Process versus the People

Today’s guest blogger is Linda Sharkey, author of Optimizing Talent. Dr. Sharkey is an HR Executive and Business Strategist with experience coaching and developing leaders and teams in Fortune 10 companies.

Is your Performance Evaluation System Helping or Getting in the Way of a Talent Rich Culture

Process versus the People

Are your year-end performance discussions more painful than they are worth and would most of your managers prefer to throw the system out?  Are you doing them merely to comply with legal requirements or to decide who gets paid what?  If so you are missing the mark on a very powerful system that can build your brand as a talent based culture and market leader.

We need to consider some key human resource systems to make sure that they are aligned with the culture you are creating and not working against it.

As we researched performance management systems in over 500 Fortune 1000 companies and talked with HR leaders in over 60 of them we discovered that the process was often more important than the outcome.  Checking the box once a year to make sure the employee and manager had at least one performance discussion seemed to be the prevailing outcome achieved.  Others focused on compensation alignment.  Few focused on creating a system where employees and their managers truly had a dialogue that actually helped employees understand how they could continue to grow and improve.  To quote several senior HR leaders “we are highly tactical in our approach and we don’t really use it to drive alignment to our culture and to our overall business strategy”.

Getting it Right

Here are ten proven steps that everyone can use to support a talent rich culture.

  1. Be crystal clear on the purpose of your performance management system.  What is the people philosophy that you are trying to promote through this system?
  2. Ensure that the system aligns with your values.   Make sure that these values are discussed so that everyone understands that what you do is as important as how you do it.
  3. Create a working profile of what the values look like in action.  State the values in terms of behaviors that everyone can recognize.  This way everyone in the organization understands the standard of the” best”.
  4. Train all you leaders and managers to recognize great behavior, assess talent and provide specific and actionable feedback.
  5. Teach managers and leaders how to effectively coach.  Agree on a coaching model and consistently apply it throughout the organization.
  6. Create peer coaching circles to help teams support each other in learning new skills and “grooving” new behaviors.  These circles enable employees to learn to ask each other for help when they need it and share suggestions and ideas.
  7. Create a simple form for year-end performance reviews that is 1 page – no more than 2 if you must.  Include specific business achievements, behaviors demonstrated, career goals and aspirations and finally what the employee needs to do to continue to grow in their current role or prepare for the next role.
  8. Don’t just reward for business outcomes; reward for expected behaviors as well.
  9. Measure and track the impact your system is having on the desired culture.  Examine your employee engagement scores to ensure feedback and coaching is happening through the year and measure your alignment to your culture so that you don’t lose sight of keeping your values on track.
  10. Link all your talent and performance discussions together to make sure you are sending consistent messages in the talent discussions as well as in performance calibration discussions.
  11. Communicate, communicate and communicate more about the impact of an effective system and how it is building a great place for shareholder value, customer loyalty and employee engagement!

If you follow these ten steps you will build a system that becomes part of your DNA, where people and leaders regularly help each other to succeed through effective feedback and coaching.  This was you will be providing performance feedback through the year and the end of the year “pain” goes away!  Try it you might like it.

You can learn how to apply these talent principles to transglobal positions in her SoundviewPro course Winning with Transglobal Leadership.

Cultivating Winning Relationships – How to network successfully

Today’s guest blogger is Morag Barrett, the founder of Skye Team and author of Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships.

You’ve heard the phrase “six degrees of separation” I have come to appreciate that in today’s world, it is more like “six degrees of connection”.

Here is a personal story to illustrate how closely we are connected. I was sitting at Anchorage airport having facilitated leadership programs at the North Slope, Alaska. It was my first trip to Alaska, and I knew no one in Anchorage. The royal wedding was being broadcast on the screens in the terminal, and the lady next to me started to chat. It was early, and I wanted to see the dress before boarding, so we talked. Eventually the conversation turned to current things. I shared that I lived in Colorado. She knew someone in Colorado… it turned out that her friend was someone I know well. We immediately went from strangers with nothing in common to acquaintances with someone in common.

Whether you find it easy to strike up a conversation with a stranger or someone who has a hard time meeting and talking to new people, networking and cultivating winning relationships is a necessary skill if you’re looking to get ahead.

With that in mind, here are six tips to help prepare you for your next networking opportunity.

Build Your Network

  1. Start before you arrive.  Review the agenda and speaker bios, check your social media connections to see who is attending and who you might like to meet. Then contact them via email, LinkedIn or twitter.
  2. Practice your “hello”. You need to think about how to say “hello” and introduce who you are and a little context as to why you are at the event.  30-seconds or less, make it genuine and remember the intent is to open up a conversation not simply toot your own horn!
  3. Get out of your comfort zone. Talk to “strangers” you may be surprised at just how connected you are. Remember relationships are not just for today… maybe this new contact could be your boss, colleague or new client next month, next year.

Maintain Your Network

4. Connect. I use LinkedIn to keep in touch with my contacts.  Send a personal invitation (not the standard wording) to the people you would like to remain in contact with.

5. Stay in touch. There is a new tool on LinkedIn that allows you to set reminders to get in touch with people (open a profile, click on ‘relationships’ and then reminders). Look for opportunities to send a quick congratulations message, or an article and “thinking of you”.  Ask for help and input from your network, you may just receive a suggestion you hadn’t considered!

6. Share your network. In Cultivate, The Power of Winning Relationships I talk about the concepts of Generosity and Abundance.  The most successful people are the ones who share their network and expertise; they give more than they take.  Make introductions, share your wisdom and build a reputation for being the go-to person.

Don’t simply attend events, participate, get involved, speak to those around you and cultivate a strong and powerful network that helps ensure your success, and theirs.

How do you cultivate and maintain your network?

You can learn more about cultivating relationships at Morag Barrett’s SoundviewPro course Business Relationships – Moving from “Me” to “We”.

Leadership Lesson: Respect The Bull, Not His Reputation

John Baldoni, leadership development chair at N2Growth, is an executive coach and the author of many books, including MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership. This blog appeared first at Forbes.

“Some guys made heroes out of [bulls].,.. In their mind they become impossible to ride.”

That is Gary Leffew, owner of a bull riding school that bears his name. As he explains in a New York Times documentary by Joris Debeij that kind of talk is self-defeating. “I tell my students not to hang around with people who make a bull sound impossible… tell you all the reasons why you can’t ride him.”

Rather Leffew advises, “Walk over to a winner and you ask him about the same bull and he goes, ‘Oh man you got him, that’s one I wanted.’” According to Leffew, 95% of people who opt to ride bulls fail at it chiefly because they cannot handle the mental aspect of bull riding.

Leffew knows of what he speaks; he won a world championship in 1970 at the age of 26 and is now in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. As a California kid his first love was motorcycles, but after seeing a rodeo he switched to riding bulls, something his father thought was safer.

A secret to Leffew’s approach is meditation, a practice he has being doing since his early twenties. “The goal is to dance with [the bull]. When you are dancing, you become one with the person you are with.” Same with bull riding. As Leffew told Caitlin Ryan for the blog The Last Word, “You’re so mentally in tune with [the bull] you go there together… The rankest bulls I ever rode… were always the easiest rides.”

Meditation is core to Leffew’s teaching. Students learn to meditate so they can prepare themselves mentally along with preparing themselves physically through their technique. His school has groomed more than a dozen World Champions. “If you’re willing to suffer through the temporary setbacks, there’s nothing you can’t achieve,” says Leffew.

While few of us will every climb on the back of a two thousand pound animal that has been bred for generations to buck and pitch whatever or whoever is on its back to the ground, Leffew’s lessons have meaning for anyone facing long odds… or any odds at all.

Mental preparation is critical to success. Too often the temptation is to prepare externally for a challenge while ignoring internal preparation. That is, executives go to great lengths in doing the work – doing research and marshaling resources – that they ignore their own mental state. Sometimes it does not matter; you are on the winning team. But when adversity strikes you are at a disadvantage because you have not strengthened your inner self. You may buckle at the first sign of resistance and like some bull riders overestimate the challenge.

One way to prepare is through the practice of mindfulness, which is the state of being fully present in the moment. You are aware of self and situation as well as what you can do or not do. As a leader mindfulness focuses also on situational awareness, being focused on the environment you are in and preparing yourself to deal with it.

Meditation is one method for learning to become more mindful but not the only way. What is required for mindfulness is learning to take stock of yourself regularly as a means of gaining perspective on your performance and your interaction with others. It is a form of self-discipline that requires commitment, the willingness to reflect and rigor to do it regularly.

Such mental prep may not ready you for the rodeo circuit but it will enable you to ride the bulls you face in your business.

Learn more about leadership from John Baldoni in his SoundviewPro course Do-It-Yourself Leadership.

A Radical New Approach to Employee Engagement

Marshall Goldsmith has twice been recognized as the top-ranked executive coach in the world and one of the top 10 most influential business thinkers by Thinkers50. This blog first appeared on his website.

In my new book Triggers, I propose a radical new approach to employee engagement. To me, this new approach is the “other half of the equation”, the missing piece, the thing that we’ve been overlooking that could change the business landscape for good!

What is this radical new concept? It’s that the key variable in employee engagement is the individual, the employee, not the program. Although it may sound obvious, this idea is not taught or acted upon. Instead, companies spend billions of dollars every year trying to get employees and leaders to believe that the solution to employee engagement problems is “out there” not “in us”. For example:

  • Historically, almost all of the evaluations of leadership development programs have focused on participants grading the popularity of the speakers. The goal of the program developers is to develop popular programs. Who learns to take responsibility? Who is really being trained? The speaker! The speaker is reinforced for being a popular presenter. The speaker almost never has any responsibility for the actual development of the leaders. The leaders may or may not take responsibility for their own development. Many take no responsibility for implementing what they learn in programs and, not surprisingly, do not become more effective.
  • Historically, almost all of the evaluations of executive coaching is on the popularity of the coach. Companies want to hire coaches who are popular with executives. Who learns to take responsibility? Who is really being trained? The executive coach is reinforced for being popular. The coaching clients may or may not take responsibility for changing their own behavior. Many take no responsibility for implementing suggestions from their coach and, not surprisingly, do not become better leaders.
  • Historically, almost all of the evaluation on employee engagement has focused on the company. These are important things like delivering fair pay and benefits, providing tools and resources, creating a safe workplace environment, and so on. But who is learning to take responsibility? Who is being trained? The company learns to roll out popular employee engagement programs; however, the employees may or may not take responsibility for engaging themselves. Many take no responsibility for engaging themselves and, not surprisingly, do not become more engaged though they do have good benefits.

I am not suggesting that all development and engagement programs are helpful – or that if their ideas are implemented they will work. I am merely pointing out that ideas which are not implemented definitely will not work!

I want you to achieve positive, lasting change, and I want you to have a better life. And while some of your life is going to be impacted by your environment, by a program, coach, or company – a lot is going to be up to you! The fact is that while you can’t make yourself taller, you can make yourself more engaged. And maybe you can’t change your company, boss, or employee, but you can change your reaction to them.

Your success in becoming engaged, being happy, finding meaning, and leading people will largely come from inside you – not from some teacher, coach, or program. It is not just what you learn, but how you (and if you) use it that will make the difference.

You can learn more about becoming a better leader at Marshall Goldsmith’s SoundviewPro course Helping Successful Leaders Get Even Better.