What we can change as managers vs what we can’t change

What causes a person to try their best? What causes a person to exceed their goals?

Internal factors: Good work ethic, cares about the company, enjoys the work…

External factors: Clear goals, conducive work environment, company culture, good fit for the role…

The internal factors can change, but usually only with a significant life event–a birth, death, serious illness, or a huge personal success. As managers, our job is to control the external factors (we don’t want to attempt to cause an event that could change the internal).

(Thanks to Jill Podolsky for this lesson last night in “Effective Employee Relations” class at UCSC Extension.)


Tips for giving corrective performance feedback

Recently, I was coaching a new manager at a local small business on giving corrective feedback, so I thought it would be helpful to repost this. A refresher course on corrective performance feedback can always be helpful! I would like to credit The Management Center of Washington, DC and the Conflict Resolution Center of Santa Cruz County for teaching me these skills.

*Arrange a time to talk. (Ideally as soon after the behavior as possible, while also making sure that you can talk privately without interruption.)

*State your intent–ideally a shared vision or a goal: “I want to make sure that we are leaving the best possible impression on our key funders and community members so that they remain engaged and active in our organization.”

*Describe the behavior you’ve observed in a short sentence: “I’ve noticed recently that you are having trouble communicating with key people in our organization and maintaining good relationships with them.”

*Provide 2-3 specific, concrete, relevant examples to support your feedback: “First, in the recent meeting with Gary, I noticed that you did not have many positive statements to contribute compared to the number of negative statements about his fundraising proposal, then I saw an email you sent to Mitchell (who you know is a very important donor) where you made a strong negative statement against his preferred location for our upcoming gala…”

Note: If you don’t have more than one example, consider whether this issue requires corrective action or whether the staff member has already learned the lesson on his or her own. You may approach this conversation differently if this is the first mistake and you suspect that the staff member recognizes his or her mistake already and is already working to improve.

*State the impact of the behavior on you, and as appropriate on your team, department, or organization: “If we were to lose Gary as a board member, and Mitchell as a major funder, we could potentially lose millions of dollars of funding, as well as their expert advice. Gary and Mitchell have had great advice for us in the past, and I really take their opinions seriously. I felt furious and then embarrassed when I saw that these two important people were not being treated with a high amount of respect for their ideas.”

*State what you would prefer instead: “I would like to see you offering the highest respect and putting your most positive self forward when interacting with outside people, so that we leave them with an excellent impression and so that we can continue to receive their advice and expertise.”

*Restate your shared vision or goal: “I know that we both care about the success of our organization, and the way that people perceive us is a big part of that.”

Here are some more tips for performance feedback and asking for change:


5 Things To Do Every Day for Success

What are five things you can do every day for success?

Fast Company Blogger Dayna Steele says:

1. Wake up early. For the next week, get up a half an hour earlier that you normally do–and get going. If you get a few more things done, then get up even earlier the next week. Early in the morning is a great time to get work done because most of your associates have not started emailing, tweeting, IMing, or posting yet.

2. Read the headlines and watch the news. Not only should you know what is going on in the world, you will also be the first to recognize opportunities (if you followed #1) for you and your business–long before the competition has even had their first cup of coffee.

3. Send something to one person who can hire you or buy your product–something you promised to follow-up with, a quick email with a link to something relevant or a “Hey, just checking in to see how thing are going” email.

4. Touch base with an old friend or associate you haven’t talked to in ages. Ask how they are, what are they working on and ask or suggest how you might help. You’ll make their day.

5. Write a handwritten note to someone. Seriously. It is a lost art and makes quite an impression. There is always someone you can send a thank you note to–or you aren’t doing things correctly.

You can do ANYTHING for 30 days

Today I bring you two pieces I’ve come across lately on the effects of temporary change. How many things in your life or in your job have you been wanting to try, to do, or to become?

Are you interested in the latest management technique but wary of its “fad-ness”?

Peter Bregman, strategic advisor to CEOs, writes in the Harvard Business Review:

“Process re-engineering? The one-minute manager? Management by objective? Guerrilla marketing? It’s easy to dismiss them all, and so many other ideas, as fads. Here one day, gone the next. Better not to get sucked into them in the first place. But, instead, consider how each “fad” might have been useful, perhaps in your organization, for a period of time. And that might be just fine. For something to be a great success, it doesn’t have to last forever. The challenge? Not thinking of any solution as a cure-all in the first place. Because when we think of something as a panacea, we ignore its weaknesses and negative side effects. And then, eventually, when the inevitable flaws are exposed, we lose faith in the solution completely. We discount any value it provided. Because it never lived up to our expectations, it never fully worked.”

Or maybe you have always wanted to bike to work, to go vegan, or to write a novel.

Matt Cutts, Google engineer and TED talker, urges us to: Why not try something new just for the next 30 days? 

What are you going to try for the next 30 days?