Archive for the 'Leadership' Category

Why I get people to write their own letters of reference

If you’ve subscribed or followed my blogs, you know by now about my concept of antimimeticisomorphism – Doing out-of-the-ordinary things to create extra-ordinary results with the least amount of effort and lowest cost.

Early in my career, a mentor got me to write my own letter of reference. He explained that as the requestor and benefactor, it was up to me to do the “heavy lifting”. I was quite taken aback, but what he said next made a lot of sense. Since he hired and worked with a lot of people, if he acquiesced to all the people who made the request, he would spend dozens and maybe even hundreds of hours a year… Doing people “a favour”.

Instead, he cut back the letters to +/- half and spent that time saved to edit and personalise the ones that were submitted to him to a much greater level of detail and relevance.

I have followed this wise approach in my 30+ year-long career realising that there are other benefits. First, I too have found half of the people won’t come back with a letter to be edited. Second, their self-perception of what they think they did can be quite shockingly distorted or pleasantly insightful and revealing. In the former instance, it can be quite awkward (but necessary) to make the edits and in the former I can further highlight those elements that I would otherwise not have considered.

Letters of reference are not worth much since we all know we get them from people who like and appreciate what we did for or with them. There is some credence to accumulating them in large numbers since the volume of positive references is, by itself testimony to excellence and consistency. Someone who can convince 10, 20 or 30 people to provide a letter of reference has to be better than one who cannot or has not had the initiative or forethought to do so.

Of course, when the first draft comes to you, it’s your responsibility to edit it, re-write and edit it in your own voice and style – ensuring it is both accurate and representative of the person you are attaching to your name and reputation.

Yes, sometimes I have refused to write a letter – even for someone who did an “OK” job because for me, “OK” is not good enough for me to associate myself with that person.

One last comment worthy to note – some people will take offence to this approach. You need to “own this approach” to overcome that response. My view is anyone who takes offence has made that choice and as such doesn’t understand what I have explained above. Explaining why is absolutely necessary.

What is also necessary is to no accept the guilt trip many people will try to bestow on you. The most common comments include:

  • “But I worked for you for X years and it’s the least you could do.”
  • “It will only take you 10 minutes…”
  • “Everyone else I asked did it for me, why won’t you?”
  • “I wouldn’t know where to start and I am not comfortable blowing my one trumpet.”
  • “You know me better than I know myself and you’re written more references letters than I have.”
Admittedly, sticking to this “principle” is not easy – but I believe it’s necessary if you want to elevate your relationships to a higher level of character and integrity – especially in this superficial world of false friendships and the proliferation of fake “testimonials and reviews”.
Of course I match the person’s contribution with my own. I once had someone submit a one-liner, which I edited and sent back as a one-liner…!
As a referrer, you’re either part of the problem (perpetuating it with a quick, worthless letter) or part of the solution with a well-developed and meaningful assessment that transcends the standard letter of reference. Something the reader will acknowledge is “different”.
But please let be known, I am biased. I have seen the differences in my 30+ year career. The longest letters I created were for people who are still friends or acquaintances and anecdotally they’ve been considerably more ‘successful’ in their careers. Part of it might be their flexibility to adapt to new situations and circumstances, like this one.

9 Ways To Spot A Sociopath

This is a great article worth reading if you have someone creating havoc in your life at home or at work. Sociopaths are not all the same, but they do have telltale signs: Here are 9 ways to spot a sociopath.

 

 

Are you ready for PRIME TIME?

One of the key concepts of Personal Productivity Principles is the concept of PRIME TIME.

Every time you have a task to do, you have to weigh the time/cost – value equation against your own “productivity expectation” and determine WHEN to do it.

PRIME TIME is best explained with a telemarketing/sales example:

  • PRIME TIME = whenever contact (calls) can be made.
  • NON- PRIME TIME = the rest of the time.

A top gun salesperson (or highly effective business person) only does PRIME TIME TASKS IN PRIME TIME and vice versa.

For example:

  • Reports, time management, scheduling is done early in the morning (NON-PRIME TIME)
  • Calls are made during the day  – maybe even during LUNCH TIME when people have time to talk (PRIME TIME)
  • Paperwork, planning, educational and development tasks are done in the evenings and/or weekends (NON-PRIME TIME)

It’s all pretty SIMPLE to understand – harder to actually do – because most people don’t know what their PRIME TIME tasks/outcomes are.

Once you know your PURPOSE / OUTCOME, everything should fall into place…

But it’s all easier said than done – unless you have a SYSTEMISED approach to time/life management.

Of course, when time permits, NON-PRIME TIME tasks CAN be done in PRIME TIME as long as they don’t interfere with PRIME TIME TASKS.

If you want to learn more about these principles, contact us. These are skills we teach within our Platinum Program.

Praise At Work

I am not an advocate of feeding Praise Junkies as spotlighted in the BBC article hyperlinked, but praise does go a long way to motivating employees. Here is a useful infographic to help you motivate your team.
The_Importance_of_Appreciating_Employees

Interview Question To Test A Candidate

Here’s a quick quiz to get your (mental) hamster working…

I have used mini tests (quizzes) like this math quiz for years in Interviews… You can find thousands of them online, especially on Lumosity.com

Go ahead and have a look, try to solve it and then come back so I can explain WHAT you are looking for to determine a person’s skill, ability AND personality.

Continue reading ‘Interview Question To Test A Candidate’

Recruiting Engaged Employees

Almost all of the research conducted on engagement has so far focused on what leaders can do to engage their employees.

  • But what if it were possible to recruit people who could actually engage themselves?
  • In other words, are there specific characteristics some employees have that make them inherently more engage-able?

The answer, of course, is yes.  And that has just been demonstrated in a new study conducted by psychologists at the University College London.  The researchers assessed over 1,000 adults and they discovered there are seven personality traits that predict whether an employee is more likely to be engaged.  The results are as follows:

  1. Emotional intelligence:  This is the biggest predictor of engagement.  It reflects employees who can control and understand their own emotions as well as those of their colleagues.
  2. Openness to experience:  This is the second-biggest predictor.  That’s because employees brave enough to embrace new opportunities have higher reserves of resilience.
  3. Extraversion:  Extraverted people are less likely to be affected by emotional exhaustion and cynicism, the absence of which ramps up their energy.
  4. Conscientiousness:  Conscientious individuals are predisposed to being engaged because they’re less likely to allow interferences to get in the way of their commitment.
  5. Interpersonal sensitivity:  An interpersonally sensitive team member is one who can maintain sound relationships with colleagues and can communicate in a tactful manner.
  6. Adjustment:  If an employee has the ability to remain calm under pressure, that individual is said to have a high rate of adjustment.  And subsequently greater engagement.
  7. Ambition:  The more competitive someone is – or the more they aspire to progress further in an organisation – the more inclined they’ll be to push themselves into an engaged state.

So what does this mean from a recruitment perspective?

Four things.

  1. Incorporate questions into your interview guide that enable you to ascertain the degree to which a candidate is high on those seven attributes.
  2. Since emotional intelligence is of supreme importance, consider including an EQ questionnaire as part of the recruitment process.
  3. Be mindful you’re not over-emphasising aptitude over attitude in your hiring decisions.  Those seven traits could outshine any technical shortfalls.
  4. Think about providing developmental opportunities to your current employees so they, too, can learn how to adopt those characteristics.

It’s also worth considering whether you, as the leader, are high or low on those attributes.

A good place to start is with emotional intelligence.  Because there are few things more disengaging than an emotionally unintelligent boss.

Original Article Source: James Adonis

Provided By: Mark Mackenzie of Graffiti Eaters.

Unhappy Employees = Unprofitable Business

We understand the logic:

Unhappy employees = unproductive employees = an unprofitable business

The issue begins when we deal with employees as a GROUP – Employees only exist as individuals, just like you EXIST right now, reading this sentence. ONE person at a time is reading this sentence. Even though there might be several or even thousands doing it at the same time, each is doing it in-div-id-u-al-ly.

Too many managers and HR people forget this very important aspect.

This is a “problem” only solved at the personal level with greater initiative, motivation, enthusiasm, encouragement and accountability.

It is a BIG problem, no doubt about it. The first step, in my book, is to have each person on your team or organisation become “purpose driven”, which simply means having their reason for coming into the office aligned with their personal goals, dreams and ambitions. My “My Best Year Ever Program” is one of the first steps I recommend to all my clients, for their own personal planning, but more importantly for their staff to get focused and clear on what they want out of life and consequently their jobs and careers.

the-high-cost-of-unhappy-employees-infographic

Five Different Management Styles

Let’s face it – managing people is not easy. If it was, everyone would be a great manager and we all know that is not the case!

Management Style Cartoon

Being a “good” business manager takes a number of different skills and abilities to succeed. You need to be dynamic, organised and ready to take control. On top of these factors, there are also several different management styles you can adopt. The style  you choose will be a reflection of your personality, workplace and situation and will determine its effectiveness.

That’s why it’s important to be aware of the different management styles, so you can CHOOSE the right technique for the appropriate situation and context. Otherwise you’ll make the same blunders inept managers make – doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time, the wrong way!

Management Style #1: Directive Style

The directive management style is the hard, ‘do what I tell you’ way of doing things. Generally, this isn’t a practical way to go about your business, as you want your employees to respond via their trust and appreciation of you. If an employee is underdeveloped, they may feel intimidated by this type of management. Similarly, if they are highly developed, they may become frustrated with you. This style is only  successful when there is a crisis or serious situation, when you need to show direction and determination amongst the chaos.

Management Style #2: Participation Style

The participation style of management is highly effective in several different situations. By adopting this style, you give each and every employee an opportunity to speak up and have input. This builds a ‘team effort’ feeling within the workplace, which is likely to increase compliance. However, this style may not be as effective when an employee is underdeveloped and still needs close supervision. That’s why one-size does not fit all when it comes to managing people and situations.

Management Style #3: Authoritative Style

The authoritative management style is somewhat similar to the directive style. The key difference, however, is  this style is more of a ‘firm but fair’ way of managing employees. You provide your workers with a vision of where they should be and where they should be going. With clear goals set, they are able to work individually towards achieving them. This is a successful management technique, although some of the more underdeveloped workers may still need more supervision and direction. An authoritative style requires that you command authority, either formally or informally. Without it, you are just being directive and as previously stated, that is largely ineffective and yet remains a popular management style…!

Management Style #4: Coaching Style

The coaching style of management is similar to participation, however, it focuses more on building your employees’ skills to a higher level of proficiency. By coaching your workers, you are not only encouraging them to participate and get the work done, but you are assisting them in building their own skills as well. This is highly effective with motivated workers who hope to gain more skills.

Management Style #5: Affiliative Style

This management style has a primary objective of building relationships between workers and minimising conflict. By doing this there is a wonderful level of harmony within the workplace which may encourage your employees to meet set goals voluntarily rather than by force. It is a ‘people first’ style of managing. It may not be effective if goals are not being met or if there is a crisis situation that needs to be addressed. It necessarily requires a much higher skill set than the directive and authoritative styles, understanding personality profiles and team dynamics. It is not recommended for your or first-time managers.

There are a number of different ways to manage a business. Obviously, one style won’t always fit your workplace. You need to change your style depending on the tasks and situations that need to be addressed. To know more about successful business management, visit Coral Homes franchise business or Coral Homes on True Local.

This has been a guest post. If you would like so submit one to us, please contact us at your convenience.

A positive twist on negative thinking?

Positive thinking seems to be one of the hippest trends of modern management and popular ‘gurus’.  But a review of the empirical evidence, released a few months ago by the University of New South Wales, found those who think negatively actually have stronger memories, make better judgements, are not as gullible, are less selfish, and persevere longer at difficult tasks.*

These are hugely important findings because in many workplaces employees who are branded as ‘negative’ are immediately ostracised, considered too destructive and uncooperative to have on a team.  But what is now evident is that they really do have a valuable role to play in any organisation if given the opportunity to do so.

Different - Zebra

* Unless we’re talking about the toxic people whose clear aim is to cause mayhem by opposing and complaining and conniving and influencing others to join them on the dark side.  In those cases, treat them as a serious performance management issue.  That’s why it’s essential to distinguish between those who simply think negatively with those who work negatively.  The former are easy to coach; the latter not so much.

Obstructionists come in tow different ‘flavours’:

  • The mis-matcher, who will drive you and your colleagues crazy by disagreeing with everything you say hence the moniker mis-matcher. These are annoying people who can’t help themselves and I tell all my clients to fire them LAST WEEK!
  • Non-conformist, who just does not want to be placed in any box, group or team – BECAUSE – they just don’t want to. They are in fact in a box, labeled non-conformist, but even THAT label annoys them.

The challenge for you as a leader is to avoid the temptation to turn a negative thinker into a positive one.  You’re better served identifying the strengths they can bring to the team irrespective of their thinking style, and then incorporate those strengths in some way within their job.  In particular, negative thinkers can make a great contribution in these areas:

  • Matters of cognition:  This includes solving complicated problems, simplifying organisational complexity, and developing subject matter experts.
  • Matters of judgement:  This includes identifying flaws in strategic plans, providing input on the recruitment of new employees, and determining risk.
  • Matters of motivation:  This includes participating in long-term projects, keeping colleagues focused on the core issues, and questioning the status quo.
  • Matters of social behaviour:  This includes communicating critical information, anticipating the impact of change initiatives, and assessing the fairness of decisions.

Of course, positive thinkers can be just as successful at each of those areas.  It’s just that those inclined to think negatively have especially demonstrated those competencies in various academic studies.  Even then, that doesn’t imply that negative thinkers are better than positive ones or vice versa.  They each have advantages (and disadvantages) that brilliant leaders are able to maximise (or minimise).

What you’ll end up discovering is that when you stop seeing negative thinkers as an issue to be rectified and instead see them as a talent to be engaged, they begin to feel valued and acknowledged.  And as soon as that realisation sets in, they’ll eventually exhibit the positive traits that so many of their colleagues have long desired.

NOTE TO SMALL, ENTREPRENEURIAL BUSINESS OWNERS:

Do not hire negative, non-conformist or mis-matchers. Even though academic literature and team oriented literature supports to some degree diversity – as a SMALL business, with LIMITED budgets – you simply cannot afford ANY discordance with your vision and strategy. Of course I am not advocating you hire only yes men and women, what I am suggesting is you AVOID those that will be conflictual.

How do you do that? Contact us and we’ll teach you how to hire the best staff and avoid the most blatant mistakes – BEFORE you make one that can cost you thousands in lost productivity and profitability.

Original source article provided by Mark Mackenzie of The Graffiti Eaters. Thanks Mark!

Vacuums and voids

You may be aware of the scientific theory that ‘nature abhors a vacuum’.  In quantum mechanics, it’s referred to as the vacuum state, which basically means there’s no such thing as a vacuum.

Let’s say, for example, that you created some kind of glass container closed off to all physical particles.  From the outside looking in, it would appear as though it was empty.  But really it’s not.  That space, at the very least, contains electromagnetic waves and particles.  If the slightest piercing were to penetrate the container, it would then be filled with air.  And, depending on where the container was located, a slightly larger opening may see it consumed with water or sand or any other substance.

That’s why philosophers like Aristotle have professed that vacuums don’t exist.  As soon as we think that one is there, something instantly fills it up.

Such is the case at work – an environment notorious for the vacuums that arise.  When there’s a vacuum of information, it’s filled with gossip.  When there’s a vacuum of training, it’s filled with mistakes.  When there’s a vacuum of opportunity, it’s filled with disengagement.

If we were to look specifically at new teams (or established teams that have been leaderless for a while), there are four vacuums that are especially present:  structure, knowledge, relationships, and authority.

Structure:  This represents the systems that are in place, the ways in which the team is organised, and the rules that determine how and when the work gets done.  A vacuum of structure is often filled with misguided people.

Knowledge:  This reflects the collective expertise of the employees, an awareness of their developmental gaps, and the principles that influence their decision-making.  A vacuum of knowledge is often filled with costly errors.

Relationships:  This includes the level of trust among the team members, the degree to which they understand each other, and the extent to which they like and respect one another.  A vacuum of relationships is often filled with conflict.

Authority:  This is in relation to the informal power that some employees hold, the credibility of the leader to lead the team, and the ability of the leader to inspire change.  A vacuum of authority is often filled with power struggles.

If you’re a leader taking over a new or leaderless team, it’s important to fill those four vacuums before other (unfavourable) elements infiltrate them.  As the American writer Tennessee Williams wrote figuratively: “A vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff that nature replaces it with.”

The trouble, though, is that a vacuum doesn’t last very long.  Or at all.

I’d like to thank Mark Mackenzie of The Graffiti Eaters for this week’s submission. If you come across something valuable like this, please forward it in to me and I will share it with our readers and subscribers and reward you with a few valuable backlinks!