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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.

Bouncing Back

bouncing back

Resilience: the ability to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness

Resilience is key to the short-term and long-term success of our careers. Over the course of years or over the course of any given year, we are thrown unexpected curveballs that require us to bounce back and show our toughness. Here are 4 ideas for building resilience for yourself and your team:

  • Frame the situation. When a situation turns out badly or something negative impacts you, how do you think about it? Is it a blame game? Do you kick yourself for ‘doing something stupid again’. Stop. In every situation multiple elements impact the outcome. While it’s important to consider your role, look at the various players and the various roles. Don’t look at them to place blame but to learn. Think about it as an opportunity not an obstacle
  • Ask questions to find understanding. After assessing what role various people or institutions or situations played, follow up with questions for yourself. What was controllable? What wasn’t? What did I learn? How does all this make me feel? What could be different next time?
  • Take time. Sometimes, the curve ball has some pretty significant emotional impact. Take time to work through the emotions. Unpack them. Try to understand them.
  • Be expansive. Resilient people mark the ending of any setback by moving forward. They put what happened in its place and take steps to make things happen. When one door closed, they take the opportunity to open many others.

 

 

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.

Making Room for Failure

Making Room for Failure - Factor In TalentHow often are innovation and risk taking discussed in your organization? Among the executives I’m working with, they both seem to be to be hot topics. In leadership team meetings, they’re talking about how to get people to take more risks. They want new ideas that will change their product mix or increase market share. But when you look at how their companies approach risk you find it’s focused on mitigating it. Or when you look at how products are developed the process favors a small tweak or a modest change to a ‘proven winner.’ The actions aren’t supporting the words.

If you want more innovation and risk taking in your organization, you have to expect, allow and celebrate failure. Without failure, breakthroughs don’t happen. If you’re going to take a risk, sometimes it’s not going to work. It will fail. And if you want someone to take a risk again, you have to take that failure and hold it up to the light. Not to highlight what not to do but rather to highlight what to do. Jason Seiken, former SVP and General Manager for digital at NPR wanted to create a more innovative culture. So, he made failure part of everyone’s goals and performance. He created the failure metric and integrated into daily conversation and formal performance reviews. As a member of the digital team, if you did NOT fail during the year, you received a lower performance rating. In his recent Harvard Business Review blog, Seiken notes “In the end, the failure metric was something of a verbal stunt. Here’s what staffers said a few years later: If I had simply announced that they had permission to fail, they would have considered it corporate blather. By making failure a requirement, I had shocked them into taking the message seriously.”

What would shock your organization into action?

Strategy & Choice

 

strategy

I was recently having a conversation with someone about strategy. He noted that at the end of the day, strategy is simply about choice. As someone who does a lot of strategy work, I was taken by this elegant definition of strategy. A well-defined strategy should be an articulation of a choice you are making about how you will achieve your vision. It is also the choice of what you will not do to achieve your vision. It is saying yes to somethings and no to others.

It is also a guide for the choices you make about how to implement the strategy.  On a tactical level, it serves as the guidepost for the daily choices and decisions that get made about what to pursue, what products to introduce, who to hire and  promote and where offices should be located.  It can be a touchstone for difficult decisions, providing criteria for weighing your options.

choiceFor the strategy to play its important role in guiding choice, it needs to be widely
communicated and understood. It needs to be discussed on a regular basis so it is top of mind. Too many times I hear Directors or VP’s in large organizations that the strategy is not clear.  If they don’t know it, how can anyone else?

 

Is Your Team Ready to Take Its Leadership to the Next Level?

 Are you ready to:

  • Look forward at the new opportunities, threats and demands on your business?
     
  • Build the ability to think strategically and systemically in your organization?
     
  • Build an even more effective team of people who share your philosophy and purpose, with strengths that complement your own?
     
  • Motivate, empower and enhance trust in the organization to execute the strategic vision and achieve great results?

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Performance Management and Unintended Consequences

Last year, the state of Georgia published a report showing that cheating on a statewide exam was occurring at 80% of the schools in the Atlanta school district. It had become a regular practice to change answers on student exams in order to meet the performance standards set for the schools and district. Some educators even had ‘cheat parties’ where they would get together on the weekend to change the answers on the tests. A statistical analysis showed that the probability of the type of performance improvement shown year over year was one in quadrillion.

Former Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall, who retired in June 2011 as head of the 48,000-student district, is accused of creating a culture of fear, pressuring faculty and administrators into accepting ever-increasing targets of achievement, and turning a blind eye to the way those goals were achieved (USA Today, July 12, 2011).

If you were to ask Dr. Hall if her goal was to create a culture of cheating, I’m sure she would tell you that her intent was to create a culture of high performance and student achievement. Cheating was an unintended consequence.

One of a leader’s core functions is to build high performance. We set goals, create accountability, give feedback, and provide praise or other consequences. However, we rarely stop to think about the unintended consequences. We don’t ask whether we’re driving behaviors that we don’t want by the way we approach performance.

Those familiar with the Atlanta situation say that Dr. Hall was ‘data-driven’. The numbers were the results that mattered. Sound familiar? Managing by the numbers alone opens the door for people to behave in ways that we may not want or expect (think Enron, Lehman Brothers) I recently saw a posting by a sales manager who found that one of his sales reps performed well one day a month — the day before the sales results needed to be turned in. That’s all he needed to do to reach his goal and get his commissions. The manager was concerned that he wasn’t doing much the other days. Rather than driving performance, the numbers-only approach was limiting it.

Rather than focusing purely on the numbers, we need to focus on both the results and the behaviors that lead to those results. What’s acceptable and unacceptable behavior on the way to the numbers? Do we turn a blind eye to bad behavior because, ‘she gets results’? Are we creating expectations that cause people to spend their time “gaming” the system or to focus on achieving real performance? What are the unintended consequences of how we are leading?

Why Are You A Leader?

Why Are You A Leader?

 
I recently receive the following as part of a longer post from the Human Capital Institute and it instantly caught my attention:

 

“In the context of an organization where people ideally share purpose, the power of knowing “why” each of us chooses our role helps us be more productive. “It’s often difficult to do something well if we don’t know the reasons we’re doing it to begin with,” says Dan Pink, adding, “People at work are thirsting for context.” As a leader one of the most powerful things you can do is provide that context; instead of monitoring what, where, when and how, encourage people to consider why they’re in their roles-every day, and listen to what they have to say.”

I’ve referred to our Leadership in the Next Decade research quite a bit lately. When I read this, it reinforced the wisdom that our respondents shared with us about where leaders need to focus to build success and business results in the coming years. One of the top leadership abilities respondents identified as critical was ‘creating a compelling vision and strategy’, in other words providing context, helping people understand why. Pink’s quote brings home the other side of the equation — listening to why others are in their roles. By listening to what people throughout the organization have to say, we will be able to understand why they have chosen to be part of this larger organization and to build alignment of purpose for an ever larger part of our organizations.

As leaders can you answer these questions:

    • Why am I in this role? What makes you get up in the morning and come to work? Have you shared that story with others in your organization? 
       
    • Why are other people in their roles? Do you have any idea why the people on your team choose to be there? What about your peers? Your boss?
       
    • Why does our organization exist? What is our compelling purpose? I would argue that if you can only come up with “to provide shareholder value” you are going to come up short in the eyes of many people. Many people don’t think that the main reason they come to work is to drive up stock prices for investors. That may be an outcome of the work that is done and the value the organization creates but it’s not really the context people are thirsting for.
       
    • How do these 3 whys align? We may have different reasons for being in our roles and still be aligned around a common purpose. How does our collection of why’s build the tapestry that delivers value to our customers, shareholders, employees, and communities?

 

Leadership in the Age of Social Media

 

Leadership in the Age of Social Media

                         

 

           Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn

 

 

Social media is more and more a part of everyone’s life. While it used to be the realm of many of our teenage children, it is now considered an almost indispensable part of our work lives. Recruiters use LinkedIn to identify candidates for key roles. Companies have Facebook pages to promote themselves and their products. Some forward looking companies are adapting social media for use inside their companies, allowing employees to post, chat, tag and collaborate on social media technologies. Whether your company uses social media or not, people’s growing participation in social media has implications for how you lead. What does leadership mean in the age of social media? How has it changed expectations in the workplace?

                          Leading in the age of social media, means sharing leadership and letting go.

For many seasoned leaders, a core part of what made them successful was managing risk, making all the decisions and providing solutions. Social media allows a wide variety of people to share ideas, solutions and perspectives. At its core is the idea of pulling away barriers and allowing access to ideas and resources as never before. Social media allows people to be part of almost any conversation they choose and lead around issues where they have an interest or passion. This desire to be a part of the conversation doesn’t stop when they walk in the door at work. People in your organization want it to be successful. They want to be part of the conversation, part of the decisions, and part of the solutions, i.e., they want to lead. Executives and managers need to know that there are leaders throughout their organizations and that rather than controlling the agenda, they need to know that it can and should be influenced from anywhere in the organization.

Leading in the age of social media, means creating a clear and compelling vision and giving people information so they can make great things happen.

Power in organizations used to come from having and keeping information. Power today comes from sharing information and building collaborations. The age of social media has tapped into the desire to be engaged and involved. As a leader, you need to know that when you give people a clear vision of where the company is going and information about some of the issues it needs to address to get there, your people will do the rest. I’ve heard multiple stories from companies that use social media internally that have addressed issues and achieved results they never could have imagined without the input of people all over the organization. Polly Pearson, formerly of EMC, shares a story about this. During the height of the economic crisis, EMC needed to significantly reduce costs. Rather than sitting in a room and figuring it out for themselves, company executives gave everyone in the company information about what they were facing and what needed to be done. They then asked for recommendations about what and where to cut. After vetting all the response, they came up with 3X the amount of savings they needed. Whether your company uses social media internally or not, power lies in the contributions everyone has to give.

Leading in the age of social media means removing barriers to collaboration.

Outside of work, when I’m on social media, I can connect and collaborate with engineers, artists, physicians, non-profit leaders, and sales professionals in India, Belgium, Ohio or next door. There are no barriers to which we can connect within social media. What if we could recreate this in our organizations? Effective leaders in the age of social media break down barriers in their organizations to allow for connections and innovation to occur.

Leading in the age of social media means getting real.

Historically, the more senior a leader became in the organization, the more the walls went up around him or her. They dressed differently than their employees. They communicated via official vehicles like memos or emails from the Office of the President, full of very formal language that gave us know insight into the person from whom it was originating. Going to the 35th floor (or whatever floor your executive suite is on) was shrouded in great mystery and only available to a chose few. In the age of social media, people expect their leaders get real. Drop the corporate speak. Take away the mystery. Tell it to us like it really is. We’re big people; we can handle the truth. And, we’re more likely to follow the real human being than the archetype of a leader you used to try to present.

Managing Toxic Relationships

You’ve got a great product, the right people, and finely tuned processes, but there is a huge roadblock to your personal success, your team’s success, maybe even your organization’s success — toxic relationships.

We’ve all experienced toxic relationships at work. They interfere with the ability to move the organization forward. They inhibit productivity. They have a negative impact on morale and engagement. In the end they cost the company time, money, and increased levels of frustration.

We’re proud to introduce some help. We have recently introduced our Managing Toxic Relationships Workshop to a cadre of senior professional and executive women with very positive reviews. Here are what some participants had to say:

“This program parsed out this topic and provided me with some concrete, complex engaging concepts wrapped in the form of tools folks could take away for use in daily life. You gave us lots to think about as well as allowed for meaningful discussion” — Pat Arcady, Arcady Mediation

“I attended the terrific seminar you gave… on toxic relationships a few weeks back. Thank you for a thought provoking and stimulating evening. I have continued to think about the things we discussed and some of the ideas you presented.” — Senior Leader in a major health care institution in Boston

This interactive half-day or full-day workshop arms participants with tools for successfully navigating toxic relationships while reclaiming productivity, engagement and results through effective relationships with others.

Participants walk away with:

  • Frameworks for assessing your toxic relationships
  • Increased understanding of the role of power in toxic relationships 
  • Tools for effectively resolving and managing conflicts
  • A game plan for managing toxic relationships in-person and virtually
  • Tips for creating and maintaining effective in-person and virtual relationships over the long term

Call me at 978.475.8424 or email me at eoharvey@factorintalent.com to learn more.