The Daily Recruiter

The Ezine for Executive Managers … brought to you by The SearchLogix Group.

Category: Management

CEO Problems

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” By Ed Batista of  Ed Batista “

Most of my coaching clients are CEOs, and while almost all of them have previous leadership experience, for some of them it’s their first time at the very top of an org chart. As they’ve grown into more senior roles over the course of their career, they’ve come to expect that things will be different at the next level up–but they can still be surprised by how different the role of CEO can be from other leadership positions. Even my clients who’ve had experience as a #2–as COO, for example–often discover that leadership at the next level brings unexpected challenges.

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3 Questions Leaders Should Ask Their Team

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“By Mario Moussa and Derek Newberry, of  FinanceInBusinessLife.com”

The executive team at Ford Motor Company in the 1950s made one of the best decisions and then one of the worst decisions in company history. Our research and experience at the Wharton School tells us that the Ford team is not alone in its schizophrenic decision-making; even the smartest groups often make poor choices. Understanding why can help you ensure that you consistently get the best out of your top team. Let’s look at what went right, and then wrong, at Ford.

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How to Fight a Fire (Self-Coaching in a Crisis)

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“By Ed Batista, of EdBatista.com”

Most of my coaching clients are CEOs of rapidly growing companies, and while their work is always demanding and dynamic, sometimes they face a full-blown crisis, a threat to the organization’s existence that will require their maximum effort. These are the situations that truly test a leader’s ability to self-coach, to manage themselves effectively while also guiding others. Here are four factors that have helped clients who’ve had to surmount a crisis:

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The Five Common Mistakes of New Managers

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“By John Vaugh, of InvestmentandBusiness.com”

Most people want to progress in their work and moving into management is one of the most common ways of progressing. While some step into the new role and prosper, many struggle, become disillusioned, possibly stressed and their performance dips. They make what is best described as common mistakes but these can be avoided or addressed.

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5 questions great managers ask

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“By Joe Garfinkle, of SmartBrief.com”

As a manager, you may feel that it’s always on you to deliver the messages, make the tough calls and guide the team through thick and thin — and it is.

Your team is looking for that sure-footed, goal-oriented sureness that makes them feel comfortable in the direction of the day, the project and the company. But here’s the thing that great managers know — while they want to feel secure that there is “a plan” and that it’s working, they also want to be included and to share that vision.

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Managing Up Is About Expectation Management

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“By Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC”

Managing up can be challenging. Failure to meet your boss’s informational needs can lead to bad decisions and frustrating interactions. Learn how to manage up more effectively.

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The Best Managers Are Boring Managers

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“by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, https://hbr.org”

What would the perfect robot manager be like? Looks aside, it would arguably be objective, transparent, unselfish, and apolitical. Because of this, it would assign the right task to every person and reward unselfish team behaviors, creating a culture of trust and keeping morale high. It would monitor individual and team performance with the precision of the best quantified-self app, and provide real-time feedback to boost everybody’s productivity. Undoubtedly, it would operate according to data rather than intuition and make only evidence-based recommendations. In short, the perfect robot manager would be utterly predictable – and completely boring.

And yet dullness is not how most organizations choose managers today. Instead, they look for flash and vision, and bold displays of confidence – whether or not that translates into actual competence. Indeed, despite the vast body of knowledge – including independent scientific evidence – on what makes a good manager, too many people get promoted to management positions based on past technical expertise or their previous individual job performance, so they end up, in effect, transitioning from skilled labor to unskilled management.

This problem can be mitigated if we are able to assess managerial potential more effectively. And the barriers to achieving this have less to do with finding the right tools to assess managerial talent than our inability to understand what we should be looking for. You can have the best tools in the world but if you are really good at measuring the wrong thing then your problems won’t go away.

So, what does a boring – and very good – manager look like?

First, let me explain in more detail what I mean by “boring.” In psychology, the technical – and less socially loaded – term is emotional maturity. It is mainly a function of being emotionally stable, agreeable, and conscientious. Unsurprisingly, we all become more “mature” (boring) as we age. In any culture people are more volatile and antisocial during their teens, and they become more conforming, conservative and rule-abiding as they grow older. Although this tends to have a negative connotation in much of the Western world – which avowedly values creativity, disruption, and individuality – it is clearly an asset when it comes to managerial potential.

In the most compelling and comprehensive synthesis of independent scientific studies about managerial competence, Tim Judge reports that effective managers tend to be highly adjusted, sociable, friendly, flexible, and prudent. They are, in fact, the reverse of the famous self-made billionaires and tycoon entrepreneurs we often use as examples of great leaders. Imagine working directly for Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, or David Rockefeller; it may sound great, but most people are happiest working for people who are the exact opposite. As Michael Maccoby pointed out in an influential HBR essay, these entrepreneurial leaders “tend to be poor listeners who are sensitive to criticism and demonstrate low levels of emotional intelligence.” In addition, it should be noted that people who are as ruthless, impatient, demanding, and excitable as Jobs and Bezos usually lack the genius to get away with it, so they are much more likely to derail than to invent the next Apple or Amazon.

Second, as you transition from individual contributor to manager, you shift your focus from solving technical problems to solving people problems. To achieve this, you need to be able to delegate in order to concentrate on your team members. This makes emotional labor a key quality in managers. Much as in the service industry the best performers can connect emotionally with the customers, when you are a manager you need to be able to connect emotionally with your subordinates. As an employee, you labor to manage your own emotions; as a manager you also labor to manage other people’s emotions. This depends on having quality interactions with your team, and you can only do this if you are calm and cool-headed, if you are able to display strategic emotions – which involves a fair amount of faking it – and if you are capable of understanding that it’s not really about you.

Again, when we think of classic charismatic or colorful leaders, you get a very different type of profile. To have emotional intelligence is not to be overwhelmed by emotions and unwillingly leak non-verbal communicational cues; it is about having low emotional reactivity and being as phlegmatic as the Queen of England. As psychological studies have indicated: “The most effective leaders are found to be those who operate from a stable center, who are personally grounded, other-directed and create the kinds of secure and supportive environments where creativity and productivity thrive.”

Third, what people value most in a manager is integrity, which is best conceptualized as an attribution and assessed via others rather than self-ratings. The best way to predict counterproductive or unethical work behaviors is by asking subordinates to report on the probability that their manager will, in not-so-subtle language, screw them over. And once again, it is boring managers who take the prize: the fewer dysfunctional dispositions or dark side personality traits they display, and the more predictable, reliable, and, yes, boring, they are, the higher they’re rated on integrity, and the more morally they behave. This issue reminds us of the many famous case studies of leaders who are clearly brilliant from an expertise or competence standpoint, but morally feeble: Sepp Blatter, Bernie Madoff, and Pablo Escobar come to mind.

In brief, it is time for organizations to understand that their best potential managers are not the people who stand out; they are not the people who self-promote and take credit for others’ achievements, or have mastered the art of politics and upward career management. They may lack charisma and have no remarkable vision for the future, yet they are probably the best people to help execute the company vision and ensure that staff stays engaged and productive.

Face to Face in a Workplace

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“by Julie Cooper, http://www.management-issues.com”

The way many of us work these days is not conducive to good one-to-one discussions. My observation after 20 years of training managers is that many are always in a hurry, up against deadlines and targets. None of us mean to forget social niceties or overlook giving others the attention they deserve but all too often, other pressures take over.

Sending a quick email often seems much easier than trying to make time to have a real conversation. Add in the complications of dealing with different personalities, and it’s much easier to find another way to communicate. Many of us shy away from attempting to handle those potentially awkward situations face to face – and yet deep down, we know that good working relationships are formed through real, not virtual, conversations.

Part of the problem is that often, we are just not sure how to handle the issue, or are wary of the reaction of the other person. Sometimes we just don’t understand the other person’s behaviour or point of view, or have been misunderstood ourselves previously, At other times, we just don’t want to engage – giving bad news or reprimanding is no one’s idea of enjoying work.

However, avoiding issues or handling them badly is not an option for a smart manager. We know that staff engagement has a huge impact on the bottom line, and also that the relationship between a line manager and a subordinate is an important contributing factor to individual productivity.

How can busy managers be persuaded to address the need for meaningful, effective conversations that result in engaged, happy employees? Half the battle is reminding them why it matters; there is plenty of research that proves the point, but looking at what goes on around the office will probably convince them just as well. The other half is giving them the knowledge and tools to do it effectively, in a way that is not a big drain on resources; it seems to me that they rarely have time or inclination to read heavy volumes, research online or take time out for training.

My experience and observations of ‘what works’ lies behind the DOTS framework that is explained in Face to Face in the Workplace. The DOTS framework provides a structure for those all important discussions, giving each topic a Definition, then a brief description of the Outcomes to achieve. Think ahead comes next, so that the manager can be prepared for the conversation, followed by Steps – what to actually do during the discussion.

Of course, there are many recurring themes in conversations and one-to-one meetings. All successful interactions rely on a combination of factors such as good body language, listening skills, mutual respect, understanding and valuing different personality styles, the ability to explain, explore and clarify while controlling emotions and choosing the right words. Is it any wonder things go awry! Without a grasp of the fundamentals, conversations are highly like to cause more problems than they solve.

The starting point of being a good communicator begins with knowing yourself and how you present yourself to others. This is as important to newly-appointed managers, who need to quickly assimilate ways of motivating and influencing staff, as it is to those of us who are longer in the tooth and in danger of resting on our rusty laurels.

Self-awareness can partly come from reflecting on our own actions. It is also useful to have a basic knowledge of personality styles, using a model such as MBTI or The Big Five. This can help us identify our natural behaviour and understand how adapting it can make it easier for others with different traits to connect with us more readily.

Third party views are also needed if we are to get the full picture. It’s not always easy to get honest feedback, but it is critical if we are to evaluate our effectiveness and impact. 360 feedback is another useful tool, as long as the findings are handled sensitively and appropriately.

After self-awareness, the next most common recurring theme discussed is taking time to see the situation from the other person’s point of view. This does not mean bowing to their opinion, but rather seeking to understand their concerns, knowledge and motives so that you can make educated choices about how to speak to them in a way that is meaningful to them, by connecting to their reality.

Assumption is another issue that raises it’s head fairly often. Most of the time our assumptions are correct, and we need to act on them because life is too short to start from scratch on every occasion. However, a lot of grief can be avoided if, during conversations, assumptions are identified and checked. Many problems occur because we assume the other person understands, has the same beliefs as us, or wants the same things without actually checking this to be true.

We can all hold a conversation – but to get the best out of our one to one meetings and difficult discussions, let’s remember it’s a skill that can not only be grown, but also lead to more clarity, better results and happier people. Who wouldn’t want that?

Want to Be the Boss? Do This, Don’t Do That

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“Tom Monahan, https://www.cebglobal.com”

Hire smart people who think differently to you, and learn when to keep your hands away from the reins

Senior Executive in Corner OfficeAt CEB we describe positive action using “DTDDT” (do this, don’t do that) language, so that compelling new ideas we bring to market don’t just add to executives’ lists of “good ideas they should ponder.”

For managers at all levels, it’s helpful to think of what gets in the way of being effective, also known as the “DDT” list. In my case as chairman and CEO, tenure at (and frankly, pride in) our company is a double-edged sword.

I’ll be celebrating my 20th anniversary this coming January, and have had an incredible opportunity to be part of the company’s growth in size and impact over that time. In broad terms, the company is around 20 times the size of 20 years ago and it has grown profit faster than that — every entrepreneur’s (and venture capitalist’s) dream.

To the good, I know the customers, employees, investors, and business models at a level of depth and richness that would be hard to master quickly. To the bad, I’m pretty confident in my knowledge of the customers, employees, investors and business models, whether I should be or not.

Hire People Who Think Differently to You

It would be silly to suggest that any leader should discard 20 years of relationships and accumulated “court sense” – to use a basketball term – in making decisions,  but it’s also important to recognize that a long tenure can lead to flawed decision making.

Good bosses know that markets change faster than memories, and that there is an enormous difference between how things work today and how they worked even a year ago. And for leaders in companies like mine, where – thank goodness – things have generally worked, there’s an even greater risk of missing changes in the market.

The employee side of the equation can be even more difficult: changes to the business or to people’s career goals can leave them poorly placed for the mission at hand. While it can be incredibly difficult to face up to a challenging conversation with a one-time partner in crime, these kinds of open and ongoing dialogues are on the “DT” list if you want to take the bridge on the Enterprise.

Being the boss also means surrounding yourself with intelligent, independent leaders – and, importantly, leaders who differ from you in perspective and work style.

The hard part here is not the cliché of “hiring people smarter than you” (although, you should definitely do that) but “hiring people who are differently smart than you.” And that means having enough self-knowledge to assess this accurately.

Six Phrases I Watch Out For

The folks that are differently smart are the ones who – at least in my case – keep you honest and force you to have those tough conversations. I’d prefer they used different tactics than the ones my teenage daughters have already mastered, like eye rolls and audible sighs, but I’ve learned to self-police a little too.

And I’m highly aware of certain phrases that suggest I’m playing the role of the corporate historian rather than the boss. The irony of this is that — given the rapid pace of change in most markets – even new ideas (and new leaders) become “old” fast, so even those who have been in the seat a short time need to be vigilant and become aware of their own “tripwire” phrases. Here are mine:
1.
“When I ran this business…”: No one cares what I did. In fact the team is probably still cleaning up a mess I made.

2.
“Last time we tried this …”: In a world where the volume of data doubles every 18 months, the last time we tried this, we probably had a quarter or an eighth of the data we have now.

3.
“That is against our culture.”: This is one of the hardest areas. Culture is really important and can be a huge driver of good and bad outcomes. Great companies invest real energy in defining and protecting key cultural attributes, but over time I’ve seen that culture can sometimes keep disruptive thinkers and ideas out of the company.

As a leader, it’s my job to ensure the culture is protected, but only its most vital elements.

4.
“We always agreed we’d never …”: While there are certain “always” and “never” statements in business, they usually center on some ethical bright lines. Some of our best stuff – our summits, our software products, and a couple of our training products – were all consigned to the “never” bucket, until creative teams spotted emerging customer needs.

5.
“We go way back …”: In an era of enterprise leadership, it is really important to cultivate and evolve a network that informs you on current topics. But sometimes this becomes an excuse to not move a leader out of the company or a role.

6.
“My sources tell me …”: If I have better sources than someone running that part of the business, we have bigger problems than the one we are talking about.

General Management Inspiring Others

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“by Dan McCarthy. www.thesmartblog.com”

What are the most important three words for any relationship between a manager and employee?

No, it’s not “I love you.” Now that would be inappropriate, although not everyone would agree with that opinion. Love their jobs, yes. Love their managers or employees? Eew!

No, the most important three little words are: “I trust you.”

Trust is the foundation that a positive manager-employee relationship is built on. The absence of trust leads to micromanagement, fear, risk-aversion, backstabbing, destructive rumors, a lack of innovation, mistakes, and a lack of engagement.

What does trust look like? It’s all in the eye of the beholder, but here’s a starter list from both the manager’s and employee’s perspective:

When an employee says “I trust you” to their manager, it means:

  1. When I share good news and accomplishments with you, you will let your boss and others know.
  2. You won’t claim credit for my accomplishments.
  3. When I admit a weakness, you will work with me to improve myself, not hold it against me on my performance review.
  4. I can come to you when I make a mistake. You’ll treat it as a learning opportunity, but also hold me accountable when needed.
  5. You’ll look me in the eye and give me honest, fair, direct feedback when I need it. You won’t sugarcoat it. I’ll know where I stand with you and won’t be blindsided during my performance review.
  6. You won’t ignore performance issues – my own, as well as the rest of my co-workers. If I see a co-worker slacking off, I’ll assume you are dealing with it. If I have to bring it to your attention, I know you’ll look into it and deal with it fairly.
  7. You won’t “shoot the messenger” if I bring a problem to your attention.
  8. You’ll do what you say you’re going to do. I won’t have to remind you more than once.
  9. You’ll look out for my best interests. Yes, I know you have a business to run and have to make tough decisions, but you will do whatever you can to make sure I’m treated fairly and with respect.
  10. You’ll tell the truth and not hold back critical information.
  11. I can discuss my career aspirations with you and you won’t hold it against me.

When a manager says “I trust you” to their employee, it means:

  1. When I ask you to do something, I know you’ll do it. I won’t have to follow-up, inspect, ask again, etc…
  2. You’ll tell me when you think I’m wrong or about to make a stupid mistake.
  3. You won’t throw me under the bus in front of my boss, or behind my back.
  4. If you have a problem with me, you’ll come to me first to discuss it.
  5. When I ask you to do something and you say you can’t, I’ll know you have good reasons.
  6. When we discuss your career aspirations, you’ll be open and honest with me so that I can support you. I shouldn’t be blindsided when you give me your notice.
  7. You won’t cover up mistakes. If you screw up, you’ll admit it, take ownership, and focus on solving the problem.
  8. You’ll give me a heads up regarding any urgent issues or problems so that I’m appropriately informed and not surprised when I hear about it from others.
  9. If your workload slows down, you’ll let me know, or offer to help your teammates with theirs.
  10. When I ask you how long something will take, you’ll give me a realistic and honest estimate. No padding.
  11. When you complement me, I’ll know it’s sincere. No sucking up.

What would you add to the list? What does “I trust you” mean to you?

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