Managing for Success!


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Diagnostic Surveys of Management Practices provides in-depth instruction in the tools available to management to obtain objective, uncontaminated perceptions of Read More→

Leadership Principles, using the LPI (Life Practices Inventory), creates a solid foundation for understanding and answering the Read More→

Leadership and Influence identifies what successful leaders do, the meaning and impact of leadership, leadership styles, the importance of Read More→

Pay-for Performance Compensation is the process of rewarding employees based on performance. It focuses on annual merit increases to base salary to Read More→

Effective Use of Compensation Structures focuses on the development of salary grades and ranges which recognize differences in position responsibilities to Read More→

Q: Is it possible that an incentive plan was good during robust economic times, but isn’t good when the economy is in serious recession, like now?

A: Yes. If the plan is inherently well designed, the big change that’s required is to reset performance objectives, particularly quantitative ones. These need to be realistic to avoid setting up employees for failure. Nothing is more demotivating than unattainable targets. The challenge is determining what’s realistic!

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Following an eye-opening employee engagement survey and as part of an overall strategic planning exercise, the managing partner of a regional accounting firm engaged PSG to conduct a comprehensive series of integrated mini-projects. The first step was to conduct 360o reviews for all the partners. The goal – to identify the strengths and areas for improvement and then leverage the results into a stronger, more focused organization. This would reflect strengths, optimize the talents of both partners and staff and, at the same time, recognizing gaps and weakness.

Following the individual feedback and coaching to partners, we worked with the partners to develop the strategic plan, addressing the following key issues:

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In the last few months of 2009 an into early 2010, we worked with a giant in the entertainment and media world, grappling with the challenges brought on by the recession and a rapidly changing industry:

  • Advertising down across the board
  • Newspaper and magazine circulation in the doldrums
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In my blog entry, “Getting Your Employees Engaged,” I cited six low-scoring survey items that were indications of low employee engagement and discussed the first two: (1) My company takes appropriate action with poor performance and (2) I have opportunities for promotion.

Now it’s time to tackle the middle two:

• Leadership understands the concerns of employees
• Quality of work is not compromised by volume of work

The role of leadership: Great leaders have the innate ability and intuition to relate to their employees. They have emotional intelligence. They’re able to communicate. And, most importantly, they listen, listen, listen! As Jim Collins writes in Good to Great, they’re willing to face the brutal facts. This ability to relate and care reflects in their concern for employees. For some, it’s genuine. For others, it’s more like smart business. The fact is that the CEO sets the tone and his or her concern permeates the organization. A leadership uncaring and unmindful of employees will inevitably communicate this attitude with serious impact on morale, performance and productivity,

I’m currently helping a multi-billion dollar, privately-owned company go through a major transformation. The owners epitomize the concept of caring. They know many of the employees in the various subsidiaries. They’re personally involved in all key decisions. And they demonstrate their appreciation for loyalty. Their work ethic and behaviors have motivated and inspired executives and their teams to go way beyond the call of duty — working prodigious hours and showing total commitment to the changes. This is what employee engagement is all about!

So, show you care: engage with your employees, listen and address their concerns, and communicate transparently.

Quality vs. volume of work: The recession has led companies to pare their workforces to the bone in an effort to keep their P&Ls looking good and conserve cash. While the result has been significant productivity gains, it has also created high levels of structural unemployment. Make no mistake – quality has suffered.

While new technology, improved systems and processes, more training, or, simply, better management and allocation of resources can help, many employees today feel that they’re hanging on by their finger nails and barely able to sustain the required levels of service or production quality at the lean staffing levels. And heavy workloads lead to stress, burnout and disengagement.

When your employee engagement survey sends a clear message about the volume of work, read the comments and do the diagnostics. Meet with team members and look into the problems. Set up task forces to handle issues that simply require communication and problem-solving between departments. Hire specialists for more complex matters. And above all, continue to communicate and be transparent at all levels in the organization.

I’ll address the final two low-scoring items, openness/trust and morale, in my next blog.

The 360o Review, if managed properly, is one of the most powerful diagnostic tools for a manager’s professional development and for upgrading management practices in general. The question is how to establish credibility and trust in the process. Here are some tips based on our years of experience in successfully conducting 360s:

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The managing partner of a regional accounting firm has engaged us to conduct a comprehensive series of integrated mini-projects. The first step is to conduct 360o reviews for all the partners. The goal is to identify the strengths and areas for improvement of each individual and then leverage the results into a stronger, more focused organization that optimizes the talents of both partners and staff. Following the individual feedback and coaching to partners, we will:

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We just completed our fifth annual employee survey for Toronto-based Spin Master Toys, an international toy manufacturer with offices in Hong Kong, China, Paris, London, Mexico City and Los Angeles. The multi-language survey was used to gather employee feedback on a wide range of topics, including job satisfaction, quality of the work environment, compensation and benefits and confidence in the leadership team. The survey breaks out responses by location, by function within location and by function across the entire organization. With input from PSG, Spin Master uses the results to shape its future HR plans and initiatives.

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In our May newsletter, I mentioned that we were in the process of writing an article about the often neglected, yet important area of managing up. The article combines findings from our years of experience in coaching, training, 360s and employee engagement surveys, together with a survey recently conducted with a number of our clients. To view the shorter version titled “The Importance of Managing Up” and recently published by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), click here.

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PSG continues to focus on employee engagement since high employee engagement has extremely high correlation with performance, productivity and therefore profitability. Performance and productivity are a cornerstone of our practice with these surveys an essential diagnostic tool.

Stan Friedman, leveraging over thirty years of communications experience, has actively participated in major PSG international projects, focusing on organizational development and communication issues. He follows up on our previous article on employee engagement (July 2010 issue) with some tips on assessing organizational communications in this area.

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