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Leadership : The High Cost of Bad Managers

Posted by kevinb on 2/18/19 (52 reads)

According to several polls, over 50% of employees who quit their jobs cite the manager as the reason. People join an organization for several reasons, such as company culture, career opportunities, compensation, the mission of the organization and its reputation. Organizations spend significant time, energy, effort and money in identifying and evaluating candidates and, ultimately, hiring an employee. This process also, then, includes post-hire onboarding and training and development. When an employee leaves, the organization does not get a full return on its investment. This is particularly true if the employee is especially talented and capable of helping the organization attain its strategic goals.

To help reduce the risk of losing good employees, organizations must pay particular attention to the quality of their managers. Understanding the relationships that managers have with their employees and how they direct and develop them are particulary importat. The cost of a bad manager is high, and can manifest itself in direct financial terms, in the inability to attract talent people and retain high-performing employees, as well as a myriad other areas.

Here are some signs of ineffective management practices:

Leadership : Boosting Employee Commitment (Getting Beyond the 9-to-5)

Posted by kevinb on 8/7/18 (541 reads)

Let's get real. You want your people to be resourceful, show initiative, think for themselves, own their jobs, come up with solutions, and then implement them with little guidance from you once they've been trained.

You think you hired the right person with every hire. But once they've been with you for a few weeks, they turn into a 9 to 5'er. They put in their 8 hours, and then are looking to go home. They're friendly, do their responsibilities, but offer no creativity, and don't feel engaged enough to finish a project before leaving for the day.

What's the common element in all these instances? The staff are different. The tasks are different. What's common is you and the culture you've created.

You are the problem. This is where you need to do some serious soul searching, ask your staff some delicate questions, get some advice and guidance from an executive coach, and see what you can change.

Seven Questions to ask yourself and then your staff:

Leadership : Deciding How to Decide

Posted by kevinb on 5/8/18 (800 reads)

There are many skills/capabilities and characteristics that a person needs in order to be an effective manager. To me, any such list should include that a manager:

 1. Consider the possibilities. Critical thinking skills are essential to turn things upside down and inside out to come up with the best possible scenario to solve problems. [Side Note: check out my book summary of "Now You're Thinking" to see how improving your critical thinking skills can "revolutionize your career and transform you life"]

 2. Be decisive. In order to get things done, someone has to make the final decision!

In terms of critical skills for managers, decision-making should always be at or near the top. A track record of good decisions leads to success for the organization and rewards for the manager. Too many poor decisions and that leader won't be a leader for long.

In the old-school view of management, the boss was the "decider". Whether the issue was big or small, strategic or tactical, the manager was the sole authority and was expected to make the judgment call. Inputs might be solicited prior to making big decisions, but that was about the extent of employee involvement.

However, today, a more decentralized, agile and team-based approach is required in our increasingly complex world, where change happens at light speed. Added to that is the impact of Millennials in the workforce who have high expectations for engagement and influence on the organization and, rightfully so, are forcing some changes in how managers make decisions.

Leadership : The High Cost of Poor Executive Hiring Decisions

Posted by kevinb on 4/25/18 (625 reads)

One of the services that I frequently provide is helping companies evaluate C-level job candidates, for positions such as CEO, CFO, COO, CTO, Chief HR Officer, GM, and heads of sales and marketing. Typically, the candidates have been identified and vetted by an executive recruiter or by some other source, and I evaluate "final" candidates or those who otherwise are being seriously considered for the position.

It's likely that you have all seen the statistics about the high rates of failure (or at least disappointment and underwhelm) regarding executive hires or promotions and the enormous cost (both in terms of "real" money and of negative impacts on the company) associated with poor hires and transitions. Executive hiring decisions can have an enormous positive or negative impact, especially on small-to-medium-sized companies, and, not to over-dramatize, but I have seen nearly make-or-break types of outcomes at the company-level.

On that point, Elena Botelho, Shoma Chatterjee and Kim R. Powell have recently published the following article entitled Seemingly ‘Safe' People Bets That Can Trip Up CEOs. It is an interesting and insightful article which identifies common traps executives fall into when selecting team members and some ways to overcome them.

Leadership : For Leaders, Relationships are Key at Work

Posted by kevinb on 4/10/18 (718 reads)

I deal with business owners, C-level leaders, and mid-level managers nearly every day, and a too-common challenge I see is that many view employees more as objects and as a means to an end than as people. More as tools to be directed, managed, and coordinated than resources and associates to be coached, mentored, and developed.

Don't get me wrong - these leaders and managers aren't ogres, but they often tend to "miss the boat" when it comes to promoting the ideas of benefiting others and helping employees achieve their potential.

Leaders are paid to get results, but those who are overly bottom-line oriented don't experience the satisfaction of the journey, and often limit others' sense of fulfillment. Those who focus primarily on functionality take the emotions out of business and underestimate the value of creating harmony and a sense of mission. Those who are too commanding don't emphasize the importance of teamwork and contributing to the success of the group. Those who are overly structured and controlling place constraints on employees' opportunities to explore new ideas and experiment with new methods.

Leadership : Moral Leadership

Posted by kevinb on 2/9/18 (829 reads)

Fortune magazine, in their September 15, 2017 issue, published an article by Dov Seidman entitled "Four Pillars of Moral Leadership." It is based on the guiding precept that while the rules of engagement in business seem to be ever-changing, there are basic rules of moral leadership that stand the test of time. The following is based on the shortened version which is posted here.


1.   Are Driven by Purpose

2.   Inspire and Elevate Others

3.   Are Animated by both Courage and Patience

4.   Keep Building Muscle


Driven by Purpose  

More today than ever, the millennial generation demands from their work what is worthy, valuable and noble - connected to human progress or the betterment of the world. Essentially, why do we do what we do? It is the Moral Leader's job to help define the organization's purpose and to share that vision with everyone in the organization. 

Leadership : 8 Leadership Resolutions for 2018

Posted by kevinb on 1/22/18 (856 reads)

A recent article that caught my eye is entitled "8 Resolutions on the CEOs Desk" from the Korn Ferry Institute. Some of the ideas are new, and some are familiar, but what is most important is recognizing that CEOs and senior leaders can best drive the success of their business by setting the example and creating the environment where people are highly valued and supported.

Following are the 8 Resolutions from that article with some additional comments.

Create an effective culture

A 2017 Korn Ferry study of talent acquisition managers found that the number one reason a candidate chooses one company over another is CULTURE.  As we move further away from the Great Recession, the stability of salary and benefits are much more of a given, and people are more attracted to transparent, fair and purpose-driven companies. Culture starts at the top, and according to Arvinder Dhesi, a Korn Ferry senior client partner, "Everything that we do contributes to the culture. There's no culture-neutral behavior."

Improve the engagement of your employees

Studies continue to show that only about 30% of employees are fully or highly engaged in their work. Improving that number, even by a few percentage points, provides a massive opportunity for increased productivity. The path to greater employee engagement is not unlike creating an effective culture. It requires sponsorship and commitment from top management to take systemic actions that link individual success with organizational success.

Leadership : New Leader Onboarding

Posted by kevinb on 10/11/17 (936 reads)

Now that you've hired 'em, what are you going to do with 'em?

Once you have gone through the search and recruiting process, invested a fair amount of time and money, and selected the right candidate (in whom you are now going to invest even more time and money), you need to think about how you are going to help that new leader be highly productive as quickly as possible.

Do you have an effective orientation process? Do you provide someone to help the new leader get through the "necessaries?" Have they been introduced to the appropriate people in the organization? Have you made them feel welcome and a part of the team? 

Too often, newly-hired executives, equipped with as little as a job description, a few introductions, and a brief company orientation, are asked to dive into their new job...with high expectations for success. Unfortunately, regarding CEOs and according to the Harvard Business Review, 2 out of 5 new CEOs fail in their first 18 months on the job. Can your company afford to have a new CEO, or any executive, who is not working out, or even not operating at a high level of effectiveness? The answer, of course, is no.

Leadership : The Costs of Not Firing a Mediocre Employee

Posted by kevinb on 8/14/17 (2187 reads)

Great companies are not built with mediocre employees. Yet it's astonishing how often managers postpone firing poor performers and troublesome employees.

In exploring the reasons why CEOs fail in their own jobs, an article a few years ago in Fortune magazine cited the CEOs' chronic failure to place the right person in the right job and their repeated failure or unwillingness to fix people problems swiftly. Some of those CEOs later admitted to selective deafness - ignoring an inner voice that warned them of a problem - and refusing to listen to those around them who saw the difficulty long before they did. This failure to deal with a subordinate who exhibits sustained poor performance can deeply harm a company and produce a ripple effect that hurts morale on many levels.

The Costs of Postponing Firing

I have seen estimates of the cost of replacing a bad hire to be as high as 250% of an employee's first-year earnings, even if the situation is recognized and rectified within the first 6 months!

Leadership : Authority and Power

Posted by kevinb on 4/19/17 (1302 reads)

Have you ever observed two individuals of equal position, rank, and authority in an organization? One seems to accomplish everything successfully and with ease, while the other seems to always be "under the gun," having a crisis and a difficult time. You are viewing the difference between a true, high impact leader and a person who perhaps has a leadership title. The true, high impact leaders in any organization are easy to recognize. They're the ones who always seem to accomplish more than the masses and with apparent ease. The key is the leader's ability to get others to accomplish more than they ever thought they could.

In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it." An ineffective leader is one who makes a simple task look difficult. This phenomenon occurs at all levels in an organization. 

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