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Giving feedback to your manager December 12, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Feedback, Management, Managing up, Performance issues.
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The Big Dogz always welcome feedback. Even when the Big Dogz are in a management position, they openly request and value feedback. Giving feedback is easy when the manager asks you for it. Not all managers are like the Big Dogz! Sometimes it is difficult to give your manager feedback, especially when they are not open to the notion of getting feedback.

 

The problem may be the way you deliver feedback. Most people are reluctant to receive ineffectively presented feedback. Most people are happy to receive constructive feedback. Effective feedback is about a result or a behavior that affects a result. It is not personal. When you give feedback, be specific and cite examples. Avoid labels — both positive and negative labels. Statements like “You were really professional in that presentation” or “You looked unprepared in that presentation” are not useful and do not tell the recipient exactly what is your feedback.

 

Examples of effective feedback are:

  • Our objective was to address the objections of the customer. In the presentation you made to the customer, I saw you use sarcasm in response to a question the customer had. You said …
  • I know you are working to be an effective coach. In our last session, you identified three specific actions I could take to improve my performance. I appreciate your focus on helping me.
  • Our relationship is important to me. I get frustrated when you raise your voice when correcting me. Yesterday when I showed my progress report, you shouted at me.

 

Here are three ways to approach your manager if you have effective feedback for them:

 

Ask them directly if they want feedback.

Before you approach the manager, make sure you have at least one positive piece of feedback to deliver. The first step is to get the manager alone and ask, “Would you like some feedback?”  Pay special attention to how the manager answers your question. If you get an uninterested or frustrated “Yeah, what?” kind of response, deliver your positive feedback and move on. Obviously, this manager is not really interested in getting feedback from you. If you are fortunate and work for one of the Big Dogz, they will respond in a positive and eager way, encouraging you to provide the feedback. When you get this response, give the positive feedback then any corrective feedback you may have.

 

Ask them for feedback on how you are contributing to the manager employee relationship.

If you are not comfortable asking your manager if they want feedback, then ask them to give you feedback about your relationship. An example of this question is “I value our relationship as manager and employee and I want to make sure I am contributing to that relationship. Could you please give me some specific feedback on how I am doing?”

 

The manger will undoubtedly have some feedback for you. Some of it will be positive, some of it corrective. Whenever the manager gives you the feedback, listen to what they say and respond with “Thank you”.

 

Once the manager is complete, thank them for taking the time to help you. If your manager is paying attention, they will ask you for feedback on how they are doing. Now you can deliver your feedback.

 

Ask them to coach you on a behavior you think they need to improve.

This is an effective technique to use with a manager not open to feedback. You identify a specific behavior you want the manager to change, and then you ask them to help you avoid the behavior. Your manager may be constantly interrupting you in meetings. Using this approach, you would ask the manager to help you reduce interrupting others in meetings. Ask the manager to give you specific tips or techniques that will help you to reduce this behavior. If the manager keeps interrupting you, go back and ask for more coaching — ask them how they would stop interrupting. It may take awhile, but this technique will work with your dedication.

 

Giving feedback to someone who does not request it is difficult. The Big Dogz know if they are flexible in process, they will eventually succeed in getting that feedback to the manager. Try these approaches and let me know how it works for you. Email me rbronder@gmail.com

 

 

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Manage your manager for more effectiveness November 28, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Getting what you want, Management, Managing up, Relationship, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg After you, the most important person to your success is your manager. The Big Dogz know that having a good relationship with your manager is a key to harmonious, stress free and highly productive days. Let’s look at one of the elements essential to your relationship with your manager.

 

Know them as a person.

  1. What are their professional goals? Your manager is managing other managers or people. What are they doing? How can you help? Be on the lookout for opportunities that can help your manager in areas other than your assigned responsibilities.
  2. What are your manager’s strengths and areas for improvement? Give your manager an opportunity to help you by utilizing a strength they have. Look for opportunities to provide services in areas where your manager needs improvement. A personal example of this was my own weakness in doing budgets. I really appreciated when one of my direct reports would volunteer to do this odious task for me.
  3. How does your manager like to communicate? Are they a visual person, do they like lists, charts, graphs or text? Are they email oriented or do they appreciate face-to-face interactions? Do they like lots of detail or prefer summary information? Find out how they like to communicate, and then communicate that way. Just being aware of your manager’s communication will make your relationship stronger.
  4. What questions does your manager ask? We have discussed the customized “need to know” profile for your people. This concept also applies to your manager. Whenever your manager asks you a question, write it down. When you do this over a short period of time, you will see a pattern with the topic your manager is interested in. now use that topic as the lead in to your communication with your manager.
  5. When does your manager perform most effectively? Some people are morning people; others are afternoon or evening people. Watch your manager for signs that give away when they are most effective. Optimize your engagements around these times. It is an excellent time to ask for coaching — they will be at peak performance. This knowledge also lets you avoid times when your manager is not as receptive.
  6. What irritates your manager? We all give off signals when we are irritated. Observe your managers reactions when you or others deliver news. When you have news that may irritate your manager, frame it around some particular goal they may have. Wait until they are at peak performance to deliver the news. Be on the look out for ways to circumvent these types of events.
  7. What pleases your manager? This is the opposite of above. Being the bearer of good news has its value.
  8. What kind of solutions do they like? Whenever you need to approach your manager with a problem, always provide a suggested solution. I always tried to come up with three possible alternatives and a recommendation. Coming to your manager with no solutions is worse than coming with wrong solutions. Your manager may prefer solving problems with money, or people, or reduction in scope or whatever. Pay attention to the solutions your manager proposes or accepts. Recommend these types of solutions to problems.
  9. What are your manager’s personal interests? People like to talk about what interests them. Your manager is no exception. Find out in daily conversations what their hobbies are, what sports teams they like, what shows they watch on TV, and any other personal information you can. The best way to get this kind of information about people is to tell them something about yourself first, and they will generally tell you something about themselves.

 

The Big Dogz know that paying attention to your manager as a person yields high dividends. Make a plan on how you will get to know more about your manager, and how you will use that information to be more effective.

Exercising control November 14, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Bronder On People, Getting what you want, Management, Performance issues, Self reflection.
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p5130012.jpg  It is difficult to be in charge. There are responsibilities and pressures to control. The Big Dogz know that if we push the control lever too far we become Domineering and the result is reduced productivity, increased costs and more stress. On the other hand, if we do not control what is going on, we will often fail to accomplish our goals.

 

I propose we look at two ends of the control continuum — Domineering and Dominant.  These words mean different things to different people, so I want to make this distinction for this discussion:

 

Domineering means pushing your personal agenda and wanting to control every action of others.

 

Dominant means exercising influence or control, usually through leadership.

 

Domineering managers rarely succeed. Of course, there are exceptions to this statement, but in general, if you use a Domineering style, you will always achieve less. What are some of the signs that you may be a Domineering manager?

 

  1. You are working excessive hours.
  2. You personally do the most critical jobs.
  3. You have frequent stressful conflicts (outbursts) during the day.
  4. You use micro-management as a way to make sure things get done.
  5. Morale in your group is low.
  6. You believe your people are “not up to the challenge.”
  7. You have to make all the decisions.

 

You get the picture. There are many things going wrong. There are only a few people you can count on to help you achieve your goals.

 

Dominant managers rarely fail! Again, there are exceptions to this statement, but in general, if you use a Dominant style, you will always achieve more. Besides the opposite of the Domineering manager signs, what are some other signs you may be a Dominant manager?

 

  1. People give you feedback on your performance as the manager.
  2. Your people are getting awards, recognition and promotions.
  3. People in your department are proactive in solving problems.
  4. People make suggestions to you on how the department can be more efficient or effective.
  5. Your people know exactly what result you expect of them.
  6. People are exercising creativity in developing processes that are streamlined.
  7. There is a waiting list of people wanting to join your department.

 

You get the picture. There are many things going right. There are many people you can count on to help you achieve your goals.

 

The signs are clear. The choice is yours.

 

Sometimes we do not achieve the results we want and we find someone or something to excuse it away. The problem may be in your style. I have created an assessment to help you determine if you are more Domineering or more Dominant. Please download it and take it yourself, then get three people to validate your self-assessment.

 

When you have a validated assessment, use it to create an action plan on how you can be more effective as a manager. If you send me your action plan, I will include your actions into a future blog on how to become a more Dominant manager.

 

rbronder@gmail.com

 

domineering-vs-dominant-style-continuum-assessment

Push decisions lower using the Decision Making Matrix (DDM) November 1, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Decison making, Delegating decisions, Management.
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p5130012.jpg Are you spending too much time making decisions for others? Are people making decisions that you should make? Many people consider the opportunity to make decisions a motivating factor. The Big Dogz know how to balance decision making down to the right level. They use a Decision Making Matrix (DMM) to facilitate the decision making of their direct reports.

 

Customize a DMM for each direct report. It is simple to construct and will show you how much decision making you are letting the person make. The DMM has four columns:

 

Column 1 — The Decision Making Opportunity (DMO)

These are the key opportunities for making a decision in a person’s job. You do not need to include all the DMO’s, but rather focus on the key DMO’s.

 

Examples of DMO’s

Select an approach for solving a problem

Reimburse a customer for a faulty product

Create a new product within a current product line

Design a new process for achieving a cross functional goal

Respond to a custom quote request from a customer

 

Column 2 to 4 — Who gets to make the decision?

  1. Decision made by you, you do not need to inform me
  2. Decision made by you after consulting with me
  3. Decision not made by you, see me

 

Place a check in the appropriate column for each DMO. Even people at the same level will start with a different DMM. With the focus on moving decision making to the optimum column, you can identify the most effective DMM for a position.

 

The DMM is an effective tool to help you identify when your direct reports can already make decisions and where you need to coach them in how to make decisions. This coaching is an opportunity for you to provide a motivation factor for your people.

 

Once you have identified the DMM for a specific person; review it with them and get agreement on where the checks are. When they come to you for a decision for something that is in their responsibility, remind them of the DMM. Ask them to make the decision. If they come to you with requests for decisions in column B, ask them what they would decide. If it is correct, do it and consider moving that DMO to column A.

 

Periodically review the DMM for effectiveness. Ask your direct reports to provide their perspective on the DMM.

 

The Big Dogz know that having a DMM for their direct reports helps develop the staff’s decision making skill and frees up time for the manager. Think about creating a DMM for each of your direct reports in the next 30 days. Oh, and by the way, create one for yourself and review it with you manager.

 

Free resources!! October 17, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Bronder On People, business strategy, Changing behavior, Coaching, Increasing Your Profitability, Management, Performance issues.
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Thought that might get your attention! The Big Dogz know how to get additional resources for free. They do it by focusing on the resources they already have. Most people in the workplace are doing the best they can. They are giving you their concentration and commitment to producing at a high level. Sometimes it is the work that gets in the way of the work getting done. Here is how to get more for less in your team.

 

Convene a meeting with your team members and tell them you want them to answer two questions for you.

 

  1. What can we do to be more efficient?
  2. What can we do to be more effective?

 

Notice that the question is “What can we do..”, not “What can be done…”. This is an important distinction. The Big Dogz know that if you ask the latter, you will get suggestions on what others could do. The focus is on us, and what is in our control.

 

Let me define efficient and effective. I borrow the distinction from Tom Peters in his book, In Search of Excellence.

 

Efficient — doing things right

Effective — doing the right things

 

So you ask your people to focus on those two questions and then you leave the meeting. Tell them you will return in 45 minutes to review their suggestions. I can hear some of you saying, “Yeah, right, they will have nothing to say!’ Well, you are probably right. The first time you ask them to do this activity; they will usually produce nothing. They provided suggestions in the past. And, they have been ignored! It is no wonder that they will be reluctant to give you ideas.

 

Thank them for their time and concentration. Schedule another meeting within 30 days to address the same two questions. This will get them to thinking you are serious about being more efficient and effective. Keep having the meetings until they actually come up with a suggestion. Now do your secret management stuff and get that thing done! If you don’t, you can save time by not having these meetings once a month!

 

The people who know how to be more efficient and more effective are the people who do the work. Too often managers come up with brainstorm ideas of their own on how the department can be more efficient or effective. Most of the time these ideas could work. People like to have their own ideas. They are more likely to implement a suggestion they came up with rather than one you came up with.

 

The Big Dogz know that patience pays off. Keep asking your people how to do more with less and they will respond. If you have five people and they improve productivity by 20%, you have gotten another full person for free!

 

So, now in the next 30 days, you schedule a productivity improvement meeting with your folks. Send me an email at rbronder@gmail.com.  I want to know how it works for you.

 

 

Developing managers October 10, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Coaching, Management.
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p5130012.jpg All organizations need managers. The Big Dogz know that having effective managers is no magic act; it takes effort to spot and develop managers that will lead your organization. Three levels of management need to be identified and developed. The three levels are first level, middle and executive management. Here is a look at an approach to spot and develop these managers.

 

Potential first level manager

 

What to look for:

1.      Ability to manage themselves

2.      Strong analytical skills related to problem solving

3.      Ability to learn and teach others

4.      Motivation to become a leader

5.      Concern for others

6.      Self awareness

 

How to develop:

1.      Give them team leader assignments to accomplish a goal without giving them authority. If they can get this done, then you can give them position power.

2.      Have them chair a task force to investigate a business opportunity within your area of responsibility.

3.      Provide them a person to mentor. Set specific learning objectives for the mentee to validate that the candidate can teach others.

4.      Ask them to provide feedback on their own performance. Pay attention to insure that they give you balanced, honest feedback. Watch to see if they apply the lessons learned.

5.      Ask their opinion about a key organizational issue. How would they handle it? Ask them to justify their answers.

 

Potential middle manager

 

What to look for:

  1. Demonstrated management skill, not just talent
  2. Demonstrated leadership
  3. Strong problem solving
  4. Effective decision maker
  5. Thinks strategically
  6. Results that are above average
  7. Has built strong networks
  8. Enjoys working through others
  9. Motivated to advance

 

How to develop:

  1. Provide training on higher-level management functions like budgeting, strategic planning, forecasting etc.
  2. Give them assignments that push skill limits
  3. Chair a task force that addresses a broad business issue
  4. Get them in front of higher management to present their team’s results
  5. Have them sponsor a cross functional team
  6. Let them manage your budget
  7. Let them represent you on a major project
  8. Delegate one of your major responsibilities
  9. Involve them in your decision making process

 

Potential executive manager

 

What to look for:

  1. Constructively challenges how we do business
  2. Understands the business, not just their area
  3. Makes an effort to be informed
  4. Articulates a vision and strategy
  5. Volunteers to work across business units
  6. Focuses on results
  7. Bases decisions on data
  8. Surrounds themselves with competent people

 

How to develop:

  1. Fund or encourage formal education, especially elements of an MBA
  2. Sponsor attendance at executive level conferences
  3. Have them present a business problem with alternative solutions and a recommendation to the executive committee
  4. Point out cross business unit opportunities
  5. Get them an executive level mentor
  6. Encourage them to join outside associations
  7. Give them an assignment to represent the company in the community
  8. Have them participate in a public speaking program

 

The Big Dogz know that these ideas are just the beginning. You will need to be proactive in seeking out development opportunities. Once you start to focus on finding development activities, you will see that it gets easier. The key is to find opportunities that will help the person grow while helping your business grow.

 

Take a few minutes right now and identify people who you can help move into management.

Supporting strategic plans October 3, 2008

Posted by rickbron in business strategy, Management.
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p5130012.jpg Want to show that you are a team player? The Big Dogz know that supporting your manager’s strategic plan is one of the ways you can be perceived as a key resource on the management team.  Here is how they do it.

 

Find out the elements of the strategic plan. Too often, the details of the strategic plan are shared only at the senior manager level. It is not that these managers want to keep the plan secret; they do not want to burden others with too much information. So, if you want to run with the Big Dogz, then you must do some research. Getting a copy of the strategic plan is usually as simple as just asking for it. If the plan is not documented, then you may have to do some interviewing with your manager to find out the focus of the strategic plan. However you do it, find out what direction the senior management team wants to take your organization.

 

Once you have the plan, review your department goals. Are they aligned with the strategic goals? Are there other contributions your group can make to help accomplish the strategy? If you find that your group does not support the strategy, initiate a discussion with your manager on how your group can contribute.  Working with your manager, establish a clear set of goals that support the strategy. Next, prioritize those goals.

 

Look at how you can accomplish your aligned goals with the resources in your group.  Write the goal using the SMART model. That is — Specific result, Measureable, Aligned, Realistic and Time based. Assign goals to specific people or groups of people. Ask them to create action plans that will deliver the results you have articulated. Use effective project management techniques to ensure the success of your goals.

 

If you need additional resources outside your control, identify how you will get those resources. Do not assume that because you need input from another group that it will be in their plan. Make sure all external dependencies are aligned with your plans. You may need to enlist the help of your manager to get this task accomplished.

 

Taking the time to align your team goals with the strategic goals will pay huge dividends to you in the long run. The Big Dogz know that supporting strategic goals is an important element in getting the resources you and your people need to be successful.

 

Over the next thirty days, look at your department’s goals and verify they are aligned with the senior manager strategy. If they are not, take action to get your goals aligned.

 

Performance feedback September 22, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Coaching, Diagnosing performance problems, Fixing performance problems, Management, Performance issues.
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p5130012.jpg Most of us are familiar with the adage, practice makes perfect. And, most of us would be wrong! The Big Dogz know that it is feedback that makes perfect and that practice makes permanent. There are two types of feedback that you provide to an employee. The first of these is behavior feedback — that is how an employee is behaving. You generally do not give behavior feedback unless the behavior is affecting an employee’s performance or the performance of others. If the behavior is not affecting performance, you may consider asking permission to give behavior feedback. It is like giving someone advice.

 

The most common type of feedback you give an employee is performance feedback. Not only do you not have to ask permission to give this type of feedback, it is your responsibility and obligation to provide this feedback. Here are a few fundamental principles about performance feedback:

 

  1. Feedback is always linked to an objective. It is about a specific result you have asked the employee to achieve.
  2. Frequency of feedback is dependent upon the performance level of the employee. When performance is low, feedback is more frequent.
  3. Feedback is most effective when it is balanced. This does not mean you give them the classic “feedback sandwich” — something good, something negative and something good. Most employees know that traditional management training recommends this approach — and they flinch when the manager gives them positive feedback because they know the “but” is coming. By balanced, I mean give positive feedback as often, if not more often, than you give corrective feedback.
  4. Timeliness of feedback has a direct correlation to the motivational value and the learning associated with the feedback. The closer you provide feedback to the actual result, the more effective that feedback is.
  5. Effective feedback is consistent. That means when you give feedback, you follow a repeatable process and your employees know what to expect. In fact, after a few iterations through your feedback process, they will be able to do it themselves. Here is such a process:

 

         State the objective and get the employee to agree that is their objective.

         Ask for their observation on how they are doing

         Give your observation of specific data related to the objective

         If this is corrective feedback, ask, “What are you going to do?” Stay away from “What can we do?”  You want them to own the action plan

         If the feedback is positive, then pursue how you could leverage this accomplishment for more visibility or opportunity for the employee.

         What help do you need from me

         Offer suggestions on how they can accomplish the objective

         Get them to summarize the action plan

         Set follow up meeting to discuss progress — to give them more feedback

         Ask them if there is anything else you they to know

         Encourage them

 

The Big Dogz know that by following this or a customized process like this one, your feedback skills will grow and you can help your employees become “perfect”.

 

Leading globally September 14, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, business strategy, Management, Team basics.
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p5130012.jpg Having problems leading a global team, or even a remote team in your own country? The Big Dogz know about leading global teams. Everything you know about leading teams that are co-located with you applies to global teams as well. All those things you do to create a vision that excites, objectives that are SMARTER,  an environment where people can choose to be motivated and a high performing team that achieves extraordinary results. Yes, all those things are also done with global teams.

 

The Big Dogz know that special attention must be paid to four specific areas to effectively lead a global team. These four areas are:

  1. Time
  2. Patience
  3. Technology
  4. Culture

 

Time is probably the most important aspect of leading a global team. As the leader, you must be aware of the time zone differences and specifically what time of day is it for your team members. Some folks are more productive in the morning, some in the afternoon and some in the evening. Asking your team to perform extraordinary results outside their prime time can result in underachievement. Another element of the time aspect is that it will naturally take longer to accomplish the same thing remotely as it does to accomplish that thing locally. Too many leaders fall into the trap of “I can do that announcement in a 10 minutes meeting here, it will take me 10 minutes on a global conference call — this is a recipe for disaster!

 

Since everything takes longer in global teams, the leader must have more patience. It is fine to ask for the same type of results in the same time period as local teams produce, but you will be frustrated and your team will think less of you. In other words, you will lose personal power! Expect the best, but do not show your frustration when you can not achieve your goals in the same time period. How do you demonstrate patience? If you are asking this question, you are not demonstrating patience. Be more relaxed with your global team and develop repeatable processes that will accelerate the results you expect. The first time you ask your global team to accomplish a result, they will try hard, but it will likely take more time and resource that you estimated. Learn from your interactions and set realistic expectations.

 

Global leadership is impossible without technology. Be aware of the latest in technology, especially video technology. Having meetings using a service like Live Meeting or Webex does wonders for getting clear understanding. Using webcams is becoming more prevalent for having face to face meeting across the globe. The effective use of voice mail, e-mail and team websites can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of the global team. The key is to match the technology to the communications. Use voice mail and email for the transmission of facts or announcements. Conference calls with Live Meeting for team problem solving is an effective technology selection. For sensitive face to face situations, use video conferencing or webcams.

 

Not everyone is like me is a principle that applies to the global situation. Wherever you are in the world, there is a culture around doing business. And, everyone where you are thinks that this culture is the best in the world! Well, it may be, I am not going to argue that point. I will tell you that others think as highly of their culture as you do of yours. When you are operating globally, you must create a team culture that is accepted by all members of the team. There will be a predominant culture based upon the country of origin of the company. In British Petroleum the core culture is British. In Toyota, the core culture is Japanese. You get the idea. The Big Dogz know that you must honor and acknowledge the local culture or you will not be successful. Find out key beliefs and practices of the local culture and incorporate them into your global team culture.

 

Off shore outsourcing and global teams was supposed to make us more competitive and more effective. If you do not follow these guidelines, global teams can become a huge headache for you rather than a solution to your global problems.

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.