A failure of leadership

October 24, 2016

By Steve Keating via stevekeating.me   Article

“Being fired from a job is one of the most traumatic events a person could experience in their lifetimes. Researchers say it is up there with the death of a loved one, divorce, imprisonment, and personal illness.

The decision by a leader to dismiss someone from their job is not a decision that should be taken lightly. It can and often does have huge life implications for the person being fired; the feelings of failure often linger even after they find new employment.

But the person being fired isn’t the only one who should feel a sense of failure. So should the leader who fired them.

Here’s why I say that. If you’re a leader and you have someone working for you who isn’t getting the job done then the likely cause is either that you hired the wrong person or you’re not providing them the tools or training they need to succeed.

Either way at least part of their failure is on you. With that in mind you may want to think a little harder before firing someone who isn’t meeting your expectations.

I suppose you could use the excuse that you inherited a person that someone else hired. That may let you off the hook a little but only a little. Leaders build and develop people no matter how and where they find them. If you have someone reporting to you that you are unable to develop then that’s at least a partial failure of your leadership.

Now, here is another failure of leadership: NOT firing someone who needs to be fired.

No matter how someone got to a point where they need to be fired, no matter who is responsible for that person’s shortcomings, when they need to go then they need to go. Allowing  an unproductive, possibly disruptive person to damage the morale or productivity of the greater team is a serious failure of leadership.

You might believe you’re avoiding conflict by ignoring the problems caused by a poor performer but what you’re really doing is fermenting greater conflict throughout your organization.”

How to build ethics

October 24, 2016

Via projectmanagement.com   Article

How to Build Ethics into Your Team Culture

“… leaders need to ‘walk the talk’ by engaging in ethical behavior. They need to create a strong ethical culture in their teams by providing the tools needed to help team members behave ethically, on a reinforced basis.

Some tools to inject ethics into the team culture include:
  1. Positive reinforcement, such as praising people for notifying you of a mistake they have made.
  2. Encouragement of open reporting of ‘bad news’ in any form.
  3. Establishment of systems that strongly encourage ethical behaviors, such as refusing to allow derogatory remarks in any form (jokes included). This would require backing by formal systems, such as clearly defined and protected ‘whistle blower’ procedures.
Once created, an ethical culture in your team can be expected to have a strong effect sideways and downward within the organization — and outward to the wider stakeholder community.”

Managing up

October 24, 2016

By Dave Gerhardt / Medium via motto.time.com   Article

The Art and Importance of Managing Up

“Want to be put on the fast track for a promotion? Or become one of the top performers on your team? Well then there’s one skill that you need to perfect that has absolutely nothing to do with how good you are at your day-to-day job. It’s a little skill called managing up.

Now, managing up doesn’t mean that you’re trying to jump over your boss or step on anyone’s toes. But it means that you’re managing your manager. You’re putting them in a position where they can help you do your job better (which in turn, will help them).

Here’s how it works.

You probably have a weekly 1:1 with your boss. Or maybe every now and then you have a skip-level (meeting with your bosses boss). How does that meeting typically go? If that 30 minute meeting isn’t packed with notes, ideas and a longer to-do list than you had before the meeting started, then you’re doing it wrong. … One of the things no one ever tells you early on in your career is that you actually need to drive that meeting. …

It’s on you to set the agenda for this meeting. You don’t need to have a formal agenda in advance, but I like to at least keep a notebook of talking points. … Here’s why keeping that list is so important.

How many times have one of these two things happened at work:

  1. Your boss forwards you an email and asks you to look into something and you have no idea what they want.
  2. You’re working on something but you feel lost, aren’t sure if you’re making the right decision, or even just stuck starting a blank screen for something you were supposed to write.

… Look into it, do your research, and make it a point for discussion at your next 1:1. … Write down your thoughts/questions/potential options that factor into the decision, and make it a point for discussion at your next 1:1. … this is a great time to talk about results and hammer home the things you’ve accomplished lately. …

Treat your 1:1 with your boss as the most important meeting you’re going to have that week. … Managing up will not only help you run better meetings, but it will help you remove roadblocks, do your job even better, and put you on the path for that next big step in your career.”

The five worst parts of a management job

October 24, 2016

By Liz Ryan via forbes.com   Article

“Here are some of the worst parts of a typical first-line management role:

• Having to discipline and terminate employees

• Having to deal with corporate politics

• Having to manage conflict between employees (or between your department and other departments)

• Being saddled with unrealistic goals to hit without the resources needed to reach those goals, and

• Feeling squashed between the employees and their needs, and the senior-level managers and their needs

With all these hassles to deal with, why would anyone ever accept a management job?

People do it because they like to teach and coach people. They do it because they like to encourage people. They enjoy building a team and helping their team members thrive and grow. They like setting goals and hitting those goals — not through their own individual efforts, but by supporting their teammates.

People take leadership jobs because it grows their flame to get altitude on their organizations and their own careers.

The money is not enough. If you take a leadership job for the money, you will be disappointed.”

Don’t give praise in Japan

October 17, 2016

By Eric Barton via bbc.com   Article

Why you don’t give praise in Japan

“Traditionally, the Japanese language had no word for feedback because it just wasn’t something that anybody did, says Sharon Schweitzer, CEO of Protocol and Etiquette Worldwide, and an expert on how managers can assimilate in foreign countries. … ‘If you don’t hear from your Japanese manager, you’re doing well,’ Schweitzer says. ‘If your manager asks for an update on your project, that means you’re not doing well.’

Managers in Japan aren’t likely to ask for an update because employees are expected to constantly provide them. It’s a process called hou-ren-sou and it involves subordinates sending their boss emails, all day long, about when they’re going to lunch, the percentage of the project they’ve finished, when they’re taking a coffee break, everything.

For foreign managers, the temptation may be to reply with accolades, congratulating them on finishing 32% of the project. But don’t, Schweitzer cautions. ‘If you reply and tell them good job, you will lose face and they will lose face. Just say thank you or don’t reply at all.’

Thinking like a foreign manager, you might be wondering if the answer is annual reviews. But one-on-one sit-downs with the boss to discuss performance are just not done, says Taro Fukuyama, a native of Japan and CEO of AnyPerk, a start-up offering services to improve employee happiness at work.

Calling an employee into your office for that kind of meeting is likely to elicit panic. Instead, Fukuyama says, the best way to offer an employee feedback is simple: take them out drinking.

In fact, Japan has a tradition callednomikai, where colleagues and their bosses drink, often a lot, and often until late night. Still, any feedback over beers and sake is likely to concentrate only on what went wrong.

The reason for this, Fukuyama says, is that employees in Japan typically don’t move between companies. Since they’re spending their careers in one place, the goal is to get promoted. And the best chance at promotion comes from keeping your head down and avoiding errors.”

A self-centered bore

October 17, 2016

By Jessica Stillman via inc.com   Article 

Use the ‘Rule of 3’ for Radically Better Conversations

“No one ever embarks on a conversation thinking, ‘I’m going to talk too much, interrupt a lot, and generally come off as a self-centered bore.’ We all aim to charm. But too often, we fall flat despite our best efforts. Why is that?

According to many experts, the answer is that we misunderstand what charm is. We think that charisma is all about saying the right thing, when in fact charm is about listening. The most charismatic people in the world know that being liked is all about listening, about making the other person feel seen and heard.

When we go astray in conversations, it’s often because we rush in with our own thoughts and stories. We’re trying to be witty and entertaining but end up coming across as self-obsessed. We talk when we should listen, opine when we should question.

But according to management coach Karl Albrecht, there’s an easy way to avoid this common conversation pitfall. He calls it the ‘Rule of Three.’

How to re-balance your conversations.

As Albrecht points out in a recent Psychology Today piece, all conversations are composed of three parts –declaratives, questions, and qualifiers.

Declaratives are facts (or opinions disguised as facts) boldly stated. ‘The earth revolves around the sun,’ for instance, or more commonly something like, ‘Donald Trump can’t be trusted with the nuclear codes!’ Questions are, well, questions. And qualifies are softeners like, ‘I can’t speak for everyone,’ ‘It seems to me…,’ or ‘As far as I know….’

Albrecht’s Rule of Three is simple. In conversation, never say three declaratives in a row without throwing in a question or qualifier.

‘When you’re in a conversation of any kind–casual or business–monitor the proportion of declaratives, questions, and conditionals you use,’ he suggests. ‘After a few declaratives, try turning the conversation around and asking a question, so the other person can begin to own it. When you answer, try substituting a conditional or qualified response for the strong opinion you might otherwise put out.’

It’s a dead simple suggestion, but one Albrecht insists can make you instantly more likable and your conversations much more engaging and productive.”

As much as they need air

October 17, 2016

By Steve Keating via stevekeating.me   Article

The Value of Employee Recognition

“Pretty much every business owner or leader I know would proudly say that one of their greatest assets, if not their outright greatest asset, is their people. They willingly acknowledge the importance of their people in virtually every area of their operation.

Those same owners and leaders will then somewhat sheepishly say that they just don’t have time to provide consistent recognition to those important people.

When asked what they are doing that’s more important than recognizing their people they have no response. That leads me to believe that whatever they are doing is less important than recognizing their people. Any leader who does less important things before the more important things is greatly limiting their success.

People need recognition almost as much as they need air to breathe. People need to know that they matter and the work they do matters. It is almost humanly impossible for a person to perform up to their potential without some form of recognition to confirm that what they do is worthwhile.

I’m not suggesting that you give recognition where none is due; what I am recommending is that you look a little deeper at your team to find a valid reason for providing positive feedback. I’d also say that if you have someone working for you that has gone any length of time without providing you with a reason to recognize them then perhaps they are in the wrong role. …

Many of the most effective leaders I know recognize at least one of their people everyday. They set reminders for themselves, they are always on the lookout for what goes right and they seldom miss an opportunity to give credit where credit is due.”