“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” - Former CEO of GE, Jack Welch
In my last blog, I talked about the importance of your continuing to grow and develop as a leader. Now let’s talk about the importance of growing and developing your people. Both are essential if you want to prepare your organization to succeed today and into the future.
Employees need to feel valued, connected, challenged and recognized. Providing them with opportunities to build on their strengths, learn new skills and prepare for the future needs of the company demonstrates in a very real way that they are integral to the organization and its success. And when employees feel that kind of connection they will be more engaged and loyal.
Employee development can happen in many different forms: on-the-job training, personal development, cross-functional projects, coach and/or mentor, special projects, stretch assignments, training courses, reading and personal study, online courses, peer coaching, job shadowing, etc. The important thing is that it is available and encouraged.
Too often development opportunities are limited to “fixing” an employee’s weaknesses rather than leveraging and developing their strengths. Yet, according to Gallup, organizations that focus on employee strengths have higher engagement, less turnover and a better bottom line.
Create development plans that take into consideration organization goals and the skills and behaviors employees will need to contribute to achieving those goals. It’s also essential that individual employee career goals and personal interests be taken into account in development plans. All too often employees have skills and talents that are under-utilized. In fact, 74% of employees feel that they are not reaching their full potential. (The Learning Wave)
Also consider the skills and behaviors employees will need in the future to succeed (yes, even if it’s not in your organization). According to a report from the World Economic Forum, the top 10 skills in 2020 will be:
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking
- People management
- Coordinating with others
- Emotional intelligence
- Judgment and decision making
- Service orientation
- Cognitive flexibility
Creating, implementing and supporting development plans for your employees will not only help keep them loyal and engaged, it will ensure that your organization is ready for the challenges and opportunities of the future.
"The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay." - Henry Ford
Till next time,
Eighty-four percent of organizations anticipate a shortfall of leaders in the next five years, according to a State of Leadership Development report by Brandon Hall. And a nearly equal number (83%) say that it’s important to develop leaders at all levels. Yet here’s the thing. Only 5% have actually implemented leadership development at all levels. In fact, the biggest chunk of money spent on leadership development goes toward senior leaders and executives, instead of to those who need it most – first time, frontline leaders. All too often these new leaders are put in a “sink or swim” situation, thrown into the deep end of leading a team and left to figure out for themselves how to stay afloat.
This is both unfair to the new leader and detrimental to the organization.
Most people are promoted into their first leadership role as a result of their high performance as an individual contributor and/or because of their technical skills. Yet what helped them succeed as an individual, will not necessarily contribute to their success as a people leader – where the challenges and responsibilities require a different set of skills. Without some sort of development opportunity early on in their transition from individual performer to leader, new leaders may simply mimic the behaviors of a leader they’ve had in the past, and not necessarily a good one. And those behaviors, once ingrained, are difficult to change.
A survey of HR leaders and practitioners conducted by the Human Capital Institute (HCI) found that “the sink or swim mindset toward new managers is ubiquitous.” In that survey, respondents were asked to rank the must-have skills for frontline managers in order of importance. Technical expertise was ranked as Number 7, preceded by:
- Ethics and integrity
- Communicates effectively
- Drives for results/motivation to succeed
- Develops effective teams
- Maintains relationships with internal stakeholders
While some of these skills might be inherent in a new leader, being able to apply them effectively while adapting to leading people – understanding individual strengths, motivators, skill gaps, personalities and how those individuals work together as a team, being accountable not just for their work but for the work of others – requires coaching and support. Not to mention the challenge that many internally promoted leaders face – transitioning from buddy to boss.
New leader training needs to be a key component of every organization’s learning and development plan. And it should not be just a one-day event around policies, performance reviews and disciplinary actions. It needs to be structured in a way that gives participants time to apply their learning, receive feedback, and get the ongoing support necessary (mentoring, coaching) to grow into the next line of senior leaders and executives.
Managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement. Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity.
One last startling factoid for you from that Brandon Hall Report: More money is spent on leadership development than any other area of corporate training, yet 71% of organizations do not feel their leaders are able to lead their organization into the future.
Doesn't it make sense to take the time to effectively develop leaders from the very beginning?
For more on this topic, check out my podcast: Sink or Swim is NOT Leadership Development.
Till next time,
I heard a rather startling statistic the other day – since 2010 traffic on Bay Area freeways has increased by 80%. The bad news is that it’s taking longer to get where you’re going. The good news is that people are working – the job market is healthy again. This means that employers can no longer be complacent when it comes to keeping their people.
Let’s talk about how you can get them to stay. Employees need to feel valued, connected, challenged and recognized. They want to use their strengths – every day - and know that they’re contributing to the success of the organization. They also want to have time to spend with their families and/or to pursue interests outside of work. And they want to be fairly compensated for the work they do. It’s not rocket science.
Help your employees feel valued by communicating how their goals align with team and organizational goals. Provide them with opportunities to build on their strengths, learn new skills and prepare for the future needs of the company. Development can happen in many different forms: on-the-job training, personal development, cross-functional projects, coach and/or mentor, special projects, stretch assignments, training courses, reading and personal study, online courses, peer coaching, job shadowing… The important thing is that it is available and encouraged.
Help them feel connected by communicating with them regularly about what’s going on in the company. Provide opportunities for employees to connect and build relationships with one another, not through forced team events, but more naturally through spaces to gather and cross-functional team projects.
Do you have career roadmaps and succession plans in place? If not, what are you waiting for? Help your employees feel challenged by communicating the next level in their career path and what they need to do to get there. Give them temporary assignments that will stretch their skills and comfort level.
Recognize their efforts by saying “thank you” early and often. Don’t wait until review time to tell them what a good job they’re doing. And be specific – what was the situation, what did they do, and what was the impact. Applaud the behavior you want to see repeated and emulated.
Organizations need to acknowledge that their people are the lifeblood of the business. Don’t take your employees for granted. As the economy continues to improve and there are options for them elsewhere, you want to keep those employees in your organization. Find creative ways to develop and challenge them. Let them know they are valued, and that they are a critical component to the business moving forward. Build succession plans to ensure that your bench strength is available and ready to grow the business.
“Connect the dots between individual roles and the goals of the organization. When people see that connection, they get a lot of energy out of work. They feel the importance, dignity, and meaning in their job.” – Ken Blanchard
Till next time,
One of the most satisfying aspects of the work I do is helping other women create a strategy to achieve their business or career goals, keeping them accountable, and then seeing them attain those goals. As I like to say, women supporting other women – just as it oughta be.
In my last blog on this topic I talked about tips for women entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses. This time I’d like to share some tips for women who want to grow their careers in the corporate environment. (Men, these tips will work for you, too!)
First of all, it’s important to understand that you are in charge of your own destiny. You need to keep an open mind, be curious, and get really clear about what YOU want for your life and career, and stop listening to those voices telling what you “should want.” Remember the old saying, “if you don’t know where you’re going any road will get you there.”
Assess where you are. When you’ve decided what you want, take inventory. What skills do you have, what skills do you need? How will you attain those skills? What are your values and interests? What are some internal blocks or other obstacles that have held you back so far in your career?
Understand trends. Bersin by Deloitte recently published a research report about HR and talent in 2017. Here are a few of their predictions based on trends they saw.
-Organizational design will be challenged everywhere. Organizations have to be able to “focus on customer-centric learning, experimentation, and time to market.” Functional groups should be organized into teams that are “smaller, flatter, and more empowered. Leaders should focus more on hands-on leadership, and less on leadership from behind a desk.”
-Culture and engagement will remain top priorities. Deloitte research shows that “86% of business leaders rate “culture” as one of the more urgent talent issues, yet only 14% understand what the right culture is.”
-Human performance and well-being will become a critical part of HR, talent and leadership. Employee engagement levels have not improved in the past 10 years, productivity is down, and U.S. workers take 4 to 5 fewer vacation days today than they did in 1998.
What opportunities do you see in these predictions based on your skills, experience and competencies?
Assemble your supporters. Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Wealth Management, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley, talks about 3 important people you need to cultivate to help advance your career: an advisor, a mentor, and a sponsor. Their roles are different.
Your advisor is there to help you understand who’s who in the organization, provide context about the way things are done, and answer the “dumb questions” you think you should already know the answer to. Your mentor is the one you share your hopes and dreams with. Maybe they’re already doing what you want to do and can share how they got there. Or maybe they’re in a different organization, but know you well and can give you honest feedback and advice. You can tell your mentor both the good and the bad stuff. The sponsor plays a different role altogether. This is the person – maybe someone on the senior management team – who advocates for you when you are not in the room. This is the person you share only the good stuff with.
Learn continuously. Not just to attain the skills to achieve your current goal, but also so that you are always ready for the next opportunity. As we all know, the world changes at a rapid pace. The job or skill “de jour” may not be needed in a year or two. Keep up to date on technology, pursue new interests, read, network, stay informed about what’s going on in the world around you. Many have watched their careers go adrift because they failed to do this.
Give back. As you move ahead in your career, never forget how you got there. Be willing to be a mentor or advocate for those in whom you see potential. Give honest productive feedback. Help others avoid the bumps you had along the road. Be willing to give informational interviews.
And, of course, don’t stop believin’.
Till next time,
Last week I attended the SheEO Activation Summit, in Denver. SheEO World is a nonprofit organization that brings together women entrepreneur investors who provide no-interest loans, plus mentoring and coaching to other women who are building their businesses. Women supporting women. Just as it oughta be - #RadicalGenerosity.
Between 2007 and 2016 the number of women-owned businesses in the US increased by 45%, according to a report commissioned by American Express. Compare this to just a 9% increase in all businesses during the same time period. The 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the US employ nearly 9 million people, and generate more than $1.6 trillion in revenues. Since 2007, employment in women-owned businesses has increased by 18%. Employment among all businesses, on the other hand, has declined by 1%. We women are pretty amazing!
Not only that, women entrepreneurs are happier. According to a 2013 report on global entrepreneurship, American women entrepreneurs “rank their well-being higher than other women in the US, higher than women entrepreneurs in other countries, and higher than men.”
Yet here’s the startling reality. Despite the fact that over the past 10 years the number of women-owned businesses has grown at 5 times the national average, only 4% of venture capital goes to women. Only 19% of business news content mentions firms led by women.
Most of us who go into business for ourselves do so because we want to pursue our area of expertise without the constraints of corporate ladders and company politics. We want to be more in control of our time and our future. What we discover, though, is that in addition to pursuing our strength, we also need to manage other parts of the business that may not be a strength (or that we just don’t like doing) e.g., the finances, business planning/strategy, marketing, selling, record keeping, HR, etc. Getting to that position where you can afford to hire others to do those things while you focus on your strength is one of the biggest challenges of entrepreneurship.
The good news is, you don’t have to figure this out on your own. This is where women supporting other women comes in. If you are a woman planning to start a business, wanting to grow your business, or feeling you need to make some changes in your business, here are some tips for moving forward.
Start your own personal Board of Directors. Gather a small group of other women entrepreneurs who will commit to meeting on a regular basis to share ideas, discuss strategy, give feedback (and yes, hold each other accountable!) Need help getting started? My personal Board and I have a “how to” book coming out soon: The AdviseHERy Board. We’ll announce publication on Facebook (like PeopleThink to be in the know!)
Find a mentor. Think about someone you know through your personal or professional network who is farther along in their business, and whom you admire. Invite them to coffee to seek their advice on a particular topic and to explore whether a mentoring relationship would be a mutual fit.
Leverage available resources. The Small Business Administration has lots of information and tutorials about starting a business and also offers business loans. Also, SCORE, a nonprofit organization that offers workshops and business advice for entrepreneurs, has chapters all over the country.
Join a women’s entrepreneurial group. Network with other women entrepreneurs, in groups like SheEO World, Watermark, Astra - Women’s Business Alliance, and NAWBO. Also, check your local Chamber of Commerce to see whether they have a women’s networking group.
Stay focused and ignore the naysayers! Yes, there are a variety of challenges in starting and running your own business, and…the rewards are so worth it! Just. Keep. Going.
And remember as you navigate the entrepreneurial landscape to turn around and help the women coming behind you. Women supporting women. Just as it oughta be.
“If you get, give. If you learn, teach.” – Maya Angelou
Till next time,
If you’re like most of us, you’ve been glued over the past couple of weeks (at least for short periods) to the televised coverage of the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Those athletes were amazing. Such focus. Such dedication. Such grit.
Speaking of grit, I recently read Angela Duckworth’s best-selling book, Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance, and I was thinking about it a lot as I heard different athletes share their journey to Olympic competition. “Sacrifices,” “hard work,” “perseverance,” “goals.” Those words were common threads in the conversation. Along the way…they fell down, they got up. They lost a competition, they worked harder for the next one. They got injured, they healed, and got right back in the game. So much of what I heard and observed resonated with what Duckworth describes as “grit.” She says:
“It is not just about luck, opportunity, and talent – it is about the quality and quantity of engagement.” There are a lot of talented athletes, but they don’t all make it to the Olympics.
“You have to have stamina and stick to it for years.” “Grit is a marathon not a sprint.” Most Olympians have been working toward their Olympic dream since childhood.
“We need to have a Deliberate Practice – engage in one small thing at a time and give it 100% full concentration. Get feedback – what went well and what do you need to do better? Make adjustments by refining and reflecting accordingly.” Sacrifice, hard work, perseverance, goals. And coaching!
So what does this mean for us non-Olympians – in our jobs, in our businesses, in our lives? Few of us can afford to be quite so single-minded, and within a business organization the drive to compete does not always sit well. As Daniel Goleman said in his blog, The Trouble with Grit, “People who are driven toward high achievement can be fantastic individual contributors in an organization, to be sure. But if that’s their only strength, they will be miserable team members and atrocious leaders.” He also points out the importance of balancing grit with people skills. “Cultivate relationship skills, starting with empathy. Lacking empathy, a high-grit go-getter cares not at all about how his or her driving ambition impacts those around them…There’s nothing wrong with grit per se, just balance it with some emotional intelligence.”
Still, I think that taking some of the concepts from Grit can help us all no matter what we are doing or where we are in our lives – student, worker, athlete. When I think about grit, I think about my parents and what they taught me – you work hard and do your absolute best. You will fall down. Grit is about getting up time and time again and forging ahead. It’s about not allowing other people or circumstances to stop your progress.
Thanks, Mom and Dad.
Till next time,