Archive for the ‘Performance Acceleration’ category

Instill More Personal Accountability

March 16, 2018

Of the 23 personal talent skills we measure, the mean ranking for personal accountability is second to last at 22nd.  Perhaps our society has simply accepted the weak behavior trait and essentially enabled it.  Leaders do not need to accept it and can actually encourage and develop their direct reports’ personal accountability.

To instill greater personal accountability:

  1. Establish clear expectations and milestones with each direct report with their input.
  2. Be certain to follow-up at the designated milestones for discussions about being on-track toward the ultimate goal.
  3. If the direct report is falling off track, do not simply move the deadline without serious consideration of the behavior being reinforced.
  4. Refrain from asking how someone can be helped (that simply allows the direct report to delegate up).  Instead ask, “What obstacles do you need removed or what additional resources do you need to get yourself back on track?”

With this empowering approach, leaders are communicating their confidence in direct reports who are capable of getting themselves back on track.  Allowing them to come up with plausible solutions encourages them to experience success.

Leaders who empower direct reports by holding them accountable for their commitments see more personal accountability and increase the opportunities for success.

The One Question Every Leader Should Ask

February 23, 2018

Dwight Eisenhower was recognized as one of the greatest leaders of his era.  Imagine having to deal with Patton, Stalin and Roosevelt, and with Marshall, Churchill, De Gaulle, and Montgomery.  Each had idiosyncrasies that would drive any leader nuts, but Ike got through it all and achieved victory.

Ike’s favorite leadership technique was to simply ask others: “What do you think?”  With that one question, Eisenhower was able to:

  • Learn what was going on;
  • Gain insights into other’s thinking processes;
  • Understand how well someone could articulate their thoughts;
  • Get different points of view;
  • Demonstrate an interest in the other person;
  • Engage the other person and develop their relationship.

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that produce the greatest results.  Those words “What do you think?” are a key to good leadership and give direct reports an opportunity to express their opinion.  Additionally, asking the question shows the leader is interested in the thoughts of the direct report, and demonstrates the leader has at least some confidence in the competence of the direct report’s thought processes.

Leaders who empower direct reports by asking them what they think have a more successful team.

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.

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.