Archive for January 2013

Succession Plans Can Help You Get Through The Flu Season

January 27, 2013

Only a couple of months into what is already being called the worst flu season in a decade, leaders around the country are undoubtedly feeling the financial effect of increased health-care costs and widespread absenteeism.  Citing U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said that, on average, seasonal flu outbreaks cost the nation’s employers $10.4 billion in direct costs of hospitalizations and outpatient visits. That does not include the indirect costs related to lost productivity and absenteeism.  Your direct report’s succession plans should protect you from the lost productivity and absenteeism.

We’ve all heard the admonitions about being prepared in the event a worker never showed up to work again, but what if they were out unexpectedly for a month, or 6 months? You should have a succession plan in place for each of your direct reports.  The plan should include:

  • documentation of critical tasks
  • backup and cross-trained resources
  • new hire search options to replace the direct report

With this approach, when a direct report is stricken with flu, you are not stuck and have a peace of mind knowing there is a plan in place.

Empower your team to develop their succession plans and you’ll experience success even during flu season.


Consider Your Direct Report’s Behavior Style When Discussing Health Care Changes

January 19, 2013

In our life time, there may be no greater workplace uncertainty than what companies are going to do with their health care program.  The laws and options are so complicated, few organizations have a clear path to take and fewer have communicated the reason the organization chose to deal with the new laws to their employees.

Hopefully you are conducting regular feedback sessions (weekly one-on-ones are the best) and it is in these sessions you should be discussing the organization’s thinking and direction on their health care plans.  Keep in mind when discussing this complicated, emotional topic not everyone processes the information in the same way.  Try these approaches:

  • For your hard driving, no nonsense employees, present the information in a straight forward, direct, non-sugarcoated way.
  • For your affable easy-going employees, present the information in a calm personal way, allowing much time for discussion.
  • For your deep thinkers and process orientated employees, explain with why the organization chose the direction it did and how it’s going to impact everyone in the company.
  • For your detail-oriented analytics, present the facts and be prepared when you discuss the plans with them, they will be pressing you for specifics.

Empower yourself with the understanding of how to communicate the details of the health care changes with each of your direct reports, and you’ll experience a more successful implementation of the plan.

Support Your Direct Report’s Development

January 11, 2013

For most of us the start of a new year brings on a renewed commitment to personal development and self-improvement.

Hopefully you have been encouraging your direct reports to continually pursue personal and professional development (this should be covered during each quarterly review).  Based on this encouragement, chances are your direct reports have a 2013 personal and/or professional development goal in mind.

When presented with your direct report’s development goal, your job is to help identify resources, provide encouragement, and hold them accountable (then get out of the way).  Providing resources can be financial (reimbursement for expenses), contacts (people you know who can help), or your experiences (how you developed in a particular area).  You are not responsible for the development, just making sure they have what they need to achieve their goals.

Empower your direct report to develop by assisting with resources, cheering them on, and following up on progress, and you both experience more success.

Do A 360 Assessment Before Beginning Your Personal Development

January 4, 2013

So you are ready to put a personal development plan together for the year and you may have some great ideas you want to do for yourself, but how do you know what your direct reports need or want from you?

360 degree feedback is an ideal way to gather the information if the tool and the process used are well constructed.  Surveys using Lickert scales (i.e. “on a scale of 1-5, or never to always”) may be easy to find but may not yield the clarity and accuracy of results you desire.  Challenges include the ease of gaming an answer, the scores usually reflect very recent observations or impressions — but the scores do  not reflect behavior traits demonstrated over long periods of time, account for rater bias (my 4 may not mean the same thing as your 4, or I may never give a 1 or a 5, you may never give below a 3), and more.

Surveys using comparative statements eliminate those challenges, but they are a little more difficult to find, tend to require a little more financial and time investment, and may yield results that are difficult to swallow. 360 leadership tools that use a semi-ipsative format challenge respondents to choose and rank their behavioral and motivational observations.  This unique approach limits common forms of respondent bias, such as attempting to skew the results in a particular direction or making the same range of choices for all questions. The result is a more accurate and honest assessment.

The good news is, once you have the feedback, understanding your development needs from the perspective of your direct reports can make creating and implementing your development plan a lot easier, and very meaningful.

Empower your direct reports by including their needs in your development plan to create an environment for success.