“The real art of communication is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
~ Unknown ~
Josh is a sales executive at a medium-size software company. He’s always made his numbers and hit his quotas. As he advanced in the organization, his responsibility and the number of people he manages have increased. Josh’s career goal is to become VP of sales within the next year.
He’s always known how to get results, but his fatal flaw is that he has no idea how to manage his people. The bigger his team grew, the more his abrasive and combative style got in his way. Word got back to HR that he was a bully, a hard-ass, blunt, and intimidating. Ultimately, this information was documented and he was laid off.
However, his boss’s boss saw potential in Josh. He liked the work he did and could see he really wanted to learn and grow, to get past his weakness in managing people. The boss knew that, if given the right tools and support, Josh could be extremely valuable to the organization.
When a position opened up, Josh was hired back. This time he was provided with employee training in the form of an executive coach, management training, mentoring and sponsorship. Here are the initial actions his coach took as he helped Josh design a game plan for success.
- He appealed to Josh’s self-interest. The coach asked Josh one critical question: “Given how your co-workers perceive you, what do think will happen to your goal of becoming sales VP if you don’t do anything?’ Following Josh’s answer the coach replied, “So persuade me that there are advantages for you to make some changes in your attitude and behavior, if sales VP is what you really want?”
- He helped Josh see reality. Using his last 360 before he was terminated, his coach painted a clear picture of how he was perceived by others during his employee training. Abrasive people are prone to blame others for their bad behavior, since they often see themselves as superior and all-knowing. Josh soon understood that, in order for the situation to change, he must change. He started by planning his communication in meetings and one-on-ones in advance, which helped him avoid the sarcastic, off-the-cuff remarks that had alienated his co-workers in the past.
- He played to Josh’s competitive nature. The final question was, “So do you really think you can do this? Can you really change to the point where others perceive you differently?” Josh took that as a challenge. “Of course I can,” he replied.
It’s now been over seven years since Josh was hired back and he’s received performance reviews and thorough 360s. This sales executive is now a VP with a highly motivated and loyal team and he’s never been accused of being abrasive or combative during the whole seven years.
Do you need to change the way people perceive you at work? Write down three relationship issues that you think might be getting in the way of your career goals and start developing your plan to change.
Talkback: Have you turned around a difficult situation or relationship at work? How did you do it? Share your story here.
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“Promotion means finding new ways of being successful- and walking away from the old ways that defined success. A leader who tries to be the same leader across all levels is not going to be successful at all.”
~ Matt Pease, DDI Vice President ~
Client Jamie Asks: There are many people in my organization that could benefit from increased executive presence. What should I look for in a business leadership training program? What skills can I expect my people to gain from such a program?
Coach Joel Answers: This is an important step. Your executives and those you are grooming for leadership need to have a whole company perspective. To be successful they must move from a tactical day-to-day approach to a more strategic overview. Here are six skill sets you’ll want your business leaders to develop.
- Step away from the day-to-day. There’s a saying: When you’re up to your ankles in alligators, it’s hard to remember you’re here to drain the swamp. Executives face many compelling day-to-day problems that can eat up all their time. Help your executives learn how to set aside a specific part of their day to reflect on ways they and their team can contribute to the company’s bottom line.
- Look at the big picture. It’s no longer enough to excel in your area. You need a clear view of how your work contributes to the overall success of the company. Get your program to help your leaders elevate their sights.
- Gain self-confidence. This is a mind game, but it’s based on past performance. People need to know they are doing a good job. A key training program will help your leaders assess their past ideas and work. This builds self-assurance which will give then that executive presence that makes people want to follow them.
- Do the work. Find a program that focuses on teaching skills that give real, measurable results. People need to deliver on the high profile jobs they are given. When they manage every project so their work shines, they demonstrate their abilities to co-workers and supervisors. And it gives your people confidence they have the necessary skills to perform at that high level.
- Recognize and seize opportunities. Part of situational awareness is looking beyond current tasks. What else needs to be done? Is there a gap that someone is not filling? Can you take the initiative? Successful executive training courses help with the mind shift necessary to look beyond the average and take those opportunities.
- Focus on solutions. Far too many people spend lots of time discussing the problems. They may lament the shortcomings or complain about the problem. Good leadership seminars will show people how to find solutions.
Jamie, you are wise to look at training your leaders from within. You already know their work ethic and they know the company culture. But leaders don’t just grow on their own.
They need extra and different skill sets. They need a professional to coach and train them to perform at their optimum level. The abilities that have grown them to this point are not sufficient to get them to the top. Unless you train them in those new ways of thinking and acting, you will not help them acquire that executive presence.
Of course you and I both know it can’t be a façade. It can’t be for looks. That leadership, that executive presence has to be backed by a history of success and by skills and vision.
If you need one or two people to gain these skills, I recommend individual coaching. If you want a group of people to grow, a business leadership course can be brought to your executives and tailored to their challenges and the needs of your company.
For more information on how Joel can help your leaders gain that executive presence, contact him.
Talkback: Have you found programs that were successful in developing your leaders?
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“While pay and benefits were important, they weren’t real drivers of retention.”
~ Robert Morgan ~
Dianna has found herself, somewhat unexpectedly, on the hot seat. As HR manager for a large manufacturing and distribution company, she is responsible for so much of the day-to-day operation that she has been ignoring some big picture initiatives. Suddenly, the company’s employee retention strategy, or more correctly its lack of one, has risen to #1 on her CEO’s hot list. Dianna starts researching best practices used in companies similar to hers and then calls her direct reports together for a brainstorming session. As Steven Covey advises in Habit #2 of his classic Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, most good personal and corporate strategies begin with the end in mind. Diana knows their turnover rate is way too high, so she and her team begin with the goal of reducing turnover by 30% in the next 12 months. The team agrees that their wages and benefits are highly competitive, so they look for other areas that need attention. They focus on developing three key initiatives that can quickly and directly impact their turnover rate.
- Tell the whole truth and nothing but
- Hold managers accountable
- Put out the welcome mat
1. Tell the whole truth and nothing but. A good employee retention strategy starts with recruiting. This philosophy applies whether you are using a search firm, posting on an online job board, or running newspaper ads. Employees most often leave a company in the short term because the job was either oversold or undersold. The new employee needs to fully understand what the job involves and this means his or her expectations should be based in reality. Will he be on the phone six hours a day? Will she be dealing with the public? Does the job involve a certain amount of routine or monotony?Management must clearly communicate what the job responsibilities are before an offer is made.
2. Hold managers accountable.Each individual manager must take responsibility for directing the on-boarding process for his or her own employees. This means spending time to acquaint new hires with company policies, procedures, and traditions. Within the first 90 days, the new employee needs to feel totally aligned with the company’s vision and mission, and totally committed to its success. Each manager must develop a training program that not only covers the standard orientation information session but also provides the employee with a personal training and development agenda to be completed within the first 90 to 180 days. The manager also needs to provide a check-in schedule, so that the new employee knows when he will be debriefing or going over personal progress reports with the manager.
3. Put out the welcome mat.Every new employee needs to feel at home from Day One. This means getting ready ahead of time so that there are no missing pieces. All the paperwork is assembled and ready to complete. Someone is available to walk the employee through the how-to, such as enrolling in the insurance program, signing up for the 401-k, the daycare facility, or the softball team. The photo ID badge is issued on the first day so that the new hire doesn’t have to deal with security issues.Someone is designated as the go-to person if questions come up during the first week or two. Most important, every new employee should be put on a team and given a meaningful project or work responsibility to get started on.
Corporate management needs to view employee retention strategies as an investment that pays dividends, not an expense to be avoided. Time and money spent now will add strength to the talent pool and dollars to the bottom line.
Whether it’s an executive coaching program or a strategy development conference, Joel has some answers for you. Contact him today.
Talkback: Is employee turnover costing you money? Or perhaps you’ve tried a strategy that worked. Tell us about your experience.
“To find a career to which you are adapted by nature, and then to work hard at it, is about as near to a formula for success and happiness as the world provides. One of the fortunate aspects of this formula is that, granted the right career has been found, the hard work takes care of itself. Then hard work is not hard work at all.”
~ Mark Sullivan ~
Client Christopher Asks: I’ve been at my job for about three years now. I thought I’d just be happy in this position. I mean, I like my job and all. But I’m finding it’s getting a pretty boring. I realize I’d like a more of a challenge. But I have no idea how to figure out this career advancement process. What does it take to get a more fulfilling job? How do I even start?
Coach Joel Answers: Good question, Christopher. To help you get started on your search for career and job advancement, you need to make some decisions. These choices will help you find your direction and open the path to a better job.
1. What is your career goal? I know that might be hard to answer, as you thought you had it solved. But now, take a moment and look at what gives you satisfaction.
- Which parts of your job to you enjoy most?
- As you look around you, which jobs to other people have that you think you would enjoy doing?
- Are there salary goals you have?
- Are there certain kinds of responsibilities and actions you enjoy doing?
All of these are clues to what your career goal might be.
2. What skills will you need? After you choose a career goal, Christopher, you need to understand the skills, education, and training necessary to advance to that job. The bureau of Labor Statistics offers an Occupational Outlook Handbook that lists thousands of jobs and the criteria for them.
One additional benefit is that it predicts whether the need for that specialty will be increasing or decreasing in the coming years. As you think about your career goal and the training necessary to help you advance, this can be a good source for you.
3. Where can you find the training? Once you’ve chosen the career you want, and you know the skills you need, where will you get them? Consider looking for them exactly where you are.
- Your company may offer the training you need. It might be through mentoring or other traditional or non-structured learning at work. Especially if you’re looking to advance in your company, this is a best first choice. You’ll learn the skills most desired by your organization.
- College classes or degrees may be preferred if you are looking to move a great deal higher in your company.
- Coaching is a valuable option to hone in on skills – analytical thinking, problem solving, decision making, team building, and other skills essential for success.
4. How can you promote your job advancement? Once you know where you want to go with your career and job advancement, you need to take steps to make it happen. Assess how much help you might get from your current employer. Ask for feedback on your current job, and let them know what your goals are. They may help you work into that job. If not, hone your skills, develop your talents, and search for a job in another market.
Christopher, many people want to move ahead in their career and just aren’t sure how to get started. If you follow this plan, you can soon feel comfortable that your career and job advancement is on track to success.
For more information about how to advance your career with personalized and individualized coaching, contact Joel.
Talkback: What steps have you taken to advance your career? How did you start out?
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“The best way to predict your future is to create it”
~ Peter F. Drucker ~
Samantha was ready to move up. But she was pretty much at a dead end at her current job. She knew she needed more executive job training before she’d be ready for a profitable transition to another company, but as a single mom, she couldn’t afford to pay for it. Her current job wouldn’t cover it. The executive training had to be free.
“I knew I needed to think and act like an executive before I’d ever have the chance to be in that position,” Samantha said. “I was close. But not there yet. I came up with 4 free sources for executive job training.”
1. Observation. “It cost me nothing to observe other leaders,” Samantha said. “I looked for executives within my current company—ones I liked and admired.” She made a conscious effort to watch their management style. She took notes on how they presented ideas, how they listened to responses, and interacted with team members. “I not only listened to what they said, I watched how they acted, how they moved.” She paid attention to details. “I even listened to their voice inflection and watched other’s reactions.”
2. Books. Samantha started with the free books at the public library. Those books she found especially valuable she bought so she could underline them, cross reference, and add them to her library. “There are a lot of books on job training and executive leadership,” Samantha said. “And they vary widely in quality.” Samantha spent some time on Amazon and other sources reading the reviews. While they were not always accurate, she found them generally helpful in choosing the best books for her.
3. Online Sources. While the quality also varies with web sources, Samantha found plenty of free executive job training there. Some sites offered free white papers on different aspects of leadership. She found blogs, articles, websites and business leadership books that delivered meaningful content. “I downloaded every piece of free training I could find,” Samantha said. “Some coaches and trainers are very generous with their information. It was like getting an MBA.”
4. Study Leaders. “I decided that my leadership style was like Meg Whitman’s—or I wanted it to be like hers,” Samantha said. She felt her personality traits and the way she liked to lead dovetailed into the way Meg was currently leading. So she did an in-depth study of Meg. “I watched her on YouTube. I read every article I could find on her. Then I “put on” her leadership style. I stepped up to a more direct approach. I realized I can be pleasant and still be insightful, deliberate, and exacting.”
Samantha was surprised at how completely her free executive job training paid off! “First co-workers started coming to me for advice and problem solving. Then the management actually created a new position and moved me into it.” Samantha realized that executive training requires work and application whether the training is free or paid.
But in this case, Samantha’s efforts paid off very well.
If you are looking for free training for your executive goals, be sure to visit Joel’s website and access the leadership articles and information there.
Talkback: Have you find great free sources for executive job training? Tell us about them.
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