Are Your People Becoming Obsolete?

One of the dangers to both employees and companies these days, particularly in small to medium-size companies, is that there tends to be insufficient emphasis on continuous learning. The manager or production supervisor or engineer or even IT person are hard at work year after year solving problems and making improvements inside their company. Yet, unless there is a concerted effort to keep up with advancements outside of the company, they are putting themselves, and the company, in jeopardy.

When the company suddenly needs to change because of market disruption, technological innovation, or the like, those people who have been so valuable in the past can become obstacles to needed change. By then it’s usually too late to catch-up as people with the needed new skills are brought in to take the company to the next level.
I’ve seen this happen far too many times.

While it’s true that individuals need to make sure they are keeping their skills up to date, companies also need to be responsible to ensure that external trends are monitored and knowledge and skills are continually updated.

Ask yourselves these kinds of questions:

  • What trends do we see in our markets, our technologies, and the overall economy that could be indicators of change?
  • What one big change would make our business obsolete?
  • Are our people regularly bringing in new ideas from the outside?

Essential Steps for a High Return on People

Most organizations devote a lot more time and money on weak performers than they do on top performers. They think that by investing in the lowest performing people, they will improve overall company performance.

You wouldn’t do that with a portfolio of products or stocks, so why do it with your organization?

To improve your return on people, do the following:

1. Identify your best performers and make sure that they get the support and opportunities they crave. Help them contribute in even better ways that affect greater and more extensive parts of the business.

2. Identify those people with the potential to be excellent performers and provide them with the coaching, mentoring and focused development that will enable them to develop and become superb.

3. Stop investing so much time and money in weak performers. Instead, give them very clear performance expectations and deadlines. If they need specific training to be competent, give it to them, but measure whether the training actually resulted in better performance.

Also, if a manager is one of the weak performers, look to see if his/her direct reports have had any development opportunities – chances are they haven’t. Stop letting the weak manager hold people back.

Put your investment where you will get the highest return — in the best and those with the potential to be successful. Have clear performance expectations for everyone and the right processes to address poor performers when needed.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob.legge (at) leggecompany.com

 

Sharpen the Focus on Results

Here is one of the most common, yet astounding, things that I see in organizations: Direct reports often aren’t clear on what their jobs are. Yes, they are busy all day, but if you ask any of them what, specifically, their job is, you get a job title, or a general explanation.

Do this: Ask each of your direct reports to write-down the top 4-8 ongoing results that each of their jobs is designed to accomplish. Focus on the results the job is intended to accomplish, not the activities the person does. Ask them to bring the list to your next one-on-one.

Chances are, you’ll have a very good conversation, one that will help both of you get clearer on both outcomes and priorities.

Unless you, and especially your direct reports, know what each person is expected to accomplish, work is just a constant stream of busy-ness.

Activities aren’t what matters; results are.

 

What they may not be telling you

You need to make sure that the information you receive is not filtered. That can be more difficult than it seems.

You have to make sure that your people understand that you want candid and straight information about your business. Such information is vital to you knowing your business and making good decisions.

The worst example of this is Jeff Immelt’s strong dislike for bad news at General Electric. He insisted on only hearing good news, what insiders named “Success Theater,” where overly optimistic projections did not match the realities of the business. Because of this, Immelt did not fully understand his own business and continued to tell the board and analysts that the company was strong and ready for growth. As a result, GE is in serious trouble. The company may be broken-up and the entire board could be fired. Immelt has already lost his job.

What do you need to do to make sure that you are getting clear and unvarnished information about all salient parts of your business?

Here’s How to Set Priorities

You’re the leader. 

That means you choose the music that everyone dances to.  You need to be out in front and leading, providing direction and ideas that excite and motivate followers.  Here are my four best tips on setting priorities at the top.

  1. Be focused on what needs to be done in the future.  Don’t set priorities that will bog you down in the past.
  2. Look to seize opportunities rather than fix problems.
  3. Concentrate on accomplishing something challenging; something that will make a difference.
  4. Limit your priorities to a small number.  You’ll end-up getting much farther.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.

My website is http://www.boblegge.com

Contact me at: bob.legge (at) leggecompany.com

 

 

An Essential Leadership Skill: Following-Up

Executing a strategy, implementing a decision, changing a culture, achieving an operating plan…all require the leadership skill of following-up. It is an enormous mistake to assume that because you’ve discussed a new initiative in meetings that people will both understand what needs to be done and do it – even if you’ve sent an email summarizing what needs to be done.

If it’s important, you have to be following-up effectively.

Several leaders have told me that they shouldn’t have to follow-up, that people should understand and take action once it’s been discussed. I agree – they should, but it’s not realistic. It’s up to the leader to make sure that effort is sustained and leads to results. And that happens by following-up.

If it takes a lot of time and effort to follow-up, you’re not doing it effectively.Can your following-up skill be improved?

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I provide leaders with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals. I advise and consult with leaders to increase their effectiveness and improve work/life balance. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce sustainable growth and value.
If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for your priorities, contact me. Together, we’ll explore ways to work together.

My website is www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob.legge (at) leggecompany.com

You Must Address Non-Performers

Make sure that non-performers or weak performers throughout your organization know where they stand.

I read a Wall Street Journal article this weekend about the New York City School System where non-performing teachers are paid not to work due to restrictive union rules. The cost to the System is $150 million dollars a year.

Non-performers, weak or mediocre performers exist in companies too, and it is management that allows the situation to persist. The cost is large, both in terms of lost productivity and the affect on other, high-performing people.

In each case, ask whether it is a skill issue or a lack of volition. The solution differs depending on the cause.

For those who cannot or will not improve performance, you need to remove them. Help them find jobs where they can be contributors either within or outside of your organization, but do not continue to incur the cost of a persistent problem.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I provide leaders with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals. I advise and consult with leaders to increase their effectiveness and improve work/life balance. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for your priorities, contact me. Together, we’ll explore ways to work together.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob.legge@leggecompany.com.