Archive for June 2012

Use Cognitive Abilities To Overcome Technological Distractions

June 29, 2012

There are varying degrees of steadiness. Some people are focused, unyielding, and undeterred by distractions. Some are flexible, multi-tasked, and enjoy distractions. Some are a little of both.

How does the ubiquity of technological distractions today impact our ability to be productive? How do the super-steady types avoid getting frustrated with all the interruptions. And how do the easily distracted types garner enough focus to finish anything?

The answer is: we adapt to the situation for short periods of time. Our ability to adapt is largely a function of our cognitive abilities. We must continuously adjust our natural style and what feels comfortable; we must either block out the interruption or respond to it. Those with strong cognitive abilities are likely to be most successful in adapting to today’s work environment.

Are your direct reports developing their cognitive abilities? Are you screening new-hire candidates for their thinking abilities? Empower your direct reports to focus on their critical thinking skills and they will be successful.

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Empower Your Introverts To Contribute To Meetings

June 23, 2012

We all remember the quiet, shy person in high school who rarely spoke up in class. The person who listened intently, took lots of notes, and worked hard at flying under the radar. When the teacher called on this introvert, we were all amazed at the insights offered and surprised the person didn’t speak up more often.

The best contributors to your meetings are often the quietest. These reflective, contemplative thinkers have great ideas that are frequently lost on the team. As a leader you’ll benefit by going out of your way to get the input of these team members. Some ideas to get their involvement:

  • distribute an agenda and/or discussion topics well before the meeting, specifying what decisions need to be made (the introverts will be well prepared and more likely to contribute to the discussion);
  • don’t let the domineering extroverts monopolize the conversation (the extroverts love being the focus of the meeting and the introverts are content letting them);
  • do not assume the introvert’s quietness means they agree (the introvert’s head nod means they heard the point not that they concur);
  • encourage the introverts to contribute by setting a rule that their silence means they disagree (this forces them to speak up);
  • ask the introverts to “think out loud” and never, never criticize these thoughts (introverts prefer to speak after their thoughts are complete and are uncomfortable expressing their incomplete thoughts).

Empower the introverts on your team to contribute to team meetings and you’ll have a more successful organization.

Let Your Selection Process Itself Be An Evaluation Tool

June 15, 2012

What if there were a way to know before you hired someone how well they respond to emails, manage timelines, and coordinate meetings?  A good selection process can do just that.

Most selection processes include email communications, assessments/tests, and reference checks.  Observing how candidates handle those steps and the space between the steps can give you great insight into the candidates’ ability to handle certain situations.

When you send emails to candidates (hopefully your are doing a core values email screen), ask the candidate to respond in a particular way (i.e. “short and to the point” or “as if you were replying to a customer”) and watch how the candidate follows those directions.  When asking candidates to take assessments or tests, ask that they be completed by a set date or ask by when they expect to complete the task; then watch to see if the candidate finishes by that date/time.  When conducting reference checks, ask the candidate to arrange the meeting times between you and their references to see how well they coordinate the meetings.

A candidate may do very well in their interviews and have all the right skills, but if they don’t follow directions, meet deadlines, and setup meetings well in the interview process, what makes you think they will do much better if you offer them a job?

Empower your hiring managers with a selection process that challenges candidates to perform business basics and you’ll experience better hires.

Are You A Level Five Leader?

June 8, 2012

According to bestselling author Jim Collins, humility is a key ingredient of Level 5 leadership. His simple formula is Humility + Will = Level 5. “Level 5 leaders are a study in duality; modest and willful, shy and fearless,” says Collins.

Collins is also a noted leadership speaker, collecting over $75,000 per speaking event. As you can imagine, those speaking events attract some very accomplished leaders. One question Collins asks in his sessions is for the leaders in the crowd to raise their hand if they think they are a Level 5 leader. Inevitably many leaders raise their hands. Collins then, much to the leaders’ chagrin, says “a Level 5 leader would never raise their hand.

Collins’ point is Level 5 leaders with all their humility would never admit they are an accomplished leader; that they are always striving to be better and never satisfied with their performance.

Level 5 leaders look in the mirror during bad times and out the window during good times. Humble leaders are not afraid to seek outside counsel to make their organizations better knowing they don’t have all the answers.

Empower yourself to pursue Level 5 leadership and you and your team will experience greater success.

It’s Okay To Treat Each Of Your Direct Reports Differently

June 1, 2012

Parents know it. School teachers know it. Sports coaches know it. Each of us responds differently to various types of mentoring and leadership. One child may need more nurturing while another responds to firm boundaries. Some students learn best by reading while others learn best by writing. Some athletes perform better when individually challenged while others excel in team situations.

Successful leaders – parents, schoolteachers, coaches, business managers – learn how those they are leading are best inspired and customize their leadership approaches accordingly. Often leaders are too concerned about being fair and focus on applying the same leadership practices with each direct report. Treating your team members differently doesn’t mean you are not being fair. In fact, treating everyone similarly could be perceived as unfair.

Empower yourself to understand each of your direct reports’ motivations and needs, apply a leadership approach tailored to those needs, and the team will be more successful.