Archive for the ‘Communication’ category

Opinions Are Not Feedback

July 28, 2017

When asked what they would like more of their supervisor, most workers want additional feedback.  Leaders are generally pretty good at giving positive or affirming feedback (though most leaders could give it more often).  However, many leaders make a mistake when giving course correction feedback by offering opinions instead of describing observed behaviors.  When giving negative feedback, recount the behaviors actually observed.  Five common behaviors for feedback are:

  1. The Words They Said – “Tim, I appreciate your candor but calling Steve a ‘jerk’ makes you appear unprofessional to others.”
  2. How They Said Them – “Sally, I’m concerned that when you yell ‘WELL, GET MOVING THEN’ at Mike, he and others hear that as an aggressive, condescending comment.”
  3. Their Facial Expression – “Lisa, you have gained so much admiration through your work efforts but rolling your eyes when Kay gives her report chips away at all the professionalism you’ve worked so hard to personify.”
  4. Their Body Language – “Carl, I’m grateful for your passion but slamming the door when Diane leaves is an improper behavior.”
  5. Their Work Product – “Barbara, I’m happy you completed the report on time but the spelling errors reduce your credibility.”

Leaders who empower their direct reports by giving productive, actionable course correction feedback based on observed behaviors and not opinions are more successful.

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.

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.

Check In On Development Plans Before It’s Too Late

May 11, 2017

Even if it is well into the year, it‘s not too late for leaders to have discussions about their direct reports’ development plans.  Even if they have been doing quarterly updates, leaders should be checking in with their direct reports to see how close they are to achieving their development plans.

Everyone wants to feel successful relative to their personal development and growth.  If it looks like a direct report may come up short on their development goals, leaders should see if there are some short term wins that could be achieved before the end of the year, even if the ultimate goal will not be accomplished.  Leaders may also want to consider allowing some extra time or resources to allow the direct report to achieve success.

Imagine how a direct report will go to the wall for a leader when they’ve made an extra effort in helping them achieve a personal goal.

Leaders empower the success of their direct reports by removing obstacles or deploying resources relative to their development goals.

Make Sure Direct Reports Know The Results Of Their Efforts

April 7, 2017

In 1976, J. Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham developed a key model of work design called the Job Characteristics Model. It has since become the basis for many job enrichment strategies and is still implemented today. Hackman and Oldham contend job satisfaction, motivation, and productivity result from the application of their model.

The core dimensions of the model are: job variety (ability to perform multiple job functions), job identity (how the job affects the organization), job significance (how the job helps society), autonomy (how much independence the job has), and feedback (what happens as a result of the job).

Leaders may not be able to influence their direct reports’ variety, identity, significance, and autonomy but they can easily impact the feedback dimension of their accomplishments.  Unfortunately, once the results of a job have been completed and delivered, they often forget about them and move on to the next task.  Communicating the outcome  of their efforts to direct reports will go a long way toward helping them embrace their jobs and be more productive.  Celebrate the positive outcomes and learn from the not so positive results; in either event, recount what happened (in most cases the outcome is positive).

Empowered leaders share the end product of their team’s efforts and their teams are more productive and successful.

Understanding Workplace Behaviors Makes Mirroring More Effective

March 31, 2017

Mirroring is a rapport-building technique in which one person takes on the behaviors of the person with whom they are communicating.  Being naturally wired to connect with others, we all use mirroring, to some degree, in our interactions with others.  But those leaders who use mirroring effectively connect better with their direct reports.

Understanding the behavioral styles of their direct reports allows leaders to adjust their behaviors better to develop greater rapport.  Being able to read another’s natural behavioral style allows one to adapt or mirror their style to create stronger relationships.  For example, leaders who have a naturally more reserved, introverted behavior type should work to initiate conversations and be more direct than they naturally would to better connect with direct reports who have a more extroverted, dominant style.

Some people are better at mirroring than others; it is a skill that can be developed through behavioral training and understanding.  Most behavioral assessments provide insights as to how people behave and provide mirroring approaches.

Leaders empowered with behavioral assessments of their direct reports will experience more success.

Successful Leaders Ask Questions, Don’t Give Answers

March 10, 2017

Most leaders are hard driving dominating problem solvers.  They see a problem, kick into “fix it” mode, and solve it.  That approach made them successful; but as their team grows, solving problems will ultimately restrict growth.

For an organization to grow it takes more than just the leader to be a good problem solver. Leaders must challenge their team to develop by empowering them to solve their own problems.  The best way for leaders to advance their direct reports is to ask questions, NOT give answers, and challenge them to solve the problem without the leader doing it for them.

This is much harder for leaders than it sounds.  It requires great restraint for the problem-solving leader NOT to solve a problem.  Imagine in the heat of the moment a leader seeing what needs to be done, taking a deep breath, and asking others what they think should be done.  Though difficult, this is what direct reports need to succeed and for the organization to grow.

Empowered leaders who ask questions and do NOT give answers experience more success.