Simple Ways to Give Difficult Feedback
Most leaders are comfortable giving negative feedback to employees. The fear of hurting people’s feelings and dealing with potential drama holds them back. But most of their staff want to get more feedback from their managers, which is why giving it early and regularly is critical.
Respectful, direct feedback costs nothing but makes big improvement in individual and team productivity. Right f...Read more
Two Interviewing Tips to Help You Get Past Canned Responses
During interviews, candidates often give rehearsed responses. Try these techniques to probe past their canned answers.
1. On-the-spot interview coaching is a simple way to get your candidate to open up and answer your questions more thoroughly. Give the person a coaching directive, such as “Let’s change the question. How would your staff describe your leadership style?” This strategy ena...Read more
Reinvention of Performance Management
Most managers and their staff have long viewed the annual ritual of performance appraisals as time consuming, excessively subjective, demotivating, and unhelpful to driving performance. Employees often struggle with their ratings, stress about compensation, and try to make sense of the subjective performance feedback.
Leading organizations like GE, Deloitte, Accenture, Adobe, Microsoft, and man...Read more
How Executive Coaching Creates Business Value
In absence of ROI based measures for success of coaching, we need to assess its value with qualitative data. In a way, the market has spoken. Many of the world’s most admired corporations, from General Electric to Goldman Sachs, invest in executive coaching of their leaders and potential leaders.
It is remarkable how many smart, highly motivated managers rarely pause to contemplate their own ...Read more
Question: Best Questions to Ask Employers During an Interview
1. What does success and excellent performance look like in this position? (gives you a good idea of what is expected of you in order to be recognized)
2. To what extent is creativity encouraged and rewarded (does this company want a person to just carry out the way they have determined to do the job or are they always looking for new thinking and innovation?)
3. Given my background and prov...Read more
Question: Hiring first employees for a start-up
First and foremost ... FLEXIBILITY. A new company in unable to strictly define how much time will be spent doing various tasks related to the new organization. Although one does want to hire a variety of knowledge and strengths that they know they will require, they can ill-afford to hire those who are rigid in terms of what they are willing to do. Often-time the greatest success of a launch t...Read more
Question: Asking for a raise
The people who ask for and are most likely to receive a raise follow these simple and straight-forward steps:
1. Ideally, at the time of this year's review and increase they ask the 'boss' what are the goals for me and my position that will enhance my value and warrant an salary increase and even a promotion next year?
2. If they didn't clarify this 'last' year and their review is forthcoming, ...Read more
Question: Interviewing techniques for business owners
In working within companies of all sizes as a business coach I have dealt with this challenge several times. I will respond to each question you have presented.
1. The interviewer(s) need to create a list of the qualities that you are looking to find. This is particularly important when you are small and in your case a startup. What are the specific responsibilities that go with the position a...Read more
Question: Common mistakes by first time leaders
As a certified leadership coach I encounter leaders who have been placed in a leadership role with limited experience or training as such. The biggest mistake I witness is when the individual interprets the role as being one in which they are expected to have all the answers and knowledge that those reporting to them have. They tend to think that to say "I don't know" or "explain that to me" i...Read more
Question: How can I grow my business efficiently?
I agree with Bill Fotsch's suggestions AND as a prelude I believe you want to identify what role/responsibilities you want to handle in the day to day operation of your job on the way to identifying the skills you need and want to hire. As the business leader you will be involved to some extent in every aspect of your business however by identifying the area of it in which you personally can be y...Read more
Question: What is the best way to negotiate the work commitment with a CEO?
It seems to me that the CEO has been very clear in regard to what is required of the person occupying the CFO position. Whereas it's flattering that he has identified you as the one he would like to consider for the job, the fact remains that to succeed in his eyes will require that you are prepared to devote yourself to the position and the company as he has outlined. With a plan to go public ...Read more
Question: Advice for a lame duck executive
I concur with many of the comments made by my 'mentors guild' associates. And the question I have for you to ponder is who has assigned to you the title of "lame duck"? I suggest that perhaps it is you who see yourself as such as I doubt the your current reports consider their boss as such thus giving them permission to stop listening, doing or following your leadership. They still report to yo...Read more
Question: Are micro-cultures in one organization a bad thing?
A terrific question and very much worth pondering as an organization. I applaud that you recognize this as something to consider and address.
In responding, my comments presume certain things:
1. the more recent acquisitions that have taken the company into different arenas representing diversification from your original manufacturing roots were all done for good reason. The fact that acqu...Read more
Question: Reporting to an overconfident boss
An interesting and challenging situation. It appears that of the 'overconfident boss' is playing the role of expert given his vast experience and clearly not utilizing the remainder of the senior management team to help steer and grow the company. And what a shame for I have too often witnessed this attitude as being the start of a down turn in business.
It is safe to imagine that the 'bos...Read more
Question: Practical advice for busy managers to coach their staff
What I read from your situation is that as a result of your pending retirement you have been advised to coach your staff. What I don't read is what the desired outcome is for that coaching. I would presume that the company will be replacing your role.
I agree with much of the suggestions that Michael Stratford has said above. Also, the head of the company needs to help define that desire out...Read more
Question: Difficulties in finding suitable mentors for emerging women leaders
Ok ... I admit it. I hesitated to respond until I sorted out your inquiry in terms of what it revealed about the existing attitudes toward women and accepting them in top leadership/management positions. What rings through to me is until your organization views these senior leader prospects as fully capable of carrying out those roles as they need to be performed and provided they choose to do s...Read more
Question: Addressing under-performance of a director
Both Michele and Roza have provided you with good directions. Often times the relationship between the board and the CEO and/or management team is ill-defined. And, perhaps because the board member in question is "deeply knowledgeable" with the industry, perhaps the role he is there to play has become fuzzy and he is taking liberties that go beyond his role as a board member. So there are sever...Read more
Question: Measuring effectiveness of the management team
I agree with Michael's response. The question, as you presented it, was undefined and thus the ratings are based on each way the respondent would have interpreted it. I do believe that it is very meaningful to ask a series of specific questions that are defined in the same way for all and then ask your team to provide their rating. And, presuming that you might still get a wide range of rating...Read more
Question: Promoting managerial diversity in a global organization
This is a fascinating inquiry. You ask "whether it would corrode team performance, to bring factors other than merit, to performance evaluation". Why would anyone be promoted into any position and especially one of management if they didn't merit that position based on their knowledge and skills?
I have definitely seen this addressed in an organization equivalent to yours. In fact, it was a purpo...Read more
Question: How do I overcome difficulty in managing older employees?
Joan (above) has asked some very good questions that are all worthy of examination. I too am curious to know how much of your interpretation of the situation is fact or assumed? I believe that going through the questions Joan posed to you will be of clear value in helping you move forward. Acting on what we know to be factual is always likely to deliver more successful outcomes.
With that sa...Read more
Question: Separating signal from noise in strategy discussions
As I read your situation as presented I get two distinct areas that deserve your focus. There is the one in which you review this past year in terms of how your achievement aligned with your vision of accomplishment for the year. Where did you exceed and where did you fall short. In each consideration, what is the learning that you want to carry forward of both a positive and negative nature th...Read more
Question: Long-term career coaching with a specific goal
Congratulations for taking the lead on your own climb. A terrific inquiry!
Granted I’m a business leadership coach and while every situation is not a ‘coaching’ ideal, I see your situation as a natural. In general, coaching pertains to helping the ‘client’ move from where they are to where they want to be. You have identified your goal in rather specific terms in the sense that you...Read more
Question: High-performing manager with behavioral issues
I agree that you have had good suggestions from my colleagues above. What strikes me is that although her output is timely and very dependable it doesn't speak to her team's output. That she experiences an high churn within her staff represents a large real and potential cost to the organization and it is important that you consider this when evaluating her value.
If one way we evaluate an e...Read more
Question: Dealing with a subordinate who does not respect lines of authority
You present an interesting situation and challenge. As a basis of my response, I am going to presume that your boss is willing to be supportive of your desire to be kept in the loop with this DR to the extent of asking if they have discussed the issue with you before taking their time to engage. If they haven't, the boss will refer them back to you.
I will also say that regardless of the number ...Read more
Question: Performance review with high-performers, without managerial skills
Based on what you've shared I respond by asking you a key question. Do you know that these individuals WANT to move into management or might that be something you presume they want to do? And even if they express a desire to move into that arena, it can be because they believe they should want to as so many others around them strive to do that.
In meeting with these individuals I would sugge...Read more
Question: How can chief executives source unbiased information
Let me address two areas in responding to your question.
1st ... there is more than one way to get the unbiased input you seek. what is the right one for your org. will be determined based on structure and how you access the 'outside of senior management team'. Some examples are:
~~~ establish an advisory council that is made up of people on the front lines (doing the nuts and bolts of the...Read more
Question: Public speaking to get the audience truly excited
I gather there's something about this particular presentation that has you concerned inasmuch as you have spoken before such a group previously. It's a good guess that the CEO has confidence that you are the right and the best one to be doing this and, if that is true, then use his confidence in you to allow yourself to have it ... in you.
I believe that Lenny (above) has said it well. You ne...Read more
Question: Persuading a reluctant professional to get coached
Your inquiry raises one important question to me. Does this person want a promotion? Or ... is it presumed by others that he MUST want this because he is so capable and doesn't everyone want to climb higher and higher up that ladder? I am confident that the answer is 'no'. Everyone does NOT want to keep climbing. In this person's case you indicate ... "His performance has been consistently of...Read more
Question: Transition from being a division head to being CEO
You've had numerous responses and most all have made good and valuable points. In reading your situation and your question/concern with reporting to a board one thought was front and center for me. Most likely, this is the same board who approved hiring you as the CEO. And it's safe to presume that this board did the vetting and related due diligence that would lead them to the person who they ...Read more
Question: Value of creativity in organizational leadership
I am curious to know if you have had discussion around this topic of increased responsibility and promotion with those to whom you report? As I have seen numerous times, it does take the guess work out of what those at the top want to see in you that would make them willing and interested in moving you into a greater and broader leadership role. This will definitely take the guess work out of figu...Read more
Question: How can we have candid discussions in our meetings?
You have received several good suggestions from my colleagues above. I suppose that how open the CEO will be to recognizing what has been created and the desire to change it would have something to do with how successful the approach has been for the organization. To elaborate ... if the CEO is right on and the lion's share of his/her opinions have been the right ones for the company, the motive...Read more
Question: Kickstarting a mentorship program
Several good suggestions made by my associate mentors above. To me, and at the risk of duplication, the following are key steps that will contribute to a successful program:
1. I would NOT suggest that you do this by division as a given. What is more important is that your 'beta' group be assembled because you believe all participants have the 'right' attitude and enthusiasm for what they ar...Read more
Question: Resolving conflict in the interests of end-customers and channel partners
If you are debating this issue as to the source that is your primary customer, you may be trying to make a decision that will not serve the company well. What happens if you look at this as if both are your primary customer? What would that lead you to do that you might well overlook if you pick one over the other.
From what you've said both are and should be in your focus and concern. the ...Read more
Question: Ensuring continued executive support in a long and difficult HR undertaking
What you have identified is a leadership project ... one that you, as HR, are responsible to oversee and execute. Viewing it as such, it is important that it be kept alive in terms of awareness of the progress you are making as you execute per your plan. Thus, providing updates to the team ( as a part of the meeting agenda) is important so that they are kept in the loop of the progress and disco...Read more
Question: Changing my team's perception of my behavior
Your experience reinforces the reality that when one holds a perception of another... one that could be based on just a first impression or several, it is not automatic or even easy to alter that perception. It just can take time.
Although you don't say, I would imagine that it might be just some of the direct reports who are holding on to their past experiences. And thus, you will potentially g...Read more
Question: Need for dynamic project risk assessments
The issue you describe is one that is typical when an organization continues to operate on the basis of what worked in the past during times of significant change. This is when they see decline and potentially significant damage to their business. What I get from your introduction is your awareness of the need to change and that's the important first step to pulling out of your current situation...Read more
Question: Resolving board conflict in a family business group
You've been given some very good advice by my fellow mentors. It appears that you are teetering between falling further or rising above what you have encountered during the past few challenging years. Your overcoming the situation today and reclaiming the driver's seat of your company is very much dependent on getting all of those on the board, for starters, on the same page as it pertains to t...Read more
Question: Making offsites more effective
Great question. What I believe you will accomplish is broadening the sense of ownership for the initiatives that you decide upon which always has advantages. I would like to make this suggestion however ...
Rather than bring the DRs in on the second day, bring them and their perspectives/ideas in on Day 1. Here are the potential benefits:
1. What you will achieve is moving into Day 2 wi...Read more
Question: Should we welcome back a former executive who left on bad terms?
You've received some very sound suggestions from my colleagues. I am inclined to offer questions to you as you consider the possibility of bringing John back into the organization.
1. John's past history at the company created a lot of unrest and dysfunction within the team. What are the possible
impacts of bringing him back … on the team and the organization … positive and negati...Read more
Question: Is transition in leadership team right time to reorganize?
Not only do I see this as the right moment ... I see this as a very wise move. It's a great opportunity to assemble the new team around the realities of the business today and going forward. You create an opportunity to involve your new leadership team (regardless of them being the newest of some carry-overs) in designing and aligning around the vision and related goals of where you want to go ...Read more
Question: How can a new team align its members for maximum effectiveness?
Much of my work as a business leadership coach has focused on team dynamics. The tendency is often to bring a team together and have them launch into the project without taking the time to build a 'success' foundation.
As others responding before me have indicated, to maximize success building a clear understanding of the project goals and the reason that each member of the team has been aske...Read more
Question: Finding a new core business
You have an interesting challenge that your organization is facing. In a sense, you are at square one in terms of what you want to be. In facilitating such discussions I have always found it extremely effective to take the group to dreamland ... the land of what's possible.
In doing this exercise, it is valuable and important that you NOT go into the planning of any of the ideas that are put fo...Read more
Question: Encouraging employees to think like business owners
Coincidentally, prior to my beginning my career as a certified coach I was at the helm of a larger travel organization. We too, sold the lion's share of the business and were now operating a much smaller organization. Based on my own experience I believe that your team of executive leaders will only be able to serve the new organization effectively if and when they adopt the mindset that is need...Read more
Question: Need guidance to become a more collaborative leader
You've received some very good suggestions and approaches from my colleagues. And implementing any of them is often the added challenge for it's a matter of YOU finding the best way for YOU to implement and accomplish them. I am a huge proponent of you working with a leadership coach to create your own plan of implementation. I strongly believe that doing so will greatly enhance your ability to...Read more
Question: How can the board help CEO develop new leadership talent as a process?
One thing I have always found interesting is the basis that many organizations ... and in your case, a board ... uses in hiring its c-level leaders. By backgrounds or experience in the industry or that company, they are often qualified. However a critically important aspect of the responsibilities is ability as a leader and too often that is given 'back-burner' attention. And, the effectivenes...Read more
Question: Ensuring merit-based entry into family business
A great question and there is a solution. As you are discovering, a family business is added challenge unless you take the time to address and establish policies to which ALL agree to adhere as it pertains to other family members entering the business. I see this situation often and here are the steps that success will require:
First, the challenge is getting all current members of the compan...Read more
Question: Role of diversity in leadership team
You have received several interesting answers and many valid points being made. In addition to these I believe that your first step must be for you, as the CEO, to become firmly set in YOUR answers of key foundational questions in order for you to determine if, when and why a cultural shift is ... or really isn't ... called for. These would include:
1. You say from time to time you make expens...Read more
Question: Dealing with a hyper-competitive colleague
Another member (above) has said it simply. This person and the full management team would benefit greatly by providing coaching for the new addition. She might well provide an added and even needed perspective to the team however it becomes her job to offer her thoughts and ideas to the mix without losing the willing participation of many others. Coaching is an effective way of making that happ...Read more
Question: How can I drive consensus in cross-functional projects?
Frankly, I believe that getting consensus and a common understanding of the project and the goal is extremely important to the success of your team. Best of all, it doesn't take 'that' much time. My experience when called upon to work with a team such as you describe is that taking this time on the front end is a time saver in the long run. The consensus I refer to is bringing about the followi...Read more
Question: Does using the same coach for all executives lead to cultural identity?
Great question at this early stage of your development! What is not unusual in many organizations is that those involved have said ‘yes’ to the idea, not all are at the same level of understanding of the process or what is involved in it and this creates some natural hesitance ... of the unknown. I do agree with other comments to your inquiry that multiple coaches be from the same firm and o...Read more
Question: Balancing candor and confidentiality in staff communications.
You have received some good advice. In doing it again ... or next time ... bringing the leadership team together and establishing the common voice and message that you will convey to the employees is a great first step. And ... I believe it is very naive although not unusual, for leaders presume that employees automatically 'buy' whatever is put out there for them. In fact, they or at least som...Read more
Question: What advice do you have for an interim CEO?
Regardless of whether or not you desire to have the CEO position permanently, you have it now and, I gather, for how long you don't know. To be effective for whatever period of time I believe you need to 'BE' the CEO rather than the CFO. As has been pointed out both others who have responded, the requirements of being effective in these two positions are quite different. Making the transition i...Read more
Question: Advice for retention of a key employee
You've received some valid and good advice from fellow mentors above. And my experience in coaching company leaders tells me that although you have asked about this one particular situation I get curious as to the way you relate to all of the leaders you count on.
The way you present your question and concern comes through as quite detached of any real caring or concern for the person and/or rel...Read more
Question: Mitigating the effects of higher-than-usual employee turnover
Both answers above have provided responses that take the focus from there being a meaningful cost benefit to your proposed solutions to something much more basic. And I agree. The business that you were a few years ago is not the one that is re-emerging now. There's a process that I have employed numerous times that seems very appropriate in this situation. I refer to it as "break it thinking"...Read more
Question: How can the management team gauge whether CEO desires feedback or execution?
As others have said here ... the short and direct answer is simply to ask. Thinking 'coach-like' there is an approach to communicating that can really clarify the expectation and as a result ... avoid frustration for many. Take less than a minute at the start of a topic discussion and ask these questions. Are you looking for me to be a listener, a discussion participant or a solution provider? ...Read more
Question: How can we brand ourselves as a responsible, community-based business?
This is an interesting challenge in that you are receiving competition from brands that are known actually world-wide. The advice to align your brand to local and ethical issues makes sense and yet ... at what cost to the consumer. I understand that your initial step was the organic milk and the associated price increase did the opposite of what you aimed to achieve.
Of course I don't know wh...Read more
Question: How can I persuade senior executives on projects without clear ROI?
Your question pertains to how you can persuade senior executives on projects (of yours) without a clear ROI? As others have responded already, not all ROIs are of a direct financial nature. It seems like your position was created to add stability or even a competitive edge to your organization on behalf of your clients … thus the ROI.
There’s another ‘red flag’ issue that seems apparent...Read more
Question: What is the best way to ensure smooth executive transition?
Your question ... "how do I insure stability" strikes me as one that pertains to the future ... going forward. I believe previous responders have pointed you in a few valid directions. Rather than repeat them, I am drawn to urge you to consider the learning you can and have gained from this situation as the CEO. How does this situation inform you as to added communication that needs to occur wi...Read more
Question: Overcoming the challenge of public speaking
All of the responses previous to mine are all good and helpful. In particular, Bill Shirley mirrored my reaction to reading of your challenge. Toastmasters is extremely effective in helping ALL of us increase our comfort level with speaking in front of others. The other suggestions make sense and what toastmasters provides is the ability to practice these skills with result of increasing our c...Read more
Question: How do I overcome a complete communication breakdown?
I believe my two Mentors Guild colleagues have given good responses. And ... the key ingredient to having this work is that both of you are as interested in righting this relationship. Your respective teams are going to look to you as the two leaders to determine that things are good or not. So finding the way to come together for the good of the organization as professionals is absolutely key....Read more
Question: How can a new leader build trust rapidly?
I appreciate the opportunity to respond. And ... I'm going to address the issue of 'earning trust' first. Granted that I don't know anything about the culture you've entered nor the size of the leadership team. Both of these things will impact how long it might take and the best way to go about it.
What I will presume is that you were brought into the organization because of the skills and kno...Read more
Question: Looking to expand my business to US
You have raised a key issue as you asked to be guided through the process. Whether you do this as a joint venture or as an 'solo' individual is going to depend on defining the ultimate vision you have for the expansion. Thus this becomes a key initial step for you. What is that vision? What are the related goals you have that fall within it? A good many of your answers are going to emerge bec...Read more
Question: Disillusionment with the current executive coaching process
I believe that all of the coaches who have responded to this have made some very valid points. And ... I do believe that the ultimate success and ROI requires that very clear objectives be established and agreed upon between those wanting to bring coaching into the organization and the coach. What will overall success look like? What is the envisioned impact on the organization in terms of sale...Read more