Articles tagged "Leadership Style"
I’m seeing it more and more frequently. In discussions with clients and colleagues, they see it too. This fundamental leadership skill is diminishing in leaders across industries, across generations, and ethnicities. It’s fading less rapidly at the executive level. Several of my clients admit it’s diminishing within their executive teams as well. However, I see it more obviously with mid-level managers.
Managers are losing the ability to stay focused on the task at hand and deliver what is expected.
What can basic random words, adjectives, tell you about your leadership? I believe quite a bit. Let me explain. Last week a colleague and I were discussing various ways to help leaders visualize and internalize specific changes needed to help them, their teams, and their organizations to be even more effective. A simple way to do this is to simply analyze your leadership adjectives. The words used to describe your leadership often describe your leadership challenges.
- Why is it so hard for so many managers to simply talk with their employees about less-than-expected performance?
- Why do so many managers become mean when they simply need to make employees aware their behaviors are taking them down the path towards disciplinary actions or possibly -- termination?
- Why do so many managers default to "attack mode" instead of "talk mode" to tell employees they are performing in unacceptable ways?
From my experience, the reasons vary. However, there are two very common reasons. The first reason is that managers tend to model "disciplinary" behaviors they've seen or experienced themselves. They model snarky, sneaky (i.e., passive-aggressive), or just plain mean behaviors in attacking, belittling, and demeaning the employees who have frustrated them. They equate letting employees know they're performing in unacceptable ways with slamming the employees. They take a sledgehammer approach instead of a highlighter approach to make the employees aware their performance is not acceptable. They attack in a big way instead of teaching with insight.
The second most common reason for the attack mode I see is: Fear. Fear of having a "difficult conversation" with an employee. The manager anticipates a potentially, emotion-filled interaction that may result in hostility, tears, yelling, or hurt feelings. So, to "gear up" for such an interaction, many managers put on their "attack gear." They get themselves worked up emotionally and mentally. They hold off meeting with employees until they have several examples of poor behavior so they can build a strong case against the employee. Their own frustration level increases because the employees "just continue to perform poorly." They attack with proof instead of teaching with small, incremental examples along the way.
So what should you do when your employees do not perform as expected or in unacceptable ways? Tell them right away. Tell them immediately when you see them do something that is clearly unacceptable. If they're violating some policy, procedure or law, You obviously need to deal with that immediately. However, if your employees are under-performing or behaving in ways that will lead them astray, tell them. Clue them in. Talk with them regularly so they become aware, but more so, so they get comfortable with you regularly refocusing and guiding them. If they only hear from you when you've built a case against them, why shouldn't they feel blindsided? Why shouldn't they get defensive and possibly become hostile or have hurt feelings? You set them up. Talk with them regularly. Don't attack them.
I've shared this idea before, but I'll share it again because I've seen it work with many of my clients. If you do nothing else, stop thinking of conversations with your employees about unacceptable performance as "difficult conversations." That term alone brings to mind the anxiety and negative emotions outlined above. Instead, think of conversations you need to have with your employees about their performance as "Necessary Conversations™." They're necessary because you need to clue your employees in now. They're necessary because if they don't occur, your employees are likely to continue down an unacceptable path of behavior. They're necessary because it's part of your job to teach, inform, refocus, and guide your employees - not slam them. They're necessary because they'll help you talk with your employees instead of attack your employees.
Copyright MMXVIII, MMXIII Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.
One of the quickest ways to alienate new employees, restrict their skill development, and keep an organization stuck in a proverbial rut, is to tolerate employee cliques and allow them to control production.
What are they? Employee cliques are destructive employee groupings (gangs) that don't welcome new employees (outsiders). They view new employees and their ideas as threats to the status quo. To them, new employees are a waste of their time—particularly if they have to train the new person who (in their minds) will (in all probability) quit in a few months anyway. So why bother? La-dee-da.
Take a step back and ask yourself, "If I were a new employee, would I want to continue to work for an organization where the current employees don't want me around and won't train me?" Doubt it. I know I wouldn't. I would leave and find someplace else to work—a place where I felt wanted and appreciated. And if I leave, the veteran employees will (in their minds) be vindicated, "See, we told you she'd leave."
Here is what you as the leader can do:
- Recognize if and where destructive cliques exist in your organization
- Gather your veteran employees together and discuss why they feel the way they do towards new hires
- Develop a program, with a select group of veteran employees and your management team, to develop a new hire orientation program to quickly train and orient new employees into your organization, without unduly burdening current staff
- Continue to work with veteran and rookie staff members to identify ways to better integrate the ‘old’ knowledge and skills with the ‘new’
Trust me: If you don't take action to correct the power of the cliques, they (not you) will control your employee population, its skill level, your employee turnover rates, and ultimately, your organization’s ability to move forward.
Copyright MMII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching.
I attended a luncheon that culminated with an insurance expert explaining his services to the attendees. As soon as the speaker turned on the projector to start his presentation, the bulb blew. A quick inspection revealed there was no spare and the restaurant staff didn't even know their projector used bulbs! Instead of panicking, the insurance expert simply said, “I'll just have to cue you more carefully as you follow along with your handouts.” He then proceeded with his talk.
As he talked, he regularly scanned the audience to pace his talk appropriately for the group. When a few heads would bend together to discuss a point he had just made, he would slow his pace and watch them to see if he needed to interject or if they were simply conferring among themselves. Now and again, he would steal a quick glance at his watch perched on the table in front of him to track his timing. When there were ten minutes remaining, he wrapped up his presentation and stated he would take questions for the next ten minutes. As the final minutes slipped by, he thanked us for our time then referred us to his contact information in the handout if we had further questions. It was an informative and pleasant presentation, because the expert was not only an insurance specialist, he was an expert presenter.
To make your presentations rank with the professionals, learn from our expert:
- He KNEW his topic. And since he was obviously comfortable with the information, he projected his confidence—even without a projector.
- He did not panic when the projector bulb blew. Although he had anticipated using the projector and pacing his presentation from it, he easily switched gears and presented in a different manner. The key to success is don’t rehearse your presentation so it sounds the same each time you practice it. You’ll end up memorizing your presentation instead of the information. Practice delivering the information—that is what’s important.
- He did not apologize profusely for the blown bulb. He simply (and calmly) stated he would take a different approach. Nothing is more distracting than a presenter constantly apologizing for making mistakes or for equipment failures. The more the speaker dwells on the mistakes or malfunctions, the more the audience does too. Just accept the mishap and move on!
- He didn't read the handouts to us; he talked to us. Reading a presentation to your audience will put them to sleep. (Remember bedtime stories?)
- He watched his audience for pacing and understanding. If you read your presentation, you will miss cues from your audience that can guide your pacing. You aren't looking at them; you are looking at the page.
- He paced his presentation to allow for questions and then stopped the session at the scheduled time. He didn't disrespect our time commitments.
I give presentations regularly, so I am a very critical audience member. This presentation wasn't flashy—he lost his flash when the bulb blew—however, his presentation was really good. He knew his material, watched his audience, and exhibited his professionalism by staying calm. He was an expert presenter.
Copyright MMII Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.