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Spring Cleaning Your Priorities

Happy Spring CollageSpring is that time of year when everything is new again. The winter cold and drab is finally receding. It’s a good time to think about what needs some sprucing up in your company.

Take a look back at the achievements and new opportunities presented in the first months of the year. What’s been achieved? How are you progressing? What new opportunities are presenting themselves in your market? What’s going on with your people – what talent do you have and what talent do you need? Are development plans moving forward?

It’s also a good time to clean things up. What’s no longer relevant? How have priorities shifted? What can fall off of your (or someone else’s) plate? What processes just aren’t working anymore and need to be revamped? What talent is not working out and may need to be reallocated inside or outside the company?

Don’t just save spring cleaning for the yard or your home. Do some spring cleaning at work, too.

Five Capabilities Mid-Level Leaders Need to Forge the Future

Mid-Level LeadersMid-Level Leaders — Senior Managers, Directors, Senior Directors — are the linchpin for creating results in most of our organizations. Their task is to interpret the company’s vision and strategy, create a localized vision and strategy for their organization, and then create the capacity for execution and results. The role of bridging the strategic and operational, vision and execution future needs with today’s pressing demands, and the expectations of senior leaders and the front line has always been challenging. In today’s environment of multi-generational workplaces, rapidly changing technology, increasing competition and an ambiguous economic climate it is even more so.

                  Our recent research has identified 5 critical capabilities
                 Mid-Level Leaders need to help their organizations forge the future:

Drive collaboration and break down silos. Creating an environment in which collaboration across work groups, departments, time zones and geographies occurs easily is essential for Mid-Level Leaders to succeed. Previous barriers to collaboration are quickly falling away thanks to the collaborative tools and technologies that seem to change daily. Mid-Level leaders should make creating a culture of collaboration and investments in technologies to facilitate collaboration a priority.

Manage talent. No one has a better view to the young talent in the organization than the Mid-Level Leader. Mid-Level Leaders should conduct talent reviews to create a broader understanding of the talent in the organization and to develop key talent early in their careers.

Drive performance and create a culture of accountability. In a workplace where more and more people collaborate and where talent is valued, differences in performance expectations come more clearly into focus for everyone. The Mid-Level Leader needs to establish standards for performance and create accountability for meeting those standards. Nothing destroys the desire to collaborate or the desire for strong performers to make an impact, than the knowledge that people aren’t held accountable for their performance, or perceptions of favoritism, or lack of equity.

Make Effective Decisions. Effective, efficient decision-making is a key role for Mid-Level leader, especially in an environment of collaboration and cross-functional integration. Mid-Level leaders need to think about how they can establish approaches that allow them to get broad input efficiently, weigh and balance that input, and use it to make decisions that drive the organization forward.

Engage and Retain Talent. Innovation, creativity, and excellence are what will propel success for American companies as global competition increases. Mid-Level Leaders need to truly embrace the thinking that “people are our greatest asset” and focus on engaging and retaining talent broadly. More often than not people come to work wanting to perform well and make a contribution. The more the environment engages their hearts and minds, the better that performance will be.

“The only constant is change.” – Unknown

change is the only constant

 

Over the past several years this saying and many others about change have become rather trite. “Change is everywhere and to be successful you must embrace it.” “Change is the new normal.” “Champions eat change for breakfast.” Yeah, we’ve heard it all before.

What is somewhat new about change is the sheer pace of it. With the advent of breakneck technology advances, change is not only constant but accelerating. Every few months there is a new social media outlet that can help you reach your customers while you’re still trying to figure out Twitter. Some businesses are wondering if they should create an app for their services. Messages can travel around your company, not to mention the world, in nanoseconds. And there are still the usual changes like new product introductions, reorganizations, and new workflows.

– How should you take a leadership position around change in the 2015 workplace?

– Answer the big question, “WHY?” People yearn for context. They want to understand why things happen and how they fit into that equation. As things move ever more quickly, we often forget to answer this simple question in our haste to “just get it done.”

– Listen to the reactions. Sometimes we think that in order to lead change, we need to be the cheerleader, playing down the realities that change is hard and that there will be bumps along the way. Take the time to listen and to respond in a realistic way to the reactions people have — the good, the bad and the ugly. In some situations it’s okay to say, “Yes, this stinks and at times it is going to be difficult. When we get through this, here is how we will be in a better place…”

Know that some people will be more ready to change than you. When it comes to introducing technological change, there are people in your organization who will be asking why the company isn’t moving more quickly. We have a whole generation who have grown up with IM, texting, Facebook and other forms of social media. Harness their enthusiasm to learn all you can about the benefits and the drawbacks of various technologies. Engage them in understanding how it could be used in your business or why your business isn’t ready for it.

Be a storyteller. Think back to your childhood. I could probably mention a story that you haven’t heard in 30 years and you could tell it to me. If I asked you to explain Freshman Algebra concepts to me, that would probably not be so easy for most of us. We are wired to remember stories. They help us put ourselves in situations and to remember information. Tell stories about the successes of previous changes where people first had doubts. Tell stories about how a team worked together to make it happen. Tell stories that help people paint a picture and understand how to move forward.

-Use social media. More and more of our organizations are using social media as way for people within the company to communicate with each other. Use social media yourself to ask questions, share updates, talk about successes, and ask for ideas. Again, if you need help in this area, there are people in your organization who are social media savvy. Encourage your team to use it as a way to have a productive conversation about the changes that are occurring. Soon you’ll see leaders emerge on your team, taking the reins of championing change.

Some Food for Thought

Some Food for Thought

A couple of times a year, I like to share some of the other great thinking that is out there about leadership, teams and organizations.

If you have a few minutes this week, take a look at:

10 Things Exceptional Bosses Give Employees by Jeff Haden. Jeff is one of my favorite writers. Sometimes when I read his work, I think we share a brain. See if you feel the same.

In Why 9-5 Won’t Work for Millennials, Kern Carter gives a peak into how at least one Millennial thinks about work. If you have Millennials working for you, it’s a must read.

Need to boost your productivity? Creativity? Read One Easy Step to Improve Productivity and see why taking a walk could be your answer.

In my recent LinkedIn post, 7 Warning Signs You Need To Focus On Talent, I share the indicators you should look for that signal you may need to change how you’re thinking about talent.

 

 

 

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.

What Does HR Do For You?

What does HR do for youToday’s HR departments come in all shapes and sizes. Centralized. Decentralized. All HR services under one roof. Few kept internal, most outsourced.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal raises an interesting question. Do you really need HR? It profiles organizations that have decided to go without an HR department.

Managers take full responsibility for hiring, firing, mediating employee issues, career development, etc. There are some executives in the article who love it. There are managers in the article who find it concerning.

So, my question is, what does HR do for you? Would your organization be more nimble and innovative without it? Does it get in the way of moving things forward? Is the coaching and resources of an HR department valuable to you as an executive and manager?

Click here to answer our poll question:
Is HR valuable to you and your company?

 

 

 

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.

 

 

We Are Really Bad at This

Promoting ManagersOur friends at Gallup have found that hiring and promoting managers is something we are not very good at doing. As a matter of fact, according to their research, we get it wrong about 82% of the time.

Part of the reason is what I’ve seen, and you’ve probably seen, time and again — we promote the person who is a really good performer not necessarily someone who will be a good manager. According to Gallup’s research, we also get it wrong so often because the odds are not in our favor to begin with. Only about 10% of people have the five talents essential for great managers. On a positive note, this 10% make up about 18% of the management ranks.

So, what are the five talents?

    • They motivate every single employee to take action and engage them with a compelling mission and vision.
    • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
    • They create a culture of clear accountability.
    • They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency.
    • They make decisions that are based on productivity, not politics.

If you don’t possess all of these talents, don’t despair. Gallup found in addition to the 10% who have all of them, two in ten people have at least some. With coaching and development they are able to develop into very good managers.

To read more, click here.

 

 

 

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.

 

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?

 

Finish Strong

Finish Strong Collage

A few weeks ago, I talked about spring cleaning your priorities. Now that you’ve cleaned them up, focus on finishing the year strong.

With summer approaching, many people are thinking about taking time off, having some fun, and relaxing a little. All these are important. Refilling the tank lets you finish the race. But a strong finish needs more than a full tank of gas. You also need a road map for keeping momentum going during the summer months and finishing strong.

Before summer hits, pull your team together and create your summer road map. Identify 2-4 items — short projects, processes that need to be updated, new customer relationships that need to grow — the team can focus on between now and Labor Day that will make a big impact on meeting your goals. Use them as development opportunities. Give your next generation talent a chance to develop their leadership skills. Help others expand their skill sets. Plan an end-of-summer celebration for after Labor Day. Celebrate the results. Discuss finishing strong. And, give everyone the chance to share vacation pictures.

WHAT OTHER THOUGHT LEADERS ARE THINKING

thought leadership

On a regular basis, I take a look at what other thought leaders are saying about leadership, change, and work. Here are some great ones I’ve found recently.

Do you have someone interested in moving into a leadership position? Share this with them.

Turns out being likeable has more impact on being an effective leader than we may think. Click here to read more.

When you think you have leadership mastered, the world may change on you. Watch this TED talk with General Stanley McChrystal on listening, learning and then, leading.

Now that the economy is picking up, maybe you’re concerned about losing some of your best people. Avoid being dumped by your best employees. Read the full Forbes article here.

RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU FEEL OVERLOADED

raised hands 220x125If you raised your hand, you’re not alone. A new survey by Harris Interactive for Everest College says that 83% of us are stressed by at least one thing at work. That’s up 10 points from 2012.  

 What’s causing the stress?  The #1 reason is low pay and unreasonable workloads.  Many of us can’t do much about the pay.  However, we can impact workloads. One of the things I see contributing to the unreasonable workloads is how much change is being introduced and how it’s being introduced. 

Often, introducing change and innovation is a bit like changing the tire on a bus going 60 miles an hour.  You have to keep the bus going but you also have to change the tire so the bus can get where it needs to go more efficiently, is able to take rougher roads or deal with dangerous conditions.  Still, slowing the bus down, just a little can make getting that tire changed go a lot faster.  Too often, when companies introduce change it is done rapid fire. We’ll change something over here, something’s over there and a few more while we’re at it.  In even the most change ready and change rich environments — those where people love innovation and change– you will reach the point of overload. 

 To make sure your team or company are not tipping into change overload, implement listening posts to check in and talk about the pace of change, the frustrations, how it could be done better. A listening post is a regularly scheduled time for people to talk, as a group or one-on-one, with you, about what’s working and what’s not.  Your job during a listening post is not to spend the majority of the time on updates about change or innovation projects. It’s not the time to sell change. It’s a time for people to talk about the personal side of change — how it feels, what it’s like for them and the impact it’s having. It’s a time to listen to what’s going on and to synthesize that input into how change is being managed and lead.