Zenger Folkman blog

March 6, 2014

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70% Of Workers Aren’t Engaged — What About The Managers?by Joe Folkman

forbes_logoWe recently read Gallup’s 2013 report on employee engagement, which reports that seven out of 10 workers in America are either actively disengaged or not engaged in their work. It triggered several questions, and one of the most basic is this: “Are we turning the spotlight on the right people?”

As an aside, we confess some deep seated skepticism about this number.  That stems from the fact that our own data on employee engagement diverge significantly from those of Gallup.  Our numbers suggest that there are roughly twice as many engaged employees.  Secondly, all HR executives with whom we talk believe they have evidence that far more than 30% of their workforce is engaged.  Finally, our personal experience with a wide variety of workers does not support this dismal view of the American work force.  But let’s put aside debate about the exact number of engaged employees or engaged managers and use the Gallup data to focus on the most important issues. …Continued on Forbes.com.


February 27, 2014

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Individual Contributors Are ‘Forgotten Leaders’: Are You Developing Them Well?by Jack Zenger

forbes_logoThe efficiency and long-term health of the organization depends on how its leaders perform. Every year organizations spend thousands of dollars developing managers and directors to make them more effective as leaders. But are some individuals overlooked because of their titles? (In a recent HBR blog we discussed the peculiar paradox within the workplace between position and contribution.)

Anyone who has worked in an organization knows a person’s position does not always define their contribution, nor does it give an indication of the person’s true influence on others.  People with titles are not always influential, nor do they make major contributions to the organization’s success.  Conversely there are some people without a managerial title who wield a good deal of influence and make great contributions, regardless of their title or role. They meet what we believe are the ultimate criteria for true leaders. … Continued on Forbes.com.


February 19, 2014

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‘Should I Tell You The Good News First?’ The Feedback Employees Most Want To Hearby Joe Folkman

forbes_logoYou have just completed your big presentation for your project at work that has taken months to complete. Finally you can heave a sigh of relief. That is until you see your boss walking toward you looking for a chance to give you some feedback. What is she going to say? Or maybe the better question is, what do you want to hear?  In a recent Harvard Business Review blog we invited participants to weigh in on a feedback survey that uncovered their preferences for giving and receiving positive and negative feedback.  More than 900 people from various parts of the world participated. The results included some surprising outcomes. If you would like to take the survey yourself, click HERE. Having your own results in hand will provide you with added insight as you read the rest of this blog. …Continued on Forbes.com.


February 6, 2014

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6 Ways To Maximize Short Work Interactionsby Jack Zenger

forbes_logoThe life for a manager inside an organization has an unrelenting pace, with very few occasions where there is uninterrupted time. As a result, relationship building and development opportunities may fall by the wayside or become superficial due to the enormity of managerial time constraints.  In 1980, Henry Mintzberg authored a book called The Nature of Managerial Work.  In it, he noted that managerial activity was characterized by its enormous variety, that it consisted of a series of relatively brief interactions, and that it was incredibly fragmented.  He observed that phone calls averaged less than 6 minutes.  Typical “one-on-one” meetings averaged 12 minutes.  If Mintzberg were to repeat that research today, most of us would guess that phone calls and meetings have grown more frequent, conversations are even shorter, and the pace has become more hectic still. I doubt most leaders can find half-hours of uninterrupted time in their day. … Continued on Forbes.com.


January 30, 2014

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In 2014 Are You Fixing Your Weakness, Or Building Your Strength? Here’s What Matters Mostby Joe Folkman

forbes_logoHow many of your New Years resolutions are focused on fixing a weakness? Most employees and leaders are disturbingly preoccupied with fixing what’s wrong. In our research we have found that 70-80% of leaders and employees will benefit more by improving what they are doing right. Maybe the term “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” has altered our view of the worth of improving our strengths. What is the value of building strengths versus fixing weaknesses?

When Jack Zenger and I discovered that what made leaders great was the presence of strengths and not the absence of weaknesses, it fundamentally shifted our view about how leaders can improve. Our efforts to make leaders better had been primarily focused on fixing weaknesses. As we teach people about this research on building strengths, many have an “ah ha” experience that reinforces their intuition that it’s our strengths that make us successful. …Continued on Forbes.com.


January 20, 2014

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Just Tell Me! 5 Strategies For Giving Difficult Feedbackby Jack Zenger

forbes_logoImagine you’re walking down the hall and your boss is coming toward you.  As you get a few feet apart, the boss says, “Could you come into the office for a few minutes?  I’ve got some feedback for you.”  First, what’s your knee-jerk reaction?  Are you eagerly looking forward to this conversation, or is your first thought, “I wonder what’s gone wrong that would trigger this?” You proceed to your bosses’ office and he tells you about a conversation with a customer who said extremely positive things about you during a recent meeting.  Your racing heart and sweaty palms were totally unnecessary. … Continued on Forbes.com.


January 15, 2014

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Your Employees Want the Negative Feedback You Hate to Giveby zengerfolkman

hbr-logoWould you rather hear positive feedback about your performance or suggestions for improvement?

For the last two weeks, we’ve been compiling data on this question, and on people’s general attitudes toward feedback, both positive and corrective. So far we’ve collected it from 899 individuals, 49% from the U.S. and the remainder from abroad. Before we tell you what we found, we suggest you take the same assessment here so you can put our findings within your own personal context. … Continued on Harvard Business Review.


December 27, 2013

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The High Price Of Aloof Leadershipby Jack Zenger

forbes_logoThere’s a common belief about leaders’ necessity to maintain a distance between themselves and the rest of the organization.  The idea traces back to the military, where an officer might be called upon to send subordinates into grave danger; and the assumption was that being too psychologically close could make that responsibility extremely difficult.

From data we’ve collected from more than 50,000 leaders and roughly a quarter million of their subordinates, we’ve seen a very clear pattern.  Leaders with warm, close relationships with their subordinates are consistently seen in a much more positive light by all of their colleagues.  Where we’ve been able to match that behavior with business outcomes, they are also the consistent winners.  They produce high customer satisfaction, superior employee commitment and engagement, higher sales revenue and ultimately higher profits for their organization. …Continued on Forbes.com.


December 19, 2013

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The Best Gift Leaders Can Give: Honest Feedbackby Joe Folkman

forbes_logoRecently I was speaking to a large group of leaders and asked them the following question: How many of you would like your manager to tell you what you want you want to hear rather than what you need to hear? Not one person raised their hand. Everyone wants to know the truth, no matter how difficult it is to hear.  But even though we want to hear honest and direct feedback, we generally don’t look on those occasions with much joy or pleasure. …Continued on Forbes.com.


December 16, 2013

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Overcoming Feedback Phobia: Take the First Stepby Zenger Folkman

hbr-logo-smYou’re sitting at your desk when an e-mail pops up from your boss that cryptically states, “Please come to my office; we need to talk.” What’s the first thing you think?

For most people it’s, “Oh no – what did I do now!” or “Good gosh, what went wrong!” Of course it is possible that your boss wants to praise you, ask your opinion on something, or just discuss an issue, but the vast majority of people will assume they’re being called in to be called on the carpet for something or another. This assumption causes many people to avoid feedback all together — and not just those whose bosses actually do criticize them a lot or those who are  insecure about their performance. Generalized “feedback phobia” is widespread. … Continued on Harvard Business Review.


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