Monday, January 4, 2010

Personal MBA Update - First Break All The Rules

First Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman - Going against the status quo is a fairly prevalent cliche that is easy to latch onto and the study of management is no exception. However First Break All The Rules parades the anti-establishment management flag based at least in part on the largest Gallup poll results on management ever undertaken. Although the field is generally viewed as more of an art than a science the useful guidelines and anecdotes are based on hard data taken from thousands of managers at numerous companies across the globe. Although I am considered rather green or wet behind the ears in my career journey, I still took quite a bit from this book. I don't manage a division or have 300 plus direct reports, but I feel that management is more a study of interpersonal skills and organizational habits that we all can learn from. There were definitely some parts that I could not relate to at all, but that is not to say I will never encounter similar situations or apply those lessons to other situations. One surprisingly useful discovery within this book was the introspective nature of the material. The way the book was written had me looking at my life to see if I was surrounded by effective managers, by a high performing organization, and with people who were happy. Furthermore it offered the right line of questioning to evaluate whether or not a position is good for my unique set of talents and behaviors. Definitely some interesting stuff that is value added not only for those seeking to be better managers, but for those seeking to make sure that they are positioned most effectively to exploit their unique makeup. Here are my notes from the book:

- The greatest managers in the world do not have much in common but they do have one thing; Before they do anything else they first break all the rules of conventional wisdom.

The Measuring Stick:
- Like the disaster of Britain's ships at the Scilly Isles, many businesses suffer from an inability to measure what they know is critically important
- No one has figured how to measure attracting and keeping talented people
- Intellectual capital is becoming more important and valued
- Gallup interviewed over a million employees and came up with 12 questions measuring the strength of the workplace:
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work do I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday?
4. In the last 7 days have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone who encourages my development?
7. At work do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
9. Are my coworkers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend a work?
11. In the last 6 months has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This year have I had opportunities to learn and grow?
- Questions contain an extreme like "best" or "everyday"
- No questions w/pay, benefits, senior management, organizational structure. There were but they disappear during analysis. Not unimportant but equally important. The questions above are the real discriminators
- Asked companies for scores measuring 1. productivity 2. profitability 3. employee retention 4. customer satisfaction
- Compared the 12 questions to the 4 business measurements to see if there is a correlation
1. There is a link between employee opinion and business unit performance 2. The immediate manager had the most impact on employee opinion
- All 12 questions were linked to at least 1 business outcome
- 10 of 12 questions were linked to productivity, 8 of 12 to profitability, 5 of 12 to employee retention
- Most powerful questions had strongest links to the most business outcomes
- 6 most powerful:
1. Do I know what is expected of me?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work do I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday?
4. In the last 7 days have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone who encourages my development?
- Mountain Climbing: Why is there an order to the 12 questions?
- Base camp: What do I get?
1. Do I know what is expected of me?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
-Camp 1: What do I give?:
3. At work do I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday?
4. In the last 7 days have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone who encourages my development?
- Camp 2: Do I belong here?:
7. At work do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
9. Are my coworkers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend a work?
- Camp 3: How can we all grow?:
11. In the last 6 months has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This year have I had opportunities to learn and grow?
- Base camp and camp 1 is where you should focus your time and energy as a manager. If lower level needs aren't met everything else is irrelevant

The Wisdom of Great Managers:
- Frog and Scorpion parable
- Each person is true to their unique nature. There is a limit to how much remolding you can do to someone
- The great managers don't bemoan the differences they capitalize on them. They try to help each person become more of who they already are.
- People don't change that much. Don't waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.
- "Smart individual performers keep getting moved into manager positions without the slightest idea of what the manager role is, let alone the ability to play it. We send them off to one of these leadership development courses, but they come back more impressed with their mini executive status than with the day to day challenges of being a good manager. No one knows what being a good manager is anymore."
- The manager is the "catalyst" role
- 4 activities a manager must do extremely well: 1. select a person 2. set expectations 3. motivate the person 4. develop the person
- Those four activities say what great managers do but not how
1. Select for talent - not just experience, intelligence and determination
2. Define the right outcomes - not the right steps
3. Focus on strengths not weaknesses
4. Find the right fit - not the next rung on the ladder

The First Key: Select For Talent:
- Normally we associate talent only with celebrated excellence. Talent seems to be a rare and precious thing bestowed on special far away people
- Great managers disagree with this definition of talent
- Talent is a recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied. Your talents are behaviors you find yourself doing often
- Every role performed at excellence requires talent because it requires recurring patterns of thought feeling or behavior
- Most managers select for experience, intelligence, or determination. Talent if mentioned at all is an afterthought
- The right talents are the prerequisites for excellence
- The way you filter the earths stimuli is largely the source of your talents
- People get the same stimuli, produce different reactions and therefore have varying degrees of performance
- Great manager mantra pg 79
- Neuroscience confirms what great managers know. Peoples filters and the recurring patterns of behavior it creates, is enduring. In the most important ways people are permanently wonderfully unique, So are you. So are the people you hire.
- Great managers are not troubled by the fact that there is a limit to how much people can change. It is happy confirmation that people are different.
- There is no point wishing away individuality. It is better to nurture it and help someone understand their filter and to channel it towards productive behavior
- Skills, knowledge, and talents are distinct elements of a persons performance
- Skills are the how to's
- Knowledge is what you are aware of: 1. the factual things you know 2. experiential things you have picked up along the way
- 3 kinds of talents:
1. Striving - is the why of a person. Why they get out of bed everyday. Why are they motivated to push etc.
2. Thinking - the how of a person. How they think, how they weigh alternatives, how they make decisions etc.
3. Relating - the who of a person. Whom they trust, who they build relationships with, who they confront and ignore etc.
- None of this implies a person cannot change. Everyone can change and learn and get better. The language of skills knowledge and talents simply helps the manager identify where radical change is possible and where it is not!
- Two of the most pervasive management myths:
1. Talents are rare and special - everyone has recurring patterns of behavior. The talent alone isn't special, it is the matching of talent with the role that is special.
2. Some roles are so easy they don't require talent - Great managers do not believe that their filter is common to everyone. They're wired to believe that people are wired to excel at a role and will derive satisfaction from doing it well
- Peter Drucker said, "Even today, remarkably few Americans are prepared to select jobs for themselves. When you ask, 'Do you know what you are good at? Do you know your limitations?' they look at you with a blank stare. Or they often respond in terms of subject knowledge, which is the wrong answer."
- Know what you are looking for. Study your best.
- John Wooden said, "No matter how you total success in the coaching profession, it all comes down to a single factor - talent. There may be a hundred great coaches of whom you have never heard of in basketball, football, or any sport who will probably never receive the acclaim they deserve simply because they have not been blessed with the talent. Although not every coach can win consistently with talent, no coach can win without it."
- Talent is only potential. It takes great managers to turn talent to performance.

The Second Key: Define the Right Outcomes:
- Managers have less control than those they manage. They cannot do anything. They motivate influence etc. They have remote control.
- Their dilemma: The manager must retain control and focus people on performance but they are bound by the belief that they cannot force everyone to perform in the same way
- The solution: define the right outcomes and let each person find their own way to get their
- There is a strong temptation for managers to try and control and implement one best way
- The managers challenge is not to perfect people but to capitalize on each persons uniqueness
- Rules of thumb:
1. Don't break the bank - employees mus follow the required steps that deal with accuracy or safety
2. Standards rule - must follow required steps that are company or industry standards
3. Don't let the creed overshadow the message - required steps are only useful if they don't obscure the desired outcome
4. There are no steps leading to customer satisfaction - Required steps only prevent dissatisfaction they cannot drive customer satisfaction
Level I - customers expect accuracy
Level II - they expect availability
Level III - they expect a partnership. They want you to be listened to and responded to and to feel they are on the same side of the fence as you
Level IV - they expect advice. The feel closest to organizations that help them learn
- Focusing on outcomes is one thing but now do you know what are the right outcomes for your customers?
1. What is right for your customers - customers define value
2. What is right for your company - are outcomes in line with your strategy
3. What is right for the individual - go from players to playbook and not the other way

The Third Key: Focus on Strengths:
- Focus on each persons strengths and manage their weaknesses. Help people become more of who they are
- If you want to turn talent into performance you have to position each person so you are paying them to do what they are naturally wired to do. You have to oust them into the right role
- It is not treat others as you would want to be treated. Manage by exception. Treat others how they want to be treated
- Spend the most time with your best people. Your role is to turn talent into performance
- If you are paying less attention to your stars you are encouraging them to change their behavior to get noticed and those behaviors are what made them stars to begin with
- The fairest thing to do is treat everyone differently
- Don Shula on fairness, "I am going to be very consistent with every one of you because Ill treat every one of you differently. That's the way it is. The harder a guy works, the better he performs, and the more he meets my guidelines, the more leeway he is going to have with me. By the same token, if a guy doesn't work very hard for me or if hes not a very good player, hes not going to be around for very long."
- You learn from top performers
- Top performers have the most room for growth. Don't be held back by focusing on the average. Focus on excellence
- This does not mean that poor performance should be ignored. Just consider what is causing it
- A non talent is something that somebody doesn't possess. It can become a weakness when a person is in a role that requires that non talent
- Devising a support system is more productive and fun than trying to fix weaknesses. It allows you to focus on strengths and manage weaknesses.
- Find a business partner whose peaks match your valleys
- If all else fails you may have made a casting error and you must find the person an alternative role

The Fourth Key: The Right Fit:
- Every manager is eventually asked "where do I go from here" by employees looking to grow, earn more, get more prestige etc. What is the right answer?
- There is no right answer just a right way to approach the question. Help each person find the right fit
- The Peter Principle states that we promote up to a persons level of incompetence
- Create heroes in every role. Everyone climbing mindlessly to ever decreasing rungs is not productive or realistic
- Some roles performed excellently are more valuable that roles up the ladder performed averagely
- Broadbanding overlaps pay scales and promotes excellence at the current position
- Perform creative acts of revolt to reward excellence
- Acquiring varied experiences is important but peripheral to a healthy career. It is an accessory but not a driving force
- Self discovery is the driving guiding force for a healthy career
- Sunday night blues test. If you feel that stab of depression at the end of the weekend ask why? If not ask why?
- Managers should be the mirror to help discovery by constant feedback, reviews and goals
- Managers can level the playing field by creating heroes, designing levels of achievement, and broadbanding so decisions are made based more on talents and non talents vs money prestige
- Phil Jackson "Athletes aren't the most verbal breed. That's why bare attention and listening without judgement are so important."

Turning the Keys: A Practical Guide:
- The art of interviewing for talent:
1. Make sure the talent interview stands alone. Leave out pay and other details. Make sure the patterns of thought, feelings, and behavior match the job
2. Ask a few open ended questions and try to keep quiet. Let them reveal themselves to you. Believe what they say no matter what that reveals
3. Listen for specifics. The details are less important than the top of the mind simplicity with which they recall them. Specifics and top of mind will reveal recurring talents
4. Clues to talent. People are complex so you cant predict perfectly but listen for clues to the talents they have. A. rapid learning B. Satisfactions
5. Know what to listen for. Know how the best people respond and use those responses as differentiators
- Use performance management routine that is simple uses frequent interaction and focuses on the future and has employees track their own performance and learning
- Routine page 225
- What great managers expect of every talented employee: Look in the mirror any chance you get, muse, discover yourself, build your constituency, keep track, catch your peers doing something right
- What can you do if you work for someone who is not a great manager:
1. If they are too busy schedule a performance meeting for them
2. If they force you to do things their way set up a meeting to set performance outcomes
3. If they praise at inappropriate times bring it up in performance meeting
4. If they constantly ask how you are doing or intrude schedule a meeting on your time
5. If they ignore distrust take credit blame or disrespect then get out from under them
- How to break through conventional wisdom barricades:
1. Keep focus on outcomes
2. Value world class performance in every role
3. Study your best
4. Teach the language of great managers

1 comment:

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