Management Success Tip #96: Pick a Good Team Leader: Look For Listening Skills and a Positive Attitude

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A team leader must of course, be competent and confident. You can’t give the position of leader to one who is hesitant, full of doubt and insecure.

Here are some ways Anthony K. Tjan, CEO of the venture capital firm Cue Ball, has found to help him improve his people judgment:

“What is the talk-to-listen ratio? You want people who are self-confident and not afraid to express their views, but if the talk-to-listen ratio is anything north of 60%, you want to ask why. Is it because this person is self-important and not interested in learning from others — or just because he is nervous and rambling?

“Is this an energy-giver or -taker? There is a certain breed of people who just carry with them and unfortunately spread a negative energy. You know who they are. Alternatively, there are those who consistently carry and share a positivity and optimism towards life. There is a Chinese proverb that says that the best way to get energy is to give it. Energy-givers are compassionate, generous and the type of people with whom you immediately want to spend time.”

People who listen, and who are consistently positive and optimistic make good team leaders. People who are full of their own opinion, negative and critical, don’t.

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Management Success Tip #95: Keep Off-Site Employees on Track: Revamp Your Delivery Method!

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It just requires a slightly different approach to the method of communication. You can’t exactly stroll in to your off-site employee’s work area and ask, “So, how’s it going?”

Steve Cooper, co-founder of Hitched Media, Inc. interviewed protocol expert Diane Gottsman for his Forbes blog. Here are some of her tips on how to successfully work with virtual colleagues:

“Make a clear list of expectations. Since you’re not meeting in the flesh, it’s difficult to know their facial expressions, turn of phrases and various body language gestures; so you can’t rely on visual cues to determine whether or not they completely understand what you are asking of them. Make a checklist and e-mail notes back and forth with bullets that give clear expectations, timeline and ultimate goals.

“Stay in communication. You don’t want to be caught off guard if they are having difficulty or falling behind. Check-in when the deadline is approaching to see if they’re on track or have any questions—particularly if you’re early in your relationship and don’t have a feel for their workflow or abilities just yet.”

And my favorite, in our world of email and texting:

“Pick up the phone. E-mail has changed the way we do business and is great for most projects, but a once-a-week telephone conversation is extremely helpful when brainstorming or working on bigger projects.”

Nothing new here in terms of solid management technique. What is new, is the method of delivery, which once you get into the swing of it, is remarkably easy and effective.

Management Success Tip #94: Following the Rules is Good: Coming up With Improvements & Innovation is Even Better!

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As a result, you may have a stagnant department, one where, sure–everybody follows the rules and does a competent job–but nothing’s moving, nothing’s grooving, everything flows from the top down. Boring!

It’s not always easy, however, to go from “I don’t care about your ideas” to “Bring it on!” with any degree of success. Your employees, having been little heard or encouraged to date, have no reason to trust your apparent new open-ness. “Once burned, twice shy” is a truism.

One of the ways Charalambos Vlachoutsicos, now an adjunct Professor at Athens University overcame this problem in his family’s company, was to: “. . . set up an “Encouraging Initiative” Task Force, which included key managers and an outside coach. Its explicit brief was to change the people’s perception that performance meant following their superiors’ instructions to the letter by finding ways to reward employees for the quality and usefulness of the ideas and suggestions they brought to their superiors.

“Among the incentives and processes that the task force came up with were holding regular idea brainstorming meetings and a prize for best idea of the month.”

Now that’s pure gold. If you have regular brainstorming meetings and a prize for best idea of the month, you are stating unequivocally to your employees that you want their ideas. That you are willing to reward them for good ideas. That their ideas will no longer be ignored or dismissed.

Then, if you go on to actually implement an employee idea, even in modified form, you will have “walked your talk,” which as we all know, is the best way to earn trust and future cooperation.

Management Success Tip #93: Temper-Tantrum Employees Impair Co-Workers’ Performance: Deal with Them Now!

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But here’s the thing: your other employees are not appreciative of Tantrum Employee getting away with his/her bad behavior. It affects employee morale throughout your department, and although Tantrum Employee may still exhibit stellar performance when not in tantrum-mode, the rest of your department’s performance and productivity are declining.

As unpleasant as it is, you must, if you don’t want to watch your entire department go downhill, deal with Tantrum Employee’s tantrums.

Suzanne Lucas posting on CBS’s MoneyWatch has a dynamite approach you might want to consider:

“Your job, tonight, is to sit down and write up a performance improvement plan according to your company guidelines. Talk with HR about it. Make sure your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. Then sit down with the tantrum thrower and the HR person (if HR isn’t available, one of your peers. You need a witness.)

“Explain that such fits are inappropriate. They are detrimental to the team. That if they continue he will be fired.

“That last part needs to be stunningly clear. This behavior stops or he is out the door. Gone. Adios. There is no farewell party. He is gone. There should be a date in this document that is his last day to work if all the conditions of the performance improvement plan are not met.”

No one is irreplaceable. If Temper Tantrum Employee won’t get with the program, then it’s up to you to recruit and train a replacement who will inspire his/her co-workers to better work, not drag them down.

Management Success Tip #92: Don’t Let Your Business Tank Because of Not-Engaged or Disengaged Employees

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The distressing news out of Gallup’s latest “State of the American Workplace” report is that fully 70% of the over 25 million people across a wide variety of industries and organizations that Gallup interviewed are either actively disengaged, or not engaged.

What does that mean? Gallup states:

Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward. [only 30%]

Not engaged employees are essentially checked out. They’re sleepwalking through their workday putting time — but not energy or passion — into their work. [fully 52% – yikes!]

Actively disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.” [a frightful 18 %]

And those disengaged 70% are in the throes of worry, stress and pain more often than not, which costs your company far too many dollars in lowered performance/productivity, not to mention absenteeism and illness.

However, the good news is that appreciating your employees, making them happy in the myriad of ways suggested in “Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy” reverses that trend. As Gallup puts it, “when workers spend more time using their strengths to do work they enjoy or find valuable, the less likely they are to find time to be unhappy. In general, better engagement also leads to less absenteeism and more productivity and profitability.”

You did know there would be good news, didn’t you?!