Thursday, July 7, 2016

Leaders Ready Now

Last week saw the launch of a highly anticipated (and deservedly so) book, Leaders Ready Now: Accelerating Growth in a Faster World, by Matthew J Paese, Audrey B. Smith, and William C. Byham.  If you get half out of what I did, you'll be well on your way in your growth as a leader.

My guest blogger this week is actually by three.  The three authors of this great new book.

Why Are You Pursuing Acceleration?
The business reason for acceleration is often summarized like this: “We’re running
desperately short of leaders, and if we can’t get more of them—good ones—very soon, we’ll be in trouble. It’s not an option to buy talent from the outside, so we have only two options: grow from within or fail.”

This usually causes management to sit up straight and pay close attention to the next part of the meeting: How to solve this? What most executives are thinking at this point is basically what’s going through their heads when the organization faces a quality problem or a service problem or a cost problem: We need to analyze the causes, develop solutions, and execute a plan.

Except that acceleration is different. An organization can fix a quality, service, or cost problem with new and better processes that people learn to execute with discipline. But a leadership shortage will be filled only with energy for growth—fear and excitement—which then fuels the process and discipline that an acceleration system also requires. So, aiming to solve the talent problem demands a plan to solve the energy problem.
Energy will grow as you take on more risk with developing your people. But bigger risks require bigger whys. Why grow? Why accelerate? For management, the why is the business case for acceleration. In the absence of a strong one, it is difficult to convince senior executives to take any risks (much less big ones) with development. In fact, acceleration isn’t appropriate for every organization (e.g., companies in rapid start-up mode may need to emphasize talent acquisition, while others may be stocked with so much talent that the main challenge is retention).

For individual leaders, the why is the personal case for acceleration. Without one, it is difficult to convince individuals to take big chances with their own development. The typical conversation with an individual leader highlights the potentially exciting, lucrative, and influential future that acceleration can bring; the leader can—if the process works—learn, earn, and determine much more in the organization. For most, this would be enough to garner full interest and enthusiasm for whatever may come next. But interest and enthusiasm are simply not enough. Remember that the most powerful learning experiences— the ones that truly transform leadership capability—are characterized less by design than by necessity. When asked how they came into their moments of rapid learning, leaders routinely report reasons such as, “They needed me, and I was the only one available who could do it,” or “I thought I could make a big difference,” or “My boss believed I could do it, so I agreed.”

When it comes to creating energy for acceleration, there is a vast difference between “You could benefit from this” and “We need you.” To create a more powerful why for both management and individual learners, it is insufficient to make a case on behalf of only the business or the person. You will need to appeal to both. “We (the business) need you (the person) to take a big chance.” Your case must be compelling to both management and each individual, conveying why the organization needs leaders to step up, what it needs from each leader, and why it’s worth taking big risks to achieve faster, more significant growth.

*****
Matthew J. Paese, Ph.D., is Vice President of Succession and C-Suite Services for Development Dimensions International (DDI). Matt’s work has centered on the application of succession, assessment, and development approaches as they apply to boards, CEOs, senior management teams, and leaders across the pipeline. He consults, coaches, speaks, and conducts research around all those topics and more.
Audrey B. Smith, Ph.D., is Senior Vice President for Global Talent Diagnostics at DDI. Audrey's customer-driven innovation and global consulting insights have helped shape DDI's succession, selection, and development offerings, from the C-suite to the front line. She has been a key strategist and solution architect, encompassing technology-enabled virtual assessments and development aligned to current business challenges.
William C. Byham, Ph.D., is Executive Chairman of DDI. He cofounded the company in 1970 and has worked with hundreds of the world's largest organizations on executive assessment, executive development, and succession management. Bill authored Zapp!® The Lightning of Empowerment, a groundbreaking book that has sold more than 3 million copies. He has coauthored 23 other books, including seminal works on the assessment center method.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Some People Change

"Here’s to the strong, thanks to the brave don’t give up hope some people
change.
Against all odds, against the grain love finds a way, some people change."


These are some words from a Kenny Chesney song called, Some People Change. In the leadership world, do you think it's possible to change? I do.

I've seen some of the most in your face, micro-managing people become leaders that everyone wants to work for. It takes desire. It takes belief. It takes help. It takes time. That's where a good leadership development program comes in.

A good leadership development program is going to open the doors to new ways of thinking. It's going to show those in need of an overhaul just how things could be. A good program will be able to help transform managers into leaders by providing tools and resources to become a better person. And with follow up, will help people to continue to grow and improve on what they've learned. Reading is fantastic and should be practiced by everyone, but you get the most benefit when you're able to discuss and learn with (from) others.

Leadership development programs will grow your leaders, grow your employees, and grow your organization.

Remember - people don't typically leave an organization, they leave their manager.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Get Up and DO

It's so easy to get into a rut. Especially when you're in between jobs. The worst
thing that you can do is sit and wait. But sitting at a computer, day after day, applying for jobs is not going to get you by. You have to be more active.

Sitting and waiting for something to happen is going to weaken you. It will weaken your skills, your knowledge, your ability to interact socially, and most of all your motivation. You have to get up and get moving.

I'm currently in between jobs and was falling down that hole. I did two things to help me stay towards the top, allowing me to feel better about myself and my outlook of things to come. The first is volunteering.

Volunteering is actually good for you. It provides physical and mental rewards. It helps you gain other types of professional experience. And the biggie - YOU make a difference.

The other thing I did was . . . I got a job. It isn't the type of work I'm looking for, nor making the money I need, or even has the possibility of continuing. But it is pulling in some money and keeping me busy. Plus I'm able to help out a friend (grateful to that friend). Cleaning boats is not a career choice, but it's keeping my mindset in the work world. It also shows me how lucky I am to be here and reminds me of the successes I've had.

So if you're out of wack and in that rut, get out and DO. It's quite the pick me up.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Paying People to Quit

As launch week, for the new book Under New Management, is drawing to a close, I have
the honor of hosting a guest blog by author David Burkus. Under New Management has been wildly successful this week and I encourage you to get a copy today.

Paying People to Quit: The Cost of an Unengaged Hire
Possibly the most counterintuitive process to appear in recent years is the idea of paying people to quit their jobs. Not only are some leaders finding it beneficial to company performance, but research suggests these incentives may even have a positive effect on the people who stay.

One benefit of paying people to quit is obvious: it screens out people who would probably end up quitting anyway. In a purely logical world, as soon as people figure out that they've made a bad decision in coming to work at a company, they would leave. However, humans are not logical creatures. As such, we’re subject to a cognitive glitch that makes it difficult to quit the things we start. Economists often refer to this as the 'sunk costs fallacy.' Sunk costs represent the time, money, or effort we’ve already invested in a course of action. Money has already been spent, and there’s no getting it back whether we continue down the same course or break away and go our separate way.
Rationally then, the moment we realize we’ve made a mistake, we should change our course of action. But we don’t do that. In one of the original studies on sunk costs, Hal Arkes and Catherine Blumer (both of Ohio University at the time) asked undergraduate students to envision the following scenario and make a choice:
Assume that you've spent $100 on a ticket for a weekend ski trip to Michigan. Several weeks later you buy a $50 ticket for a weekend ski trip to Wisconsin. You think you'll enjoy the Wisconsin ski trip more than the Michigan ski trip. As you're putting your just-purchased Wisconsin ski trip ticket in your wallet, you notice that both trips are for the same weekend! It’s too late to sell either ticket, and you cannot return them. You must use one ticket and not the other. Which ski trip will you choose?

Surprisingly, the majority of students choose the more expensive Michigan trip even though the Wisconsin trip would be more fun. Despite the fact that the full $150 was spent and couldn’t be recouped students were influenced by how much had been spent on the trip and that led them to make a less enjoyable choice. We’re biased toward throwing more money or more effort at a less enjoyable — or doomed — cause if we’ve put significant effort or money behind it already. Jobs are no different.

It takes time to find a job, and when you’re hired, if you suddenly realize the job isn’t right for you, your sunk costs exert pressure to ignore that realization and continue. Offering a quitting bonus can help offset the sunk costs building up in the mind of the future underperformer. 

For both the employee and the employer, sunk costs make it difficult to end a doomed relationship. Companies that pay people to quit are acting rationally and ignoring sunk costs. They realize they can’t really head off a future problem by investing more time and money in someone who isn’t a good fit. When a company pays an employee to quit, it’s often doing so in the belief that even if they accept the offer, the company is getting a good deal. By giving the employees most likely to be disengaged the option to leave, companies save a lot in the long run. According to research from the Gallup Organization, disengaged employees are less productive, more likely to steal from their employer, skip work, and negatively influence customers and other employees.

At companies that have implemented this policy, only about two to three percent of people who get the offer take it. When people stay, not only does the company get to keep the money, but they might even get a more engaged and productive employee. So what happens to everyone who stays? The answer to that question points to the second reason why paying people to quit works: cognitive dissonance.

'Cognitive dissonance' is the term psychologists use to describe the discomfort you feel when two ideas conflict in your mind, as well as your attempts to reconcile them. The theory of cognitive dissonance was first proposed by Leon Festinger, a social psychologist who worked at a variety of universities, from MIT to Stanford.

Jack Brehm, another social psychologist, built on Festinger’s theory with a phenomenon he labeled 'post-decision dissonance.' Brehm theorized that after we make certain decisions, we modify our beliefs to strengthen the validity of that decision. In a famous experiment, Brehm asked 225 female students to rate a series of common household appliances. The students were then asked to choose between two of the appliances they’d rated to take home as a gift for participating. Brehm followed up with the students and asked them to complete a second round of rating the same appliances. Oddly, the students’ ratings had changed. In the second round, most of the participants rated the appliance they’d chosen as a gift higher than they’d rated it in the first round, and likewise rated the rejected item lower than they had before.

While it may seem counterintuitive, offering disengaged or unsuitable hires the opportunity to self-select out can lead to greater engagement and productivity from the employees who remain, as well as increased profitability for the company as a whole.
*****

David Burkus is the author of the new book, Under New Management. He is host of the Radio Free Leader podcast and associate professor of management at Oral Roberts University. Please visit his website at www.davidburkus.com.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Under New Management

Times and technology are always changing. With these changes must come
process and management style changes. The problem is, that what we need to do to keep up doesn’t always happen. A new idea here and there is too slow and dispersed.

A number of things that I see in David Burkus’s new book, Under Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual, I’ve seen before. But what’s great about it is that he gathers these things - and much more - shows great examples, and puts them into one easy to read, understand, and implement reference.

Including research and case studies, Burkus presents examples of organizations that have successfully implemented each of these practices. Zappos paying people to quit. Whole Foods hiring as a team. Wegmans putting customers first. Adobe eliminating yearly performance appraisals. McKinsey & Company celebrating employee departures (and keeping contact).

This is the book to read if you’re ready to make a positive change in your organization or even if you’re just starting out and building from scratch. Leave the past in the past. Let go of the old ineffective methodologies. Create an organization that will provide the base for success.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I don't know . . . but I'll find out

Anyone who has worked in customer service has heard the phrase, “I don't
know . . . but I’ll find out.”  It's a wonderful phrase that will help keep
customers happy and coming back.  You shouldn’t have a problem saying it, as nobody expects you to know everything. How long will this movie be showing? What are the requirements? Is there an age limit?  You should never leave them wondering.  


But there's another side to this phrase.  Saying “I don't know, but I'll find out”, benefits you also.  If you don’t know something, you need to find out even if it’s not for this customer.  Someone is eventually going to want to know - and BAM, you already have the answer and you don’t have to spend valuable time finding it.


Now take that phrase and apply it to your everyday work, or hobbies, or whatever.  Learning never ends.  Not after college, job orientation, or even relationships. How can I utilize Google Docs? Why do we do it this way? What problems have people run into before me?  Saying this phrase, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” to yourself, will make you continue to seek out knowledge.  It keeps your imagination and curiosity flexible.


Personally embrace this phrase to learn and explore areas that lead you in new directions.  You’ll never become stagnant.  You’ll never be bored.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Missing Dab

Well, I'm sure you've seen it by now. I'm talking, of course, about Carolina Panthers QB,
Cam Newton's post-game press conference. It was the perfect example of an inexperienced leader. It's all fun and games while he's winning, but talk about a 180 when he loses.

Keep in mind that Newton was drafted just five years ago and although he's had some great success on the field, he still has much experience to gain in the off-field leadership arena. He's the face of not only his own brand but of the Panthers. What he displayed, no matter how painful, was the wrong picture. I've seen high school state championship losers act better.

A leader can't dab and dance while things are going well and then turn over when things don't go your way. That sets the tone for the rest of the team. The people that look up to you and respond off of your cue's. A leader is a role model, which can go either way, positively or negatively.

So hopefully Newton learns a lot from this experience - his first of multiple Super Bowls - and takes some cue's from QB's that "aren't like him, such as Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and even rookie Jameis Winston (I've been totally impressed with his attitude during his first year). The Super Bowl is a HUGE stage and no matter what happens, sometimes, as a leader, we just have to suck-it-up.

BTW. Congratulations to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.