Millennials? You Still Manage Them as Individuals

Amy Gallo, in her recent Harvard Business Review blog post, addressed what she calls four essentially false beliefs about the Millennial generation in the workplace: They are completely different from what Boomers were at that age. They want more purpose at work than previous generations do/did. They seek more work/life balance too. They need special treatment at work.   She refers to several pieces of research that do not support beliefs #1, 2, and 4 and concur only … [Read more...]

Feedback That Keeps Things Moving Forward

We are all familiar with the "sandwich" approach to giving an employee feedback: say something positive, slip in the negative (ahem, "constructive") message and then wrap up with another positive. This way the recipient will leave the interaction feeling good and will take the negative piece away too. Nonsense! People see through this management trick. They don't even hear the final accolade because they are still processing the corrective "meat" of the sandwich. In fact, any critique hits … [Read more...]

Performance Requires More than Motivation and Ability

People often think that for employees to perform well all they need are the appropriate ability and skills and the motivation to achieve great results. But there is a missing ingredient: opportunity. So says John Boudreau in a recent issue of Talent Management Magazine (p. 10). He is spot on. You can be well trained to build departmental sales and keen to get at it but if your boss, the Director of Sales, hogs all the promising clients and sales calls, you won't have the opportunity to apply … [Read more...]

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...]

The Army’s After Action Review–a Model for Performance Feedback

The US and Canadian armies (among others, I'm sure) are famous for its post-event after action review (AAR). Whether it's a mission,  a tactical maneuver, or just a patrol, the individuals involved meet immediately afterward to debrief on how it went and what they can learn for the next time. This goal is to quickly and consistently capture new learning and give the squad–both as a team and as individuals–instant feedback and a way to improve right away.   The four questions they ask … [Read more...]

The Numbers Are Coming

The October 2012 issue of Harvard Business Review features "Big Data" as the theme. There are a number of articles of import for those leaders whose enterprise has access to large amounts of data–operational, market, what have you. They look at where the data is coming from, the increasing role it is playing in business decision-making, how to use it wisely, and how to identify the metrics that best represent your operations and your market environment. They even have a piece on the hottest job: … [Read more...]

It’s What They Don’t Do that Makes Them Bad

This post was triggered by a great post in the HBR Blog Network by Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman. This essence of their article is that most of the behaviors of so called "bad bosses" are, in their words, sins of omission, not commission. In other words, it's more what the boss fails to do that makes him or her a poor manager. Of ten "fatal flaws" their extensive research uncovered, only two (Inept Interpersonal Skills and Bad Judgement) were of the commission type. The authors go on to say … [Read more...]

Your Dance Between Manager and Coach

The trend these days is clearly for managers to take on more of a coaching role. But they still need to be the manager! These are two different roles. As a manager, you have stewardship for results in your area of operation. You ensure that your people are performing at an acceptable level and are supporting the organization's larger strategy. As a coach, you help your employees achieve their required performance. You assist them, facilitate their thinking, and help them be more effective in … [Read more...]

Dial Up the Underdeveloped Ego

I don't know about you but it pains me to see so many people in organizations not contributing near to what they are capable of. Many of course, for any multitude of reasons, just don't want to, thank you very much. They are satisfied with average, with just enough. That's a topic for another time. But many more would like to accomplish more, go higher, be more successful (however they might define that), but they don't because they don't believe they can! These people are locked into what … [Read more...]

Dial Down the Overblown Ego

How often have you heard that our favorite topic is ourself? This is certainly true but a few people go overboard. We call them egocentric. At a neurotic level, they become narcissistic. This comes from the Greek character Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water and remained there, mesmerized by his image.   But we are managers, not therapists, so let's stay with the egotist. These individuals make terrible managers. They hog all the credit for … [Read more...]