The board’s role during crisis and beyond

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete on February 24th, 2021 by admin

In this episode of the Inside the Strategy Room podcast, McKinsey senior partner Celia Huber, who leads board services work in North America, talks with three seasoned board directors about the role boards are playing in guiding their companies toward recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Nora Aufreiter sits on the boards of Scotiabank, supermarket operator Kroger, and real-estate developer Cadillac Fairview, as well as a Toronto hospital. Peter Bisson is an independent director on the boards of HR services company ADP and research firm Gartner. And Margaret (Peggy) Mulligan serves on the boards of Canadian Western Bank and mining company New Gold. The panel discussion was hosted by Canada’s Institute of Corporate Directors. This is an edited transcript of the discussion. For more conversations on the strategy issues that matter, subscribe to the series on Apple Podcasts or Google Play.

Celia Huber: I thought we would start by talking about how the board’s role has evolved over time. After the financial crisis, we saw a trend toward more independent boards that brought their own perspectives as regulation and scrutiny increased. Today, boards are going beyond their core responsibility for oversight of corporate financials and staying on top of things like technological shifts and the company’s impact on broader society. Even before the pandemic, we saw boards increasingly dealing with how to preserve corporate resilience, deal with activist investors, monitor corporate culture, and make the right decisions on risks around cybersecurity and other issues. So, the pressure on boards to be fully engaged and act as catalysts for change is coming from many directions now.We see a few hallmarks of boards that are successful at serving as such catalysts. The first is a deep understanding of the industry and its context, including the key uncertainties. Boards can cultivate this knowledge by bringing in outside speakers, seeking input from external stakeholders, and exploring various scenarios. The second is thinking about strategy as part of every board meeting rather than as something that happens once a year or every three years. Lastly, the most effective boards devote considerable attention to how they operate in terms of sharing feedback, strengthening team dynamics, and interacting with management.

Today, we are excited to hear our panelists’ perspectives on serving as board members during this unique time. Peggy, what distinguishes a good board from a great board, especially now in the midst of this economic crisis?Margaret Mulligan: I think the same factors distinguish a good board from a great board in normal and crisis times, but it takes a crisis to know if you actually have a great board. There’s nothing like a true test to understand where you are. A great board, first and foremost, understands the difference between the management’s role and the board’s role, and respects that difference because board members fulfilled their key accountability, which is ensuring they have the right CEO and supporting cast of executives on whom they can rely in times of crisis. You also need the board, the management team, and the full organization to understand, respect, embrace, and live both the company’s culture and strategy. I think a robust focus on enterprise risk is terribly important and not just as an annual check-the-box exercise but a real, living, vibrant function. And culture, strategy, and enterprise risk need to be embedded in everything that a company talks about and the board decides upon, because they are not disparate activities.

Celia Huber: Peter, as we were preparing for this session, you made the point that it is not as if the crisis has flipped a switch on corporate strategy; strategy endures. Can you elaborate?

Peter Bisson: Certainly. There are maybe 10 to 15 percent of companies for which this crisis is an existential threat. My comments do not apply to those. But for others, you are doing strategy in every board meeting. Typically, you would lay out a multiyear view of what you want to have in the market, the assets you would like to own, companies you would like to acquire. The pandemic does not really affect that. A company also typically has two or three transformation themes. For example, you are looking to change the customer experience and develop some talent. The pandemic does not change most of those priorities. It might cause the acceleration of one or two; the shift online might cause you to move faster on the customer experience.

The test for the board is, can you keep your eye on the key strategic decisions or transformation programs you are pursuing, recognizing that the management team might be reaching the saturation point in what it can manage? The board needs to help the management team get done the additional work that comes with a crisis. Additionally, there may be a trade-off between maintaining long-term investments and delivering short-term performance. Each board has to make judgments on those trade-offs, and they are often not easy.

The test for the board is, can you keep your eye on the key strategic decisions or transformations you are pursuing, recognizing that management may be reaching the saturation point in what it can manage?
Peter Bisson

Celia Huber: Those trade-offs are the subject of my next question. Nora, you sit on boards of consumer-facing organizations, including a grocer and a hospital. Can you talk about how the crisis has affected those sectors?

Nora Aufreiter: Sure. I’m on the boards of three organizations that are in essential services, so the crisis had a dramatic impact on them. For example, grocery is an industry with typically 1 to 3 percent growth and during the pandemic, my company’s sales were up 30 percent. In that situation, you face enormous pressure in terms of staffing, supply chain, and keeping food on the shelf, so having an engaged, experienced, and industry-knowledgeable board is critical. This is not a time for learning.

Secondly, the pandemic showed the importance of having a business-continuity plan or an incident response team so that when a crisis hits, you have the organizational structure, processes, and people in place. Keeping these plans well-practiced is incredibly important. Who is the emergency replacement for the CEO? What does the incident response team leadership look like? Have we dusted off those processes even though we may not have had a crisis in ten years? That has been one of my big takeaways.

Celia Huber: Have new topics emerged on the board agenda during this crisis? Peggy, can you speak to that?

Margaret Mulligan: We have not seen new topics, but certainly there has been some refocusing on how to implement the strategy that had been put in place. It was, I must say, very interesting trying to figure out how a mining company, one of whose major assets is on the US–Canada border and right beside a First Nations reserve would manage through COVID-19. Providing access to testing and healthcare was a new way of focusing on the ESG [environmental, social, and governance] issues that were always top of mind for that board.

While the agenda topics have not changed much, the frequency of meetings has, simply because management has to make many tactical decisions and conduct business differently. I do expect there could be some refocusing of agenda items once we all take a breath because we will revisit strategies and enterprise risks. The black swan scenario that we all model—we are living it. I hope there will be a lot of solemn learning from that.

The black swan scenario that we all model—we are living it. I hope there will be a lot of solemn learning from that.
Margaret Mulligan

Celia Huber: Has decision making become faster? Nora, have you seen this?

Nora Aufreiter: I think both management and boards have been surprised at how quickly they can take decisions when necessary. Once you have experienced that, it gives you the confidence to act more quickly. That does not cast aside the need for proper fact gathering and deliberation in a board meeting. On my boards, the frequency of meetings is not as high now as it was during the early days of the crisis. We were meeting weekly and then biweekly and then monthly. But for those boards meeting usually quarterly, we have kept a check-in every four to six weeks. Management finds that helpful, the boards find it helpful, and I think that higher level of engagement allows decision making to happen faster because people are more current.

Both management and boards have been surprised by how quickly they can make decisions when necessary. Once you have experienced that, it gives you the confidence to act more quickly.
Nora Aufreiter

Peter Bisson: I would make the point a little differently: the speed of decisions was increased by good management of the exceptions that had to be addressed. For example, when you suddenly move 60,000 people from working in an office to working from home, you need to keep track of what is happening to everybody and cybersecurity becomes an important topic. A lot of the efficiency in decision making has been driven by a strong board–management interface.

Celia Huber: Have you found the crisis affecting the demarcation between the board and management in terms of the decisions that boards get involved in?

Peter Bisson: The chair or lead director has an important role to play, in a sense, to police the boundary. Executional decisions are usually left to management, but if they carry a reputational dimension, then the management team tends to bring it to the board. You do not want the board trying to run the company operationally, but I go back to the idea of exception management.

Nora Aufreiter: With the higher speed of decisions, risk management is a big deal. Those frequent check-ins between management and the board are important so if something happens, you have not left the board out of the loop. But I don’t think the roles have changed. The board is the supervisory and advisory body, but such decisions are management’s call. What becomes challenging is the virtual nature of the interactions. Many of the sidebar-style interactions between individual executives and board members at the coffee bar, those natural touchpoints do not happen, so I have seen more outreach from management to individual board members or board member to board member.

Margaret Mulligan: I also have seen more outreach from the management because this is uncharted territory and it makes sense to seek the counsel of somebody who may have lived through an earlier crisis. I was running operations at Scotiabank during 9/11. Some of the experiences from that become relevant as people try to figure their way through this crisis. It is actually very heartening to see management using the board as a sober second thought and sounding board.

Celia Huber: Peggy, one of your boards brought in two new directors during this time, I presume virtually. Any practical tips on how to do that?

Margaret Mulligan: It was more complicated. In each case, any board member who was geographically close managed to have an outdoor coffee with the person because, as we all know, fit is tremendously important. But we found that the things you hope to achieve through a board refresh worked brilliantly. You get a new set of eyes, somebody asking fresh questions. You could see all our faces on the Zoom call going, “Gee, I should have thought of that.” Anybody who is thinking of holding back on a board refresh right now: don’t! It has proven to be just fantastic.

Celia Huber: One of the most important roles a board plays is deciding management compensation. Given that some companies are doing better and some are doing much worse than a year ago, do you hold to the original performance incentive plan?

Peter Bisson: In my experience, the management team objectives, and hence the compensation tied to them, have not shifted. The management team themselves do not recommend changes to the compensation system, fully knowing that it will be a bad year from a compensation point of view. It is a bit different when you look down the line. For example, if you have a direct sales force, they cannot sell nearly as much virtually, and that does not work for people trying to hit sales quotas. So there have been changes in compensation that lean in the direction of keeping key people whole.

Margaret Mulligan: Anybody whose equity compensation is coming due this year will get hurt because markets are still down. But if you look at equity comps, are you still on the same curve as your shareholders? Yes, arguably. On the flip side, equity grants happening this year will be, in theory, at a greatly reduced rate, with almost a guaranteed uptick. I have seen reports from compensation consultants arguing for modifications on both sides.

My boards have not reached any decisions, but it is certainly something we are discussing. The litmus test will be, have you properly remunerated the right people for the jobs they have done in this situation? And can you explain that in a way your shareholders accept? The wording in the proxy circulars is going to be very important. There are no easy answers and a whole lot of questions right now.

Celia Huber: Let’s turn to strategy. Peter, you started off saying that many strategies have stayed roughly the same. How are boards balancing short-term needs with original investment plans?

Peter Bisson: In terms of the trend acceleration or deceleration dimension, the elements of strategy that were tied to digitization or consumer experience have accelerated. The transactional dimension of strategy has slowed down a bit to the extent that acquisitions were part of the strategy because you cannot do due diligence easily, and agreeing on the fair value is trickier because stock prices have moved a lot. The area of biggest discussion is trading off the short term and the long term. In this environment, it would be easy to back off certain strategic investments to close earnings gaps, and I see thoughtful conversations about what can be deferred and just taking the short-term pain with the stock market.

Celia Huber: Have you encountered any pleasant surprises during these difficult past few months?

Margaret Mulligan: Nothing unites like a common enemy. We talked about resilience in the supply chain but, boy, the resilience of our management teams and entire organizations has been really wonderful to see. I find people being very innovative and happy to express those thoughts. And they are being well listened to. With my boards, it has created a real team attitude and some strong advances on issues we have been working on.

Peter Bisson: I would echo Peggy’s view. The other thing I am very pleased to see is having tens of thousands of people go from working in an office to working from home and still maintaining an extremely positive customer experience. I regard that as nothing short of a miracle. It implies a huge amount of heroic effort by many people down the line. Often, the hesitation about making changes in processes hinges on concerns that employees will not be able to do it. People have proven the contrary during this forced change.

Celia Huber: How are your boards engaging on ESG issues, corporate purpose, and diversity and inclusion?

Margaret Mulligan: I think the corporate world is really advancing on the ESG front. And let’s be honest, we are getting a solid nudge from many extraordinarily influential shareholders. There is not just an acceptance of ESG in the companies I deal with but an embrace, and not just so we can publicize it. When you think about a gold miner, the risk of environmental impact is pretty catastrophic if you are not mindful and it is part of investors’ risk assessment.

Nora Aufreiter: In Canada, boards of directors are responsible for the health, wellness, and long-term sustainability of their companies rather than just being accountable to shareholders. But I would say, if you are focused only on the shareholders and not the staff and customers, those shareholders will end up unhappy so, to a certain extent, it is common sense. If you have a clear purpose, that will naturally enhance your commitments around ESG, and those companies that do not have one increasingly have to develop one because that is part of the corporate fabric now. If you have a purpose that is meaningful at the company level, it reinforces the culture and allows everyone to celebrate the great things they can do, which is highly motivating during a crisis.

Celia Huber: We talked about boards being catalysts for change and we talked about COVID-19 being a catalyst for change. Can you highlight one or two transformational opportunities you see in your companies?

Peter Bisson: In the organizations I am involved in, there are large digital transformations underway. By and large, the technologies are in place and the barrier has been behavioral change. Being forced to do so much behavioral change recently has been a silver lining here. The art of the possible now will be seen as far more robust than was the case six months ago.

Nora Aufreiter: To me, the big opportunity from the crisis is unlocking the inertia around behavior. Management teams are working together and many trends have been accelerated. The opportunity is not to lose the momentum for change.

Margaret Mulligan: To me, the crisis has shaken the idea that the annual strategy process can encompass everything that might happen. That’s a good wake-up call.

 

Source: McKinsey.com, 23 February 2021
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Så minskar du den farliga stressen i din vardag

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Coaching on February 18th, 2021 by admin

”Åh vad bra, tips om avspänning och återhämning!” tänker du, men du inte hinner med det nu. Det får bli sedan – i kväll, i helgen eller på semestern.

– Det är lätt att skjuta upp återhämtning, men den måste ske helst ske flera gånger varje dag om du vill minska risken för stressrelaterad ohälsa, säger Niclas Almén, leg psykolog, som har skrivit en guide om hur vi kan hantera vardagens stress.

Stressen finns överallt i våra liv. Den är egentligen inte farlig, tvärtom är stress ett naturligt inslag som ofta behövs för att vi ibland ska kunna prestera bättre eller ta i lite extra.

Problemet är när kroppens stresspåslag kommer för tätt, håller i sig länge eller knappt går över alls. Det här kan leda till en försämrad livskvalitet och i värsta fall till ohälsa eller olika sjukdomar, som utmattningssyndrom eller hjärtinfarkt.

I sin kommande bok ”Återhämtningsguiden. Må bra trots stress och press” lyfter Niclas Almén fram vårt behov av återhämtning. Hans fokus ligger inte på att minska stressfaktorerna utan på hur vi återhämtar oss på mikronivå, det vill säga flera gånger dagligen i mindre doser.

– Självklart finns det situationer där faktorerna till stress behöver reduceras, men betydelsen av återhämtning lyfts nu fram allt mer i forskningen, säger Niclas Almén, som arbetar som KBT-psykolog samt forskar vid Mittuniversitetet i Östersund om stress och återhämtning.

I det program som Niclas Almén står bakom lär sig deltagare steg för steg att varva ned och lära kropp och knopp att återhämta sig.

– Tyvärr är det ofta när man är som mest uppvarvad och mest behöver återhämtning som det är svårast att få till den. Detta kallas för återhämningsparadoxen.

Begreppet återhämtning leder lätt tankarna till passiv vila och mindfulness-övningar. Det kan mycket väl vara passande lösningar, men Niclas Almén betonar att återhämtning kan vara väldigt många olika saker och att vi behöver variera den beroende på situationen.

Den som arbetar i en pratig miljö ska kanske inte gå till fikarummet under pausen. Då kan det i stället vara bättre att gå runt kvarteret eller att lösa ett korsord under rasten. För den som arbetar ensam kan det vara återhämtande att ringa en vän och prata i några minuter. Den som har ett stillasittande arbete kan behöva vara fysiskt aktiv medan den som har ett tungt fysiskt arbete kan föredra att sitta ned under återhämtningsstunden

Det är lätt att hantera återhämtningen slentrianmässigt och utan att notera om den verkligen gör nytta, att den får kroppen att varva ned ordentligt. Niclas Almén ger ett exempel från när han mätte hjärtverksamheten hos tre personer under några dagar. För två av personerna visade det sig att kroppen inte gav indikation på vila under deras fikapauser på arbetet.

– De trodde att de återhämtade sig då, så det här blev en väckarklocka för dem. De valde att ändra sina beteenden, den ena började lyssna på musik under pauserna och den andra läste en bok under vissa raster i stället för att fika med kollegorna. Båda kände att de mådde bättre av detta.

Om du inte känner att stressen rinner av dig, att du har blivit piggare eller revitaliserad efter vad du tror är en återhämtande stund kan det vara lämpligt att pröva andra beteenden, råder Niclas Almén.

Under pauserna i en rehabgrupp som Niclas Almén ledde satt de flesta kvar i rummet, på samma stolar, och pratade vidare med varandra.

– När jag i stället sade att vi under pausen medvetet skulle välja beteenden som skulle leda till en specifik återhämtning, till exempel att återfå koncentrationsförmågan, ändrade de sina beteenden. De interagerade mindre med varandra, öppnade ett fönster och några klädde på sig och gick utomhus en stund.

Niclas Almén tror att det bland annat var den sociala normen om att vara trevlig mot andra som begränsade återhämtningen under de första vanliga rasterna. Det kan finnas en rädsla för att verka avståndstagande gentemot kollegor och vänner om man inte längre gör som man brukar eller umgås med dem. Känns det så kan det hjälpa att berätta varför man har ändrat sitt beteende.

– Det kan vara bra att involvera andra i sin återhämtning. Prata med partnern, vänner och kollegor. Du kan fråga hur de gör för att varva ned och det är kanske någon annan som också vill förändra sitt beteende. Ni blir kanske några som börjar promenera tillsammans på lunchen, eller spelar pingis på rasterna i stället för att fika. Kan du få hjälp med återhämtningen ökar chansen att du får till en förändring som varar.

Om du ser återhämtningen som ett behov som skapar välmående och inte som ett krav förbättras oddsen för att du ska lyckas. Steg ett är dock att komma i gång och det är inte alltid enkelt. En orsak till att det går trögt är ofta ”Jag ska bara göra klart…” Återhämtningen fastnar lätt i ett sedan som aldrig kommer.

– Det där är nästan alltid en önsketanke, att får jag bara undan det här så kan jag slappna av efter det. Eftersom det hela tiden dyker upp nya saker är det ofta som det här inte fungerar.

Att annat möjligt skäl till att återhämtningen inte blir av är rädsla för att tröttheten helt ska ta över, eller att personen har blivit så van vid stressen är hen inte är medveten om att det behövs en paus. Andra skjuter upp sin återhämtning av oro för att kollegor ska tycka att man är lat eller smiter från jobbet – hur kan hen ta rast nu när vi har så mycket att göra?

För att freda återhämtningen kan du behöva sätta gränser och då helst på ett bekräftande sätt, framhåller Niclas Almén. Säg inte bara nej till att göra en viss sak, som att förhöra ditt barn på läxan, utföra någon extrauppgift på jobbet eller hjälpa din vän med något som inte är akut. Förklara för dottern att hon kan läsa på lite mer så förhör du henne om en stund. Säg till chefen att det inte är möjligt med fler uppgifter för dig, men att ni kan diskutera om ni kan lösa detta på ett annat sätt. Föreslå vännen att du hjälper till om ett par dagar i stället, i dag har du tyvärr inte tid eftersom du behöver din löprunda.

Enligt Niclas Almén kan vi se på återhämtning som att äta. Du blir hungrig flera gånger varje dag, men du tänker knappast att ätandet får skjutas upp till senare, som i kväll eller på lördag när du är ledig. Målet med hans program är cirka fem dagliga återhämtningstillfällen, spridda över förmiddag, eftermiddag och kväll. Om du skriver in möten och plikter i din kalender kan du även börja föra in tider för återhämtning.

– Prova gärna dig fram brett för att hitta flera olika saker som ger dig återhämtning och välj dem som du tror kan fungera på lång sikt. Är du inte alls är intresserad av att lägga pussel, titta på samma tv-serie som sambon eller att gå till utegymmet ska du nog satsa på något annat. Det kommer att kännas svårt ibland, men glöm inte att uppmärksamma dina framsteg och de positiva effekterna av återhämtningen. Då blir du mer motiverad att fortsätta, säger Niclas Almén.

Förslag på återhämtning

Det finns otaliga exempel på stunder av återhämtning som du kan få in i din vardag. Vad som har effekt varierar, här är några exempel på vad du kan pröva:

Öppna fönstret och stå där i några minuter.

Be om en kort axelmassage av en familjemedlem, vän eller kollega och massera sedan den personen på samma sätt.

Lyssna på musik som du tycker om.

Gör sudoko, lös ett korsord eller dylikt.

Ta en promenad runt kvarteret.

Motionera, i en form och på ett sätt som gör att du känner dig revitaliserad efteråt. Det ska inte vara kravfyllt eller inriktat på prestation.

Meditera, träna mindfulness.

Gå i skogen.

Sjung eller spela något instrument.

Titta på film.

Lek med dina barn.

Läs en bok.

Laga mat eller baka.

Spela familjespel.

Ta en fika med kollegor.

Ring eller träffa en vän via ett videomöte eller under en promenad.

Lyssna på en podd eller låt det vara tyst runt om dig en stund.

 

Källa: DN.se, 17 februari 2021
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Så uppfattas du som socialt kompetent

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on February 14th, 2021 by admin

■ Håll ögonkontakt med personen du pratar med – men utan att det blir för intensivt.

■ Ställ öppna frågor som bjuder in till dialog.

■ Att prata mycket är inte detsamma som att vara socialt kompetent. Försök känna av situationen.

■ Var öppen, positiv och nyfiken i mötet med andra. En socialt kompetent person får andra att må bra.

■ Undvik att vara disträ. Lyssna uppmärksamt på vad den andra personen berättar.

Källor: Bo Melin, Nicolas Jacquemot, Petri Kajonius i DN.se, 14 februari 2021
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Så uppfattas du som socialt kompetent

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on February 14th, 2021 by admin

■ Håll ögonkontakt med personen du pratar med – men utan att det blir för intensivt.

■ Ställ öppna frågor som bjuder in till dialog.

■ Att prata mycket är inte detsamma som att vara socialt kompetent. Försök känna av situationen.

■ Var öppen, positiv och nyfiken i mötet med andra. En socialt kompetent person får andra att må bra.

■ Undvik att vara disträ. Lyssna uppmärksamt på vad den andra personen berättar.

Källor: Bo Melin, Nicolas Jacquemot, Petri Kajonius och DN.se, 14 februari 2021
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Top 10 mistakes management makes managing people

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on February 12th, 2021 by admin

It’s easy to understand why managers make significant mistakes in their daily management of the people they employ. Many managers lack fundamental training in managing people, which is usually manifest in their inability to practice the significant soft skills necessary to lead.

But, even more importantly, many managers lack the values, sensitivity, and awareness needed to interact effectively all day long with people. The best managers fundamentally value and appreciate people. They also excel at letting people know how much they are valued and appreciated.

How important is it to help your managers succeed? Beyond description. Managers and how they manage their reporting staff members set the tone for your entire business operation. Managers are the front line representation of your business.

The Importance of Managers

They are the cogs that hold your organization together because all of your employees report to them—for better or for worse. The majority of communication about the business is funneled through your managers. For your business and employees to succeed, your mid-level managers must succeed and become adept at managing in a style that empowers and enables employees.

Skills and techniques are easier to teach, but values, beliefs, and attitudes are much harder to teach—and harder for managers to learn. These are the underlying issues that will most make managers successful—or not.

But, managers do matter. So, this is why educating them and coaching them for success matters to you and your employees.

Select Managers for Managing People

In a job description for a manager, core job functions, traits, and abilities are listed. With this as a guide, manager selection should focus on both the management skills and the candidates’ cultural fit. Since they are in a position to influence a large number of your employees, you want to make sure that you get both components right.

Within the cultural fit component of your interview and selection process, a candidate for a manager position must demonstrate that he or she has beliefs, values, and a work style that are congruent with those of your organization. It includes having a commitment to empowering and enabling other employees also to contribute their best work.

In a people-oriented, forward-looking organization, you’ll want to interview and select managers who exhibit these characteristics.

  • Value people
  • Believe in two-way, frequent effective communication and listening
  • Want to create an environment in which employees are empowered to take charge of their jobs
  • Able to hold people accountable and responsible without using punitive measures
  • Demonstrate leadership and the ability to set a clear direction
  • Believe in teamwork
  • Place the customer at the center of their reason for existence and regard reporting staff as customers

With all of this in mind about managers, preventing management mistakes and dumb decisions is paramount for a successful organization. Do you want to become a better manager? Here are the managing behaviors you should most want to work towards.

Get to Know Your Employees

Developing a relationship with reporting employees is a key factor in managing. You don’t want to be your employees’ divorce counselor or therapist, but you do want to know what’s happening in their lives. When you know where the employee is going on vacation or that his kids play soccer, you are taking a healthy interest in your employees’ lives.

Knowing that the dog died, expressing sympathy, or that her daughter won a coveted award at school make you an interested, involved boss. Knowing employees will make you a better manager, a manager who is more responsive to employee needs, moods, and life cycle events.

Provide Clear Direction

Managers fail to create standards and give people clear expectations, so they know what they are supposed to do, and wonder why they fail. If you make every task a priority, people will soon believe that there are no priorities. More importantly, they will never feel as if they have accomplished a complete task or goal.

Within your clear expectations, if you are either too rigid or too flexible, your reporting employees will feel rudderless. You need to achieve an appropriate balance that allows you to lead employees and provide direction without dictating and destroying employee empowerment and employee engagement.

Trust Them From the Start

All managers should start out with all employees from a position of trust. (This shouldn’t change until the employee proves himself unworthy of that trust.) When managers don’t trust people to do their jobs, this lack of trust plays out in a number of injurious ways

Micromanaging is one example. Constantly checking up is another. Treat people as if they are untrustworthy—watch them, track them, admonish them for every slight failing—because a few people are untrustworthy. Are you familiar with the old tenet that people live up to your expectations?

Listen to Your Employees

Active listening is a critical management skill. You can train managers in listening skills, but if the manager believes that listening is a way to demonstrate that he or she values people, training is usually unnecessary.

Listening is providing recognition and demonstrating your values in action. When employees feel heard out and listened to, they feel important and respected. You will have much more information that you need when you daily open the floodgates.

When employees resign, one of the top reasons for their resignation is their relationship with their manager. People often leave managers, not jobs or employers. (They also leave for reasons such as lack of opportunity, low work flexibility, inability to achieve growth and development in their jobs, and boredom, so managers are not exclusively on the hook.)

Ask For Input Before Making Decisions

You can fool some of the people. But your best employees soon get the nature of your game and drop out. Good luck getting those employees to engage again. Along the same lines, create hierarchical permission steps and other roadblocks that teach people quickly that their ideas are subject to veto and wonder why no one has any suggestions for improvement.

Enabling people to make decisions about their work is the heart of employee empowerment and the soul of employee engagement. Don’t throttle them.

Address Problems and Issues Immediately

Managers have a habit of hoping that an uncomfortable issue, employee conflict or disagreement will go away on its own if they don’t provoke it or try to resolve it. Trust that It won’t.

Issues, especially among people, get worse unless something in the mix changes. Proactive intervention from the manager to coach and mentor, or to make sure employees have the skills necessary to resolve the issue, is imperative. Drama and hysteria do interrupt productivity, motivation, and employee engagement.

Develop Working Relationships

You can develop warm and supportive relationships with employees who report to you. But, you will have difficulty separating the reporting relationship from friendship. Friends gossip, go out together, and complain about work and the boss. There is no room for their manager in these kinds of relationships.

Communicate Effectively and Create Transparency

The best communication is transparent communication. Sure, some information is company confidential. You may have been asked to keep certain information under wraps for a while, but aside from these rare occasions, share what you know.

Being a member of the in-crowd is a goal for most employees, and the in-crowd has information—all of the information needed to make good decisions. Ask for feedback, too. Ask people for their opinions, ideas, and continuous improvement suggestions, and if you fail to implement their suggestions, let them know why, or empower them to implement their ideas themselves.

Treat Everyone Equally

You don’t necessarily have to treat every employee the same, but they must feel as if they receive equal treatment. The perception that you have pet employees or that you play favorites will undermine your efforts to manage people.

It goes hand-in-hand with why befriending reporting employees is a bad idea. Employees who are not in your inner circle will always believe that you favor the employees who are—whether you do or not. This perception destroys teamwork and undermines productivity and success.

Take Responsibility for Failures Too

Rather than taking responsibility for what goes wrong in the areas that you manage, blame particular employees when asked or confronted by senior leadership. When you know the responsibility is ultimately yours if you are the boss, why not act with dignity and protect your employees? When you blame employees, you look like an idiot, and your employees will disrespect and hate you.

Trust this. They will find out, and they will never trust you again. They’ll always be waiting for the other shoe to fall. Worst? They’ll tell all of their employee friends about what you did. Your other staff members will then distrust you, too.

Your senior managers will not respect you either. They will question whether you are capable of doing the job and leading the team. When you throw your employees under the bus, you jeopardize your career—not theirs. And, it won’t remove one iota of the blame from your shoulders.

Managers make mistakes in addition to these ten, but these are the ten that are most likely to make you a terrible manager—the type of manager that employees love to leave.

Source: Thebalancecareers.com
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How to communicate effectively in times of uncertainty

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on February 2nd, 2021 by admin

These five fundamental tools can help leaders effectively communicate with their teams and carry their organizations through uncertain times with a renewed sense of purpose and trust.

During a crisis, an employee’s most trusted source of information is often their employer. For this reason, a leader’s words and actions can have a major impact on the well-being of those they manage; they can help keep people safe, help them adjust and cope emotionally and help them put their experience into context and draw meaning from it.

But crises also present leaders with infinitely complicated challenges and no easy answers. Tough trade-offs abound, and with them, tough decisions about communicating complex issues to diverse audiences.

The good news is that the fundamental tools of effective communication still work. Define and point to long-term goals, listen to and understand your stakeholders, and create openings for dialogue. Be proactive. But don’t stop there. Superior crisis communicators also do these five things well.

1. Give people what they need, when they need it. 
People’s information needs evolve in a crisis. So should a good communicator’s messaging.

In a crisis’s early stages, communicators must provide instructing information to encourage calm; how to stay safe is fundamental. As people begin to follow safety instructions, communication can shift to a focus on adjusting to change and uncertainty. Finally, as the crisis’s end comes into view, ramp up internalizing information to help people make sense of the crisis and its impact.

2. Communicate clearly, simply, frequently. 
A crisis limits people’s capacity to absorb information in the early days. Focus on keeping employees safe and healthy. To convey crucial information to employees, keep messages simple, to the point and actionable.

People tend to pay more attention to positively framed information; negative information can erode trust. Frame instructions as “dos” (best practices and benefits) rather than “don’ts” (what people shouldn’t do, or debunking myths).

Also, communicators regularly underestimate how frequently messages must be repeated and reinforced. The study, “Inverted U-shaped model: How frequent repetition affects perceived risk” published in 2015, showed that an audience needs to hear a health-risk-related message nine to 21 times to maximize its perception of that risk. Establish a steady cadence; repeat the same messages frequently; and try mantras, rhyming and alliteration to improve message “stickiness.”

3. Choose candor over charisma.
Trust is never more important than in a crisis. Those who fail to build trust quickly in crises lose their employees’ confidence.

Be honest about where things stand, differentiating clearly between what is known and unknown, and don’t minimize or speculate. Give people a behind-the-scenes view of the different options you are considering and involve stakeholders when making operational decisions.

Judiciously share your own feelings and acknowledge the personal effects of emotional turmoil. Remember that what you do matters as much as what you say in building trust, and scrutiny of leaders’ actions is magnified during a crisis.

4. Revitalize resilience.
As the health crisis metastasizes into an economic crisis, accentuate the positive by sharing stories and creating uplifting moments to reignite resilient spirits.

Additionally, strengthen communal bonds to restore confidence. Helping others is a great way to improve well-being and reduce stress. It’s also important to rebuild a common social identity and a sense of belonging based on shared values, norms and habits.

5. Distill meaning from chaos.
The crisis will end. Help people make sense of all that has happened.

Early on, be clear about what your organization will achieve during this crisis. Establish a clear vision, or mantra, for how the organization and its people will emerge. Explore ways to connect the disruption employees face to something bigger.

While it’s important to shape a story of meaning for your organization, it’s equally important to create a space where others can do the same for themselves. Ask people what conclusions they are drawing from this crisis and listen deeply.

Relying on these practices will help team members stay safe and infuse understanding and meaning in communities, helping to carry an organization through a crisis with a renewed sense of purpose and trust. For further guidance, please read “A leader’s guide: Communicating with teams, stakeholders, and communities during COVID-19.”

Source: McKinsey.com, February 2021
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