Archive for January, 2008

Leadership Resolution 2008

January 29, 2008

Want to make a New Year’s Resolution that not only improves your bottom line but actually has staying power? Here are five simple tips for turning it all around…fast.

Are you looking for a way to make 2008 the best year ever? Here’s my suggestion: spend the next 12 months (well, eleven and a half at this point) focusing on leadership. Not leaders, mind you—leadership.

Solid results that stand the test of time do so for one reason and one reason only: consistently excellent leadership. Products and services change with the demands of the market. Individual leaders come and go. The key is to create an organizational culture that ensures great leadership today and tomorrow.

In other words, you need a long-term fix, not a magic bullet or a trendy program du jour or a charismatic leader. You need a culture built on good, solid, time-tested leadership principles. Organizations should institute proven across-the-board behaviors that don’t depend on particular individuals. In the book Results That Last, I reveal some tried and true “best practices” in leadership—also known as Evidence Based LeadershipSM (EBL)—that enable organizations of all types to hardwire excellence into their very DNA. Simply put, EBL will help you get the results you’re seeking. The “evidence,” in this context, is the reams of data collected from study after study that aim to determine what people really want and need from their leaders, and what actions help them see the results that last and lead to their personal peak performance. Apply these proven tactics to every corner of your organization and you’ll achieve consistent excellence. Your success is no longer dependent on individuals. No matter who leaves, the excellence remains. These practices are not complicated. They’re simple, commonsense tactics that leaders can get their hands around and start doing right away.

In fact, implement these five “biggies” and you’ll see dramatic changes by the end of 2008:

Nurture your winners. It’s just good math! Want to spend 92% of your time retaining the 92% of employees who really want to be on board—and 8% of your time on the 8% who don’t? Of course you do! Your high performers and middle performers are your company’s future, so it doesn’t make sense to spend the vast majority of your supervisory time on those few employees who simply aren’t going to change.

Here’s the solution: implement highmiddlelow® performer conversations. They’ll help you re-recruit your great employees, make good employees even better, and move those few problematic employees up or out. You’ll be amazed by the boost you’ll see in morale—and profitability!

Accentuate the positive. Managing up means positioning your people, products, or organization in a positive light. Managing up doesn’t just happen; you have to make it happen in a systematic way. Help employees understand what can happen when negativity is allowed to breed (good people quit and customers leave) and they’ll be more likely to look for ways to be more positive.

Managing up makes people feel appreciated and reinforces desirable behaviors. For example, teach your frontline supervisors to let their leader know who does a great job. That way, she can thank these employees personally. Employees can manage up their boss and the company to other employees, customer service reps can manage up employees to customers, coworkers can manage up each other…See how it works?

Make a real connection with employees—every day. As many of you know, I am a big proponent of “Rounding For Outcomes.” (Think of a doctor making her daily rounds to check on patients.) Rounding helps you communicate openly with your employees, allowing you to regularly find out what is going well and what isn’t going well for them at the company. But remember, it’s not just empty “face time”—it’s rounding for outcomes, which means the process has a serious purpose.

Basically, you take an hour a day to touch base with employees, make a personal connection, recognize success, find out what’s going well, and determine what improvements can be made. Rounding is the heart and soul of building an emotional bank account with your employees, because it shows them day in and day out that you care and are committed to improvements.

Say thanks. In fact, put it in writing. I am a big advocate of sending thank you notes to employees who do an excellent job. But that doesn’t mean just sending the occasional note when someone goes far above the call of duty. Thank you notes don’t just happen. If they aren’t hardwired into an organization, they don’t get written. And a thank-you note is just too powerful a tool not to use. People love receiving thank you notes. They cherish them.

The best thank you notes are:

  • Specific, not general. A thank-you note that focuses on something specific the recipient has done is far more effective than one that reads, “Hey, nice job!”
  • Handwritten, if possible. Most people would rather receive a three-sentence handwritten note than a two-page typed letter. It’s more authentic and special.
  • Sent to the employee’s home. When an employee receives a thank you note at home, it feels more personal than one laid on her desk along with a stack of reports and memos.

Don’t just recruit great employees. Re-recruit them. If you plan to hire in 2008, here’s a relatively easy step you can take that will pay off in a big way. We all know employee turnover is expensive. But did you know that more than 25 percent of employees who leave positions do so in the first 90 days of employment? To retain a new team member, the leader needs to build a relationship. Studer Group has found that scheduling two one-on-one meetings, the first at 30 days and the second at 90 days, has an enormous impact on retention that directly turns into savings for your organization.

If these meetings are handled successfully, new employee turnover is reduced by 66 percent. I suggest using a structured list of questions to discover not only what’s not going well, but also what is going well. You can be certain that your new employee is comparing her first few weeks of work with your company to her last week at her previous job—which was filled with well wishes, tearful good-byes, and probably a going-away party. Clearly, your company will get the short end of an unfavorable comparison. These meetings will help you shore up an otherwise tenuous relationship.

Once you start implementing these tactics, results quickly follow. People will see that you care about them, which boosts morale, which improves performance, which leads to happier customers, which leads to higher profits.

Your job, and that of your leaders, is to create happy, loyal, productive employees. They, in turn, will create happy, loyal, profitable customers. They are two sides of the same coin—and that coin is the currency that buys you results that last.

Aligning Goals to Outcomes

January 8, 2008

A watershed question on whether your organization has an effective evaluation system is this: Is it possible for a leader to not perform well and still receive a good evaluation? If the answer is yes, one of the main challenges is setting measurable objective goals. Below one of our experts offers some help.


Aligning Goals to Outcomes

– by Penelope Tucker

The most common questions we get from leaders are related to metrics and setting objective goals. Evaluations are top of mind as we enter a new year and create new goals. Leader accountability is the first thing we implement with any organization we coach. Why? If you first align the outcomes across your organization, you can then more simply align the behaviors. In Quint’s new book, Results That Last, he explains that if there is only one thing you can do aimed at taking your department or entire organization to the top, it should be to establish an objective evaluation system to hold leaders accountable.

So, how do you know what to measure in your organization, and how do those measures cascade and align to individual leader evaluations? Our partners now have the answer to this common question. Studer Group coaches this accountability methodology across the country, resulting in 38,615 leaders using our automated tool. Our national goal expert, Bill Bielenda, has created a full library of objective goals and metrics based on national standards and what we see measured in other organizations we coach. Organizations that have active coaching partnerships with Studer Group have full access to this library of resources. If your organization is not currently a partner, we have tools to help you in developing goals as well.

Studer Group has now maximized the ability to share successful leader goals and metrics, in addition to populating these into the Leader Evaluation ManagerSM software. If you want to closely track a particular goal or metric in your organization, I recommend placing that goal on one or more leader evaluations. And for those departments that need to move the most, I recommend assigning high weights to these goals. You will see the move in results when evaluations are tied to leader performance.

This is what we see in high performing organizations that have sustained results. With this level of objectivity, there are no surprises at the end of the year when you tie evaluations to results and further help your leaders prioritize.

I hope this will be helpful to you as you align evaluations to outcomes to drive sustainable results. Please contact me to access these resources or visit our website at www.studergroup.com.

Penelope Tucker
penelope.tucker@studergroup.com