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Archive for April, 2009

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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