Pitfalls to Avoid
Liz Bowermaster, Vice President – Training and Development
About 2 hours after the October Issue of Fill Ins hit inboxes I started to receive emails about my article “Eight Bad Supervisory Practices.” For a number of reasons, readers seemed to identify with the content. Some were new at supervision and found it helpful, some viewed it as a good self-evaluation and some asked if I knew their boss or a former boss.
About a quarter of a century ago, I started listing the things that supervisors do that as an HR
practitioner drove me crazy . The truth is that as an employee they drove me nuts, too. Some of my “pet peeves” didn’t make the cut for the October Fill Ins, so I’m going to share more. My hope is that supervisors are continually evaluating their practices, identifying more productive ways to handle issues and always embracing the concept that “we need our employees more than they need us.” (Check the October issue of Fill Ins and you’ll see we are not condoning “keeping dead wood.” www. pohlconsulting.com ) If in reading through this list you think you recognize yourself, making some changes to more productive supervisory behaviors will benefit you and your team.
Micro-managing—I get it. The worst day of your life as a supervisor was the day you realized that your success depended on the output of your staff and how effectively they performed. Scary isn’t it? Micro-managing won’t help and it undermines your relationships with your employees.
Being clear about your expectations with your employees, providing solid direction, setting appropriate check-points, mile stones, and periodic updates on projects and tasks will ensure that you don’t need to micro-manage,
hover or take over your employees’ tasks and responsibilities. The “control” you are seeking by “micro-managing” comes from how clearly you communicate your expectations and the periodic follow-up and the reporting requirements that you and your employee agree upon.
Don’t forget to observe your employees in action. This enables you to identify what’s going well and pinpoint a few things that might be done differently to be more productive or effective. Communicate expectations clearly; ensure that your people know how to do what’s expected and that you are there if they need you. Then, back off and let your people do their jobs!
The key is flexibility in your management style. Match the depth of your directions and feedback to what each of your employees needs. The more skilled and confident an employee is in a skill or task, the less direction and support they need from you. The less skilled and/or confident they are, the more structure they need from you. Negotiate the degree of your involvement with each employee.
Catch Me If You Can—There are few things that frustrate employees more than not being able to have time with their boss when they need answers, guidance or have concerns. This is closely linked to the “No Time to Train or Coach” discussed in the October Fill Ins.
Don’t confuse this with a “high-maintenance” employee who seems to need significantly more time than would be appropriate. If your employees
(same- sex employees) are following you into the restroom (or your opposite-sex employees are lurking outside the restroom door or in the parking lot) to ask questions it may be a sign that you are— just not available.
Gunny Sacking—This is the practice of delivering negative feedback in a performance review that you’ve never shared with the employee until the time of the review. I cannot think of a better way to destroy an employee-supervisor relationship. I’m also hard-pressed to think of any legitimate reason for doing this. If you’ve ever experienced this you know what I’m talking about.
Long ago in a place far away I was lucky enough to start my supervisory career in an organization whose founder was adamant about supervisors—at all levels—providing ongoing, timely feedback to their employees. He preached the mantra of “No Surprises! If an employee is hearing something negative about their performance for the first time in their Annual Performance Review, shame on you!”
Loyalty to the Absent—Long before I learned this terminology, I knew when this was NOT in practice, and so do you. Sometimes supervisors talk about employees to other employees. You may know this as “talking behind someone’s back.” It is more than just inappropriate; it’s another trust-destroying behavior. It seems so obvious that if you are my supervisor and your are talking about one of my co-workers or even one of your peers, and the person being talked about isn’t present, you could at some point be “talking about me” behind my back.
Steven Covey (Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) coined the terminology—Loyalty to the absent. Covey provided guidance on what to do when a supervisor is talking to you (and you are not the HR Manager or the supervisor’s boss) about a problem or issue they are having with another of their employees. It’s simple and worth remembering. You say, “It sounds like this is an important issue between you and (other person’s name). I’m sure he/she would want to know about this.”
What’s This “They” Stuff?—There are times when you as the supervisors are in the position of having to institute a policy or a change that you don’t agree with. That’s part of the job, and laying something off on upper management is just plain gutless. “They’ve decided that we…..” Stand up and stand with your management team. You can’t be part of management one minute and “one of the gang” another. Supervisors have the responsibility of leading. Yes, change is hard and can be very frustrating, but it doesn’t make it easier when you play the “we vs. they” game.
How Does Your Supervisor’s Behavior Impact Your Supervisory Behaviors?—It happens to all of us at some point. We have a supervisor who isn’t as enlightened, skilled, caring, socially-adept…..(you name it.)
Don’t let his/her ineffective behaviors influence what you do. You can choose to use the most productive supervisory behaviors. Sometimes that means “ignoring” the bad “supervisory weather” that’s going on above us. You can receive greater gratification from employing supervisory best practices with your team, and creating and maintaining a productive, “emotionally healthy” work place where you and your staff can grow and thrive.
Success Comes From A Willingness to Fail
by Daniel Savage, Senior Vice President and Senior Trust Officer State Bank of Cross Plains
Failure is a strong word. It conjures up images of despair, poverty, and defeat. Sales professionals know all about failure and diligently work to avoid it…sometimes the wrong way. Yet, a willingness to fail sets the stage for success!
Although that may seem counter-intuitive, success invariably happens when people are willing to fail. Consider these famous examples:
Abraham Lincoln: Mr. Lincoln had less than one year of formal schooling, failed twice in business, and lost eight of ten elections…prior to winning the Presidency.
Thomas Edison: Edison failed more than 10,000 times trying to invent a workable light bulb. He said, “I haven’t failed 10,000 times – I’ve simply discovered 10,000 ways that will not work.”
Babe Ruth: Ruth hit 714 home runs; however, he struck out 1,330 times – also a record.
Colonel Harlan Sanders – Sanders turned sixty-five, received his first retirement check, and realized that he couldn’t live on it. It took more than two years of endlessly calling on restaurants before experiencing his first acceptance of his ‘finger-lickin-good’ recipe.
These four men failed prodigiously; however, they were not failures. All were ultimately winners…because they were willing to fail! They had unusually high failure quotients. This is defined as the number of times a person is willing to fail before succeeding.
Let’s look more closely at failure. It consists of the following five levels:
Level 1 – The Ability to Fail: Everyone has this ability. Most people stay at Level 1 in order to avoid any type of failure. Eighty percent of people never progress beyond this point. It’s too comfortable!
Level 2 – Willingness to Fail: Here, we exhibit a limited willingness to fail, one driven by acceptance of failure as a natural outgrowth of seeking success. Fewer than twenty percent make it to this level.
Level 3 – Wantingness to Fail: Wantingness takes us beyond acceptance. Wantingness involves the desire to fail…understanding that personal and financial growth will follow. Fewer than five percent arrive here.
Level 4 – Failing Bigger and Faster: Here, we realize that if failing is good, then failing faster is better…and…that we should pursue BIG, worthy goals. Think more calls on larger clients.
Level 5 – Failing Exponentially: This is the level for individuals who understand that massive success requires a multiplication of effort. If individual failure translates into individual success, group failure evolves into group success!
Be it sales or any other worthwhile life endeavor, we must be willing to fail…to take a chance…if we want to succeed.
Success is not final, failure is not final: it is the
courage to continue that counts. -Winston Churchill
The State Bank of Cross Plains is an independent community bank with offices in Black Earth, Cross Plains, Madison, Middleton, Mt. Horeb, Oregon, Verona, and Waunakee. Dan joined the State Bank of Cross Plains in 1999 and is responsible for its Wealth Management and Financial Advisory Divisions. He is a frequent guest article contributor and we appreciate his insights and advice.
“KASH”ing In With New Habits
Are you working to incorporate new skills and sales disciplines? You’ve probably heard the “21-Day Rule” which says that you need to be able to do something daily for at least 21-days before it becomes a habit. So let’s say you are working on doing more proactive calling on your customers or prospects. This means that every day you’d block out a specific period of time on your schedule and make proactive calls. That sounds easy, right? Well, sort of. The good news is that making the commitment to block out the time and then making the calls is the easy part. Continuing this new habit for 21 days is certainly challenging. Now for the “bad” news: Recent studies have found that in order to engrain a new habit you must actually practice it for anywhere from 18 to 254 days, with 66 days being the average. So, don’t be too hard on yourself if after the first three-weeks of blocking out time and making calls, you still have to think about it and give yourself a little pep talk.
You may find great value in the KASH (Knowledge/Attitude/ Skill Habit) model for successfully learning and applying new skills. Keep in mind that peak performers spend a greater percentage of their day in activities that matter and underperformers spend a greater percentage of their day in meaningless, busy work activities. Be on the lookout for any tendency you have to be engaged in “off-task” activities during the time you’ve committed to doing your proactive calling.
- Ask your supervisor/sales coach to help you SKILLFULLY IMPLEMENT more of what you know. Ask him/her to do some pre-call planning and role playing with you.
- Tell your co-workers when you’ve scheduled your proactive calling time and ask them to politely “call you out” if they see you engaged in anything other than proactive calling.
- It isn’t “good” or “bad”—it is belief in one’s self and ability to do the task at hand that’s important. Once again, pre-call planning and post-call review are critical in helping to hone your skills and develop confidence. If you have a call that doesn’t go well, ask your sales coach to debrief with you. Perhaps he/she can give you some additional insights into ways to handle similar situations.
- There also a saying that “practice makes perfect” but this too is a myth. If one is doing something over and over (practice), but they are doing it inaccurately, inefficiently or without appropriate focus, the “practice” isn’t helpful as it engrains behaviors that are counter-productive. However, perfect practice does make perfect as those behaviors that are useful and productive become engrained. Don’t leave it to “trial and error” and guard against developing bad habits.
- What percentage of your day is spent doing the things that really matter?
- One of the easiest ways to develop new business is by developing more business with existing customers. The habit of regular, proactive calling is guaranteed to help you develop new business.
KASH is great for helping you understand what you need from your sales coach to help you build your skills and engrain sales disciplines.
Old Recruiters’ Tales. What You’ve Heard About Executive Recruiters that You Shouldn’t Necessarily Believe…
by Paul Dean ret. Executive Recruiting
You’ve heard of “Old Wive’s Tales.” There are many misconceptions about Executive Recruiting that our Executive Recruiting Group would like to put to rest. Here are a few:
TALE #1: USING EXECUTIVE RECRUITERS IS TOO EXPENSIVE
Our clients find that in most cases, our services are generally more cost-efficient for finding quality candidates than having to handle such a challenge on their own. When the time spent in locating qualified candidates, doing the initial telephone screenings and the hard costs are aggregated we are confident that we will be more cost effective. Our total approach to the Executive Search function can help you to find the best candidates (who may not be perusing the classified ads or the internet search sites) quickly and at a reasonable price.
TALE # 2: EXECUTIVE RECRUITERS DON’T KNOW ABOUT MY BUSINESS
This could be accurate with some other recruiting organizations, but our group is staffed by Trust and Banking Professionals who have direct and significant industry experience. We will help you to identify what experience and qualifications you desire and set up a series of screening interview questions with your input so your valuable time is not wasted in talking with obviously unqualified candidates. And, we have an extensive network built over more than 30 years that enables us to target the appropriate candidates for your needs. We stand, ready, willing and able to guide you through the entire hiring process.
TALE #3: EXECUTIVE RECRUITERS ARE LIKE A CAR SALESPERSON…THEY ARE ONLY INTERESTED IN MAKING THE SALE
Again, with some organizations this could be accurate. However, our recruiting group is focused on building lasting client relationships by finding the candidates who best fit your needs and will add value to your organization on a long term basis. As many trust managers know, keeping the business is easier than getting the business.
TALE #4: WITH A BAD ECONOMY, RECRUITERS DON’T SEEM TO BE A VIABLE RESOURCE FOR MY NEEDS
On the contrary, bad economy or not, there will be some staffing needs you will need to meet due to people leaving, key officers retiring, or the need to maintain an appropriate level of service/ product quality. Our comprehensive approach of assisting in identifying your needs, locating suitable candidates, and various screening mechanisms will help you to add quality staff quickly and cost effectively so that your growth plans are not derailed.
As we all know, during downsizings some competent and qualified individuals are released together with the “deadbeats.” Having built up an extensive network over the last 30 years, we can oftentimes do “behind the scenes” informal background checks. We all know how costly a “bad hire” can be, don’t we?
TALE #5: WHAT IS THIS “OTHER JOB MARKET” THAT RECRUITERS HAVE ACCESS TO???
Many times the best candidate for your needs is not currently looking for a new job or would prefer to discreetly test the market via working through a recruiter. Our contact network represents an ongoing work in progress and many years of sharing information with “A”-listed candidates in the industry. This allows us to present candidates who would not normally respond to ads or send resumes.
Every hiring manager makes an investment whenever adding to staff. The hope is with any new hire that they will become a resource and add value both today and in the future. Why don’t you consider Pohl Consulting and Training, Inc. as your staffing advisor? We will help you to find the best people to get the best results!
A Legal and Compliant Christmas Story
Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter “the House”) a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to, a mouse.
A variety of foot apparel, e.g. stocking, socks, etc., had been affixed by and around the chimney in said House in the hope and/or belief that St. Nick a/k/a/ St. Nicholas a/k/a/ Santa Claus (hereinafter “Claus”) would arrive at sometime thereafter.
The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned House were located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein vision of confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear in said dreams.
Whereupon the party of the first part (sometimes hereinafter referred to as “I”), being the joint-owner in fee simple of the House with the parts of the second part (hereinafter “Mamma”), and said Mamma had retired for a sustained period of sleep. (At such time, the parties were clad in various forms of headgear, e.g. kerchief and cap.)
Suddenly, and without prior notice or warning, there did occur upon the unimproved real property adjacent and apparent to said House, i.e. the lawn, a certain disruption of unknown nature, cause and/or circumstance. The party of the first part did immediately rush to a window in the House to investigate the cause of such disturbance.
At that time, the party of the first part did observe, with some degree of wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh (hereinafter “the Vehicle”) being pulled and/or drawn very rapidly through the air by approximately eight (8) reindeer. The driver of the Vehicle appeared to be and in fact was, the previously referenced Claus.
Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and guidance to the approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically indentified the animal co-conspirators by name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen (hereinafter “the Deer”). (Upon information and belief, it is further asserted an additional co-conspirator named “Rudolph” may have been involved.)
The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the Deer intentionally and willfully trespass upon the roofs of several residences located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the House, and noted that the Vehicle was heavily laden with packages, toys and other items of unknown origin or nature. Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either express or implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered said House via the chimney.
Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit, which was partially covered with residue from the chimney, and he carried a large sack containing a portion of the aforementioned packages, toys, and other unknown items. He was smoking what appeared to be tobacco in a small pipe in blatant violation of local ordinances and health regulations.
Claus did not speak, but immediately began to fill the stocking of the minor children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with toys and other small gifts. (Said items did not, however, constitute “gifts” to said minor pursuant to the applicable provisions of the U.S. Tax Code.)
Upon completion of such task, Claus touched the side of his nose and flew, rose and/or ascended up the chimney of the House to the roof where the Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as “lookouts.” Claus immediately departed for an unknown destination.
However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus from said House, the party of the first part did hear Claus state and/or exclaim:
“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!” Or words to that effect.
The Last Word
with LOYD POHL
I should first say that I am not a huge baseball fan. I do enjoy an occasional Cubs game but I don’t pay much attention to the league. A friend in our industry turned me on to the book “Moneyball” and then the movie which is now being played frequently on one or more of the cable channels.
The premise – based on a true story – is that by recruiting and coaching based on the numbers (metrics) you can be more successful than basing your decision on other “more traditional” factors. One point you may not pick up the first time you watch the movie is that you have to really understand which metrics matter – it isn’t always the metrics that you traditionally might think that matter the most. Another point that is not as clear the first time you watch the movie is the point I made earlier – coach against the right numbers. Another point it took me a couple viewings to notice is that they didn’t invent or create metrics – every data point they used was available in their industry.
There are two areas of our world where this intersects. The first is sales and sales management. The point of looking at the right metrics has been a theme in our sales management programs for a long time. It the last issue, I suggested a coaching focus with a struggling sales person might be “the second call.” We have had some fun trying to convince sales managers that you can’t coach to a sales result – you can only coach to activities. Just make sure you are coaching to the right activities. Same way with service – remember a diatribe of mine from about a year ago when I said I hate the word “service” as a way to differentiate yourself. The reason is that it is too often just a word not backed up by service-based metrics.
Another intersection between Moneyball and our world is in departmental or organizational performance-based metrics. What are the Leading Indicators versus Results? One mistake people make is confusing the two – both ways. Results are the true financial results from your organization – basically revenue growth and profitability. Everything else is a Leading Indicator. Leading Indicators are the metrics that you should be managing to. Do you know the leading indicators in your department that lead to the results you need?
To what numbers do you manage in your department? Do you have the right numbers available to manage? Do you have benchmarking data to know what a peer or top performing peer might be accomplishing? Do you have enough data to be able to understand why your results are what they are?
Lots of questions. I suggest you read or watch Moneyball. Then revisit the scorecards you use, the dashboards you use, the metrics your sales people report, the metrics you coach against and then call us!