One of the common mistakes people make when designing a change program is assuming that if a person is a team leader, supervisor or senior manager they should naturally know how to communicate face to face with their teams. However communication skills are rarely one of the key competencies that is taught or measured by organizations. There is however a very easy way to ensure that there is structure and content that make it very easy for managers at all levels to follow.
Three Levels of Cascading Messages
What is needed is structure and process and team briefing which is a formal communication cascading process via management is a tool that perfectly fits the bill. It has three levels of cascading messages:
1. The first is the CEO who at his executive team briefings decides which topics for that week he wants communicated to employees.
2. This is then circulated out to his direct reports who then have to communicate those issues and decide the top 5 issues for their respective divisions and then finally the top 5 issues for their teams.
3. So the only aspect of a team brief that changes is the last section which is how what is happening in the company and our division relates to the work we are doing in our team. This is the section that always changes depending on your team in the division.
The reason this works is simple. The only aspect a manager has to think about is what is happening in the organization that will effect his team that week or month depending on the frequency of the team briefing process. The rest of the information is already determined by the divisional head and the CEO. The team brief should only take around 15 minutes so it can be incorporated into a regular team meeting. And most importantly it is constant as the CEO has his Executive team meeting dates set for the entire year and this ensures that everyone from the Executive team to the frontline know what is happening in the organization.
The key factor to the success of team briefings is that they are driven by the CEO. Whenever your CEO talks with managers and employees he should ask whether they had in fact attended a team briefing and how regularly they occured.This way if they are not he can say to his direct reports, "I am conducting my team brief with you now so there is no excuse for you not to do the same with your team members".
The Keys to Making Team Briefings Work
1. Make sure that you put in place a simple process
2. Make sure that the CEO drives it and that his direct reports understand the importance to the CEO - not you. Afterall you are not their boss, he is.
3. Ensure that the topics are the type of content that management are comfortable and knowledgeable about.
4. Provide a feedback loop, again this is part of the process, if there is a question that management do not know the answer to, there must be a formal easy process for them to follow to quickly obtain the answer and respond to the employee.
5. Team briefings should only take 15 minutes, they can also be incorporated into regular weekly meetings.
When it comes to cascading information in a face to face format via management remember that as with anything, there will be some topics that employees want to hear directly from the CEO and other topics they are happy to hear from their manager. Generally when it comes to significant issues such as retrenchments, closure of offices and mergers or acquisitions employees generally want to hear this from the person at the top. Day to day, week by week and month by month operational issues they are comfortable in hearing from their manager who manages their daily work.
About the author:
Marcia Xenitelis is a recognized authority on the subject on change management and has spoken at conferences around the world. For access to case studies and more information on the types of strategies you can implement to engage employees visit http://www.communicationatwork.com for a wealth of free informative articles and resources.
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
One of the common mistakes people make when designing a change program is assuming that if a person is a team leader, supervisor or senior manager they should naturally know how to communicate face to face with their teams. However communication skills are rarely one of the key competencies that is taught or measured by organizations. There is however a very easy way to ensure that there isMarcia Xenitelis Articles
I recently made the transition from a small service driven organization focused on staff training to a very large and diverse organization that seems to have forgotten about training. I find myself shocked on a daily basis when I see smart, hardworking people struggling to perform the tasks that make up their daily work life, in a broad organization that has not made the investment in training. I am liable to talk about the key role leadership would play in moving people forward and in accomplishing an organizations goals but without training our people are not capable of success and cannot possibly accomplish the tasks we would assign them. Training is a key step in setting our people and our organizations up to be successful and if we are not training we are very likely not succeeding.
Training at its heart is change management. Done right and by that I mean consistently and with an eye toward quality, training is a very subtle effort toward keeping our core knowledge and skills in line with our emerging organizational goals and performance priorities. A consistent effort toward training is so subtle and so inconspicuous that most among us would hardly even know it was occurring or be aware that our knowledge, skills and abilities were being upgraded and enhanced, our natural and normal fear and resistance to change barely having the opportunity to rear its ugly head. Unfortunately most businesses and organizations under commit to training and rather than celebrating the opportunities that training affords us, we are in a position of forcing change and get to experience all the happy interactions that go with that. None of us, particularly older males, like change. A consistent effort toward training avoids our having to reinvent our job every quarter and allows us to grow and improve without our being afraid or even aware.
Training is the very best way to achieve our team and organizational goals, accomplishing this by setting up our individual team members to be successful. As leaders we can talk in terms of mission or task accomplishment but unless we are including training in our strategic plans, our chances of success are minimized and those lofty expectations we have laid out for our people and our organization will likely go unrealized, with our status and stature as a leader compromised and our people unwilling to follow. People, our staffs in other words, tend to be very unforgiving of failure and have long memories when led down that path. Training does not guarantee success but it does ensure our people are properly equipped to take on the tasks and challenges that are likely to come their way. Failing to train our people is a genuine and imminent threat to the viability of our business or organization and sells our staff short by setting them up for failure.
Most among us do not look upon training the same way we look upon a vacation or cashing our paychecks but most among us do understand the need to stay current or ahead of the game. Beyond this, training is one of those things that contribute directly to a sense of self-worth and confidence, which in turn drives morale, production and goes a long way toward establishing a culture of accomplishment and success. Training is critical way beyond the tasks we would learn or the information we would pick up. Training drives success but within a business or organization, it is only important if the leadership says it is and unfortunately leadership is often the cause of inadequate or nonexistent training plans. Great training demands great leadership.
In establishing the worth and importance of training I would note that there is good training and bad training and bad training is far worse than no training at all. At its heart, training needs to support our business or organizational goals and mission and is much more complicated than our standing in front of a group of students spouting facts and figures. Training at its core needs to have a training objective and training needs to be engaging and in some basic way connect with the tasks we take on every day.
Training is so critical, so important to the viability and success of any business or organization, it is a wonder that it is often handled with so little thought toward its scope, implication or impact. Maybe there are industries out there that are static and not seeing dramatic change in the ways we would go about doing business but I would have a hard time listing any of those types of businesses or organizations. From buying a cup of coffee to traveling, to ordering products and services on-line, we are living in a dynamic business environment and if it is nothing more than learning how to interact with customers on social media or accepting payment from on-line consumers, just to stay even with the competition in this environment is difficult and training is an important key. More and more Americans are avoiding the mall in buying the goods and services they need in their daily lives and if it is nothing more than teaching our people the technology that would allow us to survive in this market, training has to be an important part of our business plan and strategy going forward. If for no other reason than because our customers and end users are changing and making different demands upon us, training our people is a strategic necessity if we would hope to survive and thrive.
Many years ago, when I had as full a head of hair as the US Army would allow me and when my belly did not have a zip code of its own, I attended the noncommissioned officers academy in Ansbach, Germany. The primary focus of this course was developing leadership skills in young sergeants and would be sergeants. A strong secondary focus was training trainers. Too often we look at training as a distraction or “a necessary evil” and rarely approach it with the sense of urgency its impact and long term benefit would suggest. And then on top of what and the how of training, we are even worse when we are deciding on ‘who’ will do the training for us. You would almost think that training was torture and being a trainer a jail sentence. I am not generally seeing our high achievers guiding us into our organizational future; it is generally the guy who can’t make it to work on time or somebody from the back of the pack, not generally the brightest bulb in our box. With so much riding on our staying ahead of the learning curve and competitive, I am not sure why we trust our futures to the least accomplished among us. Many more than past accomplishments, a trainer has to have the ability and the desire to move people and the stubbornness to do this despite objections from both above and below. Much more than knowledge, the ability to engage our staff is key. If we do not have the right person now, my very strong suggestion would be to hire them. Training is that important!
Another mistake I run into frequently, particularly when we are training anything that would involve technology, is our taking on trainers that cannot relate to our staff. We get technicians who speak a completely different language and somehow expect that our staff, the men and women interacting with our customers every day are going to pick up or understand any of what this highly intelligent but otherwise unintelligible individual would spout in his efforts to train us. Trainers have to speak the language and relate to us in terms that we can understand. Being smart and knowledgeable is no guarantee that an individual can teach and if he cannot be understood, I would promise you that he will not be effective. There is a very good reason why teachers are licensed and why they have teaching degrees. If anyone could effectively do it, I am guessing they would. Trainers need to know how to train and all the technical knowledge in the world will not overcome this necessity.
Its 2011, the economy has not quite decided what it wants to do but business is at least okay and we have good prospects that we will be here tomorrow, next week and next month. A great way to ensure what happens beyond that and a great way to ensure that our vision for tomorrow becomes our reality is a great training plan delivered by great trainers.
"The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership."
-- Harvey S. Firestone
Great training is all about ROI and framing our future in competence.
About the author:
Brian Canning is a regular contributor to weLEAD and a business analyst working in the federal sector. For the past thirty years he has worked in the automotive repair industry, most recently as a leadership and management coach with the Automotive Training Institute in Savage, Maryland. After serving as a tank commander with the 1st Armored Division in Europe, he started his career as a Goodyear service manager in suburban Washington D.C., moving on to oversee several stores and later a sales region. He also has been a retail sales manager for a large auto parts distributor, run a large fleet operation and headed a large multi-state sales territory for an independent manufacturer of auto parts. His passions are history, leadership and writing.
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
*image courtesy of tungphoto/freedigitalphotos.net
I recently made the transition from a small service driven organization focused on staff training to a very large and diverse organization that seems to have forgotten about training. I find myself shocked on a daily basis when I see smart, hardworking people struggling to perform the tasks that make up their daily work life, in a broad organization that has not made the investment in training.Brian Canning Articles
We've all been there. You walk into a bank, restaurant, or store and suddenly feel it, that vague sensation that all is not well. It drips from the ceilings and sits in puddles on the floor. The employees are lost in thought, unable to decide whether they'd rather be somewhere else or stay and kill each other. And you're the lucky one bathing in all the poison they can ladle up. Yeesh.
I hope you've experienced the other side, too. You walk in the door and are gob smacked by a sense of well-being. This isn't just a place where people work, it's a place that WORKS. The employees want to be there and they want YOU to be there. You feel your brow relax, and the corners of your mouth head ever-so-slightly north. You don't wanna leave.
So which of these do YOU work in?
Now, which of these environments do you think YOUR employees rather work in?
So you're wondering if that six-headed, chain-smoking, flatulent monster that's been "hiding" in the supply closet is the Beast we're talking about here.
Here Are 9 Symptoms of a Dysfunctional Workplace:
1. People say one thing and mean another
2. People give lip service to new ideas, only to undercut them in private
4. Saying you'll do something and then not doing it
6. Deflection of feedback and blame
7. People pretending they "missed the memo on that one"
8 Refusal to deal with conflict
9. Gossip and backstabbing
When you think of a dysfunctional organization, you might picture a lot of screaming and yelling. But take a close look at this list. There's very little that has to do with raised voices, and the only mention of "conflict" is the failure to deal with it directly.
You will have conflicts in the workplace. The key is to address it in a healthy and productive way. Yelling at someone isn't the best way to communicate displeasure, but it's a heck of a lot better than whispering behind that person's back, which gets us into the excruciating, crazy-making world of the passive-aggressive.
If I had to nominate just one of thing from the list above as the most destructive symptom of the dysfunctional workplace, there's no contest. It's GOSSIP. A workplace full of whispered gossip is as painful and maddening as a buzzing mosquito at bedtime. It is destructive to the soul of your workplace and the souls of your people who never feel safe and always wonder who is talking behind their backs.
When people gossip about others, you may as well have them bring baseball bats and beat each other. At least that will heal. If a happy and functional workplace is your goal, there are few more productive places to put your energy than the absolute elimination of gossip.
How to End Gossip & Create a Happy Workplace Environment Where People Actually Want to Work
Step one is to recognize that gossip is an attempt at communication—seriously screwed up communication, sure, but communication nonetheless. You can't eliminate the behavior without providing something to replace it—namely a good and healthy way of communicating.
All Jack had to do was to go to Tom and say, “Dude, when you are late with that analysis, I end up on my knees to my boss because then my report is late. Please promise me you'll get that to me on time from now on.” Reasonable. Direct. Easy.
If Jack came to you with gossip, simply say, “Gee, it sounds like you need to talk to Tom directly so you can work this out.” Lather, rinse and repeat until the person wakes up!
Once you establish a zero-tolerance policy for talking behind another person's back, give your employees permission to address conflict head-on, out loud, courageously and honestly. Create a trusting and open environment and watch the dysfunctions in your workplace ebb away.
The Next Step to Ending Workplace Dysfunctions: Build a Shared Vision
Now you've recognized the symptoms and diagnosed the disease. Time for the cure.
Most workplace dysfunctions amount to employees shooting their energy at each other because there's nothing else to aim for. What's needed is a single, shared vision.
Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Everyone wants to feel productive and be happy. Give yourself and your team members a clear and positive picture of where you want to go as a group. Most of them will jump at the chance to be a part of it. When people align around a vision of great service, pettiness and dysfunctional workplace behaviors fall away and people become who they need to be to make it happen.
Will there still be those who stubbornly hold on to their dysfunctions? I guarantee it. And for the sake of the rest of you, gently but firmly encourage those folks to find and follow their bliss elsewhere.
Are you ready to do what it takes to end the dysfunctions and create a can-do culture in your workplace?
About the author:
Roxanne Emmerich is renowned for her ability to transform the "ho-hum" attitudes of leaders, executives, business owners and entrepreneurs just like you into massive results-oriented "bring-it-on" attitudes. To discover how you can get motivated and love your job again, check out her new book – Thank God it's Monday.
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
*image courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net
We've all been there. You walk into a bank, restaurant, or store and suddenly feel it, that vague sensation that all is not well. It drips from the ceilings and sits in puddles on the floor. The employees are lost in thought, unable to decide whether they'd rather be somewhere else or stay and kill each other. And you're the lucky one bathing in all the poison they can ladle up.Roxanne Emmerich Articles
The other day I was talking with someone about a start up idea. He is a very successful sales person and wanted my view on the concept. As we moved on with the discussion I realized that there were some strategic holes in his plan which I wanted to point out. What I had not realized, however, is that he had bought into the idea lock, stock, and barrel and only wanted to hear me echo his feelings. The same day my daughter was unsuccessfully trying to explain to her friend that unlike what she thought, their common friend's behavior was not an affront. A few days earlier, I was telling my wife to give up the idea of trying to go to India in November when the chances of getting certain things done on time was practically impossible, but it was a completely futile exercise.
You know what I am driving at – situations where you try hard to make someone see reason but feel as if you are banging your head against a wall. Intensely frustrating as they can be, they are very, very common. I have no doubt that many of you could recall having been through a similar situation or two in the recent past. I mentioned a few incidents where I was the one banging my head against a wall, but I am sure people who know me can point out situations where I have played the wall instead.
Now these “not uncommon” interactions are not limited to friends and family members, they are an integral part of how the human mind works. Maybe it’s something to do with our natural instinct for self-preservation. Or maybe our egos, fears, and greed gets the better part of our intellect. I am not sure about that, but what I do know is that we all get caught up in our own ideas so deeply that we do not see, or want to see what is obvious to others. The numbers driven corporate world has also had to bear the brunt of executives forging ahead bullheadedly with their convictions to the detriment of their organizational goals, ignoring the logic of well prepared advisers.
Obviously, when decision makers and stakeholders have precarious view-points they need to be made aware of the risks. But bluntly stating your position will not only make it likely that you would fail to get your point across, it might also land you into trouble. How one handles such situations makes the difference between success and failure of projects, goals, and relationships.
So, what are we to do?
There is more than one way to skin this cat, so to speak. Nobody has a definite set of answers. But here is one strategy that works really well for me. I call it the PAQ (Pause-Answer-Question) Method. The central idea behind this approach is to lead the listeners to see the consequences of their current approach or thinking. Let them arrive at your conclusions on their own.
PAUSE: When you realize that you have to say something which goes against the grain for the listener, pause to understand how the listener sees the situation and plan your communication beginning from his or her point of view and leading to yours before you state your position. Develop this attitude of restrained communication. It takes time but you will become more effective with continued practice.
ANSWER: While you frame your thoughts based upon the position of the listener make a conscious assessment of his or her emotional stance. People don’t see reason when they are emotionally attached to certain ideas. So emotion is where you have to do the real work. Answer the question: What is the degree of awareness and willingness of the listener? Plan the effect you wish to seek from the interaction based on what is possible in the given situation. Clearly define what you seek from the interaction. Remember, you can’t give them the solution until they see the real problem and are ready to listen to you. You would be wasting your breath otherwise. Remember, the real problem is that they have not thought through the idea in question completely as they are bonded emotionally to their position.
QUESTION: Frame your desired effect as a set of questions the answers to which should lead to the point you want to make. Lead your listeners to discovering the consequences of their line of thinking on their own. For example avoid saying directly why business A will not succeed like Business B because A and B are fundamentally different, which is unlike what the person believed so far. Instead you could ask one or more of the following questions -
a. How important is it to succeed?
b. What do you think are the consequences of failure?
c. Is the opportunity cost high enough to demand careful thinking before moving ahead?
d. What do you think can be done to minimize the risk of failure?
e. Are there any holes in the analogy being banked upon?
f. How is this business different from the one managed before?
g. How can we prepare for the differences between the two business models?
As you talk about the issue remove the word ‘but’, ’should’ and the like from your conversation. Substitute them with “and”. Essentially you are not going to tell them what they should be doing or how they are wrong, you are only going to provide them with various other options or perspectives, thus helping them really think through the idea. When you take this approach you will notice a remarkable difference in your communication. Try, experiment, and internalize this process, practice it in imaginary conversations until it becomes your second nature. As you use this method regularly you will have a lot more buy-in for your idea and the change you expect will be practically guaranteed in most situations, unless of course if you were wrong to begin with. This process of communication takes longer but it gets the job done and also saves you from putting your foot in your mouth.
About the author:
Nick is the Managing Partner of The 8020Strategy Group, the President of the Global Alliance of CEO's, and the Managing Editor of The CEO Entrepreneur Magazine (www.8020ceo.com). The magazine has been created and designed to promote collaboration among CEOs, and to inform and inspire the community towards making businesses more efficient. For keynote addresses, workshops, and consulting engagements, Nick can be reached at email@example.com
*image courtesy of Ventrilock/freedigitalphotos.net
The other day I was talking with someone about a start up idea. He is a very successful sales person and wanted my view on the concept. As we moved on with the discussion I realized that there were some strategic holes in his plan which I wanted to point out. What I had not realized, however, is that he had bought into the idea lock, stock, and barrel and only wanted to hear me echo his feeNick Vaidya Articles
In an interview, comedian Joan Rivers was asked how she stayed so thin and trim and the interviewer said, “Do you do a lot of exercising?” “Oh, my Lord no,” said Rivers. “If God had intended me to bend over, He would have put diamonds on the ground.”
When actress and screen writer, Mae West, was asked about dieting she said, “I never worry about diets. The only carrots I’m interested in are the carats in a diamond.”
Hungarian born American film and stage actress, Zsa Zsa Gabor said that she never hated a man enough to give him back his diamonds. And she received diamonds from 9 husbands.
Diamonds have been considered precious for centuries. Geologists say diamonds were formed billions of years ago deep inside the earth by tremendous heat and pressure. They have literally been around since the beginning of time and they will last through eternity. As the title to a popular James Bond movie states, Diamonds Are Forever, literally.
Even though they have been around forever, diamonds are rare and they are hard to find. They come to the surface of the earth during volcanic eruptions in a bluish substance called kimberlite.
To find these rough diamonds, you can search in the marshes, ponds, streams and lakes near volcanos that have erupted, or you can dig deep mines to find rough diamonds still inside the earth. However, you have to process about 22 to 100 tons of kimberlite to find one diamond. This makes a diamond very precious.
Each stone is unique and it takes a skilled technician to cut and polish the rough stone into the beautiful diamond that sells for thousands, even millions of dollars.
Application for the Charismatic Leader
Charismatic and savvy business leaders are rare. They are hard to find. Charismatic leaders are unique, each having their own facets of strength. They are precious because of the value they add to organizations. They become skilled technicians as they form, develop, and polish people into productive teams.
The four qualities of diamond you can put into your life to become a more charismatic leader are:
1. Diamond Hardness: Diamond is the hardest natural substance in nature. It is four times harder than the next hardest substance. It can cut through any other natural substance so it is used extensively in industry for drilling and polishing.
As a charismatic leader: When I ask you to emulate the hardness of diamonds, I DO NOT want you to be hard to get along with, I DO NOT want you to be hard on people; I DO NOT want you to be hard on yourself.
I do want you to equate the hardness of a diamond with being HARDY – self-determining and self-reliant. And TOUGH – tough enough not to fracture and break from the economic pressures faced in organizations today; tough enough to tell the truth; tough enough to cut through problems to solutions.
2. Diamond Clarity: Diamond has greater clarity or transparency than any other solid or liquid substance. The greater clarity in a diamond, the greater the value.
As a charismatic leader: We are going to translate this into clarity of purpose. The clearer you are on the goals of your organization, your own department or team, the greater impact you’ll have on daily productivity because work will be tied directly to results. Daily efforts bring you and your employees closer to successfully executing your organizational stewardship.
Clarity for your organization, department, unit or team comes from goals setting and time management processes. Do not feel this work is insignificant but give it the time it deserves.
3. Diamond Melting Point: Diamond has the highest melting point of any natural substance: 6422 degrees Fahrenheit.
As a charismatic leader: When it comes to relationships, have a high melting point and give others the benefit of a doubt. Work to raise the melting point of discussions and disagreements. Model for your employees the ability to Pause, Think, and then ACT. Not the reverse order: Act (often inappropriately), then pause and think. Your goal is to replace meltdowns with dialog.
4. Diamond Conductivity: Diamond conducts heat better than anything – five times better than the second best element that conducts heat, silver.
As a charismatic leader: The “heat” you need to conduct is positive energy and a belief in the future. On a daily basis I encourage you to be the conductor of optimism and hope. If you can be a positive leader, you will be as a beacon of light in the darkness.
These four qualities of the element diamond are fundamental for you to emulate in your leadership career. Master them, and your employees will WANT to follow you as they give you discretionary effort, a prize to be cherished by any leader.
About the author:
Karla Brandau is CEO of Workplace Power Institute. The Workplace Power Institute helps organizations be more competitive in the global marketplace by removing blocks to organizational productivity and improving collaboration. For more program information visit the web site: www.WorkplacePowerInstitute.com.
In an interview, comedian Joan Rivers was asked how she stayed so thin and trim and the interviewer said, “Do you do a lot of exercising?” “Oh, my Lord no,” said Rivers. “If God had intended me to bend over, He would have put diamonds on the ground.” When actress and screen writer, Mae West, was asked about dieting she said, “I never worry about dKarla Brandau, Workplace Power Institute Articles
Could your management team be creating unnecessary employee issues that are leading to:
-Low employee engagement
-Low employee morale
-Poor customer service
-The need for voluminous policy and procedure manuals to ensure that the manager follows the rules, and
While not so comfortable to ask, and even more challenging to be accountable for, here are 7 key questions to help you determine if your management is causing the above common concerns:
1) Does every member of your management team know (internalize) the company’s Mission/Purpose and Vision (ideal future state)?
2) Can every member of your management team describe the company Values, (that is, the key ways in which you go about your work, such as excellence in customer service, innovation, teamwork, respect…)?
3) And, can every member of the management team give some examples of how the company values are demonstrated on a day-to-day basis?
4) Do you have a succession plan – that is, an approach for and/or development of high potential/successor candidates?
5) Do new people promoted to or hired for a management position clearly demonstrate the company values?
6) Do you have an effective way to transition new managers into their positions (or do you just assume the transition will happen)?
7) And, do you remove poor and ineffective managers quickly?
If you said “NO” to any of the questions above then you likely have employee issues as a result of your management problems.
When Addressing Employee Issues, Ensure You Have Sound Management First
How can you improve your business when you have employee issues and conflicts getting in your way of running an effective, productive and efficient organization? First, change your approach and take a macro view. That is, understand that often, employee issues are symptoms of inconsistent or failing management.
Your strongest assets and your key resources are your employees. (Yes, even stronger than your brand. Brand creates awareness and a promise. But it’s the employees that deliver on that promise.) And, while painful to acknowledge, it is the most talented employees that leave first.
If you want to improve your business, you must start with your managers. These are the people who are the direct link to your front line employees. These managers include:
Yet unfortunately, the role and impact of the direct supervisors are often overlooked when senior management or business owners contemplate improvement questions such as:
1) How can we improve morale?
2) What’s a good compensation system?
3) How can we recruit and retain better employees?
4) How do we improve our customer service?
Simply stated, as long as you do not deal with supervisor/manager competency and impact, you cannot effectively deal with any of the questions raised above. It’s like trying to come up with a model to explain how our solar system works using the earth as the center of the system. It just won’t work, no matter how hard you try. Replace the earth with the sun and it works beautifully. Money spent to improve the effects of management is wasted unless it’s spent to address poor management first.
Five Required Steps to Identifying and Addressing the Issue of Poor Management
First, get senior executives to function as an aligned team and to translate this team’s vision to promote (by demonstration not lip service) the stated values of the business. Remember, employees watch their leadership team for cues on how to behave and how to manage. They look to managers to see what’s acceptable and what is not!
Carefully select employees for management positions. This means you need to have a succession plan that incorporates a management development plan for high potential candidates.
Support the transition from employee to manager. Not all newly promoted managers will be ready for their new role. In fact, in many organizations, it’s possible that most aren’t yet ready for prime time but are needed there. (A good coach or mentor can be very valuable in these situations.)
Define the standard of performance required of all your managers. Provide needed support to help your managers understand your standards and meet them. If they don’t (or won’t) after suitable support and development, replace them. Understand that “what you permit you promote”. Tolerating poor managers and poor manager behavior is the same as condoning it. And that is the way employees will perceive it.
Then, insure your managers/supervisors are responsible for performance management and instilling employee accountability using these four fundamentals with their employees:
-Clarifying expectations of their role individually and within context to the larger organization
-Providing adequate training and development for them to do their job (identify and address skills, knowledge and resource gaps)
-Provide consistent feedback on their performance, expressly positive/ recognition based, and of course, addressing concerns or deficiencies (in which case you start over at A, though focusing on the concern/issue and what is needed/expected…)
-And, be consistent with upholding consequences. Similar to tolerating poor managers, unwilling or persistent underperforming employees will quickly compromise your overall results.
Service excellence, cost-effective performance and innovation, start with engaged employees. And employees leave their organizations most often because of a bad boss and a poor-working relationship. If you believe that your employees are not engaged to the extent you want them to be, don’t start with employee remediation efforts. Start first, with the leaders and the managers. If employees don’t have a good boss and working experience with them, save your money; as nothing else will work, at least for very long. It may be the most difficult place to start, but it will be the most effective for long-term ROI.
About the authors:
Sara LaForest and Tony Kubica are management consultants with more than 50+ years of combined experience in helping organizations improve their business performance simply by improving the leadership effectiveness of top management. You can find out more about their work at http://www.kubicalaforestconsulting.com
Could your management team be creating unnecessary employee issues that are leading to: -Low employee engagement-Low employee morale-Poor productivity-Poor customer service-The need for voluminous policy and procedure manuals to ensure that the manager follows the rules, and-High turnover While not so comfortable to ask, anSara LaForest & Tony Kubica Articles
When we drain power from a car battery it runs down. If we do this long enough, the battery will eventually become totally dead. In physics we call this “entropy”, which means that anything left to itself will eventually disintegrate until it reaches its most elemental form. Entropy happens when there is neglect. Neglect your body, and you will deteriorate. Neglect your car battery, and it will eventually die. Anything that is not attended to and renewed will deteriorate over time. That is why we have an alternator in our car. The alternator recharges the battery. It combats entropy. All things need caring for—and your employees are no exception. Nothing neglected will remain productive over time.
Employees are like car batteries. If you are always taking from them, but never “charging them up” emotionally, eventually they will run down. Stephen Covey and others use the metaphor of the Emotional Bank Account (EBA). Negative actions and neglect can become withdrawals against a person’s EBA. On the other hand, courtesies, celebrations, and affirmations are deposits to the EBA. If there are a lot of withdrawals, and few or no deposits, a person’s EBA will become so overdrawn that the relationship will become bankrupt.
Effective leaders understand this concept and recognize the importance of giving encouragement and positive feedback on a regular basis. Such feedback should not be manipulative in nature, but should flow from a genuine appreciation and belief in their people. Effective leaders are obsessed with finding something good about an employee. They are very alert to opportunities to celebrate the achievement of others. These acts of encouragement are a real key to releasing the potential in people and promoting the use of their gifts and talents.
Few employees receive more affirmation from superiors than Southwest Airline employees. Southwest Airlines is recognized year after year by Fortune magazine as one of the best companies to work for in America. They are also famous for recognizing employees and celebrating their achievements. One token of this is a giant T-shirt hanging in the headquarters building of Southwest Airlines at Love Field. Imprinted on the shirt is this message:
“How many Southwest employees does it take to change a light bulb?” At the bottom of the shirt is the answer: “Four. One to actually change the light bulb and three to design the T-shirt to celebrate it!”
Southwest Airlines says that it uses thousands of small gestures to send big messages. The halls of their corporate headquarters are literally covered from floor to ceiling with photos, plaques, certificates, awards, honors, and various memorabilia that capture the spirit of their culture. Some have even accused Southwest executives of constructing more office space just so they could gain additional wall space in the halls to hang photos of employees and their families.
In the fall of 1999, I was selected as the Honor’s Seminar faculty member at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. I had proposed teaching a course entitled Personal and Organizational Leadership, with an emphasis on studying the top companies on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list. That year Southwest Airlines was the number four company on the list.
Toward the end of the semester the class took a field trip to visit the number one and number four companies on the Fortune 100 Best list (Synovus Financial and Southwest Airlines). Southwest had donated four round-trip tickets for our trip. We also used two round trip tickets from my Southwest Airlines frequent flyer program. We still had to buy tickets for one leg of the trip. I called the Southwest Airlines reservation number and got a very nice and helpful young lady on the line. I explained that making the reservations would be complicated since we had frequent flyer miles, free tickets from Southwest, and we also needed to buy tickets for one leg of the trip. However, I didn’t know which flight to buy, since we wanted to purchase tickets for the least expensive flight—applying the free tickets to the more expensive flights.
She searched diligently to find the least expensive flight of the trip. There was just one problem. That flight did not have enough seats left at the rock bottom fare. We needed two additional seats at that fare. She suggested that since I was working with the executive office at Southwest to arrange our tour that I should call and ask if they could authorize her to sell all the tickets at the lowest fare!
I was so impressed with this reservationist and her attitude of service. She had worked almost a half-hour to book all the flights and now she would hold the two seats until I asked the executive office to release the seats at the lower fare! She was truly working to save us money and I really appreciated that. I got her name and phone number. I discovered that she was working at a phone center in Oklahoma. I thanked her and hung up.
I then called the executive assistant to the executive office at Southwest and told her the situation. She said there would be no problem lowering the fare for the two seats and that she would take care of it immediately. I gave her the reservations’ name and phone number. Then I mentioned that the reservationist had done an outstanding job helping me. I suggested that someone should mention this to her supervisor.
About ten minutes later my phone rang. It was the reservationist in Oklahoma. She sounded very excited and said, “You can’t believe what just happened to me! I just received a call from Colleen Barrett. She personally thanked me for giving you such extraordinary service!”
For those who don’t recognize her name, Colleen is the Executive Vice President of Southwest Airlines, and the Chair of the corporate Culture Committee. Within five minutes of my suggesting someone should recognize the fine work of this reservationist, the Executive Vice President of Southwest Airlines—a company of over 29,000 employees—had made a personal call to express her appreciation to the reservationist! I can tell you for certain that this reservationist received an incredible deposit to her Emotional Bank Account that day! This affirmation was like a powerful charge to her battery.
Such small gestures certainly do send big messages at Southwest. They can also send big messages within your organization. Do you look for opportunities to celebrate employee accomplishments, both great and small, or do you focus on finding fault and criticizing? Are most of the transactions you conduct with your employees considered “deposits” or “withdrawals” to their Emotional Bank Accounts?
Too many organizational cultures are still driven by criticism, fear, and punishment. (The floggings will continue until morale improves!) Celebrations and affirmations inspire, motivate, and reenergize people. Isn’t that what effective leadership is all about? Are you a “battery drainer” or a “battery charger”?
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About the author:
Dr. J. Howard Baker is Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Last year Dr. Baker taught an Honors Seminar at ULM, which included a field trip to the top servant leadership companies in America. Dr. Baker has been a Franklin Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People certified facilitator for seven years, and has served the University of Texas at Tyler as their facilitator for four years. During the summer he offers a graduate and undergraduate course at U. T. Tyler in personal and organizational leadership. He holds a B.S. in Management from Samford University, a Master of Accounting (MAcc) from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington.
When we drain power from a car battery it runs down. If we do this long enough, the battery will eventually become totally dead. In physics we call this “entropy”, which means that anything left to itself will eventually disintegrate until it reaches its most elemental form. Entropy happens when there is neglect. Neglect your body, and you will deteriorate. Neglect yourDr. J. Howard Baker Articles
I remember my first project as a newly promoted project manager. While I had received academic training in business administration and economics, I had begun my career among the technical ranks. My promotion to project manager was largely due to my ability to code programs in CICS assembler, Cobol, and at the time the newly emerging programming languages called “4GLs”. What I soon found out was that technical roles do little to prepare a person to advance into a management level position. I was not yet aware of the leadership required interacting with a team. In many ways a technical person is even hindered from making such a transition.
There are stages that a person with a technical background will visit while transitioning into management. The first stop is typically project management, the natural progression for a person who has spent considerable time as a successful project team member. A successful experience in project management may eventually lead to the next stage of a senior staff management position such as a department head, divisional manager or even vice president. It is during the first stage, project management that a technical person begins to encounter the issues that arise when making the transition into management. How well one adapts and begins to demonstrate leadership will likely determine the pace at which they progress through management.
In my experience I have witnessed many people make the same transition that I made, moving from programmer, to analyst, to project manager (PM, as we call it), to department head. Some succeeded, but many if not most either failed or became average PMs. The ingrained habit of personally defining specifications, designing and implementing solutions, and solving technical problems becomes a hurdle to overcome during the transition to management. In short, it is difficult for a “hands on” person to suddenly find themselves “hands off” in a similar way that a new coach finds it difficult to stay off the field. Here are some tips to help a “propeller head” traverse the path to project management.
Jump ahead – define the objective
When I found myself a project manager for the first time I was shocked to find that I had no idea how to get started. I knew how to execute but had never planned, motivated, and driven a project as the PM. I knew how to enter information into a project plan but could not seem to get the project off the ground. What was being required of me were the essential qualities expected of a leader. Frustrated and struggling, I sought advice from a seasoned PM in my company. He advised me simply to, “jump ahead of them and they will follow you”. Good advice and still effective. How do you jump ahead? By defining the project in terms of the overall objectives and benefits to the team members as well as clearly spelling out the roles, responsibilities and expectations. My mentor immediately helped me prepare a meeting to define the project objectives and assignments. My seasoned PM was telling me I needed to create a vision!
An important consideration when establishing an objective is its level of difficulty and how it could contribute to the team member’s need for achievement. If the objective is perceived to be too easy, the team member is not motivated. If the objective is perceived to be unattainable, the team member is again not motivated. It is only when the objective is perceived to be both challenging and attainable that motivation of the team is achieved.
Before the team can begin the project, they must know exactly what they are expected to do. Clearly articulated objectives, team participation in goal setting and action planning, and objectives that are challenging but attainable are the keys to driving a project team forward and maximizing performance. Key steps required to jump ahead as an effective leader include:
1. Define the project objectives and clearly communicate how successfully completing the project will benefit the company and the team members.
2. Working with each team member, determine his or her project role, responsibilities, and objectives.
3. For each team member, develop an action plan to achieve project objectives and ask the team member for his or her commitment.
4. Offer your confidence and support to the team member and set up a follow up time for progress review.
Stay at a high level
One of the first tasks that I assigned to myself as a new PM was to code several programs that needed to be developed by the project team. I was intending to help the other team members by being “one of them”. Not to mention that I enjoyed programming. Big mistake. When the coach grabs a helmet and lines up on the field there is no one coaching, adjusting the game plan to adapt to on-going changes, planning new plays, making the decision whether to go for it on fourth down, etc. But the urge for a technical person to delve back into the details is great. It is essential that the PM stay at a high level and direct the project or the project will go undirected. Change management, issue management, navigating obstacles, and leveraging the team by coaching the members is essential to success as a leader. In addition, there is momentum produced by team members as they progress on a project, achieving each milestone to completion. This energy is sapped as the leader interferes with or micromanages areas in which other team members are responsible.
One way to stay at a high level is to prepare a “project notebook” at the outset of the project. The project notebook will keep the PM at a 30,000-foot view. The project notebook contains all project documents, status reports, Gantt charts, project plans, issue logs, change control forms, etc. Constantly and accurately maintaining this information will force the manager to stay at a high level while also adding to his or her efficiency. Many companies possess web based software running on their intranet that will serve the same function as a repository for all project related documents and greatly enhance the usefulness of the information.
Leverage the team
Effective managers always lead with a coaching style. They find the key to leveraging other people in order to get a project completed successfully. And that key is to identify and maintain the proper balance between supporting employees at appropriate times when they need support and not intruding on the force they generate by self-reliance and self-direction. Leaders with a technical background tend to want to direct others much like they directed themselves to achieve technical assignments. A technical person wants to “do it themselves”. Though unnatural at first, it will make management a great deal easier and will drive success more quickly if the technical person learns to leverage the team as contrasted in the following table.
Directing the team
Leveraging the team
Holds Back Information
Allows Less Autonomy
Allows More Autonomy
That first project that I had the opportunity to manage was a real learning experience about leadership. Having had primarily a technical background, I had not been prepared to let go and rely on others achieve success. Since then I have made it a practice to jump ahead immediately by defining the clear objectives, maintain a high level big-picture view, and leverage the talents and abilities of the team that I manage. In a nutshell, I have learned the value of providing a vision! And I haven’t coded a program in years.
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About the author:
Dave has over 17 years of experience in information technology, technology services and management. He has provided management and technical consulting to numerous Fortune 500 companies and is currently Senior Vice President of services for Computer Associates, International. He has a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems and Economics from Bowling Green State University and an MBA in systems management from Baldwin Wallace College.
I remember my first project as a newly promoted project manager. While I had received academic training in business administration and economics, I had begun my career among the technical ranks. My promotion to project manager was largely due to my ability to code programs in CICS assembler, Cobol, and at the time the newly emerging programming languages called “4GLs”. What I sooDave Hooper Articles
Are rules and red tape really necessary? Some companies have rules for everything from holidays to bathroom breaks. Does your company have a policy for when it’s appropriate to create a rule? Most companies don’t; instead they create one whenever an issue comes up that affects operations. This is an ad-hoc approach based on the fear that things can and will go wrong.
Too many rules and you end up spending all your time enforcing them. This creates a lot of work. Some people argue that rules add structure. A certain amount of structure creates freedom because guidelines liberate people and make them more productive. However, most companies place too much emphasis on structure and not enough on their people.
The Pitfalls of Rules
1) Applying the same rules to everyone can cause resentment. Different people have special circumstances. If these are ignored, people feel ignored;
2) too many rules create an atmosphere of prohibition. Employees learn not to rely on their own judgment. Instead of thinking on their feet and taking risks, they use the rules as their fall back position;
3) if it’s not in the rulebook, they may not do it;
4) relying on stale rules deprives employees of their creativity;
5) rules create more rules, which create a lot of administration and, in the long run, are very costly;
6) usually rules spill over onto customers. Soon, if someone wants to buy from your company they must first study and abide by the rules. They could just go somewhere else;
7) too many rules communicate a lack of trust in employees;
8) rules create an attitude. Employees mimic this attitude and it affects how they deal with suppliers and customers. For example, the company has strict policy about payment terms. So employees continually bang customers over the head with payment terms. They are just doing their job;
9) rules affect the atmosphere employees work in and customers buy from. Everyone has had the experience of walking into a store to be greeted with signs like, “Do not touch!” or “You break it you pay”. Imagine being invited into someone’s’ home and seeing signs like these. Would you be eager to come back?
10) managers become parole officers enforcing rules. They get so caught up in who did what wrong, they forget to lead and end up babysitting.
How Rules are Set
How are rules set? Usually an employee does something undesirable, so management creates a policy and punishes everyone. Actually rules are set this way in every facet of the company. Consider this example: a few customer cheques bounce, so the company sets a policy of accepting no personal cheques. It’s hard to estimate how much lost business is directly related to this new policy.
Rules are also set strategically. A company has a certain objective so they create rules to make sure it happens. Instead, why not empower employees to achieve goals, versus punishing them with more rules?
Power Comes from People
Effective managers know power comes from people. The manager’s role is not to have power over people by enforcing rules, but to support and coordinate employees’ efforts. This may be a complete attitude shift for some managers who are used to being in charge.
In most companies, the manager is also expected to be the leader. They can most effectively lead by empowering employees to use their own judgment and skills to benefit the company. Can you trust people to do their job without all the rules and controls? Yes. Most people do the right thing when left to their own judgment. If you tell employees what to do, they will automatically do it your way without calling on their own creativity and judgment. After awhile this creates a stale work environment. Instead of being alive with creative ideas flowing, people dutifully do their jobs.
Stop Relying on Rules
How to stop relying on rules? Empower employees to solve problems on their own, making them a part of the solution. Get them asking, “What is the best way to handle this?” Then, provide them with the resources and support to do it. For example, let’s say it was taking employees too long to go through their email every day. Instead of creating a policy that limits the time spent picking up email, ask employees, “How can we use our email system more effectively?” Let them come up with the solution. Being a part of the solution makes employees more accountable, creating much less paperwork and formality.
For larger organizations it’s more difficult to put the power in people. It takes a tremendous amount of trust. So start slowly. Let employees you know you can trust rely on their own judgment and solve problems on their own.. Go through different work scenarios and ask, “ Can we substitute the rules in this situation for individual judgment? “ Even if employees can’t be involved in setting rules, let them be a part of their implementation. For example, a new policy may be that we want all “accounts receivables” collected within 30 days. Who is going to make this happen? Employees of course. So involve employees in the implementation (how can we collect our accounts quicker?) Employees will be the best judge of this information. Some of their clients have special circumstances that will require a unique approach.
Finally, always make sure that employees know WHY a rule is created. Not only for their own good but because often rules get in the way of helping a customer and employees need to be able to explain why.
The level of accountability appropriate for your organization depends on how much control you feel comfortable giving employees. There is a right mix and balance for every organization
Decide how and when you will set rules. Instead of setting them ad hoc whenever it seems necessary, decide in advance when and where it is appropriate. For example, rules are often necessary for routine things where, otherwise, everyone would do it differently every time, causing chaos. If something comes up that you think requires rules to be developed, ask, “How many people does this directly affect? Will this rule help us deal with future situations or is it just creating more paperwork? Is this something that we can empower employees to deal with themselves and use their own judgment? How can I involve all people who are affected by this policy?”
Be careful where you set rules, they may come back and haunt you.
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About the author:
Jody Urquhart, a popular speaker and writer, is recognized in Canada, the United States and Europe, She has presented her signature topic, Joy of Work, to 65 organizations last year alone. Her monthly column on the same subject appears in over fifty trade journals. Jody is also an associate speaker for the Individual Development Organization in Vancouver where she works with Bill Clennan, the Dean of Canadian Speakers.
Jody holds diplomas in Professional Speaking and Writing from Mount Royal College and in Management and Marketing from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. She studied Management for three years at the University of Calgary. Her business experience includes management positions in both the banking and retail industries. Jody is a proud member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers and holds the distinction of being one of its founding board members. Jody is the author of the book “ALL WORK & NO SAY TAKES THE PASSION AWAY”. To order your copy, or to discuss having Jody speak at your next meeting, feel free to email her at email@example.com
Are rules and red tape really necessary? Some companies have rules for everything from holidays to bathroom breaks. Does your company have a policy for when it’s appropriate to create a rule? Most companies don’t; instead they create one whenever an issue comes up that affects operations. This is an ad-hoc approach based on the fear that things can and will go wrong. &nbsJody Urquhart Articles
This is a unique book in both its purpose and style. Blanchard, Hybels and Hodges set out to teach servant-leadership by returning to its religious roots. Leadership by the Book is written in the form of a parable or story. It portrays the interaction of three different leaders: a professor, minister and young business professional. The purpose of the book is to teach management skills and ethics by examining the example of Christianity’s founder, Jesus Christ. As the authors state in the introduction, “We believe there is a perfect practitioner and teacher of effective leadership. That person is Jesus of Nazareth, who embodied the heart and methods of a fully committed and effective servant leader.”
However, this book is not intended to be either sectarian or a promotional treatise on Christianity and its founder. The authors continue, “In this book we invite students of leadership from all faiths, cultures and experience to take another look at the leadership genius of Jesus.” Throughout the text Blanchard, Hybels and Hodges endeavor to cite various examples of Jesus Christ as a source for learning valuable lessons in effective leadership. They also suggest basic strategies for bringing values and vision to any organization.
Many books written on servant leadership are authored by intellectuals who make this essential philosophy difficult to grasp and appreciate. This book is different. Leadership by the Book can be called a primer on servant leadership and is written in an easy to understand linguistic style. Don’t let the number of pages fool you. With large print and generous word spacing, it can easily be read in one or two sittings.
Leadership by the Book: Tools to Transform Your Workplace
William Morrow and Company - 1999 (220 pages in hardback)
Authors Ken Blanchard, Bill Hybels and Phil HodgesISBN 0-688-17239-3
weLEAD rating: highly recommended
This is a unique book in both its purpose and style. Blanchard, Hybels and Hodges set out to teach servant-leadership by returning to its religious roots. Leadership by the Book is written in the form of a parable or story. It portrays the interaction of three different leaders: a professor, minister and young business professional. The purpose of the book is to teach management skills and ethiKen Blanchard, Bill Hybel, and Phil Hodges Articles Book Review
- Employee engagement
- Employee motivation
- Leadership Development
- Leadership Principles
- Leadership Styles
- Leadership Tips
- Management development
- Organizational Culture
- Organizational Design
- Organizational leadership
- Personal leadership
- Sales Techniques
- Servant leadership
- Transformational leadership
- Workplace Challenges