One way and another, risk-taking has been on my mind a lot recently. As we’re looking at building organizational capacity, part of the definition is “engaging and supporting appropriate risk-taking.” Here are a couple examples of what that might mean for day-to-day leadership.
From a project management perspective, leaders need to identify potential risks, decide how likely they are and how much impact they’d have, and then decide what to do about them. Avoiding all risks isn’t practical, or even possible. Appropriate risk taking means deciding on the right approach:
- Avoid – take intentional action to ensure the situation does not occur
- Transfer – hire someone else to manage the risk (for example, ask a third party vendor to complete the project)
- Accept – acknowledge there is nothing to be done and deal with the situation if it occurs
- Mitigate – take steps to minimize the likelihood and/or severity of the situation
Another way to look at risk-taking is part of the hiring process. The human tendency toward a zero-risk bias means that leaders might not be willing to take an appropriate risk on a candidate who could bring new viewpoints, background and perspectives to the role. There can be a tendency to look for a candidate who is similar to the previous successful incumbent, or to others on the work team.
Where have you encountered risk-taking in your leadership, and how did you decide what was appropriate?
Dee Anne Bonebright
A leader at one of our schools remarked that when done right, performance reviews can be energizing and uplifting but when done wrong they are demoralizing. It appears that the latter is what is happening in most organizations. David Ulrich, the Rensis Likert Professor of Business at the University of Michigan and the “Godfather of HR” just published an article in the latest issue of Talent Quarterly titled “Resolving the Performance Management Paradox.” He cites that 90% of HR professionals are unhappy with their review system, only 14% of CEOs believe that the review system is working and only 8% of HR executives believe that performance management makes a contribution to the success of the organization. Yet, he also cites a long history of studies that clearly indicate that accountability makes a difference. In fact one study identified that just the presence of a performance review system is the greatest predictor of success for hospitals. What can a leader do?
Ulrich recommends that regardless of the process or forms used, leaders embrace conversations: conversations focused on what he calls “positive accountability,” conversations emphasizing learning and improvement opportunities rather than evaluating what went wrong, and conversations primarily focused on the future rather than the past. He suggests that leaders look for opportunities to engage in “real time” conversations that are ongoing and revolve around work events (projects, semester start or finish, work cycle periods, annual milestones, etc.) Leaders should focus on asking questions to discover how employees can sustain success and prepare for the future and help their people look forward to apply what they have learned and address new opportunities or challenges that arise.
A simple conversational model for leaders to use with their performance review process includes the following three steps:
- Know Yourself – ask about and discuss each person’s strengths, weaknesses, passions and interests.
- Action for Growth – ideas and concrete action to leverage individual strengths and interests to support success and on-going development.
- My Value – dialogue focused on the value that each employee provides to the work unit, institution, students, stakeholders or overall organization.
By focusing less on the process and more on the conversation we can make performance reviews a more uplifting experience.
Posted in Accountability, build organizational talent, communication, higher education, Motivation, performance management, talent management
Tagged accountability, asking questions, assessments, career development, communication, engagement, evaluation, feedback, leadership development, paradox, self reflection, talent management
“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!
As it happens, we are in a budget crunch and so the budget for my team’s professional development has been cut by 75%. I’ve often heard leaders bemoan this circumstance, saying that there is nothing they can do to build organizational talent, if they don’t have funds to invest in conferences, courses, or certifications for their staff.
While having few professional development funds can be limiting, there are other strategies that leaders can employ to ensure that their staff are continuing to build their knowledge, skills, and abilities and grow in their careers. In fact, research conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership in the 1980s demonstrated that 70% of learning by successful managers comes from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others, and only 10% from formal educational events. It’s called the 70:20:10 model for learning and development.
Think about it. When did you learn the most in your career? Was it by taking a course? Or was it by tackling a new job or assignment that had a steep learning curve? I know my most challenging assignments have produced the greatest learning for me. The times I learned from my own mistakes, while humbling, also were the most valuable. And the times when I had caring mentors who were willing to give me good feedback increased my learning.
Using the 70:20:10 model as a guide, leaders can mine opportunities to develop their staff by making sure that they have stretch assignments or goals that help them expand or refine their job-related skills, make decisions, and address tough challenges. Giving staff increased opportunities to interact with influential people, cross-functional teams, and mentors can also build their skill and confidence. And giving staff immediate performance feedback and encouraging them to learn from their mistakes provides invaluable growth opportunities that can’t be replicated in a conference or a course.
In one month high divers from around the world will be competing at the summer Olympics in Rio. If I was one of those divers I would hope that the leaders in Rio have done the work needed to build deep pools, even though these Olympics are facing budget, political, economic, environmental and workplace challenges.
Our organizations also need deep pools of talent to be successful when facing a future of changing demographics, fluid governmental demands, volatile customer expectations and a diminishing workforce. Creating individual development plans (IDPs) and continually developing your own people helps leaders fill their talent pools and keep their people engaged with the organization.
Paula Asinof, a leadership consultant, provides tips on how to use IDPs to fill your talent pool in her article, IDPs: Talent Development’s Superglue, in the January 2016 TD magazine.
- Start with a gap analysis and ask each employee:
- where are your talents now?
- what talents need to be developed or do you want to develop?
- Craft only one to three goals based on the answers (see previous post on SIMple Goals)
- Utilize a wide range of development opportunities:
- on-the-job experience
- development-focused work assignmnets
- interim assignments
- temporary assignmnets
- Focus on outcomes and provide regular check-ins
Overall the IDPs you develop with your people need to be simple, clear and realistic. It isn’t the Olympics but a deep talent pool can help you win during challenging times.
During June we shared some thoughts and ideas about customer service. For July we’ll be looking at the next leadership competency – Building Organizational Talent.
I see a strong connection between these two competencies. As leaders, the employees that we supervise can be viewed as customers, in the sense that they are looking to us for guidance, work direction, and help with professional development. We are also in a unique position to serve the organization itself by hiring strong team members, helping them to succeed, and in some cases, helping them to move through the pipeline and become leaders themselves.
Many years ago I talked to a leader who managed quite a few entry-level positions. She had high turnover in her unit, and she told me that she viewed it as success rather than a source of frustration. Her goal was to introduce people to the workplace, give them foundational skills, and then help them move on to other positions within the organization. Over time, she built a large network of professional colleagues who got their start in her unit.
Here are some other behaviors that are identified with building organizational talent. I hope you’ll join us in a conversation about how to implement them.
- Makes sound hiring decisions.
- Provides a strong orientation.
- Sets clear expectations.
- Provides ongoing feedback; effectively coaches both good and bad performance.
- Partners with each employee in conducting meaningful performance evaluations.
- Helps each individual develop professionally.
- Holds each individual accountable for performance.
- Takes responsibility for their own professional development.
Dee Anne Bonebright
Happy Memorial Day! Like me, today most people will be spending time with friends and family. Many people will also attend Memorial Day ceremonies or parades or visit a local cemetery to pay respects to those who have served our country.
While it is important to honor those who have paid the ultimate price serving our country, we can also honor the living who have served our country by hiring a veteran. Last year at this time, I shared some resources with readers about recruiting veterans that are worth a repeat.
One helpful resource is called Hire a Hero, Hire a Vet. It outlines the many benefits of hiring veterans and contains links to useful tools for employers. If you are hiring in Minnesota, here is a web site with a video showing you how to hire a veteran in three easy steps.
As the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) points out, there are many reasons to hire veterans. Veterans bring education, training, values, leadership and teamwork to the workplace. They also have learned to work side by side with many different people, regardless of race, gender, geographic origin, ethnic background, religion, economic status and capabilities.