Archive for May 2015

Core Values Should Be Included In The Selection Process

May 29, 2015

In his recent book “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business,” Patrick Lencioni describes how a legendary company screens for their core values.  The company’s culture is built around a healthy sense of self-deprecation and humility. When candidates come in for interviews, they typically wear classic business suits, starched shirts and ties. The male candidates are asked to exchange their suit pants for khaki shorts and complete the remainder of the interview (which includes a tour of headquarters) wearing the shorts.  The candidates in their suit coat, shirt, tie, dark socks, shinny shoes, and silly shorts are demonstrating one of the company’s core values. Many candidates object and opt out of the process on the spot; others humbly embrace the notion and continue with the interview.

Core values are critical to companies and if candidates cannot embrace them while seeking the job, they surely won’t live them on the job.

Empowered hiring managers who challenge their candidates to demonstrate their core values continue to have successful organizations.

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Direct Reports Can Stretch To Their Limits Or Play It Safe

May 15, 2015

No competent leader consciously micromanages or controls their direct reports’ activities.  Most leaders truly believe they give their direct reports ample autonomy to do their jobs.  Why is it then most direct reports feel their managers don’t give them the independence they need to do their jobs effectively?  It’s because sub-consciously leaders are reluctant to empower their direct reports and tend to micromanage without recognizing it.

Dr. James Dobson in Dare to Discipline relates the study where social psychologists observed elementary school children in a playground protected by a high fence. The children ran with abandon, playing joyfully within the confines of the fence, unaware and unworried about the busy street just a few feet from the play area. Some theorists decided that the fence was too restrictive, that it inhibited the children, and that they should have more freedom. So, the fence came down.

When the children entered the playground the next day, instead of running with their previous abandon, they tended to huddle together at the center of the play area. Unsure of their limits, they appeared insecure and fearful.

Empowerment works the same way.  Leaders need to consciously define and communicate the boundaries of their direct reports’ tasks, get out of the way, and the direct reports will use their whole playground.  There are four boundaries the leader should establish:

  1. expectations – what does success look like;
  2. resources – people, processes, budgeting available;
  3. timeframes – hours, deadlines, check-in points;
  4. restrictions – budgets, authority level, non-negotiables.

Leaders who consciously empower their direct reports by giving them the tools and boundaries to do their jobs, then step aside, experience more success.

Leaders Should Be Their Direct Reports’ Greatest Advocates

May 8, 2015

Many years ago we worked with a leader who had an office manager whose husband was tragically killed in a car accident.  The office manager, not only distraught over the loss of her husband, was deeply upset she would not be able to return to work after the company’s one week bereavement period.  She was in no condition to work and the stress over losing her job because she could not adhere to company policy only deepened her mourning.  Her leader, to his credit, on behalf of his office manager, approached the company’s senior leadership to plead her case for more bereavement time.  Senior leadership, persuaded by the leader, gave the office manager one month paid bereavement time before returning to work.

It’s the leader’s job to advocate on behalf of their direct reports.  If the organization’s policies do not treat a direct report fairly, the leader must battle for them.  Whether it’s more pay, time off, or policy exceptions, they need to take up the fight – not the direct reports.  Whether the leader wins or loses the crusade, their direct reports will be deeply grateful and perform at greater levels for them.

Empowered leader advocate for their direct reports, and experience more success from them.

Provide Feedback Based On Observed Behaviors

May 4, 2015

Behaviors are observable actions we all demonstrate.  Some behaviors are more productive than others.  All behaviors leave those observing the behavior with an impression of us.  When providing feedback to your direct reports, site their behavior not your interpretation of the action.

Some examples:

  • Instead of “You are rude and inconsiderate,” say “I’m concerned when you rolled your eyes and interrupted Tim during our meeting, you appear rude and inconsiderate.”
  • Instead of “You need to be a better team player,” say “I’m worried when you said ‘we worked hard on that report’ despite being the only team member who didn’t stay late to work on it, you give the impression of not being a team player.”
  • Instead of “Your clothes are unprofessional,” say “I’m afraid when you wore that sheer blouse, you looked unprofessional.”
  • Instead of “You don’t care about your job,” say “I’m concerned when you showed up late for three meetings last week, you gave the impression you don’t care about your job.”
  • Instead of “You did a good job yesterday,” say “You did a good job preparing the summary report for our team meeting yesterday.”

Empowered leaders keep feedback focused on the behavior not interpretations, making feedback conversations more objective and less argumentative for continued success.