training

Correcting Supervisor’s Employee Communication Challenge

This is an occasional series describing (anonymously) a real challenge faced by one of my Ohio or Michigan clients and my recommendation to them.

 

Please let me know what topics you’d like to see included in this series.

 

– Paul

 

 

Correcting Supervisor’s Employee Communication Challenge

 

Scenario: A team conducts research for a professional services firm. The company’s sales declined significantly during the 2008-2009 recession and large reductions in headcount took place. With sales recovering, the company isn’t getting fast enough responses from this research group and is investigating how to correct the situation.

 

Personality Patterns (as reported by PI®)

 

Department Manager – Persuasive Management/Sales PI® Reference Pattern

Very High B, Very Low C, High A, Cutback D
Typical Employee – CrafstmanPI® Reference Pattern
Highest D & C, Lowest B, Low A

 

The Issue: The team complains that their supervisor does not communicate with them well and this is limiting their ability to perform. The typical employee is an introverted, “heads-down” worker who focuses on data and facts while preparing reports. The Department Manager is an impatient extrovert who loves to talk with everyone in the company and he is shocked, and even hurt, by his team’s complaint.

 

PI® Analysis and Recommendation: The fundamental disconnect between the Department Manager and his team revolves entirely around communication style.

 

The Department Manager is a natural communicator who readily understands and acts on the company’s key priorities. He is in constant contact with key decision-makers and relays the latest “news” to his team members when he stops by to talk with each of them. Because he sees himself, accurately, as someone with good interpersonal communication skills he was blind-sided when his team pointed to communication dysfunction as the source of their performance shortfalls.

 

The typical team member is a methodical analyst who produces expert work via a step-by-step process. Team-members still worry about their employment status due to lingering emotional trauma from the terminations that took place during the recession. The Manager’s preference for one-on-one conversations makes those not included suspicious about what was discussed with others. They find the Manager’s constant updates on “news” in the company to be disjointed interruptions that get in the way of their work. Despite constant conversations, they do not feel they are in touch with what’s happening.

 

My recommendation to the Department Manager was to focus on the communication needs of his team rather than rely on his natural style. This is a common coaching message my ADVISA clients hear from me regarding how to supervise people.
His team will understand and respond more effectively to structured, formal communication that puts everybody on the same page at the same time. Explaining how any changes impact current priorities to maximize workflow predictability will pay dividends in improved performance.

 

I also emphasized that he could continue to use his natural strengths to leverage his network with peers and other company leaders – acknowledging and supporting the value of his skills in this area made acceptance of the recommendations for interacting with his team easier to accept.

 

Result: The Department Manager instituted regular team meetings with detailed, advance agendas and follow-up “minutes” to document key decisions. The Manager delegated these administrative tasks to ensure quality work. The communication dysfunction ceased to be a problem.

Leadership as a One-on-One Sport

Your most-intimate impact with team members occurs when somebody receives 100% of your attention in direct communication. Making the most of these moments should be a critical leadership priority when considering how to supervise people. When you go one-on-one you can maximize results through in-depth understanding of your subordinates’ natural tendencies based on the results of a personality assessment.

The inherent uniqueness of one-on-one leadership interactions multiplies your impact especially when the other person understands you include their needs in the conversation. Attention to the other person’s needs improves a leader’s ability to connect in a meaningful way. Understanding potential objections or concerns IN ADVANCE lets a leader draw those issues into the open or acknowledge them even if they remain unspoken. Creating this connection improves your ability as a leader to effectively communicate the critical information you need to convey and build a foundation for improving employee morale.

Some common scenarios I encounter in Ohio and Michigan during my ADVISA consulting work include:

Scenario

One-on-One Tactics

Impatient leaders with an intense sense of urgency working in industries where systematic methods are necessary and the preference of most employees is for predictable processes they can pursue in a step-by-step fashion.

 

Redirect your intense impatience into an intense focus on the other person. Allow them time to express their perspective without interruption. Avoid the temptation of skipping steps or ad hoc management (your preference) and engage in well-designed process engineering.

 

Goal and task-oriented leaders driven to action with self-starting initiative on teams that include key contributors who don’t share this same drive.The most-common approaches are to:

·         Develop a personal relationship with the key contributors and emphasize the importance you place on results and make this a key part of the relationship.

·         Develop plans laying out clear guidelines, milestones and resource allocations then assign responsibilities to generate clarity regarding expectations.

Leaders comfortable with taking risks to achieve goals working in industries where “getting it right” is critical and the preference of most employees is to avoid the risk of failure.Take as much perceived risk as possible out of any action plan by communicating the results of research or examples where this has been done before with positive results. Gain commitment by acknowledging the risk and shouldering the responsibility of future failure yourself (when doing this establish the expectation that the other person must give 100% in support of the initiative regardless of their concerns).

 

If your leadership success will be measured by results and not style then you maximize your chances to win by engaging the others on your team in a way that meets THEIR needs, not yours.  If you are responsible for new manager training consider how these insights can make a difference in performance from day-one with a new leader.

This blog series focuses on tactics and techniques for effective leadership in one-on-one situations. Use of my recommendations depends on access to personality information provided by the Predictive Index® Organization Survey.

My blog series on challenges entrepreneurs face when growing their business also highlights many strategies and tactics you can use in One-on-One leadership.

The Maelstrom of Change in Healthcare

While the future of Healthcare Reform will undoubtedly shift due to political twists and turns, for now, the laws signed earlier this year – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act & the Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872) – will drive change in the operational environment for healthcare organizations.

 

As if running a healthcare operation was not challenging enough – what with changes in technology, medicine and insurance practices – Healthcare Reform adds another layer of complexity. For those seeking some clarity on timetables and events involved with current law, experts recommend the Kaiser Family Foundation as a website that has done much to distill the upcoming changes in understandable presentations.

My Ohio & Michigan clients in healthcare management have to navigate these turbulent waters of change leading teams comprised of people who typically do not, by their nature, welcome the unpredictability and uncertainty inherent to any change.

 

In the lexicon of Predictive Index®, healthcare is a “high formality” industry. Formality is the drive to conform to rules and structure. Few human enterprises are as rule-bound or structured as health care in the United States. Most jobs in healthcare require intense attention to detail and the processes and procedures followed are designed to eliminate risk of failure in what are often, truly, life or death situations. Consequently, people who thrive in this environment usually have personalities consistent with risk aversion and a strong drive to do things “right.”

 

The very nature of change involves risk and redefines “right,” thus creating stress for those focused on following the rules. Realizing from whence this disquiet springs allows healthcare managers to constructively address the confusion, frustration and anxiety that can lead to dysfunction with regards to organizational alignment.

 

My recommendation to ADVISA clients in this scenario is to focus on leadership tactics that focus on “proof” that the change will work. This can be done through reference to experts or case studies showing success in the chosen path. The need for detailed and thorough communication cannot be overemphasized. The key management responsibility is to define, refine and clarify what is going to happen and when. The work expended in preparing, delivering and confirming communication regarding change will pay dividends in both improving performance and improving employee morale.

 

A goal when implementing change with your healthcare team should be to remove the possibility of failure or, given certain conditions, remove the responsibility for failure from your team-members. Of course the latter approach assumes they will contribute 100% to the effort – a leader just has to shoulder the responsibility for the result.

 

At a minimum, developing an understanding of why healthcare workers often resist change allows leaders to acknowledge the source of that stress. Simple acknowledgement of the negative aspects of change can go a long way to building rapport with an over-stressed team.

Please contact me for additional insights on how team building skills can make a difference for your group.

 

How Long Until Hiring Picks Up?

Today’s news that unemployment declined in November is welcome.

Although a mindset of “recession” continues to exist for many people, one of the benefits of strategic planning is that you can have ready-made plans to implement when key turning points occur.

As opportunities for growth and profitability expand employee recruiting and applicant screening are going to rise on people’s list of priorities.

If you haven’t been in the job market for new employees recently, expect a tsunami of resumes when you start looking.  HR best practices demand a quick turnaround on applicant inquiries.

Are you ready?

Improve Sales Profitability with Management “Science”

A systematic approach to sales staffing, sales skill development and performance coaching can more than double profitability for individual salespeople. A key variable in achieving this result is the use of assessments for things such as personality type and sales skill level.

 

When combining such assessments with sales training, profitability per salesperson improved by a factor of 2.5 in a recent Aberdeen Group study; with a portion of the improved results stemming from a 75% decrease in hiring costs.

 

ADVISA reduces such systematic management to a science with thorough understanding of the linkage between salesperson performance and personality type as defined in personality assessments.

 

My “Driving to Better Sales” blog series describes how we incorporate all this key information into a management “dashboard” for improved understanding and development of coaching strategies.

Defusing Employee Conflict

Scenario: A manufacturer in Ohio who is an ADVISA PI® client has trouble with two key employees who constantly fight over key initiatives. This conflict has stalled progress on key new technologies and needs to end.

Patterns from Personality Assessments

New Technology Manager – Highest Dominance, Risk-Taking Pattern

Facility Engineer – Highest Extroversion, Risk Averse

The Issue: The New Technology Manager had been assigned to implement a key new program for the company at the plant where the Facility Engineer works. The New Technology Manager is a young and rapidly-rising talent with the support and sponsorship of top-level executives. The Facility Engineer has been in the plant for over a decade.

The New Technology Manager needs the Facility Engineer’s cooperation to succeed but the two are constantly fighting. The Facility Engineer feels disrespected for his contributions to-date and feels the New Technology Manager is taking too many risks. The New Technology Manager feels the Facility Engineer is obstructing progress simply out of spite.

Analysis and Recommendation: By reviewing their results from personality assessments with both individuals I was able to explain the personality sources of this conflict.

I explained to the Facilities Engineer that the New Technology Manager didn’t listen to him because, as a Highest Dominance personality, the New Technology Manager was strongly focused on his own ideas to solving this technical challenge. I also explained that the New Technology Manager had a strong risk-taking profile so he was comfortable with an untried approach – while the Facilities Engineer preferred to minimize risk. I recommended to the Facilities Engineer that he stop “telling” his colleague about potential problems and start asking questions with regards to issues so the New Technology Manager can come to his own conclusions. I emphasized that framing those questions in a way to highlight information especially important to the Facilities Engineer will take some preparation and planning.

I explained to the New Technology Manager that as a Highest Extroversion personality the Facilities Engineer placed great importance on his role and status within the plant. Taking time to talk face-to-face with the Facilities Engineer and acknowledge his contributions – especially in front of others – would pay huge dividends in obtaining his cooperation.

Result: Interpersonal conflict between these two people ceased to be an impediment to the project’s success.  Often, what is a perceived as a challenge of “managing difficult people” is simply a difference in personalities.  Simply explaining the differences to the people involved can resolve many issues.

Why do I keep hiring sales reps who can’t sell?

The answer to this question is a multi-faceted approach.  I will try to focus on three prominent areas where we provide needed information to improve the performance of our client’s sales organization.

  1. Getting the right people in the first place
  2. Assessing the skills of those people in the key phases of the sales process
  3. Keeping the sales staff motivated and engaged

We use two proven tools to address those areas.  One is the Predictive Index® (PI®) assessment. This personnel and sales assessment allows you to identify the personality of a job and match it against the personality of candidates.  By doing this you can get the right people on the bus and move them into the right seats.  Using the PI® you’re armed with the information to select a candidate that has inherit behavioral preferences that match the needs of the position.  By having a tool that allows you to assess the job, specific to your organization, you avoid the common misperception that a salesperson is a salesperson.  This can vary widely by what they are selling, who they are selling to, what your sales process looks like, what role they are filling in that process, etc.

The second assessment, the Selling Skills Assessment Tool™ (SSAT), quantitatively measures specific sales skills in 5 phases of the consultative sales process.  When you have objective data to identify where your people are skilled and where they need development you can refocus your training, acknowledge what they are doing well, and concentrate development in areas that are most likely to yield positive results.

As is always true, objective, accurate, and relevant information enhances the quality of the decisions you make.  Decisions missing that kind of information result in higher costs, insufficient or under performing staff and wasted time trying to make square pegs fit into round holes.

Three critical ingredients to success:

  1. Get the right kind of person for the job
  2. Assess their skills accurately and develop their skills
  3. Manage them in a way that keeps them engaged and motivated

We offer two courses to enhance your performance in managing/motivating your staff and improving sales performance of your staff

The Predictive Index Management Workshop™  (Training for Managers) is designed to teach managers how to motivate employees. Managers learn how to modify their style to match their employees resulting in better communication, higher employee retention, more engagement, greater efficiency, and increased bottom line results.

Customer-Focused Selling™ (Training for Salespeople) is designed to teach proven skills in the five phases of the consultative sales process identified in the SSAT assessment.

Learn more by downloading Bob’s white paper on using personality assessments in the workplace (link is on the top right corner of this page)

Why do I keep hiring sales reps who can't sell?

The answer to this question is a multi-faceted approach.  I will try to focus on three prominent areas where we provide needed information to improve the performance of our client’s sales organization.

  1. Getting the right people in the first place
  2. Assessing the skills of those people in the key phases of the sales process
  3. Keeping the sales staff motivated and engaged

We use two proven tools to address those areas.  One is the Predictive Index® (PI®) assessment. This personnel and sales assessment allows you to identify the personality of a job and match it against the personality of candidates.  By doing this you can get the right people on the bus and move them into the right seats.  Using the PI® you’re armed with the information to select a candidate that has inherit behavioral preferences that match the needs of the position.  By having a tool that allows you to assess the job, specific to your organization, you avoid the common misperception that a salesperson is a salesperson.  This can vary widely by what they are selling, who they are selling to, what your sales process looks like, what role they are filling in that process, etc.

The second assessment, the Selling Skills Assessment Tool™ (SSAT), quantitatively measures specific sales skills in 5 phases of the consultative sales process.  When you have objective data to identify where your people are skilled and where they need development you can refocus your training, acknowledge what they are doing well, and concentrate development in areas that are most likely to yield positive results.

As is always true, objective, accurate, and relevant information enhances the quality of the decisions you make.  Decisions missing that kind of information result in higher costs, insufficient or under performing staff and wasted time trying to make square pegs fit into round holes.

Three critical ingredients to success:

  1. Get the right kind of person for the job
  2. Assess their skills accurately and develop their skills
  3. Manage them in a way that keeps them engaged and motivated

We offer two courses to enhance your performance in managing/motivating your staff and improving sales performance of your staff

The Predictive Index Management Workshop™  (Training for Managers) is designed to teach managers how to motivate employees. Managers learn how to modify their style to match their employees resulting in better communication, higher employee retention, more engagement, greater efficiency, and increased bottom line results.

Customer-Focused Selling™ (Training for Salespeople) is designed to teach proven skills in the five phases of the consultative sales process identified in the SSAT assessment.

Learn more by downloading Bob’s white paper on using personality assessments in the workplace (link is on the top right corner of this page)