Archive for October 2014

Make Personal Development A Group Effort

October 31, 2014

If you’ve ever embarked on an exercise program, you know how difficult it is to stay committed.  Unless you have health issues, it’s one of those “important, not urgent” activities that frequently doesn’t get the proper attention.  Personal and professional development is another “important, not urgent” activity.  Like exercise, you know you are supposed to do personal development, but often don’t get around to it.  Similar to exercise, some are better at it than others and everyone feels better when they have finished.

Most regular exercisers will tell you that having workout buddies is what keeps them going and that is the key to effective personal development. Encourage your team to commit to working on similar developmental opportunities.  Group accountability is a great motivator.

One of the easiest development approaches is for the group to all read the same book.  The synergies and sharing coming out of the group as they recount parts of the book are amazing.  One leader we work with had his whole team read/reread Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” then as a group talked how to apply the principles to their business.  The individuals benefited from personal growth, the team developed a greater bond, and the organization became more efficient – win-win-win.

Empower your team to grow together and you, your direct reports, and the organization will all experience more success.

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Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast

October 24, 2014

Peter Drucker is credited with coining the phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and successful organizations have been striving to create a winning culture ever since. Here’s a great example of Google’s culture recounted by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg in How Google Works:

One Friday afternoon in May 2002, Larry Page (Google’s co-founder) was playing around on the Google site, typing in search terms and seeing what sort of results and ads he’d get back.  He wasn’t happy with what he saw.  Larry was horrified that the AdWords engine, which figured out which ads worked best with which queries, was occasionally subjecting our users to useless messages.

He printed out the pages containing the results he didn’t like, highlighted the offending ads, posted them on a bulletin board on the wall of the kitchen by the pool table, and wrote THESE ADS SUCK in big letters across the top.  Then he went home.

By the time Larry arrived Monday morning the problem was fixed.  And the kicker? The team that fixed the problem weren’t even on the ads team. They had just been in the office that Friday afternoon, seen Larry’s note, and understood that when your mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, then having ads (which are information) that suck (which isn’t useful) is a problem. So they fixed it over the weekend.

Every organization has a culture whether leadership creates it or not. As Drucker has been professing for almost half a century, leaders must define an intended culture, live it, breathe it, demonstrate it, and champion it or no strategy will be successful.  What’s your culture?  Would everyone in your organization agree?

Empower your team with a defined purposeful culture and you’ll have a more successful organization.

Reference Checks Are Invaluable To The Selection Process

October 17, 2014

We are not sure who has less respect for reference checks: hiring managers or candidates.  Today, hiring managers rarely conduct effective reference checks and, as a result, candidates have little motivation to maintain those past relationships.

Brad Smart, the author of the popular book “Topgrading: The Proven Hiring and Promoting Method That Turbocharges Company Performance”, describes an approach to reference checks called TORC – Threat Of Reference Check.

The TORC approach informs candidates at the beginning of the selection process they will be responsible for arranging reference check conversations with the hiring manager before they will be hired.  When confronted with this requirement, unqualified candidates immediately drop out of the process.  Smart claims 25% of the initial candidates withdraw from the selection process when they learn they have to reach out to their references.

Additionally, Topgrading interviewers remind candidates before interviews they will be checking their answers with references. This ensures more truthful responses in the interview and allows for making better hiring decisions.  Reference check conversations become much more insightful.

Empower your hiring managers to use effective reference checks, and you will make more successful hires.

Make Recruiting Everyone’s Responsibility

October 10, 2014

When leaders are asked what their greatest talent challenge is, most will say it’s finding “good people.”  Regardless of the economic conditions, hiring managers can never find enough top talent.

Human behavior dictates talented people normally hang around other talented people.  If you have top performers on your team, there is a very good chance they know other stars and some of those stars could be the “good people” you are trying to find.

Google is known for attracting and hiring great talent. In their book How Google Works, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg describe Google’s approach:

“… why let only recruiters handle recruiting? If everyone knows someone great, why isn’t it everyone’s job to recruit that great person?

The simple way to keep recruiting in everyone’s job description is to measure it. Count referrals and interviews. Encourage employees to help with recruiting events, and track how often they do. Then make these metrics count when it comes to performance reviews and promotions. Recruiting is everyone’s job, so grade it that way.”

Empower your top performers to recruit other top performers and you successfully find the “good people” you are looking for.

Rest Easier With A Succession Plan

October 2, 2014

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.”   This 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.