The Measure of a CEO

 

 

RulerI read an interesting article recently in which the author, a seasoned business consultant and attorney, referred to half of all the CEO’s out there as being “below average”.  There were no studies cited, no research statistics offered, and no indication of what “average” is, was, or has been.  The article offered one example of a high profile CEO who was fired three months after his initial hire date for failing to produce profits commensurate with his salary!  Was this something the company did not realize when they hired him?

How do we measure the quality of our Chief Executive?  Do we only work with those who come with a demonstrable track record of success?  Do they know how to make money?  Are they good with people?  Do they have clear vision?  Are they skilled facilitators, mentors, directors and growth mongers?  Can they build a sales team, create a marketing plan and implement operational strategy?  Are their values clear, is their mission strong and does their very presence in the boardroom exude integrity?

If the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “YES”, you haven’t found a CEO; you’ve found Superman or Wonder Woman.  I work daily with CEO’s.  Lot’s of them.  In fact the foundation of my consulting practice is CEO skill development and strategic planning which puts me in direct one-on-one contact with these high level power brokers.  My experience often leaves me wondering why anyone would want to take on this extremely complex, thankless, unforgiving and emotionally draining task.   The CEO’s I know work incredibly long hours, take all the company problems home, directly answer client complaints, smooth over human resource issues, answer to profit driven BOD’s, and at the end of the day, offer everyone else the credit for company accomplishment.

The CEO position is also the most tenuous position in the organization.  Anyone who has been around for more than a minute knows that founding owners, managing boards and Chairman don’t make mistakes.  It’s always the CEO who goes; the CEO who ultimately takes the fall or pays the price for poor company performance.  So why do they do it?

The CEO’s I know can’t walk in a room and not be a leader.  They are driven to accomplishment, goal and task.  They are deeply committed, driven to personal and organizational excellence, focused on the strategic vision of their industry and organization.  Are they perfect?  Not a chance.  Ego driven?  Absolutely.  Difficult to please, often argumentative, aggressive, and in many cases abrasive to those closest to them?  Yes.  Should we accept this kind of behavior? No.  But we also need to take the time to understand where the behavior emanates from.

To cite an example, one of my clients recently took on the CEO role of a high growth, seemingly successful $50 million dollar manufacturing company.  Once inside, she realized that the reason the profits were so outstanding is that the previous owners had never provided for the appropriate infrastructure to maintain quality in production.

When my client recommended a major and costly reorganization to support quality in their process the Board of Directors began to second guess their choice for CEO. Couple this with the normal fair of several employee related legal claims against previous management, a management team in transition, a cash flow shortage and yes, you may be dealing with someone whose fuse is pretty short.

While the tender of success in the workplace is measured in dollars I find it hard to judge a CEO negatively simply because they negotiate the strongest personal compensation package possible.  I often ask skeptics a simple question when I am queried about the validity of a client’s compensation package; “Compared to what?”  Even professional compensation specialists have a difficult time agreeing on CEO compensation as the points of reference are as varied as the individual needs of the organization.

I want to be clear that I am not condoning poor performance nor am I suggesting that there are not compensation plans out there that cross into the land of absurdity.  I am saying that we need to take a long hard look at the men and women who have the courage to take on these high profile positions.  Hopefully when we do, we will see leaders we can be proud to follow, leaders we can trust to do the right thing, and leaders that will promote the health and well being of American business.

Sharon Jenks is CEO of The Jenks Group Inc., a California Consulting Company that specializes in strategic planning and executive development. She can be reached at http://www.thejenksgroup.com.

 

If Your Boss Tells You to Get a Coach, Don’t Panic

coaching

 

How does it feel when you’re told that you need a coach, whether it’s your boss or someone else? For many managers it feels like a kick in the gut, a clear sign that you’re doing something wrong and your job might be in trouble. For others, who might be resistant to coaching in general, it raises questions about whether you really need the extra help.

Having worked with dozens of managers who’ve been in this situation, these reactions are completely natural, especially if the request to work with a coach comes as a surprise. In either case, before you get started with the coaching, you need to work through these feelings so that you can have a positive experience. Here’s how:

The first step is to recognize coaching for what it is: a fantastic opportunity for growth, development, self-insight, and career progression – and an endorsement that the company is willing to invest in you. After all, there are a number of reasons why your boss might want you to be coached, and some are quite positive. Your manager might think you have a great deal of potential and a coach would help you develop it. Your boss might also suggest coaching to fix a particular skill deficit. One of my clients, for example, was asked to work with a coach specifically to focus on presentation skills. Her senior manager planned to give her more exposure to the Board but wanted to make sure she had the confidence and capability to hold her own in that setting.

There are of course situations where coaching is given to a manager because of a performance issue – an inability to deliver certain results, poor project execution, or not getting along with other members of the team. But even in these cases, coaching is an investment, not a punishment. The boss isn’t giving up on you.

The second step is to understand the nature of your resistance or hesitation. Are you opposed to being coached because you’re not sure what you should focus on? Or because you don’t really understand what’s involved in the process? If these are your concerns, take control of the coaching process. Interview the potential coach (if it’s not going to be your boss) and make sure that there’s good chemistry between you two; if not, find someone else. Set clear goals with the coach about what you want to accomplish and how she can be helpful. Engage your boss in regular progress reviews so you get feedback about how you’re doing, and establish a time frame for the coaching (and the achievement of progress) so that it’s not an open-ended relationship. In other words, take the ownership away from your boss and make the coaching experience something that belongs to you. You can also talk to colleagues and friends who have worked with a coach and get a sense of their experience.

But if you still don’t think working with a coach is necessary, make a list of reasons why. For example, does your resistance actually stem from an underlying anxiety about what coaching will reveal? A common concern is that the process might uncover issues that people don’t know how to deal with or threaten their self-image. Or maybe these are the reasons running through your mind: “I don’t have time for coaching.” “I’ve been successful so far — why fix something that isn’t broken.” “Coaching often doesn’t work, I’d rather try another approach to development.” “What I really need is better feedback and guidance from my manager.”

Each of these might be a legitimate reason for not wanting to work with a coach. But before you try and make your case, ask your boss why she recommended coaching in the first place. If there are skills she wants you to work on, ask if she would be open to you pursuing a different development approach. For example, you could take a course, or tackle a stretch assignment, or pick up some new responsibilities. If time is an issue, negotiate a development schedule that works for you – or suggest a better time of the year to do the coaching, based on the rhythms of your workplace.

In the end, if your boss still thinks coaching is the best option for you, put aside your resistance and make the most of it. Use it as an opportunity to get more feedback from your boss, and from your subordinates and colleagues as well. Everyone has something to learn, no matter how successful they’ve been in the past and how much potential they have for the future. That’s not to say that coaching is the magic key to success for every manager, but it’s a tool that may be useful and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. The bottom line is to remember that coaching is an investment – and the more you put into it, the greater the chance that you (and your company) will get a positive return.

-Harvard Business Review

 

Preparing for Your New Position – A Systematic Approach

new job

As a consultant and coach I am frequently asked for advice when changing jobs. This job change may  be a position change or promotion  within the same organization. Either  way, the same advice applies. I will  provide this in four separate blog  posts.

  1. A Systematic Approach
  2. Phase One: Pre-Start
  3. Phase Two: First Days On The Job
  4. Phase Three: Settling In and Taking Charge

You may not feel the need to use all four, or to complete every checklist suggested. Depending on your situation, some of the information will be more pertinent than other parts. You decide which sections you’ll want to spend more time with.

  1. A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH

Why Were You Selected For This Job?

Probably because the company likes your track record – both the kind of work you’ve been involved in and your accomplishments in that field. Probably because your new management senses that your personality and methods are compatible with theirs. And certainly because they can visualize you as part of the future growth and profitability of their organization.

How can you confirm their good judgment in selecting you, and use this opportunity as a quantum leap toward your career goals?

Probably by the professional manner in which you introduce yourself to the organization and take hold of your new responsibilities. Probably by the initial impressions you make with all the people you’ll be dealing with in you job. And certainly by your ability to get up to speed quickly and reach your maximum productivity in minimum time.

Right now you’re concerned with disengaging successfully from your current job. That’s a proper attitude, because you owe your organization (and yourself!) the courtesy of a professional closure. However, even at this early stage your emphasis begins to shift toward the new assignment, and toward your strategies for starting the next phase of your career.

What’s the best way to “hit the ground running” in your new job? It begins with your commitment to take an active role in developing a systematic approach to the transition process starting now instead of waiting until your reporting date. Without compromising the “closeout” requirements of your current job, you can begin to collect the information that will help you understand:

  •  Your new organization/division (how it operates; where it wants to go; how it intends to get there)
  • Your new job/position (what management expects of you)
  • The resources available to you (people, budgets, programs and operating freedoms you’ll need to get the job done

At this point you may know very little about the inner workings of the organization. You may have only a skeletal idea of your job requirements. You may have met very few of the people, except for your new boss and the Personnel manager who negotiated with you. Yet your mind is filled with questions:

  1. Who am I replacing, and how was he/she regarded by superiors, associates and subordinates?
  2. Why was the position vacant?
  3. Who else wanted my job, and how can I deal effectively with them in the coming months?
  4. What commitments were made to or by my predecessor that I should know about?
  5. Why was I selected?
  6. Upon arrival, what immediate responsibilities will I have to take on?
  7. If there is unfinished business with my old job, what arrangements would be acceptable to my new boss?
  8. How do things really get done?
  9. Do I have any allies or adversaries in my new job, and how are they identified?
  10. How and when will I be formally announced to the organization and its people?

The list could be much longer, and some of the questions may have been answered during the interview that preceded your selection. In any case, you need the answers to begin planning your systematic approach. As a starting point, make a list of question you have now about your new job. (Later as you begin to collect more specific information, you’ll be able to ask more pertinent questions, in much greater detail.)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS – Make a list all of the questions you’d like to be answered about your new job. Note the sources available to you at present for providing the answers.

Why have a Systematic Approach?

For many professionals the introduction to a new job is a haphazard affair. The good news is usually accompanied by smiles, handshakes, and vague statements about “getting together after you’re on board.”

Then follows a period of coordinating the relocation with in-house specialists….reading a few general pamphlets about the company and its products or services….and possibly some lonely moments of contemplating the nameless and shapeless challenges that lie ahead.

The first day on the new job is a kaleidoscope of administrative forms.. an absolutely un-rememberable volume of new faces and names….a quick tour of the immediate area…. and a few private minutes with the boss, whose impromptu remarks about projects and problems barely register.

Suddenly the new person is alone at a desk or behind an office door, checking the starter supply of pencils and wondering what comes next.

Answer? Simple. Next comes a honeymoon period – length unknown and indeterminable – after which the prevailing judgments will be rendered in either of two forms:

  • “Joe really has taken charge in record time! We’ve got a real winner there!”

-OR-

  •  “It’s a shame, but Joe still hasn’t grasped the situation yet. Guess we can’t always be right.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way for you. A few hours of up-front planning can arrange important subjects and issues in a logical priority and eliminate minor matters that tend to “fog” the entry process. The “people” skills you already possess can help you gain the cooperation of your boss and other sources of advance information. With a systematic approach to your upcoming transition you can:

  • obtain information needed to form preliminary conclusions about the organization, your new job responsibilities, and the people you’ll be dealing with;
  • provide a framework for your self and others to follow during your transition;
  • simplify your “first day” entry with your boss, subordinates and associates;
  • increase your managerial effectiveness during your first weeks and months on the job;
  • bring yourself up to speed as quickly as possible in terms of productivity and results.

A Matter of Timing

Your entry process begins while you’re still in your old job, and ends on the day you’re performing effectively in the new position. Let’s divide the total process  into three distinct phases as follows:

Pre-Start – A time for gathering information, researching the elements of you job (at least in general terms), getting familiar with some of the people involved, and coordinating your announcement and arrival.

 First Days on the job – A carefully structured format for meeting key people, introducing yourself to your staff, getting down to brass tacks with your boss, and becoming familiar with departmental tasks and responsibilities.

Settling In/Taking Charge – A newcomer’s game plan for managing the efforts of people, solving problems during the first several weeks on the job, and obtaining complete agreement and support from the boss.

Each phase is treated separately  and will follow in the next three blog posts, with a text that discusses the principal issues and work-sheets designed to help you plan your actions and priorities. To Be Continued….

Sharon Jenks, CEO/President -The Jenks Group, Inc.

 

 

 

10 Killer Questions To Make The Most Of Your Mentor Meeting

mentors

So you finally mustered the nerve to ask a mentor for a cup of coffee. You’re sweating. You can feel pressure mounting. She strolls through the Starbucks door holding an Americano with two pumps of hazelnut in one hand and years of experience in the other.

Here are 10 questions you can ask her to take the pressure off you and make the most of your meeting:

  1. How do you spend most of your time? Ask this question for one reason only — digging. Does your mentor have children, a favorite charity she supports, or an addiction to a particular Mediterranean cuisine? Most people who ask for advice never take the time to build an authentic connection. Gathering these answers will allow you to follow up with relevant articles, magazine clippings for passion projects, or recipes for your mentor, who will appreciate hearing from you. Givers gain.
  2. What would you do if you were me? Don’t waste your time looking to impress your mentor with how smart you are. Tell them about your specific challenges, and ask for their recommendations.
  3. How can I help you? This is a killer question that catches most mentors off guard. Most mentees are only concerned about what they can take from a mentor. When you communicate that you are genuinely willing to give, you will set yourself miles apart from everyone else. Who doesn’t like a win/win relationship?
  4. Is this where you thought you would end up? This question usually draws out a hearty laugh, as few people shoot from point A to point B. Most experienced professionals take the scenic route in their career. How they got there is usually an interesting tale with mistakes and revelations. Learn from them.
  5. What used to be your biggest weaknesses? This whopper of a question will tell you right away if someone will make a good mentor. A good answer reveals the number one trait of a great mentor — self-awareness. If you feel this question is too intense, try softening it by asking, “What did you learn about yourself in the last six months?”
  6. Who else would you recommend I connect with? This question might be better served for later meetings when there is more trust. It can exponentially expand your network. Sometimes the best source for other mentors is your existing one.
  7. What are you most proud of? Give your mentor a chance to shine. He/she will love you for it.
  8. What professional organizations are you associated with and in what ways? No one becomes a rising star in any industry without going to the right conferences and trade associations. A good mentor can help you filter out the best ones, and if you’re lucky, get you access to coveted “invite only” insider groups.
  9. Anything FORM. Form is an acronym for family, occupation, recreation, and motivation, and it represents four universal rapport-builders. For example, you might find out that you have a location-based connection with your mentor after asking about his family or birthplace. Connection made!
  10. If a specific question comes up, can I follow up with you? This is your Holy Grail question. Have you ever met someone who has mastered the dating scene? You’ll notice they never leave the first date without the promise of a second one — ever. Never leave a mentor meeting without the promise of a future encounter. You are also communicating that you will only reach out with a relevant and specific question. Most people will agree to that. When the time does come up, simply refer back to the email chain. –By Bert Gervais, founder, Success Mentor Education.  

Here’s What Really Motivates Your Employees (It’s Not What You Think)

Dangling a carrot

In Daniel Pink’s book Drive, the underlying message is that a leader can provide a motivating environment but can’t motivate his or her employees; motivation comes from within each individual.

This goes entirely against the common belief that given more carrots, an employee will be motivated to behave in ways that will increase the success of a company. Yet, time and again, leaders have found that providing more money and better benefits, extrinsic motivators, only provides a short-term effect on behavior. Extrinsic motivators are not sustainable.

In yesterday’s article Top 5 Leadership Mistakes, one of them was misunderstanding motivation.

I outlined the three attributes that, when implemented effectively within the organization, can increase the long-term behavioral changes the leader is looking to instill in the organization.

And what can a company expect from its employees when they provide an environment that provides for autonomy, mastery, and purpose?

An academic study by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci in 2000 issue of American Psychologist showed that focusing on internal motivators can lead to higher self-esteem and self-actualization, while a focus on external motivators, on average, leads to lower self-esteem and self-actualization.

In turn, employees driven by internal motivators demonstrated a greater level of persistence, creativity, energy, and well being, which increased the performance level of those employees.

So if, in fact, employee performance increases with intrinsic motivators, why aren’t more companies creating and implementing a plan to transition to a culture of autonomy, mastery and purpose? Because it is not easy! It is a massive shift in long-term beliefs and requires both employer and employees to change their mindset as well as the way they work.

What are the critical success factors to transitioning your workplace to an intrinsically motivated organization? They are the three C’s:

  1. Creativity: Be able to devise innovative ways of working outside the traditional mode. Bring in outside assistance if you don’t find you are making the progress you desire.
  2. Communication: Changes to the work process need to be communicated to all employees via multiple methods. Communication should be ongoing and frequent and provide employees with the opportunity to have their questions answered.
  3. Change Management: Demonstrate how the changes will positively affect employees, create methods to identify employees who may be struggling with the changes, and have resources available to help them adjust.

Beth Armknecht Miller, CMC

Author: Are You Talent Obsessed?, Leadership Development Advisor, Vistage Chair, Speaker, Executive Coach

Four Reasons to Quit Your Job

quit job

What criteria can you use to determine if you have been with the same company too long?

A friend of ours, an investment manager at a highly regarded company in the Midwest, who drove to work one morning, parked his car in the usual spot, and then found he simply could not bring himself to get out of the car. “I guess I stayed on the farm one day too long,” he joked later. When we asked him what went wrong, he answered, “It wasn’t one thing. It was everything.” No wonder he drove home and called in his resignation.

Obviously, most people don’t decide they’ve overstayed at their companies in such a dramatic fashion. Usually, angst about work creeps in, and then builds until it consumes you. And that can happen early or late in a career. Gone are the days when, after graduation, you took the best available job and stayed for as many years as you could possibly stand, frustration be damned. These days, it is not unusual to hear of perfectly legitimate careers built on multiple job stints.

So, to your question, how can you tell when it’s time to move on? We wouldn’t set out specific criteria as much as offer four questions to help sort out an answer.

The first is so simple it almost goes without saying, but the fact that a lot of people don’t confront it, including our friend who ended up stuck in his car—a Harvard MBA, by the way—suggests we should go ahead and put it out there: Do you want to go to work every morning?

This is not a matter to be over-brained. Does the prospect of going in each day excite you or fill you with dread? Does the work feel interesting and meaningful or are you just going through motions to pull a paycheck? Are you still learning and growing?

We know of a woman who worked in consulting for seven years. She loved her firm and had originally planned a career with it, but suddenly started noticing that she wished every weekend was five days long. “Basically, I felt like we were putting together massive books in order to make recommendations to people who knew more than we did,” she said. “Every day at the office, I felt a little bit more of a hypocrite.” She now happily works on the “front lines,” to use her phrase, in the marketing department of a retail company.

Second, do you enjoy spending time with your coworkers or do they generally bug the living daylights out of you? We’re not saying you should only stay at your company if you want to barbecue with your team every weekend, but if you don’t sincerely enjoy and respect the people you spend 10 hours a day with, you can be sure you will eventually decide to leave your organization. Why not make the break sooner rather than later and start cultivating relationships at a company where you might actually plant roots?

Third, does your company help you fulfill your personal mission? Essentially, this question asks whether your company jibes with your life’s goals and values. Does it require you, for instance, to travel more than you’d like, given your chosen work-life balance? Does it offer enough upward mobility, given your level of ambition? There are no right or wrong answers to such questions, only a sense of whether you are investing your time at the right or wrong company for you.

Fourth and finally, can you picture yourself at your company in a year? We use that time frame because that’s how long it usually takes to find a new, better job once you decide to move on. So peer, as best you can, into the future, and predict where you’ll be in the organization, what work you’ll be doing, whom you will be managing, and who will be managing you. If that scenario strikes you with anything short of excitement, then you’re spinning your wheels. Or put another way, you’re just about to stay too long.

To be clear: We’re not suggesting people quit at the first inkling of discontent. No matter where you work, at some point you will have to endure difficult times, and even a deadly dull assignment, to survive a crisis or move up. But it makes little sense to stay and stay at a company because of inertia. Unlock your door and get out. – Jack and Suzy Welch

The 7 Things Successful People Never Say

Successful people

 

 

You want to be successful. Everyone does. But your actual words might be undermining your chances of success. The things you say in the office, no matter how innocuous they seem to you, might be knocking you down the career ladder and putting the top position you dream about out of reach.

Your career is too important to be tanked by a few negative phrases. Here are the seven things you should strike from your workplace vocabulary if you want to achieve the success you richly deserve:

1. “That’s not in my job description.”

When you accepted your current position, you had a good idea of what the responsibilities and workload of the role would entail. Throughout the months or years since you settled into your job, however, your role has expanded and changed shape. Some of these changes have probably been good, while others have made you wish for simpler times. When a boss or manager piles another responsibility on your already sore shoulders, it might be tempting to pull out this classic gem of work avoidance.

The better option, however, is to schedule a time to talk to your boss about your role. A specific conversation about your place in the organization is a good time to bring up the particulars of your job description, not when you’re asked to get something accomplished. No matter how stressed you are or how valid the complaint, dropping this phrase only makes you look lazy and unmotivated.

2. “It can’t be done.”

Throwing in the towel makes you look like a quitter — and quitters don’t get promoted. Instead of giving up on a project entirely, frame your response in terms of alternative ways to get the work accomplished. Very little is truly impossible, and most managers and executives want forward-thinking problem solvers to climb the corporate ladder. If you offer solutions instead of giving up, you’ll be seen as a valuable member of the team.

3. “It’s not my fault.”

No one wants to work with a blame shifter. After all, it’s just a matter of time before this person eventually shifts the blame onto you. Take ownership of your mistakes instead of pointing out where others have fallen short. Admitting to a mistake shows character and the ability to learn and grow from problems. Pointing the finger at someone else strongly implies you’ll never truly learn from your errors.

4. “This will just take a minute.”

Unless something will literally take only 60 seconds, don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Saying something will only take “a minute” also has the side effect of undermining your efforts. Most likely the reason the particular task won’t take long is due to the benefit of your professional experience and acumen. By saying it will “just” take a minute, you’re shortchanging what you bring to the table.

5. “I don’t need any help.”

The rugged lone wolf type might be the hero of most action movies, but they’re unlikely to become the hero at your company. You might think you can go it alone on a project or in your career, but teamwork is essential. Being able to work with others is the hallmark of a good leader; you’re unlikely to climb your career ladder always flying solo.

6. “It’s not fair.”

Life isn’t fair, and often your career won’t be as well. Instead of complaining, you should look for specific and actionable workarounds to the problems you encounter. Is it unfair a coworker got to run point on the project you wanted? Maybe, but instead of complaining, work harder and go the extra mile. Finding a solution will always be preferable in your professional life to whining about a problem.

7. “This is the way it’s always been done.”

Doing things the way they’ve always been done is no way to run a business. Just ask some of the companies which toed the line, accepted the status quo, and went under. Adapting to an ever-changing marketplace is really the only way to survive in an economy constantly being disrupted by the next big thing.

You don’t have to be a slave to the trends, but you also can’t stick your head in the sand and hope things go back to normal. Instead, come up with creative solutions to new problems and innovate, and you’ll soon be in the driver’s seat taking your organization into the future.

Everyone wants to be successful, so make sure your words aren’t holding you back. These seven phrases are career kryptonite — by avoiding them, you can fly into your future and become a successful superstar.

Ilya Pozin, Columnist for Forbes

Being a Good Manager: Overcoming 5 Common Myths

myth

 

Building healthy culture, promoting innovation and bringing people together are key indicators of a successful manager. While working as an organizational consultant with startups who aim to scale their business, I’ve noticed five recurring misconceptions related to managing people that produce opposite results: unhealthy workplaces, unmotivated employees and frustrated managers. Especially for individuals who have started a business and end up hiring employees and becoming managers, here are five simple myths of managing that will help you turn around the way that you supervise your employees.

Myth #1: “The paycheck is the reward. That should be enough.”
Try this instead: A paycheck will not motivate employees to move mountains. Their paycheck is expected when people show up for work. Most employees aren’t concerned with your business bottom line. They do however concern themselves with the people they work with. The relationship they have with their co-workers and management. Daniel, the CEO of a startup in Santa Monica I work with, often sends a delivery order of chicken soup to his sick employees. I’ve told him that this is the type of gesture that expresses louder than words that his care extends past the quality and/or quantity of their work. An employee vested in the relationship will be happier and as a result more productive, more innovative and stay loyal as the company grows and changes. Yes, people need pay check to eat, but an “A” performance generally requires more than just a paycheck.

Myth #2: “They work for me.” 
Try this instead: It is your job to make your employees successful. A good manager strives to eliminate obstacles that impede their employees from reaching their goals. Try spending a day figuring out what you can do to make your employee’s life easier. When consulting with a local software company, their programmers mentioned that they would be happier if they could have one “flexible work day” where they could choose to work from home. The manager decided to implement this and soon found that his employees would only take advantage of the day when they truly needed it, and were happier and less concerned with balancing their work and life commitments. What obstacles can you remove to help your team meet their goals and achieve their deliverables? Yes, they may contractually work for you, but a good manager is also a servant of his people.

Myth #3: “I’ve told them this multiple times, they should be doing it already.”
Try this instead: Many employees have a difficult time keeping track of verbal suggestions. Verbal feedback is much more effective if paired with written feedback. The research suggests that therapists were more likely to provide higher quality services to their patients when their supervisor gave feedback orally, then followed up with written confirmation of the feedback. Are you frustrated that your employee isn’t responding to in-person feedback? The key word is accountability — and people feel much more accountable when documentation exists to make them easily accountable.

2013-12-02-WrittenFeedback.pngTry adding a followup email to your verbal suggestions. A quick email can serve as a good reference point if the problem persists, can create a paper trail of known issues to use for more formal feedback, and also allows the employee to go back and see a history of their progress. If the instruction already exists in an employee handbook, job description or email and you still notice compliance issues, feel free to cite the document and date to jog their memory and increase their accountability. Yes, your employees may forget your suggestions, but accountability is essential to good management and it is your job to hold yourself and them accountable.

Myth #4: “My employee’s mistakes cost me money.”
Try this instead: Mistakes employees make are typically unintentional and are an opportunity to improve existing systems. While some large mistakes can be very costly. The small day-to-day mistakes you deal with as a manager are perfect opportunities to understand flaws in your system. This upfront cost of identifying a hole in your system will save you money long-term if instead of blaming your employee, you use it as a way to give them feedback and improve your systems.

While working in a small health care company, we worked on a project to transition the responsibility of scheduling patients from the clinician to an in-house scheduling department. Although there were some instances where short-term utilization of billable hours wasn’t optimal, instead of blaming the scheduler, clinician or unreliable patient, we used these instances as a golden opportunity to revisit the scheduling protocols and identify gaps in the system. Yes, there is an instant cost of an error, but there are also hidden savings if you take the time to learn from this expensive lesson by providing feedback about the error and improving your systems.

Myth #5: “It’s faster for me to do it myself, than to train someone else to do it.”
Try this instead: Training takes time, but the time saved after your employee knows the ropes can give you more time to focus on more complicated tasks. Joe, a physician who decided to open a wellness center quickly found that running a boutique clinic was even more complicated than treating medical conditions. He often found himself filing patient charts, scheduling appointments, booking guest lecturers and creating daily activity schedules. When scaling his business, he resisted spending time training his employees on more important or complicated tasks, fearing that it wouldn’t be done correctly. In Joe’s case, by holding onto more complicated tasks, like finding his ideal guest lecturers to come visit his clinic, instead of integrating those into an employee’s workflow began causing later roadblocks when he was faced with more complicated medical-related demands. Once he realized that training his administrative assistant to research leads and give him options allowed him to focus on improving his clinic’s patient experience and he was able to make sure he was always operating at maximum capacity.

When faced with challenges, a manager should identify how these challenges fit within the context of growing their business and creating a stronger organizational structure. By trying these strategies, each obstacle sheds light on a learning opportunity to hone your managing skills, tighten your company protocols and learn about yourself and your team. Adopting these alternative views of the five common myths of management is a great place to start your journey to becoming a great manager. – Sara Gershfeld

The Three Habits of Highly Effective Demotivators

demotivated

 

 

 

 

 

Jake, a young marketing whiz, thought he’d found his perfect match in a well-funded technology startup in the academic sector. (It’s a real company, but I’ve changed all names.) For the first few months, Jake was in heaven: smart colleagues, plenty of autonomy, an open field of savvy customers looking for solutions in a hot sector, behind-the-curve competitors, and a terrific product he could sell with his heart.

The only problem was Lawrence, the startup’s CEO. Lawrence was brilliant, no doubt about it, and great when it came to dazzling the venture crowd. He’d step into a roomful of funders, deliver the gospel as he saw it, paint a thrilling picture of the company’s future, and walk away with bulging pockets.

But among his super-talented employees, most of whom had joined the company because they felt inspired by the service the company offered, Lawrence was known mostly as the “DM.” As in, “The DM’s in the building.” As in, “I’m psyched, but let’s see how the DM spins it.” Those initials? They stand for the demotivator.

It didn’t take Jake long to recognize that Lawrence had an uncanny ability for knocking the wind out of the sails of even the most enthusiastic contributor, a positive genius for turning eager beavers into disheartened slogs. A few moments in his presence were enough to sow doubt where there had been clarity of purpose, depress energy where it abounded, undercut confidence, and instill frustration. As Jake noted, Lawrence had an artist’s touch when it came to disheartening people.

Hearing Jake’s stories, I decided to interview a few people other people in the company to see what lessons a world-class demotivator might have to teach. I talked to Jake’s colleague Cassie, a stellar client relationship manager with a rosy future (likely somewhere else), and to Lee, the IT hotshot Lawrence had enticed away from one of the world’s great tech innovators because Lee loved the idea of supporting education.

Digging down into the experiences of these committed and naturally motivated individuals enabled me to come up with a few tried and true rules for sucking the energy and life out of other people at work. If you seek to undermine your employees—or people in your division or your unit––these three practices will help guarantee your success.

First, great demotivators always tell people how to do things they are already doing— especially if they are doing those things well.

This is a kind of two-fer in the demotivation sweepstakes in that it accomplishes two essential tasks at once. On one hand, it makes clear to your employees that you actually have no idea about the scope or nature of their contributions. This is bound to make them feel that all their efforts are in vain, the psychological sweet spot for which all dedicated demotivators aim.

At the same time, your maneuver sets you up nicely to take credit for your employees’ achievements when they bear fruit. Since you told them what to do, their future success in doing it may then be claimed as a result of your timely intervention.

Second, great demotivators make sure that any humiliation they inflict occurs in public, preferably before an audience that the employee really cares about.

Great demotivators make sure that any humiliation they inflict occurs in public.

Cassie described Lawrence’s mastery of this essential technique. “Whenever I bring clients into meetings––and that’s a big part of my job––I’m always totally on edge. That’s because I’m waiting for Lawrence to come up with some fresh way of making me look like a complete jerk. Just last week I brought reps from a new online learning service in Scandinavia in for a demo of one of our coolest tools. They were loving it when Lawrence piped up, “And here Cassie was convinced you wouldn’t understand this technology!”

Third, great demotivators are connoisseurs of surprise.

Lee, the brains behind Lawrence’s IT program, noted that his boss has a gift for spreading confusion about what’s really going on. For example, Lee has more than once invited a client to meet to discuss a strategy, only to find that Lawrence has already talked to them without letting him know.

As with many demotivators, Lawrence has a ready explanation for his behavior: “We’re moving at warp speed, we don’t have time to worry about who gets credit or who talks to who.” And because the company is growing rapidly, this explanation makes sense to recent hires whose enthusiasm has yet to collapse under the weight of their boss’s efforts to make them feel hopeless. But after a few months in the company, people start to catch on that taking a great product to market is agony if you don’t have support.

Lawrence reminds me of a boss I had in my days as a speechwriter who churned through talent at an alarming rate. One day, after ranting about how great our service was, he turned to me in all seriousness and said, “We’d be a great company if it weren’t for our people.” – Sally Helgesen

I’d like to hear from you. Have you ever worked for a demotivator like Lawrence? How did you handle it, did you stuck around?

Five Ways To Be Amazing At Work

StarIn every company, there are a few employees who stand out. They’re the ones who always finish first, get recognized for their accomplishments and eventually make their way up the ranks. Invariably, they know how to play the political game. But there are other qualities that world-class performers have in common. Here’s how you can be one of them.

1. Be obsessed with productivity. The best employees tend to work in jobs and businesses they love. As a result, thoughts of how to be more successful and productive rarely leave their mind. In fact, the great ones have to force themselves into non-work activities just to give their mind a chance to rest and recover.

2. Solve problems. Problem solving is the cornerstone of commerce. Average employees tend to spend more time jockeying for position to gain favor from their superiors than they do solving problems. Great ones are not interested in management kudos; they are interested in results. World-class managers and employees solve problems quickly and move on to solving bigger, more complex problems, whether individually or as part of a team.

3. Take risks. The most common commodity in corporate America is the sales manager who craves the approval and friendship of his sales team. The second most common commodity is the sales manager who rules her team with an iron fist, refusing to consider feedback or input from the field.

World-class leaders are neither dictators nor micromanagers. Instead, they have two primary objectives: increase revenues and bring out the best in the people they lead. That might mean being unpopular and pushing people beyond their comfort zones, or being there for a team member who has hit rock bottom. These leaders can adapt to any situation. The great ones never play it safe when it comes to leading their teams through change, knowing their job is to serve as a guide and coach.

4. Have a strong work ethic. Amateurs work just hard enough to escape being fired. They expect to be compensated for every little thing they do – if they can be over-compensated, even better.

The pros have exactly the opposite mindset. They understand that the marketplace will richly reward a world-class work ethic with an endless stream of opportunities. This work ethic is the reason so many immigrants come to the free world and become millionaires. They’re so grateful for the opportunity to work hard that no one can convince them to slow down.

5. Find a coach. Corporate America and entrepreneurs are starting to catch on to something that athletes have always known: if you want to maximize your potential in anything, hire a coach. Coaching is to performance what leadership is to an organization. Since human beings are primarily emotional creatures, competent coaches are experts in stoking the fires that burn within. The more coachable and open-minded your employees, the better they’ll perform.

Trouble is, ego can get in the way. The best employees are the most open to world-class coaching. They don’t care about ego satisfaction when it comes to improving their results; all they’re looking for is an edge, no matter how slight. When two companies or opponents go head-to-head, many times the only thing that favors the winner is a slight edge in thinking, strategy and technique.

From: http://www.mentaltoughnesssecrets.com/