Posts Tagged ‘ tactical leader ’

Diffusing Defensiveness – Converting Caustic Communication Exchanges into Casual Conversation!

SERIES: Part Two of a Four-Part Article

The ability to transition caustic communication exchanges into fluid, non-threatening conversations may seem like an art form to many, but actually it is more of a science. And with science, there are truths, steps and processes that can be learned, followed and replicated for lasting success as a leader today.

Many times what one perceives as caustic are not really the words, but rather how those words are shaped and sent. Whether in your visual exchanges, verbal communications or kinesthetic, hands-on interactions, you can diffuse potentially or blatantly caustic exchanges into healthy, casual conversation by doing the following:

  1. Challenge Words – You will want to eliminate or significantly reduce the volume of challenge words you use. These are any words that imply you are pointing at the other party and thereby challenging them…this only causes the other party to become defensive. Some examples: however; but; and; you; think; opinion.
  1. Ownership Words – You can diffuse caustic behaviors and even avoid the appearance of being combative by using words that imply you are pointing at yourself. It is more difficult to get into trouble if you are pointing at or hitting yourself as opposed to pointing at, singling out or hitting another person with your communication exchanges. Some examples: we; us; team; feel.
  1. Decode the Communication Signal – Studies indicate that communication exchanges with another person consist of three distinct pieces. It is within these pieces that one can determine where the caustic force is.  Once isolated, one can direct the conversation toward success and away from stress. Your brain will interpret the most information from the non-verbal components (the “WHY Factor”) and the least from the actual words or message (the “WHAT Factor”). The middle percentage of information you will receive will come from the para-language (the “HOW Factors”).

The para-language aspect (one’s tone, pitch, pace, volume, accent, etc.) shapes how a message is perceived. In most communication exchanges, caustic interpretations come more from “HOW” a message is crafted and sent than what is actually said.

  1. Reframe – When a message irritates you and evolves toward caustic communication, evaluate the “WHAT,” “WHY” and “HOW” components of the communication you have just read or heard. Don’t overreact merely to the para-language aspect of the communication exchange.
  1. Never Respond Immediately – When you find yourself engaged in caustic communication exchanges, refrain from responding immediately. Instead, determine the best way to craft your response to the other person. This pregnant pause may cause the other party to realize how out of control they are, and this may stimulate either an apology or a calming effect from the other party.
  1. Eliminate Caustic E-mail Language – In addition to avoiding “Challenge Words” in an e-mail, eliminate caustic communication blunders as well. These include bold face type, all capitals, italicized type, underlining, highlighting in red ink, etc. These variables are para-language in a written format and can be perceived as caustic communication.
  1. Visualize A Mental Teeter-Totter – While engaging a person in a situation containing caustic communication, visualize their forehead with a teeter-totter on it. As you look at them, observe a plank atop the teeter-totter. On one side is a plus sign, which represents everything you know about them that would direct their attention in a favorable manner; on the other side of the beam, visualize a negative sign. Obviously, if they are communicating in a caustic manner, you can visualize which way their beam is leaning and avoid doing anything that would further weigh them, and thus the conversation, in a negative manner.

You will want to diffuse them by working first to neutralize that beam and continuing your communication intervention in a constructive, non-caustic direction. This will, in many instances, serve to recondition the other party, and they will begin to model your communication behavior.

This tactical approach can serve you well, change how others perceive you and change how others interact with one another. As a tactical leader, these are the varying engagement styles you will want to emulate for greater personal and professional effectiveness on a daily basis.

Dr Jeff Magee
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Personnel Assessment for Cultivating Performance Greatness – Converting Your Terrorist Into a Transformer!

SERIES: Part Four of a Four-Part Article

So you thought it was unique to you. You never thought anyone else faced this. You stayed up late at night wondering how you ended up with this person.

Well the reality is you are not alone!

Some people have evolved into a behavior and mindset that they are the only person in the universe and they can do whatever they want. Unfortunately, this mindset has evolved due to years of an overconfident economy and protective self-serving entities that have rewarded their behavior by overcompensation and avoidance. But most importantly, it has evolved because no one has ever truly held them accountable for their actions!

That behavior that gets recorded gets measured.

What gets measured gets addressed.

What gets addressed gets fixed!

Like a cancer within an organization, these people erode the mettle that makes an organization great. They serve to bitter those that would have otherwise been great contributors to your team.

So what are possible solutions? Consider:

  1. Employee Assessment Instrument Facilitation – Consider the active use of your performance review instrument with this person and all employees. If the net purpose of a performance instrument is to coach individuals to peak performance, the case is self-made for regular monthly completion.
  1. Employee Assessment Instrument Measurement Categories – Consider the behaviors necessary for an optimal performing business unit and the players within it. Each category of behaviors should be listed on your instrument. The score grid should be fair and allow for positive and brutally honest constructive feedback as well. If someone “fails/stinks” in an area, it should be brutally listed accordingly. Conversely, if someone excels in an area, they should be listed accordingly.
  1. Employee Assessment Instrument Measurement “Problem Behavior” Categories – Recognize that with many problem employees, their implosion-causing behaviors are typically just outside the scope of your standard instrument. Every time a new corrosive behavior appears, let that be your clue to add a new individual entry or entire section for future assessment. Although the instrument will grow over time, it is actually a good thing. Remember: the purpose of the instrument is to improve professional performance, and one individual’s act of poor performance serves as a benchmark for ensuring others not evolve into poor habits and behaviors.
  1. Duality of Signatures – Whichever instrument you use to identify poor behavior performance, it should require a signature by all parties involved in the review process. This should also specifically stipulate when the follow-up session will occur to determine if the identified behaviors and action plans are being addressed.
  1. Resignation of Employment Clause – Consider crating a statement into your assessment instrument, stipulating that if the problematic behavior continues, the next assessment will serve as a 30-day notice.  The notice should confirm that if the said behavior continues, the signed document would serve as a voluntary “Resignation Statement” that can be implemented by that organization’s leadership without further notice. This allows for two entire months for a person to change their behavior and two entire months for the leadership team to be held accountable to work with them from a solution-oriented perspective (for a sample instrument, get a copy of YIELD MANAGEMENT, a leading graduate management text with Appendix Instrument templates, at www.JeffreyMagee.com/library.asp.

The unfortunate situation that has grown out of this terrorist behavior is that it has become so corrosive to the team that the levels of greatness, which everyone could be experiencing, are lost. Also, there is always the concern of litigation after you free up someone’s future. Overwhelming documentation of a poor performer who has not aggressively worked to change that station is hard to legally defend. Conversely, your lack of data upon letting someone go will make for a heavy payday for the ambulance- chancing legal team!

While there is a significant amount of institutional knowledge, training and financial investment that an organization has made into every player in an organization, just “firing someone” should never be a first thought – or a thought at all! Robert Half & Associates, a leading employment search firm, estimates that the cost of transitioning one player out and going through the processes of getting a functioning new player online can cost upwards of two and a half times a person’s annual salary. As a tactical leader, it is necessary to realize the heavy investment you have made and determine every possible mean of salvaging that investment.

The “Personnel Assessment” you use for cultivating performance greatness and converting your terrorists into transformers will serve as a powerful objective instrument and allow for you to hold yourself to fair assessment.

-Dr Jeff Magee
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Personnel Assessment For Cultivating Performance Greatness – Rebuilding & Using Performance Applications!

SERIES: Part Three of a Four-Part Article

Is there a way to build a better mousetrap? Of course there is. If done, would anyone want to buy a better mousetrap or are people so complacent that they don’t really want to improve their performance?

Businesses have evolved into using very similar methods for immersing new players to a team and ensuring that all of the government mandates are met. This has detracted from real performance, however, causing it to become the third or fourth most important factor on the list of priorities.

One simple way to improve the performance of every player in an organization is to rebuild the application that one traditionally fills out when applying for a position. Convert this application that one would fill-out away from the traditional “Position Application” and to a “Performance Application” and share this new insight with everyone vested in these results – everyone should know the performance abilities of every player on a team. Once this knowledge is shared, everyone can be held accountable for drawing upon one another – in an appropriate strategic and tactical manner – for peak performance!

Cultivating performance greatness from the beginning can be drawn from the valuable information that one would give you if asked the right questions. Consider: 

  1. Basic Contact Data – Obvious data collection points on an application, such as name, needed contact data, address, phone, DOB, etc…
  1. Formal Education – Solicit all levels and highest level of formal education attained.
  1. Work – All applicable previous work positions and additional questions as to how any of this data would be an added value to you and the present team. Allow them sell themselves and illustrate how they can impact the team, if allowed to join, by aiding it in increasing revenue, saving revenue and/or increasing productivity.

As a tactical leader, to cultivate peak performance and coach greater performance on a daily basis, you actually will not be drawing upon this information for someone to perform, but rather:

  1. Practical Education – Solicit from individuals the last twenty or forty seminars, symposiums, home study courses completed or workshops they have attended. Ask them to recap how at least five to ten of these can be immediately drawn from for utilization in your environment. Solicit how these ongoing educational exposures can actually have more immediate and lasting positive performance impact upon you and the team than any traditional formal degree!
  1. Certifications – Solicit the totality of any life certifications they have attained and ways others on your team could glean value from them. Inquire how those could be drawn upon and in what ways they could serve as the team’s subject matter expert in those domains, thus leading others’ performances to greatness!
  1. Must Have – Also solicit on this performance application by category prompts all the necessary skill abilities a person must have to even rise to the state of peak performance in any specific functioning area. You know what people must have to be true performers and what the functionality traits are that one must possess to be successful; don’t keep those a secret.  Rather, enter them into this application template.

In essence, consider expanding the traditional second data collection field of education into both the “Formal” and now the “Practical” educational requirements or ideal sought capabilities. Most organizations DO NOT COLLECT this data presently!

Once this data is collected, don’t keep it a secret. Broadcast these performance insights both horizontally within your business area and vertically to leaders to have as strategic access opportunities.

Performance success does not just happen. Success leaves clues, and the purpose of this “Performance Application” is solicit exactly that – performance showcase snapshots from the past that can be extrapolated for the future.

-Dr Jeff Magee
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Twelve Power Steps to Developing Tactical Legendary Leader Status!

Executive Summary:  Summarization of Tactical Leadership Traits

As a leader, one is measured both on how one strategically approaches responsibilities and how one tactically fulfills each action undertaken. As a leader, the tactics one deploys have a direct affect on the net outcome of any performance, personally or from the team one leads.

In the business world today, the performance of every person in every position must be finely tuned to such a level that everything within a leader’s sphere of influence can be addressed with precision. This will free up one’s mental and physical energies when unexpected circumstances occur.

In studying peak leadership performers today, one will notice there are a minimum of twelve tactical leadership skills that every leader will engage in and every aspiring leader must understand, practice, enhance and deploy:

  1. Decision Making
  2. Meeting Management Effectiveness
  3. Change Management and Facilitation
  4. Attitude Effectiveness and Influence
  5. Communication Effectiveness
  6. Personnel Assessment
  7. Diffusing Defensiveness
  8. Leader as Counselor
  9. Tactical Daily Administration Efficiencies
  10. Conditioning Others for Success
  11. Motivation and Motivating Skills
  12. Deploying Exportable Skills

As a leader, there is a myriad of ways to tactically deliver and execute each of these twelve core leadership Actions, Behaviors or Characteristics. Consider this an essential ABC Plan for effective tactical business leaders in the new marketplace. The ABC Plan represents the following: 

  1. A – Actions required by a leader to tactically execute the functionality of any position or task. Also, the actions required of a position or task that an individual will be expected to deploy to be successful.
  2. B – Behaviors required to be possessed by an individual. Also, subsequent competencies or actions needed to fulfill expectations of a position.
  3. C – Characteristics of a peak performer in a position or executing a task.

As you asses your own effective leadership ABC’s, in which of these twelve tactical ABC’s do you feel competent, and which ones may serve as guideposts for improvement? Consider the same assessment as you evaluate your talent pool from which you grow tomorrow’s leaders today.

This concludes ideas on tactical leadership effectiveness.   For the entire tactical tools, order the forthcoming hardback, Building a Tactical Leader.

Dr Jeff Magee
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The “Exportable Performance Player” Validates Effective Tactical Leadership!

Should you invest in developing the skill set of your human capital and have it potentially leave you, or not provide it with continual skill development and have it remain?

As a tactical leader, the answer is simple. Continually developing “Exportable Performance Players” for your organization is the ingredient that spells success and profitability. No matter which business one is in today, the continual need to refine and fine-tune individuals’ core competency skill sets is a minimal must to be relevant tomorrow.

Recognize the value of an individual to your business as an asset, much like leading- edge technology, equipment, facilities and market share. People are today’s most valuable asset.

Every player within your organizational diagram (whether identified from a global perspective or within individual strategic business units, lines, divisions, departments, areas, etc.) must be seen as an asset.  They should be viewed as having unique skill sets that may have specific application to what they do, and these skill sets must also be observed for exportable application.

A tactical leader continually asks whether he or she has created an atmosphere that is conducive for individuals to welcome, embrace and seek out ongoing skill development (technical, non-technical, degreed or non-degreed, certification or non-certification) that would then be exportable with them should they need to make a career transition. Consider:

  1. Can an individual with his or her present skill set make a horizontal move within your organization and bring immediate value to their new team?
  2. Can an individual make a vertical move within your organization and shepherd others to greatness with his or her always relevant skill set?

How exportable are you and those that you lead based upon unique skill sets, experience and performance platforms?

As a tactical leader, you may need to work with other stakeholders within your organization to create an atmosphere in which everyone becomes fanatical about on-going and continuous skill set development. Consider whether your organization has developed peak performers with exportable skills:

  1. Has the executive team willingly embraces skill development initiatives and has defined career development pathways for everyone?
  2. Has the rhetoric of all influencers (management, unions, senior employees and new hires) moved from excuses and nay-saying to outright endorsement and instances whereby everyone welcomes and actively participates in on-going training?
  3. Has the union leadership enthusiastically embraced any training opportunity to make any member/employee more valuable (and thus, exportable) to his or her functionality?
  4. Is the overall attitude of employees to welcome and hold one another accountable to the use of new skills for continually increased efficiencies in everything that is undertaken within an organization?

A few years ago, a study by the American Society for Training and Development revealed that the amount of time organizations inAmericainvested into training initiatives for their human capital was less than two percent of the annual employee work time each year. A true test for today’s tactical leader is to correctly and continually provide the sequential skill improvement and enhancement necessary for each individual to do two critical things:

  1. Become the very best they can be (present tense and future) at the task for which an organization has employed them.
  2. Attain their personal goals, whether within your organization or onward toward another place in life.

Knowing whether or not employees have truly relevant exportable skills can be answered by this question: “If an employee on your present team were to leave you and go to another business unit within your organization or to a new employer, and you were that person now to consider hiring them, would that employee bring with them truly cutting edge skills that could be immediately drawn upon to elevate the level of performance of the new environment?”

A player performing at peak levels of effectiveness is a sign that a great leader has invested daily, tactically and wisely into an individual. A player that can take those skills and move onward, upward or outward and continue his or her reign of success is an even greater testament of great leadership.

Dr Jeff Magee
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Motivating Performance with Primetime Activities!

High action and high production are two universes apart. Highly successful people are productive!

To maintain high levels of energy and ensure performance motivation, consider which time of the day/night you work on which activities. Consider the following three questions to determine what your “Prime Time” is and which activities should be addressed during this powerful energy window for increased or sustained motivation:

  1. Are you an a.m. or p.m. person (during which  time of the professional day do you tend to have your highest mental and physical energies?)?
  1. Define that window of a.m. or p.m. in terms of which precise hours of the day it starts and ends.
  1. To determine the true “Prime Time” within this window, recognize the limited hours within it during which you have the fewest distractions and interruptions.

This is your “Prime Time”.  It is within this time frame that you should always schedule the action items that generate the greatest net yield to your purpose for being. To better determine which items should be on your schedule, reflect upon your organizational, departmental and personal mission statements.

For example, if you were an a.m. person, and that could be defined as 7 a.m.through noon, your “Prime Time” would be from7 a.m. to about9:30 a.m. So, it is within this window that you would want to schedule those things that require the greatest degree of mental and physical alertness. It would be detrimental to your productivity schedule to be cleaning coffee pots, rearranging paperwork on your desk or participating in other low impact activities during this time!

By assigning appropriate items to your “Prime Time” sequence, you will find that your output skyrockets. By replicating this same business model with those around you, their productivity will skyrocket as well! Recognize that when you experience greater victories of meaningful accomplishment, your self-esteem rises, and that influences your inner motivation and passion. As a leader, how you tactically approach your work and appropriately assign endeavors to your daily energy flow will directly influence the output for success.

Dr Jeff Magee
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Motivating the Poor and Low Performer!

Executive Summary:  How a leader can tactically engage the poor or low performer to refocus their energies for increased organizational contribution

“Where do poor performers and low performers exist, and how can a leader tactically engage them to refocus their energies and become contributors to the organization once again?”

As noted in the classic strategic business book, GOOD TO GREAT (©2002) by Jim Collins, a large portion of business success in the new world economy is who is on your team. In essence, it is “Getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and then getting the people on the bus in the right position.” It may be time to find a dignified way to remove the poor or low performer from your team immediately!

In motivating the poor and low performer, consider the following tactical ideas as a leader of influence:

  1. Relentless Pursuit of Positive – Continually maintain a positive point of reference when engaging this player and only accept positive, forward-moving solutions to any situation, problem or obstacle they raise.
  1. Set Them up for Success – Recognize this player’s core skill set and set them up with a daily task that plays to their strength. Most individuals experience accomplishment when they do things they are good. Accomplishments trigger a person’s mind victory. This feeds higher self- esteem, greater enthusiasm, higher levels of passion and greater motivation!
  1. Surround Sound System – Ensure that the environmental noises, team associations, individual interactions and assigned tasks continually reflect only positive images and experiences in the work domain.
  1. Drown Out the Old – Realize that one of the things that feeds low and poor performers is one’s ability to replay passive-aggressive whiner comments like, “We can’t do that here,” or, “You can’t do that,” or, “That will never work.” Whenever anyone engages in negative diatribe, politely insist on a viable option with detailed explanations.
  1. Celebrate Accomplishments – Even the smallest accomplishment should be celebrated. Many times, what has fed the low and poor performer’s mindset is a belief that they are not appreciated, respected or valued inside the team. Everyone needs a little encouragement. By celebrating small and large accomplishments of an individual or team, this excites and energizes everyone!
  1. Demand Alternatives – Every time individuals say something won’t work or is a bad idea, don’t defend yourself or challenge them. Instead, demand that they offer a viable alternative. Politely engage them from a firm perspective that conveys the message of put up or shut up!

You might use a sentence such as, “If this idea won’t work, what do feel would be some alternative options?”

  1. Reposition Task-Player Connection – You may have a great personnel asset in the low or poor performer, it is just that the person in question has evolved into a position for which they are not prepared, trained, skilled or competent. Either provide the player with the necessary skill development to succeed, evaluate a better position for them on the team or reassign the task that is feeding their negative disposition to a more qualified player on your team.

As a leader, engaging the low and poor performer with some of these tactical engagement approaches can recondition them to be more proactive. As noted in YIELD MANAGEMENT(©1999 by Jeff Magee), there are a host of tactical approaches one can deploy to get “good people on your bus, potential low performers back in alignment and bad people off the bus.” In many cases, individuals morph into low and poor performance standards as a result of early improper engagement by managerial-leaders. Studies reveal that individuals need three primary organizational guideposts to thrive:

  1. Structure
  2. Nurture
  3. Discipline

Recognize that when managers or leaders begin evading or eliminating these three guideposts, the endpoint typically is destructive. By following this three-step template, you can craft appropriate behaviors for success and work to convert a low and poor performer back into a constructive positive performer.

Dr Jeff Magee
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