Researchers estimate that the average professional spends over 60 hours each month in meetings and that over half of that time is wasted or unproductive. Recapturing some of this time would be a huge boon for many but doing so first requires us to reconsider why we have so many to begin with.
A senior level executive in a large company was overwhelmed with too much work, and needed to find a way to better manage her time. The one consistent development request from her team was that she needed to find a way to be more available. When she heard this request, she was completely distraught: She felt like she was available 24/7 and never had any time to herself. We had to find a way to make large scale change to how she worked with her team.
One of my favorite leadership authors, Warren Bennis, once described the difference between managers and leaders with the expression “Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing.” Think about that for a moment. “Doing the right thing” means that rather than just perfecting all the things they currently do, leaders must have the ability to step back and question whether the things they are doing actually matter.
One of my father’s favorite expressions was that it’s not what you know, but who you know that matters. He typically pulled it out to refer to some type of perceived injustice involving nepotism or some other type of favor where the most qualified person wasn’t chosen for a position. While I don’t fully agree with him based on this interpretation, it is definitely true that who you know is pretty important for success as a leader.
When coaching new leaders, I frequently hear them tell me how overwhelmed they are with work and how difficult it is to get it all done. We sometimes talk about managing time, and delegating effectively as a means to “free up” time. At some point in the conversation, I usually ask where they want to be or what their team will be focused on in 2 or 3 years. Common responses include blank stares, or fumbling around to answer, or even admission that they just don’t know. The challenge here is that if the leader of a team doesn’t have clear direction for where it needs to go, it’s pretty much impossible to tell if you’re on the right track.
We often hear from new leaders that things like Email, instant messaging, and even cell phones, are the bane of their existence. It’s hard to list all the benefits these electronic tools have provided, and yet many curse them for making life so busy and these tools are frequently on the short list of reasons why leaders have no control over their time. One of the biggest benefits of these tools is also the biggest issue: they have enabled instant response. This is a tremendous benefit, but it also leads to the problematic expectation that we will always get this type of response.
Being promoted into a role that requires supervising a group of former peers is a common challenge. At the core of this challenge is the shift from a focus on the work to a focus on the team. Folks tend to think about the value they add to getting the work done, as in: “My job is to delegate effectively so that all the work stays on schedule;” or “I’m responsible for making sure the team is producing quality outputs.” These ideas aren’t necessarily wrong. However, while technical capabilities may have gotten someone to where they are, it’s likely that they are not enough to continue to propel someone’s career as a leader.
We often observe leaders struggling with how to be transparent with their team during times of change. They often feel anxious about how answering questions about change management initiatives. While it might not always be possible to explain “what” is going on, we believe that explaining “why” is usually far more important; and often easier.
In his landmark books about managing change, William Bridges made a distinction between “changes” and “transitions”. According to his definition, a “change” is something that happens. On the other hand, “transition,” refers to the process we go through to learn how to deal with change. Changes can be planned, executed and managed, but transitions require leaders to address the human element of their organizations. We frequently find our clients overly focused on change management and often not paying enough attention to transition leadership.
Recently I read this CLO article that discusses corporate training and suggests that we need to think about how we train people in the workplace. I agree.When Tandem Solutions launched our LongitudinaLearningTM practice a dozen or so years ago, we borrowed heavily from adult learning theory, which has been documenting and researching the way adults learn for at least 50 years
What’s the purpose of a performance review? If you think it’s about documenting a discussion in your HR system, then you’re missing the point. That’s why there’s a lot of buzz about getting rid of the annual performance review. Not so fast.
We have written about splitting the performance evalation from a discussion about pay raises. We've also floated the idea of turing the annual performance review into ongoing discussions about an employee's performance. All of these ideas are meant to help tie an individual's performance to the company's performance.