Are You Really as Good as You Think You Are?

Man talking to himselfDo you use yourself as an example of what everyone on your team should be like? When hiring, are you trying to find more of you?  If so, stop it!

Chances are, there are some things you are pretty good at, perhaps even a whole lot of things. There may even be one or two things you are really good at. While there are some people who have been promoted past their level of competence or people skills, most people are in a supervisory or management role because they demonstrated capability. Awesome. That very probably applies to you as well.

Now for the reality check. Just because you are good in some key areas, does not mean you are good in all of them.  Just because you think and believe one way, does not make it the only right  way.

Hiring a bunch of mini-me’s serves only two purposes.

  1. It feeds your ego.
  2. It stops meaningful conversation. After all, a group of people agreeing on everything, including how amazing they are and how everyone else needs to be like them, does nothing to take your business to the next level.

If you are brave enough, identify your areas of weakness.  (Really brave supervisors and managers will ask the people around them to identify their weaknesses.)Then go and find people who are strong in those areas. Next … let them shine.  Don’t take credit for their good work by telling everyone how amazingly smart you were to have hired them. All you’re doing then is turning the spotlight back on you. (See point 1 above)

Find people brave enough to let you know when they don’t agree. Wait … let me rephrase. Create an environment where people don’t need to be brave to let you know when they disagree with you. Quite frankly, if this isn’t in place, there is no point in asking others to share their insight on areas of weakness as per the previous paragraph.  That will be an exercise in futility, unless the intent was to feed your ego and hear things like “I can’t think of a thing” or “Oh no, you are amazing.  Nothing wrong with you.”

An effective, engaged team is made up of individuals who recognize and acknowledge individual strengths and weaknesses. They are strong enough to ask for, accept and offer help when needed.  Individuals on a team agree on and work towards a common vision, but their perception of how to achieve the vision may differ greatly. Wonderful. Group think kills creativity.

Go ahead … acknowledge your areas of strength.  Then go and find people who aren’t like you, people who are good or great where you are not, people who bring new ideas to the table, who look at situations from a different perspective and who make you stop and think … “I wish I’d thought of that.”

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

Pros and consThere are times in our lives when, in spite of all the experience we’ve gained, in spite of all the books we’ve read, in spite of all the advice we’ve asked for and received, there is no clearly obvious answer to the question “Now what?”

When sitting still, when maintaining the status quo is not an option; when the pros and cons have been written down, when the risks, benefits, potential outcomes have been analyzed and then analyzed again and there is still no clear solution, then what?

When the only obvious choice is to move, close your eyes, take a deep breath and go with the option that feels right, or perhaps, just feels less wrong. Once you’ve started to move, don’t second-guess your decision even if everyone else around you is. I don’t mean you should stubbornly refuse to alter from the course; just recognize you made a decision based on what you knew and felt at that moment.

Not making a decision is a decision. Not making a choice is a choice.  Sometimes a movement in one direction is just what’s needed to clearly demonstrate movement in the other direction was the better option.  So turn around.  At least you moved.

How Will You Make Work a Better Place to Be Today?

happygrumpyeggsEarly on in my career, I worked for a boss who set the tone for the entire day based on the way he walked into the office. When he walked in with a smile and a good morning, we all breathed a sigh of relief. When he stormed in without so much as a glance at anybody and then slammed the door to his office, we knew it was going to be a long, drama-filled day.

Later on in my career, the general manager of a hotel I worked at never came to work without a smile, a jaunt in his step and a positive attitude. He started every day by walking around the hotel, meeting and greeting everyone by name.

Guess which workplace had lower turnover and higher morale? A seemingly insignificant moment like how we greet team members every day impacts our business.

Making work a better place is everyone’s responsibility.  From the time we step in the door until the time we leave, there are countless opportunities to make work positive and fun.

Walk through your day. How many opportunities do you have today to make your workplace just a little brighter, for your team members and your customers?

Five Leadership Lessons from Santa

santaclausThe jolly man in the red suit is doing something right.  For hundreds of years Santa has delivered toys to boys and girls around the world, on schedule each and every year.  And unless I missed a news report, it’s all been done without disgruntled, under-appreciated elves refusing to show up for work.

Santa and his team are under a lot of pressure.  Can you imagine the disappointment if he missed a house, a city block, an entire city or heaven forbid, decided he’d been doing this whole toy thing long enough and decided to hang up his hat? Santa and his entire team of elves and reindeer understand just how important their job is and thanks to Santa’s leadership, the job gets done each year.

Five leadership lessons we can learn from Santa are:

  1.  Santa has a clearly defined focus and target market.  Santa and his elves work 364 days a year preparing for one thing and one thing only; delivering toys to children, the demographic that believes in him.  He understands that when he makes his believers happy, the adults who don’t believe in him will be happy too.
  2. Santa makes sure his elves have the tools they need in order to do their job.  Have you seen his workshop? Every tool you can imagine is in there.  As children’s requests have changed from wind-up cars to video racing games, Santa has kept on top of the trends to make sure he’s ordering the right supplies for his elves. He realizes asking his elves to make do with outdated equipment reduces efficiency and productivity and increases frustration and stress.
  3. Santa trains his elves.  Elves used to need to know how to make simple rag dolls. Then the dolls needed to be able to say “mama”, had to come with multiple outfits and even walk.  Today, those dolls need to be interactive.  They need to smile or cry on cue, wet their diaper on cue and talk on cue. And when the dolls talk, they need to have a vocabulary that includes complete sentences. Santa doesn’t replace the experienced, but less tech-savvy elves with younger elves.  Sure he’ll hire the younger elves, but he’ll also retrain the experienced elves so that they can continue to do what they love.
  4. Santa recognizes individual strengths.  Dasher, Dancer and the rest of the reindeer team are strong and fast. Without them, there is no way Santa could get around the world in such a short time.  It took Santa to realize how valuable Rudolph could be to the team.  Sure, Rudolph is a little guy and doesn’t make a big difference in how fast they get around, but without him, there is a good chance a house may be missed in the dark and a missed house would damage Santa’s reputation.
  5. Santa doesn’t leave things to chance.  Santa is a list maker and before heading out to deliver his toys, he double checks the list to make sure it’s right. He also doesn’t wait until the last minute to start making toys.  Santa and his team have developed a schedule and they stick to it!

Bonus Leadership Lesson: Santa walks the talk.  Santa understands that if he wants his elves and children to be good for goodness sake, he has to lead by example.

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This was originally posted two years ago.  I received a request to repost … so here it is! Enjoy and best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season, filled with laughter and joy.

Why Performance Reviews Suck

thumbs-down1Ok .. it’s not really that performance reviews suck; it’s that they are very often completed poorly.  Some of my personal pet peeves when it comes to performance reviews are:

1. They are considered stand-alone tools.  Instead of coaching, mentoring, training and supporting on an on-going basis, notes are kept in the file (or even worse, in the head) as to all the things not being done well and then brought up during the review.  Years ago, my husband started a new job.  He walked into his three-month review feeling pretty good only to walk out completely deflated because his supervisor spent the entire time telling him all the things he wasn’t doing right. Why in the world would she have let him continue perfecting incorrect behaviour for three entire months instead of helping him successfully transition into a new job?  From a purely selfish perspective, a well-run department would make her look good to her bosses, right?  At the same time, waiting three months or a year to let someone know when they did something well is also not a good idea.

2. Supervisors / managers buy into the “never give more than one exceeded expectations, if any”. Really?  Why?  If someone is performing above standard, if they shine in particular areas, why in the world should that not be acknowledged? Some people subscribe to the belief that the employee will no longer care and stop working.  Who the heck are you hiring then?  If someone is rocking in a certain area, let them know. Provide examples and discuss how to get other areas up or perhaps take on more responsibility based on their particular area of amazingness.

3.  No specific examples are provided.  Not one single example provided should be news to the employee (see point one). But if you are going to indicate someone is still not meeting expectations, know why and be able to provide specific examples. Same holds true for exceeding expectations.  Providing examples brings validity to the review and demonstrates you took the time to really think about this.

4.  Nobody really knows what “meet expectations” means.  If categories are included on the performance review, at some point during orientation and training, each employee needs to know what is expected of them in order to at least receive a “meet” and what could help them get an “exceed”.

5. It’s a “listen to me” session as opposed to a discussion.  When a performance review is considered a stand-alone tool, there is really no reason to spend time discussing how to move from unmet to met or from met to exceeding.  There is no reason to ask “How can I help you?”.

Stand-alone performance reviews, completed only because it is a task on the to-do list, get stuck in a file and are never looked at again.  Everybody hates them and they are pretty much a waste of time.

I am not advocating throwing out performance reviews. I am suggesting using the performance review as a time to review successes and plan for future successes is time well spent.

What do you think?  Have you ever walked out of a performance review going “that was time sell spent”. What made it valuable for you?