That’s a limiting perception. The job of managing people includes managing roles, goals, and day-to-day performance. Redirection is a part of that process.
In some ways it’s like flying airplanes where flight plans are set and frequent corrections in the air keep the airplane on course. The goal is a smooth flight that will arrive at the desired destination safely. But a surprise bout of turbulence may force the plane to change altitude to find smoother air space.
The same is true in the workplace. We all hope for a smooth ride in the course of achieving our goals but people sometimes experience turbulence and need “in-flight” corrections, too. This type of correction is what I call redirection.
A Closer Look at Redirection
A redirection is used for learners in a “can’t do” situation, not in a “won’t do” situation. With constantly evolving priorities, technology, and demands, many a worker is learning something new every day. Add in unclear vision, goals, or roles, and a worker can fall behind or make mistakes.
How should a new manager approach a person who needs redirection? Ken Blanchard shares a five-step process in his bestselling book, Whale Done! The Power of Positive Relationships.
Here are Ken’s five steps for redirection:
- Describe the error objectively, without blame and without drama. Example: “Your report was two hours late.” No eye-rolling, desk-pounding, or sarcasm. Just the facts.
- Describe the negative impact of the error. Example: “As a result, I had to cancel an important meeting because I did not have the data I needed in time.” Again, no emotion. Just the facts.
- If appropriate, take the blame for not being clear. Example: “I was giving you a lot of direction about several projects at once. Perhaps I wasn’t clear about the absolute deadline for your report.” This is an important step and can be a powerful, face-saving, loyalty-building action to take. It’s entirely possible that a new manager was not clear or specific enough.
- Go over the task or goal again. Example: “To be sure that I am clear this time, let me review with you what I need and when I must have it. I need….” It’s important to give very specific information and also to get agreement that what you are asking for is possible.
- Express continued trust and reaffirm your belief in the person’s abilities. Example: “Now that we have talked about this, I’m sure we’ll have no problem next time.” People need to know that an error will not permanently taint them.
It’s normal to occasionally get off course—especially when you are learning a new skill or taking on new goals and projects. Redirection is a natural part of the process even though it can be uncomfortable at times. As Winston Churchill said, “I am always ready to learn, but I do not always like being taught.” When a correction is required, this 5-step redirection can get things back on track.
About the author:
Cathy Huett is Director, Professional Services at The Ken Blanchard Companies. This is the third in a series of posts specifically geared toward new and emerging leaders.
You can learn a lot about what people want in a leader by asking them! Over the years, I’ve had a chance to hear hundreds of people respond to the question, “Who was your best boss, and what was it about him or her that made them so special?” The answers, though wide-ranging, (and very personal) have consistently fallen into two main categories.
The first common characteristic focuses on relationships and support. People say that their best boss cared about them, gave them opportunities, and created a great working environment. They made work fun and they were supportive.
Second, there is the performance and expectations aspect. People will share that their work was demanding, meaningful, and that their boss expected a lot from them. They also share that their best boss saw qualities in them that they didn’t necessarily see in themselves.
In an article for Blanchard’s Ignite newsletter, I share some examples from Gallup, Southwest Airlines, and WD-40 Company to make the case for adopting a high support—high expectations workplace. You can read the complete article at this link, but in the meantime, here are some takeaways for creating this dual focus environment.
- Set challenging goals. Expect the best from people by setting goals that stretch their abilities. Look beyond what people can currently do and set a stake in the ground at the next level of achievement. Hard goals encourage growth, demonstrate trust, and develop competence. Be sure to set these goals as a partnership—it conveys respect and garners buy-in.
- Meet regularly. Conduct brief, focused meetings on a weekly basis to discuss progress against goals, identify roadblocks, and brainstorm solutions. Demonstrate your commitment to an employee’s success by sharing one of your most precious resources—your time and attention.
- Provide feedback. Celebrate and recognize achievements. Provide redirection when necessary. Feedback shows that you are paying attention as a leader, consider the work important, and are invested in the employee’s development.
Leaders become “best bosses” by expecting a lot from their people AND also providing high levels of support along the way. Look back at your own experience and you’ll probably discover that your best boss brought out the best in you because he or she expected a lot and also supported your growth and development. That’s the one-two punch that creates high levels of engagement and performance!
Over 30 years ago I watched a TV news documentary about the animals we eat–how we treat cows, pigs, chickens, fish. By the time the 15-minute broadcast was completed I knew I would never eat meat again. And indeed, to this day, I have not eaten any meat or fish–or foods flavored with them.
I often hear, “You are so disciplined.” My response is: “Not at all. Despite loving meat and fish, I have never waivered.” Don’t get me wrong–in the beginning I risked my health because I hadn’t learned how to compensate for a meatless diet. And there were times when the lack of vegetarian options frustrated me (and still do). But being a vegetarian has never come into question. Still, with so many people asking me how I made the dramatic transition, even I wondered, “Why has this been so easy?”
All these years later I think I have an answer, if not the answer. I truly believe this answer will help you and me to embrace any significant change or adapt an important new behavior.
The answer begins by not focusing on discipline! The nature of discipline is to make yourself do something you don’t want to do. The implication of discipline is that you feel imposed, forced, or obligated to do something and must dig deep to train or control yourself into action. The need for discipline puts you at a suboptimal starting point. I think there is a better way: The skill of Optimal Motivation.
Activating Optimal Motivation shifts your focus from what you don’t want to do, to what you want to do. Three elements of Optimal Motivation include:
- Recalling your developed values and sense of (work or life) purpose
- Recognizing how the change or new behavior satisfies your basic psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence
- Reflecting on your sense of positive well-being that comes from changing or adapting a new behavior.
I didn’t realize it 30 years ago, but I had naively used the skill of Optimal Motivation by tapping into my values and purpose for being a catalyst for good, satisfying my psychological needs by making a choice that deepened my relationship with all living things, and instead of focusing on what I was giving up, experiencing how good it felt to do what I was doing. The only thing that could have derailed my successful change effort was my lack of competence. But learning about nutrition became a priority so I could continue with those positive feelings. No discipline required.
So my question to you is this: If you have Optimal Motivation, do you need discipline? Or is discipline a signal that you are embarking from the wrong starting point? Maybe discipline is simply what others say you have when you act based on your values, purpose, and basic psychological needs of autonomy, relatedness, and competence.
About the author:
Susan Fowler is one of the principal authors—together with David Facer and Drea Zigarmi—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ new Optimal Motivation process and workshop. Their posts appear on the first and third Monday of each month.
In their latest post for Fast Company online, management experts Scott and Ken Blanchard share that, “One of the big mistakes we see among otherwise promising managers is the self-limiting belief that they have to choose between results and people, or between their own goals and the goals of others. We often hear these people say, ‘I’m not into relationships. I just like to get things done.’”
“Cutting yourself off, or choosing not to focus on the people side of the equation, can—and will—be a problem that will impact your development as a leader.”
Have you inadvertently cut yourself off from your people? Many leaders have. It’s usually because of time pressures, or a single-minded focus on results—but sometimes it’s also a conscious choice to create “professional distance” that allows you the emotional room to make tough choices.
That’s a mistake say the Blanchards. “The best working relationships are partnerships. For leaders, this means maintaining a focus on results along with high levels of demonstrated caring.”
They go on to caution that, “The relationship foundation has to be in place first. It’s only when leaders and managers take the time to build the foundation that they earn the permission to be aggressive in asking people to produce results. The best managers combine high support with high levels of focus, urgency, and criticality. As a result, they get more things done, more quickly, than managers who do not have this double skill base.”
Don’t limit yourself—or others
Don’t limit yourself, or others, by focusing on just one half of the leadership equation. You don’t have to choose. In this case you can have it all. Create strong relationships focused on jointly achieving results. To read the complete article—including some tips on getting started—be sure to check out Getting Your Team Emotionally Engaged Is Half The Leadership Battle. Here’s How To Do It
In a special presentation on Performance Planning: 5 ways to set your people up for success, Hester will be exploring how leaders can improve performance by identifying potential gaps that trip up even the best of leaders.
Participants will learn:
- How to set clear goals
- The lazy leadership habits to avoid
- The 3 keys to “connecting the dots” and diagnosing development level
The webinar is free and seats are still available if you would like to join over 500 people expected to participate.
Immediately after the webinar, John will be answering follow-up questions here at LeaderChat for about 30 minutes. To participate in the follow-up discussion, use these simple instructions.
Instructions for Participating in the Online Chat
- Click on the LEAVE A COMMENT link above
- Type in your question
- Push SUBMIT COMMENT
It’s as easy as that! John will answer as many questions as possible in the order they are received. Be sure to press F5 to refresh your screen occasionally to see the latest responses.
We hope you can join us later today for this special complimentary event courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies. Click here for more information on participating.
I started experiencing back pain around the time I turned 50. When I went to the doctor she told me, “John, you are at that age where every morning you will wake up with pain somewhere.” Wow! Talk about a wake-up call. Luckily, she didn’t leave it at that. She also gave me some specific stretching and strengthening exercises to help with the pain—and when I take the time to do them, they do help.
The reality is that without care and attention, things break down – our bodies, our minds, and our relationships. As we start this new year, I suggest that we each increase our capacity by taking time to regularly renew ourselves in each of the four dimensions of life – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
- Increasing or maintaining your physical capacity includes getting regular physical activity, taking time for rest and relaxation, eating a balanced diet, and doing other activities that revitalize the body and give you energy. For many, getting too little sleep is a culprit. Remember what Andy Rooney said: “Go to bed. Whatever you’re staying up late for isn’t worth it.”
- To increase your mental capacity, consider activities such as keeping a journal, reading, taking up a hobby, or continuing your education—anything that broadens and strengthens the mind. Be a student of whatever field you choose. Read voraciously. Mark Twain stated: “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”
- Activities that increase your emotional capacity can include regular social activity with friends and family, learning to listen with empathy, valuing the differences in others, increasing your circle of friends, and forgiving yourself and others. Forgiveness can be a power tool for increasing emotional capacity. As Lewis Smedes said: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
- Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, authors of The Power of Full Engagement, define spiritual capacity as “the energy that is unleashed by tapping into one’s deepest values and defining a strong sense of purpose.” Your spiritual capacity is a powerful source of motivation, focus, and resilience. You may build your spiritual capacity by connecting with nature, reading inspirational literature, living in integrity, listening to uplifting music, engaging in meditation and/or prayer, or other activities that nourish the soul.
Author Rumer Godden may have said it best: “Everyone is a house with four rooms: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.”
What are some things you plan to do in the new year to renew yourself?
About the author:
John Hester is a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies who specializes in performance and self-leadership.
Performance expert John Hester identifies four common mistakes that managers make when they set goals for employees in the latest issue of Ignite! The negative result is poor or misaligned performance, accountability issues, blame and resentment—not to mention countless hours spent reviewing tasks and redoing work.
Wondering if you might be making some of these common mistakes in your own goal setting with employees? Here’s what Hester warns against.
- Goals are not realistic. Stretch goals are great, but if they are out of reach they become demotivating and can even cause some employees to engage in unethical behavior to achieve them. In addition to making sure a goal is attainable, goals should be monitored and adjusted as needed during the year.
- Setting too many goals. When employees have too many goals they can easily lose track of what is important and spend time on the ones they “want” to do or that are easier to accomplish whether or not they are the highest priority.
- Setting goals and then walking away. Goal setting is the beginning of the process, not an end in itself. Once goals are set, managers need to meet regularly to provide support and direction to help employees achieve their goals.
- Setting a “how” goal instead of a “what” goal. Goals should indicate “what” is to be accomplished—the end in mind—not “how” it should be accomplished.
3 Ways to Improve Goal Setting
For managers looking to make their goal setting and performance planning more effective, Hester recommends focusing on three key areas.
Approach goal-setting as a partnership. Recognize that performance planning is not something that you should do alone. This is something to be done in partnership with your team member. It’s a collaborative process. So the manager needs to know what the employee’s key areas of responsibility are, what is expected in the role, and what they want to see in terms of performance. The key is to have that discussion with the employee.
Make sure the goal is SMART (or SMMART). Anytime you set a goal, objective, or an assignment, you need to make sure that it meets the simple SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound). Hester also believes that there should be a second “M” in the SMART acronym to account for employee Motivation. This means the manager needs to additionally ask, “What is it about this goal that is motivating? What difference does it make in the organization, or to the team, or to the individual employee?”
Diagnose competence and commitment levels. Finally, managers need to consider an employee’s individual competence and commitment level for a task. It’s a common mistake to assume that because a person is a veteran employee, they will be experienced at any new task that might be set before them. This is often incorrect. It’s important that a manager find out about experience with a specific task and then partner with the employee to determine what they need in terms of direction and support to be successful with this particular assignment.
To learn more about Hester’s advice for improved goal setting and performance with your people, be sure to check out the article Goal Setting Needs to Be a Partnership. Also be sure to check out Hester’s January 23 webinar on Performance Planning: 5 ways to set your people up for success—it’s free courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.
Back in 2005, one of our clients, American Express, wanted to measure the impact of Situational Leadership II training that they had rolled out in their organization. The program was delivered via three venues—traditional classroom with people attending in person; completely virtual with people working through self-paced modules; and a third ‘blended approach’ that combined aspects of both.
After the training was completed, Dr. Paul Leone, an OD expert within the American Express organization, measured the impact of the three delivery methods. He found that the self-paced virtual model produced a 5% boost in productivity which was good, the traditional classroom produced a 10% boost in productivity which was better, and the blended approach produced a 12% boost in productivity which was best.
The one difference that made all the difference
In looking at why the blended approach produced the greatest impact, Leone discovered that it was because the blended approach built the training into the student’s work life by including the immediate manager in the process, tying the learning to real work, and providing a way for feedback along the way. Leone’s conclusion was that it was these design factors that made all the difference.
Want greater ROI from your leadership training?
For years, instructional designers have known that adults learn best when they see how the learning impacts their work priorities and is in alignment with their work goals. Without this, it can be difficult to find the time for training. Learning—especially in the context of a work setting—has to be relevant, impactful, and produce results. If you don’t have that, people won’t find time in their schedules, and senior leaders won’t push for people to attend. People have multiple priorities these days. They have to focus on the things that help them get their work done.
Here are three ways to make sure that any new training you’re considering generates the bottom-line results you’re looking for.
Alignment—use impact maps to connect training to a student’s existing work goals. Have the manager and student identify the student’s key areas and then map how the training will help the learner meet those goals.
Modularize content delivery—deliver the content in small, bite-sized chunks over time. This allows students to receive the information in manageable segments that are much more conducive to learning. It also provides an opportunity for ongoing feedback.
Follow-up—involve immediate managers to check in on progress. Make sure immediate managers are on-board with the new behaviors and that they schedule time to interact and have discussions with learners as they begin to use their new skills. Nothing demonstrates the importance of a new skill learned in class than a manager checking up on its adoption.
People learn best when the information they are learning is relevant to what they are working on, when they see how it will help them improve, and when someone is checking on their progress and encouraging them to adopt new behaviors. Make sure that you are following these three steps to get the most out of your next training initiative!
Do you know what motivates others at work? Probably not explains Dr. David Facer in a recent article for Training magazine. Facer, a motivation expert and senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies, points to research from Duke University where subjects were asked to rate what motivates them individually, and what motivates peers and superiors at different levels in an organization. In most cases, the subjects rated their peers and superiors as more interested in external incentives than they said was true for themselves.
Funny thing is, senior executives make the same mistake when trying to identify what motivates their direct reports. In separate research, Facer points to studies at George Mason University where executives emphasize external factors such as compensation, job security, and promotions while employees point to inherent factors such as interesting work, being appreciated for making meaningful contributions, and a feeling of being involved in decisions.
The assumed focus on purely external motivators keeps executives and employees looking in the wrong places when trying to identify cures to the lingering lack of engagement in today’s workplaces. While disengagement continues to hover near 70% according to recent Gallup studies (a number relatively unchanged over the past 10 years) managers and employees continue to assume that there is little that can be done to improve motivation at work. It seems that it is completely dependent on the economy. In other words, when times are tough and money is scarce there is very little you can do to motivate people.
This is a false assumption explains Facer and the reality is that many people remain highly motivated—even during lean times, and even in organizations struggling to make ends meet. It is all dependent on your motivational outlook and your perceptions of the environment you are working in.
What motivates you?
Here’s an interesting exercise to try for yourself that will allow you to replicate some of the findings cited in the research.
- Identify some of the key tasks you are working on as you finish up the year. Be sure to write down tasks that you are looking forward to getting done as well as the ones that you’ve been procrastinating on. Don’t make the list too long. About 5-7 items will help you see the pattern.
- What’s your motivation for finishing each task by the end of the year? While there are actually six motivational outlooks, let’s look at two broad categories—Sub-optimal motivators (tasks you have to do because of negative consequences or promised rewards) and Optimal motivators (tasks you want to do because they are meaningful and part of a bigger picture you see for yourself and your organization).
- How many of your tasks fall into each category? What’s your engagement level with each task as a result?
If you are like most people, you’ll find that your engagement level (and subsequent performance and well-being levels) are highest on the tasks where you see the work aligned with personal and organizational goals. You’ll find that the tasks being done merely to avoid punishment or gain rewards are at a lesser level.
As leaders, it’s important to connect our individual work—and the work of others—to something bigger and more meaningful than just avoiding punishment and gaining rewards. Don’t let misconceptions about what motivates you—and others—keep you and your team from performing at their best.
To learn more about Facer’s approach to motivation, be sure to read, Motivation Misunderstanding and Rethinking Motivation: It’s time for a change. Also check out Facer’s complimentary November 28 webinar, Motivation as a skill: Strategies for managers and employees. The event is free, courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.
Senior leaders play an important role in setting the cultural tone in their organizations. Without a shift in thinking at the top of an organization, it is almost impossible to change an organization’s culture. In a new article for Fast Company online, Scott and Ken Blanchard share a story and discuss the results of a study that looked at the impact a CEO’s disposition and personality had on a company’s service orientation and collaborative mindset.
“CEOs whose personalities and dispositions were more competitive had a direct influence on the degree of competitiveness and fear experienced by members of their senior leadership teams. This resulted in a greater degree of siloed behavior within the organization and less cooperation among sub-units. The net results were less integration across the business, less efficiency, poorer service, and ultimately lower economic performance.
“A woman recently told us her CEO believed that a little bit of fear was good and that moderate to high levels of competition between people and business units were beneficial and kept the company sharp. This attitude of friendly competition inside the company permeated the culture, flowing out from the boardroom and cascading throughout the organization.
“This approach had worked for this technology company in the past, but began to become a liability as customers asked for more cross-platform compatibility. Because customers were asking for everything to work well together, these internal divisions needed to cooperate more effectively. This required the different business units to think beyond self-interest to the whole customer experience. It proved difficult to change the mindset of this historically competitive culture.”
Drive out fear
What type of culture is operating in your organization? Is there a spirit of support, encouragement, and cooperation? Or is a culture of fear, protectionism, and competition more present? Today’s more sophisticated and integrated work requires a collaborative mindset. Make sure that you are not inadvertently creating a competitive, fear-based mindset that gets in the way of people working together effectively.
As W. Edwards Deming famously reminded us, ”Drive out fear.” Fear is counter-productive in the long term, because it prevents workers from acting in the organization’s best interests.
To read more of Scott and Ken Blanchard’s thinking on creating a more engaging work environment and what top leaders can—and cannot—control check out Why Trying To Manipulate Employee Motivation Always Backfires.