4 Directives to Influence Behavior

Instructions since childhood were designed to teach and guide us. Over the years we have noticed remarkable similarities between the directives given in our youth and the requests made of us as adults. In retrospect, their effectiveness varied based on our circumstances and development level. The same is true at work. Leaders and managers give instructions using the same memorable phrases. The objective of these phrases is to elicit our compliance with their demands, commands or requests for action.

“Do as I say, because I said so”

People have used a variety of commands to get the kind of behavior they want. “Do as I say, because I said so,” is the classic power phrase of authority. Parents use it often. The power can be based on position, where they can administer rewards or punishment if someone fails to comply with their request. The sentence could easily end with,” or else.” The job, held by the speaker, confers position power. They are the boss, the parent, the person in charge and when they speak they want others to jump quickly into action. The person using this phrase does not wish to be questioned or challenged. People will also use the specter of fear, brute force, physical strength and threats to persuade people to fall in line. Threats may be physical or assaults to someone’s character or reputation.

Frustrated parents and managers have used this phrase when they run out of answers. When they are busy or in a hurry, they resort to this language to end conversations. They do not want to discuss the matter anymore. They want people to listen, obey and stay quiet.

“Do as I say, because I said so,” is a technique that can influence a number of people. When matched to the right individuals, it is very effective. It is useless when delivered to the wrong person.

“Do as I say, not as I do”

Some people adopt a hypocritical style to exert influence on others. They recognize that they don’t have the discipline or integrity to practice what they preach. Yet, they insist that others listen and obey their dictates and commands. This works in situations stated in example number one, however, the inconsistency and hypocrisy will render it ineffective in some cases. The resistant ones will not comply and they will use the leader’s hypocrisy as justification for refusing to follow their commands.

There is a certain amount of arrogance associated with telling someone to do something that you are not committed to do. The advice may be solid, but the absence of following your own advice, may compromise its impact. They may do what you say, but only when you are watching.

A powerful story was told about Mahatma Gandhi at http://www.witandwisdomstories.com. The blog post “Mahatma Gandhi’s salt less diet” contains the following story. “One day an anxious mother, along with her son visited Mahatma Gandhi. She told Bapuji, “My son is suffering from a kidney disease, Bapuji. I am really concerned. I took him to the doctor and the doctor has advised him to take food without salt.” She continued, “the problem Bapuji is my son refuses to follow the doctor’s orders, but if you tell him he will listen as he worships you and he will not deny you.” The Mahatma asked the mother and son to see him after a week.

After a week or so, Mahatma Gandhi called the mother and the son to his house. He took the boy aside and looked him in the eye and said” You are very important for your mother’s happiness and your health worries her. It is my wish that you follow doctor’s orders and stop taking salt in your diet.”

The boy who was in awe of the Mahatma was so pleased with the Mahatma worrying about him, agreed at once. He turned to his mother and said” no more salt for me Ma.”

The relieved mother stood puzzled for a while and asked Gandhi “But Bapuji, you could have told him this when we came a week ago, why didn’t you?”

To this Gandhi replied, ”But madam at that time I was taking salt in my diet and it has taken a week for me to give up salt myself. How can I advice your son to eat a diet without salt with a clear conscience? How can I tell someone to do something which I myself do not practice?”

Hypocrisy will not be tolerated in today’s climate of transparency and authenticity. Some will follow this request, but must see the benefit or fear the speaker.

“Don’t do what I did – Learn from my mistakes”

It is well-known that experience can be the best teacher. Rebellion is a natural part of the human spirit. Many of us have received instruction, but elected to ignore it to listen to our own voice or the voices of others. Going down the wrong path has caused us discomfort and ultimately we realized we were wrong. Armed with the experience, we wish to let others know the value of staying on the right path. We don’t want them making the same errors in judgment that plagued our lives. We therefore, become an ambassador for the truth. We say to people,” Don’t do what I did. Learn from my mistakes.”

This is sometimes seen as a tough love message or using scare tactics. Former prisoners have used a” scared straight” philosophy to convince youth to stay away from a life of crime. They feel that education on the negatives associated with criminal activity would discourage youth from hanging with the wrong crowd and making questionable decisions. They take the glamour out of disobedience and use their lives as proof.

Conversations in a corporation may involve older employees telling younger employees about the mistakes they made. These mentoring sessions or coaching moments are an effort to steer less tenured employees toward making better decisions on their career path. There is value in information sharing. That occurs when the different generations in the workplace tell their stories of arrival and survival within the context of the organization.

This approach also works on some people, but not on others. There will always be people who think they are too smart, clever, intellectual, lucky, cool or too good-looking to suffer the consequences of their actions. They will view the sad story, as something that only applies to others.

“Do it like I did it – Follow my lead”

This is normally a very potent approach. It is the lead by positive example model. People will look at you, your reputation and your execution and realize the value of your words and actions. Learning occurs through imitation or modeling behavior. “Let me show you how it’s done, makes “Do it like I did it ” even more powerful. Many times, “Do it like I did it” and follow my example, is not verbalized. Yes, there are many occasions where people will issue these words to give a standard to follow, but often its power is in seeing someone act out the phrase. It is the practice that occurs with or without the preaching that makes it work. It is the example exhibited on a day-to-day basis.

Most of the time, “Do it like I did it” and “Follow my example” are positive exhortations. But, it may not work in all cases. People will imitate and follow negative leaders and negative examples. If the culture of an organization is filled with intimidation and a lack of appreciation, individuals desiring to be leaders will pick up on the signals. They will emulate the same kind of insensitivity broadcast by their leaders.

However, leading by example does not work on everyone. Someone will find a way to discredit your work or assign your accomplishments to favoritism or inequality, they cannot duplicate. These 4 directives to influence behavior collectively have been used to get individuals and groups to act and follow orders. They are spoken to move people to action. However, individually, we have found that they may not work on everyone all the time.

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser

Advertisements

Protectionism in a competitive marketplace

Protectionism is designed to discourage others from competing for your talent or resources. Barriers are put in place to keep markets, company, or department restricted from outside forces. People try to artificially maintain or mandate the status quo, because it is a beneficial, but questionable policy.

Insecure organizations who are afraid to lose top talent will institute external mean to keep their people, which may deny their people freedom, benefits and promotional opportunities.

Protectionism is a preemptive strike aimed at discouraging others from hiring or tampering with your personnel. Countries try to control their markets by setting up impediments to prevent others from fairly competing with their industries and companies.

Protectionism is at work inside organizations. A regional manager was constantly near the top of the organization in sales. He experienced very little turnover in his sales organization, through promotions or resignations. Many in the organization were puzzled to learn that stellar results were not accompanied by promotions. Conversations with the regional manager revealed that the top performers, in his estimation, were somehow flawed and not ready to receive more responsibility. This manager’s protectionism policies were personally beneficial, yet detrimental to the career growth of many hard-working employees. He did not want to go through interviewing to replace them and training a new crew. Careers were inhibited because he had labeled them as insufficient to assume greater responsibility.

A successful sales representative accepted a promotion to the human resources department. She wanted to return to the field as a manager. After several years, she had lunch with a sales manager. He lamented the fact that she wanted to stay in HR. She was shocked at his opinion and asked why he felt she did not want to return to the sales force. He said he had been told by an HR director that she was happy with her new career path and it did not want to leave. Needless to say, she was stunned by the misinformation and the inaccurate portrayal of her career objectives. The protectionist policies of her department backfired and she subsequently resumed her sales career.

Protectionism leads to the creation of policies to restrict the penetration of their borders by competing companies. One company raided another company and hired some of their best sales people, when they started a new division. The losing CEO was angry by their practice. He instructed his lawyers to write a letter to the company stating his displeasure and threatened legal action. The response he received was carefully worded. The acquiring CEO defended his hiring practices. He asked the other CEO to see his actions as the risk of doing business. He suggested the people were leaving on their own volition. If the people were happy they would not have been so anxious to leave. Needless to say, the other company continued to hire his representatives, but at a slower pace.

People will gravitate to top talent. In the era of social media, networking events, savvy recruiters and employee referral fees, the best performers will be identified. There is an incentive to keep people happy and there is an incentive to recruit them to other organizations.

The hiring CEO delivered a very powerful message. What can be done to minimize employee’s propensity to jump ship? What can be done to the culture to make them want to stay with your organization longer term?

Organizations can change managerial mindsets to mandate mutual benefits for all parties involved. This philosophical shift is initiated and enforced by senior leadership. Intuitively, it is difficult to pour a lot of effort and time into someone, only to see them walk away to a perceived better opportunity. As stated earlier, there are risks involved in developing people. At some point, you will have more people than you have promotable positions. This may cause some people to be patient and wait for better jobs internally; however others may be impatient and look for greener pastures outside of the organization. You have to chalk this up to the price of doing business and wish them well.

There are tremendous advantages short and long term for a full scale long term development program. This may ultimately lead to future business alliances and collaborations with companies who have hired your people. It may also be a recruiting tool for prospective employees. A reputation for hiring and developing talent can lead to an influx of extraordinarily qualified candidates. Higher employee engagement levels and productivity is currently seen as a positive benefit of a stronger culture.

If you constantly assess and provide opportunities for personal and career growth, you minimize employee flight. Today, Millennials are subject to career impatience, if you do not sufficiently reward and challenge them, your organization will constantly be under pressure due to rapid turnover.

Sensors can be put in place in the form of stronger leaders and mentors to assess and regulate career development. Employees will gain an up-to-date, real world view of their skills and abilities and prospects for career development. Organizations have established career academies, equipped with resources, such as class room work and online training programs to help employees can grow their technical and life skills.

Protectionism in theory is about holding on to your talent against unfair pilferage, but it will work against you in the long run. You must update your training and development practices to create stronger leaders. Additionally, you must:

  • Pay attention to the company culture to treat people with respect and harness their skills and abilities.
  • Provide an honest assessment of performance through clear cut performance objectives and regular evaluations
  • Career discussions should be held to understand and to share employer and employee expectations
  • Develop confidence in your training and development program to rapidly replace people who leave the organization or leave the team
  • Strong managers and leaders are necessary to ward off protectionist tendencies, as they strive to develop the best teams imaginable

Organizations have been known to offer retention bonuses during a time of uncertainty, such as during mergers and acquisition, to keep their top talent. A variation of this practice is to ensure that the best performers receive the best rewards, whether financial, special projects or greater career opportunities.

Protectionism is usually a policy instituted when an organization fails to put a coherent people strategy in place. In their haste to prevent people from leaving, they  blame outside forces for problems in their culture. Protectionism practices that strikeout at the employee or toward outside forces are rarely successful. Organizations should look internally at their leadership practices and career development strategies, to see if they can be more conducive to creating a culture where leaving the organization is to difficult for an employee to imagine or implement.

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser 

Free e-book, Leadership Greatness through High Performance Poetry at http://www.orlandoceaser.com

A leader should stand by, with and for their team

Stand by your team

A manager felt his people would go through a brick wall for him. He based this on their belief that he would do anything for them. They knew he had their backs. This dedication and loyalty led to higher sales results and productivity. He created a culture of excellence, enthusiasm and trust.

The manager was known to stand by his team. When they are in need of guidance and resources to compete in difficult situations, he was known to stand by them. In today’s marketplace, there is a fair amount of angst about the future and employees role in it. Standing by your team allows you to detect any anxiety and address it with encouragement and skill development.
You can quickly squash rumors that are not true, before they become a morale problem. Immediately provide whatever information you can, within your leadership obligations, to ensure they are focused on the things they can control.

If the team misses the mark and fall short of achieving a goal, they are not thrown under the bus. They are held accountable, but you as their leader, takes them through a rational analysis of what went wrong. You are on the front line developing strategy and corrective measures. Your aim is to exceed the goal, so that the shortfall does not happen again.
You want your team to be a well performing unit, exceeding objectives. This is the best way you can diminish adverse situations. Being focused on excellence and driving productivity will build their confidence on the current job and prepare them to confidently answer interview questions for the next assignment.
Stand by your team as a strong role model who is authentic and committed to their development. This will enhance their performance loyalty and trust.
Stand with your team

It is critical to also stand with your team in skirmishes to drive market share. You have a history with them. Your relationships were strengthened in the trenches. You made sure they were informed about every major decision and the reasons for those decisions. You felt that if they were more informed about the intricacies involving the decisions, it would build trust in your leadership. Patrick Lynn Lencioni in his book, “Three signs of a miserable job,” speaks about each individual’s need to be known, to feel important and able to gauge their progress and level of contribution to the organization. When they feel connected, this has a positive influence on engagement and results.

If you stand with your team, your praise and proximity will indicate that you care about them and they are not just a means to an end. You value them as individuals and are committed to their success. You stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the day-to-day struggles in the marketplace. You are not afraid to roll up your sleeves and help them do the work. You are willing to ask them their opinions and implement their suggestions. Where there suggestions have merited, they are implemented and they are given the credit. They know that you are the boss, but you do not hesitate to show that you are so committed to getting the job done. This leading by example sends a powerful message.

When you stand with your team, you make sure that each individual knows their job and does their job. You are not a micro-manager. You are always open and committed to their development. You want them to be more efficient and effective and willing to offer suggestions to improve their performance while living up to their responsibilities.

Stand for your team

Thirdly, you should stand for your team. Be the proud representative or your team, department or organization. You are aware of the hard work they put into excelling on the job and you want to promote their excellence to anyone who will listen. You want to represent each member and the entire group to people who can have an influence on their career.
When you stand for your team, you openly and willingly engage in conversations about their talents, gifts and skills. You expose your team to knowledge, individuals and other resources that expand their experiences and expertise. Additionally, you are not timid about challenging them to higher levels of achievement. Your expectations are high, because you know they can do more.
There are times when your team will seem to take your performance personally. They want you to stand out among your peers when there is any competition. They watched with pride as you make a presentation on the agenda with other managers. You are their boss. You are representing the team and they are bursting with pride.

When you stand for your people you are loyal and not always looking to change teams for your personal benefit. You are committed to the productivity of the group. You select and develop a strong core of hard-working, ambitious people who crave recognition and rewards for their excellent performance. This strong core is being groomed to work as a team. They have the complementary skills necessary to exceed aggressive team objectives. They enjoy their jobs. They are fully engaged. They look forward to going into battle every day with everyone on their team. They are looking to you as their leader. They see you as their ally, an advocate against any adversary who stands in their path.
To maximize your effectiveness as a leader it is essential that you stand by your people, stand with your people and stand for your people. The results will be amazing and will enable everyone involved to reach levels of performance that are personally beneficial and a windfall to the team and the organization.

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser

Close strong – When there’s time on the clock

LeaderARCvr2
The year is rapidly coming to an end. You are closing the books, wrapping up your accounts and accessing progress against your goals. You may have mentally vaulted into next year. You may have a tendency to slow down and begin jogging to the finish line, after all it is December and the year is almost over. In some situations, packing it in prematurely may be a mistake.

The temptation to checkout early is present in people running long distance races. They approach the last stretch and decelerate. Whereas, coasting to the end is an option, you may still be leaving some business on the table. Take a few precious moments to look around and see if there are a few vital steps you can make to make a difference for this year or help in the future. Is it really impossible to close a deal, make a telephone call and perform a service for a client? These actions may enable you to favorably close out the year and set the foundation for a strong start in the next quarter.

As long as there is time left on the clock, you should move quickly to break the tape and not wind down to a halt. It is best to run through the tape to ensure that you keep momentum where it can do the most good. It is the beauty of the follow though. In baseball, when running to first base they suggest you run through the bag. In golf they suggest you swing through the ball for maximum results. Persistence is critical to give it all you can until the very end. Craig Groeschel, Founder and Senior Pastor of LifeChurch.tv, has a phrase that he uses, “If you are not dead, you are not done.” I suggest you keep this mind, as you sprint to the end of the year.

I was in a sales meeting a few years ago. We were looking for another way to remind the managers to work toward a strong finish, even though we tome left in the quarter. We made a list of the activities we could perform to close out the year. We asked the managers to encourage their representatives to do the following:

• Make one more call at the end of the day
• Contact their largest customers to get commitments
• Contact customers they may have missed on their last cycle
• Make courtesy calls to thank their customers for their business and support, even if it did not lead to an immediate sale

The managers also reviewed their responsibilities in holding everyone accountable.
One manager was aware of my book Leadership above the rim – the poetry of possibility. There was a poem entitled, “Time on the clock,” which was very appropriate for the moment. The poem Time left on the clock was read to the group. It was a nice way to close out the session and emphasize the power and possibility for high performance by having the right attitude to the end of the year.

I wish you a strong finish to the year and hopefully the poem, “Time on the clock,” will deliver a message that coincides with your belief in an excellent finish and a strong start to the next quarter in the New Year.

Time on the clock
When there is time left on the clock,
The cowards complain and cry foul;
The losers panic and throw in the towel,
But champions persist and hold their blocks,
For they know the score is tentative
Until the game is over, so they give
Everything, for ’til the final gun
There’s unfinished business,
Work to be done.

When there is time left on the clock,
The champions continue to play
Aggressively, to find a way
To anchor confidence so they can rock
The competition out of alignment,
As they execute their assignments.

When there is time left on the clock,
Champions cling to the fundamentals,
They stay in strategy, push potential
To higher levels intended to shock;
As warriors welded to their cause,
They are nourished by internal applause.

When there is time left on the clock,
Thoughts of surrender should be suspended;
Energy on hand should be expended,
Reserves should be exploited to unlock
The genius of skillfully fighting hard,
With valiant effort for the extra yard.

When there is time left on the clock,
You strive tenaciously, always take stock
In your motives for entering the game,
For pride, prestige or personal acclaim;
Though vanquished or victorious, heroes
Are those who fight to the end.
Zeroes on the clock is when the champions say
Is the acceptable time to walk away.

Copyright © 2003 Orlando Ceaser

http://www.watchwellinc.com

Are you Customer Servant or Overhead?

Papadakis Photography
I was talking to my son Brian the other day about the company he works for and the challenges he faces in selling their products. Part of their justification for pricing is linked to their ability to provide customer service. Other companies can offer lower prices, but if something goes wrong or if they have any questions they have a live person to assist you. The competition’s justification for pricing is the fact that they can sell products at a lower price because they don’t have the same overhead costs.

Built into the customer service logic is the belief that people will pay more for a product if the value in the long run makes it worth their while. If it saves time, aggravation, cost down the road and gives them peace of mind, it is a worthwhile investment.

How are you perceived at work? How do you view yourself? How do you rate in the minds of the competition? Are you a customer servant providing value for the job you occupy? Are you just overhead, the interchangeable vulnerable cost of doing business?

If you are a customer servant, people love to have you around. You have done your homework and are prepared to give them valid answers to their questions. You anticipate their needs and lay the foundation for making their job easier. People consult with you often because they know they can count on you, almost as a concierge would make valid recommendations. They know you are there for them and will recommend you and your company, because of how well they were treated. You are a GPS that knows where they are in their thinking and in their business.

If your company, customers or competitors see you as overhead, it is safe to say that your days are numbered. When the company sees you as an added expense, it is only a matter of time, in this cost-cutting era for them to find a way to outsource or eliminate your role.

If your customer sees you as overhead, they will not display the loyalty required for you to sustain profitability. Frequent purchases or repeat is questionable. They will very easily be swayed to another product or service whenever they have a choice. Customers realize that it is a buyer’s market and there are other companies courting them for their business. They do not have to accept shoddy treatment and less than the best behavior from anyone. They want enthusiastic customer servants who are thankful for their business. They want the interaction to be a pleasant experience that satisfies their needs.

Many customers have heard the old adage, “you can tell how a company treats their employees by how their employees treat their customers. If your behavior is not indicative of how your company wants to treat customers, your company can not afford to have you work for them. Your behavior is giving them a bad name. It is about company refutation and image and if you are out of line, you will be left behind.

If your competitors see you as overhead, they will work relentlessly to put you out of business. They will be more confident and aggressive in their interactions with your customers and will capitalize on the customer’s perception of you. They will be as a shark when they see blood in the water. The competition will constantly go for your jugular and exploit the fact that you are not honoring your promises or treating the customer with quality service which includes dignity and respect. The competition is already formidable in many markets. You don’t want to give them an added advantage that is linked to your weakness in being a poor customer servant.

You can look in the mirror and tell if you are a customer servant or overhead by your answers to the following questions.

1. Are customers delighted to hear from you and often go out of their way to contact you? This question speaks to the relationships that you have established with your clients.
2. Do you provide work that can easily be done by someone else or a computer or answering service?
3. Do you have a personality that is warm and connects with people?
4. Are customers dissatisfied with your encounters to the extent they complain to management?
5. Have you gone out of your way to show a client how much you appreciate their business?
6. Are you providing a service that would be difficult to find elsewhere?
7. What makes you so special?
8. Is your level of follow-up a marvel to behold?
9. Do you often anticipate your client’s needs?
10. Do you make it a habit of going above and beyond your client’s expectations?

Overhead has always been considered as part of the cost of doing business. It was a given, an expectation and something that people felt was necessary. This was part of the justification for print and mortar businesses. Companies housed people in buildings to have face-to-face contact with customers. We have seen the reduction in brick and mortar businesses as Internet businesses continue to explode on the scene. However, there seems to be resurgence in companies that have direct contact with the consumer. They feel quality customer servants play a vital role in their marketing plans.

You may speak as a realist and say that in many situations you are both. You are a hybrid person with dual functionality. You are listed on the budget as overhead, but you provide a customer service job. I won’t argue against this claim, but will add that if you are practically listed as overhead, you must not function as overhead nor allow yourself to think of yourself as overhead. Your dominant function should be as a customer servant, admired by your clients and profitable to the organization.

A company you will rarely have a competitive advantage if their people, often their number one expense, are performing as overhead rather than customer servants. Where do you see yourself? Where does your customer see you? Are you performing in such a way that your competitors are inspired to go to work every day? Are they excelling because they know that you are there competition? Where do you stand? Are you a customer servant or overhead?

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

Want to save the boss’s job? Perform better

Veterans of watching and playing sports and working in business for a living, remember countless regime changes. The owner or senior leadership brings people into a room or connects with them online to make an announcement. The current boss is being replaced, which could mean, demoted, reassigned or terminated. They inform the workers that it was time for a change. They may deliver platitudes and say such things as, “they were a fine individual and have contributed much to the organization.” This decision may not be linked to performance, but it was time to go in another section. This unleashes quite a buzz within the organization. Both positive and negative comments are made about the person and the decision.

Let’s move our focus immediately from the person making the decision and the person being removed. Let’s focus our attention on the people who work for him or her. On Sports Center and the local news media, one by one former players are interviewed.” “He was an excellent manager, a player’s coach, a person of high intellect and sports acumen. He taught me everything I know. She took a chance on me, when no one else would.” The plaudits and accolades go on and on.

In business and in athletics, there may be factors beyond the coach or the leader, which influence performance. However, one point comes out loudly and clearly, if the person was so great and instrumental in career growth to receive such high praise for their leadership,” why didn’t the people perform better?”

The best way to show a coach or a leader what you think of them is through excellent performance on the field, in the field, on the court, in the office, on the plant floor or in the classroom. Results are the measure of a person’s effectiveness. Is it logical to assume that your performance is an indicator of how you felt about them? If they are not getting the best from you and it is not them, then it must be you.

If you are not delivering up to your capabilities, are you in the wrong job or somehow being hampered by underlying issues. Are you compromising the effectiveness of your team, and placing your job and your manager’s job at risk. Bear in mind, it is the role of the manager to diagnose and treat some of these issues. It is commonly said that somebody has to take the heat and the blame when the team does not perform up to its capability. The leader or coach is usually this individual. Managers cannot fire the whole team or replace every individual over night. Somebody must take the field, sit behind desks or operate the machinery. Often it is believed that firing the manager will jolt the team into an accelerated, escalated level of performance. Sometimes this works, but sometimes it doesn’t.

What can be done?

When you bemoan the fact that, “another one bites the dust or another one got away or another quality coach leaves, think of all of the assistance they gave to you. Remember the instructions and wise counsel. There may have been working above and beyond the call of duty to get you comfortable in your job. Think of their families, as you think of your own. Then I want you to inspire and motivate yourself to give your maximum effort. Energized and engage your team members into working to their highest levels of achievement. You are doing this for yourselves, the organization and the manager you claim to admire and respect.

Performing to your highest level can be very self-serving. It enables you to have a greater role in retaining the best manager for you. If you admire the quality leadership of this individual, make sure that when they leave the organization, is because of some of the reason other than the team not delivering its best. The next person who walks through the door, on to the court or field or into the plant, was selected by you as surely as if you were in the interview making get the job offer. Retaining the manager you want may also keep you from getting the manager from Hell who may be lurking in the shadows waiting the right moment to assume the position you provide for them.

You may know him on both sides of this issue. People have come up to them and stated how unfair it was that they were no longer in the role. They went on to say they will never forget the things they taught them and how it made them a better person or manager. These comments were appreciated and well received. I’m curious; if it meant so much to them, why didn’t it show up in their performance. Why did she choose this year to deliver below prior years? Did they do everything within their power to keep the coach? Are there things that they could’ve done differently that could have led to a different result?

The manager, coach or leader is a part of the team. They set the tone for the velocity of the team and their ability to scale higher mountains of expectations. The team can be compared to a chain and sometimes the manager is the weak link in the chain and should be replaced. Sometimes, there are other individuals on the team that are not living up to their potential and the manager must develop them or remove them from the organization. Failure of the manager to make the tough calls may be an indication that they are not strong enough and should be replaced. In situations where the manager is highly regarded for their character, vision and leadership skills, it is imperative that this bears fruit in the performance of the team.

Post blog assignment

The next time you see a news story, where a person is being removed from a job, you may want to ask yourself a few questions and look for the evidence provided to justify the action.

• What did they do to deserve the termination?
• What information was given to support the action?
• What did the people who worked for them have to say about them?
• Was there evidence of being a good person, but not strong enough to make the tough decisions?
• What information was provided about the performance of the team or the department?
• Did you get a sense that the team was performing below its capabilities?

If you want to keep the manager you have, either as your boss or within the organization, you can contribute to this by performing at the highest level of your capability. This may spare you the inconvenience of complaining about the organization or feeling guilty about your culpability in the demise of your beloved leader, manager or coach.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

Leadership and the Ozone Layer – Getting business results without the heat

Managers often talk about the heat generated in many organizations by their superiors. A solar fire storm comes down from on high, whenever Senior Leaders are dissatisfied with results. These measures vary within companies, but usually relate to financial outcomes. When pressured, these leaders want immediate improvement. Their words may be indelicate with crude language and their words and demeanor may be threatening. This intimidating method of getting higher performance has been successful in the past and is a knee jerk reaction to falling profits.

Employees of these fire wielding executives need an ozone layer, like the one that circles the Earth. Science classes from the past and the current discussions on climate change make us aware of the ozone layer. The American Heritage Science dictionary defines it as “A region of the upper atmosphere containing relatively high levels of ozone, located mostly within the stratosphere. It absorbs large amounts of solar ultraviolet radiation, preventing it from reaching the Earth’s surface.” It is essentially a protective layer that prevents the full burst of the sun’s rays from striking the Earth. The earth’s ozone layer does not filter out all of the heat, just the harmful ultra violet rays.

The ozone layer in our context can also be described as a supportive culture that protects employees from intimidation and excessive pressure from people in authority. The ozone layer metaphor is useful in many areas of our lives, but we will use it in a business context.

Like the Earth’s ozone layer, a business ozone layer working effectively, can effectively protect the organizational culture and the results for which leadership is accountable. Middle managers jobs are based on their ability to implement strategy and tactics to achieve share holder and stake holder value. In organization where senior leaders employ an intimidating management style, their managers may be required to serve as the ozone layer for their people.

Managers as effective leaders must regulate the heat to see that if falls appropriately. They know their personnel and realize that some individuals in the organization may need a hole in this ozone layer to feel the additional heat. If they are not performing properly they cannot be pampered and allowed to give less than their best. Some people may need to be shocked into working at expected levels. This must be done in the context of a respectful workplace and honoring them without bullying, intimidation or harassment. There may be a window in the ozone layer to allow them to be excised from the organization, as skillfully as a surgical strike with a laser beam.

When the solar winds cascade down the leadership chain the Middle managers feel the full brunt of the energy surge. One manager recalls being told, “If you are not tough enough to get the job done, we will replace you with someone who will.” Threats are generally a part of the vocabulary of solar expectations. Fear is believed to be a potent motivator. For years we have learned that the KITA (Kick in the Ass) approach only works temporarily and the stick part of the “carrot and stick” approach also has limited sustainability. When people can leave an organization, they will leave if their current organization abuses these methods.

The middle managers know their people are hard working and that some of the shortfall in performance is a shared responsibility. Leaders and the rank and file may have under estimated the size of the challenge. It is therefore, a shared responsibility to fix the problem. Local leaders modify the threats in the message for they realize the negative effect it has on morale and productivity. They know from recent literature that positive expectations and clear focus will allow people to think better. What are needed are calm minds to solve the problems. These leaders therefore, form a force field around their people to shield and buffer them from a direct hit. They usually;

• Gather their teams together and explain the dire situation around performance
• Evaluate the current state to determine how they got there
• Brain storm ideas and establish a list of things they should stop or start doing
• Work to develop strategies and tactics to improve sales and financial performance
• Adjust the tone of the demands from Senior leadership, while developing solutions to address the concerns of upper management

The company achieves its objectives due to the passionate, insightful work of the managers and their teams. People recognize that they dodged a solar bullet and everything is fine until the next crisis.

When Senior Leadership sees the positive results; the reversal of negative trends, increased market share, they are pleased and complimentary. However, they are convinced that their firebombing directives caused the change. Senior leadership are prepared to reach for the flame thrower and use whatever draconian methods necessary to keep their organizations focused on reaching the results required to keep share holders happy. Therefore, with the next crisis they can be predicted to respond the same way, but with greater intensity.

A solution

If the practice of leaders in your organization is to respond the same way to every crisis, the objective should be to eliminate or minimize the number of crises. It is incumbent upon leaders to keep their teams always anticipating competitive and market pressures to prevent the initial crisis. Otherwise the fire drill will repeat itself and they may not be able to blunt the impact and consequences. This will require a change in mindset at all levels of the organization.

All leaders, including middle managers should control the area within their jurisdiction. They should;

• Ensure that their people exceed their stretch goals
• Conduct simulations and “What if” drills to anticipate competitive responses
• Develop a “What else” mindset directed toward other things they should do to tackle or prevent a problem. This mindset will also help generate and evaluate alternative solutions
• Monitor competitive activities
• Ensure that customers are steadily assessed and surveyed to determine their level of satisfaction
• Highly value customer service and customer surveillance as a high priority to provide the kind of market intelligence needed to make better decisions

Leadership needs to construct an environment of innovation and a culture that inspires people to give their best and offer solutions with fear of reprisal and ridicule. Trust and respect will go a long way toward eliminating a culture of fear and intimidation and ultimately produce the ideas and innovations needed to exceed objections.

The ozone layer should be a part of the corporate culture. This will prevent the untoward effects of leadership striking the panic button and forgetting everything they learned about motivating people and driving behavior. Or it will ensure that local measures are put in place to achieve the objectives of senior leaders without torching and scorching the very people responsible for correcting the problems and creating the solutions.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser