The Difference between a Manager and a Leader

This week, in asking the question, "Do your leaders coach?" Steve Roesler wrote one of the best blogs I have read for a long time. It is a perfect example of effective coaching in itself; simple, thought-provoking and instructive without being prescriptive.

Leadership 14767404_s 123RFHowever, it  begs the further question: “Who are your leaders?” For, before you can answer, you need to identify who your leaders are. If you agree with Steve that, “Regardless of the job title, if we're responsible for how other people perform then we're responsible for how they learn to perform even better,” you will immediately perceive two additional things:

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Kill the Performance Review

Death_000013987544XSmallPerformance reviews remain in the news. Last week I wrote about Accenture’s abandoning them, but this week came the even more shattering news that GE – the bastion of the “rank and yank” – is also killing annual performance reviews. This seems to be good news for most managers and employees alike. You need, however, to ask, “What precisely is being killed?”

There are two possible interpretations here. One is that it is annual performance reviews that are being ditched and the other that it is performance reviews that are being discarded. You will readily appreciate that there is a significant difference. So let me ask you, if you had to decide this instant, which option would you choose?

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Beyond the Performance Appraisal

Infinity symbol 21580747_sPerhaps you have heard that Accenture is abandoning performance appraisals. (If not, you can read about it here.) Whenever or however you learned this, you likely immediately wondered, “What are they going to replace them with?” For you cannot judge whether this is a good thing or not until you know that. Even then it is not as straightforward as you might think.

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Why Every Individual Matters

Representative picture of an engaged employeeMy wife and I love this picture. So much so that, when our son gave it to us after we acquired our ginger cat, we framed it and put it on display. We found it funny, but, more than that, it also seemed true to life, because, when the kitten wanted food, his vociferous demands indicated that he definitely saw himself as a lion!

Yet the picture has a deeper message too. It also conveys the idea that we all have grand aspirations. In fact you could say it is a graphic illustration of an engaged employee! Unfortunately we often seem to forget that – especially in our dealings with other people, and employees in particular. Nobody wants to do a bad job. We all want to be lions. So, are you giving all your employees the chance to be the lion they envisage, or do you keep them as kittens?

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Fresh Perspective on Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement is a hot topic right now. It is, however, possibly an even trickier one than most of us realise. That’s because we all have a different definition of what it actually is.

Engagement 25438632_sIn their 2009 report “Engaging for Success: Enhancing Performance Through Employee Engagement” commissioned by the UK government, David MacLeod and Nita Clarke admitted that, “There is no one agreed definition of employee engagement – during the course of this review we have come across more than 50 definitions.” As they point out, this makes it a difficult subject. How can we improve employee engagement if we cannot even agree what it is?

Perhaps we are over-complicating things.

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I'm back!

If you are a regular reader of my blog you may be wondering about the recent inactivity. My sincere apologies. My 'silence' was entirely due to the fact that I had taken down my website whilst I have been working on revamping and modifying it. (You can  see some of the results in the new look of this blog.)

I am happy to report that normal transmission will be resumed shortly. In the meantime, however, I invite you to visit my revised website and let me know what you think. Apart from making the presentation cleaner and easier to read, I have also simplified and clarified the content by distilling and re-framing my message around my 'Every Individual Matters' organisational culture model.  This builds on all I was doing previously, but I hope it makes it easier to understand and eliminates any confusion you might have been feeling. 

I look forward to receiving your comments and feedback.


People as Assets

Assets - Gold bars 16003502_sA Google search on “people assets” yielded 664 million results! That is very nearly two thirds of a billion. Mind-boggling! (As is the fact that these results were yielded in 0.36 seconds, less than half a second!) Clearly it is a topic that a lot of people think about and even talk about: I would be a very wealthy man if I had received a pound every time I heard the expression “People are our greatest asset.”

Despite this, the very first page seems to challenge this. Three of the first five results are either questioning or denying the statement. The fifth result actually links to a December 2011 article in the august Harvard Business Review titled “People are not your greatest asset.” Hopefully your response to that is the same as mine: “Then try running your organisation without people!”

Moving beyond the headline (and a first paragraph that claims people can actually be liabilities,) the authors acknowledge the importance of people. They go on to claim that an organisation’s greatest asset is actually “how you empower people.” This makes the headline seem little more than an attention grabber. And while it may be a good one, and the article’s points sound, it can still be harmful.

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Here and Wow!

The other day I had an epiphany!  I was watching a Matthieu Ricard TED Talk on “The Habits of Happiness” and was struck by his equating happiness with well-being. I suddenly realised that happiness is not an elusive emotional sense but actually a situation of satisfaction.  I liked that idea because it made happiness somehow less fleeting and transient.

Unflickering flame 7713397_sRicard claims “authentic happiness can only come from the long-term cultivation of wisdom, altruism and compassion.” (My emphasis) Reflecting on this brought back a childhood memory. As a young boy of about eight I heard my parents complain that the carpet was dirty. So I decided that I would surprise them and clean it. Thus the next day when they went off to work, I managed to roll it up, take it outside and wash it.  

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Beating the Crisis of Ethics

Flavour of the past week has undoubtedly be the question of ethics. Editorial comments have abounded and most, if not all, the newsletters I have received have been on the subject. Of course this follows all the news about FIFA and “Septic Blatter,” as one newspaper cleverly identified its infamous head.

GoalsThese events seem to have evoked universal concern about a decline in moral standards and ethics, with many commentators evoking the fines being levied on the banks and financial services industry to support the argument. Yet you have to wonder how deep this concern really flows. After all, reports about corruption in FIFA have been circulating for years and been corroborated by journalistic investigations and exposés going back several years.

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How to Increase Your Return on Training (ROT)

Increasing returns 36682674_sIn my last blog, I made a strong case for the need to increase the Return on Training (ROT) and why it is important for your organisation that you do so. Now I want to give you a recipe that will deliver this and provide a framework for a significant, and sustainable, transformation of your performance.

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Time to Increase the ROT

“It is always the first thing to be cut.” How often have you heard that? HR professionals seem to universally agree that, whenever times are tough or things get difficult, training is the first casualty in a war to reduce costs. Yet management would not be so willing to eliminate training if they knew it provided a worthwhile return on investment.

So why don’t they know?

It is time for the HR profession to stop passively accepting this management mind set as “a fact of life”; consider the unthinkable and ask whether this might actually be their fault.  If nothing else, moving beyond the “unfeeling management doesn’t understand” rationalisation for things should be a catalyst for progress. After all, if management holds the power and is focused exclusively on the bottom line, the way to prevent reflex training cuts is to convince them such cuts negatively impact their results.  

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