Anamcgary's Blog

Leadership thoughts from PeopleFirst HR

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Job Performance or Job Satisfaction

Which comes first for you?  Depending upon your own inclination, you may marvel or  frown at the opposite choice. But, if you want to “get it” as a manager or as an individual contributor, then think about this: Statistically it’s a 50/50 split. About half the population wants to work toward a specific goal in order to achieve job satisfaction.  The other half wants to make sure that the elements of their job offer a “good fit” so they can perform at their optimum level.

I do a lot of individual assessments for organizations and have found that the inclinations are quite inherent. However, each type can learn how to adapt to what is required at the moment.

What can you do?

Increase your awareness. Look at your own preference and then start watching those around you. Who has to work before they can play? Who is making sure that the group is in harmony before moving forward?

What does it take to achieve the goal? If you’re in a crisis situation or up against a deadline, feeling-good-first may put you out of business. You’ve got to get it done! When you are focused on long-term projects which require a lot of cooperation and solid relationships, then take the time to build them. People will need to trust each other a lot in order to get through the inevitable difficulties that will take place. That can’t happen if people are only allowed to pay attention to a checklist.

Both types want some sense of acknowledgment when goals are achieved. I have more than one client who has told me “They get to keep their jobs. What else should I have to do?” Well, human beings look for recognition of some type when they know they’ve done a really good job. It doesn’t cost a thing to acknowledge people by name and what they specifically contributed to a project.  And it might just improve performance and satisfaction for everyone involved.

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After Corporate Changes; are you still a fit?

Whenever some kind of organizational change happens, both employers and employees can experience an unexpected “crisis of confidence.” Whether the change is a merger, upgraded software system, marketplace positioning, new CEO—here’s what emerges:

• Suddenly and mysteriously, people don’t feel quite as talented and capable as before.

• At the same time, the organization is wondering where its talented people went.

The real fact: no one suddenly got stupid!

Second fact: Something else will now need to change.

You or Them?

When you were hired it was a good fit because of how business was conducted. Now it doesn’t seem that way. Here are some considerations when companies and employees find themselves in a talent mismatch as a result of changes:

1. Companies: Take time to re-assess the breadth of talent that exists in your employee base. You may not have been using the range of talents that individuals possess because you (naturally) hired them against a given set of criteria.

Real-life example: In the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to assess three executives who were on the, “We’ve changed, their role isn’t needed anymore, I guess they have to go even though they’ve been really effective” list. In two of the three cases a broader assessment showed that they were gifted in areas that hadn’t been tapped into before. Those two remain with their organizations in new roles and are contributing meaningfully and productively.

2. Individuals. Maybe it isn’t such a good fit. The faster you figure out the reality of the situation the faster you can make a decision to stay or look elsewhere.

Important Tip: The longer you hang out in a mismatch the more you will question your adequacy. So, knock it off! You are talented and you’ve been performing in a talented way. The situation changed, not you. Get yourself into another winning situation before you conclude that the problem is you.


Emotional Awareness

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and diffuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others.  If you have a high emotional intelligence you are able to recognize your own emotional state and the emotional states of others and engage with people in a way that draws them to you.

Learn to recognize & accept your emotions

Emotions play an important role in the way we communicate at work and at home. It’s the way you feel, more than the way you think, that motivates you to communicate or to make decisions. The way you react to emotionally driven, nonverbal cues affects both how you understand other people and how they understand you. If you are out of touch with your feelings, and don’t understand how you feel or why you feel that way, you’ll have a hard time communicating your feelings and needs to others. This can result in frustration, misunderstandings, and conflict. When you don’t address what’s really bothering you, you often become embroiled in petty squabbles instead—arguing with your spouse about how the towels should be hung, for example, or with a coworker about whose turn it is to restock the copier paper.

Emotional awareness provides you the tools for understanding both yourself and other people, and the real messages they are communicating to you. Although knowing your own feelings may seem simple, many people ignore or try to sedate strong emotions like anger, sadness, and fear. But your ability to communicate depends on being connected to these feelings. If you’re afraid of strong emotions or if you insist on communicating only on a rational level or only via e-mail, it will impair your ability to fully understand others, creatively problem solve, resolve conflicts, or build an affectionate connection with someone.

How emotional awareness can improve effective communication

Emotional awareness—consciousness of your moment-to-moment emotional experience—and the ability to manage all of your feelings appropriately is the basis for effective communication.

It’s hard work and practice, but emotional awareness will help you:

  • Understand and empathize with what is really troubling other people.
  • Understand yourself, including what’s really troubling you and what you really want.
  • Stay motivated to understand and empathize with the person you’re interacting with, even if you don’t like them or their      message.
  • Communicate clearly and effectively, even when delivering negative messages.
  • Build strong, trusting, and rewarding relationships, think creatively, solve problems, and resolve conflicts.


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Is Performance Management Losing Focus?

Performance management is becoming a lost art, omitted from academic classes and dropped from certification programs.  Most MBA courses spend more time on finance courses than on compensation (if at all).  While admittedly many managers have had inadequate training in basic supervision, some simply choose to ignore good leadership practices.  Let’s face it.  It’s hard to manage people the right way.   It takes a lot of time and it can be uncomfortable, especially for those that shy away from conflict.

Weak and ineffectual managers don’t actually manage their employees, in the sense of performance direction, leadership, setting good examples and decision-making. Instead, they want to be liked. They want to avoid conflict and so they use pay increases and other reward systems to keep employees doing what they need to do and support of their efforts.  It’s really kind of a bribe.

So what is “managing” to these people? It’s not about making hard decisions. Too often it’s trying to get the most for their employees, deserved or otherwise, whether the organization gains in the process or not. The manager is focused on their own interests, and is using someone else’s money to fund their behavior.

Why it doesn’t work

Relying on pay or other rewards as a replacement for good management has a short effective life cycle.

  • Employees see arbitrary same-same pay treatment as de-motivating to high performers.  Why bother extending yourself if you’re going to receive the same reward as the guy doing crossword puzzles?
  • Employees resent favoritism and those who benefit for non-performance reasons will always become known. There goes your morale.
  • No amount of money replaces the value of honest performance direction and feedback. Those with an interest in learning and growing appreciate the help.
  • Ineffective managers eventually lose the respect of their employees, who know what’s going on. Remember that employees leave managers, not companies.

For managers who need a crutch to help motivate and retain their employees, to help them do their jobs, the above cautions likely won’t make a difference. Their goal is not to manage, but to get-by, to be liked by their employees and to avoid disruptions to their routine. This is not leadership, but administration.

But for those managers who wish to make a difference, who understand that managing employees is a challenging and rewarding role, abrogating responsibility through pay and rewards is not an option.  They recognize it as the opposite of management, a damaging practice that will not enhance anyone’s long term career prospects.

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People want to be guided by those they respect and who have a clear sense of direction.

So you have created your company. You have the talent, you have the vision, you have the infrastructure, you know where you want to take the business in the coming years, but how do you take everything and allow it to become a self-sustaining machine that will allow your company to grow?

Developing core values can become the philosophical pillars upon which your company is built, but that won’t happen unless owners and senior leaders set the example for everyone else in the company. It’s extremely important for a company’s leaders to “live it” when it comes to the guiding principles of your business.

I’ve seen many company’s become stagnant because leadership places demands on the staff that they are not willing to do or demonstrate themselves.  Some of these business owners or senior leaders believe they have done their part by developing the business and giving people jobs, now it’s their turn.  The expectation that the employees are going to want to work long and hard just because they have a job is foolish.  It just doesn’t work this way.

People want to follow true leadership.  People want to be guided by those they respect and who have a clear sense of direction.  If your business is to flourish, your job as a leader is to work tirelessly to communicate with your employees in many different forms.

Every successful leader I speak with understands the power of communication and respect in an organization.  They understand that when employees identify with the core values and why business decisions are made, they feel part of the team and want to take the organization to the next level.

So take a look at where your company is today and where it was when you started. If your business hasn’t truly moved to the next level and instead of adding employees to support your growth, you’re simply replacing staff that has left.  You may want to take a deep look at what you may be doing wrong.  “Keep in mind,” if you’re measuring revenue, remember the high cost of employee turnover.  When you lose a good employee, you also lose their knowledge, skills and experience.  Training someone new takes you away from those things necessary to move your business to that next level.