"To thrive in this world will require of us a new skill...focus. Focus can refer to your ability to sort through many factors and identify those that are most critical - to be able to focus well is to be able to filter well. You must be able to cut through the clutter and zero in on the facts or events that really matter. You must learn to place less value on all you can remember and more on those few things you can never forget."Marcus Buckingham
I'm a person who loves knowledge, learning and discovering new things and to think I must place less value on what I can remember and more on those things I can never forget is both terrifying (what must I never forget?) and refreshing (since my memory is not what it used to be at this point.)
Regardless of our 'arena' of life, we all must manage the information that comes into our lives as well as our own individual success and at some time or another most of us will manage people. I've just finished a great new book, The One Thing You Need to Know...about Great Managing, Great Leading and Sustained Individual Success by Marcus Buckingham, who is also the author of Now, Discover Your Strengths which I've mentioned many times. The One Thing You Need to Know is what you'll be hearing about for the next few newsletters.
According to Brad Anderson, vice chairman and CEO of Best Buy, Buckingham's grasp of the pivotal difference between great managing and great leadership and how to act on that knowledge has been enormously helpful for the key leaders of Best Buy. I offer you some of these insights in a nutshell:
Select people effectively - know what talents you are looking for
Define your expectations clearly - Only 50% of employees claim they know what is expected of them at work. As elementary as it may sound, consider asking: "What do you think you get paid to do?"
Motivate people by focusing on their strengths and managing around their weaknesses Learn how to steer them toward roles that truly fit them
Recognize excellent and praise it - leverage your employees' talents and turn it into performance. With praise and recognition, show you care! Make your employees believe their success is your primary goal.
Employees need to feel supported, challenged, understood and stretched. Be sure to acknowledge tiny bits of growth. In this way, you will coach them to success by building on small steps they can see and recognize. Never praise hard work, instead tell her she succeeded precisely because she has become so good at deploying her strengths. The more an employee is acknowledged on what they do right, the more self-assured they become and self-assurance drives performance.
Even though talent and skills are important, those who are unrealistic about what is possible are the most successful. In other words if they believe they can do something and you support this belief, chances are they will succeed. Research has shown that realistic self-assessment retarded performance while unrealistic self-assessment stimulated it. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that coaching is so successful: a coach is a champion, a cheerleader, a partner and a sounding board. In short, the state of mind you want to create in the employee is one where he has a fully realistic assessment of the difficulty of the challenge ahead of him, and, at the same time, an unrealistically optimistic belief in his ability to overcome it.
When you do encounter failure....is it a lack of skills, knowledge or training or do they need a partner/mentor?
Keep in mind there are several styles of learning:
Analyzing - they understand a task by taking it apart, examining its elements and reconstruction it piece by piece. These people crave information and every piece is important.
Doing - the best way to teach a doer is to throw him in the middle of the a new situation and tell him to wing it. The learning moment is during the performance. Where for the Analyzer, it's prior to the actual performance.
Watching - watchers are sometimes viewed as poor students because breaking things down or practicing won't do much for them. However, Watchers can learn a great deal when they are given a chance to see the total performance. Let these people ride along with one of your most experienced performers.
Great managers discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on it. Mediocre managers assume or hope their employees will be motivated by the same things, driven by the same goals, desire the same kind of relationships and learn roughly in the same way.
Managers are the catalyst for speeding up an employee's talent which translates to speeding up the company's goals. Best Buy uses 12 simple questions to measure employee engagement. These include such questions as "Do you know what is expected of you?" and "At work, does someone seem to care about you?" What they discovered is that when they could increase their employee engagement by just 2%, it resulted in an additional $70 million in profitability!
Lastly, one of the '5 great needs' we have as humans (more on this in the next issue) is that we need RESPECT. We have a fear of insignificance. Managers are critically valuable because they have the greatest opportunity to identify, recognize and provide many avenues that will fulfill this need for respect; look for ways to do this.