Monday, August 30, 2010

Selection vs. Development Assessments

This post is written for the everyday manager, HR manager, coach, or consultant that doesn’t have the time or interest to learn about validation, reliability, confirmatory factor analysis, correlation coefficients, and adverse impact. However, you’re using assessments, and you know just enough to be dangerous. Oh yeah, that pretty much describes me. Maybe you too.

I’ve written about assessments for leadership development before. While there are lots of them to choose from, the common ones used for development tend to be 360 degree assessments (multi rater) and personality preferences (DISC,  Kolbe, Hogan, FIRO-B).

Most of my work involves development assessments. That is, the manager takes an assessment, the results go back to the manager, and a coach helps to interpret the results and come up with a development plan.

Here is where I see managers and organizations get into potential trouble: they want to take that favorite development assessment and use it to make selection decisions. They may get a copy of the assessment from a naive or unethical HR manager or coach, or, they might just “ask” the individual directly for a copy.

In most cases, it’s done with good intentions. Managers want to make a smart hiring or promotion decision, so they are trying to learn as much as they can about the candidate. Also, if they do end up hiring the person, they can get a jump-start on their development.

I’m guessing some of you are already doing this, even if you’ve been warned not to.

So what’s the harm?

Here’s the problem:

I’ll start with the legal/HR stuff you’ve probably already heard: if it’s not tested for “validity” (it measures what it’s supposed to measure) and “reliability” (it’s consistent over time), you could get your #%* taken to court and sued.

A disgruntled candidate could claim that you used the results of that assessment to make your hiring decision and it was bogus. Therefore, selection assessments require a stack of research and are held to a much higher standard than your average free online personality assessment or horoscope. And let’s face it – if someone takes one of these things for development – and it’s bogus – who cares? However, if someone doesn’t get hired or promoted because or it, it’s a big deal.

It’s been my experience that “we could get sued” doesn’t always stop a lot of maverick managers from taking risks. Well, good for you. So let me give you a more compelling reason: if you use an assessment that has not been “benchmarked” to the position you’re hiring for, you could end up making a stupid hiring decision.

That is, you really don’t know what the candidate’s assessment profile is telling you. You may end up favoring somebody because of personal preferences (or bias) - that have nothing to do with performing well in the job.

The concept of benchmarking is really pretty simple. It works better when you have a lot of incumbents already in the position you are hiring for. You just need to administer the assessment to the top 10 performers and the bottom 10 performers (without telling them that they are the 10 worst of course). Then, look for differences between the best and worst performers, and establish an ideal profile for the position. That way, you’ll identify the stuff that really matters for success in that specific job.

Make sure you have benchmark for each job, even if you’re using the same assessment. A success profile for an engineer looks very different than one for a sales role.

If a candidate falls above or below the ideal profile, it does not mean they couldn’t do the job – it just means it could be harder for them. If anything, it gives you an idea of what you need to poke at during the interview process.

Now, you could use the results of a selection assessment for development if you end up hiring the candidate. However, usually selection reports don’t include that kind of detailed information –you’ll need to purchase a development report for an additional cost.

BTW, for those of you that that are the extreme other end of the continuum - that is, that organizations should NEVER use personality assessments for selection - you're wrong. Most organizations use them, and as long as they are benchmarked (validated), it's perfectly OK. Except for the MBTI - which measures psychological type..., not personality. Like I said, just enough to be dangerous. (-:

Finally, a manager should never use the results of any one assessment – even one that’s properly benchmarked – to make a hiring decision. That’s just plain lazy and ineffective. Assessments should also be combined with good old-fashioned selection interviewing and reference checking.

I hope this helps de-mystify the difference between development and selection assessments. Yes, assessments are can be good tools for development and selection - just don’t get the two of them mixed up, or you won’t be doing yourself or your company any favors.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why Do Businesses and Leaders Fail?

I hate the term “soft skills”. To me, it’s a weak and misleading label that attempts to categorize everything that really matters about leadership and business success into a bucket of fluff. Any leadership development professional should know better.

Given that, I know it’s a common term used by every day people. It’s because they don’t know what else to call “it” or how to define that stuff that seems to separate the haves and have nots.

When I was first learning about competency modeling, I’ll never forget what a consultant said to me that underscored the importance of the “soft stuff”.

We were in the process of building a leadership competency model and curriculum for a former company. At the time, we were having a debate about having a balance between the “hard” stuff – things like marketing, finance, operations, sales, industry experience, etc… and the “soft” stuff (listening, peer relationships, composure, vision, etc…). Our executives were leaning towards the second - the traditional MBA topic list of functional management skills.

The consultant asked our executive team: “Name one business that ever failed because of a lack of functional or technical expertise”.

You could hear crickets chirping for a few minutes – we couldn’t. That was almost 20 years ago, so that consultant was way ahead of the conventional wisdom at that time. Think about the recent challenges of some of our great car companies and banks. It sure wasn't due to a lack of engineering or financial expertise.

Fast forward to today: Jim Collins, in his book “How the Mighty Fall” spent four years researching how once great companies failed. He developed a five-stage model that describes the stages that each of these companies went though. They are:

1. Hubris born of success. Great companies can become insulated by success. People become arrogant, regarding success as an entitlement, and they lose sight of what made them successful in the first place.

2. Undisciplined pursuit of more. Companies stray from what led them to greatness in the first place and make undisciplined moves into areas where they can’t succeed.

3. Denial of risk and peril. Leaders discount negative data, amplify positive data, and post a positive spin on ambiguous data. They start to blame external factors rather than accept responsibility.

4. Grasping for salvation. They start looking for that “silver bullet” solution.

5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death. Turn out the lights, the fat lady is singing.

Collin’s recent work certainly supports the declaration made 20 years ago by my consultant friend – that organizations don’t fail because of a lack of technical, functional, or business skills – it’s always because of some kind of collective destructive mindset and behaviors.

The same is true for individual leaders.

The Center for Creative Leadership and Lominger has identified the following (through extensive research) as being executive “derailers” (I’ve combined elements of their research):

- Unable to adapt to differences
- Overly ambitious
- Arrogance
- Blocked personal learner
- Defensiveness
- Insensitive to others
- Non-strategic
- Failure to build a team
- Lack of composure
- Lack of ethics and values

Finally, in his groundbreaking research (200 large global companies) on “emotional intelligence” Daniel Goleman found the following components to be the biggest differentiators between leadership success and failure:

- Self-awareness
- Self-regulation (controlling your emotions)
- Motivation
- Empathy
- Social skills

Wow, all of this soft, squishy, touchy feely stuff….. hubris, denial, insensitivity, empathy – sounds more like an episode from the Dr. Phil show than what’s taught in most business schools these days.

To be fair, I’m not sure this kind of stuff can even be taught in a college course or training program. According to Goleman, emotional intelligence increases with age – it’s called “maturity”. That doesn’t mean “the right stuff” can’t be developed – it’s just going to take a different approach. Aspiring leaders need to know what to do and not do, be exposed to positive roles models, get opportunities to practice and get behavioral feedback, and perhaps even have access to some professional coaching.

We can, however, incorporate this “right stuff” into our competency models or hiring profiles for selection and promotion. There are even 360 assessments and behavioral assessments that have been validated to measure these factors.

So what should you take away from all this?

1. Understand what really matters when it comes to business and leadership success.
2. Get feedback (early in your career or when your business is doing great, before it’s too late).

3. Never give in - take action to improve. If companies or individuals heed the early warning signs of failure, they can usually take action to prevent it.

Note: Many thanks to GL reader and manager Jon Housknecht (@WSTheHouse), for bringing the Goleman article “What Makes a Leader” to my attention and inspiring this post.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Get Real: Leaders are Judged and Asking the Right Questions

Here's a couple short guest posts from Donna Rawady, from her blog “Get Real”:

(posted 4/27/10)

Regardless of how strong a leader you may be, how successful you are in your role, or how highly you may be regarded, the higher up you move in an organization, the more you will undoubtedly be judged by others. Whether you’re being judged positively or negatively, through casual comment or organized assessments, here are a few things to consider as you receive direct or indirect feedback about you and/or your organization:

- Listen intently. Ask questions to help clarify the perceptions. Hold your response until you’ve had time to consider what you’re hearing.

- Look for common themes. Common themes in feedback offer a great foundation for what you may want to learn more about, keep doing, or pay more attention to. At the very least—true or false—common themes reflect current perceptions. And perceptions can have a significant impact on the overall health of your organization.

- Clarify what may have been misinterpreted. If you feel that you’ve clearly communicated a change or a standard, yet through feedback, you learn that others are not receiving the information as you had hoped, you may want to consider communicating again with added clarity. If you’re attempting to implement a significant change, consider communicating the message more than once, through multiple channels or approaches.

- Take feedback seriously, yet avoid taking it personally. If feedback has a negative tone, it’s natural to feel defensive. However, you don’t want to be reactive. Work through it off-line, so that you can approach the feedback with a more objective, bigger picture perspective.

- Thank those that are offering the feedback and let them know they’ve been heard. If you’ve settled on any strategies in response to the feedback, and you find it appropriate, share your plans.

Remember that candid feedback is a gift, and your ability to listen, consider, and respond—without taking it personally—will increase its value and impact on business.

(posted 6/8/2010)

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that as a manager, you should know how to best leverage your team members’ strengths and develop their skills. But if you haven’t focused on their professional development in a while, you may be at a loss as to where to start. Some people need a great deal of direction and attention, while others prefer to work autonomously once a clear goal is established. Some are more innately equipped, while others need more focused development. It’s the manager’s job to decipher who needs what.

A great place to start is to begin presenting the right questions, listening for answers, and using those answers to create customized development plans for each team member.

Here are a few examples of simple questions that, when answered, can launch effective short-term professional development plans for individuals—whether they are highly successful or struggling:

- What one thing might I begin doing, as your manager, to best help you be more successful (or continue to be successful) in this area?

- Of the projects you’re working on right now, which do you feel you’re most confident about, and where do you find yourself consistently challenged? Where you’re challenged, how specifically, might I best support you in the short-term?

- As your manager, I want to give you the space you need to work independently, yet I want to be available to you when you need it. Can you offer me one or two examples of where I might either be more, or less, involved to best support you?

- I want to be sure I’m offering you opportunities to stretch and grow. Do you have any specific interests to contribute, learn about, or get involved in any new areas of the business?

It may seem overwhelming to launch a professional development plan for your employees. Asking the right questions offers a manageable start.

Donna Rawady is an Executive Coach and Consultant and has been serving clients independently since 1989.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sharing Your Expectations

I’m sure most Great Leadership leaders have been though management 101 classes, read books or blogs, and have heard about the importance of setting expectations. We’ve all heard about SMART goals, inspecting what we expect, the importance of job descriptions, and yada, yada, yada.

All good stuff, and I’ll tell you, it’s true.

So why don’t more managers do it? Is it that, like a lot of management and HR practices, we make it sound more complicated than it needs to be? If you’ve ever sat though a lesson on how to write SMART goals, you might come to that conclusion too.

It really doesn't have to be. Here’s all you have to do:

1. Set aside 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. Turn off your phone, your email, and shut your door.

2. Take out a blank pad of paper and a pen, or open up a Word document.

3. Think about what you would look for in an ideal employee if you were hiring someone tomorrow. Jot those things down.

4. Think back to all of the performance discussions you’ve had with employees over the last few years. Jot the opposite of those things down, but add the word “don’t” in front of each.

5. Think about all of the things that are important to you that you have not discussed with employees, but you have implied. Add to your list.

6. Think of your best employees – what has made them so good? What does their best work look like and how do they do it? You got it, more for your list.

At the end of 30 minutes or sooner, you should have no problem filling up at least one sheet of paper.

Whatever you do, don’t go back and sanitize it. This is not an official HR job description that has to pass EEO and department of labor standards. It’s simply a list of stuff that anyone who has worked for you for 5 years has probably figured out. Maybe….. but have all of your employees? Perhaps to them it's been like figuring out the secrets of the Da Vinci Code.

I’ll tell you a story I heard from some consultant or trainer – maybe an author – and I can’t remember who, so my apologies to whoever told it. Skip to the end if you've heard it.

A CEO was getting very frustrated with one of her senior managers. She was so fed up, she was about to fire him. But before she did, she felt she should give him one last chance and hired an executive coach to work with the manager at a cost of $20,000.

So after explaining the situation to the coach, the coach asked her to write down a list of expectations that she had for this manager. Basically, the same exercise you just did. He thanked her, and said he would do his best, and left an invoice for 50% of the total bill.

The first thing the coach did when he met with the manager was to give him the list. The manager was amazed – he had never seen anything like that before. He was able to figure out what he was doing wrong and what he needed to do to please his boss and be successful. He thanked the coach and went on his way.

Three months later, the coach met with the CEO to review progress. The CEO was ecstatic with the manager’s performance – a complete turnaround. She asked the coach – “how did you do it?” The coach told the CEO he simply gave the manager the list of expectations and gave her an invoice for the rest of the bill.

The CEO, with a look of shock and anger, said: “You SOB – I’m not paying you - you cheated!”

OK, so maybe the story is a bit of an exaggeration. But maybe not.

I wonder what would happen if you shared that list of expectations at a team meeting or with employees individually? What harm could it do? You could also use the list as a way to onboard new employees - their very own new manager secret decoder ring.

Even better – what if you asked your employees for a list of what they expected from you in order for them to meet your expectations and be successful?

Naw, now that’s just crazy talk.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

How to Discuss an Employee Performance Problem

The thought occurred to me the other day that while I’ve written a lot about the importance of accountability and dealing with poor performers, I’ve never actually written a post on exactly how to have a performance discussion. I have, however, written about how not to deal with underperformers.

Knowing how to sit down with an employee and have an effective conversation about a performance problem is one of the hardest things for any manager to do, new or experienced, and should never be taken for granted.

It’s also something that’s often screwed up – managers are either too vague and soft or too blunt and harsh. Both won’t get the desired results – improved performance.

We also don’t get to practice it a lot – unlike coaching or listening – so we can’t rely on repetition to get good at it.

Here’s a basic roadmap to follow that works in just about any situation:

1. Get your ducks in a row (preparation):
Something’s happened that has brought the performance problem to your attention. It’s either some objective performance data (sales numbers) or some kind of behavioral issue (falling asleep in a meeting). Gather all the data you can – get input from other sources if you can. It’s like CSI work – you’re gathering evidence to be able to convince yourself first, then the employee.
Then, write an outline of what you want to say and how you want to say it. If it’s serious stuff, you’ll want to involve your friendly local HR person. No, really – involve them. This is when you’ll realize how valuable a good HR pro can be. They deal with this nonsense on a regular basis.
Schedule a meeting – allow an hour – in a private location (closed door office or conference room). There’s no good time to have this kind of conversation, but Friday afternoon might be about the best.

2. Explain the performance issue.
Forget the friendly small talk – just get to the point. In a calm and conversational manner, explain to the employee what the performance issue or behavior is and why it concerns you. There are a couple models for doing this:
- SBR (Situation, Behavior, and Result): “In our meeting this week, you fell asleep. I had to wake you up and embarrass you in front of your peers.”
- BFE (Behavior, Feeling, and Effect): “When you fell asleep in our meeting, I felt like you were not interested in what I had to say. That sets a poor example for the rest of the team.”
However you do it, you’re basically helping the employee understand what exactly you are concerned about and why it concerns you.

3. Ask for reasons and listen.
This is where you give the employee a chance to give their side of things. Don’t ask: “So – what the hell were you thinking?” Instead, try something like: “So help me understand how this could happen?”
The key here is to really listen – for facts and feelings. There may be some legitimate reason for the problem – there usually is, at least from the employee’s perspective. Understanding the real underlying causes will help you and the employee do the next step, which is….

4. Solve the problem.
That’s the whole point of the discussion, right? Eliminate the causes and make the problem go away. A lot of managers seem to lose sight of that.
This really should be a collaborative discussion. In fact, it’s best to ask for the employee’s ideas on solving the problem first. People support what they create. The employee’s idea may not be as good as yours, but they’ll be more likely to own it and have success implementing it. If you’re not confident the employee’s idea is going to work, you can always add your own as an additional idea. The key here is to make sure the employee is committed – which leads to the next step….

5. Ask for commitment and set a follow-up date.
Summarize the action plan, and ask for the employee’s commitment. They need to say it to own it. Then make sure to set and agree on a follow-up date to check in on progress. That way, if your original ideas are not working, you can come up with additional ideas. You also let the employee know you’re not going to let it slide.

6. Express your confidence (and possible consequences).
If this is just the first discussion, and not a serious infraction, then there’s no need to mention consequences. However, if not, then you’ll need to make sure you clearly describe what will happen if there is insufficient improvement in performance or if the behavior does not improve. Either way, end it on a positive note - by expressing your confidence that the solutions you’ve both come up with will work. I realize this is hard to do if you don’t sincerely mean it – if that’s the case, then don’t say it.

There you go. After the meeting, document the discussion, and keep it in your employee file. Then, make sure there’s follow-up.

A lot of good employees screw up now and then. If you follow this process, you’ll get most of them back on track before it gets out of hand.

How about it – did I miss anything? What works and does not work for you?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Learning Journals for Leadership Development

I’ve had a couple recent requests from readers for information on learning journals:

"I’ve been intrigued by the idea of using journaling & reflective writing, but can’t find any resources for how to get that off the ground. I’m worried about pitching it to people who may feel like it’s simply a teenage “dear diary” and am wondering how to provide some structure and support for this kind of process without demanding people turn in their journals for review. Any help?”

“Would you be able to provide me and your readers with the ins and outs of journaling and how to use it as a learning tool? I am very interested in this piece, but not quite sure what goes into it. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!”

You may have kept a diary as a kid, or were forced to write them as a part of your summer camp experience. Then, perhaps you never used them again.

I guess you could say blogging is a modern electronic form of a journal. That’s one of the benefits I get from blogging – writing about leadership development sure has helped my development.

So why and how would you use a journal for leadership development?

First of all, the physical act of writing something down promotes learning. It probably has something to do with internalization and ownership (“I wrote it down so it must be true”) – or maybe there’s some weird physical neurological thing going on.

Journaling also helps promote reflection, and reflection is a critical component required in order to learn from experience. And of course, learning from experience is where most of our development as leaders comes from.

This is one of those practices where I just can’t point to a mountain of research – I just know it works.  Besides, no one has ever resisted the idea or questioned it.

Oh, and there’s one more very practical reason (now we’re talking) for using journals for leadership development. There sure are a lot cheaper and easier to produce than thick 3 inch training binders (which end up in trash cans or gathering dusts on shelves). You can buy a very nice one at any office supply store for under $20.00.

Here are 4 ways learning journals can be used for leadership development:

1. Part of a formal training program.
Either send journals out with pre-work material or hand out the first day of the program. Encourage participants to use them to record questions, notes, insights, and action plans.

Of all the leadership and management programs I’ve been to, the one piece of collateral I most often refer to is the learning journal from an executive education program I attended at Darden.

2. Part of a coaching engagement.
Give one to your coachee as a gift at the beginning of a coaching engagement. Encourage them to write down their goals, actions plans, commitments, what they are learning about themselves, and reflections on assignments.

3. Part of a development assignment.
Stretch assignments and job changes are often used for leadership development. However, what’s often missing is taking the time to reflect and debrief with a manager, coach, or mentor. See CCL's Questions That Facilitate Learning From a Development Assignment.

4. When shadowing.
Shadowing is when you find someone who’s really good at something and follow them around to learn how they do it. It’s a great way to begin to onboard new managers, or for any manager to get better at something. Journals are used to take notes, jot down questions for follow-up, and for self-reflection.

A journal is meant to be a place to record personal reflections, learnings, questions, and notes. It's the property of the learner, and should never be expected to be submitted for review or assessment.

It's so simple it doesn't need structure or instructions - at least not for mature adults. It would kind of take the fun out of it.
How about you? How have you used journals for learning and personal growth?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

10 Tips for Developing Your Leadership “Cojones”

Note from Dan: while I normally write a PG blog, this post is rated PG13, parental discretion is advised.

Sarah Palin recently said on Fox News Sunday that President Obama doesn't have "the cojones" to effectively address the issue of illegal immigration.

Yikes, when’s the last time you heard a political leader accused of that? Actually, according to my extensive 10 minutes worth of Google research, not since then-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright famously said in 1996 that Cuba's shooting down of planes flown by anti-Castro exiles was "not cojones" but "cowardice."

So what does it mean to “not have the cojones” as a leader, and does it really matter? And at the risk of being crude, what exactly are “cojones”?

Yes, Great Leadership will be the first to tackle these tough questions.

We’ll start with a definition. According to Wikipedia, “Cojones is a vulgar Spanish word for testicles, denoting courage. In English, as a loanword, it similarly means courage or brazenness.”

So we’re talking about leadership courage here. And in the context of leadership courage, it’s a gender neutral thing.

Does courage matter? According to most of the research on leadership effectiveness I’ve seen, courage ranks pretty high as an important leadership characteristic.

We all know this, right? We sure know it when we don’t see it. Who wants to work for a manager that:

 Won’t take tough stands with others

 Doesn’t step up to the issues

 Is intimidated by others in power

 Avoids conflict

 Won’t look out for the best interests of the team

 Can’t make a tough decision

In other words, a wimp.

As a leader, I would hate to be called out as a wimp. Ouch. However, if it happens to you, there is hope. Like any valid leadership characteristic, there is no “courage gene”. Someone does not emerge from the womb courageous – it’s something that can be learned and developed.

How? Here are 10 tips for managers (or anyone) that will help grow some leadership cojones (courage):

1. Get clear on what’s important.
Identify your core values, principles, or “leadership rules”. Let these be your guiding light. Establish a vision of who you want to be as a leader, and then begin to live up to that vision.

2. Learn how to deal with conflict.
Read books or take courses in conflict management, negotiations, influence, assertiveness, giving feedback, and/or crucial conversations. Then practice until it hurts.

3. Develop your leadership “presence”.
I’ve written posts on how to do this. Presence is more than an inner confidence – it’s a commanding physical presence as well. Like it or not, as a leader, image matters. People will size you up in less than 30 seconds, so yes, that initial greeting and handshake (avoid the "dead fish") really do matter.

4. Ask yourself: “what’s the worst thing that could happen”?
The next time you feel the urge to challenge someone in power or take an unpopular stand, ask yourself this question: “What’s the worst thing that could happen”? Do you really think you’re going to get fired? Yelled at? Disgraced for life? Yes, there’s a slight chance that any of those things could happen, but in reality, it’s not very likely. We make up all kind of horror stories in our heads that prevent us from saying or doing what’s right. Next time, take the advice from Tom Peters, and just say “what the hell”.

5. Trial by fire.
Volunteer for a high stakes, tough assignment that will require you to make tough calls and deal with conflict. There’s no better way to learn than by earning your scars through experience. Step up and be the person who has to cut the budget, close an office, handle the next layoff, or deliver the bad news.

6. Learn from role models.
Identify people in your company whose courage you admire. Talk to them and learn how they act on their convictions. Read a biography of a courageous leader (Churchill, Lincoln, Ghandi).

7. Be a fixer, not a victim.
When you see a problem that you think “someone” should address, ask yourself if you could be doing something about it. It’s easy to complain or point fingers – it takes courage to be a part of the solution.

8. Avoid wimpy words and language.
Here’s an example of a meeting behavior that drives me nuts. Someone meekly half raises their hand and says “can I ask a question”? When you do that, you might as well hang a wimp sign around your neck. You were invited to the meeting for a reason – to contribute.

9. Remember that leadership is not a popularity contest.
Leaders don’t manage by polls or surveys and strive to make everyone happy. In fact, if you haven’t ticked anyone off in the last year, you might be giving in too much instead of sticking to your convictions (see #1).

10. Hold yourself and others accountable.
High performers want and expect to be held accountable by their leaders. High performing teams will even hold each other accountable. When you establish and commit to a standard or expectation, courageous leaders hold themselves and others accountable to those expectations.

Monday, August 2, 2010

An “Out-of-the-Box” Training Program for New Managers

If I were asked to develop a training program for new managers, the first thing I’d want to do is ask a lot of questions. I’d want to understand the business challenges, interview or survey a bunch of newly promoted managers, their employees, and their managers, and talk to HR and others who could provide me some insight. In other words, a good old-fashioned needs assessment.

However, at the end of the day, there is a good chance the program would look very similar from one company to another, across cultures, and probably wouldn’t even change much over the years.

I’ve found that when someone is promoted to their very first management role, the things they struggle with the most remain pretty common and consistent. For example, every new manager struggles with and has to learn how to confront performance issues. It’s probably the hardest part of the job and always will be.

Given that, I thought I’d provide Great Leadership readers with an out-of-the-box, ready-to-configure, new manager training program. No charge. It’s just what those clueless, yet eager to learn newbie managers needs to survive that challenging first year and build a foundation for success as a leader.

I’d suggest you still do that needs assessment – context is always important. Then, voila! You pull this out of your back pocket. Stick your company logo on it and you’re good to go. (-:

We’ll start off with a little pre-work:

- Some kind of assessment (a 360 assessment, MBTI, DISC, FIRO-B, etc…)

- Access to all of the HR stuff they need to be aware of – a website, online modules, or a binder. Better yet if someone from HR calls the new manager upon promotion to provide a 30 minute orientation. The script would go something like this: “Hi, I’m Fred, your HR manager. Here’s where everything is located you may need to know some day. Get familiar with it, but I don’t expect you to memorize it. Just know it enough to know when to call me when you need help before you make any stupid mistakes that could get us sued.”

- A conference call with all participants to introduce the program, each other, and the trainer(s)

- Have them interview 3 experienced managers

- Give instructions to review preliminary learning goals with their own manager

- Send a journal to all participants with instructions on how to use it as a learning tool

- Reading assignment: 1-2 good online articles or programs, or a good book on the basics of management

Here’s the program elements for the 3-5 day classroom program

- A kick-off by a company big-wig

- Time to review and discuss the pre-work (insights, questions, application, etc…)

- An opportunity to hear from experienced, role model managers, including open Q&A

- Making the transition from individual contributor to manager, i.e., “buddy to boss”

- Review the HR stuff you need to know to stay out of jail

- How to find and hire good people

- Performance Management, including:

o Goal setting

o Giving ongoing feedback and coaching

o Assessing performance

o Progressive discipline (what to do when someone is not meeting expectations, up to and including how to fire someone

- How to inspire, motivate, and provide meaningful recognition

- How to develop your employees

- How to run a meeting

- How to begin to build a team

- A debrief of assessment results

- Individual development planning (action plan to take home for next 6-12 months)

- Standing ovation for the trainer and a group hug (-:

Follow up with some post-work:

- Review IDP with manager

- Continue to journal (reflective learning)

- A few more articles, online programs, and or a book

- 90 day check in and evaluation

I know I’ve left out a lot – things like leading change, how to delegate, budgeting and finance, process improvement, time management, critical thinking, etc…. you can’t learn everything about management and leadership in a single training program. However, I think I’ve covered the basic first 6-12 month survival skills.

Here are a few related posts that should also help in program design:

How to Design a Frugal Leadership Development Program

- How to Build a Leadership Development Program

- 7 Elements of a Great Leadership Development Workshop

What do you think? What would you add, delete, or change? Please do, I'd love to see your ideas