15 Years of Lessons

  1. People are all unique in their own way. Find out the key elements of them, their style, their passions.
  2. Leaders come in many shapes, sizes and personal styles. There is not just one box they all fit into. Sometimes it’s hard to spot leadership at first. But they always show themselves if we pay attention.
  3. As many more well known experts have said, written about, made a living from….trust is everything, in life and in business. With it, we can accomplish great things and make it much easier and more enjoyable as we go through it together. Without it, there will always be roadblocks to keep us from achieving our ultimate success.
  4. To build trust COMMUNICATE. Communicate honestly, respectfully, openly and in your own genuine style. But remember your audience, who you are talking with. If you truly know this person as suggested here previously, you will have a much greater chance of a successful outcome.
  5. Change is hard. But it is a constant and the more we resist it, the more stress, discomfort and frustration we create for ourselves and for those around us. It is how we react to it that counts. While often not in our control and all too frequently a surprise, a real test of our abilities is what we do with it. You are stronger and more resilient than you think. You can do it.
  6. Don’t try to literally change people, focus on the real results you want to create. Change how you go about trying to navigate that. It’s almost always that we are not getting the outcome we want. Then situationally manage and tailor your approach to what you know is their natural style and approach. It will lend itself to more collaboration and less conflict.
  7. We are who we are to a large degree. If we are truly self-aware, in touch with ourselves, figure out how to make that work. Don’t try to be someone and something you are not. Keep doing what is working. Stop doing what is not. Adapt and adopt new approaches where needed for a better result!
  8. People are a complex puzzle, but the reward is worth the effort.
  9. Show people you care, in your own way, that rings true and gets through to them.
  10. The business world and our world in general is a challenging place. But time and time again I have seen businesses and the people in it “figure it out” and succeed. And they did it as a team, despite their differences and occasional disconnects. Why? Because you are not alone. You have a team of people, as different as some of you may be from each other. That’s the norm, folks. If we were all the same that wouldn’t work at all. Celebrate your unique styles, learn how to use them for the greater good and achieve success together!

How to Rock Delegation Effectively

Leave your ego at the door. 

A big mental speed bump to delegation is that “If you want it done right, then do it yourself.” Remember, you’re not the only person in the world who can do it right. You may be the only person who can do it right at this very moment, but if you take the time to train someone, they can probably do it right, too. And (don’t pass out) they might even be able to do it faster or better than you. This is something you need to not only accept, but invite!
Stop waiting for people to volunteer.

ASK FOR HELP!  It’s not a sign of weakness.  And if you’ve got “martyr syndrome”, you’re probably overwhelmed, and you wonder why people don’t ever offer to help. When they do, maybe you turn them down, just to be polite, and quietly wonder why they didn’t insist.  Actually, many people are quite oblivious to what others are going through. Let go of any frustration you might have and don’t expect them to change.  But you can!  It’s ultimately your job to communicate your needs.  Please don’t view asking for help as some form of weakness.  It’s not.  But trying to do everything yourself is a weakness and not good for the organization as a whole – or you!!.
Attitude is everything.   Your tone of voice, body language, WHERE you delegate or ask for help are extremely important.  I know, basic stuff, right??  Well, I had two questions last month asking what to do when a boss delegates with a “tone” in their voice as if they are a dictator making demands rather than asking for help.  How do you think that’s going to turn out, LOL?  Give it the right setting(an office or conference room if possible).  Be collaborative in your approach to the person getting the task, work, project.  Lean forward.  Smile.  RELAX.  Pause for them to absorb it and ask questions.  LISTEN.  And be sure to express supreme confidence in their abilities to perform the job at hand superbly.  Confidence breeds confidence!  AND competence!
Delegation is not dumping.

If you really want to reap the benefits of delegation, “delegate don’t dump”.  Try to never give someone the impression that all you’re giving them is “garbage” work.  Don’t imply that you are just dumping unpleasant assignments on them that you or no one else wants to do.  Certainly not the first time or two you give them something new to do.  And later, when that does become a necessity based on shear volume, try to spread that around and be honest about the work.  It’s not a glamorous job but it needs to be done and I’d really appreciate your help on this.  Something to that effect.
Recognize your helper when it counts.  Delegating tasks to someone else is necessary if you are to take on more and more responsibility. It’s counterproductive when you delegate the task, your helper works hard, and then you take all the credit. Recognize and praise the efforts of others on your behalf.  Catch ’em doing something right, as I have always preached!
Say Thank You.  When someone does something for you, it is important to say thank you, acknowledge the help and let the helper know they are appreciated otherwise you appear ungrateful. People are more likely to offer to help again if they feel appreciated.

The Delegation Quiz
Here is an opportunity to learn how well you delegate. This exercise will help identify your strengths and determine where improvement would be beneficial. Rate yourself as follows:

1(rarely)-2-3-4-5(almost always). 

1. Each of my subordinates know what I expect of him ____
2. I involve employees in goal setting, problem solving and productivity-improvement activities___
3. I place my personal emphasis on planning, organizing, motivating and controlling rather than on doing tasks others could do___
4. When assigning tasks, I select the assignee thoughtfully___
5. When a problem occurs on a project I have delegated, I give the employee a reasonable chance to work it out for himself___
6. When I delegate work to employees, I brief them fully on the details of the assignment___
7. I see delegation as one way to help employees develop their knowledge, skills and expertise___
8. When I delegate a project, I make sure that everyone involved knows who is in charge___
9. When delegating a task, I balance authority with need and experience___
10. I hold my employees responsible for results___
A score between 41 and 50 suggests you are on target. A score between 31 and 40 indicates you are just getting by but could improve. Anything below 40 means you immediately need to make changes in your delegation skills.

I hope this article helps you in becoming more effective at this essential piece of the employee engagement puzzle, delegation. Do it right and it is a Win-Win for everyone. And that’s what I hope and wish for all of you! Thanks to all the loyal readers. Talk to you next month. We welcome your questions and feedback!

Thanks for reading, everyone.  To your success!

What’s Your Legacy?

Most people think about legacy at the end of their careers as they near retirement age. But the time to think about it is now as that will make you a better leader today. And a better team mate no matter your position! A key question to ponder is when should you start thinking about the legacy you are leaving as a leader, employee, friend? So often people feel they are too young or too old to think about their legacy at all. But based on my experience and the rewards that come from doing so, the time to think about YOUR legacy is now.
That commonly held opinion that most people only think about legacy at the end of their careers is being challenged.  And I am totally onboard with this alternative school of thought.  Robert Galford and Regina Maruca, authors of “Your Leadership Legacy”, advocate that “thinking about your legacy now makes you a better leader today no matter how far you are from retirement.” Based on interviews they conducted with people at all organizational levels it’s their firm belief we all should be engaged in legacy thinking, a forward thinking tool that is counter-intuitive to what we typically think of as legacy work. Another source that supports that same thought would be “A Leader’s Legacy”, by Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner. They support what I have definitely seen myself firsthand. That is the fact that thinking about our own legacy leads us to view our actions today in a much broader, bigger context. Kind of like my standard practice of asking those I work with what kind of path they want to create and leave behind. Do they want to leave a calming, comforting ripple effect of positive actions and words or…..a tidal wave that swamps the boat and drowns all aboard! The concept of legacy thinking forces us to go break the perpetual, common practice of short-term thinking and consider the past, present and future.
As leaders, front-line workers, friends and colleagues, whether we realize it or not we are leaving a legacy with the decisions we make and the actions we take. Our own legacy is created solely by us. We live our legacy daily, and it can be a good one or it can be a bad one.
Key Questions to Ask Yourself
  • What are two or three personal characteristics (skills, behaviors, or values) for which you would most like to be remembered?
  • What have you learned in your current role, your work, and your life so far that you would most like to pass on to others?
  • How will you convey that learning?
  • What do we want people to remember about us as leaders, colleagues, friends?
  • What influence are we having on others on a daily basis?
What a great thing for people to actually want to leave a positive wake behind them rather than a raging tidal wave. It reflects on how we treat others, personally and professionally. And in doing so, what kind of difference we might have made on their lives. And organizations should love this type of thought and concern. Why? It means less internal focus and potential miscommunication, conflict, stress and reduced productivity. It does mean more outwardly focused thinking. Looking at the greater good but also how the individual exhibiting that behavior and style shows up. In other words, all those things making it a potential win-win for those involved. That is always the ultimate outcome to strive for indeed.
Sooo…what do you want your legacy to be? Food for thought! Thanks for reading. Talk to you all next month.
Dave Goranson
Goranson Consulting, Inc.

Eight Signs of Ineffective Managers

Eight Signs of Ineffective Managers

Effective managers do more than just supervise employees. They take responsibility for ensuring that an individual succeeds, and that the team, department, or business unit achieves expected results. Effective managers are like successful coaches who develop teams that win championships year after year.  Like winning coaches, successful managers are both talented and skilled. Of course, managerial skills can be developed through training, mentoring, and experience. But if a manager lacks natural talent, his or her odds of success will diminish significantly.
To keep your team winning avoid these eight signs of ineffective managers:
1. Poor communication skills
Poor communicators forget that manager-employee communication is a two-way street. They talk (some more effectively than others), but they seldom listen. Often they don’t read subtle cues from other people’s gestures and tend to interrupt when others are speaking.
2. Weak leadership capabilities
Sometimes it’s tough to speak the plain but inconvenient truth when people really need to hear it. Great leaders can set an example; they walk the walk and talk the talk. Weak leaders are sometimes afraid to bruise egos – including their own
3. Inability or unwillingness to adapt to change
Change is hard. But effective managers know how to handle it. They can adjust to new circumstances.  In a crisis, they seek solutions. It’s often been said that the only constant is change. On the other hand, those who can’t adapt to change:
  • panic when faced with unexpected problems and sudden crises; they expect the worst
  • get stuck in reactive mode instead of proactively developing contingency plans
  • don’t think creatively to overcome obstacles
  • they’re reluctant to involve others in the problem-solving process, even when they have more experience or can bring a fresh perspective to the table
4. Poor relationship-building skills
Relationships – professional as well as personal – require some work. For example, good communication is a cornerstone of a healthy, productive relationship. So are trust and respect. Good relationship builders respect people’s differences; they’re tolerant. They praise more than they criticize. And when they do criticize they focus on the behavior, not the people. They’re
always careful not to embarrass other people. And they say what needs to be said – even when it’s uncomfortable to say it.
Aside from neglecting to maintain strong personal relationships, poor relationship builders:
  • fail to respect the team or show appreciation for other experiences and view points
  • criticize people instead of people’s behaviors. They rarely offer specific, constructive suggestions for improvement
  • don’t regulate their emotions well, especially during times of stress
5. Ineffective task management
Effective task managers know how to establish priorities and make sure work gets done! They can see the big picture and break it down into specific tasks required to complete a project. They are skilled at assessing their resources, allotting time and materials, motivating people on the job, and ensuring that each and every milestone and deliverable is accomplished on time and on budget.
Ineffective task managers:
  • do not ask for help when they need it
  • procrastinate, especially when a big project seems overwhelming
  • tend to blame others for their own lack of oversight
6. Insufficient production
Insufficient production can have myriad causes. It could be a simple lack of resources or funding.  It could be unrealistic expectations. Some managers lack the technical knowledge to ensure that production demands are met. And, of course, some people lack a sense of urgency, even on matters that are critical to the organization.
These managers:
  • find plenty of reasons not to make a decision
  • waffle, remain indecisive and show insensitivity about holding up projects
  • are easily distracted, unreliable and erratic
7. Poor developer of others
Just like relationship building, developing other people’s talents is an art. Developing others can be hard work. Not everyone is naturally capable of delivering constructive criticism. Nor is everyone observant enough to make note of another person’s habits, including the habits that need to change. Being a role model or a mentor takes commitment. Unfortunately, not all role models and mentors recognize that.  They think their protégés will simply observe and learn. But the fact is, developing skills and talents in others takes much more than just showing up.
8. Neglectful of own personal development
It sounds reasonable enough, but we’ve observed many managers who fail to develop their own communication styles, organizational skills or work habits. They might claim that they’re committed to the organization or the team, but unless they’re willing to continually improve their own skills and talents, how will they ever recognize how important personal development is for the whole team?

Eliminating Management Derailers

Eliminating Management Derailers
More and more is being asked of managers in today’s business world.  And because of that the importance of their success is even more critical to any organization.  It’s easy as a new, reassigned or just overwhelmed manager to get lost in the shuffle of all the activity.  In this month’s newsletter, we will address some very common, well-documented management derailers courtesy of a case study provided by the PI Research Institute.
CASE STUDY
Alleviate management derailers to become a better manager
Because managers carry more responsibility than any other position in most offices, their personal development is sometimes forgotten. Over time procedures can become routine, and managers can unconsciously begin to derail. How can your leaders become effective managers?

There are three symptoms a derailing manager may possess: resistance to change, inability to deliver expected results, and inability to see beyond their own functional silos. It is crucial to treat each of these symptoms immediately in order to ensure that the manager and organization stay on track and continue to be productive.

Derailer #1: Resisting change
A manager “at risk” of derailing due to resistance to change may exhibit some of the following behaviors:
  • Expresses frustration at the suggestion of change
  • Is preoccupied with reminiscing about “what was” versus “what will be”
  • Continues to do things the same old way yet expects new results
  • Discomfort with ambiguity and lack of openness to discovering better ways of doing things
  • Team members complain about mixed messages from leadership and their manager
There are several ways to remedy this manager’s resistance. The first step is to understand the manager’s appetite for change. People are “wired” differently, and this influences our appetite for risk and challenge. Some find change exciting and embrace it, while others find it threatening and reject it. A balance of both is healthy for an organization. Knowing how someone will respond to change helps you tailor your communication and get him on board.

A second way to assist a manager is to help the manager understand his natural aversion to change. If a manager has a natural tendency to resist change, then it is important to make him aware of this tendency. This will enable him to develop his own way of helping himself adapt to change. When possible, have him think through the process for you so that you can demonstrate how the change will benefit both the organization and the individual.

Finally, when trying to develop a manager resistant to change, ensure that the manager is focused on the new priorities. There are many ways to communicate change, but words are not enough. You need to translate this change into meaningful actions and goals for the manager, and then you need to inspect what you expect. Ask the manager and his people what they believe the manager’s priorities are, especially after a change event. This reveals disconnects and opportunities for realignment.

Derailer #2: Unable to deliver expected results
Another type of manager with potential to derail is one who is unable to deliver expected results. If the manager in question meets these symptoms, they are “at risk”:
  • Results are consistently below goals, especially those that are measurable
  • Manager blames others or makes excuses for his own failure
  • Manager avoids discussions about setting, tracking, and progressing toward goals
  • Manager spends too much time, energy, and resources on low-priority activities
  • Team is unaware of how they contribute to the manager’s or organization’s goals
To “cure” or CHANGE this type of management, first clarify the expected results and goals. It is difficult to hit a target when the target is moving or you’re shooting through fog. Don’t assume that your managers have a clear understanding of the results they need to achieve and how they’re going to achieve them. When possible, go beyond the “what” to the “how,” and challenge the manager to translate goals into sub-goals  and activities that must be achieved.

Next, attempt to understand the manager. Not everyone is naturally goal oriented. For those who aren’t, the notion of setting, tracking, and achieving goals can be extremely intimidating. This is especially true of new managers in roles where measurement is difficult. If the manager fits either of these criteria, then expect to spend more time coaching him so that he can achieve his goals. When possible, include him in the goal-setting process to get his buy-in.

Finally, inspect what you expect. Once goals are clear and you have the manager’s buy-in, establish a process for tracking the most important goals. Use these goals to create a personal “dashboard” that helps the manager set his own priorities that drive results. Require the manager to update his goals weekly, and use his progress to facilitate a coaching discussion. Finally, check back with the manager on a periodic basis to ensure that his priorities are properly aligned.

Derailer #3: Missing the big picture
The final type of manager with potential to derail is a manager who cannot see beyond their own functional silos. This might be THE most important change needed! Symptoms of a manager “at risk” of derailing include:
  • Unwilling to communicate or collaborate with others outside of his unit
  • Makes decisions that benefit his unit but clearly hurt the overall organization
  • Resists change that impacts him but clearly benefits the organization
  • Hoards information that might benefit others outside of his unit
  • Co-workers complain that the manager is out of touch with the organization’s mission
The first step in developing a manager with high silos is to establish clarity. Don’t assume that the manager understands how he and his people fit in and interrelate with other units to achieve the organization’s greater mission. This should be spelled out explicitly, especially if the manager has spent little time outside of his functional unit. Be sure to include the manager in at least one cross-functional team. Have the manager experience firsthand what it means to contribute to a broader team and depend on others to achieve a significant common objective. Ideally, he or she should work under an experienced team leader who can provide both coaching and a positive experience.

Establish at least one cross-functional goal for the manager. While similar to the previous point, this requires him to participate in an ongoing operation of the organization rather than a special project with a defined endpoint. In this situation, the managers who share the goal should report to someone higher up who can monitor progress, facilitate discussion, offer advice, and drive accountability.

Finally, monitor the manager’s progress. This is more than just an annual performance review; it’s about holding the manager accountable, ensuring that he is aligned with the company’s priorities and changing his behavior. This is done by monitoring his progress and offering coaching and additional development. Input from multiple sources such as the manager’s managers, peers on cross-functional teams, and subordinates is valuable.

These three types of managers are more common than they should be. And these symptoms don’t just occur in newly minted managers or old and grizzled ones – they can surface at any time, so monitor your people regularly. Encourage your leaders to know how to be effective managers. Enable your organization to excel by developing your managers to exceed expectations. Don’t allow management to derail because of their own faults, teach them how to be successful in their position so that they can develop the rest of those in the organization.

Great Leaders in Today’s World

Times have changed. And so have some of the attributes that make great leaders to guide us through these challenging times. Now, more than ever, the world at work and everywhere needs and is looking for leaders to show us the way.
So…..WHAT makes great leaders? Do you have to have the title “Manager, Director, VP, President, CEO” attached to your name to be a true leader? HOW is it different now in the “leadership suite” as compared to before?
There are numerous lists, books and articles addressing leadership and the traits or attributes that make a great leader. All are worth reading and taking to heart. Based on my personal experience in over 30 years of business, here’s my Top 10. They consistently show up in my working past. And definitely do so today in the great leaders I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with through my own consulting and coaching practice.
Top 10 Leadership Qualities
  1. Real, genuine, self-aware and “they are who they are”
  2. Consistent, level-headed, thoughtful, NOT “Dow Jonesers”
  3. Outwardly focused, not all about themselves and their agendas
  4. Good to great communicators that know to L-I-S-T-E-N and truly hear the message
  5. Flexible, able & willing to change
  6. Calculated risk-takers that learn from their failures, using them to grow & improve
  7. Big picture thinkers, forward- thinking in their approach to their actions and plans
  8. Exudes confidence without being perceived as arrogant or self-absorbed
  9. Live in a place of high integrity, honesty
  10. Good relationship builders
How is it different in the leadership role today? The successful leaders at the top of organizations are out in front of their people and their customers more. The really good ones manage by wandering around interactively and getting to know their teams, face to face. They go out and meet their customers and build relationships while increasing their understanding of what they need. More open and revealing about themselves, this in turn makes people understand, appreciate and trust them more. They also know the value and power of group communication, frequent contact, visibility and messages to employees and to customers via social media and web conferencing. Town hall style meetings are making a comeback and they should! In other words, they’re not a robot but a real person with family, friends, interests and problems like the rest of us. They “keep it real”!! Modern day leaders are adaptable and know there is more than one way to get the results. One size and one way does not fit all.
And the same holds true in their relationships and direction of others. Great leaders know that taking the time to understand each person’s preferred style of doing things, likes, dislikes, wants, needs are all vital in doing what really works best. They know to manage to the individual in order to get those results we all are expected to hit and exceed. In turn, this makes them more approachable and keeps them more in tune with what is really going on with their team, business, etc. And this allows them to do so without having to dig for the information in a forced way.
Expectations are everything, especially in great leaders. IF we are around leaders that are more consistent in how they present themselves emotionally and in their communication, actions and decision making the better it is for those around them. The feedback I get more than I like to hear in my role as a workplace consultant and development coach is often “I never know what to expect from one day to the next from him or her. I don’t know what’s right or what’s wrong depending on their mood that day. I’m afraid to take the lead or stick my neck out because I never know how that is going to be received”. Sound familiar?? Consistency in how you show up as a leader solves a lot of problems and certainly creates a more positive, workable dynamic around you.
 
One GREAT Leader
My final thoughts are entirely based on someone I consider to be the best leader I had the pleasure of knowing and working with in my life. He was considered someone to look up to, listen to and admire many years ago and his style would serve others well today without a doubt. His name was Ed.
Ed was my Regional VP when working as an Operations Manager for a company in Denver, CO. He was the third boss I had been assigned to in a little over a year and he lived quite a distance from my hub, in San Francisco. He didn’t hire me, he inherited me. I rarely saw him. He’d visit once a quarter. All 9 managers on his team, along with those in his small regional office, universally looked up to him and learned from him. Why?
Ed treated us all as individuals. He got to know us on a business level and on a personal level, without crossing the line on that. He laughed, shared himself personally and maybe even more than he did professionally. When we had our quarterly management team meetings, we combined work with something fun, every single time. Being a golfer, the one I enjoyed a lot was playing on the coast in California. But the one we all universally loved and learned a lot in doing was one where we went to an old, down-by-the-tracks bowling alley outside San Jose. He paired us off in teams, bought us greasy burgers, fries and a “tasty beverage” ,or two, or three. And he sat back and watched, for the first two games. Then dove in and joined us on the last two. When I asked him why later, he said it was because he wanted to see who dove in, who held back, how we showed our competitive sides and styles and how we showed up when our guard was down doing this fun activity with no thought on our part. From that he knew what he had on his team. And he used it wisely.
The standard line about Ed was that he really didn’t know that much about the technical side of things, but he knew people. He knew how to motivate them, correct them, guide them and support them. And how to hit our goals while also feeling valued as a person, not just a number. He never played favorites. We always said that outside his office walls you never knew who was in the penthouse and who was in the outhouse. Behind closed doors he made it very clear by being totally honest, short, sweet, and without getting emotional and crushing your spirit when we were off track on something. He helped us come up with a plan to correct and get back on the right path. And then, that was over, move on. We were back to being a team and working hard, playing hard and helping each other out. We loved the guy. He had the “it” factor. And he had “it” because of the characteristics listed at the beginning of the article. Ed lived those every day.
Now it’s your turn!

What It Takes To Be a Leader Today

Times have changed. And so have some of the attributes that make great leaders to guide us through these challenging times. Now, more than ever, the world at work and everywhere needs and is looking for leaders to show us the way.
So…..WHAT makes great leaders? Do you have to have the title “Manager, Director, VP, President, CEO” attached to your name to be a true leader? HOW is it different now in the “leadership suite” as compared to before?
There are numerous lists, books and articles addressing leadership and the traits or attributes that make a great leader. All are worth reading and taking to heart. Based on my personal experience in over 30 years of business, here’s my Top 10. They consistently show up in my working past. And definitely do so today in the great leaders I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with through my own consulting and coaching practice.
Top 10 Leadership Qualities
  1. Real, genuine, self-aware and “they are who they are”
  2. Consistent, level-headed, thoughtful, NOT “Dow Jonesers”
  3. Outwardly focused, not all about themselves and their agendas
  4. Good to great communicators that know to L-I-S-T-E-N and truly hear the message
  5. Flexible, able & willing to change
  6. Calculated risk-takers that learn from their failures, using them to grow & improve
  7. Big picture thinkers, forward- thinking in their approach to their actions and plans
  8. Exudes confidence without being perceived as arrogant or self-absorbed
  9. Live in a place of high integrity, honesty
  10. Good relationship builders
Great leaders know that you can’t do it alone. The effective ones today have discovered people working together is far more effective than the old school style of strong fisted, fiery, authoritarian leadership. Including others in the work, the project, the conversation is important. Listening, giving others a voice, adapting and changing what you might have thought originally to adopting new ideas is admirable and needed. It helps tremendously in building real, valued and meaningful relationships with others. That can have multiple payoffs for all. And that all helps create something that is key to all of this…TRUST!
HOW is it different in the leadership role today? The successful leaders at the top of organizations are out in front of their people and their customers more. The really good ones manage by wandering around interactively and getting to know their teams, face to face. They go out and meet their customers and build relationships while increasing their understanding of what they need. More open and revealing about themselves, this in turn makes people understand, appreciate and trust them more. They also know the value and power of group communication, frequent contact, visibility and messages to employees and to customers via social media and web conferencing. Town hall style meetings are making a comeback and they should! In other words, they’re not a robot but a real person with family, friends, interests and problems like the rest of us. They “keep it real”!! Modern day leaders are adaptable and know there is more than one way to get the results. One size and one way does not fit all.
And the same holds true in their relationships and direction of others. Great leaders know that taking the time to understand each person’s preferred style of doing things, likes, dislikes, wants, needs are all vital in doing what really works best. They know to manage to the individual in order to get those results we all are expected to hit and exceed. In turn, this makes them more approachable and keeps them more in tune with what is really going on with their team, business, etc. And this allows them to do so without having to dig for the information in a forced way.
Expectations are everything, especially in great leaders. IF we are around leaders that are more consistent in how they present themselves emotionally and in their communication, actions and decision making the better it is for those around them. The feedback I get more than I like to hear in my role as a workplace consultant and development coach is often “I never know what to expect from one day to the next from him or her. I don’t know what’s right or what’s wrong depending on their mood that day. I’m afraid to take the lead or stick my neck out because I never know how that is going to be received”. Sound familiar?? Consistency in how you show up as a leader solves a lot of problems and certainly creates a more positive, workable dynamic around you.
My Favorite Leader
My final thoughts are entirely based on someone I consider to be the best leader I had the pleasure of knowing and working with in my life. He was considered someone to look up to, listen to and admire many years ago and his style would serve others well today without a doubt. His name was Ed.
Ed was my Regional VP when working as an Operations Manager for a company in Denver, CO. He was the third boss I had been assigned to in a little over a year and he lived quite a distance from my hub, in San Francisco. He didn’t hire me, he inherited me. I rarely saw him. He’d visit once a quarter. All 9 managers on his team, along with those in his small regional office, universally looked up to him and learned from him. Why?
Ed treated us all as individuals. He got to know us on a business level and on a personal level, without crossing the line on that. He laughed, shared himself personally and maybe even more than he did professionally. When we had our quarterly management team meetings, we combined work with something fun, every single time. Being a golfer, the one I enjoyed a lot was playing on the coast in California. But the one we all universally loved and learned a lot in doing was one where we went to an old, down-by-the-tracks bowling alley outside San Jose. He paired us off in teams, bought us greasy burgers, fries and a “tasty beverage” ,or two, or three. And he sat back and watched, for the first two games. Then dove in and joined us on the last two. When I asked him why later, he said it was because he wanted to see who dove in, who held back, how we showed our competitive sides and styles and how we showed up when our guard was down doing this fun activity with no thought on our part. From that he knew what he had on his team. And he used it wisely.
The standard line about Ed was that he really didn’t know that much about the technical side of things, but he knew people. He knew how to motivate them, correct them, guide them and support them. And how to hit our goals while also feeling valued as a person, not just a number. He never played favorites. We always said that outside his office walls you never knew who was in the penthouse and who was in the outhouse. Behind closed doors he made it very clear by being totally honest, short, sweet, and without getting emotional and crushing your spirit when we were off track on something. He helped us come up with a plan to correct and get back on the right path. And then, that was over, move on. We were back to being a team and working hard, playing hard and helping each other out. We loved the guy. He had the “it” factor. And he had “it” because of the characteristics listed at the beginning of the article. Ed lived those every day.

Declare Your Independence

If you want your team to perform a certain way, you’re going to have to let them know what that way looks like. And, you’re going to have to reinforce it over time – through regular meetings, encouragement, and occasionally even corrections or warnings. And if you do this well, you will begin to notice fewer interruptions, less corrections and more free time for you as the leader.
Communicating with your employees sounds simple enough, but it’s something that a lot of ineffective leaders struggle with. Many don’t know when they should be providing feedback, or how to do so in a constructive way. In fact, I regularly meet with managers who are doing things that cause them to get the opposite results from what they were hoping to get.
Because this is so crucial to your success as a manager or business owner, and the success of your team as a unit, this chapter is devoted to the topic of providing the right kinds of input to the men and women you supervise.
What Does Good Feedback Look Like?
In my mind, there are four things that separate great feedback from idle chatter: the communication you have with your team should be:
  1. Immediate (or at least current)
  2. Actionable
  3. Continuous
  4. Fair.
And……you can’t pick and choose from the list. Each of these pieces is crucial.
When it comes to giving feedback immediately, human psychology and common sense both factor in. Telling someone they’ve done a great job six months after the fact doesn’t do much for them. They probably won’t remember what you’re talking about, and it won’t seem all that sincere on your part. If what you have to say to an employee is important, you should deliver the news immediately, or at least as soon as possible.
In the same way, lots of supervisors like to give out feedback that isn’t specific or actionable. They may breeze through the office, telling a member of their team “great job!” or “you really need to pick it up!”.   Doing so without ever indicating why that’s the case, or which aspects of the employee’s performance were positive or negative, will not have the effect you really want. Cheerleading is nice, but it’s not instructive; and griping might feel good to you, but it isn’t going to help anyone on your team to give you more or less of what you’re hoping for from them.
Feedback has to be continuous because that’s the only way to get consistent performance from your staff. It’s also the only way to ensure they will stay on-task and pointed in the right direction if priorities change. And remember that continuous feedback doesn’t necessarily have to take place in formal meetings. It can be as simple as a few words shared over coffee, or during a lunch away from the office. What matters is that you convey the right messages at the right time. If your team knows what you need from them, and how you assess the work they are giving you, then it doesn’t really matter where those conversations take place.
And finally, above all else, feedback has to be fair. You can’t expect what you didn’t ask for, and you can’t set vastly different standards for different employees. I’ve had the pleasure of giving good news and great performance reviews over my years as a manager. I also have had to give bad news and poor performance reviews many times through my career as well. The one common theme in each of these scenarios was there were no surprises at that point in time. And usually, there wasn’t a problem by the time we got to the formal review process. That’s because I’ve always tried to go out of my way to be fair and transparent. People will accept the truth, even if it’s ugly, when they know you’re being genuine. If you can give both criticism and encouragement when they are due, your team will respond to both of them more effectively.

Persistence And An Unwavering Will To Succeed!

In my home area of Peoria, IL and the surrounding communities in this metro area many folks now more than ever remember to give thanks for those very things. Why? Because November is the month two years ago when the community of Washington, IL made national news when an EF4 tornado with winds in excess of 190mph suddenly hit that town. I wrote one of my most emotional newsletters ever in November of 2013 describing that nightmare(see  www.goransonconsulting.com ; Resources/Newsletter, November 2013, for the full story).
Today, while Washington, IL will never be the same, the people in the area have bounced back – BIG TIME! While still not completely recovered, it’s certainly close. But the spirit, drive and will to hang in there and rebound from that disaster is a perfect example of what it often takes to survive and thrive in today’s world we live in now. And that will is key in both business and in life! It still amazes me how in some of our worst times, the best in the human spirit comes alive. With the support, resources and care of the townspeople in Washington plus help from many other areas and organizations, things are better. And the people here know, despite the horrific hardships, in many cases it could have been even worse. They know first hand you can recover. The people of Washington have and they are still doing so to this day. Most of all, we all have learned some valuable lessons in remembering to be grateful. And we have been reminded that we really aren’t alone, that the strength of the human spirit can overcome SO much. Most of all, it’s a constant reminder to give thanks each and every day for the blessings we do have and not just on Thanksgiving.
Washington IL after the tornado on November 17th, 2013
Washington IL rebuilding November 2015

Managing To The Individual Makes For A Great Team!

The number one, recurring message that appears again and again in all the articles, research and real world experiences I have been exposed to is this – MANAGE TO THE INDIVIDUAL EFFECTIVELY and….SUCCESS!!

 

So, “Where do I begin” is the question I am often asked. And the answer? GET TO KNOW YOUR TEAM!

–         What motivates them?

–         What are their passions and interests?

–         What are their skills?

–         What is their preferred style at work?

 

Sounds simple, doesn’t it. Yet many, many managers, leaders and organizations ignore this piece of the puzzle or are simply uncomfortable exploring the more personal drivers in their people. BIG mistake. If you are going to make them feel valued, heard, engaged in the work they are there to do you have to get to know them much better. And it can be done without getting too personal or uncomfortable. Here’s a great place to start and it’s something I do all the time in workshops, pairing people up to a) break the ice and b) teach them that despite how long they may have worked with someone, they may be surprised by what they find out by doing this simple drill. Hint: open-ended questions work best. A couple of my favorites that seem to work well are “What did you think you wanted to be when you grew up?”. “How did you end up here?”. “Where do you think you want to get now, at this stage of life, in your career?”.

 

 

Idea #1

And in the everyday real world, what do you do? What could you do? MEET WITH YOUR PEOPLE. Do so formally(20-30 minutes every 1-2 weeks ideally, or at the very least once a month. Put it on your calendars, officially carving out time). This gives the person a feeling of carrying more importance than just the chance “drive by’s” done at the spur of the moment. It’s sacred time, usually with the boss, with a chance to exchange information, discuss ideas or frustrations, and just chat alone. It is their time with you. This has proven invaluable to me in my business career. And I know it’s worked well for others as well that have adopted this as a regular business practice. We will expand on what to do and how to do this in an upcoming newsletter.

 

Idea #2

MBWA. Management by wandering around is the most underrated thing a manager, leader, owner of an organization can do. GET OUT OF YOUR OFFICE. Stop creating silos by staying at your desk. Or worse yet, by creating the infamous “Death by Meeting” culture so common. For those of you old enough to remember, or for those interested enough to read this that are not, remember the old school model of a small business owner, factory floor supervisor or manager, etc.? The good ones would make the rounds of their facility, at least once or twice a day, like clockwork. And if there were different shifts(there were!), they would somehow make time to get to touch those folks as well. They weren’t forgotten. ALL were valued, known by first name and treated as a valued member of the team. The result??? ENGAGED, LOYAL, PRODUCTIVE employees. HOW you do that well is important, but the mere effort and act of doing so takes care of that to a large degree. DO IT! It works when done regularly and done well.

 

Idea #3

If you do the things mentioned above, then this last step should logically flow from those acts of getting to know your team. And that step can be very simple, but also very important for all involved. Create a personal, professional development plan with each of your people, Ms. And Mr. Manager! It can be very simple but also extremely engaging for both the employee and you. It should be one to two pages maximum, with some sort of template/form/paper/electronic format which allows the employee to identify their strengths as well as what they would like to learn, get better at. Select no more than three things to work together on in the current year(this is designed to be separate from the annual review process for those that still do those), with check in points along the way for conversation, guidance, feedback, training, coaching to the goals self-selected by the employee and agreed to by you the boss. Hint – if you are holding those one-on-one meetings on a regular basis this fits nicely into some of those!! And for those that need some help in how to create this, just send me an e-mail or pick up the phone and call me. I have some templates that help in this process tremendously.