Posts Tagged ‘ One on Ones ’

Top 3 Reasons Why Being a Great Leader Isn’t Easy

A few months back, I asked a group of leaders for a show of hands on who had experienced either oversupervision or undersupervision. Almost every hand went up. But then I asked how many had themselves oversupervised or undersupervised their direct reports. Only one or two hands shyly peeked out from the crowd.

So what’s going on? Well, leaders can sometimes be unaware of what they should and should not be doing. And this lack of awareness separates good leaders from great leaders. Great leaders know that leading is a never-ending journey that can be filled with treacherous obstacles.

So what do you need to know to become a great leader?
 
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Flipping the Leadership Mentality

A learning revolution is taking place in the world today. The idea of the Flipped Classroom has widely swept the educational community. This idea places more emphasis on activity in the classroom instead of lecture and places more value on real-time collaboration among students to complete tasks. Traditionally classes would only provide information during class and expect the students to absorb it as a one size fits all offering then complete the course work on their own time alone. This one size fits all model has proved to be ineffective for every learner and does not promote mastery of the curriculum.

Flipped classroom

Traditional learning turned upside down.

Traditional management has taken the same approach with their direct reports. Today with the wide array of technology available, leaders need to flip their mentality from “telling and expecting” to “sharing and doing”. This requires more preparation from the leader and places more responsibility on them to work side by side with direct reports to get things done the way they intended them to be.

Leaders should hold regular one on ones with their direct reports to let them share what is on their mind. The direct report should lead the agenda and the manager should listen and determine the amount of support or direction needed. This meeting format greatly increases the amount of collaboration between the manager and direct report and helps to build the working relationship.

collaboration, effective planning

Collaboration is everything

Before scheduling a meeting, leaders should send a report or detailed description of your idea to their team or direct report an hour or two before they meet with them. Now when they meet the entire time is not spent describing what the meeting is about and the direct report is not caught off guard. The time is used to discuss concerns the team or direct report may have and brain storm ways to improve on the idea or results of the report. People will feel empowered and respected which encourages them to take ownership over the project.

Flipping the traditional authoritative leadership mentality to encourage more collaboration produces the results that organizations need. Managers will need to set their ego aside and be willing to relinquish the positional power that comes with their title. Remember that if you are in a leadership position you are there to serve the needs of your people as well as the needs of your customers.

A leader is someone who steps back from the entire system and tries to build a more collaborative, more innovative system that will work over the long term.

– Robert Reich

Brian Alexander is the Marketing Project Specialist with The Ken Blanchard Companies

Leadership as an Experience in Humanness

At the beginning of my career, desperate for experience, I took whatever job I could in my field. Fortunately, my first manager treated employees and customers like gold. Luck struck twice when I was hired by yet another wonderful manager.

Regrettably, subsequent managers provided the “opportunity” to witness appalling treatment of both employees and customers. Still relatively naïve, I unconsciously swept their behavior under the rug in an attempt to gain valuable experience.

As my skill-set grew, I became disillusioned with my own attempts to lead. Emulating a combination of previous managers, who overall, seemed successful, led to followers who appeared blatantly angry, humiliated, and hostile. Advised not to take it personally, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was doing wrong and how I could change. With a warrior mentality, I read every work regarding leadership I could find and studied leaders as if by doing so I could internalize their success merely by being in their presence.

My leadership skills improved, yet something was still missing. I fervently questioned reasons why I was obsessively engaged when being led by some and so greatly disappointed when being led by others.

It took a truly unfortunate interaction with a leader long ago for me to embrace that even in the workplace I was a learning, feeling, developing, mistake-making fallible human being….and that there was nothing anyone could do to change this. The difference between those leaders who got the best and worst of me was their willingness to unconditionally accept me. Those who received my highest level of loyalty, performance, engagement, and respect were those who liked and even embraced my humanness.

Leadership as an Experience in Humanness

Downshifting emotionally, I tapped into a level of humility that allowed me to personally, yet not unprofessionally, connect with those I was leading. Forgiveness, understanding, compassion…the willingness to let go of control enveloped me. Resultantly, I felt the vulnerability and fear of those I was leading. I could see and feel the need for hand-holding and that was okay! I could connect with their lack of confidence and disbelief in their abilities.

I listened. Then, I listened some more and allowed for silence and space. Never have I experienced employees so willing and hungry to give everything they have to their work. The change was so fast and dramatic it was emotionally overwhelming. There was no need to question how those I lead felt; it was clear that through their actions they felt just as I had at the beginning of my career.

*Photo courtesy of http://i368.photobucket.com/albums/oo121/4thfrog_2008/2uel34n.jpg

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Cheryl DePonte is a Human Resources Learning and Performance Specialist at The Ken Blanchard Companies and has over 15 years experience in the fields of organizational effectiveness and human resources development.

Redefining the Face-to-Face Meeting

Have you ever found yourself in a situation similar to this?

Dilbert by Scott Adams

If so, which side of the meeting request were you on? Are you more prone to insist on an in person face-to-face meeting or are you the one questioning why the face-to-face meeting can’t be held more efficiently using a virtual meeting/video conferencing service?

Truth is, you should be somewhere in the middle. Nothing beats being in the same room with your fellow meeting attendee(s)…as long as it makes sense. When it doesn’t make sense, conducting a virtual meeting (complete with webcams) is the next best thing. There are numerous virtual meeting hosting services that include video conferencing such as the aforementioned Skype (great for one-on-one meetings) or, WebEx and Nefsis (great for meetings with multiple attendees).

The key is being able to determine when it makes sense to meet face-to-face virtually as opposed to in person. If you’re in the same building, or perhaps in the same town, it’s quite likely that it makes the most sense to meet face-to-face in person. Even when distance is an issue, you may still feel those urges to push for the traditional in person face-to-face meeting despite the excessive costs (e.g., time and money). When you feel those urges, challenge yourself to consider the reasons why you absolutely CANNOT conduct the meeting virtually utilizing a video conferencing service. Chances are the most legitimate reason you’d have to oppose a video conference would be that you don’t yet have a webcam. If that’s the case, please click here now. (Disclaimer: I currently use the Logitech Webcam Pro 9000).

Furthermore, challenge yourself to determine which phone-only meetings you could dynamically transform into video conference meetings. For example, my manager and I are in different states but we now conduct all of of our one-on-one meetings face-to-face using Skype. Our team members are scattered across the country so we now conduct all of our team meetings face-to-face using Nefsis. Transforming these meetings from phone-only to video conference has been an incredibly positive experience.

Whether you’re on the fence about taking that in person meeting into cyberspace or, you’re considering turning a phone-only meeting into a video conference, consider the following benefits of video conferencing:

  • It significantly reduces costs. Gas is expensive. A plane ticket is, in most cases, even more expensive. And, don’t forget about travel expenses (especially if you have 5 star tastes). This, of course, doesn’t include the high cost of day rates you’d either be on the receiving end of as a client or, on the billing end as a service provider.
  • It significantly saves time. Time is money so, by extension, travel time is very expensive. Does it really make sense to meet in person when that four hour meeting ultimately costs you three full days after you factor in the travel time?
  • It allows you to build and develop relationships. Generally speaking, healthy, positive, productive relationships require a certain amount of face time. When you can’t physically be in the same room, this is how you can get it (with frequency and regularity).
  • It forces you to be present. When you’re on the phone only, it’s easy to tune out or multi-task. When you’re on video, you’re engaged…you’re conscious of your body language and emotions because you’re observing the same from others.
  • It forces you to improve your personal hygiene. If you’re working from home and know you have a video conference, you’re forced to get out of bed, get dressed, do your hair, and, well, look professional.
  • What used to only be possible in sci-fi cartoons is now a reality for YOU. And you gotta admit, that’s pretty cool.

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“You’re fired!” – Did You Criticize Your Boss on the Web?

The New York Times has an article about a woman who was fired for being critical of her supervisor on her own Facebook page.   The National Labor Relations Board is now involved in what appears to be a buildup to a trial date in court. 

The board argues that this woman’s actions fall under the federal labor law that prohibits employers from punishing employees for discussing working conditions.  On the flip side of the coin, this woman’s employer states that the law only applies to group cases, and does not apply if it’s a single individual.  Either way, this should make for an interesting court case that could have implications on what we’re allowed to say about our employers outside the workplace.

The worst part about all of this is that this situation could have been avoided.  While I have not seen what this woman specifically was posting about her supervisor, I think it’s safe to assume that she had problem that wasn’t answered by her leaders. 

Don’t get me wrong, as there are situations where someone is simply not a good fit for the job/culture/etc…  However, there are plenty of cases where leaders don’t truly listen to what their employees are telling them and make the mistake of assuming that the employees “have bad attitudes.”  We are supposed to be helping our employees succeed, rather than pushing them down. 

If you, as an employee, are facing an avalanche of problems, and your supervisor/manager does not seem to be interested in helping you find solutions, where else will you turn?  There’s no place else to go other than vent to your coworkers, friends, family, and in this case, the internet. 

There was a reason this woman felt the need to be critical of her supervisor and, ultimately, that’s what we all need to recognize as leaders:

  • Are we having regular scheduled one-on-ones with our employees to check in and see how they’re doing? 
  • Are we providing the support and direction to help our people not only manage their own tasks, but to grow their skills?
  • Are we actually listening to what our employees are telling us, rather than waiting for our turns to speak?

Remember this example the next time one of your employees come to you with a problem.  It could help avoid a very nasty situation in the future…

Let’s hear your thoughts!  Leave your comments.

Resolving Disagreements with Your Manager

What happens when you and your manager don’t see eye to eye on an work related issue? Just LAUGH!! Here’s a light hearted video that was actually an Out Take from a One on One video that I recently directed for The Ken Blanchard Companies. Sometimes you just need to let it out!!

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