Leadership Tips for Discovery in Action Alumni + network
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August 2018

Hello and welcome to the August 2018 edition of our Monthly Leadership Tips: your 'once a month'  'bite-sized' chunks of practical leadership wisdom!

We have started some new DiA programs recently, and these discussions have prompted us to select some blogs to feature that be relevant to our other readers too. This month we share :
We often post the blogs in this publication on Linked In.

Found something useful? Why not pay it forward and share a copy with your colleagues! Forward a copy of this email or send this link to join the DiA Monthly Leadership Tips list!

We also use the content we share each month, in the work we do in our consulting practice. Feel free to get in touch to find out more about anything in this newsletter or other blogs on our website.  Enjoy!

Melanie and Paul Eyres

Dealing with Needy Staff

All leaders at some point in their career come into contact with staff that 'challenge' them! Do any of these situations sound familiar?

My team member:

  • doesn't seem to show enough initiative and resists taking on new tasks
  • seems to need to show me everything they do - like they are seeking permission
  • tends to obsess over the detail and struggles to get their work done in a reasonable time frame
  • takes so much more time to get things done and it means other team members are taking on more than their fair share
  • needs to double check the steps in the task when they really should know it already

Some time ago we created a practical tips and hints guide to assist with dealing with 'needy staff'. We thought it might be helpful to make this available to our new readers, or those who might have signed up since we originally shared this guide.

If you would like some ideas on how to deal with what might be contributing to these situations, click on this link.

Practical tips and hints guides are available to all current and alumni participants of the program. We occasionally feature these to our broader 'Monthly Leadership Tips' audience too.

Link to 'Tips + Hints'

Bad manager mistakes that make GOOD people quit!

In our DiA small group sessions, we often talk about the challenges that certain members of our teams can create for us as leaders. You know the people I mean…the ones that are constantly negative, the ones that don’t show initiative or ownership, the needy ones that are always seeking permission or approval, the ones that seem to ‘white ant’ any changes or progress, the ones that put in ‘just enough’ to ‘pass’ but bring down the team vibe, the ones that don’t live the ‘team values’ and put strains on internal or interdepartmental relationships…

These team members often occupy a great deal of a leader’s time – either directly or even in their mind. How can I get them to be more engaged? How can I deal with this under performance? How can I broker a positive outcome?

The risk of paying attention to the ‘squeaky wheel’ – is that the solid and excellent performers are often left alone. It is so much easier leading a team of highly skilled, highly motivated and engaged team members who deliver!! It makes it easier for leaders to get on with their jobs!

But what is the role of a leader?

Yes, we often have our own tasks and deliverables – and dealing with issues in our team can make it hard to get those things done. But fundamentally, checking in with each team member IS the ROLE of the TEAM LEADER! It is not an extra part of your job. Giving time to team members, especially the ones that are performing, is vital! If you don’t, you are risking them moving on.

As Dr Travis Bradberry writes, “It’s pretty incredible how often you hear managers complaining about their best employees leaving, and they really do have something to complain about—few things are as costly and disruptive as good people walking out the door.

Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.

The sad thing is that this can easily be avoided. All that’s required is a new perspective and some extra effort on the manager’s part.”

In this LinkedIn Post, Bradberry shares 9 bad manager mistakes that make GOOD people quit. We’ve made a simple visual of these 9 things.

How can I use this information?

  • Set aside 10 minutes today to reflect on these statements.
  • Think of each member of your team – ALL of them.
  • Could you be accused of any of these things?
  • What is one thing you could do for each person – especially the ‘GOOD ones’ to help make sure they keep delivering?

Click here to see more of this post.

How to ask great questions at work

When you are talking to your colleagues at work, are you getting the right information? Are you getting the information you need to do your job well? If you hesitate or feel like saying ‘no’, it is “possible you may not be asking the right questions.”

In a blog post on HR daily by Brennan McEachran, he suggests ‘some professionals are reluctant to ask questions because they see it as a sign of weakness; as if admitting you don’t understand something is a reflection of your competency.” Does this sound like you?

I think asking questions is quite the reverse – being able to ask effective questions actually quite a skill! Asking considered, well phrased questions :

  • allows you to discover what people are thinking
  • enables you to test or validate assumptions
  • encourages other people to share their thoughts, opinions and ideas
  • helps you discover information you otherwise may not otherwise have access to
  • facilitates an exchange of information
  • helps facilitate a greater level of understanding for you – and the other person

This blog shares some detailed tips about phrasing – a key to asking effective questions. And it also shares some things to avoid.

Things to avoid

When asking questions, be careful to avoid:

  • asking double-barrel questions – ie two questions in one
  • asking closed questions when you are wanting an exploratory dialogue
  • asking leading questions that include a strong suggestion about what you want!

Check out the original post to see detailed examples of questions that make these simple mistakes.

Some tips to help structure questions for the best answers

Brennan suggests “Asking questions the right way (the way that gets you the best possible answers) means, for most instances, pausing for a moment to consider just what you’re asking — what information do you expect to get? — and then taking a step back to remove any assumptions from that possible question.”

Here are some tips to help structure better questions...

Click here to view the full blog

Do you 'check up' or 'check in'?

When touching base with those in your team – do you find you ‘check in’ or ‘check up’?

In some recent DiA small group sessions, we have been exploring the difference between ‘micro-management’ and ‘effective management’. We all appreciate how important it can be for our people to feel empowered and have opportunities to be autonomous. And we HATE it when other people ‘micro-manage’ us, so we do our very best to make sure that we don’t micro-manage others.

But such a strong belief about empowerment and autonomy can actually mean we DON’T  give people want they need to succeed! It can mean we

  • don’t set them up for success
  • don’t give them the appropriate support to help them achieve, and
  • don’t let them know how they are performing – so they can feel recognised for their achievements and so they can learn and grow

Sometimes people think that they should be doing the opposite of micro-management, but that actually often ends up looking more like NO management! And this isn’t the most effective way to lead either!

Let’s look at some differences:

People who ‘manage effectively’ tend to…

  • Focus on results (the why, what and when) – they clearly define expectations and accountabilities. An employee who clearly understands the purpose and timeframe can more easily make the ‘right’ choices and take appropriate action on their own. Effective managers define work to be done in terms of the outcomes rather than the process.
  • Share information and provide plenty of context. This is important because it not only helps to build trust; it gives employees important information that will allow them to make the best possible decisions in critical situations. It can also help them to develop their own plans to achieve the vision.
  • Give the right resources and information for people to achieve the desired outcomes. Resources include people, budget, tools, authority, etc. They also connect or link team members with others in the organisation that can help them on a particular task or development journey.
  • Ensure there is clarity around decision making. They ensure their team member knows what they can decide for themselves without seeking manager approval or input. By eliminating unnecessary approval steps, other mechanisms such as post-action monitoring and feedback will be enough.
  • Hold people accountable and determine the appropriate time for follow ups. This is the difference between a check-in and a check-up...

Click here to read the remainder of this blog...

Some recent assignments

  • Kicked off some new DiA programs
  • Worked on a number of one-on-one coaching engagements
  • Ran some facilitated 'leadership circles' sessions with alumni of customised leadership programs
  • Ran a number of customised team planning days
Click here to access the Eyres & Associates website to find out what else we do!

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