Be A Better Boss – The Twenty-First Century Imperative

If you have had a boss in your professional life, which is probably everyone reading this, you are acutely aware of the impact they have on you professionally and personally. They have either helped you succeed on the job, or have possibly created obstacles to your success. They may have supported your wishes to balance your family obligations with your career, or caused you to sacrifice your family to succeed at work. They perhaps gave you opportunities to grow and develop and are partly responsible for the success you are experiencing in your career. Or, they have been ambivalent towards you and your colleagues, by demonstrating no interest in your career, but only in their success. If you are like me, I’ve experienced all the aforementioned scenarios. I think you will agree that the type of boss we have, or the kind of boss we are, is extremely critical to our daily work experience and entire career. Said another way, your boss directly impacts the quality of your life. According to Robert Sutton, professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and author of Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best and Learn from the Worst, having a good boss decreases your chances of getting a heart attack!

I’d like to suggest the following steps to help you begin the journey of becoming a better boss.

  • Understand that you have the greatest impact on your employee’s engagement — which is both their commitment to the job and their performance on the job. The latest research from Gallup finds that 70% of U.S workers are disengaged — “checked out,” sleeping-walking through their days. Recently, I overheard two business professionals chatting at lunch, and I could tell by the conversation that they were discussing situations at work. When they were finished with their lunch, one of the individuals said, “Back to the unhappy place!” I had to ask what they meant by that comment. Their response, “You don’t want to know!”
  • The need for bosses to develop self-awareness has never been more important. Your emotional intelligence quotient should be a priority right up there with your knowledge of your business. A good boss knows themselves well, as well as knows the business well. If you’re not already aware, your employees are listening and watching everything you do and say! If that doesn’t cause you a little concern, I would question whether you are “fit” to be a twenty-first-century boss! I recently interviewed a client’s executive team, and in giving feedback to my client from those interviews, they responded numerous times with regret that they have behaved in ways that had undermined their credibility. When I asked if they were aware of their actions at the time, they often surmised that they were completely unaware. So my question to you is, are you not watching your boss closely, hopefully to learn from them? If they are thoughtful, kind, respectful, intelligent and fun, then it is likely that you will adopt some of these good qualities. On the other hand, if they are dishonest, obnoxious, arrogant and ignorant, you may have to fight your better self to fend of adopting such destructive characteristics.
  • A twenty-first-century boss listens to his or her employees. I remember a former boss who during our 1-on-1 meetings would spend the entire hour typing and looking at her screen. Either she found me incredibly dull and boring, or she was oblivious to the fact that by typing on her keyboard and glancing at me on occasion sent a strong message to me that she could not be listening to me.The twenty-first-century boss does everything possible to help people experience dignity and pride. Listening not only shows respect and consideration for another human being, but is the first step to truly understanding their concerns, needs, and wants. Today’s bosses must have a keen awareness that people in power tend to become self-centered and oblivious to what followers need, do, and say. If you will make a commitment to listening well, you can stave of falling into the trap of becoming a bad boss. In conclusion I’d like to leave you with a selection of Bob Sutton’s “Commandments for Wise Bosses”:
  • Do not treat others as if they are idiots
  • Listen attentively to your people; don’t just pretend to hear what they say
  • Ask a lot of good questions
  • Ask others for help and gratefully accept their assistance
  • Do not hesitate to say, “ I don’t know”
  • Forgive people when they fail, remember the lessons, and teach them to everyone
  • Know your foibles and flaws, and work with people who correct and compensate for your weaknesses
  • Express gratitude to your people.

To be a better twenty-first-century boss, you must remind yourself that you are a steward — of careers, capabilities, resources and organizational values. Challenge yourself today —  to be a better boss — nothing less should be acceptable.

COACHING AND EVALUATION

“ The worker should be enabled to control, measure and guide his performance. He should know how he is doing without being told.” – Peter Drucker

What really develops people is day-to-day coaching: having high expectations and following up with constant monitoring and feedback, with praise for progress and immediate corrections to stay on course as needed. Without day-to-day coaching, evaluation is based on a few shots in the dark. According to a one organizations’ latest work environment survey, the lack of coaching is evidenced by 54% of respondents affirming that outside of the formal performance review process, their immediate supervisor regularly talks with them about their performance and progress.
The same survey clearly shows a direct connection to the supervisor’s ability to lead and motivate effectively (69%) and the marginal recognition and praise provided by the supervisor (64%). Not surprisingly, only 69% are excited about working at this corporation, and only 64% feel valued by the company.

In a good evaluation, the leader looks closely at how the people under review met their commitments. Which people delivered consistently, which ones were resourceful, enterprising, and creative in the face of adversity, who had easy wins and did not push for results, and who met their commitments at the expense of the organizations morale and long-term performance. Unfortunately, performance management for the most part has been reduced to the Performance Appraisal – two times during the year rather than frequent interaction and dialog between manager and employee. Nowhere is candid dialog more important than in the evaluation of people. If people can’t speak forthrightly in evaluating others (for whatever reason), then the evaluation is worthless – to the organization, and to the person who needs the feedback.

Realizing that feedback from management to employees seldom happens, when an employee sits down with his manager, and the manager does not say anything of the employees weakness, Don Redlinger, Director of Human Resources, Allied Signal, says, “…Go back! Because otherwise you’re not going to learn anything.”

The talent review or evaluation is the main social operating mechanism of the people process, so it is appropriate to consider an alternative or modified approaches to the performance appraisal.

Build Talent

Once the talent has been acquired, it is equally critical to build that talent. People are the key to the organizations present and future success. It is to the organizations advantage to know the talent in the organization, know what needs to be done to help each person develop, and understand the priority of developing particular talent, so that business goals can be met. Successful managers know what’s important to their people and keep and eye on emerging issues. Consider below some alternative ideas for developing a talent model.

􏰀 Pursue and attract talented candidates for key roles.
􏰀 Promote the organization externally as an attractive place to work.
􏰀 Improve the interviewing process.
􏰀 Help new employees be successful.
􏰀 Apply knowledge of what motivates employees in order to retain key talent.
􏰀 Share roles and assignments in ways that leverage and develop people’s capabilities.
􏰀 Identify required capabilities and skill gaps with the current organization area.
􏰀 Provide feedback, coaching, and guidance.
􏰀 Promote sharing of expertise and a free flow of learning across the organization.

BECOME A LEADERSHIP TALENT MANAGER

“ The power of a company to attract good people is directly proportionate to its reputation as a developer of successful people for itself as well as for other companies.”- Peter Drucker

 

 

 

 

McKinsey & Company’s War for Talent survey found that at most companies, talent is not a priority! Disturbing as this is, effective talent management begins with adopting a different mindset. Every leader has to be committed to getting better talent – HR alone cannot do the job.
The War for Talent survey conducted by McKinsey & Company of 13,000 managers and several hundred corporations identified five imperatives for ‘winning the war for talent’:

1. Embrace a talent mindset
2. Craft a winning employee value proposition
3. Rebuild your recruiting strategy
4. Weave development into your organization
5. Differentiate and affirm your people
Talent is the most important strategic resource for future success. According to Robert Hargrove, co-CEO of Masterful Coaching, leaders must place an emphasis on coaching and mentoring over managing the details. Put another way, an organizations humans beings are its most reliable resource for generating excellent results year after year.

The survey also found that a Winning Employee Value Proposition – a reason why customers should do business with you – is equally important to people management. The key is not what core values and organization has, but that it has core values at all. A core ideology provides the glue that holds the organization together through time.

LEADERSHIP CREDIBILITY

Above all else, people want to believe in their leaders, trusting their words, seeing a match between their words and behavior. According to Rob Goffee, London Business School professor and co-author of Why Should Anyone be led by You, it is unlikely that one will be able to inspire, arouse, execute or motivate people unless one is able to show people who you are, what you stand for, and what you can and cannot do. Pam Alexander, CEO of Alexander Ogilvy Public Relation Worldwide believes relationships are more important than ever. To build trust, she suggests investing constantly in ones relationships. “Don’t sweat ROI, help people whether or not they can return the favor.”

The ability to create trust collapses time in building relationships. The need to build relationships is overlooked at the individual leaders peril. It could be concluded that, if trust does not exist, then that leader really cannot be leading. To build trust it is necessary to fight a battle together, or at least, go through some difficult situation together. It is also necessary for an individual to open him or herself up about who they are – to share professional and personal success, and failure. Joseph Berardino, former CEO of Anderson Worldwide says, “I think leaders who do not make themselves vulnerable to their people, can’t effectively lead because people aren’t going to think you are real.”

Analyzing the Role of People on Project Teams

Project teams succeed or fail because of program management.
It has been the writers’ experience that role of the project management office (PMO) is extremely challenging, probably, more challenging than an organizational management. Project teams are formed quickly and players are brought in from the outside and from within an organization, largely thrown together in a short space of time with a directive to deliver solution. The unique nature of this ‘temporary’ organization requires out of the box management, in the very least, management who do not apply status quo management techniques. Project teams require a ‘skunk-works’ mentality – people passionately committed to creating something great and unexpected, largely risk-averse, and passionate about creating something new and possibly ground-breaking or revolutionary. Old-style, everyday management techniques will not work for doing something new… if things are still being done the old way.7 That said, the project team will find success elusive if a clear set of objectives, spelled out unambiguously by management does not exist. Individuals with leadership roles on project teams need to demonstrate enthusiasm and passion associated with the hallmarks of those who aspire for greatness, because the need to engage the organization or customers is one of the greatest challenges to gaining buy-in and creating the shared need and urgency around the project.