Lead people the best way for them!

I had a conversation with a client the other day about how they were dealing with different personalities in their business. I knew it was one of those chats where I had to get a specific message across.

Thinking about it afterwards reminded me of how I like to be communicated with. This is at times different to how others like to be treated. I’m the kind of person who likes the straight-shooting approach. Coming originally from New Zealand where there are fewer people and the “Fishpond” is much smaller, I’ve grown up with the greater tendency over there to be told exactly what is needed in black & white.

When I’m being mentored or led by someone else, what works is for me to be told what the specific tasks are and results needed. Then, if you leave me to my own devices, I’ll do the research, set up the plan and roll it out with only a small amount of help or encouragement. Keeping an eye on me and/or having a coffee with me is useful at times, more for the social and innovative ideas that come from it than for any need for “help”.

This person I was speaking with was not like that at all. They needed to be spoken to with gentle gloves and much encouragement. It was one of those conversations where I needed to be very supportive and enabling.

It really got me thinking about a model I have used personally for many years. It is a simple reminder to us all to think about what the other person needs from us prior to rushing in and the telling them what we want or must have.

The model is the Situational Leadership Model. Please note I’m not saying you should only ever communicate with people using one of the four steps outlined below. However, personally I’ve found them to be a real help when thinking through tough conversations where results need to occur in short timeframes.

This model looks at the world of leadership inside of 4 simple styles as follows:

Style 1 – Directing

The person leading provides a specific direction & closely monitors task accomplishment.

Style 2 – Coaching

The leader makes sure they direct & closely monitor things, but also explains decisions, elicits suggestions, and provides support where needed.

Style 3 – Supporting

The leader uses a facilitative & supportive approach toward the achievement of tasks using the shared-responsibility decision-making principle.

Style 4 – Delegating

The leader turns over the responsibility for decision-making and problem-solving to the person and/or team in question.

Here’s a short presentation by Ken & Scott Blanchard about how using Situational Leadership II can make a huge difference to the conversations you have with your people. If you get your leadership working with their direct reports in a powerful way that encourages talent-management processes and continuously increases performance, then you tend to keep your people for longer periods.


Have a think about your own business unit and or company. Do you use a variety of styles when working with your people, or just one over and over? Who are the people you find tougher to work with and why do you think this is? How flexible are you with regard to communicating and getting results in your own teams? Consider changing your leadership style when you are working with certain team members.

Have a think about your own business unit and or company. Do you use a variety of styles when working with your people, or just one over and over? Who are the people you find tougher to work with and why do you think this is? How flexible are you with regard to communicating and getting results in your own teams? Consider changing your leadership style when you are working with certain team members.

Have a think about your own business unit and or company. Do you use a variety of styles when working with your people, or just one over and over? Who are the people you find tougher to work with and why do you think this is? How flexible are you with regard to communicating and getting results in your own teams? Consider changing your leadership style when you are working with certain team members.

Making OD & L&D Programs Work

Over the years you hear again and again that we are bringing in this major consulting firm, this one or this one. Most often millions of dollars are spent with the result being that at times little if any change occurs in team results or on the front line. Why is that?

Consider some of the following reasons and then some things to do to switch it around in order to get results.

Things to be careful of:

  • Bringing in a boxed solution or template not properly tailored from outside can be very risky. What “the best” safety managers, project managers, site teams do can be very different from what you need. Ignoring the “Local Context” seems to cost organisations a fortune over and over.
  • Avoid having a project led by an an area of the business that will not actually be using it or be fully accountable for the results that the project will or won’t get. E.g. HR make the decision with the business unit heads to go ahead with the specific solution, but the people “In” the business unit are only consulted in a token manner.
  • It is counterproductive to roll out “Great” personal change/new communication/new performance techniques to managers of business units without ensuring that they are accountable for then passing this on and/or teaching it to their reports. At times, managers go on courses, conferences, get great MBA learning themselves from other participants or students and there is never any accountability for them bringing this information back into their own business.

Try Instead:

1)   Understanding the metrics that you are trying to change at the front line.

Is it staff turnover? Greater productivity? Better performance management mechanisms? Then for every step of the way, ask the question “Will using this intervention move those metrics?” If not, then it’s probably the wrong one. E.g. teaching managers to better manage their own state of mind might be a great thing if it helps them be more focused, more present, more attentive in meetings and to manage their performance more effectively. But if this is not stated in the “Outcome,” then chances are this is less likely to occur.

2)Gain a true understanding of what is and is not working inside the business.

Don’t just listen to the managers. Go and ask the people at the very lowest level of the business what they think is wrong. At times, senior managers go out to market and buy things to roll out to their people when in fact they are far off the mark.

3)Ensure that people from all levels of the business can contribute to the program.

The more people who have access to interventions, the better the results. One of my clients had people going from very poor performance to very high performance fast once they knew what they weren’t doing right.

Getting results from Organisational Development and Learning and Development Programs is like any systemic change. Consider how  the system currently works and why. What kinds of things are going to help specific metrics? If you can’t link the key pieces of the intervention back to the metrics, then you may have the wrong pieces and/or provider!

In this short video, IBM looks at some change project statitistics and suggests based on research from at least 1500 companies that the toughest areas to change are people’s attitudes, mindsets and “The Culture”.

They recommend a focus into four key areas to make things work:

  1. Real Insights & Actions
  2. Solid Methods
  3. Better Skills
  4. Right Investment – Time/Resources

Good luck!

Time & business results

I have friends you can’t meet for morning tea for 8 weeks because they are booked out. Others, you can consistently book a catch-up with so long as you give them 7 days notice and that’s that, every time. Then there are people who will be available tomorrow at 3pm or Friday at 9am and any further out than that and you can forget it!

TIME – Why is that the case?

Is it true that the person booked up for 8 weeks is more important, successful or has more happening in their lives than those you could get an appointment with tomorrow?

INTERESTINGLY IN OUR EXPERIENCE, NO!

Funnily enough, some of the leaders of the biggest organisations in the country operate very much in the now. If it weren’t for some very smart assistants, things would look very different. How might this information influence you and your team’s ability to get results?

Is everybody different around time? What kinds of people are similar and why? We will deal with only one part of this major body of work that up until now been badly under-researched.

How do I know? Well, all the time I see organisations facing people issues where certain portions of populations are extremely reactive and others are the opposite, far too slow to react. Where do you sit? How about your best people when you are “Managing Your Talent”? Are they reactive or more strategic? What’s needed more in your environment?

“Your interpretation of time is not a right or a wrong one. However, if you are too extreme either way with regard to your specific work context and what’s required, you can really lose out.”

What should you do to ensure your thinking around time fits with your business role? Here are three suggestions to consider with regard to the people in your workplace.

1)In a fast-paced sales or back office production environment, you probably want to be able to move quickly and hence timeframes are almost certain to be shorter.

2)In a strategic planning or IT implementation environment, it might pay to have a medium-term time perspective. However, watch out! Get this to be more a long-term perspective and that $500 million dollar IT rollout can easily blow into costing twice as much.

3)In Strategy & Planning roles in major organisations, the people involved are better to have a really good understanding of time in the long term. But they still need to be able to partner with the people on the floor conducting the rollout.

So what if you’ve got people in completely the wrong place?

What if you have people (even managers) on the floor who think learning a set of specific behaviours will take 3 months when your best manager considers it can easily be learnt in 24 hours? A problem in many IT, HR and L&D departments is that when major rollouts occur, the third parties always talk about giving things some time… until the budget’s blown and the business is locked into making even tougher decisions!

Performance Mngmt Why?

Performance Management – Why Get Good At It?

Over the past 10 yeas I’ve experienced many organisations where senior executives shy away from having the “Crucial Conversations”, the reasons are often similar.

“Look I don’t think you really need to “Fire” people, or its not really in our culture, we don’t feel its necessary to force people to change etc”

This entry is about why the better you are at Performance Management the better you’ll be at anything your business throws at you at all, in fact the better you’ll ironically be in your relationships outside the business also. At the end of the day if something in a business or any other relationship is not working if all parties concerned are not wanting to change or pretend they are when they’re not then stop wasting your time. When you consider implementing processes around talent identification and talent management seriously consider how good your best people are around the following areas.

Three Keys to Strong Performance Management

1) Consider a proper format

In some organisations development plans are a waste of breath and hence when someone falls down there is little if anything to benchmark it against other than their peers actual business metrics. This often though may not stack up though, as people often have excuses like, I deal with different clients, products or systems and hence its different for me.

In order for your personal performance development plans to actually be of use, keep them simple make sure you look at things like what are the top three key things to focus on?

  • Why are you falling down on them right now?
  • What knowledge resources or skills do you need to change this by Friday?
  • Are you prepared to make those changes?
  • Can you make them?

Either people can or cant do whats required in a Performance Management setting, lets be honest actually there is little in between. The problem most leaders have is a lack of courage to ask specific enough questions to ensure a proper answer and therefore result from the team member.

2) Ensure its self perpetuating

There is no point spending a whole lot of time working with a person then leaving them to work on themselves around an area only to find that later they go away and on Friday when you check they have done nothing. Performance Management work must be self perpetuating in the eyes of the person receiving the “Coaching” otherwise its nothing more than the kind of serious telling off your parents used to give you years ago at home.

In order to make Performance Management systems self perpetuating consider starting to get better at your own ability to communicate with people over tough things. Look at some managers who are naturally angry people, meet their children you’ll find anger. Then look at how they performance manage and you’ll see it was easy for them, they just had the meeting spoke very loudly and intensely, to the person until they gave in and agreed to everything asked of them. Then they went off and the employee went off to do his/her own thing.

“Problem is they then don’t, and nothing changes”

Many managers in fact believe that people “Cant” change which makes performance management a little tougher. Look at how good you are at your own tougher communication skills, how good are you at telling your best work mate they have screwed up so badly they have almost lost their job?

3) Understand the things that matter

In many cases managers are trying to council a staff member on something they themselves have no idea about.

For example selling 20% more of a product line in an area where the demographic is such that it cant be done. So they coach and coach then find unfortunately that it would have been much better to ask more questions up front, in which case they would have learned more about the problems being faced. The solution may actually be to sell a different product which can often then result in more revenue than that earned prior anyway.

Make sure you get skilled in the use of tough conversations don’t blame your team members, you are the one that needs to be able to coach them, if they are not performing then perhaps you are the one that needs to have a serious look in the mirror first, not them!

Expert Knowledge Management

What is Expert Knowledge Management EKM?

As part of a personal aim to see the performance of any business team continue to increase in different business verticals. I’ve decided to contribute to the area of Expert Knowledge Management EKM.

What does that mean, well given my expertise is not in English, it means this blog will be exploring everything to do with getting more out of its best people in major organisations. That includes areas where I have been working for the past 10+ years around talent identification & management, the value of internal collaboration on team performance in both sales & productivity/output based environments, performance management. It also includes areas like how to get value from the use of past cultural transformation, sales & L&D programs that may have worked in small pockets of the business.

A clear distinction to make up front is that this does not mean that the team have to work harder, probably teams do however need to start thinking differently and with more focus on collaboration, performance, strategy, innovation and what it is their best people internally are doing already.

Expert Knowledge Management EKM is a subject few organizations even understand let alone use.

A major part of this blog will be about exploring what the world’s best organizations are doing in this area to ensure that when the markets are falling faster than ever and the “World” is in trouble you have solutions in order to replicate what is best practice not from another country but in many cases within your own organisation.

We will also be looking at how interventions occur in the worlds largest organisations around Human Resources, Talent Identification, Performance Management, Human Performance, Change Management and other related areas.

If you have other questions on these topics that are not answered here, a good research resource can be found at www.behaviourchange.com.au/White-Papers.html

All comments are appreciated and welcomed!