame, resources, and restraints – and hold your direct report accountable for the results without emerging yourself in the details.

Empower your direct reports with the ultimate expectation, make suggestions as to how it might be achieved, provide the resources for accomplishment, and you’ll both be more successful.

Prepare For A Productive Phone Screen

August 20, 2011

One of the first steps in any effective selection process is the candidate phone screen.  To get the most out of this crucial activity, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Schedule phone screen – don’t just call out of the blue; setting a time to talk to the candidate helps them prepare and allows them to give you their full attention; schedule 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Set expectations – let the candidate know early in the conversation this is just the first step and you are just gathering information and plan on talking to other candidates; this gives you the opportunity to end the call quickly if you realize it is not a good match and prepares the candidate for your selection process.
  • Review salary requirements – get the money piece on the table early; if the candidate’s salary requirements fall outside the hiring range, move on, no sense wasting your time.
  • Confirm resume accuracy – cover the highlights of the resume that attracted you to the candidate; confirm the accuracy and probe for consistencies.
  • Ask the same questions for all candidates – consistently asking the same questions helps you to compare candidates.
  • Ask two to three job-related behavior based questions – most of the job related questioning comes in the first interview, but asking some basic “deal breaker” questions upfront can save you from wasting your time with a first interview; drive for specifics and make sure you are comfortable moving forward.

Phone screening doesn’t need to be time consuming and complicated and should be a productive step in your selection process; empower yourself to prepare before the screening, and you have a more successful candidate interviews.

Succession Is A Good Thing

August 15, 2011

We recently met a General Manager who has had an assistant manager working for him for the past six years.  The GM has groomed the protégée well and the assistant is more than prepared for a more challenging role.  Unfortunately, the GM is not ready to move on and there is nowhere for the superstar to move up within the organization.

Instead of enjoying the luxury of having a competent direct report staying on as his right-hand man forever, the GM strongly urged/requested the direct report look for a GM’s role in another organization.  The GM was beaming like a parent watching their child graduate from college as he told us about all the great opportunities for which his direct report was interviewing.

We admire the GM’s vision, altruism, and business savvy.  By realizing it was time for the direct report to leave and encouraging him to do so, the GM can now develop other leaders in the organization and will have a close colleague he can turn to within the industry.  If the assistant had stayed on, ultimately he would lack challenges and growth. he would stagnate, and perhaps his work would suffer.

One of our favorite interview questions for leaders is to ask them to describe the accomplishments of their direct reports. How they have developed others provides great insight as to their potential as a leader.

Empower your direct reports to gain the skills for them to out grow their role, encourage them to move on to more challenging roles internally or externally, and you both experience more success.

Remember The Whole Person Comes To Work

August 7, 2011

Often leaders assume their direct reports come to work and leave all their personal issues behind.  Although some might be better at it than others, we are all incapable of completely compartmentalizing our work and life challenges.

This year, Ramadan, the Muslim observance, falls during a period when the days are really long. Muslims are prohibited from eating or drinking (anything – even water) during daylight hours. For 30 days.  If you’re supervising Muslims, be sensitive. Yes, you’re responsible for their productivity, and so are they, irrespective of their religious beliefs. And, they have a special burden (you try going all day without drinking anything, even water.)

Be aware. Remember that you’re not managing a team, even if you hope to create one. You’re managing individuals.  Do you need to send out a note? Nope. But you do need to pay attention, and adjust.