What Employees Want

I hope, particularly if you’re in a leadership position, that you don’t learn a thing from this post. That’s because you should already know everything in this post. It would be best if you learned it from the people you lead. It would be better than best if you learned it by asking them directly. 

But in case none of that is true, here we go. 

It’s a given that your people want a fair wage and decent benefits. When you determine what you can pay them it’s likely you do so based on what you can afford. They determine what they should be paid based on what they think is fair. You’ll likely have to meet in the middle but know that if you don’t you’ll have motivation and turnover issues galore. 

What you may not realize is that money alone is a pretty poor motivator. Once a person’s basic needs are met money becomes a “nice to have” not a “must have.”

More important than money is a future in the organization. The more defined that future is the better. Many people, especially people in the younger demographic groups, have left their companies during the Great Resignation precisely because they couldn’t see a future with their current companies. If you want engaged and committed employees then work with them to chart out potential opportunities for them within your organization. 

While employees may not go the extra mile for mere money they will give you extraordinary effort in return for earned recognition. The expectation of recognition on the part of employees who have earned it does not make them divas, it makes them human. 

Organizations with enthusiastically committed employees have systems in place to make recognition intentional. Haphazard recognition can be as bad as no recognition, especially for the unlucky individual who earned it and didn’t receive it. Don’t allow recognition to be a matter of luck in your organization. Be consistent in giving recognition and your people will be consistent in responding. 

Everyone needs to matter and everyone needs to know that they matter. The most effective way to show your employees that they matter is to listen to them. They have opinions and ideas about the organization and how it could be better. LISTEN to them. When employees determine that their voices aren’t being heard they disengage. If you want disengaged employees give them a check and ignore them. But don’t blame them, their lack of engagement is on you for failing to show them that they matter. 

They simple act of listening, really listening, to what your employees tell you is also a sign of respect, which is another thing employees crave. 

Finally, the big one. Employees want to know how they are doing. They want to know it more than once a year. They want to be crystal clear on exactly what is expected of them and how those expectations will be measured. Not knowing what is expected of them is the number one reason people give for being frustrated with their organizations. Most say they would rather be told they are performing poorly than being left to wonder what their boss thinks of their performance. 

I hope you knew all that already. But knowing and doing are two different things. It’s good to know what your people want, but you must provide it to them if you hope to have the kind of people who will help your organization grow. 

So they question isn’t did you know this stuff, the question is are you providing this stuff. 

Answer honestly or there’s no need to answer at all! 

On a another subject…I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can perhaps help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

The Problem With Job Descriptions

If I were King I would issue…guess I’m not sure what Kings issue, so I’d issue an order that permanently did away with job descriptions. Job descriptions are an outdated and ineffective method for describing the roles, responsibilities and desired outcomes from any position in a modern business. 

They are nothing more than a laundry list of tasks. They don’t explain the reason for the task. They don’t say anything about how a person’s effectiveness in doing the task will be measured. They don’t say anything about the desired outcomes as a result of successfully completing the task. 

Job Descriptions lead to one thing…the dreaded annual review. The only thing I’m unsure of is who dislikes the annual review process more, the reviewer or the individual being reviewed. 

Because there is no “depth” to a job description it is full of grayness. The reviewer says “you’re kinda lacking in this area” and the person being reviewed simply deflects the comment away with, “I disagree, I think I’m doing fine in that area. Job Descriptions may, not likely but may, help in hiring someone but they do nothing when it comes to helping develop the person who was hired. 

I’d replace the Job Description with a Position Results Description (PRD). The elements of PRD are a statement about what the position entails. It lists the Key Result Areas (KRA) that must be successfully accomplished for the job to have been done well. It lists EXACTLY how “well” will be measured. These measurements are called performance standards. 

When discussing the performance of an employee the PRD becomes the guiding document for the discussion. Because the performance standards for each KRA are so precise the “grayness” is gone. A PRD makes it crystal clear whether or not a Key Result Area was successfully accomplished. 

It is the precision of the performance standards that eliminates most of the emotion that happens in a performance review. Performance standards also make every coaching conversation more impactful. “You have to do better” is not effective coaching. 

When you have a PRD in place effective coaching sounds something like this. “You are doing well with your first two performance standards for your Key Result Area of Building Customer Relationships. Your effort with the 3rd standard of entering every customer contact into Salesforce by 4:30PM each day is lacking. Let’s talk specifically about how I can help you be more consistent with that performance standard.” 

Here’s why most people in Leadership Positions shy away from tools like a PRD…they require effort and intentionality. They require that the leader sees developing their people as an investment of their time rather than an expense of their time. 

Are you a leader who takes the easy way of using job descriptions or are you a leader who puts forth the effort to truly develop your people with documented and precise performance standards? 

To succeed in business today, and tomorrow, you need the right people in the right place at the right time. Job Descriptions do not help you do that. Position Results Descriptions do. Which one do you think you should be using? 

On a completely different subject…I’m trying something new out over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day,  people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing the kind of things I tweet and blog about. But the best part is I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does.

The Least Unqualified Person

A bunch of years ago I was managing a small training team within a much larger company. One of my team members accepted another position with the company in a different division. That left me with a position to fill, one in which there were no obvious internal candidates.

The person running the division I was in came to me with a “suggestion” on who could fill the position. The problem was he was completely unqualified for the position. When I pointed that out I was asked if anyone in the company was qualified for the position and my answer was “not that I’m aware of.” 

He replied, “so what’s the difference?” Just move “my guy” into the spot. When I pointed out that “his guy” was likely the least qualified of all the unqualified people he was okay with it. He said something along the lines of “since whoever we put in the role will likely not be qualified it might as well be his guy.” 

Luckily cooler, also likely smarter, heads above him prevailed and we found someone substantially more qualified to take the position. 

But how did we get to a place where putting a unqualified person in an important position was even considered?

We got there because I came up woefully short in a key responsibility of leadership. I had not been developing, looking or even considering who would fill the positions I managed if any of the people occupying them left, for whatever reason. I was like the vast majority of managers; I didn’t think much about a position until I had to fill it and that lack of forethought was expensive.

Waiting for a position to open before developing people to move up in your organization can be, and usually is, a very costly mistake. Effective leaders are always thinking ahead. They consider the “what ifs” at every level of their organizations.

We saw the benefit of having good “what if” strategies when the pandemic started. I don’t know how many organizations were fully prepared for that. I do know the ones who had thought out and prepared for the unexpected were clearly better off. 

Think about the key people in your organization. Do you realize that any of them, for a variety of reasons, could be gone tomorrow? What would you do then? You NEED to know and you’ll be a whole lot better off if you know before it happens. 

I asked about the key people in your organization because if you don’t have a succession plan for them it’s very unlikely you have one for anyone else in your organization. That will come back to bite you in places you don’t want to be bit. 

Have you identified the next generation of leaders in your organization? Do you have a plan in place to develop them. I mean a real plan. A couple of canned Leadership training courses a year won’t get it done. 

You need a well thought out, consistent, long-range plan. If you don’t always have people in your developmental pipeline then one day you’ll end up having a discussion about who is the least unqualified person to move up in your organization. 

Trust me on this…you won’t enjoy that conversation.

On a completely different subject…I’m trying something new over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day,  people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing the kind of things I tweet and blog about. But the best part is I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does.

How to Spot an Authentic Servant Leader

In 2002 Pastor Rick Warren wrote an outstanding book entitled “The Purpose Driven Life.” I will always remember the very first sentence in the book… “It’s not about you.”

Every Authentic Servant Leader I’ve ever met, and I’ve been fortunate to meet a few, lived their leadership according to that simple sentence. They intentionally keep the focus on the accomplishments of the people they lead. They don’t simply share credit for success, they humbly give it all away. 

Authentic Servant Leaders measure their success by the success of their people. The goal of an Authentic Servant Leader is to grow people, to help them be “better” in every way a person can be better. 

They invest a piece of themselves in every person they lead. The do not prejudge anyone. They recognize that every individual has strengths and gifts. They work to make certain that their people are in positions where they can use their strengths. They do not set their people up to fail. 

Authentic Servant Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. They come in all colors and they can be a man or a woman. They can be old or young. They can come from the finest of formal educations or have a completely informal education. An Authentic Servant Leader could be almost anyone. But they are still easy to spot. 

You know one when you see one because they are they ones who through every word, every action and every interaction SHOW that they understand, without a doubt, that their leadership is not about them. It’s is always and only about the people they lead. 

If you aspire to be an Authentic Servant Leader then always always keep in mind, “It’s not about you.”

Cascading Leadership

I have written many times about the importance of a leadership “down line.” What that means is, as important as leadership is at the top of the organization it is every bit as important at other levels of an organization. 

The leader at the top of an organization can be a very Authentic Servant Leader but in many organizations, especially large organizations, their leadership must be carried to other levels of the organization by their leadership team. If the team is not made up of effective leaders then the message, and likely the culture, of the organization does not reach very far.

That’s what it’s so important to have effective leadership spread out at every level. The vast majority of leadership comes from the middle of the organization, not the top. The top leadership may set the tone but if mid level leaders can’t carry the tune the broader workforce never hears it. 

Leadership cascades down through the organization. Poor mid level leaders act as a dam that stops the flow of Authentic Leadership. It has been said many times by many people that employees quit their managers, not their companies. That is absolutely true. That’s why even organizations with solid leadership at the top continue to lose key employees.  Employees who could be the future of their organizations. 

It has perhaps never been more important that organizations identify their key employees. They must make certain that they are being led by an Authentic Leader and not being managed by someone who merely holds a leadership position. 

Quality employees will no longer settle for being managed. They insist on being led, as well they should. 

If you’re a leader at the top of your organization then you need to ensure that your future “stars” are working under someone who understands the difference between trying to manage someone and actually leading them. 

Your “stars” need to be nurtured, challenged and informed. They need a leader who can mentor them, help them grow and set forth for them, a clear and obtainable career path. 

As a leader, you can stop the Great Resignation or whatever the heck you want to call it in it’s tracks. But to do so you must make certain that you have authentic leadership throughout your organization. You must especially be certain that your stars, who are the future leaders of your organization are being led and not managed. 

The next time you’re considering the effectiveness of your leadership be sure to consider whether you have “dams” that are blocking your leadership from reaching everyone in your organization. 

That’s important because if everyone can’t feel your leadership then your leadership may be more limited than you think. 

The Time to Lead

Leading people is not easy. Especially when compared to managing things. There are management processes and standard work practices. Both are predictable, you do certain things, you get a known outcome as a result. 

But people can’t be managed, they must be led. When leading people there are few predictable outcomes. People will always surprise you. We can’t know for certain how people will react in various circumstances until we see them react. Just because they acted in a particular way does not guarantee they will act the same way when they are in similar circumstances. 

That can make leading people a significant challenge. It can also make leading people very rewarding. Authentic Leadership helps people grow and develop. It frequently helps ordinary people achieve extraordinary results. It turns followers into leaders. 

The challenge of actually leading people is what causes many people in leadership positions to attempt to manage their people. Attempting to manage people causes an entire host of problems. In fact most of the personnel “problems” that an HR department deals with are a result of a person being managed rather than led. 

The employee may be labeled a “problem employee” when in reality it could well be a leadership issue. 

People in leadership positions who don’t actually lead quickly become frustrated with their people. They don’t understand why people won’t respond in predictable patterns. They give the same direction to 5 different people and they get 5 different results. They are also unlikely to understand their own role in the 5 different results. 

If you’re in a leadership position and you’re struggling with the performance of your people you first have to consider your role in their performance. You need to accept the fact that their performance is at least partly related to your effectiveness in leading them. If you have someone in your organization who is underperforming then there are two possible “root causes.” One, you hired the wrong person or you put them in the wrong role. Two, you are not providing them with the skills and tools they need to succeed. Either way, you must own that. 

You must also consider how you “see” your people. Are your people an expense or an investment. When you are attempting to coach an underperforming team member do you think “I’m going to have to SPEND time ON that person to get them up to speed.” Or do you think to yourself, “I have an opportunity to INVEST time WITH that person to help them reach the potential I see in them.” 

The difference in that mindset will shape every conversation with your team. Your people will pick up on that attitude and they will respond accordingly. If you believe your people are a problem then I can almost guarantee you that your people will be a problem. 

Leading people, Authentically Leading them, will take an investment of time. Often a substantial investment. If you don’t have the time to truly lead then you are doing your people and your organization a disservice by occupying a leadership position. You may want to stick with managing things because it could be that people just aren’t for you. 

Are You a Sales Manager or a Sales Leader?

If you’re responsible for the sales team in your organization I hope you understand the difference between managing your sales team and leading them. I also hope you’re doing both. 

But it’s very likely you’re only doing one of them and that the one you’re doing is managing. 

That’s because somewhere in the neighborhood of 99% of Sales Managers were promoted to Sales Manager because they were excellent salespeople. When they were promoted they were told to manage the sales team. No one ever said a word about leading them. 

Most Sales Managers manage their sales teams the same way they were managed. If their manager happened to also be a leader then they may do some leading. But for the most part Sales Managers just manage and don’t even realize they aren’t leading. 

Solid sales management is essential for a steady consistent growth in sales. But the only path to explosive sales growth is leadership. I have seen company after company invest millions of dollars over years and years to develop their sales team.  All while spending virtually nothing, or actually nothing, to develop their sales leaders. 

I guess that’s not surprising considering somewhere between 70-80% of people in leadership positions have less than 1 hour of formal leadership training during their careers. That’s less than 1 hour, as in 60 minutes. It’s like buying one car after another without an engine and wondering why none of them get you anywhere. 

Some organizations have managers who can’t lead and some have leaders who can’t manage. So long as an organization has both they can do just fine. But the most successful organizations have managers who can lead and leaders who can manage. They understand the difference between the two and move seamlessly back and forth. 

But for a person in a Sales Management role to be effective they MUST be both manager and leader. 

As a Sales Manager they define territories, they set quotas, they hold people accountable, (as do Sales Leaders) they analyze numbers and help put deals together. They manage the “stuff” that goes into selling. 

A Sales Leader is focused on the people who sell and frequently on the people who buy. They are the motivator that salespeople need. They are the coaches they wish they had when they were actively selling. They teach, they listen, and most of all they show they care about the people on the front lines of selling. Their salespeople. They lead the people in selling.

To any company looking to train their salespeople I would say it’s one of the best investments you can make in your organization. But I’d also say don’t forget your sales leaders. Investing in real leadership training for your sales leaders is a force multiplier that pays dividends year after year. 

Or you can sit in your bright shiny new engineless car and wonder what’s over that next horizon.