How to Lead Stupid People

Stupid People

“How to Lead Stupid People” as an article title… Offensive, right? Who would think that the people that work with them are stupid?

Well read these statements:

“I was just promoted into management and am shocked at how stupid my employees can be. I give them directions and then they do 18 things I didn’t want. I’m getting really frustrated and curt with them. How do I make sure they do tasks the way I want them done?” – Actual question sent in by recently promoted manager (Source)

“My organization has tripled the number of employees I supervise, and I’m exhausted with how many stupid mistakes they make. I make every effort to train them, and yet they still manage to misunderstand nearly everything I say. How can I make the job to clear to them and not waste so much time with their mistakes?” – Yes, another real question sent into a newspaper! (Source)

Not only do people think that their direct reports are stupid, they are also willing to ask for advice about them… And “experts” are willing to answer.

But take a different look at the equation:

What if the reason that a team is “stupid” has more to do with the person in charge than the people on the team?

People Are Only As Stupid As Allowed

We are the masters of how we interpret the world. That’s why people can see the same glass as half full or half empty – the glass isn’t different, the perspective is. It’s a phenomenon called confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is a trick our brain plays, only looking for evidence supporting our preconceived notions or strongly held beliefs.

In one my first real jobs, my first manager struggled to identify three positive attributes in my first quarterly review. Right after that, I got the opportunity to do the same job for another leader in the organization. In three months, I was given a huge project to reduce attrition in a key area. It was successful and I was promoted to manager of the group.

  • Was I smarter while working for the second manager? No.
  • Did I make mistakes and fail while working for the second manager? Absolutely.

But for manager two, I was a capable and resourceful employee. For manager one, I was a total screw up. I didn’t act differently work any harder. The difference was in their perspective…

Do you think that the people who “work for you” are brainless? It likely has more to do with your view of them than their performance.

If Your Employees Are Stupid, That’s On You

Teams are only good as their combined abilities. Leaders aren’t always given the opportunity to pick the people, but they can shape a high-performance team culture. This culture encourages people to step up or step out. Either is fine, as long as everyone is rowing in the same direction.

During a promotion, I “inherited” a team that wasn’t doing so well. I interviewed the team. They were passionate and diligent about doing a great job, but the previous manager assumed their jobs were mundane and they must be “simpletons” (his words, really). He also didn’t deal with a single performance issue.

I took the following actions immediately:

  1. Started to promote the wins of the team
  2. Met with all the business partners to realign goals and projects
  3. Had a tough conversation with the person that was not performing their duties

The team’s performance turned around dramatically.

On Leadership and Culture

Shadow of a Leader

Did the team change? Not really. I didn’t rejigger their processes. It was really a matter of what I thought of the team. It’s the notion of “shadow of the leader.”

Essentially, the team will emulate the leader’s actions, and will be a reflection of the leader’s perception of the group. Think about a person you were in a relationship with that didn’t work out, then they end up great relationship. It’s likely they didn’t really change much.

What’s more likely is that they found someone that saw their inner greatness.

You shape how the people around you show up. Unless you are in a war zone (and research tells us sometimes even then), you control how great people show up.

You Can’t Fix Stupid, But You Can Fix You

What does this all mean for the stupid team that you are forced to lead?

It means if you think you are leading stupid people, look in the mirror. The likely cause of the collective stupidity of the team is that you haven’t answered/addressed some very important questions:

  • Do you really know what the team does?

    • Not just the “they process form 47” level, but the impact on the end customer or bottom line – if you can’t clearly articulate that, then how can your expect your team to know the impact of their actions?
  • Do you know how your team impacts and interacts with other teams?

    • Part of overcoming the label of “stupid team” is understanding the interactions between teams.
  • Do you know what motivates your team members?

    •  Not the fluffy stuff, but the underlying motivation – this insight enables you to see why they act the way they do.
  •  Do you know their strengths?

    • Far too often, leaders don’t really know what their team members’ strengths are – they constantly give them either crappy, mundane work or tasks they struggle with. I’m 5′ 1″ tall – if my manager gave me the task of being the center of a basketball team, I’d fail no matter how hard I worked.
  • Do you know what they want to do with their careers?

    •   Its vital to know what folks want out of the time they are working. Is it to be the manager, to get a paycheck, or to start his or her own business? All of those are awesome. This gives you insight into how you can work with them to achieve those goals and frame tasks or projects. You will really have to think about why you are assigning things (and to whom) when you’re assigning them.

Are the people on the team you have the privilege of leading really stupid? Probably not. A team being “stupid” has more to do with the leader than the members of the team. Everyone is masterful at something – it’s just a matter of finding out what.

  • A leader actively looks for the greatness in each and every person on the team.
  • A non-leader just complains that the team is ineffective because the people on their team are stupid.

Which one are you?

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Anil Saxena is a President & Senior Consultant Cube 214 Consulting
He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
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A Recipe For Failure: Focusing On Success

Great Recipe

When cooking food, a little too much or too little of an ingredient can ruin a dish. So if you are cooking from a great recipe, it is vital to focus on every aspect of building that recipe in a way that will yield success.

Great meals don’t come from great recipes; they come from great execution of a great recipe.

Great Recipes Do Not Equal Great Results

At first, I couldn’t understand how someone could have a great recipe for a great meal but still not be able to produce a great meal. With that reasoning, everyone should be master chefs (and we know that’s not the case). I have come to realize in my ignorance and oversimplification of cooking that the problem lies not so much in the recipe as it does in the placement of focus.

Let me explain, great chefs have great focus and an innate ability to place focus on the right things at the right time. A masterful meal is the byproduct of placing great focus on the details and the processes. The reason many fail at making great meals is because they are focusing too much on… making great meals.

Notice Your Focus

As a youth football player I tried being a kicker (kickers are cool in little league). I couldn’t make the cut and had to settle for a skill position. Who knew playing a position other than kicker could be a demotion! The reason I kept failing as a kicker was because I was focusing too much on trying to make successful kicks rather than the actual process of kicking.

Q: So what does a successful kicker, cook, and company have in common (if only “kicker” was spelled with a “c,” my alliteration would be classic)?

A: The answer is, they all do well when they focus on the details and not the results.

They don’t focus on success because they recognize you can’t place focus on results; you place the focus on the details and processes it takes to produce results. Great kickers have an incredible ability to avoid the temptation of wanting to look up and see if their kick in going to be a successful kick or not.

Similarly when it comes to organizations, I have seen where leaders really wanted to be successful but were not able to stay focused on the details and processes it took to produce success.

Recipe for Disaster

Here are a few examples of how recipes for success can come up short:

1. Missing Ingredients

A team wants to be successful, yet no one brings the focus down to the real issues that preventing or hindering its success. Take the time to find what’s missing; could very well be the key ingredient to your success.

2. Half-Baked Plans

An example of a half-baked plan would be having a long-term strategy that you abandon when the early results are not what you hoped for. If this is a long-term process, then stop assessing it by short-term indicators.

Indicators are important, but they are not results.

That’s like pulling the chicken out the oven half-baked and tossing it in the trash because it’s taste was not what you had hoped for. News flash, don’t expect half-baked chicken to taste like anything other that half-baked chicken! You don’t pull out half-baked chicken to taste it, you pull it out to see if it’s cooking according to plan.

Leaders can feel the pressure to show immediate returns on their work that they fall into taste testing their approach and not merely assessing it. This can lead to constant abandoning of incomplete plans and approaches. This can also lead to high turnover and instability within an organization or group. Be sure to keep checking on you plan, just remember that it’s still not finished yet.

3. Wannabe Master Chefs

Don’t try to get creative until you’ve mastered the basics.  People often view creativity as if it is the opposite of order and discipline. Creativity should actually be an expression of high level mastery of the fundamentals. Many try to go out and start with this new creative, out of the box approach only to fall well short of all expectations. Before we become creative, let become competent. Once you’ve mastered your understanding you can begin to apply it in unique, and innovative ways.

What’s your recipe for success? Once you have your unique ingredients, turn your attention to the details and process of following your plan, strategy, or approach. This will help you have the success you’re looking for. My wife (who’s a wonderful cook) at times would ask me how I would make such wonderful dishes on the rare occasions that I do cook? My reply is usually the same,  “I followed the directions from the recipe, Sweetie.”

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Dr. Tommy Shavers

Dr. Tommy Shavers is President of Tommy Speak LLC. and Unus Solutions Inc.
His lenses are Teamwork, Leadership, and Communication
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On Leadership and Succession Planning – Avoiding Costly Mistakes

Succession Planning

Recently, my wife Mary and I discussed the need to review and update our will, which is now about fifteen years old. The next day over coffee a friend asked me if I had a will. Later that day in a random conversation, a stranger mentioned that he knew an estate attorney in my neighborhood. The next day I heard on the radio that August was national “get a will” month.

I got the message! After dragging our feet for several years, we have an appointment this week to begin the process.

Planning For Success

As you know, the topic of succession planning is more than keeping a personal will up to date. Did you ever notice how hard it is for leaders to plan for the time when you or one of your team members leaves the organization? The military does this well by consistently developing officers and enlisted to move up to the next level.

When having the right leader in place is a matter of life and death, the goal is succession at every level without missing a beat.

In the POW camps of Vietnam, having clarity about who assumed command was a huge plus for our success and morale. Not only did we have amazingly well prepared leaders, we had an automatic succession plan—the next senior person became the leader. If you had two people of the same rank, then the one with the earliest promotion date was the leader.

“Had the military not intentionally trained each officer, the outcome of our POW experience could have been very different—increased confusion, mixed messages, lack of unity, and greater loss of life.”

The Value of Succession Planning in the Workplace

If you believe in the mission of your work and want it to continue, you must proactively plan for turnover and succession at all levels –

  • Top Leaders. Succession planning at the highest level is about finding leaders that can protect the vision and move it forward. A bad hire is always costly, and costs at the executive level are tangible and intangible whether it’s a loss of revenue, momentum, or direction needed to stay competitive in a rapidly changing environment.
  • Mid-level Managers. Pro-active companies have a training pipeline for managers—especially those deemed to be high potentials.
  • Front Line Supervisors. Leadership always makes a difference, regardless of the level. These leaders are most involved in getting the job done (results) and taking care of people (relationships).

With good succession planning in place, you’re much better prepared to promote internally, which has many advantages. You’re hiring a known entity and already understand their talents, character, courage, and commitment. Remember—the best insight for hiring is the old saw “has done–will do.” Other advantages include –

  • Saving on outside recruiting costs. The average cost of finding and hiring someone from outside the company is 1.7 times more than an internal hire ($8,676 vs. $15,008) reports the Saratoga Institute.
  • Better morale and retention. It shows you value your people inside the organization.
  • Quicker on-boarding and ramp up. Internal hires know the culture and processes of the organization.
  • Great chances of long-term success. Statistically, experts say that 40-60 percent of external hires aren’t successful compared with only 25 percent for internal hires.

“Developing your own people also provides the opportunity to add knowledge and skills as well as reinforcing your organizational culture, values and policies.”

Looking Outside, and A Final Note

Even with the best internal succession plans and programs, sometimes it’s necessary to look outside. Typical situations that might favor hiring outside would include a –

  • Lack of qualified and experienced candidates.
  • Need for new energy and innovation in a new project/direction.
  • Need for a turnaround person in an area that’s stalled out or dysfunctional.

Regardless of your succession planning process, one thing is clear—it begins with the hiring process. Getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats will be critical to success (Jim Collins), and we should begin with the end in mind (Stephen Covey).

So what are you doing about succession planning? And by the way, when was the last time you updated your will? Both are too important to neglect. Think about it and share your thoughts and experiences.

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Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

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Leadership Lessons From the NFL’s Domestic Violence Controversy

Self Talk

With the horrific behaviors of some NFL players in the news (Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and many more) there is a renewed focus on the topic of abuse.

It is completely appropriate that these conversations are taking place because no advancement in human history has occurred until people started talking about. I’m not going to get into the specifics of each of these cases. But it’s important to talk a little bit about the leadership implications of abuse: in all of its forms.

Obvious Forms of Abuse and Leadership Responsibilities

  • Physical: Zero tolerance! End of story. If you are a leader in any organization and you see evidence of physical abuse among employees or their families, you are obligated to act, and act swiftly. Period.
  • Verbal and Emotional: There is a widely accepted term to describe this: Bullying. Bullying is not a topic that is relegated to middle school or high school locker rooms. It happens daily in the workplace. Just this month I was working with leaders in organizations talking about behaviors, actions, and words that amount to workplace bullying. The biggest challenge that leaders have in addressing workplace bullying is to stop making excuses. Yes, the bully may be really good at financial modeling, marketing, customer service, or some other function. But they leave a path of destruction across the entire organization. No matter how you cut it, that behavior negatively impacts the bottom line.

The Loudest Silent Killer

There’s another kind of abuse that takes place which often goes unnoticed. And there’s a good chance that you have engaged in this kind abuse recently. This is verbal abuse against yourself; even if it only happens in your head.

Imagine the scenario. You work all day putting together a presentation. It takes all day because you’re constantly being interrupted. With every other sentence you hear a voice over your shoulder pointing out every imperfection. The voice says things like:

  • “That’s such a stupid idea.”
  • “They are never going to accept that.”
  • Or, “Face it, you just aren’t good enough. You may as well start updating your resume.”

Harsh words. And there’s very little anyone else could do about it because that voice is yours.

Words Matter

Words matter. Leaders must appreciate the fact that the words they use will influence the words that their team uses. And the words that are used by anyone will influence behaviors and actions. Inclusive words can form a bond and bring people together. These are words like: we, team, together, support, empower.

At the same time, divisive words can separate, segregate, and build barriers between individuals and teams.

This also applies to words you use on yourself.

Be honest with yourself. You are probably your own worst and most frequent abuser.

Stop The Madness

Here are some steps to take to stop abusing yourself

  1. Would you say it to a friend? The next time you criticize yourself, write down what you say to yourself. Then take those exact words and go tell them to your coworker or your best friend. How would that advance your relationship? If it wouldn’t, then stop saying it to yourself.
  2. End the story. You are probably beating yourself up, because there’s a story about something that happened. History is what has happened in the past. There’s nothing you can do about it other than recognize it, acknowledge it, and learn from it. The story is the importance you put on it. You lived it, but you don’t have to re-live it. Though it happened yesterday, you don’t have to give that story a home today.
  3. Find your leadership presence. Leadership presence comes from the inside. People see it. If you don’t believe in yourself, then there is a good chance that others won’t either. If you think those words and that story is just something that’s rattling around inside your own head, you’re mistaken. It’s a lot more visible than you think. Start by taking a breath, and believe in yourself. Because if you do, there’s a good chance others will too.

 What actions will you commit to take to stop the cycle of abuse?

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David Hasenbalg

David Hasenbalg is President of Customized Solutions, LLC
He helps organizations develop collaborative cultures to make a mark in their industry
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On Leadership and Facing a Massive Data Breach

Data Breach

Data breaches are becoming a serious threat to companies of all sizes. But many business leaders are underestimating the debilitating costs associated with a hack — and paying the price for this ignorance.

Data Breach on Someone’s Watch

Look at what happened to Neiman Marcus. Hackers stole the credit card data of 350,000 of the luxury retailer’s customers last year. The breach cost the company $4.1 million and counting in legal fees, investigations, customer communications, and credit monitoring subscriptions. Plus, it suffered a $68 million loss during the holiday quarter.

The company later learned that hackers set off system alarms 60,000 times — but it failed to see the warning signs amid the massive accumulation of data.

In the digital age, companies have to be wary of potential breaches. And leaders are the ones responsible for identifying the threats, taking action, and mitigating the costly consequences.

Underlying Implications of a Data Breach

Cleaning up a malicious breach in the U.S. can cost up to $246 per record. And the effects of an intrusion extend across an organization.

A company can lose revenue, as Neiman Marcus did, or face fines from regulatory agencies. In Massachusetts, for example, a company faces a fine of up to $5,000 for each compromised record. A hacked company can also lose trade secrets.

Breaches can impede financial transactions, causing data to become unavailable or unusable and disrupting business. Furthermore, a defaced website weakens a company’s integrity and credibility. If customers can’t access cloud services, check their accounts, or make purchases, companies could lose their trust as well.

Major Industries Hackers Are Pursuing

Not surprisingly, financial firms are attractive targets. A recent survey of 5,000 senior executives in 99 countries by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 45 percent of financial services firms had been hacked. Only 17 percent of other types of firms had the same experience.

Health data is also high on hackers’ lists. While a stolen credit card or Social Security number is worth a dollar or less, a person’s medical information can yield hundreds of times more, according to the World Privacy Forum.

Hackers recently stole the personal information of 4.5 million patients of Community Health Systems’ 206 hospitals in 29 states. The government has tracked 944 health institution incidents, affecting about 30.1 million people, since 2009. A majority are tied to theft, followed by data loss, hacking, and unauthorized access accounts.

Very often, successful intrusions can be traced to sloppy management practices. The health information of 500 patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles was compromised when an employee’s laptop was stolen from his home. The laptop didn’t have hospital-required encryption software.

Nearly every industry is at risk. Hackers stole personal financial information of about 25,000 employees of the Department of Homeland Security after a breach in a contractor’s system. But this widespread susceptibility to breaches doesn’t mean leaders should accept this fate.

A Leader’s Role in Protecting the Company

Digital security is not an IT problem — it’s a company problem. If a breach happens, the board won’t call the technology director; it will want to speak to the CEO. Here are a few ways leaders can actively prepare for and prevent breaches.

  1. Understand what you’ve got. Decision makers should have a full understanding of the data they are housing or interacting with that could present a valuable target for cybercriminals.
  1. Know the law. Examine any data security regulations governing your industry. If a breach occurs, which regulatory body should be notified?
  1. Make a plan. Administrators and employees should know their responsibilities ahead of time so they can react quickly if any suspicious activity is discovered on the network or within their internal systems. The plan should include timely public announcements.
  1. Ensure that your culture emphasizes security. Leaders should implement tangible security programs that employees are actively involved in. Everyone should be responsible for securing their information, not just the chief information security officer and members of the compliance and technology organizations.
  1. Invest in training. This is especially relevant for compliance and technology security staff. The methods malicious users utilize to attack organizations are constantly changing, and it’s critical that your employees keep their skills up-to-date.
  1. Run security assessments on your network. This allows an organization to potentially find security issues before a malicious user does. Prioritize external-facing systems during the scan to locate holes.
  1. Monitor compliance. Target was breached because an HVAC contractor was given remote access to its systems without requiring two-factor authentications. And when hackers stole the personal or credit card information of 100 million customers, it cost the company an estimated $148 million in losses in one quarter.

Data breaches can compromise a company’s reputation and financial stability. And as a leader, your name is associated with your company’s preparedness and response to a hack.

To lessen the burden or even bypass a potential cyber attack, you need to understand the extent of this threat, actively plan for it, and properly educate your employees. When you’ve prepared for the worst, you can protect the positive customer rapport you’ve worked so hard to build.

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——————–
Scott Byers

Scott Byers is the President and CEO of EDM Americas
EDM Americas a Global Company dedicated to Information Lifecycle Management
Email | LinkedIn | Web

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Hey Leaders: Lighten Up a Little

Walt Disney

One of my favorite Walt Disney quotes is, “That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up.”

Now think about it a minute. You don’t need to “grow up,” in the common sense of the word, to be “professional” or a “leader,” It’s all about how you embrace yourself – your attitude – and how you present yourself. There’s nothing wrong with having some “kid” left in you. Having that bit of kid makes you more approachable – more likeable – easier to associate with.

The Right Balance

We all know the people who have changed as they’ve been promoted. They become more (too) serious and in the process lose touch with the people they supervise. They lose the kid in themselves – quite often on purpose.

When you lose that part of you it causes you to lose your:

  • flexibility
  • understanding
  • communication
  • ability to retain employee’s
  • ability to empathize.

It may also cause you to destroy your:

  • culture
  • ability to attract talent
  • current relationship’s.

What am I saying here? Act like a child? Not at all. Just keep an open mind. Continue with that ability to relate to your employees – on all levels. You did it as a peer so why lose it as a supervisor. Have some fun. Think about the best work experience you’ve ever had. I bet it had something to do with having fun.

Being An Encourager

A number of years ago I had a manager, a leader, (we’ll call him Bob) that was moving up quickly. Our team worked extremely well together and enjoyed it. We could joke around with Bob – not like a “buddy” – and we could all brainstorm to come up with any off-the-wall idea. In fact, it was encouraged. That’s a big key – no matter how goofy the idea, there may be something to it. You can’t cut ideas down. Bob always smiled, was energetic, and even poked a little fun at himself now and then. Bob’s position was putting him pretty high, but we were always on a first name basis.

But something, we don’t know what, happened in his life that drained the kid out of him. He became that serious “professional”, and it was all downhill from there. There was no more fun, no more lunches together, no more cohesiveness . . . and no more goofy ideas. People started transferring and Bob’s quick climb came to a screeching halt.

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” ~ Dale Carnegie

Organizations Who Have Fun

What’s one of the most common things that the most successful organizations have with each other? They have fun. People are allowed to hold on to that most precious part of their personal history.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Disney
  • Zappos
  • Flickr
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Cisco

If employees can say that they’re having fun at work, it also means that they’re not as uptight and communication will flourish because people are easier to approach.

Fun, But Serious

Now, they call it work for a reason. So I don’t mean wear a red nose, do magic tricks or a stand-up acts all day long. However, a sense of humor can go a very long way. It’s a great way to bond with people. It instantly lightens the mood and lifts morale.

The office is the office. There has to be some seriousness also. Some of us are in some very serious occupations. Just remember that no matter how serious the work is, it’s still being performed by human beings and we all need a little time to lighten the mood. As a leader, you have to be accessible and able to hear and sense when performance is needing a lift. Better yet is to not even wait that long.

Terminal Seriousness?

Do you know the general tone of your office or work environment?

Take this short quiz from Jody Urquhart to get an idea whether your staff is suffering from terminal seriousness.

Yes or No

Do you regularly catch people laughing or smiling at work?

YES or NO

When something funny happens do people stop and appreciate it?

YES or NO

Does your organization have fun activities at least monthly?

YES or NO

Do you have tools (fun giveaways, drawings) to invite employees to participate in having fun in your environment?

YES or NO

Are managers usually optimistic and smiling at work?

YES or NO

If you answer NO to two or more of these questions, your staff probably suffers from “terminal seriousness,” which is negatively affecting morale and productivity.

The Right Environment

If you need to create a turnaround in your culture, just remember, it’s not your job to MAKE work fun but rather it’s your job to create the conditions where fun and happiness can flourish.

Are your employees relaxed, or uptight? Do you see many smiles at work? Are you projecting a positive attitude? What can you do to create the opportunity for fun?

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Andy Uskavitch

Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development and Customer Service Specialist
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

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On Leadership and The Value You Bring Your Followers

Value Proposition

So Leaders: What’s your value proposition to your followers?

The employee is regarded by the employer merely in the light of his value as an operative. His productive capacity alone is taken into account.” ~ Leland Stanford

Compelling Value Proposition

In the world of modern sales and marketing, providing customers and clients with a compelling value proposition is the maxim.

  • Companies strive to engage by enticing potential customers with a vision of what life might be like if their pain were removed or they could achieve their dream.
  • Every effort is expended to nurture the customer until they beg to find out how this dream can be realised.
  • Then and only then is the solution provided and heaven help the company that fails to deliver the promised value.
  • This is not an equal exchange of value because modern consumers expect value greater than the money they pay.

Why then do many employers not have the same value proposition approach to their most valuable capital, their employees?

Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning.” ~ Warren G. Bennis

Making Value Choices

All organisations want to recruit and retain high potential internally motivated staff to achieve the company mission.

>>> So what’s in it for the employee and why should they choose you over other opportunities.

>>> More importantly, what is it you do for them that would make them want to stay? (It is not just about money…)

>>> What is your value proposition for them and how do you intend to deliver it persistently and consistently?

Making Monetary Choices

To paraphrase Vernon Hill at Metro Bank, how do you turn your staff into fans not just your customers?

Telefonica O2 said, “An organisation that does not enlist its own staff to its ‘fan base’ is not maximising its long-term value.

Does it make a financial difference?

Towers Perrin-ISR’s 2006 findings four:

Those companies with a highly engaged workforce improved operating income by 19.2 per cent over a period of 12 months, whilst those companies with low engagement scores saw operating income decline by 32.7 per cent over the same period.

Over a 12 month period, those companies with high engagement scores demonstrated a 13.7 per cent improvement in net income growth whilst those with low engagement saw net income growth decline by 3.8 per cent.

Making Value Propositions

You can find much more on the business benefits of a values proposition to employees in a report to the UK Government “Engaging for success: enhancing performance through employee engagement

So, let’s look at the employer/employee relationship at its most basic.

An employee offers their effort and expertise to an organisation and in turn they gain reward most usually but not always in the form of money. Balancing the equation is the hard part. The employee wants a fair reward for a certain level of input and the employer wants the maximum amount of input from the employee for as little as is reasonable to pay them.

It might be expressed as:

Motivation = Perception of benefits minus Perception of costs

The ideal situation arises when an employee invests “above and beyond the call of duty” just because they are motivated to do so by other factors outside of remuneration. Somehow their internal motivation has been triggered and they are self-sustaining. What value can you the employer give to your staff which would likely catalyse this behaviour or at least create the environment for it to develop? Peter Drucker said:

The true business of every company is to make and keep customers.” ~ Peter Drucker

But he also said:

Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.”

If we synthesise the two we might get:

The true business of every company (organization) is to make it easy for its staff to make and keep clients

The Tangible and Intangible Factors

The value given to followers comprises both tangible and intangible factors.

Key contributions might be:

  • Authentic listening
  • Identification of direct interferences restricting employees’ capability to achieve goals
  • Mitigating or removing such interferences

This is essentially the same thinking used daily by sales people to convert a prospect into a customer. Warm the prospect up first with sincere enquiry to identify their pains and dreams and then explain how the pain can be removed or their dreams achieved by your product or service.

You can find a compilation of the personal visions of 12 TED speakers on the subject of inspiring, values proposition-based leadership here.

Sellling The Vision

Ask yourself tehse questions:

  • So, how might your task as a leader alter if you considered your purpose was to “sell” the vision of working (and staying) with your organisation as a value proposition?
  • What value would they receive in “buying” into your offer?
  • How can you maintain, nuance and increase the value they receive in order to keep them?

This does not mean you roll over and give more than you can afford but we are not just talking about the money here. As has been proven so many times the last thing you talk about with sales prospects is the cost the first is what will change for them and by how much. Why would you expect the mindset of your staff to be different?

Your key actions for today

  • In today’s conversations with staff did you add value or take it?
  • Are your organisation’s job adverts value propositions?
  • Review one report’s job description today – on a scale of 1 to 10 is this a value proposition or a description of demands (i.e. tasks and responsibilities).

Further Reading

Drucker on Leadership: New Lessons from the Father of Modern ManagementWilliam A. Cohen PhD

For those will an interest in basic research on the psychology of business:

Harter, Hayes and Schmidt (Gallup, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and University of Iowa) Business-Unit-Level Relationship Between Employee Satisfaction, Employee Engagement, and Business Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

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——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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Image Sources: businesslaunchpad.org.uk

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