Mentoring Moments: Just in Time Support

Someone asks you to be their mentor. You’re not sure you can commit. It’s a lot of time, and you’re already overloaded. Plus you’ve mentored in several formal mentoring programs and it felt forced and awkward.

Formal programs can stifle a good relationship. Even organic relationships can lose steam with too much structure. Worse, many connections never start for fear of commitment.

Mentoring Moments

“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” -Phil Collins

Instead of saying, “yes! I’ll be your mentor,” or “I’m sorry, I can’t at this time,” how about a simple, “I’d be happy to talk with you.” Keep it natural. Find time to connect. Figure out why they thought of you. Help where you can. Connect them to others who can support. If it makes sense to set a follow-up, do that. Don’t get stuck mentoring past helpfulness. Growing leaders can benefit from a series of mentoring moments with a broad spectrum of leaders. You will learn from these moments too.

Tips for a Making Great Mentoring Moments

  • Ask lots of questions
  • Work on a specific skill
  • Pull out the answers
  • Provide information and encouragement
  • Help them ask “why?”
  • Dust them off when they fail
  • Encourage self-reflection
  • Serve as sounding board
  • Remove obstacles
  • Uncover resources
  • Create additional connections

10 Mentoring Moment Sentence Starters

  • Have you thought about.
  • What do you think would happen if.
  • Why do you think that happened?
  • Who should you involve?
  • When is the best time to do this?
  • Why are you pursuing that approach?
  • Which are the most important goals?
  • What will happen next?
  • Why does that make you so angry?
  • Who can help?

Customers or Employees: Which Comes First?

Chicken Nuggets or Egg McMuffins? Customers or employees? Which comes first? Does it matter?

I was intrigued by an Wall Street Journal article revealing McDonald’s efforts to fix customer service. Much conversation about customers. Little about employees. I felt compelled to respond, in an article I published Friday on Lead Change Group, Dear McDonald’s It’s Not About the Burgers (or even the yogurt).

A Letter to McDonald’s

Dear McDonald’s,

I know you’re frustrated that your internal presentation on fixing customer service was leaked to the press. That stinks. You can recover. At least we know you are trying to fix it. We’d all like a bit more happy with our meals.

5 suggestions (read more on by clicking here)

I tweeted the article to McDonald’s and was impressed with their response.

@letsgrowleaders Thanks. Input from our customers is a gift. We’re trying to improve and grow every day. ^JH

That’s promising.

Customers or Employees?

And so I’ve been asking this question in my circles.
“Employees come first! Companies need a GREAT product to attract and maintain customers, so what better product than great employees!!!”

“Customers come first. Always. Forever. Developing a team and investing in employees is all part of that “selfless service” spirit.”

“Happy people create happy people, experiences, and outcomes.”

“Customers are first because if we take care of them, we will see the benefits, and in turn create happy employees”

“As an employee I should be focused on our customers. As a supervisor, my focus in on the employee. My outward focus should trickle down the line.”

“First start with a dynamic, well-trained, well compensated empowered and respected work force.”

“If we all focused on meeting and exceeding each other’s needs as people first, the same will pass on to our customers.”

“People first” is all that matters.”

“View our employees as customers.”

I choose employees. Engaged, confident happy employees create magical customer experiences. Ignore the employees, your customers will leave.

What advice would you give McDonald’s (or other companies facing similar challenges?

Best Leadership Books for Frontline Leaders

I’m always being asked for recommendations on the best leadership books for frontline leaders. I share my favorites with you throughout my posts, so this time I thought I’d ask the Let’s Grow Leaders Community. I cast the best leadership book net in all my online communities, asking “what one book would you recommend for new leaders.” I also asked my own team for their views on most impactful leadership books in their journey. I am happy to share some of their favorites (all titles include links).

“The first thing would be to give them a library card because, if they stop reading, they will stop leading effectively.”

 Top 10 Leadership Books for Frontline Leaders*

  1. The Leadership Challenge (Kouzes and Pozner)
  2. Leadership and Self-Deception (Arbinger Institute)
  3. Who Moved My Cheese (Spencer Johnson)
  4. The Speed of Trust (and other books by Stephen Covey)
  5. How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
  6. Bud to Boss (Kevin Eikenberry)
  7. The First 90 Days (Michael Watkins)
  8. Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan)
  9. The 21 Indespensable Qualites of a Leader (and other books by John Maxwell)
  10. Emotional Intelligence (Daniel Goleman)

Bonus: The Holy Bible (God et al)

As nominated by various LinkedIn Groups, Google Plus Groups, Twitter, and Let’s Grow Leaders Facebook Page

Other Popular and Interesting Choices

Practical Advice

Culture

Career

Strategy

Inspiration and Meaning

4 Reasons Execution Breaks Down: and How to Fix It

When execution is broken, so is leadership. Teams that don’t execute are starving. They crave vision and direction. Carrots don’t improve vision.

Execution breaks down when there’s..

  • fuzzy vision
  • lack of buy-in
  • hidden agendas
  • competing priorities
  • confusion
  • chaos
  • apathy
  • broken teamwork
  • ?

Don’t blame, punish, or make excuses. Lead better.

4 Reasons Execution Breaks Down (and what to do about it)

  1. Lack of Commitment
    Excitement doesn’t necessarily mean commitment. Encourage early dissent. Ask, “what’s wrong with this plan?” or “How’s everyone feeling.” Check with folks offline. Ignored objections will visit later in uglier clothes.
  2. Unspoken Agendas
    You’re the boss, so they go along. But, they have their own ideas, stakeholders and personal concerns. Surface competing commitments. Help the team prioritize. Talk one-on-one.
  3. Fuzzy Direction
    You think the plan is clear– it’s not. Ask the team to articulate their specific next steps and timeline. I’m often amazed at the breakdowns. Best to catch them early.
  4. Moving Too Fast
    I’ve got scar tissue on this one.Early in my career my boss pulled me aside.
“Karin, you’ve got good ideas and big energy. Your brain moves quickly. You get remarkably excited. You rally the team and start running. BUT. you get running so far ahead that you forget to look back and see if we’re with you. Slow down, look back, folks are gasping for air on the side of the road and can’t see you. Make sure we’re with you.”

If you’re a runner, learn to wait at the water stops. Check for understanding.

Commitment, agendas, direction, velocity.

Force Field Analysis as a Teambuilding Exercise

When you’re trying to fix a team. There are always factors working for you and against you. Secret force fields undermine your efforts. Make the hidden forces known. Make the force be with you.

Force Field Analysis is a well-tested change management technique developed by Kurt Lewin in the 1950s. It’s brilliant in its simplicity. Define a problem (or change) and a desired state. Identify all the forces for and against your efforts. Develop plans to maximize the good and minimize the bad. The technique works best in small groups (less than 12) and can be applied to any decision or change effort.

Force Field Analysis as Teambuilder

I use Force Field Analysis to build teams. It gets people talking about specific issues. Tangible actions emerge quickly. Warning, it can get deep fast, so be sure your team is ready to talk. You may want to use someone from HR or an outside facilitator to help. For added fun, add light sabers.

Here’s how

  1. Define a problem your team is facing (i.e. we don’t help one another)
  2. Determine your ideal state (i.e. we would proactively support one another)
  3. Identify Driving Forces (i.e. we “want” to help, we have a common vision, some people help oh boy.)
  4. Identify Restraining Forces (i.e. we’re all so busy, we aren’t co-located, I can’t trust that others will reciprocate)
  5. Prioritize the issues in terms of magnitude (i.e. trust is the fundamental problem, made worse by being a remote team).
    Sometimes it’s good to stop here and then take each issue one-by-one in shorter follow-up sessions
  6. Talk about the salient issues (this may take multiple sessions, that’s just fine)
  7. Identify your action plan with measures of success
  8. Follow-up to assess progress

Give it a try. Let me and the LGL community know how it goes.

Beware of Backstabbers: How to Protect Your Team

Backstabbers promote self-interest at all costs. These wicked tricksters crush you with subtle moves. They move from gentle to ferocious in a single strike, like a Bengal Tiger. They’re a rare breed, but when you meet one, be prepared. They can slow results, damage morale, and derail careers. Beware and have your own moves.

Tigers challenge, frustrate, and don’t play fair. It’s often too late to react. You’re working too hard for that to happen to you or your team. Stay nice, treat others with compassion, take the high road, and protect.

Signs You’re Getting Mauled

Look around. Watch for other’s reactions and look for signs.

  • There’s a trail of carnage
  • You are constantly watching your back
  • Everyone runs
  • The roar
  • Sudden attacks
  • No mercy
  • Ravenous taking
  • Play turns deadly

How to Tame a Backstabber

Some tigers do change their stripes.It’s worth a try. Even when others have failed.

  • Listen carefully
  • Throw them some meat (give them what they need)
  • More meat
  • Ask for help (you may even ask them to be your “mentor”)
  • Show your stripes (take a stand)
  • Confront (question questionable behaviors, carefully and privately)

When to Sharpen Your Blade

And sometimes you must protect

When

  • You give them meat, and they eat your hand
  • And the other hand
  • You have scars on your back
  • It’s not just you
  • Strangers warn you

How

  • Produce tiger-proof results
  • Have rumor-squashing data at your finger-tips
  • Proactively tell your positive story (don’t mention the tiger)
  • Invest deeply in other relationships
  • Don’t react or run (stay cool)
  • Expose gently (as a last resort)

Earth Day Leadership Challenge: How Will Your Garden Grow?

It’s Earth Day. Perhaps you’ll take out the recycling. Or, maybe you’ll sing a sweet song like these little leaders. Good start. Others are doing more.

Ron Finley Guerilla Gardener

I’m blown away by the leadership of Ron Finley, Guerilla Gardener. Ron’s leading dramatic change in South Central Los Angeles. He’s given new meaning to “taking back the streets, by creating “gangster gardeners” and “gardening graffiti.” He empowers the community and engages the children by helping them plant their own healthy food in vacant lots. His work got pushback and involved a petition on change.org. The renegade won.

If you don’t know Ron, watch his Ted Talk.  Some highlights:

  • “Drive-thrus are killing more people than drive-bys”
  • “Food is the problem and food is the solution”
  • “To change the community you have to change the composition of the soil”
  • “Growing your own food is like printing your own money”
  • “The funny thing about sustainability is that you have to sustain it”

Ron didn’t wait to be asked. He didn’t have traditional power. He had a vision, passion and a shovel. You do too.

You don’t need to wait for a “program” or company-wide initiative. I asked Ned Tillman, CEO of Sustainable Growth, LLC how frontline leaders can get started. Similar to Ron, he recommends getting people involved in areas that matter most to them (Read more Green Business Matters).

“Sustainability is a process that engages the passion of people in meeting the goals of the company. Frontline leaders empower their employees by adopting sustainability goals and creating teams to find creative ways to meet those goals.”

Earth Day Challenge

  • Define your garden
  • Set an achievable goal
  • Recruit some passionate volunteers
  • Plant your seeds
  • Watch your world grow

It’s Earth Day.

Frontline Festival-April 2013: Feedback and Coaching Edition

This month’s Frontline Festival is all about Feedback and Coaching. I am delighted by the outpouring of submissions. It’s an amazing line-up.

Courageous Feedback

Lolly Daskal, encourages us to take some risks in giving feedback in her post, We Need a Courageous Conversation “In most organizations, and in our relationships, we’re all so busy being polite with everyone that we’re either not aware of the breakdown, afraid of the breakdown, or avoiding it altogether. We kid ourselves into thinking that if we don’t deal with it, maybe it will go away. When we fail to engage and say what we honestly think and feel, our business performance will suffer. When what “goes unsaid” is not being said, our relationships will fail.” She offers, 10 approaches, my favorite is number 7. 

Blair Glesser takes a different stance in, Honestly Speaking, encouraging us to think well about if, when, and how we should offer feedback. She concludes, “Often the whole issue of whether or not to be honest dissipates when you tune in and connect with your heart. Your heart knows exactly what needs to be said and when, and it never is about the shallow stuff. Its feedback is always geared to bring more love to yourself, your loved ones and the world.”

Susan Mazza wins the prize for the post that made me cry (I won’t tell you why, just read it). In The Ultimate Source of Empowerment “People always have a choice even if they do not see that they do. A critical role of every leader is to bring people to choice.”

Encouraging Feedback

Dan McCarthy gives fantastic advice on encouraging feedback in, 10 Ways to Get More Feedback (and 5 Ways if You Can’t Really Handle the Truth). The best part is the 5 Ways to protect yourself against unwanted feedback. “I once had a VP tell me “I hate feedback”. I had to admire his honesty. Actually, a lot of us do, we just won’t admit it. So, if you really don’t want to find out about your weaknesses, and would prefer to keep your head blissfully buried in the sand, then use any or all of these 5 methods.” Perhaps you know someone who needs this post.

David Dye shares 6 practical ways to encourage more feedback from your team in his post, 6 Ways to Not Walk Naked Down the Street.  I can’t help but wonder what search terms brought folks to that title 😉 The best point, “It may take time, but if you begin asking for the truth, showing gratitude for input, and responding to it, you will earn trust, gain credibility, and have the information you need to make the best decisions.”

In her post, What it Means for Leaders to Show Up, Wendy Appel explains that encouraging feedback starts with how we “show up.” Ask yourself,” how do I show up?” Am I present? Do people feel and experience my availability to be there for them or am I distracted, on to the next thing, focused on what I want to say; the point I want to make, forcing an outcome I think is best?” I like this one because it’s advice packaged for daily use.

Robyn McLeod. of Chatsworth Consulting asks Are You Getting Honest Feedback? And then, offers 4 Ways to ensure you receive it. “To get the feedback you need, you have to encourage and invite feedback from others so they know it is OK to be honest with you. This ASK FOR IT model offers tips on how to do that”

Coaching

Dan Rockwell shares 3 reasons you need a “coach” in 5 Sure Fire Ways to Spot a Great Coach, and then teaches us how to know one when we see one. Great, practical advice. A must read. My favorite, “Your ideas seem right because they’re yours – you need tough questions.” Dan’s got good ones.

I love this practical post from Jennifer Miller, Should You Give Advice or Coach?  “Giving advice is saying what you would do. It makes the conversation about you. Coaching helps people decide what they are going to do which is a far more powerful outcome.” The best part, she tells us how to do it.

Brian Smith shares Leadership Lessons: When Mistakes are Made Create a Teachable Moment. Although I might debate his reference to a roast beef sandwich as a healthy choice, his metaphor works. The best point, “You need to be able to separate the act (What the person did) from the person they are. (You’re OK; it’s what you did that isn’t.)”

“Being a good coach means putting others before yourself and always making decisions for the good of the team.” Here are a few tips from Tom Walter in his post, How to Be a Good Coach: Tips for Employee Focused Leaders. Some practical, easy to apply principles for front line leaders.

 How to Give Feedback

In his post, Give Frequent and Useful Feedback, Wally Bock advocates for frequent feedback. “Problems are like dinosaurs. They’re easy to kill when they’re small. But if you let them grow up they can eat you.” Don’t make feedback a once-a-year event. Make it frequent. Don’t make it an ego trip. Make it helpful.

Eric Dingler shares How to Make Feedback a G.I.F.T. by making it Genuine, Immediate, Friendly and Tailored. You’ve got to read his list of very practical suggestions. Eric’s posts are always actionable. His approach works.

Jon Mertz shares a sentiment I am considering painting on my office door, “Life is too short for unproductive drama and spoiled relationship,” in his post Go Hard on the Issue, Soft on the Person: 5 Leadership Ideas. He shares 5 practical tips to make that happen.

Jonathan Green, AKA Monster Leader, shares how to coach to REALLY tough conversations in his post, Dude You Stink: Coaching to Odor Issues. I know this guy. If you had to have anyone tell you that you smell, you would want it to be him.

This one’s fun and powerful. Ted Guloien of MU Field Management Research shares Giving Performance Feedback on American Idol. My favorite point,  “Concentrate on and attend to the other person, and not so much on your own feelings, fears or anxieties about providing feedback.”

Alli Polin explains why we all hate performance reviews in her post, Performance Reviews Don’t Have to Suck.  My favorite thought, “They suck because they’re more about process than the person.” Often true. Alli shows how you can do it better.

Feedback doesn’t work in shallow relationships. Joseph LaLonde explains that it starts with building real communication in his post, The Power of Real Communication. “It involves taking the time to get to know the employees. Finding out their dreams and passions. If things are going well at work. If their job is still fulfilling.”

Recognition as Feedback

Tanveer Naseer asks Are You Following These 3 Rules For Giving Feedback? He also shares the how to use the recognition more strategically as feedback. My favorite line, “feedback should make you hungry to achieve more.” Let it be so.

Greg Richardson highlights the importance of substantive recognition as a feedback strategy in his post, On Recognition.  The best point, foster peer recognition, “Receiving tangible recognition from a peer can be much more meaningful for many people than anything a manager can say.”

Personal Feedback

Peter Friedes shares an activity and an opportunity for a free assessment to help work with your blind spot in, Find Your Blind Spot: A Self-Reflection Activity For Managers

Jesse Lynn Stoner, asks a vital question in her post, Are You a Team in Name Only? “Do you really want a team?” A great example of feedback using provocative questions. Ask tough questions gets to root cause.

In his post, Start With the End in Mind, Mark Miller encourages us to look 30 years out to plan for success in 5 key areas of our lives (he’s also looking or a clean “F” word that means influence if you have any suggestions). He suggests you spend an 8 hour day planning (and giving yourself feedback) on how you’re doing in each of these areas as you make your plan. 

Chery Cegelman writes  Leaders are You a Candle or a Beacon? She encourages us to be in a constant state of self-feedback, “As you think through the meetings you have scheduled this week. Do you need to be a candle or a beacon?”

Next month’s Frontline Festival’s Topic is Trust and Transparency. Submissions due May 10th. The Festival will go live May 17th.

In Defense of Wow: It’s Okay to Be Impressed

Leaders who are afraid to acknowledge success lack confidence in their vision. Being impressed doesn’t incent laziness. Leaders gloss over great, looking for greater. They could have said, wow!

  • “This idea is amazing! But, I’d better not act impressed, or they won’t strive for more.”
  • “Sure the sales of this strategic product are great, BUT they are falling short in other areas.”
  • “Their year-over-year results are unprecedented, but there’s another team ahead. I’d better focus them on chasing that rabbit.”

Leaders think, “if I act impressed employees will stop trying.”

Worthy of “Wow”

When was the last time you let out a heartfelt “Wow!”? Not at a sunset. Or at a baby’s first steps. Or after a bite of chocolate cheesecake, all of which are certainly “wow” worthy. But when did you last “wow” at work?

“Wow has a reverberation – wowowowowow – and this pulse can soften us, like the electrical massage an acupuncturist directs to your spine or cramped muscle, which feels like a staple gun, but good.”
― Anne Lamott, Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers

Your team is accomplishing small miracles. Someone just trumped their personal best. Or, they worked all night to meet the deadline. Or, finally, the team is helping each other with no hidden agendas.

Look them right in the eye, pause and exclaim “Wow!”
But…
Resist the urge to “wow but” them..

In a post submitted for tomorrow’s LGL Frontine Festival, Tanveer Naseer, explains “feedback should make you hungry to achieve more.”

“I advised the students to savour this moment and to remember that it was thanks to their hard work, their persistence to overcome the obstacles in their path, and their drive to succeed that they were able to achieve this rare accomplishment. I followed this with a word of encouragement that they wake up the next morning with a renewed sense of hunger to once again push themselves to excel and move forward; to meet the new challenges they’ll face with the same drive and persistence that got them here.”

A good “wow” incents achievement. “Wowed” feels fantastic. It influences how you “wake up.”

Everyone needs feedback and tips to improve. Coach, respond, inspire. And every now and then, stop at “wow.”

Wow-a-Thons

My team holds regular, “wow-a-thons.” If I promise not to be too disruptive, they let me play along. A cross-functional group of leaders spends the entire day listening to customer interactions. If they hear a rep delighting a customer, they note what they heard and what makes it fantastic. They parade onto the floor to celebrate the fantastic “wow.” No coaching. No buts just celebration, with specifics. “When you said______” it really changed the customer experience. Wow. Thank you.”

If something was mildly wrong, they still celebrate, but make a note and find another example to address the concern. later. Wow doesn’t have to be perfect. The celebrating goes all day. Employees are uplifted. Team leaders practice watching for the good. It’s a party. Results sky rocket. No apathy is encouraged in these “wows.”

Tips for a Good “Wow”

  • Pick something amazing
  • Mean it.
  • Explain why
  • Be specific
  • Say it loud so others can hear
  • Vary the recipients (don’t always chose John)
  • ?

In Defense of Wow: It's Okay to Be Impressed

Leaders who are afraid to acknowledge success lack confidence in their vision. Being impressed doesn’t incent laziness. Leaders gloss over great, looking for greater. They could have said, wow!

  • “This idea is amazing! But, I’d better not act impressed, or they won’t strive for more.”
  • “Sure the sales of this strategic product are great, BUT they are falling short in other areas.”
  • “Their year-over-year results are unprecedented, but there’s another team ahead. I’d better focus them on chasing that rabbit.”

Leaders think, “if I act impressed employees will stop trying.”

Worthy of “Wow”

When was the last time you let out a heartfelt “Wow!”? Not at a sunset. Or at a baby’s first steps. Or after a bite of chocolate cheesecake, all of which are certainly “wow” worthy. But when did you last “wow” at work?

“Wow has a reverberation – wowowowowow – and this pulse can soften us, like the electrical massage an acupuncturist directs to your spine or cramped muscle, which feels like a staple gun, but good.”
― Anne Lamott, Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers

Your team is accomplishing small miracles. Someone just trumped their personal best. Or, they worked all night to meet the deadline. Or, finally, the team is helping each other with no hidden agendas.

Look them right in the eye, pause and exclaim “Wow!”
But…
Resist the urge to “wow but” them..

In a post submitted for tomorrow’s LGL Frontine Festival, Tanveer Naseer, explains “feedback should make you hungry to achieve more.”

“I advised the students to savour this moment and to remember that it was thanks to their hard work, their persistence to overcome the obstacles in their path, and their drive to succeed that they were able to achieve this rare accomplishment. I followed this with a word of encouragement that they wake up the next morning with a renewed sense of hunger to once again push themselves to excel and move forward; to meet the new challenges they’ll face with the same drive and persistence that got them here.”

A good “wow” incents achievement. “Wowed” feels fantastic. It influences how you “wake up.”

Everyone needs feedback and tips to improve. Coach, respond, inspire. And every now and then, stop at “wow.”

Wow-a-Thons

My team holds regular, “wow-a-thons.” If I promise not to be too disruptive, they let me play along. A cross-functional group of leaders spends the entire day listening to customer interactions. If they hear a rep delighting a customer, they note what they heard and what makes it fantastic. They parade onto the floor to celebrate the fantastic “wow.” No coaching. No buts just celebration, with specifics. “When you said______” it really changed the customer experience. Wow. Thank you.”

If something was mildly wrong, they still celebrate, but make a note and find another example to address the concern. later. Wow doesn’t have to be perfect. The celebrating goes all day. Employees are uplifted. Team leaders practice watching for the good. It’s a party. Results sky rocket. No apathy is encouraged in these “wows.”

Tips for a Good “Wow”

  • Pick something amazing
  • Mean it.
  • Explain why
  • Be specific
  • Say it loud so others can hear
  • Vary the recipients (don’t always chose John)
  • ?

2 Ways to Instantly Lose Credibility with Your New Team

You’ve got a new job, a new team, or a new project. Credibility is vital, but people are skeptical. Questioning eyes wonder, “who is this guy?” “why him?” “seriously?” Their looks intimidate. And you wonder, “why me?” “What are they thinking?” “yikes, they look pretty smart.” And the downward spiral begins.

Here’s where it gets ugly.

Two credibility-crushing responses to that queasy feeling

1. Talk too much

It’s tempting. It’s common. Don’t do it.

Why you’ll want to…

  • To release nervous energy
    Share the space. They’re nervous too. Get the room talking. It will be more productive and relax everyone.
  • To prove you’re qualified
    No one wants your resume. Show them through your actions. The ones who care most about your background have already have done their homework. Let them ask if they’re curious.
  • To sound smart
    Don’t start with the answers. Trust me, you don’t know them. 

2. Talk too little

Shutting up doesn’t work either.

Why you’ll want to…

  • To be a servant leader
    Your heart’s in the right place. Great start. Servant leaders are confident and inspire confidence. Inspire then with vision.  Share your leadership philosophy. Ask them what they need.
  • So you don’t say something stupid
    Just watch out for #1. Saying nothing sounds stupid too. Ask inspired and provocative questions.
  • You’re just “taking it all in”
    Take it in, but show signs of life. Ask questions to learn more. Take it in with an energetic presence.

Helping Leads to Successful Careers

Helping is scarce in many organizations.
People need help.
They are reluctant to raise their hands.

Why?

  • Individualized performance management systems
  • Hidden agendas
  • History and scar tissue
  • Politics
  • Expectations of reciprocity
  • Burnout

And yet, helping is the biggest predictor of team success. Research also shows that genuine helping improves careers.

 Create a Helping Culture

Wharton Professor, Adam Grant‘s research proves helping more leads to better performance and career success.

In his new book, Give and Take, Grant categorizes people as “takers,” “givers,” and “matchers.”

Takers are out for themselves. Matchers deal in reciprocity. Givers are people who give without expectations of something in return. Giving cultures drive performance. His research also shows that true “Givers” who survive the burnout risk, are extraordinarily succesful.

I reached out to Adam for advice on how best to apply his research. (He was happy to help.)

Adam, how do we change the culture?

He offers 3 ways

  1.  Better selection.
    “Jim Collins famously argued that we need to get the right people on the bus, but he made an even more important point that’s often overlooked: we need to keep the wrong people off the bus. Research led by Roy Baumeister, Paul Rozin, and Will Felps shows that bad is stronger than good, in the sense that the negative effect of a bad apple on the barrel tends to outweigh the positive effect of a good apple. With this in mind, it may be especially valuable to screen out takers in the hiring process.”
  2.  Encourage help-seeking.

    “Studies suggest that 75-90% of all help exchanged in organizations starts with a request, yet many people hold back on seeking help because they’re worried about appearing incompetent or burdening others. To overcome these barriers, we need to make it clear that help-seeking is acceptable and encouraged.
  3. Change Evaluation and Performance Management Processes
    Instead of evaluating and promoting based on individual results alone, we should also assess employees’ contributions to the success of those around them. That way, we might see more givers rise to the top, which will set the stage for them to serve as role models to employees at various levels.

Selection. Encouragement. Evaluation. What would you add?

For more details, see Givers take allIn the company of givers and takers, and Seeking help in the shadow of a doubt.”

Want to know where you fall? Grant offers free online self and 360 assessments with immediate online results.