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Saturday, January 14, 2017

What Confident People Do Not Do!

JANUARY 14, 2017
In The Empire Strikes Back, when Yoda is training Luke to be a Jedi, he demonstrates the power of the Force by raising an X-wing fighter from a swamp. Luke mutters, “I don’t believe it.” Yoda replies, “That is why you fail.”
As usual, Yoda was right -- and science backs him up. Numerous studies have proved that confidence is the real key to success.
Studies exploring the performance gap between men and women in math and spatial skills have found that confidence plays a huge role. Women who were asked to identify their gender before taking a spatial skills test performed more poorly than those who weren’t. Women also performed better when they were told to envision themselves as men, and both genders performed better when they were told that their gender is better at the task.
What’s even more interesting is that the gender gap practically disappeared when participants were required to answer every question. Apparently, when the women were allowed to skip questions, they did so not because of a lack of knowledge, but because of a lack of confidence.
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” -- Vincent Van Gogh
True confidence is very different from egotistical swagger. When people believe in themselves and their abilities without bravado, there are certain things they simply don’t do.
1. They don’t make excuses.
If there’s one trait confident people have in spades, it’s self-efficacy -- the belief that they can make things happen. It’s about having an internal locus of control rather than an external one. That’s why you won’t hear confident people blaming traffic for making them late or an unfair boss for their failure to get a promotion. Confident people don’t make excuses, because they believe they’re in control of their own lives.
2. They don’t quit.
Confident people don’t give up the first time something goes wrong. They see both problems and failures as obstacles to overcome rather than impenetrable barriers to success. That doesn’t mean, however, that they keep trying the same thing over and over. One of the first things confident people do when something goes wrong is to figure out why it went wrong and how they can prevent it the next time.
3. They don’t wait for permission to act.
Confident people don’t need somebody to tell them what to do or when to do it. They don’t waste time asking themselves questions like “Can I?” or “Should I?” If they ask themselves anything, it’s “Why wouldn’t I?” Whether it’s running a meeting when the chairperson doesn’t show up or going the extra mile to solve a customer’s problem, it doesn’t even occur to them to wait for somebody else to take care of it. They see what needs to be done, and they do it.

4. They don’t seek attention.
People are turned off by those who are desperate for attention. Confident people know that being yourself is much more effective than trying to prove that you’re important. People catch on to your attitude quickly and are more attracted to the right attitude than what, or how many, people you know. Confident people always seem to bring the right attitude. Confident people are masters of attention diffusion. When they’re receiving attention for an accomplishment, they quickly shift the focus to all the people who worked hard to help get them there. They don’t crave approval or praise because they draw their self-worth from within.
5. They don’t need constant praise.
Have you ever been around somebody who constantly needs to hear how great he or she is? Confident people don’t do that. It goes back to that internal locus of control. They don’t think that their success is dependent on other people’s approval, and they understand that no matter how well they perform, there’s always going to be somebody out there offering nothing but criticism. Confident people also know that the kind of confidence that’s dependent on praise from other people isn’t really confidence at all; it’s narcissism.
6. They don’t put things off.
Why do people procrastinate? Sometimes it’s simply because they’re lazy. A lot of times, though, it’s because they’re afraid -- that is, afraid of change, failure or maybe even success. Confident people don’t put things off. Because they believe in themselves and expect that their actions will lead them closer to their goals, they don’t sit around waiting for the right time or the perfect circumstances. They know that today is the only time that matters. If they think it’s not the right time, they make it the right time.
7. They don’t pass judgment.
Confident people don’t pass judgment on others because they know that everyone has something to offer, and they don’t need to take other people down a notch in order to feel good about themselves. Comparing yourself to other people is limiting. Confident people don’t waste time sizing people up and worrying about whether or not they measure up to everyone they meet.
8. They don’t avoid conflict.
Confident people don’t see conflict as something to be avoided at all costs; they see it as something to manage effectively. They don’t go along to get along, even when that means having uncomfortable conversations or making unpleasant decisions. They know that conflict is part of life and that they can’t avoid it without cheating themselves out of the good stuff, too.
9. They don’t let a lack of resources get in their way.
Confident people don’t get thrown off course just because they don’t have the right title, the right staff or the money to make things happen. Either they find a way to get what they need, or they figure out how to get by without it.

10. They don’t get too comfortable.
Confident people understand that getting too comfortable is the mortal enemy of achieving their goals. That’s because they know that comfort leads to complacency, and complacency leads to stagnation. When they start feeling comfortable, they take that as a big red flag and start pushing their boundaries again so that they can continue to grow as both a person and a professional. They understand that a little discomfort is a good thing.
Bringing It All Together
Embracing the behaviours of confident people is a great way to increase your odds for success, which, in turn, will lead to more confidence. The science is clear; now you just have to decide to act on it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Micro-management Versus Accountability

The best leaders hold their team accountable, but the best leaders also know that micromanaging is a terrible idea.
We all know that micromanaging is bad. Employees become unmotivated, it’s a waste of time for everyone involved, and employees never grow.
But of course, as a leader, you can’t never check in with your employees and let them do whatever they want, there has to be some control.
So managers are in a tough spot. How do you balance the two? How do you walk that very delicate line and keep your team in check while not looking like a micro-manager?
While I want to say the best thing to do is to default to trust and expect your employees to perform the best, it’s a bit of a risky idea. If you avoid the micromanaging and then for whatever reason the employee doesn’t meet their results, that’s on you.
So of course you want to avoid that, but on the other hand, we know that autonomy is key to employee engagement.
Not only does it improve the morale of them personally, but it increases the morale of everyone on the team, frees up your time, and gets employees to take initiative.
In this post, I want to dive deep into this question and see how managers can get everyone to be accountable without micromanaging.
Micromanagement Versus Accountability
Before we go into detail answering this question, I wanted to quickly highlight the difference between micromanagement and accountability.
Micromanagement is when a manager takes over or watches every step of the people under them.
A micro-manager will take the work on themselves without involvement (or very little involvement) from the employees.
Mainly, they do not trust that the employee can do the job properly.
Accountability is taking responsibility for your actions. There are two types of accountability:
  • Personal accountability
  • Team accountability
Unlike micromanagement, accountability asks for an immense amount of input from the employees. Leaders will often ask employees to come up with the solutions to whatever problems there are to maintain that accountability.
A smart leader will emphasize the importance of accountability and get everyone on the team to understand what and who they’re accountable to.
Managers are accountable for their team, so it’s important that they lead by example.
Understanding the difference in the definition of these two will help us determine how to go about this.
As a leader, you want to avoid micromanaging at all costs, but you want to hold employees accountable.
The best part about all of this is that employees want to be held accountable for their work. Accountability means responsibility, and responsibility leads to several intrinsic motivators like purpose and accomplishment.
Holding your employees accountable is crucial to keeping them engaged.
Disengaged employees cost U.S. companies anywhere between $450 billion and $550 billion every year in lost productivity, so companies can’t afford to have disengaged employees.

The Case Against Micromanaging

We all know that micromanaging is bad, but just in case there are still any micromanagers out there, here is some of the research behind why micromanaging doesn’t work.
A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology1 showed that people who believe they are being watched perform at a lower level.
When employees feel like they are being constantly watched, they get distracted and it affects working memory, according to the researchers.
What happens is employees don’t learn new skills or pay much attention to the tasks they’re doing, because they spend so much time worrying about the supervision, and become paralyzed by the pressure.
Another study2 from University of Pennsylvania professor Alexandra Michel found highly educated employees work more when given autonomy over their schedules. In fact, they’ll often work more than they should.
When employees were pressured to work more, they were less inspired, she found. But when they were allowed to set their own schedules, they could accept it because it was their choice.

Holding Your Team More Accountable

Did you know that one out of every two managers is terrible at accountability?
In an article for Harvard Business Review, after researching more than 5,400 upper level managers around the world, they found that holding people accountable is the single biggest thing that managers avoid doing.
From their research:
There is an even deeper explanation for the lack of managerial courage to hold employees to account for their performance.
The evidence comes from experimental studies of cooperation and the problem of “free-riding,” which reveal the individual- and group-level outcomes that accrue when some team members don’t carry their weight and drag on the performance of others.
The first lesson from this research is that within a group, free-riders and cheaters often get ahead of hard working contributors: they enjoy the benefits of group membership without making the personal sacrifice.
However, groups of cooperative contributors outperform groups of cheating free-riders. Thus, it is no surprise that groups in which free-riders are punished for their loafing outperform groups in which they are not.
But the interesting finding in all of this is that the person who does the punishing actually pays a personal price in terms of lost social support. In a nutshell, group performance requires that someone plays the role of sheriff, but it is a thankless job.
Here are a few ways to make your team more accountable:
  1. Set Clear Expectations

    This is the core of holding your team accountable. Setting clear, measurable goals makes it unambiguous about what is expected from an employee.
    If both you and an employee agree on what their goals are, it’s much harder for them to argue and it lets them have that personal accountability from the beginning.
    Using a system like Objectives and Key Results (OKR) with the whole team is the best way to hold the entire team accountable from day one.
  2. Openly Discuss Accountability

    Is the idea of accountability a taboo subject in your organization? It shouldn’t be.
    As a leader, get everyone comfortable with the idea of holding each other accountable.
    During team meetings or meetings about planning work, feel free to say something like “so, how will we hold each other accountable for this task?”
    This opens up the conversation and gets everyone comfortable thinking about accountability.
    Not only that, but ask your team members how they’d like to be held accountable, and come up with a process that is good for everyone.
  3. Use Lots Of Data

    A great way to build a culture of accountability is through data. Work hard to give your employees access to the data they need.
    Using analytics to help find out where the issues are can help make people more accountable.
  4. Work With Them To Make A Plan

    Work with employees to discover what actions need to be taken to make sure everyone can be held accountable and the results will be hit.
    Make them a part of that process, and work with them to make sure that everyone’s expectations are clear.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

According to a new and comprehensive Gallup study, employees 20 to 36 years old are the least engaged generation in the workplace by far. On top of that, 21 percent quit their jobs last year, and 60 percent say they’re floating their resumés right now!
For all the companies that tried to win over their “Gen Y” workers by paying down their student loan bills, introducing free energy drinks and making the hoodie acceptable office attire, these stats may seem galling. Perhaps we should all just accept that this is simply a group of needy and entitled people who’ll never be truly happy or loyal at work?
Not so fast. Gallup’s research reminds us that millennial workers grew up very differently than previous generations, and have a unique set of values, needs – and worldview – as a result.
What’s evident is that this is no slacker class, nor are they hardwired to be disloyal. What they are is demanding. They know very clearly what they want in exchange for their work, and have proved very willing to keep looking until they find it. Remarkably, this is a generation of workers that rejects traditional ways, and fully expects their bosses and organizations to adapt to them.
It’s a stunning fact that millennials already represent 40 percent of the American workforce – and that number will nearly double in just 10 more years. While some of us may have resisted changing how we lead in response to the demands of millennial workers, the conclusion of the research is that we must act now. Importantly, the most progressive organizations are already on their way.
What Shaped The Millennial Mindset
Just a few weeks ago, Gallup published “How Millennials Want To Work And Live,”an in-depth look at what defines millennials as employees. After digesting all 150 pages, I sat down with Gallup’s long-time Research Director, Dr. Jim Harter, and asked him to explain the key life experiences that shaped the Gen-Y personality. Here are the big three:
(1) They Observed The Work-Driven Stress Levels Of Their Parents
As children, many millennials came home from school to an empty house (”latch-key kids”) and felt the brunt of not having their parents readily available. They saw how a 40-hour workweek came to represent the bare minimum expected by organizations, and how their parent’s stress levels often proved toxic. The millennial pivot: A generation far less willing to sacrifice their lives for work. They want to be judged on their results, not time spent on the clock.
(2) Traveling Teams And Helicopter Parents 
While the Baby Boomer and Gen-X generations played Little League and soccer growing up – and one activity at a time – millennial parents had their kids over scheduled. They participated in cheer leading camps, Taekwondo, music lessons, water polo, and highly competitive traveling teams often at the same time. Perhaps in response to not being able to spend time with them during the workweek, parents attended all of their children’s weekend events – praising and encouraging them all along the way. The millennial pivot: A generation that needs much more frequent feedback and approval, and expects highly personalized attention from their bosses.
(3) They’re The Most Technologically Connected Generation Ever
This is the first generation to grow up with immediate and broad access to information due to technology. And because of social media, millennials are not only far more attuned to what other people think, they have far greater insight into how other people feel in their jobs. The millennial pivot: They have a huge awareness of what other job opportunities are available, and great visibility into the leadership cultures at other organizations. They may also operate with an idealistic expectation that getting whatever they want should happen quickly.
Millennials Are Pushing Organizations To Fully Reinvent How They Lead And Manage
Gallup has identified a list of key functional changes managers must make in order to more successfully influence millennial workers. Collectively, they represent a comprehensive redefinition of what all 21st Century workers seek from work today. Millennials are simply the first generation to insist upon them:
 (1) They Want To Know Their Work Has Purpose
“Deep inside of us there is a primal desire to do something important in life,” said Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison, and fulfilling this need is a huge driver of millennial engagement.
Gallup’s data proves that millennials are not a generation that wants everything handed to them, nor do they prioritize having a fun workplace over their own growth, development and feelings of fulfillment. “What they want,” Harter told me “is to know their work matters. They want accountability and a sense of significance through their own accomplishments.”
As someone who brilliantly leads an entire workforce of millennial employees, Google’s Laszlo Bock sized it up this way: “Over the coming decades, the most gifted, hardest working people on the planet will gravitate to places where they can do meaningful work and help shape the destiny of organizations.” 
(2) They Don’t Want A Boss; They Want A Coach
There once was a day in business when we believed people didn’t want to work and needed constant coercing to remain productive. But millennials have a deep desire to make their lives meaningful through work. As a result, they tend to set very high goals for themselves, take ownership for their successes, and want to be held personally accountable. Tied to this disposition, Gen-Y workers are repelled by traditional bosses who bark orders or manage people in uniform ways.
“This a generation that comes into the workforce expecting to not just have a good boss,” Harter told me, “but a boss who’s a good coach, too. Coaches drive performance by being approachable human beings. They get to know people as a whole person. They discover what they’re best at, mentor their growth, and provide ongoing feedback. They’re advocates.” As evidence of why U.S. engagement remains strikingly low, Gallup believes very few people today have this kind of boss.
Noting that the mindset of a “coach” tends to be more supportive, caring and nurturing to people than what we’ve traditionally expected of workplace managers, I asked Harter if businesses would be wise to formally rename the role. “If the expectation is that managers should act like coaches,” he told me, “then why not just call it that?”
(3) They Want Much More Frequent Feedback
Gallup’s research shows most organizations today give employees an annual performance review – a discussion where managers devote more attention to correcting someone’s weaknesses rather than focusing on their strengths. And in the experience of millennials, that’s like getting a bad report card in June without any other update all year.
“This is a generation that needs and expects much more frequent communication than that,” Harter told me, knowledge that may make some leaders bristle. “But if the ultimate job of a manager is to improve performance in the organization, then giving people more consistent feedback just means they’re doing their job.”
And what is it millennials need to hear from their bosses? Beyond recognition, they’re seeking clarity. Are they working on the right things, succeeding and making a difference? Gallup believes twice-a-year formal reviews have become the minimum for businesses today, and that routine “check-ins” are a highly effective way of sustaining trust and connection. While its clear millennials don’t really need a lot of trophies, they nevertheless do need a lot of love.
(4) Focus On Their Strengths
Gallup did a study recently and asked people to re-live their previous work day. What they discovered is that workers who had the highest engagement were able to use their strengths four times more often than things they did less well.
“In many cases, the jobs we give people don’t match up to how they’re advertised,” Harter told me, “and this is an easy and direct way of losing their commitment right out of the gate. While we cannot ignore a person’s weaknesses, the wisest leaders are ones who discover what makes each person different and then tailors their job to their strengths.”
(5) Growth And Development Is One The Greatest Drivers Of Millennial Engagement
 It was Yeats who said, “We are happy when we are growing,” and science bears him out. When people feel they’re in a constant state of maximizing their own human potential, they tend to be extremely engaged in their jobs.
As the best educated generation of all time, millennials are also highly attuned to their need for growth and want to envision their futures. They want to know where they stand, where they’re going and how they’ll be supported in getting there. “A manager’s job going forward has to be focused on development as much as it is on performance,” Harter insists. “Development leads to performance and giving people more feedback leads to tighter relationships.
Some organizations seem to have it in their minds that millennial workers are mercenaries, always looking for a new and better deal. But Gallup’s research shows what they’re really looking for is a compelling reason to stay.  
When Gen-X workers were at the same stage of life as where most Gen-Y employees are today, they actually job-hopped more frequently. But there came a day when they made a long-term commitment to one organization – a decision many millennials themselves are getting ready to make.
And where they’ll land will likely be in response to how you choose to lead.

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