Make A Decision! Or Risk Losing Respect

I love the meme: Be Decisive. The Road of Life is Paved With A lot of Flattened Squirrels That Couldn’t Make a Decision.  Ok so we aren’t talking about life or death decisions here but the consequences for failing to make decisions can be dire.

I have served as an Executive Coach for nearly twenty years and in that time I have heard many candid reviews about leaders from those they lead.  One of the #1 complaints?  Leaders who can’t make decisions.

I can assure you, if you are a leader that hems, haws and drags your feet making decisions you are causing great frustration for your team.  Leadership means providing direction and order for people to do their work effectively.  Part of that responsibility is making decisions that impact their priorities, resource allocation and clarity of expectations and goals.  When leaders take too much time making these critical decisions, they hold up progress from every layer under them in the organization.

Leaders must make decisions every day. The best leaders are transparent in their decision-making. They communicate how decisions will be made and make clear to those who report into them what levels of decision making authority and autonomy they have  within their areas.

Context matters in decision making.  Different situations call for different styles of decision making. Leaders have several to choose from — there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Here are four primary decision making styles to consider:

Authoritative: The leader decides and then communicates a decision. This style is best for scenarios with urgent tight time frames (a crisis) or when the leader is the only person with the insight or information necessary to make the call. Wise leaders avoid overuse of this style. They know using it means risking little or no buy-in to their decision.

Consultative: This style is about getting input from the team prior to a leader making a decision. A leader might begin from scratch with this style, saying “I am going to make a decision but I want your input before I do, what do you think about…?” or, “I have narrowed my decision to two options, but before I decide I want to run these two options by you to get your input.”  I encourage leaders to use this style generously. Why? It allows for influence and input from others (thereby increasing buy-in, commitment and reducing risk) but keeps clarity around who is making the decision (you, the leader) intact. A word of caution: If you aren’t open to influence, don’t pretend you are. It’s a huge mistake- I have stories about how it can backfire. Be prepared to disclose your rationale for not following recommendations or suggestions and don’t take too long to make the call once you get the input.

Consensus: With this style (FYI you lose your right to veto as the leader), essentially the team agrees to support the decision of the group. The plus — this often results in buy-in and commitment. The minus — trying to achieve consensus can be difficult and time-consuming. One stubborn person can hold up the process thereby creating the  “tyranny” of consensus. Trying to make all team decisions by consensus is a recipe for team frustration and struggle. Consensus shouldn’t be attempted with challenging decisions that require responsiveness and timely action.

Delegation: With this style, leaders give their decision-making authority away to others. This styles builds individual and team confidence/satisfaction (autonomy is a huge motivator for people) and it makes sense when someone clearly has more experience, skill and understanding required to make the call. Make sure to provide clear parameters when delegating.

I frequently observe and coach team meetings and often ask the question, “Who has decision-making authority over this?” Too often, no one knows. Meetings are a tremendous investment in resources; having clarity around decision-making authority, commitment and accountability are critical to bottom-line results. For critical or complex initiatives, or if the majority of your meetings are spent wasting time, getting expert help to achieve results may be in order.

My Appearance On KING5 New Day Northwest

I was a guest on the KING5 New Day Northwest program on the topic of how to deal with difficult co-workers.

My 5 tips:

1) Consider first that you also might be perceived as “difficult”.

2) Don’t avoid the problem, deal with it (before running to the boss or HR to “solve the problem”).  Avoiding it leads to mounting frustration and resentment.  And going to the boss before trying to resolve it yourself makes you look bad.  Take the initiative to address the issue with your co-worker.

3) Identify what kind of relationship you want with your co-worker.  Identify your intention for the relationship and communicate this to the co-worker.

4) Identify and relay what your part is in the conflict.  “This is how I see I have contributed to our challenge…”

5) Identify and offer feedback to the co-worker about what behavior you have been experiencing from them that you deem is problematic.  De personalize it by describing their “behavior” not just saying they are “being rude” or “aren’t being a team player”.  Ask for what you want/need to make work life better.

 

Leadership Gaps are Critical to Address NOW!

Ostrich-head-in-sand3It is time to get your head out of the sand and address leadership gaps. Most companies are way behind with pent up need from years of recession driven penny pinching for training/leadership development needs. Coupled with the mass exodus of baby-boomer leaders, the need to invest in the development of leaders in your organization has never been more important.

Many senior leaders, eager to exit and turn over the reins, are frustrated and troubled when they realize there are no “ready” internal candidates. 86% of executives surveyed identified their leadership shortage as “urgent” and/or “vitally important”. Most professionals are initially hired and brought into organizations as technical experts or individual contributors and, if they perform well, get promoted into management positions. However, high performers don’t magically transform into effective leaders. The capacities list required for effective leadership is long and complex. Emotional intelligence, credibility, the ability to positively influence, coach, lead change/teams, facilitate effectively in conflict and earn trust are challenging skills to master. Great leaders are not born, they are molded – by experience, mentoring/coaching and skill development training.

In my coaching experience, it’s a rare professional that can’t benefit from leadership, coaching and team development skills. Times have changed, and so have the demands, expectations and skills required for leadership success.

Senior executive involvement (aka sponsorship) is necessary for any leadership development program to succeed. Expecting managers to execute organization change without adequate resources and change management skills is magical thinking. And, few companies today have internal HR or on-staff training professionals with experience, credentials and the required skill set to lead an effective leadership development program. This is a time to bring in outside expertise.

Here’s the kicker; the millennial generation (those being asked to take the place of retiring baby boomers) are projected to make up 75% of the workforce in 2015. Yet 2 out of 3 company leaders surveyed see themselves and their organizations as “weak” in their ability to develop millennial leaders. Millennials are strongly influenced by innovation, purposeful work, future growth opportunities and having balance between work and their social needs. In contrast, traditional old school managerial thinking dictates learning by the school of hard knocks and “be grateful you have a job.” In today’s workplace, the old paradigm simply doesn’t work. Millennials respond best to a boss that supports their career development with training, targeted feedback/coaching and new opportunities. And they are not afraid to change companies to find it.

My strategy suggestions:

o Think big picture. Develop a business plan with HR for learning, training and leadership development. Allocate a reasonable budget per leader for this support—typical allocations run between $2 to 10K per leader. Have internal HR professionals work directly with managers to specifically identify cross training, mentoring and alternative development opportunities and expectations.

o Re-vamp the performance review process to include top down alignment of coaching/mentoring and leadership development plans. The expectation of leaders at all levels (emerging, mid and senior) should be a priority goal of developing those under them.

o Invest in experts; those with real experience, value and credentials excited to share their experience. An expert can customize an in house training program to address company specific leadership expectations, core values, team/culture challenges and collaborate to identify coaching, mentoring or training options most appropriate for your organization and budget.

o Walk the talk – and stay in touch with the staff throughout the development process. How you behave, recognize and reward-including who gets promoted and mentored (or not) really does matter.

Maureen Moriarty (aka Workplace Coach), Path to Change, offers Executive Coaching, consulting and training for leadership and team development.
Contact info: 425 736 5691 or Maureen@pathtochange.com

People Leave Managers Not Organizations

My many years of experience as a workplace relations/leadership expert have proved to me the wisdom of the adage, “People leave managers not organizations.” I hear the behind the door frustrations and challenges of those who report into a bad boss. The economy is improving and I predict there will be a lot of talented individuals that will leave organizations due to their frustration with a bad boss.

I am an optimist at heart. I personally haven’t met, at least not in my coaching practice, a boss who truly wants to be known as the “bad boss.” Most are mere mortal humans that have some or a combination of these challenges:
• They are blind (or arrogant) to their problematic behaviors that promote distrust or a lack of engagement
• They lack the emotional and interpersonal intelligence to succeed in the role
• They were never been taught simple but practical effective techniques for handling dicey workplace scenarios like how to deliver challenging feedback, intervene with conflict, lead change effectively or lead a high performing team.

The good news is I can help. But the recipe isn’t a quick fix. It takes focus, support, best practice modeling, appropriate challenge, continual feedback and learning new behaviors to replace problematic behaviors.

If you know someone who needs help at improving their boss skills— kindly pass my information on! I am currently accepting a few new clients. I now offer my one on one coaching sessions via Skype to help those super busy professionals with limited time challenges.

4 Tips To Be A Better Boss:
1) Be open and welcoming of input, feedback, ideas and suggestions from staff.
2) Work continually to help people clarify their roles, goals, responsibilities, expectations (what does success look like?) and priorities.
3) Avoid bulldozing change
4) Choose your change chits wisely. Most leaders underestimate the time and attention of THEIRS it will take to effectively sponsor change initiatives.

I pride myself on never having a client that wasn’t willing to provide me a recommendation or reference. Thank you for your continued support.

Maureen Moriarty, aka Workplace Coach

www.pathtochange.com

info@pathtochange.com

360 682 5807

In Career Transition, Follow Your Heart

The sad news of Apple CEO Steve Jobs passing hit me hard. He was a poster man for living a life based on passion and following your dreams. He inspires us to hang on to our dreams despite critics. My favorite quote from Jobs is from a commencement speech Jobs gave, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Powerful. In my work as a career coach, my intention is to help my clients identify their heart calling and proactively create that life. We spend much of our lives working. For most adults, a satisfying life includes work that engages and allows us to bring the best of ourselves to achieve meaningful goals. For many professionals, it can be difficult to figure out this life equation.

Follow Your Heart tip #1. Find a quiet place and start journaling your own voice. Many of us have been leading a life marching to the drum of other’s voices. When is the last time you heard YOUR voice? Can you recognize your voice when you hear it?

Follow Your Heart tip #2. Identify your talents and gifts. Create a list of what you believe are your innate strengths.

If you (or someone you know) is in career transition or contemplating a career move —call me. Unlike many coaches I don’t make you sign up for a program. My coaching philosophy is simple. I meet clients where they are at –and no two are alike. I come from a genuine intention to understand and help my clients in any way that I can which includes support, asking powerful questions and providing a safe relationship to work through difficult challenges as a third party objective thinking partner. I am an accountability partner with continued focus towards your goals. I help clients identify how to “get out of their own way” and develop new effective behaviors vs. being stuck in old harmful patterns.

Contact Info: 425 736 5691(cell) or 360 682 5807 (office) or pinelakemo@comcast.net

Referrals are greatly appreciated Please pass this email on to any others you think would benefit from my practical Workplace Coach tips.