How needs-aware are you?

How needs-aware are you?

In my blogs, I refer frequently to the importance of leaders meeting their teams’ needs.  To do this well, they need to be needs-aware.

I am proud to be a certified licensed reseller for An Even Better Place to Work (BP2W) and yes this could be seen as a sales pitch. However please don’t leave the page just yet.  Please give me a chance to explain why I rate its entry-level diagnostic Satisfaction@Work as a product (and leadership solution) so highly.

First, there is the business case for being more needs-aware

It is a low cost, high impact online diagnostic and leadership support tool that really works.

The providers of BP2W give this as the official business case argument:

“Every organisation strives for more efficiency, increased performance and higher profitability. It’s a default state required for growth and evolution. The key to achieving these goals lies in your people. If your staff are happy, motivated and engaged at work they are more likely to give their best. Unfortunately, the reverse of these conditions are also true. The cost of disengaged people in the workplace is huge. Relationship breakdown and dysfunctional conflict contribute to one of the largest hidden business costs”.

They even provide a calculator so you can put numbers to the unmet needs in your organisation!

As I write this, it is live in a couple of client sites and both are finding it incredibly useful.  In both, feedback was the biggest gap in their leadership toolkit – everyone was just too busy to carry out effective, regular and engaging performance development conversations.

No structured performance development framework meant that leaders and staff were unaware of what the other wanted.  That led to underperformance, demotivated workers and, in one site, staff departing regularly because they felt completely valueless.

In just one quarter (three months), both organisations took the feedback on board, introduced performance reviews – and opened up a much-needed dialogue between managers and staff.  Put simply, the leaders are now more needs-aware.

The next quarterly survey in one site has already shown significant improvement in staff satisfaction in this area.  Can the leaders there rest on their laurels?  No, and they don’t want to.  They have seen the difference this engagement has made in their business.  Now, they are looking at other measures, such as better time and resource management, getting to know and understand one another’s behaviours and personalities etc.  People are more productive and there are fewer departures.  In just three months.

Next, there is the benefit for the organisation as a whole

 Here’s the official BP2W rationale:

 Attract and retain quality people. Become an employer of choice. With BP2W® you can expect fewer people problems, less attrition and reduced staff turnover. This frees up time for leaders to lead and focus more on strategy and the business of the day.”

In both my clients’ sites, there is actual dialogue between managers and teams.  Actually, in some sites this is happening for the first time, and it has caused a bit of surprise or even cynicism.  Staff turnover in this site remains a key issue, because of the costs it results in.  Things have been said in the past, and nothing has changed.  Why should this be any different?

That’s easy.  It’s because BP2W is different.  It is styled as a simple anonymous online survey.  In fact, it’s a highly-complex psychological profiling tool, applied to individuals, and collated by team. The answers to the survey make leaders more needs-aware.  They do this by enabling staff to grade how well leaders meet their needs as individuals.  This helps people highlight things to their leaders in ways that perhaps they didn’t think of before.  That’s the skill that has gone into the development of this product, born of solving issues of unmet need in some high-risk, volatile circumstances.

The questions are also phrased in such a way that the leaders don’t feel completely criticised.  This is crucial to the buy-in and adoption of the findings.  BP2W brings people together to solve a shared problem.

And then, the benefits of being more needs-aware for teams and individuals

“Feeling valued and listened to are key ingredients for high esteem, morale and motivation. BP2W® cultivates a needs met’ culture resulting in individuals becoming more accountable, collaborative and receptive to feedback. For teams this creates a stronger sense of unity and identity. With the politics out of the way, teams become more solution focused leading directly to higher productivity.”

In my clients’ sites, I deal largely with the management, so I don’t see the individuals very often.  However, a couple of employees from one client have got in touch, to explore the diagnostic some more, and to find out how they can deepen their personal learning.  These are really positive signs of engagement, which may not have happened before.  It is early days with both clients, but to be stimulating intelligent and informed debate this early has to be a win.  Discussions aid a collaborative approach in the workplace, which builds the unity, team spirit and effectiveness that ever leader would want.

As you read this, I am pretty confident you can remember a time when you had a “bad boss”.  And you probably define “bad” as not listening, not taking time for you, not understanding what you needed in work.  Despite this experience, can you hand-on-heart say that you don’t slip into those behaviours now, as a leader?  DO you really know what is going on for your team?  Are their needs ACTUALLY being met?  How receptive to feedback and fresh ideas are you?

In the event that your team are telling you their needs are being met, congratulations.  (I would still like you to check on how accurate that confirmation is, from time to time, please). You might also like to check that this translates as you being needs-aware AND that you are doing something to meet their evolving needs.

On the other hand…

If you are starting to think “OK, you may have a point …” then how about giving BP2W a go?  It is an excellent product, as I may have stated above!  In addition, its inventor is so confident you will love its benefits that you can sign up to the diagnostic for a FREE trial!  You can’t say fairer than that.

So please have a look at the BP2W website and watch some videos (there’s a wide range of informative talks to choose from which explain pretty much everything about the tool).  Then please get in touch, to find out how to access a trial, or to find out the great value entry level costs involved for your organisation.  You’ll be fully needs-aware before you know it.

 

Are you bouncing back in Leadership?

Are you bouncing back in Leadership?

Five years ago, I came across an interesting report, about bouncing back in leadership. It was by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and focused on leaders’ resilience. They reprised it in 2020 with good cause. In this blog I take a slightly different look at its six key lessons learned. These were:

  1. Destigmatise failure for a resilient company culture
  2. Develop risk tolerance
  3. Accept, re-evaluate and face forward
  4. Leadership for resilience: a balanced mindset and humility
  5. Mentoring
  6. Building and using support networks

When I look at this list, I see some interesting groupings of ideas.

First of all, there’s an emphasis on the benefits of agility and flexibility of approach.

When I was qualifying for my accreditation in neuro-linguistic programming, we were taught that flexibility is a key tenet of the discipline. The most flexible person will succeed (or “win”, depending on your viewpoint). That means flexibility in the sense of able to respond appropriately to changing circumstances and keep focused. It also means adapting one’s leadership style to different circumstances AND different people, often simultaneously.

Some believe, mistakenly, that flexible equals weak. That is simply wrong. It takes huge strength to keep focused but remain adaptable and responsive in a complex situation. That’s where conscious risk-taking, and managed “failure” are so vital to leadership success. This is particularly true when you’re bouncing back from something as all-encompassing as the pandemic.

The flexible leader is one who understands risk and how to manage it as a part of their everyday workload. The successful leader is one who combines this flexibility and risk awareness with an ability to keep matters in perspective, so they can accept a situation, deal with it … and move on.

I also notice the importance of self-awareness, to bouncing back in leadership.

Bouncing back in leadership requires a positive and reflective mindset as well as a balanced one. The successful leader needs to understand their own strengths as well as the areas where they need to help of others to improve. Whether a mentor, or a skilled team member whose specialist knowledge can give the organisation the edge, the leader needs to recognise what they have to offer, and work with the other person (or people) to improve their own leadership performance, as they lead their team, or even organisation, forward.

The self-aware leader will understand their boundaries, so they will create and maintain a positive, inclusive, can-do culture. Knowing where to stop, and help people learn for themselves by doing for themselves, is key. That will help their organisation to thrive; this is particularly important in the post-pandemic business world.

The self-aware leader will also be mindful of what they simply should not be doing. It could be things they can’t do, or things they don’t have time to do. There could also be lots of things where others are better-placed to do them than the leader. Understanding that is a big part of being a successful leader. It makes for better headspace, to respond to the business’ need. It also can stop expensive, ego-driven mistakes!

The final way I think the learning divides-up, is people’s reliance and need for people.

A leader can’t be a leader if people won’t be led. The interpersonal skills required by leaders are perhaps more important than any others. It is central to a leader’s toolkit, to deal with others in an effective, positive and human way. Driving people too hard, pushing deals too aggressively, failing to notice other people’s circumstances … these are all leadership crimes against organisational resilience, in my view. A leader must learn to allow reliance on other humans, for help, for effective delivery and for support.

Support while bouncing back? Surely we’re back to weakness here?

If you think leaders don’t need support, you are missing the whole point. Successful leaders exist in a complex, inter-related matrix of relationships, where individuals need other individuals and teams, and even whole organisations. The same applies for teams and whole organisations too. And that’s before you even get near a major crisis, let alone responding to, during and after Covid.

Mentoring is a formal and acceptable word for “leadership support”, where a leader takes inspiration and sometimes even instruction from someone who can teach them what and how. Business and social networks exist to build business, but any leader who ignores the opportunity to connect with other leaders at a human level is missing a massive trick. People buy from people.

Remember Maya Angelou’s quote, part of which is

“People will never forget how you made them feel”.

Leaders need to understand that those people consenting to be led deserve to be treated well, with respect, and to be involved in decision-making. That way, an organisation is well run. It is also in a great place to bounce back from something as huge as the pandemic, because the organisation will have employees who really care about its values, performance and the outcomes everyone can achieve together. People matter. A successful leader never ever forgets that.

I hope you have found these takes on the CMI report of use and interest. If you are doing all they recommend, that’s great. Congratulations.

If you need some help to get you there, I can help with that. Please get in touch and let’s have a chat about getting you bouncing back in leadership.

How to know whether your team is “Thriving” ?

How to know whether your team is “Thriving” ?

How to know, whether your team is “thriving” in this new normal?  What do you do? And why is that so important?  I argue the case for profiling here.

Let’s start by defining “Thriving”.  Here is one definition:

“To grow vigorously; flourish.

To be successful or make steady progress; prosper”

(thefreedictionary.com)

If you apply this to your team, you are wanting them to develop, improve, be successful for themselves as well as your organisation, and be happy while they are doing all this.

What are your reference points, for you to gauge whether your team is thriving?  Do you have any?  Maybe they smile when you speak with them?  Perhaps they are continually working to a high standard?  You may be offering them lots of Continuous Professional Development opportunities that they would be mad to turn down.

If you were offered these assessment criteria by a supplier about something you are buying from them, would you settle for them?  Or would you drill down into the quality, frequency and reasoning of the checks?  That way, you could really understand how, what and why your supplier is measuring at all.  After all, that’s running a tight ship, isn’t it?

You may want to stop and think about that.

You could actually be taking a deal more care about a supplier and the widgets you buy from them, than your own team.  When you look at it like that, it’s not a great place to be as an employer, is it?

And if you have spotted that difference in attitude, you can bet your team has too.

 

So, what can you do to prevent this happening?

One thing you can do is check in with your people.  Ask them how they are doing and give them enough time and full attention to allow them to answer and know that you were listening.  Remember their important dates (birthdays, anniversary of joining the organisation, Christmas, Eid, Passover … whatever would work for them). Know if they have a new grandchild, or someone’s getting married, and definitely if they have lost someone close (that will have happened to so many during the pandemic).

Another top tip is to act on pet peeves, that you can collect when you are checking in with your team.  Is there something small and irritating that, if you could make sure there was more or less of it, would make people’s lives much better?  What’s stopping you wanting to make your team’s lives better?  You can be seen to be responsive AND tackle some hurdles to improved productivity into the bargain.

Keeping the lines of communication open, clear and honest is so important to effective leadership.  It is also crucial to helping your organisation bounce back better after the pandemic.  This is so important, because it is the best way to keep everyone on-message, engaged in the organisation’s future, and doing the right things at the right time, to get you all to where you need to be. Talking – and listening, are crucial leadership tools to check whether your team is thriving.

Listening to your team is particularly brilliant.  However, it does need your team to know how to answer your questions, and for you to know the right questions to ask.  How would you assess your team’s readiness to change?  How about their personal skills and strengths to deliver the bounce-back levels of delivery you will need? It is certain you will have an idea … but without checking in on that idea, it is probably just informed guesswork.  Just like prioritising widgets over people, that may not be your best leadership plan for a thriving team and organisation.

 

There is an easier way.

Profiling tools are a cost-effective and high-value way to know much more about your team, and to help them to know much more about themselves.  There are many profiling tools out there, but not that many which focus exclusively on people’s needs in work.  Add to that the fact that you want to check people’s individual views on how their needs are met in work, and link this to an ILM Certificate in Leadership for you and your top team, and there is only one.  An Even Better Place to Work, or affectionately known as BP2W.

BP2W offers your team the chance to answer a simple online questionnaire, which then gives them and you a detailed view of how needs are met across your whole organisation.  Why is this important?  When you create more happy and engaged people at work, levels of morale, commitment and productivity will flourish.  In other words, your team will thrive.

Not only that, but by identifying, measuring and then meeting people’s needs, you will create a culture which empowers your team, individually and collectively, to take ownership of their challenges, opportunities and overall performance. As the inventor of BP2W, Shay McConnon, says,

“People ask ‘what am I going to do?” not “what is management going to do for me?’ “.

Just imagine how fantastic it would be, to listen to your team, to get to know them this well AND to give them your honest efforts that really address their needs.  You will be making your organisation truly an Even Better Place to Work.

To find out more, and book a complimentary demonstration of the system, please get in touch.  You – and your team – will be so glad you did.

 

 

Leading Ahead of the Curve

Leading Ahead of the Curve

In this blog, I’ll explore how refocusing on your leadership skills can keep your organisation ahead of the curve.

 

At the forefront of or leading in something, such as a developing

situation, field of study or business,  social development, etc.

This is how the Free Dictionary’s online idioms reference defines keeping “ahead of the curve”.

Let’s examine what that means.  There’s certainly a lot of inherent change in that definition, where you would be “at the forefront”, in a “developing situation”.  That sounds unpredictable, evolving and perhaps unclear … precisely the kind of everyday leadership change challenges my clients face.

And in change, there is a lot of potential distractions, which dissipate energy.  To keep at the forefront in anything, you will need to be pretty single-minded.  The late Stephen R Covey said,

“the main thing, is to keep The Main Thing, the main thing”.

Simple to say, very, very difficult to do.

In the next normal, life will be more complex than ever, and this “developing situation” will offer up a host of challenges and possibilities.  In the post-pandemic world, there will be a lot of curves out there.

There will be so many changes looming; some of them will be your choice; some of them will offer you no choice at all.  How will you prioritise your resources, to make the best advances you can?

So, to revert to Covey: what IS your “main thing”, which has kept you successful, perhaps even ahead of the pre-Covid curve?  What is your organisation’s Unique Selling Point, or singular advantage?  Is what worked pre-Covid still going to work in this next normal?

How has the pandemic affected the resources at your disposal?  Has the pandemic hit your income streams?  Do you have as many people in your organisation?  Have new people become available to do different things?

And once you know the answers to these tricky questions, there’s then the issue of you.  How are you feeling about your leadership skills?  What impact has Covid had on your personal resilience?  What else will you need to bring to your organisation, to add that extra something to help everyone bounce back that bit stronger?

Once you know what your “Main Thing” is, and whether it still is your main thing, you have a clear direction.  And that in itself will keep you ahead of most of your competitors, while they work out where their organisation now sits in this new world.  However, the key is to have not only a plan of what you will do, but how.

That is where the management of change really comes into play.  You will know your resources, so will be able to define what you can and cannot do, moving forward.  That will help you plan on how you keep your “Main Thing” front and centre for your organisation.

And that is where managing your change, through your people, is going to really put you ahead of the curve.  Empowering your teams, equipping them with knowledge and autonomy, so they take decisions that really matter, will be trusting your people to do the right thing well.  These are all things that will build you a strong modern workforce.  Resilient, engaged and committed to your “Main Thing”, your people will feel they have a real stake in your whole organisation’s success, as you pull together yet again.

All these factors are crucial leadership challenges – and opportunities.  You can blame a lot on the pandemic, but you can also thank it for a lot too.  You can use it as the reason to give people more freedoms, choice and influence.  Experiment and set your people free to experiment too.  Everyone will feel they have more of a stake in your organisation’s success.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?

It does not, however, sound easy.

If you could use some expert professional help, to refocus your leadership skillset, I can help with that.  In addition to executive and leadership coaching, my company can offer you a range of services to enhance how you lead your team into your thriving next normal.

So please book an appointment for a complimentary chat, and let’s make a start on your path to “ahead of the curve”, wherever that leads.

Being a Confidante to CEOs

Being a Confidante to CEOs

In this blog I explore how I work, being a confidante to CEOs, business owners and Managing Directors.

This came about by accident.  A client of mine was clearly struggling with his ambition and finding the people and the structures to make it a reality.

“It’s all going round and round in my head!”

He was full of great ideas.  He was also bursting with frustration.  My poor client was so busy being the kingpin in his business, he felt he had no “headspace” time to work through his opportunities.  One specific issue was that he felt his own role was unclear (he had a pretty acute case of Chief Cook and Bottle Washer Syndrome).  He also felt lonely in his position.  Not in a personal way, but in terms of the business.  There was no one to chew over ideas with.  No one to tell about his dreams.  No one to listen to him and really hear him.

That’s where I came in.  Executive Coaching is not simply working with people at the top of the tree.  It is a separate strand of coaching practice, in my view, with being a confidante at its heart.  It requires the coach to have strategic insight and awareness.  The process also requires a deep understanding of how a business needs to run, and how its leadership needs to behave.  It is holding up the mirror to the leader, even if that mirror is unpalatable.

This approach takes courage, on the part of both coach and coachee.  There is a strong bond of mutual honesty and transparency between coach and coachee, and particularly so at this level.  In a study a few years ago, 98% of the top earners in Harvard Business School’s alumni had coaches.  They had coaches to help their focus, maintain their clarity of purpose, and to help keep them honest to themselves, their values and their ambition.

So, I said, trying to sound casual, “I can help with that”.  The look of surprise on my client’s face was priceless – a mix of surprise (although I am not entirely sure why it would be a surprise given our coaching – a topic for another blog I suspect!), relief and delight.

Being a confidante

We set aside a whole morning, which in and of itself was a big deal for my client.  He had to delegate, turn off his phone, postpone prospecting meetings …he forced himself to prioritise his own needs for once.

We started off with a brain dump – getting all the relevant thoughts out of his head and onto sticky notes.  I know this wasn’t very sustainable, but it was effective and these days I use online alternatives anyhow … this is a tale from the “old normal”.

Once he cleared his head of the thoughts and associated noise, it was as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.  After a break, he returned to looking at all his thoughts laid out in front of him, and he smiled.  In fact, he beamed.

He then proceeded to draft out a structure for his company and place the thoughts-stickies around the structure.  Most importantly, he created a role for himself.  That was when the smile became triumphant.

“That’s it!”

In this simple exercise, of listening, asking questions to prompt thoughts and answers, and challenging any assumptions that reared their heads, I had been able to help him find the clarity that had been eluding him.  He now had his CEO’s  Confidante.

And most importantly of all, he knew he was no longer alone in his role.  Whenever he has a strategic knot to untangle, he gets in touch, we speak, he solves his challenge.  No fancy programme, no retreats, no intensives.  Just the occasional check-in and coaching conversation, based on trust and understanding.

 

If you can identify with my client’s situation, and your head is full of thoughts and noise that you want to clear, I can indeed help with that.  Please get in touch and let’s set up an initial online “meeting” to chat over what’s bothering you … and see where that leads.

 

You will be so pleased you did.