Human Resources Today

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leader

Creating Buy-in for Your Ideas

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Creating Buy-in for Your Ideas

Have you ever been in a situation where you have said, “I told you so”? Those words include the thrill of being right (I for one live for these moments of being right!). But these words indicate that a person didn’t follow your advice. What good is that? Who cares if you were right, the person didn’t believe you enough to follow your recommended action, which resulted in the unfavorable outcome you predicted.

A mentor of mine shared this advice with me when I told him a story where I ended up being right about what would happen if someone didn’t follow my advice. He said the fault isn’t on the person for not following the advice, but rather on me for not being able to convince the person to take my advice. This really changed my mindset and approach when convincing people to believe me.

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You're Not As Good of A Manager As You Think

Ask any leader if they think they’re good at managing people. Most will respond “yes” or “I try to be” or “I think so.” No one ever flat-out says no. It could be we’re too afraid to admit what we don’t know. More likely it’s that we really never learned. Unlike the skills it takes to ship code, create a sales plan, or do a financial valuation, people management isn’t a specific, teachable skill. You can shadow a young developer and correct code errors in real-time. There’s often a clear right and wrong. Managing people – not so much.

Sure, if you’ve been working for a few years and managing people for a few more, you’ve learned some tricks along the way. But how do you know they’re the right ones? And how do you know you’re making an impact?

1. Start Talking to Your Employees

We’re so focused on launches, planning, and meeting deadlines, it’s sometimes easy to forget we’re working with human beings. No one takes a job at a startup or high-growth company for the hell of it. We all have some sort of personal growth goals. Make a conscious effort to ask your employees about theirs. Even if you don’t have a formal performance process, you’re still responsible for helping them grow and develop no matter how small or busy you are. Make an effort to do it.

2. Ask Your Team for Feedback

If you ask your team casually “how are things?” or “how am I doing?” you’ll get canned responses. Instead, ask them regularly what you can do better as a leader and encourage them as a team to work together to give you some specifics. Sure, you’re swamped, and small, growing companies don’t have time for coddling. But if your behaviors are getting in the way of getting work done, and you’re not making a conscious effort to develop your team, what happens when the company grows? You need talent you’ve developed whom you can trust to pass it on. You don’t grow a company through an “I’m in charge so I can behave how I want” mentality.

3. Set Performance Goals That Aren't Skills-Based

As you think about what you want to accomplish as a leader in the coming year, are all your goals performance-based? Probably...read more of the post over on Tech Cocktail.

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This post originally appeared on TechCocktail written by Susan LaMotte, the founder of exaqueo. A workforce consultancy, exaqueo helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.

 

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#DearCongress Lessons

Twitter is exploding with the hashtag #DearCongress, partly fueled by @WashingtonPost, by Obama's speech on Monday and his suggestion to contact Congress and by general American outrage.   I rarely talk about politics publicly (I think it's a personal topic), but this isn't about the politics. We hired our leaders to do a job and they're not performing. So what can we learn for our own jobs?Here's my tweet: "Dear [Congress], If I acted the way you did @ work, I'd be fired from every job I ever had/have. You have jobs, be grateful & do them."   Here are seven bi-partisan reasons they'd be fired if they worked in the real world. Please note: this post is not intended to spur a debate on what we should do about the debt ceiling, or to pick a side. The examples here are from things BOTH parties have done.  So what can we learn from their mistakes and apply to our careers?

1) Walking away is dumb.

Can you imagine a meeting where you get so pissed off you walk up and leave?  And I don't mean with your spouse, I mean at work.  Storming or stomping out of a meeting just shows you're not mature enough to handle the pressure that comes with high-level talks or negotiations.  No CEO has ever been lauded for taking his/her toys and going home.

2) Multiple, competing plans never work.

Imagine if you were in a project meeting working with your team on a plan.  Then, a team member stands up and says "This sucks, so me and Jimmy have worked out our own plan instead. Let's scrap the team's and go with ours." As a leader, my first thought would be "why are they doing this on their own time?"  If  a plan isn't working, you vocalize that in the group and work on solutions together, or, you decide as a team to break out the group to solve particular, deadlocked issues.  You won't win any friends at work by pissing people off to become the hero.

3) "I like you better than her" polling is a recipe for disaster.

Do you ever poll colleagues or clients to see who likes which piece of work better?  And if you do, do you put names to it?  For example, would you ever say in a meeting, or follow-up to a meeting with a poll that asks: "choose whose idea you like better, mine or Maria's."  Nope, I didn't think so. Forcing people to choose sides with a person and not what pieces of the idea they like and why is antithetical to progress and coalitions.

4) Spinning words to make you look better won't.

Americans are not stupid. We know both Rebulicans and Democrats have agreed upon lingo for how they'll talk in public.  If they didn't, the comedy gods wouldn't be able to show the repeat clips of every pundit using the same spinned terms.  My favorite so far is the use of "job creators" in replace of wealthy.  When you try to be overly political in the spin doctor sense, it's just bad PR. People will see through it, make fun of it, and lose trust in you as a leader and spokesperson.

5) Thinking you're the target demographic.

As good marketers have to remember, they are rarely members of their own target markets.  There's a reason toy companies convene focus groups of kiddos. Yes, elected officials are supposed to represent their constiuencies but the average member of Congress has healthcare that's so much better than the average American. Their salaries are above average. So why the closed door sessions? Private plan building? When in doubt, go to your market. And the market is screaming "get this done and focus on jobs." Please.

6) Crying foul.

 There are few things more sad than a bride left at the altar. Part of you feels sorry for her and part of you thinks "how do you get all the way to the altar and it not work?"  In business though, it's less sad.  Instead it feels whiney and pathetic. When you blame someone for leaving you in a time of business need, it sounds like a blame game. Instead ask why they left and focus on what you're doing to reconcile the union.

7) Stop with the fake positivity.
 
If I hear one more political soundbyte "I'm confident we'll get there." I might drive the ten minutes from my house to the Capitol and start knocking down doors.  The fake positivity does no one any good.  If you kep promising a solution in the workplace or telling your boss "don't worry, we'll make it," you're really screwing yourself.  Great leaders know the importance of being realistic. You can still offer hope, but also educate on what the plans B, C and D are to inspire confidence.  Or you can be like Congress, offer 12 plan As and instill zero confidence.
 
While my hope is that by reading this you're reminded that certain tactics will fall flat in the workplace, I also hope it serves as some career advice for our esteemed members of Congress.  They'll need it when they're all fired in November.

 

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