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Saturday, 09 December 2017 22:08

You're Fired!

You’re Fired

by Bill Catlette

12/9/17 Memphis

Everyone who accepts a role with responsibility for providing leadership to others must accept the reality that it will eventually be their duty to tell someone, “You can’t work here anymore.” Let’s accept the notion that doing so is a solemn but necessary part of the deal, and if you can’t or won’t do it, you need to find something else to do for a living. Similarly, if the day ever comes when this stops being gut-wrenching for you, get another job.

Following are four premises that I have worked my way to over a forty-some year managerial career and more corporate executions than I care to think about.

About forty years ago, before anyone had heard or even contemplated the term, “FedEx”, Federal Express marketing guru, Vince Fagan worked with the company’s ad agency to create one of the most effective brand tag-line’s in history:  Absolutely, positively, overnight. In just 3 words, they focused like a laser on the very essence of what the young, startup company meant to convey to the world:  Speed, reliability, and Commitment with a capital “C”. This tagline was used successfully in a series of hilarious commercials that brought the firm out of the shadows, and created a new term and an idea: FedEx.

What they didn’t envision was the impact that having those 3 words plastered on television screens everywhere would have internally on the purple-clad FedEx workforce. You see, what people inside the company knew was that our still meager assets and operating systems were capable of doing the overnight thing usually, but with seemingly uncontrollable factors like weather, mechanical breakdown, and shipping capacity, the Absolutely, Positively part was a real push.

Friday, 15 September 2017 00:00

Staffing Is More Than Putting Butts In Seats

Staffing Is More Than Putting Butts In Seats
by Bill Catlette

During my travels as a veteran road warrior, I’ve recently encountered some rather remarkable signs of short-staffing, and employees who were (or should have been) wearing “trainee” badges, or perhaps personal flotation devices.

From a customer perspective, it’s disheartening to wait interminably for someone (anyone) to show up, check you in, take your food order, or answer the phone, and then to encounter a newbie who has obviously been prematurely dropped into the deep end of the pool with no life preserver or swimming skills. Though perhaps more readily apparent in the travel, hospitality, and retail spaces, this occurrence is by no means unique to those industries.

Through the first half of 2017, about 100,000 people left their jobs every day in the U.S. according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Marry that with data indicating that the U.S. currently has a job vacancy backlog of some 6 million open positions, and you quickly understand why recruiters’ tongues are hanging out, and so many others are gagging over the service experience. It also might say something about the abysmal levels of employee engagement and national productivity growth we’re experiencing.

On the precept that one of the cruelest things we can do to employees and customers alike is to put new teammates into a situation where they simply cannot succeed, here are three suggestions for managers:

Adjust Your Sights – Having a new person join your team is closer to the beginning of the staffing process than the end. Truth be known, your staffing duties will never be over (indeed, you should never stop recruiting), and they won’t be finished with that new teammate until the individual is competent and reasonably comfortable in their new role. So don’t go rushing off the instant after you hand someone their new employee ID card.

Get Serious About Onboarding – It’s not unusual to see half of all newly hired hourly workers leave jobs in the first 4 months, says Dr. Autumn D. Krauss in a Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology publication.

Plus, an equal portion of outside hires that are brought into the management ranks fail in the initial 18 months of service, according to Dr. Bradford Smart, author of “Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching and Keeping the Best People.” Many of these failures are quite preventable, and some can no doubt be attributed to poorly designed or badly executed onboarding measures. People who aren’t made to feel welcome, taught the secret handshake, and equipped with the necessary insights and nuances of how things are done in an organization probably won’t be very successful, have much fun, or last long. Moreover, they will tell lots of people about the experience, and your employer brand will take a hit. Speaking of employer reputation, if you haven't checked your Glassdoor rating lately, it might be a good idea.

 Take a hard, end-to-end look at your onboarding process. Is the knowledge transfer properly sequenced? Is it delivered in a manner that best matches the user’s preferred learning style? Do you even know what their dominant learning style is? Is it facilitated by your best and brightest, or simply whoever is available at the time? Are you and senior leaders checking in with new hires to build rapport, personally embed bits of institutional fabric and check on progress? You should.

Adopt some “re-recruiting” measures to provide a means of checking in with recent hires over the course of their first year or so with the organization. Doing so will pay handsome dividends.

Upgrade Skills and Practice De-Selection Where Necessary – Few argue that everyone who finds their way onto an organization’s direct payroll shouldn’t have a mutually developed personal development plan, with time and other resources set aside to work that plan. With the opportunity to build skills, and yes, to bolster one’s resume - a heavy driver of engagement levels - we would do well to be more diligent about this effort.

Strange as it may seem, one of the best things you can do for your staffing situation is to actively, but humanely, de-select (remove) people who are chronic non-performers. Failing to do so is committing fraud against them, your customers, and their fellow teammates, who are likely tired of carrying more than their share of the load.

Last but not least, don't forget to show your recruiters some love. They do important work, and don’t always get the recognition (or pay) they deserve.

Be Quicker and More Courageous in Dealing With New Hires

by Bill Catlette

5/21/17  

Whether one works in the public eye or not, somewhere in the 50 to 100 day window after a person has started a new job, people around them are forming some pretty strong impressions about whether or not "this dog is going to hunt” as they say in Mississippi. I’ll let you in on a little secret; if they are at all self-aware, the person occupying that new job is likely figuring it out before everyone else is. Sadly, too few managers realize this nexus of thought and take advantage of it by initiating “check-in” conversations with the new staff member.

It would seem to stand to reason then, that on a fairly regular basis, monthly perhaps, it would do us good to check in with new hires (at all levels) and compare notes about how things are going. Do they feel fully successful in their new role? Do we share that point of view? What barriers are preventing them from being as successful as they want to be? What successes have they had, and what hard lessons have been learned? Are they having fun? Is the job what they expected it to be?

Coaching Tips: Discovering a Reason to Change

by Bill Catlette

One of the most common difficulties encountered by workplace coaches is finding something that will serve as a lever to trigger different, more positive behavior by the individual being coached. Too often, when reaching for a reason or rationale to justify change, we lean on organizational impacts…   “Your tardiness in arriving late to scheduled meetings means that we start late and finish late.” In an era when so many of us are walking around wrapped a little too tightly, self-absorbed, and organizational engagement is extremely weak, these impacts lack potency. They seldom move the needle. So what might work better ?

In reaching for a reason that will cause someone to change, bear in mind that what you’re trying to do is help them see a reason that makes sense to them (not you) to change. So get personal, look for ways to establish a connection between the condition you’re trying to help them change, and something that is personally important to them.

Ask questions, even ones with a sharp point on the end of them. “You’ve told me that you want to build a reputation as a talent magnet. Do you think that chronically wasting people’s time by showing up a few minutes late to every meeting helps or hurts that purpose?” Or, try an analogy. “I know you’ve got a teenage daughter who has begun dating. When your daughter has promised that she will return home from her date by 10PM, how do you feel when she strolls in at 10:20? (Pause to listen, really listen.) Might the people on your team feel the same way about your tardiness to meetings?

Generally, only when we see a reason that makes sense to us to change does it become likely that we will actually take steps to do so. Because we’re all different, with different goals, values, and sensitivities, it often takes two or three attempts before we strike paydirt, but it’s worth it. Change initiatives that are well-founded, with some personal interest at their bedrock are more likely to stick. Try it, and let us know how it worked.

 

If you want to learn more:

 

  1. For self-help, read, “The Coach” by Starcevich and Stowell
  2. For private or small group coaching, contact the author.
Tuesday, 28 February 2017 11:05

Grace Under Pressure

Grace Under Pressure

by Bill Catlette

 02.28.17

And the winner of the Oscar for Best Display of Grace and Class on Stage goes to... Jordan Horowitz, Producer, “La La Land.”  Standing Bravo!

Admittedly, I’m not much of a movie fan, evidenced by the fact that I had never even heard of any of the best films honored at this week’s Oscars.

But I know class and grace when I see it. Mr. Horowitz displayed both when he spontaneously re-gifted the Best Picture Award to its rightful owners, the producers and cast of “Moonlight” with the words, "I'm going to be very proud to hand this to my friends from 'Moonlight.”

If there was ever a guy with justification to get a little cranky over having been publicly teased with the top award in his profession, it’s Mr. Horowitz. But he never went there. Contrary to the steady diet of attention seeking and bogus victory laps we’ve seen from some government officials of late, Mr. Horowitz seemed quite happy to redirect the spotlight where it belonged. No whining, no finger pointing, no crass comments. He praised the man’s work, handed him his award, gave him a hug, and got off his stage. And that, fellow leaders, is the example we should be setting in our own organizations.

Make it a great day!


If you would like to take this topic to a different level in a one-on-one coaching session, keynote speech, or seminar, we would love to hear from you.

What to Do If Politics Are Taking a Toll on Your Workplace Productivity

This week, I contributed to a piece Noreen Seebacher @writeNoreen wrote for CMS Wire about steps managers should take to deal with the continuing decline in productivity owing to U.S. election-related politics and governmental affairs distractions in the workspace. Here's a link:  http://www.cmswire.com/digital-workplace/politics-are-taking-a-toll-on-workplace-productivity-heres-what-to-do/  If you find it worthy, I'm sure Noreen and CMS Wire won't mind if you give them a shout out.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016 22:45

Five Things You Can Do to Hire Smart

Memphis: 12/20/16 4:48P 

People the world over are watching intently as a new U.S. presidential administration goes through its staffing up process, taking notes and names as to who’s in, who’s out, who’s on the fence, what the relative merits of each candidate are, who’s calling the ball, the list goes on. One can only hope that the behind-the-scenes process used to vet and select candidates is as serious as the reporting of it. While all this goes on, thousands of other jobs, real jobs, regular jobs are being filled, quietly, without the hoopla, and, dare I say in too many cases, without much thought or preparation.