Tag Archives: Management

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

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

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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.

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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

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How to Boost Morale Without Spending a Fortune

In these tight economic times, would you like to know how to boost morale, increase motivation, and decrease turnover without breaking the bank?

How To Lead in Tough Times

When the economy is down and business is tough, a manager’s first tendency is to seek new ways to be efficient. Efficiency is good, but pushed too far, the human cost can outweigh the financial benefits of efficiency.

Life_vest

Perhaps you should stop trying to run a tight ship and start thinking about the welfare of the crew members.

It turns out that your people are less enamored with your business acumen (e.g. that you can move them around on a spread sheet to squeeze out another couple of bucks) than they are with your concern for them.  When they know that you will look after their best interest, you will have their loyalty.

Motivation as the Key to Efficiency

Hug Your PeopleJack Mitchell wrote a wonderful book for leaders who reject the idea that efficiency is all that counts in management. In Hug Your People: The Proven Way to Hire, Inspire, and Recognize Your Employees and Achieve Remarkable Results  he suggests the following:

Treat your Employees like Associates: No, seriously–treat your people like colleagues that deserve respect (because they do). And, don’t just talk about it. Let your actions speak for you.

Get to Know Them Professionally and Personally: Your associates will gladly support leaders who care. They will be cautious with cold-hearted managers who would kick them to the curb to save a buck.

Have Fun with Your People: You can enjoy working with your associates, and if you do, they are more likely to be more motivated.

Have Expectations and Standards, Not Rules and Regulations: Rules are stifling, but expectations breathe life without crippling motivation. Bad managers love to enforce rules. In contrast, good leaders let expectations manage people.

Know the Difference Between Employees “Working For” You vs. “Working With” You: The former is hierarchical. The latter is collegial. In the former, you check up on them to make sure they are doing their work. In the latter, you check in to see how you can help.  

Discourage Reliance on Yourself: Good leaders want their people to grow and succeed without them. They encourage decision-making because they want followers to grow. Good leaders are pleased when their people succeed (with or without them).

Would You Want To Work for Jack Mitchell?

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Who wouldn’t want to for a manager that truly cared about his people? Wouldn’t your manager get the best out of you if he treated you this way? But these are not techniques to trick employees to be motivated for the sake of efficiency. They are heart attitudes and they must run as deep as familial affection or patriotic ardor. You cannot fake concern for your people.

Mitchell summed up the core of his philosophy as follows:

Relationships are personalized–this means that people engage one another as real people rather than as job responsibilities. They get to know Ralph not as a shoe buyer but as someone who likes to go Kayaking and has eight-year-old twin girls. Michael’s not accounts receivables, but a marathoner who loves mango pudding.

When you care about your crew, you will not have to worry about running a tight ship. Take care of Ralph and Michael, and they will take care of you.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 3, 2012

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

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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

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

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The Saboteur of Effective Leadership: Are You “In the box”?

Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a student who stayed to talk after class…

He told me how his perception of leadership has changed over the last year. Now, I had this student in a class last year where we discussed  an interesting book entitled Leadership and Self Deception: Getting out of the box.

I am not going rehash the contents of the book because I wrote about it in another article, but the basic gist was that you cannot fake leadership.

You will either treat people as people or as objects. When you objectify people, you treat people like things to be used.  You distort reality. You begin to justify yourself when things go wrong. You  blame others.

The authors refer to this as being “in the box.” Unfortunately, this condition spreads like an airborne disease.

As we approached the end of the semester, students were working on a group project that required some coordination.  Thomas  [not his real name] could see that his classmate was “in the box,” but more importantly, he could see how easy it would be for him to fall into the same trap himself.

Creative Commons Attribution to LifeAfterIEPs

Since he was the group leader, he could not afford to get pulled into the box too. He was at a fork in the road and this road was not easy to navigate.  He could react to her and objectify her, or see her as a person and help her out of the box. It would take some fortitude to continue to return kindness for another’s abuse.

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:17-18).

Perspective and Consequences

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityBeyond the gratification that I felt that a student actually remembered what I taught in class, I was doubly impressed that he could articulate how he should think about leadership–particularly how he should think about his people. Thomas understood that leadership is not about him. It is about the people he leads.

To paraphrase Robert Frost, when the roads diverged, Thomas chose to view that person as a person, not as an object, and that made all the difference.

Darin Gerdes

November 28, 2012

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

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To Those Who Seek To Lead Well

Leaders talk about openness and transparency. That is good. It is nearly impossible in this age of empowered social media to be successful as a command-and-control leader. But talking about openness is not enough. You must act on that openness too.

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”  

-Patrick Henry

Openness Shrugged

 In the Obama team’s 2008 campaign book, Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama’s Plan to Renew America’s Promise, we find  a number of passages about what openness and transparency would look like under a future Obama Administration. They write: “When it comes to the corrupting influence of lobbyists on our politics, sunshine is truly the best disinfectant” (p. 149).

This is an ironic plagiarism of Justice Louis Brandeis’ 1913 quote “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” but we can all agree with the larger point. It is better to expose potential corruption than to cover it up.

In a more interesting passage about openness, we find this elaboration:

It means opening up our government with greater transparency so average citizens can access the information they need to hold their leaders accountable. And it means inspiring and calling on all Americans to engage as citizens.
Our government has an important role to play in this work, and every aspect of it should be under review. We’ll eliminate waste, streamline bureaucracy, and cut outmoded programs. An Obama Administration will open up the doors of democracy. It will put government data online, and use technology to shine a light on spending. It will invite the service and participation of American citizens, and cut through the red tape to make sure that every agency is meeting the highest standards. It will hold true to the obligations we have as stewards of our precious natural resources. And an Obama Administration will make sure that the doors of opportunity and community are open to all. We can’t begin to tackle the challenges of the twenty-first century without the hard work, creativity, and patriotism of every American (p. 146).

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityNow, these ideas are compelling. Who does not want a transparent government that is open to all? But campaigning and governing have turned out to be two different things. The promise of the campaign was not redeemed by the actions of the administration.

Openness is defined not by the leader, but by the followers.

If your followers say that you are not open and transparent, odds are that you are not. In all fairness to Mr. Obama, liberals said the same thing about George W. Bush, particularly as it related to the war in Iraq.

The First Rule of Leadership

The first rule of leadership is simple: Do what you say you will do. Your actions must be consistent with your words. In  The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner wrote:

Here are some of the common phrases people use to describe how they know credibility when they see it:

  • They practice what they preach.
  • They walk the talk.
  • Their actions are consistent with their words.
  • They put their money where their mouth is.
  • They follow through on their promises.
  • They do what they say they will do.

A judgment of “credible” is handed down when words and deeds are consonant (p. 40).

[Note: The Leadership Challenge is required reading for aspiring leaders.]

What Does This Mean for Those Who Aspire to Lead Well?

When it comes to transparency, what is true in politics is also true in business.

It does not matter if we are talking about a scandal like Benghazi or the rumors of layoffs at the office (the premise of the hit TV show, The Office),  failing to be open leads to a breach of trust. You cannot lead effectively when your people do not fundamentally trust you.

Is your organization transparent?

November 27, 2012

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

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Why Managers Need Humility in Order to Lead Effectively

In leadership, arrogance is the kiss of death because it is inherently self-limiting. Why? Leadership is about others; arrogance is about self. Many leaders do not understand this because they rose to their positions through sheer force of will. For them, a team is an obstacle to overcome rather than a source from which to draw strength.

The Self-Made Man carving himself out of the rock

Arrogance

Arrogance cuts the leader off from team input. It sends a message that you believe that you are better those you lead. This can be demonstrated in a number of ways–demanding perks, failing to listen, self-aggrandizing behaviors, etc.

Source: Dictionary.com

Humility

In contrast, humility seeks to learn from others. I once worked for a Dean who, at the conclusion of nearly every meeting, would express how happy he was with the results of meeting before reminding us that “all of us are smarter than any one of us.”  Dr. George was humble enough to know that he did not have all the answers.

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom”

(Proverbs 11:2)

The Difference between  Arrogance and Self-Confidence 

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityArrogance and self-confidence appear to be similar, but there is a simple test to determine whether a leader is self-confident or arrogant: Input. If the leader does not need or take input from the team, you are likely dealing with arrogance. In contrast, it takes a great deal of self-confidence to really listen to perspectives that may be different or even conflicting.

The Business Literature on Humility

It is no wonder that Jim Collins in Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t  suggest the best leaders are a combination of humility and will. He dubbed these leaders “Level 5 Leaders.”

Level 5 Leadership = Humility + Will

[By the way, Good to Great is required reading for anyone serious about business management.]

Kouzes and Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge, Echo this notion that humility is essential to leadership. They write: “Humility is the only way to resolve the conflicts and contradictions of leadership. You can avoid excessive pride only if you recognize that you’re human and need the help of others” (p. 347).

[The Leadership Challenge is required reading for aspiring leaders.]

Not surprisingly, humility is also one of the drivers of exceptional leadership in social media. Charlene Li wrote about this in Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead.  

She wrote, “In my research, people use two words over and over again to describe what was unique about open leaders: Curiosity and Humility” (p. 168).

As it turns out, humility may be even more important in the world of social media where sharing another’s idea is often more important than generating your own.

Source: Dictionary.com

Are you seeing a pattern yet? How humble are you? Your employees already know the answer.

If you really want to know,  have a neutral third-party ask them if they feel listened to, respected, and valued by their boss. You might be surprised by the answer.

November 24, 2012

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

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