Archive for January 2017

Beware Of The Helicopter Managers

January 27, 2017

We all know helicopter parents who are always hovering overhead to make sure that their children are not in trouble. In one survey of 725 employers hiring recent college graduates, more than 25% had been contacted directly by applicants’ parents or received applicants’ resumes from parents; some even had parents show up at interviews with their children, negotiate the terms of their job offers, and ask for a raise or promotion.

In the workplace, many leaders become helicopter managers, hovering over their direct reports in a well-intentioned but ill-fated attempt to provide support. These are givers gone awry—people so desperate to help others that they develop a white knight complex, and end up causing harm instead. Studies suggest that helicopter managers prevent their direct reports from becoming independent and competent, while disrupting their learning and confidence for future tasks. In focusing on the short-term benefits of helping, helicopter managers overlook the long-term costs.

To grow, people need to be challenged. Research shows that challenges are important predictors of learning and development on the job. Evidence reveals that people achieve higher performance when they are given difficult goals. Difficult goals motivate people to work harder and smarter, develop their knowledge and skills, and test out different task strategies, all of which facilitate effectiveness and growth.

Leaders who empower their managers to avoid the tendency to be a helicopter manager will be more successful.

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Surrounded By Great People

January 20, 2017

“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” – Anonymous

In the over 10,000 executives we have assessed, we have seen a wide range of assessment results for leaders.  It is shocking how poorly many leaders score.  When we ask those leaders about their results, they are not surprised. They confidently confirm our findings demonstrating humbleness and self-awareness.  However, without exception, those successful leaders have intentionally surrounded themselves with people with better skills than they have.

Although it seems obvious leaders would select direct reports who are smarter than they are, it takes a great deal of humility and self-confidence for a leader to do so.  These leaders enjoy scoring without the ball, perfectly willing to let their competent team run up the score, knowing at the end of the day they will be successful.

Empowered leaders hire better people than themselves and are more successful.

Performance Reviews Versus Performance Appraisals

January 13, 2017

What’s the difference between a performance review and a performance appraisal?  Although there are no formal or official distinctions between a performance review and a performance appraisal, and both terms are frequently used interchangeably, think of performance reviews as part of the performance acceleration process and performance appraisals as an event.

Performance appraisals are the formal appraisal document a supervisor delivers to their direct report on the organization’s official performance appraisal form.  The event occurs either annually or semi-annually, and often encompasses a salary adjustment.  The lengthy form is filed in the employee’s file and rarely referenced again.

Performance reviews are informal reviews between a supervisor and their direct report as a part of a process in which the direct report’s performance is discussed and adjustments are communicated and tracked.  The review should cover previously communicated topics and take place at least quarterly; lengthy performance forms are not used (blank paper and/or 5×7 cards work best).  In some cases, leaders have found doing this quarterly satisfies their performance appraisal and the corporate form can be abandoned. The performance reviews should drive the performance appraisal event.

Leaders who use performance appraisals AND performance reviews to empower direct reports find more success.

Think Tactically and Strategically When Developing Job Definitions

January 6, 2017

The left and right hemispheres of our brain provide different functions.  Our left brain focuses on tactical or analytical activities while our right brain is used for strategic or creative activities.  We function best when we focus our attention on one of the brain specialties at a time.  In fact, many leaders structure their meetings so as to deal with tactical and strategic thinking in different sessions; however, there are times when employing both aspects are critical to the success of a given effort.

When developing a direct report’s job definition, whether using an accountability matrix or job description, leaders should use both tactical and strategic thinking.  The tactical components of a job definition include the specific required activities and the way in which they are performed.  The strategic aspects of a job are the success factors and priorities as they relate to the organization’s strategic direction and initiatives.

Leaders who challenge themselves and empower their direct reports to include both tactical and strategic components in their job definitions experience more short-term and long-term success.