Leadership Essential - Empowering Others

by Administrator 18. May 2017 05:51

In the past, leadership was straightforward and simple. Leaders could demand performance, and they motivated their teams with across-the-board rewards or punishment. Today’s leaders face a more informed and diverse workforce, creating both opportunities and challenges for leaders and organizations.

As a result, leaders need to be more creative and resourceful in how they lead and engage their teams. What worked in the past will not likely work today. Leadership is not about authority, position or status. Leadership is more about channeling the contributions of others and understanding the human context.

Over my career of assessing, developing and leading thousands of employees, managers and executives, and observing many different leadership styles along the way, I have identified eight leadership essentials for effectively engaging and motivating others. These are being a role model, building trust and understanding, valuing contributions of others, making work fun or interesting, enriching work roles and the environment, personalizing your approach, creating a high performance environment, and empowering others to achieve excellence. 

In this brief post, I will introduce the one of these leadership essentials for engaging and motivating others, empowering others to achieve excellence.  This post is an excerpt from my article Leadership Essential: Engaging Your Team. If you would like a free copy you can download here or email me at robpulley@tms-hr.com. 

Empowering others to achieve excellence is a lofty goal, but you must set your sights on it and make it happen. Let us empower you with some ways to do so.

Empowering others to achieve excellence means that you’re also empowering them to fail. Failure is the best teacher, so allow it to happen and then see how an empowered employee reacts next time—odds are that not only will they not make the same mistake twice, that they will achieve exponentially greater results on the next attempt. 

As an impetus for your team to take risks and learn from them, you should reward effort four times as much as you reward for results. This conditions people to embrace challenges and take chances based on what they think are their best ideas and efforts, versus acting in an overly careful and cautious framework that grips most teams in mediocrity. People shouldn’t fear the consequences of their work—they should be able to embrace failure as a teacher.

Involve others in shaping plans for the group. When people believe they are collaborating on a professional roadmap that will shape their immediate future, the buy-in is unbelievable.

Encourage groups or individuals to resolve problems on their own—avoid prescribing a solution for your team when you know they could probably reach one on their own. Again, this is about empowerment and seizing every opportunity you have to transfer control and influence to them.

Don’t micromanage your team. Stay out of their hair and let them work, flourishing under as little pressure from your end as possible. Minimize the need for continual updates on progress. Instead of an update based on some arbitrary notion of time—such as a weekly conference call—tailor your updates to actual milestones dictated by the work. That way, when you do engage, there will actually be something to talk about and measure, versus simply micromanaging to a calendar.

Finally, develop your replacement. This shows more than a little fearlessness on your part! High performing teams have a majority of people on them that could replace the leader immediately, or, they could at least collectively band together to mitigate the loss of the leader. The irony is interesting—the notion that the best leaders are the ones who actually make themselves expendable.

This post is an excerpt from my article Leadership Essential: Engaging Your Team. If you would like a free copy you can download here or email me at robpulley@tms-hr.com.

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

by Administrator 20. April 2017 10:53

The lifeblood of any organization exists in its pool of top talent, that key group made up of the most productive people that drive excellence, results and success on a daily basis. In all talent management practices from recruitment to performance management to compensation to leadership development, organizations must be mindful of making decisions that facilitate retention of their top people.  In addition, organizations must build talent management practices that will attract the top talent in the marketplace.

Every organization should aspire to become an Employer of Choice. From an internal perspective, organizations should seek to be held in such esteem that their own people know there are no greener pastures. Externally, people working for competitors and other companies should see your organization as the ultimate career destination.

When diagnosing their ability to attract and retain top talent, organizations should seek to understand both the positives and negatives associated with employee engagement. They should have a thorough understanding of the motivation drivers of their own employees; conversely, they should make every effort to understand why people leave the organization—whether it’s lack of growth opportunities, compensation packages, poor leadership, or something else entirely.

Use the business check-up questions below to assess your organization’s ability to attract and retain top talent.

Business Check-up Questions

Are we an Employer of Choice relative to our competitors and industry? What makes our organization unique and special? 

Do we have the ability to attract and hire the top 10 percent of market talent? 

Do we struggle finding good people or do we turn good people away?

Do we have the ability to hire talent not actively looking for new opportunities? 

Do employees and leaders have an intense desire to be a member of our organization?

Do we understand why employees leave the organization? Are we proactively addressing these issues?

Do our employees and leaders give their heart, mind and soul to the organization, or just their time and skills? 

This post is an excerpt from my Business Diagnostic Series – Improving Expertise and Capabilities. If you would like the full version email me at robpulley@tms-hr.com. 

Six Keys to Expand Your Influence

by Administrator 30. January 2017 10:39

In today’s complex world, you have to learn to work with people in positive ways to achieve organizational, team, and personal success.  To expand your influence and strengthen your relationships with others you need to be able to analyze situations and adapt your personal and interpersonal style to any situation.

Below are six keys to help expand your influence and strengthen your relationship with those important to you both professionally and personally.

1. Understand that your relationships are “give and take” by nature. Just like building trust with others, you must trust them before they will trust you.  There is simply no difference with seeking to influence others.  You must give before you can take.  In order to achieve this, you must find out what others want or need from you.  Is it recognition, help on a project, a willing ear, or something more tangible?  Finding out what others want is the key to getting what you want, ultimately expanding your own influence.

2. Take a genuine interest in others. Don’t just take an interest in theory—invest in each conversation by doing the little things.  Make eye contact.  Be present in the conversation, actively engaged, avoiding distractions or potential interruptions.  Ensure that you not only ask questions, but make yourself genuinely open to the answers and opinions you may receive in response to them.

3. Understand unique differences in others. In order to completely grasp these differences, you need to give them proper consideration.  Pause and think before you respond—avoid hasty judgments and reactions.  Try to genuinely understand the other person’s perspective, not simply amplify your own by a line of questioning.  Diagnose before you prescribe—understand how the other person may be approaching a problem before you try to solve it yourself in another way that seems more comfortable to you.  Be sure to ask follow-up questions, and be conscious of your own response by sharing your own opinions thoughtfully and asking more questions.

4. Be less judgmental and be more empathetic. Winning doesn’t always mean being right!  Avoid instant output or sharp reactions that immediately evoke agreement or disagreement with the other person.  Also, avoid advising others based on your own experiences—instead, ask questions versus making declarative statements that may alienate the other person by invalidating their own experiences.  For example, avoid these responses— “I think you should,” “If I were you, I’d”, “That reminds me of the time,” or “That’s interesting, but.”

5. Adapt to different situations. Read your audience. Do you understand what behavioral cues and expressions, both verbal and non-verbal, you are seeing?  You should monitor the body language of others, and be aware of your own, that it’s not out of place in the particular conversation you’re having.  Next, keep a proper gauge of the tone and pace of the conversation, ensuring that your own delivery doesn’t overstep or bog down the other person in the process.  Finally, just make it easy for the other person to ask you questions—open up!

6. Meet your commitments and be consistent.  Do what you say you’re going to do, and do it when you say you will.  Following through on commitments to others shows respect.  Meeting your commitments shows honesty, integrity, and that you desire trust, which builds from meeting commitments with consistency.  Genuine respect and trust removes barriers to understanding others.  When people can see, in their own behavior and the behavior of their leaders, managers, peers, and direct reports, a modicum of follow-through and consistency, all conversations come much easier.

To learn more contact clientservices@tms-hr.com or keyword search Influencing Others on www.tms-hr.com. 

Building High Performance Teams

by Administrator 28. December 2016 09:11

When you take a look at the DNA of successful companies, you notice that high performing teams within the company drive success, whether it’s in areas like sales and marketing, operations, customer service, or manufacturing.

While there are many aspects to building great teams that continuously take their companies to new levels of success, there are three fundamental characteristics that we see over and over again in the highest functioning organizations.  Leaders model these characteristics, their teams emulate them, and the very best organizations systematize them, creating a culture of excellence.

These fundamental qualities necessary for building high performance teams in business organizations are trust, openness, and understanding.  Let’s start with trust.  As with any of these qualities, the success of the team depends upon how leaders interact with their teams and how each team member interacts with one another.

In a recent Inc. Magazine article, Geoffrey James discusses the work environments and results produced by teams with average leaders who motivate by fear and demand that their teams simply follow orders, versus extraordinary leaders who motivate through vision, giving their teams the freedom to have fun, take action, and be accountable.  The foundational concept here is trust—if leaders trust team members to make their own decisions, then they will, in turn, empower each other.  Trust not only heightens performance—it simultaneously drives engagement.

Many leaders and employees struggle with the concept of openness.  We have gotten so trained in our society on the concept that “knowledge is power,” and, in our weaker moments, we feel that we need to concentrate knowledge in our own hands to control our professional destinies.  Time and again, though, we see the worst performances out of teams led by secretive leaders who only give their teams the nuggets they think they need to drive their performance.  James addresses this concept as well—it smacks of a patriarchal approach where leaders see their employees less as peers and more like their own children.

A lack of openness results in many types of negative behaviors.  Among them—employees finding themselves working in lowest-common-denominator fashion, doing the bare minimum to get by, and looking to stay out of trouble versus achieve.  To the contrary, the most open leaders—those who freely share business challenges and obstacles freely with their teams—are able to bring more minds to the table to effectively solve problems.  Openness creates a “rise to the occasion” mindset from team members with regard to how they see their leaders and the business, and they want to pull together for each other as well.

As if trust and openness weren’t hard enough for many business leaders to achieve, perhaps the hardest nut to crack is that of understanding.  While we regularly train and coach our clients on concepts like trust and openness, to truly create understanding among each team member, you either have to be a psychological savant or have the right tools.

That’s where companies like ours come in with solutions to get to the core of understanding each individual team member as a unique and special human being through an assessment of personal branding, values and interests, and natural strengths.

There’s a perception out there, no doubt harbored in many low performance organizations, that companies use this type of front-end screening to weed people out of hiring processes and then utilize manipulative management tactics with employees once they are hired.  We turn these notions on their respective heads—to the contrary, we think that these types of assessments are best used to plug people into the right functional roles to optimize teams, and we also believe that they provide a critical roadmap for understanding.

This roadmap for understanding is two-fold and best understood by a couple of our products, the Talent Card and Peer Card.  Each of these cards is simply a set of outputs and recommendations, one for managers and one for peers, to promote ongoing understanding and better team results.  It almost goes without saying that if people understand what you value in yourself and others, how you operate in stressful situations and react to conflict, and where you find your motivation and passion, they will meet you in the right place.

Promoting understanding among leaders, team members, and peers is ultimately what building high performance teams is all about. High performance teams deliver sustainable success to both organizations and the individuals who drive them.

To learn more, contact clientservices@tms-hr.com or visit us at www.tms-hr.com.

Out with the Old, In with the New

by Administrator 30. November 2016 11:10

Out with the Old, In with the New ... Fresh Frameworks for Performance Management

Over the past 12 years, I have helped companies maximize productivity and build strong leadership teams by redefining success with regard to managing performance and developing capabilities.  Together we’ve built a success model as a series of contrasts with old thinking that’s defined human resources management for the past few generations.

In this post, I will take a look at the old way, performance management, versus the new path forward, leadership and engagement.  There’s an organization psychology aspect to this—old school organizations tend to be very top-down in how they manage their people.  More progressive companies are forging a different direction, a fearless pursuit of a more horizontal organization built with leaders at every level.

In order to achieve this new organizational framework that’s better equipped to handle today’s challenges, organizations must address the whole issue of performance.  Performance management itself, as a concept, has become a hallmark of rigid, inflexible organizations chained to different ideas of execution.  This type of human resources management is too system driven for the system’s sake, the workplace equivalent of teachers teaching to end-of-grade tests in schools.  "Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection." - Mark Twain

Managers and their employees can look forward to all-too-few sessions devoid of real dialogue, where blame and credit are assessed and either acknowledged or deflected, often never empowering the truth that builds accountability and delivers results.  Top-down performance management neither breeds leaders nor guarantees proper performance management; instead of improving employee performance on the job and developing capabilities from within, it is best used to provide documentation for disciplining and eventually terminating employees.

If the whole idea is to really drive organizational performance through each and every employee, a new path forward, based on leadership and engagement, is the perfect prescription for companies looking to innovate and adapt to market challenges.  Leadership development requires an ongoing dialogue focused on the unique value and contributions of each employee, both internally within the organization and what external skills and life experiences they bring to the office each day.

Leadership development is much like the way the best coaches in the world of sports approach building their teams into contenders.  The best coaches never get too high emotionally after a win, and they never sink too low after a loss.  Don’t be mistaken—this isn’t a win-some, lose-some mentality—rather, it’s a continuous accounting that leadership development of individuals, with the ultimate by-product of a winning team, takes a journey, not a periodic performance appraisal based too much on flattering statistics or egregious errors.  

The cornerstone of leadership development is engagement between the manager-coach and the employee-player.  Employees don’t need simple “atta-boys or condemnations”—they need leaders who will help them think through current challenges and help them reflect upon winning or losing strategies and tactics from previous projects or initiatives. 

Furthermore, engagement and leadership is a two-way street.  Weaker leaders think that managing and engaging their employees is limited to giving each of them one-way feedback when they need it.  In a true engagement scenario, the employee is free to share his constructive feedback on where the leader and company are falling short in achieving team and organizational goals, and the leader responds by taking those ideas on board and helping the team and organization affect change and meet their objectives.

What the new leadership and engagement framework promotes is winning, and winning will never need to be redefined.  Winning is translating vision to action, adding value to the market place or community, doing it more efficiently, and promoting positive change for the organization to achieve its goals.

If interested I would be happy to conduct a 90 minute live workshop for you and your team at no cost.  To learn more contact me at robpulley@tms-hr.com.

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