Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Posts Tagged ‘commitment

Focusing Your Employees on Future Performance

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The establishment of individual employee goals and objectives can be stressful in many organizations, especially if this is a new concept. Employees often resent being held accountable for their actions. Their perception is that these actions are punitive rather than intended as a mechanism to move the organization forward.

While the establishment of individual goals or objectives is a critical process, managers should recognize that they might be dealing with employee groups with varying degrees of experience in goal setting and implementation.

It is important for managers to understand that these gaps in experience can affect the ultimate success or failure of an individual employee. With this in mind, managers must take steps to help employees succeed, which is dependent upon their personal levels of experience. They must recognize that some employees will need more assistance than others. The key is to dedicate the time required for all to be successful in the attainment of their individual goals.

Related: Plans Must Be Rooted in Past Performance

The establishment of individual goals and objectives can be a stressful exercise for many employees. Though the process includes elements of an employee review, it is not an evaluation but a process of setting the employee’s direction for the future as well as coordinating individual goals with those of the organization. The following techniques and strategies should be utilized to successfully establish individual goals:

Listen

Before a manager begins the formal process of establishing individual goals and objectives with an employee, the first step is to allow the employee the time to express his or her ideas and feelings. This discussion should establish a good mood and should focus on the positive aspects of the employee’s job. If complaints are voiced, managers should ask the employee for ways to correct the problem. By giving an employee the opportunity to resolve a problem, the discussion remains focused on the positive aspects of his or her job while empowering them to develop a realistic solution.

Related: When Motivating Employees, Expectations Are Everything

Be Forward Looking

Past performance of the employee will undoubtedly become part of the discussion. However, managers should keep the discussion focused on the future goals and objectives and avoid dwelling on past performance issues. This way the employee is focused on his or her future performance and not mired in past problems.

Be Candid

As managers move through the discussion of individual goals and objectives, they must be both candid and honest regarding the employee’s abilities so that obtainable goals can be established. This is a constructive, not negative, gesture in that it helps uncover what the employee is capable of and expected to achieve.

Small Steps

To many employees, individual goals can be overwhelming when viewed in their entirety. Managers can effectively ease these fears by breaking long-term objectives down into smaller, short-term targets that move the employee forward. Creating annual, quarterly and monthly goals that both the manager and employee can agree upon is the starting place; it is then the employee’s responsibility to break those goals into weekly and daily objectives.

It should be noted that not all employees have the skills to effectively plan their own activities. Managers should review this procedure with their people and perhaps walk them through the process of taking a month’s goals and breaking them down into weekly and daily objectives.

Secure Agreement

Once both the employee and manager have developed a realistic set of goals and objectives for the employee and demonstrated how to plan their weekly and daily activities around meeting them, both parties should secure an agreement. The agreement should focus on the individual objectives and how they will be accomplished.

Coordinate

Managers need to have a clear understanding of how each employee plans to reach their goals and the steps that will be taken to accomplish them. However, managers must make sure that all individual goals are aligned with the organization’s, as well as with those of other unit employees. Failure to do so can result in employees working against each other rather than cooperatively toward the mutual accomplishment of common goals and objectives.

Related: Five Strategies to Build Trust

Share

As managers are facilitators, whenever they see an opportunity or need, they should take the time to share their knowledge and expertise with employees regarding how to best reach their individual objectives.

Since goal setting can be a new experience for many employees, they may accept a goal and not know where to start or how to get there. When managers share their expertise, they are facilitating the success of the employee to achieve his or her individual goals. This is what makes the entire process both meaningful and worthwhile.

Remain Task-Oriented

Throughout the process of establishing individual goals and objectives, the climate should be warm, friendly and informal. Yet managers should ensure the process remains task-oriented, as well as be aware that they will need each employee’s assistance in the future to help attain their goals. The key is that all should be working together toward the accomplishment of mutual objectives.

Commit to Change

Managers should recognize that the establishment of goals and objectives is a commitment to change. With this in mind, employees may be resistant to change and fear the consequences it may bring. Employees may also be reluctant to commit to goals and objectives out of a personal fear that they will be unable to attain them.

Review

Once the goal setting process has been completed, managers should review each individual objective with the employee. These goals should be committed in writing with both the employee and manager receiving a file copy for future reference.

Excerpt: Strengthening Performance: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Anticipating and Handling Employee Fears of Change

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Before managers can successfully lead their organizational units through a transformational change, they must overcome existing general fears and negative attitudes. Most of these fears and attitudes have been formed over the past two decades by actions and decisions organizations have made that have detrimentally affected individual employees.

From the 1980s on, businesses have faced the greatest overall restructuring since the Industrial Revolution. The depth and scope of this restructuring has been painful. Many employees have experienced downsizing, layoffs and a host of management fads, including the chaos, uncertainty and heightened frustration of reengineering. The methods used often resulted in covering and masking a number of management actions and mistakes.

Pain was further increased by the visible unfairness and callousness of many employee layoffs. The result left for managers to deal with is an employee mindset that translates into a lack of willingness to contribute personal initiative and productive work. This reflects itself in less effective teaming efforts and a lower output of quality decisions and products, as well as decreasing the loyalty leaders require from their unit members to lead their organization through the ongoing transformational process.

This is important for managers to grasp because organizations competing in the twenty-first century need the willing help and assistance of intelligent, motivated, collaborative and enterprising employees. This presents leaders with a real challenge: they must first work with their employees to overcome the problems and sentiments of past organizational actions before moving forward into an active transformation. Organizational stakeholders and investors who want to see increased results and overall improvement further complicate the process.

The International Survey Research Corporation, which tracks employee satisfaction for Fortune 1000 companies, reported that since 1989 employees:

  • Feel that management fails to provide clear direction.
  • Do not believe what management says.
  • Are less sure about keeping their jobs.
  • Worry about their company’s future.
  • Fear being laid off.
  •  Feel overall morale is lower.

These facts frame the starting point defining where many leaders find themselves in the face of transformational change in their organizations. While time heals all wounds, most managers do not have this luxury in the face of the chaotic events and issues.

The most practical answer to overcoming these fears and attitudes is increasing employee empowerment. However, this is not likely to work without the total commitment of everyone holding a leadership position. Leadership can come from the ranks of senior managers or from organizational unit and team leaders. Any major transition will not work without a commitment from each level.

In addition to employee empowerment, managers need to establish working teams to tackle ongoing problems and concerns. It is better to establish multiple teams than to create one involving every employee in the organizational unit; the best workable size is between five and six members. In many instances, teams can work on the same problems. This furnishes a method of developing multiple solutions and alternatives. A collaborative team can be established to select the best solution and then assign specific aspects of it to each team to address and implement.

Employing a team approach demands specific leadership skills, including:

  • Goal setting
  • Planning
  • Effective follow up procedures

If managers fail to develop one of these three skills or eliminate them from their leadership contributions, the team will break down.

Managers furthermore cannot assume that if they simply form a team, participants will decipher what needs to be done and how things need to be accomplished. They must train unit members in working together in teams, focusing on the important issues, dealing with other teammates, and getting results.

In order for this training to be successful, managers must make sure the following team elements are adhered to, including:

  • Clarity of goals
  • Good communications
  • Effective dissemination of business objectives so the team understands how it fits into the general business plan
  • An effective process to guide and direct the actions of the team

While empowerment and an effective team approach will not immediately resolve many of the nagging employee problems and attitudes a manager must actively deal with, it does establish a foundation for improved performance and participation. As leaders initially start the process, they will need to develop strategies to cope with and address the emotional baggage issues brought to the table by their employees. They must allow the venting of frustrations and criticisms, then eliminate each of these issues in turn until full participation is achieved.

Excerpt: Facilitating Change: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 2011) $ 17.95 USD

If you would like to learn more about how to effective manage change in the workplace, refer to Facilitating Change: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series. This training skill-pack features eight key interrelated concepts, each with their own discussion points and training activity. It is ideal as an informal training tool for coaching or personal development. It can also be used as a handbook and guide for group training discussions. Click here to learn more.
________________________________________________________________________________________
Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It
and What You Can Learn From It
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Catalog| 800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Five Ways to Establish Trust and Credibility

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A manager’s entire position must be predicated on trust and credibility. When either are removed from the equation, they are unable to perform. Both are required when dealing with their individual unit or department members.

Some managers feel trust and respect come with the position, when in fact they must be earned through consistently ethical and professional behavior. Inconsistent behavior and an inability to fulfill promises and commitments will develop an atmosphere of mistrust with employees. Words and actions do have meaning and should be used and taken with great care.

Like everything else in life, there are consequences attached to most everything managers say and do. When trust and credibility are removed from the equation, managers will be unable to perform effectively, and they can also see their work undermined by a demotivated and angry team.

Trust and rapport with employees is something that takes time to develop. This is especially true if there have been problems in the past. In these instances, the manager must operate while experiencing open and unconcealed mistrust of his or her words and actions. However, trust and rapport can be established, and in certain cases reestablished, by using the guidelines below.

A manager’s behavior must be consistent. If they don’t want their motivations questioned, they must treat all of their people equally. Developing consistency can be achieved through:

Setting and Uniformly Applying Equitable Standards

Managers must establish consistent performance standards that apply to each individual member of their team. The standards must be applied equally to all without favoritism, and all must be evaluated without bias.

Communicating and Providing Feedback

Managers should be openly and frequently communicating with their employees, sharing insights and expertise and helping them achieve their goals. They must provide frequent feedback regarding their individual performance. Feedback should be based upon facts and free of subjective judgments regarding personal behaviors or attitudes.

Recognizing Performance

Managers should use the standards they have established as a benchmark and openly recognize the performance of the members of their unit or department. A simple word of acknowledgement and appreciation can go an extremely long way towards maintaining enthusiasm and motivation.

Keeping Commitments

When dealing with subordinates, it is easy to let commitments slide. While many managers feel there are no consequences to such actions, if they cannot be counted on to keep their commitments, they cannot be trusted. Their employees’ motivation will suffer, which will then foster a negative and unacceptable atmosphere. Managers creating these problems for themselves can use the following techniques to help overcome them:

  1. Managers should think very carefully about each commitment they intend to make. They should make sure adequate time and resources are available to meet the commitment.
  2. Once a commitment is made, managers should make sure it is completed both as and when promised.
  3. If a commitment cannot be completed when promised, the manager should not wait until the last minute but let their employee know as quickly as possible and revise the schedule accordingly.

Developing an Open Management Style

Developing an open and trusting management style might require a shift in thinking and attitude on the part of many managers. This includes:

Remaining Impartial

Before a manager deals with any employee or situation, they must avoid making rash judgments, eliminate all emotion and gather all pertinent facts.

Trusting Others

Managers must learn to take employees at their word until the facts prove otherwise. A manager who cannot trust either his people or customers will in turn fail to earn their trust.

Listening and Being Open

Managers must be able to listen—not only to gather facts and information, but to hear issues and concerns that may arise with their employees and customers. Listening includes empathizing and showing care and concern about their problems. Managers must be open to new ideas, concepts, feedback and criticism. Trust is earned when employees and customers understand that the manager is available and responsive to them.

Excerpt: Ethics and Integrity: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 2011) $ 17.95 USD

If you would like to learn more about establishing trust and credibility, refer to Ethics and Integrity: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series. This training skill-pack features eight key interrelated concepts, each with their own discussion points and training activity. It is ideal as an informal training tool for coaching or personal development. It can also be used as a handbook and guide for group training discussions. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2011 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

_____________________________________________________________

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press

Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It

Email | Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | 800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Five Critical Factors of Team Success

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Critical team success factors consist of specific elements that are particularly valued for obtaining the best results possible. These tend to reflect five major key areas that include team leadership, shared vision, attitudes and commitment, mutual trust, and team collaboration.

If team critical success factors are not addressed or implemented correctly it will result in a failed team project. They are considered required and necessary for successful team project execution and improved team communication, focus and energy.

If applied and monitored consistently and judiciously, the critical factors of success will allow any team to achieve a high level of capability. Each has an impact on the major processes of: innovation, problem solving, decision-making, and implementation. These processes are the way the team applies its capabilities to get product results.

The First Critical Factor of Success: Leadership

Every team needs a leader who is able to focus its members on a project’s mission, purpose and goals. This individual must be committed to the team’s results and must be willing to be held accountable by the team’s sponsor and other stakeholders for leading the team through processes that ensure its goals are attained. The job of the team leader is to get team members to successfully evolve through each successive phase of a project life cycle. This implies that a keen awareness of the state of the team must be monitored and maintained. In addition, the milestones and long-term goals must be consistently reviewed with the team as a whole. A good leader makes sure that progress becomes the “property” of the group.

Effective team leadership is one of the most important factors for team success and positive results. This is because it tends to have the strongest impact on all aspects of team performance. Team leaders are responsible for engaging each team member in the processes of the team and building a platform of mutual trust that leads to: open debate, collaboration, individual commitment, and personal accountability.

Team leaders set the tone of the team and create the environment within which team members interact and do their work. In addition, they also support and influence key success factors that shape the team’s internal environment and structure. This in turn determines the team’s capability or capacity.

Some key success factors may be beyond the control of the team or the team leader. Such as, higher authority may select the team leader. Or, senior management may determine: team size, arrangement, and perhaps technology and resource support. However, most of the success factors fall under the team’s control and can be developed by it.

The Second Critical Factor of Success: Shared Vision

A shared vision is held together by a sense of passionate interest and value. At the same time it needs to focus on practical aspects such as:

  • Everyday problems
  • New tools
  • Ideas
  • Developments in the field
  • Things that work and other things that don’t

The first step in establishing a shared vision is to identify a related goal that makes a strong impact for and on change. This goal must be more complex than a simple definition and contain:

  • A challenge;
  • An appeal to personal pride;
  • A sense of needed comradery;
  • A call to action that provides an opportunity for the team to make a real difference, and know it.

Only if this can be done effectively will the goal become a powerful vision.

The Third Critical Factor of Success: Attitudes and Commitment

Attitudes and commitment are what make a significant difference in the eventual success of an assigned team project. It is the collective membership of a team that literally decides to succeed. This takes a positive attitude and a strong sense of commitment on the part of all team participants. However, once this mindset is attained it becomes a self-directed impetus for forward movement and goal attainment.

A genuine desire on the part of the team to be successful comes through the evolution of a shared attitude and commitment among the team members that the project will succeed no matter what. This attitude is both powerful and sustaining. An example of this belief comes from Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, who stresses: “If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Teams that think they can are able to sustain their levels of commitment and positive attitudes by actually visualizing the project at its successful state of completion. In essence, team members are able to create the frame of mind necessary to get them through the inevitable obstacles that can be expected to emerge during every complex development stage and effort. Conversely, teams that lack positive attitudes and commitment effort will be stopped dead by seemingly impenetrable obstacles. It all comes down to the difference between doing difficult, creative thinking when it is necessary, or to simply accept defeat because the solution tends to require too much effort.

In some cases, a team literally decides to fail as in the book Peopleware, where Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister coined the term “teamacide.” This is where team participants plainly make a conscience decision, without openly addressing it, to cause the project to fail. This may be the result of personal conflicts, technical or departmental frustrations, or a lack of support.
Whatever the reason, the team undertakes a major negative shift in attitude, which becomes devastating to the team process as well as to the project itself.

Oftentimes even if only one individual develops a negative attitude, other team members become exposed and follow along. Before long, everyone on the team “catches” varying degrees of negativity and a loss of enthusiasm and commitment. The only truly effective remedy to overcome this is the attitude of the team leader, who must remain disciplined enough to guide the team through its various drops in morale.

The Fourth Critical Factor of Success: Mutual Trust

Mutual trust is considered to be the most important element of successful teamwork. As part of a team’s self direction, it is trust that enables the team to engage in open debate and decision making that leads to “a commitment of action” on the part of individual members of the team.

At times it is easier to instill and establish trust than it is to sustain it. Building high levels of trust requires an openness that allows team members to know and understand the beliefs and behaviors of all members of the team, so that team actions can be structured to take advantage of each member’s uniqueness and talents. As part of the process it is important for team participants to develop an understanding of how individual members of the team view themselves and how each responds to others within the team.

Teams thrive on trust. One of the main dynamics of a self-directed team is that part of its structure, practice and principles require that members ask for and offer help to one another to initiate and maintain mutual caring and sharing. Having open, frank and supportive discussions generates a strong bond and a sense of connection and trust among members.

Sometimes elements of trust become formalized within team guidelines and standards, which helps to sustain it. But often these elements simply remain “what everyone knows” about good and positive team practice. In the course of helping each other and sharing ideas, and collectively solving problems, “everybody” tends to become a trusted group of equal peers.

The Fifth Critical Factor of Success: Team Collaboration

An effective team consists of team members who are actively involved and engaged in the work and focus of the team. This requires all team members emotionally commit to actively and openly participating in the team’s processes and in the pursuit of the team’s goals. Each separate team member must willingly commit to carry out action plans that are necessary for the team to reach its defined goals. Each must also be dependable and willing to carry the full weight of personal responsibility to complete his or her individual commitments according to deadline.

An actively engaged team member tends to enthusiastically support others, which adds greater value to the team itself. When enthusiasm becomes combined into a high level of synergy, it is much easier to prepare and implement team processes. Because of the team’s ability to engage everyone in a positive manner, it also becomes part of the team’s self-directed focus to find solutions to issues and challenges both from an individual and team standpoint. All members will constantly seek to improve themselves for the benefit of the team and will refuse to quit or give up until the goal is attained.

The power of teamwork dynamics is engaged when team members come together to focus collectively on goals, issues, challenges, and problems. Team leaders must carefully manage the processes of team meetings in order to maximize the power of the collective knowledge and skills of the team members. As part of the collaboration process, more effective teams tend to follow a meeting methodology that both focuses on dealing with issues requiring the team’s attention and maximizes the power of collective knowledge and the skills of the team members.

Collaboration works to help establish personal accountability. Team goals will usually not be realized until individual commitments are completed and team members embrace a discipline to complete their commitments as scheduled. Through personal collaboration team members must agree to hold each other personally accountable for completing the commitments each person has made to the team.

Barriers to team and individual progress will occur in every team effort. However, collaboration works to effectively remove barriers and hurdles to ensure progress toward team goals and keep the team running smoothly and proactively. A highly collaborative team will make certain that each team member continuously reports the status of their open commitments to the team, so that barriers to completion can be identified early on. This allows the team leader and other team members the opportunity to deal with certain issues before overall milestones, timelines and deadlines are impacted.

Excerpt: Developing & Planning for Team Results: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 2011)

If you would like to learn more about effective team building techniques that produce results, refer to Developing & Planning for Team Results: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series. This training skill-pack features eight key interrelated concepts, each with their own discussion points and training activity. It is ideal as an informal training tool for coaching or personal development. It can also be used as a handbook and guide for group training discussions. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2011 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

October 25, 2011 at 10:17 am

Your Commitment to Others Defines You as a Leader

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John Patterson - National Cash Register Company

A commitment to others defines the profound level of humanity that the great leaders displayed. They recognized employees, vendors and members of their communities as individuals, but also as valued human beings that had families to care for. They were never perceived as nameless assets, to be easily dismissed. A noteworthy illustration of this level of commitment is found in John Patterson (National Cash Register). “In-plant healthcare, company sponsored vacation trips, children’s programs, and even an employee country club were only a few of Patterson’s employee benefits. Other industrialists accused him of coddling his workers. Patterson believed this paternalistic treatment of his workers, especially the Victorian era ladies, was not only the right thing to do but was also good for business.” [1]

Hewlett-Packard established a “gold standard” for employee commitment that was ahead of its time, and replicated by numerous other companies. “Many leaders claim to appreciate the value of talent in their organization, but [David] Packard also seemed to understand the nature of talent. Rather than engineer their company to use people like replaceable parts, Packard and Hewlett respected their employees. They refused for example, to pursue boom and bust contract work because they did not want to go through cycles of hiring and then laying people off. They wanted the kind of contribution only loyalty can produce, so they modeled loyalty to their workers.” [2]

In Chapter 9 you recall went into detail about the great leaders’ character traits. One of the defining characteristics was found to be a deep sense of social responsibility from which this commitment to others stemmed from. Henry Heinz (H.J. Heinz) “believed that a person only developed so much as the people under their charge developed. As such, he made it the mandate of all of his top executives to take a pro-active interest in their employees, and to cultivate a spirit of respect and appreciation throughout his company. He encouraged solidarity amongst his workers no matter what their rank. Indeed, one of Heinz’s proudest accomplishments was in never having been witness to a strike within any of his own factories. He believed that if employers kept in close and sympathetic touch with their workers, any labor disputes that arose could be easily dissolved in the spirit of friendship. His theory proved to be true.” [3]

The same sense of social responsibility motivated Howard Schultz’s (Starbucks) commitment to his employees. “As the company began to expand rapidly in the ‘90s, Schultz always said that the main goal was ‘to serve a great cup of coffee.’ But attached to this goal was a principle: Schultz said he wanted ‘to build a company with soul.’ This led to a series of practices that were unprecedented in retail. Schultz insisted that all employees working at least 20 hours a week get comprehensive health coverage – including coverage for unmarried spouses. Then he introduced an employee stock-option plan. These moves boosted loyalty and led to extremely low worker turnover, even though employee salaries were fairly low.” [4]


[1]  John Henry Patterson (1844-1922) (NCR Corporation; home.paoline.com/knippd/whoincr/patterson.htm)

[2]  Orfalea Paul, Helfert Lance, Lowe Atticus and Zatkowsky Dean, Inspirational Figures David Packard (West Coast Asset Management)

[3]  Carmichael Evan, Lesson #3: Engage with Your Employees (EvanCarmichael.com)

[4]  Skeen Dan, Howard Schultz Secrets for Success (Success Television, April 14, 2010)

Excerpt: Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Majorium Business Press, 2011)

If you would like to learn more about the commitment of the great American leaders to others through their own inspiring words and stories, refer to Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It. It illustrates how great leaders built great companies, and how you can apply the strategies, concepts and techniques that they pioneered to improve your own leadership skills. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2011 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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