We All Have Biases

biasThe events of the past few months have put bias or potential bias front and center in the American consciousness.  In its extreme, bias becomes an -ism.  Absolutism. Sexism. Racism. Agism. Name your -ism. These extremes can lead to discrimination, fear and, at times, tragedy.  We have seen this with our own eyes too many times.

Before we say, I’m not a biased person, stop.  The truth is we all have biases.  It’s part of being human.  They can be biases we are conscious of or biases that are subconscious.  We aren’t really aware of them until someone points it out.

For most of us, most of our biases never rise to a level of -ism.  Still, they impact our perceptions and decision-making.  You may have a bias for action.  What impact does that create?  You are probably great at getting things done. However, does that bias also cause you, at times, to not spend enough time planning and then you or someone else ends up having to do a lot of rework? Or maybe, you have a bias for only hiring people who have a certain degree from a certain school. That bias is probably the result of having very positive experiences with people you hired with that profile.  However, could it also be causing you to miss out on some other great hires? Do you have a bias for experience when listening to ideas or suggestions from others?  Rightly so, wisdom can come with experience. However, those who are new to the situation see it with fresh eyes and their insights can be just what you need to hear.

Bias in the extreme is an ugly part of our human existence.  However, its more benign forms impact us every day.

How Do I Get to the Next Level?

I woke up the other morning and the calendar said it was December.  December!
How can it already by the end of the year? This realization made me think about the goals I had set at the beginning of the year and where I stood against those goals. I asked myself, ‘How can I take my performance to the next level?” At this time of year, especially in companies that have end-year check-ins as part of their performance management process, you and your people may have this same question.

What do I need to do to get to the next level?

When our people ask this question, they are usually looking for us to help them navigate the performance of career development waters and give them the answer for where they should be taking their performance or career. When asked this question, use the GOAL Development Conversation Framework to guide the conversation.

First, determine the individual’s Goals. Review where the individual is in his or her current role. Are they ready for a move? What are the individual’s personal and career goals?

Second, gain the individual’s Observations on what he or she does well, areas of interest and development needs. Ask for examples.

Third, add your Assessment and the assessment of others, if you know them for a fact. If your team member is interested in moving to another role, what skills and competencies does someone need to be successful in that role? How does this person compare to that profile right now? What do they need to develop? How does it align (or not align) with their interests?

Finally, create a Learning plan. What more do you or your team member need to learn about the role in which he or she is interested? What skills or competencies do they need to develop? How do they need to better showcase strengths?

Who Are You, Really?

Personal brandThink about all the different leaders you’ve known. Now think of three words, maybe a short sentence, to describe each one. There may be one who was the company’s ‘go to guy.’ Maybe there was the one who was ‘good natured but inept’. Another could be ‘the one who wanted great people around’.

Each of these describes a brand. We hear the word brand thrown around a lot these days. Companies or products have a brand. We hear about our social media brand. We’re told to cultivate our brand. Whether we like it or not, each of us already has a brand that has been developed over the years by our words and actions.

A personal or leadership brand is important. It gives people a quick way to think about who you are, and what they can expect when interacting with you; or when asking you to get involved in a project, or asking you to take on a new role.

The question is how do you cultivate your brand? Some things to think about are:

  • Who are you, really? We all have things that we value. We all have strengths. Your brand should reflect who you really are. If it’s not genuine people will see that.
  • How do your actions reflect who you really are? If you say you are all about getting results but never create them, your actions don’t reflect that brand. Be careful of latching onto what you think others want to see.
  • Are you making yourself visible? Like it or not, organizations are not pure meritocracies. People have to have visibility to who you are and what you’re all about. Keeping your head down and just getting your work done is not all you need to be doing. Making others aware of what you’re doing and how that is adding value is important. Volunteer for projects that will allow you to highlight your brand. Engage in conversations with others to learn how they are adding value and letting them know what you are doing too. Step out of your zone. I know someone who had some perspectives on how her company was approaching diversity. She contacted an executive in her company about an article he wrote for an internal newsletter on the topic. He asked her to write an article sharing her views and soon she was put in charge of diversity for the company.

Create your personal branding action plan. Let people know who you are and the great things you’re doing.

 

 

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a recognized organizational and leadership development expert. She works with Fortune 500 firms, growing companies, and universities to design their organizations, develop their leaders and continually elevate performance.  She has been quoted in The New York Times, Human Resource Executive, CNN and is the author of the newly released book “Getting Real:  Strategies for Leadership in Today’s Innovation-Hungry, Time-Strapped, Multi-Tasking World of Work”

How Do I Get to the Next Level?

I woke up the other morning and the calendar said it was 2015. January 2015!

How can it already be 2015? This realization made me think about the goals I had set at the beginning of last year and where I stood against those goals. I asked myself, ‘How can I take my performance to the next level?” At this time of year, you and your people may have this same question.

What do I need to do to get to the next level?

When our people ask this question, they are usually looking for us to help them navigate the performance of career development waters and give them the answer for where they should be taking their performance or career. When asked this question, use the GOAL Development Conversation Framework to guide the conversation.

First, determine the individual’s Goals. Review where the individual is in his or her current role. Are they ready for a move? What are the individual’s personal and career goals?

Second, gain the individual’s Observations on what he or she does well, areas of interest and development needs. Ask for examples.

Third, add your Assessment and the assessment of others, if you know them for a fact. If your team member is interested in moving to another role, what skills and competencies does someone need to be successful in that role? How does this person compare to that profile right now? What do they need to develop? How does it align (or not align) with their interests?

Finally, create a Learning plan. What more do you or your team member need to learn about the role in which he or she is interested? What skills or competencies do they need to develop? How do they need to better showcase strengths?

Are You Spending Time with the Right People at Work?

work relationshipsNow that the end of the year is in sight, it’s a good time to take a step back and assess how we are progressing.  Usually, when we do this type of assessment, we look at progress against our business plan, project timelines or other priorities we’ve identified.

I suggest we all take a look at our key work relationships and assess how those are going.  We all know that our work relationships are important for a wide variety of reasons.  We also know that these relationships shift over time.  Someone who it wasn’t important to have a good working relationship with in the past is now an important partner.  Someone who we worked closely with in the past moved to a new role or division and we don’t really work together anymore.  And sometimes, there are people we need to build relationships with that we don’t spend the time on because they are difficult or building a new relationship is outside of our comfort zone.

I suggest you assess the balance in your network of work relationships and ask:

  • Who are you spending a great deal of time with?  Why do you spend that much time with them –familiarity?  The ease of the relationships?  Because you need them to get work done? It could be a combination of reasons.
  • Based on what you want to achieve, is that the right amount of time to be spending with them?
  • Who are you spending less time with but should spend more because they are important to success?  What needs to happen for you to be able to spend more time building the relationship?  Do you need to spend less time on those relationships that are comfortable
    but not as important to the work?  Do you need to force yourself out of you comfort zone?
  • What’s your plan for building or expanding the relationships you need to work on?  Set 2 or 3 goals for making the necessary changes to re-balance your relationships and put them into action now.

 

 

 

 

About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.

Tours of Duty

The AllianceReid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn has a new book, The Alliance. In the book, he and his co-authors, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh suggest we need to think of employment, engagement and retention in a whole new way.

Since lifetime employment not even a thought in people’s minds, Hoffman and his co-authors suggest that rather than thinking about employment as this open ended agreement that, in reality, can be terminated by either the employer or employee at any time, engage employees in tours of duty. The tour of duty is a ‘mutually beneficial deal, with explicit terms between independent players.’ The book outlines three levels of tours.

Reed argues that the current employee and employer contract only contributes to a continued lack of trust. You can quit on me and I can let you go at any time. Tours of duty, on the other hand, set out explicit expectations and benefits (including helping to find a job elsewhere) for both the company and employee. This agreement promotes engagement because both sides are engaged in the agreement and both expect benefit from it.

It’s a thought provoking way to think about engagement. What do you think?

 

 

 

 

About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.

Are You Really a Team?

Are You Really a Team?The word and idea of a team gets used a lot in corporate America. Managers talk about their teams. Teams are pulled together to solve business issues. Teamwork is touted as the best way to achieve results.

I’m often asked to work with teams who are not performing as well as they should be. Some are outright dysfunctional. And, sometimes, the group is not a team at all. They are a group of people who report to a particular manager or who serve a particular client group. Usually, the person who brought me into the organization thinks they are or should be a team, but in reality, they aren’t or don’t need to be.
 

There are four reasons why what is often called a team is not a team at all:

  • Lack of common purpose: A team needs to have a common purpose that can only be achieved by the members of the team working together. If the purpose can be achieved without that kind of collaboration or if the only commonality is that we have the same boss, it’s not a team.
     
  • Individual, not shared, goals: Teams have shared goals and accountabilities. If each individual only has individual goals and there is no need for shared goals, then what is it we are all trying to achieve together?
     
  • Team members aren’t bought into the cause. If the team members don’t find the purpose of the team to be compelling and can’t really see how they add value, there is no team. Team members need to believe that the work being done by the team is important. They need to be committed and motivated to achieving the results.
     
  • They only get together to share information. Many of us have been in team meetings where the sole purpose is for each team member is to update the other team members and this is the only interaction the team members have with each other. Teams exist to take action against a shared purpose and goals. If we do not work collaboratively to generate ideas, to make decisions or to execute specific actions, then the “team,” is really a very labor-intensive communication vehicle. The “team” is a distribution channel. It’s not really adding any value, just getting information from one point to another.


Smarter Goals

 

The idea of S.M.A.R.T. goals has been around for a long time. Many of you who have attended management training have at one time or another been exposed to this concept. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for the elements that make up a well written goal. I’m advocating for a new acronym —S.M.A.R.T.E.R. This approach keeps the S.M.A.R.T. components and adds what I view as two critical elements.

 

S = Specific. All goals should be focused on a specific outcome or behavior.
M = Measurable. Effective goals can be measured. You define what success looks like. The measure can be quantitative (percentages, earnings, numbers) or qualitative (behavioral differences observed).
A = Attainable or Achievable.
Goals need to be seen as something that can actually be reached. Otherwise, they are just viewed as a pipe dream and have little impact on performance because nothing you do will ever be good enough.
R = Relevant. They need to relate to what someone does and what someone has control over. If a goal really doesn’t relate to what I do, then why does it matter?
T = Time bound. Too often, goals are set without a specific end date in mind. If a ‘goal’ is open-ended and ongoing, it’s not a goal. It’s a task or a process.
E = Engaging. Goals are often thought to be very objective and numbers-driven, i.e., very intellectual, not emotional. Or, in the case of behavioral goals, sometimes people view them as not really that important. For people to take ownership of achieving a goal, they need to be emotionally engaged with the idea that achieving this goal is important to them, not just to the company or group.
R = Recognized. People need to see that achieving the goal makes a difference. They need to see that something positive will result or something negative will cease. Recognition, rewards and reinforcement are all important for goals to be effective.

Looking in the Mirror

Valentine’s Day is the one day a year that is set aside for those who love us to tell us how much they love us and what they love about us. As we bask in the glow of these wonderful sentiments, we recognize that there are things that our loved ones don’t love so much about us.

When we lead others, in some ways, every day is Valentine’s Day. You see it’s very hard for those who report to us to tell us anything except what they love about us. It’s inherent in the system. We are the people who make key decisions that impact these people every day. We decide what assignments they get. We assess their performance and give them salary increases. We decide if they’re ready to be promoted and whether or not we’ll advocate for that. And human nature being what it is, people don’t want to ‘get on the bad side’ of the person who makes these decisions. So, while we’re expected to provide developmental feedback as part of the job, it doesn’t usually come our way from those who work for us.

That means when we think about our leadership performance we need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “If I worked for me, what would I be dying to tell myself but probably never say?” It’s a hard question, but one that we should really think about. One of the traps of success is that we begin to believe a little too much of our own press. At times, we forget that with success comes new challenges and with those challenge come new behaviors we need to exhibit and lessons we need to learn. We’re not always good at everything that is required of us in our job. We can become guarded about seeing things that don’t reinforce our successful vision of ourselves. Sometimes, those things we are guarding ourselves against, are what keep us from being as good a leader as we can be.

Give yourself and your people a Valentine. Look in the mirror and ask the hard question. Then commit to making a change so that next year when you ask the question, you have a different answer.

The Five Keys to Having a Nice Conflict

The Five Keys to Having a Nice Conflict by guest blogger Kent Mitchell, Personal Strengths Publishing

Poorly managed conflict takes a toll on our time, money, health, and happiness. However, we can learn to have a nice conflict-the type of conflict that consistently leads to greater productivity, stronger relationships, and leaves everyone involved feeling good about themselves.

1. Anticipate
Anticipating conflict starts with having a better understanding of the people you’re dealing with and how their view of a situation might differ from your own. When you respect a person’s unique vantage point, you’re better equipped to steer clear of their conflict triggers.

2. Prevent
Preventing conflict is about the deliberate, appropriate use of behaviors in your relationships. If you know a person who highly values trust and fairness, you can prevent conflict with him/her by not using words or actions that threaten those values.

3. Identify
There are three basic approaches in conflict: rising to the challenge (assert), cautiously withdrawing
(analyze), or wanting to keep the peace (accommodate). When you are able to spot these approaches in yourself and others, you are empowered to handle conflict situations more productively.

4. Manage
Managing conflict involves creating conditions that enable others to manage themselves out of the
emotional state of conflict. But it’s also important to manage yourself out. Managing yourself in conflict
can be as easy as taking some time to see things differently.

5. Resolve
To create movement toward resolution, we need to show the other person a path back to feeling good and valued. When people feel good about themselves, they are less likely to feel threatened and are free to move toward resolution.

If you’d like to find out more, contact Kent Mitchell at 562-889-8286 or kent@ps4sdi.com.