Category Archives: Professional Development
Human capital is your greatest asset. Period. Then why would we ever “promote someone to the highest level of incompetence?” Take brilliant sellers and give them teams to develop—when they are good at selling and not good at leading teams? How often are we putting the people on the right bus but in the wrong seats?
It’s not necessarily wrong to keep employees in their roles if they are effective, like what they are doing and it’s a good fit. Yet sometimes people feel pressured to move forward when they are happy. Then how often do we take a happy employee and ultimately make them unhappy in their new role? They can’t go back in time to less authority, compensation or responsibility so they take the company’s training and investment on to another employer.
What if we could take some of the emotion out of it? Instead, take a rational look at how a person best works, what motivates them, how they see the world/work/themselves and look at their skills. Finding a comprehensive assessment like TriMetrix HD details the how of behavior, why of motivation, view of the world in acumen and skill competencies. You can use many different assessments to get pieces of the puzzle. Yet with the money, time and energy you invest in your team, a bit more information, digging deeper improves your bottom line.
In the past week I spoke with two different candidates who didn’t get the job. Both were impressed with the candor of the hiring managers. The higher managers took the time and responsibility to explain the job was the “wrong seat” for them. They liked the people, loved their skills/experience and knew they belonged on the bus. Yet, the employers were not going to put them in the wrong seat because no one wins. Now, those candidates need to continue to work the relationship, invest their time and be patient as they wait for a seat to become available.
If you aren’t clear on why you are a good fit for the job or the organization, why should the organization be clear for you? You both have “skin in the game.” Find a way to create a win, win. Understand your behavior, motivation, skills and find the right seat on the right bus.
It’s not fair to say all Midwestern folks are “thrifty” or that you can’t be from elsewhere and enjoy thrift, but there are plenty of reasons why it’s attributed to us. When I look at the “why” of my motivation there is a utilitarian or economic factor. I’m high utilitarian and its shows up in lots of way—other than just money.
Utilitarian motivated people can be described as:
- Having an interest in useful & practical goals
- Enjoy rewards based on results
- Goal driven
Often the above are linked to making more money, high salaries, and financial rewards.
Their value to the organization is affixed to their impact on the bottom line. We like to ask “does this make sense? Help us meet goals? Make us better?” And if there is a “no” to any of the three—then why proceed? Yet, I’m not driven by money. I want to live comfortably. But I don’t think about money, read about or barely pay attention to it. When I think about ROI—I focus on time and resources.
I was at a conference last week and a woman was headed to the airport at the end and invited others to join her. That’s utilitarian too. My inner Midwestern was excited for a free ride but more satisfied that there were now 4 people sharing a ride—thus making the most of all our resources and time. We continued networking, debriefed the meeting and checked some email.
And then there is my compost pile. This makes me both very San Franciscan and Midwestern. It amazes me that I can take every little kitchen scrap, leaves, paper bags and throw it into a heap. Then the worms come in and do their magic. Months and weeks later I take that rich beautiful compost, combine it with my tired soil and grow a garden. That’s utilitarian. I save money—but I make the most of resources. I send less to the landfill and the waste serves another purpose. That’s a return on my time and energy.
I recently ended a ten year engagement with a client. I had many of their books and print materials—most of it out of date, with old logos and not in the best condition. They asked me to return everything. Of course this is fair, made sense, those are their materials. Yet, the shipping costs, effort to pack the big boxes, schlepping it all to the UPS store frustrated me. There was no value in the action. I knew when they received the boxes, looked at what was in there, most of the supplies would be tossed and no ROI on any of our actions. I didn’t want to waste my time on actions that weren’t going to benefit anyone.
There’s much more to utilitarian/economic motivator than simply money. When you are encountered with employees with this key motivator, cast a broader net. Think about the investment of their time as a key resource. It’s not their money that’s being spent—it’s their time and energy. They want to spend that time to make the best use of resources and to make money for themselves and the company.
There are teams and committees you love being on. In meetings, things get done, you meet your goals and deliver a good outcome. And there are the painful ones you dread. Meetings run late, no accountability and you keep talking about the same things without any tangible action. Good teams need both—one foot on the gas and one foot on the brakes.
If I had my way I would never drive a car again, so I probably shouldn’t use a driving analogy. (Outside of baseball, I don’t use many sports analogies either!) The foot on the gas represents—direct communicators, confident decision makers, seeing the big picture and taking risk. The foot on the brakes represents—asking questions, getting everyone involved, reluctant decision makers, indirect communication and research. Teams need both—teams need balanced behavior.
In applying behavior research and assessments, you can easily determine 4 behavioral styles. I use DISC in my consulting because it’s easy for anyone to understand by answering two questions about a person—introvert or extrovert and preference for people or tasks. Because it’s easy for people to understand they can walk away from a training or coaching session and truly apply the skills rather than filing some books or papers in a drawer or trash can. If you know your team, you can figure this out quickly. If you don’t, a behavior assessment will give you the answers in 30 minutes or less. A well balanced team is going to use both the brakes and the gas to achieve results.
If you don’t have the team members with the different styles for your project or initiative—that’s okay too. In that case, you’ll need to adapt your approach in managing the group or assign some specific tasks and deadlines to ensure that component is fulfilled and balance out the group for the behavior that is missing.
I have one hero, one role model. My grandmother, Myra Elitia Whitford Bennett.
Her short list of accomplishments…
- Waiting until 30 to have her first child
- Graduating from the University of Illinois, college of business in the 1930’s. One of two women in her college class.
- Taking a job in finance after college
- Taking two years off from school to care for her ailing father. She went back and finished.
- After spending years raising her two sons, she went back to work during the Vietnam War because the small town needed a position filled, with no men available she was the best choice.
- Managed the money, all the money for her house and ours.
- Baked a mean crust less pumpkin pie because I wouldn’t eat the crusts
- Volunteered countless hours for many organizations
- Had an amazing vegetable garden and flowerbeds filled with roses
- She never said “no” when our parents did. She’d offer help in any area, play any game, counsel us or be quiet and listen without judgment with a twinkle in her eye, coy smile and knowing glance.
My grandmother was always my biggest fan. When I wanted to go to college out of state—she didn’t question “why” even when she secretly hoped I would attend the U of I. When I wanted to move to the 3rd largest city in the nation (I grew up outside of a town of less than 500 people), she got excited for me. My parents did not.
Then there was California. My mom didn’t want me to go. My sister, pregnant with her first child, was a “no” too. She wanted me around and to play a part in the new baby’s life. Yet, it was my grandmother who I was concerned about. I knew these were her last years and I was scared to miss this time with her. She told me, without hesitation, to go. And then she called a spade a spade—“don’t wait for me to die to do what you want.” She did want she wanted and helped me to always do the same.
She had it all before women thought about having it all. And she did with class, style and grace. This Thanksgiving I give thanks for her, the person I am and the role she still plays in my life.
We want our clients to like us. Sometimes we assume they like us. Or that we satisfy, delight, inspire them—add in your word du jour. But do we know and can we ask? It’s always nice to check in and confirm what we know—in all of our relationships. Head off a small problem before it’s a big one. And just like being thanked—it’s always appreciated.
The when and how of collecting feedback depends on the size of your company and who you are speaking with. With a larger company you can collect survey feedback. There are plenty of companies that can help you with this. With non-competitive clients, you could also opt for a focus group and solicit detailed feedback. Certainly this is a much higher level investment of time and resources. Yet, clients might feel more comfortable with some of the attention taken off them in a group setting. The client now can be inspired by what others think and you could get a flushed out idea from the multiple perspectives on a similar issue or question.
Yet, what I’m writing about is a one on one way to engage your top level decision maker in feedback. They want the most out of their investment with you—and engaged client (the ones you want to keep) will answer your questions.
Goal Review. We should always be collecting feedback each time we revisit the client’s goals. “When you started with us these were the goals of our working together. This is what we have done…How have your goals shifted with the progress we have made?” Go back to the work plan, letter of agreement and check where you think they are and where they think they are.
Each and Every Time. What if you collected feedback every time you spoke your client? This depends on how often you engage. If I were working with a client monthly or less—I’d collect feedback with each contact. This feedback can be as quick and easy as one question “What’s one thing we could be doing for you that we aren’t already?” The more we ask for feedback the more they understand how important it is to us. We keep the line of communication open. Then if there is a problem down the road they have this foundation to engage in a challenging conversation with us.
Tell them the “why.” Let them know “your opinion, voice, feedback is important to us. We have our own great ideas but are also interested in what has traction with you.” Let them know you strive to have an open relationship with your clients where feedback goes both ways. Also, understand their personality type. There might be a client who will give you lots of feedback, some that will give you none, some that feel badly about it and some that you have to decipher what it is they are saying under all the flowers and compliments. Approaching different styles of communicators with different approaches might produce better results.
Make it an easy question. “What can we do better?” is a difficult question to answer. It’s not the client’s responsibility to fix what’s wrong with any aspect of our business and that’s what they might infer you are asking. It’s also an overwhelming question. “What one thing could we do better?” is an easier question for a client to answer. It’s smaller and quantifiable. Your client might more easily come up with “1 thing.” Not “1 thing” we are doing “wrong” but just something they would like us to do a little better.
“What new products/services would you like to see us working on?” This question has two great outcomes. We get their opinion yet they are also committing to a future with us. We are engaging an emotional hold and verbal commitment for moving forward. We are also conveying an interest in our growing with them as they grow.
“What’s the most important reason you choose to do business with us?” It’s not the price. We all know that. Yet, we worry about the investment they make. The relationship is likely part of it. But if you don’t know—you probably shouldn’t guess. They might say something you wouldn’t expect.
Use the Golden Pause. Take their first answer with a head nod, smile. Then wait for it. Wait for them to go beyond the easy, simple, quick answer. The next answer, when you simply wait—might be the better one. It’s beyond the surface level. It’s in that moment of quiet when neither of you is saying anything they feel compelled to fill the silence with something. By waiting, giving them the “Golden Pause” you get them to explain a bit deeper—as long as you don’t get too excited and jump on the first need you hear!
Verify. Always verify. “Is this making sense?” “Are we on the same page?” “Sounds like we are in agreement?” are all ways to verify the topic at hand. Yet, what’s the difference in saying to a client “we really value your business” v/s “you know we value your business, right?” Getting them to agree and say “yes” is collecting feedback. And if they say “no,” we get the opportunity to fix it.
Most importantly, you want to take an individualized approach based on the client. It depends what kinds of services you provide them, what kind of relationship you have, their role in the organization and their investment in you. Yet, ask. Always ask the question.