Tuesday, March 27, 2012

If it was your business, which leader would you want – Manning or Tebow?

The recent signing of Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos and the trade of Tim Tebow to the New York Jets, bring up an interesting scenario that can be compared to various leadership styles in the business world.

For example, a company has a leader with a little over a year of management experience.  This person, (we will call him Jim), has brought the company back from the dead and transformed the organization into a major contender in its respective industry.  Through innovation and often risky business methods, Jim takes chances and has had some success doing so.  There are certainly areas for improvement that Jim needs in order to ensure future stability and growth, but it will take some time to cultivate through coaching and a strong organizational development plan.

Next, a proven leader (we will call him Clayton), with over 10+ years of experience in the industry, is let go from an employer looking to re-organize.  Clayton has helped build his previous organization to one of the top players in the industry and did so through strategic planning and effective decision making.  Although Clayton is nearing retirement, his resume, awards and merit are attractive to businesses looking to climb to the top in a shorter time span.  Clayton can help with team development and coaching of the organization immediately but will still need a strong organizational development plan in place in order to succeed.

So what can be said about this particular scenario?  Well it is obvious that both leaders have the potential to take the business to the next level and have the ability to inspire their employees through their passion and perseverance, but it is a matter of how much time the organization is willing to invest in order to be successful.   From the perspective of an NFL franchise owner, I understand the decision process that the Denver Broncos organization went through and only time will tell if they made the right choice.

Do you have a Tebow or a Manning leading your organization?


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Have you given any feedback lately?

Alright, let’s be honest – giving feedback is not the easiest task for some managers. They might feel feedback is not only confrontational, but can be pretty awkward. Many managers might think feedback is about criticizing their staff, and so they dread the entire feedback process.

However, you can’t avoid feedback. A vital management function is to provide ongoing, honest feedback about each team member’s performance. It is your job as the manager to let your team know how they are doing and what steps they can take to improve. Problems that are addressed early can be more easily resolved than those that are identified later.

But don’t think feedback must always be negative. It is equally important, if not more essential, to also provide positive feedback to your staff. Remember your team is working day in and day out and if they aren’t receiving any feedback, they will be unsure of how they are perceived and if their work is even appreciated.

Think about your management style in the past few months; have you given any feedback – good or bad to your staff? If not, you may not be adequately monitoring the performance of your team members so that you can give appropriate feedback in a timely manner.

 Perhaps if you take the initiative of giving both positive and negative feedback, maybe you won’t be so reluctant to give feedback.

Feedback is useful year-round, not just at appraisal time. When you provide frequent and accurate assessments of how people are performing in their roles, you feedback will be perceived to be timely and can be linked to an established performance plan. We posted a while back about how feedback really is a gift. People will value your feedback and find it relevant to their job responsibilities.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • Be specific when giving feedback. Vague feedback such as “You need to improve” is useless. Specifically, what needs to be improved? What have you noticed that was being done poorly? What does the person need to do differently? How will you and the person know improvement has occurred?
  • Make feedback performance-related and combine it with suggestions for improvement.
  • Give positive feedback as soon as possible after good performance. Make it specific so the person knows exactly what behavior you are praising.
  • When criticism is necessary, make it private, constructive, and express confidence in the person’s ability to improve.
  • In addition to giving feedback, solicit feedback from your direct reports about how you can improve your own performance. Listen carefully to what was said, and thank people for taking the time to give you feedback.
  • Review progress on their development plans and on their career planning. If there are stumbling blocks, ask: “What do you need to successfully meet this goal?” Do your best to provide what they need.

When handled the correct way, feedback is not a scary or intimidating process. We promise.  Let us know how you approach giving feedback.

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Use Persuasion for Good Intentions

When you automatically hear the word persuasion, what is the first thing that comes to mind?  Is it a political ad full of propaganda? Perhaps you think of the Jane Austen book, “Persuasion”. Or maybe you automatically consider persuasion is just another word for trickery.

Contrary to popular belief, persuasion is not this evil conspiracy to manipulate people. Persuasion is a form of social influence, and it is the process of guiding another toward the adoption of a new idea, attitude, or action. Doesn’t that sound similar to some of your responsibilities as a leader?

When you’re in a leadership role, it is your job to get things done. One of the most effective ways to make sure this does happen is to use persuasion. Yes, I know that might sound a bit like manipulation, but don’t forget one of the cornerstones of leadership is to influence others. Leaders can use persuasion to push their workers to make new decisions, and also use it to negotiate through difficult situations and arrive at mutual agreements in a skillful way.

Your ability to bring others to your point of view is crucial if you want to change things in your organization, which is why you must present your strategy in a persuasive and compelling way in order to inspire your workers.

If you haven’t learned how to negotiate or persuasively state your opinion, you are most likely missing out on opportunities where you can make a difference in your organization. This is why leaders need to learn how to successfully use persuasion. On the same note, leaders have to be careful to not overuse this skill, particularly when under extreme pressure. You may be perceived as an intimidating opponent rather than a skilled, persuasive negotiator.

Here are some tips on how to develop the right amount of persuasion in your leadership style:

• To improve your presentation skills, consider joining Toastmasters, or take a public speaking or acting class. Practice your presentation in front of a mirror. Ask people for feedback about your presentation.

• Practice active listening skills to sort through sources of conflict. This was mentioned in a previous post here. Listen carefully to each side of a disagreement, and repeat back in your own words the essence of the argument. When people feel heard, they are more likely to be able to listen to another point of view.

• Discuss problem situations with all parties before determining the best course of action. Seek feedback from someone else on the proposed solution before instituting it. Look for win-win solutions.

• When attempting to resolve a dispute, first focus on common goals. Try to find an area of agreement before negotiating disagreement.

• Increase your visibility throughout the organization. Get “loaned” to other parts of the organization. Participate in projects that can benefit from high energy “jump-starts.”

• Take a class or workshop on mediation techniques to help you learn to negotiate “win-win” solutions to problems.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think of persuasion as a leadership skill?

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net