Sunday, June 24, 2018
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Thrive by Design: The Neuroscience that Drives High-Performance Cultures (Forbes Books, 2017), by Don Rheem, reviewed by Steve Gladis, June 2018.
Overview: As a species, humans are compelled to work together on teams. Survival as a species has always depended on teams; for example, early hunter-gatherers were only able to survive by taking down large animals or farming large areas with teams of people. In today’s high-pressure, competitive workplace, we require that same kind of connection and teamwork to survive and compete. As herd animals, we need to feel connected. The author concludes that a great job in the future will be more about how it feels than how much it pays. So, creating conditions that sustain motivation, provide meaning and instill trusted relationships will produce high-performance cultures. Thus valid, regular feedback and recognition of people on the team makes individuals and the team stronger and more high-performing.
1. The Evolving Workplace. We’ve moved from the Age of Compliance to the Age of Choice when it comes to talent. People now have many more options and control over their employment. As a result, many people seek not only career opportunities but meaning and purpose in their professions. My-way-or-the-highway leaders will suffer epic talent losses in the coming decades. Attachment theory indicates that we’re wired to connect as humans, and when attachment is absent, we feel isolated, fearful, and vulnerable. Having reliable, trusted resources at work supports a thriving culture. Leaders who provide a relational culture (values, mission, vision), not simply a “cool” culture, develop high-performance. Our limbic, early warning system provides survival instincts and overrides our conscious brain—control precedence. When employees are immersed in a toxic environment, their brains divert important resources from problem solving and innovation to here-and-now survival. Thus, they become worn down, are exhausted and burned out. Our brains ask two questions, especially at work: What’s next? And, How am I doing? Leaders who provide regular, positive, honest feedback develop high-performance cultures.
2. Employee Engagement. Leaders who deliver predictable, consistent, and fair behavior; provide clear mission, vision and values; and, offer regular feedback and recognition to employees will attract and retain key talent. And, employees who feel like they’re in a safe environment will thrive. Leaders may be of three types: 1) Traditional—top down, hierarchical; 2) Motivational and Charismatic; and, 3) Transformational, team focused and relational. Isolation diminishes the capacity of people. They need connections to colleagues to free up their mental resources to become more innovative. Disengaged employees pull down strong performers, not the other way around. Don’t let negative employees hijack the culture. Leaders must model the behavior they want. Positive leadership strategically moves cultures using a positive bias that supports employee well-being, productivity and engagement. High-performance teams have a 5:1 (positive to negative) ratio of interactions. Effective leaders offer 3 intentional gifts: Validation—recognizing worth of another; Recognition—praising performance, behavior, attitude; Feedback—monthly meetings to give each employee clarity, focus and offer two-way communication.
3. The Accountable Leader. Without accountability, high-performers get discouraged and progress stalls. Both individual and organizational obstacles lead to such stalls. Individual obstacles to accountability: Learned helplessness, victim mentality, and holding grudges. To thwart these obstacles, leaders need to listen, be vulnerable and invite employees to be part of the solution. Organizational obstacles to accountability: Poor priorities, silos, avoiding conflict. To counter such organizational obstacles, leaders who offer inclusive decision making as a group and have open and honest communication create high-performance organizations. The old accounting saying—what don’t get measured, don’t get done—holds true. Metrics make a difference. Measuring engagement is important and must be done well to ensure you’re measuring engagement, not satisfaction; it’s of sufficient length without being either superficial or taxing; and the metrics correlate to engagement principles.
4. Culture of Engagement. There are 4 types of engagements at any company or organization. 1) Actively Engaged—these are your highest performers, who are in a calling. 2) Engaged—they have a positive mindset. 3) Somewhat Disengaged—these folks are ambivalent and have a wishy-washy commitment. 4) Actively Disengaged—these folks are checked out and toxic. Leaders need to give employees a sense of safety, clear focus, and training to create better engagement. Determine the level of engagement by using a valid and reliable engagement instrument. Leadership needs to get the results and issue several key themes to employees to show they’ve been heard.
Sunday, December 10, 2017
What Color is Your Parachute 2018: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career- Changers (Ten Speed Press/Crown Publishing Group, 2018) by Richard Bolles. Reviewed by Steve Gladis.
Overview: Updated annually since 1972, this classic stands up to the challenges of modern-day job seekers and career changers. In fact, it’s got so much information that it could overwhelm some readers. So, think of it as a reference book. The author enlightens us about how job seekers and organizations approach filling positions in exactly opposite ways; how the market has radically changed since the 2008 recession; how to interview for jobs; how to negotiate salaries; how to handle the psychological ups and downs of the job-hunting process; how to conduct a self-inventory; how to take charge of your career; and, even how to start your own business. There’s a reason that this book has been updated annually for decades—it works. A terrific manual with many useful PDFs available.
1. Things Have Changed: Since the 2008 recession, employers shifted from focusing on employees to focusing on profit. However, job seekers never got the message and continued to submit resumes and post on job boards, which don’t work well anymore. Today, employers want more certainty; so, they search on a hierarchy that starts with hiring known employees from within; next, with people who either have consulted for them or have been recommended by an insider—both which mitigate risk. Bad hires cost about $50K! So, HR folks are not looking at online lists, and when they do, their job is to eliminate you from a huge pile—to get from 250 resumes to the 5 top candidates. Also, the length of time to find a job has increased dramatically. So, what previously took one month, now can take six months to land a job. And the higher the salary, the longer the time it takes. We’re turning over our jobs faster—in some job-seeker age brackets 32% of their jobs lasted less than a year, and 69%, lasted less than 5 years. Thus, part-time work is becoming far more prevalent, and roughly 50% of Fortune 500 employees will be part-timers. The best jobs today are in finance, sales and healthcare. Job hunting has become a normal way of life—people will go job hunting 17 times in their lives. And while online hunting is not as effective as it used to be, here’s a very good site for doing so: www.livecareer.com/quintessential. The winners in this market are people who know how to get hired.
2. How to Get Hired: The author offers 17 Principles for getting hired. Here are just a few.
a. Find a job that fits you. Don’t just try to force fit yourself into a job.
b. Conduct a “Self Inventory.” He uses the “flower experiment” which looks at your interests, personality as various petals of the flower. He claims that this approach results in success 84% of the time.
c. Search for what you love: It’s not just about what you’re good at, but also what you love to do.
d. Job hunts are also potential career changes. This is a great time to scan your history and rethink what you really want to do, not just what you can do.
e. Target companies and organizations, not just jobs. Regardless of whether a company you admire has a job opening, pursue the organization.
f. Especially target smaller companies of 100 people or less. These companies tend to be more flexible and open to discussion and options.
g. Try to avoid HR. As mentioned, HR’s job is to be a gatekeeper. So, if you can find a way to get to the hiring manager, your chances increase.
h. Submitting resumes is a necessary evil. However, conducting a self-inventory, working in association with people and coaches, and knocking on doors of companies you interested in are all more effective ways to tackle the search.
3. The Interview: One of the 17 Principles, the Interview, is critical.
a. Practice interviewing with friends, fellow seekers.
b. Conduct informational interviews of people who actually do the work you’re interested in—this serves as a reality check.
c. Interview for jobs—this is the ultimate goal that all activities should focus on. In job interviews, here are the only 5 questions they care about:
i. Why are you here? Explain your research—about what you know about our company and how your talents are a fit.
ii. What can you do for us? Explain how you can solve our specific problems and tell stories about how you did it in the past.
iii. What kind of person are you? Explain how you play well with others!
iv. What are your distinguishing talents? Explain why you’re different.
v. Can we afford you? Explain parameters, flexibility, and don’t let money get in the way.
d. Watch the time in an interview.
i. Half and Half: Don’t overtalk the interview. As best you can, try to make the interview a conversation. And research on effective conversations shows that when both get a chance to talk about the same amount, it feels like it’s been a good exchange.
ii. 20 to 2: Answers should take between 20 seconds to 2 minutes depending on the complexity of the question. But droning on can be a turn off. However, answering in machine-gun fashion can feel awkward and unsatisfying as well.
iii. Ask for the job. At the end of the interview you may want to ask: “Considering all that we have discussed here, can you offer me this job?” The author swears by this technique. I’m on the fence about it.
Stick with it! It’s easy to get discouraged as the process takes more time than we ever wanted. The key is Don’t Stop—keep the process going. It’s really a full-time job.
5. Job Hunting Links: Finally, here’s a link to some pretty cool PDFs on job hunting--http://content.randomhouse.com/assets/97803