Too Many Managers Avoid Problem Performers

A recent survey of over 2000 U.S. employers done for CareerBuilder found that 27 % of bosses had an employee they would like to see leave the organization. This is not surprising but what struck me was the proportion of managers who could see themselves adopting a strategy that avoids the problem entirely or borders on doing so. A plurality (42%) of responding managers said they would engage in a formal discussion around the performance shortfall which could include triggering the discipline … [Read more...]

You Can Receive Feedback as a Gift or a Scolding

Consider the following two versions of feedback given by a boss, in response to an employee leaving errors in an important report for the Board: "I've gone over your report and found you didn't include the sidebar paragraph that explains Figure 6 on page 18. Please add it in right away and get the revised report back to me. I need it to go out today and I need it to be complete and easy to understand." "I've gone over your report and couldn't believe how sloppy and unreliable you are to … [Read more...]

Your Final Performance Review

I get some great ideas from my clients. In a recent coaching conversation my client and I were strategizing about how to fire up an employee in his 60's with about two years left before retirement who was slacking off.. I suggested he challenge the individual to make the choice to make his last two years his best two years. My client liked the idea. After pondering it for a moment he said, "What if I were to invite him now to draft what he would like his final review to say, the one that will … [Read more...]

Want to Collaborate? Choose Your Level

We hear so much about collaboration these days. Our work is more complex. The best solutions require input from diverse perspectives. We at Fulcrum Associates have just started working with a fascinating simulation learning event, Friday Night at the ER. In it participants experience the challenge of working in a system where the unit managers must ultimately collaborate in the interest of the whole system. Otherwise, when one unit/part gets the best results for itself, other units–which, … [Read more...]

What’s Your Ask/Tell Ratio?

Do you ask your employees as often as you tell them what to do and what you think? In my experience, most managers don't, not even close. Elsewhere in this blog I have offered four reasons why this is so.   But if you have no answer to the above question, I invite you to spend a week or so watching yourself–as a third party would–as you interact daily with your staff. If your employee is struggling to collect more accurate data for his weekly status report, do you jump in with … [Read more...]

TW 2010 Global Workforce Study-Comment #2

  One of the themes that emerge from TowersWatson's latest survey is around Self-Reliance. Three quarters of respondents agreed that they are ultimately responsible for their financial and career security. This is a good thing. It indicates a tacit willingness to accept accountability. Here's the challenge for employers around this, to quote TW… How much responsibility and risk can reasonably be shifted to employees without impeding their productivity? And what can organizations do … [Read more...]

Toxic Mix = Bully Boss

Certain chemicals are inert and harmless standing alone but, when combined, they combust into toxic fumes, or worse. This, apparently, is what frequently happens when a boss becomes a bully.   A series of studies reported last year in the academic journal, Psychological Science, found that bosses who abuse employees tend to be the result of two factors: Being in a position of power over others Feelings of incompetence and self-doubts of their ability It takes both of these to … [Read more...]

Is the Coaching Client Ready?

James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente (University of Rhode Island) developed a Stages of Change Model that for 30 years has helped therapists and counsellors work effectively with clients with addiction. Here are the six stages: Precontemplation (not yet acknowledging a need for changed behavior) Contemplation (acknowledging the need but not yet willing to proceed with the change) Preparation/Determination (ready to make the change and gearing up for it) Action (engaging in the new … [Read more...]

The Paradox of Who Makes the Decisions

Leadership Coach and blogger, John Agno, recently laid out eighteen  lessons on leadership from Colin Powell. One particularly caught my attention with its application to the non-military organizational environment: The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. As John mentions, sometimes leaders foster a culture … [Read more...]

The Truth that Hurts but Will Help Us Cope

Managers have been sorely challenged in 2009 and this year to keep optimistic and not succumb to the ongoing, sometimes mind-numbing stress of work and, at best, tenuous job security. They are called to do this not only for themselves but also for their people. One place employees look for assurance that things will be OK is their immediate boss. If she is sounding scared or negative, staff will pick it up too. But lingering somewhere in the back of our minds is the idea that when this is all … [Read more...]