Performance planning, coaching, and review are the foundation of any well-designed performance management system, but the results of a recent study suggest that leaders are falling short in meeting the expectations of their direct reports. A survey of 470 human resource and talent management professionals by Training magazine and The Ken Blanchard Companies found gaps of 24–39 percent between what employees wanted from their leaders and what they were experiencing in 10 key areas (see chart.)

Performance Management process gaps

Performance management is a key leadership responsibility. This survey suggests that significant gaps exist between employee expectations and what they are experiencing at work. Left unaddressed, these gaps represent a drain on overall organizational vitality through lowered employee intentions to stay, endorse, and apply discretionary effort as needed.

For leadership development professionals, these study results provide an opportunity to take a more targeted approach to improving perceptions in each of these areas. Here are four ways to get started.

  1. Take a look at the overall design of your performance management process. Are managers following best practices in setting goals that are specific, motivating, attainable, relevant, and trackable? What percentage of employees have current goals listed? Have leaders conducted an internal assessment to measure the degree to which employees feel that their goals are effective in directing and motivating their performance?
  2. Take a second look at the amount of time your managers are spending with their people. The Ken Blanchard Companies advocates that leaders meet with their direct reports a minimum of twice a month to discuss progress toward goals and address employee needs for direction and support. Monitoring progress and providing feedback are two of the key ways for a manager to stay involved and partner with an employee to achieve goals. Both activities directly influence improved performance.
  3. Review your performance review process. In many organizations, goals are set at the beginning of the year and not seen again until the review process at the end of the year. Blanchard has identified that a best practice is to conduct a series of mini-reviews throughout the year—every 90 days is the recommended standard. This allows leaders to make midcourse corrections, eliminates any surprises for individual employees, and keeps the partnership between manager and direct report strong and vibrant.
  4. Don’t forget job and career development. Growth opportunities at the job and overall career level are important drivers of employee work passion and one of the better ways that leaders can show team members that they care and are invested in them. Be sure that all performance review conversations include time for a discussion on ways that employees can improve their skills in their current role and also what the steps are that they can take to continue to advance in their careers.

A renewed focus on performance management can have significant results on the performance of an organization. Give your performance management system a review—and if you find similar gaps, address them for higher levels of employee work passion and performance.

Re-blogged from Blanchard leader chat forum

About Author: – David Witt is the Program Director for The Ken Blanchard Companies. With 14 years of experience in the leadership development arena, David combines a research-based background with an engaging style to create innovative and thought-provoking presentations about new ways to improve performance and productivity in today’s organizations.

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Yesterday, I went to my favorite retail store to pick up a pair of silver hoop earrings for my friend’s birthday.  While there, I saw a lot of little things that felt new and fresh.  I asked my usual salesperson (who has been there forever), “What is different around here? It feels spacious and inviting!” She lit up and shared that there was a new manager and he was empowering store associates to take charge of their departments and share their best ideas for “wowing” customers.

Employee EngagementWe chatted about how the new direction had impacted her and she said that she now looked forward to coming to work. She proceeded to show me a new display of jewelry on the counter (as opposed to behind/under the counter where it had been before) that she had influenced.  She also pointed to the new purse display that her friend had created.  Wow!

Let’s dissect this interaction in terms of consistently delivering the Legendary Service you want your organization to be known for.

  1. It is important to remember that people thrive when they feel their work is meaningful, when they have a chance to grow, and when they feel autonomous and recognized for their contributions. The salesperson was very excited to share with me that she had a new manager who acknowledged her ideas and allowed her to implement them. The truth is, a new manager can bring a real sense of hope to a team. If you are a manager who has been with your team for a while, think about this and ask yourself: What outdated or ineffective patterns of management behavior could I freshen up in order to lift my team and inspire them anew?
  2. On a regular basis, whether they serve internal or external customers, ask your people for their ideas on how to improve customer service. This will keep them always thinking of new ways to create a better customer experience.  This is the backbone of Legendary Service: creating a culture that inspires people to think: If I were in charge, what would I do to serve customers at the highest level?
  3. Because your front line people interact with customers every day, they are at the forefront of knowing what your customers want. Take advantage of what they know! When they share their ideas with you, act on those ideas whenever possible. My service provider’s idea was that customers would be happier if they could actually touch the jewelry, instead of having to wait in line for her to show them different pieces.  Her new manager empowered her to act on her idea—so she took lower priced, but still sparkly and beautiful earrings, necklaces, and bracelets and created six different displays on the counter.  The result? Sales have increased and customers are happier—they can now have fun matching jewelry to their new outfits!

How can you update your management style?  Can you promote a Legendary Service culture by asking front-liners for ideas, and accelerating those ideas into action? As we move into a new quarter, think about what you can do to inspire innovative, customer-centric ideas and let your people know they matter.  They will appreciate the opportunity and you’ll be surprised at the great ideas they come up with to serve and delight customers!

About the author:

Legendary Service Book Cover FinalDr.Vicki Halsey is VP of Applied Learning and coauthor (together with Ken Blanchard and Kathy Cuff) of the new book, Legendary Service: The Key Is to Care now available in bookstores everywhere. You can read an excerpt from the book, download an online quiz, and learn more about Legendary Service at this book page.

Tags:– Employee Engagement, Performance Management

Re-blogged from Blanchard Leader Chat Forum Site

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In a recent online Forbes article, a start up CEO shares how he gets things done.  He explains the mechanics of creating his master to-do list each week and how he transforms his many big projects into smaller to-dos on his daily action plan.

Employee MotivationHe says that the process he uses keeps the projects moving forward “against a backdrop of the normal daily chores that any business owner must perform, such as motivation, recruiting, marketing, accounting, and the like.”

At first blush I am glad that employee motivation is on the list.  But then I notice that it’s a list of daily chores.  And while I was happy that motivation was on a list of core business functions, it was strange to hear it called a chore.

I suppose if you were a recruiting expert you might also wonder how recruiting could be seen as a chore.  Perhaps you are thinking, “Oh, relax.  It’s just a word.  At least motivation is on a key list or normal daily anythings.”

But words matter.  Words matter especially to the phenomenon of employee motivation because they stimulate the creation of meaning.  Meaning of what is in large part a function of what the words are.  So a particular kind of motivation is more likely stimulated by calling your focus on motivating me a chore as opposed to viewing it as a strategic focus of your time and energy aimed at helping me be my best and do my best work.

Seeing motivation as a strategic focus

The more useful way to view employee motivation is as a strategic focus that sits at the heart of the value creation process.  Motivation means to move.  The question is, if motivation is a chore, in what ways are employees likely to be moved?

Here are three ways to think about employee motivation that are more aligned with the value creation point of view, and less with the employee motivation as a daily chore point of view:

  1. Employees naturally want to do good work, and the CEO could best help them do that by fostering an environment in which it is easy for them to bring their best intellectual, insightful, and creative skills to bear on the organization’s needs.
  2. Language matters.  Take great care to talk about employee motivation in ways that speak to the meaning of what the organization does, and how much employees want their contributions to matter.
  3. Make sure all employee contributions matter.  Even if the employee is still learning and making mistakes, celebrate the learning and affirm the effort.

This is not an exhaustive list of how to look at motivation in a value-optimizing way, but it’s a good start. Please share your thoughts and additions.

About the author:

The Motivation Guy  (also known as Dr. David Facer)  is one of the principal authors—together with Susan Fowler and Drea Zigarmi—of The Ken Blanchard Companies new Optimal Motivation process and workshop.

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You are focusing on building leadership skills and competencies, now what? You now must decide how you want to be viewed as a leader, what style will you develop? Do you know someone who has a leadership style that you admire? Are there different traits from different leaders that you want to model? What do you want others to say about you and your leadership style when you are not present?

Build Leadership Skills
What do you want your employees, your peers and or your superiors or other designated followers to think about you as their leader? These are all important questions to ask yourself. Like anything that is meaningful, you must have a vision; a goal; and a plan to assure you will reach the level or position you desire.

Leadership is not necessarily all about positions in the workplace. We are leaders to our children, our family, in our community, and at the workplace. Even, the self employed must lead themselves to success.

Leaders are always developing and supporting others to build leadership skills. Leaders’ help others develop problem solving skills, and help them to become contributors to the cause; home, community or family. Are you helping others grow, by challenging them; by delegating things that are of importance to them? Are you communicating to them that you trust them? You will experience firsthand that delegation with trust goes a long way to gaining immeasurable loyalty and support from others. Do you give your people the latitude to work and act independently?

Leadership skills are necessary in any business or life situation. You may or may not have formal leadership authority, regardless of what you do or where you are providing a role, be it at the office, with the family or in the community; you will be recognized and appreciated by the value of your contributions. People will choose to follow you when they recognize your good leadership skills and attributes.

Focus to build leadership skills and competencies that will serve you well in many roles. We’ll talk about Confidence Building, Communications, Team-building, Mentoring, Empowering, Time Management, Conflict Management and Work Expectations, Improving Morale and Creating High Performance Teams. We will also share humorous stories that help bring home the point.

For Today, Leadership Tip number one: Focus on Character – Be a leader that people can trust. Be recognized as a person of high integrity and one who is capable of learning from experience. Put your emphasis on your enthusiasm your integrity and your ability to never quit learning.

About US: — The Ken Blanchard Companies is a global leader in workplace learning, productivity, performance, and leadership training solutions. We help companies improve their performance, productivity, and bottom-line results.

Upcoming Event Programs to Build Leadership Skills

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“Every Day at Work is an Interview to Keep Your Job”

The dress code in my office is business casual, but every once in a while I like to wear a tie. You know…look good, feel good…dress for the job you want, not the job you have…all that good stuff. Actually, there are times I just like to dress up for no special reason. But whenever I do, invariably I hear the same wisecrack from one or more team members: “Why are you all dressed up? Got a job interview today?” My response is always the same: “I interview for my job every day!”

Career Development tipsAlthough I say that somewhat jokingly, there is an element of truth I’m trying to reinforce with my team—every day you show up to work is an interview for your job. In today’s economy you have to continually demonstrate to your employer how you’re adding value to the organization. I’m not talking about approaching your job from a state of fear, constantly afraid of being let go if you don’t hit a home run every time you come to bat. I’m talking about having an understanding and appreciation for how you have to “bring it” each day you walk through your company’s front door.

Here are five key principles that will help you increase the value and contribution you provide to your organization and increase your chances for long-term success in your career:

1. Accept the new reality: -

My brother Ron had only one job his entire life. He recently retired from a 40+ year career with a national grocery store chain, having been employed by them since he was a 17 year-old high school student. Those days are gone for most of us. We live in a new reality of a dynamic, constantly shifting, and evolving global economy. It requires businesses to be agile and shift their strategies to take advantage of new opportunities, create new markets, or ward off upstart competitors. You have to come to grips with the need to constantly stay relevant in your job or profession. Complacency and stagnation makes you vulnerable and less valuable to your organization. If you aren’t adding value, you’re probably expendable.

2. Take charge of your own career development: -

As employees, all of us should expect our employer to help develop us in our role, but career development should be seen as a privilege, not a right. Organizations have an obligation to provide the right training, tools, and resources to enable employees to maximize their potential in the job they were hired to do. But career development (promotions, moving into new roles, etc.) is a privilege and is not the employer’s responsibility. Is it a smart thing for employers to facilitate career development in order to attract and retain key talent? Absolutely! But it’s up to you to keep learning, to further your education, improve proficiency in your job, and develop new skills in alignment with the direction of your organization’s goals and strategies. No one else except you is responsible for your career development.

3. Have an ownership mentality: -

How would the value of your contribution be different if you acted like you own the place? Would you be more emotionally invested and passionate about the work you do? Would you produce higher quality products? Would you be a little more prudent or cautious with company expenses? Would you care a little more about the customer experience? People who approach their jobs with an ownership mentality care about these sorts of things. They view themselves as stewards of the company’s resources and work hard to promote the success of the entire organization, not just their particular role, team, or department.

4. Build your brand: - Whether you realize it or not, you have a brand image at work. Your brand image is not only how people perceive you (your reputation), but also what differentiates you from everyone else in your company. Tom Peters, the guru of personal branding, says, “If you are going to be a brand, you’ve got to become relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value, what you’re proud of, and most important, what you can shamelessly take credit for.” Forget your job title. What is it about your performance that makes you memorable, distinct, or unique? What’s the “buzz” on you? Forget about your job description too. What accomplishments are you most proud of? How have you gone above, beyond, or outside the scope of your job description to add value to your organization? Those are the elements that make up your brand. Check out this article if you need help developing your brand.

5. Consider yourself an independent contractor: -

Most of us are governed by at-will employment agreements with our companies. Either party can decide to end the employment relationship at any time for any reason (within certain legal boundaries, of course). You would be well-served to view yourself as an independent contractor in the business of you—You, Inc. You have hired out your services to your employer in exchange for a specific level of compensation. At some point in time, either by your choice or your employer’s, that business arrangement may change or end. In the meantime, focus on building a portfolio of accomplishments you can use to secure business with future clients. See rules 1 and 2 above.

Thinking of yourself in these ways might be new to you. It takes a shift in perspective to view yourself as not just an employee doing a job, but as an independent contractor running your own business. If you make that shift, you’ll realize you have to constantly develop your skill-set (i.e., the services you have to offer), build an attractive brand image, and consistently demonstrate to your client (i.e., employer) how you’re adding value. Remember, you are in the business of YOU!

About The Author:- Randy Conley is the V.P. of Client Services and Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies.

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Steve Jobs famously said, “Here’s to the crazy ones . . . while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Michael Lurie, VP of Enterprise Solutions at The Ken Blanchard Companies, likes this quote because it speaks to the essence of what made Apple and many others into great companies. Interviewed in the June issue of Blanchard Ignite, Lurie explains that in today’s open-market environment we need agile, change ready organizations—and leaders.

Executive DevelopmentAs Lurie shares, “The leadership style that most people were trained in years ago—certainly leaders over 40—was designed to avoid and prevent disruption. What we have today is an environment where leaders need to embrace disruption, see the opportunities it presents, and step forward boldly to shape the future.”

New Leadership Capabilities Needed

To succeed in this evolving business environment, Lurie argues that leaders will need to develop and practice a fundamentally different set of capabilities. In the industrial economy’s traditional, capital-centered company model, “management” was largely about planning, directing, and controlling. In the future, Lurie believes leaders will need new mindsets and skills to become what he describes as catalysts, architects, and coaches.

Catalysts: In the old capital-centric view of the world, earning a return on that capital was the most important goal. Looking ahead, Lurie believes we’ll see a business environment where capital is neither scarce nor the most valuable resource. Instead, a company’s most valuable resources will be its human resources, and human resources—like human needs—are infinite.

As Lurie shares, “Rather than the value-capturing, capital-centered mindset of scarcity, competition, and collaboration, we need the exact opposite: a value-creating, people-centered mindset of abundance, collaboration, and evolution. This mindset is at the heart of transforming our traditional, capital-centered companies into agile, people-centered companies—and leaders today must catalyze that transformation through personally modeling, and engendering in everyone else, this value-creating mindset.”

Architects: Lurie also believes that leaders will need new approaches to the “hard” business skill sets of strategy, operations, and organization. As he explains, “Rather than focusing strategy on competitive advantage, leaders today need to focus on innovating new business models. They need to learn to execute strategy not as traditional operational planning and control but as a process of continuous evolution. And rather than sustaining siloed hierarchies, leaders need to learn how to design and operate a network organization, able to harness network effects and act as a value-creation multiplier.”

Coaches: Finally, Lurie believes that leaders will also need new approaches to their “soft” people-skill sets, whether at the level of individuals, teams, or the organization as a whole. They must become coaches, unleashing the full passion and potential of people throughout the organization by deeply understanding people, by recognizing and appreciating their talents, and by helping them work together effectively and collaboratively to create value for all.

As Lurie explains, “This begins with leaders developing a deep understanding of themselves and others, what each can contribute, and what each needs to succeed. Leaders need to develop enhanced capabilities in building diverse and inclusive teams, coaching and developing each member and the team as a whole, and facilitating individual and team performance. Leaders also need to develop capabilities in collaborating and influencing across the organization, leading change, and shaping culture.”

Unleash the Crazy Ones

The business environment is rapidly changing and the mindsets, skill sets, and behaviors that many leaders have spent years learning and refining are rapidly becoming irrelevant. Companies looking to succeed in the future need leaders who can build agile, people-centered companies. The leaders who build these capabilities will unleash the crazy ones—to create great, enduring enterprises that will survive and thrive.

Read complete Blanchard Ignite interview

Re-blogged from Blanchard Leader-chat Forum

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Most managers prefer to use a supportive leadership style that encourages direct reports to seek out their own solutions in accomplishing their tasks at work.  But that style is only appropriate when the direct report has moderate to high levels of competence and mostly needs encouragement to develop the confidence to become self-sufficient.

What about the other times when people are brand new to a task, disillusioned, or looking for new challenges?  In these three cases, just being supportive will not provide people with the direction they need to succeed.  In fact, just being supportive will often delay or frustrate performance.

Most managers choose to use a auxiliary leadership vogue that encourages direct reports to hunt out their own solutions in accomplishing their tasks at work. however that vogue is just applicable once the direct report has moderate to high levels of competency and principally desires encouragement to develop the arrogance to become independent.

What regarding the opposite times once folks square measure current to a task, enlightened, or yearning for new challenges?  In these 3 cases, simply being auxiliary won’t offer folks with the direction they have to succeed.  In fact, simply being auxiliary can usually delay or frustrate performance.

The best managers learn how to tailor their management style to the needs of their employees.  For example, if an employee is new to a task, a successful manager will use a highly directive style—clearly setting goals and deadlines.  If an employee is struggling with a task, the manager will use equal measures of direction and support.  If the employee is an expert at a task, a manager will use a delegating style on the current assignment and focus instead on coming up with new challenges and future growth projects.

Are your managers able to flex their style?

Research by The Ken Blanchard Companies shows that leadership flexibility is a rare skill. In looking at the percentage of managers who can successfully use a Directing, Coaching, Supporting, or Delegating style as needed, Blanchard has found that 54 percent of leaders typically use only one leadership style, 25 percent use two leadership styles, 20 percent use three leadership styles, and only 1 percent use all four leadership styles.

leadership StylesRecommendations for managers

For managers looking to add some flexibility into the way they lead, here are four ways to get started:

  1. Create a written list of goals, and tasks for each direct report.
  2. Schedule a one-on-one meeting to identify current development levels for each task.  What is the employee’s current level of competence and commitment?
  3. Come to agreement on the leadership style required of the manager.  Does the direct report need direction, support, or a combination of the two?
  4. Check back at least every 90 days to see how things are going and if any changes are needed.

Don’t be a “one size fits all” manager

Leading people effectively requires adjusting your style to meet the needs of the situation.  Learning to be flexible can be a challenge at first—especially if you have become accustomed to using a “one size fits all” approach.   However, with a little training and some practice, you can learn how to accurately diagnose and flex your style to meet the needs of the people who report to you. And the best news is, even while you are learning, your people will notice the difference.  Get started today!

We at the Ken Blanchard Companies provides comprehensive leadership development training and executive coaching solutions that address your business needs at every level. For more info call us at 1800-102-1345 (Toll Free) or visit us at http://www.blanchardinternational.co.in

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As we look to improve team performances in organizations, there are several aspects to consider, from the quality of leadership to the environments our teams are working in.

Often, in order to build forward steps, behavioural change is required and this is where many teams run into problems. Leaders regularly fail to understand why people find it so hard to change – but it shouldn’t be such a mystery. All we need to do is to consider human nature a little more closely.

Behavioural ChangeA Compelling Reason to Change:

In short, without a compelling reason, it’s unlikely anyone will change willingly, because they don’t see the benefit in doing so.

People want a way of progress within the teams they are operating in. They need to perceive that they are ‘getting somewhere’ personally and/or professionally. Unless we tend to build this sense of progress into our organization, then change will always hit stumbling blocks.

Ultimately, individuals have a limited amount of time and energy, so they will invest it in ventures that are beneficial to them. If, for instance, money is the most important things to an individual, then simply instructing them to change or face the prospect of losing their job (and therefore their income) might produce some desirable short-term changes.

However, most people aspire to something a little more than just financial gain and they need to know that they are making a contribution to something more profound. They want meaning in their work. This is the compelling reason that they need to see before they will follow through with the desired change.

A Model for Implementing Change:

As we may guess, unless the process of change is managed by a talented leadership, it will often be met with resistance.

We designed a model of behavioural change that highlights some valuable considerations for leaders. According to this model, for any behaviour to change, there needs to be three qualities present: motivation, ability and a trigger.

Motivation:

Behavioural change first depends on the organization raising motivation levels. In the context of what we discussed above, a perception of progress in the employee’s minds is one among the most motivators within the work. Work must be perceived as a part of bigger vision of the organization, which means communicating this vision and the organizational values to all; then tasks need to be broken down into achievable steps and all the little ‘wins’ along the way celebrated and rewarded.

Ability:

People want the power to hold out the required behavioral change. If the task is easy then ability levels may be considered high, and vice versa. Effectively, this means that we can increase employees’ ability levels by simplifying the task or increasing their skill-sets.

The latter way is often the most difficult, but organizations can often achieve a great deal by simply making it easier for employees to do better jobs. By providing the resources and support to permit individuals to do their jobs more efficiently, we may avoid the need for 6-month training courses.

A Trigger:

If the motivation levels are high enough and employees have the ability to make the requested changes, then they will do so, providing there is a trigger or cue.

These three factors are well worth bearing in mind for any leader; and remember that all three are needed for meaningful behavioural change. This becomes sustainable when leaders are able to regularly revisit the model and assess whether the three key factors are present over the course of time. How often have we seen changes ‘successfully’ implemented only for people to resume old behaviour after a few weeks?

The team of the Ken Blanchard Companies is at the forefront of introducing new approaches to organizational development through leadership development training. We apply them to all types of businesses, developing high performing teams and enhancing leadership. Find out more at our website: http://www.blanchardinternational.co.in

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Years of corporate restructuring, shuffling people between positions, adding, deleting, and modifying roles, departments, and jobs has taken its toll on people. The mantra of “doing more with less” has become the norm as business continues a slow recovery from the economic recession of the last several years. Employees who once feared losing their jobs are now feeling insecure about keeping their jobs. That’s the message from a recent publication by Vadim Liberman of The Conference Board, detailing the “performance anxiety” that has gripped many in corporate America.

Performance Anxiety IndiaLiberman’s basic point is that people are having trouble keeping up with the amount of tasks added to their plates and the pace of change occurring in their organizations. Recession-driven layoffs, restructures, and job modifications have forced people to take on extra work, new job duties, or assume different roles and it’s taking a toll. As job scope increases, people feel overwhelmed with the amount of work they have to accomplish, and it leads even the most engaged employees to gravitate toward focusing on the least complex, simple tasks they can control, rather than focusing on the most important and complex issues that need to be addressed.

According to Liberman, much of the fault lies at the feet of senior leaders. Whether it’s pursuing the latest management fad, reorganizing on a whim, or doing a poor job of managing change, senior leaders can be prone to lay the blame of organizational failure at the feet of employees who aren’t performing up to snuff, not taking into account those same employees are still trying to come to grips with the previous round of changes. Wharton professor Peter Cappelli says, “Today, work demands are through the roof. Not just the amount of work but challenges that employees do not know how to meet, in part because they may not be achievable.” Workplace frustration leads to insecurity which leads to a lack of trust and confidence in leadership.

I can identify with these conditions. The team I lead has experienced increased job scope and responsibilities over the years as our business has grown more complex and demanding in today’s global economy. “Task saturation” is a word we’ve used to describe this condition and the insecure, frustrated state of mind it induces. Here are six strategies I’ve found helpful to deal with this “performance anxiety” in the workplace:

1. Create a safe and trusting environment—

The number one job of a leader is to build trust with his/her followers. Fostering a culture of safety is essential for trust to not only survive, but thrive. People need to know they can count on their leaders to look out for their best interests, protect them when necessary (even from themselves sometimes), and to genuinely care about them as people and not just worker drones showing up to do a job. Simon Sinek speaks to this truth in his insightful TED Talk, Why good leaders make you feel safe.

2. Ask people for their opinions—

One of the most tangible ways leaders can combat frustration and insecurity in the workplace is to ask people for their opinions. But asking is just the first step; you have to do something with what they tell you. The higher up a leader rises in the organization, the easier it is to lose touch with the daily frustrations and battles your employees face. It’s easy to oversimplify the problems and solutions our people face and dismiss their expressions of frustration as whining or griping. Listen with the intent of being influenced and be willing to take action on what you learn.

3. Start, stop, continue—

As you consider your next round of corporate restructuring, job modification, or process improvements, ask yourself these three questions: What do we need to start doing? What do we need to stop doing? What do we need to continue doing? I’ve found it’s easy to keep adding new tasks while continuing to do the old tasks. It’s much, much harder to identify those things we should stop doing. We can’t continue to pile more and more work on people and expect them to perform at consistently high levels. There is only so much time to accomplish the work at hand. As an addition to the start, stop, continue strategy, I’m seriously considering adopting a strategy from the simplicity movement: for every new task I add for my team, we have to eliminate one task. Enough of task saturation!

4. Manage change, don’t just announce it—

Managing a change initiative involves more than just announcing a new strategy. That’s the easy part! The hard part is actually implementing and managing the change well. People go through specific stages of concern when faced with a major change and leaders need to be equipped to address those concerns throughout the process. By addressing the information, personal, and implementation concerns of employees, leaders can be much more successful in helping their people adapt and endorse the change initiative.

5. Focus on development of boss/employee relationship—

One of the primary factors in an employee’s success, satisfaction, and engagement on the job is the quality of the relationship with their boss. Intentional effort needs to be placed on cultivating high-quality boss/employee relationships founded on trust and mutual respect. Frequent and quality conversations need to occur regularly between the boss and employee so the boss is aware of the daily challenges faced by the employee and can work to remove obstacles.

6. Foster empowerment, control, and autonomy—

People don’t resist change; they resist being controlled. Much of today’s workplace frustrations are caused by workers having a lack of empowerment in their role, little control over what effects them at work, and scant autonomy in how they perform their tasks. Leaders can build engagement by focusing on the development of these three qualities in the work people do.

Workplace frustration and insecurity is like organizational high blood pressure—it’s a silent killer. This silent killer is not always evident through outward symptoms, but it’s always lurking underneath causing damage day after day. We have a choice…will we do anything about it?

About the Author: – Randy Conley is the V.P. of Client Services and Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies

Re-Blogged from Blanchard Leader chat forum

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We’ve all been there. Do to some mix-up or poor communication we end up being either over or under dressed for an occasion. You’re wearing something too casual for a formal event (think shorts at a client meeting) or you find yourself wearing formal to a casual event (think a business suit to an after-work event.)

leadership mistakeThe same thing can happen when it comes to matching your leadership style to the needs of the people you’re leading. In this case, leaders often overdress by over-supervising (providing too much direction and support) or under-dress by delegating (providing too little direction and support) when their help is most needed.

How do you make sure that you’re always in style in both instances? Here are a few tips:

Make sure that you understand the situation: – Being in style starts with information. What can you find out about the event that would give you clues to what would be most appropriate? When it comes to clothing choices, ask yourself: Who is going to be there? What is the situation? Where is it being held?

When it comes to leadership style, the same questions, slightly altered, can help in a management situation.

In this case, ask yourself: Who am I meeting with today? What are their specific needs in this situation? Where are they at in terms of competence and commitment for the goal or task? Find out as much as you can about the situation so you can match your style to the needs of the person you are working with.

Develop some flexibility—give yourself some options: – Knowing that you need a certain style doesn’t help you if you don’t have that available in your wardrobe. The same is true when it comes to your leadership style. You need a variety of options that you are comfortable wearing. Most leaders play only one note—in essence, they wear the same style regardless of the situation. As a result, they are only in style a portion of the time.

This means that they might be on track when it comes to delivering a high direction style to someone new to a task, but completely off-track when they try using that same style with a highly-experienced, long time employee.

The best leaders have a full wardrobe at their disposal and are comfortable suiting up in a variety of styles to match the occasion.

Double-check that you’re on track: – Once you’ve identified what you think is the perfect choice for the situation, be sure to double-check. Ask others, “Here is what I’m thinking would be appropriate in this situation, how does that sound to you?” Watch for a positive response. It might be subtle, so watch carefully. Some visible signs such as a release of tension, return of a confident look, or even a smile will tell you that you are moving in the right direction. If you don’t see that, return to step one—maybe you need some additional information to understand the situation more completely.

Creating a comfortable, natural leadership style takes work. But if you focus on the situation, develop your skills, and work together with people to make the right choices, you’ll find that you can develop an authentic, lasting style that will serve you well in any situation.

Tags:– Performance Management , Situational Leadership II

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I have to share with you something that happened to me the other night. I’m at a restaurant having dinner with a colleague. We finally get seated, and the host hands us each a menu. Well, not exactly a menu, it’s closer to an encyclopedia. The options seem endless. We both struggle for a while, but eventually make our final choices. Here’s the odd thing: we each end up not being satisfied with what we finally selected. And it was a pricey place.

Too Many ChoicesYou probably can identify with experiences like this. Isn’t it annoying?

There are always choices—of food, toys, hotels, cars, etc. The list goes on ad infinitum. Prevailing wisdom is that the more options, the greater the likelihood of being satisfied. How many different varieties of coffee drinks can you get? Baristas will tell you “happiness is in your choices.” After all, it seems to work for Starbucks, doesn’t it?

Walmart carries approximately 100,000 products. Amazon offers tens of millions of options. The whole world seems to be exalting in the number of choices we get these days. Isn’t it great? It certainly seems to be the rage. But there’s another side to this movement—a dark side. Having too many choices makes many people uncomfortable. In my own case … well, it just about drives me crazy.

Professor Sheena Iyengar at Columbia University has studied how people deal with more choices in business situations. The results aren’t pretty—whether it’s from the perspective of the seller or the buyer. To summarize the results of one such study: when people were offered different numbers of jams to choose from on a grocery store shelf, sales were higher when there were fewer options. Specifically, when the store displayed 24 types of jam, ~ 3 percent of customers selected and bought a product. When offered only 6 choices, 30 percent ended up purchasing.

Are there other applications of this?

  • Let’s say you’re a member of a problem solving group or a decision making committee. Is it really necessary to identify every single available option? It might make sense to reduce the number of choices as early as possible, or at least when it becomes apparent that the likely best selection is only one of a relatively small number.
  • It’s the same with business models, or lists of values, or marketing plans, or guiding principles, or focusing strategies. At some level of complexity or sheer number of factors, we start dealing with the dreaded Law of Diminishing Returns. There comes a point when the list loses its meaning; i.e., if our company claims to focus on 150 values, in effect it doesn’t focus on any.
  • How about laws and rules? There is a level of legislation where over-codification of requirements threatens the central theme of the initial effort. Once we reach that level—for example, a large list of things people are prohibited from doing—those people begin to assume they can do anything that is not on the prohibited list.
  • One last application. We can’t keep adding to people’s to-do lists. The concept of time is a fixed-sum concept. If it will take an extra hour to do a new task every day, that one hour will have to come from somewhere. Worse yet, everything can’t be the top priority. The person who tries to emphasize everything, emphasizes nothing. In this case, there is only one fix: when new responsibilities are added to someone’s workload, something else must be removed.

Remember: The more options, the less comfortable we are with making any choice at all.

About the author:– Dr. Dick Ruhe is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies.

Re-Blogged from Blanchard Leader-Chat Forum

Tags:– Leading People Through Change

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Celebrating his 75th birthday this month—and the 35th anniversary of the founding of his leadership development company later this year, Ken Blanchard hopes a couple of simple truths he has championed will prove enduring:

—All good performanKen Blanchardce begins with clear goals.

—Catch people doing things right.

—Help people get an A.

Ken Blanchard tells a story of his early days as a college professor, when he often found himself in trouble with faculty members while trying to put these principles to work.

“I was questioned by some of the finest faculty boards in the country,” Blanchard recounts, “and it was always because of my decision to give students the answers to the final exam on the first day of class.”

Ken believed his main job was to teach students the content they needed to learn, as opposed to worrying about evaluating them and sorting them along a normal distribution curve.

The faculty boards never shared his thinking. As soon as they found out what he was doing, they would call Ken in to explain himself. The exchange usually went something like this:

Ken: “I’m confused.”

The Board: “You act like it.”

Ken: “I thought we were supposed to teach these kids.”

The Board: “You are, but don’t give them the exam ahead of time.”

But Blanchard was determined and would spend the entire semester teaching the students the answers to the final exam questions. He has championed this concept—called “Helping People Get an A”—ever since. Applying the concept to work, Blanchard recommends that leaders use the same basic approach. “Give team members the answers ahead of time by setting clear goals. Then provide direction and support, as needed, to help people achieve those goals,” he says.

Catch People Doing Things Right

Once goals are set, Blanchard recommends that managers stay in constant communication with their people so that both parties know how things are going and can stay on top of what’s required to get an A. He points out that by staying in close contact with their direct reports, managers get the added benefit of being able to catch them doing things right.

As Ken Blanchard explains, “I am a big fan of accentuating the positive. That’s the basis for One Minute Praisings, the second secret of Spencer Johnson’s and my book, The One Minute Manager. Once goals are clear, managers should not disappear until an annual performance review. Instead, they should constantly wander around physically or virtually to see if they can catch their people doing something right and praise them for their efforts.”

In drawing on the experience he and his colleagues have had in training hundreds of thousands of managers over the past 35 years, Blanchard also encourages managers to adapt their style according to the development level of the people they are managing.

As Blanchard explains, “This is the core philosophy of the Situational Leadership® II model. If you’re anything like me, there are parts of your job and life you’re good at, but there are also areas where you’re still learning and need leadership. This is especially true in today’s constantly changing environment. For example, we all know what it’s like to be a beginner at new tasks.”

Understanding a person’s development level and providing the appropriate leadership style can help them reach goals they’ve never achieved before. Blanchard’s advice? “Take an extra minute with your people to diagnose their development level on each of their goals-related tasks and give them the leadership style they need.”

No One Best Leadership Style

There are still people out there who think there is only one best way of leading people. Experienced managers know this is not the case. Take a look at your own organization. Notice what the best managers in your company are doing. Chances are you will see them adjusting their management style to meet the needs of the people they are working with.

In Ken Blanchard’s experience, “The most effective leaders realize that leadership is not about them and that they are only as good as the people they lead. These kinds of leaders seek to be servant leaders. That begins with a philosophy of meeting people where they’re at and providing them with the direction and support they’re not able to provide for themselves.”

Looking ahead, Blanchard is optimistic that the movement toward others-focused partnerships will continue.

“The new generation of workers demands a partnership model where leadership is more about influence, dialogue, and collaboration. Leaders will be challenged with creating engaging work environments where they inspire people to bring their best creativity to work.

“It’s really a side-by-side approach. Leaders will learn how to partner for performance by improving their relationships with the people they work with. It’s about teaching leaders how to value the relationships they have while simultaneously channeling people’s energy in the right direction.”

Re-Blogged from Blanchard Leader-Chat Forum

Tags: Situational Leadership II,  Performance Management

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The flow is the mental state you’re in when you’re fully immersed in an activity that consumes your entire focus, energizes your attention, and produces a deep level of satisfaction and joy through the process. In the groove… in the zone… wired… in the moment… on fire… and my personal favorite, beast mode, are all ways of expressing this condition. It’s when we do our best work and experience the most fulfillment in our activities. It’s also a rare and fleeting circumstance to be in the flow.

How can we be in the flow more often? First, we have to understand the conditions that lead to flow experiences. Second, we have to take steps to create the environment for us to get in the flow.

Performance and productivityConditions for Flow Experiences
There are three basic conditions you need for flow experiences:

  1. A clear goal - This is why you often hear athletes talk about being in the zone or having tunnel focus when it comes to their activities. Whether it’s trying to hit a pitched ball, complete a pass, score a goal, make a last second shot, or cross the finish line ahead of others, there is a clear goal that lends purpose, structure, and process to the task at hand. A lack of clear goals often prevents the achievement of flow experiences at work. Unclear goals make it difficult to narrow our focus and attention and leaves us feeling stuck or overwhelmed with the work in front of us.
  2. A balance between your skills and the challenge of the task - If you perceive you have the skills to meet the difficulty of the challenge ahead of you, it’s easier to get in the flow. If you believe you’re ill-equipped or don’t have the talent to accomplish the goal, anxiety and stress will prevent you from achieving a flow-state. Conversely, if you believe the goal is not challenging enough, given your experience and skills, you’ll encounter boredom or apathy. You need the goal to be challenging enough to capture your attention and simultaneously have enough expertise to give you confidence to tackle the situation.
  3. Real-time feedback on your performance - You can feel when you’re in the flow. It’s those occasions where you lose track of time because you’re completely immersed in an activity and things just, well… flow. And when you’re not, you feel like you’re trudging up a muddy hill, taking one step up and sliding back to two. Flow is sustained by receiving feedback on your performance. When you see, you’re performing well, it increases your confidence and desire to stay in the flow. When you see, you’re off course, you can make adjustments to get back on track and in the flow.

How to Increase Flow Experiences

We can take concrete steps to help increase flow experiences at work that will allow us to perform our best. Here are six suggestions:

  1. Connect your work to the bigger picture - Too many of us view our work with a microscope rather than a telescope. A microscope allows you to zoom in on the details of a particular object, ignoring the surrounding area. A telescope, on the other hand, allows you to see long distances away—the big picture. Rather than being uninspired by the small tasks you have to do, connect them to the importance of the big picture. Figure out how your work contributes to the betterment of the world. How does your work help improve the lives of people by meeting their needs or desires? All work is redeeming value and it’s up to us to discover it. Tapping into the bigger picture will add motivation and commitment to your work and help you achieve flow in your activities.
  2. Clarify and prioritize goals - If your goals aren’t clear, work on gaining clarity. Figure out specifically what you’re trying to accomplish, what the standards are, the deadlines to meet, or the deliverable being produced. If you’re challenged with too many goals, work on priorities. If you have conflicting priorities of multiple stakeholders, you may have to involve your supervisor to help you. Get clear on what you need to accomplish and then applies laser-like focus to your activities.
  3. View work as a game - Games in general, and video games in particular, lend themselves to flow experiences because they are immersed in nature. We get wrapped up in figuring out how to reach a new level, unlock the next treasure, or beat the “boss.” You can apply the same principles to your work. Engage your mind in thinking about how you can accomplish things faster, better, or easier. Are there other ways you can approach tasks or activities that may bring more fulfillment? Look at work as a game you’re trying to master and let your creativity run wild.
  4. Seek out biggest challenges and/or improve your skills - Complacency, boredom, and apathy are flow killers. If you find your work lacking in challenge, seek out new ones. Work with your supervisor to see if there are increased responsibilities you can take on, project teams you can join, or other ways to add more challenge in your work. On the flip side, worry, stress, and anxiety are also flow killers. If you find your work is too challenging, explore skill development opportunities. Go back to school, read books, get a mentor, or seek out additional training to boost your confidence and capability to meet the challenges you face.
  5. Find your sweet spot - Your sweet spot is where your skills are matched appropriately to the challenge, and when you find that place, you have the greatest chance of achieving states of flow. Finding your sweet spot might mean following point #4 above, or it might mean transforming how you do your work by changing/improving processes, delegating it to someone, or collaborating with others.
  6. Choose your motivation - Your supervisor is not responsible for motivating you. You, and only you, control your level of motivation. You can choose to be disinterested in your work or feel like others are imposing work for you, or you can choose to shift your motivational outlook by focusing on areas of your work where you can exhibit autonomy in your activities, mastery over how well you do your job, and satisfaction in the relationships you build with others.

About the Author: – Randy Conley is the V.P. of Client Services and Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies

Reblogged From Blanchard Leader-chat forum

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My discussions with managers about employee motivation often center on getting employees to be more motivated for their work.  Managers then describe the reasons they need employees to be “more motivated.”   Usually it is to achieve the important goals (or tasks) for which they are responsible.

But discussing motivation in terms of how much someone has is not very useful, so I’ll ask if we can rephrase “more motivated” to something more specific.  In these cases, “more motivated” usually should mean that the manager wants an employee to voluntarily—and without manipulation or coercion from anyone else—align with what is expected of them.  From there the discussion would go to, “How can I help employees align?”

Employee EngagementThe answer to that question starts with who the employee is and what she or he wants to her or himself.  But for many managers, it’s easy to mistakenly think that alignment shouldn’t have to consider those things.  After all, isn’t an employee responsible for what an employee is responsible for?

But when employees are asked for their side of these motivational stories, they often report that alignment is hard for them because their personal goals and those the organization is asking them to be responsible for are out of alignment.  It is just like when a car is out of alignment.  They know it should go one way, but it pulls another.  When misalignment persists for a long time, managers start to think that the employee may not be a good fit for the organization, and the employee thinks the same thing.

But, what if the misalignment was not a bad thing?  What if they pull in a slightly different direction meant that the employee was hungry for new projects, a role, or a job in the company that lined up better with who they are and what they find personally interesting, fulfilling, and meaningful?  Many employees have told me that if they could design a job they really loved with their current employer, they would be much happier, “more motivated,” and more productive.  So, here are some initial steps you can take if you (or someone you care about) is struggling to fix an alignment problem:

  • Examine: –  What specific projects, tasks, goals, or situations do you (or they) really enjoy working on, especially when the work gets complicated and difficult?  Examine the aspects of the current work that you dislike and that you dread doing.
  • Evaluate: –  Take an inventory of your technical skills.  Where do you have proven expertise that others would readily recognize and value?  Which skills are you good at but don’t enjoy using?
  • Decide: –  Make a clear decision about whether you want to be a manager or an individual contributor.  Great managers want to be managers; they don’t resent the responsibilities that go with the territory.
  • Explore: –  What cross-functional projects or teams, roles, or jobs might allow you to do most of what you love and are masterful at most of the time?
  • Investigate: –  Begin to look for ways to truly create such a role, and be sure to share with others that you are looking into this so that you, they, and the company all benefit.

These steps are just the start of the process of creating alignment between work that brings you alive and the work the company needs done.  After all, the pull you feel can be a really good thing when you use it to serve everyone involved.

About the author: –

The Motivation Guy  (also known as Dr. David Facer)  is one of the principal authors—together with Susan Fowler and Drea Zigarmi—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ new Optimal Motivation process and workshop.

Reblogged from Leader-chat forum

Tags:Employee Motivation, Optimal Motivation, Employee Engagement

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Have you ever been at a meeting and noticed that more people were on their cell phones, laptops, or tablets than we’re paying attention? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. People are getting good at holding their devices just below the table top, so all you see is the top of their heads. But this isn’t a good situation.

Meetings can and should be a medium to improve productivity. When we make the commitment to get people in a room for an hour to work on an important set of issues, there had better be a return on the investment. There are significant human resources in that room whose time we are consuming.

Tech. Interruptions

The unique value of meetings is that they provide an opportunity for people to concentrate, collaborate, and initiate. There should be a focus on the issue at hand. There should be lively, candid discussion. The meeting should result in action. And it all happens within the same time frame for everybody involved.

None of that goes on when several brains at the table have gone to another planet. It doesn’t happen when people are checking voice mails, checking incoming messages, or editing an unrelated proposal that they have to get out by the end of the day.

This isn’t a generational thing. It’s not whether people can use technology—it’s that they shouldn’t be doing it at a meeting unless it’s directly connected with the issue at hand.

People can only think about one thing at a time. A growing body of research indicates a significant loss of efficiency during multi-tasking. Technical devices often distract people. Some attendees are simply addicted to technology or new information. If a smart phone or tablet is distracting influences, there are those who simply can’t stay focused on the issue or agenda item. In a world of 15-second television commercials offering dramatic eye candy, some individuals simply can’t ignore their hunger for stimulation. They hear or feel their phone vibrate, and it’s virtually impossible for them to stay in focus. And when they stop attending to the person who has the floor at the moment, it causes deterioration of the team.

People who aren’t fully engaged don’t take notice of key comments. They miss nuances of meaning. They might not catch an agreement that‘s made early in the meeting. The others feel insulted and disrespected. They resent the waste of time. As everyone leaves the meeting room they are saying to themselves that once again, this meeting didn’t solve problems—it created them.

What to do? Establish meeting norms for the team. Advance agreement is very important. Without it, taking action when people feel snubbed could seem arbitrary or even hostile.

Here are some suggested standards for personal use of technology during meetings:

  • Generally speaking, no one has their laptop or tablet open during discussions. Obviously, though, there will be times when everybody has them open, due to the subject matter—but that’s not what we’re talking about here, is it?
  • Attendees are proactive about minimizing the likelihood that they will receive a call during meeting time.
  • If someone is expecting an important call, they put their phone on vibrate and turn it over on the table. If it goes off, they quickly check to see if it’s that call. If it is that call, they leave the room and take it. If not, they reject the call and turn their phone back over. This situation should be relatively rare. If it happens frequently, the meeting should be held at another time.
  • As an alternative to the two points above, you could agree to ban cell phone activity in the meeting room altogether.
  • Extra credit – Anyone who must have communications devices with them during a meeting explains that necessity to the team as the meeting begins.

A word of caution: – These rules are logical and understandable. But they can be edgy. They will require dogged attention and enforcement. Consider assigning a sergeant-at-arms to attend to agreed-upon standards during each meeting, rotating the role among all team members. The actual meeting leader should be a different person, if possible.

The Information Age has provided us with some impressive tools. Who could survive now without smart phones, tablets, or laptops? No one could, and neither could organizations.

But who’s in control here? Are we the masters of our tools, or have we allowed our tools to become our masters?

About the author: — Dr. Dick Ruhe is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies.

Re-blogged from Blanchard Leader Chat

Tags: – Behavior Change, Improve productivity and performance, Effective meetings

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“I’m sorry, we need to let you go.”

Oomph! Those words feel like a punch to the gut of the employee on the receiving end, and for the leader delivering the bad news, those words create anxiety and many sleepless nights leading up to that difficult conversation.

Failed Employee
No leader likes to see an employee fail on the job. From the moment we start the recruitment process, through interviewing, hiring, and training, our goal is to set up our employees for success. It takes a incredible quantity of time, energy, and expense to bring new individuals into the organization and ramp them up to full productivity so it’s in everyone’s vested interest to see an employee succeed. Yet we all know there are situations that, for whatever reason, an employee struggles on the job and there isn’t much hope of turning it around.

I recently met with a group of HR professionals and line managers to debrief employee termination situations. As we reviewed the cases at hand, the following nine signs emerged as warning signals, that had they been heeded early on in the employee’s career, a termination decision could have been made much earlier in the process that would have saved everyone a lot of heartache and the company a lot of money. Any one of these signs is alarming in and of itself, but when you combine all of them together…KABOOM! You’ve got an employee meltdown waiting to happen.

Nine Warning Signs of a Failing Employee

1. Things don’t improve with a change of scenery – Maybe it’s the relationship with their boss, certain peers, or the nature of the work has changed and the employee is struggling to perform at her best. Whatever the reason, moving the employee to another role or department can get her back on track. I’ve done it myself and have seen it work. But if you’ve given someone another chance by giving them a change of scenery and it’s still not working out, you should be concerned. The scenery probably isn’t the problem.

2. You feel like you have to walk on eggshells around the employee – We all have personality quirks and some people are more difficult to work with than others, but when an employee becomes cancerous to the morale and productivity of the team and everyone feels like they have to walk on eggshells around the person for fear of incurring their wrath, you’ve got a serious problem. Don’t underestimate the destructive power of a toxic, unpredictable employee.

3. Emotional instability – Part of being a mature adult is being able to manage your emotions and it’s critically important in a professional workplace. If you have an employee that demonstrates severe emotional mood swings on the job and in their relationships with others, you need to pursue the proper legal and ethical guidelines in dealing with the employee and getting them the support they need. Don’t ignore the behavior by chalking it up to the heat of the moment, the stress of the job, or excusing it by saying “Oh, that’s just Joe being Joe.”

4. Trouble fitting into the company culture – Perhaps one of the earliest signs that you have a failing employee is noticing she is having significant trouble adapting to the culture of the organization. There is a natural transition time for any new employee, but if you’re constantly hearing the employee make negative comments about how the company operates and criticizing leadership, or not developing solid relationships with others and becoming part of the team, warning alarms should be going off in your head.

5. Blames others, makes excuses, and challenges authority – You know the incredibly loud sound of air raid sirens used in civil defense situations? That’s the sound you should be hearing if you have an employee with a track record of blaming others and making excuses for her poor performance. Failing employees will often challenge authority by trying to lay the blame at the boss’ feet by saying things like “You should have done this…” or “You didn’t address that problem…” or whatever the case may be. If you have an employee who always seems to be involved in drama, ask yourself “What (or more appropriately ‘who’) is the common denominator in these situations?”

6. Distorts or manipulates the truth – I’ve dealt with employees who were very skilled at manipulating or distorting the truth. In whatever difficult situation they were in, they would find a kernel of truth to justify and excuse their involvement to the point that I would feel compelled to side with them. I learned you have to be discerning and consistent in your approach to dealing with manipulative people and make sure you document your interactions so you have sufficient data to support your termination decision.

7. Unseen gaps in performance – One of the most challenging situations is when an employee seems to be performing well by outside appearances, but when you explore behind the scenes you discover there are gaps in her performance. Maybe it’s sloppy work, not following correct procedures, or even worse, being intentionally deceptive or unethical. Be careful, things may not always be as they seem.

8. A trail of broken relationships – Employees don’t have to be BFF’s with all of their coworkers, but they do need to respect others and be able to work together. A person may be a high-performer in the tasks of her job, but if she can’t get along with other people and has a history of damaging relationships with colleagues, eventually there will come a point where her contributions are outweighed by the damage and drama she creates.

9. Passive-aggressive behavior – You know those smiley-face emoticons at the end of slightly sarcastic and critical emails? A classic example of passive-aggressive behavior where the sender is trying to couch her criticism in feigned-humor. This is toxic and can be hard to manage because it manifests itself is so many ways that appear to be innocuous in and of themselves. Veiled jokes, procrastination, sullenness, resentment, and deliberate or repeated failure to follow-through on tasks are all signs of passive-aggressive behavior. Be careful…very careful.

The number one job for a leader is to help his or her employees succeed. Before an employee is terminated, a leader needs to be able to look in the mirror and honestly admit that everything possible has been done to help the employee succeed. These nine warning signs should serve as critical guideposts in helping any leader be alert to a failing employee.

About Author:– Randy Conley is the Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies

Re-blogged from Blanchard Leader-chat 

Tags:– Human Resource Issues, Leadership, Performance Management, Productivity

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Trust is frequently taken for granted until it has been broken, and when a crisis of trust emerges, leaders and organizations often find themselves ill-prepared to not only deal with the fallout, but helpless on how to begin the process of rebuilding it. Whether trust has been broken on the individual or organizational level, there are key steps to take, and pitfalls to avoid, during the process of rebuilding trust with internal and external stakeholders.

How to build Trust

Yesterday I partnered with Linda Locke, a corporate reputation management expert and Senior Vice President at Standing Partnership, to host the Trust Across America radio show. We explored the topic of how leaders respond to and lead during a crisis of trust. One glance at the news headlines tells you there is no shortage of crises facing leaders today. Whether it’s politics, government, business, sports, or non-profit organizations, there are plenty of contemporary examples of individuals leading during a crisis of trust. Some manage it well; most don’t. The problem? They respond in the wrong way.

Linda suggests there are four primary ways leaders can respond to a crisis of trust:–

1. Deny – This is a viable strategy if you can truthfully say you have no culpability or responsibility for the crisis at hand. However, if you have any involvement in the situation, no matter how small, then you need to own up to your actions. We have seen way too many leaders or public figures use this strategy in an attempt to cover their misdeeds, only to have it come back to haunt them when the truth finally surfaced. Think Bill Clinton, Anthony Wiener, Ryan Braun, Lance Armstrong, etc. Deniers would be well served to follow Mark Twain’s advice: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”.

2. Justify – Just like the previous strategy, justifying your actions could be a legitimate response if you truly had no alternative course of action. Sometimes leaders are faced with a trust dilemma, where upholding trust with one group of stakeholders may violate the trust of a different group. We see this often in government, politics, and business, where stakeholder groups have competing interests. In these situations it’s important for leaders and organizations to have a clear set of values that guide their decisions and actions. That doesn’t make it easier to lead during a crisis of trust, but it provides a path forward. On the flip side, trying to justify your actions when you could have acted in a more trustworthy fashion, makes you appear insincere, irresponsible, and incompetent.

3. Excuse – Children are a great example of how this strategy is used, aren’t they?. Think of the typical things a child says when confronted with wrongdoing…It’s not my fault! She made me do it! It’s her fault! Unfortunately, too many leaders haven’t grown out of their childish ways. In an effort to shift blame or responsibility, leaders often respond to a crisis of trust by making excuses. Whether it is natural disasters, the actions of another party, market conditions, governmental policies, or any number of other reasons, the excuse strategy always tries to lay responsibility at the feet of another. Not a recipe for building trust at any time, especially during a crisis.

4. Apologize – Ok, finally a strategy that makes sense! Of course, this is the tried and true, most effective strategy for leading during a crisis of trust. Saying I’m sorry are the two most powerful words you can use to begin rebuilding trust. Using those words conveys remorse for your actions, demonstrates humility, and displays vulnerability, all of which are vital to repairing a breach of trust. Other essential ingredients of an effective apology include not using conditional language, expressing empathy for the offended party, listening to concerns, and committing to not repeating the behavior.

Just like very few people intentionally plan for a natural disaster by having reserves of food, water, and emergency supplies, few leaders have a plan of action for how to respond during a crisis of trust. Although there isn’t a single, one-size-fits-all crisis response plan, leaders should invest the time necessary to develop a strategy tailored to the needs of their organizations.

Are there other strategies you would offer for leading during a crisis? If so, share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

About Author:– Randy Conley is the Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies. For more insights on trust and leadership, visit http://www.blanchardinternational.co.in/

Tags:– #How To Build Trust    #Relationship Building

Re-blogged From Blanchard Leader-chat

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In its own research into employee work passion, The Ken Blanchard Companies has found significant correlations between perceptions of leader behavior, employee affect, and subsequent intentions to stay with a company, endorse the organization as a good place to work, and perform at a high level.

Developing yourself

Developing yourself

So why don’t more organizations invest in developing their leaders? What keeps them from taking steps in the right direction?

“For a lot of organizations, it’s just not part of their founding DNA,” says consultant and author Scott Blanchard in the latest issue of Ignite. “Some companies don’t grow up with it.”

That can be a challenge for managers and individuals looking to grow and develop within those cultures. People who want to develop and grow will find themselves plateauing or hitting the wall early without a clear process for developing themselves and others.

For leaders looking to take some steps toward reinvigorating themselves and others, Blanchard recommends four areas to focus on—understanding yourself, building relationships, producing results, and charting careers.

Step 1:– Understanding Yourself

Great leaders begin with a profound understanding of themselves. But Blanchard cautions that in order to get an accurate picture of yourself, you have to get input from others. Self understanding can’t happen in a vacuum.

“The best leaders do 360s so they can compare their self-perception to the perception of people around them. Inevitably, poor leaders are ones who either don’t care or who have an inaccurate awareness of the way they’re coming across to others. And that’s what Dilbert and the pointy-haired boss are all about. Don’t be that guy. Nobody wants to be that guy.”

Step 2:– Building Relationships

As a next step, Blanchard recommends developing and constantly improving your skill in building relationships with people. If there’s one thing to remember, it’s that fundamentally, the art of building relationships centers on serving people.

In Blanchard’s experience, the reason this is so important is the different way that people perceive the actions of leaders who are focused on others instead of solely focused on their own agenda. When people perceive that their leader is coming from the right place and then buy in to that person, they feel safe, they forgive a leader’s mistakes, and they are more willing to put themselves out, try a little harder, and achieve more.

Step 3:– Producing Results

The first two steps set the foundation that allows a leader to push people toward better performance. The third step is to learn how to work together with others with the explicit intention of generating better results. And it is not in a manipulative way explains Blanchard. “Leadership is something you do with people—partnering with them in the accomplishment of goals—it’s not something you do to them.

“You’re looking to leverage that interpersonal capacity to produce better results. Great people want to perform at a high level. A leader’s job is to help them get there.”

Step 4:– Charting Careers

In today’s work environment the opportunity to grow is more important than ever before. Growth is the currency of this new economy. People recognize that their ability to grow and learn new things is what keeps them valuable. In this fourth and final step, you—as a leader—must ensure that this is a part of your skill set.

Your goal as a leader is to let them know that you are a partner in their career journey,” says Blanchard. “It’s finding ways that people can grow by giving them a chance to excel in their present job but also looking at what you can do to provide them with opportunities for the next leg of their career.”

It’s a journey that begins with a better understanding of yourself and then expands to include a better understanding of others and how to work together to achieve common goals. This will result in benefits for both the individual and the organization.

Re-blogged From Blanchard Leader Chat

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Tags: — #Personal Self Development #Leadership Development #Organizational Change #Performance Management

 

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We tend to over-complicate things in life, and when it comes to defining what successful leadership looks like, we really, really, over-complicate it. Much of what constitutes leadership success comes down to common sense, but unfortunately it’s not always common practice.

Leadership SuccessSearching the shelves of your local bookstore (do those still exist?) or doing a search on Amazon.com would lead you to believe that to be a successful leader you’ll need to discover the keys, take the right steps, obey the laws, figure out the dysfunctions, embrace the challenge, ascend the levels, look within yourself, look outside yourself, form a tribe, develop the right habits, know the rules, break the rules, be obsessed, take control, let go of control, learn the new science, or discover the ancient wisdom. Did I say we like to over-complicate things?

I don’t think leadership should be that complicated. If you’re looking for leadership success, consider these seven simple truths:

1. There aren’t any shortcuts:- Leadership is hard work and most of it is on the job training. Formal education and ongoing development are essential parts of developing your leadership competency, but don’t think you can transform yourself into a great leader by reading a certain book or taking a particular training course. Great leaders are built by being in the game, not by standing on the sidelines or sitting in the classroom.

2. Great leaders start by being great followers:- Most successful leaders were successful followers at some point. They learned how to be part of a team, put the needs of others ahead of their own, and work toward a goal bigger than themselves. In our hero-worshiping culture, we tend to place the spotlight on the individual achievements of leaders, and not pay much attention to how they cultivated those winning ways earlier in their career. Learn to be a good follower and you’ll learn what it takes to be a good leader.

3. There’s no mysterious secret to leadership success:- Contrary to the titles of popular leadership books, there is no single, mysterious secret to unlocking leadership success (see truth #1). All those books I lovingly teased earlier offer valuable insights about various aspects of leadership, but most of them tell you what you already know to be true…which brings me to the next point.

4. You already know what it takes to be a good leader:- Not to plagiarise Robert Fulghum, but you probably learned in kindergarten most of what it takes to be a good leader. Be nice. Play well with others. Say please and thank you. Do what you can to help others. Of course you have to mature and apply those fundamentals in adult ways like being transparent and authentic with others, challenging people to strive for their goals, holding them accountable, and having difficult conversations when needed.

5. The difference between management and leadership is overrated:- Tons of books and blogs have been written debating the differences between these two concepts. Yes, each has its own unique characteristics, and yes, each of them overlap significantly in the practice of leadership and management. Leaders have to manage and managers have to lead. Learn to do them both well because they are much more similar than they are different.

6. Leaders aren’t special:- We’re all bozos on the same bus. Leaders aren’t any more special than individual contributors and everyone is needed to have a successful team. If you view leadership as service, which I happen to do, you should consider your team members more important than yourself. Get your ego out of the way and you’ll be on your way to success.

7. Leadership is much more about who you are than what you do:- This is probably the most important truth I’ve learned about leadership over my career. I view leadership as a calling, not a job. As a calling, leadership is about who I am—my values, beliefs, attitudes—and my actions are the visible manifestation of those inner ideals. If you want to be a successful leader, your primary focus should be on the inner work that is required, not on behavioral tricks or techniques.

So there you go, those are my seven simple truths. What do you think? What would you add, delete, or change? Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts. Just don’t make it too complicated.

About Author:- Randy Conley is the Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies.

Re-blogged From Blanchard LeaderChat

Topics:– #Leadership Success #Leadership Development #Team Leadership #Situational Leadership II

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As a customer I am often frustrated when someone either over or under-supervises me and I get told stuff I already know, or can’t seem to get the information I actually need.  Might this be happening with your customers?

Situational Leadership III want to quickly demonstrate the use of Blanchard’s Situational Leadership® II model to showcase a way to look at your customers with new eyes.  Not only will you save time with this approach, you will also give customers exactly what they need to succeed with your product and thus develop greater respect, memories of care, and referrals.

By teaching customers how to rapidly gain competence with your product they can more quickly feel like champions as they share their brilliance with you and others.

How this works

To begin with, think of something you sell that people are excited to have, but initially don’t know how to use.  This first stage of learning we call an Enthusiastic Beginner.  What do they need at this stage? They need direction—very specific guidelines, examples, and to be taught and shown how to use the product.

Like any learning curve, there is a next stage. Disillusioned Learner is when the task becomes a bit more difficult and frustrating. Discouragement often sets in when customers find doing the task is much more difficult alone than when they were with you.  Now, they need encouragement, a reminder of why what they are doing is important and how to fine tune their abilities so as to mediate their concerns and ratchet up success.

Soon, they will be Capable, but Cautious Performers, who are using their new products, but cautiously and probably with less speed than someone who has been using it for years.  They need to practice, share their thoughts, and hear their ideas, to be able to talk with you about what they are doing well and what they would like to do better. Since they are capable at this time, they really need air time to build their confidence in their competence.

With care, customers progress to a final development level as Self-Reliant Achievers.  At this level they are highly competent and highly committed.  This is your opportunity to really engender customer devotion by weaving their genius into the mix and having them participate on expert teams.  By asking them to teach others and share ideas you are really helping them to feel smart and recognize their brilliance.

Develop your customers

Situationally developing your customers is a great way to expand your use of the Situational Leadership® II model.  In the same way that it works for developing employees it can help you set up customers for rapid success and long term relationships where people feel valued, cared for and positioned to shine.

Re-blogged from Blanchard Leadership Chat

About the author:-

Vicki Halsey is one of the principal authors—together  with Kathy Cuff—of The Ken Blanchard Companies Legendary Service training program.

For more information about Situational Leadership® II Model call us at 1800-102-1345 (Toll Free) or visit to our Situational Leadership® II Training Programs

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