Archive for October 2015

Empowered Direct Reports Can Say “No” By Prioritizing Goals

October 30, 2015

So many times leaders can feel overwhelmed by requests for urgent issues and tasks.  Unfortunately, urgent does not always mean important, but the urgent often trumps the important if leaders aren’t prepared to respond to the request at the moment it is asked.

By having corporate goals prioritized, and cascaded throughout the organization to individual goals, leaders take a giant leap toward ensuring energy is focused on the truly important.  A great aspect of prioritizing goals is that direct reports, when faced with an urgent request, can weigh it against the importance of corporate goals.

A simple explanation to a co-worker: “I’m sorry – I’d love to help you, but I’m working on this project which ties directly to our #1 corporate priority.  I’ll be happy to help once I complete this,” can say “no” without pain on either giving or receiving end.

Additionally, at the end of the day, direct reports feel like they accomplished something, not just spinning wheels reacting to everyone else’s priorities.  Warning: Leaders shouldn’t be surprised if direct reports use the same approach to their requests!

Leaders can empower direct reports to great success by allowing them to say “no” to urgent, not important priorities.

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Empower The Steering Of The Ship

October 16, 2015

An article in Wired magazine shows pictures of cockpits of various high speed, high performance vehicles. It’s fascinating to see all the knobs and dials. What’s most interesting was the captain’s station of the Oasis of the Seas – the world’s longest cruise ship. The picture shows lots of displays and controls. In the article, the captain indicates the port and starboard command chairs have built-in joysticks for controlling the ship and are typically operated by other officers.

It turns out the captain’s job is not to steer the ship at all. How many times are leaders compared to ‘captains steering the ship’? How many times are CEOs of companies in trouble described as needing to “turn the ship around”? How many times are articles written about staff “going overboard after their captain”?  And now it turns out, that captains don’t steer ships at all. So what are they doing?

The captain’s job, according to the captain of the Oasis of the Seas, is “mentoring and teaching”. He’s empowering the steering of the ship and coaches his staff to do it well. He manages the ship, but he doesn’t actually do the work himself. That’s how the best leaders steer the largest ships in the world – not by doing it themselves, but by empowerment.

Leaders who empower direct reports to successfully steer the ship develop productive teams.

There Is No Perfect New Hire Candidate

October 9, 2015

Leaders who are about to hire a candidate that seems perfect – the hard skills are ideal, they are smart, great soft skills, flawless cultural fit – should be prepared, they will likely be disappointed.  The fact is there is no unblemished new hire –  we all have faults.  The key is finding those faults before the hire and determining whether or not the hiring manager can live with them.

When screening candidates, hiring managers must look for weaknesses; we guarantee there are some.  Hiring managers should determine if the drawbacks can be developed or overcome.  They need to be honest, as their tendency will be to dismiss the shortcomings or assume they’ll be able to change them.

Since there is no perfect hire, hiring managers shouldn’t kill themselves looking for the ideal candidate.  As part of the selection process, identify those key characteristics that are deal-breakers and those that are nice-to-have (hint: rarely are deal-breakers hard-skills; one of ours is personal accountability).  When evaluating candidates, those who fail the deal-breaker test are easily passed on.  If the candidate passes all the deal-breaker tests but fails one or two of the nice-to-have tests, they still may be a great candidate.  The key is to be prepared for those weaknesses and not be surprised after the hire.

Leaders who empower their selection team to look for limitations in new hire candidates make more successful hires.

Be Clear About What’s Needed Before Beginning The Search

October 2, 2015

“I’ll know it when I see it” may work when looking at a restaurant menu, but rarely when looking to add exceptional talent to the team.  

When a leader knows what the job functions are, they can create an Accountability Matrix for the position.  This includes the three to five primary accountabilities, their relative priority, the percent of time expected to be associated with each accountability and the success factors which will determine, up front, whether or not someone has been successful or not in the described position.

This planning allows the hiring manager to focus their interviews on the key components of the job.  In the absence of this planning, they may be attracted to the person most likeable or the best “salesperson” interviewing for the position – which may be fine if they seek a salesperson, but it may lead them down the very wrong path if those traits are detrimental to the position.

Empowered hiring managers succeed by creating clarity around the position and a plan to select the individual who best fits that role.