MVP Seminars Blogs

Several years ago, I was facilitating a talent review meeting with a room full of executives.  

After hours of great dialogue, we all settled on where their people fit on the 9 box talent grid.  

The leaders were engaged in the process and were excited to be able to make more informed talent decisions to match the organization’s strategies.

And then came the moment of truth:  

What do we say to those being reviewed?
  • Do we tell them which talent box they were placed in?
  • Do we tell them which position we pictured them filling, in 1-3 years?
  • Do we leave it up to each manager to decide?
  • Or, do we not say anything to them at all?

After much dialogue, the eventual decision was to tell everyone how much the organization valued them… and that was it!  

This approach worked well for the leaders in the room, but it was not very helpful, or engaging, for the people being reviewed.

So what is the best approach in having talent conversations? 

Each organization chooses to answer this question differently. Yet there are best practices that, when followed, can build the credibility and effectiveness of the talent process. They can help you inspire and motivate and also increase the engagement and commitment of the employees being reviewed.  

This will require courage of you as the leader, but it can pay off massively for your talent, team, and organization.

Below are the three talent conversations that you must have to help inspire, engage, and retain great talent.

We've also included a complimentary printable Leadership Conversation Guide at the end for your convenience. 

What’s the key message for me to convey?

“We want to invest in you and your growth.”

Who should I have this conversation with?

This is the conversation with highly talented individuals who deliver beyond expectations and have great potential.  They want to be challenged and expect greater expectations to come to them.  

How can I best convey this message?

Your discussion points could include:

  • You have a long runway and you add tremendous benefit to the organization.
  • We like what we see and we want to see more in the future.
  • We as a company want to provide opportunities, resources, and support to develop and hone your leadership ability.
  • I want to meet with you regularly, identify and discuss your career goals, and work through a personal individual action plan.
  • Senior leaders will be cheering you on and paying attention to your current and future successes.

A Word of Caution:  The caution with this conversation is not to promise, directly or indirectly, any specific position.  Do not mention specific titles for future jobs. This will create expectations that are beyond anyone’s ability to keep.

What’s the key message for me to convey?

“You are a valuable and solid contributor!”

Who should I have this conversation with?

This is for the steady performers, those with longer tenure, and/or those with great knowledge of the organization’s history and practices.  They are often the glue that holds teams together during the ups and downs.  They know their position and specific function well.  They are subject matter experts and can have strong relationships with others throughout the organization.   

How can I best convey this message?

Your discussion points could include:

  • You are greatly appreciated for all of your contributions.
  • You are a strong performer.
  • You provide great stability for the department and team.
  • You have strong expertise in your field and the organization recognizes and values your knowledge and abilities.
  • I want to make sure you feel supported and engaged.
  • You are in the right place to optimize your value to the team and organization.
  • I want to help you feel challenged within your current position.

A Word of Caution: Do not lead them to think they are getting ready for a promotion. Clarify with them that they will be able to add value in their current or similar position for the near future. Questions about future positions can be addressed case by case.

What’s the key message for me to convey?

“Your performance needs to be better.”

Who should I have this conversation with?

This is for the underperforming individuals who are not delivering what the organization needs.  They are not consistently hitting the expected bar for quality, cost, or timeliness. 

The conversation does not address potential; it is all about performance.

How can I best convey this message?

Your discussion points could include:

  • I want to help you be successful.
  • Your performance is not where it needs to be.
  • We will focus on the short-term, the next 1-6 months.
  • Let’s inventory your skills, strengths, and motivation to make sure it is a good match for the position.
  • Let’s write down very clear expectations and set very specific and measurable performance goals.
  • We can identify logical check-in points to assess improvement.

A Word of Caution:  Avoiding this kind of conversation can negatively impact the high performers because poor performance can pull down others’ engagement and their confidence in leadership.

Final Note:

Employees who have been in the organization or in their position for less than 6 months are typically too new to be put into any of these conversations.  After 6 months, you will have a much better idea which of the three conversations you need to have with them.

The best thing for you to focus on with new employees is to ensure that they have the resources, expectation clarity, and leadership support to achieve quick wins.  

 

Our Gift to You

We've created a complimentary Leadership Talent Conversation Guide for you to download and use, absolutely free!

Click here now to download the guide now.

 

 

About Stewart Leadership

Stewart Leadership is a talent management and leadership development consulting, coaching, and training company building leaders in start-ups to the Fortune 500.Click here to contact us and discover how we could partner with you.

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My colleagues and I are often brought into corporations to do teambuilding. Whether the audience is executive management or employees that work on the manufacturing line, the purpose for hiring my organization is to help teams strategize how to be more cohesive and productive. Early in my career it was theory, structure and small group exercises that illustrated effective teambuilding, but that has all changed. Talk is out the window: taste, touch, feel and experience are in.

I recently read an article in a popular business magazine that suggested video games and online gaming are responsible for the change in what organizations are looking for to help increase teambuilding. I have also heard that Millennials are more action-oriented and need to experience business strategy rather than read or talk about it. Regardless of the origin of change, training in teambuilding is now an out-of-your-seat, participatory experience that reveals vulnerabilities, leadership styles, communication and problem-solving skills, and a myriad of other strengths and deficiencies of all parties involved. The learning is in real time with adequate time built in for feedback, reflection and application in the workplace.

In response to the need for a new delivery style, the training industry has responded with training approaches that can be divided into three categories: simulation, real escape and theme adventure. Simulation exercises have a written adventure scenario, background information, maps, and usually a pressure-sensitive scoring form. There is a group task, individual task and a problem to solve. The timed activity is done on-site and concludes with reflection on how effective the team was, how they could improve team performance, what insights they gained about each other individually and as a team, and how they could transfer the experience to their daily work.

Real escape teambuilding has its roots in gaming, and some give credit to real escape games that began in Japan in 2007. There are many variations of real escape teambuilding, but basically it requires that groups be put into an off-site room specifically designed for the task of finding a way out. The group has to work together using clues within the room to gain their freedom. It is a timed escape at a minimum of an hour. Participants apply communication skills, critical thinking, problem solving, and leadership skills to escape. Companies such as FedEx, Frito Lay and 7Eleven have used real escape teambuilding with their employees.

My favorite theme adventure is from a company called Recipe for Success. All of their teambuilding exercises revolve around preparing food. Their exercises are held off site and run for a minimum of two hours. Themes such as Team Breakfast, Chili Cook-Off, and Ultimate Pizza Challenge can be adapted for groups of 10 to 250.The benefits include building skills in negotiation, prioritization, communication, innovation and problem solving. When the task is complete, the team has an enhanced sense of teamwork because they have completed a project that they can see, touch and eat. It is important to note that the skill sets used in theme adventure teambuilding exercises, such as Recipe for Success, are immediate and transferable.

Whatever method your organization uses to promote teambuilding, the desired result is better communication, a more cohesive unit and increased productivity. Talking about teambuilding no longer produces the desired results in today’s interactive market. The employee of today needs to experience in order to learn.

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Leaders are visionaries. They see the possibilities. They dream the dreams. They imagine extraordinary feats. But they can’t just see the future; they have to be able to convince their team members to see it. When leaders share their vision in a way that others can feel it, they attract more energy toward the belief it can be achieved. This is the motivation which is needed to get beyond the challenges they will face. What helps leaders share their inspired vision? Leaders have to help their team members find their inner motivation. The first step is sharing their passion. When people feel passion, they believe in possibilities. Passion goes beyond time, setbacks, and sacrifices. Passion is a driving force. When leaders share their passion, they are sharing a part of themselves. They are reaching out, giving to others, and showing the idea burning inside them. Through this revelation of caring about making a difference, leaders gain followers.  Team members want to be close to their leaders, to feel what they feel, and to share in their excitement. Enthusiasm is contagious; it spreads to others. But team members aren’t going to jump on board just because their leader is excited; they need to know how their own aspirations and visions can come true. When the leader includes them in the picture and shows them how they will benefit from the shared goal, team members are more likely to remain excited. How can leaders include their team members in their dream?
  • Help your team members understand how you discovered your vision.
  • Engage team members in the goal process.
  • Allow them to see the plan from beginning to end.
  • Listen to their advice and show them you value their words.
  • Hear what is important to your team members.
  • Give them direction but allow them to find the answers.
A visionary understands the vision isn’t the end; it is a means to joining people together for a common goal. Exemplary leaders don’t just hold a vision; they give it energy by sharing it with others. This sharing process includes appealing to team members in such a manner they feel it is their vision. They understand how the accomplishment of the goal will positively affect them. A shared vision involves the passion of all team members. It keeps everyone focused on the future, and provides purpose and drive through obstacles and challenges. When people are engaged in a meaningful endeavor, one that makes a difference in other people’s lives, they find extraordinary resolve to make it happen.  
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BLACK BELT LEADERSHIP

Black Belt Leader As Peacemaker

“Peace is a gift, It is a gift we give to ourselves, And then to each other.”

– Richard Goode

I was a young boy once. I had a friend whose family had a Christmas tree, and they weren’t very religious. In fact, they were atheists. Though I didn’t ask my friend about this at the time, I wish I had. Because I’ve always wondered why his family celebrated Christmas; it didn’t make sense to me. But now living here in Tokyo I think I’ve found the answer, and it came the other day while talking with a Japanese woman.

  

I asked, “Why do the Japanese have Christmas trees in their houses? Why do they have Christmas parties and exchange gifts when they aren’t Christians?”

“Because,” she answered, “it’s very peaceful.”

Tokyo 1985

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Recently my wife and I took a cruise to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  While in Cozumel, I stood on the aft deck waiting for clearance to go ashore.  As I waited I saw a submarine crossing the harbor.  After several minutes I noticed a tugboat several hundred feet in front of the submersible ship.  A minute or so later I looked again and it seemed the submarine was following the exact line of travel as the tugboat.  After another minute or so, I looked a third time and noticed the distance between the two vessels seemed not to have changed.  So, as I looked closer, I detected a small cable from the rear of the tugboat and it was attached to the front of the sub.  No wonder the sub was not gaining distance on the tug; the tugboat was towing the submarine! So what do a tugboat and a submarine have to do with leadership?  The answer is that sometimes you might be surprised at who is needed to do the leading.  We all have pre-formed ideas about who or what a leader should do and how it should be done.  We have pre-formed ideas about how a leader should look, speak and dress.  But the bottom line is that the leader must be able to get the job done; no matter what the job may be. Sometimes leadership takes the form of a submarine.  Other times it takes the form and power of a tugboat.  When identifying and developing potential leaders in your organization, don't look only for submarines.  Do not erase from your "potential leaders" list those who appear to be tugboats.  You just might be surprised as to who is able to do the leading!
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For 100 years, improvement work has focused mostly on processes (since the time that process improvement started in the early years of Ford Motor Company). This focus has ignored the barriers to change. These barriers come the management system - from management processes and management team interaction and are like the lid on a jar, but are invisible. The lid on a jar keeps the content of the jar inside the jar and prevents things on the outside from getting in. Barriers that make up the lid hide potential, prevent new ideas from coming in and keep old ideas and practices inside the jar alive. These invisible barriers also cause companies to not achieve their goals for change and go looking for another initiative... hence the "flavor of the month club". Because "the lid" originates in the management system and outside the scope of initiatives or traditional improvement focus), process improvement has ignored or failed to recognize its existence or impact on the change process, which has handicapped every company in its ability to change and achieve optimization. Instead, we are taught to accept "the lid" as part of the change process that we have to work around OR we are unaware of barriers that work behind the scenes to sabotage what we are trying to change. If we understand the lid, we can take off the lid with a new set of beliefs and behaviors that are "chosen" to achieve optimization. We can also make changes within management processes that reveal and release hidden potential for production and cost reduction. 3rd Stage Management is a management-focused process for optimization. It helps management teams understand and remove "the lid", which makes it very different from process improvement work. Interestingly, when you remove the lid, it is possible to simultaneously change performance, culture, and management team effectiveness because the same barriers are responsible for deficiencies in all three areas. Some say that management commitment is the key to change. The problem is that management teams can be fully committed to change in the traditional way, which will not remove "the lid".  It is important for them to realize that "different choices" must be made to achieve optimization - both in the way they design and execute management processes (such as setting targets in the budget, expansion approvals, job descriptions, communications with key measures, etc.) and in the way they interact to solve problems, manage projects, and build trust within the team and with the workforce. If they understand that achieving site-wide optimization depends more on their choices than it does on equipment, they have a powerful platform to operate from.  
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The goal for my clients is to SOAR! ~  both in their professional and personal lives because certainly there is overlap and all make up the sum of your parts. I am talking about being/feeling in control of your thoughts and actions, not allowing yourself to become “overwhelmed”,  letting go of past issues and traumas so that each interaction, each endeavor is played out to it’s fullest, highest potential and capacity.   Understand  when your “tipping point” is  and it’s time to move on. It’s about being resilient, bouncing back, overcoming fears around past circumstances that may be blocking you from taking strides, making progress and leading a balanced, fulfilling life.  “Success” is relative, and may be personally defined.  I believe that leading a balanced life, including having excellent health and relationships is the basis for and lays the groundwork for a happy, successful personal and professional life, however you choose to live it. You have the power within you to be present with excellent coping skills and you have the power to give "it" your best shot!
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Ah, the holidays! A wonderful time of the year for many reasons: the birth of Jesus, Christmas decorations, the exchanging of gifts, families coming together to celebrate, and holiday carols that remind us of "peace on Earth, good will towards men". It' s a lovely sentiment that for most seems as elusive as the unicorn and as unattainable as achieving perfect health. How can we possibly have world peace when we cannot even get along with our spouses, parents, and siblings? Putting up with some of them for a brief amount of time during Dec. stretches our patience to the limit.

We've had great leaders like Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohandas Ghandi, and of course, the Son of God, who devoted their lives to fostering peace within the hearts of humanity. Yet as I sit here in front of my computer, we still have troops in Afghanistan losing their lives in battle and violence in every corner of this world. In Matthew 5:9, the Lord tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers." But who are these people? Why do some propose peaceful coexistence while others choose aggression and violence?

There are certain qualities associated with peacemakers such as compassion, kindness, confidence, and a sense of fairness. They respect all life as sacred and honor each form. Helpful, forgiving, and loving, they are all inclusive and embrace all of humanity as equals.

But we cannot expect the world to live harmoniously unless we first create peace within ourselves. And we do that by the following:

1. Remove all expectations from others and allow each person to be who they need to be.

2. Forgive all those who have mistreated  us, even those who do not apologize.

3. Choose kindness as a way of life.

4. Appreciate and validate all whom you encounter no matter how different.

5. Extend peace and love to all whom you meet every day, in every moment.

Once  you have found peace within yourself, bring that into your family:

1. Encourage love, joy, and acceptance of all.

2. Be the peacemaker in disputes. Make an effort to help heal the rifts.

3. Make allowances for the imperfections of all members.

4. Be all inclusive; embrace every one.

5. See the value and goodness in each person and help them develop that.

6. Give them the benefit of the doubt when a misunderstanding or incident occurs.

Then extend your peacemaking efforts to your workplace and community. Nurture it and it will grow. Let peace become who you are. Let peace become your way of life.

In the words of John Lennon: "Image all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer... I hope someday you'll join us and the world will live as one." Peace, my friend.

 

To order a copy of The Secret Side of Anger or The Great Truth visit http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html

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The People First® Business Strategy Map: The Ultimate Peak Performance Foundation for Sustainable Success

By Jack Lannom   I’ve got three quick questions for you. First: How does your organization perform at strategic thinking? Most organizations have established a long-term goal or goals more specific than “to remain profitable.” Having established a clear-cut target for future success, your strategic plan should identify all the elements and processes that will make that goal become a reality. Economics Pt 2So I’m assuming that, to echo George Barna, you have chosen to live by design rather than to live by default. You’ve developed a strategic plan, right? Well done! Let me ask you a second question: How many members of your leadership team can clearly, concisely, and confidently articulate that plan? Can every member of your leadership team promptly identify your strategic objectives and the metrics you’re using to track the organization’s progress toward reaching those objectives? Are you feeling just a little uncomfortable as you consider your answer to that question? Just one question to go: How many of your employees can communicate the objectives and metrics linked to your strategic plan? Can you name even a handful? OK, let’s make it easier; how many staffers can communicate the strategic objectives and measures established for their own department? If you truly want to thrive—not merely survive—in business, your answers to these three questions should be: (1) “Yes,” (2) “Everyone,” and (3) “Everyone!” If your answers were not quite so positive, don’t feel too badly; you’ve got lots of company! The BSC Designer group reports these startling statistics:
  • 95% of a typical workforce does not understand its organization’s strategy.
  • 90% of organizations fail to execute their strategies successfully.
  • 86% of executive teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy.
  • 70% of organizations do not link middle management incentives to strategy.
  • 60% of organizations do not link strategy to budgeting.[1]
These figures are staggering! It can’t be a surprise that more than 9 out of 10 organizations fail to accomplish their goals when nearly nine out of ten executive teams spend less than one hour per month focusing on those goals and only five per cent of their employees understand them! Forgive me if this statement seems unkind, but this doesn’t sound like “leadership” to me, or even “management,” for that matter . . . it sounds like chaos! The way to turn chaos into coherence and cogency is to examine the way we think about the way we do business. Are we thinking wisely and well? Over the course of the next several weeks, I’d like to point you toward a way of thinking that holds the key to sustainable success. It’s called the People First Business Strategy Map. The Strategy Map will help you to think more philosophically and strategically about your organization so that you, as the leader of your company, begin to think more intentionally, deeply, and wisely about how to grow and improve your organization and help those whom you lead to do the same. In addition to introducing you to our Strategy Map, I’m going to devote some time to talking about thinking; you’ll learn the phrase metacognitive thinking, which essentially means “thinking about your thinking.” You’ll learn some techniques that the best organizational thinkers have mastered in order to take their companies to the next level. And I’ll discuss one of the most basic, one of the most effective—and one of the most overlooked—principles of motivating people available to every business leader. I truly look forward to interacting with you and reading your comments on this series. The tools and techniques I’m going to outline during these articles will be of tremendous benefit to you, both personally and professionally. Let’s get going! www.peoplefirstblog.com  
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USING WORDS TO CREATE IMAGES How important is the language leaders use? Have you ever thought about the specific words you use to describe something and how those words affect your team members? You’ve probably heard the concept of changing the word “problem” to the word “challenge.” Did you think switching those words was trivial? After all, how could substituting one word for another change the outcome of anything? The truth is that language is a signal for images. If you want to alter the outcome of an event, you can change it by the way you show your team members how to see it. The first step in changing their vision is to alter your language. FEELING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORDS Say the following sentence out loud:  “We have a financial problem in our company that we need to overcome.” What are the images that come to mind? When you think of problems, do you see barriers, things that are nearly impossible to get over, around or through? Does the thought of a problem feel heavy, bringing doubt and anxiety to your mind? If this is true for you, what do you think your team members feel? Now, use the word “challenge” to describe the same problem you thought about a few seconds ago. What are the images that come to mind when you think of challenges? Do they feel softer? More manageable? Do you feel like gearing up to meet a challenge? THE NAME GAME This little experiment might not be enough to convince you to use different words, but consider this experiment that was noted in the Personality and Psychology Bulletin 30 (2004). Participants were told they were either playing the Wall Street Game or the Community Game. Both groups of people were playing the exact same game with the same sets of rules. The only difference in the game was the name. 70 percent of the people playing the Community Game began the game by being supportive and accommodating and continued to do so throughout the game. The people playing the Wall Street Game showed completely different results. 70 percent of those people were not supportive or accommodating at the beginning of the game, and by the end of the game the other 30 percent who began by being supportive, stopped when they saw others weren’t cooperating. What was different? Only the name!!! Think of the language you use. How does it affect the way your team members feel or think? Does it hinder them or help them? Here is an acronym that you can apply to help you remember the strength of using powerful language. W-Watch your words for your words create your actions. A-Watch your actions for your actions trigger more like-minded thoughts. T-Watch your thoughts because your thoughts create your character. C-Watch your character because your character determines your habits. H-Watch your habits, because your habits determine who you are.   The next time you think words are not important, think of the experiment with the game. What words are you using to create the outcomes you desire?    
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