Archive for February 2016

Prioritize Job Accountabilities

February 26, 2016

Job accountabilities are the three to five major job function groupings every job should have.  Within each of the accountabilities, there are the job function details, expected percentage of time spent, and success factors.  For added clarity and to help the direct report when faced with conflicting activities, prioritize the accountabilities.

Typical sales accountabilities are prospecting, closing the sale, post sales service, and administrative activities.  What is the most important function?  Is closing the sale more important than prospecting?  Prioritizing accountabilities ensure the leader and the direct report are on the same page.

Leaders should spend time with their direct reports and help them prioritize their accountabilities.  If everything seems equal, at least come up with a #1 priority (the best way to determine the #1 accountability is to ask if the direct report has an extra 30 minutes before their week ends, in what job function should they spend their time).

Leaders who prioritize their direct report’s job functions empower them to focus on what is most important for success.

Timing is Everything When Giving Feedback

February 19, 2016

Okay, maybe timing is not everything but it means a lot!

Generally speaking, feedback should be delivered immediately following an observed behavior and specific to what was observed to be most impactful.  The exception is when leaders are white-hot where delivering the feedback is likely to result in much credibility loss and the recipient will focus more on how angry or frustrated the leader is and less on what they should do in the future.

In those rare situations when frustrated beyond belief, exercising the 24-hour cool-off rule is very appropriate.  Simply indicate to the direct report something like “Let’s meet tomorrow at 9:00 when we’re both more calm to discuss what can be done to turn this situation around and prevent it from happening in the future.  I’m afraid meeting about it now may not be very productive for either of us.”

It’s okay for leaders to let their direct report know they are disappointed or angry without taking it out on them.

Leaders who empower direct reports by encouraging them to be part of the solution and don’t blame them for the negative situation will be more successful.

Leadership Is Not For Every Star

February 12, 2016

We’ve all seen it several times: the emerging superstar or long-time warrior who’s excelled at all the challenges the organization has given them.  Their career path was impressive and the organization has benefited handsomely from the high-performer’s contributions.  The next logical step up the ladder is a managerial role.  This is where the superstar fails and the organization has not only lost one of its most valued contributors, they now have a leadership issue.

Not every superstar makes a great leader and great leaders were not always superstar contributors.  Though leadership skills can and should be developed, a high-performer’s leadership potential must be evaluated before they are promoted.  Delegation tendencies, strategic focus, situational control, humility, and people awareness can all be assessed BEFORE someone is promoted.  Understanding a superstar’s limitations before setting them up for failure can prevent the loss of a great asset and a managerial headache.  In fact, many organizations have two high potential career tracks: one for high performers with leadership potential and one for strong individual contributors.

Empowered leaders assess a superstar’s leadership potential before promoting them to a leadership role and both are more successful.

Quality References Are Important When Considering Candidates

February 5, 2016

Past performance is always the best indication of how well a candidate will likely perform in a new role.  Interviewing and assessing candidates provides useful insight, but If you have ever applied for an advanced area of study (or know someone who has), you know submitting references is a major step in the application process.  References play a significant role in the school’s admittance decision.  The prepared applicants have been cultivating their references well before the time of application.  Much thought is given to choosing those references that will be both respected by the school and can best attest to the candidate’s abilities.

The quality of references submitted by job candidates says a lot about them too.  Having bosses or senior associates as references indicates a candidate who has left jobs on favorable conditions.  Having quality references might indicate how well a candidate maintains their network.  The best references are those who have had frequent and significant interactions with the candidate.  They have had the opportunity to see the candidate’s many facets and worked with them through the rough patches.  Candidates with poor quality references may be a future headache.

Empowered hiring managers evaluate the quality of their candidates’ references and make successful hires.