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Leading a global team April 7, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Getting what you want, Management, Management Principle, Team basics.
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Do you have to lead global teams? Many companies are expanding globally to take advantage of the basic economics of hiring workers. While some of us may not agree with that strategy, it is widely adopted. It is not the purpose of this entry to discuss the viability of international outsourcing. It is my purpose to give you some tips and techniques on how to be more effective in that environment.

 Some of the most common challenges facing managers and leaders in a global environment are:

  • Staying connected
  • Time differences
  • Alignment or mis-alignment of goals
  • Language
  • Culture differences
  • Expectations of senior management
  • Managing performance

 Not everyone can be successful as a global manager or leader.  Effective global leaders typically have:

  • A willingness to communicate, form relationships with others, and try new things
  • Good cross-cultural communication and language skills
  • Flexibility and open-mindedness about other cultures
  • The ability to determine if a global worker is performing up to expectations

 The principles that guide us in becoming an effective team leader with co-located teams also apply in the global arena. However, the effective global leader is aware of four factors that affect their performance in a global situation.

1.      Pay more attention to time. Things just take longer when you are acting globally. It is sometimes difficult to convince senior management of this concept, but it is true and the global leader must consider it. In addition, the effective global leader understands that not everyone lives in the same time zone.

2.      Have more patience. Since things take longer and people do things differently across the globe, the effective global leader has more patience. I once had a manager tell me, “I know I need to learn more patience. How long will this take?” Learn how to breathe deeply or learn the art of Zen or something to increase your patience. You will need it.

3.      Make effective use of technology. The purveyors of technology are rapidly working to close the global gap. Global leaders have telephone and visual technology available to access people in any part of the world. Learn the technology and use it to help you close the global gap!

4.      Adapt to different cultures. When everyone shares the same building, it is easy to interact culturally. Once you go more than 50 miles, nuances start to creep into the culture. Just imagine the cultural differences when the person is over 5000 miles away. It is the responsibility of the global leader to create a team culture. That culture must not violate any of the cultural taboos of the global community.

 Using these four factors as a foundation, I will be writing a series on leading global teams with emphasis on communicating, building rapport and getting results.  Stay tuned.

Principle of organizational memory January 13, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Decison making, Getting what you want, Grow your skills, Handling hot buttons, Management, Management Principle, Managing up.
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Does it irritate you when senior management reserves the best parking spots for themselves? How about when the executive have their own dining room, or when they travel, they travel first class. The Big Dogz do not like these irritants any more than you do — they ignore them for now. As the Big Dogz build their personal power and acquire more position power, they remember what it was like to be in the trenches. The Big Dogz apply the principle of organizational memory!

 

It is not effective to complain or fret about senior management actions or attitudes. These actions are not within your circle of control — you cannot change them. The Big Dogz capture the irritants in an ongoing file called “Things I will not do when I get to be a senior manager.” It is not the place of the Big Dogz to publicly criticize or critique senior management behavior. If you are asked for feedback or your offer of feedback is accepted, then you may give your observation. Otherwise, make an entry into your file. When you get to that level, review your file and make sure you are not doing those actions.

 

Many times, the average manager will automatically adopt the behaviors of their predecessors. Well, the VP of Development gets to park in this spot, so I may as well do it. I deserve it! I am flying on that business trip with two of my people. They are in coach and I am in first class. I deserve it! What these managers do not recognize is that the things that irritate them also irritate others. Why do something that irritates your followers and reduces your personal power? One of the first tasks you undertake when you are promoted is to evaluate what your predecessor did that irritated you. Then decide if you will continue or eliminate the practice. But first, you need to be promoted. You get promoted by managing power.

 

I have talked about how to get power in previous entries, but here is a quick review. First, you get personal power, and then because you are more effective than your peers are, you are promoted to a job that has position power. You use this position power to access more potential personal power. This new personal power gets you more position power – and it is a growing spiral.

 

Here are some examples of applying the principle of organizational memory:

 

  • Management planning meetings are held offsite at a nice place and include lunch or dinner. Key project planning meetings are held in the big conference room and everybody gets their own lunch. The Big Dogz will make sure that moving management meetings off site are really required. They will select key project planning meetings to be held offsite.

 

  • Senior management waits until the last minute to make change announcements, and then they expect a quick implementation. The Big Dogz know that sometimes this is unavoidable for solid business reasons. Most of the time it is not! When you get to be the senior manager, you will include as many people as early as possible in your decision-making.

 

 A classic example of organizational memory is the response of General Norman Schwarzkopf in the 60 Minutes interview during Desert Shield. He talked about how when he was a battalion commander in Vietnam, the generals were in the rear eating off white tablecloths and being served by soldiers. His response was “That’s not going to happen in my command. It better not happen!”

 

Not all us have the opportunity to have such clear irritants. For sure, you experience actions and attitudes that irritate you. I think this situation is quite widespread in the corporate world, but I need data to support that assumption. I have a request of you.

 

Please send me your observations about something senior management does that is irritating. In this economy, there is an abundance of examples. If you could state what they did and how you would do it differently, it would be useful for everyone.

 

When I get a large enough number of these responses, I will summarize and post them here. I will also send you an email alerting you to the posting so you can see how others are applying this principle along with a file containing the responses. I promise to scrub them so the source is not identified.  Having current real world examples can really reinforce this principle and give the Big Dogz suggestions on what to do in their organizations. Please take the time to be heard.

 

rbonder@gmail.com

Reduce misunderstanding November 8, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Getting requests completed, Management Principle.
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p5130012.jpg  Do people frequently misunderstand you? Do you find yourself saying or thinking, “That is not want I wanted?” With all that we have to do, we do not take the time to make sure we are understood. We usually end our communication with one of these two questions:

  1. Do you have any questions? (They reply ‘No”.)
  2. Do you understand what I need? (They reply “Yes”.)

 

Once we hear one of these responses, we go blithely on our way thinking they actually understood us! The Big Dogz know that these two questions are dangerous and the answers they provide leave us vulnerable to disappointment.  The Big Dogz ask a different question. They ask for a paraphrase!

 

We frequently don’t ask for a paraphrase because we are in a hurry and do not have the time. On the other hand, perhaps we think the other person may be insulted by us asking for a paraphrase. Sometimes we believe we were so clear, it would be impossible to misunderstand what we said. All these reasons are just excuses. Asking for a paraphrase doesn’t cause any of these things. In fact, it reduces the probability of misunderstanding.

 

Here are some effective phrases you can use to get a paraphrase when you are finished communicating:

  1. Please describe to me what you think I said.
  2. What have I asked you to do?
  3. I am working on my communications skills and want to be sure that I told you everything you need to know. Can you please tell me what you heard?
  4. This information is critical and we need to be sure I communicated everything about it. Please tell me what you heard.
  5. I think I may have left something out, but I am not sure. Can you summarize what you heard?

 

You will be amazed at the results you get! It is possible they have no clue what you said. It may be that they got 90% of what you said. An even more surprising result would be that they actually understood what you said. Now, this is the result you are after.

 

Asking for a paraphrase may cause surprise in some people, especially if you haven’t done it before. If you want to check this out for yourself, check how many times you see people not asking for a paraphrase in key communication situations. Asking for a paraphrase is what distinguishes the Big Dogz from the rest of the pack.

 

Once you make it a practice to ask for a paraphrase, people will automatically give you one because they know you will ask for it. Asking for a paraphrase does take more time, but it is a wise investment. It helps to build solid relationships and insures that you get the result you asked for.

If you asked people to paraphrase everything you said, it would get annoying. So here are 5 situations when it is imperative for you to ask for that paraphrase:

  1. You are explaining a complex issue
  2. You are asking someone to do a task for you
  3. The results are critical
  4. You make a commitment to someone
  5. You will not be available for follow up questions

 

Asking for a paraphrase will take some getting used to. Experiment with this technique over the next thirty days to see if using it gets you running with the Big Dogz.  Send me an email to let me know how it works for you: rbronder@gmail.com

 

Inaction breeds poor behaviors August 14, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Changing behavior, Diagnosing performance problems, Effective meetings, Feedback, Getting what you want, Management, Management Principle, Performance issues.
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p5130012.jpg  Are people consistently violating your policies? The Big Dogz know that it could be caused by inaction. This is the principle the Big Dogz follow:

 

If you allow it, you encourage it!

 

Here is an example of allowing a behavior, resulting in encouragement. Let’s say you make an announcement that all team members will be in attendance and ready to participate at the scheduled start of team meetings. Rick casually strolls in 3 minutes late. You do not want to appear inflexible, tyrannical or picky, so you let it go. You have just sent the message to all the people who were on time, that it is OK to be late. You can be sure others will be late the next meeting and the degree of lateness will increase.

 

Overlooking an infraction because it is minor or because you don’t want to ruffle feathers is a sure fire way of seeing that action more frequently. This principle does not require you to make a big deal of the situation or to mete out Draconian punishment. A gentle reminder to the person that the behavior is not appropriate will work. Say something like this, “Rick, please make an effort to be on time to our meetings.” Don’t get into an argument about justification. If need be, have a conversation about his lateness outside the meeting.

 

If the reminder does not work, then you will need to escalate your actions. Most of time, people do not want to violate your policies. Give them the opportunity to learn! If you do not take action on this policy, people will start to think you are not serious about your other policies. Now, you can get into some serious trouble!

 

In the One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard talks about “Catching them doing something right.” That concept applies doubly in this situation. First, we want to catch them when an infraction occurs. Bring it to their attention, publicly if appropriate. Encourage them to behave in the way you want. When you see them make an effort to adhere to your policies, take the time to thank them. In the above scenario, I might give Rick a compliment for making the effort to be on time. At the next meeting, he is there, on time and ready to go. I would walk by him and in a low voice say “Thanks for being on time.” Again, no need to make a big deal of it since it may embarrass him.

 

Whatever actions you allow on your team, the more of those actions you can expect to see. Over the next 30 days, look around at your team and decide what actions you want to reduce or eliminate. Now start holding people accountable in a firm supportive way. The Big Dogz know you will see a significant improvement.

 

Please let me know how this suggestion has worked for you.

You are a role model July 16, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Management, Management Principle.
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p5130012.jpg Are your people behaving strangely? The Big Dogz know that this strange behavior may actually be linked to your behavior. The Big Dogz are acutely aware of this principle:

 

You are a role model for your people.

 

Now, you may be thinking “I am not in this to be a role model!” There is no getting away from this responsibility. You will be a role model — either you will be a positive role model or you will be a negative role model.

 

You are a person your company has trusted to take care of its most valuable resource, the people. So, obviously in order to get that trust and respect from the company, I need to act just like you. This role model responsibility has a huge impact in your organization. Here’s a real example.

 

I recently worked with a group of non manger service providers at a large company. They provided IT support for the business units of their company. Their view of customer service was that the customer should be grateful I am spending time to help them get their job done. Not all of them had this attitude, but a large number of them did. I was actually surprised by the widespread level of this attitude. I decided to do some investigation as to the source of this poor behavior relative to customers. What I discovered was that this behavior was epidemic in this organization beginning with the senior manager. His dealings with his peers were atrocious. He was rude, condescending and just downright insulting. He was extremely bright and was an excellent problem solver. His view of himself was that his peers should be glad he was around to help them. Of course, most of the people in his organization used him as a role model.

 

My wife understands how the behavior and attitude of the manager can affect customer service. She finds a store that provides good value and good service; and then she memorizes the name of the store manager. Whenever the service level changes, she checks to see if there is a new store manager. If the level of service has dropped, she changes where she shops. She told me once that the biggest factor in good customer service and value was the store manager.

 

On the positive side of this role model phenomenon, I have worked with many organizations where the senior manager clearly demonstrated respect and concern for customers. The managers not only spoke about treating customers with respect, buy actually did it. These organizations were much more successful, and their customers gave them kudos for service.

 

Your people are also under your influence. They are watching you all the time to see how you handle situations. If you display negative behavior, they will generally mirror your behavior. Conversely, when you engage in positive behavior, they will respond the same way.

 

Here’s what the Big Dogz do to be positive role models:

  1. They communicate effectively. They are clear in sending message and are active listeners.
  2. They always speak positively about others, especially customers.
  3. They keep commitments.
  4. They provide constructive feedback.
  5. They spend time with people.
  6. They are sincere.
  7. They “walk the talk”, that is they do what they ask the employees to do.

 

Be aware that you are a role model. What kind of results are you getting? If you are not happy with the way people are behaving, perhaps you could take a serious look at your own behavior.

 

Fundamentals of Management February 22, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Management, Management Principle, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  Management is more art than science. Just like the Big Dogz in art understand the fundamentals, so do the Big Dogz in management. Here are three major fundamentals of management:

Fundamental principle — management is about customization. The Big Dogz do not treat everyone the same; they treat people fairly, but they customize their actions to the person. The Big Dogz modify the way they communicate, give objectives and ask people how to work to name a few actions they tailor to individuals. Remember, one size does not fit all.

Fundamental question — am I satisfied with the results I am getting? If the answer is yes, the Big Dogz continue doing what they are doing. If the answer is no, then the Big Dogz set up an experiment and try something else. The big Dogz do not just randomly change their actions. They consider what has worked for them or for others. They get help from mentors and guides. But above all, they try something different.

Fundamental action — self reflection! Every successful manager uses this tool to help align them for success. The Big Dogz schedule a periodic interview with themselves. This interview is about 10 minutes at least once a month for self reflection. They go to a quiet place and ask themselves these three questions:

  1. What am I doing that I want to continue to do?
  2. What am I doing that I want to stop doing?
  3. What do I know about that I want to start doing?

In this way, the Big Dogz are constantly experimenting with action, determining effectiveness, and then adding these proven techniques to their personal tool kit. They also take the tough step of discarding actions and approaches that are not working.

The Big Dogz apply these fundamentals and demonstrate effective management. Track your self over the next 30 days to see how you are following these management basics.

  

Disagree with tact February 8, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Disagree, Management Principle, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  Wasting time arguing? Are you spending too much time talking and not enough time doing? The Big Dogz know how to avoid that trap. They use a proven technique to disagree with tact and gain agreement. I call it:

 The “I see it differently” principle. 

The first element of the principle is to actively listen. Most people when faced with a disagreement only listen passively. They are configuring their response or rebuttal while the other person is talking. It goes something like this: I understand what you are saying, but… 

What a condescending thing to say to someone! They have just spent 2-3 minutes explaining their complex solution and you say “I understand….” And, that infamous “but..” negates everything they have said. The result is misunderstanding and confusion. This approach is a recipe for wasting time. Here is what the Big Dogz do. 

They first listen for points of agreement. You would be surprised about how much agreement there is in a disagreement. Then they listen attentively for those areas that they disagree about. Now, the say the magic words!

 “Let me see if I understand you. Here are the points on which we agree – now articulate the points clearly. On these points, now articulate your opposing view clearly, I see it differently.” Now be quiet and wait. What do you think they will say? 

“Oh wow, how do you see it?” is the most common response. It is amazing. Within minutes, you are on your way to a successful resolution. Less time arguing, more time doing. T

he Big Dogz know it will work; I suggest you try it a few times over the next 30 days. See how it works for you. 

By the way, I believe in giving credit to those people who have helped me be more effective over the years. This tip on resolving conflict came from my associate Tom Clarke. So, when this works for you, please say a thank you to Tom!

The need to know profile January 29, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Management Principle, Need to know.
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p5130012.jpg Getting poor results from employees because you did not tell them what they need to know? The big Dogz know how to overcome this problem by using the “Need to Know” principle of management. Here it is:  

For each employee customize your communications based upon their need to know profile. 

Just how do you get a need to know profile? The Big Dogz use the following process. Whenever you give someone some information about a task or situation, provide the information you think they need to know. When you are finished providing information and verifying they understood you, ask them one final question.  

“Is there anything else you need to know? “ 

If they respond no, you are finished and have done an excellent job of customizing this communication. You can expect them to absorb the information or to successfully complete the task you have given them. 

If they ask you a question, answer it and remember the question. Ask them again if there is anything else they need to know. Repeat this process until they say no.  

Go back to your office and take out their file. In this file write the topics they asked questions about. These are the topics that are important to them. In future communications with them make sure you include information related to these topics. 

Like the Big Dogz, you will see more motivated employees, more effective communication and most importantly more effective results. Start today and create a need to know profile for each or your employees.

Generate creativity in your employees January 23, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Creativity, Management Principle, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg   Want innovative solutions that are implemented by enthusiastic employees? The Big Dogz know how to get these solutions. They use what I call the principle of creativity. Here it is:

 Deliver problems down, solutions up. 

What typically happens is that the leader defines a problem to the employees, and then suggests a solution. It goes like this “Here is a problem we need to solve; here is what I think we should do about it.” Usually this is followed by “What do you think we should do?” Of course the result is that everyone agrees with the solution proposed by the leader. Why not agree? 

It is obvious this is the solution preferred by the leader and if we do what the leader says we have no accountability. If this solution fails — well, it was the leader’s idea to begin with; don’t blame us. If this solution works — well, we worked hard to make it happen; give us the credit. This situation is a no risk proposition for your employees. And besides, their enthusiasm for the idea is low because it is not theirs. 

What the Big Dogz do is present the problem to the employees without a solution. They ask “How do you think we can solve this problem?” The Big Dogz will do this even when they know the optimum solution. The Big Dogz know that when the employees come up with a solution, they own it!

Their personal commitment will be high and if they have an ineffective solution, they will quickly modify it to be effective. People do this correction because they want to successful. It is no longer your problem, but their problem. 

Effective leaders monitor the solutions to problems. They warn employees when they are making dangerous moves. They encourage creativity and risk taking by supporting employee solutions. Sometimes you as the leader do not get a choice of solutions.

You are given a problem and a solution. When this happens, present the problem, and then let your people know you have been given a solution. Then ask “What can we do to make sure this solution will work?”  

The Big Dogz know that by always giving their people a voice in the solution, the people will be engaged and committed to the solution. Try applying this principle over the next thirty days to see if you can be one of the Big Dogz. 

Principle of Duality January 14, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Management Principle.
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p5130012.jpg Duality? How can a manager demonstrate duality? The Big Dogz know that in order to get the most from your people, you must demonstrate duality. The Big Dogz are both flexible and fixed at the same time. Here is the Principle of Duality:

 Be flexible in process and fixed in end result. 

By flexible in process, I mean let them do it their way, on their time and at the place of their choosing. If they feel comfortable doing what you ask at home after dinner, then let them. Be as flexible as you can be within the constraints of your policies or compliance issues. One of the most de-motivating things you can do to an employee is to dictate how, where and when something should be done. 

Being fixed in end result means clearly defining the task for the employee. There are two major components of a task that the Big Dogz make a focus. These components are the form and the success factors.  

The form tells the employee what it is that you want — it could be a presentation, a list of clients or whatever you are asking. Whatever it is, make sure you specifically call it out.  

The success factors relate to the level of “goodness” desired by you. It includes some quality metric as well as a delivery time. By defining the success factors, you are insuring that the employee will deliver exactly what you want. In the absence of success factors, the employee will establish them.  

Many times the employee will significantly exceed your expectations and will spend much more time on the task than you really intended. They do this to impress you and they want to make you happy. Think about the many times your people have delivered a book when all you wanted was a chapter; or the times that you wanted a book and they delivered a chapter. 

The Big Dogz consistently apply the principle of duality when asking people to do things. It works for them and it can work for you. Here is an example of applying the principle of duality: 

Jill, I need you to create a list of all customers who purchased any deluxe widgets from us in the last six months. Please sort the list by number of widgets purchased, high to low, print it and deliver it to me by noon tomorrow.  

Over the next week, keep track of how many times you apply the principle of duality and how effective your results are. If you are getting effective results, add this valuable principle to your tool kit.