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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Hiring Without These Critical “Soft Skills” is a Recipe for Disaster

Here is good old common sense from Lou!

Having personally been involved in more than 2,000 different hiring situations over the past forty years and tracking the subsequent performance of many of those who were hired, it’s clear most hiring mistakes are attributed to the following non-technical factors:

  • A mismatch between the hiring manager’s style and the new hire’s need for management and coaching.
  • Lack of intrinsic motivation or full commitment to do the actual work required. Ability to do the work is far different than motivation to do it. 
  • Lack of fit with the pace of the organization. The pressure to perform is a primary factor defining a company’s culture and a person’s likelihood of success.
  • Lack of fit with how decisions are made and how work is accomplished. This is another aspect of what company culture looks like on-the-job.
  • Lack of fit with the team. Much of this relates to the new hire’s inability to collaborate cross-functionally coupled with the lack of appreciation for the needs of others.
  • An inability for the new hire to properly manage and organize his/her work properly. This is true whether the person is an individual contributor or a manager.
  • For management roles, in addition to the above, it’s an inability to build, manage and develop the team assigned.
Labeling these factors collectively as “soft skills” minimizes their importance since without them people will underperform. Despite this, too many interviewers focus too much on the person’s technical ability – the so-called “hard skills” – and not enough on the factors that actually determine on-the-job performance.
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Despite the challenge, it is possible to assess all of these non-technical factors by using The Hiring Formula for Success relationship shown in the graphic. Simply stated, “The ability to do the work in relation to fit drives motivation and ultimately performance.”
The performance-based interview described in The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired has been built on this concept. The process starts by rethinking the job description as a series of key performance objectives (KPOs) embedding the required hard and “soft skills” into a series of outcomes. For example, rather than saying a person must have a specific degree, specific experience and be results-oriented, it’s better to say something like, “Complete the XZY project within 120 days under tight budget and schedule constraints.”  
The performance-based interview is used to prove the person can achieve the outcomes under the circumstances required and, if so, she/he will obviously have all of the technical and non-technical skills necessary. Here’s the basic process:
First, conduct a comprehensive work history review. Going step-by-step through the person’s background determines general fit for the role on a scope and scale basis and if the person possesses the Achiever Pattern. This indicates if the person is in the top tier of his/her peer group.
Second, ask the Most Significant Accomplishment question for each performance objective. By digging into the person’s major accomplishments most related to the KPOs of the open role it’s possible to assess all of the factors shown in the graphic. The trend of growth over time is an important indicator of potential.
Third, ask a realistic problem-solving question. This is not a hypothetical question. It must address a real problem the person is likely to face on the job taking the form of, “What would you need to do to address this challenge (describe) we’re currently facing?” The purpose of this question is to understand the process the person uses to figure out a solution, not the actual solution. Using a give-and-take format this process reveals the candidate’s planning, problem-solving, creative and strategic thinking skills.
As part of our Performance-based Hiring learning programs we suggest that each interviewer be assigned a narrow role focusing on just one or two of the non-technical factors. While each interviewer will ask a similar major accomplishment question, it will be prefaced with something like, “I’ve been assigned to assess your project management skills. Can you give me an example of a major recent accomplishment you believe best demonstrates your ability in this critical area?” It takes about 15 minutes of fact-finding and peeling the onion (i.e., asking all of the who, when, what, where, why and how questions) to fully understand the accomplishment and make the comparison to the actual performance objectives of the job. To increase overall assessment accuracy, it’s best if the interviewers share their evidence using a summary form similar to this Quality of Hire Talent Scorecard.
The Hiring Formula for Success offers a means to fully understand how the non-technical and fit factors impact a person’s ability and motivation to achieve results. It’s important to recognize that ability without fit is the primary cause of underperformance, dissatisfaction and excessive turnover. As important is the recognition that it’s what people have accomplished with their skills that’s important, not the amount or list of skills themselves.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR BOSS SAYS EVERYTHING IS A PRIORITY

Demanding or dare I say it, unreasonable, bosses are something I come across every
day through my work with middle and senior managers. When we dig down to the root cause of whatever issue it is I’ve been asked to help with, for example burnout or under performance, pretty much every time the answer comes up as too many priorities. And the person coming up with new priorities on top of the many plates someone is already spinning? Their boss.
Paul Jarvis, in his 2019 book Company of One, states,
“We now incorrectly assume that we must have numerous priorities and multitask to get ahead in business, even though working in this way can deeply affect (and hurt) our productivity”
If this issue resonates with you then fear not, my friend. Here are five steps that may help you as they’ve helped others.

1) Be prepared to say something

One of the first things I ask a coaching client is whether they’ve had a conversation with their boss about the incessant and unrelenting list of new priorities that pop up. More often than not, they haven’t raised the issue and so, the boss is most likely operating from a state of blissful ignorance.
In this instance, contrary to the popular 1960's song, silence is most definitely not golden.
Therefore, the first step is to be prepared to say something.
Planning for what you want to say, how you’re going to say it and the outcome you want to achieve are the three things that will help make it a more productive conversation. Brene Brown reminds us of this in her book Dare to Lead
Giving productive and respectful feedback is a skill set that most of us have never learned
Therefore, starting from a position of respect and giving the other person, in this instance your boss, the benefit of the doubt is key. Assuming they are like the evil and incompetent boss in the Dilbert comic strip is the way to make a bad situation even worse.

2) Get clear on the problem

As well as the emotional side of the problem, it’s helpful to provide data to help make your argument. One way to do this is to collate every single priority you have been given and how this relates to your time. In other words, because of all the other responsibilities you have such as people management, budget management etc. it might be that to respond to the many additional priorities you’re constantly given you’re having to work late into the evening and over weekends. As Chris Bailey says in The Productivity Project
“The more you get out of your head, the more clearly you’ll think”

3) Come up with some solutions

As someone who used to line manage team managers, I loved it when someone not only raised a problem but then also gave some ideas for how it could be solved. It immediately helped the conversation get into a more positive, less blame-y, finger-pointing space.
Is it that the problem is not so much the priorities but rather the lack of people to deliver them? Job-Demands Resource Theory suggests that work strain and burnout is a response to an imbalance between demands on an individual (i.e. you) and the resources they have available to deal with those demands (i.e. enough people, money etc). Therefore, a solution might be to make the business case for another person to join your team.
Is the problem less about priorities and more about the number of interruptions you’re experiencing every day? A famous study by Gloria Mark found that interruptions and the necessary recovery time now consume 28%of a person’s working day. The study found that each employee spent only 11 minutes on a project before being interrupted. It took the average employee around 25 minutes to return to the original task. Therefore, a solution might be to turn off your email notifications, only checking your email at designated times such as first thing, midday and end of the day. Many managers have told me this has helped them get some much-needed time back to do more important work. And if your boss tends to send their newest priority to you via email, then another solution might be to ask them to ask you face-to-face so you can talk through expectations and implications.
Is the problem that you’re getting pulled in a hundred different directions each day and essentially, constantly stopping and starting different things? Melina R Uncapher and Anthony D Wagner conducted a review of a decade’s worth of research on the relationship between media multitasking and various aspects of thinking, including working memory and attention. They found that people who frequently use several types of media at once, or “heavy media multitaskers,” performed much worse on simple memory tasks. In other words, constantly dipping in and out of tasks and projects doesn’t help you to perform at your best. Therefore, a solution might be to block out different chunks of time in your calendar. For example, a chunk of time for ‘deep work’ such as writing a report; and keeping some buffer time, in the event an unexpected thing gets thrown your way.

4) Be assertive but not too much

Now you’ve got everything out of your head and you’ve come up with some ideas which help resolve the issue of too many priorities, you now need to have the actual conversation with your boss.
To ensure it’s a constructive discussion, and a win/win for both of you, you need to think about your negotiation tactics. In their book, Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher and William Ury talk about the concept of Principled Negotiation. This has four aspects to it:
  • PEOPLE: Separate the people from the problem
  • INTERESTS: Focus on interests, not positions
  • OPTIONS: Invent multiple options looking for mutual gains before deciding what to do
  • CRITERIA: Insist that the result be based on some objective standard

5) Agree the new ‘contract’ between you

Now you’ve had the discussion and agreed a way forward, the next thing is to put in place a new way of working so neither of you fall into the same habits and traps of before. Why not use the Trust Triangle as the basis for agreeing how you’ll handle new, additional and unexpected priorities coming through? The Trust Triangle was developed by John Carter at the Gestalt Institute in the US and is undoubtedly one of the tools that has resonated profoundly with many of my clients.
Essentially, the model suggests to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect, you need to each be demonstrating the three foundation stones of:
  1. Straight talk i.e. honest conversation
  2. Listening to understand the other person
  3. Making commitments to each other

Monday, April 29, 2019

SLIDESHARE VIEWS

We are delighted to share that our views on Strategic Management Presentation has now been viewed over 1,850 times. You can catch the presentation here through this LINK

Exploring issues about regulation: regulatory capture and bias

In my first article in this series (Regulation - the staff of life) I referred to regulation being a necessary and pervasive part of life. I highlighted some of the challenging dimensions of being a regulator. I said I would provide some practical insights into common regulatory issues.
This article talks about something that can undermine a regulators’ focus on delivering public value – regulatory capture and bias. In this context, I am using the term public value to refer to what the actual purpose of a regulator’s activity is – that is usually to protect those who might other wise suffer harm, loss or damage as a result of the actions of a regulated party.
The classic definition of regulatory capture comes from a theory associated with George Stigler, a Nobel Laureate economist. Basically, regulatory capture occurs when regulators act in ways that benefit the people they are regulating, not the people who are supposed to benefit from regulation. 
Big picture examples of this are easy to find (like everything else, on the internet[1]!). For example, it is suggested that in the early 2000s the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) acted in the interests of Wall Street banks and hedge funds, instead of in the interests of the Bank’s and hedge fund’s customers. This allegedly included deciding not to investigate Bernie Madoff who ran a massive ponzi scheme[2] - because of the strong links between the people that ran the SEC and the industry they were tasked with regulating. Essentially, the SEC was said to be ‘captured’ by the industry it was supposed to be regulating so it wasn’t doing its job properly.  
Regulatory capture is a form of bias exhibited by a regulator. The kinds of examples referred to above involve a significant level of bias that may be thought of as being hard wired into the regulatory organisation. There are a range of other things that can also drive bias and underpin regulatory behaviour that favours those being regulated over the delivery of public value - if these issues are not understood and addressed clearly by the regulator. Here are a few of the things that can drive bias, or at least perceptions of bias:
  • viewing the parties being regulated as customers. Extreme examples of this manifest themselves in regulators losing sight of who the real beneficiary of regulation is, and can significantly soften and make ineffective the ways that a regulator responds to breaches of the law and standards by regulated parties. A way for a regulator to address this is to consider specifically the kind of relationship required by the regulator with a regulated party, describe it clearly and inculcate an appropriate approach in the culture of the regulator. In Maritime NZ we have essentially ‘banned’ the use of the word customer to describe those we regulate. The act of doing this has driven a lot of conversation about what relationship we should have – which is one that is driven by our values of integrity, commitment and respect - always remembering that we are here to serve wider purposes around safe, secure and clean seas and waterways. You can read more about this issue in an article from Policy Quarterly: Are regulated parties customers?
  • working closely with regulated parties. It is very clear that good regulatory outcomes can be achieved through working constructively with regulated parties. Many regulators do this through advisory groups, joint projects and workshops where regulatory problems are addressed and solutions identified. Such arrangements can also be fertile ground for bias, so its very important to give careful consideration to the scope and extent of relationships with regulated parties. The regulator must always maintain its independence. Tripartite relationships are always likely to be more effective - involving regulators, industry and worker or consumer groups – mitigating the possibility of regulatory capture by any one party.
  • receiving gifts from regulated parties. This is a basic conflict of interest issue. It needs little explanation as to why it can be a problem. A key way of addressing this is to have a policy of not accepting gifts – although this can cause problems where its culturally offensive to refuse or would be embarrassing for the gift giver, expecially with gifts of little value. More usual is to have policies around disclosure and seeking approval for the way the gift is used in the agency, to ensure any potential conflicts are managed effectively. The latest word on this is covered in the State Service Commission's conflicts of interest guidance. Jeroen van der Heijden, chair of regulatory practice at the school of government at Victoria University, commented on an example of risks associated with receiving gifts in this media article “Exclusive sports events risky for regulators: expert
  • employing staff from the regulated industry. Without doubt, industry regulators need to employ people with experience in the industry they are regulating. The challenge this poses is that those people might identify more strongly with the industry and its culture than with the regulator and its culture and purpose. There is no silver bullet for dealing with this – it is a combination of careful recruitment, sound induction and good training around the regulators’ purpose, methods and ways of working. One core element of training that Maritime NZ has embraced is the Government Regulatory Practice initiative’s Core Regulatory Knowledge qualification. This is part of G-Reg'soffering as it works to develop regulatory practice as a professional activity.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Team work - what is your management style?


You know you should be adapting your management style to the needs of your
different staff. And you know there are times when a coaching style just might be a bit
more motivating than a ‘yell and tell’ approach.
But you’re a busy and stretched beyond capacity. It’s a constant bombardment of
emails and phone calls and last minute requests for reports and new priorities that
come out of nowhere. It’s easier for you to tell your staff what to do and how you want
it done. That’s when you’re not simply doing the thing you should have delegated but
which is far easier and quicker if you just do it.
The problem is, you’re caught in a vicious cycle of your own making. You’re getting
frustrated and your belief that by doing stuff yourself or telling people what to do is
faster is, in the long-run, going to cause you worse problems. Namely that your team
isn’t learning, isn’t getting enough variety, become demotivated and in some instances,
will leave.
Sound familiar? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. This is a common scenario which comes
up in various workshops, such as the coaching-manager workshop I run. It’s also
something I’ve experienced myself when I’ve been in busy operational management
roles.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. It does require a bit of effort from you, mainly
around rewiring your thinking but it’ll be worth it. Trust me.
Still not convinced? Then here are five reasons why using
coaching styles as part of your management can pay
dividends.
#1 A compassionate coaching style can bring out the best in your
staff
A 2017 study by Richard Boyatzis and Anthony Jack looked at the impact on people
when a compassionate coaching approach (focusing on building on strengths,
discussing hopes and aspirations) was used compared to a critical coaching approach
(focusing on fixing weaknesses). By reviewing brain scans, researchers found that
using a more compassionate, positive approach in coaching lit up the parts of the
brain related to visioning which subsequently motivates learning and behavioural
change.
#2 A facilitative coaching style can help people better handle
changes in the workplace
A study in China, involving 51 managers and 373 staff, looked at anxiety and the
relationship with adaptive performance (understanding and adjusting to changes in
the workplace) and the impact different coaching styles would have. They found that a
facilitative style of coaching, where the coachee is encouraged to explore ideas and try
things out, can enhance a person’s feelings of control.
#3 A developmental coaching style can help improve performance
An American study involving 328 salespeople reporting to 114 middle managers
looked at the impact a developmental style of coaching could have on performance.
Developmental coaching meant a continuous and regular interaction between the
manager and employee where the manager gave constructive, developmental
feedback. This, subsequently, helped the employee to overcome difficult problems or
situations, and also provided opportunity to practice complex procedures. The
researchers found that those managers who used a developmental coaching approach
tended to have better sales performance across their teams. An unexpected finding in
this study was that all the managers involved had received formal training in coaching,
suggesting coaching behaviour is better learned through formal training rather than
learning by observation.
#4 A coaching style can help increase learning when used in team
sessions as well as one-to-one
A 2018 study by Makoto Matsuo, involving over 500 people across nearly 100
engineering team found, that managers who used a coaching style positively impacted
team and individual learning. This particular study examined the impact of a coaching
style when used one-on-one, as well as when it was used in a team setting to facilitate
the sharing of lessons and knowledge.
#5 A coaching style can have a positive impact on team-level
performance
A Finnish study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies examined the impact of
a managerial coaching style on performance and work engagement. The study,
involving nearly 900 people across a range of organisations, found that good quality
managerial coaching was linked with good individual performance but there was an
even stronger link between managerial coaching and team level performance.

Thanks to halopsychology.com

Thursday, January 10, 2019

10 Habits of Mentally Strong People


10 Habits of Mentally Strong People


Despite West Point Military Academy’s rigorous selection process, one in five students drop out by graduation day. A sizeable number leave the summer before freshman year, when cadets go through a rigorous program called “Beast.” Beast consists of extreme physical, mental, and social challenges that are designed to test candidates’ perseverance. University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth conducted a study in which she sought to determine which cadets would make it through the Beast program. The rigorous interviews and testing that cadets went through to get into West Point in the first place told Angela that IQ and talent weren’t the deciding factors. So, Angela developed her own test to determine which cadets had the mental strength to conquer the Beast. She called it the “Grit Scale,” and it was a highly accurate predictor of cadet success. The Grit Scale measures mental strength, which is that unique combination of passion, tenacity, and stamina that enables you to stick with your goals until they become a reality. To increase your mental strength, you simply need to change your outlook. When hard times hit, people with mental strength suffer just as much as everyone else. The difference is that they understand that life’s challenging moments offer valuable lessons. In the end, it’s these tough lessons that build the strength you need to succeed. Developing mental strength is all about habitually doing the things that no one else is willing to do. If you aren’t doing the following things on a regular basis, you should be, for these are the habits that mentally strong people rely on.

1. You have to fight when you already feel defeated. A reporter once asked Muhammad Ali how many sit-ups he does every day. He responded, “I don’t count my sit-ups, I only start counting when it starts hurting, when I feel pain, cause that’s when it really matters.” The same applies to success in the workplace. You always have two choices when things begin to get tough: you can either overcome an obstacle and grow in the process or let it beat you. Humans are creatures of habit. If you quit when things get tough, it gets that much easier to quit the next time. On the other hand, if you force yourself to push through a challenge, the strength begins to grow in you.

2. You have to delay gratification. There was a famous Stanford experiment in which an administrator left a child in a room with a marshmallow for 15 minutes. Before leaving, the experimenter told the child that she was welcome to eat it, but if she waited until he returned without eating it, she would get a second marshmallow. The children that were able to wait until the experimenter returned experienced better outcomes in life, including higher SAT scores, greater career success, and even lower body mass indexes. The point is that delay of gratification and patience are essential to success. People with mental strength know that results only materialize when you put in the time and forego instant gratification.

3. You have to make mistakes, look like an idiot, and try again—without even flinching. In a recent study at the College of William and Mary, researchers interviewed over 800 entrepreneurs and found that the most successful among them tend to have two critical things in common: they’re terrible at imagining failure and they tend not to care what other people think of them. In other words, the most successful entrepreneurs put no time or energy into stressing about their failures as they see failure as a small and necessary step in the process of reaching their goals.

4. You have to keep your emotions in check. Negative emotions challenge your mental strength every step of the way. While it’s impossible not to feel your emotions, it’s completely under your power to manage them effectively and to keep yourself in control of them. When you let your emotions overtake your ability to think clearly, it’s easy to lose your resolve. A bad mood can make you lash out or stray from your chosen direction just as easily as a good mood can make you overconfident and impulsive.

5. You have to make the calls you’re afraid to make. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do because we know they’re for the best in the long-run: fire someone, cold-call a stranger, pull an all-nighter to get the company server back up, or scrap a project and start over. It’s easy to let the looming challenge paralyze you, but the most successful people know that in these moments, the best thing they can do is to get started right away. Every moment spent dreading the task subtracts time and energy from actually getting it done. People that learn to habitually make the tough calls stand out like flamingos in a flock of seagulls.

6. You have to trust your gut. There’s a fine line between trusting your gut and being impulsive. Trusting your gut is a matter of looking at decisions from every possible angle, and when the facts don’t present a clear alternative, you believe in your ability to make the right decision; you go with what looks and feels right.

7. You have to lead when no one else follows. It’s easy to set a direction and to believe in yourself when you have support, but the true test of strength is how well you maintain your resolve when nobody else believes in what you’re doing. People with mental strength believe in themselves no matter what, and they stay the course until they win people over to their ways of thinking.

8. You have to focus on the details even when it makes your mind numb. Nothing tests your mental strength like mind-numbing details, especially when you’re tired. The more people with mental strength are challenged, the more they dig in and welcome that challenge, and numbers and details are no exception to this.

9. You have to be kind to people who are rude to you. When people treat you poorly, it’s tempting to stoop to their level and return the favor. People with mental strength don’t allow others to walk all over them, but that doesn’t mean they’re rude to them, either. Instead, they treat rude and cruel people with the same kindness they extend to everyone else, because they don’t allow another person’s negativity to bring them down.

10. You have to be accountable for your actions, no matter what. People are far more likely to remember how you dealt with a problem than they are to recall how you created it in the first place. By holding yourself accountable, even when making excuses is an option, you show that you care about results more than your image or ego. Bringing It All Together Mental strength is as rare as it is important. The good news is that any of us can get stronger with a little extra focus and effort.

AUTHOR: Travis Bradberry, Ph.D.


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