On Leadership, Feedback and the Fuel of Achievement

“True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes.” ~ Daniel Kahneman

The experience of giving and receiving feedback at best is a wonderful and enlivening experience, and at its worst can de-motivate and drive wedges between managers and their reports.

As Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman said “People join companies but leave managers.

So is it the sole responsibility of managers to look after feedback? This theme invites you as a leader to take a more global view of feedback by fundamentally re-framing why it is needed, how it is done, what might be the overall benefits, consequences which can arise and what is everyone going to do about it?

Leaders cannot work in a vacuum. They may take on larger, seemingly more important roles in an organization, but this does not exclude them from asking for and using feedback. In fact, a leader arguably needs feedback more so than anyone else. It’s what helps a leader respond appropriately to events in pursuit of successful outcomes.” ~ Jack Canfield

Feedback Gone Wrong

A major Achilles heel of typical feedback is that it is only viewed as an interaction between a manager and an individual report or possibly a team. It’s often one-way traffic and an unpleasant experience for those receiving feedback. Reasons for this may arise from poor manager awareness, poor training, pressure, etc. but perhaps the most pernicious is patchiness in the quality and quantity of feedback.

Interpersonal feedback functions best as an integral component of an organisation’s overall multidimensional communications system. The intention is to establish an atmosphere where senior management elicits information, opinion and perceptions from their staff, acts on them and reports back on their actions.

6-Stage Process for Feedback

Jack Stahl’s (Revlon’s CEO) 6-stage process for feedback aligns organisational conversations and manager – report feedback.

 

  Individual & Organisational Feedback
Stage 1 Value the person/people
Stage 2 Identify personal/organisational challenges
Stage 3 Provide targeted meaningful feedback
Stage 4 Identify and agree areas for improvement/development
Stage 5 Identify and agree benefits and consequences of improvement options
Stage 6 Commit your support and reaffirm person/staffs effort and value

 

Feedback is generally most effective when considered as part of staff engagement efforts as described by Gruman and Sacs in their research published in Human Resource management Review.

Setting the Tone

It’s vital for leaders to set the tone by encouraging an overall culture of open information exchange to develop (supported by robust and accessible HR & IT systems) making it possible to:

  1. Provide safe environments to build trust based on knowledge and rapport.
  2. Exchange authentic criticism and affirmative feedback
  3. Establish a cultural norm based on accepted feedback behaviours.
  4. Create feedback based on personal and organisational accountability

Steve Jobs says it all in his interview on managing people and the Apple ideas-based ethos.

He said, ideas always beat hierarchy.”

Re-framing Our Perceptions

If we re-frame our perception of and intention for feedback to mean honest, authentic, empathic, creative, effective  and productive conversation across an entire organisation then great things will follow.

Your Actions Today

  • Does your organisation have a communication system aligned with interpersonal feedback practices?
  • Do your reports get to provide feedback on you do you listen and do you act on it?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 most effective) do you know how effective your feedback to reports actually is?
  • Does your organisation act upon synthesised from all staff feedback?

Recommended Reading

Feedback Revolution: -From Water Cooler Conversations To Annual Reviews — HOW TO GIVE AND RECEIVE EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK – Peter McLaughlin

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web | Book

Image Sources: 1.bp.blogspot.com

 

Creating Organisations Fit for Generation Y

If you are already a leader, you are most likely not from Generation Y (Millennials.) You are more likely to be a “Baby Boomer” or from “Generation X.” With this, as we grow older, we begin to notice our way of doing things is not to the same as our children.

We begin to ask ourselves questions like:

Why aren’t they behaving as we want them to? How will our organisations survive with behavior patterns like this? How do we change them?

 Us & Them Thinking

“Two roads diverged in a wood – I took the one less Tweeted about.”

It’s easy to think about “us” and “them” with the problem-side-of-the-equation usually emanating from “them.” Even when we try to empathise with Millennials (the “them,”) we think from the context of our own early lives.

We hear, “I remember being a teenager and I didn’t act like that. So why do you?

The point we miss in this type of reaction is that we are all physically and mentally molded by our complex changing experiences.

Our Brains are Plastic

“The send button is mightier than the sword.”

Billions of synapses form and break in our brains every second in response to sensory inputs and feedback from thoughts and emotions. If the intensity and quality of those inputs changes our brains adapt to meet these new demands.

Now think about the effects over the last fifty years of television, computer games and the internet. As we get older our brains become less plastic with differences between older and younger people becoming more obvious and extreme.

In the transmission of human culture, people always attempt to replicate, to pass on to the next generation the skills and values of the parents, but the attempt always fails because cultural transmission is geared to learning, not DNA.” ~ Gregory Bateson

How are Millennials Different?

“Keep your friends closer but your profile even closer.”

Millennials think differently. They have different value systems and are uncomfortable in hierarchical structures. Joan Snyder Kuhl discusses how leaders can invest in Milennials for the future of their organization.

“If your company can transform the way it operates to match the way these new workers think, live, and work, you will reap the rewards.” ~ Brian Halligan

Plastic Adaptive Organisations 

No matter how charismatic, leaders are powerless to counteract decades of social conditioning. It’s more sensible and productive long-term, to flex organisational cultures to accommodate Millennials and capitalise on their energy.

Perpetuating current structures and practices places Millennials in psychological conflict resulting in stress, loss of quality and poor productivity.

The way people work best continues to change and leaders and organisations who can’t or won’t adapt will fail to attract and keep talented young people.

Supporting the Millennial Mission

As years go by each generation faces the challenge of integrating younger people. The two different generational cultures want to work together but the balance of power is unequal. The “older establishment” has power and perpetuates current ideology whilst the Millennials have little power but have huge energy and a strong desire for meaning.

How do Millennials differ from earlier generations? Money, promotion, and retirement plans are modest millennial drivers. They are driven more by meaningful missions like transforming society and replacing unsustainable industries. Many feel want to save the planet, feed the starving, cure HIV or eradicate inequality; it’s a bonus if they make a healthy income along the way.

They love to learn, wish to be treated as adults seek solutions and move rapidly from job to job. Their attention span may be short but they can have great focus. Consider the concentration required to play computer games for four hours!

“Oldies” are the “change management” generation; reacting to change. Millennials live in constant and accelerating change and are better equipped and more comfortable with the concept of intentional re-invention.

Flexing Organisational Culture

Many Millenials, have a natural entrepreneurial tendency  and adaptive leaders harness their enthusiasm. Adaptive leaders re-frame organisational purpose and vision. Consider an organisation which is dedicated to encouraging its staff to focus more effectively and more rewardingly.

Organisations which capitalise on the way Millennials think, live, and work rather than impeding them with old outdated systems and structures, will reap the rewards of the millennial “bonus”.

“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible — and achieve it, generation after generation.” ~ Pearl S Buck

When Millennial Take Charge

In time Millenials will take over the reins and develop leadership styles of their own. In their review, Adapting leadership theory and practice for the networked millennial generation, Janis Bragan Balda and Fernando Mora conclude this:

It is possible that they (“Millenials”) conceive of their role not as other directed (as traditional servant leadership theory would envision leadership), however, but as service and action oriented for the benefit of others as well as for themselves.”

Boomers” along with “Generation X” leaders are 100% responsible the world in which our children and grandchildren grew and hence for the ways their brains and behaviours developed. I apportion no guilt or judgement in this assertion but just as the rate of cultural change increases so will the rate at which existing leaders need step aside for the new breed.

Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn’t have anything to do with it.”  ~ Dr Haim Ginott

 Think On These 

Things you might consider today

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how aware are you of the needs and strengths of Millennials?
  • Take a minute to talk to young people in your organisation. Ask them why they came to work here and the ways they like to work (make sure they know you are just trying to learn from them!)?
  • How well does your organisation align with their needs and harness their strengths effectively for mutual benefit and achievement?
  • What might you do to continue the conversation and evolve your culture?

Recommended reading:

Generation We: How Millennial Youth are Taking Over America and Changing the World - Eric H. Greenberg & Karl Weber

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
 Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web

Image Sources: insightprm.com

 

Leaders – Don’t Give In

New Hire Orientation

New employee orientation (NEO), or onboarding, is one of the most critical aspects of a new hire’s beginning.  But to so many leaders, from HR to department directors and managers, it’s becoming just a check on a quick list of to-do’s.

“Just get through the paperwork, tell them their schedule and who to report to.”  I’ve been seeing this more and more lately, and I just don’t understand it.

Creating Successful Organizations

In successful organizations, leaders focus on creating a culture that provides a feeling of ownership, belonging, and purpose.

And how best to expose new hires to this culture, that so many have worked so hard to develop, than new employee orientation?

The idea of NEO is not to just throw people some benefit information and tell them who to report to, but to immerse new people in the culture.

This includes:

  • How the organization began
  • What it went through to get to where it is today
  • The people who have made a difference
  • How these new go-getters can understand how they can make a difference

If asked about the organization, everyone should have a similar description of it.

Creating a Magic Kingdom

Probably my favorite quote of all time came from Michael Eisner, former President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

He said, “We don’t put people in Disney, we put Disney in people.”

Every new cast member goes through a 3½ day Traditions course (NEO), where the Disney culture is communicated through powerful storytelling.

In The Disney Way, authors Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson describe how Traditions was once reduced by one day . . . one day.

 “Complaints from supervisors throughout the parks began to pour in.  ‘The quality of guest service is not the quality we had last season.’”

That extra day was soon added back in and the complaints diminished.

Given Time to Succeed

NEO is the first opportunity for new people to learn about your company.  If they’re rushed through the benefits speech and the safety presentation and not given any information about how great the company is, that’s exactly the kind of employee you’re going to get.

  • You will get employees that rush their job and who don’t  feel any ownership for what they do.
  • You’ll have employees that are there just for a “job,” not a successful “career.”
  • Your company will never see the potential success it could if it properly set the tone in the beginning.

I’ve heard some managers say, “Well, they’ll learn the culture from working in it”.  They sure will.  But the culture they’ll learn is the “underground” culture – not the one that you should be immersing them in from the start.  There’s usually a culture all its own that says, “this is the way that it’s supposed to be, but this is the way that I do it”.

Right From the Start

You must teach the new people, from the start, the importance of your mission and vision and how they should act in order to fit into it and make it successful – whether its following local SOP’s, federal regulations, or putting themselves in the customers shoes to give extraordinary service.

Don’t let them learn things the hard way. Or the wrong way.

Okay, think of it this way.  Ask yourself this:

Why would I just throw a new employee into the fire to figure things out for himself? But if I bought a new piece of machinery, I’d follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set it up and get it working properly?

Getting a new employee going properly and getting a new piece of machinery going properly is the same thing.  You have to “install” a new employee in the culture, just like you would install a new piece of machinery in order to get it to run properly.

Leading By Example

Take a look at the Zappos culture.  This legendary company is one of the most successful customer-service-based companies ever. Everyone, regardless of department, hired into their headquarters goes through the same four week training that their call center staff goes through.

This includes:

  • Company history
  • The importance of customer service
  • Their long-term vision
  • Philosophy about the company culture

Everyone is on the same page because everyone gets the same information and they get it up front.  They know exactly what the company is about and how they fit into it.

Not convinced yet?  Lets turn the tables.  Yes it’s true that employee orientation centers around helping the new employee, but it just could be the company that ultimately gains the benefits.

Think about these company benefits:

  • Reduces costs associated with learning on the job
  • Saves coworkers and supervisors time training the new employee, thereby increasing production
  • Increases morale and reduces turnover by showing the employee he/she is valued

Hmmm, I never thought of it that way.

However you look at it, a strong new employee orientation program is a requirement for success – both for the employee and your company.  It’s been proven time and time again that happy knowledgeable  employees are productive employees . . . and productive employees create successful organizations.

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Andy Uskavitch
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

Image Sources:  Bestpitch.files.wordpress.com

On Leadership and The Lifecycle of Mentoring

Mentoring

Mentoring is an enormously effective and an irreplaceable way to grow people, teams, and organizational health.  If done poorly, it can be a waste of time. But if done properly, it can be one of your organization’s most effective and least expensive training tools.

The key to an effective mentoring undertaking is to understand the lifecycle of mentoring.

Mentoring: The Big Picture

The lifecycle of a mentor/mentee relationship is this: Reaching a state when both the parties are ‘mentors’ in a mutually beneficial mentorship bond.

men·tor·ing  [ méntəring ]  

According to Wikipedia:

“Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé)”.

I am a big believer of the well-known quote from Benjamin Franklin:

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

In my opinion, mentorship is among the best ways to groom the talent where mentor identifies the strengths of the mentee and provides guidance, support & motivation and also works as a critic appropriately.

Personal Experience

I have been part of some very successful mentor-mentee relationships where I have played the role of mentor in some cases and of mentee in some other cases. These experiences have helped me to learn a lot about mentor-mentee relationship and to become a better professional.

From two of the very successful mentor-mentee relationships, one is going on for over six years and other for over four years; I have observed a sequence in interactions and activities that looks like the lifecycle of a successful mentor-mentee relationship.

Lifecycle of Mentoring Relationship

Awareness

This stage is generally led by the mentor and lot many questions are asked for assessing the professional background of mentee, skills, aspirations, any known strengths and improvement areas related to professional experience area or related to human behavior.

Mentor shares his/her experience and expertise summary, also talks about couple of success stories where ‘someone’ similar to the mentee was primary contributor.

This continues for couple of more sessions. Focus is on ‘knowing each other.’

Sharing

Mentor shares more information (e.g. URLs, documents, books), connects the mentee with relevant people. Mentor also uncovers unknown (i.e. not stated by the mentee) strengths and improvement areas and shares with mentee.

Guidance is limited to specific areas mentee wants to know about. Focus is on ‘knowledge’ or ‘building the knowledge of the mentee.’

 Planning

At this stage, mentor also discovers the interest areas of the mentee. Mentee seeks guidance from mentor for aligning interest areas, strengths and professional career. Long term goals get discussed and planned. Scope of discussion is much larger that the limited scope of assignment mentee is working on.

One of the examples I am quoting, where my mentee was working in a role without direct customer interaction.

  • She was doing quite well in her role, but was interested in playing a role requiring direct customer interaction and she had the capability.
  • I recommended her to move to a new role that was in ‘consulting’ area and required the candidate to work directly with customers but also required her to learn some ‘niche’ skills.
  • I shared some documents with her to understand what is needed in ‘consulting’ role and provided some guidance on how to switch into the new role.
  • She took up the role as a challenge and was very successful.

 Interaction

Mentee takes over the communication and starts asking questions related to completeness, quality and effectiveness of the plan made during last stage. Planning moves from tactical to strategic points.

Both of them learn number of new things by researching and continuous interactions. Scope of discussion is beyond defined subjects. Mentor is confident in involving the mentee to strategic and larger goals of the organization and aspirations of mentee and self.

I want to share one of the experiences where I had involved my mentee in working on a business plan for a strategic unit.

  • I spent a couple of hours over 2-3 days to guide her and explain what is needed, what are sources for inputs, process etc.
  • I was surprised to see the first output after a week. It was of great quality.
  • Output got better and better over next few weeks and finally became the essential part of the business plan.

This was her first experience of working on a business plan and she did an outstanding job. Sometime later I asked her the question – what made her come up with such a wonderful plan?

She told me that she got a new perspective while understanding the alignment of our business plan with the strategy of the organization. She was highly motivated to do a great job.

She contributed to my business plan for next 3 years and every time she surprised me with the output.

Role-Reversal

Time comes when mentor learns more from mentee. Mentor learns from how mentee is performing the activities because mentee is primarily executing the plan and faces new situations and challenges every day.

Mentee shares experiences and mentor questions both for self-learning as well as to guide the mentee further.

Mentee is prepared to play the role of mentor for others as well as for the mentor. Mentor starts recommending mentee as mentor for other people.

Engaging

This is the stage when mentor and mentee graduate to a level where they start discussing and discovering lot of new areas that result into innovation. They come up with new ideas and theories and experiment. There is a lot of learning for both the parties at this stage.

Engaging is a continuous process. Focus is on ‘innovation.’

Modeling Mentorship

This lifecycle is not like a waterfall, but mentor and mentee keep on jumping into different stages based on the context and the expected outcome.

I like to call this model as ‘ASPIRE’ that stands for Awareness, Sharing, Planning, Interaction, Role-reversal & Engaging.

 Aspire means directing one’s hopes or ambitions toward achieving something difficult and higher. Since mentoring requires mentor to help mentee be successful in achieving challenging goals, ‘ASPIRE’ as the name of model fits quite well here.

I am keen to explore this model further with the help of inputs coming from other leaders. Have you experienced similar or different lifecycle in other successful mentor-mentee relationships?  Please do share your thoughts and experiences.

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Madan Mewari
———————
Madan Mewari is the Global Head for Delivery and Operations of eDynamic LLC
He has a wealth of experience in Building Large & High Performance Teams
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web 

Image Sources: digitalmarketingmentor.co.uk

It’s Lonely at the Top – 4 Ways to Help Employees Make the Step Change to Leader

Becoming a Leader

In a recent National Post article Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, where shown riding the subway with the caption “Prince Charles shows he’s just a regular bloke.”

Although the article didn’t convince me that the Prince is a regular bloke (I don’t think that regular blokes only take the subway once every 25 years!), it did (in a very strange way) highlight an issue when employees are promoted to leadership positions: they are no longer seen by their former co-workers as “regular blokes.”

The new leader must form new bonds and this, coupled with the pressure of trying to succeed in a new position, can be difficult for the newly promoted leader.

4 Ways to Help Employees Make the Step Change to Leader

Here are four ways that company’s can help to ensure their employees don’t feel lonely at the top.

1. Make Relationship-Building a Part of Leadership Development

Building relationships with co-workers is important. Of equal or maybe greater significance to a leader is their ability to form new relationships with those who report to them. The dynamics of this relationship can be difficult to grasp and therefore should be a part of the professional development of all future leaders.

2. Teach People Skills

It is common practice to select potential leaders within an organization partly based on character traits that would be beneficial to the company. Having a natural ability to relate with others should be one of these traits.

It is great to have a leader that has the technical knowledge to answer specific questions from their team however, the further up the ladder they progress, the less valuable these technical skills become. Great leaders surround themselves with people smarter then they are and find a way to get them to produce – these are people skills, not technical skills.

“Many corporate and governmental organizations assessments of leaders are exclusively focused on how well they handle the files in the inbox. But there is almost no assessment of their leadership skills.” ~ General Rick Hillier

3. Coach, Coach, Coach

Picking the right candidate for the job and providing all the formal training you can find will do little for how your top performer feels the first time they have to give their former lunch room buddy a poor mid-year review unless they receive continuous coaching.

Set your new leader up with someone in a different department that is one or two levels above their position on the org. chart. Of course the coach will need coaching on how to be a coach, but that is a part of the continuous professional development model you have implemented.

4. Team Build

Making friends isn’t easy. Making them with a new group of co-workers is even harder. Not only will frequent opportunities for team development help your newly promoted leader feel like they are part of the group, it will also help those that have been in management positions for a while get to know the new kid on the block.

If there is any resentment held by the more experienced leaders in your company towards the young up and comer, team building can be structured in such a way as to break down the walls of communication and help close the generational gap.

 “Under many existing development models, leaders learn to think about jobs in terms of what they control. This notion has led to excluding others and a lack of teamwork.” ~ Ram Charan

Keeping Real

No one is expecting that when an employee is promoted that they will have to completely drop all friendships they developed in their previous role. Nor are they expected to invite the management team over to watch football on Sunday afternoon (or hockey on Saturday night) with this said, their relationships will change: their new title dictates so.

To help ensure success for the employee and the company, it is important that relationship skills are recognized as a vital skill in their professional development and included in leadership development programs.

Have you experienced the feeling of isolation after being promoted? How much of a divide do you think is healthy between management and a company’s workforce? Do you think social media can help maintain a healthy balance between management and worker or will the line be too blurred? What kind of leadership training does your company offer? I would love to hear your thoughts!

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Sandy Cooper

Sandy Cooper is a HSEQ Advisor in the offshore oil and gas industry
He works within a management system to help develop worker leadership skills
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter |  Web 

Image Sources:  yucatanpremier.com

Leading Customer Service

Leading Customer Service

Good customer service doesn’t begin nor end with the customer.  

It begins with the leader and, well, I don’t believe it ever ends.

Defining Customer Service

You may have heard the saying that, “customer service is not a department,” right.  You may have a department called Customer Service, but by doing so, you make it feel as though that’s where it’s all taken care of.

  • But what about you, the leader?
  • Aren’t you supposed to be involved?
  • Don’t you have some say in the matter?

Absolutely, you do!  

If you want to dig even deeper, you should see that it’s everyone’s responsibility, not just yours, not just the Customer Service Department’s, but everyone who works within the organization. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep the organism healthy and functioning well.

Leadership is Influence

But leaders influence.  Some positively, some negatively.  Either one of those effects others’ customer service abilities.  You need to treat every employee you come in contact with, with the utmost sincerity and respect.

If you don’t do it, your employees won’t do it.  Unless you’re dedicated to taking the reigns to develop superior service in your employees, it’s not going to happen.

Taking a customer service class here and there or reading quotes on a poster once a month, is not going to furnish that sustained motivation that your employees need to provide that WOW service.

—————————————————————————–

L2L Reader Survey 2013 banner

—————————————————————————–

L2L Reader Quote: “Invaluable advice and encouragement!”

Doing Your Whole Job

“I don’t have time to take on anything extra.”  How many times have you heard that or thought it?  Well first, customer service is not “something extra.”

Customers are where your revenue and profit comes from.  In any organization, there’s typically somewhere else they could go, or at least just stop coming. So when you’re that dependent on something like customers, how can you call service, “something extra?”

In Lee Cockerell’s (former VP of Operations, Walt Disney World Resort) new book, The Customer Rules, he points out that:

 “Great leaders speak loudly and often about what they want their organizations to focus on and what employees are expected to do.”

Hello . . .  How many of you, or other leaders you know in your organization, speak loudly about customer service?  But you always hear about sales, production, etc.

Keeping Ahead of the Pack

Don’t wait for customer service to get bad before you do anything about it.  By then it’s too late.  The damage has been done.  Now you’re into damage-control mode – which takes a lot more effort.

Monkey see, monkey do, here’s an easy activity to do (didn’t mean for that to rhyme, but I’ll take it).  Go to a few local retail stores or restaurants.  Spend just a few minutes in each one, just observing the employees.  You’ll be able to tell what the management is like within just a couple of minutes because the employees walk the leader’s talk.

No matter how good the stores’ customer service “program” is, it won’t be successful unless the leaders walk the talk.

You can’t just focus on the everyday business stuff – products, marketing, sales.  In his book, Lee goes on to say that, “Managers have to recognize that sustained profits depend on their ability to generate consistent, ongoing, excellent service”.  You have to keep good service in the forefront of everyone’s mind if you want it to be consistent.

A Whole New World

We don’t live in a world anymore where we can focus on one product and be the only place to get it.  You may come up with a one of kind product, but you, very soon, will have competition.  You must lead the customer service attitude.

“But seriously, I have very little time.”  In Beverly Kay & Julie Winkle Giulioni’s newest book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, they say it so perfectly – “let’s get real.  You’re having conversations already . . . What if you could redirect some of that time and some of those conversations to focus on careers?”

In this case, bettering customer service is bettering a career.  A few words here, and a few words there.  Just be sure you’re backing up those words with what you do.

Leadership By Example

Most people aren’t going to personally try to get their teams to improve customer service.  It has to come from you.  If you bring the horse to the watering hole, the horse will have a drink.  But if you offer a trough, the horse will always be able to get a drink.

You’re always looking for new and better ways to increase sales, improve products, or streamline production.  If you can’t increase customers or keep the ones you have . . . none of that will matter.

Do you walk the talk when it comes to customer service?  How much time do you spend talking to employees?  How much time could you spend talking to employees? I would love to hear your thoughts!

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Andy Uskavitch
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

Image Sources: image.naldzgraphics.net

Secrets of Succession Planning: Don’t Hide Your Talent

Hiding Talent

If you are in an organization, it is wise to understand that the people you have on board are the reason you are getting the results you are getting. 

Sometimes this is a good thing, and other times, well, it’s not so good.

Planning Ahead

But whether you like the results you are getting from your people, or not, it is also wise to understand that employment at your place is optional for almost everyone there. People can mostly come and go as they please.

Consequently, being prepare for open positions makes sense to think about and is something for which you should plan.

Do’s and Dont’s of Succession Planning

So why should your organization do succession planning? Let’s start with the basics. The classical reasons would be the impending retirement of baby boom generation employees or to have a backup plan for emergencies like accidents or serious illness of some of your key players.

But there’s more to it than this simple outlook.

For instance, look at the vacancies in your organization and think about these questions:

  • How many do you fill with internal candidates?
  • How often do you need to recruit outside talent?
  • Hiring externally is costly and it takes time for the new employee to get up and running.
  • And oh, what about your current employees?

Without sufficient possibilities for growth and development within the company, they are more likely to leave.

Beating Around the Bush

I’ve steered and implemented succession planning in several companies and I’ve experienced that this topic is very often loaded with emotions. It’s not uncommon that managers fear to lose their talent to other business units. As a consequence, they try to hide their best people and nominate their second -or third- best instead.

HR and business unit leaders are afraid that the potential successors will be frustrated if the succession possibility they’re being groomed for won’t happen in the end. To avoid that from happening, they introduce non-transparent succession planning processes.

In final outcome, you end up with a process that is just very awkward for everyone

Leading in a Quagmire

Given the restrictions of said process, as a manager, you can’t really talk to your talent, but you’re supposed to groom it for a future assignment that she cannot know of.

Peers don’t officially know that this person is a talent, but I assure you this: they’ll find out in time.

Your “talent” likes the extra development and attention, but will surely ask you where this journey is going. And then there are people like me, the “people developer,” having to implement a sub-optimal process for political reasons. But these are not just my personal experiences.

In a 2012 study, AMA Enterprises, a division of the American Management Association, found that  succession planning is one of the least transparent processes in HR.

But Transparency Works!

Studies showed that the most mature talent and succession management approaches are not only transparent, but also interactive, i.e. an employee can nominate herself to be considered for a high-potential development program. I’ve tried to accomplish two things when introducing succession planning:

1. Promote a change of thought in managers from hiding talent to a company-wide giving and receiving.

2. Work towards a culture of ongoing and open feedback in which managers and employees talk about their strengths, development needs and possible future assignments.

Leading People is About Them

In an environment like this, employees understand that transitioning into a succession role is only one of several possibilities for their future development in the company.

Knowing that an employer wants to invest in you is such a big motivator!

Employees who are not currently nominated as successors will have a clear understanding of which aspects they’ll need to work on in order to get to the next level.

In essence, I believe that companies with an open feedback culture should choose a transparent approach to succession planning. If you don’t have that culture, choose an approach that works for your company and consider working towards an environment that supports a more transparent approach.

Linking Strategy, Succession and Development

You don’t do succession planning just for the sake of it, so make sure to get the most out if it.

Take these steps to link your strategy, succession goals, and the personal development of your people:

  • Look at your business strategy and develop a clear understanding where your company wants to be in, say, three years.
  • Then deduct which skills your employees need to build today to be able to perform tomorrow’s tasks.
  • Ask yourself which jobs are likely to be created, which business units likely to expand?
  • Then ask which skills do your employees need to build today to be able to perform tomorrow’s tasks?
  • After you nominated the successors, make sure to have individual development plans in place to start preparing them for their possible next career step.

This exercise will help you a great deal in making your succession planning relevant and useful for your organization. William J. Rothwell states in his article on the “Future of Succession Planning” how important it is to “integrate top-down succession planning with bottom-up career development.”

And I wholeheartedly agree with this! So don’t hide your talent! Grow them!

In summary: don’t fear to be transparent, create an open feedback culture and link strategy to career development.

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Katrin Kaehler
Katrin Kaehler steers Organizational Learning and Development
Before moving to the US, she worked in International Roles in Europe
Email | LinkedIn |  Web

Image Sources:  informatica-hoy.com.ar

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 42,729 other followers

%d bloggers like this: