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5 Great Ways To Hack Your Leadership Style

Our world is run by leadership decisions, good or bad. We learn that the FBI spent about 1.3 million to hack an iPhone, when director James Comey finally divulges just enough information. A top talk show host steps off the set in a legitimate huff and the network is caught short. Google the word “leader” and you’ll get, on a given day, some 1,070,000,000 results — partially because someone made decisions in what we’d see. Leading is a hot seat and some of us embrace it and some of us don’t. And there are always ways to do it better.

But whatever you do, it’s going to be reflected in the organization. So here are five ways to shift to a far better model:

  1. Turn it inside-out.The hyper-collaborative, ideaphoric culture at Google is nowhere more apparent than with the X team, tasked with the most audacious problem solving there is. To save time and resources and push their own vision, they conduct pre-mortems to kill their best ideas, trying to predict in advance why an idea is going to tank.
  1. Forget nice. Despite the trend to see leaders as benign, ethical, moral, centered people, they’re not always. Some theorize that it’s not even necessary: in fact,sometimes good behavior is actually counter-productive, and slows down implementation. Forget about finding your emotional true north. Just get it done.
  1. Hands off, but be present. A leader having her or his hands in every single task may seem like a nice idea, but it jumbles up the works. Let the managers do their jobs but don’tabsent yourself from the day to day: far more validating to let them run with it, and then be there when you’re needed. Enabling your teams to find their way out of a snag is far better and probably more cost-effective than grabbing the wheel to drive a solution.
  1. Embrace difference. Organizational true north is when all are working towards a shared mission: That’s where the conformity should be. A leader sets the compass point so everyone else can get on the same path. But that doesn’t mean everyone takes the same route, or handles it the same way. Shoehorning behavior is a myth: It’sactionthat needs to conform. Don’t mistake shared mission for uniform conformity. 
  1. Stay open. The world of work is vertical: It’s nearly impossible to not be thrust into a position of having to lead whether they want to or not. So practice. Try different techniques. Get the books and test out their theories. If someone’s approach appeals, take a closer look. Collect those good quotes, those chestnuts of wisdom that make you feel a little bolder. Align that sense of growth and wonder with your culture.

Gaining a true, well-honed self-awareness of what makes you tick as a leader and what doesn’t will drive you to be far more authentic. It won’t go unnoticed. The one thing you can’t change about leadership is that it will drive the company culture, like it or not. Among the famously worst leaders of last year was the beleaguered head of Volkswagen, whose relentless pursuit of numbers led to a culture of scandalously bad decision making. No question of responsibility there. But the world is filled of terrific examples of great leaders making remarkable decisions that changed the world. You’re probably using one to read this.

Does an organization ever act on its own, despite a leader? Even if they do, they’re inheriting that unilateral impulse from the leader — what looks like despite is actually because. The truth is, regardless of size, scope, mission, or brand, an organization cannot run without a leader, and no leader is an island. You can quote me on that.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Behavior In Business: 8 Human Insights Leaders Should Know

It’s impossible to be in the business world each day and not feel psychology at work. Each of us brings our human nature to a job — regardless of our title, expertise or organizational setting.

Leaders who value the psychological aspects of work life are much more likely to gain trust and inspire top performance from their teams.

These concepts may seem simple, but they can complicate workplace dynamics, and their impact is often measurable. That’s why they deserve attention from anyone who works with and through others to achieve business goals.

Are you thinking today’s leaders already “get it”? If so, this may surprise you…

Leadership Has Evolved? Not So Fast

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article, “Now You Know Why Your Boss Is Such An Ape.” It reminds us of how strong and predictable the force of nature can be — especially in a business context. It can be easy to forget that we’re animals — yet we share 99.9% of our genes with apes. In fact, if we compare their behavioral patterns with ours, the similarities are striking.

For example, in both cases, leaders often act cold, or even show disrespect to subordinates in an effort to claim dominance as the “alpha male.” On the other hand, those same leaders are likely to display an incredible amount of respect when interacting with their superiors.

8 Key Behavioral Concepts For Leaders

Psychology offers many more striking insights. Here are 8 that should serve every leader well. It’s not important to remember the terms — but if you remember the concepts, you’ll have a clear advantage in the world of work:

1) Observational Learning

Human learning begins with observation. This is vital for leaders to remember, because employees tend do what you do, not what you say. Those who look up to you will want to model themselves after you. And if your words and actions don’t align, the consequences can harm your organizational culture.

This kind of behavior starts early in humans, as was illustrated in the famous Bobo doll experiment — where children were asked to spend time in a room with an adult. After witnessing the adult display aggressively and verbally abusive behavior toward the doll, children acted in a similar way.

2) Social Contagion

This is the theory of how ideas and emotions spread and go viral. It’s important to recognize this tendancy, especially within a company culture. If a few employees become disengaged, the negativity can spread across the entire company quicker than you might expect.

This concept was illustrated in a University of Michigan study that monitored the spread of eating disorders throughout college campuses. It’s important to look for early signals and work proactively to reverse the impact.

3) Groupthink

Groupthink can be particularly dangerous, so it’s important to remain alert. It’s tricky, because team building activities are beneficial, but too much cohesion can be detrimental.

Groupthink tends to surface when teams take on a mind of their own — usually because members want to avoid conflict within the group. This leads to poor decision making, because groups don’t fully evaluate circumstances, and members are influenced by the rest of the group to comply.

Sometimes groupthink can be an unintended consequence of brainstorming. Rather than creating an atmosphere where multiple participants are inspired to generate a broader spectrum of creative ideas, the brainstorming process itself dampens the creativity of each member.

4) Minimal Group Paradigm

We’ve all seen “cliques” develop in schools and other social environments — that’s essentially minimal group paradigm in action. It’s about arbitrary distinctions between groups (for example, differences in the color of clothing) that lead people to favor one group over another.

Of course, harmful cliques can develop among adults in corporate cultures. However, leaders can avoid this by encouraging team building that reaches across arbitrary boundaries, and supports everyone as part of the same larger group.

5) Social Loafing

Initially I assumed this was about people who lie on the couch while browsing on Facebook — but it’s really much more interesting than that. Over 100 years ago, a study found that people put in 50% less effort when playing tug of war in a team of 8 compared to playing it alone. In other words, we tend to slack off when our efforts can’t be distinguished from the efforts of our teammates.

As important as team building is, autonomy and individuality is an important way to keep people motivated. This sounds counter-intuitive to need for humans to feel they belong to groups. However, there’s a delicate balance between motivating humans as individuals and as team members.

6) Stanford Prison Experiment

This is one my favorite lessons from the realm of psychology. In a Stanford University experiment, participants were assigned roles as prisoners and prison guards in a pseudo prison environment. Guard adapted to their new roles much quicker than expected, and guards became very authoritative and abusive toward prisoners.

This is obviously important for leaders to understand, because job roles clearly have an effect on our perception of ourselves and others. Be careful how you assign titles and responsibilities, and how you manage those expectations within your ranks, over time.

7) Prisoner’s Dilemma

This is another famous psychological experiment that underscores the importance of accountability within teams.

The prisoner’s dilemma is a game where the “rewards” are prison terms. There are 2 prisoners, A and B. If both prisoners betray each other, they each serve a 2 year jail sentence. If prisoner A betrays prisoner B, prisoner A goes free and prisoner B gets 3 years (and vice versa). If they both remain silent, they each serve only 1 year. Of course, it’s in both players’ best interest to stay silent. However, typically, the fear of betrayal leads both to betray each other.

This reminds us that trust and communication is essential for individual and team success — and that the definition of “success” is influenced by self interest.

8) Halo Effect

The halo effect is a popular concept among brand marketers, but it also can apply to perceptions of an employee. In marketing, humans develop positive perceptions of a product when respected sources describe it in positive terms, or when the brand develops strong associations with other attractive brands.

In the workplace, the halo effect involve bias that is either positive or negative. For example, when a leader likes an employee, they may attribute other positive traits to them (e.g. they’re smarter or more committed than others) even if it’s not accurate. This can obviously become a problem, if it affects the leader’s decisions. The best way to avoid this trap is to focus on objective measures of performance.

Obviously, this is just a taste of the behavioral research that can inform workplace leadership. But anyone can learn more — there are tons of great learning resources available online.

How do you see psychology at work in your organization? What has worked for you and what hasn’t? Share your thoughts in the comments area.

JacobShriarAbout the Author: Jacob Shriar is the Growth Manager at Officevibe, an employee engagement platform. He’s passionate about company culture, and he blogs regularly on productivity, employee engagement, and career tips. When he’s not reinventing the world over a glass of scotch, he likes to find new skills to learn. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more.

 

Does Your Workforce Feel The Love? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for full highlights and resource links from this week’s events? See the #TChat Recap: “Employee Engagement: Say It Like You Mean It.“)

At one point or another, all of us have felt it.

You know what I mean. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, when you suddenly realize someone you desperately want to pursue is simply just … not that into you.

Talk all you want about The 5 Love Languages or 50 Shades of Grey. No amount of self-help advice or passionate persuasion is likely to alter the destiny of that relationship.

Employer Love: Beyond Hearts and Flowers

Fortunately, it’s a different story for relationships between employers and employees. Even companies that haven’t connected with their workforce in meaningful ways can turn a lackluster situation around. But what’s the best approach? And is it really worth the effort?

That’s the topic the TalentCulture community is taking on this week at #TChat Events. And we’re fortunate to be welcoming two guests who understand the importance of developing solid employer/employee bonds: Chris Boyce, CEO at Virgin Pulse, and Kevin Herman, Director of Worksite Wellness at The Horton Group.

Sneak Peek

Both of these executives see tremendous potential in strengthening employee loyalty and engagement by focusing on lifestyle fundamentals — health and well-being. Last year, Chris explained in a Bloomberg broadcast interview why it’s wise to invest in workforce wellness, especially in the face of rising healthcare costs and reduced benefits. Watch now:

Recently, Chris contributed a TalentCulture post expanding on this concept. In “Workplace Wellness: The Story Starts With Healthy Culture,” he makes the business case for embracing next-generation wellness programs — not just to promote employee health, but to build a more resilient business, overall.

What do you think about the importance of wellness programs and other employee engagement strategies in demonstrating employer “love”? This topic affects all of us in the world of work, so we hope you’ll join the #TChat crowd this week and add your perspective to the conversation.

#TChat Events: Love Your Employees, They’ll Love You Back

#TChat Radio — Wed, Feb 12 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Chris Boyce and  Kevin Herman about why and how employers should demonstrate their commitment to workforce well-being. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Feb 12 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community, in a dynamic live chat.

Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: Why does workforce recognition and engagement matter more than ever?
Q2: What are the best ways employers can demonstrate this kind of “love”?
Q3: Where have you seen engagement in action, for better or worse?
Q4: What technologies help nurture workforce engagement?
Q5: What kind of engagement metrics are relevant and useful?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and on our new G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Where's Your Inner HERO? Positivity at Work

The Business Value Of Positive Psychology

Most of us are familiar with the terms “economic capital” and “human capital” — two fundamentals of modern business. But what about the notion of “psychological capital,” and its role in driving individual and organizational performance?

Researchers have been studying the application of Positive Psychology in the workplace, and a growing body of evidence demonstrates that a positive mindset affects our attitudes toward work, as well as the subsequent outcomes. As Dr. Fred Luthans explains in the video at the end of this post, our “psychological capital” can, indeed, have a significant impact upon work and career.

Previously, I’ve discussed how the tenets of positive psychology hold great potential as a guide to help individuals and organizations elevate workplace happiness. Overall, the movement focuses on identifying and building on what is “right” with our work lives — emphasizing our strengths, celebrating smaller successes, expressing gratitude. Central to this theory is the mechanism that helps us build our “psychological resources,” and use this collected energy to digest and cope with our work lives.

Finding Your Workplace “HERO”

To provide a practical framework for this concept, researchers have developed what they aptly call the Psychological Capital (PsyCap) construct. It features various psychological resources (a.k.a. “HERO” resources) that are central to our work life experiences. We combine these resources in various ways to meet the challenges of our daily work lives.

What are HERO resources?

Hope: Belief in the ability to persevere toward goals and find methods to reach them
Efficacy: Confidence that one can put forth the effort to affect outcomes
Resilience: Ability to bounce back in the face of adversity or failure
Optimism: A generally positive view of work and the potential of success

Finding Your Workplace HERO

Notably, studies have established (Avey, Luthans, et al., 2011) a clear positive relationship between PsyCap and multiple desired workplace outcomes, including job satisfaction, organizational commitment and psychological well-being. Moreover, the construct correlates negatively with undesirable organizational behaviors, including cynicism, anxiety, stress, and the intention to resign.

If you’re an employer, you’re probably wondering if you can improve the strength of an employee’s HERO resources over time. On a promising note, PsyCap appears to be a “state like” quality that is open to change. This contrasts with traits that tend to be largely stable over time, such as the “Big 5” personality traits — extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.

Assuming that psychological capital can be developed and strengthened over time, there are broad implications for key workplace behavior conventions, such as the nature of performance feedback, modes of learning and development, role design and leadership style.

Do you feel that focusing on PsyCap could enhance your work life or organizational culture? How would you apply this concept in your world of work?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTCU80iiaeM

(Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from a LinkedIn Influencer post, with permission.)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome for events, or to join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: CGArtiste (Superman is © DC Comics)

Where’s Your Inner HERO? Positivity at Work

The Business Value Of Positive Psychology

Most of us are familiar with the terms “economic capital” and “human capital” — two fundamentals of modern business. But what about the notion of “psychological capital,” and its role in driving individual and organizational performance?

Researchers have been studying the application of Positive Psychology in the workplace, and a growing body of evidence demonstrates that a positive mindset affects our attitudes toward work, as well as the subsequent outcomes. As Dr. Fred Luthans explains in the video at the end of this post, our “psychological capital” can, indeed, have a significant impact upon work and career.

Previously, I’ve discussed how the tenets of positive psychology hold great potential as a guide to help individuals and organizations elevate workplace happiness. Overall, the movement focuses on identifying and building on what is “right” with our work lives — emphasizing our strengths, celebrating smaller successes, expressing gratitude. Central to this theory is the mechanism that helps us build our “psychological resources,” and use this collected energy to digest and cope with our work lives.

Finding Your Workplace “HERO”

To provide a practical framework for this concept, researchers have developed what they aptly call the Psychological Capital (PsyCap) construct. It features various psychological resources (a.k.a. “HERO” resources) that are central to our work life experiences. We combine these resources in various ways to meet the challenges of our daily work lives.

What are HERO resources?

Hope: Belief in the ability to persevere toward goals and find methods to reach them
Efficacy: Confidence that one can put forth the effort to affect outcomes
Resilience: Ability to bounce back in the face of adversity or failure
Optimism: A generally positive view of work and the potential of success

Finding Your Workplace HERO

Notably, studies have established (Avey, Luthans, et al., 2011) a clear positive relationship between PsyCap and multiple desired workplace outcomes, including job satisfaction, organizational commitment and psychological well-being. Moreover, the construct correlates negatively with undesirable organizational behaviors, including cynicism, anxiety, stress, and the intention to resign.

If you’re an employer, you’re probably wondering if you can improve the strength of an employee’s HERO resources over time. On a promising note, PsyCap appears to be a “state like” quality that is open to change. This contrasts with traits that tend to be largely stable over time, such as the “Big 5” personality traits — extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.

Assuming that psychological capital can be developed and strengthened over time, there are broad implications for key workplace behavior conventions, such as the nature of performance feedback, modes of learning and development, role design and leadership style.

Do you feel that focusing on PsyCap could enhance your work life or organizational culture? How would you apply this concept in your world of work?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTCU80iiaeM

(Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from a LinkedIn Influencer post, with permission.)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome for events, or to join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: CGArtiste (Superman is © DC Comics)

Violence On The Job: It Pays To Prepare #TChat Recap

“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” ―Gen. George S. Patton

This week’s #TChat events coincided with the anniversary of a difficult date in U.S. history — September 11. As our nation considered lessons learned from terrorist events 12 years ago, our TalentCulture community came together to crowdsource ideas about a topic that is vital every day of the year: How to prevent workplace violence, and prepare for incidents that may occur.

Workplace Violence Stats

Learn more – read “Stopping Workplace Violence” at CFO Magazine

According to OSHA, workplace violence includes a range of behaviors that put workers at risk while on the job — from verbal threats and abuse to physical assault and even homicide. How prevalent are these harmful incidents? Some notable facts:

• Each year, more than 2 million Americans report that they have been victims of violence in the workplace. (See details from the U.S. Dept. of Labor.)

• A surprising proportion of incidents are fatal. As the adjacent image illustrates, nearly 20% of on-the-job fatalities are associated with workplace violence, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

• Workplace violence is estimated to cost employers a whopping $120 billion a year. And of course, the human toll is incalculable.

For these reasons alone, workplace violence is a growing concern that deserves serious attention.

Violence At Work: What To Do?

To lead this week’s conversation, we welcomed two experts:
• Tom Bronack, President of Data Center Assistance Group, specialists in enterprise resiliency.
Felix Nater, Founder of Nater Associates, a business security advisory firm.

On #TChat Radio, Tom explained that companies can achieve more effective compliance and recovery through a strategy of enterprise resiliency — combining all recovery operations and personnel in a single entity that speaks the same language and uses the same tool set. Why is this important? As Tom noted during the #TChat Twitter discussion:

Felix emphasized the need for proactive violence prevention programs in the workplace, explaining that preparation can decrease incidents by improving problem solving and conflict resolution. He also noted that broader awareness is worth the investment of time, energy and resources to identify threats and mitigate risks. During the Twitter chat, he suggested a handy mnemonic:

He also cautioned us that results come from solid planning, in concert with effective execution:

Tom and Felix inspired many participants to join the conversation last night. Thanks to everyone who contributed opinions and insights! Highlights are captured in the Storify slideshow below, along with resource links from the week. We invite you to review these ideas and share them with others. Who knows? You could be a catalyst to make your organization a safer place to work!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Violence Prevention In Today’s Workplace

SUN 9/8:

Nater and Bronack_KK2

See the preview post and videos

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald introduced the topic, in a post that featured brief “sneak peek” G+ Hangout videos with both of our guests. Read the Preview: “Workplace Violence: Myth and Reality.”

MON 9/9:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro outlined 5 ways that organizations can be proactive in maintaining a safe workplace culture. Read: “Is Your Workplace Prepared For Violence?”

WED 9/11:

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio: As a prelude to our open Twitter chat, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, talked with Felix Nater and Tom Bronack about best practices in workplace violence prevention and preparedness, while community members added their thoughts on the #TChat Twitter backchannel.

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, I joined Felix, Tom, Meghan, Kevin and our entire community on the #TChat Twitter stream for an open discussion focused on 5 key workplace violence questions. For highlights from the conversation, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Workplace Violence & Preparedness

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-workplace-violence-and-preparednes.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Felix Nater and Tom Bronack for joining us this week. Your insights are raising awareness and providing solutions that make the world of work a more secure, productive place for us all.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about workplace safety? We’d love to share your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we tackle another timely topic in today’s workplace: Creative ways to leverage big data in recruiting top talent. This promises to be a really interesting peek into candidate profiling. So save the date (September 18) for another rockin #TChat double header. And keep an eye out for details in the next few days.

Meanwhile, the World of Work conversation continues! So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and your thoughts are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Graeme Lawton via Flickr

Who's On Your List? Advice For Rising Stars From Yum! CEO

Written by Bob Burg

In his excellent book, Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen,” iconic Yum! Brands Chairman and CEO, David Novak explains the importance of getting inside the heads of those we wish to influence. In other words, it’s not enough for us to want or desire a goal — we must know what motivates and drives the people we wish to take along with us.

It starts with genuine interest and caring about their needs, wants, goals and desires. But even that is not enough! Why? Because the following error can render our ideas nearly useless. According to Mr. Novak:

“One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is not thinking through all the people they have to lead to get where they want to go.”

He recommends that we ask ourselves who we need to affect, influence or take with us in order to be successful. As a former marketing executive, he compares this to a marketer trying to identify potential customers. And he believes that this list is absolutely essential.

When suggesting likely candidates, he casts a broad net: “your boss, your coworkers, people on your team, people from other departments whose help you’ll need — even people from outside your organization, such as shareholders, vendors, customers or business partners.”

Implications for Intrapreneurs

What does this mean for those among us who operate as “intrapreneurs” — those who work in an entrepreneurial way as employees of larger organizations? If you’re determined to make things happen as a leader (whether you have a formal title or not), but you don’t take Mr. Novak’s advice to heart, be prepared for a sudden halt in your progress.

His advice reminds me of a leadership failure or two from my past. In those situations, I’m fairly sure I persuaded those I targeted. However, my list was too short. I left out key “needed people,” and never even tried to obtain their buy-in. This wasn’t intentional; it was more a matter of not thinking things through and considering all the people whose commitment I would need. And inevitably I paid the price.

Network Relations: Connecting The Dots

Those were painful lessons, but I needed to experience them in order to grow. Or perhaps I could have avoided the pain, if Mr. Novak’s book had been available at the time. I’m not sure I would have understood without my first-hand experience as a reference point. But if there’s one thing better than learning from our own painful experience, it’s learning from someone else’s wisdom (which, most likely, was based on their own painful experience).

So, in that spirit, I encourage anyone who is on a path to intrapreneurial success to be sure and dot the I’s and cross the T’s — not just in terms of selling your vision, but in selling it to everyone who needs to be sold.

BobBurgHRHeadshotLearn More! Listen now to Bob’s 1-on-1 chat with David Novak, “Taking People With You,” where he shares numerous hard-hitting, valuable ideas from his book.

(Author Profile: Corporate speaker, Bob Burg, is coauthor of the International bestseller, “The Go-Giver.” His newest book, “Adversaries Into Allies” is scheduled for a late October release. Bob was a featured guest on #TChat events in early September, where he helped our community focus on ways that intrapreneurs can create business value within organizations. To learn more about Bob and connect with him on Social Media, visit www.burg.com.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Who’s On Your List? Advice For Rising Stars From Yum! CEO

Written by Bob Burg

In his excellent book, Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen,” iconic Yum! Brands Chairman and CEO, David Novak explains the importance of getting inside the heads of those we wish to influence. In other words, it’s not enough for us to want or desire a goal — we must know what motivates and drives the people we wish to take along with us.

It starts with genuine interest and caring about their needs, wants, goals and desires. But even that is not enough! Why? Because the following error can render our ideas nearly useless. According to Mr. Novak:

“One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is not thinking through all the people they have to lead to get where they want to go.”

He recommends that we ask ourselves who we need to affect, influence or take with us in order to be successful. As a former marketing executive, he compares this to a marketer trying to identify potential customers. And he believes that this list is absolutely essential.

When suggesting likely candidates, he casts a broad net: “your boss, your coworkers, people on your team, people from other departments whose help you’ll need — even people from outside your organization, such as shareholders, vendors, customers or business partners.”

Implications for Intrapreneurs

What does this mean for those among us who operate as “intrapreneurs” — those who work in an entrepreneurial way as employees of larger organizations? If you’re determined to make things happen as a leader (whether you have a formal title or not), but you don’t take Mr. Novak’s advice to heart, be prepared for a sudden halt in your progress.

His advice reminds me of a leadership failure or two from my past. In those situations, I’m fairly sure I persuaded those I targeted. However, my list was too short. I left out key “needed people,” and never even tried to obtain their buy-in. This wasn’t intentional; it was more a matter of not thinking things through and considering all the people whose commitment I would need. And inevitably I paid the price.

Network Relations: Connecting The Dots

Those were painful lessons, but I needed to experience them in order to grow. Or perhaps I could have avoided the pain, if Mr. Novak’s book had been available at the time. I’m not sure I would have understood without my first-hand experience as a reference point. But if there’s one thing better than learning from our own painful experience, it’s learning from someone else’s wisdom (which, most likely, was based on their own painful experience).

So, in that spirit, I encourage anyone who is on a path to intrapreneurial success to be sure and dot the I’s and cross the T’s — not just in terms of selling your vision, but in selling it to everyone who needs to be sold.

BobBurgHRHeadshotLearn More! Listen now to Bob’s 1-on-1 chat with David Novak, “Taking People With You,” where he shares numerous hard-hitting, valuable ideas from his book.

(Author Profile: Corporate speaker, Bob Burg, is coauthor of the International bestseller, “The Go-Giver.” His newest book, “Adversaries Into Allies” is scheduled for a late October release. Bob was a featured guest on #TChat events in early September, where he helped our community focus on ways that intrapreneurs can create business value within organizations. To learn more about Bob and connect with him on Social Media, visit www.burg.com.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Employee Communication: 4 Ways to Engage

A Too-Familiar Story

Let’s say you’re trying to buy a jacket online. There’s a problem with your purchase, so you call customer service, and they put you on hold. (Waiting…) Finally you reach a robot voice informing you that the call center is closed. You really want the jacket, so you persist.

Hours (or perhaps even days) later, you connect with a live representative who is unable to offer the assistance you need to resolve the problem. What seemed like an easy problem to fix has become a headache, a time-suck, and a shadow over your relationship with the company. Not only is this jacket transaction in jeopardy, but the next time you’re in the market for clothes, you’re likely to shop somewhere else.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

So, what really happened in this scenario? The company failed in a critical way — it did not provide clear pathways of communication and support to resolve your issue, at the moment of need. The brand has lost credibility with a “ready-t0-buy” customer, the company has damaged its relationship with you, and the outcome will translate into lost revenue now and perhaps in the future.

How does this customer experience story translate to the human resources side of business? The audience may be different, but the takeaway is identical: For both customer and employee engagement, communication is vital — especially when issues arise. Just like customers, employees want the ability to ask question, discuss problems, offer constructive feedback and propose suggestions. They want to feel that their concerns and ideas are heard and addressed.

These are the fundamentals of employee engagement. It is HR’s job to support engagement in the workplace, from end-to-end, and clear lines of communication are the most effective way to accomplish that.

4 Workplace Communication Strategies

When I think about my own experiences, both as a customer and as an employee, it’s easy to remember the times when I felt I was heard — or not. Based on those experiences, here are my top four communication strategies for boosting engagement:

1) Be Available:  To improve the way an organization works, employees need a champion — someone on the inside to share suggestions with. It doesn’t matter whether this ambassador is a manager, an HR representative, a colleague, or event a group of peers. What matters is that there is clearly a door through which individuals can bring questions, concerns and opinions.

2) Listen To My Needs:  Don’t be too quick to dismiss new ideas. Every employee has a unique perspective, and although every suggestion won’t be feasible, each one should be valued. Suggestions reflect your employees’ individual experiences, and therefore, represent part of your company’s culture. Validate ideas by acknowledging contributions, as well as the spirit behind them.

3) Be On My Side:  Every team needs a leader whom they can trust to represent their best interests. And every employee needs a champion who will be their advocate, even in their absence. When you demonstrate support for others, you reinforce their value within the organization. No one likes to feel unimportant — from there it’s a short step to disengagement.

4) Find A Solution:  Not all feedback can be put into action — sometimes for very good reasons. However, leaders and employees can work together to examine the root causes of a key issue, or to integrate appropriate elements of a suggestion, or to brainstorm and investigate other solutions. This follow-through shows employees that their voices matter.

Have you tried these or other communication techniques to improve employee engagement? What worked for you? Share your experiences in the comments area below.

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