Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Interesting Links (October 2008)

Help More, Judge Less

Marshall Goldsmith (HBS Discussion Leaders) provides a list of seven steps to stop finger pointing during a crisis.

These are:
  1. Encourage everyone on your team to remember four words that can help all of you get though your crisis in the best way possible: help more, judge less.

  2. Try to get team members to focus on a future that they can impact, not a past that they cannot change anyway.

  3. Try to get people to take responsibility for their own behavior.

  4. Ask each person to reflect on the question, "What can I learn from this crisis?"

  5. Ask everyone on your team to reflect on the question, "What can we learn from this crisis?"

  6. Encourage each team member to avoid speaking when angry or out of control.

  7. Before speaking don't just ask, "Am I correct?" - ask "Will this help?"

As mentioned in the discussion linked to the article - this is good advice at any time ... but especially helpful at times of stress. As Marshall states:

"Anyone can provide leadership when times are easy. Great leaders - and great teams - step up when times are tough. Rather than get lost in whining, have each team member focus on how he or she can grow from this experience. "


Are Leaders Portable ?

How do you ensure that incoming high performers deliver as promised?

Also from HBS, is this easy to digest article from Boris Groysberg, Andrew N. McLean, and Nitin Nohria. They highlight that

"Too many hiring companies wrongly assume that certain skills and experience are just what they need and will transfer automatically to their own setting. Sure, general management skills (performance evaluation, vision setting, financial acumen) translate well to new settings. But other assets—including strategic abilities such as cost control expertise, and industry-specific knowledge—may or may not prove portable, depending on the hiring company’s needs. For example, hiring an expert cost cutter when your company must drive top-line growth could set him up for failure—though that same executive would likely excel if your strategy hinged on cost management"

This may sound like common sense - but as the article states:

"When a company hires a CEO from General Electric—considered the United States’ top executive training ground—the hiring firm’s stock price spikes instantly. But not all newly hired stars deliver as promised. One former GE giant, for instance, underwhelmed his new employer with an annualized rate of return 30% below the S&P average."


Remote Working - avoiding the pitfalls

Management Issues highlight "Five ways to get Remote Working Wrong" - mistakes that companies tend to make when setting up teleworking or remote working programmes.

Telecommuting is a growing trend - so this paper will be of interest to many.

  • The first pitfall is that organisations rush into it without any concrete policies and procedures in place

  • The second common pitfall is to over-invest in technology, with companies rushing out to buy the latest technology and gizmos when often they did not need to.

  • The third failing was the failure to train managers. It is now well recognised that managing someone from afar requires a different set of management skills, especially how you communicate and stay in touch with your remote team.

  • Fourthly, firms often failed to explore whether this type of initiative even fitted within their business model.

  • Finally, organisations too often failed to pilot their programme before "going live".

L&D colleagues will be particularly interested in bullet 3, especially as the authors highlight "Yet too often day-to-day pressures or budgetary constraints meant training around this new form of management simply failed to happen".


Finding the Right Boss

Few things have more impact on your happiness at work than the person you answer to every day.

The Washington Post highlights the need for workers moving between roles to place greater emphasis on understanding their potential future boss they state: "Here are a few signs to watch for during your next intervie to help you find a boss you respect"
Meetings with all the right people. If you don't have an interview with the person who will be your direct supervisor, watch out. 

· A willingness to talk about himself. It's not appropriate to grill the interviewer about his qualifications, but it's perfectly acceptable to ask about his education and experience, and how he wound up in his job. You're trying to get a sense of whether you can learn from this person.

· A positive vibe about the person who held the job before. Ask your prospective boss what happened to the last person who held the position for which you're applying. 

· A strong career of his own. You want a boss who is considered a rising star, Ask around to see what sort of reputation he has within the company, as well as his field. Is he getting regular promotions? Does he have a strong internal network? "You really want to be near the movers and shakers, if possible," she said.

· Encouraging nonverbal cues.Was the person on time and attentive? Did she look you in the eye? Is her attention focused on you during the interview? If not, don't get your hopes up.

· A good hunch. A big part of finding the right job is pure chemistry. A job may seem great intellectually, but if you have a bad feeling about it, there's probably a reason, even if you can't articulate it.

I'd suggest this theme is equally applicable for internal transfers - and thus the 'chemistry' is something HR should help the business lines determine as part of talent management.