Upcoming Webinar! True Stories from the Management Trenches

ihwx-aed34eff-119a-4bf3-af4d-f073535273d3-200-175Date: Thursday, January 5
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Speaker: Jathan Janove

Click here to register

From dealing with underperformers to fighting off lawsuits, employee problems are the bane of a manager’s existence. So what do most managers do? Ignore them! And that’s a recipe for more problems.

In this Soundview Live webinar, True Stories from the Management Trenches, HR expert and employment attorney Jathan Janove takes you inside the messy reality of situations gone wrong. These sometimes funny, always cautionary tales reinforce crucial lessons for managers. And each story suggests simple strategies to turn the situation around.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to develop Star Profiles for each position to increase engagement and determine whether or not an employee belongs.
  • The role management plays in exacerbating (or easing) trouble.
  • The memorable lessons that help managers motivate underachievers.
  • How to use discipline without inviting legal action.

Review: Under New Management by David Burkus

Speed Review: Under New Management“Management,” declares business school professor and author David Burkus in the introduction to his new book, “needs new management.” According to Burkus, too many companies are clinging to old assumptions, old processes and old habits that have grown obsolete. In Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual, he introduces a number of modern, sometimes surprising, approaches to management that directly challenge past practices and attitudes.

Burkus describes, for example, how some companies let employees take as much time off as they want. There is no allocation and monitoring of vacation days: If you want to take a vacation, take a vacation. Burkus also describes the concept of paying employees to quit. The longer you’ve worked at a company, the more cash you will get paid for quitting (up to a certain threshold).

A sample of the other new management approaches covered in the book includes:
• Banning emails
• Eliminating managers
• Making salaries transparent
• Abandoning open-office layouts
• Putting customers second.

Although they may sound counter-intuitive, if not fanciful in some cases, all of the new approaches presented by Burkus have been successfully implemented. The concept of paying employees to quit, for example, was made famous by Zappos, which will pay $4,000 in cash if new employees quit their jobs. Amazon has pushed the concept even further, offering cash for quitting once a year (the offer is a one-off at Zappos). The first year, employees are offered $2,000 to quit, and the offer goes up $1,000 every year after that until it reaches $5,000. The annual offer then stays at the $5,000 level.

Eliminating managers is one of the more surprising concepts in the book, yet it has also been successfully implemented. Burkus describes how new employees at Valve Software, an online gaming development firm estimated to be valued at $3 to $4 billion, have to get used to the fact that no one will tell them what to do.

Click here to read this review in full.

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How to Motivate Your Employees

Satisfy Their Psychological Needs
Human thriving in the workplace is a dynamic potential that requires nurturing. The workplace either facilitates, fosters and enables our flourishing, or it disrupts, thwarts and impedes it. In fact, conventional motivational practices have undermined more often than they’ve encouraged our human potential, according to Susan Fowler in Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work … and What Does.

Give Their Work Meaning
When meaning in our work is absent, we tend to disengage at some level. The provision of meaning is the solution for disengagement. When work has meaning, it drives the expenditure and investment of discretionary energy on a physical, cognitive and emotional level, Scott Mautz points out in Make It Matter. It’s the feeling that you matter and are making a difference; your engagement is paying off.

Provide Fulfilling Work
One of the most common marching orders for new leaders is to address a situation that is being presented as a workforce motivation problem, according to Jacob Stoller in The Lean CEO. Conventional wisdom in the early 1900s was that the manager-worker relationship was inherently adversarial and that the key weapons for ensuring a productive workforce were pay and threats. Psychological research since that time has shown that human motivation is far more complex than that.

Create a Winning Environment
The key to keep motivating people to perform at their best is to build self-esteem (which leads to self-confidence and self-respect) in each person who reports to you, Brian Tracy points out in Full Engagement! Each person has unlimited potential that the individual can bring to bear on the job, to do that job better and faster. People have huge reservoirs of creativity that can be unleashed to solve problems, overcome obstacles and achieve business goals.

 

To learn more about motivating your employees, subscribe to our Executive Edge newsletter and get the skills you need to get ahead.

Do You Know How to Manage Your Boss?

Our guest blogger is Mary Schaefer, co-author of Character Based Leader.

Your relationship with your boss can be one of the most complicated relationships you have. It doesn’t have to be.

Whether you think you have a boss you can work with – or not – take charge making it work. After all, your boss’s opinion matters. His or her opinion has a significant impact on your earnings, your enjoyment of your work, and your future employment.

Look at the list below. Being clear on these points can be the difference between smooth sailing, or navigating rough seas with your boss.

  • Getting agreement on your work objectives and how they will be measured.
  • Knowing your boss’s hot buttons, e.g. what she always looks for, what he never asks about.
  • Addressing any proposal/concern you have in terms that influences your boss to buy-in.  In other words, make it clear what is in it for them and the organization.

So, you get your boss’s opinion. You may not agree with it. But that’s all good. You have more information now. You may conclude you need a different assignment or even a different employer. Knowledge is power. Being informed supports good decision-making.

Don’t take anything for granted.

You may find that you and your boss have experienced disconnects in the past. Looking at the list above, any one of those points could be at play, but are not being spoken or clarified. But now, using the right tools, you can get a common understanding of your job.

Depending on the kind of relationship you have with your boss, you can use the list above in any number of ways, like:

  • You can initiate a meeting. Take this list and say, “I realize these are things that I’ve taken for granted. I want to understand how you see them.”
  • You can bring up one point in particular. Your boss might keep focusing on one issue that you think you are addressing. Now that you look at this list, you might think, “You know, I bet that’s about interdependence. I ought to ask her perspective on that.”
  • You can keep these in your back pocket to bring up at an opportune moment or when you begin to observe that something is off.

Be the leader of your own career.

You own your career; no one will ever care about it as much as you do. We talk about managers and organizations creating environments of empowerment, but you have the ability to empower yourself. When I say this what I mean is for you to:

“Claim and embody your own authority, i.e. own your dreams, decisions, actions and impact.”

With the simple points in the list in this post, you can get clear now rather than pay a price later because you didn’t. Learn to show the value of your ideas and performance. Earn trust and credibility and set the stage for more opportunities.

You have a right to expect a lot from your boss, and you are not always going to get what you need. You are responsible for making the relationship work for you. You can do it.

To learn more about how to manage your boss, join our webinar with Mary Schaefer: How to Make Your Relationship With Your Boss Work For You.

The Story of the Unlikely Grassroots Movement That Saved a Beloved Business

TWO BUSINESS PHILOSOPHIES COLLIDE

In many ways, the story of Market Basket, a regional grocery chain in the northeast, is a familiar one: The heirs to a family business engage in a tug-of-war for control of the company. In this case, however, the community, including employees, managers and customers, responds with massive action in favor of one faction of the family over the other. They mobilize with protests, petitions (organizers of one last-minute petition hoped for a few hundred signatures; they received 40,000) and widespread boycotts by customers — not to hurt the company but to save it — making the battles of Market Basket unique in the annals of family-business history. As told engagingly in We Are Market Basket, written by marketing professor Daniel Korschun and newspaper reporter Grant Welker (who covered the contentious saga for the local Lowell Sun daily), the battle of Market Basket was not just a war between cousins but a fight between two opposing views of the purpose of business.

On one side is Arthur T. Demoulas, the son of Telemachus Demoulas, son of founders Athanasios and Efrosine Demoulas. On the other side is his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, son of George Demoulas, who is another son of the founders. At one point, brothers Telemachus and George ran the chain in harmony. There is no such harmony between their sons.

There are years of recriminations, lawsuits and board battles too complex to review here. However, for the authors, the core of the conflict is in two opposing business philosophies.

Serve the Stakeholders

For CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, the purpose of the company, write Korschun and Welker, was to serve the needs of the loyal low- to middle-income customers at the low-priced store. Following what is now known as a “stakeholder” view of business, Arthur T. ensured that the company fulfilled the needs and desires of its employees, served the communities in which its stores were located and even went the extra mile for its loyal vendors.

We Are Market Basket offers numerous stories of Arthur T.’s stakeholder philosophy. For example, Arthur T. not only empowered his employees but also took a personal interest in every employee: He once offered to pay to move a store director’s severely injured daughter to a better hospital. Instead of cutting off a vendor that had fallen on hard times, he helped the vendor restore his business.

The company also considers itself a corporate citizen and contributes millions to charities.

Or Serve the Shareholders

Arthur S. and his supporters, according to the authors, had a completely different view of the business: A company existed to make money for shareholders. Arthur S. disagreed with the large employee profit-sharing bonuses and other spending that didn’t benefit shareholders. When he gained control of the board, he and his supporters set out to fire Arthur T. and succeeded in June 2014.

The firing led to huge protests in the street, walkouts by employees and most managers and a wholesale boycott of the stores by customers — a revolt that grabbed the attention of the northeast media. In essence, all of the stakeholders that Arthur T. had supported for so many years united and shut down the company. The board finally relented; Arthur T. was restored.

Neither Arthur T. nor Arthur S. agreed to be interviewed for the book, but in some ways this only adds to the authenticity of the narrative. Many company books are written by the CEO, giving a perhaps overly simple and positive view of the company’s efforts. We Are Market Basket is written from the point of view of employees (known as “associates”), managers, vendors and customers. It is written by the “we” of the title and, for that reason, deserves to be carefully read by all managers who want to learn the secrets of a successful stakeholder strategy.

The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World

Today’s guest blogger is Brian Robertson, author of Holacracy and founder of HolacracyOne.

If you’re old enough to remember the days when most PCs ran MS-DOS, consider the leap in capabilities that came with a new operating system like Windows. Your computer’s operating system, invisible though it may be, radically shapes everything on top of it.  It determines how the overall system is structured, how different processes interact and cooperate, how power is distributed and allocated between applications, and so on.

Likewise, the social “operating system” underpinning an organization is easy to ignore, yet it’s the foundation on which we build our business processes and organizational cultures.  The traditional top-down, predict-and-control management hierarchy has been the standard organizational operating system for nearly a century.  Yet when we unconsciously accept the management hierarchy as our only choice for structuring and scaling companies, we lose the opportunity to innovate in this fundamental domain of company building.

Holacracy is a new “social technology” for governing and operating an organization, which replaces the traditional management hierarchy with peer-to-peer distributed processes for structuring an organization, defining roles and responsibilities, and coordinating across organizational functions.  Holacracy aims to improve organizational responsiveness by increasing the number and scope of decisions that can safely be made quickly and locally.  It gives staff more authority and autonomy to get work done and drive continual improvements to the organization’s policies and processes.  To avoid increased autonomy coming at the expense of coordination and scale, Holacracy also adds processes to align actions and update expectations and constraints dynamically, which everyone in the organization can take advantage of.  This results in a just-in-time, minimally sufficient organizational structure that stays nimble and lightweight, driven by on-the-ground experience from getting work done.

One way or another, whether it’s Holacracy or another approach, the management hierarchy is ripe for disruption. The environment around our companies has changed dramatically since its introduction, and our organizations face new challenges in today’s global fast-moving world. But those of us building companies today have other options, and regardless of what we choose, I think we’ll be better off by at least asking the question: what power structure is right for my company?

To learn more about Holacracy, join Soundview and Brian Robertson for our Soundview Live webinar: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World.

 

Leading the Way to World-Class Excellence

theleanceo2As organizations strive to do more with less, many are turning to Lean methodology, which is based on the same techniques that propelled the legendary turnaround of Japan’s industrial sector after World War II.

The Lean CEO reveals the true power of Lean through in-depth interviews with CEOs who have gone beyond tool adoption and established Lean as a corporate-wide management system.

The CEOs tell in their own words how they applied Lean management to deliver sustainable financial results, empower and motivate employees, break down internal silos and build solid partnerships with customers and suppliers. Their testimony provides a goldmine of practical advice for managers in Lean and non-Lean organizations alike, as they share their personal insights on topics such as leading and empowering people, building transparency and trust, tuning into the customer experience and creating a learning organization.

Thoughtful, sometimes brutally frank, these leaders challenge many of the sacred cows of traditional business, such as standard cost accounting, hierarchical management, emphasis on large batches and our obsession with data and computers. Citing  numerous examples from their experiences, they provide a fresh view of today’s business challenges and a positive roadmap for any organization that is striving for excellence.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:

• How to apply Lean management to empower and motivate people.

• How to build transparency and trust.

• How to align strategic direction with day-to-day operations.

• How to instill a corporate-wide culture that promotes quality.

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the title to purchase and download it right now to begin learning these critical business skills.

 

How Managers Can Motivate by Creating Meaning

makeitmatter2

Are your people giving in instead of giving their all? Have they quit, but stayed? Probably. According to a shocking Gallup poll, more than seven out of 10 American workers are disengaged, which hurts productivity, products and personal satisfaction. In fact, one in five are more committed to not doing their jobs than doing them.

In Make It Matter, Scott Mautz shows that the key to winning back the disengaged (and keeping the engaged, engaged) is by fostering meaning at work, that is, by giving work a greater sense of personal significance and, thus, making work matter. Distilling reams of research, case studies, stories and interviews with managers at great companies to work for, he unveils seven essential “Markers of Meaning” that can be triggered to create meaning in and at work.

He offers dozens of tools and specific plans to get your people to better commit and enjoy work as part of their lives, not an eight-hour departure from them. He also demonstrates how meaning starts with managers because if you’re not committed, no one else will be either. Most important, he draws a solid line from elevated meaning to higher profits, revenue growth and retention.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN

• Direction: Reframe work to add meaning and motivation, and help people discover a sense of significance and purpose in what they do.

• Discovery: Craft the richest kind of opportunities to learn, grow and influence, while helping people feel valued and valuable.

• Devotion: Cultivate an authentic, caring culture, master meaning-making leadership behaviors and drive out corrosive behaviors that can quietly and unknowingly drain meaning at work.

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the title to purchase and download it right now to begin learning these critical business skills.

 

The New One Minute Manager

BEST-SELLER DEFIES ITS AGE

Thirty-five years after the publication of the original book, Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson have published an updated edition of their phenomenal bestseller, The One Minute Manager. Much has changed in the past three-and-a-half decades, notably the near-unanimous agreement that top-down command-and-control management is counterproductive and that work is no longer just a paycheck for employees but must, instead, be a source of fulfillment and purpose. Yet, despite the overstated promise of a “new” third secret, readers will finish this updated edition, called The New One Minute Manager, with a renewed appreciation of the foresight and modernity of the original book. For despite radical changes of attitudes and priorities in the workplace, the core ideas of The One Minute Manager still hold true.

As in the original edition, the new edition tells the story of a young man who seeks out a great manager of whom he has heard. This great manager introduces him to his core managing philosophy that “people who feel good about themselves produce good results.”

The young man then goes on to talk with three lower-level managers on the great manager’s team who explain the three secrets of one-minute management. The first manager describes the first secret, which is the setting of one-minute goals — three to five succinctly formulated goals (readable in one minute) tied to the key areas of responsibility. The second manager describes one-minute praises, the second secret of one-minute management. The concept of one-minute praises is encapsulated in the highlighted phrase, unchanged from the first edition, “Help people reach their full potential. Catch them doing something right.” One-minute praises must be immediate and specific, followed by an encouragement to do more of the same.

The new edition diverges slightly from the original edition with the third secret of one-minute management. In the original edition, the third secret was a one-minute reprimand. The manager would tell employees who made a mistake exactly what mistake they made and how disappointed he was with them for making the mistake. At the same time, the one-minute manager would explain that he had a problem with the specific mistake, not with them, and that he still valued them.

In the new edition, the one-minute reprimand has become the one-minute redirect. The third secret still concerns responding to a mistake and follows a similar path: The manager confirms with the employee the facts of the mistake, expresses how he or she feels about the mistake and then pauses to give time for the employee to think about the mistake. In the original edition, the purpose of the pause was to create “a few seconds of uncomfortable silence to let them feel how you feel.” In the new edition, the pause’s purpose is “to allow people time to feel concerned about what they’ve done.” Both the reprimand and redirect end with the same expression of concern about the specific mistake and not the person, and the manager reaffirming his or her trust in that person.

The true value in this new edition is found in the stylistic changes that help the book shake its age. The characters are no longer Mr. Trenell and Ms. Brown, but Paul and Teresa. The secretary, Ms. Metcalfe is now the assistant Courtney, and she does not bring in a list of names to her boss at his intercom’d request; he prints out the list himself from his computer.

While these changes may seem cosmetic, they are important in conveying the relevance of Blanchard’s and Johnson’s classic propositions to today’s workplace. For example, the one-minute manager’s aggressiveness toward the visitor in the original would be shocking today; the new one-minute manager is firm but not impolite. In the original conversation, the one-minute manager tells the visitor, “You have asked me not once but twice to make a simple decision for you. Frankly, young man, I find that annoying. Do not ask me to repeat myself. Either pick a name and get started, or take your search for effective management elsewhere.” This entire quote is deleted from the conversation in the new edition, and for good reason.

The original ideas in The One Minute Manager stand up to time, a tribute to their value. The New One Minute Manager offers these ideas without the distraction of dated terms and social conventions, thus ensuring that they will resonate with a new generation of fans.

Tools and Lessons in Transitioning to General Management

MANAGING THE WHAT, THE HOW AND THE WHY

The natural progression of a career often leads from a task-oriented position to a functional management position managing task-oriented people, and eventually to a general management position in which you are now “managing the managers.” This last step is often the most difficult.

For example, as co-authors Kevin Kaiser, Michael Pich and I.J. Schecter explain in their book Becoming a Top Manager, one of the core challenges of a general management position is the complexity of top management goals. When you’re a functional manager, goals are rather clear: tasks are defined, and unambiguous indicators determine whether or not those tasks have been achieved successfully. A top-level manager, on the other hand, has the responsibility of ensuring the short- and long-term value to the firm of activities and results, an objective that does not lend itself to easily defined indicators. In other words, the authors explain, general managers must not only concern themselves with the functional “what” but also the more strategic “how” and “why.”

The authors offer a unique manual on how to become an executive, based on their academic knowledge and experience combined with the crowdsourced knowledge and experience gathered from past participants of INSEAD’s executive education program.

Becoming a Top Manager is built around three fictional general managers who have just moved into their new roles. Each chapter consists of three scenarios involving each of the fictional general managers. Each scenario, presented in the form of a dialogue, is followed by comments from the executive education alumni, based on the scenario. The comments are grouped by general themes, which form key lesson points for readers. The authors offer additional thoughts and then move on to the next scenario with the next fictional manager.

The result is a potent mix of theoretical situations and real-world experience on the specific challenges faced by first-time executives.

How to Listen and Be Heard

For example, former functional managers may not have the savvy and skills required to influence and persuade others — one of the key skills of any successful executive. At the same time, general managers must be prepared to “learn how to learn” — to recognize that they will have to leave their comfort zones and listen objectively to what others are saying.

In one of the scenarios of the first chapter, the new general manager, “Nancy,” is startled and confused by another manager’s concerns about the value of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The other manager believes more thought should be given to long-term value than simply “hitting targets.” Long-term value, Nancy argues, cannot be achieved without short-term targets.

Among the comments from the executive education practitioners was general support for a combination of the two managers’ positions (e.g., “Most companies don’t do a good job of explaining how short-term targets fit into a larger mission”), recognition of the difficulty of leading change, as a new general manager, (e.g., “As a leader you need to… help shape programs while defending them to the people reporting to you”), and a mixed assessment of KPIs. “My company used KPIs. I found them totally counterproductive and I tried to insist that we stop using such metrics, or use them differently,” wrote one participant. “KPIs are essential to measure the true effectiveness of an organization. However, too many indicators don’t tell you if you are going to hit a roadblock or run out of gas soon. KPIs are efficient if they are aligned with a list of defined objectives for the company and they remain coherent from the executive team to those in the field,” wrote another.

As the authors explain in their discussion, in this case, “Nancy must find a way to fully appreciate what her colleague is trying to explain to her about the tendency of KPIs to drive short-term behaviors at the expense of long-term value creation.”

Using the experiences of three fictional managers to spark the contributions of the executive education participants is a brilliant method for bringing out the practical implications of the theory. The granular, real-world comments from practitioners combined with the ability of the authors to superbly synthesize the lessons from the scenarios and the responses lead to a first-class owner’s manual for the first-time executive.