Archive for June 2017

Remember To Ask “Why”

June 23, 2017

In 2012, there was a television commercial for Hyundai Sonata featuring a little boy following a man doing yard work and asking him “why?” about various questions.  At the end of the commercial, the man looks at his neighbor and then to the boy where he says, “Why don’t you go ask your Dad?”

It seems somewhere between childhood and management, leaders stop asking “why”.

The 5 Whys is a formal iterative question-asking technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem. The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem. The “5” in the name derives from an empirical observation on the number of iterations typically required to resolve the problem.

Great leaders are always trying to understand what’s going on.

Leaders who empower their team to ask “why” have more success.

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Effective Leaders Are Challenged By Their Team

June 15, 2017

We are naturally attracted to people who agree with us and confirm what we already believe. It makes us feel better and less stressed.  However, disagreement, not consensus, leads to better decisions. Unfortunately, few leaders are comfortable seeking out differing opinions.

People with different behavior styles approach problems and offer solutions from different perspectives.  The forceful, aggressive team members will give strong, no-nonsense answers.  The fun loving, high-energy team members will offer optimistic, conflict free approaches.  Easy going, steady team members like logical and empathetic solutions.  And the rigid, compliant types prefer analytical, data driven options.

Leaders should first take time to evaluate how their team typically solves problems and use some psychometric assessments for additional insight.  Once they understand everyone’s strengths and approaches, they should encourage the team to challenge them from those different perspectives.  Once given permission and inspiration to contribute using new solutions in this way, the team will naturally make better decisions.

Leaders who empower their team to challenge their positions by using their strengths experience more success.

Avoid A Common Hiring Bias

June 9, 2017

Hyperbolic discounting is the tendency for people to prefer a smaller, immediate payoff over a larger, delayed payoff. Much research has been done on decision-making, and many factors contribute to the individual decision making process. Interestingly, delay time is a big factor in choosing an alternative. In fact, studies have shown most people would choose to get $20 today instead of getting $100 one year from today.

Leaders often make similar mistakes when selecting new hires.  Many times, hiring managers are seduced by certain hard skills a candidate can immediately apply and may pass over a stronger candidate who needs time to develop those skills.  Remember: most employees are hired for hard skills, but fired for lack of soft skills.  When selecting new hires, hiring managers must consider the candidate’s future contributions; not their immediate productivity.

Empowered hiring managers understand human behavior and how they can overcome their natural tendencies to make more successful hires.

Deal With Jerks For Team Success

June 2, 2017

Leaders, when defining jobs, should assign a percentage of time to the major accountabilities.  This helps the incumbent know how to focus their time.

In an Inc. article, Yuriy Boykiv, CEO of the New York-based global advertising agency Gravity Media, breaks down his time as follows: 50% Psychologist, 25% Sales, 15% Finance and HR, and 10% Strategy.  Really, 50% Psychologist?

It is important for leaders to understand how individual personalities impact team dynamics.  No one disputes the power a team has over a bunch of individual contributors (we’ve all seen the Successories poster showing a team rowing the boat together with the sun in the background and TEAMWORK captioned below).  However, a team’s effectiveness is greatly diminished when one of the team members is a jerk.  Jack Welsh defines a jerk as someone who exceeds performance metrics but demonstrates poor behaviors.  On teams, jerks disrupt team chemistry, are ostracized, and often create an over reaction by the other team members.

A leader needs to put on the psychologist hat when this disruption occurs.  The leader needs to confront the jerk and the whole team on their behaviors.  Failing to do so damages trust in the leader, stifles team motivation, minimizes core values, and saps energy.

Empowered leaders identify and deal with team jerks and have more success.