Leadership Rounding – A great example of how leading leaders is different

Going from a Director to a Vice President is a big jump – because all of the sudden how you lead becomes different.  It is often hard to explain this to people, but at some point they feel it through critcism for Never being around, and in their frustration they say something like I was just there last week or maybe even You never invite me!

I have blogged often about followership – which is knowing the priorities/challenges of your own leader and being purposeful about meeting those as you communicate and work towards meeting your own needs/priorities.  Here is a video from Quint Studer (The Studer Group) that talks about leadership rounding in healthcare.  Most of you are not in healthcare, but it is a great example of a message that needs to be heard by the executive and the leaders that report to them.  It does an amazing job of laying out the fears/frustrations of an executive and how some simple moves by front line leaders can help maximize the impact of a visit from a senior leader and help your own people connect with them in a way that will have lasting impact on your own team.

Check it out – and schedule a viewing with some leaders.  It is a great investment of 28 minutes.  Talent management is about having great conversations – this will start a great conversation.

Friday Fun – The cumulative effect of Happy moments . . .

In his interview about happiness in HBR, Daniel Gilbert makes the following statement:  “…the frequency of your positive experiences is a much better predictor of your happiness than is the intensity of your positive experiences.”  It is not the big initiatives, but the cumulative effect of the little things we do at work and at home to generate smiles that makes the biggest difference.  While we are thankful for some research – Did we really need some PhD to tell us that?

So what can we do with this?

Every culture treats humor differently.  For example, I am not sure a That Was Easy button or a zany sound effects box would work in a bank.  What about comments about what people are wearing, or smiles received or handing a sucker to a customer with a smile?  Anything where we purposely create one of those moments that Gilbert talks about will make a difference.

Maybe a good Friday goal would be to generate 6 smiles in other people.

Here is my first try:  A great video about how making people smile caused a shift in their behavior.  It made me smile, and is just good clean fun.  Take a look.

 

What does my leader do . . .

A leader I respect recently shared a frustration – “My people don’t think I do anything.”  In the ensuing conversation we explored the silent things they do to help their team stay focused, and different ways to help them see the investment being made in their success.  Leadership behind closed doors too often leads to communication gaps that are filled with opinions.

I am in the middle of a family project to document some letters my Grandpa received during his service in Europe during WWI as a leader of an artillery battery.  The follow letter (unedited by me) came addressed simply to the Commanding Officer, Battery A. 123rd Field Artillery.  It is dated December 16th, 1918 – Delton, Michigan.

Dear Sir,

Will you please inform about Private Henry C. Akers.  The report came in to Carthage, Ill that Henry and his brother was both killed and his brother is not, and I haven’t heard from Henry since the 28 of July 1918 and I am so worry over him.  Will you please be so kind and look it up as soon as possible and let me know.  I wrote the war department at Washington D.C. and they said no report of any kind of mishap had reach thems but theys refer me to write to you.

Will you please tell me if the Battery A 123 F.A. is going to come across to U.S.A soon or when?  Will thank you ever so much for your trouble.

Florence M – ,  Delton, Michigan

My guess is this an example of a  ‘Do things as assigned’ activity from the job description of a leader.  I don’t know my Grandpa’s response, but based on my time with him I am sure he dealt with it quickly and without a lot of fanfare.  This 94 year old letter is also a testament that leadership has not changed all that much.  There are some things you just have to get involved in as a leader that the rest of the world cannot see, or are just to busy to really notice. 

Leaders – A good parallel to an open door policy is a transparency policy.  A seasoned leader once shared with me a habit where they shared their personal list of problems they were trying to solve at their monthly staff meeting.  They also asked for input/help from their team.  Suprisingly (or not) over time they often received some very creative ideas and help

 Followers – Why not ask your leader to share the top five three things that are consuming their mind/time right now? 

A great question to end your week (or your meeting)

It was a situation I had been in many times before.  Presenting to a group (this being a group of students at Grand Valley State University) and enjoying the interaction.  I was talking about my business/journey, talent management, and connecting back to their topics of diversity and ethics.  I did what every speaker does during a session, I paused and asked “Are there any questions?”.  Quickly a hand shot up in the back from a student who had been engaged all night.  Then he changed my week with one question:

“Through all of your startup, What are you most proud of?” 

Know that my week had not started well, and I had been second guessing this commitment to speak.  My mind quickly went to the faces of a team I had just been talking with that were bringing a different level of energy to their leadership.  I thought of a friend who had recently shared he was adding a one on one with his regimen and using my scorecard.  I thought of the energy my family had put into helping me get started.  I am not sure what I shared, but it was only a portion of the great thoughts that entered my head.

The trajectory of my week changed at that moment.

I love this question.  It makes people think of successes, of relationships they cherish, and of things in their lives that went right.

Try this at a meeting or offsite somtime with your team.  I have even seen it done where people are asked before to bring in an artifact (picture, items, etc.) that identifies something they are proud of.  It will lead to smiles and intimate knowledge of what makes people tick. 

So as you end your week, take a couple of minutes to ponder and answer the question “What am I most proud of?”

What do you do?

I was reviewing one of my daughter’s assignments, and in it she was asked what 3 careers would she be interested in and what people do in these jobs.  Here is her description of one:

I would like a career as a nurse because my Mom is one.  The duties are being on time for work and willing to do anything.

When people look at our jobs, it is good to hear what others think is important to do it well.  This is through the eyes of a 9 year old, but confirmed as accurate by the experts. 🙂

I have found that it is surprisingly difficult for people to identify the 5 most important things they do at their job.  I once made the mistake of setting aside only 30 minutes for an exercise with a group.  We needed 2+ hours.  My experience has shown me that when we ask this question, the response is either a high level summary similar to what my daughter provided above, or a detailed list of 20+ items along with an eye roll that sends the message I am too busy! 

This is why I incorporated this check-in for every talent management template I have published.  The performance conversation questionnaire, the one on one sheet, and the development plan.  In a world where resources are scarce, positions stay open for weeks/months, job absorption is very common, and people are afraid to say no . . . it is important to always be comparing perceptions.

Gallup’s #1 question for engagement – I know what is expected of me at work.  Be relentless in sharing/talking about this.  It will make a difference for leaders, followers, and teams. 

Some of the answers might also make you smile.

They asked: Performance management in small companies and Crucial Conversations

For my blog readers – the following is a post inspired by questions received from HR leaders that I will be talking with tomorrow as I share with them my talent scorecard presentation.  My pledge is that I will answer questions they have, and these were submitted as part of a survey I asked them to take.  It is in the vein of what I normally talk about, but exceeds my personal 200-300 word limit that I try and stick to because I want our conversation to fit into your busy schedule. 🙂

Question:  How do you create an employee development program specific to the needs of each employee?

I found out an interesting fact several months ago – 99.9% of organizations in the United States have less than 500 employees.   These organizations employ about half of the people in our economy.  This feeds into this question because the traditional answer to the question from training and development is to:  1) Develop job descriptions  2) Define competencies/measures for each role  3) Perform a gap analysis  4) Create a plan based on gaps  5) Revisit yearly with a performance evaluation.  Most organizations do not have the time, HR expertise, and patience to do all of these things.   Two things that are critical in developing people:  1) A trusting relationship between leader and follower  2)  A conversation around what they need (both company and individual) that is captured in a plan   2.5)  A follower ready to own the plan and a leader committed to supporting it.  Here is a link to the development plan and other templates I provide that will drive the right conversations and capture key information in a written form that can be managed.    fyi – it is that simple, but not necessarily easy.  I can blog on that at another time if you would like – just ask.  ANY size organization can put development plans in place for their people, and it is the key to helping people develop.

It states in Crucial Conversations that “one study of 500 stunningly productive organizations revealed that peak performance had absolutely nothing to do with forms, procedures, and policies that drive performance management.”  From my experience, I agree.  Please discuss how the process you are presenting makes a true difference in peak performance, including the aspects of the process which are most crucial to success. 

The reference to Crucial Conversations is a series of two books published by and sold by a consulting group called Vital Smarts.  My belief system on performance was actually born out of a conversation I had with one of their partners and a co-author from another book they published, Influencer.  I spent a couple of days with David Maxfield listening to him teach and working with him on a rollout plan.  Let me say the guy is brilliant, experienced, and their focus on helping organization/leaders become great at having difficult conversations is world class.  But in one conversation I asked “Do you assume that organizations you are trying to help already have a culture in place where regular one on one discussions are already happening, because it seems that is the key place where it would be easiest to practice what you are teaching.”  His answer was “Yes’.  What I knew based on my conversations with leaders in this growing organization was the one on one habit was not firmly in place.  As a result, the implementation of this key leadership skill was spotty at best.  I agree that conflict management is a critical leadership skill to enable great performance, but  I base performance/talent management on the relationship first, and then the other pieces/habits build off that.  I also agree that it is not policy, procedures first – – but I also know from experience that in order to Build Rhythm there has to be some structure in place.

I love talking to groups and want to make the conversation longer than an hour long keynote.  Feel free to comment or ask follow-up questions.  I welcome them.

trU Tips #16a – One on Ones and Leadership

Since you are my faithful readers that want to engage with me daily/weekly to talk about leadership – both of groups and self, with a splash of developing culture in organizations, I thought I would add some thoughts that did not make it past the 430 word trU Tip limit. (here is a link to trU Tip 16 if you missed it).

There are three things that are critical to making a One on One really work:

1. What is my job?  I am still surprised how hard it is for people to define this.  The list is either really long and detailed, or so generic that it would be impossible to use to recruit a new candidate or help with guidance/accountability for anyone in their job.  My goal over the next couple months is to create a tool to help people do this – – – if you have any input or want to help let me know.  I think it could be very cool, but maybe a bit scary to unleash a bunch of people with a clear sense of purpose or asking for just a little leadership from their manager.  More to come . . . .

2. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER Reschedule:  This might be impossible, but can we all agree on one thing – it is important that people Trust you as their leader, right?  In Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust, he makes the point that People judge themselves based on their intent, and judge others based on their actions. 

Here is a scenerio:  Leader tells everyone in a staff meeting how important they are and he/she will start doing one on ones to make sure they are getting support they need and any issues/changes that are happening get clarified quickly.  In first six meetings, three get cancelled.  Leader thinks:  We are doing one on ones just like the book!  I really care about my people.  People think:  He/She said it was important, but must not think it is that important.  Just another example of . . . . .   

3.  Make it a Followership tool:  Remember the ownership of this conversation rests with the individual, not the leader.  The leader’s job is to:  1) Show up  2) Follow-up (on commitments) 3) NOT Gobble up time (ie.  show some restraint from making their agenda the most important.

Recently I was talking to a leader that was kicking off an organization wide effort to help managers become coaches for their people.  The barrier I saw – they had no habit around one on ones and generally people did not have enough clarity in their roles to ask for help.  If they had this form/habit, their vision has a chance to be real.  Without this form/habit, it will be still be great training, but as for the ROI . . .

If you were going to add one thing to my list or one piece to my one on one form what would it be?

Some Hmm . . . #’s – Appreciation at work, Tablet usage, If I were CFO

Some numbers this week that made me pause – and what they might mean to a leader

 

Employee Satisfaction (from current Inc magazine – source Global Workforce Mood Tracker; Staples.com)

Share of employees who say they feel underappreciated at work:      39% (up from 32% in Feb)

Leaders:  Do you have a Habit of doing one on ones monthly?  If no – Hmmmm . . . .    Here is a posting that might help you get started. 

 

If I were the CFO . . . . Employees top choices if allowed to make afew improvements to their work environment:

  • Eliminate office politics – 44%
  • Encourage telecommuting – 41%
  • Upgrade computers – 37%
  • Improve Office Furniture – 35%
  • Provide Private Work Areas – 34%
  • Allow More Flexible Hours – 34%

Leaders:  The first one on the list is FREE.  Are you great at communicating change?  Makes a big difference.  If you are spending money next year on stuff – what about some new computers?  A few $100 flat screens might go a long way. . .

 

Tablet Usage in the US (here is the link to all the numbers)

# of people who own tablets (IPads, etc.) :  54 Million (early 2012)                  108+ (1/3 of US population) by 2015

Leaders:  Are you at least experimenting with tablets for your teachers? salesforce? Anyone for 2012?  If you are – GREAT.  If not, hmm . . ..

Typical Tablet user:

  • Wealthy (50% have $100K+ income)
  • Male, Age 18-34
  • College graduate (51%)

Leader:  Who on the exec team uses them?  Don’t assume that number is the norm . . . ..

 

Executive:  It is a good habit every now and then to have your leaders go listen to people who are listening to what people outside your company are feeling and doing.  Then ask – Is it accurate?  Is it relevant?  What should we do with it?

I like to listen.  This is just some of what I heard this week that made me go Hmm . . .

3 Habits To Help Great Leaders Be Good Managers

Managing is about being face to face with people and helping them work through the steps to success.  Great leadership is often draped in words like vision, inspiration, and determination.  But even great leaders have to put on the manager hat and address the needs of their direct staff.  Here are three habits that will make that happen.

1.  Get to know your people:  Building trust starts with knowing someone.  When I walk into start-up companies it is common for people to hire friends and family first.  They do that because the relationship is there, and with relationships comes speed in decision making and patience with stress behaviors/poor decisions.  One tool I use with all clients is what I call a Team Member Fact Sheet.  Use this in your onboarding process(after you hire) to get to know your people and for them to get to know you. 

2. Commit to regular/uninterrupted One on One Time:  At least monthly you should be sitting down with every direct report and checking in.  30 minutes is ideal, but 15 minutes is acceptable.  Two key things about these meetings.  First, you do not allow interruptions.  Show them your commitment by delaying calls from anyone (including spouse and CEO).  Secondly, give the agenda to them.  I will be publishing a template later this month to enable this, but this being their time is key.

3.  Memorize these questions: What do you need from me?  Outside of this task list, what other significant things are happening for you?  The focus of one on ones from a manager perspective is in the first question.  If the tasks are well defined and the success measures are in place the celebrations (getting things done) or problem solving (getting stuck/behind) will happen.  I NEED are two very powerful words for followers to say, and very difficult because too often NEED = WEAKNESS in the minds of people.  The second question allows you to learn what is happening outside of work.  Don’t be surprised if they start asking you this question.

Robert Hurley shared 5 principles leaders can adopt to demonstrate trustworthiness and increase trust across their organizations.  Here is the full post, but the 5 points were:

  • Show that your interests are the same.
  • Demonstrate concern for others
  • Deliver on your promises
  • Be consistent and honest
  • Communicate frequently, clearly and openly

These principles are embedded in the actions I shared. 

Lead well!  And manage a little along the way.