Archive for October 2011

Empower Your Employees To Say “No” By Prioritizing Goals

October 28, 2011
So many times we can feel overwhelmed by requests for urgent issues/tasks.  Unfortunately, urgent does not always mean important, but the urgent often trumps the important if we aren’t prepared to respond to yet another urgent request.

By having corporate goals prioritized, and cascaded throughout the organization to individual goals, we take a giant leap toward ensuring energy is focused on the truly important.  A great aspect of prioritizing goals is that your direct report, when faced with an urgent request, can weigh it against the importance of corporate goals.

A simple explanation to a co-worker: “I’m sorry – I’d love to help you, but I’m working on this project which ties directly to our #1 corporate priority.  I’ll be happy to help once I complete this,” can say “no” without pain on either giving or receiving end.

Additionally, at the end of the day, your direct reports feel like they accomplished something, not just spinning wheels reacting to everyone else’s priorities.  Warning: Don’t be surprised if they use the same approach to your requests!

Empower your employees to great success, by allowing them to say “no” to urgent, not important priorities.

There Is No Perfect New Hire Candidate

October 22, 2011

If you are about to hire a candidate that seems perfect – the hard skills are ideal, they are smart, great soft skills, flawless cultural fit –  be prepared, you will likely be disappointed.  The fact of the matter is there is no unblemished new hire, we all have faults.  The key is finding those faults before the hire and determining whether or not you can live with them.

When screening candidates, look for weaknesses; we guarantee you there are some.  Determine if the drawbacks can be developed or overcome.  Be honest with yourself, your tendency will be to dismiss the shortcomings or assume you’ll be able to change them.

Since no there is no perfect hire, don’t kill yourself looking for the ideal candidate.  As part of your selection process, identify those key characteristics that are deal-breakers and those that are nice-to-have (hint: rarely are deal-breakers hard-skills; one of ours is personal accountability).  As you are evaluating candidates, those who fail the deal-breaker test are easily passed on.  If the candidate passes all the deal-breaker tests but fails one or two of the nice-to-have tests, you still may have a great candidate.  The key is you can prepare for those weaknesses and won’t be surprised after you make the hire.

Empower your selection team to look for limitations in new hire candidates, and you’ll make more successful hires.

Use Your One-On-One Documentation For Performance Reviews

October 14, 2011

A leader’s regular one-on-one meetings with their direct reports is the most effective leadership tool available to bosses.  We recommend having these sessions at least bi-weekly and every week if possible.

The leader should take careful notes during and after each session, including:

  • Did the direct report accomplish what they said they were going to?
  • What are they planning to accomplish by next meeting?
  • How did the direct report handle obstacles?
  • How are their development plans coming along?

A performance review is just that – a review of performance.  Nothing new should be discussed.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate or formal; just a simple review of performance over a period of time.  We suggest leaders conduct these sessions quarterly and even annually in lieu of formal performance appraisals.

If leaders have their one-on-one sessions documented, conducting performance reviews requires little preparation as most of the work is already done.  Simply review all the notes and discuss the outcomes with the direct report.  There should be no surprises and you’ll both benefit from a focus for the whole time period not just the last few weeks each remembers.

Empower your direct reports to meet with you regularly in one-on-one meetings, document the conversations, and you’ll experience more success.

Describe The Person Your Are Looking For In Your Selection Ads

October 7, 2011

The best way to source candidates for your open positions is by tapping into your network.  Sending emails to your connections and leveraging your LinkedIn network will turn-up the prime candidates.

When sending these emails or postings it’s best to focus more on the “soft skills” you are looking for and less on the “hard skills.”  Remember most leaders hire for hard skills but fire for soft skills.  By describing the personal characteristics you need, your contacts will better recall someone they know who is the ideal fit.

Consider these two approaches and which one is more likely to conjure up a person you’d recommend:

Wanted: A receptionist capable of typing 100 words per minute; able to answer multiple incoming phone lines; greets and directs visitors; 10+ years experience with a fortune 500 company.

Seeking: A receptionist who loves word processing; who’s smile you can sense over the phone; immediately makes visitors feel comfortable when they visit us; thrives in a fast paced multi-tasking environment.

 Empower yourself to describe the soft sills your need when looking to fill a position, and you’ll have a more successful hire.

Rest Easier With A Succession Plan

October 2, 2011

When we ask leaders “What talent concern frequently keeps you up at night?”, one of the most common answers is they are concerned they will lose their superstar.  No one wants their key producer to leave, but hoping they stay or showering them with pleasures won’t make you feel less exposed.

Every key position should have a succession plan.  An effective plan brings peace of mind to the leader as well as the incumbent.  The leader can rest easy knowing if their superstar leaves, for whatever reason, they have a plan to fill the role.  The leader also feels less trapped knowing they have a plan (this applies to positions with poor performers as well).

The direct report feels better knowing the organization is not stuck should they move on and allows them to pursue growth opportunities — even within the organization.  A direct reports feels completely trapped when they hear “You are so wonderful at your work, we could never have anyone else in your role” which essentially tells them their career is over.

An effective succession plan should include:

  • sources for filling the position,
  • job accountabilities,
  • job function documentation.

Empower yourself and your superstars by putting in place a succession plan, and you both become more successful.