In The Absence Of Information People Will Make It Up

Posted August 18, 2017 by The Metiss Group
Categories: Communication, Leadership

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.

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Conduct Simple Quarterly Performance Reviews

Posted August 11, 2017 by The Metiss Group
Categories: Leadership, Performance Acceleration

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

Posted August 4, 2017 by The Metiss Group
Categories: Leadership, Performance Acceleration

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.

Opinions Are Not Feedback

Posted July 28, 2017 by The Metiss Group
Categories: Communication, Leadership, Performance Acceleration

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.

Candidate Assessment Results Can Be Used After The Hire Too

Posted July 21, 2017 by The Metiss Group
Categories: Leadership, Performance Acceleration

Many companies use behavior assessments and skills testing in their selection process.  These crucial instruments assist hiring managers in differentiating among candidates and making the best hire.  However, once the offer is made and the candidate is hired, the assessment results are often filed away and rarely referenced again.

Reviewing the results with the candidate during the on-boarding phase provides them with some personal development guidance. Candidates never score perfectly on their assessments, so understanding where they scored low allows them to address their shortcomings and pursue job-specific learning.  At the very least, the new employee knows their new leader doesn’t expect them to be perfect and intends to provide support in areas that could otherwise be liabilities.

Additionally, the new hire’s direct supervisor can benefit from using the assessment results. The reports can give the supervisor tips for how to motivate and give feedback to the new hire. The results also let the supervisor know when to add support and when to stay out of the way to accelerate the new hire’s performance.

Leaders who empower their new hires and their supervisors with the new hire’s assessment results will experience more success.

Make Recruiting Everyone’s Responsibility

Posted July 14, 2017 by The Metiss Group
Categories: Leadership, Selection

When leaders are asked what their greatest talent challenge is, most will say it’s finding “good people.”  Regardless of the economic conditions, hiring managers can never find enough top talent.

Human behavior dictates talented people normally hang around other talented people.  If there are top performers on a team, there is a very good chance they know other stars and some of those stars could be the “good people” hiring managers are trying to find.

Google is known for attracting and hiring great talent. In their book How Google Works, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg describe Google’s approach:

“… why let only recruiters handle recruiting? If everyone knows someone great, why isn’t it everyone’s job to recruit that great person?

The simple way to keep recruiting in everyone’s job description is to measure it. Count referrals and interviews. Encourage employees to help with recruiting events, and track how often they do. Then make these metrics count when it comes to performance reviews and promotions. Recruiting is everyone’s job, so grade it that way.”

Leaders who empower their top performers to recruit other top performers will successfully find “good people.”

Let The Selection Process Be An Evaluation Tool

Posted July 7, 2017 by The Metiss Group
Categories: Leadership, Selection

What if there was a way to know before someone was hired how well they respond to emails, manage timelines, and coordinate meetings? A good selection process can do just that.

Most selection processes include email communications, assessments/tests, and reference checks. Observing how candidates handle those steps and the space between the steps can give hiring managers great insight into the candidate’s ability to handle certain situations.

When hiring managers send emails to candidates (like a core values email screen), they should ask the candidate to respond in a particular way (i.e. “short and to the point” or “as if you were replying to a customer”) and watch how the candidate follows those directions. When hiring managers ask candidates to take assessments or tests, they should ask that they be completed by a set date or ask when the candidate expects to complete the task; then watch to see if the candidate finishes by that date/time. When conducting reference checks, hiring managers want to ask the candidate to arrange the meeting times between the hiring manager and their references to see how well they coordinate the meetings.

A candidate may do very well in their interviews and have all the right skills, but if they don’t follow directions, meet deadlines, and setup meetings well in the interview process, it’s unlikely they will do much better after the job offer.

Empowered hiring managers use a selection process that challenges candidates to perform business basics and experience better hires.