Maximizing Team Interactions: Moving Beyond the Lowest Common Denominator’s Reign

Building Thriving TeamsThis blog is drawn from a paper published by Jim Ritchie-Dunham & Maureen Metcalf, Co-hosting: Creating Optimal Experience for Team Interactions, Integral Leadership Review, November 2016. Jim and Maureen also recorded a Voice America Interview airing on February 14, 2017.

Christopher, the CEO, walked into a planning session with the intent of getting his full team on the same page for how to move key initiatives forward for the upcoming year. His leaders were all in alignment on the core purpose of the organization and how to accomplish it. During the discussion, everyone gave unbiased input intended to move the organization forward irrespective of personal interest. Christopher was highly skilled at understanding the point of view of all participants and synthesizing the various points of view of his trusted leaders to create solutions everyone could support.

Does this scenario describe your normal business meetings? How is it different?

We would like to explore the idea that groups can leverage the skills of individuals across five key perspectives and create an environment in which each participant operates at his greatest level of contribution. We call this the alchemy of co-hosting, whereby the co-host, in conjunction with the participants, invokes a very different mindset and process for the team to function.

The Challenge

“Less than one-third of U.S. employees have been engaged in their jobs and workplaces [since 2000]. According to Gallup Daily tracking, 32% of employees in the U.S. are engaged — meaning they are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. Worldwide, only 13% of employees working for an organization are engaged.” – Gallup

Much of our work is done within teams comprised of many highly effective and highly compensated people. We have found that these teams often function at the level of the least common denominator. Many people, especially leaders, move from meeting to meeting all day, every day. They often do this with little awareness of the specific role they play in the meeting and the value they bring. This is the culture of many organizations. When asking a cohort of vibrancy community members what they experienced in these teams, they suggested that while the participants were generally strong employees with good skills, they were often disengaged and some actively disrupted the work or found ways to interfere with the meeting goals. In some cases, the participants did this as passive aggressive response, and in some worse cases, did it just for personal entertainment. So, what is the antidote to this high level of disengagement considering five key factors other than the highest rank present? How do we capture the highest level of input from each person to create a higher level “field” of operation than any individual would have access to by working alone?

The Approach

We look at five different perspectives or measures of intelligence, then explore how the art of co-hosting can leverage all five intelligences of the participants to create an environment that calls forth the greatest possible capacity in the group.

The five perspectives are:

  • Leadership maturity – describes how adults mature throughout their lifespan, attending to ever increasing levels of complexity in their thinking, emotions, and behaviors
  • State development – describes where people focus their attention ranging from what is immediately in front of them to what is abstract and spiritual
  • Years of experience
  • Skill to identify the perspectives in the room
  • Co-hosting skill – the ability to identify the perspectives in the room and create an environment and approach that leverages the maturity, state, and skills of the participants

It is interesting to note that each of these perspectives is important for an organization to create holistic solutions to the many complex challenges they face. For that reason, it is important to recognize each of these perspectives and be able to identify, recruit, and create environments that genuinely leverage the gifts of each.

By integrating the five perspectives individually, an effective co-host can create the “container” or space to leverage each to the participants’ greatest potential rather than the traditional lowest common denominator.


During this era of increased complexity and accelerated need for change, it is imperative that we identify methods and processes to help us navigate the challenges we face. Optimally, these methods and processes would create the greatest impact for all involved—creating an optimal experience for the individuals and a holistic solution for the organizations or groups involved.

We believe that the solution integrates a solid process that integrates five key perspectives and a presence of being within the co-host to create the desired outcome. Both elements are critical.

We have an opportunity to enhance the experience and the impact we have in trying to solve problems. By building the capacity to co-host and using this process, we increase the probability of solving our most complex problems and enjoying the process. Knowing that this is possible helps us regain hope that we as a society can resolve the mounting list of intractable problems we hear of every day on the news.


Jim Ritchie-Dunham is president of the Institute for Strategic Clarity, a global research nonprofit, president of Vibrancy Ins., LLC, a global consultancy and publisher, president of the private operating foundation the Academy for Self-Discovery Leadership, an adjunct faculty member in Harvard’s program in sustainability leadership, and Adjunct Professor of Business Economics in the ITAM Business School in Mexico City.

Jim authored Ecosynomics: The Science of Abundance (2014), co-authored Managing from Clarity: Identifying, Aligning and Leveraging Strategic Resources (2001), has written many articles on systemic strategy for academic and practitioner journals, and blogs regularly at

As a student of human agreements, Jim Ritchie-Dunham brings over 25 years of research and insights gleaned from working with groups of all make-ups.  Jim named Ecosynomics, the emerging social science of the agreements that guide human interactions. Ecosynomics provides a framework rooted in economics and the sciences of human agreements that begins with an initial assumption of abundance, not scarcity, and a wider view of the human being.

Maureen Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Innovative Leadership Institute

, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach, whose 30 years of business experience provides high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. Maureen is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with a strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

Maureen has published several papers and articles and speaks regularly on innovative leadership, resilience, and organizational transformation. She is the author of the award-winning Innovative Leadership Workbook Series and the co-author of The Innovative Leadership Fieldbook, winner of an International Book Award for Best Business Reference Book. She is also a regular contributor to


Avoid Toxic Behavior and Build Self-Worth to Retain Employees

Akken Cloud Avoid Toxic Behavior

This guest post was provided by Akken Cloud.  In the past, it was common for people to stay at a company for years, even decades. Loyal employees were rewarded with stability and good benefits. But in recent years, even the promise of stability is not enough to keep top talent. In fact, employees may find that changing from job to job can be lucrative, often resulting in a 10 to 20 percent salary increase.

While that’s great for the employee, it’s very difficult and costly for employers. Factor in the time it takes to recruit and train a new hire, loss of work production, and higher salary demands, and turnover becomes a very costly experience for a company. In fact, the Center for American Progress found that turnover costs a company one-fifth of that employee’s salary. Now more than ever, retaining great employees is crucial for a company’s bottom line.

While some companies work to combat high turnover by creating a system to quickly assimilate new employees, it’s not a sound business model. Not only does this model devalue the advantages of a seasoned employee, but it also neglects the influence of turnover on company culture as a whole.

A company culture that encourages each team member to grow can result in tenured employees who add value. Tenured employees are more productive and thus more valuable to a company. But the productivity doesn’t end at one person—it affects the whole team. The longer people work together, the more likely they are to better communicate, which can also result in better productivity. In fact, a survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that 34 percent of respondents noted that “communication bottlenecks impact their productivity” negatively.

But once someone leaves a company, questions emerge from the remaining employees. Why did they leave? Are there better opportunities out there? Could I find one too? One employee’s departure can lead to two, and then maybe three, costing the company even more money.

There are many effective measures employers can take to reduce turnover. One of the easiest ways to reduce turnover is to ensure your workplace instills respect and self-worth among its employees.

Why Respect and Self-Worth Matter

It’s simple, really: People want to feel valued and believe their work has meaning. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), 50 percent of employees who reported not feeling valued at work were looking for a new job, while only 21 percent of those who reported feeling valued said they were doing the same. In addition, 93 percent of the employees that felt valued reported they were motivated to do their best work possible. Self-worth and respect not only improve retention, but showing employees you value them can improve work productivity and engagement. Multiple studies show engaged and happy employees perform better, miss less work, and are better assets to a company overall.

By becoming aware of some of the pitfalls many employers make and adjusting a few simple practices within the workplace, employers can create a better work culture that results in happier employees. Happier employees equals reduced turnover and ultimately saves money.

Behavior and Habits That Are Toxic and Disrespectful

Behavior and attitudes, both good and bad, can affect the people around us. Research suggests happiness can rub off on others while negative behavior can cost businesses billions. Negativity is extremely harmful and can poison the workplace. As an employer or manager, it’s important to take a look at your own practices and avoid these behavioral pitfalls:


Showing up late to a meeting, even if it is informal, shows a disregard for other people’s time. Yes, you may be really important within the company. But if you have a meeting time, stick to it. Of course there are unavoidable situations that mean you need to reschedule. In these circumstances, make sure to let the person or people know as soon as there is a roadblock in your schedule, and apologize appropriately. Don’t make a habit of being even a few minutes late to every meeting. The message you send to other people in the meeting is: My time is more important than your time. That is no way to make people feel valued and respected.


Common courtesy can go a long way. There are varying forms of disrespect. For example, showing disregard for an employee’s ideas or talking over him or her is incredibly disrespectful. If you are unsure how employees perceive you, the tried and true method of “treat others as you would like to be treated” is the best way to keep yourself in check.  In addition, make sure employees know they can speak up about workplace disrespect either to you or an HR person, reinforcing the point that their voice matters.

Allowing others to be disrespectful

Equally bad, if not more hurtful, is when a manager sees one peer disrespect another peer and does not appropriately correct the action. This sends the message that you don’t care about the way your co-workers treat each other. Additionally, your silence can be interpreted as agreement with the disrespecting person.

Broken promises

Employees look to their managers for support. If you give your word that you’ll do X or accomplish Y, then you better do it. Otherwise your employee will lose faith in your ability to follow through on your promises, and eventually they may lose respect for you in general. If you can’t produce what you promised, then let your employee know right away and explain why you cannot deliver. This candor shows honesty and leadership, and provides the employee with an example of how you expect him or her to act in the workplace.


A healthy relationship is one where there is honest and open communication. If you’re defensive every time someone questions one of your ideas or actions, people will think communication is not welcome. This leads to employees who eventually shutdown and remain silent even when they have important and innovative ideas. A company then receives decreased value from its employees.


Gossiping about team members to other employees is a recipe for disaster made only worse if you’re a manager. Telling an employee sensitive information about their peers suggests not only that you disrespect that person, but that you cannot be trusted.

Lack of interest in team members

Showing a lack of concern or interest for your employees’ lives, especially their work lives, says you don’t care about them as individuals and probably don’t care about their personal growth or happiness at work either.


Nothing can lose the respect of your team faster than blaming others for your own mistakes. It makes people fearful and wonder when they’ll be thrown under the bus. It’s best to own up to your mistakes and quickly work to resolve whatever issues are present. This will help fix the issue, and help earn the respect of your team.

Behavior and Habits That Build Self-Worth

Creating a work culture that builds employees’ self-worth means a happier workforce. And a happier workforce means higher quality work, a drive to exceed expectations and goals, as well as more long-term employees. In addition, a positive atmosphere may attract other similarly minded, high-performing employees. Employers and managers should help build their team’s self-worth with the following steps:

Praise good work

Nothing feels better than validation for a job well done. This is not to say you should praise every little thing an employee or team member does. (If you give out praise constantly, then it loses its significance.) However, when someone has completed a project or task exceptionally well, praise them. Acknowledging someone’s hard work costs nothing, yet it boosts an employee’s self-confidence and increases his or her willingness to continue working hard.

Celebrate and reward success

Praising good work is a great place to start, but it’s also a good idea to celebrate success and reward hard work. Whether it’s a celebratory happy hour for completing a project ahead of schedule or give a bonus to someone who had an outstanding sales quarter, celebrations can improve the entire team’s morale and motivate all workers to keep up the hard work. A word of caution: Celebrations and rewards should match the work that’s being recognized. A last minute and poorly planned gathering to acknowledge the end of a project will feel less meaningful. Additionally, financial bonuses should correlate with the amount of money the employee either saved or earned for the company—maybe a $50 gift card won’t cut it if someone just closed a $1 million deal.

Acknowledge strengths and weaknesses

Calling attention to an employee’s weak point in a constructive manner can help foster growth and show you care. The trick is to be helpful in this criticism and demonstrate you’re willing to assist toward making a positive change. In addition, when discussing weaknesses, it’s a good idea to praise an employee’s strengths. By addressing weaknesses and acknowledging strengths, you help an employee feel like you appreciate and value them enough to work on self-growth.

Help employees grow professionally

Employees want growth opportunities. One of the main factors that leads to losing talent is the lack of growth and advancement opportunities. For this reason, it’s crucial to help employees succeed in professional goals, even if it means losing them to another department at the same company. If your company is small and doesn’t have much upward mobility, provide other ways to help employees grow, such as teaching new job skills and providing more challenging projects.

Create open discussions

Employees want to be a part of the team and company. They want to feel that their opinions matter and can directly influence their work. By creating open discussions that allow team members to be included in decision making, you create an environment where employees know their opinion matters.

Trust employees and stop micromanaging

Micromanaging can be the death of employee happiness. Micromanaging every task conveys you don’t trust employees to do their jobs.  And, no one wants to be micromanaged.  Instead, focus that energy on providing adequate training. Then allow the employee to do that job, perhaps away from the office at times (if possible). Allowing people to work from home from time to time shows you trust them to get the job done. In addition, studies suggest flexible work arrangements are also related to employee happiness and job satisfaction, further increasing higher morale and self-worth.


Engaging with your team members can go a long way in growing an employee’s self-worth. By engaging with people on a personal level at work, employers show they legitimately care. A simple “hello” in the morning or check-in after lunch takes little time out of the day, but the overall effect it has on morale is astounding.For managers, this reduces the potential hesitation for an employee to ask for help.


Just like engagement, listening to an employee can positively affect self-worth and company culture. Meet with team members and allow them the opportunity to tell you what is going well, what went horribly wrong, and what landed somewhere in between. A lot can be learned in these check-ins, but you have to listen. Ask a few questions to get things going, but allow the employee to direct the conversation. They will feel valued knowing their manager took time to listen to what they had to say. These quick meetings can also bring your attention to anything that may be amiss and needs correcting.

By avoiding negative behaviors that show disrespect and instead engaging with employees in a meaningful way that improves their self-worth, employers will create a more positive company culture, reduce turnover, and ultimately save money.

About Terra Clarke Olsen

Terra Clarke Olsen is a writer and content manager with a background in sales. She is a member of GeekGirlCon’s Board of Directors, also serving as treasurer. Terra has a BA from UCLA and a MA from University of Toronto. She resides in Seattle, WA with her husband, son, and two cats. Find her on Twitter: @Terrasum

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Performance Management AND Coaching Drive Success

Employee EngagementBill goes into his boss’s office to receive feedback on his annual appraisal. He learns that he is meeting expectations, and, subsequently, he is excited to shift his focus to further developing his plan. He is disappointed to learn that performance management only involves determining what he will deliver next year and not at how he can grow in order to expand his capacity to perform better. He feels as though he is falling behind his peers who focus on both performance and development.

I teach a class on managing employee performance and coaching employees that proposes we shift from emphasis on managing performance to emphasis on coaching employees. The Gallup Q12 Meta Analysis in 2013 showed that organizations with engaged employees are 22% more profitable. Employees are more engaged when they feel as though the organization cares about them and their individual development.

Performance management involves setting employee and organizational goals into alignment and providing feedback about performance within those goals. When supervisors connect employee skills with employee goals, employees become more engaged, and the organization benefits. Furthermore, performance management includes identifying the top performers to succeed important roles and identifying the lower performers to receive assistance. The person giving feedback requires proficient skills in evaluating and motivating employees. A strong relationship between manager and employee is necessary when providing effective feedback – this relationship should be one where the employee feels safe receiving constructive criticism and believes that, by making the requested changes, he or she will be rewarded in the future.

To meet stated objectives effectively, improving performance is needed. After employees are able to meet their objectives, it is important to then focus on meeting new goals to continue building employee capacity. At this point, coaching becomes fundamental to the process.

Coaching helps employees achieve their developmental goals beyond their mere ability to perform the job. A coach helps foster an employee’s developmental goals which are typically in sync with organizational goals. Development is vital in order to advance to the next level within an organization. It is also necessary when building skills like executive presence or resilience. The coach can be an employee’s manager or someone in a different reporting line or work group. It is important that the coach and coachee have a strong relationship of trust and respect.

The distinction between performance management and coaching may appear to be one of semantics, but it is nevertheless important. It is important for leaders and managers to have BOTH skills and to know when each skill is best used. When employees are performing poorly, the manager must determine the cause, which is often either a result of a training deficiency or a motivation/engagement gap. Once a manager identifies the cause of the underperformance in an employee he or she can create an improvement plan to help the employee meet the stated goals.

We prepare managers and leaders to

  1. Teach the basics of employee engagement – learn the basics of what engages and disengages people.
  2. Teach performance management basics – understand how the organization’s performance management system is designed. Performance management can have legal and financial implications, so it is important to understand the impact of the actions surrounding this system.
  3. Teach/practice giving and receiving feedback – PRACTICE (capitalized to emphasize skills are developed through ongoing practice) giving and receiving feedback with difficult employees.
  4. Teach coaching basics – practice coaching conversations. Coaching conversations have different objectives, content, and tones. Managers who are good at performance feedback still need to build coaching skills.
  5. Teach/practice coaching – PRACTICE coaching employees who are focused on growth.

For many organizations, employees are the biggest driver of success and, consequently, failure. To outperform competition, investing in employee engagement and development is crucial. If focus on performance management and coaching is mediocre or an afterthought, the ability to deliver positive end results will likely suffer.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

photo credit: get everwise

Five Key Elements In Performance Management Design Part 2

Performance MeasurementBlog post written by Rob Harman, II CPA, MBA, PHR, SHRM-CP

This is part two focusing on of five things to think about when designing a Performance Management System and Process. Part one covered use. This part will cover design, measurement, output, and competencies.

2.  Design (see blog series part 1 for the first item).

There are many factors to be considered when designing a performance management system. Below are factors that are important as you consider designing a system for your organization.

    • Simple to use. If your system is cumbersome, people are not going to want to use it, or will just do the minimum it takes to achieve the “goal” of giving feedback. Complicated systems only produce good results when everyone involved is dedicated to spend the time to provide the input. The evaluator and evaluatee need to have the ability to choose from a range of selections based on each item being measured (i.e. a rating scale of 1 to 6 for each question). The system should also have an open text box after every question in the event the individual would like to input comments or examples to support the rating.
    • Accessible anywhere anytime. As many in today’s workforce work from remote locations outside the office, the system needs to be web based and accessible outside the office. Consider if you want to use cloud based software for your performance management system. Many systems offer other capabilities and modules than just performance management and could be a part of your HRIS and total financial system software package.
    • Ongoing feedback. The system should be designed to provide ongoing performance feedback throughout the year based on projects, time intervals, or at the employee or managers request. Therefore the system is always open and on. This will be a culture shift for many organizations as many only give feedback when it is needed or at set intervals in time. Giving real time feedback is not only a powerful motivational tactic for good and high performers, it will help an employee or manager who may be having some challenges. It is important to provide that feedback as soon as possible so it can be addressed without sacrificing additional work productivity losses and damage to internal and external clients.
    • Reporting. The system should have robust data gathering and reporting capabilities for the evaluator, evaluate, and of course HR, to help monitor and track completion and other statistics for a particular group and the organization.
    • Easy to interpret results. The system should have a dashboard where the manager and employee are able to view performance feedback and goals that are compiled and aggregated throughout the year. The dashboard should be able to track the number of “to do” tasks, what stage of completion they are in, and the date of the stage. Consider the interface of the design to feature simple graphics, colors, and analysis for a quick glace of reporting and statistics.

3. Measurement.

Ask yourself, what specifically do you want to measure, and who should be measuring it? Consider the following when deciding what to measure around performance.

  • Performance on a project or in a cross functional group
  • Customer impact
  • Individual contributions
  • Pro-bono or other volunteer work
  • Attitude and ability to work and team with others
  • Ability and drive
  • Upward feedback

As mentioned employees should be able to ask for feedback in the system at any time on any measurable item and the system will trigger the evaluator responsible for providing the feedback. Employees need to be set up with responsibility evaluator(s) for each type of measurement and they should have the ability to do self-evaluations in the system.

Another item to consider is what type of rating scale do you want to use? Traditionally, companies used scales of 1-7, or something similar. Many companies are considering either doing away with the numeric rating, or making it a smaller part of the process. A numerical rating triggers a psychological response and people tend to focus only on the number and what the implications of that number may mean, and thus are not engaged fully in the conversation. An alternative could be to borrow from the color spectrum and use red as high performance, green as expected performance, and indigo as needs improvement.   Some organizations are giving feedback without ratings with some early success. For other companies, foregoing measures would be counterproductive given the cultures they have built around measurement. This is where the ability to give and receive feedback is imperative to success! One of the challenges with measures is how the feedback is delivered more than the fact that performance is measured.

An example of the ratings shown on the dashboard could look something like this.

Performance Management

Some companies are beginning to use values-based ratings1. This is done by looking at how the employee fits in with the company values and aligns with company objectives. Other approaches are to design a system where the output is not only feedback on performance, but focuses more on giving advice and coaching and not just a final “rating”. You will want to look for a software vendor that has designed newer products that will be able to accommodate these non-traditional ways of measurement and delivering feedback and coaching.

 4. Output.

Now that you have designed a system, how you will use it? What decisions will you need to make as a result of the process? Do you need to implement training? Are there performance issues with a particular group, or a particular manager? Is there a morale problem at the organization? A well thought out and designed performance management system will help your company answer all of these questions and more.

5. Competencies.

Finally, competencies are an area where many organizations design complicated frameworks by level, group, subsidiary, or other measures, in an effort to define every possible measurement of performance at every level. While that is admirable, even a well-designed system will be unsuccessful if the competencies being measured are too complicated or the forms are too lengthy. There is value at developing expectations of performance at all levels of the organization from staff to executives. The competencies should be progressive, meaning each level has mastered the competencies of the preceding level. Competencies need to be designed with examples of what high performance (red), expected performance (green), and needs improvement (indigo) mean at each level and for different categories such as client services, team work, attitude, etc. The competencies need to be designed to achieve organizational and individual goals. Competencies will be a topic in another blog series, so stay tuned!

In a future post we will also talk about how to plan employee development and discuss how it links to evaluation. Some organizations couple performance evaluation and development planning while others separate them. We will talk more about performance management next week.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us

1 Predictions for 2015: Redesigning the Organization for a Rapidly Changing World, Bersin by Deloitte / Josh Bersin, January 2015

Photo credit: William A. Clark

Five Key Elements in Performance Management Design – Part 1

Blog post written by Rob HarmanPath to success cc traumaandissociation, II CPA, MBA, PHR, SHRM-CP.  You have just received an email from your Human Resources Department advising you it is time to begin the annual performance review process. Do you react by thinking, great, I have an opportunity to showcase the great work I’ve done and provide meaningful feedback to others? Or do you suddenly feel the 12 week job assignment overseas is looking like a real opportunity? I think most of us will agree the performance management process is something that can be improved upon at most organizations. It is often a once or twice a year task that is required by the company in order to assess performance, determine promotions, discipline, or terminate employees who are not performing at a level that is expected.

While having the greatest intentions, many organizations come up with sophisticated competencies that are often very long, cumbersome, and complicated at best. The performance management process then becomes a necessary evil. Since most of us are being asked to do more with less, performance management becomes a low priority because the business of doing business always comes first. Often then, the performance management process becomes an annual exercise of trying to remember what you did for the year, what your team did, how well it was done, and what you can say about it in enough words to satisfy the owners of the process, while getting it done quickly enough to move on to your other tasks.

The sad part is that performance management is very much about running the business and meeting client needs, both internal and external. What is needed in today’s workplace is an efficient, effective, easy to use, continual performance management system that is transparent. Everyone needs to be trained on how to give effective feedback, and how to receive it. This should be an ongoing refrain! EVERYONE needs to be trained to give and receive feedback! Repeat – EVERYONE needs to use the training they received to give and receive feedback. Think of how many people you know who are ineffective at giving and receiving feedback and either are too busy to get better or think they are already good enough. The changes we recommend ONLY work if leaders and managers are GOOD at giving and receiving feedback!

With those criteria met, the performance management process will become a much easier task, one that is continual throughout the year, will deliver feedback, and will help set goals to help employees and the business.

In the following sections are five things to consider when building a successful performance management process and system. Use, design, measurement, output and competencies. We will cover use this week and the following four next week.

1. Use.

How will you use the system and what is your goal for the system? What organization and talent objectives are you trying to meet? Common uses are compensation decisions, promotion decisions, training, and what I’ll call leveling. Leveling can mean holding someone in their current position for a period of time, providing them with additional training, or finding other opportunities for them in the organization if their current position isn’t the right fit. Ultimately, it can mean counseling someone out of the organization.

As a side note, when making compensation decisions based on performance, many organizations are considering unlinking the direct connection between compensation decisions and the overall rating. Compensation decisions can still be made by performance, but other factors such as job position, job skills, market conditions, and contributions to the organization can be the main drivers1. This allows for more direct and honest feedback, and ultimately improving employee engagement and performance by honest coaching.

In part two, I will talk about what your intended use of the system should be, what to measure and how, as numeric ratings are falling out of style. We will also touch on competencies and how those are built into the system.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: traumaanddissociation

Steve Levitt at World Business Forum 2010 – Applying Economics to Leadership

Steven D. Levitt is the co-author of the bestseller Freakonomics and its follow-up Superfreakonomics, a NewYork Times bestseller. Professor Levitt is a tenured professor in the University of Chicago’s economics department.

Steven talked about several examples of his work moving from being an academic Economist into work with business.  While his main topic was economics, one of the most interesting elements of his presentation was a comparison between economics and business and more specifically what we can learn about becoming more effective leaders from this discussion.

Academics Business
Need to answer few questions very well Need to answer many questions quickly
Less data available Create their own data running field experiments
Come from a perspective of learning –
admitting they do not know
Come from a perspective of knowing –
do not admit when they do not know

One of the most important elements that emerged from listening to Steven was the idea that leaders are not as curious as they need to be in an environment where the world is changing so quickly that we cannot rely on our historic knowledge for sound decisions.

Metcalf & Associates teaches leaders how to move toward Level 5 Leadership and we write about it extensively.  One of the most important qualities we talk about is leaders moving from command and control where the leader has the answers toward acting like a scientist who has the right questions.  Scientists create a hypothesis, run small experiments, collect data and refine the approach.  In times of great uncertainty, the leader with the right questions and a great team will win.

Jack Welsh spoke yesterday at the World Economic Forum about the importance of finding the best talent within the organization and developing them.   It is with the best talent and a level of transparency that the organization gains a competitive advantage.

Metcalf & Associates works with our clients to ask the right questions and we put our projects to the test.   We have had the good fortune to work with leaders who are not only curious but also willing to share their experiences with the greater leadership community to promote learning for everyone.  An example of this is Carl Fernyak at MT Business Technologies who co-wrote this paper as the CEO:    Family Owned Business Succession – Building on a Legacy Approach, Case Study, and Results

Where in your professional life do you have the right questions?  Can you expand this skill into other areas?

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

David Gergen at World Business Forum 2010 – Leadership Challenges

David Gergen at World Business Forum 2010

David Gergen spoke about Leadership at the World Business Forum.  He was the Former White House advisor for 30 years, served as Director of Communications for President Reagan, and served as counselor to President Clinton on both foreign policy and domestic affairs.  He is now a Professor of Public Service at Harvard.  He evaluated leadership from a historical perspective and talked about the changes he has seen over the course of working for 4 different Presidents.

1.  Role of the leader now is different than in the past.   In the past leaders sent down messages from the top and employees followed directions.  Now college educated employees are taught to be skeptical in a more complicated world.  It is no longer possible for leaders to get results by giving orders top down.  In general, leaders need to use more of an influence model, they need to persuade and inspire.  It requires a different mindset and understanding, and a greater appreciate that people are the most valuable thing you have in your company.

2.  Reflection is necessary for leaders.  If you have a sense of where to go but you get information that conflicts with your views, you need to give yourself some time to reflect and get clarity.   Roosevelt used time alone to solve key problems and came up with breakthrough ideas that changed international relationships.  Current leaders require this time for reflection.

3.  Invest time in relationships.  Leaders also need to invest the time in relationships with critical stakeholders.  In this time of complexity – alliances are critical to any organization’s  success and leaders build trust through investing time in these relationships in governments and organizations.

4. How do we use information and IT now?  General Patraeus is an example of a leader who is open to conversation and feedback.  He uses his blackberry to get feedback continually to stay informed but does not use it to lead.  He gets info from within the system and manages through the chain of command.  There are also cases where we can get derailed by focus on the barrage of information.  Determine what is critical and what is not and respond accordingly.   We heard from other speakers today about the link of social media to strategy.  The key is to know what information is important to accomplishing the strategy and what will distract the leader and the organization.  Manage the critical information and let the rest go.

5.  Building team.  I agree with Jim Collins and Jack Welsh, get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus.  He talked about the leader of Singapore who said the single most important thing a leader does is to find the next generation of leaders and empower them. You need to have a good eye for young talent and invest in developing them.  One of the dangers of a team is getting people who think alike.  Differing perspectives are critical to good team and organizational operations.  In government, it is important to get business leadership integrally involved.

6.  Commitment to Service.  People from the “greatest generation” were committed to America first, before political party.  Kids coming along now, as children of baby boomers, are very oriented toward serving.  If you get a young officer coming out of Iraq of Afghanistan, consider hiring them – they will make great leaders.  Young people are not very interested in politics but are interested in serve.  I am hopeful.

David gave a perspective on leadership gained largely from years in politics.  One key theme for me is that as the world becomes more complex, some elements of leadership must change (command and control is replaced by influence) while other foundational elements remain as true as ever – the spirit of service is a critical foundation for great leaders.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Jack Welch at World Business Forum 2010 – CEO Number 1 Job is Leadership

Jack Welsh, World Business Forum 2010Jack Welch former CEO of GE and top selling author of Winning spoke at the World Business Forum 2010 hitting the topic of Management Fundamentals and success.  Key points of his message were very close to the themes from Jim Collins, author of Good to Great.  Collins is primarily a researcher and Welch is primarily a CEO.  They both focus heavily on the importance of leadership, growing your people, creating a vision, establishing clear process and accountability to move the business forward consistently.

1.  My main job as CEO is fielding the best talent.   Most managers are not getting this!  There is no where enough attention to leadership development.  What keeps people from doing this?  Insecurity.   Boards not paying enough attention and allowing this to continue.

2.  Rank and build talent.   We are not spending enough time focused on those doing a great job because we are focused on improving the bottom 10%.  We need to celebrate the winners and helping others understand how to be top performers.  Those who are not winners here will likely become winners when they find where they best fit.  Teams perform better when we build on the talent and cut those not meeting the performance standards.

3.  You Must add value beyond what is there. When asked a question from the audience about a new product – his response was clear – we must all be focusing on adding value.  Do not invest resources unless there is a real need.

4.  Technology creates opportunities to gain efficiencies and improve customer intimacy. His reference to technology is as an enabler to make large businesses more effective and efficient and thus more competitive.  With growing competition we need to leverage technology.  For most companies it is not our business, it improves our business and must be seen through that lens.

5.  Fear is dead as a management tool.  You better have a vision and be able to communicate what is in it for others if you want them to follow you.  Transparency – everyone knows everything now.  As a Leader, you better have real logic behind the decisions rather than just your title.

6.  I see a different world going forward.  People have changed habits.  People are doing more with less.  As an economy, we are moving to a 2-3% growth rate.  People are buying fewer services, using less labor, and using fewer materials.  Technology is on exponential growth path changing how work is done.  The combination of these 2 factors:  lower demand and more technology mandates we change how we do business.   It calls for real innovation to improve efficiency.

By putting the right leaders in place and maintaining consistent focus on their continued growth – even when they are the best in class – you will WIN as a business and we will win as a country.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Jim Collins from World Business Forum 2010

Mr. Collins spoke at the World Business Forum 2010 about the syntheses of Good to Great, Built to Last, and how the Mighty Fall. Sustaining Great Results What does a Level 5 Leaders do?

1.  Combat Hubris through ruthless self examination.  Level 5 Leaders are committed to the truth over the image they have of themselves and their companies.  They understand that only through rigor and discipline in thinking and action will the success continue long term.  They have the courage to ask the tough questions about their companies and themselves that enable them to face changing times.

2.   Combat the desire for too much too quickly. Level 5 Leaders understand the “right pace” for long term sustainable growth.  If a leader is building an organization that will last for 25 years and even 100 years, what does he/she need to do today to move forward 1 step today?  Great leaders build the team who can execute on goals and values impeccably then expand.  They regroup and recharge and plan before each next step to ensure successful implementation.

3.   Face the Brutal Facts and Act – Level 5 Leaders are willing to face the brutal facts and take the difficult action.  With a 25 year vision, clear values and principles, they make the tough decisions that will produce long term sustainable progress because it is what needs to be done.  This can mean making major changes to projects or products they value and may have created.

4.  Commit to Discipline and Rigor – Level 5 Leaders know that there are no quick fixes or short cuts to greatness.  Daily discipline and right action from all employees creates great results.  These results are not immediately visible.  Success is a combination of quick wins and long term daily actions aligned with the organizations’ goals and principles.

5.  Commit to Creating Value – Level 5 Leaders meet a need in the community that is not being filled by others.  They are driven by passion and commitment to improve the world – not for fame. They do what they do because at their core they are doing what they are called to do.   By responding to a larger purpose, the leader is able to make the tough calls at times with high personal cost.  They are able to make the toughest of calls.

Level 5 Leaders create long term value for their companies, employees, communities and the world by taking these actions.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Prioritizing Business Success Through Organizational Transformation


Image001MM:  You know, Belinda, I have been a change management consultant for about 20 years now.  From what I am seeing now, in this time of huge transition both economically and in the philosophy of business, I’m thinking that the most effective way to support companies is to offer a targeted package to help senior leaders deal more effectively with complexity.

Here’s what seems to address the greatest need.

·         Invest in leadership development to enable leaders to change the way they lead in a changing business climate
·         Set the vision for the company in this dynamic business environment
·         Implement the changes necessary to thrive
·         Build resilience in people and the organization to enable them to integrate an ever increasing volume of change

And yet, given the pace most people are trying to maintain, how do they make time to invest in personal and organizational transformation?

BG:  Finding time for everything is an issue for everyone, including me!  We all have the same 24/7 and daily have to prioritize so that we are making decisions to do the important things first.  Remember Covey’s model comparing tasks that are urgent and those that are important?  Too many times the important things get set aside for what is considered urgent, but isn’t really important.

When you think about it, nothing is more important than making sure your organization is aligned for success, and that we as leaders are keeping pace with that transformation.  We can waste a lot of time on things that don’t matter if we neglect the basics for understanding how to change.

MM:  So, Belinda, it is clear that we both face time constraints and we also appreciate the urgency in being proactive about transforming companies and leadership teams.  We are following our own advice in designing offerings to meet business needs in an efficient way to make the greatest impact.

To support leadership teams in running a business along with focusing on good stewardship of people and resources, we have packaged our leadership and transformation services into an offering tailored to client needs that ranges from twelve months to 24 months.  Each one day session is designed to build on prior sessions with practical homework in applying learning to your organization. This year, our blog will focus on a client who has made significant progress in leadership development and strategy, and is now introducing the changes to the broader company using the twelve month offering.  We will join them on their journey with about one post per month that generally mirrors their development so you can see how our method might apply to you.

Photo credit: aforero

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.