Tag archive for "speaker"

by Richard, Leadership, Management

4 Steps to Avoid Playing Favorites

No Comments 14 December 2011

Managing employees is, in some ways, like parenting children. Every parent with more than one offspring has probably been fairly accused of playing favorites at one time or another. At home and at work, inadvertent or not, favoritism creates problems, and it’s something managers (and parents) would do well to be aware of, and guard against. Since this is a management and leadership site, and not a parenting one we’ll just talk about favoritism at work.

Bound in part by human nature (but not powerless against it), it’s relatively easy for a manager to step into the favoritism trap. Most of us, perhaps in response to the tough business climate, are running pretty lean, with little room for error. As a result, we rely heavily, maybe too heavily, on our stars. We give them the toughest, most important assignments, and most ridiculous deadlines. The most hours. The best schedules. More training. Cooler opportunities. And because they’re going above and beyond, maybe we grant them some privileges not afforded to all. We cut them a little more slack, and overlook the odd transgression that would surely be pointed out with lesser performers.

The average and poorer performers see this and cry favoritism, while the workhorse wonders, “Why am I the one carrying all the water?” Come to think of it, this is sounding more like parenting all the time.

If we’re really honest, we might admit that we just like some people better than we do others, for reasons not remotely related to job performance, and that we let that preference bleed through, even though we know that’s a lousy way to lead a group. Once we’ve gained control over that tendency, we’re left with the problem of favoring some over others for what we’d like to think are legitimate, performance-based reasons.

So what’s the difference, you might ask, between favoritism and performance management?  Isn’t it only fair to reward based on results? And, doesn’t it make sense to use your best players for the toughest plays?

Well, yes, but there are better ways to reward the strong performers on your team, and strengthen the others, than playing the favorites game.

Favoritism almost always produces unwanted results. It rarely motivates the lackluster towards stardom, and can breed a sense of entitlement in the favored. And you can bet that, in a doomed attempt to prevent it, some bureaucrat or lawyer will devise a scheme of rules, the imposition of which will serve only to tie your hands, kill creativity, and squash good tries by the best on your team.

It forms the basis for too many labor grievances, and a protracted pattern of favoritism helps cultivate an interested audience for union organizers. In short, it’s a practice we want to avoid with the same fervor and determination as we do those difficult conversations about declining performance, hygeine, and the questionable wisdom of dating a direct report.

Here are some better alternatives to playing favorites.

  1. If someone’s not performing up to snuff, show some leadership, actively manage their performance, and don’t take the passive-aggressive route of ignoring them, mistreating them, and hoping they’ll get the hint and take a hike. Poorer performers deserve to be coached, and given the opportunity to improve, not left out in the cold, to figure it out themselves (amid shouts of favoritism).
  2. Establish clear standards for performance, and then be unambiguous in communicating those standards. Leave no doubt as to what behavior leads to which results. Clearly articulate the steps that lead to where they’d like to go. You wanna make more money? Work a better schedule? Do more of the fun stuff? Here’s what it takes. How can I help you?
  3. Build a culture of excellence, by making a clear connection between performance and rewards of all types. Above all, be consistent in providing a platform for visibility, and the opportunity to excel, but distinguish those who do their best work from those who are mailing it in. That’s anything but favoritism.
  4. Just as it can be difficult to see the spinach stuck to our front teeth without a mirror or a caring observer, favoritism is usually hard to self-recognize. Ask about it on your employee survey. (You are doing surveys, aren’t you? If not, we can help.) Or, give your peers permission to tell you when they see it. When you become aware that there’s a perception of favoritism on your part, seek to understand why. If you’re convinced it’s not really favoritism, make the case. Otherwise, make a change. In you.

There’s a big difference between rewarding the best, and playing favorites. Build a culture of excellence, and soon you’ll be leading a whole field full of stars, and that will be the favorite part of your job.

****

Richard Hadden is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by virtue of a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He and business partner, Bill Catlette are the authors of the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milk, and Contented Cows MOOve Faster, and the new book Rebooting Leadership. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

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by Bill, Management

You Know My Name… Use It

2 Comments 02 November 2011

Twice in the last month when approaching the hostess stand at specialty restaurants inside high end hotels, I’ve been greeted immediately not by the words, good morning, hello, or anything like that, but by a request for my name and room number. In each case, at the end of the meal, I was asked for a room key before being allowed to charge the meal to my guest room. Then, upon signing the meal tab, I again had to enter my name and room number. Funny thing… in neither case was I even once called by my name.

We collect bushels of information these days, to feed the ravenous appetites of our Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS), and other databases. I often wonder, though, how well that data is used, and just how much of it is operationalized in the form of applied knowledge.

It was clear in the case of the restaurants that the hostess staffs were collecting my information not because they intended to use it with me, but because someone in management was requiring it for another purpose. What they (and each of us on a too regular basis) lose sight of is that when you take the step of asking for someone’s name, personal information, or opinion, even once, let alone a second or third time, we expect you to use it in a form that is at least visible, if not beneficial to us. Otherwise, it reeks of arrogance.

I saw this again yesterday in a visit to the emergency department of an otherwise well run hospital. Despite having proffered my medical information via both a url to a secure website AND in writing, I was asked a third time for the same basic information.

This week our firm is in the midst of working with two clients on their employee opinion surveys. In each case, these organizations have figured out on their own, with no prodding from us, that if they are to truly get some ROI on their survey investment, it behooves them to feed the results back to their employees, and, at the end of the day, to act on the information received. Otherwise, management’s reputation, not to mention investment will have been squandered.

What about you? Are you in the data gathering or data using business? Do you at least acknowledge the information that people have given you? (Note to recruiters: This includes you.) Do you use it well? Do you bend the data gathering process to accommodate the preference of the information giver? If not, why not?

As we march on with the vital journey of creating electronic medical records and ever more powerful informational databases, let’s not lose sight of some of the low hanging fruit that is immediately at hand:

  • If we know a person’s name, let’s use it. That will never offend them.
  • Let’s show a little more consideration in the data gathering process. One thing our survey clients both insisted on was explaining to their workers on the front end, how their opinions would be used (and not used), and when they would get to see the results.
  • Let’s resolve to being a bit more “subject-friendly” when gathering data, making sure, for example that any redundancy owes to real necessity, and not laziness.  Let’s resolve to put more focus on both the primacy and privacy of data, collecting only that which is needed, and truly safeguarding that which has been entrusted to us.

*****

A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the newly released book,Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit theirwebsite, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

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by Bill, Leadership

Quit Whining and Play!

No Comments 27 September 2011

This past weekend, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Michael Vick was knocked on his keister by an onrushing New York Giants lineman, injuring his right (non-throwing) hand as he hit the ground.  After the game, Vick excoriated game officials for not flagging the lineman for a late hit. “Late hits” or, more appropriately, unnecessary roughness penalties come down to a matter of split-second judgment by the involved official(s). In this case, rightly or wrongly, they deemed the hit within bounds. Football is, after all, a violent sport.

Vick’s complaint stems from the belief that, within the league’s caste system, other, higher profile (make that champion) quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, or Drew Brees would have gotten a different call. He may well be right. Yet, whining is neither becoming, nor the stuff champions are made of.

I’ve met a lot of people who, by virtue of various twists of fate, have been given plenty of reason to complain, if they wanted to. The Walter Reed Army Hospital is full of them. But they seldom do. Instead, they leave the whining to others. Indeed, I’ve never met a champion (at anything) who was a whiner. There is a lesson here for young Mr. Vick, and a reminder for the rest of us.

Whether our “game” is played at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, a factory floor, or an office building, it behooves those of us who are leaders to set an example whereby gloating doesn’t accompany a win, and losing, or failing to get our way doesn’t prompt a woe is me display. Play on.

*****

A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the newly released book,Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit theirwebsite, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

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by Bill, Leadership, Management, Motivation

Is This the Best You Can Do?

1 Comment 04 September 2011

In a webinar presentation this week entitled, “Building a Go-Fast Organization” sponsored by HCI and Globoforce, I recounted a story in which former U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger had asked a staff member to do a report on something. When Dr. Kissinger got the report, he sent it back to the fellow with a note asking, “Is this the best you can do?” The staff member re-worked the report and returned it to Kissinger. The same thing happened again. The guy reworked the report another time and returned it to Kissinger, who again asked if this was his best work. The fellow replied that, yes, indeed, this was his very best work, at which point Kissinger reportedly said, “Good… now I’ll read it.” The clear implication was that Dr. Kissinger felt that he was entitled to nothing less than the best effort of those on his team.

This week, Steve Jobs took a step back from his role as CEO of Apple. Not unlike Dr. Kissinger, Mr. Jobs is known for a lot of things, but accepting mediocrity is not among them. The introduction of uber-successful products like the iPod, iPhone, IPad, and Macbook Air would never have come about without Jobs’ relentless focus on producing “insanely great” gear, to use his words.

(One can only wonder how the U.S. Congress would be behaving right now if Dr. Kissinger was the Speaker of the House and Mr. Jobs the Senate Majority Leader.)

Most of us understand deep down that high standards are a necessary requirement of winning. Sure, we whine about it at times, but nobody gets up in the morning and says, “I want to go lose today. I want to go to my job, hang out with some really mediocre people, and do crummy work for a supervisor who is a self-centered weasel.” We get it that high standards and winning performance go hand in hand.

Too often, as leaders, we handicap the performance of our team by setting the bar too low, by holding ourselves and others to a standard that is less, far less than our best effort. We do so for lots of reasons… because we’re tired, or we know our team is tired, they haven’t gotten raises in a while, they haven’t been fully trained or equipped, the list goes on. And all that is probably true.

Yet, when we do that, we step onto a very slippery slope by enunciating that there is a new operative standard called, “good enough.” In so doing, we absolutely incense those who really are giving it their very best. In effect, we are telling them that their expenditure of discretionary effort is foolish. No one likes to feel foolish, to wit a decline in their effort is almost certain, and mediocrity becomes the new norm.

Very frankly, I think sometimes we’re too quick to apologize for having high standards. There’s nothing wrong with asking people to do their very best work. And when we fail to ask for or expect it (starting with ourselves), our chances of getting it are greatly diminished.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be on a team where I’m surrounded by mediocrity, or striving to do mediocre things. I’d much rather create a big smoking hole in the ground as the result of a failed effort at something fantastic.

As leaders, it is imperative for us to push through the rough patch that we find ourselves in right now. It is entirely possible to expect (and require) best effort while still being sensitive to the needs, feelings, fears, and aspirations of our teammates. Indeed, that is the only way to secure a better future for them and ourselves. Let’s get on with it.

*****

A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the newly released book,Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit theirwebsite, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

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by Bill, Management

12 Things I Learned at a Healthcare Seminar Yesterday

No Comments 15 July 2011

Notes From Healthcare Reform Seminar

Memphis, TN 7/14/11

(sponsored by Memphis Daily News)

Keynote Speaker:  Philip Johnson – Argyle Benefits

Panelists: David Elliott (Baptist Healthcare), Scott Morris (Church Health), James Terwilliger (Duncan Williams)

1.  Most of the enabling legislation for the Affordable Healthcare Law (Obama-care) is still being written. Hence, you & I can still have an impact.
2.  “Sexiness is having insurance.”
3.  In 1960, Healthcare represented approx. 5% of U.S. GDP. In 2011, it represents 17% of GDP (and growing). Sound like a problem?
4.  Employer h/c benefits cost increase has averaged 10% since 1960’s
5.  In 2010 Avg. employer h/c benefit cost/employee was $8211. Avg. contribution by single covered employees was $415. Avg. contribution per covered family was $1009,
6.  Coverage changes created by Affordable Healthcare Law

<51 Employees – No new rules on coverage

>51 Employees – IF you offer coverage, there are minimum coverage and maximum cost requirements
>51 Employees – IF you do NOT offer coverage, a financial penalty is incurred

7.  McKinsey survey suggests that 1/3 of employers will eliminate h/c insurance coverage, pay the fine, and dump employees into state exchanges, which become effective 1/1/14.
8.  Prediction that many employers will convert employees to “Part Time” in order to avoid insurance requirements.
9.  Beginning in 2012, employers will  be required to auto-enroll employees into their h/c insurance coverage.
10. Employers will need to do a MUCH better job of communicating with their workforce re h/c benefits, charges, coverages, challenges, or will lose the ROI from that investment.
11. The much ballyhooed Individual Coverage Mandate becomes effective 1/1/14.
12. Each state currently has available a “Pre-existing Condition Uninsured Plan” for residents who have not had coverage for 6 months and have pre-existing conditions that would otherwise limit the coverage they could get. Despite the fact that this is touted as a “great product”, only 21,454 people nationwide have enrolled.

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by Bill, Leadership

When the “Right Stuff” Gets Snuffed by the “Vision Thing”

No Comments 09 July 2011

Quick… What is the mission of space shuttle Atlantis that launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center yesterday? What has been the program goal of the prior 134 space shuttle missions (launched at about $1.5 billion/copy) over the last 30 years? What has been the goal of America’s space program since 1969, when, standing on the shoulders of their predecessors, the Apollo 11 crew fulfilled President Kennedy’s 1961 promise that we would put a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth before the end of the decade?

If the answers aren’t coming to you quickly or clearly, don’t feel bad. I suspect you’re like most people, including many in Congress who vote to fund NASA, and even some at the agency itself. To wit, is it really any wonder that America’s space program as we have known it seems to be riding off into the sunset?

On our way to Titusville, Florida to view the Atlantis launch yesterday, friend and business partner, Richard Hadden asked for my thoughts, as something of an aerospace junkie, on the eminent conclusion of NASA’s shuttle program.  In the pre-dawn darkness some eight hours prior to the launch of STS 135, I hadn’t yet sorted out my emotional reaction to the program’s ending. What we talked about instead is just how similar NASA’s current situation is to other entities (e.g., governments, companies, et. al.) that lose their way, their funding, and their mojo.

The Bible’s book of Proverbs 29:18 suggests that, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” In this case, an agency that has long operated with a very cloudy, or at best misunderstood sense of purpose, direction, and priority is in real danger of going away, not because a nation has grown tired of space venture, but because of the persistent failure to clearly articulate a credible and compelling vision for the future.

Operating on a raison d’être tantamount to, “we do space”, or with a charge like that established by former President George W. Bush to revisit the Moon, something we accomplished nearly a half-century ago, isn’t going to get the job done. It’s almost as if we’ve fumbled the ball and are waiting for private ventures like SpaceX or Virgin Galactic to pick it up and see what they can do with it.

More germane to this post and our readership, the very same thing happens to companies, business units, departments, and teams that fail to credibly articulate and maintain a compelling sense of purpose and direction. As leaders, it is incumbent on each of us to determine, articulate, and then permanently illuminate, with one of those big 5-cell flashlights, the path ahead. What are we about? Why does this organization exist? As the French put it, what is our raison d’être? Where are we going? Why does it matter?

Fail to connect the dots on any one of these items and slowly (at first), but inexorably, the lights go out, and the party is over. President Obama desperately needs to do this for our nation at this time, and you and I need to do it with our own teams. A few suggestions:

  1. Having decided upon the “vision/mission thing”, it is not enough to announce it once or twice and then hang some relevant testimonial junk on the wall. Rather, to overcome the understandable cynicism that exists inside organizations, we need to practically “carpet-bomb’ the place with repeated signs that this is more, much more than some new program. Rather, it is to be our way of life. Words are important, but actions trump syllables.
  2. To operationalize and breathe life into those words, we should make it clear to the folks on our team that good faith efforts on their part to enact the vision will never get them in trouble. Similarly, if they are doing things that do not line up with that purpose, they should stop doing them as soon as practical. On an institutional level, we must take pains to be sure that budgets and reward mechanisms support our declared purpose and direction.
  3. To be sure, Level 1 and 2 managers (the folks closest to the front line, and the ones with the toughest jobs in any organization) should be charged with ensuring that their teammates get the big picture. But, because people don’t operate day to day in the big picture, they must see to it that those around them clearly grasp the top two or three priorities. You and I can spot-check this by periodically asking a few people to articulate the top three priorities for the organization. If they can do it, celebrate it, right then and there. If they can’t (more likely), we’ve got more work to do.

In the meantime, Godspeed to the crew of Atlantis sts 135, and the men and women here on the ground who have worked tirelessly in support of them and our nation’s space program.

*****

A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the newly released book,Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

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Avoiding Burnout, by Bill

Let’s Celebrate Accomplishment

No Comments 08 May 2011

Since the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death, I’ve read pieces from several respected sources suggesting that celebration of his demise is out of order, based on arguments that range from scripture to geopolitical policy. Whether it is out of order or not, it is understandable, on several fronts.

In large part, the urge to celebrate in this case extends from Americans being very tired… tired of being afraid (of losing their jobs, homes, health insurance, more terrorist attacks etc.). We’re tired of being a nation chronically engaged in unwinnable wars, tired of government failure at every level, and tired of being perceived unfavorably on the world stage. We’re tired of having a compromised lifestyle (think TSA), and perhaps most importantly, tired of having precious little to celebrate for nearly a decade.

The ONLY semi-widespread celebration in this country since 9/11 was President Obama’s election… a celebration that was quite short-lived and not especially well shared. Add to that the feeling that, until now, 9/11 has not been avenged, despite the expenditure of another 5,000 American lives and over a trillion taxpayer dollars. So, with that backdrop, I think the desires of many to celebrate are understandable, and probably healthy in the short term.

Celebration of accomplishment is a big part of any winning team’s character. It is as necessary to high performance as having big goals and high standards. Celebration erases some of the pain needed to achieve, refreshes the players for a moment, and rebuilds needed confidence to go on. It is also akin to thumbing your nose at your competitor, to wit celebrating ObL’s departure from the scene likely feels good to many.

So, in that sense, while it is perhaps a bit ghoulish, and it does momentarily distract us from the very real challenges we face, I say let people celebrate if they want to. If it causes those who would do us harm to be a bit more fearful, or at least mindful of the consequences, that may not be such a bad thing either.

*****

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the newly released book,Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

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by Bill, Management, Motivation

Be Careful, Very Careful What You Incent People to Do

No Comments 13 March 2011

Have you noticed recently that airline flight attendants are becoming considerably more insistent that boarding passengers place only large items (e.g., roll-aboard suitcases) in the overhead bins, and stuff everything else under the seat in front of them? Some even take it upon themselves to remove smaller items like backpacks from the overhead space, identify the owner, and tell them to stow it underneath the seat, whether they want to or not.

This is occurring because most of the major domestic airlines introduced exorbitant checked baggage fees as part of their a-la-carte pricing schemes. Yes, they gain revenue from the checked baggage fees, but three costly and undesirable things happen as a result:

  1. With a substantial disincentive for checking baggage, most passengers opt to schlep all of their items for the trip thru gate security and onto the plane. Security lines get longer and the inspection process becomes less effective.
  2. As no aircraft has ample overhead bin space to accommodate all this stuff, the boarding process groans and drags as passengers make futile efforts to cram it in anyhow. This results in lots of late aircraft departures, not to mention broken overhead bin doors. I was on a flight recently where we pushed back 11 minutes late purely due to “packing” delays.
  3. Under pressure to get the aircraft boarded for an on-time departure, flight attendants become the luggage police, which puts them in constant unhappy conversations with customers, and diverts attention from their far more important safety-related duties, like observing that 5 of the 6 passengers seated in an emergency exit row don’t speak English.

Now, imagine what might happen if the luggage fee was reversed, and luggage could be checked to the passenger’s final destination for free (within limitations), but any carry-on items other than a single, small personal bag would incur a $25 fee.

My bet is that, again, because people (all of us) do what we are incentivized to do, the bulkier items like suitcases would go in the belly of the plane where they belong, airlines would still make money from “boarded luggage” fees, operating expense would improve from a more efficient boarding process, flight attendants would be much better utilized, and passengers would be a lot happier.

Let’s step back and look at this thing thru a wider lens. This situation didn’t get to where it is because airline executives are idiots (okay, a few are, but not in the main.) The fact of the matter is that all (repeat, all) of us have similar situations where, with the best of intentions, we have incented people (employees, customers, vendors, partners, children) to do the wrong things. We pay a steep price for that.

As a suggestion, take a half-hour this week and look for some areas where you might be able to improve organizational outcomes (and maybe some people’s lives, including your own) by adjusting or eliminating counter-productive incentives.

*****

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the newly released book,Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their  website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

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by Bill, Leadership, Management, Motivation

Discretionary Effort: Why Wisconsin’s Governor (and Yours) May be Playing a Losing Game

No Comments 27 February 2011

Having already wrung needed and significant concessions from them, the newly elected Governor of Wisconsin has been making a rather poorly disguised effort to nullify the collective bargaining agreements and rights of various groups of state workers, principally teachers. As with nearly every other issue of import these days, the whole world is suddenly watching, including like-minded governors in several other states who are licking their chops at the prospect of following the lead penguin into the drink. Whoa… Full Flaps, Brakes, Stop!

In the interest of full disclosure, I am no fan of labor unions. Indeed, a significant portion of my professional effort over the course of 3 decades has focused on helping organizations obviate unions by maintaining a positive employee relations culture, a culture in which both the individual and the organization can do their best work and gain the most from it.

That said, I respect every worker’s right to make a choice as to whether or not they are willing to enter into a direct, cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship with their management. That choice is most often based on whether or not management has earned the benefit of the doubt. If the answer is yes, workers feel no need to reach out and seek (let alone pay for) the protection of organized labor. Are you with me so far? Alright, hang on.

Demonstrations notwithstanding, I believe there is an even chance that Governor Scott Walker will pull off some kind of flash bang, middle of the night vote and get his way, even if it means reinventing the law right before our eyes. Even if that comes to pass, while winning the hand, he will lose the game. Correction, the people of Wisconsin will lose. How? Because there will still be a need for thousands of teachers, and every one of them will STILL make a quiet daily decision as to whether they want to give their full measure of effort that day, or mail it in. Given the backdrop, which choice do you think they will make?

For the last twelve years we have worked almost entirely within the field of Discretionary Effort, studying, writing, speaking, and teaching leaders about that extra layer of effort that every one of us can give to a situation if, but only if we want to. Eerily consistent with similar work by Towers Watson and Gallup, our own engagement surveys suggest that barely 50% of workers are, by their own admission doing their very best work, and that most of us routinely expend no more than 60 to 70% of our maximum effort in the workspace. In other words, a lot of unspent capacity goes home with us at day’s end.

So, if just half of the 50,000 or so teachers in a state, any state choose to ratchet the ‘ole effort meter back another 10-20%, what is that going to cost to compensate for the lost productivity? Perhaps more importantly, what will it do to the level of educational performance in the state? If you’re getting a mental image of a post office being superimposed over your local school district, you’re getting the picture.

Since the publication of our first book, Contented Cows Give Better Milk in 1998, we have maintained that giving workers (be they on an assembly line at GM, or a school in Racine) benefits they haven’t earned, the market doesn’t require, and you can’t afford is the antithesis of good employee relations, because some day you have to take all that stuff back. As the folks at GM did, and now a lot of teachers and other municipal workers face that same music, the last thing in the world we, through our elected representatives ought to be doing is rubbing their faces in it, just because we can. It’s not good business or good politics, and it’s certainly not good employee relations. Motivated people move faster.

As always, your thoughts and ideas are welcome

*****

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the newly released book,Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their  website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

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We Need More Like Daniel Hernandez

by Bill, Exemplars, Extra Milers, Leadership

We Need More Like Daniel Hernandez

1 Comment 13 January 2011

Daniel Hernandez

Were I still a corporate recruiter, I would have been on the phone this morning with University of Arizona junior, Daniel Hernandez talking about his future. With both words and deeds, Mr. Hernandez has, since last Saturday’s Tucson massacre, demonstrated many of the essential requirements of being a leader, at any level. Here are four that quickly come to mind:

Courage – Leaders are those we can count on to do the right thing, even when it is difficult, dangerous, or unpopular. Wading unarmed into a free fire zone to administer aid and comfort to one’s teammates certainly qualifies. While thankfully leaders don’t often have to get shot at to prove their mettle, our people do expect to see us personally absorbing some of the risk and punishment that is headed their way.

Decisive – Leaders must have the willingness and ability to act in the face of adversity, uncertainty, and the absence of guidelines. Mr. Hernandez had no clue what lay ahead when he jumped in to assist U.S. Rep., Gabrielle Giffords. It is doubtful that in his young life he had taken courses or read anything that told him to act, but act he did. Especially in today’s risk averse corporate environment, recruiters should screen and probe diligently to ensure that all candidates destined for a management position can demonstrate this quality.

Able to Focus and Communicate – As one who makes a significant portion of his living speaking to large audiences, I can vouch for the fact that efficiently and persuasively articulating a cogent message before a sea of faces (let alone the President of the United States and a world-wide tv audience) can be daunting. Doing it the for the first time on short notice, with short rest, no teleprompter or notes (even on the palm of your hand) is remarkable.

Humility – One of the greatest challenges I find leaders struggling with is the realization that leading is not about “them”, but about others. Given a perfect opportunity to grandstand or take a victory lap, Mr. Hernandez chose instead to deflect hero status to others he deemed more deserving, and focus instead on a powerful message. His behavior stands in stark contrast to a population that at times seems entirely too self-absorbed.

In a nutshell, I don’t know what young Mr. Hernandez wants to do with his life, but I do know this… We could do worse than look for “Hernandez-like” qualities as we go about searching for tomorrow’s leaders.

*****

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the new released book, Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

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Considered thought leaders in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden speak to, train, and coach managers on leadership practices for better business outcomes.

OUR PREMISE: Having a focused, engaged, and capably led workforce is one of the best things any organization can do for its bottom line.

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Leadership Honesty: Richard Hadden featured in article in Investor's Business Daily Click here