Speaking of Strategy Blog - Larry Mietus - "Leadership Larry"


Leadership Moving Forward

Anyone who follows the evolution of leadership knows that the theories surrounding it are fluid. There are times when the theories of leadership are generally accepted around the globe and the practice of leadership (especially in business) goes relatively unchanged except for a few subtle tweaks here and there. Those tweaks are often fueled by a best-selling book, a university study or a viral video. Now that the world is immersed in the harsh physical and economic realities of the COVID-19 pandemic DO NOT expect the theories or practices of leadership to go unchanged. Change has been thrust upon us all and there is real pressure for leaders to adopt new ways of thinking,communicating, deciding and caring as we look forward to leading in the post COVID-19 world.

It has often been said that leadership is a lonely place. My contention has always been that leadership is only a lonely place if you allow it to be. If you separate yourself from the followers, the workers, the stakeholders, the shareholders, the partners and the collaborators.

Given the challenges driven by the pandemic the current loneliest place may actually be occupied by the followers. Staggering numbers of people who are fortunate enough to not be laid off or furloughed find themselves working remotely (myself included). Although there has certainly been a rapid migration to technology solutions that enable us to keep working, the true sense of camaraderie and collegiality are simply not the same as they used to be. People are working hard from home with many working longer hours than they did when they physically went to that place called work. You simply can’t engage in water cooler chatter, management by walking around or even pull a friendly prank through a webinar.

For leaders the “C” in “C suite” may now stand for couch, closet or closest place you can find that allows you to clear your head, communicate with your team and run your business. I’ve always taught and coached that as you climb the proverbial “ladder of leadership” you need to know less about policies, procedures, plans and pricing and a lot more about PEOPLE! In my opinion people are the greatest resource that any business (or any community for that matter) has.

So, to the leaders who feel they’ve reached the corporate summit of success and to those of you “climbing the ladder” take note:

  • Your way of thinking may have to change…about almost everything! From what products or services your company provides, to how many locations you have, and your trust and confidence that your team can and will get the work done perhaps with a lot less guidance.
  •  Your way of communicating most likely already has changed. How often you communicate, with whom you communicate, what messages you communicate and through what modality you communicate should all be carefully considered.
  •  Your way of deciding may have to change. Many of you are now making (perhaps for the first time in your leadership careers) what are known as category 2 decisions. Those are the types of decisions that may not have any historical reference points, involve higher levels of risk and involve greater utilization of resources such as people, time and money. These are potentially mission critical decisions. The ones that make you uncomfortable. The ones that keep you up at night. The ones that define us as people and leaders. If you are used to making decisions in a vacuum I suggest that you seek input from trusted peers, advisors, colleagues, staff and family members. There may be too much at risk to make decisions with the only opinion being yours.
  •  Your way of caring may have to change. If you haven’t put people first in the past now would be a great time to embrace that concept. If you are already a people-focused servant leader I’m sure there is still room for personal growth. We all may need to re-evaluate what our priorities are. Talk is still cheap. Actions continue to speak louder than words.

Be Safe! Be Healthy! Be Positive!

Change Management Tips for creating an effective change management process: * Build a culture that expects change and thrives on it. This is an extremely difficult to do. Research has proven that true cultural change in organizations takes anywhere from 24 - 36 months to take hold. * Consistency is the key. Leaders in organizations need to walk and talk change EVERY day. If not, the message(s) become the "flavor of the month". Those messages fall on deaf ears and are soon forgotten. * Everyone in the organization is responsible for change. It's not just the job of ownership or an ad hoc committee. Team members need to look at what they do every day and reflect on changing policies, procedures and processes. It helps immensely to get input from your customers, clients, patients etc. They know what changes they'd like to see! * Teach your team the psychology of change: Forming, storming, norming, performing and (sometimes) adjourning. This way they'll know why they feel the way they do about change and they'll realize that their feelings are actually quite normal. * Tie some measurable metrics (Key Performance Indicators) to your change initiatives. This allows people to know if the changes implemented are having a positive effect or how they might alter the changes to achieve desired results. * RECRUIT to your change culture! Look for individuals who have been change agents in their prior roles. ADVERTISE the fact that your organization thrives on driving change. * NEVER criticize anyone for their ideas. We want all ideas from all parties. Collectively the group can figure out which change initiatives are actionable and affordable. * DON'T tell the organization what you would do to change things and then ask them for their input. That approach gets you exactly what you articulated. Instead, solicit the input from the team, dose your thoughts into the mix afterwards and collectively decide how to move forward. * CELEBRATE effective change! Advice for dealing with resistance to change in an organization: * Be patient. Change is probably the greatest personal and professional fear that most people have. * Nurture change daily. Walk it, talk it and make it an expectation. * Keep teaching. Don't assume that your associates understand all of "the moving parts" of your company. Adults (unlike children) are not comfortable admitting to what they don't know. People can't suggest change if they don't have a base understanding of how things already work. * Speak privately with the individuals who are resisting change. They may not be comfortable discussing their concerns in an open forum. They may think they don't have enough education, experience or authority to drive change. * DON'T GIVE UP! Once the culture shifts and is rooted in change (no going back to the way things used to be) the naysayers often self select themselves out of the organization.


Hire for Passion, Protect the Culture! - by Larry Mietus

Hiring is currently a major challenge for businesses no matter what size they are, what sector they operate in or who they serve.  The labor market is tight. The economy  is good and unemployment rates remain low. It's an "employee market" given that people aren't willing to change jobs for a lateral move or a slightly better opportunity. They will entertain the thought of  considering employment opportunities that are SIGNIFICANTLY better than their current position.

That said, I always advise my clients to hire for passion and protect the culture. Depending on the research you view it takes anywhere from 18 -36 months to create a healthy corporate culture that sticks. Yes that's work but work that reaps tremendous rewards. A group of individuals who pool their talents in pursuit of well defined corporate goals and operate as accountable, proactive team members is priceless (although you will see an impact on profitability).

Employers can't put "fire in the bellies" of employees. Employees need to "bring it" to work everyday. Employers can "fuel the fire" by creating and sustaining learning and development opportunities . When it comes to task completion people really only have three options:

 a) I don't know how to do what you need me to do

 b) You taught me what to  do and I'll do it (with guidance, input and coaching/mentoring from supervision)

 c) You taught me what to do and I don't want to do it 

In the workplace the overwhelming number of  people I've met  have said they would rather work harder alongside like minded (focused, productive) people as opposed to working alongside SOME like minded (focused, productive) people while carrying the "dead wood" (unfocused, unproductive) people every day (often rewarded by similar paychecks). That equates to protecting the culture.

So do the math. Tight labor market + culture that seeks and retains high performers = even more time needed to hire.

Resist the urge to cave in, to settle, to "fill a spot" on your team. Hold out for the best available talent currently available in the marketplace that brings passion and fits your culture.

Performance Reviews - by Larry Mietus


2015-06-30 00:00:00

One of the cornerstones of a high performance workplace is feedback. People need regular feedbackregarding their behaviors/performance in the workplace in order to gauge their level of success and their impact on the organization, which are directly tied to their level of satisfaction. The majority of that feedback should ideally come in the form of frequent casual conversations. However there should be a formal written performance appraisal of every associate conducted at least once per year. Copies of those appraisals should be stored in each associate's HR file.Remember, performance appraisals are not the same as compenastion conversations. An annual performance appraisal is not a guarantee of a raise. Compensation adjustments can come at any time of the year based upon the performance of the individual versus their goals/benchmarks and the financial health of the company.

Every associate should complete a self-review and receive a review from their direct supervisor. At times a peer review may be appropriate based upon who the associate has regular contact with..