Are You Doing it…To…For…or…With…Your Team?

Are you manipulating your team

Many studies have shown the impact that control of our situation has on our health, happiness, and effectiveness. In one experiment a white-footed deer mouse was placed in a brightly lit cage. The mouse could press a bar to alter the light. The mouse reduced the lighting to a dim level. The next morning experimenters set the lights to dim. The mouse immediately stepped up the lighting to bright. The mouse didn’t seem to care about its level of lighting. The critical issue was having control.

Another autonomy and control experiment was in a nursing home. One floor of residents were allowed to rearrange their room layout, schedule their time, and given a plant to keep and look after. Another floor or residents were told about all the good things being done for them. The staff arranged their room, scheduled their time, and gave them a plant that the nurse looked after. Eighteen months later, the residents on the floor with more control were more active and healthier than their controlled peers. Only 15 percent on the control floor died compared to 30 percent on the other floor.

Countless organizational studies show that autonomy, participation, “having some say,” and a modicum of control in the workplace are vital to employee engagement. Here are a few ways you can engage your work teams:

  • Develop a regular Listen-Feedback-Action process. This generally starts with a survey or third party interviews or focus groups. The outside company then prepares a summary report. This is reported back to everyone in the organization for feedback, clarification, priority-setting, and action planning. Broader organizational issues are identified, and actions set for implementing those changes. This is reported back to everyone and part of an ongoing process.
  • Coach team members to enrich their jobs and align their personal strengths, passions, and organizational or job needs.
  • Engage frontline service providers in a systematic process of identifying changing customer expectations against your team or organization’s performance. Get their help in analyzing trends and planning to meet those shifting needs.
  • Hold regular breakfasts (“muffins with management”), lunches, and celebration dinners with frontline teams. Take this time to ask for feedback, concerns, and suggestions. A simple question such as: “What’s the dumbest thing we do around here?” can produce powerful insights and engage people in resolving the issues raised.
  • Keep highly visible scoreboards, big thermometers (like a fundraising campaign), bulletin boards, web sites, blog/Twitter posts, newsletters, and the like to update everyone on your progress toward key goals or change and improvement targets. Make goals/targets and progress as visible as possible.
  • To get partnering behavior, treat everyone like partners. Share financial and other “confidential” information openly so everyone can see how his or her efforts contribute.
  • Ask frontline service providers what systems and processes would better help them serve your customers. Get their involvement in prioritizing the areas to be changed and improving them.
  • Send personal thank you notes (on real notepaper, not by e-mail); make detours to offer a verbal “thanks again,” and make lots of supportive phone calls.
  • Use focus groups (a cross-section of frontline staff) to test new management directions before making grand announcements to everyone. Even if you press on against the advice of the focus groups, you’ll have deeper insight on how to face the issues the new direction may raise.
  • Promote those people who are exemplary leaders. Use 360 feedback and other input from a variety of people to get a profile on their leadership effectiveness. Promotions send the clearest signals about the true culture of an organization. Are you promoting your cultural standard barriers?

Resistance to change often frustrates managers. But most of us enjoy change — especially for the better. What we resist is being changed. Effective leaders “do it with” their team or organization rather than doing it to or for them.

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The Mediocre Leader – Pt.3

The world is full of mediocre leaders, and I am one of them.

But I don’t want to be mediocre, and I don’t believe I’m condemned to a life sentence of mediocrity. Most of all, if I have any compassion on those I lead, on those subjected to my middling skills, I have to get better.

In Part 1 of this article, I talked about how odd it is that we practice our leadership skills on those we lead. Unlike other high-skill professions (surgeons, speakers, pilots, musicians, etc.) that are practiced off-line, our expectations of our leaders are apparently so low that we allow them to practice while performing.

Is an Effective Leader Simply a Well-Practiced Leader?

Before I get completely hung up on the idea that a significant quantity of deliberate practice is all that’s required to make me an awesome leader, I am forced to consider that there is much debate around Ericsson’s work. The debate doesn’t challenge the value of deliberate practice, or even the 10,000-hour marker. Rather, it suggests that inherent, non-trainable traits differentiate the best from the rest – such as height and bone structure in sports.

This debate makes sense to me, and completely I agree that effective leadership requires more than just deliberate practice. However, unlike height and bone structure, the traits that differentiate the best leaders from average leaders ARE trainable. In my experience, these differentiators are a leader’s principles – the leader’s beliefs about herself, about others, and about how things operate in world at large.

Much has been published regarding leadership principles by Ray Dalio, John Maxwell, Simon Sinek, Patrick Lencioni, Brené Brown and many others. Desiring to improve their “leadership game”, many leaders (including me) voraciously consume this literature. We learn from, and are second-hand mentored by, these strongly-principled leaders, and we slowly change our bone structure – our differentiating traits.

Principled and Practiced

But, to be effective, a leader must be both principled and practiced. And while I’m very much looking forward to my next shipment of principle-focused books from Amazon, I just can’t help but be disappointed with my lack of attention to deliberate practice.

To create opportunities for deliberate practice of leadership skills, LevellingUp was formed.  At Levelling Up, we help growing leaders quickly become exceptional leaders by connecting them with expert mentors & coaches.

Visit us at www.LevellingUp.ca

The experts you want.  The skills you need.

 

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Smiling is Contagious. Try it!

It has been a spring that many will say there was nothing to smile about. It was cold, rainy and dark. From all the rain we have beautiful green lawns and flowers starting to bloom. Again there are many people in parts of the world that are not smiling with all the rain causing flooding and destruction. I wanted to take this opportunity to write about smiling and how contagious it may be in our workplace and for our clients.

Some people are always smiling, cheerful, and they seem to brighten up a room. Their positive attitude and gusto are identified by those they come in contact with. Moreover, we have all encountered those have the opposite effect on people-the “doom and gloom effect.” we often refer to one’s attitude and yet what is that? It is your mental state or the position you take regarding life.

Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”  If you take the word “OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE,” some people see the “no where” while others see “now here.” So is the glass half empty or half full? Often the difference between success and failure is not linked to how we look, how we dress, or how much education we have; it is based on how we think!

Great leaders share the same thought; knowing that a positive attitude is contagious. As leaders, it is vital that we display a positive mindset daily. After all, if we expect our employees to express positive attitudes, we should model such behaviours for them to see.

Each day we have a choice of whether we elect to display a positive or negative attitude. Daily, we encounter negative attitudes at work and in our personal lives. If you remain positive amongst pessimism, you can be contagious.

Some times it is not that easy. I have found some tips I would like to share to help you be positive from “Attitudes are Contagious. Is Yours Worth Catching” by Patti Wanamaker.

  • Be enthusiastic – people love to be around enthusiastic people. Enthusiasm is contagious and draws others to you like a magnet.
  • Associate with positive people – if you want to stay positive, stay away from people that drag you down. Associate yourself around like-minded people.
  • Smile – smiling makes it all better. Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin, which are known as the feel-good hormones. It is a lot easier to adopt a positive attitude when you feel good!
  • Change your thoughts – positive thoughts lead to a positive attitude, while negative thoughts lead to an adverse reaction.
  • Stop complaining – limit your complaints. Whining and griping about anything and everything will not create a positive attitude. When you are complaining, you are spreading negativity.

·        If you want more success in your leadership role and to have a positive impact on your employees, then make sure your attitude is worth catching.

Many of you are thinking, what is there to smile about, and why maintain a positive attitude when there are doom and gloom around us? Research has shown that there are health benefits of smiling in the workplace. We are dealing with conflict, mental health issues and have difficult situations arising every day as we manage our workplace. Interestingly many years ago, it was declared that “the smile is the best medicine for the happiness of humanity.” Later scientific research explained the effects and physiological benefits of smiling for a healthier life. Smiling can be beneficial, in dealing with illness, pressures of everyday life, stress at work, and smiling can even substantially change the quality and forecasts of our lives.

Would life not be better if people smile regularly? I think smiling every day would keep you away from the doctor and feeling self-confident. Try these:

  • By smiling, we can reduce the level of stress hormones. Smiling helps us to increase the number of antibody-producing cells and improve the effectiveness of other cells.
  • Smiling is good for our general health. Smiling 100 times is equivalent to ten minutes of rowing or cycling in fifteen minutes.
  • Sometimes we just want to laugh or cry. That means you want to release all the pent feelings in your head, making you feel both physically and mentally better. So to reduce anxiety smile often, even when you are not happy. Smiling at others will, in turn, help them be happy.
  • Smiling can take you from being angry, stressed, feeling guilty, and negative to putting you in a more favourable frame of mind. Smiling will make you change yourself and improve the attitudes and thinking to other people to the better.
  • When people can view an event that may be frightening as funny, they may be able to feel more content and see the events occurred just merely as a “challenge” in life, rather than a threat.

There are times when smiling, and laughter can be contagious. If you smile more than you can make other people around you also smile more. So by smiling yourself, you can reduce the stress levels of people around you and change their moods. Maybe even improve the quality of social interaction, and reduce your stress level as well.

They say that optimists have a stronger immune system and can fight disease better than the pessimists. There is a link between a positive attitude and good health, which is measured in many different ways. In general, researchers have discovered that optimistic people are more healthy, and they have a stronger immune system.

According to the British Organization of Dental Health, a smile has the level of stimulation as eating 2000 chocolate bars.

A smile does not cost you a cent, and it is easy to spread. A recent study showed that preschool children laugh 400 times a day, but the time we reach adulthood, we just laugh an average of 17 times per day.

So take the challenge and smile more often and find things in your lives that you can laugh about.

Stay great and healthy.

 

Monika B. Jensen PhD is Principal of the Aviary Group and can be contacted by email at [email protected]

 

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The Mediocre Leader – Pt.2

The world is full of mediocre leaders, and I am one of them.

But I don’t want to be mediocre, and I don’t believe I’m condemned to a life sentence of mediocrity. Most of all, if I have any compassion on those I lead, on those subjected to my middling skills, I have to get better.

In Part 1 of this article, I talked about how odd it is that we practice our leadership skills on those we lead. Unlike other high-skill professions (surgeons, speakers, pilots, musicians, etc.) that are practiced off-line, our expectations of our leaders are apparently so low that we allow them to practice while performing.

Not all Practice is Good Practice

In his groundbreaking 1993 paper “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance”, cognitive psychologist Anders Ericsson explains “many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of [deliberate] practice”.

According to Ericsson, deliberate practice includes:

“A constant sense of self-evaluation, of focusing on one’s weaknesses, rather than simply fooling around and playing to one’s strengths. Studies show that practice aimed at remedying weaknesses is a better predictor of expertise than raw number of hours; playing for fun and repeating what you already know is not necessarily the same as efficiently reaching a new level. Most of the practicing that most people do, most of the time… yields almost no effect.”

You may have heard about Daniel Letiv and Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule – that a key prerequisite to mastery in any skill domain is 10,000 hours of practice. I quote Letiv contemplating that the 10,000-hour rule “doesn’t address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do”. Not only does Ericsson answer this with “deliberate practice”, but his research also lands on the 10,000-hour figure as a pre-requisite for mastery.

If 10,000 hours (or 5 years of 8 hours of practice 5 days a week) scares the pants off you, it has been established that 10,000 hours is insufficient in the most highly competitive fields such as the Olympics. Performances that were record-setting twenty years ago are now achieved in training by many competitive athletes! Or, maybe looking at this from a more reassuring angle, in pursuits where the bar is set low (like leadership?), significantly fewer than 10,000 hours are required to become outstanding. After all, the U.S. had 1 Olympic athlete in Rio for every 583,213 Americans – as compared to 1 people manager for every 4.7 employees.

As a musician and an athlete, I willingly adopt the discipline of focusing on weaknesses, and that (as Ericsson puts it) getting better “requires effort and is not inherently enjoyable”. However, in the realm of leadership, I don’t think I’ve ever invested in any deliberate, effort-laden, not-inherently-enjoyable practice. Given that I spend WAY more time leading people than I do in athletic competition and/or music performance, I profess this lack of investment doesn’t make sense.

Sure, I’ve spent over fifteen years – or 30,000 hours – of my career in positions of formal leadership and am therefore “highly experienced”. However, I grudgingly admit most of these practice hours match Ericsson’s description of “playing for fun and repeating what you already know” and will therefore “yield almost no effect”.

 

But practice obviously isn’t the only thing that allows leaders to achieve mastery – and we will talk more about that in part three of this series.

At Levelling Up, we help growing leaders quickly become exceptional leaders by connecting them with expert mentors & coaches.

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The Mediocre Leader

The world is full of mediocre leaders, and I am one of them.

But I don’t want to be mediocre, and I don’t believe I’m condemned to a life sentence of mediocrity. Most of all, if I have any compassion on those I lead, on those subjected to my middling skills, I have to get better.

 

Practicing While Performing is Really Stupid

As a people leader, I’m not sure I have ever been asked or expected to go off-line and out-of-sight to work on my leadership skills. Sure, I’ve been “trained” in the art of people leadership/management via various courses, books, podcasts, blogs, mentors and the like. But the action plan always appears to parallel the classic Nike slogan: just do it.

Interestingly enough, we accept that many pursuits require significant time invested in off-line practice and closely monitored exercises prior to independent performance. This includes:

  • surgeons
  • pilots
  • hostage negotiators
  • public speakers
  • race car drivers
  • actors, athletes
  • artists
  • engineers
  • musicians
  • teachers
  • …and the list goes on

Consider just one example from this list. A public speaker that presents a TED Talk may have a preparation-to-performance ratio of 50:1 or more. That is, for a 10-minute talk, the speaker prepared with 8 hours of speech writing, memorizing, rehearsing and visualizing. In preparing for her TED Talk – a 20-minute Talk that has received over 21 million views – Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor rehearsed her speech over 200 times. Doing the math, she spent at least 67 hours rehearsing a 20-minute talk – on top of the time she spent writing and memorizing.

Why is it that people leadership is treated differently than other pursuits? Is it because the bar for leadership is so low? After all, the position of formal people leadership in the workplace is so common that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is 1 people manager for every 4.7 employees. And even more common is the informal leadership that nearly all of us assume throughout or lives – either in our homes, in our extracurricular pursuits, or with our friends.

In the corporate realm of formal people leadership, it is my experience that systems and processes provide so much support that most leaders need call on their leadership skills only infrequently. That is, we are actually prevented from truly leading by systems that assume our leadership skills are insufficient. And since we as leaders apparently only practice our leadership skills on those we lead, why should we create a world that expects otherwise?

In my next post, I will talk about how we ensure that our practice is effective. In the meantime, drop a comment below and let me know what you think!

At Levelling Up, we help growing leaders quickly become exceptional leaders by connecting them with expert mentors & coaches.

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Five Ways to Celebrate Your Women Leaders (or – What a Girl Wants)

The International Women’s Day 2019 campaign theme is #BalanceforBetter, a call for action that asks employers around the world to take a new and closer look at how their employee culture celebrates success and nurtures leadership in the women in their employ.

What is #BalanceforBetter all about?

This year’s campaign is focused in on, as you probably guessed, gender “balance,” with the aim of having success become balanced across gender lines.

“Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage …

Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.”

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme

How balanced are we now?

The good news, is that we’re doing better and better. Here’s some encouraging pieces of information:

  1. In the wake of an Ontario Municipal Election that saw an increase in women running (27% of candidates) AND elected to council seats, we have a measurable achievement toward balance that is worth celebrating!
  2. The even better news is that Municipal government can bring women and their voices to the table in other powerful ways – both by applying a gender lens to community engagement and by looking within at how we engage and support our female employees.
  3. The best news of all is that 84% of respondents said that their company supports women in leadership, and the same percentage say their company culture allows women to succeed.

Let’s talk about #3 for a second.

Women are reporting that their company supports and allows women to succeed, but the reality is still that significantly more men are sitting in powerful leadership positions than are women; Just 8.5% of the highest-paid positions in Canada’s top 100 listed companies are held by women. So what’s going on?

At the core, the problem is this: we’re expecting women to act like men in the workforce.

Organizations have a hard time recognizing leadership potential in women, women play full-out to “not fail” as opposed to “winning” and often express dissenting views in more diplomatic and therefore less impactful ways.

What a girl wants

As leaders in our communities, municipal offices have the opportunity (and responsibility) to set the standard for supporting women in leadership.

So what do women want? Luckily, we already know!

A 2017 KPMG study asked women to rate the most important aspects of supporting and preparing women to pursue leadership roles. Here’s what their top 5 results were:

  • leadership training (57%)
  • confidence-building (56%)
  • decision-making (48%)
  • networking (47%)
  • critical-thinking (46%)

In KPMG’s 2019 study, women leaders were asked what they most needed from their employers:

  • More training opportunities (41 percent)
  • Encouraging mentorship (33 percent)
  • More flexibility for employees to be able to take risks (28 percent)

Our key takeaway from these studies?

Leadership and confidence development are the missing elements that can hold women back from seeking and securing advancement.

So where do we start?

Many organizations have done away with generic gifts such as that set of four glasses, logo etched desk items or the standardized framed photo in favour of personalized “Thank You’s” based on the interests of the recipient. Employees, in turn, feel more respected and valued when they receive something that they actually want.

So how can we identify the best recognition ‘gift’ for those willing to take on additional responsibilities or a new role?

KPMG just told us.

In the spirit of #BalanceforBetter, here are 5 fabulous, empowering ways to celebrate your women leaders!

1.  Review what you do to promote your female staff members from within.

Organizations around the world are struggling with this key metric of success: leadership development. A good place to start is by looking inside your municipality for those people with the top factors in leadership potential—those traits or attributes that make them the best people for the job.

According to Egon Zehnder, the first factor is having the right motivation: a commitment to working as a team to move the municipality forward. The other 5 predictors are:

  • Curiosity
  • Insight
  • Engagement
  • Determination
  • Inclusiveness

It can be easy to get distracted from focusing on leadership potential, and instead to promote people who have been there the longest, who work the hardest, or who are daring enough to ask for it. These things make a great employee, but not necessarily a great leader.

Personalize this gift:

Develop an individualized plan of personal and professional development for those you identify that are strong in 3 or more of those factors.

This can be as formal as a path or growth map developed in your HR system, that measures results orientation, strategic orientation, collaboration and influence, team leadership, developing organizational capabilities, change leadership, and market understanding. 

Or, it may be as informal as consciously bringing those candidates into discussion (“We are playing with this idea and would love your feedback.”), or sharing opportunities more proactively (“This training is available and I think it would be very rewarding for you.”).

2. Help your women achieve the mindset and communication and leadership skills that allow them to advance with confidence and resilience.

Consistently, we have seen that women need to evolve their own leadership style and develop skills that support their advancement. The reality is that this is true of men, too, we just do a better job of supporting and validating their natural leadership style.

Women often have a harder time advocating for themselves and asking for their voice to be heard. They’re more likely to want to hear what everyone else has to say, and to want to find and create solutions that feel like a positive and effective compromise.

To help them to nurture their strengths, and build new ones, municipalities can provide powerful leadership trainings. In doing so, we’re not only helping our leaders develop stronger leadership skills, we’re subtly telling women that we value and respect their unique leadership styles.

Personalize this gift: 

Offer training in a range of key leadership and communication skills – so that women can increase their ability to be heard, express and defend their opinions, and make an impact.

3. Bring confidence-building workshops into the workplace through lunch-and-learns

Workshops or lunch-and-learns allow your people to grow where they are, alongside their co-workers, so that integrating these new skills into the workplace is more natural and comfortable. This can also allow you to establish better opportunities for networking and discussion among employees, and create a general shift in workplace culture.

Personalize this gift:

Build in some connection time so that women can explore and develop their understanding, build relationships and practice selling their ideas in a small group, lower stakes environment.

4. Institute formal mentoring, coaching and support systems

By formalizing a system of mentorship, mentoring becomes not only accepted, but expected. This could include assigning a mentor to an up-and-coming woman leader, building mentoring into the work schedule and designating an office or meeting space for mentoring.

In this way, not only can experience and history be shared, but through mentorship, we are able to reduce the fear of failure, combat Imposter Syndrome, and add perspective to the risk-taking that is inherent to advancement. These are all big ticket issues for many women wishing they could take on a bigger, more impactful role.

Personalize the gift:

Do some match-making to select the right mentor and train both mentor and mentee to understand how this relationship works. You may even want to facilitate a mastermind in your workplace or in your community.

5. Schedule in recognition and celebration

All this isn’t to say that recognition and thank yous are passé or somehow no longer of value! It’s absolutely still a powerful way of supporting your employees. If you don’t already have a system for recognizing your employees’ success and victories, consider scheduling in celebrations of your women leader’s achievements through your intranet or internal newsletter and at meetings.

Personalize this gift:

Work to identify key qualities, actions and attitudes that led to that success to inform and inspire the leader herself, as well as others who look to her as a role model. The more specific and clear we make our praise, the more valuable and inspiring it is.

Don’t forget…

Just as we all benefit from gender balance, so can both genders benefit from these suggestions. Men and women alike flourish in the context of appropriate promotions backed by training, mentorship, and recognition.

As we strive for #BalanceforBetter, everyone benefits.

(And, of course, you can still have cake on International Women’s Day!)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Guest Author: Cher Cunningham

Cher is a Leadership Confidence Coach who helps individuals transition into leadership roles by banishing anxiety, building confidence and resilience, and through communications, media, and presentation skills training. She offers a range of Workshops, Virtual Lunch and Learns, Speaking Engagements and group or 1:1 Leadership Confidence Coaching.

Find out more about how Cher supports women leaders at http://chercunningham.com.

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Hardiness and Resilience: When Giving In Can Give Us a Lift

Resistance versus resiliance

When you experience failure, loss, or a serious setback do you see it as temporary or permanent? Is failure an event or who you are? Is it a learning or crushing experience? Does it traumatize you or become a springboard for growth?

Confucius said, “our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” That’s the thinking behind Japan’s Daruma Doll, a good luck charm with a rounded bottom. When knocked down, it bounces right back upright.

We tend to think of unwavering steadfastness and never-say-die persistence as important leadership qualities. To a point, they are. But resilience in the face of the hurricane-force winds of change is as often about being flexible like a palm tree rather than unbending like an oak.

Like so much of life, it’s about balance. W.C. Fields was on to something about resilience when he quipped, “If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” Sometimes the wisest thing to do is to let it storm, find shelter, and look for an alternate route to our dream. Maybe it wasn’t even the right dream; we may need to accept what the universe is trying to tell us and reset our destination.

Psychologists Gregory Miller and Carsten Wrosch contrasted and studied people who are relentless and unbending and people who accept and flex with life’s twists and turns. They found that flexible people were much healthier than their steadfast counterparts. Stress levels were quite a bit lower, and a protein indicating bodily inflammation linked to diabetes and heart disease was much lower. The flexible, resilient group was able to bounce back more effectively from serious defeats, less likely to dwell on the past, set new goals, and get on with their lives.

Professor, social psychologist, and positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, has found,

“resilient people are the ones who bend without breaking and who eventually bounce back from even the most difficult life challenges. Instinctually, they can see some form of light in the darkness they face. In study after study, my collaborators and I find that it is precisely this infusion of positive emotions into negative emotional terrain that drives resilient people to bounce back.”

How we use the F-word (failure) has a major impact on our personal, team, and organizational effectiveness. Failures are inevitable. Suffering is optional.

_________________________________________________________

For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles, and blog have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Clemmer Group is the Canadian strategic partner of Zenger Folkman, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations.

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Position versus Persuasion Power

Joel’s a high IQ manager with strong analytical skills coming from a deep technical background. He hates meetings (“they get in the way of real work”) and resents having to sell changes or get people on side. “I don’t care if they like me,” he’s fond of saying, “I only want their respect and implementation.” He likes nothing better than solving tough technical problems with practical, well-designed solutions. He runs his organization “by the numbers.” He focuses on continuously improving existing processes and technologies. He sets high targets and relentlessly drives everyone to meet them.

Joel’s always the smartest person in the room (at least in his mind). Irrational, emotional behavior drives him nuts. He often dismisses contrary points of view with comments like, “That’s only their perception, that’s not reality.” He then proceeds to prove “reality” with facts, rational arguments, and analysis.

Joel believes that most people see their work as a four-letter word and must be tightly controlled, threatened, or bribed before they’ll work hard enough. He prides himself on being a tough manager who rolls up his sleeves and digs deep into operational details. He exercises tight control with policies, directives, and rules. His mood swings cause the team’s emotional tone to wildly gyrate from high to low with much time being spent figuring out how to read him and avoid his wrath. Joel’s main tools for influencing behavior on his team are threats, punishments, and “shooting down people who haven’t done their homework.”

Denise balances a concern for people (high EQ) with a strong technical background. She realized some time ago that leadership work often happens in meetings. So, she has trained and worked hard at developing her facilitation and team leadership skills.

Denise sees possibilities in people. She believes that people want to take pride in their work and be part of a winning team. She’s learned that motivation or morale problems are often rooted in leaders failing to engage people in the broader ideals of the organization. As more people search for meaning in their lives and in their work, this disconnect creates much of the frustration and lack of purpose found in so many workplaces today. Denise works hard at connecting people to her organization’s vision, values, and purpose. Denise’s high energy and optimistic attitude sets a strong and positive emotional tone throughout her organization. People are inspired to face tough problems with confidence and teamwork.

Denise uses a collaborative approach to partner with people. She sees people as adults who are generally self-managing (with some exceptions). Joel treats them like kids to be managed “with a firm hand” (with some exceptions). Denise cares about people. Joel dehumanizes and objectifies them. Denise uses the power of persuasion (leadership) to get things done. Joel uses position power (management). Denise builds a cause and case for change, appealing to the head and heart to get buy-in. Joel tries to overcome resistance to change with facts and force; like someone traveling in a foreign country who can’t speak the local language, he’ll just talk louder to be understood.

Denise shares as much information as she can and builds strong multi-channel and multi-directional communication loops. Joel gives people information on a need-to-know basis; he only “empowers” people as a motivational technique to manipulate people to do what he wants. Denise partners with people so they feel naturally empowered to reach their mutual goals.

We see plenty of Joel’s — and not nearly enough Denise’s. Their differences are obvious enough.

Whom would you rather work for?
Who is the stronger leader?
Who is likely to get the best results?
Would your team consider you to be most like Joel or Denise?
How do you know…?

 

_________________________________________________________

For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles, and blog have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Clemmer Group is the Canadian strategic partner of Zenger Folkman, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations.

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Blunders managers often encounter when attempting to resolve workplace disputes

In today’s workplace employee conflicts may and do happen. Sometimes they begin as simple matters which escalate into significant issues in the workplace causing lower performance and productivity resulting in lack of communication, misunderstanding of the intent, personality clashes or different perceptions and values.  

 

It is vital to deal with employee conflict, whether minor or significant, in a timely fashion to preserve a positive, healthy work environment and to evade any increase or collateral damage among work teams and others departments. 

 

We are finding that managers often do not respond accordingly to the issues of conflict in the workplace. In many cases, it is for lack of experience, fear of retaliation against them, insufficient training and lack of confidence. Sometimes they find it easier to avoid and ignore then tackle the sensitive issues.   

 

When issues are not dealt with quickly and efficiently in the workplace, they tend to fester and develop in magnitude. When an employer has contacted me, the situation usually has been growing underground, so to speak, for some months before it explodes in either the HR office or before the managers. Typically, at this point, the problem is more complicated, involves more staff and takes more effort and time to resolve. At times it may even undermine the staff’s confidence in the manager’s ability to manage. 

 

Some common behaviours of supervisors and managers which may have a negative impact on the managing of workplace disputes effectively would be ignoring the situation until it is about to “burst”.  

 

When managers disregard challenging situations, when they do come to the surface, they require immediate and urgent action usually at a very inconvenient time to resolve. Some managers tend to overlook an awkward situation altogether until the case is ready to blow up. Then they need to take immediate action to try to deal with it, and this almost always occurs at an inconvenient time, like on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend. Putting your management head in the sand will not make the problem go away, it will only make it worst. Taking action early in the workplace dispute development is usually the best solution, with the most excellent chance of success. 

 

Not dealing with a conflict that is escalating quickly, many managers found themselves frustrated and overwhelmed which could add fuel to the case, potentially affecting the decision-making process and the capability to contain and resolve the situation comprehensively.

 

Another mistake a manager may make is letting the office politics interfere with resolving the conflict. When office politics interfere with the steps of the solution, staff in the workplace goes camping. Taking sides of either the complainant or the respondent. The team that tries to remain neutral (sitting on the fence) only suffer the ongoing bickering of the two parties.

 

The way that employees perceive situations in the workplace are essential to resolving the conflicts in the actions to be taken. A biased move (recognized or not) on the managers part may result in more battles and create permanent barriers in the workplace.  

 

The objective of workplace dispute resolution in the first place is to come to an agreement or solution that is practical and realistic for all parties. So it may mean there is a requirement for conciliation to move forward to resolution by the manager.  

 

Taking a page out of Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” book and initially “seek to understand then be understood”.  

 

Sitting down with the employees, listening actively to what they are disturbed about, gathering all the information from both sides and only then attempting to craft a clear picture of what is going on, why and what the options might be regarding resolving or improving things for those caught up in the conflict.  

 

The bottom line is that disputes and conflict in the workplace are not stoppable. Anticipating how to approach these workplace situations beforehand, may put you in a position to be ready to take action when they occur.

 

Monika B. Jensen PhD
TEL: 905-683-9953

WEBSITE: www.aviarygroup.ca
PRINCIPAL
FAX: 905-683-9912

 

 

 

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Succession Planning: From Piecemeal Programs to Integrated Strategy

Succession planning steps

Studies show a growing sense of urgency for succession planning. One survey found 92% of respondents felt it was risky not to have a succession plan for key employees but only 25% of companies feel they’ve identified adequate successor candidates and less than half have a process for developing candidates. Other research shows 70% of executives think their organization lacks adequate bench strength while nearly 75% of senior managers will retire by 2020. An HR software study reported that over 90% of millennials say working at a company with a clear succession plan would “improve” their level of engagement. Another report found that promoting internal leaders has a success rate of 70-80% while the rate for external leadership hires drops to 50% — about the same as flipping a coin.

Many organizations recognize the critical need for succession planning. But the way they’re approaching this talent development challenge is with piecemeal programs. Too often internal support specialists such as HR, OD, or Talent Management professionals manage the program. They focus on tools like the 9 box grid, competency models, and organization charts. These tools are highly useful. But they’re severely limited when they’re bolted on the side of the senior leadership team’s crazy-busy agenda.

In high-performing organizations, tools and approaches like succession planning are owned and driven by the senior leadership team. They understand that implementation of their strategies and plans are highly dependent on culture development. Talent and leadership development are a vital strategic issue as vigorously managed as sales, marketing, operations, or finance.

Executives often check out (and start checking their email) when a deck of slides is read to them on succession planning tools, models, and processes. But if the senior leadership team is engaged in rich discussions on what their succession issues are and how to address them, they’ll quickly shift from passive approvers of their support staff’s plans to active leaders and drivers of the process. This becomes even more effective when senior leaders link succession planning to their strategy and culture.

Here are key steps for bringing a senior leadership team into alignment in moving succession planning from bolt-on programs to a built-in strategic process:

  1. Establish foundational frameworks for leadership/culture development grounded in research.  Examples: Excellence/culture models, Performance Balance, or 5 Steps to High-Performance Culture.
  2. Agree on a shared vision of your desired culture.
  3. Set/refresh the three or four core values anchoring your desired culture.
  4. Define the behaviors that model each core value and the negative behaviors that create eye-rolling “yeah, right” reactions to each core value. The clearest signal of an organizations lived (versus espoused) values is who gets promoted for what behaviors.
  5. Use a safe and anonymous process to identify moose-on-the-table (or elephants in the room) and what must be dealt with to move toward your desired culture.
  6. Agree on three or four Strategic Imperatives to address your “moose issues” and build an implementation plan for your desired culture. Set up teams for each Strategic Imperative with ownership/accountability, charter/mandate, and timelines.
  7. Decide on core succession planning tools such as 9 box framework, a competency model for hiring, promoting, and development, high potential programs, software, talent pools, etc.

What’s critical to this approach is managing group dynamics, meeting flow, and discussion process. A skilled, external facilitator with a toolkit of group processes, exercises, and applications has a huge impact on the success of planning sessions like this.

In their Harvard Business Review article, “Developing Your Leadership Pipeline,” Jay Conger and Robert Fulmer report that high-performing organizations marry succession planning with leadership development. “At the foundation of a shift toward succession management is a belief that leadership talent directly affects organizational performance. This belief sets up a mandate for the organization: attracting and retaining talented leaders.”

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