Costly Promotions

Companies are very focused on being cost conscious, especially in the current economic climate. Many bosses have promoted their key employees too quickly, beyond their skill level — to their level of incompetence. Bosses falsely believe they are saving time and money, but this type of reactive decision-making ends up being costly and has a detrimental impact on the company. Sadly, the once successful employee feels forced to leave the company when her/his continued contribution is short-circuited, and will rarely go quietly.

Since the person was previously treated as an asset to the company, it is often unclear as to why this sudden experience of failure is happening. Instead of having a professional conversation with her/his boss to provide solutions to this dilemma, s/he blames extraneous factors and looks for a new job, outside the company. The real issues? The newly promoted person may not have taken the time, or taken advantage of the opportunities, to develop the interpersonal skills required for the new position. Perhaps s/he has not learned how to delegate or is unable to prioritize and manage multiple issues well. S/he may simply lack the interest and ability to quickly learn the skills required for performance success (e.g., technology, financial, mechanical, sales, etc.) in this new position.

Time to get real. Newly promoted people may be unable to acclimate appropriately when business needs change rapidly. Where did the old adage, “sink or swim” come from? It didn’t work then and doesn’t work now. Unfortunately, employees feel they can not say “no” to their bosses’ requests without hurting their career. If they may agree, their naiveté can create additional issues and stresses since they do not possess the required depth and breadth of experience. It’s time to create a win-win development plan that helps the employee succeed and meets the needs of the business.  Be realistic – it takes time. Employees won’t suddenly become great managers if they have poor people skills. Employees with no interest in financial monitoring will not handle their budgets well. Top sales people will not make the best bosses. Remember, accepting mediocrity loses customers internally and externally.

Provide an outside coach. An outside coach can provide insights that the corporate mindset and culture may overlook. The employee will feel more comfortable sharing her/his challenges and fears, confidentially. They know many bosses have long memories, and don’t want the risk. Ensure there is clarity of goals to be accomplished every three months. Write them down. Put together action plans for implementation. Monitor effectiveness. Keep it simple and smart!

Keep valued employees. Although egos play an important role in a person’s ability to stay and thrive after a failure, it requires the boss’s dedicated intention to keep a valued employee! Find a position within the company where s/he can be successful. Don’t be afraid to create a new position to keep the person, but use a scientifically validated assessment tool to ensure you’re not simply creating another new issue. The cost of hiring a replacement is much greater than realigning a job description to match up employee skills with business needs. Provide focused training and development so the employee can gain the skills s/he lacked that caused the demotion in the first place. This allows the employee to experience success once again, and provides her/him with the opportunity to be promoted in the future.

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2010

More Money Does Not Equal Better Results

Too often employers are held hostage when employees demand more money to do the job they were hired to do. Since most employees are paid by the hour and not by the task, it’s difficult to know when to reward someone with additional compensation, particularly when you don’t have stated and objective performance results for each position. Unfortunately, even though everyone says “money is not a motivator,” many employees have the false perception that money will indeed motivate them!

It starts with clarity in your hiring process. Since most hiring processes are fraught with improper and antiquated methods of selecting people, it’s important that you are clear on expectations for the job. Then, hire the right person based upon needs for the job, not his or her ability to sell themselves! Remember, the wrong person in the right job will rationalize poor compensation as the reason for poor performance.

Set up clear expectations on Day One. Onboarding new employees requires the boss to provide a written outline and timetable for producing the required results, along with an accurate job description. To create a win/win for a new employee, the boss needs to stay involved, working through the new employee’s honeymoon period, and beyond. Do not make mention of additional compensation opportunities until after a six-month period. Communicate a clear expectation – in writing – of the results required for the new employee to receive any added monetary perks.

Compensate based upon results. Too often, employers compensate based upon promised results. If employees who don’t deliver these results receive the money anyway, they get a pretty clear message that achieving performance goals is not truly important. It is wise to devise a plan that is performance based. Make sure the goals are objective and attainable.

 ©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Don’t Fear The Rattlers

There is a saying, “Don’t pet the rattlesnakes.” When bosses make decisions, these are not always perceived as welcomed solutions. Some employees are very attached to the current state of the business, and are not privy to financial impact or other business issues behind some decisions. Any change can cause employees to get nervous. When you look at financial results and other objective data with the human perspective factored in, the end result may be some of your employees are upset by the required change.

Your response. When you encounter a rattlesnake, you simply back up and review your options. The same response works here. Some times it’s as simple as waiting out the rattling – by communicating the changes in a factual manner.  Other times, you may need to change your implementation approach to ensure employee buy-in.

Consistent communication is the key. When you make changes, communicate in a straightforward manner. Keep it simple and smart (K.I.S.S.). Don’t get into mind-numbing details. Pick three key points and share them appropriately and simply.

Right decisions may not be applauded. Change of any kind can create uneasiness amongst employees, regardless of economic and/or political environments. When you make the right decisions for the right reasons, simply stay the course. K.I.S.S. (see point above). Eventually, most employees will concur it was the right course of action after they experience the sure-to-come positive results.

Poor decisions may not cause rattling.  Poor decisions coupled with no reaction from employees or customers may allow you to falsely believe you’re on the right path. The truth is you may have a history of making incorrect decisions, if you base them upon little or no factual information, or unable to interpret the data in a manner that creates truly new solutions. Employees and/or customers may simply seek other employers or vendors/suppliers silently.

Solution? Talk with your business mentor(s) to ensure the design and execution of your decisions meets your business needs, now and in the future. It’s critical to incorporate the human side into your process to support the success for all of your (internal and external) customers. Encourage your employees to provide solutions in a positive way, and not in a critical “all or nothing manner.”

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Superstar Clashes Getting You Down?

As a boss, it’s challenging to manage high performers. Most of these superstars know they know their stuff.   Since they believe others are less knowledgeable and less capable than they are, it sometimes taxes them to listen to others. Even their boss! 

If they’re causing you sleepless nights, most likely you aren’t the only one. As their boss, it’s up to you to manage them and their egos, to keep them engaged and growing with your company.

Look beneath the surface.  We falsely believe that if a top performer does well in one area, s/he will do superbly in other areas, too. Unfortunately, if you’re not using scientifically validated assessment products to ascertain their thinking style, core behavioral traits, and occupational interests, you may lose them. Superstars hate to fail. Provide them challenges, not to be confused with busy work, which they are quick to spot and resent.

Manage their expectations.  While you may believe your top performers are flawless, it’s not the reality. When they make mistakes, hold them accountable, just as you would any other employee. Have a come down to reality conversation focused on 2-2-2:

  • Two things they do well
  • Two very specific areas for improvements
  • Wrap-up by acknowledging two of their best contributions

Expect good people skills. Too often as bosses, we overlook our superstars’ interpersonal skills. When we step into a dispute to resolve it for them too soon, it creates more animosity between the superstar and co-workers (or clients). Instead, expect them to work it out themselves.  Wait until a situation is brought to your attention, or others complain. Then it’s appropriate for you to act.  Set a time and place for them to create a solution and work it out. Conflict resolution can be made easier when you use scientifically validated assessment products (e.g., 360-degree feedback tools focused on the job traits and not whether someone is likeable, or not) that help others see themselves objectively in relationship to others.

Money is not a motivator. While your superstars may demand more and more money, higher salaries will not provide the incentive necessary for them to continue to excel. Find other ways of compensating them based upon results (e.g., perks, vacations, gift certificates, etc.). 

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Attitude Transformation Brings Satisfaction

Do you hear an internal mantra, “I should not have to do this!” over and over?

Unfortunately, there will always be job duties or activities that must be accomplished for your continued employment or to run your business successfully. If these hated tasks constitute more than 20% of your job, you are probably in the wrong line of work.

Truly successful people learn how to get the hated job activities over and done with minimal stress. They are good at delegating to others who are competent to do them. Yes – there are people who actually enjoy doing the work you hate to do!

There are certain business practices and standards must be adhered to, no excuses are acceptable. Customers, employees, the IRS, a judge or plaintiff attorney are not interested in excuses; they do not care “why.”

We all must follow the laws and common expected business practices (e.g., following standard accounting practices, refunds, EEO/Equal Employment Opportunity, DOL/Department of Labor, etc.) Failure to follow your own business policies and practices can provide irreversible consequences, personally and professionally.

Swish. When there is something you hate doing, create a new attitude or visual picture. For example, if you work in retail and hate it when people walk in the door, “swish” to see the people walking in the door as “new money.” Or, if you hate working with accounting details, “swish” and see QuickBooks as the pathway to your million dollar success.

Be selective when saying “yes.” Learn to say “no” instead of taking on job duties or activities that are not your forte.

  • If there is a legal issue, give it to the attorney.
  • If you have an accounts issue, delegate it to your customer service rep.
  • If you have a sales or customer service person who won’t return calls, replace them!

Realize you are setting the tone for your future. Then you are free to say “yes” to legitimate requests from your customers, boss, Board of Directors, or business partners.

Create your future. You were hired, and you accepted the job. Now you need to adhere to getting the job done in a manner that positively supports the company. Customers truly don’t care how you feel about your job duties. As the business owner or executive, you created the current business model. Even though it may have worked well at one time, if it no longer meets your business goals, it’s time to strategically create the future. If you are no longer energized in your business or job, hire a coach and find a job or business the “fits” your thinking style, core behaviors and occupational interests. Set yourself up for satisfaction and success.

(c)Jeannette Seibly, 2010

The Critical Manager

  • Do you always find fault with whatever someone does?
  • Do you believe your way is the only right way?
  • Do you praise privately but rebuke openly?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a critical manager. You attitude and behavior can make it difficult to work with you and nearly impossible to learn from you.

How do you transform your ability to lead a high functioning group?

Look for opportunities to praise.  Acknowledge others for a job well done, even if it’s a small step or contribution.  Consider ideas that may initially seem off-the-wall, or inappropriate, and acknowledge contributions in a positive manner.  Your openness will encourage everyone to stretch their thinking and behavior to improve their skills.

Learn from their mistakes.  Every mistake can be turned into a learning moment. It’s important to understand the difference between a Zero Tolerance Policy for unacceptable behaviors, versus, a tolerance for mistakes. Employees will inevitably make some mistakes when they learn a new task, take on a new project, or work with new clients.  Ensure your systems are up-to-date, and all your employees are well-trained to minimize errors at repetitive tasks. Develop an infrastructure for creating and executing non-repetitive opportunities.

Make 2-2-2 your paradigm. Acknowledge two positive things they have done well.  Then, share very specific areas for improvement, no more than two. Wrap-up with two positives they have done well. This makes feedback easier to give, and receive!

Hire a coach. It’s important for your own career and business development that you learn to effectively work with and through people to get the job done. Effective management produces win/wins on a regular basis.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

When employees make costly mistakes ….

As bosses and executives, we do our best to ensure our employees are given the tools they need to do their job well (e.g., computer, desk, policy manuals, etc.).  However, non-tangible aspects of a job can be roadblocks to their successes (e.g., limited people skills, lack of discretion or business savvy, inability to work well with boss and co-workers, inability to plan properly or make decisions within appropriate timeframe, etc.). These aspects of poor job fit can devastate profitability. Moreover, how you handle these occurrences may help your employees learn from their mistakes and ultimately make or break your own career.

First and foremost, use scientifically validated assessment tools for hiring, coaching and managing your employees for success. Good job fit most often reduces the chance of costly mistakes on the job. [Contact for further details.]

Gossip. Everyone does it, but unfortunately, there is no way to know who else is listening. The people seated at the next table in the coffee shop may learn invaluable information that they can use to get a competitive lead with a prospective client, or even proprietary information for product development.  It is imperative to periodically remind employees of their confidentiality agreements and advise them of the sensitivity of the information they may possess.

Zero tolerance. When major errors in judgment happen, it’s best for all employees to know proper protocols and be empowered to implement them immediately, such as contacting the boss, the appropriate human resources executive and/or company attorney.  Do not be fooled into assuming theft, harassment or safety violations won’t happen on your watch.  If the unthinkable does happen and someone is killed or hurt on the job, damage control will fall to you.  What if key employees leave due to a perceived hostility in their work environment, or your company files for bankruptcy? These unfortunate occurrences quickly and irrevocably change your daily reality and do not bode well for your career or the company’s reputation. 

Finesse is necessary.  Handling delicate issues can be a challenge for everyone. Every company has a client or vendor, business associate, or business partnership that didn’t work out due to ethical reasons. Unfortunately, some employees may not understand the significance of these unwritten no-no’s (e.g., don’t do business with, etc.). Empower your employees to navigate these no-win issues knowledgeably and work with them to minimize the impact and fall-out.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

What if your boss is wrong …

What do you do when someone says something untrue? What if that someone is your boss?

Pick your time and place. Many professionals have inadvertently sabotaged their own careers by telling a boss s/he is wrong — in front of others. It is better to wait until you can have a one-on-one meeting. Be sure to prepare the facts in a manner that your boss will appreciate (e.g., written, numeric, graph, articles, etc.).

Be willing to step in professionally. If you see someone is about to sign a contract or make an agreement, and you know the facts are incorrect or have changed, take action. Be willing to stop the meeting and ask for a confidential conversation with your boss and/or management team.

Let it go. Understand that no matter what the facts are, some bosses make their decisions based upon their gut feelings. It won’t matter what you say. They are going to do what they want to do — without regard to your input or feelings. Handle the fall-out graciously when that happens. It only takes a couple of negative outcomes for an astute boss to start listening to your recommendations. 

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Do your clients think you are inaccessible?

Ridiculous you say?  Hhhmmm…

  • Does it take several phone calls to get in touch with you? 
  • Does it take longer than 24 to 48 hours to respond to your voice mail messages or emails?
  • Do you normally use the excuses “I’m too busy.” OR “I don’t have the time?”
  • If so, you probably do not know this Law of poor customer service:
    The longer it takes for you to return a call or respond to an email, the more the issue will grow exponentially larger.

 Try this instead:

Treat your phone and email with reverence. Phone messages and email messages from clients and prospective clients are the life blood of your business. Prompt responses are a good opportunity to enhance the value you provide to your clients. It’s also a great way to up-sell and cross-sell any additional products and services that they may need, but do not realize you offer.

All clients are important. Rank ordering clients as to whom you will contact based upon revenues will work only until you lose the BIG client. Then, you’ll need to re-group and try to re-capture smaller clients who found excellent customer service with your competition while you focused on the BIG client.

Keep meetings. Continually canceling, not being prepared, and not taking responsibility for ensuring the client feels valued are good excuses for your clients to seek out other vendors. It’s easier and less expensive to keep good clients, then to go and find new ones.

Blitz them with customer service. We falsely assume, with devastating results, that everyone knows how to be a good representative of the company. Train all employees to be on the same page, and work together for the benefit of the client. Contact me for details … it will save you many clients!

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Bosses! Come down to reality!

Are you a business owner, executive or the boss?  We all need a reality check from time-to-time. Do you believe projects could be completed quicker if only they would do it your way? Do you expect more from others than you do from yourself?  Are you intolerant of others’ mistakes? Yet, harder on yourself?

Here are three easy ways to get real and get results:

Come into alignment.  Get on the same page with your employees regarding the expected results. This is critical for ensuring agreement. Then, have them put together an action plan and review it with you before they start!

Be the coach.  Don’t micro-manage the process. If the process is not moving forward as discussed, or it has hit more than one bump, you may need to step in. Review the thought and action processes. Correct inaccurate assumptions and negative attitudes. Be aware that many people have a hard time addressing the details of a project, particularly if the process is not working the way they envisioned it would.

Manage results.  Have short weekly reviews. What worked? What didn’t?  Be specific and stay away from the why’s. Create a plan to address issues and acknowledge successes. The key is to fine-tune and move forward. Above all, do not let set-backs stop you.

As the boss, your job is two-fold:

  • To manage major blunders and the hiccups that occur along the way.
  • To recognize and reward great progress.

(c)Jeannette Seibly, 2010