Thursday, March 5, 2015

Embrace Change To Grow

Change is inevitable. Change is good.  Help your employees and team learn to embrace change.

Here are some solid insights from Dr. Rodger Dean Duncan's (Liberty, Missouri) book, Change-friendly Leadership -- How to Transform Good Intentions into  Great Performance:

  • The kind of behavior change that results in lasting (sustainable) change must accommodate people's feelings--feelings that involve trust, confidence, passion, and all those other intangible but very real things that make us human.
  • It's often the stress that people resist, not the change itself.
  • Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights (Pauline R. Kezer).
  • A transformational leader focuses primarily on initiating and "managing" change.  He/she influences people to improve, to stretch, and to redefine what's possible.
  • It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change (Charles Darwin).
  • Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Today's Leadership Thought

Top 10 Barriers Communicators Face

The person I turn to for effective communication advice, David Grossman, released last fall an eBook called, Top 10 Barriers Communicators Face:  How to Get Your Leader on Board with Internal Communication.

"Today, the savviest executives are realizing the power and potential of communication to drive results.  Smart leaders know they need to connect the dots differently than before," explains David.

  • This free eBook helps communication professionals recognize the 10 most common barriers to effective communication that leaders construct

It reveals what communicators can say to their leaders to help guide their thinking and offers a host of actionable tips for moving leaders past these barriers, including what to say and what to do.

The ebook teaches how to break barriers from leaders who are:
  • Scattered; communicate reactively
  • Trapped in the tactical
  • Not engaged in communication planning
  • Don’t value communication
  • Providing you limited access to him or her
Thanks David, for another great resource.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Ten Golden Rules Of Leadership

A few months ago brought the release of the new book, The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership:  Classical Wisdom for Modern Leaders.

As you dig in, you'll step back in time to learn philosophies of the past and how to apply them today.

Authors M. A. Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas offer a fresh approach to becoming a great leader by learning from antiquity's great thinkers, such as Aristotle, Hesiod, Sophocles, Heraclitus, and others.

Each chapter in the book is devoted to one philosophy of leadership that equate to ten simple rules:
  1. Know Thyself
  2. Office Shows the Person
  3. Nurture Community at the Workplace
  4. Do Not Waste Energy on things You Cannot Change
  5. Always Embrace the Truth
  6. Live Life by a Higher Code
  7. Always Evaluate Information with a Critical Eye
  8. Never Underestimate the Power of Personal Integrity
  9. Character is Destiny
You'll learn how to take each idea and apply it to the challenges of the modern workplace.

According to the authors, the key distinguishing features of an authentic leader is traceable to a philosophically informed worldview and that the ancient classical tradition is a rich and valuable source of such insights.

My Career Insights Into How To Create An Effective Corporate Culture

Fortunately, most of my career I’ve worked in effective corporate cultures. If I put together the best of each, here is what made those environments effective:

• Leaders led by example on a consistent basis and were willing to roll up their sleeves, particularly during tight deadlines or challenging times.

• Employees clearly understood how what they did made a difference and how their contributions made the organization either more profitable or more effective.

• The workforce included a blend of long-term employees with a rich company, product/service and customer history, employees who had been at the company for five to seven years, and then new hires with a fresh perspective and keen sense of new technologies and techniques. That blend worked best when the mix included virtually all A-players.

• Top managers had a clear, realistic and strategic vision for how the company would grow and compete in the marketplace.

• Employees were challenged and rewarded through growth opportunities, education and training and pay increases.

• Leaders provided opportunities for the company and its employees to give back to the community. Sometimes it was through company organized volunteer projects. Other times it was by encouraging (and rewarding) employees to volunteer on their own.

• A group of employees served on an activities committee with as little top management influence as possible, to plan at least monthly team-building, networking, education and charitable activities. This grass-roots approach helped ensure that the culture was shaped and influenced by employees and not only by top management. In this way, employees owned the culture as much as the management did.

How To Use The Friendship Factor To Motivate Employees

All you need is one hour to read Brian Tracy's newest, pocket-sized guide for managers, Motivation.

"You cannot motivate other people," explains Tracy, "but you can remove the obstacles that stop them from motivating themselves.  All motivation is self-motivation.  As a manager, you can create an environment where this potential for self-motivation is released naturally and spontaneously."

In the book, Tracy presents chapter-by-chapter his 21 most reliable and powerful methods for increasing the effectiveness of any individual or group.

Each chapter includes a couple different action exercises.

Toward the end of the book, Tracy explains the importance of the Friendship Factor in motivating employees.  "Every manager can tap into the power of friendship in everyday employee interactions by remembering the three Cs:  Consideration, Caring and Courtesy.
  • Practice consideration by expressing an interest in your employees as individuals.
  • Express caring for your staff members by listening attentively and with compassion.
  • Express courtesy toward employees by showing personal regard and respect for each person -- especially under stress, when a situation goes wrong, or when a worker makes a mistake.
"Your job as a manager is to make sure that you are getting along well with all of your employees and they are all getting along well with you," stresses Tracy.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Six Universal Drivers That Maximize Employee Engagement

Overland Park, Kansas-based author Leigh Branham, along with Mark Hirschfeld, awhile back completed a survey of 10,000 employees in 43 states to better understand what separates a "best places to work" company from other companies.

What Branham and Hirschfeld discovered is that the best companies use six "universal drivers" that maximize employee engagement:
  1. Caring, Competent, and Engaging Senior Leaders
  2. Effective Managers Who Keep Employees Aligned and Engaged
  3. Effective Teamwork at All Levels
  4. Job Enrichment and Professional Growth
  5. Valuing Employee Contributions
  6. Concern for Employee Well-Being
Branham also explains that to get the best from your employees you need to re-engage them. You can learn more about how to do that in his book, Re-Engage.

Why Learning Beats Knowing

Liz Wiseman's book, Rookie Smarts, is all about living and working perpetually on a learning curve.

She contends that we do our best work when we are new to something.  And, she teaches us how to reclaim and cultivate the curious, flexible and youthful mindset called "rookie smarts."

"Something magical happens when a skilled veteran successfully re-learns his rookie smarts and is still able to retain his veteran acumen," explains Wiseman.

Wondering if you are ready for a new challenge?  Take a look at this list from Wiseman of the 10 signs that indicate you are ready for a new challenge:

  1. Things are running smoothly.
  2. You are consistently getting positive feedback.
  3. Your brain doesn't have to work hard to be successful.
  4. You don't prepare for meetings because you already know the answers.
  5. You've stopped learning something new every day.
  6. You are busy but bored.
  7. You're taking longer showers in the morning and you take your time getting to work.
  8. It makes you tired to think you could be doing the same job a year from now.
  9. You've become increasingly negative and can't identify why.
  10. You're spending a lot of time trying to fix other people's problems.
Wizeman is a researcher, executive advisor, and speaker who teaches leaders around the world.  One of her earlier books is, Multipliers:  How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.

The Secret Science Of Brilliant Leadership

Coherence:  The Secret Science of Brilliant Leadership is the book by author Dr. Alan Watkins.

Trained as a medical doctor, Watkins is now an honorary senior lecturer in neuroscience and psychological medicine at Imperial College, London and an affiliate professor of leadership at the European School of Management, London.

  • According to Watkins, coherence is the biological state achieved when elite performers experience maximum efficiency and super effectiveness, where body and mind are one.

Coherence provides one of the most unique approaches to showing leaders how to be younger, smarter, healthier and happier -- which gives them the power to make decisions under pressure and achieve sustainable success.

Prepare to spend quality time reading Coherence. It's not light reading.  Kind of feels like a medical text book in parts.  But, it's worth your commitment to it.

I particularly found useful Watkin's discussion on culture, where he wrote:

Culture is the collective attitudes within a group, team or organization, and they manifest in:
  • Customs:  traditional practices that may be honored, not necessarily repetitive.
  • Rituals:  stylized conceptual totems representing an aspect of culture.
  • Symbols:  stylized conceptual totems representing an aspect of culture.
  • Dogmas, myths:  unchallenged and unspoken beliefs within a system.
  • Metaphors:  stylized stories used to reflect culture.
  • Stories:  key bind narrative of culture.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What The Most Successful CEOs Know About Internal Communication

Communications expert David Grossman of Your Thought Partner awhile back published a white paper – What the most successful CEOs know: how internal CEO communications shapes financial performance.

"CEOs who communicate often and well inside their organizations have better reputations – and that leads directly to better business results," explains David. "They’ve also got more engaged employees – another strong, measurable driver of positive financial outcomes."

David's white paper incorporates research compiled from a number of leading sources and points to some critical key headlines, including:
  • Internal communications helps drive organizational financial performance and other key business results, and enhances organizational reputation.
  • There’s a correlation between effective internal communications on topics the CEO is best prepared to address, such as explaining business conditions and challenges, providing information on organizational performance and financial objectives, superior financial performance and employee engagement.
  • Belief in senior leadership is one of the strongest drivers of employee engagement in multiple studies (and the very top driver in at least one), and there’s a correlation between confidence in senior leadership and employee agreement that senior leaders communicate well.
  • Trust in senior leadership is a significant variable in employee engagement – and there’s much ground to be regained by CEOs on this front (especially since they are not seen as the most trustworthy information source on almost any of the topics most important to employees).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Orbital Perspective

Astronaut Ron Garan

How can you not read a book that starts out, "I have wanted to write this book since returning to Earth from my first space mission in 2008"?

Well, that's exactly how astronaut Ron Garan's new book, The Orbital Perspective, starts.

Garan is a retired NASA astronaut who has traveled 71,075,867 miles in 2,842 orbits of our planet during more than 178 days in space and 27 hours and 3 minutes of EVA (extravehicular activity) during four spacewalks.

For Garan, living on the International Space Station (ISS) was a transformative experience – one he believes that can help us solve the world’s toughest crises. Though exploration in space led Garan to many new frontiers; perhaps his most important discovery came in the form of a parallel reality. On Earth, the former US fighter pilot during the Cold War fought the Russians; in space, the US and Russia worked as allies.

As he took in a spectacular view of the planet from the ISS, Garan’s “Orbital Perspective” took shape. If fifteen nationalities could collaborate on one of the most ambitious missions in history, then surely, we could apply that level of cooperation and innovation to creating a better world.

Garan wrote this book to communicate a call to action. To help create a global movement -- a movement of inhabitants of planet Earth who are willing to set aside their differences and work together toward our common goals.

"I am asking everyone to look for ways to create exponential, disruptive, positive action -- action that leads to exponential advancement toward solving the challenges facing our world," says Garan.

"I hope that after reading this book you will agree that we're on to something big that can potentially change the present trajectory of our global society and put it on a profoundly more positive path," he adds.

Garan explains that hovering above Earth he came to believe that the problem we face lies primarily in our inability to collaborate effectively on a global scale.

"There are millions of organizations around the world working to improve life on Earth, but for the most part these organizations are not engaged in a unified, coordinated effort. There is a great deal of duplication of effort, loss of efficiency, and unfortunately, in many cases, destructive competition that does not lead to better products or services," explains Garan.

 "If there's one thing I've learned in my travels around the world, it's that people are people. There are more things that we share in common than things that separate us," says Garan.

Fun Space Facts (from the book)
  • It took Garan three years and many weeks in space before his neck muscles really adjusted to sleeping without gravity.
  • On Earth, the ISS, which is bigger than a football field, would weigh over one million pounds.
  • Every night, Garan and his crew mate had a ritual of listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon while they set up their equipment for the next day, and Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” before heading out to space.
  • The temperature in the shade in space falls to –250ºF, and 250ºF in the sunlight.
Thanks to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Monday, February 23, 2015

How To Reduce Your Employee Turnover Rate

Knowing why an employee leaves your company can help you to reduce your employee turnover rate.

That's because you can use the reasons a departing employee provides to gather information about processes, people and departments that might need some redirection to correct situations that may have contributed to the employee's reasons for leaving.

So, do an exit interview whenever possible with each departing employee. Ask each person:
  • Why they are leaving
  • What they liked about their job
  • What they would have changed about their job
  • How they felt about the cooperation level among co-workers
  • How they felt about communication and interaction with co-workers
  • Whether they received the necessary training to do their job
  • Whether they received frequent coaching and balanced feedback from their supervisor
  • Would they recommend a friend apply for work at your company
  • How they felt about their pay
  • How they would describe the morale in the company and in their department
  • What they would change about their department and the company
  • Whether they received the necessary information to perform their job effectively
You can find other great advice about exit interviews in the book, The Essential HR Handbook, written by Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell. The book is a quick and handy resource for any leader, manager or Human Resource professional.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

How To Handle Conflict In The Workplace

Handling conflict is one of the most difficult things a leader has to deal with.  Unfortunately, conflict in the workplace is inevitable.
  • In fact, research shows that 42 percent of a manager's time is spent addressing conflict.  And, over 65 percent of performance problems are caused by employee conflicts.
Managers new in their leadership role typically have had little to no training on how to deal with conflict.

Fortunately, in Susan H. Shearouse's book, Conflict 101, you can learn:
  • How conflict is created
  • How we respond to conflict
  • How to management conflict more effectively
Shearouse explains that even though conflict is inevitable, it can lead to both growth and progress.  "There is little progress that is not preceded by some kind of conflict," says Shearouse.

I found particularly helpful in the book the definitions of the following five different types of conflict and then how best to deal with each:
  1. Problems to solve
  2. Disagreement
  3. Contest
  4. Fight
  5. Intractable situation
Also helpful are the "consider this" questions asked of the reader in at the end of each chapter, along with the list of "homework" to do's.

Shearouse does a good job of teaching effective ways to:
  • Confronting conflict at the earliest possible level when it's easiest to resolve
  • Become more aware of how different people deal with conflict
  • Have the courage to admit mistakes
  • Rethink anger
  • Foster compromises and collaborations
  • Keep a sense of humor and sense of empathy
  • Build trust among coworkers
  • Harness negative emotions
  • Encourage apologies and forgiveness
  • Use a solution-seeking approach
  • Say what needs to be said   
Shearouse has served as Executive Director of the National Conference on Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution and on the Advisory Board of the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George     Mason University. Her clients have included the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Moments That Significantly Impact Company Culture

In his new book, The Responsible Leader, Tim Richardson explains that to create a high-performance culture, you need to plan and prepare for the following moments to ensure the conversations surrounding them are both meaningful and intentional:

  • recruitment and induction of new team members
  • performance management discussions
  • promotion interviews and talent management discussions
  • coaching discussions
  • customer sales presentations
  • handling customer complaints and problems
  • briefings to the press, analysts and wider market
  • senior leaders' contact with, and briefings to, teams across the organization
  • internal presentations with executive committees
  • team meetings and management meetings
Richardson's advice to improve the quality of these conversations is to consider:
  • How clear is the principal message for the conversation? 
  • How can you ensure that the content of the discussion is focused on the key message(s)?
  • How can you ensure the quality of the listening by all parties?
  • How can you set a pace that is both focused and allows for real thinking?
  • What can you do to make the conversation a generative one that moves things forward?
  • How can you be responsible for holding parties accountable for responses and actions?
  • How will you ensure that decisions taken are mindful of the wider system and longer term as well as short term?
  • How will the organization's values be demonstrated openly and authentically in the conversation?
Richardson is a Director of Waverly Learning and Director of Its Original Ltd. Previously Head of Leadership Development and Talent Management at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, he has worked with corporate clients, such as HSBC, BBC, BOC, Zurich, Centrica, Llloyds TSB, Barclays and Uniliver amongst others.

Thanks to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Friday, February 20, 2015

How To Write Effective Performance Appraisals

Today's guest post is by:

Peggy Pedwano
Solutions Specialist at Halogen Software

As performance appraisal time draws near, managers are all too likely to be dreading the exercise.  According to a  report by the Wharton School, although 91% of companies worldwide have a performance review process, only 35 to 40% do it well, often because managers lack the training to write effective performance appraisals. 

Here are some ideas to help you write effective performance appraisals that can form the basis for a discussion that will actually add value to employee performance reviews.  
  • Begin with a clear understanding of what is important. If you and your employees have set performance goals or established other performance measurement criteria, this should be a relatively easy process. But even if you haven’t, taking the time to think through the year’s priorities and projects will help you focus your appraisal on what matters most. Consider projects where you have been able to observe or can collect objective performance data and identify the core competencies that are critical to success.
  • Keep notes throughout the year.  This simple tool makes writing effective performance appraisals much easier. Whenever you observe employees or have a performance discussion throughout the year, make notes of specific and objective examples to which you can refer. If you haven’t kept notes, think back to observations and prior performance discussions you may have had to identify specific examples. Identify enough examples to be able to document what the employee is doing well as well as what needs to improve.
  • Collect input from employees. Ask your employees to send you their own written thoughts about their performance. Be clear that you will be using their input as one of many sources in compiling an effective performance appraisal. If they do not already have them, supply employees with a list of the goals, competencies or other performance criteria that are the basis for their evaluation. But, by all means, resist the temptation to simply take employees’ self-evaluation, change a few words and adopt it as your own.
  • Collect input from other sources. It is likely that there are others who have worked closely with your employee throughout the course of the year. Ask for their assessment on the goals, competencies and other criteria you have identified as the basis for your appraisal. Weigh all these sources of input carefully to determine as accurate and complete a picture as possible. 
  • Watch out for subtle biases as you formulate your opinions of the employee’s performance. Factors such as personality compatibility can impact your attitude without your knowledge – guard against them. 
  • Consider employee career aspirations and include development plans. If the employee’s performance is generally good, include some elements that will help them progress toward the next step in their career. 
  • Be specific. Include descriptions of what went well and what could have been done better. Base your statements on the examples you have collected. 
  • Gauge the potential impact on the employee. Do not sugarcoat bad news, but be sure that you can support your opinions and choose language that will avoid triggering a defensive response.
Writing an effective performance appraisal is an essential part of a manager’s responsibility and has a significant impact on an employee’s performance, attitude and future. You owe it to them, the organization and your future relationship with the employee to take your time and create an objective, constructive and effective performance appraisal. 

Halogen Software offers an organically built cloud-based talent management suite that reinforces and drives higher employee performance across all talent programs – whether that’s recruiting, performance management, learning and development, succession planning or compensation.

Thanks Peggy for these great tips!