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Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Posts Tagged ‘objectives

Performance Plans Create Results and Maximizes Performance

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planning

A performance plan differs from a conventional plan in that it is a proactive document. It is designed for continuous use throughout the year as a guide and reference tool to direct the leader and his or her unit’s activities. The primary purpose of a performance plan is to create results and maximize performance.

Managers often produce an annual performance plan only to give senior management what they want to see. Leaders view performance planning as an opportunity to review and analyze actual past performance. It gives them the means to identify ways to improve their personal and organizational unit’s overall performance and productivity.

Managers as leaders actively use their performance plan to drive the unit’s as well as their own performance. They continually reference their performance plan as a roadmap throughout the year to guide and direct their activities and courses of action as well as those of their subordinates.

Leaders work and plan under the direction of senior management. They define overall strategic company goals and plans. Senior management also forms operational and tactical strategies directing the company’s activities during the year. Typically leaders are responsible for specific aspects of the operational and tactical plans. Their performance plans are directly linked to their assigned goals and objectives. How leaders accomplish these goals and objectives is self-defined. This is where they are given an opportunity to shine.

As was discussed in the previous lesson, leaders are driven by a vision of what is possible, not expected. In formulating a performance plan, leaders begin with an initial preparation before it is formally written and executed. This preliminary process includes:

Collecting and Correlating Data

Leaders collect and correlate the information and data they developed during a review of their organizational unit’s prior performance. This provides a complete picture of the unit’s successes and weaknesses. It helps pinpoint how successes can be capitalized on, and identifies the problems and issues that must be resolved to maximize the unit’s performance.

Leaders ensure their plans coincide with their vision. This is necessary if their vision is to be attained. They analyze and make sure plans can be incorporated into their overall goals and objectives.

The information collected from these two planning activities provides reliable insight and direction. It shapes how performance plans are to be formulated and becomes the foundation for all future performance plans.

Brainstorming

Leaders obtain input and feedback from all members of their unit. This strategy works to bring individual members “on board.” It greatly increases the probability they will accept the plan and implement the necessary strategies to make it successful.

Leaders use brainstorming to get reliable feedback. They use this feedback to creatively approach the development of their performance plan. They need to “think outside of the box” to view their goals and objectives creatively and without bias. Brainstorming accomplishes this by encouraging entrepreneurial thinking. Then leaders can easily define the issues concerning maximizing unit performance from various perspectives.

The purpose of brainstorming is not only to identify ways to achieve goals and complete tasks. It is used as a method to seek out information and ideas for exceeding normal expectations. Leaders always look for ways to optimize performance and results. Effective brainstorming also helps them improve budgetary performance as it maximizes the use of assigned resources.

Formulating Plans

Throughout the preparation and brainstorming phases of planning, the performance plan begins to take shape. Senior management has assigned the overall goals and objectives. The feedback and the analysis of the organizational unit details what needs to be accomplished. From this information, assumptions can be made that will form the basis of the plan.

Leaders clarify the specific direction the organizational unit will take. The steps needed to achieve this direction are carefully outlined and detailed. Each step is then formulated into specific objectives along with the activities required to attain the chosen course of direction.

From this information, leaders assign specific tasks and responsibilities to each individual unit member. These assignments become part of the performance plan, assuring that all objectives will be accomplished.

Leaders make sure each subordinate assigned to a task or responsibility has the necessary resources to be successful. Additionally, each task and responsibility includes established milestones so subordinates understand exactly what they need to do, by when. Milestones provide leaders with performance standards to ensure assigned tasks and responsibilities are accomplished in a timely fashion. This allows for effective managing of the performance plan as well as making modifications when needed.

Formalizing Plans

The final step of performance planning is to formalize a written plan. This becomes the actual management tool that guides and directs the organizational unit in the accomplishment of its goals and objectives.

The degree to which plans need to be refined will vary according to company standards. However, leaders make sure their plan clearly and precisely details the goals and objectives of the entire organizational unit. They write these in clear, easily understood language. Plans also include a timeline plotting each task, responsibility and milestone. Each time segment details the individual(s) responsible for specific tasks and their accomplishment and defines the resources to be allocated. All supporting data collected throughout the planning process is included to substantiate the plan, as well as the list of assumptions the plan is based upon.

Excerpt: Planning to Maximize Performance: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD

Related:

Plans Must Be Rooted in Past Performance

Measure What Needs to Be Measured

Performance Driven Leaders Must Establish Clear Employee Expectations

Decision-Making Begins When an Action Needs to Be Taken

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Maximizing Financial Performance

Strengthening Leadership Performance

Performance Management

Problem Solving

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 © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Well-Run Meetings Deliver Tangible Benefits

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Most employees consider meetings boring, demoralizing and pointless; research has demonstrated that they are often in fact correct in this assessment. However, this perception is a reflection of the time and effort managers choose to invest in getting the most out of their meetings. Interesting, exciting and motivational meetings need not be costly, but do require devoted time and effort.

Managers often plan and prepare poorly for many meetings, and to predictable effect. They can fall short because they either don’t know how or don’t have the time to prepare an effective, well-run meeting. Some managers may further hold too many meetings. In many cases, managers are aware that quality meetings are expected by the company, but don’t understand the purpose and objectives.

A well-run meeting takes planning and forethought as to what should be accomplished in terms of specific desired results and outcomes. With companies continuing to slash or freeze budgets, managers must ensure that they are able to reach specific goals and objectives to maximize the return on their meeting investment.

A well-run meeting should provide a team and its individual members with tangible benefits not easily derived from other venues. These benefits include:

Focus

A well-run business meeting should be built around a theme that not only sets expectations for the discussion, but also indicates the tone and goals of the team for the entire year. The focus should be on something concrete that employees should think, feel and believe. As a gimmicky, entertaining theme will create little if any progress toward real objectives, the meeting should be a clear call to employees to pursue a specific goal through concerted and ongoing action.

Excitement and Motivation

In order to produce excitement in the team, well-run meetings should provide sufficient information regarding the company’s initiatives and programs for an upcoming period. The unveiling and demonstrating of new products and/or directions for the company can also be highly motivating. In any regard, employees should be excited about the possibilities presented to them. This excitement, together with public and peer recognition for accomplishments, will better motivate the team to get back into their jobs.

Insight

Well-run meetings should provide employees with additional perspective into the philosophy of the company, along with new directions, concepts and ideas that they can apply directly to their jobs.

The assembly and interaction of employees allows each to gain new ideas and insights into what is working in other departments, divisions and/or regions.

Knowledge and Expertise

Employees should leave meetings with further knowledge and expertise. This should include new company, customer, product and/or competitive knowledge. The purpose should be to impart this knowledge and information to the team and to provide opportunities for developing expertise within the confines of the meeting. These actions can also be taken in training sessions, group settings and workshops.

Enhanced Relationships

Meetings should provide employees and managers with the opportunity to build and enhance relationships with one another during substantive presentations. Many meetings include the presence of key support personnel, with employees given the opportunity to meet and interact with these individuals. During future contacts with these support people, relationships are strengthened to the point that employees can be more effective in dealing with one another and delivering service to customers.

Enhanced Communication

Effective and well-run meetings enhance communication on all levels. Subject matter is presented, and the presenter is available to answer questions and discuss issues with participants. Additionally, employees and managers have the ability to interact with each other in a more relaxed environment. Employees can communicate more openly and candidly than might be possible in other work settings.

Increased Results

The bottom line for any meeting is to enhance the employee’s knowledge and productivity. An increase in individual performance should be seen once employees return to their jobs. Managers will need to continually reinforce and coach individuals to ensure such increases are sustained and continue to grow over time.

Related:

Do These Four Common Pitfalls Undermine Your Meeting’s Effectiveness?

16 Ways to Motivate Employees and to Celebrate Their Successes

Focusing Your Employees on Future Performance

Building Employee Support Requires Interactive Leadership

Excerpt: Effective Meetings: Pinpoint Management 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 © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

February 7, 2013 at 11:06 am

Supporting Employees’ Need to Achieve Maximum Results

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CelebratingSuccess

At a sporting event, cheerleaders are present for the single purpose of providing support for their team. The same applies to the manager in the workplace. Once plans and programs are in place it becomes the responsibility of the manager to provide the support their employees need to achieve maximum results.

The nature of most positions assumes that employees are self-managing and self-directing in the majority of their activities. The traditional role of the manager was to control and direct the employees they supervised. Effective managers now support and motivate their employees by streamlining policies and procedures and by removing internal barriers to their productivity.

Managers must understand that by removing internal barriers and streamlining procedures they make the employee’s job easier, allowing each one to focus on more productive tasks rather than diverting their energy elsewhere. In this manner, the role of the manager is to keep their employees on track and motivated to reach their peak performance.

The role of the manager is to remove the roadblocks their employees encounter in order to enhance their productivity. Effective managers understand it is their primary responsibility to produce results and not just control and direct. Efficiency and productivity are the means to achieving results, and managers need to make attaining them as easy as possible. This is achieved by providing the following:

Attainable Goals

One of the primary responsibilities of a manager is to ensure that their employees have realistic and attainable goals. This does not necessarily mean that goals are easy; rather, they should always stretch the employee’s ability to grow. However, unrealistic and overwhelming goals and objectives are counterproductive because they frustrate and ultimately demotivate the employee.

Employees are responsible for developing their own work-related goals. In many cases they are accepted with little or no scrutiny. Managers should invest the time and resources to have a frank discussion with all individuals concerning their objectives. For example, IBM built their success by ensuring that their employees had a series of smaller, attainable goals. When those were achieved, employees’ successes were celebrated.

Managers should likewise require that their own employees develop a series of smaller plans for the quarter, month, week and day, all linked to the accomplishment of larger goals. In this manner, managers help their employees stay focused on activities that keep them moving forward toward the accomplishment of their objectives.

Without this critical guidance and direction, all unit or department activities for the year may prove wasteful and meaningless. When realistic and attainable plans are in place, the role of the manager is to support their employees’ activities and keep them on track and focused on the results they need to achieve.

Adequate Support

Employees must be provided the necessary tools and resources to achieve the desired results. A lack of adequate support for an employee sends a mixed message and hurts motivation. During the heat of daily activities, employees need timely information, data and support in order to keep moving forward.

When companies fail employees at these critical junctures, they are communicating their lack of concern for their efforts. This often undermines the investment in time and resources made by the worker. If it costs him or her meeting a particular target or goal, motivation to work hard toward the next objective is eliminated. It is replaced with an “If they don’t care, why should I?” attitude. Once this attitude takes hold it is difficult to reverse.

Realistic Reports and Policies

Employees can be burdened with scheduled reports that are generated more out of tradition than need. Aside from the expense and resource utilization reports required as management tools, managers should only request the information they need to monitor the success of the employee’s plan. Beyond that, many reports can duplicate information and may be throwbacks to outdated pre-computer days.

With the advent of computers and business management software, yesterday’s report can easily be transformed into an action plan. This process provides both the manager and employee with an informational tool that directs and informs.

Managers need quality information to monitor their employees’ activities, which can be obtained through a performance metrics system that reports key numbers to reflect the employee’s activities. Typically, such metrics accurately report the progress of activities within the employee’s pipeline.

Effective Skills Development

Managers must ensure that their employees continually polish their skills, which requires providing quality training while monitoring an individual employee’s performance to observe what skills are in need of refinement. When necessary, additional training and coaching may be required. Training should not be considered merely as a reward, but as a requirement if employees are to grow in their profession.

Related:

16 Ways to Motivate Employees and to Celebrate Their Successes

Recognition Must Be Given Liberally, Frequently and Publicly

Motivation Is More Than Money

Excerpt: Motivating Employees: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 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 © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Objectives Allow Managers to Focus on Obtaining Results

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penandpaper

The most effective use of time comes from managers’ abilities to establish and detail appropriate and concise objectives. Making things happen that might otherwise go unattained, objectives allow managers to focus on obtaining results.

Many managers waste time by setting and following objectives that are unclear, imprecise or too broad. Objectives are reliable measurement tools for monitoring progress and directional courses of action.

Time is used unproductively when managers’ objectives are incompatible with organizational purposes and direction. Taking charge and authority over time comes from establishing appropriate departmental objectives.

Exerting a direct influence on attitudes and motivation, appropriate objectives direct managers’ efforts toward achieving concrete goals. Appropriate and effective objectives act as factors of success and become sustained positive attitude builders. They generate a consistency of action—which feeds continuous ongoing success—and prevent managers and employees from performing random activities and making ineffective decisions.

Detailed objectives keep managers on track and alert to potential interferences that can be addressed early before they create serious problems. This maintains workplace momentum and keeps productivity at peak levels. Additionally, effective objectives allow managers to concentrate on future opportunities and establish new goals as future needs occur.

Determining sound daily, weekly and monthly objectives and following them takes work and discipline on the part of the manager. In order to advance personal performance and departmental efficiency, managers must continually revisit all short- and long-term objectives.

Managing by objectives carries a positive impact in terms of saving time and increasing results. Managers should establish prioritized objectives to save work and reduce redundancies and frustrations. Objectives should be detailed carefully to assure essential assignments are met on a continual basis in all major areas.

Techniques to help establish time-saving departmental objectives include:

Establish Compatible Objectives

Managers must make certain that all objectives reflect how their own particular departments interrelate with others. Determining interrelated objectives will prevent departments from becoming independent operating units focused on meeting their own particular time schedules, quality standards and procedures. Valuable time and energy can be wasted because of segmented functions and disjointed compatibility.

When departmental incompatibility exists, time and attention is not devoted to organizational problem solving. Managers spend excessive amounts of time dealing with immediate crises and resulting conflict or chaos. Major issues tend to go unresolved and need more time and energy to remedy at a later time. As the need to produce results becomes pressured and forced, departmental cooperation and unity of effort is hindered.

Lay a Solid Groundwork for Defining Departmental Objectives

Objectives need to address departmental functions and purposes within the organization. Before determining departmental objectives managers need to ask themselves, “Why does my department exist?” Next, managers need to ask, “What should this department accomplish from an organizational standpoint?”

To answer these questions, managers must define departmental expectations, agendas, functions, methods and procedures. Managers must make certain that they contribute in a positive way to the effective use of human resources and profitability. To be effective and more time-sensitive, objectives must detail all necessary activities that contribute to overall organizational goals, as well as specific departmental ones.

Define Areas of Responsibility

Managers need to detail areas of departmental responsibility and identify particular key areas both where unnecessary overlaps occur and where overlaps should occur and do not. Within the analysis process, managers must concentrate on identifying areas of activity that play a significant role in achieving results.

Valuable amounts of time can be saved and transformed into bottom-line profit. Objectives must detail necessary lead time for obtaining such things as raw materials, essential components, additional equipment and human resources.

Define Specific Departmental Functions

Managers need to assess departmental functions that are necessary for attaining determined goals and results before formalizing objectives. While addressing specific functions that are necessary for accomplishing their individual departmental missions, they concentrate on planning, organizing, directing and controlling these functions. Departmental objectives should address how each particular function will be performed and why, as well as major areas of performance accountability.

Related:

Does This Activity Move Me Forward?

Five Strategies to Maintain Your Focus

Defending Against Personal Burnout and Frustration

Excerpt: Time & Personal Management (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 © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Decision-Making Begins When an Action Needs to Be Taken

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Decision-making is a cognitive process leading to the selection of a course of action among alternatives. Whether an action or opinion, every decision making process produces a final choice.

The decision making process begins when an action needs to be taken, but one doesn’t know exactly what to do or where to begin. The reasoning process can be rational or irrational, with most decisions based on explicit or implied assumptions.

Building Block One: Applying The Principles of Decision Making

Judiciously applying specific decision making principles will more often than not make the difference between taking effective or ineffective action. These principles help ensure that all involved stay focused on their specific work-related duties as well as the overall objective the company is pursuing.

When it comes to effective decision making, paying close attention to the organizational universe is not optional, but critical. The attributes contributing to good decisions can translate directly into tangible benefits when applied to the broader framework of business-related operations. Each decision made should serve as a learning experience, whether or not it proves wise.

How is an effective decision made? Maintaining an understanding of the basic role of one’s organization can support thoughtful planning and processes for decision making objectives, which tend to justify the future course of the company.

There are 10 basic steps to follow when a decision has to be made. These include:

  1. Identify principles with which to judge the alternatives. What standards and judgment criteria should the solution meet?
  2. Gather information. What factors does the problem involve?
  3. Identify the purpose of the decision. What exactly is the problem to be addressed and why does it need to be solved?
  4. Brainstorm and list a wide variety of possible choices.
  5. Generate as many likely solutions as possible.
  6. Evaluate each choice in terms of its consequences, using predetermined standards and judgment criteria to determine the pros and cons of each alternative.
  7. Settle upon the best alternative. This becomes much easier once the above steps have been undertaken.
  8. Translate the decision into a specific action or plan of action steps.
  9. Carefully execute the plan.
  10. Evaluate the outcome of the decision and subsequent action steps. Within this process it is important to identify the lessons learned. This is an important step for further development of more effective decision making skills and judgment.

Related: Correctly Framing Problems Pinpoints the Right Solution

Building Block Two: Creating an Objectives Hierarchy

The first step in the process is to identify the purpose of the decision making effort: What is the problem and why does it need to be solved?

In order to achieve this end it is important to generate, record and display an objectives hierarchy by creating a list in outline format. (Software applications are also available that allow individuals or groups to create organizational charts that work well in generating visually appealing objectives hierarchies.)

In establishing an objectives hierarchy it is essential to gather as much information as possible to identify the factors involved in the problem.

Objectives should flow from “Why?” at higher levels to “How?” at lower levels. Higher-level objectives tend to be broad, inclusive, and even ambiguous, lower-level objectives more specific, which are mapped to real or actual organizational and workplace attributes or characteristics.

The objectives hierarchy should be inclusive, representing a mix of stakeholder views, and not make value judgments in respect to one objective over another.

Related: Seven Components of Critical Thinking

Building Block Three: Designing Alternatives

For each objective or group of objectives within the hierarchy, it is important to identify the types of actions that would yield the optimal effect.

When designing alternatives, various objectives should have been detailed and considered within the hierarchy. With enough specificity, some may be flagged for specific action or categorized as activity-driven.

Designing alternatives tends to occur in two phases: identifying the principles by which to judge the alternatives—i.e. the standards solutions should meet—and brainstorming, or listing actual potential solutions.

Nine Steps for Identifying Alternatives:

  1. For each objective or group of objectives in the hierarchy, individuals identify the types of actions that would have the desired effect.
  2. Causal pathways among identified variables are reviewed. How might favorable interventions occur in any of these pathways?
  3. Two or more options for addressing each objective are defined. These may be different types of activities, different levels, strategies, or approaches for the same activity type, or modifications to ongoing related activities. If there is already a proposed action, the activities that comprise it are detailed in terms of how they align with the measured criteria in the objectives.
  4. Specific actions are grouped into alternatives. If there are competing objectives (perhaps reflecting different stakeholder values), alternatives can be developed that favor different groupings of objectives. In other words, different balances are sought among objectives in each alternative.
  5. Conversely, the same balance of objectives by different groupings of actions can be striven for.
  6. If based on the effects analysis a revision of alternatives is needed, it is wise to look for simple adjustments first. If major revisions are needed, the objectives hierarchy and decision making model should be revisited to determine whether erroneous or inconsistent logic led to problems.
  7. An open mind should be maintained, with preconceptions about what is the “best choice” not allowed to limit any or all solution options.
  8. For each alternative, specifics as to how, where, what, and when actions will occur should be outlined. Here it is important to make detailed assumptions about each modeled action early and explicitly in order to minimize confusion when placing this information into a structured decision making model.
  9. Results are recorded and activities plotted on a decision making map where appropriate.

Related: Six Critical Issues To Consider When Solving Problems

Building Block Four: Evaluating Each Choice

For each alternative, it is best to be as specific as possible in terms of how, where, what, and when actions will occur.

An analysis of effects may suggest modification of one or more alternatives or the creation of additional alternatives. If the latter is the case it will be prudent to return to the first stage of the process.

It is important to apply standards and judgment criteria (a set of indicators) to determine the pros and cons of each alternative. When the best alternative is identified, a process overview of the selected option is conducted.

During this decision making and planning arena, it is important to make certain that an action or set of actions is specifically geared toward achieving the objectives identified.

Within the evaluation or overview stage, further details can come to light that can either be added to particular action steps or grouped into a different set of alternatives.

Excerpt:Intelligent Decision Making: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 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

The Use of Teams Requires Self-Discipline

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Leaders need to understand that while teams are an effective means of creating solutions to many complex organizational problems, they are not the panacea touted by many management gurus. Many management theories that employed the team concept have been proven ineffective. Consequently, many managers have developed a biased perspective when considering the use of teams within their organizations.

The proper structure, implementation and use of teams requires self-discipline. Leaders must be aware of the major limitations and weaknesses associated with each area. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that properly structured and implemented teams do produce tangible results for organizations. They are effective tools for organizations to utilize in increasingly complex business conditions.

Related: Eleven Factors That Affect the Team Environment

An individual’s leadership, vision and direction ultimately determines the success or failure of the teams they direct. In many if not all cases, the leader acts as a liaison between the organization and team, assuring that the team remains focused on the task and the results they are chartered to produce. Teams are part of a living organization and are not working in a void: all teams operate in conjunction with other teams to efficiently meet the organization’s overall goals.

Related: There are Only Three Reasons to Form a Team

Specific lessons can be gleaned from the experiences of countless teams in other organizations.

  • Teams are not free-form organizations with an absence of regimentation; nor are they inflexible units with a rigid chain of command. Within successful teams, leadership often changes according to particular tasks assigned.
  • Effective team design requires a continuing mission in which specific tasks change frequently. Without a continuing mission, there is little or no basis for teams, except on a temporary basis.
  • A team requires clear and sharply defined objectives. It must have the ability to produce feedback based upon its performance and ability to achieve objectives.
  • Teams require leadership, which can either be permanent or shift with each major phase of a project. Within many teams, one individual is charged with designating the team leadership for each specific phase.
  • A team is not democratic. The implementation of authority is task-derived and focused. The team as a whole is responsible for the successful accomplishment of a task. Individual members contribute particular skills and knowledge and are accountable for their own particular work, but they are also always responsible for the output and performance of the entire team. This system maintains cohesion and helps people work as a unit.
  • Team members do not need to know each other well to perform as a unit; however, they do need to know each other’s functions, skills and knowledge areas. While rapport, empathy and interpersonal relations are not required for a smoothly run team, a mutual understanding of common tasks is essential.
  • It is the team leader’s initial responsibility to establish clarity of objectives and the roles of individual team members. This incorporates clarity of the leader’s role in the team process and structure.

Related: When Performance Lags, Look to the Team Culture

Excerpt: Developing a Team Approach: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 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.

October 4, 2012 at 11:57 am

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

Conflict is Inevitable With Persistent Resistance to Change

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Resistance is experienced in most teams as they struggle with the concept of change. The purpose of creating teams is to tackle difficult issues and tough organizational problems. Invariably, the resulting solutions teams develop result in active transformations that disrupt the status quo and personal agendas, which also tends to remove personal positions of power. Consequently, there is a natural tendency for individual team members to resist pending changes.

The main challenge in leading teams is to allow the full complexity of individual personalities, talents, qualities and insights to emerge. These must be actively harnessed in order to achieve major team objectives.

While it is easy to set limits on verbal expressions and behaviors, doing so severely diminishes overall team potential and performance. Since various personality traits of individual members actively shape their general and immediate focus and perspectives, leaders who understand them are able to estimate their direct responses to change. Ultimately, with this related knowledge and understanding, they should be able to anticipate and minimize overall team member resistance. And they should be able to demonstrate that resistance results from differing perspectives that can be reconciled with the objectives of the entire team.

Resistance is an instinctive and energetic opposition to new ideas or someone’s expressed wishes to do something differently. If individual team members persist in their resistance, conflict becomes inevitable. Often resistance is framed as a struggle for control or as a problem that has been eliminated. The lines of conflict are often quickly drawn. Therefore, it is important for leaders to understand the concepts of resistance and conflict within their team environments and to learn how to harness and control them.

Related: The Challenge of Handling Conflict

Avoidance of Conflict

Conflict should not be seen as something to be resolved, but as an experience to be explored. Opposing views in regard to team direction and change are never totally unrelated and can have great value when considered “different parts of the same story.” Leaders will often find that resistance and conflict are consistently initiated by many of the same individuals on their teams as a result of their inherent personality traits.

Avoidance of conflict either drains interest, enthusiasm and trust or results in concealed tension, internal fighting and impaired team performance. While some leaders meet resistance head on, others often do everything possible to avoid the attached conflicts. Rather than keep conflicts from erupting, avoidance causes increasing internal team resistance. It is extremely important to keep in mind that appeasement in order to diminish conflict is not effective, and instead creates a host of additional challenges to overcome.

Denial of Conflict

When leaders propose change and team members feign agreement, the actual degree of resistance can be immense. This often occurs when teams have strong norms, where dissention and negative views are rarely tolerated and expressed. The core of resistance lies with a particular side of the team or with individual leaders that no one is fully prepared to address or discuss.

While the denial of conflict might be considered a normal process within many team environments, it more often than not builds to the point of erupting into a far more serious problem. Therefore, when active resistance is initially encountered, leaders must ensure that conflicts within their team environments are not denied, but adequately addressed and worked through.

Related: Conflict Turns Decision Making Upside Down

Anxiety

Avoidance and denial of conflict are rooted in personal anxiety. Oftentimes, members can be intimidated by their team environments, their lack of seniority and/or experience, or their own inherent personalities. The concept of change also frightens many people due to associated fears of the unknown and feelings about how change will personally and directly affect them.

It is important for leaders to recognize these factors and the subsequent anxieties that may be created within their team environments. These factors need to be identified and openly and fully discussed. Leaders must address the consequences of allowing anxieties to take root in order to diminish individual fear factors that tend to create undue apprehension, nervousness or panic. Once these issues are addressed and individuals fully understand the root causes and the impact these factors have on their team, personal anxieties will dissolve. When this is accomplished, individual stress levels are reduced.

Related: When the Process of Change Spins Out of Control

Addressing the Concept of Change

In team environments there will always be members who desire change and members who wish to keep the status quo. Both of these positions give insight into what members perceive to be the true needs of their team. To ensure that insights are not lost, leaders need to ask themselves the following questions:

  • What is currently happening to and within the team?
  • What force for change is directly impacting the team?
  • Within the team, what counterbalancing forces seek to minimize change?

When leaders are able to identify these factors, both positions are respected, and those who resist change can be viewed as the guardians of the team’s traditional norms and beliefs.

Viewing Resistance as a Strength

Rather than something that must be actively overcome, leaders should be aware that resistance deserves respect for its ability to help teams discover how to change. Since resistance is characterized as a mobilization of energy, leaders must learn how to channel it in positive ways. Resistance should be viewed as a healthy and creative force that can be applied to effectively meet individual challenges. It can be used to frame problems and issues in new ways that all individual team members can appreciate and respect. The team process can be used to work through complex issues, tackle difficult problems and their attached implications and ramifications, and arrive at a consensus in regard to the most workable, practical and effective solutions.

Related: Is Conflict Destructive to Your Organization?

If you are seeking proven expertise and best practices on dealing with personality differences in the team environment to train or educate your employees to solve problems and improve their performance in this area, refer to Personality Differences within the Team Setting: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series. 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 (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

Six Key Benefits of Performance Management

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Managers are inundated with a high volume of information and required to make multiple decisions daily. It is often difficult to be fair and consistent in decisions when the manager is operating on a reactive rather than proactive basis.

Performance management gives managers a specific set of parameters to make decisions and act in an active rather than passive mode. This allows them to take the initiative by making quick and effective decisions that positively impact their unit’s efficiency, profitability and overall performance.

Managers who utilize an effective performance management process and program will find that rather than complicate their lives, their jobs are made much easier. Decision-making is greatly simplified by performance management, as it provides a specific set of established parameters with which to make consistent and focused decisions that move the unit forward to the achievement of its goals. These parameters include:

Alignment of Goals and Objectives

The overall purpose of performance management is the alignment of unit/department goals and activities with the overall goals and objectives of the company.

The role of the manager is to ensure that all goals and activities of his or her individual employees directly contribute to the overall success of the unit. In this capacity, the manager establishes the individual goals and targets to assure that the overall objectives are obtained. Once this has been accomplished, any decisions to be made regarding the performance of individual employees must be made with each of their goals in mind. Managers are able to make decisions to ensure that every action and activity an employee makes advances him or her toward the accomplishment of their unit’s goals.

This decision-making parameter prevents individual employees from becoming “loose cannons,” ignoring their unit and company goals and performing in a way they view as expedient. It keeps the employees in line and focused. It also allows managers to fairly and consistently manage and evaluate individual performance against overall team goals.

Focus on the Target Market

Most corporate goals and objectives are designed to move a company forward, while maximizing the utilization of human and physical resources to enhance productivity, efficiency and profitability. In this pursuit, companies are increasingly gearing specific products and services to profitable niche markets where they can gain a competitive advantage.

The use of performance management techniques allows managers to redefine or refine the target market so that it is aligned with the objectives established by senior management. As a decision-making parameter, managers can guide and direct employees through plans to better focus their efforts on these intended niche markets.

As markets are increasingly more competitive, rapid changes and shifts in marketing strategies are often required. The use of performance management criteria allows managers to shift their people’s focus and ensure all decisions they make are consistent with this impetus.

Guidance

The company’s mission statement, goals and objectives provide guidance to the manager and the basis for their performance management program. Additionally, these provide managers with specific parameters with which to guide and direct their own actions and those of their employees, while also giving them the guidance they need when making decisions. There will be times when senior management may need to clarify issues and concerns, but the progression of goals and objectives should flow smoothly from senior management to the individual employee.

Benchmarks for Performance

One of the keystones of performance management is the ability to benchmark the individual work of each employee. These provide managers with the tools to monitor and evaluate performance as well as the basis for any decisions and actions that must be made.

The specific performance of an employee influences all decisions a manager makes concerning that individual. An employee performing at a high level will be given more leeway in the decisions made about him or her since results are being produced. A poorly performing individual will have more stringent decisions made about him or her.

Pinpointing Performance Problems

The use of specific metrics in a performance management program allows managers to make decisions regarding performance breakdowns. Initially, it allows the manager to pinpoint problems and take the proper corrective actions to immediately rectify them before they become a major issue.

Providing Focused Feedback

Performance management allows managers to make decisions and focus their feedback on issues directly related to the achievement of the individual employees goals and objectives. Any other issues distracting the employee that don’t contribute to the unit or department’s performance can be quickly and effectively handled and eliminated.

Excerpt: Performance Management: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 2011)

If you would like to learn more about how to use performance management techniques to increase results, refer to Performance Management: 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.

_______________________________________________________________________________

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

There are Only Three Reasons to Form a Team

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A group does not become a team until it can hold itself accountable as a team. This requires discipline that brings the team together with a common purpose, approach and responsibility. This discipline is critical to the success of all teams. Yet, effective teams also have a focus within the organization.

Trust and commitment are the results of individuals working toward a common objective. Consequently, teams enjoy a strong common purpose and approach that holds them responsible both as individuals and as a team for their performance. This sense of mutual accountability produces the rich reward of equal achievement that is shared by all team members.

This topic is of critical importance to leaders because teams are becoming the primary unit of performance management in many organizations. This does not mean that teams will crowd out individual opportunities in a formal hierarchy: teams will enhance existing structures without replacing them. Team opportunities exist anywhere hierarchy and organizational boundaries inhibit the skills and perspective needed for optimal results. Teams have a unique potential to deliver results to the organization in these situations.

Organizations must create the kind of environment that enables performance by teams, individuals and the organization.

Groups established as teams with the primary purposes of job enhancement, communication, organizational effectiveness or excellence rarely become effective. Only when appropriate performance goals are set can the process of discussing objectives and approaches give team members clear alternatives. At that point they can disagree with the goal and the path that the team selects; in effect, they can opt out, or they can pitch in and become accountable with and to their team members.

Most effective teams are classified in one of three ways.

Teams That Recommend

These teams include task forces, project groups, audit groups, quality groups and safety groups that are asked to study and resolve particular problems. Teams formed to render recommendations almost always have predetermined completion dates. Two critical issues unique to such teams are getting off to a fast, constructive start and dealing with the ultimate handoff required to get their recommendations implemented.

The key to the issue of a fast start lies with the clarity of the team’s charter and the composition of its membership. In addition to wanting to know why and how their efforts are important, task forces need a clear direction as to time commitment and the people senior management expects to participate. Management can assist these groups by ensuring the inclusion of individuals with the skills and influence necessary for crafting practical recommendations that will carry weight throughout the organization.

The ultimate handoff is almost always a difficulty for such teams. To avoid this, teams should transfer the responsibility for recommendations to those who must implement them. The more that senior management assumes recommendations will just “happen,” the less likely this will be the case. The more involvement team members have in executing their recommendations, the more likely they will get implemented.

Teams That Make or Do

These teams include people at or near the front lines who are well acquainted with the value-added activities of the organization and responsible for basic manufacturing, development operations, marketing, sales or service. With some notable exceptions, such as new product development or process design teams, these teams tend to have no set completion dates, as their activities are ongoing and continuous.

These teams have the greatest impact on their organization when they focus on the company’s critical delivery points. These are the places where the cost and value of products and services are most directly determined. Performance at these points depends upon combining multiple skills, perspectives and judgments in real time. Here the team option is considered the smartest direction for organizations to proceed.

Teams that make or do must have a relentless focus on performance. Senior management must make clear, compelling demands on these teams and pay constant attention to their progress with respect to both team basics and performance results.

Teams That Run Things

Despite the fact that many leaders refer to the group reporting to them as a team, few groups accept this label. Groups that become real teams seldom think of themselves as a team due to the high degree to which they are focused on performance results.

The main issue these teams face is the determination of whether a real team approach is appropriate to the situation. As many entities can be more effective as working groups than teams, the key is to decide whether individual performances will suffice or substantial and incremental performance through real team products is required.

Working groups present fewer risks in that they need little time to shape their purpose since the leader usually establishes it, meetings are run regardless of prior ties to agendas, and group decisions are implemented in relation to specific individual assignments and accountabilities.

In practical terms, most teams that run things tend to be smaller, usually two to four people.

Excerpt: A Team’s Purpose, Function & Use: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 2011) $ 17.95 USD

If you would like to learn more about focusing teams to produce results and positive outcomes, refer to A Team’s Purpose, Function & Use: 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

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

February 14, 2012 at 10:45 am

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