Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Carnival of Human Resources #32

Check out the 32nd Carnival of Human Resources, hosted by The Rainmaker Group, over at the Maximizing Possibility blog. It's the latest collection of 27 of the greatest HR related blog posts (including my own) you'll find anywhere online.

And while you're at it, check out all of the great talent management services Chris Young and the gang over at the Rainmaker Group has to offer.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Great Leadership’s 6 Month Anniversary!

Six months ago, on 10/28/07, I launched Great Leadership. They say most blogs are abandoned after the first 3 months, so that by itself is somewhat of an accomplishment.

My goal for starting this blog was to provide a sort of one-stop resource for leaders and those responsible for developing leaders. Most of the information is from other sources (links to other sites, books, articles, videos, templates) and some of it I write myself.

Leadership development is somewhat of a specialty topic, so while I’ll never have as many readers as Rosie, I’m satisfied with the results so far. I’ve had over 3000 visitors from 96 countries, and over 80 loyal subscribers. It’s slowly building momentum.

Many thanks to my patient and supportive family, friends, and coworkers for tolerating my latest obsession and for at least pretending to be interested in it.

Also thanks to those fellow bloggers out there that helped me figure out how things work in the blogosphere, and gave me links, advice, and comments. I’ve really enjoyed the camaraderie, networking, support, and learning from one another.

And finally, I want to thank my readers for your support. To show my appreciation, here’s a new picture of Annie, who by far has been the most popular feature of my blog.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

What Millennial Works Want: How to Attract and Retain Generation Y Workers

Robert Half International and Yahoo HotJobs recently published a study about the impact on generation Y (those born between 1979-1999) on the workplace. They surveyed over 1000 21-28 year olds who are employed full-time or part-time and have college degrees, or are currently attending college.
The findings both confirm and challenge some of the myths perpetuated by the media on the work habits of this generation. Here’s a link to the full report, along with some leadership implications:

Myths and Realities

Myth: Generation Y lives in the moment and would rather play than work
Fact: One-third of respondents were concerned about finding/keeping a job, supporting themselves and their families, and “saving enough” money.

Myth: Generation Y expects instant gratification.
Fact: They’re focused on the future and worried about funding their retirement.

Myth: This generation slacks off at work to take care of personal matters.
Fact: 73% worry about balancing professional and personal obligations.

Myth: Gen Y employees have a sense of entitlement and don’t want to “pay their dues”.
Fact: They expect to pay their dues in different ways

Leadership implications

When asked, “How would you describe your dream boss”, the responses were as follows:
Good management skills
Pleasant and easy to get along with
Understanding and caring
Flexible and open-minded
Respects/values/appreciates employees
Good communication skills

In essence, being a good leader to generation Y means being a good leader – period. But for Millennials, having a good boss is particularly important. This is a group that has high expectations for authority figures and craves continual feedback and reinforcement.

Here are some other management skills that may help you bring out the best performance in your Gen Y staff:

Give them their “scores”
Recent graduates are accustomed to receiving regular feedback in the form of test scores and grades and appreciate knowing where they stand. Don’t wait for the annual performance review to provide feedback – give “spot reviews” as tasks and projects are completed. Immediate input on their performance and progress will help motivate these team members.

Keep the door open, but don’t be a doormat.
This group appreciates a friendly, fair-minded manager who dispenses advice, provides support and then gives them space to do their jobs in their own way. But they aren’t looking for pushovers: They want their supervisors to exercise clear authority.

Give it to them straight.
This was not a “children-should-be-seen-and-not-heard” generation. As youngsters, they likely questioned things and received fairly open responses. Subsequently, Millennials expect honesty and candor from their managers.

Walk the talk.
Similarly, this group wants companies to act true to their values. They are skeptical of corporate pronouncements unless they are backed up with clear action.

See them as people, not just employees
Like all professionals, these workers want supportive managers. When talking with Gen Y staff members, acknowledge that they have lives and concerns outside of work, and help them balance work and personal obligations.

Lend them your ears.
They seek the validation that comes from being heard. This does not mean that you have to act upon their every suggestion, but you can acknowledge their ideas and encourage them to approach you with their thoughts.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Coach’s Job is Never Easy

By Mike Cook

It’s great that you want to coach your people. Have you considered “being coachable” yourself as a way to start? These are challenging times, especially for managers. Constant and unpredictable change is the new way of life. These circumstances, unique in human history, require that we authentically rely on each other in ways we might never have imagined during our previous working experiences.

As managers, we need to develop new kinds of working relationships with those who report to us. Relationships between managers and their reports now require a certain level of intimacy, an ability to get up close and personal to provide the kind of direction needed when there simply is no time to spare. You might have figured out already that simply being smart or experienced is not enough to jumpstart this kind of relationship. Being “coachable” is.

“Humility is the only true wisdom by which we prepare our minds for all the possible changes of life.”—George Arliss (English Actor 1868-1946)

I have heard countless managers bemoan the thought of yet another “coaching” conversation with a report who will listen politely and then leave without providing any sense that the conversation was appreciated or that another one like it would be welcomed. And then there are those who just openly roll their eyes. Many a manager, exasperated, has asked, “How do I get through to these people?”

Maybe that’s the wrong question. Perhaps we should look first to ourselves and ask how someone has ever “gotten through” to us.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”—Mahatma Gandhi

Recently, at the end of a workshop day, I found myself eating dinner solo. At a table nearby, a man in his forties was dining with two young women, one of whom appeared to be in her late twenties, the other in her mid-thirties. From what I could gather, the younger woman reported to the older woman and they both reported up to the man. The conversation at their table was obviously intense. Being the busy-body, or, should I say, student of human nature that I am, I listened in while pretending not to.

The man was in near-lecture mode, aiming his remarks at the younger woman in an even-toned, almost fatherly manner. From time to time, the woman who was the younger one’s manager would chime in with an “I agree with that” or “I’ve seen that myself” or a “When you’ve been around a little longer….” The younger woman was very animated in her responses. She seemed to be in, as they might have put it in “Star Trek,” a “shields up condition.” She was bobbing and weaving like a boxer in the ring under siege, doing her very best to fend off every suggestion her senior colleagues were offering.

The man seemed to be an experienced tutor of young talent. As the younger woman continued to defend herself, he slowed down his speech, lowered his tone of voice, and tried saying the same thing several different ways in hopes of breeching her defenses, all to no avail. I could imagine that this conversation might someday come back to haunt the young lady, as she headed to her exit interview, where her manager would say something like, “Well, we tried to warn you but you just didn’t seem to want to listen.” Ouch!

Good managers know you cannot have a coaching conversation with someone who has no interest in being coached. I am not saying that these two weren’t good managers. I will say that it was not their best night and I don’t think they were great managers.
How can I say that? Because great managers know that before they attempt to coach others, even those willing to be coached, they should fully appreciate what it means to allow someone to coach them, and to be coachable. This is what provides great managers with the empathy and skills to help a report be coachable, too.

What does it mean, to “be coachable?” Here is my made-up definition:

Coachable (adjective)—the condition of being open and available to be coached. A word that combines the verb, coach [to train intensively through detailed instruction, frequent demonstration, and repeated practice (as for an examination, a dramatic performance, or a public appearance)] and the adjective, able [possessed of needed powers (intelligence or strength) or of needed resources (as means or influence) to accomplish an objective.]

We live in a working culture that often sees need as a sign of weakness or limitation. Many of us have been educated in systems that placed a premium on having the right answer. No answer was always better than a wrong answer because a wrong answer could make you vulnerable to the slings and arrows of your unmerciful peers when you were younger. When you entered into your working or career years, you may have noted that looking good seemed to be valued over being a good performer. Looking good could easily become one’s primary motivation, where we actively avoid the risks associated with being the best we can be.

If we are ever going to be truly valuable managers for our direct reports, we must begin to take on those risks and develop an appetite for “being coached.” Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to test your own “coachability.”

- Am I more committed to achieving my objectives than I am to pretending I know what I’m doing? When he was about to offer me counsel, my first manager used to ask me, “Mike, would you rather be right or be rich?” Boy, that question used to set me off!
- Am I willing to accept sound counsel from any source, not just a chosen few? Could I allow one of my reports to coach me?
- Before asking for coaching, do I check to see if I have any reservations about what counsel I might receive?
- Before I ask for counsel, do I ask myself whether I’m really looking for new perspectives or simply for agreement about how hard things are?
- If I receive counsel that I don’t understand, will I stay in the conversation until I do?
- When I receive sound counsel, will I be grateful and openly acknowledge others for their contribution?

“Our best thoughts come from others.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson (American Poet, Lecturer and Essayist 1803-1882)

If you ask yourself some or all of these questions on a regular basis, I can assure you it will make you a better coach than all the coaching skills classes you will ever take, combined. You will come to know not just what to do as a coach, but also what it takes to be coached as well—and that’s the most important knowledge of all.

MIKE COOK is founding partner of Vitalwork, Inc. (, an organizational development firm that helps companies and employees compete in the outsourced economy. He is available for keynote talks on “The Upside for Individuals in the Globalized Economy” and half-day workshops on “The Basic Principles of Creating an Engaged Culture.” His new book is THRIVE: Standing on Your Own Two Feet in a Borderless World (St. Lynn’s Press) (

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Checklist for a Great Individual Development Plan (IDP)

Here's a checklist I've used to evaluate the quality of a leader's individual development plan. Use to evaluate your own plan or to coach others.

1. Has the IDP been generated/updated within the last 12 months?
2. Is the IDP complete?
3. Are the development actions substantial?
4. To what extent is there connectivity between the career path, leadership assessment, development needs and planned development actions?
5. Are leadership assessment results linked with the IDP when applicable?

6. Are multiple types of formal and informal learning approaches integrated into the planned activities?
7. To what extent do the planned actions reflect a bias for experiences rather than coursework?
8. How much creativity is reflected in the planned actions?
9. Does the plan offer an opportunity to enhance strengths, as well as address deficiencies?
10. Have “significant other people”, coaches and/or mentors, been identified?
11. Are challenging assignments and projects represented?
12. Are there opportunities for development across organizational boundaries?

Accelerated Development
13. How quickly will the planned actions prepare someone for his/her potential next position?
14. Have aggressive timeframes for accomplishing development actions been established?

15. Does the plan include specific development needs? (i.e., leadership, communications, financial or planning skills are very broad.) The development opportunities should identify the specific skills, knowledge and/or behaviors that are to be acquired or enhanced.
16. Has a specific timeframe within which the development will be initiated and/or completed been identified?
17. Are there concrete planned actions directly aligned to each identified development need?

Consistent with business needs and succession plans
18. Is the individual’s career plan consistent with succession plans?
19. Do development needs and planned actions support current and future business objectives?
20. Will planned actions prepare the individual for the future (succession) vs. too much focus on current role?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pepsi's Eric Foss on Leadership Development

Pepsi has always been known as a great company for leader's. USA Today recently did an interview with Their CEO, Eric Foss. Here's the link: Retain talent, but develop it, Pepsi Bottling chief says.

I like what he has to say. Here's a summary:

1. Most people quit because they feel underappreciated. Give talented executives stretch assignments.

2. It's a myth that all fresh ideas come from new hires and that long tenure creates stale thinking. "We definitely do not offer one job for life. New ideas and fresh thinking are critical, but it is a mistake to equate long tenure with stale thinking. Some of the most innovative minds happen to be the most tenured minds. We don't believe that longevity breeds success. Retain talent, but never lose sight of developing talent."

3. Good bosses are what make good employees. Leadership is about coaching and having a "teachable point of view."

4. Encourage disagreement among executives, but set up rules and make sure no one crosses the line of respect.

5. No development system compensates for a bad hire. When hiring, look for character and the confident look of a leader.

6. Don't worry about those who leave. Focus on those who stay.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

10 Ways to Derail a High-Potential

Here’s 10 sure-fire ways to derail even your most promising high potential employees:

1. First of all, recognize that high-potential employees are a threat to your own job and treat them that way. These eager beavers are always exceeding expectations, are ambitious, and want nothing more than to step all over you to climb their career ladder.

2. Put them in a job rotation program, with a never-ending series of short assignments with no real accountability or opportunity to contribute. These people have short attention spans anyway, and will love the variety.

3. Because HIPOs are so good, you can ignore them. They are like self-licking ice cream cones. This will free you up to spend more time on your under-performers, and your email.

4. Give them impossible and unrealistic goals. We call these “stretch” assignments, or “development challenges”. And lot’s of them too. They’ll need to learn how to prioritize and learn from their failures.

5. Although you can call these “developmental”, treat them like assessments, a never-ending gauntlet of impossible chores. Then step back and watch them stumble and fall.

6. Tell everyone around them that they are a HIPO. Give them little “HIPO” name badges. Their peers will love them, and welcome them with open arms!

7. Make sure they change bosses frequently. You don’t want them to have time to develop a relationship with any one manager, constant change and variety is much better.

8. Take credit for their accomplishments. That’s one of the few benefits of managing HIPOs, they do produce fantastic results, however, it’s important to keep them humble.

9. Ask them to help out your under performing employees. This will teach them how to mentor and coach – they’ll love it!

10. Whatever you do, do not provide them with positive feedback. That would just swell their inflated egos even more.

There you go! Follow these steps, and you’ll be sure to end up with nothing but a team of under performing, lazy, C player slackers. Then you can blame it on HR.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Office Jargon

Here's a list of modern office techie jargon, thanks to the gang over at Newly Corporate.

The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.
Alpha Geek:
The most knowledgeable, technically proficient person in an office or work group. "Ask Larry, he's the alpha geek around here."
The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.
Putting up an emotional shield just as a relationship enters that intimate, vulnerable stage. Refers to the retractable armor covering the Batmobile.
The brief seizure people sometimes suffer when their beepers go off, especially in vibrator mode. Characterized by physical spasms, goofy facial expressions, and stopping speech in mid-sentence.
Techie euphemism for using the toilet.
Sitting around in a group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed and who was responsible.
Blowing your buffer:
Losing one's train of thought. Occurs when the person you're speaking with won't let you get a word in edgewise or has just said something so astonishing that your train gets derailed. "Damn, I just blew my buffer!"
Body Nazis:
Hard-core exercise and weight-lifting fanatics who look down on anyone who doesn't work out excessively.
A unit of stupidity. "Is it just me, or is there always a high bozon count in Rupert's posts?"
Brain Fart:
A byproduct of a bloated mind producing information effortlessly. A burst of useful information. "I know you're busy on the Microsoft story, but can you give us a brain fart on the Mitnik bust?" Variation of old hacker slang that had more negative connotations.
When computer users get together and discuss things that noncomputer users don't understand. When the byte-bonded start playing on a computer during a noncomputer-related social event, they are "geeking out."
Chainsaw consultant:
An outside expert brought in to reduce the employee headcount, leaving the top brass with clean hands.
Chips and Salsa:
Chips = hardware, salsa = software. "Well, first we gotta figure out if the problem's in your chips or your salsa."
Circling the Drain:
Medical term for a patient near death who refuses to give up the ghost. Used generally to describe projects that have no more life in them but refuse to die. "That disk conversion project has been circling the drain for years."
CLM (Career-Limiting Move):
Used among microserfs to describe an ill-advised activity. Trashing your boss while he or she is within earshot is a serious CLM.
Crop Dusting:
Surreptitious flatulence while passing thru a cube farm, or any other public place, then enjoying the sounds of dismay and disgust this often leads to PRAIRIE DOGGING.
Cube farm:
An office filled with cubicles.
Dancing Baloney:
Little animated GIFs and other Web F/X that are useless and serve simply to impress clients. "This page is kinda dull. Maybe a little dancing baloney will help."
A corporate euphemism for laying off workers.
Dead Tree Edition:
The paper version of a publication available in both paper and electronic forms, as in: "The dead tree edition of the San Francisco Chronicle..."
Euphemism for being fired. Heard on the voice mail of a Vice President at a downsizing computer firm: "You have reached the number of a deinstalled vice president. Please dial our main number and ask the operator for assistance. (See also "Decruitment."and "Decommissioned")
Fear associated with entering a Home Depot because of how much money one might spend. Electronics geeks experience Shackophobia.
To be exploited and oppressed by your boss. Derived from the experiences of Dilbert, the geek-in-hell comic strip character. "I've been dilberted again. The old man revised the specs for the fourth time this week."
People who are in perfect alignment on an issue, am idea, or a belief system. Allegedly coined by Rush Limbaugh to refer to his legion of faithful followers.
Dorito Syndrome:
Feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction triggered by addictive substances that lack nutritional content. "I just spent six hours surfing the Web and now I've got a bad case of Dorito Syndrome."
Ego surfing:
scanning the Net, databases, print media, and so on, looking for references to one's own name.
Elvis year:
the peak year of something's popularity -- Barney the dinosaur's Elvis year was 1993.
Acronym for Empty Magnanimous Gesture. As in: "We think your idea is great and would love to fund it, but [insert excuse here]."
Exercise Bulimics:
People who compulsively work out after eating and gauge their workout by how many calories they need to burn off to remove the food they just ate. "Only 2,000 more minutes on the StairMaster to burn off that cherry pie."
Flight Risk:
Used to describe employees who are suspected of planning to leave a company or department soon.
Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, subdivisions. "We were so lost in generica, I actually forgot what city we were in."
Corporate-speak for sleeping with your eyes open. A popular pastime at conferences and early-morning meetings. "Didn't he notice that half the room was glazing by the second session?"
Going Postal:
Euphemism for being totally stressed out, for losing it. Makes reference to the unfortunate track record of postal employees who have snapped and gone on shooting rampages.
A "Get-Out-Of-Debt" job. A well-paying job people take in order to pay off their debts, one that they will quit as soon as they are solvent again.
Gray Matter:
Older, experienced business people hired by young entrepreneurial firms looking to appear more reputable and established.
Holy Wars:
Perpetual BBS discussions that never die, the arguments never change, and no one's opinions ever budge one iota. Holy wars are fought over abortion, gun control, Mac versus PC, Windows versus DOS, whether it's ok to spank children, and how much nudity to allow in the image areas of online services.
Net acronym for In My Never Even Remotely Humble Opinion. Variant form of IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) and IMNSHO (In My Not So Humble Opinion).
Idea hamsters:
people who always seem to have their idea generators running.
Used to describe someone who moves through the a workday responding to a series of interruptions rather than the work goals originally set.
Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying, but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. Examples include the O.J. trials, Ally McBeal, Monica Lewinsky, and Bill Clinton's Grand Jury testimony.
LRF Support:
An official-sounding computer feature that can be used to prank a salesperson or a computer know-it-all. "Does this system come with LRF support?" (LRF stands for Little Rubber Feet.)
Keyboard Plaque:
The disgusting buildup of dirt and crud found on computer keyboards. "Are there any other terminals I can use? This one has a bad case of keyboard plaque."
Midair Passenger Exchange:
Grim air-traffic-controller-speak for a head-on collision. Midair passenger exchanges are quickly followed by "aluminum rain."
Mouse potato:
The on-line, wired generation's answer to the Couch Potato.
NIMQ (pronounced "nihm-kyoo"):
Acronym for "Not in My Queue." Said in response to suggestions to take on additional tasks or projects when you're already overwhelmed. Similar to the more common "It's not my job."
(No Response Necessary) - A proposed e-mail conversation to prevent endless back-and-forth acknowledgements: "Thanks for the info." "You're welcome ... hope it helps." "I hope so too. Thanks." By putting NRN at the bottom of your mail, you absolve the reader from having to reply, thus saving precious e-mail time.
that minuscule fraction of time in which you realize you've just made a big mistake.
Open-Collar Workers:
People who work at home or telecommute.
Percussive Maintenance:
The fine art of whacking the crud out of an electronic device to get it to work again.
To quit unexpectedly, as in "my cellular phone just perot'ed."
Power Luser:
Computer user with the uncanny ability to screw things up so bad that either the damage is irrevocable or restoring from the last back-up is the only hope.
Prairie Dogging:
When someone yells or drops something loudly in a "cube farm" (an office full of cubicles) and everyone's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.
Salmon Day:
The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed in the end.
Seagull Manager:
A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, "poops" over everything and then leaves.
Stands for Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.
Square-headed Girlfriend:
Another word for a computer. The victim of a square-headed girlfriend is a "computer widow."
Starter Marriage:
A short-lived first marriage that ends in divorce with no kids, no property and no regrets.
Stress puppy:
a person who thrives on being stressed-out and whiny.
Swiped Out:
An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.
Telephone Number Salary:
A salary (or project budget) that has seven digits.
Hacker slang for documentation or other printed material.
People who take training classes just to get a vacation from their jobs. "We had about three serious students in the class; the rest were tourists."
A sexual relation of dubious standing. "This is Dale,"
Euphemism for being fired. Heard on the voicemail of a vice president at a downsizing computer firm: "You have reached the number of an uninstalled vice president. Please dial our main number and ask the operator for assistance." See also Decruitment.
Well Off Older Folks
Xerox Subsidy:
Euphenism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.
Yuppie Food Stamps:
The ubiquitous $20 bills spewed out of ATMs everywhere. Often used when trying to split the bill after a meal: "We all owe $8 each, but all anybody's got is yuppie food stamps."
Someone who is clueless, from the World Wide Web error message "404 Not Found", meaning the requested document couldn't be located -- Don't bother asking him, he's 404.

If these don't help you figure out what the heck your co-worker just said (or meant), you might try the Dictionary of Management Jargon, Jargon Watch or PseudoDictionary.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Carnival of HR #31

The 31st Carnival of HR is now up and running over at Compensation Force! There's 24 great entries from some of the best HR, leadership, and business bloggers on the planet.

Many thanks to Ann Bares, Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group, for hosting this edition of the Carnival.

Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management. Be sure to check out the rest of Ann's blog and add it to your list of favorites!

Monday, April 14, 2008

CEO Blogs

Yes, even the big dogs are blogging these days. Here’s a list of CEOs and other high-level executives that have their own blogs. I wonder if they use ghostbloggers?

Jonathan Schwartz, “Jonathan’s Blog”, CEO of Sun Microsystems

Bill Marriott, “Marriott on the Move”, CEO of Marriott

Mike Critelli, “Open Mike”, executive chairman of Pitney Bowes

Robert Lutz, “FastLane Blog”, GM vice chairman

David Neeleman, “Flight Log”, chairman of JetBlue Airways

Michael Hyatt, “From Where I sit”, CEO Thomas Nelson Publishers

Are there others?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Book Meme

I’ve been tagged by Eclectricity. It’s my first time being tagged, and I don’t have a clue what a meme is, but I’ll give it a shot.

Here’s the rules (although as I read some of the other sites, it looks like the rules take on a life of their own…):

1. Provide a list of the books you’re currently reading. I should probably try to make this look impressive, like I spend all of my time reading deep philosophical books, but I really don’t. Here’s what’s really on my end table:

1. John Grisham’s The Appeal (large print, I’m in denial about the need for bifocals).
2. The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly. Heart-Pounding, Jaw-Dropping, and Gut-Wrenching Moments in Buffalo Bills History. Mostly gut-wrenching.
3. Thrive: Standing on Your Own Two Feet in a Borderless World, by Mike Cook. See my plug for Mike’s book.
4. The Breakthrough Company: How Everyday Companies Become Extraordinary Performers, by Keith R. Mcfarland. Mostly to read about my own company, which is featured in the book.
5. Don’t step in the Leadership, by Scott Adams. Given to me by one of my employees. And I didn’t take it personally.

2. Pick up the nearest book.

3. Open to page 123

4. Find the fifth sentence.

5. Post the next three sentences.
From The Appeal:
‘It was mid-November, and red and yellow leaves were falling, twisting in the breeze, and covering the cabin, the pier, and the water around it. There were no sounds. The small boat motor was too far away.”

6. Tag five more people.

I’m tagging:
1. Mark Toth
2. Kevin Eikenberry
3. Nina Simosko
4. Ann Bares
5. Michael Wolfe

Five Easy Ways to Break Down Feedback Barriers

The two major reasons people do not give effective feedback are lack of time and lack of comfort. Listed here are five easy ways to confront these barriers head on.

Barrier: “I do not have enough time to give feedback on a regular basis.”

Solution #1: Schedule one-on-one development sessions with each of your team members at the beginning of the year. Once the meetings are on the calendar, you won’t have a ‘fit’ issue. A reasonable schedule of meetings might be either:
· Four 1-hour sessions with each team member. That’s only one hour every three months to have an open and candid dialogue about development. Or:
· Six ½-hour sessions with each team member. Making sure you meet individually with each of your employees does not have to be complicated, lengthy or formal. Just a quick session will provide you and your team members with valuable information sharing relative to development goals.

TIP: Incorporate an occasional meeting into a coffee break or lunch hour to be even more efficient and relaxed.

Solution #2: Work with your team members to set expectations about when, how much, and in what format. Guess what? Your employees are just as busy as you are. So acknowledge that fact together and explore ways to meet each other’s expectations about giving and receiving feedback. Remember, feedback can take many forms and does not need to be a forced fit. The goal is to do better than you are today. Integrate your feedback into the accepted communication methods that work best for your organization. If electronic communication is the norm, provide e-mail updates to track development progress on a more regular basis.

Barrier: “I am uncomfortable talking about personal development.”

Solution #3: Work your way up to it. Everyone is in a different place on the continuum of giving and receiving feedback. If you know you struggle with this issue, take it in small steps. If regular face-to-face sessions seem extremely uncomfortable, consider phone, voice mail and e-mail as a supplement for sharing positive feedback. Although these should not replace face-to-face conversations, if you are currently doing little or nothing outside of annual reviews, your leaders will appreciate any attempt you make to connect on a developmental level. It is perfectly appropriate to recognize someone’s improved or outstanding behavior through a voice mail or e-mail. Once you have gotten comfortable sharing this type of information on a regular basis, doing it face-to-face will seem less uncomfortable. NOTE: Difficult or negative behavioral issues should not be addressed by these methods. It is important in these situations to utilize face-to-face methods (or at least a live phone conversation) whenever possible. See Tough Feedback Tips posts for more on this topic.

Solution #4: Let individuals know you struggle with this issue. The truth really can set you free! Your discomfort or avoidance might be creating a perception of you as arrogant, unapproachable, insincere, or uninterested, and team members may take your behavior personally. By letting your employees know this is a challenge area for you, it will shift these perceptions immediately. Your employees will appreciate your candidness and together you can set expectations about giving and receiving feedback that is acceptable and comfortable to both of you.

Solution #5: Get to know the people who work for you. You might be surprised at how little we know about the people who work for us– No wonder it is hard to give feedback! Consider developing more substantial professional relationships with your leaders, outside of giving feedback.
· Eat lunch together occasionally and find out about family, hobbies, pets, etc.
· Share information about holiday traditions and other celebrations

By taking a real interest in your leaders as people, you get to know them, and as a result, sharing developmental feedback becomes more natural, more sincere, more open and trusting, and more meaningful.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More on Generation Y Learners

Here's an interesting video summarizing some of the most important characteristics of students today - how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. It was created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

Being a boomer myself, I kind of like Dilbert and Dogbert's response.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Seven Ways to Build Trust as a Leader

Great advice on building trust as a leader, by the remarkable Keven Eikenberry:

There are many reasons why trust is important to us as leaders. With higher levels of trust we are able to influence change more easily and quickly. With more trust we are able to create higher levels of productivity and team cohesiveness. I could go on, but in short, being trustworthy and trusted are two of the most valuable attributes remarkable leaders possess.

Here are seven actions you need to “get” in order to earn higher and higher levels of trust.

Get feedback. While you surely have some idea of how much those around you trust you, still start by getting some feedback. Take the time to learn more about how much people trust you and where your trust is weakest. Perhaps people trust what you say, but not your motives. Perhaps they trust your experience, but you aren’t reliable. Perhaps there is one incident that has had a negative impact on your credibility. Or perhaps the feedback will tell you people DO trust you. Whatever you hear will help you build your trustworthiness even higher.

Get clear that you are responsible. Make no mistake – you own this issue. I know trust is a perception, and how people perceive you isn’t completely in your control. But if the feedback you receive says there is room for improvement, decide that you are going to improve and get started. Justifications, rationalizations and blame won’t change how much you are trusted, only your behavior will.

Get over yourself. If you want to be more trusted, you need to be more focused on the needs of others. Working on your agenda and your issues won’t build trust. Working on the issues and challenges others have will. When you get over yourself you can begin to build trust more rapidly.

Get it done (on time). When you tell people you will do something, you need to do it. If you notice that you often tend to promise things sooner than you are able to deliver, recognize that this habit could be drastically affecting how much others trust you. Do what you say and get it done on time. This is a basic building block of trust. Make sure this block is strong.

Get them help. As a leader in particular, people recognize that you might have expertise, resources, budget or other ways to help them. So help them already! If your team is struggling under the weight of a major project, get them some assistance, or roll up your sleeves and help yourself.

Get consistent. In words and in actions, be consistent. One of the reasons people trust others is because they know what to expect – they know that people are consistent. As a leader this is definitely true. One of the best ways to be consistent is to operate from your values and principles. When we do this we are more consistent – they anchor our words and deeds. When we share these values and principles with others, we help them see that consistent anchor.

Get to trusting them (first). One of the most valuable things you can do to create higher levels of trust is to trust others more. Don’t wait for them to prove themselves to you. Trust them. Think about it – are you more willing to trust people who you know trust you? Of course you are! Become more trusting and you will begin to build your trustworthiness almost immediately.

There you have it – seven things you can begin to do immediately to create higher levels of trust. There are many other things you can do but this is a great start.

Potential Principle – One of the most valuable things we can do to lead more effectively is to build ever higher levels of trust.

Copyright © 2007 - All Rights Reserved, Kevin Eikenberry and The Kevin Eikenberry Group.
Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. To receive your free special report on Unleashing Your Potential go to or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.

What would you like to do better as a Learning Professional?

This months Learning Circuit’s Big question is:

“What would you like to do better as a learning professional?”

Tough question…. There’s sooo many. Here’s what’s currently in my IDP (individual development plan):

1. Improve my business acumen. Learn more about my company’s products and services, business processes, challenges and opportunities.
2. Come up with a better way to measure the effectiveness of leadership development
3. Continue to refine our leadership development strategy and system. I’d like our company to be known as a “Great company for leaders” (hey, it’s a vision, we’re getting there…)

So what’s on your list?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Great Leadership has a new look

Great Leadership has a new look! No more boring old standard Blogger template that a thousand other bloggers are using.

Many thanks to Anita Conlon, a colleague of mine from work, for designing the new template. Anita is a web designer who offered to take a look at my blog and offer a few tips. I love what she came up with. She used her creative design and marketing skills to come up with a look that supports the main themes of my site, great leadership and leadership development. (The columns are from the Parthenon).

I’ve also made a few more enhancements, including:
- an expanded Amazon list of recommended leadership and leadership development books
- I added an executive/management job board
- I removed the video feeds on the sidebar, hopefully that should improve the time it takes to load, and instead will feature more videos in my posts and archives
- added a “Daily Dilbert” widget (today’s Dilbert comic)
- expanded my list of recommended blogs, and will continue to do so

It’s a work in progress, so please comment with any feedback on design, layout, or content you’d like to see.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The 30th Carnival of HR

Check out the 30th Carnival of HR, hosted by Rowan Manahan, over at Fortify your Oasis. It's a recent collection of 28 entries from some of the best bloggers on earth!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

20 signs of a good leader

I know, I know, yet another leadership list..... but this one by Tom Peters caught my attention, it's actually pretty good.

20 signs of a good leader

Good leadership comes in all shapes and sizes. However there are a number of things that great leaders have in common. These are 20 of them:

Leaders create opportunities for others.

Leaders are not always the best performers. The ability to lead is seldom teamed up with the best ability.

Leaders implement.

Leaders make mistakes, and then learn from them.

Leaders create new markets. No one has become great through countless line extensions.

Leaders love to learn.

Leaders know their weaknesses and strengths.

Leaders enjoy leading.

Leaders accept responsibility

Leaders create a blame-free culture.

Leaders do not give orders, but encourage performance and innovation.

Leaders cultivate and encourage new leaders.

Leaders poach future leaders and forward thinkers from within the business.

eaders are open to new and out-of-the-box ideas.

Leaders protect young leaders or mavericks from negativity and bureaucracy.

Leaders create heroes that show how you want people to be.

Leaders know when to fight and when to let go.

Leaders are sales people. They are able to get others to buy into their ideas.

Leaders understand the importance of relationships.

Leaders know when to take a break.

Information taken from Leadership by Tom Peters, published by DK.
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