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The Best Leaders Grow Their People

August 30th, 2019

By: Karen Colligan

“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

I often talk about how important it is for leaders to continue to grow and develop. And…it’s also important to grow 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

-Creativity

-People management

-Coordinating with others

-Emotional intelligence

-Judgment and decision making

-Service orientation

-Negotiation

-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,

Karen

Engagement, Leadership, learning and development, People, Professional development

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Soft Skills Win in the Race for Job Success!

August 28th, 2019

By: Karen Colligan

Think about this: 85% of job success is due to having well-developed soft skills, and only 15% is due to technical, or hard skills.  This is from Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and the Stanford Research Center.

It amazes me that despite this research, organizations (and individuals) still tend to focus on developing hard skills. In 2010, employers spent $171.5 billion on employee training and only 27.6% of those training dollars went toward soft skills, according to the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

It’s time to put more of our dollars and development efforts where they really count. In our increasingly global, dynamic and service-oriented way of working, organizations need leaders, teams and individual contributors who have the personal behaviors and interpersonal skills that will help them grow and thrive.

So what are those skills?  In my work with organizations to create leadership and employee development initiatives, these are the 10 soft skills/behaviors (in alpha order) that leaders most often tell me they need in their people.

Collaboration – the ability to meld ideas and share credit with others.

Creativity – initiating new approaches to projects, solving problems, etc.

Effective communication – clear and concise speaking and writing paired with active listening.

Emotional intelligence – self-aware and sensitive to others, empathetic.

Flexibility – adaptable to change.

Growth mindset – recognizing they don’t know it all. Being willing to learn.

Leadership – the ability to lead, even without the title.

Reliability – do what you say you’re going to do by when you say you’re going to do it.

Resilience – the ability to continue pursuing the goal despite roadblocks and challenges.

Teamwork – sharing the work and supporting others toward a common goal.

Organizations who want to remain competitive and individuals who want to increase their marketability would do well to put more emphasis on identifying gaps in these skills and then creating a comprehensive development plan to close those gaps.

One of the best ways to identify gaps is through a behavioral assessment. The one I use with leaders, teams and individuals is Lumina Spark.  Lumina Spark is a state-of-the-art psychometric assessment that provides a framework to help people achieve better self-awareness and learn how to improve their working relationships with others.

Check out the Lumina Spark fact sheet and then contact me to learn how PeopleThink can help your organization build its people capability.

Till next time,

Karen

Career, learning and development, Professional development

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Sink or Swim is NOT Leadership Development!

August 12th, 2019

By: Karen Colligan

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 leadership development 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 7th, preceded by:

Ethics and integrity

Communicates effectively

Drives for results/motivation to succeed

Flexibility/adaptability

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 requires coaching and support.  People leaders need to learn how to identify individual strengths, motivators, skill gaps, personalities and how individuals work together as a team. They need to be accountable not just for their work but for the work of others. And they need support with the challenge that many internally promoted leaders face – transitioning from peer to leader.

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?

Till next time,

Karen

Leadership, leadership development, Professional development

Transitioning from Peer to Leader

July 16th, 2019

By: Karen Colligan

Kudos to the companies that promote from within. Leveraging internal talent is a great way to keep employees engaged and to prevent a vast and valuable source of company knowledge from walking out the door.

Yet all too often employees are promoted internally to leadership roles without the benefit of the leadership training to help them succeed. This is critical. Especially for those employees who transition from coworker to team leader. Not only do they have to learn their new responsibilities as a people leader, they may have to deal with resentment from their former teammates who didn’t get the job.

Sound familiar? If this is something you’re experiencing, here are some tips.

Start by building trust. You may be following in the footsteps of someone everyone loved, in which case the expectation will be that things remain the same. Or you may be following someone who wasn’t popular (or got fired) and the expectation will be that things will change immediately. Give yourself some time to assess the team and get established in your new role before making any changes (or not!)

Meet one-on-one with each direct report. Spend the majority of your time listening – to their updates, their concerns, their ideas. Ask about specific areas where they need your support. Summarize what they’ve said so they know you were really listening. Keep it positive. Express a particular contribution that that individual makes to the team. Share how you want to lead. Ask about their career aspirations. Help them see you in a new light – as a leader, coach, visionary.

Hold an initial team meeting. Reintroduce yourself in your new role. Share your values, how you like to operate, and the best way to communicate with you. Convey confidence. Address ideas that came up in the one-on-one meetings (again, demonstrating that you were really listening). Enlist the team’s support in collaboratively creating guiding principles for how you will work together effectively.

Address any resentment – swiftly and privately. If you sense resentment from a team member, meet with them privately to discuss the issue. Acknowledge their feelings, and…be clear that you are counting on them to continue to be a contributor to the team effort. Mutually define the best way to work together effectively going forward.

Be prepared not to be liked by everyone. Your relationships have shifted. You are now in a position of writing a review for someone who may be a personal friend. Their lax attitude toward work may not have mattered when you were “buddies,” but it will definitely matter when you are responsible for the team. Just sayin’.

Be a leader more than a manager. It’s tempting to go overboard in “managing” at the beginning to differentiate yourself from the team. Don’t. You have the advantage of, having worked with them, knowing their strengths. Empower them to use those strengths. Let them know you are there to help when they need it. Coach them. Make sure every team member feels valued, connected, challenged and recognized.

And most of all, communicate, communicate, communicate!

Till next time,

Karen

 

Leadership, leadership development, New leaders, Professional development

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Effective Leaders Develop Their People

July 26th, 2018

By: Karen Colligan

“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:


  1. Complex problem solving

  2. Critical thinking

  3. Creativity

  4. People management

  5. Coordinating with others

  6. Emotional intelligence

  7. Judgment and decision making

  8. Service orientation

  9. Negotiation

  10. Cognitive flexibility


  11. 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,

    Karen

     

     

    Development, Engagement, Leadership, Professional development, Teams

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Get Real About Getting Ready for What’s Next

January 26th, 2018

By: Karen Colligan

ProfDev-4

You’re in a job you like, you can do it almost on autopilot, and your performance reviews are stellar. No need to update your skills, right? Wrong!

Or…you’re in a job you hate, but, “it’s a job” and you are so overworked or busy trying to keep that job that you have no time to even THINK about what’s next, let alone PREPARE for it. There’s just no way, right? Wrong!

Whether you like your job or hate it, keeping your skills and knowledge up-to-date and preparing for what’s next is a must. Here’s a “get real” process to help you get started.

Conduct an inventory. Look at your last performance review. Make a list of both strengths and development areas. Then think about what you want to do next. If you are currently working and want to progress on your career path, what skills and knowledge will you need to get to the next level? Add these to your list. If you are looking for a new opportunity, what are the requirements of your target position? Which of those requirements are you lacking? Add these to your list.

Create a personal development plan. Select one or two areas from your inventory that you will focus on in the next three months. Do some research to find resources to help you develop in those areas. Remember, learning doesn’t only occur in the classroom. Create specific development actions for each skill/knowledge area. Don’t forget to include target dates on your plan!

Execute the plan. Post your plan somewhere visible – your calendar, your refrigerator, your desktop. Stay focused! Concentrate on the one or two areas you’ve prioritized – don’t get distracted by the other areas on your inventory list. You can work on them in your next plan. Take a melting pot approach. Keep your eyes and ears open for articles, blogs by experts, presentations, webinars, etc., on your focus areas. Learning comes in many forms, from many places. Capture it! Be accountable and/or enlist someone’s help to keep you accountable. Reward yourself for completing your development goals.

Update your resume/personal “infomercial.” When you have gained proficiency in the skill/knowledge area, add it to your resume, if appropriate. Practice incorporating your new knowledge/skill into your interview discussions. Blend it into the evolving “you.”

Review, revisit, and revise the plan. Spend some time reviewing your plan and how it worked. Did you set reasonable goals? Were the resources worthwhile? Did you find additional/alternate ones you’ll use next time? Revisit your inventory. What are the skills/knowledge areas you’re going to work on next? Create and execute a revised personal development plan that reflects your new focus areas and development goals.

Putting a plan in place to continually add to your abilities and knowledge is an investment that will keep your market value on an upward trend. And…you never know when that golden opportunity will come along. Be prepared!

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” - Chinese proverb

Till next time,
Karen

Career planning, learning and development, Personal development, Professional development

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