Owners: Could You Be The Stumbling Block To Progress In Your Organization?

This is an article that will probably be read by ONLY those who are humble enough and committed enough to really want the truth. That means it will only be read by a few. Can you say: Competitive Advantage?

Booz & Co’s Strategy + Business magazine offers some significant insights into this question. My experience? You probably are the stumbling block. That can be fixed with a little effort. Be sure and take the interactive survey (ouch). Be brave and have your staff take it as well.

strat + bus logoIn almost all organizations, some leaders pave the way for their employees to do their best work, and others inadvertently make things much harder than they should be. Where do you fall on this continuum? Do you help or do you hinder? In all probability, it’s the latter. According to our research, your employees are more likely to view you as an obstacle to their effectiveness than as an enabler of it—and that holds true whether your organization is successful or stumbling.

People expect to find bad bosses in failing companies. However, in surveys and interviews with more than 250 working professionals in 37 countries, we’ve found that 51 percent of employees across the full spectrum of organizational performance believe initiatives tend to succeed despite, not because of, their leaders. All employees think that their bosses hinder their effectiveness from time to time. But the prevalence of this phenomenon even in successful organizations (as defined by respondents to our surveys) is eye-opening. READ MORE…

You can ‘t like everyone

Let’s face it, if you have more than a couple of people on your payroll there is going to be someone you don’t like. Of course, this is funeral service so we feel we have to “like” everyone. So we pretend and, since everyone eventually figures out we are pretending, it makes things worse. At the same time, some of the people we don’t like make valuable contributions to our organization. In fact, sometimes the person is your brother or father or whatever.

Here is some excellent insight on how to deal with this vexing situation:

 hbrEverybody complains about incompetent bosses or dysfunctional co-workers, but what about irritating direct reports? What should you do if the person you manage drives you crazy? If the behavior is a performance issue, there’s a straightforward way to address what’s irking you — but what do you do when it’s an interpersonal issue? Is it possible to be a fair boss to someone you’d avoid eating lunch with — or must you learn to like every member of your team? More Reading…

Good News From NPR?

NPR radio is producing something called “StoryCorps” in which they feature stories of every day people. This week they chose the story of a funeral director and his story that casts all of us in a pretty good light. Odd for this to be featured on the usually contentious NPR but it’s uplifting and sometimes we need a good story. click on the link:

nprlogo_138x46 Following in the Family Footsteps

 

Family Business Infighting

Current literature abounds with research revealing that, despite added issues, family businesses tend to be sustainable longer than non family businesses.  Why is that?

hbrIt’s one of life’s sad ironies that folks who love one another can end up having far more acrimonious business relations than people who are unrelated.

And yet in our experience, conflict actually occurs less frequently in family businesses than non-family businesses. It’s just that when it does break out, the fighting tends to be more intense.

Why is that? The answer is devilishly simple. Fights in family businesses break out because they can. In non-family businesses, there are barriers to keep things from escalating. Owning the business removes many of these barriers. Once a conflict starts, it can easily spiral out of control.

It isn’t that the causes of conflict are any different in family and non-family businesses. In all types of companies, people disagree about issues related to strategy, money, status, and authority. No organization is immune to narcissistic leaders or difficult relationships between employees. But there is a fundamental difference in the two types of companies in what stops conflicts. The difference, in a word, is boundaries.

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Video: Business Modeling Made Simple

Getting small business owners to “think” about their business is a real challenge for several reasons. First, they are so busy “doing” it’s hard to stop and reflect. Second, they are rarely trained to think in a comprehensively analytical way and, third, most of the time it bores them.

This is a great and simple way to think about the pieces of your business and how they interact on one piece of paper that will help you make fun out of an otherwise frustrating exercise. Who knows you might have an epiphany.

hbrThe business model canvas — as opposed to the traditional, intricate business plan — helps organizations conduct structured, tangible, and strategic conversations around new businesses or existing ones. Leading global companies like GE, P&G, and Nestlé use the canvas to manage strategy or create new growth engines, while start-ups use it in their search for the right business model. The canvas’s main objective is to help companies move beyond product-centric thinking and towards business model thinking.More Reading

Attack the behavior not the person

I was taught to “praise in public and criticize in private.” Recent research and advice suggests this is the wrong advice.  It shifts the burden from the team to the leader.  But bear in mind that when criticizing in public you NEVER attack the person, only the behavior.

hbrIf you’re like most leaders, you believe in the adage “praise in public and criticize in private.” So when a team member does something that negatively affects the team, you usually talk to the team member in private. But this can be a dangerous adage to follow because it significantly reduces accountability, the quality of team decisions, and your team’s ability to manage itself. As Richard Hackman said reflecting on his research, “[T]he most powerful thing a leader can do to foster effective collaboration is to create conditions that help members competently manage themselves.” Here’s why criticizing in private undermines your team, and what you can do to build a smarter team starting today.

Why do leaders unwittingly shift team accountability to themselves? First, they’ve been taught correctly that they’re ultimately responsible for the team. Yet they misconstrue this ultimate responsibility and adopt a “one-leader-in-the-room” mindset; they believe that they are primarily, if not solely, accountable for how the team functions, including providing negative feedback to their direct reports. Second, research by Chris Argyris and Don Schön and my 30 years working with leadership teams shows that in challenging situations almost all leaders try to minimize the expression of negative feelings: If it’s difficult for you to give negative feedback, you prefer to do it in private than in the team setting. Read more

The book “Leadership and Self Deception” by the Arbinger Institute is one of my recommended reads.  It contains a similar scenario and how a true leader followed up on it. 

How To Interview For Great Employees: 14 Super Questions

 

Interview questions: Everyone has them.

And everyone wishes they had better ones.

So I asked smart people from a variety of fields for their favorite interview question and, more importantly, why it’s their favorite and what it tells them about the candidate.

1. If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you in this role, what did we achieve together?

“For me, the most important thing about interviews is that the interviewee interviewsus. I need to know they’ve done their homework, truly understand our company and the role… and really want it.

“The candidate should have enough strategic vision to not only talk about how good the year has been but to answer with an eye towards that bigger-picture understanding of the company–and why they want to be here.”

Randy GaruttiShake Shack CEO

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A Simple Ritual for Harried Managers (and Popes)

Some articles stand by themselves

 

The genius of this simple practice becomes obvious when we consider the environments that executives (or Popes, or parents) must navigate every day: we surf a tide of emails, texts, meetings, calls, day-to-day problems, and distractions. We never find time to step back. The fallout is obvious: I’m stressed about a bad meeting an hour ago and end up lashing out at a subordinate who had nothing to do with it; I finish the work day without attacking my number one priority, because I was swept along by lesser day-to-day concerns; I never focus my best thinking in a concentrated fashion on any one issue, because three or four issues are always rambling around my head; or, we slowly drift into an ethical mess of a transaction because I never stopped along the way to ask myself, “Hang on, is this the kind of thing we really should be doing?” The Jesuit tradition is giving us (and the Pope) a very simple tool to cope with these varied business problems, which all happen to be rooted in self-awareness lapses. 

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Death Cafe’s: Truth Stranger than fiction

As we continue into this 21st century world things seem to be reaching a point where we are unwilling to say something won’t happen.  Conversations about death and dying are becoming mainstream spontaneously.  Deathcare seems oblivious to this trend.  I think this is at our peril.  We need to be right at the center of it.

A relatively new concept known as a “death café” is growing in popularity. This article explains what happens at death cafés and their origin.

What is a Death Café?
Despite the off-putting name, many participants describe these events as life affirming, and even life changing, because a death café is a frank, unscripted, non-directed discussion about the subject of dying and death conducted at a “safe” location, such as a community center, church, coffee shop or, yes, even a café.

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What are you arguing about?

 

 All firms have strategies and cultures. But sometimes the quickest and surest way to gain valuable insight into their fundamentals is by asking, “What’s the most important argument your organization is having right now?”

The more polite or politically correct might prefer “strategic conversation” over “argument.” But I’ve found the more aggressive framing most helpful in identifying the disagreements that matter most. Of course, there’s frequently more than one “most important argument.” And arguments about which arguments are most important are — sorry — important, as well. (If people insist there are no “most important arguments,” the organization clearly has even bigger unresolved issues.)

The real organizational and cultural insights — and payoffs — come not just from careful listening but recognizing that, as always, actions speak louder than words. What role is leadership playing here? How is the CEO listening to, leading, or facilitating the argument? Is disagreement viewed as dissent? Or is it treated as an opportunity to push for greater clarity and analytical rigor?

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What a great question:

What is the most important argument your organization is having right now?