Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Simplicity—and Power—of Stop, Start, Continue

Guest post from Rodger Dean Duncan:

Whether you’re a leader, follower, partner, or service provider, clarity is always important.

Let’s say you’ve delegated a task to someone else. If a deadline will be missed or a key deliverable won’t be ready as expected, you want an honest and timely report. Honest in that it contains all the pertinent information, and timely in that it provides opportunity to shift gears if necessary.

If you’re a follower, you need the same kind of clarity. Even if the “how” of the assignment is left to your discretion, you need a specific and mutual understanding of the “what.”

In a partnership (and that includes a marriage), it’s always imperative that mutual expectations are honored.

And if you’re a service provider—let’s face it, you provide service if you’re a leader, follower, or partner—you’re headed for trouble if you fail to meet agreed-upon expectations.

Call it transparency, exactitude, explicitness or any other fancy name you wish. But by whatever label you choose, clarity in expectations will serve you well in any relationship.

The key is to communicate early and often.

I’ve found that a simple formula can help keep dialogue on a productive path. It’s called “Stop, Start, Continue.”

If you report to someone else, don’t wait for your periodic performance review. Initiate a conversation with your leader by briefly confirming that you value feedback and you want to ensure that you’re meeting (and even exceeding) expectations. Explain that you’d like to use the “Stop, Start, Continue” framework to ensure that the conversation is helpful to both of you.

Ask your leader if there’s anything you should Stop doing. Make it clear that you’re sincerely open to feedback and you want to catch any missteps early. Listen carefully. Resist the temptation to argue against or rebut any feedback you receive. Demonstrate by your demeanor that you really want to understand and make any necessary course corrections.

Next, ask your leader if there’s anything you’re not currently doing that would be helpful to the project or cause you’re serving. Again, listen carefully. Ask follow-up questions if necessary. Focus on understanding, not any kind of rebuttal.

Finally, ask your leader what you’re currently doing that you should definitely continue. Seek for specificity. For example, don’t be satisfied if your leader says something like “You’re doing a great job, just keep it up.” Express appreciation for the compliment, then ask for specifics. Is it the presentation you gave at last week’s all-hands meeting? What seemed to be most helpful? Is it the way you handled logistics on last month’s big project? What, specifically, should be repeated? Is it the way you’re collaborating with other departments? The work you’re doing to engage your team members? Get as many specifics as you can so you’ll know for sure exactly what your leader appreciates.

If people report to you, teach them to use the “Stop, Start, Continue” framework in their dialogue with you about their work. And remember that it’s a two-way street. If you care about how they view your leadership efforts—and you absolutely should—it’s helpful to have open and honest conversation about what you’re doing that helps or hampers. And remember that the spirit in which you accept feedback provides a model for how you expect others to accept feedback from you.

All kinds of relationships can benefit from the “Stop, Start, Continue” framework. In an organizational setting, peers can use the framework to learn how they can better serve each others’ needs. For example, department heads can use the framework in talking about how to avoid the common silo mentality that can be deadly to performance. You can even add one more element: Change. A process may be working to some extent but could benefit from minor changes. Open dialogue can help identify the needed tweaks.

When it’s done in the right spirit, “Stop, Start, Continue” underscores mutual respect and collaboration. My wife and I periodically use this conversational framework to discuss our marriage relationship. Does it work? I’m happy to report that I have more than 50 years of positive evidence to justify a resounding “yes.”

Rodger Dean Duncan is a sought-after speaker and leadership coach. His clients have included cabinet officers in two White House administrations and senior leaders in dozens of top companies in multiple industries. He’s the award-winning, bestselling author of LeaderSHOP: Workplace, Career, and Life Advice From Today’s Top Thought Leaders.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Three Keys to Being a Great Leader

Guest post by Raymond Houser:

Being a great leader means getting people to do things that they didn't think possible. It's as simple as that.

Many people confuse leadership style with true leadership. You don't have to be an extroverted, rah-rah motivator to be a great leader. If that’s your style, fine. But some of the greatest leaders have been quiet, introspective persons.

Great leaders share several characteristics. First and foremost, they motivate people to do their best. They are also humble: they’re the first to accept the blame when things go wrong, and the first to give credit when things go right.  Great leaders don't talk so much about winning, but about getting the best from the individuals themselves. 

John Wooden, one of the greatest college basketball coaches in history, never talked about beating the other team. Instead, he inspired his players to exceed their own capabilities. Vince Lombardi was known as a strict disciplinarian, but the reason behind the success of the great Green Bay Packers teams was Lombardi’s ability to get each player to believe in his own abilities and to exceed them.

Think about what got you into a leadership position: drive, persistence, vision, goals. If you want to become a better leader, you need to show each of your team members that you care about them as individuals, not just as employees, and the best way to do that is by getting them to articulate their own goals and aspirations. Remember, they’re not there to help you achieve your goals, they’re there to achieve their own goals.

This leadership philosophy was summed up by Zig Ziglar, a great motivational leader who I was fortunate enough to have as my Sunday School teacher when I was growing up in Dallas: “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Fred Smith, another leader who was Ziglar’s mentor, talked about the leader as servant: “Leadership is not a title that grants you license to force others to knuckle under; it’s a skill you perform, a service you render for the whole group.”

This gets to the question of rewards. Many companies make the mistake of rewarding their top performers with things like a week’s vacation in Hawaii or a new car. But this assumes that everyone is capable of performing at the same level as the top 2%, which clearly is not the case.

Performance is a combination of aptitude and attitude. Not everyone has the aptitude to be a star performer, but everyone is capable of motivating themselves to get to the next level. Shouldn't your reward system recognize efforts by the 98% who are trying to better themselves, and not just the 2% who are already at the top?

My early career was as a sales manager for Southwestern Company, which involved recruiting college students to sell educational books door-to-door. (The door-to-door sales model is still in use today, even in the age of Amazon, by the way.) In the door-to-door book selling business, the biggest obstacle to success is the fear of rejection, of literally having doors slammed in your face.

I told my team members that nobody enjoys having doors slammed in their face. But the thing to remember is they’re not rejecting you as a person, they’re rejecting you as a salesperson.  Maybe they’re too busy, aren’t interested in what you’re selling, a lot of reasons. They’re not denigrating you as a human being. In other words, it’s your role, not your identity, that’s being rejected.

This confusion between role and identity is often carried over from childhood experiences. When a parent criticizes a child with phrases like: ‘How could you be so stupid?’ or “Why can’t you be more like your brother?’ the child will naturally carry these feelings into adulthood, with the result that criticisms will be taken personally even when they’re meant to be constructive.

I developed something called the ‘ninety no’ contest. Any student who got ninety noes during their first two weeks received a prize. This turned a negative into a positive: the more doors that were slammed in your face, the closer you were to making a sale. It was simply a question of substituting the emotional fear of rejection with the rational law of averages. I used this approach successfully at Southwestern and subsequently with my own book business, which I eventually sold to Thomas Nelson, the largest producer of Bibles in the United States.

To summarize, here are the three keys to becoming a great leader:

·         Put the needs of your employees ahead of those of your own.

·         Help people to achieve their own goals, not yours or the company’s.

·         Reward attitude, while recognizing aptitude.

Raymond Houser is the author of THE WINNING ADVANTAGE:  Tap Into Your Richest Resources. He started earning money by selling pecans when he was six years-old.  By the time he was 12, he had a paper route in addition to working in grocery stores and a bowling alley. When his dream of becoming a major league baseball catcher ended, he knew he had to focus on other goals. And that is what he did, challenging himself to overcome shyness and knock on doors until he became the highest-grossing divisional book salesman of his time for the Southwestern Company. After that he started, developed, and eventually sold, his own book company.
His career had its ups and downs, including a bankruptcy. Yet, despite setbacks, he never gave up. Starting a new career in his 40s, he was hired at Merrill Lynch where he became a successful money manager who earned accolades—and substantial income for himself and his clients—through trust in himself and innovation. In time, he started, developed, and eventually sold, another company. Today he is a sought-after speaker who offers his experience and perspective on managing a career and, most of all, a life.
He divides his time between Dallas and San Diego.
For more information please visit,

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Learn Leadership

Guest post from Leo Bottary:

Leadership lessons exist all around us, all the time.  All we have to do is pay attention.  Let me offer two examples – one is about growth and the other involves the power of declaring victory.

One of my favorite fictional characters provides a profound lesson in leadership in a wonderful book called The Offsite by Robert H. Thompson.  His name is Sam Arthur, and he is the groundskeeper at Tucson, Arizona’s La Mariposa Resort & Spa – the location of an offsite meeting for two high-powered teams from competing pharmaceutical companies.

Consider for a moment that Thompson could have given Sam any job at the hotel – general manager, bellman, concierge, etc.  (Or, the author could have chosen one of the other high-powered executives portrayed in the book to be our teacher, so to speak).  The groundskeeper, however, serves as the perfect metaphor for servant leadership. Sam sees to it that the soil is healthy. He makes sure the plants get enough water and sun, and that their environment is free from weeds and pests.  The plants are given everything they need to succeed on their own. Sam knows that if he creates the right conditions for growth, his gardens will flourish.

One would hardly imagine Sam screaming at the flowers to grow faster or fuller.  Sam’s approach to nurturing his garden is what great leaders do to build successful enterprises.  They create conditions for people to flourish!  Maybe more importantly, Sam reminds the executives attending the offsite, and us as readers, that we can learn something from everyone we meet, no matter what their job or station in life.  This is how we grow.

When it comes to declaring victory, I experienced how leaders (coaches) can help people reframe tough challenges to ensure success.  About 15-20 years ago, I frequently trained for and ran a number of marathons.  Sometimes, on long run days or even during a few races, if I was not feeling 100% physically or just mentally beaten down by the distance, I would stop and walk for a while, run until I couldn’t run anymore, and walk again. I’d repeat the process until I reached the end of my training run or, in the case of a race, the finish line.

An experienced runner once told me that this can happen to anyone, but that I was thinking about it all wrong. He said that if you have to stop and walk, that’s fine, but when you start running again, don’t run until you can’t go another step. When you do that, you’re engaging in a mental exercise of repeated failure. Instead, when you feel good enough to start running again, look ahead of you and spot a tree or a stop sign. Set that as your goal. Run to it and declare victory. Start walking again, and when you’re ready, identify another marker. Run to that and call it a win. He advised that declaring victory, rather than succumbing to repeated defeats, would help me finish more quickly and with a healthier attitude.  The recurring wins would actually bolster my confidence for the future. Of course, he was absolutely right. It works brilliantly.

I once offered the same advice to my daughter Kristin during her first attempt at running a half marathon.  I explained the “declare victory versus succumb to defeat approach” to getting across the finish line. She tried it and was extremely grateful for the way this small change in mindset helped her complete the race that day.

Now imagine Kristin, not as a runner, but as an employee.  She is charged with achieving a lofty goal, has a solid plan to achieve that goal, and then begins to implement the plan with all the energy in the world.  As she runs into difficulties along the way, her enthusiasm yields to the current circumstances and the reality of the long slog ahead.  She starts to believe that the situation is controlling her, instead of the other way around. When this happens, this is where the leader can remind her that it’s okay to walk for a bit, set a short-term goal, achieve that goal, secure a win, and set a new short-term goal. It’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other and declaring victory as often as possible.

Some of the greatest leadership lessons I’ve ever received came when I wasn’t looking for them.  I can only imagine the stories and lessons the readers of this blog could share – especially those that were gleaned from unexpected sources and/or seemingly unrelated experiences.  If you have one, share one in the comments section.  It’s among the best ways to truly learn leadership. 

Leo Bottary is a sought-after thought leader on peer advantage, an emerging discipline dedicated to strategically engaging peers to realize your business and life goals. A popular author, educator, keynote speaker and workshop facilitator. His new book is What Anyone Can Do: How Surrounding Yourself with the Right People Will Drive Change, Opportunity, and Personal Growth.
For more information, please visit

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

10 Essential Facilitation Skills for Meeting Leaders

A lot of meeting leaders think they know how to “run” a meeting. They may set an agenda, do most of the talking and make the decisions. While this may feel easy and efficient, it’s often a waste of people’s time and does not tap into the creative potential of the team.

There are a lot of reasons meeting leaders don’t involve others more in meetings, including a fear of letting go, a lack of belief that others can make a meaningful contribution, or a lack of meeting facilitation skills.

“Facilitation” skills can be learned. To facilitate means “to make easier or less difficult; help forward”.

For a leader to facilitate a meeting (instead of running it), they need to be first be willing to let go of their power and be open to outcomes. Meeting facilitation involves getting everyone involved in identifying and solving problems. Teams will almost always develop better, more creative solutions than any one person could and will be more likely to support the implementation of the solutions.

Then, they need to learn and practice some new skills: meeting facilitation skills. Here are 10 essential skills required to facilitate a meeting, all of which can be learned and improved with practice:

1. Agenda planning. A collaborative meeting starts with agenda planning. Selecting topics that invite participation, i.e., a problem to be solved, is far more engaging that “informational” topics. However, ample times needs to be allocated to allow for group involvement. Good agenda planning (with desired outcomes) should also help determine who should be invited to the meeting.

2. Choosing the right environment and climate. Logistics matter! When people are uncomfortable, can’t see each other, can’t hear, or are hungry, meeting results will suffer. Learn how to use logistics to encourage great participation and remove barriers.

3. Asking questions. Great questions stimulate great discussion. See Leading with Questions by Michael J. Marquardt.

4. Active listening. When a meeting leader paraphrases, checks for understanding, and asks follow-up questions, it encourages more participation and keeps the discussion flowing.

5. Brainstorming. Most people think they already know how to brainstorm. However, they usually don’t, and never really leverage the power of a well-run brainstorming session.

6. Consensus building skills. Consensus does not mean that everybody must agree with a decision. It means that everyone has had a say, heard each other, and has arrived at a decision that they are willing to support. Reaching consensus takes more time, but will usually produce better ideas and more buy-in.

7. Conflict resolution. Whenever there is a roomful of people involved in solving a problem, conflict is inevitable. In fact, conflict is good, way better than avoiding problems. However, a meeting leader needs to learn how to harness the power of conflict in a positive way.

8. Non-verbal communication skills. While researchers argue over the exact percentages, most would agree that greater than 50% of communication is non-verbal, not words. A meeting leader needs to be able to read the group’s tone and body language in order to assess their level of engagement, candor, and commitment.

9. Recording. Skillful group facilitation involves knowing when to turn to a flipchart or whiteboard to capture what people are saying. Doing so makes people feel like their ideas are being heard and are valued and serves as a valuable record to be used for action planning and follow-up.

10. Follow-up. Meeting facilitation doesn’t end when the meeting ends. A well-written meeting summary and action items can help assure decisions that you worked so hard to reach actually get implemented.

Sometimes it makes sense for a meeting leader – especially if the leader is also the person in charge – to “outsource” the meeting facilitation to an outside meeting facilitator that already has all these skills. That way, the leader can just focus on participating and not have to wear two hats (participant and facilitator) or worry about dominating the meeting. Contact me if this sounds like something you’d like to discuss.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Leaders: Choose Your Own Reality

Guest post from Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair and Dr. Jeanie Cockell

Just about every leader has had an employee who was, to say it diplomatically, a “handful” to manage. We have. One example was a person Joan worked with – let’s call her Jane Doe. Jane saw policies and procedures as mere suggestions. She irritated her team with her habit of pushing limits to get an idea through. When stressed she let it show though in her interactions with others. Yet, she always received amazing reviews from her direct reports and colleagues because they saw something important and worthy in her.

Along with her leadership faults, Jane  was innovative, creative, personable, dedicated, and very hard working. In Joan’s time working with her, Joan chose to focus on her abilities and how she used those abilities to champion what needed to get done. Notice the word choice here—Joan chose. She could have focused entirely on Jane’s weaknesses and frustrated all of  her attempts to undertake positive work. Yet, she consciously chose not to do this. She consciously chose to “reframe” the situation and foster Jane’s leadership strengths.

The power of reframing

Reframing is about intentionally offering up a different frame to a leadership situation. The ability to reframe or reinterpret a given situation enables leaders to see that positive consequences can be built from even the direst circumstances. What leaders focus on and foster influences the outcomes both for themselves and for those who work with them.

Reframing is a powerful practice that leaders committed to positive change embrace. It is one of the many practices of “appreciative resilience” which we outline in our book, Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry: A Leadership Journey through Hope, Despair, and Forgiveness.

Resilience, or the ability to sustain or persevere in the most complex of leadership and life experiences, is a necessary skill for leaders to have in today’s fast-paced, volatile world. Appreciative resilience approaches resilience from the place of assisting leaders in developing their own understanding and personal call to resilience by using appreciative inquiry. (AI is an approach that focuses on what’s working well by engaging people in asking generative questions.)

Using reframing to build resilience

Leaders often think of resilience as a response to weathering despair, but in appreciative resilience work, resilience is fostered from a place of maximizing the use of appreciative exploration as leaders move through three constant leadership states: hope, despair, and forgiveness.

Through our decades of consulting work, we’ve identified these three constant states of leadership and have seen the power of reframing in hope, despair, and forgiveness as part of  building resilience. For example, in hope, reframing can allow leaders to see possibilities in place of challenges. In despair, reframing can shed light on the strengths that can sustain a leader.  And, in forgiveness, reframing can empower someone to move past resentment, anger, and fear and step towards evolving and growing as a leader.

Living in today’s world full of multiple realities

Reframing as one of the practices of appreciative resilience allows leaders to begin to see the other possible worldviews and to be open to the idea that other views, ideas and directions could have merit. This is especially important in today’s leadership world where there are many different worldviews born out of culture, diversity, events, and lived experience.

When leaders see that their perspectives are not always shared truths, they change how they react. They alter the kinds of questions they ask, the types of actions they might take, and the openheartedness with which they might approach what is before them.

There are many people like Joan’s former colleague inside organizations. The ability to reframe to see these individuals’ strengths, or other people’s perspectives, or possibilities hidden within challenges opens the door for leaders to enable positive outcomes. P.S. Jane flourished.

About the authors:
Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair and Dr. Jeanie Cockell are co-presidents of Cockell McArthur-Blair Consulting and co-authors of Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry, published by Berrett-Koehler. Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair is an inspirational writer, speaker, and facilitator. Joan specializes in the use of Appreciative Inquiry to foster leadership, strategic planning, and innovative strategies for organizational development. Dr. Jeanie Cockell is a dynamic facilitator known for her ability to get diverse groups to work collaboratively together. For twenty years, Jeanie has served as an educational and organizational consultant helping people, organizations, and communities build positive futures and respond effectively to change.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Radical Accountability

Guest post by Stephen J. Cloobeck:

I was determined not to be a CEO who was content to preach to my team. And so, against the advice and admonishments of “foolishness” from my executive team, and just about everybody else, I decided to do something that would show not only our guests but also our team members how truly committed I was to radical accountability.

I announced that I was putting my business card – with my personal cell number and direct email address – on the front desk of every Diamond Resorts International property.

- “Stephen, that’s lunacy – you’re going to be inundated with calls and emails.”
- “You can’t do it all.”
- “Imagine the precedent it will set.”
- “We don’t have the infrastructure – you’re setting us up to fail.”
- “No one’s done this before.”
- “What’s wrong with how we tackle correspondence now?”
- “Stephen, can you just listen to reason?”

While there were a million reasons not to put my business card out in the open, there was one reason that, to me, trumped all the other cautions, admonitions, and words-to-the-wise. Simple: If I was going to ask my team members to embrace radical accountability, shouldn’t I be willing to do the same?

In my mind, the gesture was a show of respect not only for our guests but for our team members as well. If actions speak louder than words, I wanted this simple act to communicate three messages: (1) you matter, (2) I have your back, (3) your interests aren’t only in mind but also at heart.

My top advisors predicted a deluge of correspondence and unreasonable guest requests to come pouring in. But what happened was precisely the opposite.

In announcing this plan to our team members, we saw more employees in more places do more to proactively optimize the guest experience. If I was going to be accepting calls and answering guest emails at all hours of the day and night, they had every reason to ensure that these messages were positive in tone and content. And when I did get complaints or special requests, we were able to judge them on their merit and handle those cases independently. There was no bureaucracy. There were no middlemen. There was no protocol. It was just saying yes to doing right – the Meaning of Yes.

Across the board and around the world, we saw guest satisfaction increase. We heard more stories of more team members going out of their way to deliver small acts of kindness to guests and, what’s more, to each other.

In short, because we set high expectations for ourselves – from the CEO to entry-level valets – our people delivered.

Imagine if business leaders in other industries embraced radical accountability. If CEOs of banks took customer calls, would employees of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo continue to prioritize profit over people? If CEOs of pharmaceutical companies heard directly from the families of loved ones who depended on the medicines they make, would we still hear of soaring price shifts in times of economic downturns?

I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that embracing radical accountability and opening up direct communication from guests and team members about their concerns, experiences, and priorities made me a better leader. What’s more, it made us a better organization as a whole. It can do the same for you and your business.

Radical accountability frames responsibility in positive terms: What more can you achieve when you take true ownership? By that same token, just as accountability is often framed in the negative, we tend to look for defensive reasons to justify sticking to the status quo before opening ourselves up to the possibilities of “what if?” My advice is: Be wary of the status quo when it builds roadblocks between you and your end customers. The closer you can connect to their expectations, the more you set up your organization not just to meet them, but to exceed them.

Radical accountability frames responsibility in positive terms: What more can you achieve when you take true ownership?

Stephen J. Cloobeck, author of Checking In: Hospitality-Driven Thinking, Business, And You, is a self-made entrepreneur with more than thirty years’ experience across every aspect of hospitality design, development, and deployment. As the original founder and former CEO and chairman of Diamond Resorts International (NYSE:DRII) – a business that grew to become the second-largest vacation-ownership company worldwide with more than four hundred properties across thirty-three countries in its portfolio – Cloobeck made a name for himself as the industry's most adamant advocate for radical customer service, what he calls embracing the Meaning of Yes. For more information, please visit

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Questions Most Leaders Have Never Asked

Guest post by Marcia Daszko:

It’s essential for courageous leaders to ask the bold, imperative questions about
performance appraisals! What’s our purpose and aim in using appraisals? What are our strategies? Are they effective? What are the outcomes? Do they help us get closer to our vision or further away? Do they help create collaboration and teamwork or internal competition? How long does it take for our managers and staff to implement this process? What are the results and outcomes? Do they help us have a robust, dynamic learning environment? Do they help us coach, mentor, and develop our people? Or do they instill fear and resentment?
Does management use performance appraisals to judge, blame, and rate individuals on their performance when instead, they need to be focused on how the system performs? What are the results of the system?

Many organizations across the U.S. have never asked these questions. They have adopted a process of judging, ranking, and rating their employees. The practice is mired in incorrect assumptions about the necessity of appraisals. Human resource and talent management departments justify this practice by assuming appraisals must be given for the organization to understand who needs to be:

· laid off if the company needs to cut costs

· terminated with documentation

· coached

· promoted

· aligned with the performance management tool (another fad?)

There are two significant umbrella issues that illustrate the devastating impact of using performance appraisals. First, most performance appraisals destroy people. When people feel judged, criticized, and blamed, they are not mentally engaged, motivated, happy, or healthy. Second, performance appraisals destroy the health and impair the success of organizations. When people are devastated, unappreciated, undervalued, or unrecognized
for their contributions, productivity decreases while absenteeism and turnover increase.

How many people love to get performance appraisals? Except for the few people who continually get great scores, the majority of employees are demotivated after receiving their appraisal. They resent the process and sometimes even the messenger. They disengage from the work they may have been happy with and withdraw their contributions and efforts. Even if they did well on the appraisal, they are often demoralized because they do not agree with some of the comments or their ranking or rating. Few things can build resentment faster than a performance appraisal gone awry—and most do go awry. Some people speak up; others speak with their actions. They withdraw and are no longer the vibrant contributors they once were until they find a new position and resign. Some are emotionally devastated and never recover.

How many people love to give performance appraisals? Most managers procrastinate getting their performance appraisals done and turned into HR. It’s often not a pleasant conversation between the manager and employee, especially when a manager feels like a judge of another person. Managers often feel compelled to point out flaws and criticize people. Even if they think that’s their job, it doesn’t feel good for either party.

Additionally, this process is time consuming and takes everyone away from their real work. Managers and employees are anxious. Even when the conversation is pleasant, one hurtful comment is often exacerbated.
A hardworking “star” employee can be traumatized when the manager’s appraisal doesn’t reflect the commitment the “star” has had. What is the cost of the performance appraisal process to an organization? Depending on the size of their department, managers can spend an average of two hundred hours per year completing, conducting, and reviewing appraisals for their employees.

At the minimum, let’s say that an organization with one hundred managers has an appraisal process that costs $20,000 in time (managers, employees, and HR documentation). Can you imagine the cost for organizations like the military, government agencies, universities, or public corporations with more than fifty thousand employees? It’s millions of dollars of waste! What can replace the waste? Leadership!

Marcia Daszko is the author of "Pivot Disrupt Transform" and a leading business strategist
and catalyst for leadership and organizational transformation. She believes and teaches innovation in leadership thinking. She has 25 years of proven success as a Founder and CEO of a consulting firm, Marcia Daszko & Associates, and is an executive team workshop facilitator.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

How to Retain your Star Employees

In today’s low unemployment, employee-driven job market, employee retention is more important than ever! It’s hard to find great employees – heck, it’s hard to find warm bodies - so is makes sense to do everything you can to hang on to the ones you have.

The cost of turnover is often way underestimated. The obvious costs are hiring and training costs, but there is also lost opportunity, morale, reputation, customer relationships, and other intangibles that are harder to measure.

The cost of turnover is even higher when you lose a great employee, one of those “A player” superstars. A study published in Personal Psychology showed that the top 5 percent of the workforce produce 26 percent of an organization’s total output. The top-performing 5 percent produced 400 percent more than you would expect (26 percent rather than 5 percent).

That means that top performers produce more than four times more! So if the average cost of turnover is $_____, then it is 4X $_____ for your best employees.

While top employees are hard to keep – they tend to promoted, “pulled” into better opportunities, and may have higher expectations, here are 10 things that a smart manager can do to minimize the chances of losing their best employees for the wrong reasons:

1. Retention starts with the hiring process. Hiring great employees isn’t just about finding employees with the right set of skills and experiences. It’s important to find out what motivates the employee, what they find satisfying and dissatisfying in a job, what their short and long range career goals are, the type of boss they like to work for, and assessing for cultural fit. You have to go beyond the resume and LinkedIn profile, and dig deep with phone screens and in-depth interviewing.
When you hire good employees that are a good fit for the job and have the right motivations, chances are, those employees will be more successful and satisfied.

2. Run a successful business or team. That’s your #1 priority as a leader. No one likes playing on a losing team or going down with a sinking ship. Bad employees will stay and suffer, great employees will eventually leave. If you’re faced with this kind of turnaround challenge, don’t let your HR manager talk you into doing an employee satisfaction survey. Invite them to step up and help you right the business – that’s the most important thing you can do to satisfy your employees.

3. Provide a good on boarding experience. Everyone remembers their first few weeks on the job – bad or good. Good onboarding sets the tone and lays the foundation for retention. Make sure your new employees get the training, coaching, and support they need to be successful.

4. Provide competitive salaries and benefits. Use salaries and benefits as a baseline, and build meaningful perks from there. While a manager’s hands may be tied when it comes to how much money they can pay, flexibility and work environment can often help compensate.

5. Trust them. Give your super-star employees the opportunity to use their unique strengths every day. Many of the best ideas float up to the top from down below—if that is allowed and encouraged. If it isn’t, employees may get bored or upset, and they won’t be doing what they do best.

6. Provide career development opportunities. Have regular career discussions with employees, allow them to explore options, provide information about opportunities, and help them make connections. Help them achieve their career goals, don’t be a road block.

7. Build a relationship with every employee. Get to know each of your employees, find out about their personal lives, their interests, values, hopes, fears, and wishes. Show them that you care, and you’re looking out for their best interests and want them to be successful. Take the time to have regular 1on1s, with no interruptions and your undivided attention.

8. Say "thank you." In creative, informal ways, acknowledge how much employees’ various contributions mean to you. Top employees will often say on exit interviews they never really felt appreciated. Praise is cheap, use it lavishly.

9. Deal with under performers. Good employees don’t like working with slackers. Train, coach, counsel, coach them out of the job, or fire them, consistently and with dignity.

10. Respect individuality. Not all employees are created equal. Recognize their individual needs, and adapt assignments, perks, and recognition accordingly. Loosen up those stale old policies and let them fly their “freak flags”.

What Kills Great Leadership?

Guest post by Bill Treasurer:

Leadership is a powerful thing, one that comes with a unique set of stresses, challenges, privileges, and responsibilities. Our leadership journeys begin starry-eyed and well-intentioned, but the path to leadership power is one that can lead even the best of us astray if we aren’t careful. “What kind of leader will I be?” is a useful question to ask oneself, but it ignores the central issue that snares most good leaders and squanders their potential to be truly great. A better question to ask is: “How will I use my leadership power?” If it turns out the power is being used to benefit yourself rather than those you lead—sorry, that’s being a ruler, not a leader.

It’s your responsibility as a leader to lift up those who follow you, not use them as stepping stools to further power or glory. It’s  sadly common for leaders to become intoxicated with power and become obsessed with acquiring more of it rather than using it to benefit those they are privileged to lead. Leadership, ideally, involves using and distributing power in a way that best serves the interests of those being led. Great leaders have a sense of personal responsibility keeping their ego in check and reminding them of their duty, which is to act in a way that dignifies the role of leader—further causing others to be inspired to seek out leadership positions that they can lead in a dignified way, too.

Sounds pretty noble and gratifying, doesn’t it? So why do so few leaders we see today live up to the potential of leadership?

The Leadership “Killer”

In short, many prominent figures today have had their leadership potential and ability struck down by hubris – what I dub the “leadership killer.” Hubris—defined as “dangerous overconfidence,” is lurking in the shadows of all of us, waiting for you to taste success so it can whisper in your ear about how you’re special and deserve more, more, more.

Left unaddressed, the killer will undermine your leadership impact, amplify the worst parts of your nature, feed your ego, and ultimately cause you to mistreat others.

It’s crucial that you remain vigilant so you can notice hubris when it tries to sneak up on you. In part, this requires you to develop mental, physical, and spiritual fitness to keep it at bay, but it also involves simply knowing what to watch for. The best way to be a great leader is to know how to avoid being a bad one.

Warning Signs

Here are some signs that hubris might be strengthening its grip on you. Take note if you catch yourself demonstrating:

·         Rigidity
o   Backbone and resolve convey strength in a leader. But when a leader’s opinions and preferences are calcified to the point that they are shut off to new ideas and contemporary approaches, their influence slowly rots. Entire organizations have fallen because of leadership rigor mortis.

·         Complacency
o   Vibrancy as a leader depends on continuously striving to gain new skills and competencies, and embracing new approaches. Over time, though, a leader may come to rely too much on past experience, automating his response to new challenges that actually warrant novel approaches. Before long complacency causes a leader to settle, expecting and accepting less of himself…and those being led.

·         Incompetence
o   A leader needs to have depth of knowledge to engender confidence among those he is leading; leadership competence yields follower confidence. Conversely, people will quickly lose confidence if they sense that their leader doesn’t know what he’s doing. Hubris deludes a leader to think he knows more than he actually does, causing him to overestimate his talents and underestimate his limitations.

·         Intimidation
o   Make no mistake: fear gets results. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be used by so many leaders as the primary means of motivating people. But fear has diminishing returns, eventually undermining the very returns a leader aims to get by stoking it. A leader’s job should be building people’s courage and confidence, not tearing them down by injecting them with fear and anxiety.

·         Invulnerability
o   People need to know that the person behind the leader’s role is real and vulnerable, just like them. Vulnerability and authenticity help bridge the natural distance between followers and a leader, but hubris causes a leader to falsely portray himself as invincible and superior to all others.

·         Ingratitude
o   A leader needs followers more than followers need the leader, because a leader’s results depends on their work. It’s simple really: without followers you can’t be a leader. A leader who fails to express gratitude–generously and genuinely–will lose the hearts and minds of followers, and undermine results in the process. Hubris withholds gratitude because acknowledging the contribution of others takes attention and acclaim away from the leader himself.

Good Leaders Have Flaws Too

Don’t worry if you’ve experienced one or two of the above traits at times—no one is perfect, and no one becomes a monster just because they were complacent that one time. Every leader is occasionally impatient, irritable, arrogant, or harsh. We’re human. It’s important not to think of these traits as absolutes; rather, consider them symptoms that might point to hubris when they appear in large numbers, but could also be unrelated to ego—just like a stuffy nose might not be the flu, but rather allergies or a simple cold. Any you notice in yourself are worth digging into to see if the root cause is hubris or something else. Only then can you address it and continue to grow free of the leadership killer’s shadow. Speedbumps are inevitable in anyone’s growth, and as long as you are able to note your flaws and move past them with integrity, you’ll be able to lead more virtuously, humbly, and selflessly.

Bill Treasurer is the Founder and Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting, a courage-building company that exists to help people and organizations live more courageously, and the co-author of The Leadership Killer: Reclaiming Humility in an Age of Arrogancealong with Captain John “Coach” Havlik, U.S. Navy SEAL (Retired). A former member of the U.S. High Diving Team, Bill is considered the originator of the new organizational development practice of courage-building. For over two decades, he has designed and delivered leadership and succession planning programs for experienced and emerging leaders for clients such as NASA, Accenture, CNN, Saks Fifth Avenue, Hugo Boss, UBS Bank, Walsh Construction, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.