Talent Development

Management Principle: Thinking and Staff Development

In today’s world we’re not really encouraged to think, and by that I mean to wrestle long and hard over issues that involve different mindsets, considering tradeoffs, and then arriving at specific well thought out conclusions. Rather, we are asked to adopt and accept certain belief systems and simply conform. Since Pavlov’s famous experiment with man’s best friend, humanity has become the target of social conditioning, where like food shopping, we pick our favorite brand off the shelf–a concoction that if we could only see how it was made, we would likely decide to raise it and cook it ourselves. As the late Dr. Glenn Martin, professor at Indiana Wesleyan University would say, “Ideas have consequences.” What this means for organizational leaders is that developing today’s staff will present a very different challenge compared to other eras. Applying time-tested professional techniques are going to feel foreign, strange and even unsettling, particularly with the emerging generation.

Thinking and Staff Development, business planning, business management, employee engagementIf we want to effectively mentor and develop others then we must get them to think. Why? Good thinking yields good judgment; good judgment yields good decision-making; good decision-making yields win-win scenarios for all parties involved. It produces an owner mindset if we are careful to create a culture that supports risk-taking and innovation. Yet in juxtaposition to thinking cultures are many of today’s business environments, where we’ve followed the same protocol as the rest of society, engaging in telling platforms, communicating conformity rather than encouraging the originality and creativity that come from contemplation and having our conclusions tested by the questions and thinking of others.

If we really want to develop staff into people that can ultimately take our place, we have to engage in a more radical approach. I remember becoming aware of this truth when my boss walked into my office one day as I was standing in front of my window, staring at the outside world. He snuck up behind me and said in a pronounced voice, “Caught you!” I was so embarrassed–I knew I wasn’t really “working.” I’ll never forget his next statement… “I caught you thinking, and just so you know, that’s what I pay you to do.” He then walked out. This boss of mine is the reason I am who I am today, thanks to his ability to know the right and professional thing to do to make me a better man and a more professional manager.

Below are some keys steps to develop thinking in your staff:

  • Ask Questions. A professional manager will ask discovery-based questions rather than provide answers when employees approach them with problem-solving needs. This can feel uncomfortable for staff, since it exposes their current (and usually inadequate) thinking and makes them feel vulnerable. A safe culture is a prerequisite. In school, when taking tests, we are presented with questions for which we must provide answers. We study because we know we are going to be asked difficult questions. And if we’ve studied hard enough, we’ll give the right answer. Telling bosses stunt the growth and development of their staff.
  • Next Steps. To ensure an employee fully owns their job, all next steps must be placed on them. If we say to our staff, “Let me think it over and I’ll get back with you,” we’ve stumbled in our professional role. What we are really saying when this happens is, “I don’t trust your thinking, so I’m going to use my thinking until I come up with the right answer.” One of the key principles when training a soldier how to shoot is to keep the instructor’s finger off the trigger. If we hope to increase our employees’ competency over time, we need to push the thinking down, keep the problem-solving on them, and avoid doing their work.
  • Insure Decision-making. It would be a disaster if, by only asking questions and assigning next steps, our employees went out like the old cartoon character Tennessee Tuxedo and acted on their half-baked ideas. We’d spend much of our time accounting to our boss, making excuses for the actions of our employees and our inability to lead. This is why I like Bill Oncken’s Freedom Scale. Depending on our anxiety level, there are certain levels of freedom we assign to employee decisions to insure sound actions. If we don’t like their ideas, rather than give them the answer, we find the next best question to ask to help them see the bigger picture.

I know what you are thinking. All this sounds great but it takes too much time. And, time it does take. But, like a good financial investment, it means delaying current gratification for long-term gain. The truth is, for a telling boss, he or she will spend most of their time answering the same questions over and over again, which is a waste of time. By applying these principles on the front end of staff development, we’ll produce people who will ultimately think and judge the same way we do. If you want your staff to improve in their judgments and decision-making, then you must cultivate your thinking in them. This same process works well with teenage children, by the way.

Coaching questions: When your employees seek your direction or some version of problem-solving, how do you usually respond? How can you take steps to make sure your thinking is being developed in them, so that they can ultimately replace you in a succession process? Write your answers in your journal.

Read more coaching principles from Dean Harbry on the Internal Innovations website.

5 out of 60 Cause Execution Blockages

As a leader have you ever looked into your business to discover where the execution blockages are? If you have done this, did you pinpoint the exact blockage points?

Of course, the blockage points are with specific people on your team or in the broader business. There only needs to be one square peg in a round hole for there to be a problem. It does not need to be many people out of place. However, it is often difficult to objectively see who is causing the blockages.

Last week we did an organizational review of a company with 60 employees. Our starting point was to have each employee complete their Business DNA Natural Behavior Discovery. Then we were able to apply talent benchmarks for each role to determine the optimal fit of each person. Our initial external view was that 5 people performing leadership and sales roles were a poor fit.

The leader then confirmed that these 5 people were performing below the required level and in one case a business unit was significantly under achieving its goals. The good news is that the problems were identified and a plan was developed to assign these valuable people to other roles whilst maintaining engagement.

To learn more about the processes you can use to increase employee engagement, please visit www.businessdnaresources.com or email inquiries@dnabehavior.com.

What is Your Employee Engagement Revenue Multiplier?

As a leader you are under constant pressure to produce increased revenues. You may wonder, what can I do differently that will get the results I have promised senior management?? If you are asking your sales team to make more calls and set more appointments, you are only looking at part of the solution.

The answer to this question requires you to move to the new behavioral economy.? You must engage your employees as unique individuals to bring out their highest level of commitment and enjoyment on the job.? And, you have to do something most of us dont like to do.take a deeper look at yourself.

Before you think this is too touchy, feely, let me give you some hard facts. Gallup Research shows businesses that emotionally engage employees will grow earnings 2.5 times faster than those who do not.

Then there are further research studies done at major financial services companies and retailers proved a straightforward dynamic in which employee behavior affected customer engagement, which in turn affected company financial performance.
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In the case of a large retailer research proved a mere 5% increase in employee engagement lead to a 1.3% increase in customer engagement leading to 0.5% more revenues. This translated to a huge increase in bottom line earnings for that company. In some industries the bottom line impact will be higher.

The results are even better for those companies that take steps to directly increase customer engagement with the potential to increase revenue by 23% or more per year. Increasing employee engagement should be your starting point to increase revenues and productivity.

Think about the $ impact to your business of increasing employee engagement.

How do you get started on the engagement process?? The first step is to get to know each of your team members at the inner level.? While you may be very intuitive and know your people through experiences, you must have an objective approach.? There are many discovery tools available to determine strengths, challenges, and motivators.? Use these tools for an in-depth dialogue with your employees to find out how best to communicate, what motivates them, top skills and how they apply them on their job.

Then help each team member apply their strengths to their job.? If you have a salesperson that is a relationship builder and their sales are down, you will de-motivate them by telling them to make more appointments.? The way to increase sales with this person is to have them cross-sell with current clients and ask for referrals.? Save the more appointments approach for your goal setter.

Finally, remember, focusing on employee engagement is not a one time meeting.? It is a daily, continual process.? Have the information in your CRM or employee management systems so that before every meeting with your employee, you review their strengths and struggles.? Help them meet their goals based on who they are, not a prescribed 10-step one size fits all sales system.

An engaged, committed sales team will be your ticket to sales success!

To learn more about the processes you can use to increase employee engagement, please visit www.businessdnaresources.com or email inquiries@dnabehavior.com.

New Leadership Communication

The topic of employee engagement is getting increased focus, and this trend will intensify in the future. The rules for leadership communication have changed. Harvard Business School Research shows that 92% of companies agree that the practice of internal communication has undergone a lot of change in their organizations. To learn more visit HBR blog or read: Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their Organizations (HBR Press, 2012).

leadership performance, engaging customers, managing talent, improving busness performance

In todays world where results must be better balanced with relationships and emotional connection, top-down one way communication from the leadership does not work. Our corporate research is showing that out of touch and closed leadership is not accepted. So, what this means is that the communication has to become more customized to who each person is behaviorally. Further, the communication must be more open conversation style. Through all this the company message has to be told and repeated along with goal clarity. Reiterating, this must happen in the context of who each employee is. The leaders must adapt their style.

How do you do that? The key is the business must know the behavioral style of each employee and build that into its systems at all levels, and make open communication a culture.

Learn more about how you can engage your employees on their terms.

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The Finish Line

None of us are so talented that we dont need help. Maybe thats why the below video tugs on me so. Click to watch.

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/highschool-prep-rally/ohio-runner-stops-state-final-aid-fallen-opponent-100722161.html

Its interesting to note a few things. Both runners are in shape, both have run this track probably hundreds of times, yet it wasnt enough. At the moment of completion it took a fellow competitor, a colleague in the suffering that is training, someone who understood what it took to make it over the finish line to provide that extra lift.

In my business, I see clients whove done all the right things, put in the time, the blood, sweat and tears to build a business ? but just need that little piece at the very end to cross the finish line of financial independence. Bravo to you Meghan Vogel from West Liberty-Salem (Ohio) High School. Character is so rare that when you see it, you cant help but smile.

Read more from Rusty Holcombe on the Holcombe Financial Blog.

Engage Your Employees with Non-Financial Rewards

There is no doubt that money is important. We all need enough money to meet the needs of life and some extra for building a Quality Life and having life experiences. But, spending the day chained to a desk in a highly regimented environment with very little flexibility, vacation and recognition is not that desirable either. Certainly, that does not help the Quality (Balanced) Life equation. In todays world people are looking for greater life meaning, and not just more money.

So, todays employer must have a leadership approach which fosters the building of working relationships, appreciation, flexible hours, community activities and non-financial bonuses. Our company does this through setting work hours that meet the needs of the company and the bio-rhythms of different people, additional annual vacation in non-busy times, providing Quality Life trips to enable life experiences to be taken and time off for volunteer work. All of this brings greater life meaning. Yes, there is some company cost but it also is attractive to the employees. They are more engaged and frankly, the company gets a better type of person whose values are well developed.

If you do not believe me have a look at the HBR blog article Attract and Keep A-Players with Non-financial Rewards by Sylvia Ann Hewlett? which has great supporting research.

Also, learn more about our DNA Employee Performance Report for identifying what roles and work environment employees will excel in to increase the productive use of talents.