“To Improve Your Team’s Output, Look at it Differently”
Today’s guest post is by Mike Figliuolo, co-author of Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results (you can get your copy by clicking here). You can learn more about Mike and the book at the end of the post. Here’s Mike:
Why do you pay your team members? If you asked them, they might answer “You pay us to work.” If you ask an office-based worker what “work” means to them, you’ll get a list of typical workday activities. They read and write emails. They write reports. They go to meetings and attend conference calls. Those activities that sound appropriate enough, but they don’t give a complete picture of what “work” means to you.
There are two different definitions of “work” in the dictionary. Your team members likely subscribe to the one that defines “work” as “mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment.” Given you’re responsible for your team achieving its goals, you probably lean toward the other one which defines “work” as “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.”
The two definitions are similar in that they revolve around physical or mental activity but they differ significantly on the purpose of the work. The implication here is you must hold your team members accountable for the results they achieve – not the activities they perform. That accountability contributes to the collective results your team delivers. Activities your team members think of as “work” are the inputs that go into getting the real outcome you desire – results that lead you to achieve your goals. Those are the outcomes to assess when placing team members on the Leadership Matrix.
Assessing the Output of Your Team Members
The output question leaders need to focus on is “are my team members producing the results I need given all the investments – pay, equipment, supplies, my time and energy – I’m making in them?” Assess each team member’s output – results that contribute to your team goals. To conduct this assessment, you’ll evaluate five elements of team member output:
What is the quantity of results compared to what is expected or asked of them?
How is the quality of their final work versus what is expected?
How timely is the work they deliver versus expected deadlines or durations?
To what degree do they improve morale in their immediate team?
To what extent do they improve relationships with stakeholders and colleagues outside their immediate team?
By understanding the results someone delivers at a level deeper than the easily measured numbers, you’ll have a sense not only for what they’re delivering but also how they’re delivering it. That new look at the “how” of their results will help you coach and develop them more effectively.
If you’d like to assess your team members and see where they plot on the Leadership Matrix, take our simple assessment. It will give you a sense for not only the results you get from them but what your investment of time and energy is as their leader. That combined picture will give you a much clearer approach to getting the best out of the members of your team.
– Mike Figliuolo is the co-author of Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results and the author of One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership. He’s the managing director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC – a leadership development training firm. He regularly writes about leadership on the thoughtLEADERS Blog.
“Using coaching instead of sending executives and managers to seminars two or three times a year can be more beneficial to ongoing career development, not to mention less expensive…”
~ PC Week ~
Client Fahad Asks: There are so many programs out there claiming to develop leadership in people. It’s hard to know which are effective and which are money-stealers. Isn’t there one tool that can do it all? Can’t it be simple?
Coach Joel Answers: Great question, Fahad.
When you’re looking for a tool, you want something simple, effective, and right for the job. You want best value and precise results. We all know what happens when we try to use the wrong tool for the job. It can ruin things.
To answer your question, there is something that works for developing leadership in people. It works in all cases. Like the Swiss army knife, it holds all the implements needed to solve the problem at hand.
Let’s discuss how leadership coaching can be your tool of choice.
1. Simple. Rather than buying dozens of books or manuals, courses or online lessons, choose one qualified coach. It simplifies the decision making process.
You don’t have to spend hours figuring out the trade-offs between programs. With a coach that understands your business and your succession management, you have the best possible tool.
2. Effective. Rather than programs that give a blanket approach, your coach offers leadership development keyed directly to the individual. The give-and-take feedback allows for optimum growth. People can solve their concerns, increase their skill levels, and be prepared to rise to the top.
3. Best Value. Leadership coaches can address the issues faster and more directly than any program or training series. Instead of wasting money on generic training that only is partially effective, use 100% of your funds on meaningful achievement.
Coaches can focus on the specific areas that need improvement and bring fast results.
4. Precision Results. The shot-gun effect of most training programs may leave some of your potential leaders still searching for answers to their problems. It may be they just have a few questions that could be simply addressed. But those questions are unique to them.
When you have a live coach and the give-and-take feedback, these concerns can be addressed quickly bringing instant results. Rather than taking a course to accomplish the job, a coach may build the leadership of your people very quickly.
5. Right for the Job. Because every individual is unique, the tool to help them needs to be individualized. To insure your leadership development is exactly fitted for your people, you need a leadership coach. They will adapt and fit the needs and goals of both your employees and the management.
They can offer specialized and unique training that exactly fits the needs of your rising stars. They understand the value of company culture and can work directly with management to formulate training that gives maximum results.
Fahad, you ask a good question. Rather than waste time and energy on expensive training courses, focus on individual coaching to give you effective, precise results. You’ll find that as you develop a relationship with that leadership coach he or she will be able to give you stronger leaders who are immediately effective.
If you’re seeking to develop great leaders and want a leadership coach who can give powerful, prompt results, contact Joel.
Talkback: How have you found leadership coaching effective for you or your company?
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“We bring together the best ideas – turning the meetings of our top managers into intellectual orgies.”
~ Jack Welch ~
No one says it more eloquently than nationally syndicated columnist Dave Barry:
“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved and never will achieve its full potential that word would be ‘meetings’.”
It’s tough to argue with him. If you’re like most managers, you’ll spend 8 to 10 hours each week in meetings. In fact, according to a University of Arizona study, there are more than 11 million formal meetings each day, totaling a staggering three billion a year.
Yet in study after study, workers cite meetings as one of the most unproductive and frustrating parts of their jobs. Wasting almost $40-billion each year, it’s no wonder that Industry Week Magazine called meetings “The Great White Collar Crime.” But you don’t have to be a victim.
Listed below are seven simple steps you can take to make meetings more productive and, heaven forbid, even fun. I encourage you to share these tips with others on your team. Working together, you can be the business equivalent of a “neighborhood watch program,” stamping out this insidious crime, one meeting at a time.
- Determine if a meeting is really necessary. Will a few phone calls or face-to-face discussions accomplish the same thing? One client of mine uses her company’s mission and values as a measuring stick. If she can’t relate the purpose of the proposed meeting to company goals, she will cancel it.
- Have an agenda. A no-brainer you say? Yes, but amazingly enough, more than 60 percent of meetings do not have prepared agendas. This simple step can cut unproductive meeting time by up to 80 percent. Your agenda should be specific, not vague. For example, “Garfinkle Project” isn’t as effective as “Determine funding and priorities for Garfinkle Project.” And be sure to distribute your agenda ahead of time with the appropriate background information.
- Invite only those who will contribute to your success. What’s more important? Hurting someone’s feelings or achieving the success of your project? The fewer people involved, the more productive the meeting. Likewise, don’t feel obligated to go to meetings just because you were invited. Ask yourself, “Could I spend this time on something more important?” If the answer is “yes,” suggest someone from your team to represent you.
- Communicate your objectives and desired outcomes. Everyone in the room should know, in advance, the purpose of the meeting, why they were invited, and what they are expected to contribute.
- Start on time. “Don’t make exceptions,” recommends Harold Taylor, a Time Consulting firm. “If someone arrives late, explain to him or her that you are now on item two or whatever. Don’t apologize for starting on time and resist the temptation to summarize the progress to date for every late arrival. If they ask, tell them you’ll update them after the meeting.”
- Stay focused. Determine time limits for each topic and stick to them. If something comes up that’s not on the agenda, reschedule it for discussion at another time. Taylor suggests placing priority items that will generate the least discussion at the beginning of the agenda, while saving contentious items to the end.
- Summarize and assign responsibility. Before adjourning, summarize the action items, who is responsible for each, and in what timeframe. Schedule the next meeting, but only if one is really necessary.
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
~Peter F. Drucker~
Client Jakob Asks: I’m in upper management in an international corporation and I want to move higher in my company. My peers have leveraged corporate executive coaching. Sometimes I see great results, but sometime I don’t see that it made a dramatic difference for them. What can I do to make sure my executive coaching boosts me up the corporate ladder?
Coach Joel Answers: Executive coaching is a significant investment, not only in money, but in time and commitment. You want it to be meaningful to you.
What you get out of it depends on how much effort you put into it.
Be an Active Participant
A tepid response to coaching will produce weak improvement. To get the most from your coaching you need to approach it with goals in mind. Discuss them with your coach and then focus on them.
1. Build New Skills. The skills and traits that have gotten you to this point are not sufficient to take you to the very top of the corporate ladder. Your coach will help you build skills sets and habits for the level of management you will be doing.
2. Be Present. When you meet with your coach, close off all distractions. Don’t answer the phone or email or search the web. Focus. Give your entire attention to presenting issues and seeking solutions.
3. Be Teachable. Humility sometimes seems at odds with confidence that comes with a top corporate job. But true confidence allows you to be humble and teachable. Jakob, when you resist criticism or new ideas, you stop your progress. Be willing to accept ideas without rebutting or rationalizing. Consider their merit. Be eager for growth. Then you set the stage for great progress.
4. Be Committed to Success. In the beginning, you gave me the top 3 goals you wanted to gain from this engagement. Make it meaningful and achievable goals. Then be willing to do what it takes to accomplish it. Your coach will guide you and give you suggestions and insights that will help you reach your goals faster than you could on your own.
5. Take Action. Learning without doing is like sitting at dinner without eating. It accomplishes little. The natural next step to learning is putting what you’ve learned into action. There is a tendency to think you don’t know enough.
Often people enter this learning mode without moving forward. Resist it. Once you know, take action. Yes, you’ll need to refine and correct. But your learning increases as you act on what you know.
6. Overcome Fears. Change involves risk. It’s moving out of the safe zone into the unknown. Your coach understands that, and you should too. Be willing to take that risk. Dare to be great. Stumbles are a part of life. Don’t stand still because you are unwilling to make a mistake.
7. Break Habits. Powerful, significant executive coaching takes place when clients are willing and ready to break habits that are holding them back. Your coach will help you recognize what traits are limiting you.
But only you can make the decision that your success is more important than those old habits. If you want your coaching to have the desired results, you must be willing to leave the restraining behaviors behind.
Jakob, you are smart to start achieving now. Building new skills takes time. But when you commit to achieving your goal and are willing to put in the focus, time and effort, you’ll see that your corporate executive coaching will take you where you want to go.
When you connect a skilled executive coach with a willing, motivated manager you will see the dramatic results you desire.
If you’re interested in making the most of your corporate executive coaching experience talk to Joel. He will help you focus, step out in new ways, and build habits of success. Connect now.
Talkback: How successful has your executive coaching experience been? What was the thing that had the most impact on your upward advancement?
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How Can I get the Skills I Learn from Executive Coaching to Stick? How can I get that training to actually become part of me?
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it”
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower ~
Q: Jamie asks: I read lots of material on how to improve in organization, skill level, and leadership. I work at it for a few days. Then I find myself going back to my old way of doing things. How can I actually change myself permanently?
A: Coach Joel Answers: You ask a great question, Jamie. This is the secret to success in all walks of life: Knowing how to take information and apply it in your life.
One technique is to take your Executive Coaching and train like an athlete. Athletes take their training seriously. As you think of yourself as an “Executive Athlete,” you may be motivated to stick to your plan.
1. Think about it daily. Athletes make training a priority. They think about it and plan time to practice their skill every day. Calendar your training. What can you do today to exercise your skills and train you to build the habits you want?
2. Make a commitment to train. You already know what you need to do. This is a great step forward. You have the desire to change. That, too, is a valuable piece of the pie. Now you need to make the decision to train every day. Like an athlete, you will start small.
Too often, athletes… and executives… find a great skill and think they can master it immediately. They train so vigorously for a few days that they are exhausted by the effort and stop training.
Instead, start at a deliberate, achievable pace. Master one trait and then go on to the next.
3. Hire the best executive coach and follow his training plan. Athletes don’t try to go it alone. Most often great athletes work under skilled coaches. You will find you progress more successfully when you have a coach at your side to help with your training.
An executive coach will keep you on track and make sure you take logical, necessary, and most meaningful steps. They will cheer your progress.
4. Measure your success and improvement. Every great athlete has goals to reach. They measure their progress toward those goals in milliseconds. Measure and celebrate every increment of change you see in yourself.
Set benchmarks and standards. Evaluate your improvement daily, weekly, and monthly. Soon you will see your habits of leadership developing.
5. Challenge yourself to do better. Only you know if your pace is too easy or strenuous. Challenge yourself to become the best executive you can. Use coaching and training to help you reach this goal. Don’t settle for okay. Reach for the best you can be.
6. Take a set-back, learn from it, and move forward. Know there will be setbacks. Athletes get sick or injured and have to regroup and start training again. There will be days you slip. Don’t let one failure stop your training. Get back up, give yourself a break for the moment, and get started again.
7. Reward yourself. You may not earn an Olympic metal, but you can still reward yourself for your success in executive training. You’ve followed your coach. You’ve seen success. Celebrate!
When you take the challenge to change your habits, you’ve started on a new venture. With executive coach training, you join the ranks of professional athletes. You establish goals, training methods, and measure your successes. The end results are habits of leadership that will benefit you and your organization.
To jumpstart your executive coaching and become the executive athlete you want to be, contact Joel.
Talkback: What methods have you used to change knowledge into habits? Let me know.
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