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Carl Robinson, Ph.D. on Leadership August 8, 2012
 
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:

Tips for the Busy Boss

The Correlation of Culture


Book Review: All In

Utilizing a study of 300,000 people, authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton describe how managers can, do, and should drive culture – and why it’s important.
 
All In (Free Press, 2012) serves as an instruction manual complete with experiential stories, describes the importance of having a consistent platform and using it to develop a strong customer focus – and how to get everyone in the organization on board and willing to share accountability for results.
 
Specific examples with companies whose names we all know highlight the lessons and provide us with plenty of do’s and don’ts as we draw conclusions as to how the books “Seven Step Road Map” will effect our own levels of success.
>Buy from Amazon.com

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Tips for the Busy Boss

Supervisors, aka Bosses, aren’t often thought of as the employees with exemplary “people skills”, but our research shows that while supervisors who are considered excellent task managers are rated throughout the top, middle, and bottom it is the group of supervisors who are considered excellent people managers that consistently make the high-performers list.
 
Interestingly, even with this knowledge in hand, most companies focus their training efforts on the task & technical side of supervision.
 
Typically, they look at a list of generic people skills and write them off as overly simple, or disconnected from bottom line results. The hope is that the group of supervisors have picked up interpersonal skills along the way. After all, they interviewed pretty well and must have attended family barbeques… right?
 
Ten Supervisory Tips to Live By
When we speak with training departments about the types of requests they receive from supervisors we invariably hear about the desire to learn these people skills. They don’t just see and understand the importance, they live the importance of these skills on a day to day basis.
 
Yet when it comes to pulling supervisors off of their desks for training the wheels wobble. No one is quite sure how to quantify the value of the lessons, and therefore they are reticent about performing training.
 
If this sounds familiar to you, pass along this article to your supervisors – it’s a list of ten “People Skills” reminders – and don’t be shy about reading them for yourself either!
 
1. Don’t Take It Personally
Your subordinate employees are going to complain. It’s human nature to pick things apart, especially at work. Having employees that complain doesn’t make you a bad supervisor or bad person. Like it or not, hearing complaints is part of the job.
 
2. Do Take it Seriously
Some of these complaints will seem trivial to you, but they aren’t trivial to your employee. Don’t brush them aside. By being patient and listening to a grievance without judgment you’ll not only be better informed, but you’ll have begun to build rapport.
 
3. Put On Their Shoes
Supervisors are bosses, but they don’t need to be bossy. Before you hand out supervisory edicts to your employees about new tasks, put their shoes on. When you see the work issue from their point of view you’ll have a clearer view of what their objections might be.
 
4. Be Optimistic Without Over-Promising
Your employees don’t remember everything about their jobs. But they do remember every word, detail, and facial expression you use when discussing their careers. Sometimes we tend to toss out promises when we are in good moods, or when they are in bad moods, but there is no better way to lose your best employees than to make empty promises about their careers.
 
5. Use Common Courtesy
We open doors for strangers, and let them ahead of us in line – however sometimes we get so caught up in hierarchy that we forget to show common courtesy to those whose performance we rely upon. You won’t lose your status as their supervisor if you use a little basic common courtesy, we promise.
 
6. Watch Your Phrasing
Leaders use phrases like “Thank you”, “May I suggest”, “Perhaps you would consider” and “Great idea”. Taking your opportunities to adjust the little details in the way you phrase can make the difference between an employee happily attacking a task, or dragging their feet like an angry child.
 
7. Make Work a Healthy Challenge
Doing what you can to break up workplace monotony can be energizing. Giving your employees some new work, or having them occasionally switch tasks with someone else breaks up what might have been a dull day, and shows that you care about helping them grow.
 
8. Give Up Your Position Power
Don’t push your workers around just because you can. Remember that these are people and not cogs in a machine. Each employee you encounter is just like you. They have aspirations, feelings, and goals. And remember, they may just end up being your boss someday.
 
9. Disarm With Charm
If you are anything like the supervisors we deal with every day, there are times when you deal with employees who occasionally become angry and confronting. Instead of launching into a conflict, take a moment to disarm the situation. Ask a question that has nothing to do with work and be genuinely interested in the answer. Ask about their family. Ask about the big game. Ask about anything except the subject on hand.
 
10.  Be a Teacher
It is your job to raise the level of performance of your employees, and there is more than one way to do it. Encourage their development, teach them anything you can. Showing a level of support for your employees begets engagement, and engagements begets performance.  

The Correlation of Culture

When is “Picking Profit” not really picking profit?
 
Everyone agrees that companies should aspire to a strong, healthy, engaged culture. Everyone agrees that a motivated workforce is a productive workforce. At least they all agree when times are good. But what happens to all of the happy talk and “culture building perks” when times get tough, and you have to make the choice of picking culture, or picking profit?
 
Most companies do away with the nice-to-haves. They lock down, and cut back. And it’s costing them.
 
This isn’t “warm and fuzzy” math. The correlation between a strong culture and a strong bottom line is statistically significant. Financially strong companies, defined as those with an ROI of 30 percent or higher, are also strong in measurable aspects of corporate culture. On the other hand, financially weaker companies, defined as those with an ROI of 9 percent or lower, score low on those same measurements of culture.
 
According to one popular model of corporate culture there are four interwoven traits:
  • Mission – The Purpose & Long Term Direction of the Organization
  • Involvement -  The commitment and engagement levels of employees
  • Consistency – The values and coordination that forms the “glue”
  • Adaptability – The ability to read the market and respond to change
Further research shows that organizations excelling in Adaptability and Involvement are leaders in  innovation and creativity, while those scoring high in Mission and Consistency enjoy greater stability, return on investment and return on sales.
 
However, those who perform well in all four categories have a dramatic financial advantage over organizations that are weak in these areas. Likewise, those at the bottom perform are… you guessed it; Sluggish, wasteful and out of touch.
 
So what’s happening in your organization or department? Culture change isn’t something that you can simply announce. It's got to become part of the air your employees breathe. Only when they have accepted the change as a part of their daily lives will you start to see the changes in performance.


Advanced Leadership Consulting • 2815 Eastlake Ave., E, Suite 300 • Seattle, WA 98102
http://www.leadershipconsulting.com/
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