“That’s crazy,” “I could never do it that way,” You’re wrong,” “No, listen to me!”
Are you hearing statements like these at work? When new ideas are introduced are you seeing battle lines drawn? How do you lead for the common good when it seems like your people have completely different goals in mind?
Well, not to ignore how hard it is but the place to start is with dialogue. Which means helping people actually listen to each other, even if they disagree with what the other person is saying. Your goal is to help people move from:
- persuading or telling
- focusing on differences
- talking at each other
All of which lead to frustration, lack of trust and either/or thinking.
And move to:
- talking with each other
- looking at options
That requires finding some sort of common or shared interests as a starting point for dialogue. Instead of focusing on the dangers of the other point of view and highlighting the positive of their own point of view, help people work on specific issues by looking deeper and identifying underlying values, goals, and concerns that both sides share.
We encourage the leaders we work with to ask these two straightforward questions to build trust and identify shared interests.
- What do we all want?
- We do we all fear or want to avoid?
It will take work to keep people from focusing on their initial points of view and look at the bigger picture, but facilitating this conversation will help you and your people find a common good you can all agree on, and that is a great starting point!
Posted in building teams, common good, communication, goals, polarities, trust
Tagged communication, culture, ego, innovation, purpose, transparency, vision
Fourth and inches: the point in a football game where they’re almost over the goal…but just need that final push to get there. And the crowd goes wild when it works as planned, but just as often the punter is brought in, after the goal isn’t attained.
Many things need to happen on the field to get to this point:
- Knowing each player’s, and the other team’s players, strengths and weaknesses
- Calling the correct plays
- Having the right people where they need to be
- Consistently moving forward, with everyone’s eye on the same goal.
The Long-Term Financial Sustainability Workgroup at Minnesota State has been moving towards the goal of making our system sustainable for the future.
They’ve kept going by strategically identifying, then listening to and involving, all stakeholders, right from the start; communicating with everyone, clearly and consistently; figuring out who needs to be where and when, and moving steadily forward toward their goal.
The workgroup’s next move is a study session presentation to the Minnesota State Board of Trustees on Tuesday, November 15, at 3:15 p.m. You can listen to streaming audio here.
Management expert Peter Drucker famously said that what gets measured gets managed. When it comes to mission and vision, that can be especially important. Having a strategic vision and a well-crafted mission statement is a start, but unless they are reflected in day-to-day organizational goals they won’t be real to the people doing the work. Here are a couple of examples:
Dartmouth sustainability initiative includes a vision: “Dartmouth will build upon our unique strengths and traditions to become a global hub of sustainability by the end of this decade.” It also includes clear goals, such as adapting teaching and using the campus as a laboratory for best practices. In addition, they have identified progress indicators. For example, if the project is successful their graduates will be in demand for sustainability solutions and everyone on campus will understand how the institution leads in this area.
Connecticut state colleges and universities developed system and institution mission statements. As part of the project, a team identified metrics that met these guidelines:
- Indicative of progress
- Valid and reliable
- Comparison data is readily available
- Greater value than the cost of collection
- Institutional actions can impact the metric
How does your institution measure progress toward its mission and goals?
Dee Anne Bonebright
Author Dan Pontefract has released a new book that I found energizing and I encourage you to check it out. In The Purpose Effect (2016) he suggests that leaders can help their people recognize the “sweet spot” where the organizational mission overlaps with their role purpose and their own personal vision. You can read a summary of the book here – getAbstract
The sweet spot is the space where people feel engaged in their work, energized by how they can make a contribution and clearly understand the contributions their organization makes to their stakeholders. As leaders we rarely have the opportunity to be involved in the crafting of the organizational mission and vision but we can connect it to the day to day work being done and the unique aspirations of each person on your team.
Pontefract suggests that leaders focus on understanding and facilitating two-way dialogue in these three areas:
- Individual and personal goals or purpose and how they relate to the day to day work.
- what motivates the people on your team?
- how do they want to develop themselves?
- what most interests them in their job?
- how can you and the organization support their success?
- The organizational purpose, mission and vision.
- what are your organization’s values?
- how does the organization live out it’s purpose?
- what are examples of the organizational purpose?
- Role-based purpose.
- how do individual roles contribute to the success of the organization?
- where do individual roles make a difference to stakeholders?
- how can a leader recognize individual role contributions to the success of the department or organization?
Taking the time to understand each of these three areas is the first step. Then taking the time to consistently help your team members find their own personal sweet spot at work will help you bring your mission and vision to life.
Posted in building teams, communication, Engagement, goals, Leadership, leading authentically, Motivation, organizational culture
Tagged communication, engagement, Leadership, stakeholders, trust, vision
My team and I just wrapped up our year-end report in June and are launching ahead to FY17 with a new annual work plan. In my talent management team, we work on goals that support “attracting, retaining, and developing a workforce that is diverse and able to meet current and educational needs.” That may sound like an ambiguous and somewhat lofty sound mission, yet our team work plan contains many concrete action strategies that support this mission. It contains clear timelines and quantifiable measures to ensure that we are making progress.
As the leader of this team, part of my work is to have good conversations with each of my team members to ensure that their individual development goals and the performance expectations we agree upon align with our work plan. Those conversations are critical to accomplishing our goals and building organizational talent. It helps each team member clearly understand how they are part of accomplishing our team goals and it helps us refine strategies as we review them.
While it can be time consuming having those individual 1:1 meetings with each staff member, skipping those individual conversations can prove costly. It would invite too many opportunities for disconnects and misalignment, like the picture above of the train tracks that don’t quite meet.
Here are some of the things I discuss with my team members to make sure expectations are aligned:
- What are your 1-3 big goals for the year?
- How do your goals support our mission?
- What is the timeline for that action strategy/effort/project?
- What will you need to learn in order to accomplish this goal?
- What additional resources or support will be needed?
- How are you measuring progress?
- What obstacles or barriers do you face?
- What milestones are you setting?
- What will constitute success?
Of course, through the year, some unexpected things may pop up that displace one or two action strategies for one of my team members. But through good conversations and check-ins, we can re-align to make sure we are working together well and building organizational talent while accomplishing our goals.
How do you make sure that expectations are well aligned within your unit?
“Talk to me, please!”
The Gallup Q12 poll highlights the fact that people need to know that their manager actively supports their development. Yet research by Gallup indicates that less than 20% of employees get regular feedback from their boss. In fact, over 50% meet less than once a month. That is not enough talking about development!
Roland Smith and Michael Campbell from the Center for Creative Leadership suggest that leaders have an opportunity to turn this around quickly by talking talent with their people – in their words start having regular talent conversations. Sincere and direct dialogue with your people focused on their interests, their job, the work that needs to be done and what support or development they need to be successful.
What I like best about talent conversations is that they are for everyone. Not just people who “need” development and not just under-performers. Talking about what is needed to maintain current and future success demonstrates that you are supporting your people.
At Minnesota State we will be working this year to help our supervisors have talent conversations with their people. The first step is to identify the goal for the conversation for each team member based on their current job-related competency and their own personal development needs or interest in growth. In general you will discover that each person on your team will be interested in one of the following four goals:
- Develop full competence. Focus on acquiring the skills and developing the competences needed to become a solid performer in their current role.
- Explore growth while developing competence. Similar to the first group but also include conversations about future opportunities and how current develop will support growth.
- Maintaining their expertise and staying successful in the future. This group will be interested in deepening their skills, sharing their expertise and staying up-to-date in their current role.
- Accelerating their development. These folks are competent and want to learn new skills and develop competencies needed for bigger roles.
Having a simple and clear goal for your talent conversations will make it easier to dive in and start talking talent!
Do those three words cause your heart to race, a smile to creep across your face, or a panicked look at your calendar as you search for time to prepare? Well, either by luck or remarkable planning, I am scheduled to have my annual performance review later today and I have experienced all three in the last few days.
When you cut through all the information and opinions from the hundreds of articles, blogs, consulting firms, books, processes, procedures and policies on performance reviews you end up with two elements; the process and the people or human interaction. The process is usually determined by your institution, but you, the leader, can determine the quality of the human interaction with your team member. And a recent study by the Gallop organization indicates that the human interaction is what actually drives employee performance and the effectiveness of the performance review, not the process and forms!
The study found the following four managerial actions made a significant difference in the effectiveness of any performance review process:
- Clearly communicating performance standards and what good performance looks like
- Focusing on employee strengths rather than weaknesses
- Emphasizing that the purpose of the review is to support and aid their development and success, not just an HR requirement
- Communicating performance expectations throughout the year, not just at the annual review
Other tips that focus on the people or human interaction element include:
- Make it a two-way conversation by starting with an open-ended question
- Over the past year, what accomplishments are you most proud of, and why?
- Describe how your work supported the mission of the college or of your department/office.
- Keep your feedback:
And a final general rule of thumb that I have found helpful is to balance the focus of the review to:
- 10% on the past year
- 30% on the current expectations and needs of the department, team and institution
- 60% on the goals, expectations and development over the next year
As I said earlier, today is my review and I am looking forward to a genuine two-way conversation with my manager, Anita. She demonstrates the importance of the human interaction and I always walk out of her office fully engaged and with a clear picture of the year ahead and how I can succeed!
Let us know what good ideas or tips you have used to improve the quality of the human interaction in your performance reviews.
It isn’t a trick question. But the answer can solve two of your biggest challenges: not having enough time in your day and driving high performance. How, you may ask?
Try 2 + 2 Coaching, a concept described by Marc Effron of the Talent Strategy Group in his article, “The Hard Truth About Effective Performance Management.” Effron, somewhat harshly, encourages leaders to radically simplify how they lead their people and to narrow their focus to what really works. Clear, direct feedback on progress against important goals – “while taking the least amount of managerial time!”
To do 2 + 2 Coaching you:
- Have one 15 minute conversation each quarter with each of your direct reports
- Make two comments on the employee’s progress against their goals
- Make two suggestions for what the employee should do more of or less of in the future
No more, no less! You can watch Effron describe 2 + 2 Coaching here.
Solving the equation 2 + 2 = ?? with coaching will help you drive high performance and accountability.
I love working in higher education. I am surrounded by very smart people who are committed to making a difference in the lives of students and solving the complex problems our students and our colleges and universities face. Yet the intelligence and complex problem-solving ability of leaders may actually get in the way of driving high performance in their people!
Marc Effron, author of One Page Talent Management and president of the Talent Strategy Group, puts it this way:
- Start with science – use what we know works
- Eliminate complexity – include just what is essential
- Add real value – make it usable
Science has shown that setting goals drives performance but we often set too many or make them too complicated and our people don’t know where to start or what to focus on. Effron recommends setting only three clear goals for your team members and making sure they are relevant or important to the organization and the individual. He also suggests the acronym of SIMple goals instead of SMART goals. A SIMple goal is:
In my work with leaders I have come to appreciate the importance of Law of Parsimony or Occam’s Razor, which I translate as starting with the simplest solution. Encouraging leaders to step back, ignore their tendencies to focus on complex solutions and instead start with simple solutions, has been powerful. Using Effron’s SIMple goals can provide a laser focus which cuts through the distractions your people face at work and will help drive high performance, focused on the important value higher education provides.
“The best way to inspire people to superior performance is to convince them by everything you do and by your everyday attitude that you are wholeheartedly supporting them.” – Harold S. Geneen
This month we are continuing our blog topic series on key challenges that our leaders face. If you recall, we surveyed many leaders throughout the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities last December and learned what challenges they were confronting every day. One of the challenges repeated over and over by our leaders had to do with driving high performance. Some of this was expressed as challenges in holding people accountable and others were expressed in ways to effectively support their teams. Here are some of the topics you can expect this month as we explore the challenge of driving high performance.
- Setting performance goals and monitoring goal progress
- Removing barriers
- Coaching good performance
- Conducting great performance reviews
- Modeling accountability
- Individual development planning
- Crucial conversations and fierce conversations
What specific challenges do you encounter while driving high performance? What are the barriers you face? What has worked well for you? We invite you to join the conversation this month by commenting below.