Archive for August 2017

Think Empowerment When Delegating

August 25, 2017

One of the most difficult decisions for successful leaders is delegating an important task.  Once the leader finally decides what to delegate, they then need to decide how to delegate.  When delegating, the leader can take a controlling or an empowering approach.  Think empowerment.

Empowerment does not have to mean surrendering control.  Effective, empowering leaders establish borders and boundaries around the delegated task. There are four areas to be established and communicated when empowering direct reports:

  1. Describe success;
  2. Specify restrictions (non-negotiables, budget, authority);
  3. Define time frames (hours to dedicate, milestones, checkpoints/updates, completion date);
  4. Identify available resources (people, information, training, processes).

Whether it’s empowering a direct report to purchase the organization’s next computer system or empowering them to plan the holiday party, leaders experience much more success when they and their direct report discuss the borders and boundaries associated with the delegated task rather than micro-managing all the details.

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In The Absence Of Information People Will Make It Up

August 18, 2017

In the absence of information, we make stuff up.  Our brain won’t live with a void, so it fills in the blanks.  When we do this, we believe what we made up to be true.  Because we are wired for survival, most of what we make up is negative.

We see this in the workplace all the time: the closed door meetings, the popular co-worker who was terminated, the new policy change, and the unannounced job posting are all common situations where uninformed employees make up information to fill in the blanks.  Though all of these situations have perfectly reasonable explanations, employees left without clarification will behave skeptically and unproductively.

Most leaders are oblivious to the ramifications of these seemingly routine actions, and when asked about them will openly explain the circumstances.  Unfortunately, leaders have no idea of the disruption caused by these perceived clandestine actions.  Leaders can do the following to minimize these impacts:

  • Be aware of the actions that can be misinterpreted;
  • Encourage direct reports to ask for clarifications to the mysteries (easily done through the weekly one-on-one meetings);
  • Remember the “average” person needs to hear something 7 times to remember it  (imagine the below average person), so determine what message needs to be heard and clearly state that often.

Empowered leaders appreciate how lack of information can disrupt their team, take measures to lessen the impact, and experience more success.

Conduct Simple Quarterly Performance Reviews

August 11, 2017

Students receive performance grades each three month long semester.  Public companies are required to report their performance each quarter.  Then why do most leaders review performance of direct reports annually or semi-annually?  This is particularly troublesome when studies have shown the typical leader writing a review only recalls performance over the previous six weeks.

The two biggest reasons given for avoiding quarterly reviews are: 1) leaders don’t have enough time to write the review, and 2) the performance review form is too difficult to use.  Use simple quarterly reviews for at least three of the four quarters in which the leader has the direct report fill out a one-page sheet of paper (5×7 cards work too) answering these four questions:

1.    What did you accomplish last quarter?

2.    What are you going to accomplish next quarter?

3.    How did you demonstrate our core values?

4.    What are your personal development plans?

Benefits: the leader spends little to no time writing the review, is not encumbered by any cumbersome form, and the direct report has committed to the next quarter’s expectations.

Leaders who use simple quarterly reviews to empower direct reports have more success.

Establish Success Factors For Direct Reports

August 4, 2017

Success: (noun) the accomplishment of an aim or purpose – The New Oxford American Dictionary

How do leaders know success when they see it?  In athletics, a look at the scoreboard or standings shows who’s successful.  In school, report cards indicate success.  Businesses use the balance sheet or income statement to determine success.  The pursuit of success inspires hard work, sacrifice, and a commitment to improve.  Leaders must put in measures for their direct reports’ success.

A job accountability matrix defines a job’s accountabilities and corresponding success factors.  Without measurable success factors, direct reports do not know if they have accomplished their aim or purpose.  Documented success factors inspire direct reports to work hard, sacrifice, and improve.

Some common success factors are:

  • Zero voluntary turnover of ‘A’ players
  • Continued reduction of processing errors
  • Attended meetings on-time, prepared, and engaged
  • On-going increase in add-on sales
  • Weekly status reports submitted on-time and accurately
  • Positive (lack of negative) customer feedback

Leaders who empower their direct reports by establishing and updating success factors experience more accomplishments.