Saturday, October 22, 2011

Eight Effective Elements For Engaging A Multigenerational Audience

Younger generations—the Gen X'ers and Millennials—comprise half of the U.S. workforce. The other half consists of 45% Baby Boomers and 5% Traditionalists, many of whom are charged with motivating these younger employees. What happens when generations don't share the same values and beliefs about workplace success? The barriers to effective communication are many. Speaking to a multigenerational audience is challenging for even the most experienced presenter. How do you connect and engage such a diverse audience? Who are they and what is important to them?

Generational Differences
Each generation shares a common set of formative events and trends, headlines and heroes, music and mood, parenting style and education system. These experiences forge a perspective through which an individual views the world. As they grow older they adjust their behaviors and build upon their skill set, but generally do not radically alter the way they think things should be.

In order to communicate effectively with a multigenerational audience we need to understand each group:

Traditionalists: Born prior to 1945, traditionalists or veterans tend to be more formal in their workplace interactions. They're motivated by how their actions connect to the overall good of the team or organization. Qualities of loyalty and perseverance are strengths. Traditionalists seek out the rules, uphold authority, and respect the chain of command. They prefer to learn privately and value direct feedback.

Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers are the first generation raised with TV, rock and roll, and a sense of entitlement. They're well-educated, lifelong learners who are motivated by leaders who get them involved and show them how they can make a difference. They appreciate hearing "we need you." Remember, this is the generation that grew up being graded on "works well with others."

Generation X: Born between 1965 and1979, these were the "latch-key" kids who grew up with the oil crisis, stock market decline, Challenger disaster, and John Lennon's assassination. The message that motivates is "Do it your way." Gen X'ers are adaptable, need options, and may appear to be somewhat unorthodox in their methods to get the job done. They tend to focus on results and will seek the most efficient manner to accomplish a goal.

Gen Y/Millennials: Born between 1980 and 2000, the Gen Y/Millennials grew up with technology, multitasking, and overly protective parents. These are the "trophy kids" who were rewarded for participation, not necessarily achievement. They are optimists who are motivated when managers connect their actions to personal and career goals. Because of their technological savvy, they tend to prefer flexible work schedules; they value autonomy.

Putting Them in a Room Together
Now we put all four generations in a room for a training session and you're the facilitator. How do you successfully engage the group? Let's start by acknowledging you can connect on several commonalities. My experience has shown me that there are many things that individuals of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds respond to and appreciate. Smart presentation skills cross generational boundaries:

1. Meet and greet. Arrive early and greet as many individuals coming into the room, as possible. What impacts all generations is human contact. Greet each individual with a smile and handshake and introduce yourself. In saying your name, usually 95% of people will respond with theirs. This initial contact is key to engaging the audience and letting them know how critical they are to the success of the session. This also will enable you to assess the make-up of the group and adapt your style. Be aware that multigenerationals possess different personality types, too. During the presentation try to incorporate these individuals into your comments, "When I met Bob earlier we discussed…" it gains acceptance and forges a personal connection with your audience.

2. Move around the room. Depending upon the size of the group, it is always ideal to walk down off the stage and right into the audience. Utilize a cordless mike and move up and down the aisles. You can still reference any multimedia you are using on the stage. Now is the time to put to use those introductions you made previously. If you are working with a small enough group, design the room in a u-shaped layout and work the inside of the u. Energy and enthusiasm is contagious—with any generation.

3. Use stories to make your points. A good story transcends all generations, as does humor. Steer clear of stereotypes and generational myths. Use stories from your own experiences that have universal appeal—graduating college, landing your first job, starting a family. Make them laugh. Find humor in the everyday occurrences of life—think Seinfeld. Years later, people will remember stories and therefore the message. Done right, there is no better means of effective communication.

4. Divide and conquer. In working with groups, four hours is the maximum length for any training. Within that time you need to schedule breakouts or elements of engagement every 30 to 40 minutes. Here's your opportunity to co-mingle the generations by forming small groups of 5 to 7 participants. Millennials who would hesitate to speak out in the larger format will now share their thoughts. Have each group present back its findings to the larger group; Baby Boomers will volunteer for this. This is a powerful engagement technique that affords everyone to participate in a manner they are most comfortable with.

5. Don't fight, unite. It is a given that all generations will have entered the room with a Smartphone, laptop, or tablet. So make this a part of your presentation. Use an iPad to demonstrate a point, Twitter your remarks and have them "like" a link you recommend. Direct them to a website. While you face losing some of their attention, the upside gain is you'll engage them and reinforce your message.

6. Keep it short. Everyone appreciates a speaker who values their time and delivers a clear, concise message. So get to the point. We are used to sound bites and tweets, so adapt your presentation to fit our limited attention spans. This doesn't mean your entire presentation must be brief but rather think of speaking in bullet points. Summarize often, and remember frequency works.

7. Think "take-away" value. Visualize audience members with a bubble over their heads with the words "what's in it for me" inside. This image will keep you focused on delivering skills, tips and practical tools that can be employed immediately. So send them to a website for blogging, email marketing, or whatever is relevant to their business and have them utilize it right away.

8. Ask for feedback. Make your presentation interactive and engaging. Give them your Twitter handle and encourage them to use it then and there. Have a colleague track these for you. For the Traditionalists and Boomers, now is the time to ask questions—"Are you meeting their expectations?" Be flexible in your presentation to adjust and adapt to what the audience is responding too. A good presenter is like a boxer—light on his feet, bobbing and weaving. I'm always fully prepared, but my script flexes with each group as their input determines the direction.

Employ these strategies and you will successfully engage any diverse mix of individuals. You don't have to be all things to all groups, but by being technologically savvy, attuned to your audience, passionate and prepared with your message you will be effective and heard by all.

About the Author(s):- Paul C. Anovick and Theresa Merrill are at Anovick Associates, LLC. Anovick has over 35 years of business management experience in sales and operations and was directly involved with start-ups and turnarounds. As an entrepreneur, he launched three successful companies in the past 20 years. Merrill is vice president of business development. With more than 20 years in sales and marketing positions in New York, Boston, and Atlanta, she has been aligned with firms such as Katz Communications, CBS Radio, Tribune Company, and Cablevision.

Five Ways To Transform Managers Into Coaches

If a manager wants to be a leader, he must develop the ability to coach others. It is core skill required of every successful manager in the 21st century. The days of command and control leadership as a standard way of managing people are long gone. Coaching and collaboration have taken over as the most effective way for managers to lead. If managers do not become skilled at coaching their employees, it is unlikely that they will be able to achieve sustainable long-term positive results for themselves or their organizations.

Coaching requires both skill and time; but, before one applies either of these, managers should understand what coaching is and why it is important. In its simplest form, coaching is the act of helping others to perform better. Sometimes it is focused on helping to correct poor performance or improve existing skills. At other times, it's targeted at developing entirely new skills. Whichever the case, it is important because good coaching by managers will accelerate the development of employees and lift their organizations to higher levels of achievement.

So, why don't all managers coach? Most likely due to one of three major reasons: (1) they don't understand the value or importance of coaching; (2) they don't possess the skills to coach others; or (3) even if they understand the importance and have the skills, they don't have the time. To overcome these barriers and transform your managers into coaches there are five things that you can do to foster change.

1. Build the personal case for coaching. You can't force coaching responsibilities on managers who don't see its relevance. While most managers have a strong sense of loyalty to their organization that alone may not be enough to motivate them to develop their coaching skills. There is still an element WIIFM (what's in it for me) that must be addressed in building the case with most managers. When you point out the fact that the strongest leaders and most successful executives in their organization and/or discipline are also excellent coaches (this is almost always the case), they will be more inclined to seize the opportunity to learn how to become an effective coach. Once the managers understand that they can get more done and achieve stronger results through the efforts of others, they will want to learn how coaching, not command-and-control, will enable them to better leverage the talents of their employees. Whether they are just trying to do a better job for their employer or seeking to promote their own careers, managers will embrace coaching as an effective means to a mutually beneficial result.

2. Establish some firm expectations. Making it clear that coaching is a primary responsibility of each manager in your organization is an essential prerequisite to creating a coaching organization. If you don't establish firm expectations around coaching, you are unlikely to get the results you want. Coaching should be a key element in your organization's culture and part of every manager's job description. Coaching requires skill and time. Enabling managers the opportunity to develop the skills and allocating the time for them to both learn and apply their skills should be incorporated into every organization's operating model. It should be a topic of discussion at every performance management evaluation and highlighted when managers are promoted or assigned to new roles.

3. Teach coaching skills and put them to practice. Coaching does not necessarily come naturally to most managers. In fact, before they become managers, employees are generally rewarded for their individual skills and their ability to get tasks done on their own or in small teams. So, the appointment to a manager role can represent a significant and sometimes difficult shift in both what the manager does and how he allocates his time. Core coaching skills such as listening, questioning, observing, building rapport, constructive analysis and feedback, empathy, supportive encouragement and holding others accountable are all skills that can be enhanced or taught in a variety of formats. Whether it is in workshops, mentoring relationships or simply modeling those who are strong coaches, managers can improve their knowledge and understanding of coaching skills. But they need to be able to put the skills to use in real-time situations. This means allocating the time to practice these skills when coachable moments occur. If also means creating coachable moments or situations. When managers delegate tasks or responsibilities to direct reports, they create a coaching opportunities by default. Delegation is a powerful management tool and a powerful vehicle for practicing and developing one's coaching skills.

4. Give a manager a coach. There is no more effective means for learning than through hands-on experience. Therefore, if you want to transform a manager into a coach, it's a good idea to give them the opportunity to experience coaching first hand. Having a manager coached by another executive in your organization will accomplish two things. It will enable the manager to experience the benefits of coaching and become more committed to coaching as a method for developing others. It will also provide a model of how to provide coaching for others. If you don't have skilled coaches within your organization, you should consider hiring third-party external coaches to work with your key managers.

5. Reward the best coaches with the best jobs. This should not be a stretch. The managers who demonstrate the strongest coaching skills are likely to be the strongest performers. As such, they should be candidates for the most important manager and executive roles in the organization. Placing these managers in the most important roles and crediting these assignments, at least in part, to their excellent coaching skills will send a strong message to the rest of the organization that coaching is a critical skill for all managers

These are just five of the steps you can take to accelerate the transformation of managers into coaches and to turn your organization into a coaching organization. The benefits will accrue to both the individual managers in terms of their own career advancement and to the overall organization in terms of the enhanced collaboration and stronger performance. In many organizations the evidence is compelling. Many have discovered that their strongest managers are also their strongest coaches. In fact, the V. P. of Global Executive Development, Tanya Clemens, has stated that, "We have done lots of research … and we have found that the leaders who have the best coaching skills have better business results." When managers become aware of these types of outcomes, they will be motivated to begin their own transformation.

About the Author(s):- Mike Noble is a Managing Partner at Camden Consulting Group, a consulting firm that provides focused, practical, customized and integrated human capital management, leadership development, executive coaching and training services to organizations and their employees. Noble oversees all of the firm's strategic business development activities and client engagements. For more information, visit:

Thanks to Mike Noble / AMANET / AMA—American Management Association



The Role Of Leader-Manager

One way leaders can connect effectively with their people is to understand the value of work, not by simply quantifying it in terms of dollars and cents but also in recognizing its strategic importance. It is tempting to quantify people's work in terms of an organizational chart, but that tells you only who is responsible, not who actually does the work. They may not be one and the same. Therefore, there are three questions a manager can ask:

1. What is the work? Work is anything an employee does to add value to the organization, whether it is creating a report full of statistics and projections, or stapling that report together for distribution to senior management. Work is work. But all jobs are not equal, and, therefore, it falls to the manager to decide who does what.

2. Who does the work? A great deal of work is tactical. It is the day-to-day things we do to keep a business humming or a nonprofit serving its constituents. Identifying who should do what is a manager's responsibility. It is important to assign people to tasks they can do well and that are best suited to their skills. Easy to say, but so often employees are in the wrong slots. Some highly trained folks are doing work that could be done by entry-level employees, or frontline employees are challenged to do more than they are equipped to do. Sometimes frontline managers spend too much time working beneath them; that is, they are too involved in details when they should be thinking of ways to let their direct reports do the work.

3. How does the work get done? We all want the idealized workflow: just enough to keep us busy but not too much to overwhelm us. But all too often, especially in times of scarcity, most of us are working over capacity. We are stretched to accomplish our "to do" lists, so we end up clocking long hours. This works for the short haul, but over time it becomes burdensome, leading to burnout and adversely affecting productivity.

The answers to these questions can provide a foundation for understanding the value of work in people terms. Once you know who does what and how, now comes the hard part: What is the role of the manager? To my way of thinking, managers have two prime responsibilities: Provide resources and remove obstacles. Each of these responsibilities can provide insights into the what, who, and how of workflow.

Purpose very often works best when tied to the strategic plan. The first time that Consumers Union (under the tenure of CEO Jim Guest) rolled out a strategic plan, employees did not understand how their work fit into the plan. So, when the organization developed a new plan, it communicated it throughout the company by holding meetings and workshops. Now, as Guest reports, when people debate ideas, they ask: "How does this fit with the five goals of our strategic plan?" Such clarity may seem simple, but it does link purpose to results and, more important, connects people's jobs to the plan.

When speaking of purpose, Guest likes to relate the story that Peter Drucker told about the stonemason. A visitor to a town encounters a stonemason and asks him what he is doing. The man replies that he is cutting stone. Another mason replies that he is building a wall. But a third mason replies with pride, "I am building a cathedral." Taking pride into what you do comes when you know the purpose, the big picture, how your work contributes to the whole—the cathedral you are building.

Providing resources is a matter of assigning the right people to the right task at the right time. The manager's challenge comes in looking beneath this mantra to determine if the people are truly right for the job—that is, do they have the right skills and training to do the work? Next, you need to figure out if they have the resources at hand to do the job in the given time frame. In theory, sure they do; in practice, not so often. That is where good managers improvise; they find ways to get quality work done with fewer resources. It requires good planning and also insight into the people doing the work. Allocating resources is one thing; finding the right people to manage those resources and use them efficiently may be more important. Therefore, you need to know what your people are capable of doing. Such knowledge comes from observing them in the workplace. You turn loose those who can do the job.

For those who are not yet ready, you provide training. But sometimes it becomes obvious that certain employees are not up to the task. That leads into a manager's second responsibility: removing obstacles.

Excerpted, with permission of the publisher, from AMACOM from Lead with Purpose by John Baldoni. Copyright 2011, John Baldoni. Published with AMACOM. For more information, visit:

About the Author(s):- John Baldoni is an internationally recognized leadership educator, executive coach, and author of many books, including Lead by Example, Lead Your Boss, and Great Motivation: Secrets of Great Leaders. His most recent book is Lead with Purpose: Giving Your Organization a Reason to Believe in Itself.

Thanks to John Baldoni / AMANET / AMA—American Management Association


Change Will Not Wait For You To Change

Globalization, technology, and economic turmoil are driving change in every business sector at a velocity never before experienced.

Of course, many readers are already familiar with this destructive reality because their firms are suffering from its effects.

However, all-too-many business leaders and directors are not yet:
—acknowledging the threat of this unprecedented velocity of change
—confronting this era of enduring change with a sense of urgency
—anticipating and planning for the profound changes most likely to influence their category and company in the immediate future.

The need to institute fundamental strategic change in businesses of every size and kind cannot be underestimated or postponed.

Change did not wait for Yahoo to change

Founded in 1994, the firm grew rapidly throughout the 1990s, waited far too late to diversify into a web portal and, ultimately, was left in the dust bin of its transformed category. In 2009, Carol Bartz was brought in to "turn it around" and then she was abruptly terminated in 2011. On September 8, 2011, this headline appeared in the Financial Times, "Yahoo searches for a new direction". Change will not wait for any business to "find yet another new direction.

Change did not wait for Best Buy to change

With over 1,000 stores in six countries, Best Buy was named "Company of the Year" by Forbes, "Specialty Retailer of the Decade" by Discount Store News, and one of the most Admired Companies by Fortune. Yet, the Financial Times on September14, 2011, stated "Best Buy feels impact of online battles" and went on to offer this inexplicable explanation from the firm, "Best Buy attributed its drop in net income to promotional spending and the costs of opening new stores" Change will not wait for any business to realize that online is today's "new store."

Change did not wait for PepsiCo to change

"PepsiCo plans a reshuffle amid flagging US drinks sales," reported the Financial Times in its September 16, 2011 issue. The article expanded on the PepsiCo's numerous challenges including, "tough competition from rival Coca-Cola and consumer preferences that have shifted away from sparkling beverages. " However, Pepsi is not new and as Bonnie Herzog, beverage analyst at Wells Fargo echoed, the "turnaround of Pepsi's drink business was ongoing and could be a long-term effort." Change will not wait for any firm to define a fundamental strategic solution to a host of severe, enduring strategic problems.

Change did not wait for HP to change

On September 12, 2011, HP ran a full page ad in the Financial Times with this bravado headline, "The Spirit of a Start-Up—The Security of HP." Even if advertising could restore the flagging confidence in any company, and it cannot, the word "security" seems an odd choice given that HP appointed Carly Fiorina as CEO in 1999 and forced her to step down in 2005. HP asked Robert Wayman to serve as interim CEO until, in the same year, the HP board appointed Mark Hurd to succeed him. HP appointed Hurd to the additional post of chairman in 2010, just before asking him to resign his positions after a series of alleged indiscretions. HP then named Léo Apotheker CEO and president. After less than a year on the job, during which he (presumably) endorsed the "security" advertisement, Apotheker was replaced by Meg Whitman.

Change will not wait while a revolving door of CEOs fails to focus on an achievable strategy to remain relevant in an industry that relentlessly recreates itself. Change will continue to ravage the bottom line of businesses in every community and corner of the globe. Change will continue to transform iconic brands into forgotten relics. Change will continue to make business models obsolete. Change will continue to cause entire categories to disappear. Moreover, change will not wait for you to introduce fundamental change—not cosmetic change, in your business because:
—The pace of future change will accelerate.
—The change in every aspect of commerce will be transformational, not incremental.
—The change in customers will occur even more rapidly than the change in businesses.
—Change will become more and more difficult to predict.

Fundamental strategic change cannot be delegated. Fundamental strategic change must be conceived and driven by the CEO and the firm's senior management team. Fundamental strategic change must anticipate the changes most likely to affect the business or brand. Fundamental change must have total internal consensus or it will fail. Fundamental strategic change must be implemented with discipline and rigor. Fundamental change must be approved and monitored continuously by the firm's CEO and Board. Fundamental change must be introduced in your business now:
—before change forces you to change
—before change enables your competition to capture your customers and share of market
—before change causes your company to lose momentum and relevancy
—before change makes change in your business impossible.

About the Author(s):- Robert H. Bloom is a widely respected authority on business growth. As US chairman and CEO of Publicis Worldwide, the centerpiece of the $4.6 billion global marketing services company, he helped craft and implement the growth strategies of some of the world's largest companies and brands, including BMW, L'Oréal, Nestlé, Southwest Airlines, T-Mobile, and Novartis' Theraflu and Triaminic. As an entrepreneur, he grew an advertising agency into a successful national business. Bloom advises firms of every type and size on their growth strategies. He is the author of THE NEW EXPERTS: Win Today's Newly Empowered Customers at Their 4 Decisive Moments and THE INSIDE ADVANTAGE: The Strategy That Unlocks the Hidden Growth in Your Business. For more information, visit:

Thanks to Robert H. Bloom / AMANET / AMA—American Management Association


Tip Of The Day: Don't Give Them A Principle, Give Them An Example

When you're training or coaching, it's tempting to give people a general principle and follow it up with applications. Resist that temptation. We learn best when we get a concrete example first and then the principle. You can make things even more effective if you give several examples and let your team members develop the principle. It takes longer than just telling them the principle, but the learning is better.

Concrete first. Abstract second.

Thanks to Wally Bock's Three Star Leadership Blog


Are You A Clueless Boss? 3 Steps To Self-Awareness

Sometimes you can get to the top of the heap and still be utterly clueless.

This thought came to me as I read recent comments that Bob Nardelli, who was CEO of Chrysler during the brief period when the car company was owned by Cerberus, the investment firm. When Chrysler went bankrupt and got the government bailout, Cerberus was forced to give up its ownership and turn Chrysler over to Fiat, which promptly made Chrysler a big success.

But Nardelli told The Detroit News that Cerberus deserves credit for that.  "If the government gave [Cerberus] the deal they gave Fiat, we'd be doing just fine."

Nardelli's comments were at odds with how others see his tenure.  Says Rebecca Linland of HIS Automotive:

"This is like a foster parent who briefly raised a child at age 5 taking credit when they grew up to be president of the United States or an Olympic athlete..I don't think many people at Chrysler would agree with [Nardelli's assessment of Cerberus]."

Failure to understand what you actually accomplished (versus what you think you accomplished) is fundamental to self-awareness.  But that can be hard for top execs, who tend to suffer from an ability to overstate their contributions.

It takes a strong character for an accomplished individual to recognize one's shortcomings. Such moments of self-awareness often involve the willingness to look hard at the proverbial mirror, or very often listen to close friend or spouse. Once this moment is accepted the door to self-improvement opens.

But for the door to stay open, the leader must do three things:

Understand what is at stake. It is one thing to understand a flaw; it is another issue to recognize its importance. Take poor communications, for example. Leaders need to know that improving their communications is not just a matter of self-polishing; it is important means of setting direction for others to follow. Poor communicators cannot lead.

Change your approach. Very often the process of self-improvement involves stopping one behavior in favor of doing something else. For example, a manager who has a tendency to micromanage must learn to stop looking over the shoulder of his direct reports. He must learn to let go of this urge to control everything in favor of letting his people figure things out for themselves. In return, he needs to channel energy expended in close supervision on things of a more strategic nature. The explanation is straightforward but it takes genuine commitment to put into practice.

Invite feedback, lots of it, even if it hurts. To reinforce the development process one option is continuous feedback. One style of feedback, developed by Marshall Goldsmith, is called "feedforward." This is the practice of asking an individual or two to observe your actions and note your progress (or lack thereof) on a given behavior.

For example, an executive might tell a colleague that he is working on being more open-minded. The colleague will observe how well the executive listens without interrupting, enables others to voice their point of view, and tones down the practice speaking first at meetings. Relaying those observations to the executive helps him or her improve her ability to act with a more open disposition.

Self-awareness requires self-discipline, the strength to look at ourselves flaws and all and resolve to do something to correct them. All it takes is a lifetime of practice.

Thanks to John Baldoni / BNet / CBS Interactive


13 Tips For Setting Performance Measures

Thanks to Ken Kuzia and Rand Gee, from Up Your Leadership, for allowing me to re-print these valuable tips for setting performance measures:

Setting clear, achievable, challenging, and unwavering (as much as possible given today's rate of change) measures is critical to employee success. Appropriate measures are also strong motivators because most employees want to excel, and knowing the target helps them self-measure.

1. Involve your employees to enhance their involvement and ownership. Your direct reports are closest to the action and in the best position to provide information on what's possible in their work.

2. Focus on results and not activity – unless the work to be accomplished has not been done before.

3. Drill down into the goal to determine the "One Measure" that clearly determines success. Set a single, discrete measure for each "fundamental" of the business that equates to success. For example In-bound Sales answering each call within 3 rings.

4. Set aspirational targets for "Break-throughs". For example, reducing cost or time by 20% in a key business process.

5. Examine past data to establish a performance trend or baseline. Then, determine the extent to which the baseline must be altered to meet overall business targets.

6. Consider using a 3-point target. For example, Sears uses their quality measure of Good, Better, and Best. Can you establish levels of performance that will encourage achieving beyond the target?

7. Get your boss's input on metrics to ensure that you are all measuring the same outcomes with the same language, measures and expectations. Your boss may have some helpful suggestions based on his or her experience and understanding of unit and company goals.

8. Consider the employees" or group's strengths and weaknesses. Determine what targets would encourage strength building that is directly linked to business goals and the individual's career development aspirations.

9. Examine customer or other stakeholders feedback to determine expectations that aren't being met. Exercise caution here! Don't get caught in the trap of giving your customers what they want while your competitors create innovation that the customers are going to need but don't yet realize.

10. Ensure that targets are clearly aligned with corporate measures and goals so effort is cumulatively productive.

11. Set the standard that employees measure their own progress against targets and report their progress or slippage to you on an agreed-upon time frame. Establish the up-front expectation that when slippage occurs the employee is to report results for the period with a workable and realistic plan to reach the target before the end of the performance period.

12. Provide routine opportunities for employees to review progress. Teach them how to "brag" about their good performance, results achievement, and help them feel a real sense of achievement as they are reporting progress that will enable target accomplishment.

13. Make the rewards worth it. That means you may have to push your boss to permit substantial rewards to be give for phenomenal performance – and then don't "cheap out" but really deliver. You may have to provide rewards that are counter-culture for the organization. Be sure to determine the employee's aspirations so you know what rewards will create a real enticement. For example, many employees want barriers to be removed so they can really produce. Others want better computers, a better desk chair. Too many organizations fail to see the value in giving high performers what they want for fear that the employees are going to want a million dollars each. And – maybe an employee that gets enough business to produce a hundred million in profit should get that million!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tip Of The Day: Just Say "No"

The very best bosses say "No" a lot. They say "No" to things that pull them away from their core work. They say "No" to "opportunities" that won't benefit them or their team. They say "No" to doing work for team members that team members should do for themselves. When you say "No" to things that drain your effectiveness, you have more time and energy for the important things.

What's The Most Important Thing To Remember When We Analyze Jobs?

Q: What is the best starting point when conducting job analyses? We have a number of jobs to examine in our 1,000-employee organization, and don't want to spin our wheels. Is there a top five do's and don'ts list or something similar to help us plan?

—Start to Finish, assistant manager, mining/oil/gas, Singapore

A: Dear Start to Finish:

Without very careful preparation, job analyses in a company of your size can create more problems than it solves. Here are two key things you should consider when planning your project.


When most employees hear that job analysis is going to be done, they think they will either get a raise, that you are looking to reduce headcount or that they will be stuck with more work as a result of the project. Many managers see their part of the program as just one more brick on an already overloaded cart. Nothing positive comes from these misconceptions.

Smart human resources people develop a communication plan that answers, at minimum, the following questions:

• What is the purpose and value of this project?

• What are the qualifications of those doing the analyses?

• Will we get an increase in pay after the project is completed?

• Are you attempting to see if we are goofing off or have time to do more work?

• Will any existing employees lose their job or pay?

• What role and time commitment will be required of individual employees and managers?

• What safeguards are there to ensure the quality of each job analysis done?

• How long will the process take?

An effective communication program delivers ongoing, proactive messages to key stakeholders on a just-in-time basis. The best communications plan includes memos and in-person briefings. I've often found that actually inviting department managers to assist you in the analysis process is an excellent way of communicating the importance and validity of the work being done.

Analyst Training

Job analysis is an art, not a science. Without good controls, individual analysts looking at the same job can easily come up with different results. Personal bias, lack of skill as an analyst, politics and other factors can have a negative impact on the overall project if you don't plan for consistency upfront.

Invest the time to ensure that your analysts are fully trained in the basics of good job analysis. Make sure, for example, that your analysts can demonstrate their mastery of the analysis tools provided, how to conduct good incumbent interviews, what to watch for to ensure that people aren't underreporting or inflating the duties of their job and other important issues.

Next, bring your analysts together and review 10 or 20 jobs to develop a common understanding and approach to the work you are doing before you actually launch the program.

By calibrating your analysts, helping them focus on data rather than other factors, you will get a better result with much less stress and ongoing concerns for all involved.

Consider having an outside expert review your findings as you go along to make sure the validity of your results. An outsider will often be able to spot even slight data biases, which, once corrected, will improve the final result and add even more credibility to the work you are doing.

SOURCE: Rick Galbreath, Performance Growth Partners Inc., Bloomington, Illinois

Thanks to Work Force / Crain Communications Inc.


How Mindfulness Can Improve Our Focus And Productivity

Mindfulness has become a popular and fashionable activity in recent times. The act of focused awareness on the flow of the present moment. It brings us into the here and now so that we are conscious of what we are doing when we are doing it. It may seem both simple and obvious but when we focus our awareness on our thoughts we will find that we spend most of our day thinking about past and future events. Or if we are lucky enough, sitting around day dreaming rather than focusing on what matters.

Most people have a natural time perspective, and their thoughts are dominated by either past, present or future events. What we don't want is that past or future events dominating our present experiences or that we live too much in the present that we don't learn from past experiences nor plan for the future. So like most things in life we seek balance.

The practice of mindfulness teaches us to become aware of our thoughts and the present moment. It is a habit we need to nurture because our natural tendency is to stray from the here and how to tomorrow, next week or next month. When we practice mindfulness we keep calling back our wandering mind to rest on the current moment.

Some of the benefits of Mindfulness

Below are some of the many benefits of mindfulness and how they can improve our focus and productivity.

Greater Focus

One of our biggest challenges to getting things done is the distraction of the mind, while we try to get one job done, our mind reminds us of ten others that still need doing. We quickly check our email because our mind alerts us to the fact there may be unread emails in our inbox and if the remain unchecked we may be missing the fact that the Earth is shortly to be demolished by an alien construction crew!

As this thought comes into our head we then remember that our copy of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was lent to a friend so maybe we should shoot over to Amazon and buy a fresh copy. Mindfulness jumps in the way of all these distractions of the mind and says "Hey, come back to the present moment, get what needs to be done, done!"

More Effective Planning

On the outset, mindfulness may appear to conflict with the concept of planning but in fact they complement each other greatly. Planning allows us to practice mindfulness by reducing the burdens that the mind needs to worry about. If we are to schedule and plan all our responsibilities and duties we have less to distract us from our daily tasks. When applying mindfulness techniques planning can be a much more effective process and not be delayed by the disruptions of other activities and ideas.

Stress Reduction

A lot of stress is brought about by imagining negative future scenarios, if we were to live completely in the present we would not suffer from this stress. But the human brain has the ability to cast itself into the future, so for now we are stuck with this capability, and will have to learn how to manage it. Stressing about future scenarios that haven't happened is a pointless habit; mindfulness can teach us how to redirect these negative and worrying thoughts back to the present moment and remind us that the future hasn't happened and so far is not controlling our present circumstances. Mindfulness can also help with the insomnia that often accompanies stressful situations.

Whenever we lie awake at night thinking about the poor sales figures or the bills that need to be paid, we need to bring our focus back to our physical body and the fact we are lying comfortable and warm in bed and the things that are occupying our minds have not happened yet.

Take this moment to remember that the future hasn't happened, the past is gone and the present, the wonderful present, is all we have and all that is guaranteed. Make sure you are part of each moment that you live and experience to gift that is the Now.

Thanks to Ciara Conlon / Life Hack / Stepcase Limited


Moving From Transaction To Engagement

Mobile enterprise, social business, cloud computing, advanced analytics, and unified communications are converging. Armed with the art of the possible, innovators are seeking to apply disruptive consumer technologies to enterprise class uses — call it the consumerization of IT in the enterprise. The likely results include new methods of furthering relationships, crafting longer term engagement, and creating transformational business models. It's part of a shift from transactional systems to engagement systems.

These transactional systems have been around since the 1950s. You know them as ERP, finance and accounting systems, or even payroll. These systems are designed for massive computational scale; users find them rigid and techie. Meanwhile, we've moved to new engagement systems such as Facebook and Twitter in the consumer world. The rich usability and intuitive design reflect how users want to work — and now users are coming to expect the same paradigms and designs in their enterprise world.

Engagement systems share nine common traits

A few thought leaders have helped drive the thinking on systems of engagement. Geoffrey Moore has discussed how systems of engagement will drive knowledge worker effectiveness and productivity. Dion Hinchcliffe of Dachis group details the transition from systems of record to systems of engagement in how the social web and open internet are changing business. As with the shift to the Internet, organizations that miss this shift from transactional systems to engagement systems will face dire consequences.

Our initial research identifies nine characteristics of engagement systems that differ from the transactional systems of yesteryear (see the table below for a historical view):

1. Design for sense and response. Engagement systems "listen" to assess status, sentiment, and context. For example, detection of negative sentiment could lead to a discount on your next purchase or a proactive phone call to address an issue. These systems go beyond transactional systems that focus on reliability, stability, and continuous improvement.
2. Address massive social scale. Engagement systems seek to master social networks. Social scale requires constant feedback from networks of people and objects. LinkedIn is an example of how we connect, collaborate, and share with each other in a career aligned social network. Transactional systems focus on addressing massive computing scale.
3. Foster conversation. Engagement systems support two-way conversations. Chat, video, and sharing features enable conversations among individuals, teams, and even machines. Transactional systems push one-way communications in a dictatorial approach
4. Utilize a multitude of media styles for user experience. Engagement systems embrace the multi-media, social-led user experience. Media channels include Twitter, video, text, and "likes." Transactional systems limit themselves to machine based interfaces.
5. Deliver speed in real time. Engagement systems focus on real-time speed. Users can see activity streams, real-time alerts, and notifications on all their devices. Transactional systems aim for just-in-time delivery.
6. Reach to multi-channel networks. Engagement systems touch corporate, personal, and machine based networks. A Skype call or instant message reaches out to both the corporate directory and your own personal network. Transactional systems narrowly focus on departmental and corporate networks.
7. Factor in new types of information management. Engagement systems embrace loosely structured knowledge flows. Comments, audio files, videos, and chats don't fit neatly into corporate relational tables. Transactional systems ensure reliability of highly structured records and data.
8. Apply a richer social orientation. Engagement systems by nature rely on heavy social orientation. The design natively incorporates social media tools such as RSS feeds, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Transactional systems express a tangential or just plain awkward social orientation.
9. Rely on smarter intelligence. Engagement systems are powered by business rules and complex event processing engines. Users can change the flow of a task using visual tools. Transactional systems remain in a hard coded, rigid structured approach.

Experiential and personal fulfillment systems will power the next waves of innovation
The evolution to engagement systems from transactional systems will usher in an era of experiential systems which apply context to deliver agility and flexibility. Early categories in this space include gamification platforms, context aware services, and decision support systems.

As we envision the future, we see personal fulfillment systems playing a key role in breaking down the corporate and consumer walls. These people-to-people networks embrace an intention-driven design point to meet the challenge of delivering on a massive individual scale. Pattern-based models will drive the intelligence of these systems. Early examples include the work that Doc Searls began in 2006 on what he's dubbed vendor relationship management. VRM provides customers with the means to bear their side of the relationship burden. Organizations that fail to make the leap to engagement systems will fall behind. Those that seek to drive innovation will move to experiential systems and push the envelope to build out personal fulfillment systems.

(click on image to see at full size)RWang table.jpg






R "Ray" Wang is Principal Analyst and CEO at Constellation Research Group.

Thanks to R "Ray" Wang / Blogs HRB / Harvard Business School Publishing


The Best Approach To Training

How many times have you trained a junior colleague, new hire, or summer intern in a task only to have that person come knocking on your door every five minutes with a different question about some key detail?

Let me ask you a different question. Do you remember sitting in your physics, or chemistry, or calculus class in high school or college and watching the teacher do a problem on the board? Do you remember being able to solve a problem on your own if the new problem was just like the old one? Do you remember not being able to solve a new problem if it was not just like the old one?

One reason this occurs is because your teacher was (presumably) a subject matter expert and one of the ironies of being an expert is that you often lose touch with what it is like to be a novice. When your new hire has a raft of questions, even after your careful training, it could be because you are now an expert and are falling into the same trap. Part of becoming an expert, after all, is that certain aspects of problem-solving just become automatic. Experts often are unable to articulate the many "obvious" (to them) things they do when carrying out a procedure or solving a problem. This is true whether the expert is a high school math teacher, or a manager trying to train a new hire. These experts can articulate what they think they do, but they do not, and perhaps cannot, articulate what they really do.

To address this issue, a great many people have developed any number of techniques and products aimed at improving training and instruction. But focusing on the technique is putting the cart before the horse.

First, the focus must be on identifying what a learner needs to know.

There are a variety of methods for identifying the knowledge needed for carrying out tasks and solving problems; many of these techniques fall under the heading of "task analysis." Unfortunately, these techniques tend to be formal and can be cumbersome to use or require some background in cognitive psychology. Plus, these techniques tend to allow the expert to say what he or she does without necessarily holding their feet to the fire! I believe the best way to identify what experts do is to have them solve the problems or carry out the tasks in question and to require the expert to justify the steps he is taking as he takes them.

This tight coupling between steps and "theory" is an important feature of the task analysis technique I have developed for use in my problem solving and instructional design research and consulting. If experts were given free rein to describe problem solving procedures in their domain, they often would lean towards "big picture" theory that would not necessarily connect with anything the learner understands and, consequently, would not be particularly meaningful or useful to the learner. A tight coupling of theory, as needed, with steps, goes a long way towards guiding the construction of instructional and training materials that will be much more useful for the learner.

For instance, I have been working with experienced college physics instructors to develop better instructional materials for students. I asked them to create a set of problems — representing a part of the course — that a student in introductory physics should be able to solve if he or she "understood" that part of the course. As these instructors solved the problems while talking out loud, I required them to justify or explain every step while I furiously took notes. One particularly striking result of this process was how often the instructors had to stop and scratch their heads as they tried to provide a justification for their steps. The justifications in this case were rooted in laws of physics, but the relevant features or implications of the laws were things that the instructors had internalized or automated and they struggled to make them explicit to me. The resulting solutions — after much back and forth — were of course quite lengthy and verbose, but they ultimately provide the raw material for guiding the construction of better worked examples and lecture materials for learners. I use the notes to then solve new problems with the expert available to help me when I don't know what to do. Each time I reach an "impasse" I revise the notes. Ultimately, I reach a point where I can solve all problems the expert gives me.

I have used this approach in training projects ranging from ballet instruction to learning about computer algorithms. The common theme is to have someone who is not a subject matter expert (SME) work closely with the SME to help them identify what they really do. The non-expert must pepper the expert with questions as she works through the task to make explicit her every step, substep, and assumption.

In other words, the best way to start to train a novice in any field or to develop good instructional materials is for the expert to actually do the tasks in question. There is just no substitute.

Richard Catrambone is a Professor in the School of Psychology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He has consulted on instructional design and human-computer interaction topics for various organizations. His teaching and mentoring has been recognized by multiple teaching awards.

Thanks to Richard Catrambone / Blogs HRB / Harvard Business School Publishing


Three Leadership Skills That Count

How do you lead successfully in an uncertain, disruptive, even chaotic world?

In our new book Great by Choice, Jim Collins and I pondered that question. To get some empirically derived answers, we studied leaders of companies that grew to become great in highly uncertain, even chaotic, industries. They include the biotech, semiconductor, personal computer, and airline industries. Over the years, the CEOs of these companies faced massive technology disruptions, deep industry recessions, sudden collapses in demand, price wars, oil shocks — you name it. But even so, they led their companies to great long-term financial performance. Their experience can guide leaders who now must lead in today's disruptive world.

Some of these leaders have become legends, such as Andy Grove of Intel and Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines. Others remain fairly unknown outside their industry, such as John Brown of Stryker and George Rathmann of Amgen. What then were the leadership characteristics that separated the winning leaders from their industry peers?

Surprisingly, they were not more visionary (they did not stand out for their ability to "see" the future), and they were generally not more charismatic (yes, a few were, like Herb Kelleher, but not all, and so were some industry peers). Instead, we found three other characteristics.

Productive Paranoia. Bill Gates was hyper-vigilant about what could hit and damage Microsoft. "Fear should guide you," he said in 1994. "I consider failure on a regular basis." Herb Kelleher predicted eleven of the last three recessions. Andy Grove ran around "looking for the black cloud in the silver lining." Productive paranoia is the ability to be hyper-vigilant about potentially bad events that can hit your company and then turn that fear into preparation and clearheaded action. You can't sit around being fearful; you must act, like Herb Kelleher, who insisted on cutting costs and running lean operations in good times, so that they would be prepared for the next storm, imagined or real.

Empirical Creativity. Well, just staying alive does not produce greatness. You must also create. So we should expect these leaders to be highly creative — to create new, wonderful products. Yes, but here's the rub. The leaders of the average industry peers also displayed lots of creativity. We found that the differentiating leadership principle was a certain approach to creativity, what we call empirical creativity — the ability to empirically validate your creative instincts. This means using direct observation, conducting practical experiments, and engaging directly with evidence, rather than relying on opinion, whim, and analysis alone (and, as a prior management consultant, I would include pure market analysis void of testing in this category). When Peter Lewis of Progressive, the car insurance company, had the idea of expanding into the safe-driver market, he did not move in one big swoop. Rather, he started with trials in Texas and Florida, then added more experiments in other states, and finally, three years later, when the concept was validated, he bet big on the new business. His idea was rooted in empiricism, not analysis alone.

Fanatic Discipline. Discipline can mean many things — working hard, following rules, being obedient, and so on. We mean something else: The best-performing leaders in our study exhibited discipline as consistency of action — consistency with values, long-term goals, and performance standards; consistency of method; and consistency over time. It involves rejecting conventional wisdom, hype, and the madness of crowds — essentially being a nonconformist. When John Brown of Stryker set the long-term goal of 20% annual net income growth, year in and year out (he hit it in more than 90% during 21 years), he was so committed to this quest that it could only be described as, well, fanatical. Markets down? Competition severe? Recession? Market hype? He did not care. He built a system of fanatic discipline to achieve the quest, no matter what. He was highly disciplined by showing consistency between his words (the goal) and his behaviors (everything he did to make it happen).

You need all three leadership skills in an uncertain world: Fanatic discipline keeps you on track; empirical creativity keeps you vibrant; and productive paranoia keeps you alive.

When I speak to leaders, I find it helpful to ask: When you consider these three leadership skills, which do you perceive as your weakest one, and how can you turn that into a strength?

A note on our research: We selected industries characterized by high levels of uncertainty and disruption, and contrasted companies that created outstanding long-term financial performance with industry peers that did not. Because our observation period was from the 1970s to 2002, we do not claim that these companies will continue to outperform in perpetuity.

Thanks to Morten T. Hansen / Blogs HRB / Harvard Business School Publishing


How To Manage A Perfectionist

Do you have a perfectionist on your team? The good news is that your direct report has high standards and a fine attention for detail. The bad news is that he fixates on every facet of a project and can't set priorities. Can you harness these positive qualities without indulging the bad? Can you help him become less of a stickler? Yes and yes. Managing a perfectionist can be challenging but it's not impossible. And when done well, you both will benefit.

What the Experts Say
Many people claim to be perfectionists because they think it makes them look good. But true perfectionism is a flaw more than an asset. "Everybody is a perfectionist to some degree. It's when it becomes an obsession that it's a problem," says Robert Steven Kaplan, a Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School and author of What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential. In many cases, this compulsive behavior can be the thorn in the side of a great performer. "I think they're fabulous people and I think they're out of control," says, Thomas J. DeLong, the Philip J. Stomberg Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School and the author of Flying Without a Net. Overseeing a purist requires patience and a unique approach to supervision. Below are several tactics to get the most from your fastidious team member.

Appreciate the positives while recognizing the negatives
Working with perfectionists can be frustrating. They tend to be impatient with or hypercritical of others and they're not good at delegating. "On some level, they actually believe no one can do it better," says DeLong. And they struggle to appropriately allocate their time. "They will focus on the last 2% excessively when 94% is good enough," he says. Recognize that while irritating, their behavior is not all bad. There are many upsides as well. "You can't be a perfectionist without having your head, heart and soul in the game. They're committed to their work and the institution," says DeLong. In fact, because of their insistence on excellence, they often raise the standards of those around them.

Give the right job
Perfectionists are not a good fit for every job. Don't give them projects that they will struggle to complete or roles that will cause them to spin out. Accept that they may not be good managers as they are likely to demand too much of their people (see "hypercritical" and "bad at delegating" above). They are also unlikely to thrive in charge of a big complicated business. Instead, find jobs where their fastidiousness will be appreciated. "Put them in a place in the organization with narrower bandwidth," says Kaplan. Every organization has jobs that require intense attention to detail and encompass a relatively limited scope.

Increase self-awareness
Even in the right position, perfectionists can cause trouble — slowing progress or demoralizing colleagues. You have to help your direct reports recognize when their exacting standards result in negative outcomes. "When someone becomes more self-aware, you can deactivate them so they take a different perspective," says DeLong. Many perfectionists don't realize what they're doing; others do but aren't motivated to change. "They know it's not good for them, but it feels good in the short-term," says DeLong. Explain what you're seeing — "I notice that you like to get everything right" — and then help them see the downsides. "No one loves to do things just adequately," says Kaplan. But most work requires compromise and tradeoffs. Explain that by setting priorities and identifying what matters most, they can save themselves time and effort. He also suggests explaining how perfectionist tendencies often prevent people from getting uniformly positive reviews or rising into management. "As you get more senior there is no such thing as perfect," he explains. Show your direct reports that letting go of perfect is a step toward achieving their big-picture goals.

Coach, if possible
Not every perfectionist is coachable but it pays to try. First ask: "Are they self-aware enough to know they have this quality and motivated to learn?" says Kaplan. Of course, like everyone else, your perfectionist won't change overnight. But don't let her behavior exasperate you. Kaplan says you need to remember that everyone has weaknesses and to exercise patience. "Sometimes showing you care about someone is enough to motivate them," he says. He also suggests you find mentors who are reformed perfectionists themselves who can serve as role models. If someone they look up to can say, "I was like you," they are more likely to benefit from their advice.

Be careful with feedback
Every employee needs feedback. But perfectionists may have a harder time than others hearing criticism of their work. Don't couch your input in positives. Since critique is difficult for them, perfectionists are likely to hear only the negatives. Instead, share your apprehensions first. DeLong suggests you ask for their advice: "I'm not sure how to talk to you about how you can improve your performance. What guidance would you give me about how to give you feedback?" With this in mind, you can deliver the input in a way that won't make them defensive or demotivate them. "Have the hope and confidence that they will take it well," says DeLong.

Principles to Remember


  • Recognize that there are both positives and negatives to having a stickler on your team
  • Explain the behavior you're noticing to try to increase their self-awareness
  • Help perfectionists see that their behavior may limit their career


  • Put a perfectionist in a role that is overly complex or requires managing people
  • Insist that perfectionists change — they won't be able to unless they want to
  • Shy away from giving feedback — instead ask for the perfectionist's advice on how to deliver it

Case Study #1: Find a better job fit
Henry Chasen,* a director at a contract manufacturing company, managed Sean* for more than 15 years. Sean was good at his job but he often rubbed Henry the wrong way. He slowed things down by double- and triple-checking his work and regularly peppering Henry with "unending questions," including ones about scenarios so unlikely that they weren't worth worrying about. Henry couldn't coach Sean into changing his behavior because he was proud of being a perfectionist. At the same time, Henry appreciated Sean's contribution and perspective. "Too many of our employees were the opposite and I thought he served as kind of a counterweight," he says. Eventually, a position opened up in the company that Henry thought would be perfect for Sean. While some in the organization saw it as a "low-level" job because it involved a great amount of attention to detail, Henry knew it was an important role. He encouraged Sean to apply, explaining that it played to his strengths. Sean agreed and switched roles shortly thereafter. "He is doing great because he's right in his sweet spot — and his co-workers respect that he's doing what none of them want to do," Henry says. He's now managing another group and adds: "I've learned not to try to put squares into circular jobs," he says.

Case Study #2: Redirect the focus
When Helen* first started working for Kate Phillips, a training manager at Infinite Group, a UK-based consultancy, she apologetically told her new boss that she was "a bit of a perfectionist." Kate suspected Helen might be exaggerating but soon found out that she wasn't. She was incredibly attentive to detail and, on occasion, obsessed with it. Part of Helen's job was to place products based on a diagram a retail store. If she couldn't find the exact diagram, she spent hours looking for it. Others on Kate's team would find an equivalent model to use in its place but Helen insisted on using the right one. When it came to reporting, her monthly reviews of bestselling products were far more elaborate than necessary, often including graphs and charts of the sales mix. "That's more than most people much higher up in the company would do," says Kate.

When Kate needed that level of detail, she called on Helen. "I'd turn to her, knowing she'd enjoy getting to the nitty-gritty and sifting out the finer points. In team tasks, I'd suggest she acted as minute taker because I knew she'd capture as much data as possible," she says.

Kate also did some coaching. When she saw Helen spending too much time and energy on a problem, Kate commended her focus and determination and suggested she use those traits to come up with an alternative solution. Together they set deadlines and paired Helen with less-detail oriented partners so she would be forced to accept "good enough" results.

She regularly praised Helen for her work and reassured her when things didn't go well. She asked Helen to think of ways she could improve her performance. "I loved that she was so keen to do a good job. It's refreshing to work with someone who has a positive work attitude," says Kate.

*Not their real names

Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review.

Thanks to Amy Gallo / Blogs HRB / Harvard Business School Publishing


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Personal Accountability Is The Number 1 Office Pet Peeve

LinkedIn recently released the survey findings among 17,000 professionals worldwide about the top office pet peeves.

"People not taking ownership for their actions" (OK, we'll label this "personal accountability") has the distinction of hitting the number one spot in LinkedIn's global survey of most irritating office pet peeves.

2. Were the negative/complainers.

3. Leaving your lunch in the fridge or microwave long past expiration.

4. Snoozer meetings.

5. Those people who consistently seem to miss your email (you can only use the "it hit my Spam" excuse so many times).

In an interview with Forbes, Nicole Williams, LinkedIn's Connection Director said "Many just don't realize their behavior may be annoying, and it can be a career killer if you never correct it. Young employees may also take the feedback personally and overreact."

Thanks to Skip Reardon / Six Disciplines, LLC.


Got A Bad Boss? Do The Opposite

One of the best ways to learn leadership is from your bosses – both good and bad ones. It's a pretty simple technique – emulate the good ones and do the opposite of the bad ones.

Given that most of us will be lucky to have had the opportunity to work for even one great leader, the majority of our leadership lessons will have to come from the bad bosses.

Here's a 10 examples of "do the opposite" lessons I've learned from former bad bosses:

1. The boss who never comes out of his/her office: the importance of being visible, communicating, and connecting with your employees.

2. The boss that plays obvious favorites: the importance knowing how to objectively assess performance, and basing rewards and recognition, assignments, and promotions on actual merit, not who sucks up the best.

3. The boss that never accepts responsibility for failure or mistakes: the importance of being accountable.

4. The boss who talked a good game but couldn't execute: the importance of paying attention to the details, planning, and change management.

5. The boss with a temper: the importance of staying calm under fire.

6. The gossiping boss: the importance of discretion and confidentiality.

7. The "retired on the job" boss: the importance of always staying energetic, positive, competitive, and maintaining your physical fitness and appearance.

8. The know-it-all boss: the importance of genuine listening, and being open to learning.

9. The unethical boss: the importance of always doing the right thing, even when no one's looking. Rule of thumb: would I be comfortable if my decision ended up published in the local/company newspaper?

10. The "buzz kill" boss: the importance of being aware of the effect you have on your employees, though your actions, words, and especially your reactions to their suggestions, accomplishments, or concerns.

How about you? What "do the opposite" lessons have you learned from a bad boss? Once you've identified those lessons, then just do what George Constanza did, and you'll be the one getting those cards and thank-you's on Bosses Day!

The Fundamentals Of Becoming Excellent

From an article in Fortune Magazine's "Secrets of Greatness" series: "What it takes to be great"

The premise?
  • Your lack of a natural gift is irrelevant - talent has little or nothing to do with greatness.
  • You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years.
  • Understand that talent doesn't mean intelligence, motivation or personality traits. It's an innate ability to do some specific activity especially well.
How are certain people able to go on improving? The answers begin with consistent observations about great performers in many fields.

The conclusions:
  • The first major conclusion is that nobody is great without work. Yet that isn't enough, since many people work hard for decades without approaching greatness or even getting significantly better
What's missing?
  • It's what the researchers call "deliberate practice." It's activity that's explicitly intended to improve performance, that reaches for objectives just beyond one's level of competence, provides feedback on results and involves high levels of repetition. More deliberate practice equals better performance. Tons of it equals great performance.

How do we transfer this to business?

  • Many elements of business, in fact, are directly practicable. Presenting, negotiating, delivering evaluations, deciphering financial statements - you can practice them all.
  • Anything that anyone does at work, from the most basic task to the most exalted, is an improvable skill.

The missing elements? Attitude. Mental discipline. Feedback & Learning

  • Armed with that mindset, people go at a job in a new way. Research shows they process information more deeply and retain it longer (new attitudes, new habits.)
  • This difference in mental approach is vital.
  • Feedback is crucial.

BOTTOMLINE: "If great performance were easy, it wouldn't be rare. Which leads to possibly the deepest question about greatness. Maybe we can't expect most people to achieve greatness. It's just too demanding. But the striking, liberating news is that greatness isn't reserved for a preordained few. It is available to you and to everyone."

Thanks to Skip Reardon / Six Disciplines, LLC.


10 Ways To Select Participants For A Leadership Development Program

A colleague and I recently talked about the challenge of selecting participants for leadership development programs. With limited resources and budget dollars, companies often have to be selective when it comes to who can attend and who ends up on the old "waiting list".

Then there's always the inevitable political landmines that need to be navigated, i.e., "So why was Sparky selected and not Snooky?!"

It really comes down to the purpose of the program, or what you're trying to achieve. Use these guidelines (1-7) for participant selection for leadership development programs, and you'll ensure that the right person gets the right development at the right time. Use 8-10 to waste your time and resources.

BTW, if you are someone who is interested in getting picked for your company's leadership development program, this will give you some insight as to how selection decisions are commonly made.

10 Ways to Select Participants for a Leadership Development Program:

1. Clueless new managers:
This one's the easiest. If the purpose of the program is to train brand new managers, then ALL brand new managers must attend, preferably within three months of promotion or hire.

2. Next level preparation:
If the purpose is to prepare high potential managers for larger roles (succession planning and development), then individuals that have been identified as potential successors (or your high potential pool) should be selected. If you have to prioritize, then start with the most "ready" candidates.

3. Organizational need based:
If you are trying to develop a new competency in an entire management level or unit, then send them all, one group at a time. Prioritize based on those that have the most urgent need for the new competency.

4. Individual need based:
Send those managers who need the training the most, based on the results of a competency assessment.

5. Building cross-functional capability:
If you are trying to give participants exposure to many different functions, units, or locations, then allocate slots accordingly to ensure a good cross-section.

6. Inclusion and diversity
If you are trying to build a more inclusive, diverse population of leaders, then in addition to any of the other methods, give priority to non-majority participants. Rather than a "check off the box" exercise, this usually helps to stimulate more creativity and disruptive thinking in a program.

7. Applications:
Given that aspiration is an important component of leadership potential, some companies open up the opportunity to everyone in a given population and require participants to submit an application. Often the participant's manager has to approve the application and add their own comments, and final decisions are made by a selection committee.

The application method is also commonly used in open-enrollment, public programs as a way to ensure the right person go to the right program.

Also, here are some methods I've seen organizations use to select participants in a leadership development program that I'd recommend you NOT use:

8. Reward and recognition:
Training should not be used as a way to recognize good performance. There needs to a developmental reason for the training, otherwise you may as well just give the employee a free trip or dinner gift certificate.

9. A warm body:
Please don't send us your stiffs, the employees with nothing better to do in order to get them out of your hair for a few days. It ruins the program for the rest of the participants that deserve and need to be there.

10. Special interest lobbying:
Although it's sometimes difficult to avoid, try to ensure those "squeaky wheels" that wouldn't otherwise meet the criteria don't force themselves in.

Are there other approaches that I may have missed that your company uses?