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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rid your vocabulary of these damaging workplace messages

Employees listen closely to the messages their managers send them. Make sure to avoid these negative messages that can create resentment and disengagement:

·     “Why should I thank you for doing your job?” Few managers actually say this, but it’s an all-too-common excuse for not praising employees unless they achieve something remarkable. Make a point of showing your appreciation for your employees’ consistent efforts whether they’re hitting home runs or not.

·    “That’s now how I used to do it.” Maybe you once did all the jobs that your employees now handle. That doesn’t mean your approach was the only valid one. As time changes, new tools and techniques emerge that make the process different. Don’t insist that employees do things exactly as you did, or that you know more than they do about how to perform their jobs effectively.

·    “Be more proactive.” What does that mean? Managers sometimes wish employees would take more responsibility, or just work harder, and express that in vague terms that employees can’t understand. Be clear about what you want: “Try to solve these problems on your own before coming to me,” for example, or, “You don’t have to ask my permission to do this.”

·    “I can do it better myself.” This should be an obvious mistake, but many managers instinctively take over when employees don’t immediately achieve the results they want. Learn how to delegate effectively, and train your employees to do their work without excessive supervision. You’ll have more time for your own job, and employees will develop skills and confidence.

All the success!

PM in the AM

Go for the gold when you coach

Leaders don’t just sit in their offices and send emails, they get directly involved in their employees’ performance. It’s a coaching role, and it takes commitment—and a few other key traits:

·    Presence. You’ve got to give employees your full attention when you coach them. If you’re not listening, or trying to coach them in a hurry, they’ll assume you don’t really care about their development. Eliminate distractions so you can focus on what’s important.

·    Concern. Improved performance helps the organization, of course, but employees will respond better if they see that you’re also trying to help them. Concentrate on the career benefits of improving performance or learning a new skill. Show you care about your employees as people when you coach them, and they’ll be more open to your suggestions and feedback.

·    Inspiration. Use your coaching sessions to get employees excited about opportunities to succeed. Encourage their creativity, and show that you value their ideas. You don’t just want them to assemble widgets faster; your ultimate goal should be to open up career possibilities for them.

·    Rigor. Coaching shouldn’t be a feel-good exercise in which you overlook mistakes and reassure employees that everything is fine. Although you should always be respectful to the people you’re coaching, you should also set explicit expectations so employees know what you’re looking for and how their performance will be measured. With nothing definite to strive for, employees won’t devote themselves to the hard work of improvement.

All the success!

Peter McLees

3 ways to sustain a vibrant culture





Warning: Trying to formalize a cool environment can make the hip factor go away.

Growing companies need some amount of process to prevent chaos, duplication of work and miscommunication. The right procedures help free up time and energy.

But the founders of Method, the cleaning products firm, asked, “How do we institute process without suffocating culture?”

To answer this question, Method interviewed six companies with cool cultures — Apple, Google, Pixar, Nike, Starbucks, and Innocent. A warning and three themes emerged.

The warning: “The greater the effort to formalize culture — to box it in with structure and guidelines — the faster that culture slips away.”

The advice:
  • Make sure each interviewee’s personality fits with your culture. If not, decline the candidate even if the person’s skill set matches your job description perfectly.
  • Provide up-front training on how to “live” the culture.
  • Give feedback on cultural issues, not just job performance.
This wisdom sounds simple. Yet most organizations are hard-pressed to succinctly describe their culture. This entertaining book excerpt relates the process Method used to articulate its “Methodology” (corporate values).
If an outsider asked your employees to sum up your culture in an “elevator pitch,” would your staff respond with a unified voice?

All the success!

Pm in the AM

The Coach K Way for Developing High Performing Teams

We recently came across a fascinating interview that academics Sim Sitkin and Richard Hackman conducted with legendary Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (“Developing Team Leadership: An Interview with Coach Mike Krzyzewski,” Academy of Management Learning & Education, 2011, vol. 10, No. 3, 494–501). The conversation focused on recruiting and developing team leaders, creating a context for team success, and sustaining one’s own leadership capacity. We came away impressed with the broad applicability of Krzyzewski ‘s insights.

Here are a few excerpts:
·    On walking “the fine line between encouraging individuals to develop new capabilities as leaders and accepting their liabilities:tried to meet twice a month . . . just empathizing with them, not trying to get them to be anybody different. I was concerned about insisting “You need to be this leader or that leader.” I wanted them to be a player too, and I didn’t want leading to conflict with their natural playing abilities. . . . We want to keep their strengths while working on their leadership.

·    On the connection between leadership roles and demonstrated talent: In some organizations you only listen to talent. You’ve got to be talented before you can give advice or be recognized. We’ve tried not to have that culture. If you have a guy go from freshman to senior, sometimes the freshman that you bring in is better than the senior. It wasn’t always that way; it used to be that if you’re an upper classman, you should always beat out the younger guy. . . . So how is that senior guy going to be a leader when he is not the best player.“We had a walk-on who became a scholarship player and was a 5-year player, Jordan Davidson. Guys listened to him more than anybody because he had established himself. So I think some of it is credibility.

·    On coaching your top performers: “I’ve found that when I am coaching my Duke team, I need to be the best player’s best friend. Being the best player is a lonely position. Even though you get accolades, no matter how good of a team you have, there is always some level of jealousy. Always. Because you’re competitive. A little bit of it is not bad. But I want to make sure that I’m connected with that guy because in a tense moment he also might produce better knowing that he’s not out there alone.”

·    On dealing with so-called derailer, who is undermining the morale or effectiveness of your team—do you try to save him or get rid of him: “You save him. With the Olympic team, we would never select them because you don’t have enough time to help them. It’s a different mission when you’re coaching a college team. A kid can get sidetracked, and he might be a derailer because of insecurity or for any number of reasons. Saving a kid is important, because it might just be that he lost his starting job, or he’s discovered that he’s not good enough no matter how hard he works. Part of it can be redefining what success is for that kid.

·    On ensuring that minor problems don’t become major ones, distracting the team from its focus on achieving collective goals: “I continue to pay close attention to the team’s context. Sometimes I’ll meet with my team or my staff and I’ll say, ‘I want you to think about irritants. We’ll have a meeting on irritants and let’s try to get rid of as many irritants as possible. In other words, let’s not let Duke beat Duke because every day we can’t stand something.’ I try to make sure, even with the Olympic team, ‘Ok, let’s have a meeting. What’s bugging us right now . . . food, whatever? Nothing? Good, let’s go.’ You can lead better if everybody is not distracted.”

·    On ensuring your own continuous development as a leader: I’ve learned so much from getting outside of my area. I think you need to get involved—whether it be a charity, a hospital, or working with a kid’s group—to keep actively learning. If you look, you’ll see natural leadership happening all around you all the time. You can learn about being a better leader from everybody. You can go and study an orchestra. You can go study a basketball team, a business, or whatever. . . . In developing leadership, you’re not just helping a young kid on your team become a better leader. By attempting to teach that person, you’re developing your own leadership. I learn from every speech I give.”

All the success!

PM in the AM

The No. 1 Reason Why Leaders Fail

Is the main culprit a mismatched corporate culture, poor interpersonal relationships, or failure to build a team environment? Find out what CEOs and HR pros worldwide are saying.
The No. 1 reason for a leader’s failure is the inability or unwillingness to build a team environment.
That's according to a new global survey conducted by Right Management. While failure to build a team or relationships was singled out by the most (40 percent) survey respondents, No. 2 was a mismatch with the corporate culture, which was cited by 26 percent of those surveyed.
Remarkably, not delivering acceptable results was named by just 11 percent of the survey respondents.
Right Management partnered with research firm Chally Group to survey more than 1,400 CEOs and human resource professionals from more than 700 companies globally to explore leadership effectiveness and development across regions and cultures.
The survey also asked respondents to identify the predictors of leadership success:
Predictor of leadership success (frequency cited by respondents)
  • Fit with company values and culture - 68 percent
  • Interpersonal skills - 66 percent
  • Motivation to lead - 62 percent
  • Previous experiences- 57 percent
  • Lack of derailers -21 percent
  • Educational background - 11 percent
  • Other - 4 percent
The survey also drew qualitative input from respondents. What emerged is that leadership success is increasingly dependent on getting along with others in the organization as well as with one’s own team. A leader must be able to connect, build relationships, and be flexible enough to adapt to the corporate culture.
In addition, the findings tend to be consistent across countries where the research was conducted, which suggests that today’s organizations are increasingly similar whether Asian, American, or European.
The costs associated with failure (at worst) or ineffective executive transitions are high, and lack of adequate support for talent during crucial periods can have long-term negative impacts for both leaders and the organization. This data only hints of what's to come. When considering the evolving workforce and the increasing importance of engagement on organizational transformation, high performance and productivity, the leader’s role becomes the organization’s greatest catalyst for success. Leaders need to be supported to fully understand the impact of their efforts and, in some cases, lack thereof.

All the success!

PM in the AM