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.

 

When Development Stalls at the Top

The need to continually develop knowledge and skills is important throughout an organization.  You’ve got to have people who are capable of handling new and bigger challenges in all aspects of the business.  If they stall, thinking that being competent today is going to be enough for tomorrow, they’ll get relegated to lesser roles and more knowledgeable and experienced people will be brought in over them.  I see it happening over and over again.

It’s particularly troubling, when development stalls at the top of an organization.  When senior leaders neglect to invest in themselves, it creates a mini-crisis.  Often times, the situation continues on indefinitely, hurting the organization’s performance, position in the market, and reputation with employees.  No high-performer wants to work for boss who isn’t keeping up and is unable to lead, challenge, and stimulate the organization.

What are you doing to invest in your own knowledge and skills?

I offer executive coaching and selected invitation-only leadership experiences for senior executives who are successful, and want to stay up-to-speed.  If you are interested in learning more, contact me.

Copyright 2017  Bob Legge

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Bob Legge has an unmatched ability to help clients achieve competitive advantage, leaving competitors in their dust.  He has worked with companies across industries and geographies to align critical elements, dominate their markets, and achieve dramatic results, such as 600% revenue increase in three years.  Personally, he enjoys sailing where both his strategic abilities and tactical skills help him see interesting places while having a fabulous time with friends and family. .

Contact him at:   bob.legge@leggecompany.com.

I Don’t Want to Hear “Hopefully”

The foundation of accountability is commitment.

When one is committed to accomplishing something, the hesitation and fear are replaced by resolve and energy.   When one is not committed, they tend to produce long stories and excuses.

During one of my senior executive stints, a manager who reported to me had a standard reply when I asked when a task or result would be completed.  She would say, “Hopefully….”   She was not committed, nor was she accountable.

Sometimes a person will say, “I cannot be accountable for that because I don’t have full control over it.”  He or she is confusing being accountable with being in control.  Hardly anyone is fully in control:  A sales person does not have full control over buyers buying, but they are still accountable for the result.  A manufacturing manager does not have full control over efficiencies or safety, but is still accountable for both.  The challenge of accountability is to take whatever actions are necessary (within the values of the organization) to get the result.

Accountability is being answerable for results.  Responsibility is being answerable for actions and behaviors.  Both rest on commitment.

© Copyright 2016  Bob Legge

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Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals.  I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.  Contact him at  bob.legge@leggecompany.com

How leaders’ behaviors affect their people

Someone (I think it was Woody Allen) said that the role of the leader is to demonstrate how to act to his/her people.  It’s sound advice.  The most admired leaders show a focus and determination on achieving goals, getting things done, welcoming ideas, generating enthusiasm, using data and evidence to make decisions, being compassionate with people concerns, valuing honesty, and so on.  I’ve worked with hundreds of leaders and thousands of managers each of whom had their own way of positively influencing their organizations through their actions.

I’m concerned that our national leaders and candidates often demonstrate deleterious and lamentable behaviors that negatively affect the nation.  Make no mistake:  People do take their cues from their leaders.

My advice to leaders is this:   Your people watch your actions and behaviors and use them to legitimize their own behaviors.  If you want them to be honest, positive, innovative, engaging, and productive then be that way yourself.

Emphasize results, not deliverables

I don’t know where this came from, but I hear way too many people talking about deliverables.  Maybe it’s because a deliverable is better than lots of activity, but what you really want is results. Would you rather have a report, a study, a training session, a meeting, or do you want higher productivity, increased sales, more profits, less turnover, reduced costs, etc.?  And while we’re at it, are your employees rewarded for business results, or just actions?

The Essence of Building Accountability

Instilling accountability is very important.  It is the fast track to commitment, performance, and people development. Unfortunately, way too many leaders, managers, and supervisors see accountability as making people responsible and “holding their feet to the fire.”  They see it as a way to control and manipulate people, focusing on blame, mistakes, and negative performance reviews. They take the attitude that the individual is going to come up short, and they’ll be there to point out the shortfall — as if this helps anyone.

The most effective leaders, managers, and supervisors have a different perspective.  They understand that the point of accountability is to help people succeed and grow. These leaders are no less demanding, but they act as accountability partners who help make sure all their direct reports are successful.

How are your managers using accountability?  Is the focus on shortfall or on success?  What are you doing to strengthen your accountability system?

The Key to Improving Performance

Imagine you’re in the passing lane of highway.  There are several cars in a line just ahead of you so you cannot  go any faster, but another car is very close behind you, tailgating.   That driver must believe that somehow you’ll go faster.  He is mistaken.

When a person is not performing up to your expectations and you want him or her to improve, you have to find out why the performance is lagging.  It could be skill, it could be motivation, it could be the tools, or one of many causes, including the inherent speed imposed by procedures.

If you want to change an effect, you must find the cause.  It is a mistake to try to change the effect.  It does no good to ride a person’s bumper if he or she cannot go faster.