The Gift of Our Time

Today a new trU Tips comes out, and the topic is mentoring.  One word that will be prominent in this edition is the word GIFT.

My work is in the space of development and transition (some call it personal growth), and in that space I get to have conversations with the leaders and followers – so I get to hear both perspectives.  As I think back on all these conversations, several themes emerge:

Leaders

  • Underestimate the value people put on getting time with them.
  • Fail to leverage their own network for support in self development / development of their team/themselves.

Followers

  • Make up reasons not to ask their leader for one on one time or help.
  • Look to their organization or leader to drive their personal development.

There will be many gifts given this holiday season, and I always encourage leaders to give the gift of time.  If there is a magazine you love or a book you get excited about sharing, why not make that a gift and include a couple of hours of your time to discuss it as they read it.  If you are looking for ideas, here are the books I share (my library) and a few tips for making a book a real gift by including your time.

The late Zig Ziglar, a champion for individual ownership/growth, was once asked by a leader after one of his talks, “What if I develop someone on my team and then they leave?”  His answer, “What if you don’t develop them at all and they stay?”

We do have choices, and the choices we make with our time tells others what we value.

Make your gifts matter.

 

Rule 3 – NEVER cancel without rescheduling

Enough said?  You can stop here if you get it.  If you need more convincing here are 451 more words to get some clarity.

In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey said We judge ourselves based on our intentions.  We judge others based on their actions. Never is that statement more true than in the relationship between a leader and follower.  Do any of these examples ring true?

1.  A leader cancels a one on one because of a customer issue.  Does not reschedule it because he/she just talked to the person as they walked around the office yesterday.

Leader intention:  Customer is critical and everything stops when they call.  Plus we just talked yesterday and you know I care about you.

Leader action (as interpreted by follower):  Here we go again.  Your issues always trump mine and this issue could have been handled by the field service team with just a little support from us.  This is the 6th time this has happened in the last 8.5678 months (slight exaggeration on the number – but do not be surprised at the human mind to keep a key measure like this).

2.  A leader has the one on one and interrupts the conversation three times because of calls from home.

Leader intention:  Apology issued before each call, and since it was his wife on all three occasions and it was an emergency it was okay because family comes first.  Family is a core value of our organization.  (Emergency = at the mechanic with their new Audi A8 and the repairs were not going well)

Leader action (as interpreted by follower):  Would it be okay if I did this?  His/her spouse is a great person, but can’t this wait 20 minutes?  Isn’t this my time?  I will just cut my time/agenda short and let them deal with their issues.  Afterthought – A8?  I wonder why my evaluation/increase is six months overdue?

3.  Leader leads the time with two things that went wrong last week and they want to know what happened and why.

Leader intention:  Accountability.  If we cannot have the hard conversations then I am not doing my job.

Leader action (as interpreted by follower):  What a jelly fish.  There have been four days to talk about these things since they happened, plus I owned them and fixed them.  What about the bad decision he/she made yesterday that kept me here until 8pm to fix?  Can there be accountability there?

Being a leader is tough.  It is tougher when priorities are not clear and the tyranny of the urgent rules over the one on one time.  Never break this rule – and if you do point back to the last date/time/location/reason that it happened so they know you are keeping score too. 🙂

Talent management is about great conversations.  Follow these three rules for one on ones and you can have some great conversations.

Links related to this post:

Our Talent / Self Awareness Language – Have One?

How do you talk about what you are good at doing?  Does it sound like a list of your educational accomplishments?  Do you share the last three job titles you have?  Does some answer come out as you look awkwardly at the floor?

Developing a language around who you are, what you bring to a role, and how the learning from your past will be a fuel for your future success is where talent management starts.trUYou: our model for developing self-awareness

The challenge – making the journey for wisdom a habit and not just something you do once and then just put your head down and work for the next 10 years.

Not sure what this Journey looks like? Read the book Mastery by George Leonard or LinchPin by Seth Godin

Are you stuck with thinking of yourself as a degree or a role? Buy the book Strengthsfinder 2.o by Tom Rath and take the assessment.

What are the key things I need to understand about myself? Take a look at my trUYou™ model and fill in the boxes.  Where are your gaps?  How confident are you in the picture it paints?

I was talking to a community organization this week about coming to their area to provide a keynote for a community leadership program.  I thought  what seeds can I plant in that community to help each individual move it along and initiate some conversations among the people that will keep things going long after I leave. One tool – Strengthsfinder 2.0 and one model – trUYou™ are great ways to begin any journey towards development and performance.

Once we share a language, the conversation becomes more impactful and a learning community is born.

Sound like a great journey?

 

How to get better at delivering feedback? First, get better at receiving it.

I am in the process of reading/reviewing Jodi Glickman’s book Great On The Job – What To Say, How To Say It – The Secrets of Getting Ahead.  As I go through it I will share some thoughts that make me go Hmmmm . . .  This posting is based on one of those moments.

What is the secret to speaking what you feel about someones performance and having it end up in a place where the relationship is still intact (or stronger) and your thoughts are heard?

The first and only tip – Focus on how you request and receive feedback from others.

I read Jodi Glickman’s book Great on the Job, and one quote is stuck in my head.  It is under the chapter of Ask for Feedback and the heading of Say Thank You.  The quote is (p. 129):

The goal, however, is continuous improvement and learning, not just feeling good.  If you have a tough feedback session, remind yourself that the goal of the session is not to make you feel good.  The goal is to make you better at your job.

 

Talent management is about great conversations, and the definition of a conversation is a form of interactive, spontaneous communication between two or more people who are following rules of etiquette. (wikipedia)  We all need to hear what is going well, but we have to be able to hear what we can do better.  At the heart of this conversation is a lot of smaller conversations around –  How am I doing?  What is going well and where do I need to improve?

How can we use this as individuals?

First, recognize that giving feedback is a lost art for many leaders who are, themselves, caught in a spot where nobody is telling them what they are doing well (when is the last time you told your leader about something they did well?) and the list of to do’s is only getting longer.  So, our job as individuals is to ask for it well,  stay calm in the moment of receiving it, and respond by saying thank you without our faces getting red or our jaws tightening.  Then do something with it that creates momentum for you and the organization.

Second, put extra focus into defining your role/objectives and own the one on one time with your leader.  This makes talking about performance  easier.  Here is a template if you want an example of what that looks like.

Getting and giving good feedback is not easy, but it is pretty simple.  I wonder what would happen if both leaders and followers read this one chapter together and tried it for a couple of months.  My guess is some great conversations would happen.

What tips do you have for giving/getting good feedback?

The Hidden(and not so hidden) Impact Of A Question

A recent WSJ article highlighted the impact on the brain of being able to talk about ourselves.  Talking about ourselves (which we spend 40% of our conversations doing) triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money.  It is a great article – here is the link.

Talent management is about having great conversations.  Sure the processes (interview/selection, onboarding, performance, succession planning, one on ones, etc) are important, but the impact of being present in that time and having both parties open to sharing, questioning, and listening makes the biggest impact.  I like this article because it provides some science behind what we know – it is healthy for us if someone is there to listen.

So what to do with this?  Here are two ways to enable more listening as a leader and one as a follower:

For the leader:

  1. Make the one on one the responsibility of the your team member.  Their agenda (with imput from you) to cover what they need to and what they want to.  (Here is a link to a template and calendar for this)  There should be a time limit – but let them talk, and you listen.
  2. Make a habit to get groups of employees together monthly to celebrate something (birthdays, employment anniversaries, etc.) and listen.

For the Follower:

  1. When your leader comes around or asks “Are their any questions?”, be ready to ask.  Here are two to keep around:  What is one thing that has been keeping you up at night lately?  What have you learned lately?

In the book Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam he makes the case that if someone is a smoker and a loner it will have a greater impact on their life expectancy if they kept smoking and found some friends.  It is healthy to be listened to, and we need to remember to return the favor.

8 Questions To Ask Before Starting Succession Planning

Succession planning is a great conversation.

For the organization, it puts plans in place to be used in case of a sudden departure of a key person.  It also identifies talent gaps that can be discussed and dealt with before they become emergencies.

For your best people, it creates a vision of the future for them and identifies ways to challenge/develop them over the coming years.

Then there is you, the executive.  Maybe not such a great process.  You are putting plans in place for after you are gone.  You are sharing the talent you have worked hard to hire and develop with the rest of the organization by allowing them to be considered for key roles in other areas.  Do we avoid these conversations?  The numbers would say yes.  First number – only 35% of the CEO’s in the United States have succession plans.  Second number – personally only 45% of us have wills.

Talent management is about great conversations.  Here are eight questions to ask a leader before starting a succession planning effort:

  1. I am excited about this process.
  2. I think this is an important process to do each year.
  3. I have talked to all my direct reports about what they want to do in the future.
  4. I have done this before and I feel comfortable/skilled at the process.
  5. I will make the time (10-20 hrs) to do this work over the next 2 months.
  6. I am willing to accept input from other peers on my succession list . . . and I will use it.
  7. I am willing to allow key players from my team to be on succession plans for other groups.
  8. I feel good about setting up my groups/the organization to be successful after I move on.

 

Here is a link to this form with a number scale attached.

By naming our reasons for being reluctant, we can at least talk about them.  By letting those reason stay hidden there is very real potential to erode trust on the team and leave great talent(people!) unchallenged and unclear about what opportunities exist for them in the future.

I would opt for the great talent management/succession planning conversation started by these 8 questions.

3 Simple Habits To Help Strengthen Teams

Are there things about you that people do not know?  We all know the answer to that question – but is anything on that list that others need to know?  Maybe you love to problem solve.  Maybe you led a team of 20 people at one point in your career.  Maybe there is some part of the business you want to learn more about.  Maybe you get 150 emails a day and prefer phone calls.

Are there things about you that others see and you do not?

Several years ago a friend shared some feedback with me that we still laugh about. He told me that whenever he told a story, I usually followed up with a better one. I did not realize it – but watched myself for a few days and there it was – the proof.   It was funny, and I was unaware of it.   In JoHari Window language, it was a BLIND SPOT.Talent Management tool - JoHari Window

If you are not familiar with it, here is a link to a short YouTube video that explains it.

Talent management is about having great conversations.  When we talk, we develop relationships with the people around us, and at the core of those relationships is knowledge that we bring to every interaction.

Here are 3 tips to continually develop your team and teamwork.

TIP 1: As part of any team meeting spend 5 minutes asking/answering these questions:

  • This week – What are two wins?  What is keeping me up at night?

These questions are almost guaranteed to  keep a steady flow of HIDDEN items that will be valuable for the team to know.

TIP 2: When you have an off-site and you are looking for ways to get people sharing/laughing – have everyone answer the following questions for themselves and their teammates.  Next, go around the room and have others share first, seeing if they matched answers with the individual.

  • What is one thing I am really good at doing?
  • How do you know I am having a good day?
  • How do you know when I am stressed?
  • How do you know I am listening / not listening?

After this, watch the JoHari Window video and ask the questions:  What came out in our last discussion that could be considered HIDDEN? A BLIND SPOT?  What is the impact of having that information in the OPEN area for you?  For this team?  What is one way we can be more purposeful about these conversations?

TIP 3: I often use a tool called the Team Member Fact Sheet to get people talking.  Using it as a tool to get to know new teammates or test the knowledge of existing teams.

Talent management is about great conversations.  Go have one!

Laugh First – Then we can talk about importance of affirmation . . .

A friend sent me this video.  It is short, so spend 60 seconds and watch it.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR3rK0kZFkg

Many of you probably do not remember Senator Al Franken on Saturday Night Live, but he also did an affirming character called Stuart Smalley.  Here is the punch line to every Stuart Smalley bit – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DIETlxquzY.

There are two things that hit me about the first video.

First, it is good to laugh.  It lowers blood pressure, decreases stress, and increases creativity – just to name a few benefits.  For a team, it helps reset the tone so individually we can be at our best going into a discussion, a big project, or a verbal battle to ensure we make a great decision.

Secondly, I am still amazed at the impact of any exercise where teammates share the things they value about each other.  I remember one individual after a 3 to 1 activity (receiving three positives from a teammate / 1 area to work on) say “I am a little shamed to admit it because it makes me sound like a %#*!&, but it felt good having people remind me what I am good at.”  Become the mirror for someone else.

Sometimes to be at our best and to get the best out of our team (ie.  talent management) – we just need to hit reset.  Enjoy the laughter, and find a way to make it contagious for a few minutes at your next team meeting.

Social Media, Relationships, and Leadership

Relationships are built through connections.  Connections happen when we have great conversations – – over and over again.  The numbers I preach to leaders and followers alike are:

  • 5 to 1: The optimal number of positive to negative interactions in a marriage
  • 3 to 1: The optimal number of positive to negative interactions in a work relationship
  • 3:  If we have this many close friends at work we are 96% more likely to be extremely satisfied with our life
  • If I were a smoker and a loner – I will live longer if I keep smoking and find some friends

Then comes social media.  Recently I was wondering if some day I would read a headline that would turn my world/beliefs upside down.  Something like:

  • Facebook changing the way we build close friends
  • The Tweets/day  = Happiness number is known:  14
  • Top 5 social media tools for creating healthy marriages and friendships
  • Keep Smoking, but open a Facebook account

My gut tells me that ignoring social media at work and in my life, in general, is the wrong move.  I also believe the fundamental things I preach to leaders and followers about success in work, building healthy relationships, building strong teams, and building strong companies will not change.

Then I stumbled upon a great TED talk that took on the topic of social media from Sherry Turkle called Connected, but alone? . I think I will stick with what my gut tells me – even as I continue to use Foursquare.  fyi – I just became Mayor of my street and no one treats me differently. 🙂

EXTRA:  An idea for using this video with high potentials/leadership groups: Watch the video (18 minutes) and explore the following questions:

  • How do I personally use social media tools?  What benefits do they provide me?
  • How do some of the important people in my life use them?
  • What comments from the video stand out for me?  Agree?  Disagree?
  • How can I use this to become better – Leaders?  Teammates?  Friends?  (Make one commitment)

Do You Know How to Start and End a Conversation?

I am in the process of reading/reviewing Jodi Glickman’s book Great On The Job – What To Say, How To Say It – The Secrets of Getting Ahead.  As I go through it I will share some thoughts that make me go Hmmmm . . .  This posting is based on one of those moments.

I watch the eyes, because they always tell the truth. 

Have you ever experienced the glazed, lifeless stare that happens within 10 seconds of starting a conversation with someone?  It is most often the result of them being in the middle of something and me being too urgent to simply ask “Is this a good time?”

Jodi Glickman shares her secrets to opening and closing a conversation under a section she refers to as The Basics.  How to avoid the lifeless stare is addressed up front.  It made me chuckle when she talked about the feedback she received initially from two trusted friends that this section was too basic.  I loved it!  When I talk to people about talent management I stress the partnership between a leader and a follower, and the transparency that has to exist for the relationship to work.  Being specific about What I need is critical, and recognizing that this is not the right time to talk is equally as critical.  In the era of open office doors/no doors at all and cell phones that make everyone accessible 24/7, it is important to be able to say not the right time.

One of the unique pieces of her approach was the ending.  In it she shares two steps:

  1. Thank you
  2. Forward momentum

 

I love the concept of forward momentum.  Think of it – we have talked and here is where I am going next.  Imagine if every interaction led to some sort of forward momentum?  In talent management: forward momentum = ownership = engagement = great followership

An exercise: What percent of your conversations today lead to forward momentum?