Saturday, April 27, 2013

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Online Vs. Handwritten 360-Degree Assessments

"I was afraid of the internet… because I couldn't type." -Jack Welch

The two most popular approaches for data collection are online or paper-and-pencil surveys. While, the majority of vendors and companies today utilize Internet-based administration systems, several studies have verified that there is equivalence in using online methods and handwritten tools. For example, Penny (2003)1 and Smither, Walker & Yap (2004)2 found no significant differences between the two formats. These studies were based on a sample of 5,257 employees, and 374 groups of 360 participants.

Coach's Critique:

Although some researchers have found that on-line tools and paper and pencil tools have no significant difference, I tend to believe that the fact that scoring can be more easily automated is what makes up for the difference between the two tools. Imagine implementing a 360-degree feedback process on an entire organization…scoring is obviously challenging, and as a result this can lead to more errors. So, wether or not there is a difference between the two tools in terms of how they affected feedback, it seems that any tools that is prone to errors can diminish the effectiveness of the tool. While many people may still prefer to use handwritten tools, it seems important to modernize the approach, and utilize an online tools which can track, store, and protect information in a more reliable way.

What are some of your thought about on-line vs. handwritten 360-degree assessments? Do you believe there are advantages to using handwritten assessments? If so, what are they?

  1. Penny, J. (2003) Exploring differential item functioning in a 360-degree assessment: Rater source and method of delivery. Organizational Research Methods, 6, 61-79. []
  2. Smither, J.W., Walker, A.G., & Yap, M.K.T. (2004) An examination of the equivalence of web-based versus paper-and-pencil upward feedback ratings: rater -and-ratee-level analyses. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 64, 40-61. [↩]
Thanks to Sandra Mashihi / Results Envisia Learning / Envisia Learning

Yes, You Treat Customers Well. But How Do You Treat Employees?

I've been involved in owning and coaching businesses for about 35 years. I have gone from being one of the worst employers I have ever seen to being one that is at least pretty good. The biggest lesson I learned was that if I ever wanted my employees to treat my customers well, I had better treat my employees well. It took me 10 years to learn this lesson, but once I did, our customer service went from O.K. with lots of effort to great with minimal effort.

For me, this starts with personal responsibility. I wanted all of my employees to be personally responsible for what happened in their area. I recently wrote a post about this in which I talked about treating your employees as experts. The problem was that I wasn't taking responsibility for myself. I wouldn't accept mistakes, and I would often blame others or, even worse, try to justify my behavior. Finally, one of my employees suggested that I take a look in the mirror and start walking my talk.

This was a very tough lesson for me to learn. Being young and successful doesn't always encourage humility. I was no different. But I can tell you that once I stopped blaming others I became a much easier person to work with.

Dan Sullivan of the Strategic Coach talks about this all of the time. He is referring to how you treat those outside of your company, but I think it's even more important to be considered trustworthy by those who work inside. Mr. Sullivan's four principles are:

  1. Show up on time.
  2. Say please and thank you.
  3. Do what you say.
  4. Finish what you start.

None of these things are hard to do. It just takes awareness that those who work with us have feelings and want to be treated with respect. But how often do we treat employees poorly and then turn on the charm when we're with a customer? Our employees see this behavior, and they don't like it. Today, when people I am working with or thinking about working with don't follow these rules, I get much less excited about the prospect of working with them.

Here's another way to show respect: Do you respond promptly to e-mails that come from outside your company but take days to respond to those that come from inside? My advice is to make sure you state your e-mail policy publicly. For me, it's simple: Don't send me long e-mails, and I won't send you long e-mails, either. And you can expect a reply within 24 hours. My own rule is that if an e-mail is more than three paragraphs, I'll pick up the phone and make a call. Yes, I realize I'm a little older than the average business owner, but telephones still work remarkably well when you need to have a complicated conversation.

Of course, you also have to return phone calls promptly. When employees call you, it's probably about something important — a problem they believe only you can solve. Sometimes, the problem will be something that should not have come across your desk. When that happens it's important for you to refer the caller to the proper person. And you need to follow up in a day or two to make sure the problem was resolved.

Following up is essential. Your employee took a risk. He or she called the boss with a problem. Don't take this lightly. Calling back to make sure the problem was handled shows respect and builds trust.

Of course, there will always be times when we blow it. I know that I occasionally fail to get back to people promptly or let something fall through the cracks. I recently had a person I wanted to work with blow me off three times. Finally, he did get back to me and let me know that he had had several deaths in his family. I felt terrible — but at the same time I was annoyed that he had not let me know why my time was not respected.

Your employees have the same issue. They will know if you blow it. So start with an apology and admit your mistake. And then make sure you don't do it again, at least not for quite a while. When I make a mistake in communication with someone, I consider myself on probation. It doesn't matter whether the person works for me or not. I have to make sure I don't do it again. Otherwise, trust will be lost.

At the end of the day, trust is what it's all about. If we don't treat our employees the way we treat our best customers, they will stop trusting us. And it's very difficult to get that trust back.

Josh Patrick is a founder and principal at Stage 2 Planning Partners, where he works with private business owners on creating personal and business value.

Thanks to Josh Patrick / Boss Blogs NYTimes / The New York Times Company


Friday, April 26, 2013

Sales Training Letter: ‘A’ Players Have 4 Simple Requests

92% of front line Sales Managers told us they understand the importance of sales training and its impact on 'A' players. However, these same Sales Managers that participated in our sales force design study struggled with how to develop their 'A' players.

If 20% of your team delivers 80% of your revenue, the single most impactful thing you do will be centered on the development of your 'A' players. The impact of not doing this is twofold:

Quota- you will miss your number in 2012. The number 1 reason your role exists is to make the number.

Career - you will be branded as somebody that cannot develop 'A' players. 'B' and 'C' player managers are those that cannot retain and develop 'A' player sales reps.  You may be heading back to a sales rep job.

How to fix? Follow the 'A' player sales training letter below. This is written to you from the 'A' players on your team:

Dear Boss,

You continue to tell me that I am critical to your success and you value what I do. However, your actions don't support your words. In order to make 2012 better than 2011, I thought I would tell you the 4 things you can do to get more out of me.

  1. Coach me:  Why do you blow off our time in the field together? I know you need to work with the other guys on the team and get them to quota.  At times, I feel like you assume I will always close business. I would enjoy some live customer and prospect time with you; I want to improve.
  2. Listen to me: Why do you ask for my opinion on the new initiatives and company changes but never heed my advice? Either show me that you are listening or don't ask me and save us both some time.
  3. Develop me: I want to be promoted. I have asked you about a development plan and you have not helped me. I get calls from recruiters all the time; keeping me here is more than just paying me good money. Can you please bring some new ideas from other 'A' players to help me improve?
  4. Challenge me: Why do you never push me? In the last couple of years, you have been more focused on me liking you than respecting you. There are times I can work harder. Because you don't push me and challenge me I don't think you get all of me. Ask me to develop something to help our new hires? When is the last time you have had me lead a team meeting?

sales training grade

Call To Action:

• Ask the 'A' players on your team which one of the 4 items you have the most to improve upon. Use the graphic to help plot what type of 'A' player you have.
      »  This type of vulnerability will endear you to them and they will want to help you improve
• Schedule 1 day in the field between now and end of next month working on whatever the 'A' player feels they need help with.
• Prepare for that day with focus and urgency; the 'A' player rep should leave better at the end of the day; if they don't, your lack of developmental ability will eventually drive them to leave or you out of a job.

Thanks to Matt Sharrers / Sales Benchmark Index[Sales%20Training%20Lette]


Successful Delegation

Using the Power of Other People's Help.

Even "Super-You" needs help and support. There is no shame in asking for assistance. Push aside the pride and show respect for the talent others can bring to the table.

And, remember that there is no such thing as a single-handed success: When you include and acknowledge all those in your corner, you propel yourself, your teammates and your supporters to greater heights.

- Author Unknown.

Do you feel stressed and overloaded? Or that your career seems stalled? If so, then you may need to brush up your delegation skills!

If you work on your own, there's only a limited amount that you can do, however hard you work. You can only work so many hours in a day. There are only so many tasks you can complete in these hours. There are only so many people you can help by doing these tasks. And, because the number of people you can help is limited, your success is limited.

However, if you're good at your job, people will want much more than this from you.

This can lead to a real sense of pressure and work overload: You can't do everything that everyone wants, and this can leave you stressed, unhappy, and feeling that you're letting people down.

On the positive side, however, you're being given a tremendous opportunity if you can find a way around this limitation. If you can realize this opportunity, you can be genuinely successful!

One of the most common ways of overcoming this limitation is to learn how to delegate your work to other people. If you do this well, you can quickly build a strong and successful team of people, well able to meet the demands that others place.

This is why delegation is such an important skill, and is one that you absolutely have to learn!

Why People Don't Delegate

To figure out how to delegate properly, it's important to understand why people avoid it. Quite simply, people don't delegate because it takes a lot of up-front effort.

After all, which is easier: designing and writing content for a brochure that promotes a new service you helped spearhead, or having other members of your team do it?

You know the content inside and out. You can spew benefit statements in your sleep. It would be relatively straightforward for you to sit down and write it. It would even be fun! The question is, "Would it be a good use of your time?"

While on the surface it's easier to do it yourself than explain the strategy behind the brochure to someone else, there are two key reasons that mean that it's probably better to delegate the task to someone else:

  • First, if you have the ability to spearhead a new campaign, the chances are that your skills are better used further developing the strategy, and perhaps coming up with other new ideas. By doing the work yourself, you're failing to make best use of your time.
  • Second, by meaningfully involving other people in the project, you develop those people's skills and abilities. This means that next time a similar project comes along, you can delegate the task with a high degree of confidence that it will be done well, with much less involvement from you.

Delegation allows you to make the best use of your time and skills, and it helps other people in the team grow and develop to reach their full potential in the organization.

When to Delegate

Delegation is a win-win when done appropriately, however that does not mean that you can delegate just anything. To determine when delegation is most appropriate there are five key questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Is there someone else who has (or can be given) the necessary information or expertise to complete the task? Essentially is this a task that someone else can do, or is it critical that you do it yourself?
  • Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop another person's skills?
  • Is this a task that will recur, in a similar form, in the future?
  • Do you have enough time to delegate the job effectively? Time must be available for adequate training, for questions and answers, for opportunities to check progress, and for rework if that is necessary.
  • Is this a task that I should delegate? Tasks critical for long-term success (for example, recruiting the right people for your team) genuinely do need your attention.

If you can answer "yes" to at least some of the above questions, then it could well be worth delegating this job.

Other factors that contribute to the delegability of a task include:
  1. The project's timelines/deadlines.
    • How much time is there available to do the job?
    • Is there time to redo the job if it's not done properly the first time?
    • What are the consequences of not completing the job on time?
  1. Your expectations or goals for the project or task(s), including:
    • How important is it that the results are of the highest possible quality?
    • Is an "adequate" result good enough?
    • Would a failure be crucial?
    • How much would failure impact other things?

That being said, having all these conditions present is no guarantee that the delegated task will be completed successfully either. You also need to consider to whom you will delegate the task and how you will do it.

The Who and How of Delegating

Having decided to delegate a task there are some other factors to consider as well. As you think these through you can use our free Delegation Worksheet to keep record of the tasks you choose to delegate and who you want to delegate them to.

To Whom Should You Delegate?

The factors to consider here include:

  1. The experience, knowledge and skills of the individual as they apply to the delegated task.
    • What knowledge, skills and attitude does the person already have?
    • Do you have time and resources to provide any training needed?
  2. The individual's preferred work style.
    • How independent is the person?
    • What does he or she want from his or her job?
    • What are his or her long-term goals and interest, and how do these align with the work proposed?
  3. The current workload of this person.
    • Does the person have time to take on more work?
    • Will you delegating this task require reshuffling of other responsibilities and workloads?
When you first start to delegate to someone, you may notice that he or she takes longer than you do to complete tasks. This is because you are an expert in the field and the person you have delegated to is still learning. Be patient: if you have chosen the right person to delegate to, and you are delegating correctly, you will find that he or she quickly becomes competent and reliable.

How Should You Delegate?

Use the following principles to delegate successfully:

  1. Clearly articulate the desired outcome. Begin with the end in mind and specify the desired results.
  2. Clearly identify constraints and boundaries. Where are the lines of authority, responsibility and accountability? Should the person:
    • Wait to be told what to do?
    • Ask what to do?
    • Recommend what should be done, and then act?
    • Act, and then report results immediately?
    • Initiate action, and then report periodically?
  1. Where possible, include people in the delegation process. Empower them to decide what tasks are to be delegated to them and when.
  2. Match the amount of responsibility with the amount of authority. Understand that you can delegate some responsibility, however you can't delegate away ultimate accountability. The buck stops with you!
  3. Delegate to the lowest possible organizational level. The people who are closest to the work are best suited for the task, because they have the most intimate knowledge of the detail of everyday work. This also increases workplace efficiency, and helps to develop people.
  4. Provide adequate support, and be available to answer questions. Ensure the project's success through ongoing communication and monitoring as well as provision of resources and credit.
  5. Focus on results. Concern yourself with what is accomplished, rather than detailing how the work should be done: Your way is not necessarily the only or even the best way! Allow the person to control his or her own methods and processes. This facilitates success and trust.
  6. Avoid "upward delegation". If there is a problem, don't allow the person to shift responsibility for the task back to you: ask for recommended solutions; and don't simply provide an answer.
  7. Build motivation and commitment. Discuss how success will impact financial rewards, future opportunities, informal recognition, and other desirable consequences. Provide recognition where deserved.
  8. Establish and maintain control.
    • Discuss timelines and deadlines.
    • Agree on a schedule of checkpoints at which you'll review project progress.
    • Make adjustments as necessary.
    • Take time to review all submitted work.

In thoroughly considering these key points prior to and during the delegation process you will find that you delegate more successfully.

Keeping Control

Now, once you have worked through the above steps, make sure you brief your team member appropriately. Take time to explain why they were chosen for the job, what's expected from them during the project, the goals you have for the project, all timelines and deadlines and the resources on which they can draw. And agree a schedule for checking-in with progress updates.

Lastly, make sure that the team member knows that you want to know if any problems occur, and that you are available for any questions or guidance needed as the work progresses.

We all know that as managers, we shouldn't micro-manage. However, this doesn't mean we must abdicate control altogether: In delegating effectively, we have to find the sometimes-difficult balance between giving enough space for people to use their abilities to best effect, while still monitoring and supporting closely enough to ensure that the job is done correctly and effectively.

The Importance of Full Acceptance

When delegated work is delivered back to you, set aside enough time to review it thoroughly. If possible, only accept good quality, fully-complete work. If you accept work you are not satisfied with, your team member does not learn to do the job properly. Worse than this, you accept a whole new tranche of work that you will probably need to complete yourself. Not only does this overload you, it means that you don't have the time to do your own job properly. Of course, when good work is returned to you, make sure to both recognize and reward the effort. As a leader, you should get in the practice of complimenting members of your team every time you are impressed by what they have done. This effort on your part will go a long way toward building team member's self-confidence and efficiency, both of which will be improved on the next delegated task; hence, you both win.

Key Points:

At first sight, delegation can feel like more hassle than it's worth, however by delegating effectively, you can hugely expand the amount of work that you can deliver.

When you arrange the workload so that you are working on the tasks that have the highest priority for you, and other people are working on meaningful and challenging assignments, you have a recipe for success.

To delegate effectively, choose the right tasks to delegate, identify the right people to delegate to, and delegate in the right way. There's a lot to this, but you'll achieve so much more once you're delegating effectively!

Thanks to Mind Tools Ltd


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Helping People Take Responsibility

Encouraging Accountability

"A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make." - Denis Waitley, author and coach.

Abigail manages a team of exceptional people, who work well together to accomplish the team's goals. However, one person, Jim, regularly causes problems with the rest of the group.

For instance, he consistently misses deadlines. When asked why, he points the finger at one of his teammates, instead of admitting that it was his own procrastination that caused him to fail.

Jim's behavior has a significant negative impact on the team. People don't want to work with him; and they resent his apathetic attitude and his unwillingness to change his behavior.

It can be frustrating to have people like Jim on your team. However, there are steps that you take to put things right. In this article, we'll discuss strategies that you can use to do this.

What Causes a Lack of Responsibility?

People duck responsibility for reasons ranging from simple laziness or a fear of failure, through to a sense of feeling overwhelmed by the scale of a problem or a situation.

Whatever the reason, if people fail to take responsibility, they'll fail in their jobs, they'll fail their teams, and they'll fail to grow as individuals. All of this makes it important to address the issue.

Signs and Symptoms

Sometimes it isn't obvious when people are shirking their responsibilities, but there are several signs to watch out for.

These include:

  • Lacking interest in their work, and in the well-being of the team.
  • Blaming others for mistakes and failures.
  • Missing deadlines.
  • Avoiding challenging tasks and projects; and not taking risks.
  • Regularly complaining about unfair treatment by team leaders and team members - and engaging in self-pity.
  • Avoiding taking initiative, and being dependent on others for work, advice, and instructions.
  • Lacking trust in team members and leaders.
  • Making excuses regularly - they may often say "It's not my fault," or, "That's unfair."

Strategies and Tools

When team members don't take responsibility for their actions, some managers may just hope that the problem goes away. Others may try to remove these people from their teams completely.

Neither of these approaches is ideal - the situation is likely to get worse if you just leave it alone; while laying people off should be a last resort, especially if you're dealing with people who have the potential to be effective team members.

Instead, your aim should be to provide your people with the skills and resources needed to do their jobs, and then to create an environment where it's easy for them to take responsibility for their decisions and actions.

And yes, sometimes you'll need to be firm and courageous, and sometimes your actions will cause conflict.

We'll now explore a variety of strategies and tools that you can use to get people to take responsibility.

Start by Talking

Your first step is to talk to the individuals concerned. Find out if there are circumstances that are contributing to the situation, or if there are problems that you can deal with. After all, bad things can happen in people’s lives, and this can clearly affect their behavior at work.

Then provide feedback, so that the individuals know that their behavior needs to change. The GROW Model may be useful here, and, depending on the circumstances, you may need to provide appropriate support.

What you learn in your discussion provides the context for the next actions that you take.

Make sure that you have clear, accurate examples that you can cite when you provide feedback. If you don't, your arguments won't stand up, and you'll risk leaving the individual feeling victimized.
Ensure Adequate Resources

A sensible early action is to ensure that your people have the resources they need to do their job. This might include providing training, equipment, access to mentors and coaches, and suchlike.

This is a key step in helping people take responsibility for their work - if they don't have the "tools" needed to do their jobs, it's easy to shun responsibility!

Take our How Well Do You Develop Your People? self-test to improve your team development skills.
Communicate Roles, Responsibilities, and Objectives

Your people also need to know clearly what their job roles and responsibilities are.

Make sure that you have an up-to-date job description for each team member, and be as detailed as possible about every responsibility that they have.

When working with your team on a project, use a Responsibility Assignment Matrix to help keep assignments and responsibilities clear. You may also want to use a Team Charter to define everyone's roles and responsibilities within the team.

Sometimes, people don't take responsibility because they feel apathetic about their work. They can't see how their efforts tie into the "bigger picture." So, make sure that they understand how their work ties into the larger goals of the organization. Highlight the importance of what they're doing, and also paint a picture that details the unpleasant direct and indirect consequences that happen when they don't do their work properly.

Re-Engage People

This then leads on to re-engagement. Think about how you, yourself, feel when you're doing work that you love or care deeply about.

You take responsibility for your actions, simply because you have a deep sense of pride in what you're doing. The same will likely hold true for your people: by working on re-engaging them, you can lead your people down the path towards personal responsibility.

Your people will be more engaged if their work aligns with their values. Meet with them to find out what these are. Then, illustrate how their daily tasks and responsibilities align with those values.

Team members could also be disengaged or dissatisfied because they're not in the right role. Take some time to discover their strengths and weaknesses, and analyze whether or not they're using their strengths. If not, they might be better suited in a different role. (You can also use job crafting techniques to reshape their role to fit them better.)

Make sure that you're familiar with Herzberg's Motivators and Hygiene Factors. Herzberg identified common sources of job dissatisfaction, as well as highlighting the things that motivate people.

You must do both in order for team members to be happy and engaged in their work.

Help People Take Control

Sometimes, people feel that they have no control over their lives. To them, it doesn't matter what they do or how hard they work, nothing makes much of a difference.

People who believe that outside forces constantly influence their life are said to have an "external locus of control," while those who believe that their actions shape events, have an internal one. Ask team members to take our Locus of Control quiz so that you can determine where they fall on this spectrum.

If you discover that people have an external locus of control, help them overcome this. Set modest goals so that they can achieve some quick wins; and then help them build their self-confidence. Also, remind them of their strengths and past successes, and teach them how to think positively, instead of engaging in damaging, negative self-talk.

You can also break up any large tasks or projects into smaller goals or steps. A huge project or goal will make people feel overwhelmed, and, instead of being accountable for their work, they're far more likely to shun their responsibilities.

People who don't take responsibility often play the blame game. When you notice team members starting to point the finger of blame, stop them immediately. Shift their focus away from assigning blame, and, instead, direct it to what needs to be done to fix the problem and move forward.
Don't Micromanage

Also, look at your own management style. If certain team members aren't taking responsibility, it could be because you aren't delegating clearly, or because you're micromanaging them - if you hover over their shoulder and second guess their every action, they're going to be reluctant to do anything without you in the background.

So, learn the art of delegation and avoid micromanagement. Give your people the freedom they need to make their own decisions, but be ready to guide them in the right direction if required. If they're able to make decisions on their own, they'll start to realize that their efforts really do make a difference.

Give Plenty of Praise

A final thing to do is to give plenty of praise when people do take responsibility. And, help them improve by providing them with consistent, effective, fair feedback.

By using these strategies, you'll be able to go a long way towards getting people to take responsibility.

Some people, however, may simply not be mature enough to do the job. Do what you sensibly can, but don't keep them "hanging around" once you've exhausted all reasonable options. (Clearly, ensure that you fully comply with national employment law and internal HR policies when you take any action.)

Tip 2:
As you work through this process, document everything, so that you can explain your actions if challenged.

Key Points

People who don't take responsibility for their work or actions are likely to have a negative impact on their team. Look for apathy, finger pointing, missed deadlines, or phrases like "It's not my fault" to spot team members who are avoiding accountability.

To help people take more responsibility for their work, provide them with the skills and resources to actually do their job. Then set up an environment that makes it easy for them to change, and help them take responsibility for their decisions and actions.

You can do this by:

  • Ensuring adequate resources.
  • Communicating roles, responsibilities, and objectives.
  • Re-engaging them.
  • Helping them take control.
  • Avoiding micromanagement.
  • Giving praise.
Thanks to Mind Tools Ltd

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

6 Types Of Bosses

I've been involved in leadership development for a long time, so I've been exposed to a lot of bosses from all walks of life. One question people often ask me and others in this business is "If all of this leadership development stuff is supposed to be so great, then why are there so many bad bosses?"

It's a fair question. It seems like wherever you turn, there are horror stories of bully bosses, bad bosses, evil bosses, and devil bosses. Bad bosses are lampooned on shows like the Office, in movies like Horrible Bosses, in comics like Dilbert, and in books, blogs, magazines, and other media outlets.

There's a lot of attention being given to "bullying" these days, and bosses are often the bully culprits in the workplace.

It's not just some kind of anti-boss media conspiracy. A lack of respect for bosses will often show up in polls and surveys as well.

How could this be? How could so many incapable, evil-doing nincompoops end up in positions of management?

I believe these kind of bosses are the minority, not the majority. That's not based on polls or research - only on my own personal experience in working with real managers, as well as reviewing the results of hundreds of 360 assessments.

Here's my view of the world of bosses:
1. Great Leaders: 10%
These are those rare bosses that are able to consistently bring out the best in others and achieve extraordinary results. They are the ones that make a positive difference in the lives of their employees, organizations, and the world around them. They are not just the famous historical figures - great leaders are all around us.

2. Good Bosses: 40%
This is the bell curve of bosses: decent, hard working, well-intended bosses that strive to be great leaders - and often are - but don't always get it right. When given feedback, they will work on their weak areas, but don't always have the tools or support needed to improve.

3. Unskilled Bosses: 30% (sometimes referred to as incompetent)
These bosses may be new, or just never learned the basics of good management and leadership. Sometimes they had poor roles models or were never trained. They have good intentions - they are just going about it the wrong way, and get frustrated when they don't get the results they need. With proper training, coaching, and development, they can become at least good, if not great leaders.

4. Apathetic Bosses: 10%
These are the ones that for some reason have just checked out. They may have been a good boss at some point - or at least have the potential to be a good boss - but just don't care anymore. They don't embrace the role of a boss - having to manage people is just a requirement of the role that they would just as soon not have to do.

5. Jerks: 5%
"Jerks" is a subjective assessment, and everyone has their own level of tolerance when it comes to the imperfections of others. Mine just happens to be around 5%, not just for bosses, but people in general.
Jerk bosses are just jerks that somehow got promoted when they should not have. Sadly, most jerks don't know they are jerks. In fact, these are some of the bosses who think they are great leaders. They will take a good management or leadership concept, and screw it up in practice. Unlike unskilled bosses, I'm not sure if any amount of training or coaching will make enough of a difference to overcome being a jerk.

6. Bullies: 5%.
Bully bosses, like jerks, were probably always mean-spirited people but got promoted because of their hard work, technical talent, and their ability to manipulate, intimidate, suck-up, and get short-term results. In a position of power and authority, they have even more ability to push others around and make the workplace a living hell for those unlucky enough to work for them.

These last two categories are the ones we read about the most. If you search "types of bosses", you'll  find a lot of articles written about different variations of these last two, but not much about the other 90%.

Again, these percentages are heavily biased based on the the kind of organizations I've worked in and for. I'm sure, based on Glassdoor reviews, that the percentages vary quite a bit based on organizational culture.

I think the percentages are also dependant on people's life experiences, their tolerance, as well as their expectations for a boss. For example, if you've never been a boss, are fiercely independent with little respect for anyone in a position of authority, you'd probably rate ANY boss as incompetent at best.

So why are do many surveys should that 50% or more employees have an unfavorable view of their bosses? Well, if you add up categories 3-6, there's 50% right there. I also think people often have unrealistic expectations of their bosses - they are rating them against "Great Leader" standards (based on the survey questions), when in reality, that's a pretty high bar that few will ever reach. So many from the "Good Boss" category end up getting low marks in surveys.

So what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my categories and percentages, and if so, why?

Five Dimensional Space-Time And Total Rewards

I'm a big fan of the interdisciplinary approach. Looking through the lens of a different field of specialty can generate new insights into old problems. As I've mentioned before, physics and compensation are closely related. Physicists are continually struggling to understand the universe, and one promising area is multidimensionality - there may be more than the three physical dimensions we can observe. Some physicists are working on a model of the universe based in five dimensional space-time. Applying the idea of five dimensional space-time can lead to improvements in our total rewards strategies.

What is space-time? It's simply the combination of physical dimensions and time. We typically conceptualize space-time in four dimensions: length, width, height and time. If you're meeting someone to discuss total rewards strategies, you need to know these four pieces of information (6th Ave and 14th St, 3rd floor at 2PM) in order to get there and be on time.

We also tend to conceptualize total rewards in terms of four dimensions:

The troubling thing about conceptualizing space-time in four dimensions is that there's a disconnect between how things work on a very large scale (relativity) and how things work on a very small scale (quantum mechanics). Physicists so far haven't been able to come up with a unifying theory using four-dimensional space-time.

There's also a disconnect between the goals of our total rewards strategy (retention, engagement, etc.) and the outcomes of our four-dimensional total rewards strategy.

One solution may be to think in five dimensions. 5-dimensional space-time unifies gravity and the electromagnetic force; this could be instrumental in resolving the disconnect between relativity and quantum mechanics. A 5-dimensional total rewards strategy may resolve the disconnect between the goals of the strategy and the actual outcomes.

What is the fifth dimension of total rewards? You probably already know, but don't really think of it as a separate dimension: development. By development, I mean more than sending employees to annual conferences and providing tuition reimbursement. I'm talking about real development opportunities that can push your total rewards strategy into n-space:

  • Promote from within: Talk with your employees about their goals and develop a career plan to achieve those goals within your organization. Without a clear career path, your employees are essentially being forced to constantly job-hunt, looking outside of your organization for their next opportunity.
  • On-the-job learning: Offering rotational assignments at progressively higher levels within the organization. This can force employees to take risks and work outside of their comfort zone, which leads to growth. If an employee asks for more responsibility, give it to them through a rotational assignment. Even if the project turns out badly, it's still a learning opportunity.
  • Mentoring: Mentoring works. It provides a support structure for employees to help them achieve their goals. It can be personalized to address the specific developmental needs of each employee. Utilizing mentors outside of your organization has the advantage of not disrupting work flow. Because it's independent of employment relationships, it's likely to lead to more self-disclosure and honest feedback.
  • On- and Off-Ramps: Sylvia Ann Hewlett's 2007 book on keeping talented women on the road to success presented the idea of providing opportunities for women to phase in and out of their career paths. But the idea of on- and off-ramps applies to all employees, regardless of gender, and is not limited to childbirth and care-giving. Think about offering on- and off-ramps for sabbaticals. I'm not talking about "mental health day / time to chill out" sabbaticals (although we all do need time to relax). I'm talking about providing autonomy and an opportunity for employees to pursue their own ideas. Give employees time to engage in study or uncompensated work experiences that contribute to their own development.

Incorporating development into your total rewards strategy is not a new idea. But treating it as a separate and equal dimension - designing real career paths within your organization and being committed to providing real opportunities for growth and development - is a novel idea for some. You may have glimpsed this fifth dimension, but until you fully embrace it - and give it as much attention as compensation, benefits, performance and rewards, and work/life balance, there's no hope of resolving the disconnect between your goals for a total rewards strategy and the actual outcomes realized.   

Stephanie R. Thomas is an economic and statistical consultant specializing in EEO issues and employment litigation risk management. Since 1999, she's been working with businesses and government agencies providing expert analysis. Stephanie's articles on examining compensation systems for internal equity have appeared in professional journals and she has appeared on NPR to discuss the gender wage gap. Stephanie is the founder of Thomas Econometrics and is the host of The Proactive Employer Podcast.

Thanks to Stephanie R. Thomas / Compensatin Café


The Question That Will Change Your Organization

Some fifteen years ago, in the early days of starting up Fast Company magazine, co-founder Alan Webber shared one of his rules of thumb with me: "A good question beats a good answer." That pithy wisdom sunk in and took hold immediately.

The first thing you notice when you have your ears pricked for questions is that most people (especially businesspeople) are more interested in presenting solutions, making assertions, and sharing their vision. This isn't surprising. School programs us to focus on producing the right answer, and the job description of a leader for the last century has basically been "the person with all the answers."

That's why it's so refreshing (and instructive) to spend time with people who lead with questions rather than answers. Why? Why does inquiry beat certainty every time? Here are just three reasons:

1. Questions are a powerful antidote to hubris, which inevitably arises in a culture that celebrates mastery, values decisiveness, and reveres the top guy (or gal). Genuine questions unleash humility, curiosity, even vulnerability. That turns out to be a powerful approach to leadership in a world of expanding complexity, immense challenges and intense change. No single individual can possibly have all of the answers. But an open and curious one can attract more perspectives, surface more possibilities, and enlist more help than one closed off by certitude.

As Vineet Nayar, CEO of the $3.5 billion global IT services firm, HCL Technologies, puts it: "The CEO should be the Chief Question Asker, not the final provider of answers." He keeps a list of twenty questions and makes time to think about them on a regular (almost daily) basis. He's asking for trouble when he wonders:

  • Should people who create value be governed by people who control it?
  • What things do I control that I should not control?
  • Could we throw out the entire company rulebook?
  • Would my children (or my employees' children) want to work in a company like mine?
  • What would happen if there was no CEO at my company (or at any company in the world)?

He professes not to have the answers, but one thing is certain: the more disruptive the questions, the greater the chance his organization will create the future — rather than be conquered by it.

2. The best questions are the bedrock of all change and creativity.
Those classics — Why? Why not? What if? — invite possibility rather than doubt. They are fundamentally subversive, disruptive, and playful — and they switch people into the mode required to invent anything new. Even better, anyone can ask these questions (anyone who has ever spent time in the company of a three-year-old understands this). You don't have to hold a position of authority to ask a powerful question, and the people with the most powerful questions stand to make the most impact.

That was certainly true for Jane Harper, who spent a nearly 30-year career at IBM asking the kinds of questions most people don't want to touch. In 1999, she dared to ask: "Why would really great people — the best technical and managerial talent in the world — want to come work at IBM?" In an era when every young, gifted programmer, engineer, or entrepreneur's first instinct was to write their own business plan or head to a fast-growing startup, life as a foot soldier in Big Blue's global army was a pretty hard sell. Harper understood that great people want to work on exciting, high-impact projects, with a small team, in a dynamic setting. So she created exactly that in a Cambridge, Massachusetts lab and launched a wholly original and powerfully effective internship program called Extreme Blue, which has since grown into a thriving platform for innovation and talent development.

3. Asking good questions trades control for contribution. A question asked and explored as a group (whether that group is a team, a company, or a community) generates more solidarity, engagement, and progress than a proclamation from on high. Spend any amount of time with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, whose organization is celebrated for exuding a powerful sense of purpose and passion from every corner, and you'll hear him repeatedly refer to "the questions we ask ourselves."

Questions create conversations — and those conversations are how thriving groups think up their future together and stay true to their core. One enduring and powerful question at the heart of Zappos is: "How do we sustain this culture as we grow? How do we stay true to the core and inspire ever more creativity and energy to tackle the future?" That question is actively explored across the organization and even results in a book — the annual Culture Book — which features the "true feelings, thoughts, and opinions of the employees," who view themselves as vital custodians of that culture.

Of course, there is no one right question, but one of the most productive questions when it comes to engendering a deeply-felt sense of purpose and inspiring the kind of passion that fuels organizations to do extraordinary things is: "What ideas are we fighting for? What do we stand for (and what are we against)? Why does what we do matter?"

The inevitable corollary to that question is: "Are you really who you say you are?" Unless you're willing to hold a brutally honest and transparent conversation (both inside the organization and beyond) about where you're living up to your ideas and ideals and where you're falling down, those values will become meaningless words on the wall.

What's your question? Share it here and join the Beyond Bureaucracy Challenge to share your stories, ideas, and practices about what it takes to make our organizations more inspiring, open and free.

Polly LaBarre is editorial director of the Management Innovation Exchange

Thanks to Polly LaBarre / Blogs HBR / Harvard Business School Publishing


Monday, April 22, 2013

Do Business Owners Know What Makes For A Good Manager?

As many companies nationwide deal with declining returns on investment (ROI), more business owners are taking a look at those who manage their companies in different capacities, be it others or themselves.

Having stellar managers in charge of different facets of the company, be they CFO's, COO's, CEO's, the head of production etc. can make the difference between a company that is growing and always looking ahead and companies that are struggling to just stay afloat.

While the final business decisions oftentimes come down to the individual or individuals owning the company, the various departmental managers and chief officers can be found to have a say in how things are run.

So, as a business owner, what are some of the attributes that you not only want but need in a good manager? Again, we define managers as anyone from a CFO to the editor of a newspaper.

Among the things business owners should look for are:

  • Build a creative environment – Managers who are not allowed to be creative oftentimes end up failing. Provide an environment where managers can try out new things, not be afraid to fail at times, and have the ability to have input on final decisions;
  • Set achievable goals – Managers should be given goals that are within reason. Yes, you want your managers to shoot for the stars and even exceed their goals, but don't place the goals so far out there that they are destined for failure;
  • Do not micromanage – While the business owner should be involved in all aspects of the company's management, they should also not be micromanaging. You hired your respective manager/s for a reason, let them do their job;
  • Hire good communicators – Open lines of communication are essential to a company's success. Make sure that the managers you put in place are good communicators that work well with others. Your manager/s will be responsible for overseeing a number of employees, so it is paramount that they have good communication skills in order to work through any issues. They will also need to be able to communicate to you any concerns, issues, questions that they or those under them have;
  • Back your managersThere is nothing more upsetting to an employee than when they feel they are being undermined. While you need to make the final call on important decisions, do not hire a manager or managers and then be second-guessing and reversing all their decisions.

Business owners also need to set the tone for the office from day one.

If you're running an open ship with room for discussion, the ability for managers and other employees to succeed and grow, and a fun environment where people want to come to work each day, your company should prosper.

On the flip side, if you have an ironclad handle on things, there is little or no room for growth and managers and other employees stare at the clock all day, your business could find itself in a world of trouble.

Hiring good managers to run your company is not all that difficult. It is what you do with those managers once they're in place that becomes the real issue.

Thanks to Dave Thomas / Bloggertone