So, I’ve Got a New Direct Report

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You are so excited because you (finally!!) have someone new you are bringing onto your team!

You’ve been waiting a LONG time for them – and want to make this transition as smooth and seamless as possible.

As you are prepping to bring them on, we’ve got a couple of tips on things to think about!

First, they don’t know what they don’t know. You’ve been here for a while. You know the ins and outs of the company. You know that Bob never has matching socks and that on Friday’s, everyone goes to happy hour at 6.

Take a couple of minutes this week to really think about those things. Reflect on your days and weeks and think about those “things that you just know” and try to capture them.

Next, identify your expectations—because you’ve got ‘em (we all do!)

Schedule some time in your calendar this week and think about this:

  • What are the “shoulds” that you think of for this person?

That is, when you think about them, do you think “they should know this”, or “they should be ready for their first client call by X date”, or “their primary resource for questions should be Sally”.

Write all those out and then think about what is the best way (and time) to communicate all those to your new direct.

We’d recommend to not do it all at once, and also to make sure you ACTUALLY communicate all those expectations.

Last, consider the experience you want them to have.

Yes, this will all be new and it will likely be overwhelming. And in the midst of that, what do you want them to remember or experience?

Maybe you want them to know that they’ve got you as a support, so you’re going to coordinate team lunches once a week for the next few weeks to help the whole team get to know each other better.

Or maybe you want them to know that you really value their opinion, so every couple of days you’ll set up structured time to ask them what is going well and what else they would like or need.

You have the opportunity to create the experience you want them to have. So think about what that overall experience is and then a couple of practical ways that you can make that happen!

We’re excited for your new direct and would love to hear your best ideas in on-boarding someone new!

So, I’ve Got a New Boss

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You got the job!!!! Congrats!

Which also means you’ve got a new boss. And there is that question in the back of your mind… what kind of boss will they be?

Micro-manage-y? Super hands off? Some type of balance between the two? Way too invested? Kind of aloof?

You know there is a chance for all of them.

And some people are great at expressing their expectations and others are not.

So, with that in mind, we’ve got a couple of suggestions on some types of conversations you may want to have.

First, learn about how you guys will be meeting.

  • Do you have weekly standing meetings?
  • Do you have meetings as things come up?
  • What’s their preference for how to schedule meetings?

Next, learn about their expectations on hearing about how things are going.

  • Do they want status updates? How often?
  • Do they only want to know when something has been completed?
  • Do they want these updates in meetings … or via email … or do they just want to be able to see what they need to in the tracking system you guys have?

Then, learn about how they want to be communicated with as issues arise.

  • Do they want to know as soon as you know there is a problem?
  • Do they want you guys to strategize on how to fix it together?
  • Do they prefer you to come to them with a strategy on how to fix it and they confirm?
  • Or, do they want you to try to fix it first and then come to them?

Let us know how these questions help you structure your new relationship with your boss- or if you have any additional tips you’ve found helpful during this exciting / fun/ and stressful transition time!

That Moment When You Need Someone To Go The Extra Mile

That Moment When You Need Someone To Go The Extra Mile

We know it all too well. You gave the new project to Joe to run because you needed his expertise to really knock this one out of the park!

You don’t just want Joe to “work” on the project, you want him to invest in the project and do what you’ve seen him do so well.

But, HOW do you actually get Joe to do that on this project?

This week, we’ve got Coach Bill Koch with us to share some of his best insights.

So, without further adieu…

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 10.48.00 PM“I often work with clients on the fast track. They have been ‘rock star’ individual contributors with deep expertise, domain knowledge, and amazing abilities to get things done. That track record for great performance gets rewarded with promotion into positions of management and leadership where one is expected to motivate and inspire a team. And this is right where some of the best and brightest people feel stuck – often for the first time on their fast-paced career trajectory.

In coaching conversations, I often receive questions and quotations such as:

  • ‘I know how to perform, but not how to lead.’
  • ‘I feel more comfortable doing than leading.’
  • ‘Management would be fine if it weren’t for all the people problems.’
  • ‘This is hard…I’m not sure I want this.’

Beyond such anecdotal indicators, I have analyzed data from a large body of client 360° evaluations with feedback data collected from Bosses, Peers, and Direct Reports. Among 50+ business competencies that are measured through this 360 instrument, these are among the most frequently rated as Opportunities for Development:

  • Getting Work Done Through Others
  • Motivating Others
  • Managerial Courage
  • Developing Direct Reports
  • Directing Others
  • Building Effective Teams

See the theme here? It’s about leading others. How to manage Direct Reports is one of the toughest challenges because it’s often new to us. Think of leadership skills as an underdeveloped muscle. We need training and exercise – maybe a personal trainer too.

Even more challenging – how do we get a Direct Report to “step it up” and go the extra mile? Should we use a carrot or a stick? Do we demand and command, or can we inspire and attract people to provide peak performance? The answer is “yes” – depending on the situation. It’s art and science. And new leaders need to practice becoming nimble and able to use multiple methods depending on the business need.

What does great leadership look like in your organization? When were you inspired to do your best work? Think of those experiences as you consider what you ask of your team. How can you inspire and motivate your Direct Reports to do the extraordinary?

There are times when leaders must make critical decisions in the face of looming deadlines, limited resources, and organizational demands. These events call for swift action. Think “military threat” kind of situations. The leader takes charge. But this behavior must be reserved for critical situations. “Command and Control” is not for daily use.

Great leadership is about developing people, building a team, and fostering a caring connection that transcends the workplace and the work at hand. It means making a personal investment in others. And it pays dividends in the form of commitment to the company from people who feel a part of the organization. It’s because the leader makes them feel welcome, valued, and appreciated.

What can you do to ‘step it up’ if you expect more from your Direct Reports?

  • Frequent 1:1 developmental conversations
  • Taking a personal interest in your Direct Reports
  • Making sure the work you assign is meaningful
  • Setting clear goals and objectives with your Direct Reports
  • Welcoming feedback on your leadership performance
  • Fostering a supportive team environment that’s friendly – maybe even fun!
  • Recognizing great contributions in front of other members of the team
  • Rewarding good work at the time it is performed

Leaders who invest more effort in these areas will find that their team is in step and capable of doing great work. Your Direct Reports want some autonomy to do things in their own style. The leader is responsible for setting the expectations and objectives so that individuals can flourish in a way that contributes to objectives you establish for the team.

Ask yourself if you’re creating an environment that makes people want to go the extra mile to perform at their best for your organization.

The Election and Your Team

The Election and Your Team

WHAT AN EMOTIONAL WEEK.

Regardless of which political candidate you supported in the recent United States election – YOU. HAVE. HAD. A. WEEK.

Your team is likely filled with extremely strong thoughts and emotions (both positive or negative or a confusing mix of both). And sometimes, it feels like tension is so high that it could explode if a pin poked it.

What is a Manager to do?

In times like these, one of the most important roles you play, as Manager, is to hold your team together.

How?

Give your individual members of your team the space to talk it out, if and only if they want.

If they want to – choose to ask and actually listen without judgment. Something that often plagues us is judging (or assuming) and not asking, and really being curious about others and their thoughts.

The goal should not be to change opinions, but to allow people to really share their opinions /struggles /thoughts /challenges. These skills can be helpful when talking about the election and in your daily work.

Need a place to start?

First, make sure this is a 1:1 conversation.

Second, ideally this conversation takes place where the person you are talking to is comfortable and relaxed. This is not the time to corner them in the crowded break room or over the water cooler with their peers!

Third, the key is to NOT to argue or ‘fix’ their opinion if you don’t agree with their thoughts. This is the place to give your direct report the space to share their thoughts and ideas. In fact, don’t even say what you think unless they ask you.

Here are some conversation starters:

  • I’ve noticed I haven’t heard your voice as often in meetings during the last week. What’s up?
  • I remember you mentioning your support of [insert political candidate here that you’ve ACTUALLY heard them mention that they support]. What is intriguing to you about them?
  • I’ve noticed recent posts you’ve made on (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat) around the election. What’s been coming up?

Choosing to mention what you are seeing (noticing or observing) and then asking a very open-ended question inviting your direct report’s opinion is extremely powerful.

This may be a new approach for you! So, try it out and let us know what you think!

Interviewing: Finding the “Right” Candidate

Interviewing: Finding the “Right” Candidate

You’ve got a new position added to your team – yes!

Now you’ve got the challenge of finding the just-right person to fill the role.

Historically, interview questions center around how the candidate has the best skills for the job or what they think sets them apart from all the other candidates.

But how can you be sure they have these skills?

Try interviewing FIRST for character, personality, and culture fit for your organization!

Ready to try it? Here are some behavior-based questions to get your juices flowing:

  • Tell me about a time you set a goal for yourself. How did you go about ensuring that you would meet your objective?
  • If you could choose to have any superpower – what would it be?
  • We are sometimes confronted with the dilemma of having to choose between what is right and what is best for the company. Can you please give me an example of a situation in which you faced this dilemma and how you handled it?
  • Walk me through a time you were able to be creative with your work.
  • Tell me about a situation in which you have had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?
  • What does your best day ever look like?
  • Give me an example of a time you discovered an error that been overlooked by a colleague. What did you do? What was the outcome?
  • We’ve all done things that we regretted. Can you give me an example that falls into this category for you? How would you handle it differently today?

Try some of these out and let us know how they go!

We’d also love to hear some of your best interviewing questions!

 

How to Survive the Company Holiday Party

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.19.06 AMTHE HOLIDAY PARTY!!!!

Or.

The. Holiday. Party………………

Do the three words ‘company’ ‘holiday’ and ‘party’ in the same sentence make you break out in hives? Or do you look forward all year to being able to hang with your work friends in a pretty cool (or different) location?

Now that you’re here (and lookin’ mighty festive, I might add!) – now what? How do you survive (and thrive!) at your company holiday party? We’ve got some conversation starters, stoppers, and stallers to help!

Starters: Need a topic to talk about? People LOVE to talk about themselves. Try these questions!

Don’t know the person you’re talking to very well?

  • What are you doing for the holidays/new years?
  • We’re trying to figure out what to do for next year’s summer vacation – what’s your favorite vacation spot? Any recommendations?
  • I’m in-between books (or TV shows) – what have you been reading lately that you really like?
  • My cat has been CRAZY this time of year with all of the travel and work hours! Do you have any pets?

Worked with them on a few projects, but want to get to know them more?

  • The holidays are always when I start reflecting on the year – what is the coolest (most exciting / impactful / rewarding) thing you did this year?
  • I’m starting to marinate on what to have as my new year’s resolutions – what are thinking about putting on your resolutions list for this year?
  • What did you learn about yourself (workstyle /personal motivation / personality) this year that was most surprising?

Stoppers:

  • Politics: As the election is coming closer, the candidates (and some in particular!) are on everyone’s mind. While this can be quite the (maybe not so joyous) conversation starter we’d recommend steering clear of this one!
  • Religion: Most people believe something and most people don’t want to hear all about what everyone else believes. If you find yourself telling a story where religion is as essential part, make it approachable. There is a way to present what you believe while not sounding like it is your way or the high way.

Stallers: In the middle of a conversation that’s not going well? Try these!

  • Use the bathroom as your friend. Excuse yourself, head to the bathroom for a quick moment, and then rejoin a different group.
  • Use the dance floor as a distraction.
    • Love to dance? Use it as a way to get you and your friend out of the convo and onto boogying!
    • Don’t love to dance? Not a problem. You can always see who is across the dance floor and remember a topic you have to go to talk to them about!
  • “It was so great to meet you!” or “it was so great to see you again!” is a great line to insert in when you can feel a conversation starting to run dry.

We hope these help you survive (and thrive!) at your company’s holiday party.

Have an awesome time!

Think More Like A….

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It’s probably safe to say that we have all had a moment like this… someone who you work for calls you into their office and says “I want you to think more like entrepreneur”.

What does that MEAN?! Entrepreneur is ambiguous, unclear, and you feel like you don’t have the freedom/power/authority to do what your boss is asking. You walk away wondering what is it that they are actually asking you to do?

Frustrated yet? Me too.

And your boss is frustrated too.

Now what?

The next time you are asked to think more like an entrepreneur, merchant, sales man, lawyer, or like your customer – we’d encourage you to ask some of the following questions:

  • Can you tell me a little more about what that means to you?
  • How can I demonstrate the quality you are looking for?
  • If I were thinking more like [a sales man] how would you know?
  • I am totally on board with working towards this – can you help clarify what success would look like here?

By asking clarifying questions you are engaging the other person to help define what they would like to see changed.

And, maybe think about being a little more descriptive the next time you ask your direct reports to change something they are doing too!