Archive for May 2013

Beware Of The Helicopter Managers

May 20, 2013

We all know helicopter parents, who are always hovering overhead to make sure that their children are thriving. In one survey of 725 employers hiring recent college graduates, more than 25% had been contacted directly by applicants’ parents or received applicants’ resumes from parents; some even had parents show up at interviews with their children, negotiate the terms of their job offers, and ask for a raise or promotion.

In the workplace, many leaders become helicopter managers, hovering over their direct reports in a well-intentioned but ill-fated attempt to provide support. These are givers gone awry—people so desperate to help others that they develop a white knight complex, and end up causing harm instead. Studies suggest that helicopter managers prevent recipients from becoming independent and competent, disrupting their learning and confidence for future tasks. In focusing on the short-term benefits of helping, helicopter managers overlook the long-term costs.

To grow, people need to be challenged. Research shows that challenges are important predictors of learning and development on the job. Evidence reveals that people achieve higher performance when they are given difficult goals. Difficult goals motivate people to work harder and smarter, develop their knowledge and skills, and test out different task strategies, all of which facilitate effectiveness and growth.

Challenge your leaders to avoid the tendency to be a helicopter manager, and your organization will be more successful.

Leading by Example – Powerful Leadership Story

May 13, 2013

There is a legend that is told of a French Monastery known throughout Europe for the exceptional leadership of a man known only as Brother Leo. Several monks took a pilgrimage to visit this extraordinary leader to learn from him. Starting out on the pilgrimage they almost immediately begin to argue over who should do certain chores.

On the third day of their journey they met another monk also going to the monastery; he joined them. This monk never bickered about doing chores and did them dutifully. And when the others would fight about which chores to do, he would simply volunteer to do them himself. On the last day of their journey, others began to follow his example and the bickering stopped.

When the monks reached the monastery they asked to see Brother Leo. The man who greeted them laughed. “But our brother is among you!” And he pointed to the fellow that had joined them.

Many seek positions in leadership to serve their own interests and not that of others. There are many self serving reasons why a person may want to lead such as power, status, networking and money. But the best leaders lead because they care about people. And those are the types of leaders that lead like Brother Leo. They teach through their actions, not by words alone. They are servants, not commanders.

What Do You Call Your Direct Reports?

May 6, 2013

More and more organizations are getting creative with the titles they assign to their associates.  Titles like Sanitation Engineer (Janitor), Sandwich Artist (sub maker), VP, Hiring Really Great Talent (VP, HR), Corporate Magician (Admin Assistant), Transportation Captain (Driver), Director of First Impressions (Receptionist) are imaginative and conjure up fun images of the company and incumbents.  These untraditional titles stand out, make great conversation fodder, and communicate the company’s culture.

Some organizations choose titles that are attractive to customers and industry associates (banks are infamous for all their Vice Presidents).  Sales people have the greatest variety of titles: Sales Rep, Account Executive, Business Development Executive, Customer Specialist, and Sales Ninja.

When posting for job openings use titles that will resonate with the types of candidates you want to attract.  If you call your sales person VP, Sales and post the job that way, expect candidates with much sales experience, a significant group of direct reports, and higher salary expectations. If you post for a Sandwich Artist, you’ll likely not get responses from someone expecting to work behind a deli counter.

The title you use in your job posting doesn’t have to be the title you assign to the new hire.  Similarly, the title put on someone’s business card need not be the same title they hold within the organization.  For the same job, there can be different titles for job postings, business cards, and internal classification.

Empower your team to be creative in the titles they use, when appropriate and everyone will experience more success (and fun).