Archive for June 2016

Be Creative When Assigning Titles To Direct Reports

June 24, 2016

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 of Hiring Really Great Talent (VP of HR), Corporate Magician (Administrative Assistant), Transportation Captain (Driver), and 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 Representative, Account Executive, Business Development Executive, Customer Specialist, and Sales Ninja.

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

The title used in the job posting doesn’t have to be the title assigned 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.

Leaders who empower their team to be creative in the titles they use will experience more success (and fun).

Always Be Looking For Ways To Develop Direct Reports

June 20, 2016

Most leaders are familiar with the Chinese proverb: “Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.”  A leader should be challenging their direct reports to be always growing.

One easy way for leaders to develop their direct reports is to empower them to chair the team’s weekly staff meetings.  This popular empowerment technique achieves many purposes.  First, it develops direct reports to run effective meetings. Secondly, it saves the leader time, as they are no longer responsible for meeting preparation and follow-up.  Finally, leaders become more productive in the meetings as they are more focused on the content and less on the process.

Leaders who empower and encourage their direct reports to always be growing will experience more success.

Performance Appraisals Should Be An Ongoing Process

June 10, 2016

“I hate performance appraisals!”

The worst part about that perspective is that both direct reports and leaders share it.  Why?  Too frequently, leaders have not kept notes and records of both positive performance and course corrections throughout the year, much less shared these observations along the way.  So while the leader dreads the process of trying to remember enough meaningful examples in a 12-month hindsight exercise, the direct report dreads the thought of being surprised by observations that may be no longer meaningful.

Leaders should provide regular feedback immediately as the opportunity arises and make a quick note-to-self about the content of the discussion. Then, the annual appraisal is a simple matter of collecting and sorting the notes.

The note should include the date, observed behavior, and the result. For example: January 29th – Jim stayed late to help Tim with client presentation; demonstrated great teamwork, end product was excellent  and we won the account.

The performance appraisal becomes a meaningful review of a culmination of 12 months performance and shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone

Empowered leaders prepare for the performance appraisal all year long to conduct successful performance appraisals.

Repeat A Message For It To Be Remembered

June 3, 2016

It is a basic marketing principle that it takes seven “touches” before someone will internalize and/or act upon a call to action.  This is why we are inundated with branding messages from billboards to websites to athletic events.

In the workplace, the average person needs to hear new information at least three times before it registers into their mind for immediate recollection.  Similarly, the average person needs to hear new information at least seven times in order to retain it.  This makes one wonder how many times below average people must hear a message before they retain it.

It is the leader’s job to communicate the message, their values, what’s right about what’s happening, and what’s wrong — over and over and over again. To be on the same page, everybody has to hear the message repeatedly.

Empowered leaders repeat their message and their teams experience more success.