Leadership Tips for Turning Around a Slacker’s Performance

Posted on February 4, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Leadership, Training

Slacker with Feet on DeskDo you have a Slacker on your team who isn’t pulling their weight?  Your leadership challenge with them is unlocking their motivation.  They have the talent.  You have to get them to apply it!

The following is an excerpt from Lead Inside the Box: How Great Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results (you can get your copy here). This post focuses on how you can turn around the performance of a Slacker on your team.

Dave has a great résumé with the right education and expertise from brand name schools and employers. When he accepted your job offer, you felt like you made one of the best hires of your career.

Since Dave got the job, however, his talents haven’t translated into the results you expected. He’s a smart guy with great communications skills – at least his verbal communication skills. He’s outspoken in team meetings and has many ideas, most of which seem to have potential. Interestingly enough, however, those ideas relate to other peoples’ responsibilities. Dave’s willingness to comment on how others are doing or not doing their jobs is drawing complaints from your team. He has much less to say about his own area.

When it comes to written communications, Dave doesn’t have much to say. Getting him to produce reports is frustrating. He’s never met a deadline he didn’t renegotiate.

Dave is content knowing how to do the job instead of actually doing it. He seems to think he’s paid for being smart instead of for being productive. His failure to deliver is frustrating everyone. You hate the thought of losing someone as talented as Dave, but his lack of results is alarming. His teammates have picked up his slack. You’ve dedicated more of your leadership capital than you’d like harping on him to get his work done. There’s no doubt that Dave is a “Slacker.”

Approaches for Leading a Slacker

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5 Steps Leaders Can Take to Fill the Digital Skills Gap

Posted on February 2, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Training

Data Flowing Across Blue BackgroundToday’s post is by Jeff Fernandez – co-founder and CEO of Grovo.

Leading a company is much like managing a sports team, as each member of the collective must not only have the requisite individual skills to fill a role, but must also be thoroughly equipped to work within a larger system in order to have the best opportunities for success.

The function of leaders in these organizations is to ensure that the talent under their management fits both descriptions, but the importance of effective leadership can often go under-appreciated. Even the most capable team members will find themselves ill-equipped to compete within a well-run organization if they lack the proper guidance, and perhaps nowhere is this concept more evident in the business world than with the growing digital skills gap in the American workforce.

Responsible for up to $1.3 trillion in lost resources for the nation’s companies each year, the digital skills gap is one of the most volatile threats to the viability of a business. Despite untold sums of money being poured into the latest technologies by organizations across industries, only 1 in 10 employees in the country rate themselves as “proficient” in using common digital tools such as email, employee management systems or collaboration utilities.

In fact, a recent McKinsey poll indicated that 21 percent of the average American work week was wasted due to inadequate digital skills, leading to a $10 million average yearly loss for a firm with at least 1,000 employees. This costly gap is only expected to widen as new technologies become available, and so companies who take a passive attitude toward keeping their practices current will quickly find themselves outpaced by those with more foresight.

Closing the digital skills gap starts at the top of an organization. Company leadership must devise a comprehensive plan to enhance the overall digital literacy and skill set of their workforce, developing skills their employees will need in the future as well as identifying any lacking skills in their current roles. Training practices and goals should be regularly evaluated to ensure they are still relevant and beneficial to individual employees based on their evolving responsibilities.

The first steps for any company to take when addressing their digital skills gap are simple:

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Do you consider your team to be “high performing?”

Posted on January 29, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: Do you consider your team to be “high performing?”

– Absolutely — they’re consistently excellent: 26.32%
– Kind of — they’re good but have room to improve: 60.15%
– Not really — they’ve got their share of issues: 11.09%
– Not at all — I’m in disaster-recovery mode: 2.44%

Driving High Performance. The high performing team is elusive.  It requires a special chemistry among the team members and you are the chief chemist.  If your team is currently high performing, beware of throwing off the mix with new hires, role changes, or revised priorities.  If you’re trying to elevate your team, step back and list what’s working great and what’s holding the team back (caveat – you might be on that list of things holding them back).  Building a high performing team is about leading, following, and getting out of the way.  Try changing one variable at a time and see how it affects performance.  Time thinking about your team far outweighs time in many of the meetings you attend.  Prioritize accordingly.

Do you agree with these poll results?  Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

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Improve Your Team by Leading Inside the Box

Posted on January 27, 2015 | 3 Comments
Categories: Books, Leadership

Lead Inside the BoxThe phrase “think outside the box” makes me physically ill.  It’s trite and isn’t at all applicable.  But inside the box?  That’s where great leaders go to get more out of their teams.  You can too with a simple assessment tool that provides insights as to how to most effectively lead the unique members of your team.

Preface: I’m an idiot.  My friend and fellow thoughtLEADERS instructor Victor Prince hoodwinked me into co-authoring a new book: Lead Inside the Box – How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results.  It comes out in July (but is available for pre-order! CLICK HERE to reserve your copy).  The premise is you need to evaluate the amount of output you get from a team member and compare that to the amount of time and energy you have to invest in them to get it.  We call that second piece “leadership capital.”

The result of those comparisons is the Leadership Matrix (or “the box” for short).  Within that matrix, we define behavioral archetypes from Slackers to Rising Stars and everything in between.  The real insight lies in practical advice on how to lead those folks to improve their performance.  By understanding the behaviors your team members will demonstrate and how you invest (or don’t invest) your time and effort into them, you’ll get a clearer picture of the 8 archetypical behaviors that can show up in the box.  With that understanding, you can begin leading differently which will improve your performance.  Those archetypes are as follows:

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4 Faulty Assumptions You Have about Giving Feedback

Posted on January 26, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

The Feedback ImperativeToday’s post is by Anna Carroll, author of The Feedback Imperative: How to Give Everyday Feedback to Speed Up Your Team’s Success (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

If you are a manager, the chances are great that you dread giving honest feedback to your team members on a frequent basis. And yet it is at the top of the list of what employees today want and need from their leaders. This is particularly true for younger and highly skilled employees who can and will leave your organization if they can find better opportunities and development elsewhere.

This trend is building steam

In Gallup’s massive longitudinal study on the employee engagement of workers at all levels and across the globe, there was no more important indicator of satisfaction and willingness to stay on the job than whether or not someone in their workplace (usually a manager) had talked with them recently about how they were doing on the job. A quarter of global employees in the same survey reported that they received no feedback at all from their supervisors, and this was a major factor in their workplace dissatisfaction.

In a study of more than 3,600 employees, 51 percent of them said that they received too little constructive criticism from their boss, and 65 percent of those who did receive feedback, either positive or negative, said they didn’t receive enough information to know what to repeat or change. People want to know exactly what they need to do to perform well on the job.

In 2011, Jay Gilbert conducted interviews with Millennials that revealed just how serious they are about their feedback; he received many responses similar to this one:

“If I get feedback from above as to if what I am doing is ok or needs changes, and whether I should do more or less, etc., I do not care about the message. I am very receptive even to quite negative feedback, but I like knowing where I stand, and I like knowing what the expectations are and how I’m stacking up.”

“Tell it like it is—Don’t BS me!” Read More…

How good are you at giving difficult feedback promptly?

Posted on January 22, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How good are you at giving difficult feedback promptly?

– Great — I share difficult feedback immediately: 21.53%
– OK — I give tough feedback with some hesitation: 60.76%
– Not good — I struggle with giving tough feedback: 16.64%
– Poor — I rarely share difficult feedback: 1.07%

Prompt feedback matters. You should never hesitate to give tough feedback promptly.  Not doing so is a failure of leadership.  You’re not only letting that individual down – you’re letting down the rest of the team too.  Invariably they see the person’s shortcomings and they wonder why the boss isn’t taking corrective action.  It’s a slippery morale slope from there.  Not giving tough feedback promptly can lead to disastrous results and damage your credibility as a leader.  That failure also impairs your team’s overall performance.  So swallow hard and go deliver the tough messages – it’s much easier to do than you might think.

Do you agree with these poll results?  Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

These results were originally a SmartPulse poll in SmartBrief on Leadership which tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. Get smarter on leadership and sign up for the SmartBrief on Leadership e-newsletter.

When it Comes to Strategy, are You Sitting at the Kid’s Table?

Posted on January 21, 2015 | 1 Comment
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Strategy

Kid's TableLooking back on past holidays, you may remember what it felt like to be stuck at the kid’s table. But you’re a grown up now – so how come you’re still sitting at the kid’s table at work?

I was recently interviewed by Anita Bruzzese for the Intuit blog. I figured you folks would like the perspectives from that interview. Here you go:

Take a look at comments posted on workplace blogs or on social media sites, and it won’t be long before you find an employee complaining that they’re often left out of the loop regarding business decisions.

These employees complain that their boss doesn’t keep them informed of strategic business decisions, what’s in the pipeline for the next year or even how their work is part of the bigger picture. Senior leaders are even worse, they contend.

It’s a frustration Mike Figliuolo has heard before, and he has a simple response: “That’s crap.”

Figliuolo, managing director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC, says that employees who complain that they don’t know what is going on within their company simply aren’t trying hard enough.

“If anything, it’s easier than ever,” he says. “Just look at your company’s organizational chart and find someone about two levels above you. Send that person an email and ask them to send you their department’s latest strategic plan.”

With that information, you’ll be able to see what’s going on and then be able to ask additional questions to determine how you or your department are affected by pending plans or possibly involved in a new initiative.

“It’s just pure laziness to sit back and say, ‘I’m not being included,’” he says. “If you can’t take the initiative then sure, you’re going to sit at the kid’s table and eat chicken nuggets.” Read More…

5 Reasons Surveys Do Not Reveal Your Organization’s Culture

Posted on January 19, 2015 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Above the Line by Michael HendersonToday’s post is by Michael Henderson, author of Above the Line: How to Create a Company Culture that Engages Employees, Delights Customers and Delivers (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

A company’s culture plays a significant role in driving performance, retaining staff and influencing customer experience. If you agree, then it might be time to look into how your organization identifies its culture. If you’re simply relying on an annual staff engagement survey, you might be surprised, and not necessarily pleased with the results.

Many organizations use staff engagement surveys for establishing the status of employee morale or as a means of positioning an organization as an award-winning place to work. However many organizations are increasingly falling into the trap of relying on their engagement survey tool to define and describe their workplace culture. It’s as Abraham Maslow once noted, “If you only have a hammer as a tool, then every problem is a nail.”  In other words, just because you are already using an engagement survey to assess employee morale doesn’t mean the survey is designed to measure culture.

Engagement surveys may indeed measure many variables within an organization, but culture isn’t one of them. The following are five reasons why engagement surveys are ineffective for revealing your organization’s culture:

1. Opinions are not culture. Engagement survey questions are designed to ask employees their opinions on such topics as; their boss, the warmth of their workplace atmosphere, or whether they perceive they have friends amongst their colleagues. But an opinion of a culture is not the culture itself. For example, if I travel to France and develop a less than favorable opinion of French culture, that does not mean that I have understood or defined French culture, but only that I have formed a biased opinion of the culture. Many organizations fail to make this important distinction and, in doing so, often make decisions about the culture – or the changes required in the culture – based on opinions and not through understanding the cultural dynamics themselves. Most engagement surveys are superficial in their explanation of culture. If you truly want to understand your workplace culture watch it in action in real time on the job and you are likely to see where it works or doesn’t, or whether it leads to collaboration or creativity or not. Rather than asking employees for their opinion on culture, try asking if they find the culture to be collaborative or creative.

Read More…

What’s your perception of a leader who has an “interesting” title?

Posted on January 15, 2015 | 5 Comments
Categories: Career, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: What is your perception of a leader who has an “interesting” title with words like “guru” or “ninja” in it?

– It’s awesome and fun: 3.71%
– It’s OK: 4.3%
– I don’t care what they’re called as long as the work gets done: 23.28%
– It’s silly and I view them as less credible: 68.72%

Stop being a guru ninja! Clearly most folks find self-given titles like “guru” or “ninja” to be silly and you lose credibility for having it on your card or signature block.  At best, you get apathy over it and clearly it drives a very small percentage of people to think you’re more highly of you.  Now while you may not have a silly title like that, you must realize this dynamic applies to every aspect of your “signature block persona.”  You need to ensure your don’t fall into the typical traps of  a bad electronic calling card.  Your first impression and credibility depend upon it.

Do you agree with these poll results?  Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

These results were originally a SmartPulse poll in SmartBrief on Leadership which tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. Get smarter on leadership and sign up for the SmartBrief on Leadership e-newsletter.

Why You Should Burn Your Ships for Motivation

Posted on January 14, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Career, Leadership

Painting of Burning ShipToday’s post is by bestselling author Paul Smith. It’s from his newest book Parenting with a Story: Real-life lessons in character for parents and children to share (CLICK HERE to get your copy). He’s also the author of Lead with a Story – the basis of our course on Influencing through Storytelling.

When Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico in 1519, he famously burned his ships. With no way home, his men were more motivated to accomplish their goal, which was to conquer and colonize the interior of Mexico. Cortez knew that with such a dangerous mission, his odds of success were much greater with the complete commitment that comes from knowing that neither failure, nor retreat, was a viable option.

There’s a lesson in Cortez’ wisdom even for smaller and less gruesome objectives. I put that wisdom to the test myself as a 16-year-old high school junior. And it taught me a lesson that’s served me well ever since. Here’s what happened.

A high school track team typically fields their best two runners in each event. If you’re not one of the best two, you don’t make the team. I had the number 2 position for the mile run. By my junior year I’d been to several meets, but hadn’t finished in the top three in any of them. Only the top three finishers earn a ribbon and points for their team. And the only way to earn a letter jacket was to score at least one point in a sanctioned meet. Halfway through the season, I was ribbonless, pointless, and still wanted desperately to earn my letter jacket.

I decided my best odds of scoring in a meet was to compete in a shorter race. I told my coach I wanted to switch places with Matt Copper so I could run the 880-yard event—a half-mile race. He agreed, but explained the risk: if Matt ran a better time than my best in the mile, and I failed to beat his best time in the 880, then Matt would hold the number 2 spot in both events. And I would essentially be off the team. I’d never run a better time than Matt in an 880-yard race. But I really wanted that letter jacket.

I decided to take the risk.

Read More…

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