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March 28, 2017

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Ep. 89: The Absolutely Vital Practice of Managers Giving Positive Feedbackby Zenger Folkman

Groundbreaking new research shows that most managers have some mistaken beliefs about the best kind of feedback to give their subordinates. Many favor giving negative or corrective feedback, believing that it does more good and has a lasting effect.

More than 1/3 of leaders avoid giving positive feedback, apparently believing that it doesn’t do that much good. They agree that it is easier to give, but still they avoid giving compliments and kudos to subordinates and colleagues.

Perhaps it starts with the perception that the really good managers are the tough graders, who are not afraid to tell people what’s wrong. Possibly they believe that giving people positive feedback will encourage a subordinate to let up or coast. Maybe they are emulating their prior bosses who gave little praise, but who pointed out any mistakes or weaknesses. Some may believe it a sign of weakness to praise subordinates. Finally, unfortunately, maybe many leaders just don’t know how to do it.

However, recent research exposes many vital reasons why positive feedback is extremely important and should not be neglected. Data analysis provides some surprising, and counter-intuitive data. Join Jack and Joe as they reveal the exciting findings of this recent study!

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March 22, 2017

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Ep. 88: Insights on Speed and Quality – A Conversation with Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkmanby Zenger Folkman

In this edition of the Zenger Folkman podcasts series, Cheryl Snapp Conner turns the table and interviews Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman to discuss their new book, Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution and the upcoming Zenger Folkman Speed workshops.

Cheryl Snapp Conner is a columnist, author, and speaker. She writes ongoing columns on business communications for Forbes and Inc. and authored the Forbes eBook, Beyond PR: Communicate Like a Champ in the Digital Age.

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eBook: Insights on Speed and Quality – A Conversation with Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkmanby Zenger Folkman

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In this edition of the Zenger Folkman podcasts series, Cheryl Snapp Conner turns the table and interviews Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman to discuss their new book, Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution and the upcoming Zenger Folkman Speed workshops.

March 16, 2017

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Beware: All May Not Be Well With Your Company’s High Potential Programby Zenger Folkman

Identifying high potential employees is a high priority for many companies. These individuals are the ones you will presumably count on to move to senior positions in the organization and ultimately enable to make the most important strategic decisions. They are the people you assume will possess strong leadership capability. In sum, they are the best and brightest, most capable, and highly motivated. So naturally, the company will groom them for positions of responsibility and power.

But what if companies are unclear about what they are seeking? Are these people all potential C-Suite executives? Or are they better aligned for one or two levels beyond their current role? But what if the organization is using the wrong yardstick to measure potential? Or worse still, what if you identify the wrong people?

My colleague Joe Folkman and I had our own concerns when we began analyzing data from three large, highly-respected organizations. Our analysis showed the following:

1. In a recent Harvard Business Review article we shared that more than 40% of individuals in Hi-Po programs may not belong there. We determined this by collecting information on 1,964 employees from three organizations who had identified these individuals as their high potential picks. We measured their leadership capability using a 360° feedback assessment that consists of feedback from their immediate managers, peers, direct reports and in some cases former colleagues or employees who had worked with them from two levels below them. On average, each leader had been given feedback from 13 assessors.We know this leadership assessment is a valid predictor of a leader’s effectiveness, because it has been highly correlated with organizational outcomes such as employee engagement, lower turnover and higher productivity in all three organizations. In fact, 12% of these individuals were in the bottom quartile and 42% were below average on their scores of overall leadership effectiveness. That is a long way from the top 5% to which they supposedly belong.

2. These individuals appeared to have been chosen primarily for current performance instead of long-term potential. In fact, we found three common characteristics these individuals possessed across all three organizations:

• Technical/Professional Expertise. Having deep knowledge and expertise goes a long way in terms of getting a person noticed and valued. When you are the only person with specific understanding and experience in an area, you are valuable to the organization.

• Takes Initiative and Delivers Results. When a person can be counted on to achieve objectives and deliver results they are viewed positively by senior leaders. When we asked more than 85,000 managers what was most important for their direct reports to do to be successful, their number one choice was “Drive for Results.” This was also the number one choice of secondary managers. Senior leaders in an organization appear to be willing to look beyond unproven leadership skills when they identify a person who consistently delivers results.

• Consistently Honored Commitments. When these people say, “It will be done,” it is done. Inevitably, this creates trust and a willingness to look beyond other skills that are not excellent.

In addition to these skills, we found that possession of a specific trait that fits well with the unique culture of the company and creates a positive impression is another factor that often plays a role in selection as a Hi-Po. One organization, for example, had a cultural trait of highly valuing “nice” people. Employees in this organization who showed high consideration and concern for others were often considered Hi-Po’s even though they lacked other leadership skills. Two of the organizations we examined valued people who would volunteer and become a champion for new programs or initiatives.

 

Read the article on Forbes.

March 14, 2017

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Ep. 87: Redefining Performance Management PART 3 – Insights from General Motors (feat. Kelly Kuras)by Zenger Folkman

In the last year many clients have taken a serious look at their performance management systems. Ask any manager or employee about their opinion of the performance review process and you will rarely hear any positive comments.

In this presentation, Jack and Joe are joined by Kelly Kuras, Sr. Manager of Talent and Organization Evaluation at General Motors, to share what they have done to redefine performance management in their organization.

While each organization will come to differing processes and systems, we will answer the question: “What are the few fundamental elements that are critical to make any performance management process successful?”

Watch the video recording of the entire webinar.

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March 7, 2017

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Ep. 86: Redefining Performance Management PART 2 – Insights from Celgene (feat. Maria Brennan and Crystal Zuckerman)by Zenger Folkman

In the last year many clients have taken a serious look at their performance management systems. Ask any manager or employee about their opinion of the performance review process and you will rarely hear any positive comments.

In this presentation, Jack and Joe are joined by Maria Brennan and Crystal Zuckerman, both Directors of Human Resources at Celgene, to share what they have done to redefine performance management in their organization.

While each organization will come to differing processes and systems, we will answer the question: “What are the few fundamental elements that are critical to make any performance management process successful?”

Watch the video recording of the entire webinar.

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March 2, 2017

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The 6 Key Secrets To Increasing Empowerment In Your Teamby Zenger Folkman

A few weeks ago I was sitting at a restaurant watching waiters step around some food that was spilled on the floor. This went on for almost 10 minutes before the restaurant manager came out with a mop and bucket to clean up the spill. I am fairly certain that cleaning the floors is not part of the restaurant manager’s job description.

The incident reminded me of how much I loved having dinner with my family when we had teenagers. As soon as they would finish their meals, they would excuse themselves and exit quickly from the dining room only to hear their mother say, “Pick up your dishes!”

As a manager, do you sometime feel your employees are acting like teenagers? They focus on their part of the job, but rarely identify the work around the edges or the messes that need to be cleaned up. What can you do to create more empowerment and accountability in your team so that team members move from talking about their work, their job and their goals to our work, our project and our objectives? What can you do to help avoid the never-ending excuse making when deadlines are missed and to have an employee acknowledge, “I missed the deadline; it’s all on me!” Having employees who feel accountable and empowered creates a much more pleasant and productive workplace.

To confirm the impact of empowerment, I looked at data from more than 7,000 employees where we measured empowerment along with employee engagement. Employees who felt a low level of empowerment were rated with engagement at the 24th percentile, whereas those with a high level of empowerment were at the 79th percentile. Clearly, empowerment counts.

Read the rest of the article on Forbes.

February 28, 2017

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Ep. 85: Redefining Performance Management PART 1 – 10 Recommendationsby Zenger Folkman

In the last year many clients have taken a serious look at their performance management systems. Ask any manager or employee about their opinion of the performance review process and you will rarely hear any positive comments.

In this podcast, we share the results of our own research and analysis about revamping performance management.

While each organization will come to differing processes and systems, we will answer the question: “What are the few fundamental elements that are critical to make any performance management process successful?”

Watch the video recording of the entire webinar.

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February 23, 2017

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Companies Are Bad at Identifying High-Potential Employeesby Zenger Folkman

A high-potential employee is usually in the top 5% of employees in an organization. These people are thought to be the organization’s most capable, most motivated, and most likely to ascend to positions of responsibility and power. To help these employees prepare for leadership roles in a thoughtful, efficient manner, companies often institute formal high-potential (HIPO) programs.

And yet, according to our data, more than 40% of individuals in HIPO programs may not belong there. We collected information on 1,964 employees from three organizations who were designated as high potentials, measuring their leadership capability using a 360-degree assessment that consisted of feedback from their immediate manager, several peers, all direct reports, and often several other individuals who were former colleagues or who worked two levels below them. On average, each leader had been given feedback from 13 assessors. Previous work we’d done with these organizations had shown that this assessment technique was highly correlated with organizational outcomes such as employee engagement, lower turnover, and higher productivity. The higher the leader scored, the better the outcomes.

But when we looked at the participants in the HIPO programs, 12% were in their organization’s bottom quartile of leadership effectiveness. Overall, 42% were below average. That is a long way from the top 5% to which they supposedly belong.

So how were these individuals chosen? What we found was that, in all three organizations, there were four characteristics that these individuals possessed:

  • Technical and professional expertise. It is often said that the person most likely to be promoted is the best engineer, chemist, programmer, or accountant. Having deep knowledge and expertise goes a long way in terms of getting a person noticed and valued. And it’s true that technical expertise does matter for managers. However, it’s essential to understand that what got you invited to the party is not enough to keep you at the party. People who are skilled technically but lack excellent leadership capabilities need to develop those skills.
  • Taking initiative and delivering results. Senior leaders in an organization were willing to look beyond poor leadership skills for a person who was consistently self-motivated and productive. Perhaps this is not surprising — when we asked over 85,000 managers what was most important for their direct reports to do to be successful, their number one choice was “drive for results.” Results do matter, but sometimes a top individual contributor should stay an individual contributor and not become the boss.
  • Consistently honoring commitments. When they say “It will be done,” it gets done. Inevitably, this creates trust in an individual and a willingness to look past other skills that are not excellent. There is no apparent downside to this skill until a person gets promoted and they become overwhelmed with too many assignments they have committed to achieving. We find that people who lack leadership skills don’t trust direct reports enough to delegate assignments and involve others. This leaves them drowning in commitments.
  • Fitting in to the culture of the organization. In addition to these skills, we found that underperforming people in HIPO programs tended to emphasize a specific trait valued by their organization. One organization, for example, had culture that placed a great deal of weight on being nice. Employees who showed consideration and concern for others would occasionally be considered HIPOs even though they lacked other leadership skills. The other two organizations valued people who volunteered for new programs or initiatives. People with that attitude were rewarded by being included in the HIPO program, even when they weren’t effective in other parts of their jobs. Paying attention to what is valued in an organization can help an individual get noticed.

We also noticed that the underperforming HIPOs were especially lacking in two skills: strategic vision and ability to motivate others. When filling their HIPO programs, organizations should look for people who show signs of having these skills — which are very important as you climb the organizational ladder — and not place quite so much emphasis on things like cultural fit and individual results.

For the organization, there are several risks to filling your HIPO program with people who don’t actually possess leadership potential. Leaders may well be lulled into assuming that they have an adequate leadership pipeline when in reality they have less than half the pipeline they thought. Just as bad, the organization may be missing out on the people who would make great leaders, even if they don’t fit the stereotype of a high-potential leader.

The situation is hardly any better for the people in the HIPO program who aren’t likely to flourish in senior management roles. These people may assume that their career is on track when in reality they may have been steered in a career direction that is less than ideal for them. These misplaced members of the HIPO group were often extremely effective individual contributors, even if they weren’t equipped for a senior role. These are people the organization wants to retain (which may be another reason they’d been funneled into the HIPO program — perhaps senior management has no more imaginative way to reward top contributors). When organizations push their top contributors into management roles in which they won’t thrive, however, they are running the risk of losing a top individual contributor and demotivating the people who are now reporting to an incompetent boss — and losing them as well.

But all is not necessarily lost. The underqualified people in the HIPO program who truly do aspire to senior positions in the organization should focus on learning and practicing the leadership skills required. We strongly believe that HIPOs with leadership deficiencies can eventually develop excellent skills, but the majority of those with poor skills don’t realize their deficiency. Being part of the HIPO program masks their shortcomings. So take an honest look in the mirror at what you need to learn.

As for the managers running the HIPO program and selecting people to be in it, we suggest they be a little more careful in whom they anoint.

Article was originally published on Harvard Business Review.

February 16, 2017

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eBook: The Power of Continuous Feedback (feat. Steffen Maier, Co-founder and CMO of Impraise )by Zenger Folkman

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Steffen Maier, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Impraise, joins Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman in this edition of the Zenger Folkman podcast series to discuss continuous feedback, its relationship to pay, and how it can replace annual performance reviews to open learning and development opportunities for individuals and help define their career paths. Impraise is a platform for actionable, timely feedback among managers and co-workers.

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