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Carl Robinson, Ph.D. on Leadership Store November 4, 2011
 
We help maximize the effectiveness of individuals and organizations by helping them improve their ability to lead, work together, select and develop their people.  Some of our related business services include: executive coaching, executive team coaching and executive assessments for development and selection.


Carl Robinson, Ph.D., Managing Principal
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Seattle, Washington
206-545-1990
carl@leadershipconsulting.com

In This Issue:

Got Talent? Here Is How to Keep It

Recipe for Successful Middle Management

Situation Room:You Have Over-Downsized. Now What?


Words of Wisdom

"As a manager, the important things are not what happens when you are there, but what happens when you are not there."
~Ken Blanchard

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Got Talent? Here Is How to Keep It

Have you lost any good employee talent recently? Do you think the loss was necessary?  Was the defection for the purpose of a better opportunity, or because they “checked out” of your organization? 
 
Employees leave for a variety of reasons Of course, we can expect that regardless of the person, sooner or later they are likely to move on.  Let’s face it.  You and I have long-term career needs, too.  If they were perceived as impossible in your current situation, you would move on too, right?
 
Leaders can mitigate the losses incurred with employee defection if we address most of the needs (or perceived needs) that cause our employees to head for the door. The loss of one employee can be infectious; if there doesn’t seem to be a valid reason.
 
We all know that good employees tend to leave before the bad ones.  Logic follows that if you are not maintaining the valuable employees longer or are unable to infuse the company with more valuable resources over time, your resources will dry up, de-energizing the whole operation. 
 
Let’s focus on the experienced worker, who carries with them wisdom, historical knowledge of the organization, and staff who are more loyal to them than to the organization itself. Talented workers are the ones who remain in demand in this economy.  
 
Why do waves of turnover take us by surprise?  Because we weren’t paying attention.
 
 
Check in personally with your key experienced personnel on an intermittent basis. Take their satisfaction temperature. The fact is that once people have “checked out” it is difficult to bring them back into the fold. 
 
Do yourself a favor and catch disillusionment before it really incubates. Disenchanted or resentful employees (experienced or not) can take a long, slow path to leaving the company. This can be even worse than an “I’m outta here” mentality. The negative impact on group morale from this kind of excruciating exit process is hard to shake. 
 
Help your experienced workers want to stay. Ask them for their advice, including them in decision-making when possible, and offering them flexibility.  Engagement is key. Withdrawal is the enemy. As withdrawal calcifies, a return to positive, engaged involvement is difficult to regain. 
 
Reassess compensation for your experienced team members. Giving up a small amount of your budget here can pay off exponentially in a valuable resource retained. 
 
Do your experienced workers know everything? It may seem that way. They really don’t need any training, right? Wrong. Involve them in any new technology developments, changes or shifts in how you handle clients or product development.  Look at your own organization and consider whether you have taken your experienced staff or managers for granted, leaving them out of the newer, more exciting projects. 
 
Sometimes, even though these efforts have been made, your employee lets you know that he or she is leaving anyway. The best reaction is to send them on their way with your blessings, and use the exit interview as a learning activity for yourself and your organization.

Recipe for Successful Middle Management

The life of a middle manager can be harrowing. You may be given many problems, but not necessarily the direct authority over many of the players to easily carry out the solution. Follow this recipe for critical success in managing from the middle.
  1. Know that everyone you work with is important. Really. That isn’t a trite platitude. As a middle manager, the connections you form with others are critical to your success. Talk to everyone, find time to make friends, and be open to others. Most of all become a careful listener.  In the position of a middle manager, any broken connections hinder your ability to accomplish your objective
  2. Maintain your vision. You may be asked to make decisions on large and small matters despite not having all the facts. In the midst of all the daily events and challenges, keep the mission in mind and keep it as a part of your daily interactions with others. This will give life and joy to your work—including those days that are particularly tough.
  3. Stop and step away. There are many issues that come by your desk which seem to be egging you on.  They may include inflammatory emails or be faced with absurd suppositions. These situations can spin out of control. Don’t jump on the bandwagon. Take a moment to stop, step out of the fray, and try to diffuse the situation without bothering those higher up in the chain of command. You will also gain the added benefit of avoiding false assumptions or working with bad information.
  4. Remember, it’s not about you. The fact is, it’s not about the other guy, either. Keep the organization-wide goals in mind. Remember that they persevere, regardless of your daily challenges. 
  5. Be courageous. Cynics would say that courage is a quality you don’t often find among middle managers, but it is essential. Are you becoming anxious and afraid? Not having control over all aspects of a situation can make success seem insurmountable. As a middle manager, you often have to lead others whom you have no real authority over. You will need all of the skills in this article to keep the faith. When those moments of timidity, fear and anxiety undermine the authority that you do have, remember that others are looking to you to be the calm in the storm.
 
Remembering that you have a well of courage within you will lead you through the challenges you face. 

Situation Room:You Have Over-Downsized. Now What?

Cutting staff was difficult for you. As a department manager it is never easy to let people go, especially in a difficult job market. That difficulty was doubled when you were forced to make several cuts in a department that was already stretched close to its limits.
 
When you returned to the reality of your workspace after the cuts had been made, you realized that your employees were working harder but getting less done. You've been forced to get on the floor with them - only to fall further behind by the end of the day.
 
Not even overtime, in the amounts you were allowed, were getting you where you needed to be. There simply didn't seem to be any way to create the change you had been charged with, unless you could completely shut down your operation for a period of days. Possibly weeks. And in the current economic climate that is simply not an option.
 
You were told to try harder and to work smarter, and that the executive team would monitor your progress. It is clear that you have over-downsized. You request a meeting with your supervisor and key members of the executive team, who will listen to you, but are dealing with even larger problems.

What would you do?



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