The Teibel Blog

Brad Power offers a parable in avoiding catastrophic failures in process improvement

Avoiding Catastrophic Failures in Process Improvement - Brad Power

Brad Power:

When the company declared its "reengineering success" and the publicity machine ramped up, it had a new business model on paper — a process blueprint, a series of cultural changes under way, and a pilot of the new business model just starting. These were all good things and to be expected after investing many millions of dollars on people, systems, and consultants. But questions soon emerged: How do we know the model will work? What's it worth? Where's the economic model, and when do we make money at this?

In process improvement programs, when things get tough it ALWAYS comes back to money: How do we make money from these process changes? What kind of return can shareholders expect, and when? In this case, the answers were not there, the effort was stopped, and a new management team took over.

Fascinating post from Power this morning -- it's a case in the form of a parable that offers us a chance to think critically about the mistakes we make in change initiatives. He's bullish on finance, which is always music to our ears. Bringing the finance organization in on major change projects tends to have what we see as a sobering effect on planning (rather than a chilling effect, as some team members have, at times, asserted). Finance is about practicality, feasibility, reality -- just what big change needs to succeed,

So it's a matter of nuance that we'd update Brad's argument to this: In process improvement programs, when things get tough it always comes back to results: how do we measure the results of these process changes?

Results may in fact be money. But it may not. One of the best lessons we can take away from today's post is to consider very carefully how we define the projected results of our efforts, how we measure and track results, and how we communicate our results to stakeholders.

Another terrific post from Power that is worth your consideration this morning.

Janelle Evans offers 8 great tips on being an effective virtual team

8 Tips for Effective Virtual Teams | Psychology Today

From Jannell Evans in Psychology Today this morning, the first of her eight tips on creating an effective virtual team:

Educate yourself about normal group development stages.  A virtual team goes through the same stages as co-located teams.  We have been using The Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance Model to help teams determine what stage a team is in, what challenges might arise in each stage, and how to lead the team forward toward high performance. One you understand group development stages, you can leverage that knowledge and be a more effective team leader or team member.

There will come a time, and it won't be long from now, when we simply drop the word virtual from virtual team for good. That day is coming -- be ready!

What strikes me about Janell's passage above is the same point so many team leaders we work with forget every day: a virtual team is a team just like any other. Just because you've supplanted face to face meetings with technology (chat, video, document collaboration, etc), does not mean that your team won't go through the same normalizing and socialization process that your local teams do. To build a team culture that delivers consistent results, you have to put in the up-front work to move the group through that socialization process.

Jannell offers a great suggestion for further reading in "Team Success: A Practical Guide for Working and Leading from a Distance" by Darleen DeRosa and Richard Lepsinger. I'd like to add to that our friend Debra Dinnocenzo's latest works on leading and working in virtual teams. She has been writing and consulting on the subject for more than a decade and offers a wealth of great thinking to help you deliver results on your virtual teams.

Jannell's tips are great this morning -- enjoy!

Tony Bates on strategic planning in e-learning

Tony Bates - How useful is strategic planning for e-learning?

Tony Bates is working on a book on integrating technology in post-secondary educational institutions with Albert Sangra. Late last week Tony posted a few key learnings from the first chapter, this stuck out to us:

Fourth, for successful technology integration, an institutional strategy must be fully supported by all members of the executive team, and that support needs to be continued over a considerable period, including changes in executive teams.  Some of the most successful institutions in integrating technology had consistent strategies and key people in senior administration in place for many years. Other less successful institutions in the case studies often suffered from a lack of shared vision at the executive level, or continual changes in directions or key personnel.

...

Unfortunately, we found little evidence of this level of thinking in most of the case studies, the emphasis instead being on improving ‘business as usual.'

There's a piece implicit in this argument which we've talked about before: a big part of the buy-in that comes from today's senior leadership comes in having a better-than-baseline understanding of how technology will help align daily knowledge work with strategic goals. As one commenter put it in Tony's post, "I find it interesting how few institutions include educational technology in their strategic thinking or, indeed, how changing patterns of knowledge distribution will effect their role as knowledge custodians."

Agreed.

To be clear, we're talking about two different things here. The first is technology that supports the people and process structure across the organization. The second is the technology that integrates the learning environment and brings educators and students together. In reading Tony's points -- and based on our experience -- there is an obvious and strategic parallel between the two; learning and administrative systems serve the same purpose: to bring learners together, in class or in the conference room. We do well when we consider how our systems are serving strategic goals in that light and align executive expectations accordingly.

Tony's post is worth checking out in full this fine morning.

Noreena Hertz at TED London 2010 - How to use experts

Noreena Hertz is an economist of global import. From her bio:

Her work is considered to provide a much needed blueprint for rethinking economics and corporate strategy. She is the Duisenberg Professor of Globalization, Sustainability and Finance based at Duisenberg School of Finance, RSM, Erasmus University and University of Cambridge. She is also a Fellow of University College London.

Her talk at TED 2010 on the role of expertise is fascinating and illuminating. According to Hertz, "we've surrendered our power, trading off our discomfort with uncertainty for the illusion of certainty that they [experts] provide."

What does this have to do with teams, change, and strategy? While hers is a call to be cautious when listening to experts, it is just as much a call to democratize institutional knowledge. She offers three strategies for switching on our ability to make our own decisions, from challenging experts to inviting and managing dissent, and redefining who experts really are. Likely, the greatest expertise in our organizations does not reside in the highest ranks of managerial leadership.

Skip ahead to 15:00 or so for a discussion on Best Buy discovering their valuable lessons in expertise.

 

Real stories - Managing Through Change

Managing Through Change This morning, a story from Aileen, an IT support manager:

In November 2010, the city council hired a new city manager. With this came layoffs, resignations, restructuring, and a lot of insecurity at work. It has been a difficult time for everyone. We are now on our fourth interim IT director, and this time our entire department has been moved out of the corporate services division and moved under the blanket of risk and compliance. The search goes on for a full-time IT director. They have also changed the name of our department, and voided the mission, vision, and value statements the staff had recently created, writing them off as fluff.

To say all this change and insecurity has affected morale (mine and my staff’s) would be a colossal understatement. Both regular staff and management at all levels are unsure of their job security. I have to admit, it is hard being motivated and going to work every day when you are worried for your job, you don’t know where you sit with management, and there are hints at outsourcing your area. I’ve had many sleepless nights, bad dreams, and more than a few concerns over the constant changes.

No, there aren't any tools here, just reflection this morning. We've been doing a lot of work this year on this concept of managing through change. It's a simple concept: how does an organization keep motivated, skilled team members performing at their very best in times of great turmoil on the job?

It hits me every time we're working on a client location and we're faced with a story like Aileen's. It's not that organizational leaders are unaware that turmoil, flagging morale, and uncertainty will come with major overhaul. It's that they cannot accurately and consistently predict which decisions they will make that will cause that uncertainty.

And so, this morning, our reflection. Take the two minutes to read Aileen's post. I offer, by no means to give away the punchline, her close, as a reminder to all of us. As you're working with your strategic planning committees and preparing your major initiatives for next quarter and after, are you prepared to address uncertainty that comes from the Aileen's on your management staffs? We should be so lucky to have such passionate and aware managers on our change teams:

As manager, my personal challenge is going to be ensuring that we do not lose service and become too controlling, that we strike a nice balance in between. At the same time, I have to reassure, motivate, and challenge my staff during this time of insecurity, no matter how the chips may fall.

Prep-Do-Review - Hill and Lineback offer tips on management that apply directly to effective teams

How to Get Involved Without Micromanaging People - Linda Hill & Kent Lineback - Harvard Business Review

Hill and Lineback on post-action review:

Great managers make post-action review a regular practice for themselves and their people. You can make it the focus of a one-on-one after an activity has been completed. Or it can be part of periodic meetings with each of your people or a standard procedure you go through in the updates your people provide at staff meetings. Be sure to model what you expect when you describe something you did — Here's what we learned. Next time we'll do it this way.

Their post is not explicitly focused on making your teams better, but the lessons are perfectly applicable. The Prep-Do-Review process is what allows managers to be both present and engaged, while keeping enough distance to avoid micromanagement. But the process works at both ends of the daily managerial spectrum.

In times of high stress -- such as high-velocity change projects -- managers are often faced with the daunting task of actually managing, or providing feedback to team members, direct reports, or functional managers. And when we get busy, putting our all into these management tasks is one of things that tends to fall off the rails.

By operationalizing the Prep-Do-Review process, particularly the act of reviewing key milestones and accomplishments with staff, you're building the right habits, the right modeling behavior for the rest of the team, and you're keeping your promises to those that count on you for performance feedback of your team.

So take a read of Hill and Lineback's latest opus -- it's a quick read and worth consideration!

Reframing Risk - Using the "Premortem" with your strategic planning committee

Consider A Strategic Planning Premortem — Patrick McKenna

Patrick McKenna with his take on the strategic planning premortem:

As everyone knows it is common practice to conduct a “postmortem” or lessons learned session upon completion of any major undertaking. If your endeavor achieved its goal, the questions typically focus on what went right, what we did well, and how we might sustain our success. If your initiative fell short or failed to meet expectations, your postmortem efforts tend to focus on what went wrong and how we got off track.

That said, this may be a time to think about conducting a ‘premortem.’ A Premortem is a process to aid in identifying the potential roadblocks, before they have a chance of derailing your implementation efforts.

The piece is interesting -- the concept is essentially a repacked version of risk mitigation, but McKenna walks through the process of engaging a strategic planning committee (even the more experienced senior teams!) to think more deeply about the issues that crop up in risk sessions. It's a refreshing take on a concept too often poorly scoped in major change initiatives.

 

Avoid the Improvement Hype Cycle - Brad Power - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review

Avoid the Improvement Hype Cycle - Brad Power

Brad Power on habitual business process re-engineering:

Companies that practice process improvement have been victims of this hype cycle for decades. Fed by consultants, gurus, technology vendors, and academics, their enthusiasm for a particular process improvement method takes on a religious tone. Thus, today we have a number of process "religions": Statistical Process Control was followed by Total Quality Management, Business Reengineering, Six Sigma, Lean, and Business Process Management (BPM, which emphasizes process management software).

So true. What's important to recognize, though, is that no one of these process religions, as Brad calls them, are bad in and of themselves. It's the stacking of processes that gets in the way of productivity and -- ultimately -- of delivering results.

To combat this trend in process stacking requires a better awareness of organizational change management -- understanding and modeling how the whole organization deals with change to enable a more agile and responsive team when change is truly required, and an ability to understand when a new process is overkill.

Brad's three-point recommendation is sound, too, but pay particular attention to number three, "eradicate process lingo." You'll know you have a problem if you get Brad's point!

Using coaching skills in a management setting

Coaching by Managers: No Appointment Required - Leading Effectively Blog

Doug Riddle at the Center for Creative Leadership blog:

Perhaps a coaching approach could yield a positive result without taking a lot of time. What would that look like? One of the key components of a coaching mindset is a determination to let the person coached keep responsibility for the solution. So a coaching leader will respond without taking over the problem. Questions are the preferred medium. "What have you done so far to solve this?" could be a good opening. "What else could you do?"  "What do you know about why your colleague is not delivering?"

A good manager is often in motion. That's part of the natural behavior pattern of a good manager, in fact, someone that keeps moving, engages as appropriate, fights fires where they burn; they are the movers of rocks and the carriers of water.

That's why this piece from Doug Riddle adds so elegantly to the manager's toolkit: developing key coaching skills allows good managers to understand when it is important to slow down in a problem-solving scenario, to engage, and to provide the direction and guidance that enables a team member to solve problems more quickly themselves.

That is, after all, where the coach excels: giving the team the gift to see their own abilities in a new and brighter light.

Read Doug's piece today -- it'll take you just a few minutes and will give you a great new way to look at problem solving with your staff.

Ann All illustrates importance of strategic planning with senior teams through the Fed?

Ann All: Feds Make Project Management Progress | Blogs | ITBusinessEdge.com

Ann All on changes in the federal government IT process:

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra appears committed to improvement, saying that beginning next month the government will provide detailed twice-yearly updates on how well agencies are implementing his 25-point federal IT reform plan. Created by Kundra and the Office of Management and Budget with collaboration from past and present federal CIOs, Congress and the private sector, the plan was released in December. It proposes major changes in federal IT governance and procurement as well as infrastructure and systems.

Take a moment and digest what's going on here: the Federal CIO's office worked with the Office of Management and Budget, past and present federal CIOs, Congress and the private sector to develop what amounts to the strategic plan for the operation. Do you think that's an easy thing to do? We don't. Throw into the mix a commitment to produce a progress report against that strategic plan twice a year and, well, in any other context it would feel less ironic to say it might take an act of Congress to get this done.

All's piece points out some great resources and analysis if you're interested in IT process re-engineering. But in quick summary, she offers this from a 2008 state task force report on IT failures that are absolutely prescient:

  • Create standardized written policies for IT project procedures and uniform IT policies and procedures across agency lines. Government agencies are finally starting to realize what manufacturers and other private sector companies have known for quite some time: Companies with standardized processes operate more efficiently and cost-effectively than their less-standardized peers.
  • Use off-the-shelf software whenever possible, and require approval for software customization.
  • Create work environments in which employees can raise and resolve issues.
  • Require executive sponsorship for all IT projects.

Even as All's piece is focused on IT management, the lessons are far more broad. Simplify and streamline communication to enable your people to do more, more quickly, more clearly, without increasing the burden of support.

Tanmay Vora on virtual teams, tips support strong teams of all kinds

QAspire Blog: 10 Key Lessons On Leading Virtual Teams Effectively

All of Vora's points are accurate, but one stuck out at us more than others: "Lack of trust is one of the biggest killers in a virtual team environment. The way you manage a team tells a lot about how much you trust them."

Tells a lot? It tells everything.

When a team is away, leaders tend to get insecure and start micro-managing. They just push decisions to their teams, rather than involving them in the decision making. This works against building a culture of trust and empowerment.

We've talked about the people process before and just how important it is to model the right behaviors in your own leadership to facilitate a strong team, whether virtual or not. Remember, though, the other legs of the stool; modeling positive leadership for your people is directly supported by team-friendly processes that communicate clearly, and technology that supports communication and strategic objectives. The strongest teams emerge when all three -- the people, process, and technology variables -- are functioning at their strongest and supporting the weight of the project equally. With strong teams comes respect and trust, not only in leadership, but in one another.

Sometimes the hardest choice is choosing not to merge organizations

Harvard Pilgrim, Tufts Health Plan Call Off Merger | WBUR

From WBUR.org, Massachusetts' second and third largest health providers dissolve intentions to merge:

The surprising decision comes some five weeks after the insurers announced they were exploring a merger. On Jan. 25, the companies signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding — the first step toward a possible merger. The companies had spelled out who would lead the combined organizations and the new board.

While conducting due diligence, the insurers said it became clear a merger would not have been as financially prudent as first thought.

“We have spent the last six weeks in a vigorous process thoughtfully exploring the practical feasibility of combining our two organizations for the benefit of our customers, members and the many other people we aim to serve,” said Harvard Pilgrim CEO Eric Schultz in a statement. “As a result of this process, we have now determined that we are stronger as individual competitors than one company.”

This is a terrific example of the merger process going right. Start talks deliberately, define goals clearly, assess stakeholder reactions soberly, and make the best call for all involved. Sometimes -- as in this case -- the best call is not to merge organizations. In healthcare, in an era when the most critical path to success is in reducing costs and increasing efficiencies, it seems almost counter-intuitive to decline a merger opportunity that could yield such rewards.

Holly Green has a wonderful post over at Blogging Innovation this morning:

Blogging Innovation » Is Everyone on Your Team Running the Same Race?

Too often companies invest a lot of time and energy in creating their strategic plan, but then make almost no effort to help people understand it, buy into it, and support it. To ensure that everyone in the organization runs the same race, we need to inform, engage and inspire people -– not just once when the plan is introduced, but continually throughout the year.

While Green isn't writing specifically about the hard choices that come with merging organizations, her guidance is spot-on. Getting key stakeholders aligned--staff, vendors, and in this case patients in particular--and ensuring a sound level of understanding and confidence in the organizations to support a merger is critical to ultimate success in a new organization. As we see with Tufts and Harvard in this case, if you can't find alignment, the deal's off.

Building your legacy as a leader through focus and simplicity

Create Your Legacy as a Leader - Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review

Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi for HBR this morning:

The surest way to build a company whose leadership will outlast your own is to focus your attention on the few essential things that your company can do better than anyone else. If you can reinforce that focus in every decision you make — from mergers & acquisitions to new product launch to budgeting or cutting costs — it can help you win market share, generate sustainable growth, or even turn around a decline.

It's not about following the path of greats, they say, rather having a clear understanding of what it is that you do best. And that's the tricky part, too: understanding what you do best. It is far too easy for organizations to become mired in day-to-day at the expense of clarity. If you're in this particular boat, be critical, and make 2011 the year of simplification. For everything you do, can you draw a line up the strategic plan from that activity to your organizational objectives?

Leinwand and Mainardi offer three "drivers of coherence" which are great, though one in particular really jumps out in support of the simplification challenge: "Can my team articulate the three to six capabilities that describe what we do uniquely better than anyone else and how these capabilities support our value proposition?"

Join us at EACUBO 2011 in Philadelphia!

UPDATE: Thank you all for attending!

We had a terrific turnout at the conference and thank you all for joining us for an engaging session. We've received requests for slides, which you'll find embedded below.

 

Managing Through Change - EACUBO 2011

View more presentations from Teibel Education Consulting.

 

I'll be speaking at the EACUBO Annual Conference 2011 in Philadelphia! This is one of my favorite events, and I'm honored to be presenting with a great friend and colleague: Karen Davis, Vice President for Human Resources at Brown University. Our talk, in line with much of our current work at Teibel, is called "Managing Through Change - Helping leaders and staff adjust to accelerating change." If you'll be in Philadelphia for the event, please stop by and connect in person!

Session Details

Location: Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn's Landing Date: Thursday, 3/31/2011 Time: 3:00 - 4:15 PM

Speakers

Karen Davis, Vice President for Human Resources, Brown University Howard Teibel, President, Teibel Education Consulting.

Session Description

"It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between. It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to." Marilyn Feguson

 

Change is constant. No matter what we do, it's either foisted upon us or we're instigators of the change. Either way, it's up to us how we relate to it. Mastering handling change puts us in a better position to adjust to the growing needs across our organization. In this session you will learn how you personally relate to change and strategies to lead others through the complexity and ambiguity of a changing work environment.

For more information on the conference, visit EACUBO.org.

TED brings celebrations of wonder; Dir General of Al Jazeera celebrates the power of young voices

The TED conference is going on right now in Long Beach, CA. The theme this year is "The Rediscovery of Wonder," and given the current institution of change across the Middle East right now, it's only fitting to share this beautiful, passionate talk from earlier this week from Wadah Khanfar, Director General of Al Jazeera. Yes, it's political. But even more than politics, Khanfar celebrates the power of people -- young people, young voices -- using technology to mobilize and create change in their lives. It runs about 17 minutes and is worth every second.  

Apple unveils iPad 2 in San Francisco, reminds us of the stories we should tell every day

iPad 2 with Covers

It happened. As was widely rumored and feverishly anticipated by technology pundits around the world, iconic Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPad 2 at a media event yesterday in San Francisco. It's all really very exciting and whatnot, and the device is fascinating, useful, super-duper, etc. But the launch yesterday represents a much more interesting undercurrent in the market place for post-PC devices. The biggest question from yesterday's event?

What is wrong with every single competitor in this space?

Apple introduced the iPad 1 last year, around the same time. In the year since, Samsung has come out with a tablet running the Android operating system. Blackberry maker RIM has repeatedly announced that their tablet will be fantastic. If you have a Blackberry. And it's on, and in your pocket. They've been talking about their tablet for months with no sure sign that it's ever going to launch apart from a few happy demos at a recent technology trade event. The press seems to be aflutter with the new Motorola Xoom tablet, though Motorola can't seem to manufacture the darned things in a way that they can come anywhere close to Apple on price--the Xoom starts at $800, almost twice as much as the starting price of the iPad.

This is simply starting to look embarrassing. But there's a story here, and it's buried in this quote from Carolina Milanesi from Gartner:

Competitors are making the same mistake that mobile vendors made with their response to iPhone: they are making the battle about hardware, and with tablets this is even less the case than it was for smartphones. What you are empowered to do with your tablet makes the difference.

Apple's story has always been one of nuance, not muscle. It's about how these devices are beautiful, and at the same time invisible, allowing users to do what they want more fluidly than ever before. For Apple, these devices are a means to delivering service to users; whether that's delivering the latest books, movies, and music in a best-in-class experience, or providing a platform for developers to write great apps to do the same for their own users. This is how Apple changes the world every day, by building the tools and technologies that so elegantly convince users that they can do the same.

That's also why it's much more fun to talk about Apple than so many of their competitors. Because at the end of the day, we should all be able to look back at the activity in our own service centers and claim that we were able to deliver the same best-in-class service to our customers that Apple delivers to theirs. In higher ed, can you say that about financial aid? Administration? Facilities? Contrary to what we often trick ourselves into believing, all the towers of pomp and circumstance exist to support one core mission: to create a best-in-class environment for our students such that they may go forth and change the world themselves.

Are you leading your teams honestly? Bring the "lifestyle business" ethic to teamwork

How Female Entrepreneurs Define Success - The Entrepreneurial Mind

The good Dr. Jeff Cornwall picked up on a concept out of Erin Albert's new book, Single. Women. Entrepreneurs. I haven't read the book yet, but from the review, it sounds like it is worth picking up. The central idea of Cornwall's post is that younger entrepreneurs, led by new views of entrepreneurship from Gen X and Y women, are choosing a different sort of model as they begin to grow their businesses. From Dr. Cornwall:

"Women, especially Generations X and Y, want to make their business and personal lives and aspirations work more in harmony," Albert said. Because of this, they choose to limit the size of their businesses and not pursue outside funding from investors or loans to fuel more growth.

This approach to entrepreneurship is referred to as pursuing "a lifestyle business."

However, every business should be viewed as a lifestyle business. If you choose a business deliberately based on your goals, aspirations and values, you can create a business that is an intentional reflection of the lifestyle you'd like to live.

Ours is not an entrepreneurship blog, nor is this a post focusing on start-ups. But that last line is priceless -- it's a reminder to think about what it means to live and work intentionally. Why? Because authentic people are better communicators, better trust-builders, and deliver better, more consistent results on teams.

One of the most consistent complaints we get from leadership teams in crisis is that they don't have enough "buy-in" from team members. It's such a nebulous word, buy-in, and as it turns out, it's a couch for all the ills that come from individuals not bringing their full attention and honesty to the teams to which they belong.

Our first objective: find out what is in the way of team members participating to their fullest. Which typically leads to the first action of bringing authenticity to tough teams: cut those who don't honestly want to be involved.

Teams have personalities, and they'll model the behavior you bring to the table. If you're living and leading authentically, honestly, you'll attract those to your team who want to deliver the same.

 

Email Bankruptcy - How are you dealing with communication overload?

It's Time for a Vendetta Against Email - Alexandra Samuel

Yes, we get too much email. Given the sort of work we do, we're at the heart of creating a good bit of it with our clients, too. But this week, Alexandra Samuel lends her voice to the hue and cry for a change in perspective when it comes to the way we deal with the daily ding of our email notifications.

But with email volume rising to meet, and then exceed capacity (it's a good rule of life: volume always rises to exceed capacity), it's time for us to revisit the social convention that all answerable email deserves an answer.

Our take on email to date has been to find better ways to filter and process, to ensure that actions that stem from email get into the right systems. Turns out, there's another trend afoot: people are mad at their mail.

Samuel's method, to "put the cost of communication back on the sender," is a compelling reminder for all of us. In her case, if the sender doesn't receive a response to a message he or she felt was response-worthy, the sender would carry the responsibility to resend the message via a higher value channel -- letter? phone? tweet? -- reading Samuel, you might get the impression that anything would be a higher value communication channel than email.

We're not so bearish on email, but this serves as a good reminder for those of us who work with teams, and generally exist to help teams make processes work better (including communications processes).

We take a more McLuhan approach (remember "the medium is the message?") as we deal with communication. Our rule of thumb: as you think of the message you want to send, consider carefully the implications of the channel you choose to send it. Need a quick answer to a yes/no question? How about an SMS text message? Need to share a spreadsheet or PDF attachment? Perhaps email is still the workhorse for you. Need to get the recipient to think deeply about an important issue? No matter what the kids say, there is still to substitute for picking up the phone, or getting face-to-face to address important challenges.

When you model the sorts of behaviors you prefer in dealing with how you communicate with your teams, you'll be surprised at how quickly they reciprocate, and drive the value of email back up in the process.

Develop grit, get things done, and achieve results for yourself and your team

Nine Things Successful People Do Differently - Heidi Grant Halvorson

Heidi Grant Halvorson has a good post this morning on traits of successful people -- specifically, what successful people do to achieve the goals they set for themselves. From Halvorson:

Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

 

The good news is, if you aren't particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don't have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking .... well, there's no way to put this nicely: you are wrong.

What's more? The same can be said of ineffective teams. Just as people have individual personalities and behaviors, so do teams and departments. Any group of people working together to achieve an objective can be changed, modeled, and driven in such a way that they develop grit -- they create in themselves a more single-minded passion for achieving results.

Halvorson's post is a great read this Friday -- a terrific reminder on how top performers achieve results as individuals, and as teams.

 

Professor Michael Roberto's Blog: Can You Identify Star Employees Early On?

Professor Michael Roberto's Blog: Can You Identify Star Employees Early On?

The good professor Roberto offers an interesting find today. He's discussing how organizational leaders find high potential future leaders among entry-level ranks:

They must think about the skills and capabilities required to succeed in future leadership positions and look for signs of potential in those areas, rather than simply looking at task performance in the entry level job. After all, good technical skills often make you stand out in an entry-level job, but those capabilities don't mean you have great leadership potential. In addition, companies need to watch for the late bloomers, who perhaps take awhile to find their footing.

This is absolutely one of the top areas for improvement: promotion expertise across institutions. The great assumption -- that current performance is the primary key indicator for success as a future manager -- is rendered false with one quick swipe of the sword of leadership truth: performing a task is a different role than managing others who are performing that task.

Different jobs.

Different sports.

Not even in the same ballpark.

Too often, we see directors promote top-performing employees to team managers based on performance in the role. The logic is sound on the surface:

  1. the employee is a top performer therefore they have a deep understanding of the role and what it takes to be successful
  2. they have a track record of success which will help them build a relationship of trust with their new employees
  3. they understand the metrics by which their performance is being measured, and so on, and so on.

All these things are true.

But the challenges that come from management are so often unrelated to functional performance of the team. Managing people requires a unique skillset, one many are not prepared to learn, understand, and deliver if all they've done is the entry-level functional role. And don't forget: these promotions tend to leave a bigger hole in the team than anticipated -- promoting a top performer to middle management creates a vacuum of lost productivity in the seat they once filled.