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March 26th, 2011 No comments

What’s the point of talking to anyone if you don’t tell ’em what you think?

– Jon Krakauer –

Categories: Communication, Quotes Tags:

December 26th, 2010 No comments

It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.
If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.

– Lewis Carroll –

Categories: Quotes Tags:

Ten Rules for Being Human

November 13th, 2009 No comments

by Cherie Carter-Scott

  1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it’s yours to keep for the entire period.
  2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called, “life.”
  3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately “work.”
  4. Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.
  5. Learning lessons does not end. There’s no part of life that doesn’t contain its lessons. If you’re alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.
  6. There” is no better a place than “here.” When your “there” has become a “here”, you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.
  7. Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
  8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
  9. Your answers lie within you. The answers to life’s questions lie within you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.
  10. You will forget all this.
Categories: People, Quotes Tags:

Setting Career Goals

July 1st, 2009 No comments

Over the years I have had many discussions around setting career goals.  Many of these discussions centered around people not knowing what they want to do when they grow up.

Here are some suggestions that have helped folks in the past.

  • Identify some roles that sound interesting and go and speak with the folks who are already in those roles.  In most cases they are willing to discuss it and share what it takes to fulfill the role.  If things still sound interesting then take it to the next level and see if you can shadow the person for a day or two.
  • Often it is easier to start with what you do not like. Create a list of roles that are not attractive at all.  Analyze those positions to determine what it is that is distasteful to you.  Convert the dislike list to a like list and simply use it to identify possible roles that meet those criteria.  Evaluate the roles as per the previous point.
  • If your company has a website that lists open positions.  Find some positions that you find interesting and would like to have in the future.  Go the the hiring manager for those positions;  explain to the hiring manager that although you know that you are not currently qualified but you would like to understand what they are looking for in a person to fulfill that role.  After a couple of these discussions, you have a clear understanding of what the hiring managers are looking for.  Now do a self assessment and create a GAP analysis between where you are today and what you need to be.

Hopefully by following some of these suggestions and merging them with your own ideas, you will have worked out what it is that you want to do or where you want to be.

To build the action plan:

  • Write down the end goal
  • Working backwards from the end goal write down steps along the way back to the present
  • These steps are your roadmap to that goal
  • It is much easier to determine what it will take to achieve the steps along the way

Review the roadmap and discuss it with your mentors, coach or boss to gather feedback.  To take this to the next level, put dates to each step.

Work at each step and do not forget to hold yourself accountable.

Business and/or team growth and how it can catch people unaware

June 11th, 2009 No comments

I am in the hi technology industry and therefore I am very comfortable working at companies that are growing and leading teams that are growing.  Now let’s take a look at this year-to-year growth where the ellipses show the needs of the business.  In this example our employee, which we will call Mo, is represented by a star.

Year 1

The blue ellipse shows the business needs for Year 1.  Mo is doing pretty well in Year 1 because his skills put him on the high end of the business needs.  Therefore he is well within his comfort zone to deliver against the needs of the business.

Year 2

The greenish ellipse shows the business needs for Year 2 have moved on from where they were in Year 1.  Mo is not doing very well here though because he barely has the skills needed to successfully meet the business needs.  Mo is going to have to have to step up and grow his skills.  Mo needs to either have the self awareness that the business needs are changing or he could be caught unawares that his skills not longer meeting the business needs.

Year 3

The orange ellipse shows the business needs for Year 3.  Mo is in serious trouble here because he does not have the skills needed to meet the business needs.

The disadvantages of this model

  • In Year 3 Mo might find himself unemployed or marginalized due to his skills not meeting the business needs.
  • In Year 3, the business might need to go through the expenses of recruiting someone that can meet the needs of the business.
  • Replacing Mo will not only disrupt the team dynamics but it will also take time for the new person to acclimatise to the business.

Improved Situation

Now let’s take look at another scenario where Mo is not stagnant and grows his skills in a similar direction to what the business is moving in.

Year 1

The blue ellipse shows the business needs for Year 1.  Mo is doing pretty well in Year 1 because his skills put him on the high end of the business needs.  Therefore he is well within his comfort zone to deliver against the needs of the business.

Years 2 & 3

The greenish ellipse shows the business needs for Year 2 have moved on from where they were in Year 1.  Mo’s skills have improved too and he is keeping track and staying aligned with the needs of the business.

The benefits

There are significant benefits to Mo growing his skills.

  • People that are growing tend to find their work roles to be much more rewarding and therefore are much happier employees.
  • If one person grows, they tend to drag the rest of the team along the road too, ultimately resulting in a team climate of growth.
  • Because Mo’s growth is parallel with the business needs, they both win because he can customize his growth to meet the needs of the business.  The business gets someone that is really closely aligned with the needs.
  • The team dynamics continue to improve and grow because people get to knw each other better and therefore they are able to work better as a more cohesive unit.

Categories: Behavior, People Tags: , ,

hire the best – a follow-up discussion

June 10th, 2009 No comments

Recently I had a conversation with a colleague about my post on “hiring the best”.  Our conversation hinged on the implications on the manager of hiring less than the best.  Here are some of the key points from our discussion.

less overhead on the manager

Both of us were of the opinion that it is much easier on the manager to have more capable people on our teams.  Although both of us had many exceptions come to mind where some highly skilled people lacked certain soft skills.  We are of the opinion that well rounded and skilled people  need little to no guidance from their manager. These people are also able to offload work from us, thereby allowing to focus our time in other areas.

impact on the team

Will Smith’s interpretation of an old Confucius analect  is: “You are who you associate with” and this is definitely holds true.  In my experience, all it takes is for one person to raise the bar resulting in a positive impact on the team and those who deal with the team.

irritation factor

Then there is the irritation factor.  This is when the junior person is not able to meet the expectations, or  interrupts fellow team members to ask for guidance.  The irritation level can grow quickly if the person does not have the soft skills needed or the mental horse power needed to learn quickly and perform.

learning vs adaptation

A junior person requires time to learn and get up to speed.  They have to improve on multiple fronts:  They need to learn how to fulfill the role and also learn the skills needed to deliver the goods.  This takes time, drive and effort.  To contrast this where the more experienced/senior person can adapt to the new environment.  Because they already have the skills, they are able to simply slot into the role and start to deliver the goods.

financial impact

Having spent many years with startups; I am sensitive to the impact on the cash flow that a senior and experienced person can have.  I do believe that hiring the best that you can afford is the best option for all concerned.  The return-on-investment (ROI) for the more skilled person far outweighs costs and in most cases I believe that a skilled person with soft skills is worth way more than a more junior and less capable person.

time

For the most part, the more junior the person, the longer it takes for them to be fully productive.  The more senor people are able to be productive in days or weeks and not months or years.

flexibility

This can be a massive challenge and I have seen ot go both ways and therefore is one of my hiring requirements now.

capability

By hiring the person that is most capable also increases the team’s capability to deliver more and faster.  Because the team is more capable, they are able to achieve more and therefore win more.  Winning leads to more winning.

Categories: Behavior, Management, People Tags:

Lesson Learned: Promotions are not about you!

June 7th, 2009 No comments

Way, way back I was promoted to my first management position.  The conversation with my boss went something along the following lines.

Boss: It sounds like you were expecting the promotion?

Me: Yep, I worked my butt for this .  (rather smugly) (Looking back I was an arrogant little sh1t)

Boss: So you see this promotion as a reward?

Me:  Oh yes! (laughing)

Boss: I see it differently.  The promotion is not a reward for your hard work!  That is why I gave you a bonus.  I promoted you because the department needs someone who to lead the team and offload the day-to-day management tasks from me.  This promotion means that I need you to step up into this new role and perform.  It will be a stretch for you and you have a lot to learn but I think that you can do it.

Me: What do I need to learn?

Boss:  You will need to learn management skills, improve your project management skills to handle multiple simultaneous projects and people.  And of course budgeting too.

Me: No problem!  I will prove that I am worth the investment.

Boss:  I am investing in you and you are a high risk investment at that!  You have great technical skills but now you need to learn the additional skills to perform as a manager.  Basically you only have 25% of the skills to needed to perform as a manager!  I am prepared to take the risk for a limited time and you need to demonstrate progress week by week.  I can only give around 6 months to get up to speed and deliver.

Me:  No problem

—————————————————-

Wow, boy was that a boatload of work!  I learned a multitude of extremely valuable lessons from that promotion and the ensuing years of work.  Here are the top lessons that I learned in the those six months.

  • People are promoted into positions to meet the needs of the business.

  • The learning phase never ends but there is a limited amount of time that the business can wait for you to learn and gather the skills needed to perform at the level needed.

control what you can control

June 3rd, 2009 No comments

Earlier this week, I was a coach at a function that was targeted at managers.  The event provided a forum for the managers to share experiences on how they overcame the plethora of management challenges encountered in this recession.

During the discussions, it became extremely evident, to me, that some of the managers were worried about any cuts that the company have to make to survive. I provided them the following guidance:

“control what you can, know what you cannot control, and make peace with it”

control-what-you-can

control what you can (green)

This takes a significant amount of effort because it takes a constant level of vigilant awareness to look for new opportunities.

Here are some examples of what can be controlled:

  • your boss & peers
  • your actions, attitude and demeanor

I put boss & peers down as items that can be controlled because they can be influenced if you have the credibility and trust established.

know what you cannot control, and make peace with it (red)

The key here is know your limitations, the constraints that have been imposed on you and to make peace with it.  It just does not help to beat yourself up about the stuff that you cannot control.  Here are some examples of things that we cannot control:

  • the weather
  • the economy
  • senior management (assuming that they are more than 2 levels of separation)

So if you cannot control things like this, it just does not help to worry or beat yourself about things like this.  So make peace with things and focuss your efforts and energy on the things that you can control.

Categories: Behavior, Expectations Tags:

five stages of competence and how to move from stage to stage?

May 21st, 2009 No comments

In a previous post, I wrote about a lesson that I learned almost two decades back. The post can be found here:  http://sparkpilot.com/blog/?p=1034

During a recent continuing education session, the instructor covered these five stages of competence, she was not able to cite a source.  Here is my interpretation of the lesson.

Five stages of competence

  • Stage I – Unconscious incompetence – the person is blissfully unaware of their ignorance
  • Stage II – Conscious incompetence – the person aware of their skills shortage
  • Stage III – Conscious competence – the person is able to demonstrate their competence with a high level of concentration or focus
  • Stage IV – Unconscious competence – the person is able to demonstrate their competence with a low level of concentration or focus
  • Stage V – Shared competence – the person is able to teach others by explaining not only how but also the the why’s to achieve a level of competency

Since this training session, I have come across many references to the 4 stages and one or two on the 5th stage.   However the areas that seems to get little attention is what it takes to move between the stages.

5-stages-competencies3

Now let’s look at how we can move between the various stages, after all isn’t that what it is all about?

Feedback

Feedback is the catalyst that enables someone to start this journey because it creates the awareness.

I have covered feedback in previous posts:

The key thing about feedback is that the person that is receiving the feedback can choose to act upon the feedback or disregard the feedback.  I have found people disregard very good and accurate feedback because they were not ready to change or because they did not like the messenger.

Remember the following quote: “There are only two people who can tell you the truth about yourself – an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly.”

Knowledge

According to Sir Francis Bacon, “Knowledge is Power” and in this case it is the power to move from Stage 2 to Stage 3.  I look at knowledge gathering and continued growth as stocking my bank account.  Just like the real world where I need to work and gather funds to store in my bank account for a rainy day, the same holds true for knowledge. I personally do not believe that we ever leave this stage because the pursuit of knowledge and growth is a never ending journey.

books – I used to have a direct that diligently would get books from the company library but left them on his bookshelf until the recall notice.  This does not help!!  Osmosis simply does not work with books!  Schedule time to read every day, if you read for 30 minutes every work day, that gives you more than 120 hours of reading per year!

mentoring – Getting a mentor because it allows you to learn from other peoples mistakes and experiences.  Basically it allows you to leverage lessons that others have paid the price for.

peer learning – learning from your peers is an opportunity that most people do not make use of.  I have learned so much from peers that now I search out people in different organizations with different skills so that I can learn from their totally different perspectives.  When I was in startups, I used my network with people in other companies.

Internet – there are so many resources on the Internet that are free.  The selection of  blogs, podcasts, videocasts, youtube videos and free monthly articles from reputable magazines is mind boggling.  Use an RSS feed reader to know when new items are published.  Beware that just because it is free, it is not always right and sometimes you get what you pay for!

self-study – sometimes it just takes a lot of hard work.  Approach this skills and knowledge gathering and growth effort with the diligence and dedication that it takes to achieve a degree from from a top notch university.

Experience

The Stage 3 to Stage 4 step is often the most difficult step because it requires you to implement the knowledge gained and to put it into practice.  Take those book smarts and put them into practice by creating an action plan on how you  are going to action the knowledge that you have gained.

The experience step is a learning step and not just the execution step!  It is imperative to implement the knowledge, learn from the experience of implementing the knowledge, gather feedback on how you implemented the knowledge, learn from the results or the lack of results.  And remember that it takes time for people to process your attempt at execution.  This is the piece that differentiates the fresh MBA graduate from the real world.  Take that knowledge, even if you gained some of it through an MBA and turn it into experience.

Learn from your experiences and continually improve!

Share

Although this is an optional step, I believe that this sharing step is the one where you can learn the most.  If you think you know how to do something, try to teach it to someone else.  As the saying goes “the best way to really learn something is to teach others” really does hold true and therefore I believe that learning to share your knowledge and skills really helps you perform better too.

Categories: Behavior, People Tags:

This quote resonated with me today:

May 20th, 2009 No comments

If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?

– Rumi (1207–1273) –

Categories: Quotes Tags:

Assume

May 18th, 2009 No comments

This week I had a discussion with a program manager about assumptions and not asking the customers / users open ended questions to fully understand the problem.

I asked him to remember this saying:

“When you assume something, you make an ass of u and me

May 15th, 2009 No comments

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

– Will Rogers (1879–1935) –

Categories: Quotes Tags:

Effective Communication

May 11th, 2009 No comments

I was discussing communication with a number of people this week where they were expressing some frustration around not achieving the results that they were expecting.  I have adopted a  fictional character called Larry who wants to communicate an idea to some key stakeholders.  In an effort to communicate effectively, Larry has adopted a structured approach where he has laid out the the problem, the options and finally the solution. In the graphic below, I have created a graphical representation of the flow of the communication.

communication-flow

Now, let’s take a look at this this flow.  The black lines illustrate where Larry is communicating the problem, the options and finally the solution.   The yellowish lines indicate the flow from element to element.

Although this is a very structured approach that is well laid out.  Unfortunately, as Larry found out his listeners wanting and he was not able to convince his stakeholders.  This is often the case when a new idea is being presented or when the listeners are unfamiliar with the background.  Because people need to catch up and from zero to where they can understand Larry’s definition of the problem.  Literally they need to from 0 to 60 in 2 2 seconds flat.  Also because they are still processing one element while Larry has moved onto the next element, the listeners missed portions of the options or solution definitions.

Now let’s take a look at a modified version of this flow where Larry actually took a breath and checked with his listeners to make sure that they were grasping the concepts that he was trying to communicate.  Quite literally he slowed down in order to speed up.

effective-communication-flow

Just like the previous graphic, the black line illustrate the problem definition.  The yellowish lines indicate the flow from element to element.  Now let’s introduce some key elements that will change the flow drastically.  The green circles with the cross inside are there to provide the stakeholders with some time to think and process what Larry told them.  As the stakeholders process the information, they might have questions, as indicated by the question marks.  Larry needs to provide them with the opportunity to ask questions and/or provide feedback.  Why feedback, you might ask.  Well it is human nature that we all need to feel heard and respected and therefore it is common for the stakeholder want to add their 2 cents.

This dialogue portion is critical to overcoming any fears or concerns that the stakeholders might have.  As the stakeholders buy into what Larry is telling them, he needs to draw them in, with open ended questions and encouraging them to provide input.  In the graphic, the blue line denotes where Larry has gathered the stakeholder input, feedback and incorporating it into the definition of  Problem, Options and Solution.  By getting the stakeholders to help, all that remains is for you to paint in the remaining black portion.

This approach has some key benefits:

  • people feel respected because they were given time to process and ask questions
  • people do not feel dictated to
  • the options and solutions move from a single person;s idea to a collaborative idea
  • it takes less sales to get everyone on board because the baby is partly theirs and we all know that your baby is never ugly

Try this technique and please let me know what you think.

Categories: Communication, Emotions Tags:

Simple brainstorming technique

May 11th, 2009 No comments

If you are anything like me, you will have attended many brainstorming sessions that have gone horribly wrong where:

  • people position themselves before the brainstorming in an effort to establish some credibility ( in my experience the largest time consumer)
  • someone has dominated the session with their diatribe
  • it has deteriorated into a session of I am right and you are wrong and it turned out that they were saying the same thing, just a little differently
  • people were so intimidated that they did not contribute
  • people belittle the ideas thrown up

I have always found it surprising that folks do not understand that brainstorming is all about getting as many ideas out.  The evaluation of the ideas comes later. In an effort to get ideas out quickly and without most of the preamble, here is a mechanism that is quick and fair.

Necessary stationary supplies

  • Sharpies or pen (I use Sharpies because this helps limit the number of words and makes the writing visible)
  • Post-it Pads (small sheets of paper can also be used)

the Rules

  1. one idea per sheet (ideally max.3 words)
  2. do not discuss what you write down
  3. have fun
  4. respect all ideas
  5. do not judge (especially your own ideas)
  6. think outside the box
  7. ideas can be added at any time time during the session (especially the discussion)

Instructions for the Brainstorming session

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the brainstorming topic.
  2. Ensure that everyone has at least one Sharpie and at least one Post-it pad.  If you have multiple colors of the pens and/or pads, then it helps to provide extras so that it is not obvious which ideas came from a single person.
  3. Now, everyone needs to write their brainstorming suggestion on the post-it sheets using a Sharpie.  One idea per page and no more than three words to explain the idea / suggestion.
  4. As the folks complete writing down all of their ideas, stick them up on a board / wall.
  5. Now group the similar ideas together.
  6. Now discuss all of the ideas and as the facilitator it is your responsibility not to belittle any idea or person.

Helpful Hints

  • To help the folks in the group that need time to think and process, it is advisable to include the brainstorming topic in the meeting invitations.
  • Provide a link to these instructions as part of the advanced notification.
  • Do not shoot the messenger!  Brainstorming is all about getting the most hair brained ideas out.  Remember that you crazy idea can stimulate someone elses’ thinking that results in that killer idea.
  • In the 30 plus sessions that I  have used this technique, there are always a clear set of ideas that are similar.  The ideas can now be evaluated on the merits of the idea and not who’s idea it is.

Variations

When time is a factor, I have done steps 1 to 4 at one meeting, shorted the ideas out off line and then conducted the discussion at another meeting.

Categories: Behavior, Emotions Tags:

Why should I listen to feedback?

May 5th, 2009 No comments

Today during a 1:1 with one of my directs, let’s call him Curly, we spoke about feedback and people not behaving defensively when they receive it.  We discussed the mandatory response of “Thank You” .  Curly shared a slightly off-color piece of guidance that he was given at a training session earlier this year.  The guidance was:

“Curly, when you are with a woman and she gives you guidance on how to turn her on.  Do you follow it or do you ignore it?”

After this piece of guidance, he has not been able to be defensive about any feedback that he is given and his heart felt response is always “Thank You”

Categories: Behavior, People Tags:

Seagull Syndrome

April 30th, 2009 No comments

I have no idea what is going on at the moment but clearly the market reset is creating a bit of a silly season.  The Seagull Syndrome is when some senior person flies in, eats your food, squawks at everyone and finally craps on you as they fly out.  Generally this occurs on a monthly or quarterly basis and other than these visits, you never hear from these people for the rest of the time.  In the past, I have the misfortune of calling people that behave like this management.

Despite the label associated with this behavior, it is extremely destructive to the people on the receiving side and the people quickly learn to brush off the behavior and often land up disregarding what the “seagull” might have to say.  The seagull also pays a price because their credibility starts to deteriorate with the people.

The loss of credibility for anyone is damaging but it is especially damaging for a manager.  As managers we need to be aware of any inconsistant behaviors that we might be demonstrating.  As employees, we should provide feedback to management so that they can be aware of their actions and the impact on us and the need for consistentincy.

Categories: Behavior, People Tags:

lesson learned: competence level

April 28th, 2009 No comments

Way back when I was young and ready to take on the world, I had the privilege to be assigned to one of the top computer consultants in South Africa.  Leon had a reputation of being really tough and I had no idea exactly how tough.  that being said, I learned from him that any other single person.  Thanks Leon!

On my second day in the department, I was summoned to meet with him  to discuss my computer knowledge.  I walked into this meeting with all of the arrogance that a living person could muster.  Over the next 2 hours, Leon proceeded to educate me, in the nicest possible manner and by the end of the meeting, I was no longer under the impression that I had a great understanding of computers.  I understood that I had a boatload to learn and I left that meeting with a long list of areas that I had to go and study.

Right at the end of the meeting Leon shared with something that I have never forgotten.  The three stages of competence:

  • Stage I- You know very little and you know it
  • Stage II- You have a pretty good understanding, however you unaware of how more there is to learn
  • Stage III- You have a pretty good understanding, yet you know that there is much more to learn

He emphasized that we go through these stages with everything that is new to us.  Therefore just because you are in Stage III in one area, you can be Stages I or II in other areas.  The dangerous level is the 2nd stage because we are oblivious about the damage that we inflict because we do not know what our limits are.  His key message to me was to get through the 2nd stage as quickly as possible.

Lesson Learned:  Get through Stage 2 as quickly as possible!

Feedback for Managers

April 25th, 2009 Comments off

In a previous blog post titled: feedback, I covered how to make the best of feedback that is provided to us.  Now let’s take a look at how to give feedback to others in a structured manner.  Providing feedback to others, such as our directs, it is not good enough just to create the awareness.  As managers we also need to define what the desired state or behavior is and follow it up with the definition of the plan to make changes.  So let’s look at the 3 distinct sections of the feedback:  Providing the feedback, defining desired state or behavior, determining plan of action based on feedback, and finally the ongoing coaching.

manager-feedback-graphic1

Providing the feedback

Like all feedback, it is imperative to provide the feedback in a way that the recipient of the feedback can understand it.

  • Deliver the feedback in a manner that creates the awareness about the behavior and also leaves them with incentives to address the behavior.  The goal is for the person that is hearing the feedback, to be motivated to take the feedback and make some improvements.
  • It helps to ask them if you can provide them with feedback about a behavior or situation that is still fresh in their memory.  Providing feedback once a year from a laundry list does not help the person improve.
  • It does help to explain the impact of the persons behavior on you or team.
  • Feedback needs to be about things that people do well and areas that they can improve.
  • Here are some Do’s
    • Ask for permission to provide the feedback.  This ensures that the person is receptive.  If they say No, find out why and what time would be better.
    • Explain how the behavior makes you feel.  Because it is your feelings, no one can argue with you about you feel.
    • Always speak in the first person about yourself or your team. Use terms such as I’s, me, my team, etc.
    • Exact instances and stick with the facts.
    • Timely feedback, provide the feedback within days of the event or cause of the feedback.
    • For your directs provide regular feedback.  Praise is also feedback.
  • Here are some Do Not’s
    • Feedback in a public forum is not feedback, it is public humiliation.
    • Do not pass judgment.  No one likes to be told that they are an idiot.
    • Do not only provide feedback about behaviors that need improvement.  Also provide feedback about things being done well.
    • Do not dredge up hearsay or rumors.

Defining the desired state/behavior

The feedback only creates the awareness, as managers we also need to show the way.  Therefore rounding out the feedback by providing the light at the end of the tunnel and defining the desired behavior or state provides the person with guidance on what the goal posts look like.  In most cases this also goes a long way because it balances out the negative feedback by helping the person by defining what is the desired state.  Having discussed the desired state or behavior, have the person define how they see the end state to ensure that they see it in a similar manner.  Ensuring that you are aligned at this stage is important because you do not want them heading off in another direction.  For the person receiving the feedback, they get to understand where the goal posts are and what they look like.

Plan of action

In our role as managers, we are responsible for providing guidance for our people and therefore after making the direct aware via feedback, and establishing the desired state/behavior.  We now need to ensure that the desired state or behavior modification is achieved.  This requires a plan of action that both parties agree to with specific milestones that allows for progress tracking.

Ongoing coaching

Sometimes the direct needs additional guidance as they attempt to modify their behavior.  They need to feel comfortable to come and ask for additional guidance, either from you or from others.  Remember coaching is asking questions in a manner that allows the person to solve the problem for themselves and not corrective instructions.

Why should I do this?

I have had many discussions with my directs where they are not comfortable with exerting this level of guidance on their directs.  Many of them felt that this was looking for conflict.

Look at providing feedback as the gift that it is.  Most people like gifts.

Feedback

April 13th, 2009 No comments

Feedback delivered in an open and respectful manner is definitely a gift.  Assuming that the receiver of the feedback was ready for the feedback, they have now learned some vital information about themselves or their behavior.  Unfortunately in many cases, the creation of the awareness is where it stops.

What separates the winners from the mice, is how they use this new found awareness to their advantage.  The chances of success are greatly increased with help, so enlist the help of the person that provided the feedback.  Get them to define the behavior exactly and also what they believe is the desired behavior.

In many cases it also helps to identify a role model and learn from them.  In the ideal case, enlist the role model to act as a coach or mentor.  Do not forget to enlist the help of peers or direct reports and practice, practice, practice.

If yo do not have clarifying questions, just respond with a “Thank You”.  If you have questions, ask them but do not defend the behavior.  Someone is sharing feedback with you and therefore thank them for that.  If you disagree with the feedback, you need to stay in control and decide how you would like to file it.  Just say “Thank You”.

Categories: Behavior, Leadership Tags: ,

Leadership

April 7th, 2009 No comments

So what is this leadership thing all about?  Henry Kissinger had this to say:  ““The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”

Here is my definition:  “a Leader must provide their Followers what they Need in any given Situation

This might be stating the obvious but leaders exist for their people.  Followers decide for themselves who they want to follow and therefore it is up to us convince our followers to follow our lead.

Now lets look at needs, I chose this term because, to me, it is indicative of what our people need and not their wants.  We all want a salary of $3 Million per month but realistically we only need enough of a salary to allow us to pay for our basic needs.  e.g. food and shelter.

Leadership is situational and in many situations it does not require the same person to always be the leader. In most cases, all it requires is someone that is credible to them to meet the followers needs (leadership)  in that situation.  Be aware that not all situations require a leader.

Categories: Leadership, People Tags: ,

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