The Biggest Mistake I See New Managers Make

When I became a manager, I made the same mistake myself. It’s the most common mistake that I see many first-time managers make. It’s a mistake that causes so much anxiety and stress in their lives, and it can be avoided. It’s a mistake that’s easy to make, but not so easy to fix.

I call it “The Expert Syndrome”. Let me explain…

In my case, my expertise got me noticed and got me promoted to a management position. I was on cloud nine. I was feeling euphoric. That’s when it hit me. My staff were not as “expert” as me. As a result, I unwittingly communicated to them that I was smarter, more experienced and certainly more effective at their work than they were.

This attitude of mine caused a very interesting dynamic to occur. They would bring me their work, and their problems to solve. I later discovered there was a name for this…upwards delegation! I found my in-tray and inbox overflowing with work that was certainly not managerial. The biggest issue I faced was that I loved the challenge, I loved being the expert!

I had to find a way to let go of the need to solve all their problems. That’s when my mentor showed up. He was an experienced manager, and quite successful too. He asked me to describe my role as a manager. As I reached for the job description that HR had given me, he stopped me in my tracks. “You don’t need that” he proclaimed. “Just tell me in your own words what your role as a manager is, and make it brief!”

I was stuck. You see, I thought that the role of a manager was complex and multi-layered. Too difficult to explain in just a few words. He left me to ponder on it for a few days. When we met again, I was still struggling to come up with a clear definition of the role of a manager. My mentor was not about to let me off the hook. He knew I was struggling, but he felt the struggle was natural and would pay off in the end. He left behind a little booklet titled “Servant Leadership” and suggested I read it.

That little booklet set me off on a journey that continues to this day. At times, it’s been a somewhat crazy yet exhilarating journey. I’ve now reached a point on that journey where I can explain the role of a manager in a few words, here they are:

Your Role As A Manager Is To Help Other People Succeed

Now I know, with all the articles, books, courses, online content on management and leadership out there, that this definition may seem to be overly simplistic to many of you reading this. I understand. It’s my definition, unique to me. It works extremely well for me. It may or may not work for you. I get that.

I learned along the way that all the management and leadership competencies (and there are many!) I needed to master could be summed up in what I call The Management Trilogy:

  • Daily Management – Leading with Values
  • Crisis Management – Leading with Valor
  • Strategic Management – Leading with Vision

You need to help others succeed in these three areas. When they succeed, you succeed.

To learn more about The Management Trilogy, subscribe to our free four-part online course at Management4m.com

 

Share

Leadership Skills: You Can’t Become a Leader By Attending Courses on Leadership

 

Every successful leader I know learned to be a leader, not by attending classes on leadership, but by “being” a leader. When I look back on the successful leaders I personally know, and examine those larger than life leaders in history and business, a number of striking similarities emerge:

  1. They were hell-bent on achieving an ambitious goal. This was their primary motivation.
  2. They learned primarily, not from leadership models developed by leadership “experts”, but from real-life role models whom they admired.
  3. They sought out trusted mentors who were not afraid to ask them the tough questions when they hit the inevitable roadblocks on the way to achieving their ambitious goal.
  4. They mastered the relational, networking and communication skills needed to attract and retain the resources and talent that would help them achieve their ambitious goal.

I call the above the 4Ms:

  • Motivators
  • Models
  • Mentors
  • Mastery

I know many people who are leadership development professionals. I have the utmost respect for them. Yet every one of them I know will attest to the fact that despite billions of dollars spent annually on leadership development, effective leaders are still in very short supply. And the same leadership development professionals will tell you that the demand for inspiring, transformational leaders in their organizations is huge. I believe that people in organizations are disengaged for this reason alone.

Why is this? My own take on this is that leadership is a decision, not a position. By that I mean, if you really want to be a leader you need to make a decision to go after an ambitious goal. Too many people in leadership positions, especially senior ones, avoid this because their career and pay-check are guaranteed to them regardless of what they achieve. If a CEO decides to play it safe, then that decision has a trickle-down effect in their organization where everyone in a leadership position plays it safe. I’m not advocating reckless goal setting, but I am suggesting setting the bar high to begin with.

You start your journey to becoming a great leader by getting motivated to achieve an AMBITIOUS goal, not by attending more leadership development courses. Leadership skill-building and courses are important only after you make the decision to lead by setting an AMBITIOUS goal. If you are having trouble setting a truly ambitious or big goal, here are some real-world examples (some are missions/visions, some are strategic goals):

  • President John F. Kennedy: This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.
  • Susan G. Komen® for the Cure: A world without breast cancer.
  • Novo Nordisk: To prevent, treat and ultimately cure diabetes.
  • FedEx: The World on Time.
  • Disney: We Make People Happy
  • Mattel: To be the premier toy brands — today and tomorrow.
  • Amazon: To build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
  • SpaceX: Enable human exploration and settlement of Mars.
  • AIESEC: Engage and develop every young person in the world.
  • Google: Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
  • Microsoft: A computer on every desk and in every home.
  • Habitat for Humanity: A world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live.
  • SolarAid: Eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa by 2020 through the creation of a sustainable market for solar lights.
  • Zappos: To provide the best customer service possible.

Leadership is a decision, not a position or title. So you first have to make a decision to lead others towards a worthwhile goal.  After that, by all means, attend courses on leadership that will help you develop the skills and insights necessary to lead effectively.

 

About the Author

Brian Ward is co-founder and CEO of Affinity Consulting and Training. Based in Edmonton, Alberta he provides leadership and management development to organizations in the private and public sectors throughout Canada.

Receive a free downloadable copy of his book Lead People…Manage Things: Master The Five Key Facets of High-Performance Leadership when you subscribe to his weekly newsletter Monday Morning Mentor.

 

Share

The Five Key Facets of High Performance Leadership

What makes a good or even a great leader?
Many people in leadership positions struggle with understanding what makes a good or even great leader. While billions of dollars are spent annually on leadership development, quality leadership is still in short supply.

Organizations have responded to the demand for effective leadership with a steady stream of education and training resources, which seem to be plentiful, (for example, at the time of writing, Amazon.com had over 9,000 references on leadership), yet most attempts at building high-performance leadership are either far too complex or too simplistic to be of any practical use to leaders who need to make things happen. So what does work?

While successful organizations focus on three imperatives: aligning strategy & people; developing world-class leaders; and building world-class teams, when we look at what successful leaders personally do to succeed, we find that they concentrate on building their capacity around what we call five key facets of leadership:

Focus – Authenticity – Courage – Empathy – Timing

Focus

Effective leaders stay focused on the outcomes they wish to create and don’t get too married to the methods used to achieve them. They provide this ‘outcomes focus’ for their organization by emphasizing the mission, vision, values and strategic goals of their organization and at the same time building the capacity of their organizations to achieve them.

This capacity-building emphasizes the need to be flexible, creative and innovative and avoid becoming fossilized through the adoption of bureaucratic structures, policies, and processes. It also means letting go of lines of business, products, and programs that don’t support the focus.

Authenticity

Leaders who are authentic attract followers, even leaders who are viewed as being highly driven and often difficult to work for. Simply put, they are viewed as always being themselves.and therefore followers know what to expect from them and can rely on them, come thick or thin.

Authenticity provides the leader with the currency to obtain ‘buy-in’ from key stakeholders, because it builds and maintains trust. Authenticity is the bedrock upon which the other facets are built.

Courage

The challenges facing leaders today are immense and require great courage to overcome. Leaders are constantly being challenged by others, be it their own team, customers, the public or stakeholders. Standing firm in the face of criticism, yet having the courage to admit when they are wrong, are hallmarks of courageous leaders.

Also, shifting an organization from being introspective to becoming customer-focused requires courage when people pay lip service to the new direction…it means calling people on their bluff.

Empathy

Effective leaders know how to listen empathetically. thus legitimizing others’ input. By doing so, they promote consensus building and build strong teams. They coach others to do the same, and so create a culture of inclusiveness. They tend to be great listeners who capitalize on the ideas of others and provide recognition for these ideas, yet they don’t get bogged down in overly complicated dialogue.

While they create learning organizations that place a high value on dialogue and continuous feedback, they know when to take action, when to ‘fish or cut bait’, which brings us on to the fifth facet…

Timing

The one facet that can make or break a leader is in knowing when to make critical decisions and when not to. All of the other facets must be viewed as subservient to getting the timing of critical decisions and actions right. There is a need to be focused, authentic, courageous and empathetic, but get the timing wrong on critical decisions and everything else stands to be nullified.

Great leaders move with appropriate speed. They don’t believe that everything must be done immediately…they know how to prioritize, and how to get their team to prioritize. As well, they engage in timely follow-through to ensure actions that are committed to happen in a well-coordinated and timely way.

Is that all it takes to be a great leader? These facets of high-performance leadership are not exhaustive. Just as one would look at the facets of a diamond, upon closer observation other facets become observable.

Any person can aspire to be a great leader by starting with these facets. If you are in a leadership role, regardless of your position in your organization, start by asking yourself the following key questions:

Key Questions
1. How focused am I? How much of my time do I spend communicating and inspiring people about our mission, vision and strategic goals? How much focus do I create in my organization? How married am I/my organization to methods that have outlived their usefulness?

2. Am I viewed as authentic? Do people see and hear the real me? Do I wear a mask at work, and remove it when I leave each evening?

3. How courageous am I when my values, vision, and goals are challenged? Do I stand firm and only change my position when I know that I am wrong?

4. How empathetic am I? Too much/too little? Do I create enough opportunities for open and candid dialogue? Do I ever find myself getting bogged down in consensus building, or leading my team to false consensus? Is there a feeling of inclusiveness and engagement amongst the members of my organization, and with other stakeholders, including customers?

5. Do I make and execute decisions in a timely fashion? Do I know when to ‘fish or cut bait?’ – do I demand well-coordinated and timely execution of strategy from others?

What can you do to create a high-performance leadership culture? Asking these questions in a candid way will open up many possibilities for you, your organization or your clients…if you have the courage to do it. Building and sustaining a high-performance leadership culture takes time, patience and a clear focus on the vital few characteristics that leaders can develop naturally and authentically.

Listening to what people expect from you as a leader, and then responding empathically, in a timely fashion, will move you dramatically towards mastering these five key facets of high-performance leadership.

Above all, you need to TAKE ACTION.

 

About the Author

Brian Ward is co-founder and CEO of Affinity Consulting and Training. Based in Edmonton, Alberta he provides leadership and management development to organizations in the private and public sectors throughout Canada.

Receive a free downloadable copy of his book Lead People…Manage Things: Master The Five Key Facets of High-Performance Leadership when you subscribe to his weekly newsletter Monday Morning Mentor.

 

Share

The Benefits of Digital Training

The manner in which technology has become a part of our daily lives has grown exponentially with each passing day. Working with, and taking advantage of technology has made us capable of reaching new heights of communication and has improved our ease of access to information. Finding new careers has never been easier, and neither has completing the training to go with them. When you’re able to offer online, digital training, the benefits are plentiful for not just the company, but the employees as well. Let’s take a look at some of the top benefits of offering digital training.

 

Flexibility

With the on-demand nature of digital training, employees are able to complete their courses on their own time. This can make everyone breathe a little easier. Employers can easily set out learning plans for employees and assign the course work with a deadline for completion, and staff are able to pick out the best time in their day to work on it. The whole training process can successfully accommodate everyone’s schedules, as the employer doesn’t have to dedicate extra resources to setting up a training day, hiring trainers and/or arranging to send employees to a training event on a specific day, and the employees can all work at their own pace.

Affordability

On-site training can be expensive. Having to pay the dedicated trainers to attend the workplace, to train the trainees can cause labour costs to soar quicker than you realize. Not to mention room rentals, catering costs for lunches and snacks, etc. These costs are even much greater if employees need to travel to off-site training courses.  It just makes sense not to disrupt the daily operational activities at work and instead assign the training to a laptop, computer or phone.

 

Versatility

Digital training can encapsulate a whole variety of methods to keep it interesting, engaging, and, most importantly, retentive. Using more than just pages upon pages of text is crucial. Switching things up with videos, graphics and quizzes and even incorporating gamification keeps the pace moving while shaking things up for the trainee so they don’t get bored.  It’s been proven that the more interactive digital training is, the more the learner will retain the information presented.

 

Accessibility 

 

With access to phones, laptops, computers and tablets, training can be done on nearly any type of current device. The streamlined, ease of access to online training ensures that everyone is capable of getting on board. Never requiring more than an internet connection and an internet browser like Edge, Firefox, Opera or Chrome, logging in to an online training profile to complete the training on any and all devices, has never been easier.

 

Keeping municipal operations running smoothly while educating your employees can be stressful. However, be sure you’re setting aside dedicated time for employees during the day to work on their digital courses because squeezing courses in between other daily activities are just too disruptive and employees will view it as another task that has been added to them. You want to be sure they’re given the time to enjoy the courses and receiving the soft skills training they need to be ready for the job at hand.  Taking the leap and investing in a digital training platform can ensure you are getting the best value for your training budget and that you have complete control over the learning and development plans for each individual in your organization. Consistency is key!

 

Course Quality Matters

 

Unfortunately, some digital courses can aptly be described as purely for entertainment value.  If you’re simply wanting to check off a box that says an employee received training to comply with organizational policy, then a 20-minute entertainment-style digital course might fit the bill for you. That doesn’t mean that all 20-minute courses don’t deliver value – just be careful that you are getting value. 

 

However, quality, certified digital courses will ensure your employees not only have taken the course but that they have comprehended and retained what they’ve learned because they will have been tested and graded. It seems to be a waste of time and money, and there’s no real value to the individual or the organization if they didn’t understand or retain important information that can help them to do their job better and better. 

muniSERV is a leader in quality, certified digital training and learning development solutions for municipalities.  Our new PERFORM® leadership soft skills training is used by governments, educational institutions, private enterprises and organizations worldwide to deliver tangible, real-life competency-based skills.  

 

Through the use of free learning assessments to get learners started, PERFORM® is able to identify soft skills gaps and recommend a training solution targeted to key leadership development areas for your team.  Ask us for the links to these free assessments.

Finding the right training organization to help you achieve your learning and development goals takes time. It’s more than just hiring someone who says they have the materials that meet your needs.  Do your homework and go with proven, reputable training organizations and you’ll experience all the benefits of digital learning!

Share

Chemical Inventory & Safety Audit : What You Need to Know

Setting up and managing a Chemical Inventory can be a difficult task, even when you think you have done your research or have prepared yourself with a spreadsheet or list to follow. The difficulty comes when you begin attempting to cross-reference Chemicals with the Vendor SDS, which may create significant problems if you are unable to do so.

A man conducting a chemical inventory in a MySDS vest

Tracking chemicals in the workplace requires detailed knowledge of all possible “hiding places”. Chemicals can be found in the strangest places –and they can be easily overlooked.

MySDS and Green Lights Logos with Did you know and hazardous materials Insulation bat and Brick

It is not always obvious that certain items can also be considered “chemicals” – did you know that welding rods and certain building materials (IE. insulation batts, bricks) may be hazardous if exposure to by-products occurs? As a result, you may not be able to perform risk assessments for the whole site. Chemicals often interact explosively with other chemicals, so storage location may be a problem if you need to have multiple chemicals with a certain distance between them. The Inventory must identify the distance between chemicals so that appropriate incompatibilities reporting can take place.

 

Chemical Inventory and Safety Audit made easy…

 

Green Lights and MySDS will work with you to determine which procedures and information are necessary for your business.

 

We will conduct a physical inventory of all hazardous chemicals including *consumer products.

 

*Consumer products are products that do not require a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) when purchased by a consumer in a retail setting, however, some of these products do require an SDS when they are brought into the workplace (example: paints, hand soaps, inks)

 

 We will compile a list including:

• Chemical name (i.e Acetone)

• Amount – unit of measure (i.e 1 litre)

• Container type (i.e Glass bottle)

• Manufacturer (i.e Aldrich)

• Exact location (i.e Building C, Warehouse Office, Shelf A)

 

Shelf full of chemicals do you know every nook and cranny with MySDS information

 

We will also update the chemical inventory database when you:

1) Move to a new location

2) Acquire a new hazardous chemical

3) Your inventory volumes change more than 10%

4) You remove a chemical from your inventory

 

IMPORTANT NOTE:

A company must declare their inventory status even if there are zero chemicals in stock when their inventory is conducted.

 

Other areas that may need to be reviewed during a Chemical inventory or Safety Audit:

· Placarding

· Designated Substances

· CAS Numbers

· Hot-Spot Identification

· Chemicals Incompatibility reporting

· Hazardous Substances reporting

· Dangerous Goods reporting

· Radioactive materials, biological materials (or etiological agents), or controlled substances;

are maintained in separate tracking systems.

 

We do ALL the work. We keep you compliant!

 

Green Lights Environmental Logo with green globe ball and arrow        MySDS inc. logo with hexagons

Green Lights Environmental is the sister company of MySDS inc.

www.greenlightsinc.ca  |  www.mysds.ca

Share

What is the difference between LEADERSHIP and MANAGEMENT?

In short: leaders create risk, and managers reduce it.

LEADERSHIP ANTICIPATES THE BEST OUT OF PEOPLE, AND MANAGEMENT ANTICIPATES THE WORST. While leadership invites others to follow, management ensures the followers are following.

Leadership is the act of inviting others to a new and better future.  A leader inspires and creates change by casting a vision of a destination that is different, better, and achievable.

Management is the ensuring things happen by creating, communicating, and monitoring expectations.  It tracks individual people to see that they perform as expected, as opposed to inspiring a number of them. 

Leadership skills can be summarized as those skills relevant to interacting with large groups of people, and to inspiring and creating vision. Conversely, management skills are those which are relevant to interacting with individual people, and to specifying and monitoring performance.

Many of the skills required to lead people are also the ones used to manage people. However, the expression of these skills can be significantly different.  For instance, a leader needs to effectively communicate to be compelling and inspirational, and a manager needs to effectively communicate to be precise and personal.

Because of the skillset overlaps between management and leadership, it is quite possible that a single person assumes either of these roles.

 

Want to learn more about leadership?  Check out EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LEADERSHIP.

Share

Why You Should Become an Asset Management Coordinator

Asset Management Coordinator – have you heard this of this career before?  

Well, if you haven’t, you’re about to hear a lot about it from municipalities over the next little while.  

Many municipalities are facing challenges to fund their infrastructure at levels that ensure their sustainability. With ageing assets, increased renewal needs and pressures from changing climate there is a need to do things differently and collaborate to address the “infrastructure gap”.

The end goal is for municipalities, provinces, and the federal government to leverage asset management planning to optimize infrastructure investment decisions. For example, in December 2017, the Province of Ontario passed O.Reg 588/2017 that sets out new requirements for asset management planning for municipalities.  

This makes the need to hire Asset Managers and/or Asset Management Coordinators, even more important and urgent. Therefore this is a rapidly growing and expanding career in Canadian municipalities.

So what is asset management and why do municipalities need an Asset Management Coordinator?

 

What is Asset Management?

 

Asset management refers to the systematic approach to the governance and realization of value from the things that a group or entity is responsible for, over their whole life cycles. It may apply both to tangible assets and to intangible assets. Asset management is a systematic process of developing, operating, maintaining, upgrading, and disposing of assets in the most cost-effective manner.

 

What kind of background and training do I need to have for this career?  

 

Many asset managers have engineering, finance and/or planning backgrounds but another key criterion is Project Management, as addressed in a recent Public Sector Digest webinar, “Hiring an Asset Management Coordinator”, sponsored by muniSERV/muniJOBS, as being integral to the success of someone looking to enter this career. 

Municipalities reported that core competencies should be there but much more important is that you can tell them how you’d add value to the position. Because this is an emerging field, you have a great deal of liberty to build the position as you go.  Articulate it in your cover letter. You may not have all the skills right now but if you’re willing to learn, municipalities are willing to provide you with the right training to do the job.

Top skills reported are;

  1. Willingness to learn on the job
  2. Systems thinking
  3. Relationship building and
  4. Communications skills.

 

At present, there are no courses available at universities, although, the Municipal Finance Officers’ Association of Ontario (MFOA)and Public Sector Digest can help.

For municipalities looking for an Asset Manager or Coordinator, muniJOBS has some candidates with Asset Management listed as one of their skills. To search candidates, simply register for a free Employer profile.

Share

5 Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss

Dealing with a bad boss

Bad bosses can be deadly. One 15-year study found that when employees had a difficult relationship with their boss, they were 30% more likely to suffer from heart disease. Perhaps really bad bosses have lower coronary disease because their hearts are seldom used!

If you have ever said, “My boss makes me sick!” you might be right. A British study found that stress induced by a bad boss lowers immune response, and participants were more susceptible to a cold virus.

As with much in life, it’s not what happens to us, but what we do about it. A bad boss might victimize you, but you choose whether to be a victim. Strong leaders don’t wait, they initiate. If you have a bad boss, you can decide that he or she’s not unbearable and live with your situation, fire your boss by leaving, or practice upward leadership with some boss management.

Boss management or leading upward is one of the most popular topics on our website. Recently The Globe & Mail published my column on Five Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss in their Leadership Labs section. I condensed years of writing and coaching on this topic into five steps:

  1. Strengthen your credibility and relationship
  2. Check your timing and approach
  3. Don’t wait, initiate
  4. Speak up
  5. Fire a bully boss

Click here to read the column for a brief description of each step.

A reporter once asked the Dalai Lama why he didn’t hate the Chinese Communists. Now they have some bad bosses! The Dalai Lama replied, “They have taken over Tibet, destroyed our temples, burned our sacred texts, ruined our communities, and taken away our freedom. They have taken so much. Why should I let them also take my peace of mind?”

Share

The Hidden Benefits of Properly Training your Staff

Many organizations today still do not understand the importance of spending the time and effort to ensure their staff is properly trained. The common reasons for the companies who do not properly train staff are either “too busy” or “can’t justify the cost”.

Although it’s true that training costs do come right off the bottom line, it’s important to understand that proper training has many unseen, yet verifiable benefits to add to the bottom line. Especially with heavy equipment operators and snow plow operators.

 

Properly trained operational staff will reduce costs such as…
• Less waste of material such as gravel, salt and sand
• Less damage to heavy equipment and property
• Reduced injuries (WSIB and insurance costs)
• Reduced maintenance costs on equipment – due to proper daily pre-inspections
• Less turnover in staff – which reduces HR costs
• Projects completed faster – due to skilled equipment operators
• Improved moral – staff feel like they have a future with the organization, so they stay on

While training in the digital learning space is gaining in popularity, ON-SITE training with a qualified Instructor is still necessary for Municipal Public Works departments, to ensure their teams gain the hands-on skills they need to operate the municipality’s heavy equipment.

There are 3 measurable cost advantages to having an Instructor come to your location to provide training on-site for your staff using your equipment…
1. You don’t have the travel costs involved with sending your staff to a training centre

2. Your staff will be trained on the actual equipment they will be operating on the job

3. The Instructors will provide the hands-on practical (in-seat) portion of the training programs for only a few employees at a time, therefore you do not have to pull your entire staff away from their regular jobs/duties all at once. The rest of your staff can continue doing their jobs/duties until they’re scheduled to be with the Instructor.

Canada Heavy Equipment College (People call us “CHEC” for short) is a professional Heavy Equipment, Snow Plow and AZ/DZ truck training organization providing ON-SITE training to Municipal Public Works departments and construction companies throughout Canada.

CHEC has seasoned Professional Heavy Equipment Instructors stationed all across Canada and can send an Instructor to any customers location to provide ON-SITE training anywhere in Canada using the customers equipment.

Learn more here, contact us via the website – or call Toll Free 1-888-934-2432

Ted Butler
Canada Heavy Equipment College

Share

Thinking about thinking….

Daily we are required to make decisions, recall facts, and balance risks, whether at work or at home.

All of this requires considerable thinking yet we don’t really pay much attention to how we do that. Is it because its so easy or because it is so hard????

Let’s explore….

If we were to ask a friend or colleague “What is capital of France?” most will quickly come up with the right answer. Paris, of course. Easy question and not a lot of effort goes into finding the answer. The same goes if I were to ask you to spot the pattern in this series of numbers 122333….?? Yes, you got it. 4444.

But what if you were asked to come up with the answer to 15 x 24 without using your phone/calculator? If you are like most people, this question requires you to pause and think hard. If you were good at math in school you might be able to recall a shortcut or you just might have to get out pen/paper and figure it out the old-fashioned way. Unless you are a math superstar, it will be difficult to come up with the answer quickly but, given time, we can all do it.  The answer btw is 360.

If you consider yourself in the top 1% in terms of math abilities and are still feeling comfortable, here is my favourite math challenge of all time:

·       A bat and ball cost $1.10 to purchase

·       The bat costs one dollar more than the ball,

·       How much does the ball cost?

Allow me to keep you in suspense as you mull that one over. The answer is at the bottom of the page.

What these mind exercises illustrate is something that Daniel Kahneman refers to as “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, which happens to be the name of his best-selling book from 2011. Kahneman, who is now in his mid-80’s, is acknowledged to be the father of the field of behavioural economics. As a trained psychologist, and proudly not an economist, he has always been considered an iconoclast in his field of study. Along with his now deceased partner, Amos Tversky, he has spent a lifetime studying and gaining insight into how the human mind behaves.

As a result of their ground-breaking studies, Kahneman and Tversky came to realize that there are actually two systems at play in our brains which affect our reasoning, judgement and decision making:        

·       System 1 operates automatically in the background at all times. It is quick and intuitive requiring little or no effort to come up with an answer. System 1 allows us to answer “Paris” to the question about the capital of France. When we use this system to think we are looking for patterns and meaning from the information at hand. Consequently, it is prone to mistakes. We can easily make judgment errors and fall victim to bias and are generally unaware of these errors when they happen.

·       System 2 kicks in when System 1 can’t provide the answer, like in the example of 15 x 24. This type of thinking is necessarily slow and deliberative. It requires great effort and we have to pay careful attention. It works best when it tests and checks results from System 1. It too can be prone to errors if we become distracted and lose our focus on the task at hand.

As someone who has spent their career helping colleagues make important procurement decisions there is much we can learn from Kahneman and the study of the human mind.  How often have we seen rushed evaluations and distracted evaluators lead to the wrong contractor being selected and poor project outcomes?

That is not to say that evaluations need to be dragged out unnecessarily. The use of enabling technology and more effective evaluation methods can make a huge impact and result in better overall outcomes, while still being completed in a timely manner. I advocate for drafting more effective and efficient evaluation schemes. On your next RFP, consider asking suppliers to respond in a structured manner to avoid having evaluators engage in an endless cycle of page flipping as they seek to find the pertinent information.  Try using enhanced consensus scoring where you focus only on the differences in scoring that exceed a pre-determined variance. We often spend too much time debating the merits of a 6 vs 7 and too little time trying to reconcile significant differences of opinion. Finally, spend the time to adequately prepare and train evaluators, even those who have previous experience. Awareness of how the mind operates and the pitfalls to avoid can go a long way towards a better outcome.    

In closing, here are my top advice tips to evaluators:

·       Be prepared to invest the time necessary to the task

·       Don’t rely on your fellow evaluators to bail you out

·       Slow down your thinking and avoid the rush to judgment

·       Pay attention to the details

·       Use critical thinking

·       Be respectful of other viewpoints during consensus meetings

·       Be aware of your biases – everyone has them

 

·       When relying solely on intuition, pause and use slow thinking to check/recheck the result

The ball costs $0.05

https://www.wayfinderconsultinginc.com/

 

Share