Today’s customers have myriad outlets to air grievances about poor service or faulty products. And because cycle times in most industries have shrunk, the likelihood of errors has increased.
To prevent problems, concern for quality needs to be embedded in the company culture.
Doing this requires clear communication at every level.
- Executives need to emphasize quality’s importance when evaluating employees and announcing new initiatives.
- Managers should regularly discuss processes to improve quality with their teams.
- Employees need to be encouraged to hold one another accountable, and feel comfortable raising concerns about quality violations.
Adapted from “Creating a Culture of Quality” by Ashwin Srinivasan and Bryan Kurey.
No one wants to be the bad guy. But for a leader, being too nice can be inefficient and irresponsible when you have to make a tough call. Don’t fall into these “too nice” traps:
- Avoiding confrontation. Sometimes a new hire just can’t cut it. Letting the employee continue to flounder is arguably more cruel than firing him. Be kind, but be clear. Help the person transition to somewhere he can succeed.
- Becoming the doormat. When you’re too nice — to people who miss deadlines or don’t do their work — people will take advantage of you. You don’t need to be severe to be respected, but you should hold your organization up to certain standards and make sure people meet them.
- Shunning introspection. Think of this as “being too nice to yourself.” Face the hard truths about yourself, and give employees the space to share their feedback too. You’ll get valuable perspective and you’ll mature as a leader.
Adapted from “ The Problem with Being Too Nice” by Michael Fertik.
If you sometimes have no idea where the day has gone, or if you can’t seem to accurately estimate how much time a task will take you, try keeping a log. Breaking your work down into categories — such as personal growth, core job duties, administrative work, etc. — will be easier than keeping track of every single task. You could also break it down by short-term, long-term, and urgent tasks, or by high, medium, and low priorities. If you’re a pen-and-paper person, create a time-tracking chart and update it at the end of each day.
If you’re more digitally oriented, there are different apps that can do the math for you. Either way, at the end of a couple of weeks you will have a clear picture of how you’re spending — and wasting — your most precious resource.
Adapted from Managing Time (20-Minute Manager Series).
Managers need to have frank and open discussions with employees about pay. It’s not a comfortable subject, but these are some of the most important conversations of the year.
Here are three ways to make them better:
- Talk early and often. There should be no surprises when you sit down to talk about salary. The more frequently you meet, the easier it will be. Ask what kind of bonus or raise the employee expects if she meets her goals. Then have regular check-ins to discuss progress.
- Do performance evaluations separately. Compensation and performance should be discussed separately, so the employee doesn’t fixate on the money. Deliver the formal evaluation first and focus on growth and development. Wait a few weeks to deliver any monetary news.
- Provide context. When people are disappointed, it’s often because they lack information. Share the big picture – how the company is performing and the range of raises being offered this year.
Adapted from “How to Discuss Pay with Your Employees” by Amy Gallo.
You’ve got a brilliant idea for a new product or service. You’re energized, excited, and ready to execute. But first you’ve got to write a business plan.
Investors and stakeholders will care about four factors that are critical to every new venture:
- The people. Introduce who will be starting and running the business, and any outside parties providing resources.
- The opportunity. What will you sell – and to whom? How fast do you plan to grow?
- The context. Capture the big picture – the regulatory environment, demographic trends, and other dynamic factors that you can’t control.
- The risk and reward. Present an examination of everything that can go wrong and right. Be prepared to explain how your team can respond.
Adapted from 20-Minute Manager: Creating Business Plans.
We all get trapped in the “credit game.” Everyone focuses on what he or she personally did to contribute to a win and ignores the parts played by others. It’s a zero-sum game, leading to people feeling unappreciated and sapping everyone’s willingness to sacrifice for a collective goal.
Break the cycle by initiating a positive one: a culture of appreciation. If you share why you appreciate someone else, he or she will likely return the sentiment.
Sharing heartfelt appreciation will spur collaboration and mend tense relationships, opening up space for real work to be done. The more unrewarded you feel, the more difficult this is to do – but the only way to get the ball to come back to you is by getting it rolling.
Adapted from “If You’re Feeling Unappreciated, Give Someone Else Credit” by Josh Baron and Rob Lachenauer.
Explaining a corporate strategy to senior managers or staff members can be brutal. People often don’t have the context or experience to understand what’s being shared – and they walk away with different ideas of what was said. Instead, focus on communicating a big opportunity.
A big opportunity is a window into a winning future that is realistic, emotionally compelling, and memorable.
A written statement of a big opportunity can be powerful, but only if it’s short (half a page long), clear (make sure people rush off in the same direction), and rational (it’s aligned with what’s happening inside and outside the organization). It should be authentic, meaning senior leadership believes in it too, and there has to be enough heart to compel the audience.
Adapted from “Forget the Strategy Powerpoint” by John P. Kotter.