Tag Executive coaching and mentorship Calgary?

Why 75 Is The Single Most Important Number You Will Ever Need To Lead

What?

75%?

I have been in the leadership business for over 40 years and have worked with thousands of leaders, and I have found people consistently struggle with the same three things:

Time;

Making Decisions; and,

Energy.

 Well, Ladies and gentlemen -Drum roll-  here for your leadership pleasure is the 75% solution:

Time:

A great friend of mine, Hugh Culver, used to speak a lot about time management. The first time I met Hugh, he gave me productivity advice that I started using immediately following the workshop and still use to this day.

 Hugh made the point that, as leaders, we should not schedule more than 75% of the available time in our calendars.

 If you jam your calendar full of back-to-back appointments, you will never have time to deal with all of the things that you need to do, from the inevitable emergency to walking around talking and checking in with team members to going to the bathroom.

 read more about time & millennials

Decisions:

One of my all-time favourite leaders is General Norman Schwarzkopf. He is best known as the Commander of all the Coalition Forces during the 1st Gulf War, and he said that the quality of your decisions would not increase beyond knowing 75% of the available information.

 His point is that at a certain point, you have all the information you need to make a good decision. Trying to gather more information will seldom improve that decision. In common parlance, avoid analysis paralysis.

Learn about making good decisions.

 Energy

Have you ever pushed yourself to your maximum discomfort and physical ability threshold?

Once you hit that threshold when your mind believes you are done, your body only uses 75% of your energy.

Special Forces soldiers know that when you think you are done, your body can still do 25%—40% more. Humans are evolutionarily designed to have energy in reserve, so when you are trying to run down a mammoth or escape a sabre-tooth tiger, you feel you have nothing left to give. You still have a reserve, hopefully enough to either escape or bring dinner home.

Learn More about Sabre-tooth Tigers

5 Actions To Drive Alignment and Increase in Profit – And Who Doesn’t Want More Profit

Poor managerial behaviours negatively impact engagement, alignment, productivity, and retention.

Research has identified gaps between what people expect and their experience when working with their immediate manager.

Poor managers cost your company money when:

  1. They don’t set clear goals with their people.
  2. They don’t align goals to the team, departmental, and organizational objectives.
  3. They don’t check in on progress.
  4. They don’t provide feedback.
  5. They don’t adjust their style based on the needs of the employee.
  6. They don’t listen.
  7. They don’t change (without training and support).

How?

  1. They don’t set clear goals with their people.

 

About 70 percent of people want to have goal-setting conversations often or all the time, but only 36 percent do. When managers aren’t skilled in setting specific, trackable, relevant, attainable, and motivating goals, the result is multiple priorities, unclear action steps, and a poor line of sight on how work contributes to larger objectives.

“All good performance begins with a laser-like focus on goals,” so Identify 3 to 5 critical goals for each employee and make sure they are written down. Goals that are written down are 18 percent more likely to be achieved. Writing down the goal also makes it easier to review.

  1. They don’t align goals to the team, departmental, and organizational objectives.

Only 14 percent of organizations report that their employees understand their company’s strategy and direction.

When people don’t know where their company is going, they can work on projects that are out of step with organizational objectives.

Make sure all team members are working on the highest-priority tasks. Ask managers to check in and review priorities with their people. Ensure the work is meaningful, on target, and contributes to overall organizational goals.

  1. They don’t check in on progress.

More than 73 percent of people want to have goal-review conversations often or all the time, but only 47 percent do. And 26 percent say they rarely or never discuss current goals and tasks.

What gets measured gets managed.

Research conducted at Dominican University in California found that people who write down their goals, share them with someone else, and have regular weekly check-ins are 30 percent more likely to achieve those goals than people who do not.

  1. They don’t provide feedback.

Research shows that 67 percent of people want to have performance-feedback conversations often or all the time, but only 29 percent do. And 36 percent say they rarely or never receive performance feedback.

Without feedback, people don’t have a way to make course corrections or to know how they are doing until it’s late in the process. No one feels good when work must be redone because of a lack of feedback.

A few key attributes of good feedback are:

– Focus on observable behaviours, not personality traits. Feedback should be clear and directive and should focus on concrete actions.

– Keep a positive end goal in mind. Paint a positive picture of the desired outcome that gives people a vision to work toward.

– Offer to be an accountability partner. Change is hard. Offer to provide appropriate direction and support as needed.

  1. They don’t adjust their style based on the needs of the employee.

Nearly 54 percent of managers use the same leadership style for all people in all situations, regardless of whether a direct report is new to a task or already an expert. Half the time, this results in a manager either over-supervising or under-supervising.

The best managers tailor their management style to the needs of their employees. For example, if an employee is new to a task, a successful manager will use a highly directive style with clearly set goals and deadlines. If an employee struggles with a task, the manager will use equal measures of direction and support. If the employee is an expert at a task, a manager will use a delegating style on the current assignment and focus instead on coming up with new challenges and future growth projects.

  1. They don’t listen.

When I ask clients and audience members, “What is the biggest mistake leaders make when working with others?” Forty-one percent of the respondents identified inappropriate communication or poor listening.

Here’s a three-step model to help managers slow down and focus on what people share.

– Explore—ask open-ended questions such as, “Can you tell me more about that?” or “How do you think that will go?” or “What does that mean?”

– Acknowledge—respond with comments such as, “You must be feeling …” or “So, if I hear you correctly, what you’re saying is ….”

– Respond—now that you understand the direct report’s point of view, you can carefully move forward with a possible response.

  1. They don’t change (without training and support).

Most new managers—60 percent—underperform or fail in their first assignments. Worse yet, as Harvard researcher Linda Hill has found, managerial habits developed by new managers often continue to hobble them for the rest of their careers.

With two million people across North America stepping into their first managerial position each year, getting people the training they need is critical.

Unfortunately, research shows that most managers don’t receive formal training until ten years into their careers!

I suggest you rethink the traditional approach to who gets trained in the organization.

My suggestions?

  1. Don’t hold your best people back—in fact, don’t hold anyone back. Why not train everybody who desires it?
  2. Show everyone you value them and are willing to invest in their development.
  3. Adopt inclusive policies that identify and provide people with the training they need to build leadership bench strength, bring out the best in people, and create a strong work culture.

Better leadership practices have been positively associated with increased engagement, alignment, productivity, and performance.

Research has identified that better leadership practices—if fully employed—could be worth as much as a 7 percent increase in profits!

For leadership development professionals, these seven areas provide an opportunity to take a more targeted approach to improve manager performance in each region.

Here are five ways to get started.

  1. Take a look at the overall design of your performance management process.

Conduct a quick internal assessment. Are managers following best practices in setting specific, motivating, attainable, relevant, and trackable goals? What percentage of employees have current goals written down?

Individuals and organizations achieve more when goals are identified, written down, and reviewed consistently.

Read more about performance management

  1. Double-check on goal alignment at the team and department level.

Make sure that all team members are working on the highest-priority tasks. Ask managers to check in and review priorities with their people.

Ensure the work is meaningful, on target, and contributes to overall organizational goals. Efficiency improves when everyone is clear on goals and moving in the same direction.

Read more about goal alignment.

  1. Please look at how much time your managers spend with their people.

Everyone benefits from regular coaching and performance review.

Monitoring progress and providing feedback are two key ways for a manager to stay involved and partner with an employee to achieve goals. I suggest leaders meet with their direct reports at least twice a month to discuss progress toward goals and to address employee needs for direction and support.

Read more about time management.

  1. Identify what individuals need to succeed in their high-priority tasks.

Managers need to adjust their leadership style to meet each person’s needs, depending on their experience and confidence with the tasks they are assigned.

With proper levels of direction and support, people can move through stages of development and reach peak performance faster.

Surprisingly, without training, only 1 percent of managers are skilled at identifying and delivering all four styles when needed, whether directing, coaching, supporting, or delegating.

  1. Review your performance review process.

In many organizations, goals are set at the beginning of the year and not seen again until the review process at the end of the year.

I recommend that managers conduct a series of mini-reviews throughout the year—every 90 days is the recommended standard. This allows leaders to make mid-course corrections. It also eliminates surprises for direct reports and keeps the partnership between the manager and direct report solid and vibrant.

 Read more about goals.

Final Thoughts

A renewed focus on leadership development can significantly affect an organization’s performance. Research shows that when managers meet the needs of their people, organizations benefit through higher levels of discretionary effort, work performance, and intention to remain and collaborate more effectively.

How are the managers in your organization impacting your bottom line?

Give your leadership development process a review.

Great managers aren’t born—they’re trained.

Get started today by emailing me at  Steve@StevenArmstrong.ca.

Does Your Team Have an Accountability Problem?


“We need to hold people more accountable.”

How many times have you said this in the past year? When things aren’t going well — maybe your numbers are down, you haven’t met your goals, or your pipeline is dry — it’s easy to turn to this familiar mantra.

But when you say it, your team members hear: “You are letting me down,” or, “We are failing.” Instead of lighting an inspired fire under people, you can deflate them.

While there will undoubtedly be times when your team could put in a more focused effort, in my experience, a “lack of accountability” often results from an underlying issue, such as unclear roles and responsibilities, limited resources, a poor strategy, or unrealistic goals. This is why leaders who default to a plea for accountability often hit a wall and feel even more frustrated.

Further, verbalizing that there is “a lack of accountability” on your team can quickly come off as threatening or condescending to people on the receiving end. This is hardly productive when trying to inspire change; more importantly, it doesn’t help you get to the root of the problem.

When you need to push those around you to get better results (that’s what you are looking for), a better approach is to tackle the issue with a leadership mindset. Use the following steps to guide yourself on how to start the conversation, identify the real problem, and execute a plan to help you solve it.

Check in with yourself first. 

Instead of asking, “Why aren’t they doing their part?” ask, “Is there anything I can do differently to help?”

While you should avoid feeling compelled to complete someone else’s work, it is beneficial to consider whether gaps in communication, process or other areas are setting you both back.

Before even approaching the other person, consider the following:

  • Have I been transparent about my expectations?
  • Have I asked what I can do to help?
  • Have I taken time to brainstorm and review processes?
  • Have I built a plan of action with my team members?

Self-awareness is a leadership superpower, and reflecting this way may help you recognize any unhelpful patterns you can fall into.

Another tip for increasing self-awareness is to pay attention to what’s happening in your body.

Do you feel tense when considering this discussion with your team member? Do you clench your jaw, fidget, pace, bounce your leg, change your facial affect, talk more, or shut down?

Work to shift your mindset from a place of hostility to a place of curiosity about how you can help.

Create a safe environment for the other person. 

Once you’ve set up time to talk, begin the conversation by asking fact-based questions. For example, if your team member is constantly missing deadlines, you could start by saying, “I’ve noticed that you seem to need a little more time to get the work done lately.”

If a team member has failed to reach their quarterly goals, you could say something as simple as, “How do you feel your work has been going this quarter?” and gauge their initial reaction.

Provide specific examples, then ask, “What can we do to help you get back on track?”

Avoid jumping directly into critical feedback or using judgmental language such as, “Why would you…”, “You should have…” or “That’s wrong.” It helps to assume positive intent in the other person. The goal here is to listen and to remain genuinely open to their “take” on things.

By listening, paying attention, and understanding the needs and motivations of the other person, you may discover that they are not “lazy,” “incapable,” or “unreliable,” but rather, that they are unclear on organizational goals. You may discover that they need more feedback to do their best work or that other obstacles are holding them back. While none entirely excuse a lack of initiative or follow-through, understanding the underlying issues can give you a clear idea about how to move forward.

Ensure there is clarity and a mutual agreement on moving forward. 

Now that you have identified any underlying issues, it’s time to clarify that your intention in starting this conversation is to address the core of the problem and agree upon a path forward (considering any new information you have just been given).

Whether your goal is to help a direct report meet deadlines or to collaborate more effectively with a team member on a project, it’s vital to make sure that you both understand what the issue is, how to address it, what success looks like, what needs to be done, by who, and by when to achieve it.

Next, directly own and express your frustration with what you see to be the problem. For example, you might say, “I know you are not intentionally missing deadlines, and now I have a clearer understanding of everything on your plate. But when you do miss deadlines, the result is that I have to take on your unfinished work, which causes me to get behind on my projects. I often feel frustrated by this.”

Finally, ask if the other person would be open to trying new strategies to address the issue. A better approach may be, “Based on our conversation, let’s try to agree to a mutual set of objectives and then brainstorm how we might develop a strategy to achieving those goals. “

In all cases, seek to demonstrate empathy and work towards a mutual commitment around a goal. From there, you can brainstorm and agree on some concrete next steps.

Regularly track and measure progress. 

You’ve heard of the importance of leaving a paper trail. The lesson is the same, but we don’t use paper often. Ensure you get the agreed-upon plan in writing so it can be revisited if there are any questions about what was initially decided. Don’t just set it and forget it. Determine what communication tools you will use to check in on progress.

The above documents will help you identify what’s working and what’s not over some time, as well as course-correct as needed.

Pleading for more accountability isn’t the answer to your problem.

Anyone can express frustration around an issue, but those who harness self-awareness and empathy find practical solutions and build winning teams and colleagues for life. If you want to be a next-level leader or peer, one that people want to work with, shift your mindset and practice these five steps. You’ll drive better results, more impactful change, and reduce frustration.

The Day A Chasm Opened Between Values And Actions

A few days ago, a close family friend said he was struggling with his job and employer. 

He was scheduled to go on an international trip with another employee.

Coincidentally, his company organized a party before this trip. Lots of liquor was involved, and all had a good time until our friend witnessed a coworker launch into a public homophobic rant. Of course, this coworker was the one he was about to travel with.

Our friend was horrified.

First, he was horrified that this individual publicly raged about LGBQT people.

Read more about ‘The Most Important Leadership Value’

Second, he was horrified that his bosses seemingly did nothing at the time.

He seriously considered cancelling this international trip because he worried about what might happen if he were in close quarters with this impolite, undignified, and not-a-very-nice person.

But deep down, he began to wonder about his employment with this company.

His bosses did not stand up for the values they espoused as a company. This company had invested a lot of time and energy in positioning itself as an ally and friend of LGBQT people. They ‘proudly’ branded themselves with rainbow Flags and advertised their building as a welcoming, safe place.

This created quite a dilemma for our friend.

He became increasingly upset and angry that his employers had allowed a chasm of space to open between their values and actions.

I am sure the employers were trying to figure out how to respond to this person’s homophobia. Still, their lack of action created an environment where people weren’t sure if they could trust their employers to act appropriately or the values they so publicly stated.

It took a couple of weeks, and in the end, they terminated the employee who made the comments.

In time, we will learn if there were any long-lasting impacts on the organizational health of that company or my friend’s satisfaction with working there.

What Is Heck Is Organizational Health? 10 Questions Answered by Steve

But I suspect that some irreparable damage has been done. 

As leaders, we need to be cautious about not creating expectations that may be hard to live up to.

This is a cautionary tale to all of us that people are always watching us and judging whether or not we live up to our values. 

10 Solutions To Stop Good Objectives From Going Bad

So many objectives – so many failures

That’s the refrain of leaders everywhere.

The business objectives they need to meet to be successful in their jobs are taking longer than planned, costing more than budgeted or failing outright.

Why do good objectives go bad?

My clients say the ten most common mistakes that cause their good objectives to go wrong – and the coaching solutions I helped them with to solve these costly problems.

Mistake No. 1: Not Assigning the Right Manager. Typically, more time is spent fighting for resources than finding the right person to lead. Too often, managers get picked based on availability, not necessarily skill set. This is a severe mistake as more projects failed because of the wrong manager than could ever be blamed for lack of resources.

Solution: Choose a manager whose skills best match the requirements of your objectives.

Mistake No. 2: Failing to Get Everyone On Board. Too often, objectives fail because they don’t get enough support from those affected by and involved in the project. Usually, the manager:

  1. It didn’t make clear what everyone’s role was.
  2. It didn’t describe the payoff when the objective was achieved.
  3. It didn’t tell how each person’s contributions would be evaluated.
  4. Failed to generate a sense of urgency.

Solution: The project manager should start by calling the team together and delivering a presentation about the objective and its importance to the broader organization.

Read More: How to Communicate

Mistake No. 3: Not Getting Executive Buy-in.

Solution: A ship without a captain soon runs aground. Somebody at the higher levels of the organization needs to own the objective and be personally vested in its success.

If the objective isn’t crucial to your boss, ask yourself why it should be meaningful.

Mistake No. 4: Putting Too Many Objectives on the table at One time. Most managers think that they can start and work on every objective at the same time. In reality, multitasking slows people down, hurts quality and, worst of all, the delays caused by multitasking cascade and multiply through the organization as people further down the line wait for others.

Solution: A good first step to stop productivity losses is to reduce the objectives you are working on by 25 percent. Though counter-intuitive, reducing the number of open projects increases completion rates.”

Read more about priorities.

Mistake No. 5: Lack of (Regular) Communication. Communication is the most crucial factor of successful objectives; without regularly communicating, the project will fall apart.”

Solution: Schedule time each week to review progress and stick with it. Regularly scheduled meetings and communications processes help to keep everyone on the same page and work flowing.

Mistake No. 6: Not Being Specific with the Scope of the Objective. Any objective that doesn’t have a clear goal is doomed. Mission creep is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to your project. If not handled properly, it can lead to cost and time overrun.

Solution: Define the scope of your project from the outset and monitor the project by continually asking if our work is contributing to the objective’s success.

Mistake No. 7: Providing Overly Optimistic Timelines. The intentions are noble, but missing deadline after deadline will only lead to distrust and aggravation.

Solution: Add a buffer — some extra time and money to your project.

Mistake No. 8: Not Being Flexible. While you may think of your plan as the bible that leads you to your goal, listen to new information and suggestions that come up along the way.

Solution: Step back and take a fresh look at the overall project, review how things have gone so far, and how you can improve.

Mistake No. 9: Micromanaging Projects. New managers commonly treat their job as an enforcer, policing the team for progress and updates.

Solution: Set expectations from the start that there will be regularly scheduled updates to advise the status and progress expected and encourage them to vocalize any issues.

Read more about micromanagement.

Mistake No. 10: Not Having Defined Success.

Solution: The first thing a manager should do is to ensure what will be considered a successful completion of the objective. Understanding what success looks like ensures everyone walks away satisfied at the end.

Stop rewarding people based on Performance; start Promoting Potential.

We’ve all been there.

Once a year, our manager would call us into their office and review what we had done well throughout the year – or, more likely, what we had done wrong eleven months ago. Then we would leave the manager’s office and return to work exactly like before.

Nothing changed! This is why it’s time to replace the performance review process.

Read more about the difference between High Potential and High Performance.

Need more reasons?

Performance Reviews Aren’t Effective – Performance reviews rarely lead to a change in behaviour by the manager or the employee. Year after year, most managers give employees the same feedback. And most employees don’t do anything in response. One reported that as little as one-third of employees showed improvement after their annual review. That’s likely because performance reviews rarely offer actionable steps for employees to take when struggling.

Performance Reviews Aren’t Reliable – Seventy-seven percent of HR executives believe performance reviews don’t accurately reflect employee contributions, according to CEB research. And CEB’s HR practice leader Rose Mueller-Hanson agrees with those executives. She states, “Our research shows that individual performance ratings have zero correlation with actual business results.”

Performance Reviews Are Time-Consuming – A recent CEB survey found that managers spend an average of 210 hours yearly in performance management activities. Managers said their employees, in turn, each spend 40 hours a year. Deloitte reported that its approximately 244,000 employees spent more than 2 million hours a year on performance reviews. That’s much time spent on something that is proven to be unreliable and ineffective.

Performance Reviews Are Costly – Besides the time it takes to perform annual reviews, there’s the actual cost. According to information from the CEB, a company spends about $3,500 per employee on yearly reviews.

Given the time and cost of performance reviews, it’s surprising that more companies haven’t given them up yet. But if those aren’t enough reasons for you, the new research on how ineffective and misleading they are!

 

 

It’s time to stop evaluating performance and invest in potential.

High potentials can be challenging to identify for two reasons:

First, high performance is easy to observe and drowns out the less obvious attributes and behaviours that characterize high potentials—such as change management or learning capabilities.

Second, few organizations codify the attributes and competencies they value in their ideal employees—which means that managers don’t know precisely what to look for to assess potential.

As a result, most managers focus exclusively on performance, which can be a problem.

When performance is the only criterion employees are evaluated on, high performers will be the only ones moving up—and high potentials will move out.

You should value and reward performance, but it can’t be the only entry point.

Learn more about the Better Leader Inner Circle

What are the key characteristics of high-potential employees?

The characteristics of high-potential employees include Ability, Aspiration, Behaviour, Social Skills, Adaptability and Leadership. These traits are critical to identifying employee abilities that can contribute to the business and enable employers to put development programmes in place to maximize the skills of these individuals.

Ability relates to performance, an individual’s expertise, innate skills, and capacity to work autonomously and consistently deliver results. 

Aspiration is the desire to grow, taking accountability for decision-making. They share a drive to achieve, individually and as a team, and support and encourage growth.

Behaviour is one of the easiest traits to identify. High Potential Employees Show an increased capability to learn, cooperate with others and manage their behaviours and emotions and how they behave under pressure.

Social skills and High Emotional Intelligence allow High Potential Employees to adapt their personalities to different responsibilities and changing circumstances.

Adaptability. Under pressure, High Potential Employees usually remain calm, continue to perform, and can pivot easily.

Leadership is imperative for High Potential Employees to understand and respect quality leadership and aspire to fulfil such roles successfully.

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