Anamcgary's Blog

Leadership thoughts from PeopleFirst HR


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Succession Planning

Succession planning shouldn’t be used just for executive positions.

Organizations should be developing replacements for anyone whose sudden departure could disrupt the business, a former executive turned consultant told HR professionals on Wednesday at a concurrent session at the SHRM 2018 Annual Conference & Exposition.

Those employees could include sales account managers for top clients or operations managers.

Unfilled and unplanned vacancies cost companies about 50 percent more in lost revenue than the salary for the vacated job itself, according to a 2013 Mercer study.

“Succession planning protects the business from unexpected changes that could potentially hurt the business,” she said. It can also increase retention of top performers and drive deeper engagement of managers by “owning” talent development, she said.

Renz offered the following tips:

Start small and build up. Create a proposal including supporting data to show executives how the succession plan will work and how it will benefit the organization. Establish a pilot program; that will allow you to refine the program before it is rolled out to the whole organization, she said.

Make it an organization program, not an HR program. Your action plan should be visible, measurable and shared. Define the goal and the data that will be used in your talent program. Refresh formal data at least once a year. Share progress and challenges with leadership quarterly, she advised.

Assess employees’ competencies. These are the abilities and characteristics that the company identifies as key success factors of roles across the organization. Assess employees also for core values. Assessment tools can help measure competencies and behaviors, not just personality.

Identify “high-potential” employees. Some employers prefer to call those employees being developed for leadership positions the “acceleration pool,” because the term “high potential” can make other employees feel inferior, she said. She recommends labeling them “early career,” “mid-career” and “senior career” so you can plan development that better fits their specific needs.

Develop an action plan using the data collected. The information can help identify gaps and growth needs in your workforce so training programs can better support the development of the acceleration pool.

Create an individual-development action plan for each person in the acceleration pool. You might use a rotational program to help employees meet others in different departments. Pair them with a mentor to encourage knowledge sharing.

The succession plan will not only help you create a plan for recruiting and development, but it should increase retention of top performers with action plans and individual learning opportunities, she said. The action plan should be the foundation to help you decide where and how to spend your time and money.


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“Leadership” Is not in a Title

I have worked with many new managers that feel their new titles should earn them respect from their staff.  They couldn’t be more wrong.  Too many leaders still believe that they are owed and/or command some level of (unearned) respect just because of their position in an organization.

In our environment today, leaders must change their state of mind and become more responsible with their actions and accountable for the effect their influence has on their employees and, the organization.

Leaders need to become more mindful of how they are leading mindful of how they are leading others and how they are being perceived.

I am always respectful of someone’s position of authority and responsibility. However, it doesn’t mean that I necessarily respect “the person” behind the title. Respect, trust and loyalty are earned over time. Ultimately, it is the quality, consistency and presence of one’s character that makes me respect a leader.

When you think of great leaders who are honored and respected, they weren’t always necessarily well-liked. But they were respected for how they led and made those around them better. Over time this earned respect in a positive manner and secured their place in history (e.g. Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs)

Today’s uncertain workplace requires leaders to pay close attention to others. Leaders must be active and attentive listeners, practice patience, appreciate the unique talents and capabilities of their colleagues, and be noticeably grateful for the effort and performance of their teams. People are carefully observing their leaders, looking for reasons not to trust them (because they have been burned so many times in the past), but ultimately wanting their leaders to be worthy of their respect and loyalty. Unfortunately, leaders often make this task difficult as many of them are not naturally wired to lead, or emotionally intelligent enough to be aware of the consequences of their insensitive leadership style and demeanor.

Actions are stronger than words, and this is personified by the respected leader.  These leaders set the tone and are huge role models. The tangible and measurable results of their consistent work ethic influence new best practices and cultivate innovation. Ultimately, their leadership defines the performance culture for the organization. They set the standard and leave behind an indelible impact.

Are you that leader?

 


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Poor Performance or Lack of Communication

Recently one of my clients shared his frustration with one of his employees over what he perceived as a consistent shortcoming on the employee’s part. My client felt that this employee’s consistent failure to perform one task in a particular manner was unacceptable and he wanted me to help with taking disciplinary action.

I asked my client if he ever communicated his expectation of the specific criteria he was looking for in this report, i.e. content, format, the importance of presenting it this way. My client said no, but he should know this stuff, its common sense, he’s been here a while.

I then gently advised my client that he was really at fault here. I explained that if we have not clearly communicated our expectations to someone, then we have no right whatsoever to be irritated when that someone falls short of those expectations. To expect an employee (co-worker, friend, off-spring or spouse for that matter!) to meet expectations that have never really been communicated is simply unrealistic and sets that person up for failure.

A key component of communication in leadership is the ability to set our team up for success, by clearly defining what is expected of them and the manner in which you visualize those expectations being met. Then, if they have a different vision for how this task can, or should be accomplished, they have an opportunity to bring their adaptation of ideas to you for input and/or approval. Otherwise, they may proceed with their own ideas and when those efforts are met with disapproval, it can be disheartening and dis-empowering.

Clearly, there are times when a leader needs to give their team wings to fly with their own ideas and their own processes. In those situations, the leader needs to praise the positive results and/or let their team deal with the consequences and fix the problem if those process doesn’t work out.

But in those situations when a specific expectation is an imperative, respectful leadership and respectful communication requires that those parameters are clearly established up front.


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A simple thank you

Think of the last time someone really thanked you for doing something. Especially if that something was normal to you and you certainly didn’t go out of your way. You felt good and probably wanted to do it better next time. You cannot underestimate the power of a simple thank you. A long and sometimes grueling workday can melt away when staff members know their efforts were appreciated. It’s amazing how the last interaction of the day can become the last thought and make employees look forward to coming in the next day, knowing that their contributions were noticed.

The most effective leaders I know work diligently to thank their people. The validation can come from end of day departures and acknowledging extra effort on the fly, to even just thanking them for doing their normal work, giving input, or being positive throughout the day. These leaders know the value of their people and their basic need of feeling important, the feeling that their top three needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (belonging, esteem, and self-actualization) are being met.

Take every opportunity to find reason to thank as often as you can. That presentation didn’t go quite well? Thank them for the time and effort they put in to it anyway. The account dropped out to do business with a competitor? “You did a great job meeting their needs Marcie!” The 2nd shift comes in when your first shift leaves; thank them for working strong during the evening hours. Simple and genuine acknowledgement yields committed people and sustained performance.

Thanking your people for their everyday efforts is a simple and easy way to make a powerful lasting impression in your organization. Make every connection a reason to find and give thanks to your people.

Image result for Maslow’s Hierarchy

 


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Lead by Example – A Powerful Story

I so admire those leaders who truly lead by example. They are easy to follow and their lessons are so much more meaningful and impactful than leaders that just tell you what to do.

I recently read a story of leadership by example and I wanted to share.  Over 200 years ago, a man in civilian clothing rode past a small group of tired and battled exhausted soldiers. They were digging what appeared to be an important defensive position.  The leader of the group wasn’t making any effort to help the soldiers. He just shouted orders and threatened to punish the soldiers if the work wasn’t completed within the hour.  The stranger on horseback asked “Why aren’t you helping?”  The leader replied “I’m in charge! The men do as I tell them.” He added “Help them yourself if you feel so strongly about it.”

To the mean leader’s surprise the stranger got off his horse and helped the men until the job was finished.

Before he left the stranger congratulated the men for their work, and approached the confused leader.

“You should notify top command next time your rank prevents you from supporting your men – and I will provide a more permanent solution,” the stranger said.

Up close, the now humbled leader recognized the stranger as General George Washington and was taught a lesson he would never forget!

I love leaders that are willing to dig with their team. I have been fortunate enough in my life and career to have such leaders. They weren’t just order “barkers,” but order helpers. My respect and trust for these leaders is off the charts. I was extremely loyal to them and they taught me to be such a leader.  When there is a job to do, I join the team in whatever capacity will help them accomplish the task at hand.  The loyalty you gain is unprecedented.

If you have you been blessed to have such leaders in your life? I would love to hear your stories. Please share.


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Common Sense in uncommon situations works better than any policy

By now, you have all heard more than you want to know about the passenger physically removed from an overbooked United Airlines flight to make room for airline employees.

This surfaces only weeks after United Airlines did not allow some girls on a flight because they were in violation of the United Airlines dress code which they probably never heard of.

I wasn’t there in either case, so it’s difficult for me to say exactly what happened, so I have to rely on the media reports. What I read and see isn’t the way rational people should respond. I guess they were just following Company policy.

However, look at the avalanche of negative publicity resulting from following a perhaps outdated policy. Since the ‘overbooked’ incident, United Airlines lost $250 million in market value as competition swooped in to pick up the passengers who are refusing to fly United.

These incidents should inspire all of us to seek outdated policies and procedures in our organization, then make adjustments to avoid a loss of business and / or employee turnover.  Everyone is busy and you cannot possibly have a policy or procedure that deals with every situation, much less keep it updated all the time.  But not taking the time could cost you big time.

Take the time to make sure employees understand how to deal with unusual situations using common sense. Start by asking everyone on your team this question, “if you were me, and it were entirely up to you, what is one policy or procedure you would update tomorrow?” Then go do it.

In one article I read, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said United did not give its managers “the proper tools, policies, procedures” they needed to use “common sense.”

I love it. He should have thought about that sooner. Let’s all communicate the importance of using common sense in uncommon situations.

Start by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.


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Leading with Integrity

Great Leaders makes mistakes, it is what follows the mistake that demonstrates true leadership.

Following graduation from the United States Naval Academy, Scott Waddle was commissioned an Ensign, a rank within the US Navy, and embarked on a 20-year career in the submarine force. In June of 1998 Waddle was handpicked from a highly competitive field of 250 officers to command the USS Greeneville, an improved Los Angeles class fast attack submarine.

On a fateful day in February, 2001, Commander Waddle’s life was forever changed when he gave orders to perform an emergency surface maneuver, inadvertently causing the 9,000 ton Navy submarine to collide with the Ehime Maru, a 500 ton Japanese fishing vessel, killing nine people on board.

Against the advice of his attorney and the Navy, Waddle took responsibility for the accident, was honorably discharged from the Navy, and retired from active duty as a Commander.

From this tragic event Waddle has learned that failure is not final, and the true measure of a man lies in how they endure crisis through challenging times. When you are a leader, integrity, responsibility and accountability are absolute.