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Bill Catlette

Bill Catlette

Bill Catlette, @ContentedCows is an executive coach and business author who helps clients build lasting competitive edge by eliminating blind-spots and improving leadership habits.

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.

When Someone’s Trying to Apologize, Get Off Their Back

by Bill Catlette

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but it has become all too rare for someone, anyone, upon making a mistake to step up, acknowledge their error, meaningfully apologize, make it right as best they can, and promise to do better. Due to lots of poor examples and an over-indulgence of “reality tv”, the reaction from far too many of us when we actually see someone trying to responsibly clean up their mess is to pile on from the safety of the social media cheap seats. Stage a food fight, vote ‘em off the island, and move on to the next episode. I fail to see the benefit in this behavior.

I’m not much of a “Spicey” fan, but that is exactly what happened recently when White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer momentarily let his mouth outrun his mind and seemed to forget that millions of Jews had been gassed to death during the Holocaust. Within a few short hours of making the gaffe, Spicer appeared live on two networks, in front of the White House, and plainly admitted his mistake, without equivocation. Taking into account his position and the person he has to answer to, his move took considerable courage. Yet, twenty hours later, the howls and tsk tsk’ing have only grown, not abated. 

All we do when we engage in such behavior is drive people, ourselves included, further into the bunker, thereby lessening the odds that future mistakes will be dealt with in an adult manner. Sadly, deflect and denial become even more the standard response, as millions of impressionable youth observe and then mimic our behavior. Beyond the accumulating social rot, we retard productivity growth as learning is slowed when everyone chooses to bury rather than admit and learn from their mistakes. We can and must do better.

Please, the next time someone is legitimately trying to apologize for an error, listen, thank them, and drag at least one knucklehead off their back, United-style.

 

 

 

On Baseball, Long Hair, Married Priests, HR, and the “Department of No”

by Bill Catlette

03.12.17

 

The sports press was abuzz this week about something that didn’t involve balls, strikes, birdies, or 3-pointers. Rather, it was about hair, specifically the prolific red locks belonging to NY Yankees rookie Center Fielder prospect, Clint Frazier.

Since something like forever, the Yankees have maintained a strict personal appearance policy that prohibits players from wearing long’ish (below the collar) hair or beards. It’s about pride and professionalism, the “Yankee way” as they call it. It seems that, whereas Mr. Frazier had gotten the memo, he hadn’t gotten the message, prompting some ah hem coaching from team owner, Jennifer Steinbrenner, coach, Joe Girardi, even former Hall of Famer, Reggie Jackson, who still works for the team. Message received… According to Mr. Frazier, “Just after thinking to myself and talking to a few people, I finally came to the agreement that it’s time to look like everybody else around here.” Crisis averted, maybe.

A world away, Pope Francis allowed that maybe, just maybe, the Catholic church might be open to ordaining married men as priests. I don’t know whether that’s a white smoke or black smoke signal coming from the Vatican chimney, but I bet it has everything to do with recruiting, and a serious dearth of talent for those who would be priests.

Looking back on my early career as an HR professional, I distinctly recall similar business practices, if not outright policies being rather permanently woven into the fabric of the organizations I was exposed to: We mustn’t hire women drivers, our customer-facing employees cannot wear beards, I won’t even get into the dress codes. Some of this stuff was backed by sound reasoning. Some wasn’t. In retrospect, the thing that I regret is that, in too many cases, with good company I / we failed to ask the question that someone apparently put to the Pope, probably more than once:  Why not?

Too often, I’m afraid that we were simply serving as the “Department of No.” There will be no this. There will be no that. At the time, it was deemed the safer alternative. We served as a compliance function before the real compliance pros came along and turned it into an art form. Well intended as we were, I’m rather sure that we weren’t serving the organizations that were paying us all that well. Yeah, we were pretty good prophylactics, but I dare say that what the organizations often needed and wanted more was a curious, knowledgeable, thinking business partner. Today’s organizations are no different. They’re just moving a lot faster, and they need HR professionals and leaders with the courage to sustain valuable elements of corporate culture while, on a regular basis asking, “Why not?” 

 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.

 

With Healthcare Reform, Nothing Doesn’t Trump Something

03.11.17

As Americans, we’re more than a little interested in the current goings on with regard to “Repeal and Replace,” for several reasons. As with many others, it affects our business. Over the last ten years, we have doubtless done more work in the healthcare arena than any other sector. At the same time, not unlike anyone else who is aging (it beats the alternatives), we personally consume more healthcare services than ever. And, as a leader of a non-profit healthcare organization (@NFT), I have added incentive to stay abreast of the happenings in this space. Does that make us experts? Certainly not. Passionately, seriously interested? Absolutely. A few thoughts: 

“This is a big, f’ing deal” - As quietly whispered (he thought) into President Obama’s ear by Vice President, Joe Biden upon passage of the ACA the U.S. healthcare system is a big deal, a really big deal, at 18% of an $18 trillion economy. Healthcare expenditures for the average American are about $10,000. annually. It’s not just big, it’s very complex, with all kinds of moving, inter-related parts. Think giant Rubik’s cube that you’ve gotta get pretty close to perfect, or things go bad in a big way. With a small policy oversteer to the port or starboard, we could stall the U.S. economy, further degrade our anemic productivity growth rate, and / or unnecessarily endanger the lives of a lot of people.

New "Best Companies to Work For" List Revealed

by Bill Catlette

03.09.17

Last night, @AlanSMurray and the Fortune Magazine editors and journalists revealed for the twentieth time their annually curated list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For in America.”  The list is special to me, for two reasons.

First, my most significant employment experience prior to branching out on my own was at an early stage FedEx. Our HR team, took considerable pride in seeing to it that the company earned a high position on the early lists, and then took advantage of the reputational tailwind in our recruiting efforts. The source of the cover photo for this piece proudly occupies space in my office.

Second, and as importantly, since leaving FedEx, the most significant part of my work has centered on helping others appreciate just how profoundly the behaviors that make a company a great place to work impact the bottom line. Indeed, we’ve written four books on this very topic. I can’t tell you how proud I am to see companies that we’ve written about and bragged on in speeches and seminars across the globe continuing to earn this distinction, and indeed moving up the list. We’ve made many of them our own vendors of choice because they are just that good. Companies like Kimpton Hotels & Resorts, Marriott, Delta Air Lines, Mayo Clinic, David Weekley Homes, Publix, Google…

Career Enhancing Tips From 6 Prominent Female Executives

Today, in celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re going to do one thing that guys like us should do more often… Shut up and listen. To wit, here’s a link to a very good piece written by Grace Nasri for FastCompany - Six Female Execs On The Early Career Advice They Wish They’d Gotten. Enjoy!



Sunday, 05 March 2017 23:04

Leadership... It's Not a Position

Leadership... It's Not a Position

by Bill Catlette

03.03.17

 

Being appointed or elected to a position the duties of which include providing leadership does not in and of itself make one a leader. Leadership is a series of behaviors and actions, not a right or position. It stems from the earned consent of followers. In other words, even if we’re the boss on the org chart, followers get to decide whether or not we’re worthy of the moniker.

On a recent Sunday morning television program, mega best-selling author and journalist, Tom Friedman put a little finer point on that, reminding us that, “There is formal authority,  and there is moral authority.” Formal authority is position power that is bestowed by law, contract, or position that one has been elected or appointed to. Moral authority on the other hand represents “trustworthiness to make decisions that are right and good” (Merriam Webster). One is bestowed, the other is earned. One might give you the power to tell others what to do, while the other establishes whether or not they are likely to do it of their free will.

So how does one earn the benefit of the doubt, and the distinction as “leader?”

Thursday, 02 March 2017 17:51

The Hunt for a Better Boss

The Hunt for a Better Boss

by Bill Catlette

03.02.17

 

As an executive coach and former HR leader, I’ve had hundreds of people ask my advice on how they might get another job, or in some cases, a particular job. Does my resume look okay? Will you coach me on interview skills? Can I use you as a reference? Do you know anybody at ABC Co.who might be helpful to my candidacy?  

I’m not special in that regard. Everyone who works in this space is credited with having expertise that might help give someone better focus or perhaps an inside track on their job search. I’m not sure that we always live up to that expectation, but here’s what I am sure of: Too often, people are asking the entirely wrong question. Instead of directing the majority of their attention on the title that would be on their new business card, or the corporate name on the paycheck, they would do well to pay particular attention to the human being that they would actually answer to, and the others on that team they would be joining.

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.

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