Archive for the ‘Performance Acceleration’ category

Embrace Mistakes For Enduring Success

February 16, 2018

In a recent interview two candidates were asked to describe a time they made a mistake; here are their responses:

Candidate #1 – “I thoroughly prepare and plan for situations.  I then meticulously and consciously execute the plans to eliminate mistakes; I rarely fail.  Measure twice, cut once is always my mantra.”

Candidate #2: – “Though I never enter a situation intending to fail, I do make mistakes.  For instance, last month I missed my sales goal because I overestimated how strong my relationship with a key buyer was.  I learned I needed to not take the orders for granted and to work hard at post-sale activities even when I think the sale is a done deal.”

Which candidate would make the best hire – one who over prepares and rarely makes mistakes or the one who is willing to make mistakes but learns from them?

Not only is it important to hire people who are willing to make mistakes, it’s important to foster an environment where making mistakes is embraced.  Jeff Stibel, a neuroscientist and Vice Chairman at Dun & Bradstreet, went as far as to create a “failure wall” when he was Chairman and CEO at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. where everyone in the company was encouraged to post their mistakes.  The wall, initiated with Stibel’s own failures, quickly filled up with many failures and the organization grew rapidly as employees embraced new and creative approaches knowing that failure was okay.

Leaders who empower their organization to make mistakes experience more long-term success.

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Fascinating Stuff About Millennials!

February 6, 2018

Management Research Group (MRG) has been administering Leadership Effectiveness Analyses for 34 years. They took LEA results from 25-35 year olds from 30 years ago and compared to LEA results from current 25-35 year olds and found virtually no differences in results.  

It is important to note that unlike most Lickert-based 360s which ask someone to score based on 1-10, always to never, etc., MRG uses a semi-ipsative tool which cannot be gamed, and eliminates most common rater biases.  The Leadership Effectiveness Analysis is a 360 degree feedback tool designed to evaluate how someone’s leadership practices are perceived by others.

 MRG LEA data

It seems our complaints are more about people in their 20’s and early 30’s and less about one generation or another.  I know, I know!  But “I was different when I was their age!”  I have no doubt!  But when you think about most of your peers — just imagine your last high school reunion — you were probably different from them, too.  That’s why you achieved what you did because you were different form the rest.  Our challenge is to continue to seek those diamonds in the rough, and not just settle for anything that briefly sparkles.  They are out there; sometimes we just need to refine our selection processes!

Use Assessments To Build Team Trust

February 2, 2018

In his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” Patrick Lencioni suggests trust is the basic foundation for a high performing team.  Teams cannot engage in healthy conflict, commit to each other, hold each other accountable, or achieve sustainable results with an absence of trust.

So how does a team build trust?  According to Lencioni, “Some of the most effective and lasting tools for building trust on a team are profiles of team members’ behavioral preferences and personality styles.  These help break down barriers by allowing people to better understand and empathize with one another.”

The psychometric instrument the team uses is not as important as going through the exercise.  Whether you use Myers-Briggs, PI, DISC, or another assessment tool, the value to the team is in having each team member share their results, discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and learn to leverage each team member’s strengths.  The shared vulnerability exhibited in the exercise creates a team bond and an inherent level of trust.

Empowered teams take an assessment then share and discuss each other’s results to experience high performing success.

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.

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.

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.

The Holidays and Altruism – A Time For Some Direct Reports To Shine

December 15, 2017

According to a widely adopted behavior model developed by Dr. Eduard Spranger, we all have six common workplace motivators that inspire us to do what we do.  In order of national rank the motivators are: 

  1. Utilitarian: practical accomplishments, results and rewards for their investment of time, resources and energy.
  2. Social: opportunities to be of service to others and contribute to the progress and well-being of society.
  3. Theoretical: knowledge for knowledge’s sake, continuing education and intellectual growth.
  4. Individualistic: personal recognition, freedom, and control over their own destiny and others.
  5. Traditional: traditions inherent in social structure, rules, regulations and principles.
  6. Aesthetic: balance in their lives, creative self-expression, beauty and nature.

The challenge many leaders of “for profit” organizations face is the Social motivator is overly dominant for many of their direct reports (nationally it’s #2).  While this generally creates very unselfish team members who find great satisfaction in supporting others, it could negatively impact the bottom-line; much depends on the roles or scope of responsibility provided to these folks and their ability to find ways to otherwise satisfy this altruistic motivator.

By allowing direct reports an opportunity to represent the organization and fulfill that motivation in appropriate ways like contributing a holiday offering to some deserving organization on behalf of the team, or “adopting” a needy family, an important motivator to the individual is fulfilled and the organization gains credibility/respect for giving back to community.

Leaders who empower their altruistic direct reports to give back during the holiday season on behalf of the team experience success all year long.