Managing Millennials – 4 Tips for Leading Millennials
One piece of general advice is not to think of leading and managing millennials as a problem. Instead, look at opportunities that come from the way millennials look at the world.

Managing Millennials – 4 Tips for Leading Millennials

We’ve heard a lot about the “millennial problem” lately and there is no shortage of opinions on it. My first experience working with millennials was in the Air Force in the mid-2000s. That was a bit different situation than dealing with it in a civilian environment. Despite the differences, we found some successful leadership principles that can help with managing millennials in the civilian world too. One piece of general advice is not to think of leading and managing millennials as a problem. Instead, look for opportunities that come from the way millennials view the world. How can that mindset benefit your team? If you lead millennials or are millennial and you have a different experience, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to learn from your experience if you have different advice and share it with other leaders.

Managing Millennials Tip #1 – Recognize What Millennials Want

Millennials really want 3 things when it comes to their career and life in general. They want to be heard, to participate in the decision-making process and for their work to have meaning. This isn’t unique to millennials. Pretty much everyone in every generation wants these things in their work experience.

From a very young age, millennials have been encouraged to pursue their dreams. They were also much more included in decision-making with their families. This is far different from my experience growing up as a Generation Xer. Older generations were raised differently as well. We “paid our dues” in the workplace before we got a seat at the big table. Millennials view this differently and this can create that generational tension. We shouldn’t assign any blame here, just recognize the different mindset. Recognizing that millennials want the same thing as every generation does, but have a different mindset on how to get there, goes a long way towards building a strong team relationship with millennials.

Managing Millennials Tip #2 – Be Flexible Where You Can

Millennials love flexibility especially when it comes to schedule and being able to use the latest technology. Look for opportunities to be flexible on how your team does work. It’s important to maintain the standards of excellence that your organization demands. For example, who cares when your team is in the office if they can do the work remotely? What events or activities do they really need to be present for? Where you can, let your millennial team members experiment with new tech, new methods, and alternate schedules. Enforce deadlines and standards on work products even as you give them new freedom.

Managing Millennials Tip #3 – Give Millennials Objectives, Not Tasks

Give your millennials problems to solve and let them figure out how to do it. As above, set clear standards that their results have to meet. Identify any legal or regulatory frameworks they must stay within and let them work inside that framework. If you’re new to letting your team have this much freedom, schedule in a few vector checks. These checks let your team update you before they proceed and are a great opportunity to give them further guidance.

Managing Millennials Tip #4 – Be a Coach and Mentor

Here at Evil Genius Leadership we believe one of our most important jobs as a leader is to develop the leaders coming up behind us. It’s especially important with millennials who are looking to have a coaching and mentor relationship with you. Sometimes a team member will have an idea for an improvement. Often it’s not quite fully formed or doesn’t take into account the whole situation. Rather than just saying no, sit down and discuss how they can make their proposal stronger. We all had mentors who took the time to invest in us. We should do the same for our team members.

You may recognize that these tips are all basic good leadership principles. We were talking about these ideas 20 to 30 years ago before millennials ever entered the workforce. As I said earlier, if you’re leading millennials, or are a millennial, and you have a different experience, leave us a comment and let’s continue the discussion. I’d love to hear what you think and refine these tips to make them valuable to even more people. Rather than looking at this as a “millennial problem” let’s just recognize that every generation comes with its own worldview. If we follow good leadership principles we can get past the tension from differing worldviews.

Employee motivation is a challenge for every leader. So how do we get our team members to do things that need to be done without being told?

Employee Motivation

One of the reasons we wanted to become leaders was so that we could take on challenges we couldn’t achieve by ourselves. Employee motivation is a challenge for every leader. So how do we get our team members to do things that need to be done without being told?

This week we’re answering a question from Pete. He says, “One thing I’m dealing with right now is trying to motivate people who don’t show initiative.”  To help Pete out with this issue, I’m going to give 4 tips for employee motivation.

Employee Motivation Tip #1 – Understand the Psychology

First, it’s important to remember the psychology of motivation. We need to understand the concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Everyone is both extrinsically and intrinsically motivated to some degree. Extrinsic motivation is motivation by external rewards, whether that’s money, a bonus, time off or whatever the individual desires. Intrinsic motivation is the rewards that comes internally from feeling the satisfaction of doing a job well done. As a leader, you need to understand how each of your team members is motivated and in what proportion. This will require getting to know each team member! Once you know what makes them tick, you can use that knowledge to your advantage when applying the other three tips.

Employee Motivation Tip #2 – Appeal to Intrinsic Motivation

Taking advantage of intrinsic motivation is tricky. You now know more about your team, their hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes. You can use that information to get excite them. Everyone has something they want to see done better in their workplace. Encourage your team members to talk about improvements they would like to see. When you overhear them talking to each other, challenge them to follow through on their ideas.

Employee Motivation Tip #3 – Use Your Resources

To use extrinsic motivation, Use the resources you have. You may not have money for bonuses, but almost every organization has a recognition program. If you don’t, create one. Make initiative a heavily weighted criteria when giving out awards if you can. Get creative. Time off, work from home, flexible schedules, whatever you can think of. Remember, that to incentivize any behavior, the incentive structure has to match what you say you value. If you want to incentivize initiative, recognition and rewards have to reflect that. You can’t give out awards for BLANK and not recognize the people who took initiative to try to make positive change.

Employee Motivation Tip #4 – Build a Culture

Finally, and probably most importantly, we need to be sure that we are setting up a culture on our team that fosters and rewards initiative. This requires some honest introspection on our part as the leader. When our team members show initiative, how do we react? Our reactions, both conscious and subconscious, verbal and non-verbal have a lot to do with how our team will behave in the future. Patience and open-mindedness are key here. If their work is acceptable but not the way you prefer it was done, you have to find ways to build on their work without shutting it down.

If we want our team members to show initiative we have to show them that their efforts won’t be wasted. We need to get to know them as people and what makes them tick. As leaders we have to encourage them to follow-up on their ideas and we also need to use our resources to recognize and reward them appropriately. Most important we need to show that we are open to the things that they show initiative on. Even if it’s not the most important thing on our list or the outcome isn’t perfect.  We must appreciate our team members’ effort if we want them to show initiative. Keep doing that and your team members will keep taking on new challenges without you having to ask them to!

In this workshop, you will learn how to approach self, career, relationships and resources in a holistic way to enhance ALL of the aspects of your life. We will teach you how to leave behind the old attitudes and limiting self-talk that keep you from having what you really want in life.

Level Up Las Vegas! Workshop

Do you feel like there is something bigger for you?

Are you looking to live a full, vibrant life and you know that there is something holding you back?

Are stuck in a box with a certain aspect of your life and need to break out?

You have what it takes!  Sometimes all you need is someone to help show you how to do it.

In this workshop, you will learn how to approach self, career, relationships and resources in a holistic way to enhance ALL of the aspects of your life.  We will teach you how to leave behind the old attitudes and limiting self-talk that keep you from having what you really want in life.

JOIN US November 12th for a day of powerful PERSONAL DISCOVERY that will set you on the path to life you’ve always dreamed of!!

This event is an incredible value to spend an entire day with three experienced coaches for just $299. Sign up by October 31st and receive a $50 early bird discount on your admission.

Purchase tickets on EventBrite at:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/level-up-las-vegas-tickets-28567710792.

Attendance is limited to 30 participants so sign up now!

Our three coaches for this event, Jason, Lisa and Robyn have made their own journeys by breaking through career, personal and financial obstacles and are dedicated to helping others live extraordinary lives.

If you have any questions, or are wondering if this workshop is right for you, feel free to schedule a 15 minute session with one of our coaches using the links below.

Meet the Level Up Las Vegas! Coaches:

Jason LeDuc is the Founder of Evil Genius Leadership Consultants and served proudly for two decades in the United States Air Force. He retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2015. As an instructor at the Air War College Distance Learning Program he prepared 7000+ students to accept strategic leadership positions.

Jason LeDuc – Leadership Coach, Evil Genius Leadership Consultants

Jason LeDuc is the Founder of Evil Genius Leadership Consultants and served proudly for two decades in the United States Air Force. He retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2015. As an instructor at the Air War College Distance Learning Program he prepared 7000+ students to accept strategic leadership positions.

Schedule an appointment with Jason at: https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=12838254

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Chastain has spent over fifteen years advising and coaching people from all walks of life. Her current life passion is teaching others to create abundance in their life by taking control of their financial lives. Lisa has helped hundreds of people find purpose, passion and take control of their own destinies. She is the co-creator of Level Up and will be a co-facilitator as well. You can learn more about Lisa at www.linkedin.com/in/lisachastain.

Lisa Chastain – Lisa Chastain Coaching

Lisa Chastain has spent over fifteen years advising and coaching people from all walks of life.  Her current life passion is teaching others to create abundance in their life by taking control of their financial lives.  Lisa has helped hundreds of people find purpose, passion and take control of their own destinies.  She is the co-creator of Level Up and will be a co-facilitator as well.  You can learn more about Lisa at www.linkedin.com/in/lisachastain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robyn Eckersley coaches clients around the country to build legacies of compassion and philanthropic impact. She loves working with motivated Changemakers who are ready to take on the challenge of making this world a better place! You can learn more about Robyn at www.robyn.coach. Robyn Eckersley – Robyn Eckersley Coaching

Robyn Eckersley coaches clients around the country to build legacies of compassion and philanthropic impact. She works with motivated Changemakers to take on the challenge of making this world a better place! Learn more about Robyn at www.robyn.coach.

Schedule an appointment with Robyn at: https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=12337521&appointmentType=2016960

One of our most important job as leaders is to train and educate the members of our team. This is challenging because everyone learns differently. Today we’re going to talk about the seven different learning styles and how you can apply your understanding of them to help your team grow to their full potential.

Learning Styles and How They Affect Your Team

One of our most important job as leaders is to train and educate the members of our team. This is challenging because everyone learns differently. Today we’re going to talk about the seven different learning styles and how you can apply your understanding of them to help your team grow to their full potential.

The Seven Learning Styles

The first of the seven learning styles is visual learning. Visual learners have a preference for using images, pictures, colors, and maps to organize information and communicate with others. They love to use whiteboards or other tools that let them explore their thoughts visually. You will hear them say things like, “Let’s look at it differently, I can’t quite picture it or Let’s draw a diagram or map.” Ways you can help visual learners are by Using color, layout, and spatial organization when talking with them, and using ‘visual words’ like see, picture, perspective, visual, and map.

Aural learners like to work with sound and music and have a good sense of pitch and rhythm. This can be helpful because music evokes strong emotions and aural learners can be tuned into the emotions of others. Aural learners often say things like “That sounds about right, That rings a bell or That’s music to my ears.” You can help aural learners by using sound, rhyme, and music when training them, Using sound recordings to provide a background and help them visualize and when creating mnemonics or acrostics, make the most of rhythm and rhyme, or set them to a jingle or part of a song.

Verbal learners find it easy to express themselves, both in writing and verbally. They enjoy playing on the meaning or sound of words, such as in tongue twisters, rhymes, limericks and the like. They know the meaning of many words, and regularly make an effort to find the meaning of new words. Phrases that verbal learners often say are, “Tell me word for word, The word you’re looking for is and Let me spell it out for you.” To reach verbal learners effectively, incorporate more speaking and writing in techniques. Encourage them to talk themselves through procedures or use recordings of content for repetition. Use rhyme and rhythm in your assertions where you can, and be sure to read important ones aloud. Mnemonics, acronyms and Scripting are powerful tools for verbal learners.

Physical learners use their body and sense of touch to learn about the world. They like sports and exercise, and other physical activities such as gardening or woodworking. Physical learners typically use larger hand gestures and other body language to communicate. They might use phrases like, “That feels right to me, That doesn’t sit right with me or My gut is telling me’”. To reach physical learners, Use physical objects as much as possible and Use role-playing to practice skills and behaviors.

Logical learners like using their brain for logical and mathematical reasoning. They recognize patterns easily, as well as connections between seemingly meaningless content. Logical learners typically work through problems and issues in a systematic way, and like to create procedures for future use. You might hear a logical learner say, “That’s logical, Follow the process, or There’s no pattern to this”. You can help logical learners by understanding the links between parts of a system.

Social Learners typically prefer learning in groups or to spend one-on-one time with a teacher. They heighten learning by bouncing thoughts off other people and listening to how they respond. Social learners often say things like, “Let’s work together on this.” “Let’s pull some people together to discuss.” Or, “Let’s explore our options.” Leaders can help these people learn by letting them work with others. Using tools like role-playing, mind maps and system diagrams are also useful.

Solitary learners prefer to work on problems by retreating to somewhere quiet and working through possible solutions. Sometimes they spend too much time trying to solve a problem by themselves when they could be more successful by talking to others. Solitary learners often say things like, “I’d like some time to think it over.” Or, “I’ll get back to you on that.”  You can help solitary learners by helping them set clear goals and objectives. Help guide them to align those goals with their values and personal beliefs.

Applying Learning Styles

A potential pitfall is making judgements about people based on their learning styles. It’s important not to assume that someone won’t be good at a certain task solely because of their learning style. We shouldn’t assume someone won’t be good at creating visuals for a presentation because they aren’t a visual learner. It is also dangerous to let others use their learning style as a crutch to avoid new situations. “I can’t take notes because I’m not verbal learner,” is not a true application of these learning styles.

The reality is that most people use a combination of the learning styles. Combining elements of each style can be helpful when working with a group of people. Pay attention to the styles that others use and to incorporate appropriate elements of those styles to communicate effectively. We got our information for this post from Learning Styles Online. Go check them out if you’d like to learn more. You can even take an assessment on their site to figure out what your own learning style is.

In this video, we share our philosophy on mentoring and the rewards that come to individuals and organizations from applying mentorship effectively.

Mentoring

In this video, we share our philosophy on mentoring and the rewards that come to individuals and organizations from applying mentorship effectively. There are many misconceptions about what mentoring is and how to be a mentor. We point out several of these misconceptions and highlight ways to build a positive mindset in order to become a better mentor.

Tips for Effective Mentoring

If we want to be good mentors we need to remember that true mentoring comes from a mindset where we are genuinely interested in the success of another person and want to help them achieve their personal and professional goals. Building a strong rapport our protegé is key to the success of the mentoring relationship. Without this rapport it becomes difficult for the mentor and protegé to be open and honest with each other and share experiences and perspective. As mentors, we should seek to help our protegé by “telling our own story” and passing on the wisdom and lessons that the protegé can apply to their own situation. Seeking out protegés who come from different background and experiences than our own helps both of us expand our perspectives and come up with better solutions to the challenges we face.

One of the most important responsibilities we have as leaders is to develop other leaders who can someday take our place and grow to achieve their own successes. While it doesn't usually come with increased pay or benefits, developing leaders on our team can be one of the most personally rewarding endeavors we can undertake. To effectively develop our team members into strong leaders we need to be genuinely and authentically invested in their future career success as well as the short-term benefits that they can bring to our team.

Developing Leaders on Your Team

One of the most important responsibilities we have as leaders is to develop other leaders who can someday take our place and grow to achieve their own successes. While it doesn’t usually come with increased pay or benefits, developing leaders on our team can be one of the most personally rewarding endeavors we can undertake.  To effectively develop our team members into strong leaders we need to be genuinely and authentically invested in their future career success as well as the short-term benefits that they can bring to our team.

The Challenges of Developing Leaders

Helping people on our team grow into strong leaders for the future comes with it’s own set of challenges and hurdles. The first is that most companies and organizations don’t have a great deal of money dedicated for leadership development and training at all levels. Many companies focus on spending resources to improve leadership at the highest levels, but it often doesn’t make it’s way down to the front lines where it is needed most. Consistent leadership development activities can fall by the wayside when unexpected high-priority tasks pop up. It can also be difficult to demonstrate to the members of our team exactly why having solid leadership skills benefits them as individuals as well as advances the mission of our team. All three of these challenges can derail even the most dedicated leader from fully realizing their goal to turn their team into great leaders. It’s important that we commit ourselves through assigning the resources we do have and making the time necessary to help the individuals on our team grow into strong leaders that will carry our organization into the future.

We can’t do it all by ourselves. It’s true in leadership just as it is in life. Trying to achieve our goals without asking for help usually slows us down on our path. This is why human beings have learned to build teams and why good leadership is regarded so highly. When we build a team around us, it’s important to utilize those team members effectively to accomplish our mission and properly delegating authority is key to making that happen. Usually when we think about delegating a decision or task to someone on our team, we think about it in terms of something that we either don’t have the time or energy to handle, or it’s something we don’t want to deal with ourselves. An alternative way to consider this is using delegation and empowerment to develop the individual capabilities of our team members.

Delegation and Empowerment – Developing Your Team’s Potential

We can’t do it all by ourselves. It’s true in leadership just as it is in life. Trying to achieve our goals without asking for help usually slows us down on our path. This is why human beings have learned to build teams and why good leadership is regarded so highly. When we build a team around us, it’s important to utilize those team members effectively to accomplish our mission and properly delegating authority is key to making that happen. Usually when we think about delegating a decision or task to someone on our team, we think about it in terms of something that we either don’t have the time or energy to handle, or it’s something we don’t want to deal with ourselves. An alternative way to consider this is using delegation and empowerment to develop the individual capabilities of our team members.

Delegation and Empowerment – The Payoff

Delegating to our team members and empowering them to make decisions pays vast dividends beyond the immediate payoff of getting a task done or a decision made. Sending one of our team members off on a journey to develop their own decision-making process and engage in critical thinking will help them grow in a way that simply focusing on the technical aspects of their job can’t provide. Engaging in this kind of leadership development will help produce team members who understand our vision and can show initiative to take action to meet team goals without needing direct supervision.

How to Develop Leaders Using Delegation and Empowerment

It’s important to make a distinction between simply delegating tasks to our team members and empowering them to make decisions. While assigning tasks and managing work flow among the team is an important aspect of leadership, if we want to grow and develop our team members, we need to give them more than tasks to engage in. We should be striving to delegate not just actions, but to delegate the authority to solve problems and make decisions that support our goals. Not everyone is ready to jump right in and be a decision maker right away, so here a four ways that we can develop leaders on our teams by empowering them while guiding them at the same time.

  1. Challenge Them – Delegate a project that actually matters. Much like setting goals for ourselves, it should be achievable but challenging. Success shouldn’t be 100% guaranteed. Giving a team member a decision to make that is too easy or doesn’t have significant impact will result in limited growth.
  2. Push them out of their comfort zone – True leaders are comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty, or at least not afraid of it. We can help our team become more comfortable learning to act without perfect information by guiding and mentoring them through situations that expand the boundaries of their comfort zone. Since every team member is different, it will take some consideration to determine what each one is comfortable with. Assessing how to help each team member to expand their comfort zone can be a key factor in who we delegate a decision or project to.
  3. Let them struggle – It can be a very difficult balance between providing mentoring and advice and breaking the problem open for our team. We should strive to be coaches for them, not problem solvers. When they are struggling, we should ask questions, not provide answers. A little adversity is a good thing. It helps people bond and break down the barriers between them. If interpersonal barriers are part of the problem, allowing the team to solve these issues for themselves will provide them a better set of tools for interpersonal relationships in the future.
  4. Let there be potential to fail – We always need to assess the stakes of the decision we are delegating. If this is a “failure is not an option” situation, we may not want to delegate the whole decision, but maybe only pieces of it. Failure teaches our team to evaluate what they have already tried and adapt in order to succeed as well as building perseverance and determination. Your team will learn more about themselves and their leadership style by failing initially, then pivoting until they succeed than if they are immediately successful every time.

 

Applying these four considerations when you are trying to figure out who to delegate that important decision to will help develop strong leadership among the members of our team. Don’t forget that the one of the goals is to grow their capabilities as much as it is to distribute the work around the team. In some cases, the necessity to achieve the mission will drive that decision, but it always benefits us to look for opportunities to develop our team members while we achieve our goals. Delegation and empowerment, when considered thoughtfully, help us meet both of those needs.

 

Share your experiences with delegation and empowerment in the comments.

 

Photo Credit: By tableatny (originally posted to Flickr as BXP135677) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your team is to clearly define what you believe your leadership role is. People who are recognized as great leaders, such as Larry Page of Google and Sir Richard Branson, have taken time to very carefully consider what they bring to their organizations through their role as a leader. If you’re looking to maximize the performance of your team, investing some thought into your leadership role is an important start. There is no standard statement of a leadership role, but here are five aspects you might consider including in yours based on your mission and situation.

Five Aspects You Should Consider for Your Leadership Role

One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your team is to clearly define what you believe your leadership role is. People who are recognized as great leaders, such as Larry Page of Google and Sir Richard Branson, have taken time to very carefully consider what they bring to their organizations through their role as a leader.  If you’re looking to maximize the performance of your team, investing some thought into your leadership role is an important start. There is no standard statement of a leadership role, but here are five aspects you might consider including in yours based on your mission and situation.

Setting the Vision for Your Team

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many leaders get caught up in the management and reporting of day-to-day tasks and never consider how to translate the big picture of what the team is supposed to be accomplishing into a clear, coherent vision. Leaders at every level should be able to take the guidance they’ve been given by higher level executives and turn that into a unique vision for their team to rally around. Looking at it another way, is it important for you to be able to set the vision of how the team will accomplish their mission, or would you rather let someone else’s opinion determine this for you?

Fostering Innovation

Larry Page believes his role is to develop his employees and empower them to have great ideas and also to implement those ideas to make the world a better place. He’s not focused on how things get done, but the talented people who get them done and the impact they make on society.

Larry Page believes his role is to develop his employees and empower them to have great ideas. Photo credit: By Marcin Mycielski, European Parliament (Stansfield) (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

The degree to which innovation is required or desired also depends on the mission the team has been given to carry out and the methods which they use to do it. Some missions and objectives require more rigid adherence to process and procedure than others, but keeping an eye towards improvement and increasing efficiency is useful even in the most process driven team. Some leaders are lucky enough to have team members who are always coming up with new ideas and initiatives, or new ways to use existing technology and resources better. Do you see your role as a leader to encourage these behaviors? If you have a team that is not so forward-looking, does your role need to be more focused on challenging them to look at their jobs in new and innovative ways?

Empowering as Part of your Leadership Role

In order to be focused on implementing your vision and helping your team come up with innovative ideas to face the challenges that you share, you may find it necessary to free up your attention from tasks that your team members can be taking on for themselves. If empowering your team members to operate autonomously without direct supervision is important to you, you’ll need to critically assess their ability to handle the increased responsibility you intend to give them. Are do they have the skill, experience and judgment to make decisions without your approval? Which decisions are you willing to delegate down to them and which do you want to reserve for yourself? Usually, not every team member is ready for the same level of responsibility, so consider how you will help each one grow into the role you have envisioned for them.

Developing the Talent on Your Team

 

One way that you can get your team ready to handle all of the increased responsibility you’ll be giving them through empowerment and delegation is to develop their skills and competencies. Providing each team member with a clear expectation of the proficiency level you expect them to have in their jobs and helping them build a development plan that grows their skills to the required level is a great way to start developing their talent. It’s also important to consider how much of their development you expect them to perform on their own initiative. Share with your team your view of how they should be developing themselves, what role the organization will take in their training, and how you will mentor and guide them.

Building future leaders

: Branson’s view of his role a leader is very similar to Larry Page’s. He’s focused on the people who do things, not how they do them. And he’s also focused on the personal and professional development of his employees to grow them into leaders as well.

Sir Richard Branson is focused on the personal and professional development of his employees. Photo credit: By Land Rover MENA (British Polo Day Morocco) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Developing the future leaders of your organization is one of the most important challenges you can take on as a leader. Growing one or two of your team members to be able to be effective deputies is another way you can delegate some responsibility and free yourself up to focus on the things you believe are most important for you to handle personally. Many of us hope to advance in our careers and take on leadership positions with increased responsibility and the members of your team are no different. Giving them a path to meet their future career goals also provides your organization with a variety of qualified candidates for your position when you are ready to move on to an amazing opportunity.

Of course, there are other aspects that you might find more important than these five to incorporate into your leadership role. It all depends on the mission you are setting out to accomplish and the skill and talent level of your team. Try approaching it much like a mission or vision statement with the goal of creating a specific and descriptive statement that provides a strategic foundation for the rest of your leadership philosophy and style.

Share in the comments other aspects of your leadership role.

 

Main Photo Credit: By Teak Sato (http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=147870) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Tips to provide effective feedback in difficult situations

Giving Feedback in Difficult Situations

Providing feedback is one of our most essential tasks as leaders. It can also be one of the most difficult especially when we have to let an individual know that they aren’t living up to the high expectations we have for them. Despite how uncomfortable these situations can be, we owe it to the individual and the organization to correct the behavior and get the individual back on track, or if that isn’t possible, let them go. A good friend of mine in a leadership position recently told me about one of these situations and how he handled it.

My friend is responsible for executing a significant portion of his organization’s mission and carries a lot of responsibility for their overall success. He has several teams under him that each have a team chief who report to him. One of his team chiefs appears on paper to be stellar and has even won some recognition awards, but his team had ceased to be effective and was practically having a mutiny behind his back. As my friend became aware of the situation and investigated he found that although the team was getting everything done that needed to get done, the team lead was driving his flight into the ground through a lack of tact and a leadership style which made him un-approachable.

After connecting with the individual’s peers and previous supervisors, my friend sat him down for a feedback session that focused on five themes: Credibility, Approachability, Discipline, Attitude, and Leading by Example.  My friend approached the feedback from a place of total transparency, held nothing back and kept no secrets. He cited specific examples from each theme, with credibility as the central issue, and followed it up with areas where he, as the supervisor, and the other organization leadership might have accountability for the situation.

After providing the feedback, my friend told the team lead about the two options for corrective action that he was considering recommending to higher leadership.  The first option recognizing that this issue was brought to light through this feedback session and that there could be an opportunity for the individual to correct his attitude and actions and bring his team to a higher level of performance.  The second option being to remove the individual from the team lead position and move him to an administrative position.  Ultimately, higher leadership will make the decision, but my friend’s input has massive weight on the decision.

There was a lot of potential for this to be an explosive situation, but ultimately the individual was receptive to the feedback. There are several key areas to the approach he took to this feedback that I think contributed to this result.

  • He didn’t make it personal – He focused on the issues and behaviors that were negatively affecting the performance of the team and how those outcomes were negatively affecting the organization’s mission. He approached the issue with an open mind and didn’t let his ego get in the way.
  • He did his homework – He gathered information from multiple sources and perspectives about the individual’s behavior and the impact it was having on both the organization and the mission. After gathering the different perspectives he analyzed and synthesized the information into his own assessment of the situation and came up with options for corrective action.
  • He set a goal for a positive outcome – He went into the feedback session focused on how to rehabilitate the individual’s behavior and improve the performance of his team. By acting with a little compassion in this situation, he was able to offer the individual a chance to improve before punitive tactics were necessary, but gave him that option if the individual was not receptive to improvement.
  • He went in with a plan – My friend chose the five areas to give feedback on very carefully based on his research of the situation. He spoke directly and with transparency about his position on the team lead’s performance in all five areas and the impact it was having on the organization and mission. By going in with a plan he ensured that all areas were covered and that no critical areas of feedback were overlooked.
  • He deliberated on his decision – While my friend had a few options he was considering for corrective action before he went into the feedback session, he did not have a pre-conceived notion of which option he would choose. By avoiding a knee-jerk reaction to the situation, he was able to give the individual the option to repair his credibility and relationship with his team.

As of the time I’m writing this, a final decision had not been made on what corrective action will be taken for this individual, but I think the rational, methodical and compassionate approach that my friend took to providing feedback in this situation gives the organization’s leadership more options to get one of their key teams back on track to success.

What method do you apply when giving feedback, positive or negative?

Photo Credit: By Jacksoncolvett (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Leading Millennials and Beyond

One of the topics I often discuss with my colleagues, mentors and the individuals that I coach is the role that younger people are taking in the workplace. Some of the folks I talk with have very strong opinions about these younger cohorts, especially Millennials. I don’t want to get into labelling certain groups of people (although I kind of already have), but despite opinions, the younger generations are entering the workplace, or will be very soon. The challenge for today’s leaders is to determine how we can motivate and lead the younger people coming along as well as how we can grow them into high quality leaders of tomorrow. In order to do that it’s helpful to understand the background and mindset of our younger team members.

A few weeks ago Beloit College released their “Mindset List” for their incoming class of 2018. Beloit has been putting out the Mindset List every year since 1998 to help their faculty and staff understand the “cultural touchstones and experiences that have shaped the worldview of students entering colleges and universities.” (McBride & Nief, 2014) While this list is mostly just entertaining and doesn’t have a lot of direct bearing on how we lead our teams today, in several years these students will be entering our workforce and we will need to be able to lead them effectively and develop them professionally once they arrive.

A few items I found interesting on this year’s list:

  • The water cooler is no longer the workplace social center; it’s the place to fill your water bottle.
  • There has always been “TV” designed to be watched exclusively on the web.
  • “Good feedback” means getting 30 likes on your last Facebook post in a single afternoon.

 

From the list for the class of 2015 (just about to graduate and enter the workforce)

  • The only significant labor disputes in their lifetimes have been in major league sports.
  • As they’ve grown up on websites and cell phones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration.
  • Their school’s “blackboards” have always been getting smarter.
  • More Americans have always traveled to Latin America than to Europe.
  • They’ve always been able to dismiss boring old ideas with “been there, done that, gotten the T-shirt.”
  • They won’t go near a retailer that lacks a website.

 

And from the list for the class of 2010 (those who have been in the workforce a few years and are just starting to take leadership roles)

  • They are wireless, yet always connected.
  • Text messaging is their email.
  • They have always been able to watch wars and revolutions live on television.
  • They have always preferred going out in groups as opposed to dating.

 

So what does this mean for us as the leaders of these individuals? Primarily it means that the ways that we have developed organizational culture, adapted to new technology, and offered rewards and incentives may need to be re-evaluated. Collaboration in the future will definitely mean more than meetings in conference rooms and offsite retreats.

This doesn’t mean we have to accommodate every request that our younger team members make, but it might help balance their requests with other requirements if we can see the perspective that they’re coming from. As always, at some point the mission has to come first, but there may be ways to get the mission done better, smarter or faster by considering the “younger” perspective.

Also, a piece of advice for the younger folks coming along (just in case you thought you were off the hook). Understanding and communication are a two-way street and it is just as important to be a good follower as a good leader. Take some time to understand where your colleagues who have been around a bit longer are coming from. Unfortunately, Beloit didn’t start the Mindset list until 1998 so you might have to do some research to find out what makes us tick. I promise it will be worth the effort!

 

Discussion topics: What tensions exist between different age groups on your team? What perspectives have you gained from another age group that greatly assisted you in getting your mission accomplished?

References

McBride, T., & Nief, R. (2014). The Mindset List. Retrieved from Beloit College: http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/

 

Photo Credit: “US Navy 101028-N-8590G-005 Katy Jo Muncie, a law student, holds the ship’s wheel at the helm aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans'” by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gary Granger Jr. – This Image was released by the United States Navy with the ID 101028-N-8590G-005 (next).This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.বাংলা | Deutsch | English | español | euskara | فارسی | français | italiano | 日本語 | 한국어 | македонски | മലയാളം | Plattdüütsch | Nederlands | polski | português | Türkçe | 中文 | 中文(简体)‎ | +/−. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Navy_101028-N-8590G-005_Katy_Jo_Muncie,_a_law_student,_holds_the_ship%27s_wheel_at_the_helm_aboard_the_guided-missile_destroyer_USS_The_Sullivans%27.jpg#mediaviewer/File:US_Navy_101028-N-8590G-005_Katy_Jo_Muncie,_a_law_student,_holds_the_ship%27s_wheel_at_the_helm_aboard_the_guided-missile_destroyer_USS_The_Sullivans%27.jpg

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