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It’s Time to Get Enabling

Last week, I was speculating that empowerment may create a social power base, to join others defined by John French and Bertram Raven.  I created my own definition of the word, by reading dictionaries, looking on the web and drinking tea:

‘a socially endorsed management process that
grants people genuine control and authority
within the work place’

That was a bit of a mouthful, so I turned to Mike Applegarth and Keith Posner’s excellent Empowerment Pocketbook for their definition:

‘Authority, Power, Licence.’

Far snappier than mine and the emphasis is theirs.  in fact, licence carries most of the burden of their definition.  They say that ‘to licence is to empower’.

The Empowerment Pocketbook

Another valuable point they make is that empowerment is a word managers use but rarely really explore.  My favourite definition comes from their introduction, not just because it makes the clear link with organisational culture, but because it tells us what empowerment really feels like, in the real world, and away from the book, journal or web page:

‘…the only culture where no one gets blamed,
is the one where it really empowers’

Some Nice Models

There are some nice adaptations of familiar models in the Empowerment Pocketbook.  They have adapted the Johari Window to team working and have a situational leadership model that places empowering as a leadership style that is high in two-way involvement and suitable for people high in responsibility and initiative.

I think the latter of the two is my favourite, so I will share it with you.

LeadershipStyles-Empowerment

Applegarth and Posner say:

‘Enabling the individual is an important step to achieving an empowered workforce, yet it is the one most often ignored.’

I think they are spot on with this.  Their toolkit for enabling the individual seems to me to be the heart of their Pocketbook and to provide some of the most practical content.

Too often empowerment is just a good word to bandy around.  if you are serious about it, though, it takes hard work and persistence.  The pay-off, however, can be huge.  Eventually, you will get better, more committed staff, who are able to work with less supervision, innovate beyond the means of their bosses, and delight your clients and customers.

It’s time to get enabling!

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Reward Failure

Yup, you heard me.

Nice Try

But why?

Well, first, we need to define terms:

Reward: celebrate, congratulate, give praise.

Failure: making the effort and not succeeding.

You get what you reward, right?

Dead right.  So, if you only reward success, people will succeed more, yes?  Of course yes.  But to achieve that, what behaviours will you get?

Protective, cautious behaviours that are calculated to minimise the risk of failure of course.

So what will change?  Very little – too much risk.  In fact, all you will get is ‘safe’.

But what if you reward failure?

Well, if you just reward failure, that would be silly.

But if you reward the effort,

… and if you include in your evaluation of effort the good judgement that leads to well calculated risks

… and if you assess ‘well calculated’ against the evidence available at the start, and eschew ‘hindsight bias’

Then maybe your team will realise that success is not easy, but that striving for real, hard-fought, worthwhile success is something you value – and so should they.

Reward good judgement and effort – not success, which may, after all, have little to do with either, and everything to do with luck.

Don’t reward luck.

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What is Performance Management?

‘Performance Management’ can sound scary to anyone who is new to organisational life.  Indeed, ‘I’m going to manage your performance’ can come across – even from the nicest of managers or supervisors – as just a little bit threatening.  But it shouldn’t be.

In fact; quite the opposite.  When you understand what performance management is, whether you are a staff member or a manager/supervisor, you will also understand just how valuable it is.  As Pam Jones describes it in The Performance Management Pocketbook:

‘Performance management is about getting results.
It is concerned with getting the best from people
and helping them to achieve their potential.’

What could be more benign than that?  Of course, these are excellent words, but how does it all happen?

Get out your Toolbox

Toolbox

I rather agree with Pam that the basis of any performance management approach is the skills of the manager.  I also really like her toolbox analogy, so nicely drawn in the book by Phil Hailstone.  Pam identifies and describes a lot of tools:

Delegating *
Coaching *
Feedback *
Dealing with poor performance
Motivating *
Empowering *
Team-building *
Performance reviews

This is such a core set of managerial skills that it is no surprise to find most of them (starred) addressed by their own Management Pocketbook.  What Pam does is bring them all together into a consistent framework.

Let’s take a look in a little more detail at the remaining two.  This week, at Performance Reviews, and next week, we’ll focus on dealing with poor performance.

Performance Reviews

To be at their most effective, performance reviews need to be a part of everyday management, rather than set piece events once a month or – heavens forfend – once a year.

However, you will need milestone performance reviews at key career points and stages in the business cycle, like annually or semi-annually.  The formal reviews, at these key points, need to be carried out with greater preparation and formality, but the process remains the same, for anything from a quick five-minute ‘catch-up’ review to a formally documented annual review.

Pam’s Performance Review Process is Simple,
yet Comprehensive.

Performance Review

  1. Preparation
    Do your research.  Observe performance carefully, gather data and evidence, review against performance objectives from the last review.  Schedule the review meeting and set aside enough time, in a suitable place.
  2. The Interview
    … or, less formally, the meeting, or even the chat.  Discuss performance  since the last meeting and agree performance requirements and support process to follow.  Pam sets out a lot of good tips – especially around objective-setting and the use of balanced scorecards to get  a good mix of objectives.
  3. Ongoing Review
    This is where Pam builds in a lot of the skills I listed above, like feedback, motivation and coaching.  It is the step where Performance Management can get a bad name, if, as a manager, all I do is tell you you need to do better at step 2, then abandon you without the right support and ongoing review.  Then, all I am doing, is setting you up to fail when the next cycle reaches the interview.

So, here’s the deal

Pretty simple, yes: but not necessarily easy.  Good performance management requires a partnership and hard work from both parties.  But the rewards are great.

Some Management Pocketbooks to help you with your Performance Management

The Performance Management Pocketbook, by Pam Jones

The Performance Management Pocketbook is supported by:

More Pocketblogs about Performance Management.

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Ten Ways to Love your Staff and Get Engaged

Valentine'sHeart

It’s 14 February and we’re all feeling pretty romantic here at Management Pocketbooks.  So let’s take a look at the way managers and employers can really love their staff

. . . without stepping over that line.

10 C’s of Employee Engagement

In their short 2006 paper in the Ivey Business Journal, University of Western Ontario researchers Dan Crim and Gerard Seijts go all alliterative on us with their ‘Ten C’s of Employee Engagement’. (Their apostrophe – not mine).

The original article bears a copyright notice forbidding posting it – but allowing individual downloads, so you will have to go searching for it yourself: it isn’t hard to find.

To summarise their ten ways:

  1. Connect
    Talk to your staff, get to know them, find out what they like, what’s important to them and what they are good at.
  2. Career
    Give your staff opportunities to develop a meaningful career.
  3. Clarity
    People need a purpose and a plan.  Give them a clear sense of what they are working for and what you expect of them.
  4. Convey
    Create two-way processes that allow you to convey ideas, inspiration and information to your staff and them to convey their feedback to you.
  5. Congratulate
    Celebrate successes by recognising them and congratulating the perpetrators at team and individual level.
  6. Contribute
    A sense that we can contribute and that our work matters to society is important to people.  Let them know how this happens.
  7. Control
    When we don’t feel in control, we get stressed.  Give as much control as you can to your people – and often more than you dare.  In return, they’ll give you their insight and commitment.
  8. Collaborate
    People like to work together, in teams, with shared aims.  Create an environment that allows and encourages it.
  9. Credibility
    You and your organisation must maintain the highest standards of integrity, so that people can be proud to be associated with you.
  10. Confidence
    High ethics instil confidence, which drives up performance standards.

Management Pocketbooks you might Enjoy

You might also enjoy my extended article ‘Resistance to Engagement’ based on The Handling Resistance Pocketbook.

. . . With lots of love

Management Pocketblog

X X X X X

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The Science of Leadership: Warren Bennis (Part 1)

Over the last year, Pocketblog has studied the work of many fine business thinkers.  It is time to turn our attention to Warren Bennis.

WarrenBennis

Bennis is not just an expert on leadership – which he undoubtedly is.  It was he who created the modern interest in the subject, with the book he co-wrote with Burt Nanus: ‘Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge’.

Bennis was greatly influenced by Douglas McGregor, who both taught and mentored him.  McGregor was influential, with his Theory X and Theory Y, in examining the ways we can manage colleagues at work, and influence their motivation.

The Story of Motivation in the Workplace

… is one of shifts towards and away from a prescriptive scientific perspective.  In a recent Pocketblog, I described how FW Taylor invoked ‘scientific management’ to create a repeatable process for optimising work-rates.  His follower, Elton Mayo then discovered that human factors can over-ride the simplistic approach to theoretically optimised efficiency levels.

It was Douglas McGregor who characterised these two approaches as Theory X (controlling, task-focused management) and Theory Y (more democratic, relationship-driven management).  McGregor argued powerfully in ‘The Human Side of the Enterprise’ and later books that Taylorism could not work sustainably in the modern world; Theory Y must dominate.

Enter Warren Bennis

Bennis followed McGregor in studying organisational development and looked to him as a mentor.  McGregor to a great extent shaped Bennis’s career and we will see more about that next week.

What Bennis contributed was a focus on the work of leaders, and what leadership means in an organisational context.  For all those of us who work in organisational development or leadership development, he has provided the foundations of modern thinking.

And for me, his principal contribution is the body of evidence he accumulated to show that leadership is open to everyone.  It is not a product of birth, of genes, or even of the type of school you went to.  It can be learned and developed like any other skill.

The Science of Leadership

There are two ways of doing science.  In my own discipline of physics, you can even study it formally in these two ways: experimental and theoretical.  Theoreticians dream up grand theories in response to limited experimental data, and then make predictions that experimentalists test.  It is only when the data prove the theorist wrong that science truly advances.  The smug feeling theoreticians get when the evidence supports their theory cannot mask the deeper knowledge that it can never constitute proof.  A theory is never more than one experiment away from falsification.

Experiments, on the other hand, are glorious.  They always yield knowledge.  Maybe it corroborates existing knowledge – which is comforting – or maybe it challenges it, from which progress arises – which is truly exciting.  Theorists know we are at the weak end of the process.

Bennis is a data gatherer.  He has not presented a grand theory of leadership.  Not for him: four leadership styles, six leadership roles or eight ways to lead.  Bennis and Nanus started their revolution in leadership thinking by surveying 90 leaders, from business, sports, the arts and exploration.

Some Ideas 

Bennis is perhaps best known for his tabulation of the differences between leaders and managers – which we mentioned a year ago.  The phrase ‘managers do things right: leaders do the right thing’ has become a commonplace – even turning up with very little adaptation, in a speech by Nick Clegg over the summer.

But many other ideas that we accept as commonplace were first articulated in their modern form by Warren Bennis:

Leaders learn from failure.
Adverse circumstances and a series of failures is a more valuable learning route than early and continued success.

Leaders create empathy
Leaders must bring people alongside their own views and they can only do this by empathising with their followers.

Leaders create great groups
Bennis and Nanus argued that great results emanate from great groups and it is the role of a leader to bring them together and and create the opportunities for them to thrive.

So here is the deal

Leadership can be learned and it was Warren Bennis who did more than any other thinker to put these ideas to us.

More in Part 2, next week.

Some Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The Leadership Pocketbook
As you would expect, a lot of Bennis’s ideas suffuse this volume.

The Management Models Pocketbook
Looks at models of leadership that are often informed by Bennis’s thinking.

The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook
Bennis has often stressed emotional intelligence as a vital leadership skill.

The Empowerment Pocketbook
Empowerment is what a leader should be about.

The Self Managed Development Pocketbook, and
The Learner’s Pocketbook
Bennis argued that leaders need to be learners.

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Valuing Diversity

Peter_Honey.pngPeter Honey wrote a thought-provoking blog on the Training Journal website, where he opened by taking as read that valuing diversity is a good thing (my italics), but then he asked a really good question:

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‘If we were going to start doing it at 0900 tomorrow morning, what exactly would we do?’

As usual, Peter gives a very good answer to his own question, but, also typical of him, his question really made me think.

But that was a couple of weeks ago…

The first equal opportunities employer?

The topic came back to me last night (Saturday 7 May) when I was watching a documentary about the Untold story of the Battle of Trafalgar.  It looked at the foreign sailors who fought on one of Nelson’s ships of the line, HMS Bellerophon and made the point that, for the few years of the war with Napoleon, the British Navy treated its black sailors better than Europeans had ever treated black people, and better than they were to do so for many years: it gave them total equality of opportunity.

Black and other foreign sailors were treated exactly the same as all others and promoted and respected strictly according to merit.  Perhaps that is the answer to Peter’s question.

After the war, however, it was back to colonialist business as usual, as the black sailors, who were no longer needed, were abandoned to the streets.  You can watch the video here.

Diversity Works

I have no special expertise in the subject of diversity, just the simplistic view that evidence shows that diverse teams get better results.  That’s why Peter’s question so impressed me.  So I thought it was time to read the Diversity Pocketbook.

What I found was a nice little model that can apply to many different change projects.  The author, Linbert Spencer, may forgive me for turning it into a simple picture.

image

Desire
How strong is it, really?

Definition
What do you mean by ‘diversity’?

Decision
A formal commitment from all the people who have real authority.

Determination
This is not an easy process.  You need to be in it for the long haul.

Discipline
When you make progress, celebrate, but keep up your commitment

So Here’s the Deal

Linbert Spencer offers a structured process to answer Peter Honey’s question.  He also gives lots of practical tips to supplement Peter’s eminently sound advice.  This does matter, because in tough times like these, you can’t afford to waste any opportunity to get the best team and to get the best from your team.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The Diversity Pocketbook

The Cross-cultural Business Pocketbook

The Empowerment Pocketbook

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Flow and Performance Management

Management Pocketbooks was at the CIPD’s HRD exhibition in full force last week.  It’s always a good opportunity to see what’s new in the worlds of training, coaching and management development.

Thank you, by the way, to the hundred and forty or so people who sat or stood for the forty five minutes of my talk about Handling Resistance, and to everyone who visited the stand.  More on the talk in a future blog.

Is it a trend?

One thing stood out for me at the exhibition.  Maybe it represents a trend – it did catch my interest.

Positive Psychology

"Psi plus" symbol: Positive PsychologyAt least two businesses exhibiting had deep expertise in Positive Psychology, which I’ve covered in one form in an earlier post, and applying it to the workplace.

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I remain convinced that this is a field whose time is coming – I’d put it about where Emotional Intelligence was in the early 1990s.  Who will be the Dan Goleman of this field?

I picked up a copy of the new Positive Psychology at Work by Sarah Lewis and my wife (who nabbed it on the train) tells me it’s really good!

Another Aspect of Positive Psychology is Flow

Have you ever found yourself so immersed in something that time disappears from under you and so, when you finish – or are stopped – you have hardly an inkling of how much time has passed?  You may only then realise how cold, how hungry or even how desperate you are for the loo.  That was flow.

Flow experiences happen when we are in a directed task with clear goals, plenty of sense of how we are doing and, crucially, just the right amount of challenge.

The typical flow state diagram looks like this.

Flow state diagram

High Performance at Work

Flow states are the key to high levels of motivation and performance.  We need to get ourselves, or the people we manage, into a flow state by making demands of them with just the right amount of challenge.  This way, what we are doing always tests us to our limit of competence but not so far beyond, that we feel stressed by it and not so far below that we get comfortable, complacent and bored.

How can we increase the challenge further?

There are two ways to increase the challenge we place on a team member and still maintain the possibility of a high performance flow state:

  1. we can either provide suitable training, coaching, practice or other intervention, or
  2. we can offer our support, leaving them feeling safe from potential failure and able to ask for help, thus extending the range over which they can operate before feeling stressed.

So here’s the deal

Good management is about matching the challenge to the person – and positive psychology shows us why this is.

Some Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

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A little note…

I have been using the “Psi plus” symbol for about three years now as a shorthand in my notes for positive psychology.  I’ve never seen it anywhere else, but it seems such an obvious shorthand.  Anyone seen it elsewhere?

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Generation Y at work

Last week, I got side-tracked in my quest to learn how Generation Y (born between around 1980 and 2000) will handle the challenge of management in the workplace.  The oldest and most talented of them are stepping up to that challenge already and we can expect a significant cohort of new Generation Y managers in our workplaces over the next few years.

Back to that highly salient topic…

Continue reading Generation Y at work

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Happiness – as simple as ABC?

AbnormalityA couple of years ago, I spotted something a bit special in an Oxfam bookshop; it was a kind of archaeological relic of a by-gone age.  The book was a basic psychology text called ‘Abnormality’.  Because I have no more than a passing interest in the subject and ever-diminishing shelf space, I elected to leave it behind.

However, this book marks the end of an era.

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A New Field in Psychology

Abnormality was published in 1997.  The following year, its principal author, Martin Seligman, was President of the American Psychological Association.  In 1998, Seligman officially launched Positive Psychology as a distinct branch of psychology, and lifted it from the level of pop psychology to a topic of serious scientific research.

Abnormality marked Seligman’s last book on the ‘old’ psychology of the damage we accumulate or do to one-another.  All his subsequent books have been about aspects of optimal human functioning.

Why this timing?  Was it just because Seligman had the opportunity that year?  I don’t think so.  In his 2003 book, Authentic Happiness, he says:

‘it took Barbara Frederickson … to convince my head that positive emotion has a profound purpose far beyond the delightful way it makes us feel.’

In 1998, Barbara Frederickson published a ground-breaking paper: ‘What good are Positive Emotions?’  In it, she suggests that positive emotions broaden and build our personal resources and help us to cope with the trials of life.  She won psychology’s most lucrative award, The Templeton Prize, in its first year, 2000.

But what if I’m stuck with negative emotions?

Martin SeligmanSeligman himself is a leading thinker in Positive Psychology; most closely associated with two aspects: strengths, and ‘Learned Optimism’.

His 1990 book (now in its third edition); ‘Learned Optimism’ pre-dates Positive Psychology as a field of study with a name, but it is an essential read for anyone interested in the field.

It shows how we can move from helplessness to optimism by changing the way we think, and it presents a very powerful model, developed by Albert Ellis.

Albert Ellis and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Albert Ellis founded Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) – yes British readers: I have used the US spelling.  This is a fore-runner of the better known CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and Ellis is known as the Grandfather of CBT.  He died in 2007.

In Learned Optimism, Seligman uses his ABCDE model as a tool for changing the way we think about adversity and and challenge.  You will also find this model in The Cognitive Behavioural Coaching (CBC) Pocketbook.

A B C D E

A: Activating event
… or Adversity, as Seligman describes it, is the objective event that causes us concern

B: Beliefs
The beliefs we have (rational or not) about the event that trigger our attitudes, fears and subsequent behaviours

C: Consequences
Ultimately, what consequences do those beliefs have for us in terms of what we do and how that changes our options and opportunities.

D: Dispute
Change comes when we confront our beliefs with real-world evidence and start to dispute our interpretation and beliefs.

E: Energization
This is the word Seligman uses, which seems more powerful than ‘Exchange’ used in the CBC Pocketbook. Here the new evidence and understanding we have exchanged for the old energises us to make changes, think differently, do things differently, and change our world.

Our Cognitive Behavioural Coaching Pocketbook has a whole chapter on the ABCDE model and how to use it.

Is Happiness as Simple as ABC?

Of course not, but what Seligman shows us is how a simple process can radically change our perspective from pessimism to optimism.

Some Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The Cognitive Behavioural Coaching Pocketbook

The Energy and Well-being Pocketbook

The Positive Mental Attitude Pocketbook

The Stress Pocketbook

The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook

The Empowerment Pocketbook

You might also like our earlier blog: Socrates’ Questions, Pavlov’s Dogs and Skinner’s Box.

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Employees first: Customers second

Vineet Nayar has been on the radio a lot recently. He is the CEO of HCL Technologies and has, on the face of it, an odd philosophy for how he does business: Employees First: Customer Second.

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New Wisdom

This flies in the face of the conventional ‘customers first’ wisdom.  But it is not quite as counter-intuitive as it may seem.  You just need to follow the logic of the process.  Who looks after your customers?

Vineet Nayar’s Four Fundamental Questions

  1. Q: What is the core business we are in?
    A:  Creating value for our customers
  2. Q: Where is that value created?
    A:  At the interface between our employees and our customers
  3. Q: Who creates value?
    A:  Our employees
  4. Q: What is the business of managers and management?
    A:  Enthusing, encouraging and enabling employees to create value

When you invest the time and resources to ensure that your staff are committed and happy in their work, they will be naturally motivated to make your business succeed.  When you select the right people to put into the front-line and deal directly with your customers, then inevitably, they will take care of them.

The Secret of Customer Care

After all, there is no great secret to customer care: it simply requires that you care about your customer.  When you care about someone, you instinctively take care of them.

Corporate Kinetics

About twelve years ago, I participated in some research that ultimately led to what its authors hoped would be a ground breaking book: ‘The Power of Corporate Kinetics: Self-adapting, Self-renewing, Instant-action Enterprise’.  The thesis was simple; that the agility that companies would need to adapt and thrive in the third millennium could best be achieved when the people doing the work were given the authority to change how they do their work, to optimise efficiency, effectiveness and customer service.  It was illustrated with case studies drawn from the clients of my employer, Deloitte.

I don’t think it changed the world, nor even the way that many organisations go about improving themselves.  It should have, but I think two apparently contradictory things got in the way:

  1. first was a sense of ‘so what?’ The ideas did not seem surprising: they were perhaps, a little obvious.  Of course the people who do the work have the clearest view of what needs to change.
  2. second was a sense of ‘oh but…’ Giving real authority to the bottom of an organisational tree appears to rob everyone above of a big part of their role and, subconsciously, of their self esteem.

Empowerment is a hard discipline.  But it is certainly what Vineet Nayar is talking about.  And it also gives us another reason (see last week’s Pocketblog) why management is hard:  because, if you start to accept the logic of some of these ideas, you need to find a new model of management.

So here’s the Deal: A New Model of Management

In this new model, managers would act much more like facilitators than traditional instigators.  They would lend their commitment and authority to anyone coming forward with a good idea.  They would need to be able to encourage people to do so and to suppress a portion of their ‘I know best’ reflex so that they could balance a proper critical evaluation and a fair assessment of the opportunities.

Some Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

Post Script

Coincidentally, a few days before this blog was scheduled to be posted, Strategy & Business, the magazine published an interview with Vineet Nayar, here.

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