It’s that time of year when we get together, give gifts, and rekindle relationships with people we haven’t seen since last year. No, no—not the holidays—I’m talking about the ongoing performance review season.
For the past several weeks (and several weeks ahead for procrastinators) managers around the world have been meeting with their direct reports to review last year’s goals, measure performance, and determine pay increases.
If you are in the middle of performance reviews with your people, here are two radical ideas inspired by a recent article Scott and Ken Blanchard wrote for Fast Company, The Best Gift Managers Can Give Their Employees This Season.
In the article, Scott and Ken identified that two of the most important ingredients missing in today’s manager-direct report conversations are growth and considering the employee’s agenda.
In some ways, that’s not surprising considering the cautious way most companies have been operating during our slow, tepid economic recovery. “Just lucky to have a job,” has become institutionalized after four years of a weak employment picture and little or no growth in many industries.
But 2013 feels different. There’s a small, but flickering sense of optimism in the air. (Maybe it’s because that Mayan calendar scare is over—it is, isn’t it?)
Are you ready to move forward? Here are three new ways of thinking. How could you add these components into your next performance management or goal setting conversation either as a manager or direct report?
- Think growth. Yes, GROWTH! It’s time. People can only tread water for so long. Eventually, you have to start swimming somewhere. Developing new skills in your present job—and seeing the next step on your career path are both important factors that lead to happiness, well-being and better performance at work. What can you add to your list of skills during the coming year? What move can you make (even a small one) that will get you one step closer to your next career objectives?
- Think connection. Who can help you along the way? There is only so much that you can do on your own and left to your own devices. We all need some help.
- Think helping others. The late Zig Ziglar (who passed away earlier this year) was famous for identifying that, “You can get just about anything you want out of life as long as you are willing to help others get what they want.” But it has to begin with you. Who can you reach out to this week or next? Who can you help take the next step toward their career plans?
In their article for Fast Company Scott and Ken Blanchard share an important paradox for anyone in business to remember. The more you give, the more that comes back to you.
Add a little bit of giving into your work conversations in 2013. Talk about growth issues with your direct reports. Find out how you can help. You’ll be surprised at how much comes back to you during the course of the year.
Accountability, accountability, accountability. It’s an issue that comes up time and again as leaders and HR professionals think about the one underlying challenge in their organizations that holds performance back. It’s a silent killer that operates below the surface in organizations and it’s tough to address.
A best-selling business book (and one that I had never heard of until earlier this month) addresses a key piece of the accountability issue. Leadership and Self-Deception was first published in 2000 and then re-issued as a second edition in 2010. The book has sold over 1,000,000 copies since it was published and sales have grown every year since it was first “discovered” by HR, OD, and change practitioners.
What makes the book so different (and hard to describe) is that it looks at work behavior as fundamentally an inside-out proposition. We basically act out externally what we are feeling inside. Bad behavior externally—doing just enough to get by, compliance instead of commitment, and putting self-interest ahead of team or department goals—are justified because of the way that that colleagues, managers, and senior leaders are acting in return.
The folks at The Arbinger Institute, the corporate authors of the book, call this “in the box thinking” and they believe it is the root cause of many of the problems being experienced at work today.
Is your organization stuck “in the box?”
Wondering if negative attitudes inside might be causing poor accountability on the outside in your organization? Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself.
- Where are the trouble spots in your organization? Where are people getting the job done but it seems to always be at minimum level of performance—and with a low sense of enthusiasm and morale?
- What are the possible attitudes and beliefs among members of that team or department that make them feel justified in their behaviors? Why do they feel it is okay to narrow the scope of their job, focus on their own agenda, and do only what’s required to stay out of trouble—but not much more?
- What can you do to break the cycle of negative thinking that keeps people “in the box?”
Climbing out of the box
Surprisingly, the answer to breaking out of the box starts with expecting more of yourself and others. People climb into the box when they decide to do less than their best. The folks at Arbinger describe this as “self-betrayal” and it sets in motion all sorts of coping strategies that end up with self-focused behaviors. Don’t let that happen in your organization. Here are two ways that you can help people see beyond their self interests.
- Constantly remind people of the bigger picture and their role in it. Set high standards and hold people accountable to them.
- Second, and just as important, provide high levels of support and encouragement for people to do the right thing. Make it easy for people to put the needs of the team, department, and organization ahead of their own. Look at reward, recognition, and compensation strategies. Look at growth and career planning. What can you do to free people up to focus on the needs of others instead of themselves?
Change behavior by changing beliefs
Accountability is a tough issue to address because most people feel justified in their actions and opinions. Don’t let your people self-justify their way into lower performance. It’s not good for them and it’s not good for your organization. Lead people to higher levels of performance. Help people find the best in themselves.
The New Year is almost upon us. This time of year is one of hope and positivity. Regardless of whether you feel you had a great year or a down year, there should be excitement that the New Year will be more prosperous than the one that preceded it. So as 2011 comes to a close, here are three simple steps to put you in a positive frame of mind to kick off 2012 on the right foot.
The Three R’s of New Year’s
- Revolutions – Circle back and review the resolutions you set for yourself last year. Furthermore, circle back and review any other important non-resolution goals you set for yourself last year. And while you’re at it, circle back and review any other big accomplishments from the past year – include wins AND losses that provided vital learning opportunities.
- Revelations – Celebrate your successes! So often we get hung up on not fully achieving our resolutions and goals that we fail to realize just how much positive progress we’ve actually made towards them. This is especially true of resolutions which, for most people, tend to be extreme stretch goals. Don’t forget, they’re called “stretch” goals for a reason. For example, if last year you set out to lose 20 pounds but ended up only losing 10 pounds, you’ve still made positive progress worth celebrating. Be proud of the progress you’ve made toward your goals and celebrate what you have achieved, don’t dwell on what you haven’t achieved.
- Resolutions – Now that you’ve reviewed and celebrated, it’s time to reset. Build off of what you’ve learned from reviewing the past year to determine how you can improve your approach and move closer to achieving (or fully achieve) your goals. When crafting your resolutions for the coming year, make sure that they’re authentic and meaningful to you. There’s a great post on this over at the PsychCentral blog offering 9 Tips for Setting Authentic New Year’s Resolutions.
As the year draws to a close, make sure not to skip steps 1 and 2 before crafting your resolutions. It’s important to review all of the valuable lessons you’ve learned and to celebrate all of your successes. You’ll be amazed at the great year you might not have realized you had! These two additional steps will put you in a positive state of mind and help set the tone for you to develop more meaningful, authentic, AND attainable resolutions.
Congratulations on all that you accomplished in 2011, and best wishes for an even more prosperous 2012!
The most prestigious leadership position this country has to offer is that of the President of the United States. And while it may be the most prestigious, few would disagree that it is also the most heavily scrutinized. Fair or unfair, public opinion of the President’s job performance shifts regularly due to any number of factors. Yet at any given time, we can quickly see what the general public thinks about the President’s job performance by looking at their approval rating.
I’ve always found this concept of a President’s approval rating to be fascinating. After all, it is extremely subjective and based on an incredibly small sample size but it is widely accepted as a relatively accurate reflection of how we all feel. This practice of using public opinion polls to determine an approval rating was introduced over 65 years ago by the Gallup organization and it’s hard to dispute their findings. In reviewing the historical approval ratings for the last dozen Presidents, it appears to be a pretty accurate representation.
My assumption is that a President doesn’t obsess over their approval rating. That said there must be value in having a quick snapshot of where you stand in the eyes of your people. Imagine one day having a 90% approval rating, making an important decision, and then the next day seeing your approval rating drop to 40%. Obviously, there’s a take-away there that could impact your subsequent courses of action. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to reverse your decision but perhaps it may cause you to re-examine your methods of communication regarding the decision you made.
This has me thinking about other practical applications for leadership approval ratings. Is there a place in corporate America for leadership approval ratings? We regularly hear about the need for greater transparency in organizations. If your CEO were to begin tracking and publicizing their approval rating on your company intranet, what impact would that have on the organization and your CEO? Furthermore, if there’s value to be found in an approval rating for the President, or your CEO, wouldn’t there also be value to be found at other levels of leadership throughout the organization?
I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts around a corporate leadership approval rating in the comment section below. And, visit Why Lead Now tomorrow for part 2 where we’ll discuss ways for you to begin thinking about your own leadership approval rating.
Adam Morris is a featured blogger at Why Lead Now, one of LeaderChat’s sister blogs, focusing on the next generation of leaders.
Ken Blanchard and Southwest Airlines president emeritus Colleen Barrett present an extraordinary, wide-ranging conversation on the leadership secrets that have propelled Southwest Airlines and other great companies to unprecedented business success. Drawing from their new book, Lead with LUV, these two legendary leaders will share what “leading with love” means, why it works, and how it can help you achieve unprecedented business performance.
Participants will learn:
- What “leading with love” looks like in an organizational context
- Love in action: what leaders need to do to make it work
- “Tough love” and redirection—how to handle inappropriate behavior or performance
- Love and culture—building the right vision and helping people succeed in the long term
The complete webinar can be viewed for free by visiting http://www.kenblanchard.com/Webinars
In an article for the May issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine entitled The Leadership-Profit Chain, authors Drea Zigarmi and Scott Blanchard identify the impact of leadership behaviors on employee passion and customer devotion. Their research shows that organizations can’t treat employees poorly, put pressure on them, and then expect them to perform at high levels.
Sometimes organizations operate as though they’ve forgotten the human element of business, and that people have strong feelings about the way they are treated that translates into subsequent behavior. Zigarmi and Blanchard remind us that leaders need to see employees as more than just assets to be maximized.
5 Recommended Leadership Behaviors
For leaders looking to treat people right and provide employees with the direction and support they need to succeed, here are five ways the authors recommend getting started:
- Provide strong strategic leadership that includes setting an overall vision for the organization, coordinating the efforts of employees toward that purpose, and keeping them prepared to adapt to changing conditions as necessary.
- Identify and focus the organization on key strategic imperatives that have purpose for the customer or meaning for the greater community. People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
- Send consistent messages based on a clear vision and the type of culture the organization wants to create. Behaviorally define the values that guide the way employees interact with customers and each other.
- Identify employee needs and strive to meet them. Day-to-day leadership is the linchpin that drives the ways that employees engage with clients.
- Don’t make profit your only goal. Profit is a byproduct of serving the customer, which can only be achieved by serving the employee. Don’t fall into a trap of thinking that an organization can’t focus on both people and results. Organizations can focus on both at the same time and should.
If leaders create the right environment and engage in the right behaviors, employees will give their best to the organization. This leads to a greater sense of excitement and passion at work that leads to better customer service and retention.
You can access the full text of The Leadership-Profit Chain article here. Also be sure to check out the Key Factors Influencing Employee Passion which identifies 12 components of an engaging work environment.
Organizations like Southwest Airlines, Chick-fil-A, WD-40, and Wegman’s have all enjoyed long term success in part because of an unwavering commitment to their employees in both good times and bad.
What traits do the leaders at these organizations have in common? Three things—they are bearers of hope; they treat their people as their business partners; and they see their role as serving others.
- Bearers of hope. Especially in tough times, leaders at great companies keep on sending out positive messages. That doesn’t mean that they turn their back on the truth or the present reality. But they are optimistic.
- Treat people as business partners. If you want people to be on your side you have to respect them. That means sharing information with them and involving them in decisions. Leaders need their people to trust in them and believe that the organization “means them no harm.” If employees don’t trust leaders, they spend their time looking up the organizational hierarchy instead of focusing on the customer.
- See your role as a servant leader. Leaders in great companies see their role as supporting the people closest to the customer. Once strategy is set, these leaders turn the organizational pyramid upside-down so everyone focuses on serving the people that are serving the customer.
Look to your leaders to create a more tenacious and resilient organization. Are they modeling these behaviors?
Companies that deal best with tough times don’t forget that the key to their success is maintaining a productive and motivating environment for their people. While other companies may be tempted to temporarily shift their focus to look exclusively at the bottom line, great companies don’t forget that without their people taking care of their customers they wouldn’t be in business.
Earlier this week Ken Blanchard appeared on Dave Ramsey’s business talk show to discuss the enduring impact of Ken’s classic book, The One Minute Manager, which he co-authored with Spencer Johnson. Ramsey wanted to know Ken’s thoughts on why The One Minute Manager remained so popular today–18 million copies later. Ken’s response? The book remains relevant because it identifies simple human truths about working together. See if you agree. Here are the three secrets of one minute management:
- Set One-Minute Goals— All good performance starts with clear goals. Without clear goals your leadership doesn’t really matter. If people don’t know where you’re going, how can you help them get there? Goal setting gets everything started. It is creating a clear picture of what good performance looks like and what are the expected behaviors to get there.
- One Minute Praising. The second secret is to look for opportunities to catch people doing things right. People love to be acknowledged for their work. It’s unique and rewarding when a manager comes around and is looking for things that are going right instead of wrong. You don’t want to be a seagull manager who only flies in, makes a lot of noise and dumps on people when there are problems.
- The One Minute Reprimand. This is how you deal with people when they’re not performing up to expectations. The key here is to focus on the behavior and not the person. It’s also important to distinguish between “can’t do” behavior versus “won’t do” behavior. A One Minute Reprimand is for people who have the skills and talent to do better. If the problem is a lack of skills or training, then it is more appropriate to use redirection instead of a reprimand. This means taking a second look at goals, identifying needed resources and support, etc.
How do these three principles sound to you? Are they still relevant in today’s business environment? Share your thoughts and comments below.
In a recent article for CLO magazine entitled Rebuilding Business: Aligning to Goals, Scott Blanchard talks about the challenges businesses face in creating a growth mindset. The economic conditions of the last 18 months have drained a lot of people mentally and emotionally. While people are thankful to still have a job, leaders need to tap into something more than that if they want to get their organization firing on all cylinders again.
To help with the process, Blanchard recommends that leaders help their people make this shift by providing leadership in three key areas: defining reality, setting a clear direction, and managing people’s energy.
Defining Reality—acknowledge the present situation and fill people in on where the company is. People are probably unsure of exactly where the company stands financially. Without accurate information, people usually imagine the worst. Share what you know as completely as possible. People understand the challenges of today’s economy, and it is reassuring to know that their leader is on top of it too.
Setting a Clear Direction—the second step is to share the company’s plans and key objectives for the coming year. Charting a course, or setting up a plan, is vitally important because leadership is about going somewhere. In order to get people out of the inertia of their worry, leaders need to point to the direction that the organization is going. The good news is that there is tremendous opportunity in recovery from a recession. But in order for that to happen, there needs to be a plan in place and that plan needs to be communicated clearly.
Managing People’s Energy—the final step to getting people back on track is to pay special attention to how people are feeling. It’s important to acknowledge where people are at individually and at the same time give them hope and get them excited about the direction the organization is going.
Find out how people are feeling by encouraging managers and supervisors to schedule one-on-one conversations with their direct reports. Discuss organizational objectives and individual roles. Ask about employee concerns and challenges, both at work and in general. During these conversations managers can identify individual needs and look at ways to provide direction and support. In addition to showing that you care, authentic conversations leave people feeling good about you as a manager, as well as good about where the company is going.
PS: Interested in learning more about the role that leaders can play in creating an energized and focused organization? Join Ken Blanchard for a complimentary webinar on January 19. Details here.
Leadership is not something you do to people, it’s something you do with people. Letting people know what they can expect from you underscores the idea that leadership is a partnership process. It gives people a picture of what your behavior will look like under your leadership.
That’s one of the messages that Ken Blanchard highlights in a short article entitled Setting a Leadership Point of View for Yourself and Your Organization. In it, Blanchard underscores the idea that leadership transparency is a key element of success in today’s organizations. That’s because transparency gives employees a chance to see the “person behind the position” in their organization. This willingness on the part of leaders to share a little bit of themselves helps to build trust and confidence in a powerful way. It also encourages people to share a little bit more about themselves as well. The result is greater openness and stronger bonds throughout the organization. For leaders looking to get started with being more transparent with their people, Blanchard recommends three steps:
- Identify your beliefs about leading and managing people. Who are the people that have influenced you in your life? Most people think about traditional and famous leaders first, but the reality is that parents, teachers, and other important people in our lives are the ones who have usually influenced our thinking the most. Given what you’ve learned from past leaders and your core values, what are your beliefs about leading and motivating people?
- Share your “leadership point of view” with others. How can you communicate what you believe and how it influences your behavior? By sharing your leadership point of view with the people who report to you, they will not only have the benefit of understanding where you’re coming from, but they’ll also understand what you expect from them and what they can expect from you.
- Think through how you will set an example for your people. Your leadership point of view lets others know how you will set an example for the values and behaviors you are encouraging. But as most parents know, people learn from your behavior, not from your words. Leaders must walk their talk. Developing a leadership point of view creates a clear path for you to follow. Now you need to walk it.
To read the entire article, check out Setting a Leadership Point of View for Yourself and Your Organization here.