Posts Tagged ‘organizational development’

How to Find Out What’s Really Going On June 7 2012 one response

I’m on the road for the rest of the week working with new executives on delegation skills today and delivering colleague feedback to a senior executive coaching client on Friday. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been conducting a lot of colleague interviews for that client and two others. Even though I’ve conducted these kinds of interviews for a dozen years now, I’m still learning new things about how to find out what’s really going on for a client.

What got me thinking about this was an article I read recently in Booz and Company’s Strategy and Business Magazine. It was called “Navigating the First Year:  Advice from 18 Chief Executives.” It’s a good read for any leader who finds or expects to find themselves in a new job.

One of the CEOs who participated in the article was Chip Bergh of Levi Strauss. Here’s what he said about how he figured out what was really going on in his new company:

I spent the first month mostly listening. I came up with a set of standard questions: What three things must we preserve? What three things must we change? What do you most hope I will do? What are you most concerned I might do? What advice do you have for me? … I spent an hour with (over 65 people) and basically just listened and took notes as they answered the questions.

What was interesting was that after about 15 or so interviews, it was pretty clear what the objectives needed to be. People inside the company knew what needed to happen, and it was pretty consistent.

Bergh’s experience is similar to three things I find in conducting feedback interviews for my clients.  First, if you work from a standard set of questions you can compare and contrast the answers and see the patterns.  Second, if you ask short, open-ended questions you can learn a lot.  Third, you don’t have to interview scores of people to find out what’s really going on.  The patterns emerge pretty quickly after a dozen or so conversations.

Bergh asked some great questions.  Here’s what I’ve been asking my clients’ colleagues lately and why I think they’ve helped in finding out what’s really going on for my clients:

What a Top Chef Knows About Organizational Development – Lessons from Jose Andres February 16 2012 3 responses

Foodies in Washington, D.C., know all about Jose Andres, the award-winning chef who popularized Spanish style tapas dining in America.  Andres arrived in the United States from Spain in 1993 and opened his first restaurant, Jaleo, that year.  Today, he is the CEO of Think Food Group and the mastermind behind eight restaurant concepts with locations in D.C., Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Earlier this week, I was in the audience for a lunch-time conversation with Andres at a conference called American Competitiveness: What Works organized by General Electric and co-sponsored by Washington Post Live.  I probably learned as much about leadership in an hour of listening to Jose as I have in the past year.  It turns out there’s a lot you can learn about leadership and organizational development from a chef who has gone from running a small business to a culinary empire in less than 20 years.

I’ll likely write a few more Jose Andres posts over the next several weeks, but, for now, here are three of his leadership lessons about building a successful organization along with some thought starter questions for you and your organization.

  • Share Your Passionate Purpose.  It takes less than a minute with Andres to see how passionate he is about his work and the calling he feels around it.  When a fellow panelist asked him what his advice was for anyone starting out in business, the first thing he said was that the business of feeding people is the best business in the world.  “Food, he said, is the energy that moves everyone of us in this room.” That sort of purposeful passion about the bigger picture is what has inspired people to help Andres grow his organization. How do you share your passionate purpose about your business?

Rypple’s Nick Stein, on How to Deliver Better Feedback February 2 2012 7 responses

Rypple is a web-based social performance management platform that helps companies improve performance through social goals, continuous feedback and meaningful recognition. I recently spoke with Rypple’s Nick Stein to learn more about the company and get his tips for giving – and getting – effective feedback. Here’s an edited version of our conversation.

Scott: Is it fair to say a quick description of Rypple would be Facebook for feedback?

Nick: I think that feedback is certainly a very important part of it. But I’d say that the feedback should be focused around aligning people within the organization so that they feel empowered and that people who lead your organization feel confident that everybody is moving in the same direction. So it’s feedback, but it’s feedback that leads directly to business results.

When it comes to feedback, how much is enough?

When most of us think traditionally of feedback within an organization, we think of the performance review, which a lot of companies still use and they do them once a year. And they’re backward-looking and have really morphed into this thing that’s much more about compliance than it is about performance.

When we look at feedback, we hear from our customers and tons of research that’s been done out there that employees are craving feedback, and as much of it as they can get. And I think that’s particularly true for the Millennials, who really have grown up around the idea of getting constant feedback that they can then use to get better at what they do.

What are your top tips for making the feedback useful? For somebody who wants to be really effective in providing feedback, what are two or three things they should always keep in mind?

Is Being the “Go-To Person” Holding You Back? January 31 2012 no responses

A big part of my work as a coach involves working with high-potential leaders in workshops, keynotes and webinars. One of my favorite questions to ask these audiences is, “How many of you think of yourselves or have been referred to by others as the ‘go-to person?’ ” Usually, about every hand in the room goes up. I asked that question as a flash poll in a webinar recently, and 98% of the 400-plus managers and executives on the line affirmed that they are the go-to people.

It’s not surprising, really. Most people who end up in leadership roles have built a reputation for being go-to people.

So what’s wrong with that? Nothing at all when you’re on your way up. Being the person who’s known for getting stuff done is a great way to build your reputation and career. Chances are, though, that you’re eventually going to reach the point at which operating as the go-to person is simply no longer sustainable. The scope of work gets too broad and complex for one go-to person to take things over and heroically save the day.

To grow as a leader, you have to let go of being the go-to person and pick up the profile of being the person who builds a team of go-to people.