Articles tagged "Management Accountability"
If you had the opportunity to work for yourself, would you? This question has been popping up in conversations with several clients lately. It’s come up during a board strategy session. It’s been discussed during coaching calls. And, it’s come up while discussing the challenges of working in a multi-generational workplace. The reason I ask the question is simple: Focus on yourself before you criticize your team.
We've all heard of helicopter parents. They're those annoying parents that constantly hover and prevent their children from learning to deal with life's challenges for themselves. Then, these children grow into young adults who are woefully ill-prepared to cope with the realities of an adult working environment.
However annoying, though real, helicopter parents are, helicopter managers are equally, if not more annoying. Helicopter managers hover and prevent their employees from thinking and making decisions, solving problems, and consistently increasing their marketable skills.
This week I'd like to share one of my favorite articles as it speaks so clearly to what I've communicated to my clients over the years. The article was written by Ted Coiné, who has agreed to allow me to post this on my site:
Dear CEO: Who Tells You When Your Baby Is Ugly?
We leaders have a big, big problem. It’s called information filtering, and every social group does it – family, circle of friends, and certainly staff. The larger a company gets, the more layers of management separate the CEO from the front line staff and customers, the more egregious this can become.
We leaders, with our strong can-do personalities, have a second problem that compounds this first one: our faith in tacit consent. That value holds that if people don’t speak up, they're with us.
CEOs, this post is for you. Look right now at your organization. Maybe you are physically removed from your front-line workers. Maybe a lot of them are in other states or countries. Within your headquarters, maybe your office is on a different floor. Maybe there are tens of thousands of them, and so sheer numbers keep you apart from them. Maybe your schedule is so full that you rarely have opportunity to mix with “the little people,” and when you do, is it possible they are hand-selected by your direct reports?
We count on our closest advisors to tell us what we need to know. Even in a company of one, there’s just too much information available for us to deal with it all. So we filter, because that’s one thing humans are really good at. It’s a survival technique. There’s nothing wrong with filtering information for what’s most important.
But there’s a lot wrong with cutting yourself off from vital input. And in addition to all those other types of filtering outlined above, here’s another that can impede the flow of essential input to any leader: personality.
Let’s face it, if you're a leader, chances are quite good that you have a strong will. And that you're bright. You may be impatient, which is often an asset in business. There’s a better than average chance that you're a man,* and an excellent chance that you're in your fifties or sixties – especially if you're CEO of a medium-sized business or of an enterprise, the biggest class of business.
If you fit this age and gender description, then there’s a strong chance that you grew up with the hierarchical, military-esque mindset that criticism is a personal attack, and that subordinates should show a high level of deference to their superiors. Whether you like to admit it or not, this is always floating around in the back of your head. I tell you this because that is exactly how I was raised. My Dad was a drill sergeant in World War II. Nicest man you'd ever meet, but he never shed a certain level of formality in business settings. His career was built in the Forties, Fifties, and early Sixties, before all this egalitarian mumbo-jumbo hit the scene.
So I ask you again, CEO: who tells you when you’re baby’s ugly? Do they just let you have it? …Or do they couch the news in politically-correct, I'm-Ok-You're-Ok, How-To-Win-Friends-And-Influence-People terms that waters down the meaning behind the message? …Do they not tell you at all, because you've demonstrated by your reaction in the past that bad news is not welcome news?
There’s a huge danger with sitting atop a corporate pyramid. The danger is that no one is going to tell you the truth in an open, honest, unfiltered way. A few leaders are lucky or wise enough to bring in outside consultants to perform this task. Most hire consultants who tell them their baby is beautiful, because that’s the type of info that gets you invited back.
Sit on this for a while, sir (or m’am). We'll review this topic in the future, and of course I have some advice for how to remedy the filtering. But not today. Putting the question out there will suffice for the moment.
* This aspect of business – men disproportionately represented in the C-suite and on the board – is changing, but much too gradually for my liking.
This post originally appeared on Ted’s previous blog & Switch & Shift.
A client was experiencing some employee performance issues and asked us to present training to their managers on their new employee performance evaluation form. Terrific. However, they weren't thrilled when I told them that the training should focus - at most - 10% of the time on the actual use and mechanics of the form. The remaining 90% of the training needed to focus on managing performance and preparing for the reviews all year long. They couldn't expect a form to solve the performance issues they were experiencing.
We suggested seven core ideas be included in the training to help the managers and employees address the performance issues they had:
Build trust between the managers and employees.
It's pretty tough for a manager to critique an employee's performance and have her comments well-received when there's no trust or respect between them. Trust and respect take time to earn. Start now.
Determine and communicate clear expectations and job duties.
Outline clearly your organization's values so there is no guessing as to what behaviors you expect of everyone day in and day out. Also, a basic listing of what the person filling the position is expected to do on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis is a big help. The list of what they need to be able to do - to deliver - needs to be clear to both the manager and employee so no one has to guess.
Determine and communicate the performance standards.
Once it's clear what the employee is supposed to do, it also needs to be made clear to what standard the work is to be done. If the performance rating scale has "Excellent" as its highest rating, the employee needs to be told what "Excellent" performance looks like, so he or she knows the standard you will use in the rating process. If your managers can't clarify what "Excellent" looks like, how are the employees supposed to know and perform to "Excellent" standards?
Communicate and document job performance all year long.
There should be no surprises at review time. Too often, that's all the formal performance review meeting is: a rehashing of all the things done wrong all year long that were never addressed when they occurred. In addition to acknowledging when employees do things right, ensure you talk with them right when they start to veer off-track. When an employee does something wrong or is starting to exhibit behaviors that are not acceptable, make the employee aware that what s/he is doing is wrong -- and be specific. Don't be vague and general. Specify what they are doing or did that is not acceptable. Make them aware their behavior or performance is not acceptable, help them identify how to correct it, and then, document the conversation. Be fair and give your employees an opportunity to correct their behaviors (if what they're doing is still minor). Give your employees an opportunity to choose to keep doing things right, as well as to correct things that need to be corrected.
Coach, re-align, and develop.
Good managers monitor their employees' performance constantly. Performance that starts to veer off-track can be quickly refocused - through a Necessary Conversation - and missing skills can be addressed through training or other means. Good managers are vigilant. They provide the guidance and tools needed to keep their employees focused and in constant growth and development mode.
Evaluate Job Performance.
This is the actual rating of the employee's performance. If good and not-so-good performance has been documented all year, the actual form completion is just a matter of pulling the file and recording the history that's been tracked - and discussed - all year long.
Hold Performance Review Meetings.
These meetings should hold no surprises about past performance. All issues concerning past performance should have been addressed in real-time. The Review Meeting should review the rating form -- which again should hold no surprises. Share a few specific examples you will have already documented over the performance review period, so the employee will "see" how his or her levels of performance align to those expected for "Excellent" and the other ratings in each category rated. When you do this, there will be fewer surprises and less need for explaining the ratings. Then you can focus the bulk of your meeting time discussing and developing goals and plans for the next year or rating period. These goals and plans are then a guide for both the managers and employees to track the next year's performance.
If your managers start to complain about having to complete their employee performance review forms, you might ask if they've done their job well all year long. If so, the performance reviews and meetings are a great time to positively plan for the future. If not, share with them how so they can make the process a win-win in the future.
Copyright MMVII Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.
When it comes to letting go and letting someone else take the reins, can you do it? Do you do it? If so, do you do it well?
Given the work my company does, we regularly deal with transitions in leadership. Some of those transitions are smooth; others a bit bumpy. They key to a smooth transition is multi-faceted:
- You need the right person to step in or step up and take the reins
- You need an intentional transition plan
- You need an intentional communication plan, and
- You need to know when to let go
Letting go is especially hard when you've built the company from nothing. Letting go is hard when you created the reputation, relationships, and customer base the company supports, and letting go is hard when you've loved what you've done for so many years.
One couple I've spent a good deal of time with, a husband and wife team, have built a multi-million dollar business, have over 500 employees, and have had several family members join the business. Now as they plan the final stage of their retirement and exit from daily operations, they're not all that excited. Their anticipated exit isn't as stress-free as they'd hoped. They're not willing to let go just yet.
They're not willing to let go because the heir-apparent wants to grow the business into an entirely new industry; one they (the current owners) know nothing about. The up and coming leadership team wants to introduce new products and are suggesting eliminating some of the "old standards" that were the bread and butter of the company in its early years. And the new board of directors is suggesting ever more aggressive business strategies. Even though all of these items are in their strategic plan, how can they let go when everything they've built their company on and around seems to be changing?
They learn to let go when we circle back to confirm the plans we've created:
- Are they still confident in their heir-apparent? If so, why? If not, why not? How do we address that?
- Are they still in agreement with the transition plan - their gradual transition out while others take over their responsibilities? If so, why? If not, why not? How do we address that?
- Are they still in agreement with the communication plan - the plan to clarify for all employees, stakeholders, etc how and when the transitions will occur? If so, why? If not, why not? How do we address that?
- Are they still willing to let to? If so, why and what does that look like? If not, why not? How do we address that?
Letting go isn't easy, but letting go when and how a transition needs to occur is what great leaders do.