Archive for January 2018

Consistency Is The Key To Successful One-On-Ones

January 28, 2018

When our kids were growing up, we took them out to breakfast every Friday morning before school.  We rarely missed these routine times together.  During each breakfast we would ask, “How’s school going?” and almost every time the answer was “good, okay.”  The important point is almost every time.  One time the answer was a mumbled “fine” followed by a shoulder shrug.  Not the usual “good, okay.” After further questioning, we found out there was an issue in science class.  If it were not for the regular breakfast meetings and the consistent questioning, science class would have been a big problem.

Leaders need to be consistent with their direct report’s one-on-ones. Holding them at the same time each week and asking the same check-in questions.  When the leader’s direct report has challenges, knowing they’ll have their attention regularly gives them a built-in forum for dealing with the problem.

Asking the same check-in questions during each session will yield the same responses most of the time.  That gives the leader a basis for measuring unusual answers that may indicate underlying issues.

One-on-ones are one of the most empowering leadership tools in the leader’s toolkit.  Exercising consistency will make them even more successful.

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Reinforce Core Values At Least Quarterly

January 18, 2018

Most organizations have core values or some set of guiding principles that determine the ways in which business is conducted.  Some organizations take them seriously, but others distribute core values within the organization with much pomp and circumstance and pay little attention to them thereafter.

One of the best ways to ensure core values are understood, internalized, and lived is to make them a part of the performance review process.  At least quarterly, each employee in an organization should be asked to recount specific situations where they have demonstrated EVERY ONE of the organization’s core values.

One organization we worked with scored employees on a ten-point scale each quarter for each of their core values.  The score was determined by:

  • 2 points for knowing the core value;
  • 2 points for being able to recite the core value verbatim;
  • 2 points for each of three instances where the core value was documented and demonstrated.

This organization has little problem with their employees living their core values.

Leaders who empower their direct reports to be measured by knowing and demonstrating core values have more successful organizations.

Beware Of The Anchoring Bias When Making A Hire

January 13, 2018

Everyone has biases, those unconscious inclinations that affect everyday decisions.  These mental shortcuts allow people to get through their day without having to analyze every thought, but often prevent them from making sound decisions.

Wikipedia defines the anchoring bias as the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first pieces of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions.

Hiring managers often make poor hires when they let the anchoring bias affect hiring decisions.  One hiring manager we worked with, Bob, needed to fill a key role and was initially presented with many poor candidates.  After many lousy interviews, Bob met with an “okay” candidate – Steve.  Compared to the earlier candidates, Steve looked like a star.  Though Steve wasn’t what Bob had envisioned, when anchored with the other candidates, he stood out enough to be offered the job.

The rest of the story is clear: Steve didn’t work out and Bob had to let him go.  Had Bob been aware of his tendency to rely on the first pieces of information, to be anchored, he probably wouldn’t have made the hire.

Empowered hiring managers understand their biases and make more successful decisions.

Encourage Direct Reports To Think Strategically

January 5, 2018

According to a study conducted in 2013 by Management Research Group evaluating the leadership practices and effectiveness of over 60,000 managers and executives, a strategic approach to leadership was 10 times more important to the perception of effectiveness than other leadership behaviors.  This strategic focus was twice as important as communication and almost 50 times more important than hands-on tactical behaviors.

Strategic leaders take a broad, long-range approach to problem solving and decision-making that involves objective analysis, thinking ahead, and planning. They think in multiple time frames, identifying what needs to be accomplished over time and what has to happen now, in six months, in a year, and in three years. It means thinking systemically, and identifying the impact of their decisions on various segments of the organization.

Here are some ways leaders can help their direct reports think strategically:

  • Encourage them to set aside regular time for strategic planning;
  • Provide information on the market, the industry, customers, competitors and new technologies that influence your business, exposing relevant and broad business information to help direct reports elevate their thinking beyond the day-to-day;
  • Keep them informed on what is happening internally by sharing information across boundaries, allowing them to see the organization from a global perspective;
  • Connect them with a mentor known for keeping people focused on strategic objectives and the impact of actions on the broader organizational strategy;
  • Communicate a well-articulated philosophy, mission and goal statement throughout the organization, allowing them to understand the broader organizational strategy in order to stay focused and incorporate it into their own plans and strategies;
  • Reward direct reports for evidence of creating a culture in which problems are anticipated and avoided to discourage crisis management.

Leaders who empower their direct reports to think strategically experience more success.