Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Be The CEO Who Listens To His People

No matter how great a boss you are, you are going to have some dissatisfaction from employees in how you’re running the company and how you’re treating them. Some employees will want more job perks, and some will have unrealistic thoughts about how a job should be done. The younger employees, in particular, will be inexperienced in business and not understand the realities of your industry.
Here are some ways to handle complaints from employees.
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Counterintuitive Problem-Solving Trick: Complain!

We’re sitting through a flight delay and my friend won’t shut up. I finally can’t stand it. “Is it possible,” I say, “that you could stop whining and complaining about your business for just five minutes?”
“I’m not complaining,” he says. “I’m problem solving.”
Fortitude in the face of adversity is usually perceived as virtuous self-restraint. Most of us try to keep our upper lips stiff: We don’t grumble, don’t complain, and definitely don’t whine. (At least not out loud.)
But that reserve could cause you to ignore opportunities to improve your business. Every day software crashes, equipment goes down, employees struggle, processes go off track… and over time you’ve learned to live with a number of chronic problems. It’s like the “Open House” syndrome: Walk through a house for sale and you notice every mark on the wall, every spot on the carpet, every scratch on the counter tops, yet you no longer see those same defects in your own home. You’ve gotten so used to the cabinet door that won’t shut properly you don’t even notice anymore.
And it doesn’t get fixed.
That’s why complaining is actually a great business tool. Complaining exposes problems — problems that cost you time and money.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eight Ways to Communicate Your Strategy More Effectively

A frustrated CEO recently shared with me that her employees had lost their edge. They were internally focused, their speed-to-market was down, and they couldn't find a good balance between serving customers well while making healthy margins. The result was slow progress against the company strategy and an inability to profitably deliver on the value proposition. She had attempted to motivate employees and be clear about the strategy, but she was falling short and was looking for answers on what to do next. The solution in many cases is to overhaul internal communications strategies in order to convince employees of the authenticity, importance, and relevance of their company's purpose and strategic goals. Here are just a few communications approaches that will help you effectively reach your employees and encourage behaviors that advance your strategy and improve your results.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The 'Virtuous Cycle' of Engagement and Productivity

Research is confirming the interconnectedness of engaged employees and profitable companies, although it may be impossible to determine which comes first -- the engagement or the productivity. Too many companies, however, put up roadblocks that hamper engagement.
By Kristen B. Frasch
It's pretty commonly understood that engaged employees and productive organizations go hand in hand. It's also pretty commonly agreed that it's difficult to determine -- in a chicken-or-egg scenario -- which comes first, engaged employees or productive and profitable work environments.
So it comes as no surprise that three recent reports -- from Gallup, Towers Watson and the Hay Group -- look at how intertwined and interdependent the two forces really are.
In interviews with close to 7,000 adult American workers at the end of 2010 and the first half of 2011, Washington-based Gallup found employees who are engaged in their work are about twice as likely (43 percent) to report their organizations are hiring as those who are actively disengaged (21 percent).
By the same token, workers who are actively disengaged and emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace (30 percent and 20 percent, respectively) are far more likely to report their organizations are letting people go than those who are engaged (13 percent).
Gallup's employee-engagement index is based on worker responses to 12 actionable workplace elements linked to performance outcomes, such as productivity, customer service, quality, retention, safety and profit.
But are engaged employees creating profitable environments in which hiring is active? Or is the productivity and hiring activity of a successful company creating engagement?
In a study co-authored by Patrick Kulesa, global research director in New York-based Towers Watson's organizational survey practice, that engagement-performance phenomenon is aptly referred to as "a virtuous cycle."
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Monday, August 22, 2011

How IBM Is Changing Its HR Game

As IBM celebrates its 100th birthday, many observers are rightly calling attention to the many strategic changes the company put itself through to remain relevant amidst dramatic technological and economic change. But one of the biggest transformations IBM went through is less about computers and more about culture. Over the last decade and a half, the company has realigned its HR practices and strategies to move away from the analog ways of the past and to embrace a variety of 21st century approaches, including some highly unconventional ones.
A first step in changing its HR profile occurred back in the mid-1990s when the company dropped its famous dress code requiring a dark suit and "sincere" tie in favor of "business casual." Next, the company that grew powerful in the early 20th century largely by manufacturing punch clocks got rid of "badging in" for a substantial portion of its workforce. According to the company, a full 40% percent of IBM's 400,000 global employees now work remotely.
The major reason IBM changed its HR rule book? The old one no longer fit the workforce. In the twenty-first century, the company has flourished by buying up successful companies around the world and selling off divisions that aren't thriving. That means half of its workforce has been with the company less than five years and 65% now reside outside of the United States — a dramatic change from even just two decades ago.
To maintain high worker morale, productivity, and loyalty in such a diverse and changing conditions, IBM has placed new emphasis on the "resources" component of HR in four directions.
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

How Leaders Turn Screw-Ups into Learning Opportunities

For many of us, screwing up is in our DNA. It happens. Call it Murphy if you like, but it happens. When this happens to someone on your team and you’re in a leadership role, however, the implications of a mistake can be far reaching.
The most important aspect of these kinds of events, however, isn’t the incident itself. As a leader, the most important part is your reaction to these events. Those reactions are what end up defining you in the eyes of your team. Allow me to illustrate.
In my younger days as a tank platoon leader, I was prone to take some pretty bold risks. On one occasion, I decided it was a good idea to abandon the plan my commander had written and lead my platoon down a different route. That route happened to go through what the map said was a swamp. It didn’t look like a swamp to me though.
I was wrong. It was a swamp. (Note: when the map says “swamp” it is a swamp). Imagine a 68-ton vehicle stuck in mud 3-5′ deep. Now imagine me standing atop said tank waiting to get chewed out by my commander. Can you say “awkward?”
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Monday, August 15, 2011

How To Create A Peak-Performance Employee Team

Management can be defined as getting things done through others. To be a manager you must be an expert at persuading and influencing others to work in a common direction. This is why all excellent managers are also excellent low-pressure salespeople. They don't order people to do things—they persuade them to accept certain responsibilities, with specific deadlines and agreed-upon standards of performance.
When a person is persuaded that he or she has a vested interest in doing a job well, they accept ownership of the job and the result. Once a person accepts ownership and responsibility, the manager can step aside confidently.
In every part of your life, you have a choice of either doing it yourself or delegating it to others. Your ability to get someone else to take on the job with the same enthusiasm that you would have is an exercise in personal persuasion. It may seem to take a little longer at the beginning, but it saves you an enormous amount of time in the completion of the task.
A key form of leverage that you must develop for success is other people’s knowledge. Successful people are not those who know everything needed to accomplish a particular task, but they are people who know how to find the knowledge they need.
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Friday, August 12, 2011

What men can learn from women about leadership in the 21st century

A new Northwestern University meta-analysis, an integration of a large number of studies addressing the same question, shows that leadership continues to be viewed as culturally masculine. The studies found that women experience two primary forms of prejudice: They are viewed as less qualified or natural than men in most leadership roles, and when women do adopt culturally masculine behaviors often required by these roles, they may be viewed as inappropriate or presumptuous.
When generalizing about any population segment, especially such large and diverse segments as male and female leaders, there is bound to be a degree of inaccuracy and stereotyping. Still, research finds that predominantly communal qualities, such as being nice or compassionate, are more associated with women; and predominantly agentic qualities, such as being assertive or competitive, are more associated with men.
For a long time, these agentic qualities have been culturally associated with successful leadership. But the 21st century is seeing the combination of new employees, new technologies and new global business realities add up to one word: collaboration. New workers are demanding it, advances in technology are enabling it, and the borderless organization of the future is dictating that future productivity gains can only be achieved by creating teams that are networked to span corporate and national boundaries.
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Autonomy Enables The Helpful To Perform

If everyone in your organization only did what was written in their formal job descriptions, your business would be mediocre at best. For your business to excel, your workforce from top to bottom needs to be full of good organizational citizens. Good citizens at work go above and beyond their assigned duties to try to help fellow employees and the organization.
Employees help each other by offering advice, lending a hand, resolving conflicts, and celebrating each other’s achievements. Employees that receive trustworthy help from others feel an obligation to reciprocate, which strengthens work relationships. Good citizens in thriving work relationships will be motivated to find ways to perform their tasks more effectively and efficiently. Employees that help each other strengthen the bonds of trust with team members and supervisors, and we know trust has a strong effect on performance.
Unfortunately, good team relationships won’t matter much if employees aren’t given the latitude to improve their jobs. And good team relationships will struggle to develop when employees can’t help each other because they are constrained to “just worry about getting your job done.”
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

One Trait that Makes a Great CEO-and Place to Work

What makes a great CEO? That question came to mind recently when I read the news that Chief Executive magazine had named Alan Mulally of Ford Motor Company its 2011 CEO of the Year. It’s easy to understand why Mulally was chosen. After all, he presided over one of the more remarkable corporate turnarounds in recent memory.
But a look at the magazine’s criteria gives some insight into what makes a great CEO truly great. Some of the criteria was typical: the honoree had to show evidence of looking ahead, driving value, focusing on people, fostering corporate citizenship and sustaining business results.
But one factor was unusual: the winner had to maintain a “stable, consistent moral landscape”.
Moral landscape?
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