Simple Template – how to record the “other things” our team members do…

As a leader, there is no question that the goals you set for your team members are of ultimate importance. High performance, growth, and development all come from effective goals and efficient tracking of accomplishments. A common approach to these ‘large goals’ in most companies is a regular cadence of some sort (quarterly, annual etc.).  Often compensation increases and performance ratings all tied to these goals as well…

We can talk about the complexities of these topics (and how they all connect together) a different time… But first, let’s tackle a really common problem when managing an engaged, high performing employee.

The problem is this: there is so much work done in between, or outside of, those goals set on a regular cadence.  How do we account for all that work, and all the “stuff” being done?  I mean, it wouldn’t be fair to exclude it entirely when talking about performance rating, compensation, promotion and career development, right?

Have you ever found yourself in this situation?

Here’s a simple idea I’m going to try on my team.  The concept is like a “journal” of sorts – capture stuff you have done over a period of time, and when it comes time to look back/review, you can have one simple document that allows a thorough view of performance.

The template looks like this (we are using a shared Google doc, but many different formats could work):

OCO template

There are three simple sections:

  1. Opportunities – what has come up that needs to be done?   What chances have I had to do great work, and contribute in a meaningful way, that isn’t necessarily captured by my regularly scheduled goals?
  2. Contributions – what did I do when these opportunities came up?  How did I “grab the bull by the horns” and demonstrate my skill and perseverance?
  3. Outcomes – what was the ultimate result of the work I did?  What positive impact did I have?  (this one is really important)

So, if you manage really good employees who are doing great things but may have a hard time capturing it, give this template a shot!

Please share feedback below!  I would love to share stories with others who may be in a similar situation!

The Key to a Successful Salary Increase Conversation

Salary adjustments.  Merit increases.  Annual salary reviews.

Call them whatever you want, this simple fact remains:  the process of reviewing and adjusting salaries for employees is a stressful one.  So much anxiety, tension and trepidation.

Many companies are focused on a standard process, a fair review that incorporates performance and potential, and hitting “the number” just right, to compensate employees according to the factors important to the company.  As a matter of fact, many companies do this very, very well.

Why is this, exactly?  Why does it almost never go well?

During my recent reading about Customer Experience, Employee Experience and how important Employee Expectations are in both of those equations, I had an epiphany.

I think I have discovered the key ingredient:  expectations.

Think of it this way – the success of a salary increase conversation hinges not on whether the process was fair or equitable.  It hinges on whether the employee thinks it is fair.  That is a fairly small, but at the same time HUGE difference.  Let that sink in for a minute…

It hinges on whether the employee thinks it is fair.

Soooo…

What am I saying, exactly?  Am I saying that the only successful salary increase conversation is one that the employee dictates entirely, and basically chooses what his/her increase will be?  Nope.  Not at all.

I’m saying this – understanding what your employee expects going into the entire process will help you understand their mindset coming in, and allow you to have multiple productive conversations to arrive at a point where trust is present, and the ultimate decision (even one that you may not have agreed with, or approved of) can be successful.

Here are a few tips on how to do that:

  1. Build trust first.  It starts early on in the relationship and needs to be sustained over time.  Trust matters.  Seeds of successful salary conversations are planted months before the actual salary conversation.
  2. Hold regular 1:1 conversations.  Become comfortable talking with each other about work topics, and “how do you feel about ______”.
  3. Introduce the topic frequently enough to make it a comfortable conversation.  In these private 1:1 conversations, talk openly about salary & compensation.  This will allow future conversations about compensation to happen much more easily.  #practicemakesperfect

Note:  countless managers talk about compensation/pay once per year (at salary adjustment time) and are shocked when it doesn’t go well… OF COURSE IT WON’T GO WELL!!! 

It takes effort and practice!

Now, I understand it’s never this simple.  There are so many complex factors and variables in each individual circumstance that it would be impossible to prescribe one “best practice”.  But start with building trust over time, and understanding expectations, and you will feel better prepared during the entire process.

(“What’s next?” after you understand their expectations is a future post… please share any thoughts/comments/questions below!)

 

Leadership is the ‘Platinum Rule’

The Golden Rule.  Feels like something most of us have known, and been taught, from when we were young – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Basically, ‘treat others as you want to be treated’.  Simple enough, right?

While a very good concept as a basic thought & principle, to find success at work and in leadership, I always felt it needed to go one step further.

Several years ago I stumbled upon a concept called the Platinum Rule.  I will attribute my learning to a Dr Tony Alessandra (an originator of the concept, as far as I can tell, in this book from 1998).

The Platinum Rule simply states:  treat others as they want to be treated.

While a very simple concept, it is profound in its application in the workplace, in leadership, and in our personal lives.

A couple of simple personal examples:

  • Once I received a Christmas gift from someone I know fairly well, and am fairly close to.  The gift was well intended but was very obviously something this person would have chosen for themselves.  The sentiment was basically, “I would love this gift, so I know Scott will as well.”

Probably more of a ‘Golden Rule’ type gift (and for the record, it was not my wife.  She is an excellent gift giver! LOL!)

  • A few years ago at work, I was talking with a certain manager about some recognition he was giving his team for a job well done on a certain project.  He was very excited to call out excellent performance of these team members.  As he was talking through each person, he shared that for one lady on his team, he was going to pull her aside, and in a private, 1:1 setting, express how important her contributions were, and how much he appreciated her.  “Why not do that in front of the whole group?” I asked, thinking I was adding an element of excitement to his recognition.  “Because she would hate that.  She’s told me.” He replied, very matter of factly.

Wow!!!  True “Platinum Rule” recognition – he did it in a style that she preferred, and would appreciate.  I learned a lot about the Platinum Rule that day.

The best leaders I have ever known use this concept constantly – it is almost second nature to them.  The communicate in a way the other person prefers (thus increasing the effectiveness), or they assign tasks, follow up, and check in the way the other person prefers.  It’s awesome.

Please share comments below!  Have you ever worked with a leader who truly demonstrated the Platinum Rule on a regular basis?

 

6 ‘Must Read’ lists for a first time manager

Becoming a Manager is a big deal.  Like, a really big deal.

Far too often, the step from ‘individual contributor’ to Manager is glossed over, rushed, assumed, or forced.

The promotion into this step should be, in my opinion, done carefully and deliberately – with a proper amount of excitement, accolades, and support.

But regardless of how it happened, you may find yourself in that seat now.  It’s time to think a little bit differently, act a lot differently, and judge your own work and success differently.

To begin thinking this way, I have relied upon 6 pieces, from various authors and sources, that I share with first time managers.

Take a look at these wise pieces of advice and counsel from various experts:

  1. 7 Secrets First-Time Leaders Want to Know, Lolly Daskal
  2. 25 Tips for New Managers, Dan McCarthy
  3. 5 Essential Lessons for First Time Managers, ‘The Muse’ (contributor to Forbes.com)
  4. 8 Tips to Help First-Time Managers Thrive, Craig Cincotta (on Entrepreneur.com)
  5. Top 10 Leadership Tips for First-time Managers, Profiles International
  6. Why First-Time Managers Fail, Andrew G. Rosen (U.S. News)

…after you read them (or at least skim them for key ideas & topics), think what you feel you should incorporate into your own leadership & management!  You know yourself and your situation best.

I recommend making a brief list of the topics/ideas that resonate with you right now, and write them down.  From that list, pick one (yes, ONE) topic you will focus on for the next few months.  Make that a part of your thought, study, learning and daily management practices!  Then, once you feel like you’ve almost ‘mastered’ that one, do it again!  Pick another, then another.  #onebyone #slowandsteadywinstherace

A simple framework for Career Development

Several years ago I had an informal discussion with a fellow HR professional, Michelle.  She is an expert in Org Development, etc. who shared her expertise with me as we sat at a meeting room table.  (PS – shout out to Michelle, who I have lost contact with, and with whom I’m not connected with on social media).

I was asking Michelle about her thoughts on career development, and what model(s) she used to effectively teach these principles.  She excitedly scribbled the following venn diagram on a blank sheet of paper for me, and it forever changed my perspective on the topic:

career-development

 

Here’s the gist: every “thing” we have to do at work – every task, every assignment, etc. – will fall somewhere in this diagram.  Is it something the company asks you to do, but you’re not good at it, nor do you like it?  Blue circle.  Is there something that you are passionate about but aren’t yet good at it, nor does the company need it?  Green circle.

At times there’s an overlap – for example, something you’re good at that the company needs you to do is the area where yellow overlaps with blue.

The BEST area is the small triangle in the middle where all three overlap – this means it is something you’re good at (skill), something you like (interest) and something the company needs you to do (company need).  That’s the sweet spot.

That’s the area of pure motivation, engagement, performance, and joy at work.  That’s the gold standard.

In my experience, the most important circle to be aware of (and also the trickiest to manage) is the green circle.  If you were to ask your team where most of their job lies on this diagram, they will probably say blue, yellow, or the overlap of the two.  Why does this matter?  Because it is outside the green circle.  If it is something they aren’t interested in at all, they will likely burn out, or grow disinterested, disengaged, or just stop doing their job.  #thatsaproblem

So, use this model of career development to begin discussions with those on your team – evaluate where different pieces lie, on the diagram, and talk about how to get them into the middle triangle.

This approach will change the focus slightly, instead of thinking about career development in terms of getting promoted to the next level, next position, etc. – it becomes about bringing as many things as possible into that middle section.  This will bring additional skills, experience and results that benefit all involved.

(Next week, I’ll share some examples to help walk through this in more detail…)

Try it our!  See where it goes.  I think the hardest part about career development discussions is just getting started.  This is a great point to start!

Play the Odds – 5 strategies for overcoming your fear of trust

(Guest Author Richard Fagerlin for Real. Simple. Leadership)

Let’s address this difficult situation of people that will likely take advantage of you if you are willing to give trust. So let’s play the odds.

Even though trust is not safe it can still be a wise investment. The question is, do the rewards outweigh the risks?

Everyone will eventually disappoint you in small ways. (And guess what? You’ll disappoint them, too.) A few people may betray you outright. But consider for a moment how many people we’re really talking about. How many people, of all those in your life, are really going to take advantage of you if you offer trust before it is earned? Twenty percent? Ten? Two? I guess that, on average, the number is closer to two percent than it is to twenty. Yes, a few people may abuse your trust. But do you want to live and act for the two percent, or the ninety-eight percent?scale

Imagine a weights and measures scale. Put the risk of the two percent on one side, and the
benefit of a trusting, generous relationship with the ninety-eight percent on the other.

Which is heavier?

A Disclaimer

I know many of you are sitting there thinking of all the situations where giving unearned trust doesn’t make sense. Keep two things in mind:

First, I’m assuming the relationships in question are ones where you actually want to win, where you have a vested interest in the relationship being the best it can be, and where collaboration is critical. If that’s the case, let’s apply these ideas. If not, you don’t need to invest time or energy into building trust.

Second, I am not speaking to the extremes. If you have experienced a betrayal of trust amounting to psychological or physical abuse, address it appropriately. Ask a friend for help, get a counselor, talk to a mentor, or read one of the many great books out there that address healing and boundaries on a personal level.

But most of life should not be a crisis. I want to speak to the rest of the time, to normal person-to-person interactions.

If you are struggling with the idea of giving trust – consider the following 5 strategies: Continue reading

Why I don’t own our ‘Culture’…

Some thoughts I would share primarily with HR friends & acquaintances, but also for general leadership and workplace knowledge…

I have noticed a popular trend in the HR world. There are a lot of companies who have labeled their HR leaders and HR department as “people and culture” or just “culture”.  It has caused me to reflect on this practice and the role of HR professionals (regardless of what they are called).

On one hand, HUGE props to these companies who understand the importance of culture in the workplace.  To impact engagement, and ultimately overall business results, culture is a MUST.  It is an absolutely vital ingredient to success.  So that’s good.

BUT…

As an HR professional and leader, I don’t want the word “culture” to ever be in my title.

Wait.  WHAT?

Why not?

Because, very simply…

EVERYONE OWNS CULTURE

We are all responsible for building it, guarding it, preserving it, and enhancing it through our actions and behaviors.  This is something that no one person – nor any single department – “owns”.  Everyone shares the responsibility equally, starting at the highest levels of every company.

Now let me be clear.  Because the focus of HR is people, I definitely feel our purpose in the company is to teach, drive, and motivate the behaviors that will build the culture (this starts with my own personal actions, to work and lead in a way that will enforce the culture established by the company).

I would be concerned that having the word “culture” in my job title or description may give others in the organization that they don’t need to act as owners and builders of culture.  It is extremely important for every person in the company to know they own and impact the culture (and ultimately the success) of the company.

Remember: #everyoneownsculture.

HR Professionals – please comment below!  I would love to hear your thoughts!

If you agree with this concept, how does it really play out in practice?

The single hardest thing about management…

Anyone who moves into a management position will tell you that at some point, things change.  Something clicks.  A switch flips.  Suddenly your job becomes much harder.  The problem is, it is really hard to identify why that happens, exactly.  After all, you have worked for managers before, and observed what they do (or didn’t do)… it isn’t that hard, right?  Well, or so you thought…

Then you got the big promotion.

Boom.  It all changed.  It all got WAY harder.  (maybe not immediately, but eventually it did…right?).

Why is this, exactly?

Simply put – because virtually nothing in management is black or white.

There is no simple formula for success as a manager.

Consider a few examples –

  1. A member of your team has lost all motivation and isn’t performing his job well.  A ‘prescription’ of how to cure this condition would be great.  Even the standard processes (call them performance management, or progressive discipline, or whatever…) are not completely black and white most of the time.  The most common answer becomes “it depends” – because there are so many reasons and factors and data points to consider.  There’s no magic switch to flip that will instantly motivate a person, unfortunately.
  2. Team meetings are a drag.  Everyone arrives late, people are totally disinterested, check their phones, or even create reasons (excuses) not to go.  But you know that an effective team meeting should be very important!  (and I agree with you)  So what do you do?  Is there a magic structure for meetings, or agenda to follow that will suddenly make them brilliant?  Sorry, nope.

…and the examples go on.  So many things that seem daunting, overwhelming, and frustrating are simply that way because they aren’t “black and white”.  There’s no simple solution.  Each will require a unique approach to solve them, completely different from what others may offer, and completely different from what you have done in the past.

So, what does this mean?

Well, it means that your success as a manager will depend on your ability to understand and evaluate each individual situation to decide on the best course of action.  It is HARD work.  It can be long, tedious, and frustrating.  There’s no magic bullet.

But understanding that there isn’t an easy answer is the first step.  You’ll stop looking for easy solutions, or waiting for a magic date to arrive when it all becomes easier.  It won’t.  You just need to roll up your sleeves and start doing work!

What do I do now? Continue reading

The Tightrope of Good Leadership

(Guest Author Pete Small for Real. Simple. Leadership.)

We all remember that manager who inspired us.  The one who pushed us to achieve our best and helped us to feel skilled and valued at work.  We also remember that other manager who made showing up each day a drudgery and who seemed to steal the joy out of our jobs.  If asked, we might easily be able to rattle off the traits that made one of them great and the other awful.  But, if you look closely, you might find that most of them are really just two sides of the same coin.

Most of us who have years of experience in management have long ago realized that the line between effective and ineffective leadership can be razor thin at times and that good management comes from learning how to walk that line as well as possible.  A valuable skill that we think of as a strength can quickly become a weakness if we don’t master the whens, wheres and whys of how to use it.

Assertiveness can become bossiness in a blink. 

One moment you are a visionary with a clear goal and the next you are too rigid and not open to your employees’ input.   Your openness to feedback has always been an asset until you are accused of being indecisive.

No manager has ever walked this line perfectly, so let’s throw that goal out the window right now.  Rather, we want to constantly be evaluating which side of the line we are on and then course correcting; the more balanced our trajectory walking this line, the more effective a leader we will be.  This thinking follows one of the secrets to success in life: Be aware of where you are.  Keep track of where you want to be.  Adjust as needed.

With that in mind, let’s look at one of the trickier leadership traits to find a balance on: Respect.  We all understand the inherent value of fostering respect from our employees but often don’t realize we are trying to balance two different types of respect:

Personal Respect – The feelings and attitudes your employees have about you as a person.

Role Respect – How much your employees respect your position of authority.

In order to operate as an effective manager, we must garner respect for our role.  We are the final decision maker and our employees should understand and respect this role clearly.  However, if we put too much emphasis on just this type of respect (eg “do what I saw because I am the boss”), we end up with resentful and passive-aggressive staff.

Likewise, there is great benefit to the workplace if employees have a deep personal respect for their manager.  If they like and value you, they are more likely to enjoy their jobs and feel supported.   But, if you stray too much to this side of the line, i.e. you are too busy being a friend and not setting limits, you risk employees becoming less productive and feeling entitled.

So, the skill that defines a great manager is the ability to walk that tightrope between personal and role respect, managing to maintain both and catching herself when she strays a bit too far one way or the other.  Here are some ideas to consider when trying to manage that balance: Continue reading

The BIG lie about TRUST – 5 reasons why trust is not earned

(Guest Author Richard Fagerlin for Real. Simple. Leadership)

Nobody comes to the discussion on trust empty handed. We all have strong feelings about it. We know how it feels when trust is misused, betrayed, or withheld. Our perspectives are real and have been informed by a lifetime of experiences, pain and broken relationships. Sometimes these conclusions are helpful and sometimes they hold us hostage.

Over the years I’ve come to a surprising conclusion: our most popular theories about trust are often untrue and almost always unhelpful.

What I’m going to share will likely go against everything you’ve ever heard or thought about trust. Of all the flawed theories flying around about trust, there is one that is more prevalent and also more damaging than any other:

Trust’s Big Lie: Trust is something that is earned.

The Truth on Trust: Trust can’t be earned. It can only be given.

I know, I know. This is a lie that even I have believed for most of my life. The problem with it is that it just doesn’t make sense.

When we’re deciding how much to trust someone, we usually ask ourselves whether they have earned our trust. That seems like the smart thing to do. Until they earn it, we withhold trust to protect ourselves. We put protective policies in place. We micromanage to maintain control and create limits and boundaries to our relationships.

But the truth is, trust can never be earned. Trust can only be given.

Trust is the responsibility of the person who wants high trust. If you want others to trust you – it’s your responsibility. If you want to be able to trust others – it’s your responsibility. If you are committed to giving and building trust, and determined to overcome any obstacles that stand in your way, you will win high trust. If you work patiently and with perseverance to lead your team towards a high-trust, high-performance culture, you can see it happen. Ten of the most powerful two-letter words in the English language are: If it is to be, it is up to me. If you are to have high trust in your relationships, it starts and ends with you.

I fully realize that this line of thinking might make you squirm. When I’m working with my clients or speaking on this topic, this is where everyone starts to jump out of their seats.

Over the next few posts, I will outline why this lie is damaging, how you can better approach trust and give you a vocabulary for making this thinking stick.

For now, ponder these 5 reasons why trust cannot be earned: Continue reading