Culture & Structure

Teaming: An Onboarding Priority

 

Talk to any hiring manager and you’ll hear that it’s hard to find people with the skills the company needs. Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that in addition to the “hard’ skills is the issue of “soft” skills which enable people to become effective members of high performing teams.

Teamwork requires more than simply collaborating within teams in the sense of people taking on specific roles as specified by a division of labor (e.g., assembly line work). It requires teaming: communicating and collaborating with people across boundaries, such as expertise, seniority, experience and/or distance, spontaneously and continuously. Today, authority and power often give way to Influence as a teaming tool. (Robert Cialdini’s book,  Influence,  provides many valuable insights.)

This involves several skills:

  • Understand the big picture. Know the team’s strategy (mission and goals) and each component’s individual strategies. Align your own efforts with those of others, so both individuals and the team “win” simultaneously.
  • Initially, over-communicate, so you and your team members hear and understand each’s perspectives. Have empathy, understand the emotions and logic behind differences. Negotiate areas of conflict to reach a collaborative framework.
  • Manage up, across and down. When people leave school for a full-time job, they may have had prior part-time experience, in which their boss “managed down”. This includes setting responsibilities, enabling you to execute your skills, develop new ones and give you feedback. Today, working effectively with a team means learning how to work more effectively with your boss (managing up) and work with the team members (managing across). Understand expectations being set for you and discuss what you need to effectively do your job. Don’t make assumptions: check and double check that you’re on the same page with everyone else. Feedback and adaptation is essential for effective teaming.

What are your experiences with school graduates joining the workforce when it comes to being effective team members? How do you help them learn “teaming”?   Share with us!

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What’s Your Mentoring Commitment?

Summer is prime time for student internships. During my career, our teams has helped design and administer Corporate mentoring programs  (with middle-management staff as the mentors) and extended the model in our own firms to provide mentoring internships to 600+ students. This summer, we hosted over half-a dozen students from the US, China and France. Our goal is to give them hands-on-experience with which to explore career options, learn about their own strengths, preferences and weaknesses, and understand corporate strategy and culture. (To help your company adopt self-sustainable, low-cost, high ROI programs, see www.MentoringInternships.com)

Patty Alper studied corporate mentoring programs – with a focus on those in which large corporations have made investments, and published a book which will also help you. Teach to Work: How a Mentor, a Mentee and a Project Can Close the Skills Gap in America makes an important point: Corporations that want to appeal to the upcoming workforce and future leaders must understand that their image is more than strictly a profit center. She concludes that if a company has a soul, mentoring programs make it clear that the corporation cares. It publicly states “we want to help our community.”

She notes the following benefits from corporate mentoring programs (which also apply to our mentor internship model). They:

  • Build a pipeline of employees and applicants; participants of mentoring programs become good-will ambassadors for your company.
  • Forge a more collaborative and compassionate corporate culture – everyone has an opportunity to participate and share in the process.
  • Create better corporate leaders; mentors become more effective at planning, time management, supervision, communication, teamwork, etc. as they encourage mentees to participate.
  • Build more self-confidence by mentors and mentees
  • Teach character to mentors and mentees
  • Create better collaborators
  • Teach perseverance (aka “grit”)
  • Retain employees and provide an opportunity for retirees to stay engaged.
  • Build community good-will.

There are many different mentoring program models, depending on your budget, staff commitment and goals (corporate staff, internship education, and recruitment focused).  Read the book and learn about some that are used by larger companies; visit MentoringInternships.com to learn how to develop one that is highly effective and self-sustaining. Then, share with us your mentoring commitment; we want to share your experiences. esquire realty

Is Your Company a CILO?

What is a CILO? A Continuously Improving Learning Organization. It creates a learning culture that enables each person to grow as they contribute strategically to the overall success of the company.

A little background.  Several years ago, I had the privilege of working with a new organization, now called ETW – Execute To Win, where I learned about a new management operating system. It was started by Lee Benson, a CEO who belongs to Vistage Worldwide in the Midwest. (I chair groups in New York City.) It’s based on the principle that if the work each person does is aligned with the corporate strategy and performed well, it’s a win-win for each employee and the company. At the time, he showed it to Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, who loved it so much that he became a partner in the project. Over the years, it’s evolved into a system used by large companies focused on launching new strategic efforts and helps everyone on the team focus on doing their part in concert with the whole. I

In the meanwhile, I adapting it (www.eval2win.com) to help CEOs of $5M – $1B companies with whom I work, to focus on achieving personal/corporate strategic goals and forging a culture of continuous improvement. The focus is on the employee-supervisor dyad, not just the employee. Each dyad collaborates to ensure that the employee can achieve the strategic objectives she/he has which lead to the achievement of the company’s strategic goals. (e.g., my actions, lead to sales, which are my contribution to the corporate revenue goal. The system requires that the dyad meet regularly to discuss how the employee is doing and can improve and create a document that:

  • Identifies the major responsibilities of a person with time allocations to each one to account for 100% of the person’s commitment. (E.g., a Controller may have specific financial functions, supervises people, provides Exec Team with advice and data, leads the budgeting section for new business proposals, etc.). Many have 5-8 major areas of responsibility.
  • Defines the key activities within each of these responsibilities. (e.g., collect, publish and analyze monthly financials; identify and guide career paths for each employee).
  • Creates KPI for measuring (e.g., close each month within 3 days and provide a report, highlighting key issues of concern).
  • Identifies areas of improvement for the employee within most of the areas of responsibility (e.g., investigate a few finance courses to take online), schedule the activities themselves and develop KPIs to measure progress (e.g., pick the course, take it, and achieve at least a B).
  • Schedules the next review.

As you can see, in a CILO, continuous improvement is a fundamental job responsibility for the employee and the system to achieve it is collaborative – not imposed on anyone. Moreover, the scheduling of reviews is triggered by the goal of continuous improvement – not just a calendar.

For a new employee with a stable set of job responsibilities, the dyad meets each month for the first three months to help the employee “onboard” and do the job correctly. If all is fine, the next review will be in three months; if there is a problem, monthly meetings continue as long as needed. Once things are fine, the intervals between reviews expand from monthly to quarterly to semi-annually to annually.

However, most people’s jobs change! Imagine you’re a graphic artist or sales person or marketing for retail and been promoted to take on new responsibilities, such as managing the graphic team, providing sales training, supervising social media e-commerce marketing. Since this is new, the cycle of reviews for these new jobs starts over; you get support immediately (e.g., training and direction) to perform the new job correctly. In this way, the Peter Principle is eliminated – people aren’t promoted to a new job where they lack the skills and the problem is only discovered later; problems are identified immediately.

As you can see, this system also encourages people to take on new responsibilities to advance their career by learning what they need to know and getting the support and feedback to do it well.

Is your company a CILO – encouraging continuous improvement through learning, feedback and support (by people and systems)?  If so, share your model. If not, let us know how we can help you become one!

The Complex Role of Leader-Manager

 

As I begin outlining the new Management MBA course I’ll be teaching this summer on Leadership, I realized that the reason there are so many different definitions is that there are many facets to this complex position, and each definition is focusing on a different perspective.

For instance, one approach is to distinguish leaders from managers.  “Leaders have people follow them while managers have people who work for them.” In other words, the leader is focused on vision (how the world changes because of us) and the relationships between people to achieve it. The manager is focused on executing the tasks involved in achieving the mission, the activities we actually achieve.  Each makes appropriate strategic decisions; the leader choosing between visionary options and the manager choosing between different ways of executing the plan. A successful business person needs to be both a strong leader and manager to get their team on board to follow them towards their vision of success and obtain the resources (people, capital, etc.) and engage in the business activities.

A successful leader therefore is someone who  “earns the enthusiastic loyalty and commitment of followers and molds them into a high performance team”. (Tom DeCotiis) He/she inspires people (through words and role-modelled actions) to align their own performance with the organization’s overall strategy (i.e., vision, mission and goals). This involves, painting a compelling vision of the team’s future, pointing the way to successful accomplishment of the vision.  Ultimately, it’s getting someone to do things they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve. (Tom Landy)

On the other hand, a successful manager, is focused on optimal execution: recruiting, developing and growing talented team members; obtaining and using resources to most efficiently and effectively achieve the work necessary to give the stakeholders (i.e., employees, customers and investors achievement of its mission.

The leader-manager has to balance the different realms in order to be successful. Where are we going? What’s the best way to get there? What are the implications of each strategic choice? (G. A. Lafley.) As a CEO coach, I know it’s important to address both realms in terms of time allocation, expertise, and training (of self and other team members) to advance their own abilities as leader-managers. My challenge, as a teacher is to enable students to see the differences, and cultivate the perspectives and skills needed to see how they will fulfill these roles as they grow professionally.

What are your biggest challenges?? Share with us.

The Elongated Life: Life-Long Learning

Many people who read our first blog on the elongated life, noticed that if people are going to plan to live to 100, then the implications are different depending on your current age. For people over a certain age, say 40, the recognition that they may work for as many as 35 years after turning 65 means they need to change expectations and that’s the challenge. They’re not retiring and need to use those extra years well. (That’s the current focus of AgeBrilliantly.org). But what about younger people, say teenagers, who are just beginning to take charge of their careers?

For the younger generations who have not bought into the stereotype that people around 60 should be thinking of retiring, their focus should be on “life-long learning”.  They have the ability, starting now, to rethink and plan their trajectory. Instead of going from high school to college, and college to graduate school(s) and then getting full-time careers/jobs for the next 40 years of life before retiring from work, they can envision a new scenario which some people already are adopting. They can go to schools (physical and onlines) and get the degrees (certifications) they want to pursue a career and when they want to change they can go back and get new credentials for new careers. And they may do this several times, with time off for family, travel and other things. In other words, raher than thinking about having few careers during the 40 years between college and retirement, they can think of life as consisting of 70-80 years after high school, when they can intersperse education, travel, family, careers, sabbaticals etc.

Fundamental to this new lifestyle, is good health and fitness, financial security, social relations—all backed by a commitment to life-long learning. The learning – whether in buildings or online – should be able to help them address all the issues that arise.

How do we stay a life-long learner? Here are some tips:

  • Stay curious, ask questions, and maintain a thirst for knowledge. Never be content with what you know already – always strive for more.
  • Don’t stop growing. Commit to personal growth and continued education. Be on the lookout for new opportunities and possibilities. And then try them. Take time to think and reflect on your needs, the needs of your (current/future) professional and society.
  • Don’t stop connecting. Life is what you learn from media, experiences and people. Align with other life-long learners for maximum opportunities. Constantly expand your network of positive influence, find communities of practice and build a network of mentors, friends and supporters.

If you’re starting the 70-80 year life – what are your thoughts? What challenges worry you? What hopes excite you?  If you’re older, what advice can you give the younger person who, as a life-long learner, has the ability to live a truly fulfilling life to 100+?

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