Exercise Good Meeting Hygiene 

Meetings, meetings, and more meetings! Don't contribute to the dread. Next time you need to gather people together to advance your project, make sure you do the following to make your meeting worthwhile:

  • Make sure it's necessary. Before sending out the invite, ask yourself whether there's another way to move the project forward. Can you get input via e-mail? Can you gather a sub-group to solve the current issue?
  • Be clear about the objective. State the purpose of the meeting in the invite and again at the beginning of the meeting. Be sure to explain how the meeting will advance the overall project goals.
  • Focus. Just because you have an hour scheduled, don't take it. Keep the discussion centered and avoid unnecessary side conversations.

Adapted from Guide to Project Management.

 
 
Although the ghost of the Great Man still haunts leadership studies, most of us have recognized by now that successful organizations are the product of distributive, collective, and complementary leadership. The first step in putting together such a team is to identify each member of the team’s personality makeup and leadership style, so that strengths and competences can be matched to particular roles and challenges. Getting this match wrong can bring misery to all concerned and cause considerable damage.

I was once asked to facilitate in a group coaching intervention for the leadership team at the subsidiary of a large chemical company. A year before Kate (not her real name, the head of the subsidiary) had been moved from head office to take charge. At head office she had always been viewed as a person extremely insightful about personnel decisions. Given her talents in HR, she was seen a good candidate to sort out the mess in that particular subsidiary. It was a big leap in terms of promotion but Kate was given a chance.

Unfortunately, I quickly realized that her tenure had been a disaster. She may have been a good coach but didn’t have what it takes to create greater strategic focus and execute a turnaround. A great amount of money had been spent on consultants and on training a workforce that had no clearer idea at the end of 12 months what they were doing or why. What had dazzled the people at head office had been Kate’s coaching and communication skills. She was at sea, however, in a more operational role.

What can be done to prevent a situation like the one with Kate? There are a number of serious leadership questionnaires that are worlds away from the enneagrams and compatibility tests that litter the coaching circuit. Some of these try to identify certain recurring behavior patterns considered more or less effective in a leadership context. We have also tests to discover whether executives are people or task oriented, autocratic or democratic, transactional or transformational, and variations on all of these. These sorts of questionnaire may be a bit simplistic, but they can help point someone in the right direction on a career or organizational path.

My own approach to leadership assessment is based on observational studies of real leaders, mostly at the strategic apex of their organizations. My aim is to help them see and understand that their attitudes and interactions with people are the result of a complex confluence of their inner theater (including relationships with authority figures early in life), significant life experiences, examples set by other executives, and formal leadership training.

As these influences play out over time, one typically sees a number of recurring patterns of behavior that influence an individual’s effectiveness within an organization.  I think of these patterns as leadership “archetypes,” reflecting the various roles executives can play in organizations and it is a lack of fit between a leader’s archetype and the context in which he or she operates is a main cause of team and organizational dysfunctionality and executive failure.   The eight archetypes I have found to be most prominent are:

  • The strategist: leadership as a game of chess. These people are good at dealing with developments in the organization’s environment. They provide vision, strategic direction and outside-the-box thinking to create new organizational forms and generate future growth.
  • The change-catalyst: leadership as a turnaround activity. These executives love messy situations. They are masters at re-engineering and creating new organizational ‘‘blueprints.’’
  • The transactor: leadership as deal making. These executives are great dealmakers. Skilled at identifying and tackling new opportunities, they thrive on negotiations.
  • The builder: leadership as an entrepreneurial activity. These executives dream of creating something and have the talent and determination to make their dream come true.
  • The innovator: leadership as creative idea generation. These people are focused on the new. They possess a great capacity to solve extremely difficult problems.
  • The processor: leadership as an exercise in efficiency. These executives like organizations to be smoothly running, well-oiled machines. They are very effective at setting up the structures and systems needed to support an organization’s objectives.
  • The coach: leadership as a form of people development. These executives know how to get the best out of people, thus creating high performance cultures.
  • The communicator: leadership as stage management. These executives are great influencers, and have a considerable impact on their surroundings.
Working out which types of leaders you have on your team can work wonders for your effectiveness as a group.  It helps you to recognize how you and your colleagues can individually make their best contributions. This will in turn create a culture of mutual support and trust, reduce team stress and conflict, and make for more creative problem solving. It also informs your search for new additions to the team: what kinds of personality and skills are you missing?

Kate’s story had a happy ending. The group coaching session made it clear that the problem was not so much Kate’s lack of ability but rather that team lacked specific leadership qualities.  If the team incorporated an executive with a strategic outlook and who had turnaround skills and experience then Kate’s skills as a communicator and coach would be more effectively leveraged to resolve the subsidiary’s crisis. After talking to the head of talent management at head office we were able to identify exactly such a person, creating a more rounded team and helping Kate to fulfill her mandate.

by Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries 

 
 
Your firm's employees work hard (well, most of them). And in a world where corporations like to boast about running "lean and mean," it may seem nearly impossible to compensate employees for doing good work without breaking the budget.

The good news? You don't have to. A January 2007 survey by staffing firmAccountemps found that “frequent recognition of accomplishments” was the top non-monetary compensation named by full- and part-time office workers, with “regular communication” coming in at No. 2. Both activities can make your staff more productive without shaving one millimeter off your bottom line.

We talked to management consultants, HR pros, career coaches, book authors and bosses from a range of industries to glean the 25 best ways to reward employees without breaking the bank. Here's their hard-earned advice.

1. Flex those hours. If there's one free reward that rises above the rest, it's flexible work schedules. Nearly every expert we contacted suggested flex time as a perk that offers the most gain with the least pain. 

“Give a little latitude in determining work schedules and to take time for family or personal issues (such as doctor’s appointment and banking errands),” advised Richard Martin, president of Alcera Consulting Inc. “As long as the employee is deserving and doesn’t abuse the privilege, this can go a long way to building trusting and mature relationships with key workers.”

2. Send a handwritten note. Supervisors should ask top brass to write a personal note to employees who deserve recognition, advised Cindy Ventrice, author of "Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works." For example, AdvancedMD CEO Jim Pack handwrites his thank-you notes to employees on a $2 bill. “In three years of doing this, only one employee has asked if he could spend it,” said company spokesman John Pilmer.

3. Make work fun. “During a business coaching engagement, I found employee morale to be way down,” said Terri Levine, president of The Coaching Institute. “We created a weekly event to boost morale. One week we asked everyone to bring in a baby picture, post it on a wall, then pick which person matched each picture. Everyone was having fun and socializing while productivity went from 58 percent to 72 percent — all in the same week.”

4. Help them connect. Introducing employees to key suppliers, customers or someone in senior management can help make an employee's career, says Ventrice — and it won't cost you a thing.

5. Lose the shoes.
 Kaerie Ray, an account executive with the Echo Media Group public relations firm, said implementing a “no-shoes policy” can make employees feel right at home with each other, which translates into increased productivity. (But she suggests keeping the footwear handy in case clients come in.) “It's great to be in an office where employees are more concerned about doing quality work than what shoes or jewelry they have on,” she said. “We get so much done.”

6. Send them to the showers.
 (As in parties, not lathering and rinsing.) “Every birth and wedding deserves a shower,” said Ray. “Echo employees always leave early on shower days, and the food is on the house. No need to make up the time.”

7. Reward effort as well as success. Even if their ideas sometimes fail, you want employees to keep producing them, said Alan Weiss, president of the Summit Consulting Group Inc. “When I consulted with the CEO of Calgon, we created an annual award for 'the best idea that didn't work' and presented a loving cup at the annual awards dinner. This stimulated innovation and positive behavior, not 'winning.'”

8. Give them a free pass. Levine suggests giving out a certain number of free days off to employees to use as they see fit. “Employees get a few of these a year and can use them as they like,” she said. “They don't have to pretend to be sick. They can go to the beach, read a book, play with their kids ... it doesn't matter.”

9. Dole out cream and sugar. During the busiest times of the year, executives at the Cigna Group push coffee carts around the office, serving drinks and refreshments to their colleagues, noted Steve Harrison, author of "The Manager's Book of Decencies: How Small Gestures Build Great Companies." As they serve, executives coach and encourage colleagues and hear about real consumer issues.

10. Blow out the candles. Cisco Systems Inc.'s CEO John Chambers hosts a monthly hour-long birthday breakfast for any employee with a birthday that month, says Harrison. “Employees are invited to ask him anything. They feel recognized, and he gains loyal employees who share their ideas.”

11. Spread the love. Ask co-workers to write something they truly like or admire about an employee on a scrap of paper, then frame them along with a photograph of the employee, suggested David Russell, author of "Success With People – A Complete System for Effectively Managing People in Any Organization." 

12. Offer a swap. Giving your best employees a chance to pick their own projects or trade tasks with a colleague empowers and rewards them at the same time, said Harrison.

13. Applaud their efforts — literally. If someone has done something really worthwhile, have your entire staff give them a standing ovation at the next meeting, suggested Sharlyn Lauby, president of HR consulting firm ITM Group Inc.

14. Say it with flowers. 
Professor Linda M. Lopeke, principal ofSmartStartCoach.com, sayid she used to reward top employees by bringing in flowers from her garden and arranging them in a spectacular crystal vase on their desks. “Everybody knew what having the custody of the flowers meant,” she said. “Surprisingly, even the men competed fiercely for custody of the flowers.” In the winter, she'd substitute a showpiece display of floating glass fish.

15. Walk it as you talk it. The City of Dallas sponsored a walkathon where employees set goals for walking a certain number of steps each day, offering a free gym membership to those who walked the farthest. Not only did they get more fit, they turned their daily walks into traveling staff meetings, says city spokeswoman Danielle McCelland.

“Group members were able to update one another on projects, solicit team input and improve their fitness,” she said. “The organized program ended after three weeks, but the work group still holds their traveling staff meetings two months later.”

16. Pass the bucks. Handing out monopoly money that can be redeemed for gifts and other goodies may not be strictly free, but it pays off handsomely in the long run. For example, associates at BankAtlantic can pass out “WOW! Bucks” to colleagues who've done something outstanding, said bank vice president Gregory Dalmotte. The bucks can eventually be traded in for real goods. “There's a clear correlation that words of encouragement have created associates who perform at a higher level,” he says.

17. Share the memories. “My team created a scrapbook chronicling the impact I'd had on their company and gave it to me on my last day in the office,” said Lopeke. “People who’d worked on my teams wrote testimonials and creative graphics highlighting some our team successes. It's the best gift I ever received in my 40-year career.”

18. Elect them to the Wall of Fame. Several experts suggested setting aside a public space inside your firm and placing photos of employees who've accomplished something truly special, along with the details of what they did to earn their place on the wall.

19. Create your own "Club Med." 
Set aside a quiet space or unused office in your building where employees can meditate, chill out, nap or otherwise re-center themselves, said John Putzier, author of "Get Weird! 101 Innovative Ways to Make Your Company a Great Place to Work." 

20. Stoke their passion. “Great employees are not mercenaries,” said Dr. Richard Chang, CEO of Richard Chang Associates Inc., a performance-improvement consultancy. “They don’t just want to enjoy their work, they want to be passionate about it ... if you want your employees to feel valued and inspire their passion on your behalf, encourage them to make their own decisions. You can have systems in place to control the implementation of ideas, but you must be certain not to compromise the enthusiasm, creativity and hard work that make them possible in the first place.”

21. Give them a place to park it.
 Reserve the best parking spot for employees who've done something truly worthwhile, said Lopeke. And if it's next to the CEO's Lexus so the employee can chat him or her up on the way into work, so much the better.

22. Remember the spouses.
 Independent management consultant Nan Amish recalled one time when she had 16 employees trapped in a hotel lobby on a Sunday night, waiting for the ballroom to open so they could set up a trade-show booth. “I bought flowers at a farmers market, a nice $6 bouquet of roses for each person,” she said. “I told them to take them home to their significant others, apologizing for me taking them away from their families on a Sunday. The next day I got thank-yous from most of them. One wife sent a letter saying I could keep her husband until Friday.”

23. Publicize their successes. “We like to publicly recognize employees so the whole company can share in their accomplishments,” noted Scott Ragusa, president of contract businesses for staffing firm The Winter, Wyman Companies. “Each week, nominations for our quarterly 'Clutch' award are shared with the whole company. The Clutch nominations are a way to recognize our administrative and nonmanagerial professional staff members who have come through in the clutch in supporting their departments or the firm.”

24. Let them phone it in. Telecommuting programs can relieve stress and make workers feel more appreciated, as well as more productive. “Reward the employee by starting with one day of telecommuting, then add additional days as performance heightens,” suggested Brian Margarita, president of IT staffing firm TalentFuse Inc. “Having the option to cart the kids to soccer practice, visit the beach during the afternoon or cut out early to avoid traffic congestion is becoming more important than working an 80-hour week for a larger paycheck.”

25. Remember the secret words. “The two most underused words in corporate America that get the highest ROI (return on investment) and ROT (return on your time) are the simple words 'thank you,'” noted Michael Guld, president of the Guld Resource Group author of "The Million Dollar Media Rep: How to Become a Television and Radio Sales Superstar." 

While telling your employees you appreciate them should be obvious, added Amish, no one does it enough or is specific enough about what the employee did. “So when you share your appreciation, be specific about what you really liked, so they not only feel appreciated but can do it again.” 

By Dan Tynan

25 Ways to Reward Employees (Without Spending a Dime)
 
 
When I took over as CEO of Intralinks,  a company that provides secure web based electronic deal rooms, the company was hemorrhaging so much cash that its survival was at stake. The service was going down three times per week; we were in violation of the contract with our largest client; our chief administrative officer had just been demoted, and so on.

So, what I do on my first day? I spent more than four hours  listening in to client support calls at the call center.  I shared headsets with many of the team, moving from desk to desk to speak to the reps. To say they were surprised is an understatement: Many CEOs never visit the call center, and virtually none do it their first afternoon on the job.

I made this my priority partly because I wanted to know what customers were saying—but also to make an internal statement. I knew there had to be some radical changes to behaviors, expectations, and attitudes.  There was no time to be subtle.  I needed to show I was different, that things were going to be different, and I needed to establish trust as quickly as possible.

In leading various companies over the years, one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is that establishing trust is the top priority. Whether you are taking over a small department, an entire division, a company, or even a Boy Scout troop, the first thing you must get is the trust of the members of that entity.  When asked, most leaders will agree to this notion, but few do anything to act on it.

Without trust, it is very unlikely you will learn the truth on what is really going on in that organization and in the market place.  Without trust, employees won’t level with you—at best, you’ll learn either non-truths or part truths. I see this all too frequently. Sometimes employees will go out of their way to hoard and distort the truth.

The best way to start building trust to take the time and meet as many individual contributors as you can as soon as you can. In addition to meeting customers, meeting rank-and-file employees should be your top priority.

This is not a common approach. Many leaders see their role as directing and giving information, rather than gathering.  There is pressure to “come up with the answer” quickly or risk looking weak.  Too many new leaders believe they’re expected to know the answer without input or guidance. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Doing this correctly takes time—but less than you might think. The meetings can be on one on one or small groups.  The sessions can’t be rushed.  In the first few weeks I’d suggest you spend up to half your time in these meetings. Take a pad and take notes.  Listen intently.  A simple but effective open-ended question is: “If you were put into my role tomorrow, what would be the first three things you’d do and why?”  Or: “What are the three biggest barriers to our success, and what are our three biggest opportunities we have?” Really great ideas can emerge from these meetings—along with some really mediocre ones—but it’s your job to filter and prioritize them. First, gather the information.

Later on my first day at Intralinks, I began arranging meetings with individual contributors. That’s where my learning really began. Over the next few weeks I met with over 60 individual contributors. Not only did I learn a lot, but I convinced them that I cared what they thought and could be trusted with the truth.

In the middle of my first week as CEO, one of the company’s original VCs called. “So, what’s your plan?” he asked. I said I have to spend a few weeks learning. He was incredulous that I did not have a pre-baked plan. I was incredulous he thought that I should.

Over those weeks I learned how unhappy clients were with our complex bills, why service went down so often, why our pricing gave our clients headaches, that 80% of the customer calls could be eliminated with a simple fix to our service, and that clients wanted predictability of expenditures with us.

After six weeks, I had enough information to return to the management team with specific recommendations on what I thought we should do. Instead of just laying this out in an all-hands meeting, I began laying out the plan in one-on-one meetings in which I talked about how each individual’s feedback had helped guide my thinking. This created a tremendous buy in among all levels of the team.

By mid March, after only 10 weeks on the job, we rolled out the new plan. By the end of the year we’d signed 150 new long-term contracts (up from zero), revenue was up by almost 600%, our burn rate was cut by 75%, and we’d positioned ourselves to raise a $50 million round of financing a few months later in the heart of the dot.com winter.

None of this could have happened without building the trust of the team. New leaders must remember that many of the best insights on how to fix a company lie with employees further down the org chart. Creating a trusting, honest dialogue with these key personnel should be every new leader’s top priority.

by Jim Dougherty  

The Best Way For New Leaders To Build Trust 
Harvard Business Review
 
 
When people feel connected to you, even difficult conversations feel less threating. Here are three tips to forge stronger bonds with your employees:

  • Relate whenever you can. View every interaction as an opportunity to get to know someone a little better. Make a habit of asking employees one question about their work or their personal lives each time you encounter them.
  • Take note of subtleties. People seek emotional connection through countless small “bids” for attention—questions, gestures, or looks. Take stock of how much you notice these cues . You might also solicit some feedback from friends and family on how well you listen and respond to social cues in general.
  • Regularly express appreciation. Research shows that the ratio of positive to negative interactions is 5:1 in a successful relationship. You don’t need to pay someone five compliments before offering criticism, but do be mindful of the ratio.
 

Human Resources

12/12/2013

 
Learning styles are various approaches to ways of learning. They involve different methods which allow individuals to learn best. Most people prefer an identifiable method of interacting with, taking in, and processing information.

There are three different learning styles:

1. Visual Learners

  • Learns best through seeing them.
  • Benefits from illustrations & presentations in color.
  • Takes notes and needs to see things in writing.

2. Auditory Learners

  • Learns things best through sounds.
  • Acquires knowledge by reading things aloud.
  • Sits where they can hear but doesn't need to pay attention to what is happening.

3.. Kinesthetic Learners

  • Learns things best by performing them.
  • Communicates by touching, such as a pat on the back.
  • Needs to be active and take frequent breaks.
 
 
Take the first 30 minutes of each day to plan your day. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.

Time Management Tips

  1. Plan each day.
  2. Prioritize your tasks.
  3. Say no to nonessential tasks.
  4. Delegate.
  5. Take the time you need to do a quality job.
  6. Break large, time consuming tasks into smaller tasks.
  7. Evaluate how you're spending your time.
  8. Limit distractions.
  9. Take a break when needed.
  10. Get plenty of sleep, eat healthy and exercise regularly.
 

Innovation 

12/10/2013

 
Your primary job as a leader is not to innovate; it is to become an innovation architect, creating a work environment that helps your people engage in the key innovation behaviors as part of their daily work.

 
 
Jack Welch's Eight Rules of Leadership

1.  Leaders relentlessly upgrade their team, using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach and build self-confidence.
2. Leaders make sure people not only see the vision, they live and breathe it.
3. Leaders get into everyone’s skin, exuding positive energy and optimism.
4. Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency and credit.
5. Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls.
6. Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on skepticism, making sure their questions are answered with action.
7. Leaders inspire risk taking and learning by setting the example.
8. Leaders celebrate!

 

Human Resources

12/05/2013

 
Use a Performance Improvement Plan when you have identified a performance problem and are looking for ways to improve the performance of an employee.