Monday, November 14, 2011

FREE Management Webcasts and Podcasts

Looking for a way to supplement your management training and development program without blowing the budget?  Check out these free webcasts from the American Management Association (AMA). 

Upcoming titles include: 
  • Unleashing Growth Leaders in your Organization
  • How Emotional Intelligence Drives Effective Leadership
  • Making Smarter Decisions Without Drowning in Information
  • Crucial Steps for Ensuring Project Success
 Can't commit to a specific day/time?  Try a free podcast from the AMA instead and listen in when it fits your calendar. 

Webcasts and podcasts are offered by many organizations and have multiple advantages:
  • All team members can attend, including those in a virtual office
  • Opportunity to learn from a variety of trainers/speakers/coaches/industry experts
  • Preview the message from an author before buying their book
  • Great resource for leaders looking to expand their knowledge into other areas of business 
  • Low cost/No cost
See you in class.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's Your Leadership Blind Spot?

Have you seen the latest Allstate Mayhem ad?  It's about blind spots, a scary and real danger for any driver as depicted with dark humor in this commercial.

Blind spots are also a danger on the job.  There's an excellent article and slide show by Loretta Malandro, PhD on Bloomberg Businessweek called Discover Your Leadership Blind Spots.  To quote the article, "Our behavioral blind spots create dire and unintended consequences: They corrupt decision-making, reduce our scope of awareness, create enemies, silos, and camps, destroy careers, and sabotage business results." 

So true.  Yet the good news is that blind spots are just behaviors, and behaviors can be modified.  "Blind spots are not flaws; nor are they malicious. They are automatic behaviors. The real culprits are not the blind spots themselves. The problem is when they are unidentified and mismanaged."

So unlike Mayhem in the Allstate commercials, our leadership blind spots are not intentionally harmful.  I think this is an important point because we often believe that others realize the impact of their behaviors and thus further assume an intent to disrupt, or insult, or dominate, etc. 

The article concludes with these tips:  "The first step is to ask others for their candid feedback. Your opinion about how you think your behavior affects others isn't sufficient. The reason these behaviors recur is that you're not aware of what you're doing. Second, take accountability for your impact and stop justifying your behavior by defending your positive intentions. Third, in the absence of a structured process, ask those who do see certain weaknesses to coach you the moment your blind spot surfaces. Finally, stop the behavior the instant you see it by acknowledging it."

The link for the slide show with the author's top ten list of leadership blind spots can be found on the first page of the article, or you can click here for viewing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Thank You to Remember

Here's an employee morale idea that your team members will remember for years to come.  And for those in the US, Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to deliver this message.

Custom Written Thank You Cards - Addressed to Both the Employee AND their Family - Mailed to their Homes

I did this for each member of my management team and they did the same for their direct reports, and so on, until we had one for every member of the department.  Each card had the same typed message, signatures from the management team, and most importantly, a handwritten personal note from their direct manager expressing specific appreciation either to their family or to the individual.  The cards were mailed to home addresses before the Thanksgiving holiday. 

What, no money, no gift card?  That's right.  It's what you put in the handwritten note to the family or individual that holds the real value. 

Examples of the feedback from employees: 
     "When I travel for work, my wife has to be both Mom and Dad.  Your note recognizing what she does to support me in my career and all the extra effort she puts in meant so much to her."
     "This was the first time my kids ever saw something expressing how much I'm valued at work.  It led to a wondeful conversation with them about what I do in the office and who I work with."
     "I've been putting in a lot of extra hours these last few months for our new client and my family has missed me.  It was great that you put in the note how important my contributions have been and that you appreciate their patience and support while we get this client established."
Here are some two examples of the typed message that would come before your handwritten note:

Example for Employee:
 As we enter the Thanksgiving season, we at (enter your company name/department here) want you to know that we are most thankful for our dedicated and talented staff of professionals.  We appreciate your time, your gifts, your spirit, and your commitment.  
We also want to extend a special word of thanks to your loved ones for their support in your endeavors.  May they be proud to know that your contributions make all the difference in our success story. 
Example for Management:
   As we enter the Thanksgiving season, I want you to know that I am so grateful to have you on my management team.  I know that your work with (enter your company name here) is just one part of your busy life, and I admire your dedication to your career and your employees. 
     I would also like to thank your family for all that they do to support and encouragae you along the way.   They are an extended part of our team, and I appreciate the important role that they play.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Further logistics for those who like the detail:
     What if the employee is not married/does not live with a significant other?  Send the card to the employee at home and make sure the handwritten note still acknowledges something specific about that person's contributions and what you appreciate about him/her.
     If they do have a family, how do I address the card, to the "Smith Family"?  Yes, on the outside of the card.  However, on the inside of the card put the employee's first name, the spouse/significant other's first name, and children's first names.  This might take the help of your HR department to get proper spelling, etc., but it's the kind of extra touch that shows you see your employee as a key member of a team both in the office and at home.  If names are not available, address the inside to the employee's first name "and the entire Smith Family" or something of that nature.