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Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

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When Building Trust, By All Means Avoid These Six Behaviors

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One of the pillars of leadership is developing and fostering a deep sense of mutual workplace trust. One of the most vexing problems faced in organizations is a simple lack of trust between employees and their managers. For managers to experience successful growth and positive results in their respective department or unit, trust must be established on all levels. Without a deep sense of trust, their vision, goals and plans—as well as unified workplace cohesion—will be unobtainable.

Establishing trust is difficult, time-intensive work. It is earned when synergistic working relationships are established with individual employees. These relationships are characterized by active communication and listening, open and candid interactions, and a total acceptance of all persons as unique individuals. Trust also includes the manager’s personal involvement in ensuring employee as well as departmental success.

The fact that managers are granted authority over employees does not guarantee trust between both parties. Trust is based upon truth, which implies open, honest and direct communication free of personal or hidden agendas. For managers to become totally effective leaders trust must be earned and established. In the absence of trust, leadership principles will be of little consequence in the workplace.

Managers have a unique role within organizational workplaces. While they are responsible for individual employees and are required to guide and direct their activities, many are working on different assignments, projects and tasks in varying phases of completion. Many times it becomes impossible for managers to oversee everyone’s ongoing daily activities. This type of environment demands that high levels of trust are established and sustained.

Lack of trust in the workplace stems from areas managers can fall short in, including:

Establishing a Work Environment Free of Fear

Most managers are generally under extreme pressure to produce ongoing results. Many are focused on agendas that are able to secure or enhance their chances of organizational advancement. In the process, they often create zero-tolerance policies for mistakes and failures. This produces work atmospheres where employees become afraid to discuss problems or results in honest and open dialogue. Rather than trust their managers to support them, they hide pieces of information or mistakes that can hurt or jeopardize them in any way.

Communicating with Employees

Many managers have direct contact with their employees, but often fail to actively listen and engage in conversations that encourage interaction, feedback or input. Some are only interested in picking out certain information that they want to hear without thoroughly listening to anything else being said. Even though they fully believe they are communicating effectively, selective listening and targeted talk work to demoralize their employees and reduce their levels of trust and loyalty.

Interacting in Person

Many managers choose to communicate with their employees via email, written memos or posted messages. Very few efforts are made to interact directly with them on a regular and active basis. This becomes a major pitfall, as only when they make it a point to seek out employees to have open and free discussions and conversations can they become attuned to workplace problems, concerns, and attitudes and know which motivational methods need to be applied to whom.

All employees must be treated fairly, compassionately and honestly and be appreciated for their own particular characteristics and personalities. All have unique needs that must be addressed and met if they are to feel an important part of the organizational team. Since many tend to function with daily frustrations and pressures associated with their assignments and responsibilities, managers as leaders must become actively involved with them daily in order to encourage and sustain the motivation needed to assure they do not succumb to burnout and other psychological problems.

Specific Steps to Building Trust

If leaders wish to establish and build workplace trust, there are specific behaviors that must be avoided.

Criticism

Discussions concerning documented performance results and how to improve them are always necessary and appropriate as one of the manager’s primary responsibilities and functions. However, they must make it a point to avoid making unwarranted negative comments regarding an employee’s performance, attitudes and decisions, as they are directly perceived as personal criticisms, not constructive performance or work-related input.

Psychological Analysis

Managers as leaders must avoid assuming the role of amateur psychiatrist and analyzing employees’ motivations and behaviors. This includes resisting the urge to prejudge their circumstances, situations and actions.

Advice

Managers can easily provide solutions or advice without making the effort to seek employee input. As problems are often more complex than they appear, managers can short-circuit the learning process and alienate employees by not allowing them to identify why things happened, how ineffective solutions were reached, or the particular factors that contributed to inferior results. It is important that managers seek employee input in regard to specific problems in order to understand, analyze and learn from the facts and pertinent information they possess. Only then do they provide their advice, suggestions or solutions.

Command

Some managers tend to coerce, manipulate and force employees into completing assignments on time or accepting increased responsibility. As leaders, they need to avoid these types of actions, and instead motivate and encourage their employees to achieve desired results and/or increase their personal effectiveness and efficiency. They must know their employees well enough to be able to match the appropriate motivational strategy with each individual.

Control

Managers as leaders must avoid controlling actions and behavior through intimidation techniques and practices. Threatening employees with negative consequences does not motivate them. Employees need to be consistently and positively encouraged to produce results. Intimidation only serves to demoralize them.

Intense Questioning

Managers as leaders must avoid second-guessing and questioning employees on every decision, idea, recommendation or suggestion they make. Employees must be trusted to make decisions on their own without intense scrutiny and oversight. A barrage of suggestions or intense questioning as to their employees’ rationale or methods on every assignment only creates more obstacles to them doing their jobs properly, and sends a clear message that their manager thinks them untrustworthy and even incompetent.

Excerpt: Building & Nurturing Trust in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI, 2011) $ 16.95 USD

Related:

Eight Ways Others Evaluate Trust in Leaders

Five Strategies to Build Trust

Six Ways to Destroy Trust and Credibility

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 © 2014 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Assessing Employee Growth and Development

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Effective leaders manage by keeping their finger on the pulse of their employees’ key activities. When tasks and assignments are delegated, leaders must take the time to review each employee’s progress against goals to determine what, if any, additional training and coaching is needed to successfully complete the assignment or to enhance his or her skills.

There is a twofold purpose of an assignment performance review. Leaders are receiving a progress report on the delegated task or assignment. They are allowing the employee to provide details and input on what has happened to date, and the results. The employee is also providing feedback on any problems, issues and concerns that may have surfaced. This allows the leader to provide insights and to suggest possible courses of action, if needed.

Related: “Hire Character and Train Skills”

The second aspect of an assignment performance review is to assess professional employee growth and skill development. Properly performed, an assignment performance review allows leaders to guide and direct the professional development of their employees. This is the most important aspect of the review.

The purpose of delegation is not only to assign tasks and assignments, but to build and polish an employee’s skills and capabilities. Only when this happens can leaders know with confidence that tasks and assignments can be successfully delegated, and overall performance and results increased.

Related: Do You Have Faith in Your People?

When leaders monitor an employee’s performance, they are performing a mixture of a work and planning review with a developmental planning review.

A work and planning review directs and controls the employee’s performance in the traditional management sense, while a developmental planning review is designed to assist the employee in improving his or her personal skills. When reviewing the progress of a delegated assignment or task, the leader is doing both.

During an assignment performance review, the leader is reviewing the actual progress toward specific goals of the employee while also assessing his or her knowledge, attitude and on-the-job skills. During the review, leaders are not controlling and directing but seeking balanced input from the employee. In this manner, problems, issues and concerns are discussed while the leader probes with questions to identify the degree to which the employee has worked to resolve them. Leaders provide their insight or advice only after employees have given a full report of their progress, the problems and issues that have arisen, and the various alternatives they have tried.

Related: When Building Trust, by All Means Avoid These Six Behaviors

Throughout performance assessments, leaders need to build trust and rapport with their employees to develop deeper levels of loyalty. There are several things leaders need to avoid so the relationship with their employee is not undermined during these reviews. These include:

Unwarranted Criticism

Leaders should base their judgments and criticisms on facts, not supposition. They must avoid making unwarranted negative comments or judgments about the employee’s performance, attitude and decisions.

Analyzing the Employee’s Motivation

Leaders should avoid playing the role of an “amateur psychiatrist” by not analyzing an employee’s motives or behaviors.

Controlling and Directing

Leaders should avoid giving a detailed solution to existing problems without asking employees for their input.

Threatening and Coercion

Since leaders are using delegation to develop employee skills, they should avoid at all costs any attempts to coerce and force an employee to do things their way. They should avoid threatening employees with intimidating and negative consequences.

Questioning

Leaders should avoid second-guessing their employees with questions about every idea, decision, recommendation or suggestion. The purpose of the performance review is to analyze performance regarding a delegated task and to assess how employee skills have improved.

Once the initial phase of the review has been performed and the assignment thoroughly discussed, the leader and employee should agree upon an action plan for the remaining portions of the project. The leader should include any plans for self-improvement and growth the employee may require, which may include additional training or coaching in specific skill areas.

Whatever the actual plans, leaders should make sure they are realistic, attainable, measurable and on a scheduled time line. Both the leader and the employee should know what will be done and how, and detailed milestones that the employee needs to achieve must be set.

Excerpt: Roles & Responsibilities of Delegation: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2012) $ 18.95

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

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

September 27, 2012 at 11:32 am

Dealing With the Challenges of Change

with 10 comments

The management of change can be personally frightening for many leaders. They fear criticism and personal attacks from associates and superiors. Most importantly, they dread the potential failure associated with change and the possible impact of such failure on their career.

Most organizations make it easier to say “no” to a project that is associated with change than to approve one. When they reject a project, managers protect themselves from having to justify tough decisions and facing the criticism that comes with a failing project. Moreover, when approving a project, many managers discover they are forced to work harder, take more risks and suffer more criticism than they are prepared to deal with. And if they do fail, they often discover that the less innovative and more risk-averse associates are rewarded by the organization.

This is important for leaders to understand because if the above scenario is a reality in their organization, it places a damper on their ability to innovate in the face of change. However, innovative leaders can take solace in the fact that much of the undue criticism heaped upon them is often based on misdirected frustrations; in fact, individuals are often unhappy with what is already happening in their organization, but have a hard time grasping the need to evolve to maintain or renew success. Leaders must come up with ways to overcome this internal inertia as part of their responsibility to manage change in their organization.

Organizations can and will change—it is a matter of choice. Leaders faced with the responsibility of managing change in their organization must overcome the specific challenges described below if they want to be successful.

Related: Leaders Should Set a Clear and Decisive Tone at the Top

Fear of Failure

Fear on all levels is the biggest challenge for leaders. There may be several ways for leaders to use early successes and ideas that can be tested and refined, and then leverage them into more substantial achievements. However, they are often faced with senior management’s fear of failure and their own fear of being criticized by investors, customers and even the competition. Often leaders can hesitate to enact change simply because it might affect just a few customers, even if that same change can increase the satisfaction of the majority of their clients.

Dealing with Committees

Leaders should understand that committees in most organizations are one of the primary barriers to change. While small committees can be effective, large groups can be impossible to deal with. If fact, most organizations make it easy for a single committee member to say “no” and veto a new idea or concept—thus requiring a unanimous “yes” for anything to move forward. Consequently, the larger the committee, the longer it will take a leader to convince each member that a new concept or idea is worthwhile.

Related: Anticipating and Handling Employee Fears of Change

Handling Critics

For most critics, adopting a new idea, concept or strategy means turning away from the focus that is currently making the organization successful. Most of these critics see change not as an evolution of ideas and concepts that makes the organization better, faster and more competitive, but as a zero-sum game where one side wins at the expense of the other. The arguments they espouse are often formed by their personal fear of failure.

Leaders can effectually deal with such critics by setting ground rules for criticism, including:

  1. Criticize an idea based on how well it meets its objectives. If the critics don’t care for the objectives, then the objectives must be discussed as a separate matter.
  2. Weigh the idea against the status quo, being sure to look at present failures and problems.
  3. If a critic doesn’t like an idea, he or she must come up with an alternative. A lack of a solution is not an acceptable solution.
  4. Criticism for criticism’s sake should not be tolerated, nor should personal attacks.

Related: Do Institutionalized Management Practices Create Formidable Obstacles to Change?

Redefine Change and Failure

One of the biggest aspects of managing change is in redefining the rules. What was acceptable in the past may not be acceptable in the current climate of change. Therefore, leaders must redefine failure as it pertains to the organization. The fear of failure results in inertia as organizations struggle to maintain the status quo. And, ironically, maintaining the status quo in the face of change will always result in failure. As previously stated, a lack of a solution is not an acceptable solution.

Additionally, leaders must redefine change within the organization. They must make it clear that continuous change is the normal state of affairs. Accordingly, it must be redefined as something that is an expected part of every normal job, not something that is a cause for panic and anxiety. If individuals accept this reformulation, then risk will automatically be redefined; when change is a normal part one’s job, the risks associated with change are thus minimized. This shift in perspective helps reduce personal levels of stress and anxiety and makes the responsibility of managing change easier as leaders help their organization evolve through small, incremental steps.

Excerpt: Impact of Change on Individuals: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series(Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 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

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

September 11, 2012 at 11:05 am

When Building Trust, By All Means Avoid These Six Behaviors

with 4 comments

One of the pillars of leadership is developing and fostering a deep sense of mutual workplace trust. One of the most vexing problems faced in organizations is a simple lack of trust between employees and their managers. For managers to experience successful growth and positive results in their respective department or unit, trust must be established on all levels. Without a deep sense of trust, their vision, goals and plans—as well as unified workplace cohesion—will be unobtainable.

Establishing trust is difficult, time-intensive work. It is earned when synergistic working relationships are established with individual employees. These relationships are characterized by active communication and listening, open and candid interactions, and a total acceptance of all persons as unique individuals. Trust also includes the manager’s personal involvement in ensuring employee as well as departmental success.

The fact that managers are granted authority over employees does not guarantee trust between both parties. Trust is based upon truth, which implies open, honest and direct communication free of personal or hidden agendas. For managers to become totally effective leaders trust must be earned and established. In the absence of trust, leadership principles will be of little consequence in the workplace.

Managers have a unique role within organizational workplaces. While they are responsible for individual employees and are required to guide and direct their activities, many are working on different assignments, projects and tasks in varying phases of completion. Many times it becomes impossible for managers to oversee everyone’s ongoing daily activities. This type of environment demands that high levels of trust are established and sustained.

Related: Six Ways to Destroy Trust and Credibility

Lack of trust in the workplace stems from areas managers can fall short in, including:

Establishing a Work Environment Free of Fear

Most managers are generally under extreme pressure to produce ongoing results. Many are focused on agendas that are able to secure or enhance their chances of organizational advancement. In the process, they often create zero-tolerance policies for mistakes and failures. This produces work atmospheres where employees become afraid to discuss problems or results in honest and open dialogue. Rather than trust their managers to support them, they hide pieces of information or mistakes that can hurt or jeopardize them in any way.

Communicating with Employees

Many managers have direct contact with their employees, but often fail to actively listen and engage in conversations that encourage interaction, feedback or input. Some are only interested in picking out certain information that they want to hear without thoroughly listening to anything else being said. Even though they fully believe they are communicating effectively, selective listening and targeted talk work to demoralize their employees and reduce their levels of trust and loyalty.

Interacting in Person

Many managers choose to communicate with their employees via email, written memos or posted messages. Very few efforts are made to interact directly with them on a regular and active basis. This becomes a major pitfall, as only when they make it a point to seek out employees to have open and free discussions and conversations can they become attuned to workplace problems, concerns, and attitudes and know which motivational methods need to be applied to whom.

All employees must be treated fairly, compassionately and honestly and be appreciated for their own particular characteristics and personalities. All have unique needs that must be addressed and met if they are to feel an important part of the organizational team. Since many tend to function with daily frustrations and pressures associated with their assignments and responsibilities, managers as leaders must become actively involved with them daily in order to encourage and sustain the motivation needed to assure they do not succumb to burnout and other psychological problems.

Related: Five Strategies to Build Trust

Specific Steps to Building Trust

If leaders wish to establish and build workplace trust, there are specific behaviors that must be avoided.

Criticism

Discussions concerning documented performance results and how to improve them are always necessary and appropriate as one of the manager’s primary responsibilities and functions. However, they must make it a point to avoid making unwarranted negative comments regarding an employee’s performance, attitudes and decisions, as they are directly perceived as personal criticisms, not constructive performance or work-related input.

Psychological Analysis

Managers as leaders must avoid assuming the role of amateur psychiatrist and analyzing employees’ motivations and behaviors. This includes resisting the urge to prejudge their circumstances, situations and actions.

Advice

Managers can easily provide solutions or advice without making the effort to seek employee input. As problems are often more complex than they appear, managers can short-circuit the learning process and alienate employees by not allowing them to identify why things happened, how ineffective solutions were reached, or the particular factors that contributed to inferior results. It is important that managers seek employee input in regard to specific problems in order to understand, analyze and learn from the facts and pertinent information they possess. Only then do they provide their advice, suggestions or solutions.

Command

Some managers tend to coerce, manipulate and force employees into completing assignments on time or accepting increased responsibility. As leaders, they need to avoid these types of actions, and instead motivate and encourage their employees to achieve desired results and/or increase their personal effectiveness and efficiency. They must know their employees well enough to be able to match the appropriate motivational strategy with each individual.

Control

Managers as leaders must avoid controlling actions and behavior through intimidation techniques and practices. Threatening employees with negative consequences does not motivate them. Employees need to be consistently and positively encouraged to produce results. Intimidation only serves to demoralize them.

Intense Questioning

Managers as leaders must avoid second-guessing and questioning employees on every decision, idea, recommendation or suggestion they make. Employees must be trusted to make decisions on their own without intense scrutiny and oversight. A barrage of suggestions or intense questioning as to their employees’ rationale or methods on every assignment only creates more obstacles to them doing their jobs properly, and sends a clear message that their manager thinks them untrustworthy and even incompetent.

Related: Eight Ways Others Evaluate Trust in Leaders

Excerpt: Building & Nurturing Trust in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI, 2011) $ 16.95 USD

If you would like to learn more about trust building techniques, refer to Building & Nurturing Trust in the Workplace: 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. If you are looking for innovative solutions to your training problems, view our training catalog of over 125 training titles.

________________________________________________________________________

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 Foreward 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

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

May 31, 2012 at 11:38 am

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