Category Archives: Organizational Behavior

The Secret of Getting Your People to Perform for You.

Have you prepared your people for success? If not, why not? If the purpose of management is to equip your people with that which they need in order to succeed, you need to provide them the tools that will help them relate to you.

Soldier

In Soldier: The life of Colin Powell, Karen DeYoung provided Powell’s “How to Survive as My Aide–Or, What Not to Do” list. The list was originally provided to William Smullan after he became Chairman Powell’s communications aide and press spokesman.

This type of tool is invaluable because it creates standards and expectations. Here are Powell’s rules:

—Don’t ever hesitate to ask me what to do if uncertain.

—Don’t ever sign my name.

—Never use your money on my behalf.

—Avoid “The General Wants” syndrome—unless I really do.

—Provide feedback but be tactful to those who ask—talks between you and me are private and confidential. Alma (my wife) has nothing to do with the office.

—Never keep anybody waiting on the phone. Call back.

—I like meetings generally uninterrupted. I ask a lot of questions. I like questions and challenges.

—I like to remain enormously accessible. I like to do things with people.

—I will develop ways of getting to know what’s happening.

—Don’t accept speaking engagements without my knowledge.

—Keep track of whom I have seen.

—I tend to get moody, preoccupied. I will snap but that clears the air.

—Be punctual, don’t waste my time.

—I prefer written information rather than oral.Writing tends to discipline.

—I like to do paperwork—and I do a lot.

—NEVER, NEVER permit illegal or stupid actions.

—No surprises.Bad news doesn’t get any better with time.

—If there is a problem brewing, I want to know of it early—heads up as soon as possible—I don’t like to be blindsided.

—Speak precisely—I often fudge for a purpose. Don’t over-interpret what I say.

—Don’t rush into decisions—make them timely and correct.

—I like excellent correspondence—no split infinitives. (pp. 187-188)

Know Yourself and Help Your People Know You Too.

Powell’s rules are not absolute. There is no one size fits all system, but the idea of providing this kind of guidance is brilliant.

What is the secret of getting your people to perform for you?  The secret is simple. Set expectations for your people to follow. Be clear and help them help you.

Were I to write a list, it would look something like this:

-I believe that you know more about your job than I do and I expect YOU to come up with solutions.

-You are a professional. I trust YOUR judgment. Use it.

-You will never get in trouble for speaking your mind. Do not keep your opinions from me.

-I want to talk, but put it in writing first. I make decisions when we talk. The writing clarifies thinking and creates a record.

-I hate paperwork but I want you to leave a paper trail for documentation.

-If there is a conflict between two rules, we do no harm to our students (as in baseball, the tie goes to the runner).

-I only measure productivity. I do not measure time in your seat. Just be accessible by phone or email.

-Anticipate what needs to be done. Do not wait to be told.

-Free me from day-to-day administration so I can focus on moving forward.

-Everyone is entitled to an off day once in a while.

I had not previously created a written list, but I am working on one now. I believe that the administrators with whom I work would recognize and even say similar things about how I operate if they were asked.

MBA CHARLESTON SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY

On my first day on the job, I distinctly remember saying “You will never get in trouble for speaking your mind. Do not keep your opinions from me.”   Over time, they have learned how much I hate paperwork and that I only measure productivity. To their credit, they have adjusted to the way that I operate.

While some ways of operating are better than others, there is no one best way to lead. My list is not the right list. It is customized to me. It may not work for you.

What Is On Your List?

Do you have a list? If you manage anyone, you probably should. Maybe it is time you developed a list.

[If you read this far, you probably do care about leading your people well. See my Top 10 Leadership Books.]

So what is on your list? What is on your Boss’s list. I would like to hear your thoughts.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 26, 2012

_______________

Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Effectiveness, Leadership, Motivation, Organizational Behavior, Success, Trust

How Do You Celebrate Christmas?

I am writing on Christmas day. Why? I love what I do and I am a nerd. I am really interested in the question of how YOU celebrate Christmas.

Christmas_tree

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern University

The majority of Americans celebrate Christmas but the reality is that Christmas means different things to different people.  I am not writing to tell you how to celebrate Christmas, but to ask you how you celebrate it.

Let’s use a simple formula:

Christmas is about ________________________.

I celebrate Christmas by ____________________.

For example:

  • Christmas is about family. I celebrate Christmas by going to Grandma’s house where the entire family gets together for Christmas dinner.
  • Christmas is about forgiveness. I celebrate Christmas by making a list of all the people with whom I need to reconcile.
  • Christmas is about toys. I celebrate Christmas by shopping.
  • Christmas is about Jesus. I celebrate Christmas by remembering the birth of our savior and singing hymns at the Christmas eve service.
  • Christmas is about celebrating the holiday season. I celebrate Christmas by having a good time (especially under the mistletoe).

So How do You Celebrate Christmas?

The purpose of this article was to ask YOU what YOU believe Christmas is all about and how YOU celebrate Christmas. I sincerely want to know.

Quirky Traditions?

I would also like to know about any quirky Christmas traditions you might have. For example, I have a friend who orders pizza every year on Christmas because when he and his wife were young and broke, that was all that they could afford. I have a relative who breaks out green polyester “Christmas pants” from the 1970s.   I am not judging. I have my share of Christmas ties.

Our quirky tradition is to  ___________________.

So what is Christmas all about? How do you celebrate Christmas? What are  your traditions? I would love to hear what you have to say.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 25, 2012

_______________

Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Misc., Organizational Behavior

How To Deal With Difficult People.

Recently I have been reading about leaders in various organizations and I have been struck by the fact that in every organization–business, government, military, education, ministry–the vast majority of problems are interpersonal. People cause a lot of trouble.

How to manage Difficult people

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

There is a reason that books like Don’t Let Jerks Get the Best of You and Dealing with People You Can’t Stand exist. 

How to Deal With Difficult People.

Get your MBA at Charleston Southern University

In the 8th Habit, Stephen Covey wrote: “The soft stuff is the hard stuff and everyone is coming to know it. That is why leadership is the highest of all arts; it is the enabling art.”

If people problems are the primary issues in organizations, then leaders need to learn to deal with people effectively. Two books I have used for years in my leadership and organizational behavior classes are The Truth about Managing People and Principle-Centered Leadership

Truth about managing people - How to deal with difficult people

The Truth about Managing People is a short little read. It  is like a textbook stripped of all of the unnecessary words. I believe that this is how it was developed. After all, Robbins is known for his best-selling textbooks.

The book is excellent. In it, Robbins explains simple concepts like why “telling your employees to ‘do your best’ isn’t likely to achieve their best,” (p. 47) and  why “the essence of leadership is trust” (p. 87). If you are just starting out in management, read this book. It will help you detect the landmines that you cannot see.

Principle centered leadershipPrinciple-Centered Leadership is one of best books on leadership that I have ever read. [For more, see my Top 10 Leadership Books] The book winds and meanders, but it contains so many gems.

Covey focused on how leadership only exists in the context of a relationship. He explained that: “there are times to teach and train and times not to teach. When relationships are strained and charged with emotion, attempts to teach or train are often perceived as a form of judgment and rejection” (p. 82). As a professor, that passage spoke to me.

In another place he wrote, “there is nothing on earth that can buy voluntary commitment. You can buy a man’s hands and back, but not his heart and mind” (p. 179). How many millions of dollars have been wasted because management did not understand this concept?

A major theme of the book was the simple idea that, “you can be efficient with things, but you must be effective with people” (p. 189).Effectiveness is not the same as efficiency, and confusing the two can lead to disaster. When dealing with people, the shortest path to an agreeable outcome may take more time, but shortcuts seldom work.

If you see the wisdom in these few passages, read the book. You can get it on Amazon for less than $5 on Kindle (immediately) or for a penny (+ 3.99 shipping)  if you can wait a few days.

Want to know how to deal with difficult people? These are the best resources I can suggest. What are your suggestions?
——————–
References:

Covey, S. R. (1991).  Principled-centered leadership. New York: Free Press.

Robbins, S. (2013). The truth about managing people, 3rd Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 22, 2012

Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Effectiveness, Influence, Leadership, Management, Motivation, Organizational Behavior, Success, Trust

The One Thing You Must Understand In Any Negotiation.

Negotiation is so hard because we make it hard. When we attack the other side, we limit our chances for a mutually satisfying solution. We create our own prisons and then we wonder why we are trapped.

Jail

As I write, our politicians are locking horns in a contentious debate that will affect us all.  Debate is nothing new, but the level of acrimony seems to be on the rise. The acrimony is accelerated by the moral superiority that each side feels it has over the other. This leads to more hyper-partisan attacks, but it also reduces the chances that we will arrive at creative 3rd alternative solutions.

Identity.

The core of the problem is that each side sees their position as their identity. We have forgotten that when you attack the position, you attack the person.  Stephen Covey wrote:

3rd_AlternativeAlmost everyone identifies with one alternative or the other. That’s why we have liberals against conservatives, Republicans against Democrats, workers against management…spouse against spouse, socialist against capitalist, and believers against nonbelievers. It’s why we have racism and prejudice and war.

Each of the two alternatives is deeply rooted in a certain mind-set. For example, the mind-set of the environmentalist is formed by appreciation for the delicate beauty of balance of nature. The mind-set of the developer is formed by a desire to see communities grow and economic opportunities increase. Each side usually sees itself as virtuous and rational and the other side as lacking virtue or common sense.

The deep roots of my mind-set entwine with my very identity. If I say I’m an environmentalist or a conservative or a teacher, I’m describing more than what I believe and value–I’m describing who I am. So when you attack my side, you attack me and my self image. (pp. 9-11)

The One Thing You Need To Understand.

 Strongly held positions = Personal identity.

I am a Christian. For me, this is a primary identity. So when secularists attack Christmas  (e.g. renaming a Christmas tree a “Holiday tree” in order to embrace people of all faiths), I understand how many Christians experience this as an attack on them and their values.

I am a Conservative. So when the far-left seized the opportunity to advance their gun-control agenda in the wake of the tragedy at Newtown, I quickly penned three articles in defense of 2nd Amendment rights:

[Note: I believe that most ordinary Americans–even those who are now rethinking gun-control–simply want to ensure that a similar tragedy is not repeated. These people are different than those with a prepackaged agenda.]

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern University

Notice that I said “I am” a Christian and “I am” a Conservative. I did not say that I think that Christianity or the Founding Fathers provided  rationally superior systems of thought. It is simply not that abstract. This is what I mean by identity. 

The point is this: If you are a Conservative, do not demonize Liberals if you wish to make any progress.  Remember:

Strongly held positions = Personal identity.

It Is The Same Way At The Office.

At work, if you have just disparaged Todd about the XYZ account at the last staff meeting, you are not likely to get Todd’s support on most basic items on your agenda.

If you say 2+2 =4, he will not attack your math, but you had better be prepared for him to ridicule your elementary thinking or your inability to think outside the box.  Why? He worked hard on the XYZ account and when you attacked it, you attacked him.  You violated his identity.

Whether you are in Congress or at the office, the one thing you must understand in any negotiation is that in order to gain cooperation you must not attack the other’s identity.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever experienced an attack on your identity that prevented your cooperation?

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 20, 2012

_______________

Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

2 Comments

Filed under Books, Current Events, Effectiveness, Influence, Leadership, Management, Misc., Motivation, Organizational Behavior, Poltics, Success, Trust

The Lazy Manager’s Way to Effectiveness

If you will not delegate for the right reasons, at least give your subordinates the assignments you do not want (and do it for all the wrong reasons).

Ya Got to Grow Buddy

Photo courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer (from .gov website)

The Right Reasons

Peter Drucker was once asked if leaders were born or made. His response: “Leaders grow, they are not made.” Drucker was absolutely right. Leadership is an organic process and your people need the opportunity to grow.

Get your MBA at Charleston Southern UniversityIn fact, your role as a manager is not to gather as many followers as possible, but to help your followers grow into leaders. You should seek to expand their capacity. Nothing expands capacity like challenging opportunities. Delegate.

The Wrong Reasons

There is also a pragmatic reason to delegate. Let’s assume you are just a lazy boss. Delegation can reduce your workload, freeing up precious time for more critical tasks like golf.

Want to cut your workload in half and gain the salutary results of effective management? Try this: Assure a subordinate that you are going to empower her. Let her know how much you trust her. Tell her that, within the parameters you have established, she has creative control over the project. Then, go play golf.

Moreover, when your boss asks you why you were on the golf course instead of working one the XYZ account, you can look him in the eye and tell him that you had to be out of the office in order to provide a meaningful leadership experience to a promising subordinate. You are, after all, interested in the company’s long-term growth.

I am only half-joking here.

A businessman once commented to Andrew Carnegie, the great American industrialist, that he must get to his office at the crack of dawn to complete his day’s work. Carnegie laughed and told him:

You must be a lazy man if it takes you ten hours to do a day’s work. What I do is to get good men, and I never give them orders. My directions seldom go beyond suggestions. Here in the morning I get reports from them. Within an hour I have disposed of everything, sent out all of my suggestions, the day’s work is done, and I am ready to go out and enjoy myself.[i]

 This is the art of delegation. A good leader assigns a task and then allows the subordinate to operate in her own way.  Stan Lee of Marvel Comics fame put it this way: “I have a theory. When you work with artists and writers, any kind of creative people, you get their best work if you let them do it the way they want to do it.”[ii]

So go and give away that difficult assignment. Tell her what needs to be done and assure her that you will not interfere. Then go play golf. It may be the best thing you’ve done as a manager.

By the way, if you are really interested in learning to lead more effectively, see my Top 10 List of Leadership Books. Read them if you care about your people. If you don’t care about your people, put them on your bookshelf to make yourself look like someone who takes leadership very seriously.  Either way, review the list.

Darin Gerdes

December 5, 2012

_______________

Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

———-
[i] Nassaw, D. (2007). Andrew Carnegie. New York: Penguin Press. p. 184.

[ii] Zakarin, S. (Director). (2002). Stan Lee’s mutants, monsters, & marvels [Motion picture]. United States: Sony Pictures/Creative Light.

Leave a comment

Filed under Effectiveness, Efficiency, Leadership, Management, Motivation, Organizational Behavior, Success

What is Leadership? – Part I [Video of short lecture – 5 Minutes]

This is part one of a two-part introduction to my discussion of the nature of leadership in my MBA Classes at Charleston Southern University.

In this video, I provide an overview of the core elements of leadership according to the academic literature.

Then I briefly discuss:

  • Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityVision,
  • Influence
  • motivation

Want More? Watch Part II of What Is Leadership? Part II will be the best 10 minutes you spend today, or your money back (actually, that is not much of a claim since it is free, but I stand behind my content).

invisible-employeeThe Wayne Gretsky story comes from Adrian Gostick’s book, The Invisible Employee.   At the time of this writing,  used copies are selling on Amazon for as little as a penny.

His other books are linked below on the Amazon page. I would recommend that you read everything Gostick writes.

 

Darin Gerdes

December 1, 2012

_______________

Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

2 Comments

Filed under Effectiveness, Efficiency, Influence, Leadership, Management, Motivation, Organizational Behavior, Video in Post, Vision

The Secret of Getting People to Follow You.

Too often, young leaders start with the wrong perspective on leadership.

It is not bad to want to lead, but typically they think that leadership is all about “being a leader.” This view encourages self-aggrandizing behaviors, playing politics, and efforts to get people to follow you. Ultimately, it leads to frustration when these ill-fated techniques do not work.

When we want to know how to get people to follow us, we have begun by asking the wrong question.

Leadership is not about you. It is about the people you lead.

The Motivation to Lead

It took me a long time to understand this point (Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership notwithstanding) . The difference is motivation.

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityThe correct motivation is the key to success in leadership. If you really believe in that leadership is all about you, will act one way. But if you believe that leadership is about success of your followers, then you will act an entirely different way. Let me illustrate.

Parallels between Social Media and Leadership

Social media is a wonderful metaphor for successful leadership. Think about how social media works. It is not command-and-control. There is no boss telling you what you must read or write.

In social media, the would-be leader must make his mark not with control, but by influence. That influence is magnified when it is focused on the needs of others.

Loud “buy my product” overtures fall flat. They are ignored (or blocked). In contrast, the best social media marketers simply give away a lot of valuable material. They attract a crowd because they look to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). People follow them because they add value.

Are you adding value to others?

What is the secret of getting people to follow you? Stop trying to be a “leader.” Sincerely add value to others and before long you will have a following.

Darin Gerdes

November 28, 2012

_______________

Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

2 Comments

Filed under Effectiveness, Leadership, Management, Motivation, Organizational Behavior, Social Media, Success, Trust