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CEO Jobs are Dramatically Hard: Grow Leadership Talent from Within

CEO Jobs are Dramatically Hard: Grow Leadership Talent from Within

About 40 percent of CEOs disappoint within 18 months. These probabilities, plus demands placed on leaders, have caused a recession in senior executives who want the top position (from 50 to 35 percent in the last four years). Furthermore, CEO turnover is at a five-year high.

Who will lead companies in the future? This question has caused a leadership succession and development agitation. Boards are more apprehensive about finding executive talent wherever they can.

In his book Searching for a Corporate Savior, Rakesh Khurana, professor at Harvard University, proposes that looking outside for a CEO successor is part of a growing “irrational quest for charismatic chief executives” (selection of outside CEOs has gone from 6 to 50 percent in recent years). Fearing boards may be concentrating on the qualities of presence, personality, and media appeal rather than character and competence, he gives seven guidelines for finding successors:

  1. abandon hope for a corporate savior
  2. translate company strategy into operational terms
  3. identify skills required for key activities (activity/competency mapping)
  4. assess internal candidates
  5. search for external candidates
  6. test and choose from a short-list
  7. calibrate goals, milestones, and compensation to drivers of success.

'Searching for a Corporate Savior' by Rakesh Khurana (ISBN 0691120390) Khurana supports internal development of candidates, but admits that developing home-grown talent is not the only course.

After studying 276 companies that have decent track records at growing home-grown talent, The Corporate Leadership Counsel defined seven Hallmarks of Leadership Success:

  1. a culture of development
  2. enforcing development
  3. recruiting senior executives
  4. the power of meritocracy
  5. full business exposure for rising executives
  6. a focus on leadership skills in successor identification
  7. succession management.

Companies that are great at developing future leaders invest much time in fostering a candidate pool. As managers gain the essential training, coaching, on-the-job experience, they join an internal pool of high-potential candidates. But what divides the good processes from great ones is an emphasis on self-development.

'The Hero's Farewell' by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld (ISBN 0195065832) Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, former Dean of the Yale School of Management, calls this “an unrelenting drive for self-improvement.” You spot senior talent not just from their activities, but how they attain them. When great companies search for talent, they look for certain qualities.

In his book The Hero’s Farewell, Sonnenfeld classifies executives as Monarchs, Generals, Ambassadors, and Governors. Each has distinctive exit behavior related to the manner in which they identify with the title and role of CEO. Of these, three of the four classifications cause problems for incoming CEOs.

  1. Monarchs stay on the job until they die or are overthrown
  2. Generals leave reluctantly and look for ways to return to active service
  3. Ambassadors leave gracefully but maintain active, low-key relationships in the company
  4. Governors leave and go on to serve in other areas.

Monarchs suppress internal talent development because they can’t endure contest for their roles. Generals and ambassadors often restrict with or undermine incoming CEOs. Unluckily, boards tolerate monarch, general, and ambassador behavior.

All this leads me to conclude: Work harder on growing internal talent. You can improve your odds beyond 50:50 by doing the hard, but rewarding, work of developing more leaders internally.

While companies must often look outside for talent, having an effective process for developing leaders guarantees that you will have great candidates when the time comes to add or replace executive talent.

Posted in Management and Leadership

Marissa Mayer’s Office Hours at Google

'Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo' by Nicholas Carlson (ISBN 1455556610) For about 90 minutes a day, beginning at 4:00 pm, Mayer used to hold office hours at Google. She was a professor before she came to Google, and she kept office hours going. The much-vaunted “open office” for engineers, where bringing brownies increases a project’s chance of approval by 50%. Google’s Marissa Mayer cleared an hour and a half of her diary at the end of each day and staff could book an amount of that time by putting their name on a board in front of her office. This permitted her to supposedly fit a large number of very short meetings into a block of time where employees could come and talk to her about anything. Get-togethers which evidently emerged interesting product ideas counting Google News. A decent option perhaps than filling too much time up with the half hour/one hour blocks that managers tend to segment their calendars into, or to keeping an completely open door guidelines which might lead to excessively common interlude. Per this noteworthy anecdote from Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo by Nicholas Carlson:

Another Mayer habit that annoyed colleagues was one she picked up straight from academia. For many years at Google, Mayer insisted that if her colleagues wanted to meet with her, they had to do so during her “office hours.” Mayer would post a spreadsheet online and ask peopl~ to sign up for a five-minute window. When Mayer’s “office hours” rolled around in the afternoon, a line would start to form outside her office and spill over onto the nearby couches.

Office hours are socially-acceptable in an academic environment because the power dynamic is clear. The students are subordinate to the professor, who is usually their elder and mentor. But Mayer’s office hours were not just for her subordinates; they were also for her peers. So there, amid the associate product managers waiting to visit with Mayer to discuss their latest assignment or a class trip to Zurich, sat Google vice presidents—people who had been at the company as long as Mayer and in some cases held jobs as important as hers.

Posted in Management and Leadership

How to Build Lean and Agile Management

How to Build Lean and Agile Management

Hierarchical is out; horizontal is in.

There’s no room today for the multiple layers, slow decision making, and dependence on leaders. Successful organizations are characterized by consultation, collaboration, and cross-functional problem-solving, decision-making, and planning.

Why are horizontal organizations so much more nimble? Extended product development cycles are replaced by rapid movement from design to market; decision-making bottlenecks are eliminated; leaders empower and delegate; and the focus is on the success of the business, not individual functions.

Horizontal Leadership Success

Leaders intent on this transition must take four actions:

  1. Horizontal Leadership Success Look into the mirror. The top team sets the tone. Before expecting others to “go horizontal,” senior managers must ask, “What are the decision-making patterns on our team?” “To what extent do we see ourselves as accountable and responsible for one another’s success and for the outcomes of our team?” “Do we depersonalize conflict and confront one another honestly and openly?” If the president is still calling the shots; if team members are constantly lobbying for resources; or if internal conflict has brought decision making to a halt-it’s time to practice what we preach.
  2. Align all your teams-beginning at the top. Raising team performance and refraining team behavior begins with alignment. Ask seven questions to determine whether or not a team is aligned: Does the team have clear goals? Are those goals aligned with the strategy? Do all team members know who is responsible for what and how they will be held accountable? Are protocols or rules of engagement agreed upon so everyone knows how decisions will be made? Are rules in place for how conflict will be managed? Are relationships between and among team members healthy and transparent? Do people assert their point of view honestly and openly and treat disagreement not as a personal attack but as a business case?
  3. Shift from commanding to influencing. In the new paradigm, the one who wins isn’t the person with the most clout, but the one who possesses the right strategic instinct, content capability, rapport, and persuasion. When Susan Fullman was director of distribution for United Airlines, she was a cross-functional player in a hierarchical context. Her success hinged on her ability to influence rather than command: “I had to sell my vision to each director. And I couldn’t do that without learning to clearly articulate my ideas, depersonalize the way I made my case, develop my powers of persuasion-and learn to listen to each person and address their concerns.”
  4. Become a player-centered leader. The horizontal organization calls for a shift in the role of the leader to a new “player-centered” model. The question becomes: How prepared are the players to handle increased authority and responsibility? As teams proliferate and decision making becomes decentralized, people must step up. Managers must know each person’s capabilities and skills and adjust his or her “style” accordingly.

'Lead with Lean' by Michael Balle (ISBN 154480844) For example, when managing an inexperienced team leader, a senior manager needs to provide a high level of direction, structure, and support; but as team leaders become more competent, the senior manager can adopt a more hands-off style. The goal should be to inspire and empower, not prescribe or direct. Provide coaching and collaboration as each player requires.

Many leaders talk about decentralization, delayering, and empowerment. But decisions continue to be made by the CEO; functional heads are still vying for resources; and further down are vacationers and victims.

Horizontal organizations are more states of mind than states of matter. It’s not as much about titles and boxes as it is about every employee showing up, every day, as an energized, strategically focused team member.

Posted in Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology

Leadership Learning

Leadership Learning

The two most precious assets in the professional service firm are the capabilities of our people and the use of their time to produce results for the client. A delicate balance arises. Leaders require continual skill building, but time to learn is limited.

We discovered opportunities to leverage time in leadership development in a blended-learning solution.

Leaders learn the most on the job. So, target and pursue learning that extends the applications of key leadership capabilities on teams, in projects, and with clients. By employing multiple methods of learning, you can craft a leadership learning strategy that is delivered in a blended solution.

There are five steps to develop a blended model of learning:

  1. 'Hacking Leadership' by Joe Sanfelippo (ISBN 0986104949) Link learning to the core values. The clients’ experience of the firm’s core values is their relationship with each professional who represents the brand.
  2. Ensure that the business strategy is driving the learning agenda. The knowledge of critical client-service leadership capabilities and respect for time informs decisions on content and design.
  3. Conduct needs analysis and determine current capability levels. We conduct analysis on our shared competencies globally in 34 countries to determine where the real-time learning opportunities produce the maximum results.
  4. Select content and design a learning continuum. Our leadership roles model encompasses the capabilities required for success. This provides a framework for the leadership learning content. We designed a fully blended model to support the learning. The core of the model is Vision and the foundation Eminence and Expertise. Business and client Results are the target outcomes. Key roles of leaders and a selection of the primary skills required include:
    • Relationship builder: emotional intelligence, negotiation, trust and authenticity, consensus building
    • Communicator: influence, persuasion, listening, presence, storytelling
    • Innovator: change leader, creativity, custom solutions, risk taker
    • Global citizen: integrity, responsibility, diversity, global relationship network
    • Mentor/coach: developing next generation talent, coaching performance
    • Decision-maker: strategic analysis of options and courage to act, even when information is incomplete
  5. 'Learning Leadership' by James Kouzes (ISBN 1119144280) Extend the learning beyond the classroom to the job. Provide quality learning through on-line learning resources and coaching that is available just-in-time through a technology learning platform that gives access 24/7 to prime quality learning, when leaders need it and how it best works for them. This platform supports the blended leadership learning that is delivered over time in four main steps.
    • Launch leadership learning with a virtual class. A virtual class establishes the community of learning and values everyone’s time.
    • Push out self-paced online learning. A rich combination of online leadership assessment and individual leadership style report, e-learning, with readings and resources, are provided with opportunities to interact with coaches.
    • Conduct the classroom program. This highly valuable time is focused on knowledge exchange, problem-solving, action planning, practice application of new skills, performance coaching, building the culture, and networking.
    • Support on-the-job learning with targeted online learning. A combination of performance goal setting, dialogue with performance coaches, and availability of targeted online, self-paced learning incorporates learning on-the-job.

A leadership learning map offers just-in-time learning. Our experience has proven to us the power of extending leadership learning beyond the classroom.

Posted in Management and Leadership

The Magic of Customer Enchantment

Reality Check on Customer Enchantment

The Magic of Customer Enchantment We love hearing those service champion stories—always laced with awe-inspiring heroics and “happy ever after” endings. These way-beyond-the-call-of-duty stories are generally exotic, extravagant, and frequently involve helicopters, champagne, and penthouse suites. Then, we go back to work, thinking “My boss would kill me if I did something like that.” As the cold reality of work quickly freezes out the story’s warmth, it gets dropped in our brain’s “fairy tale” file.

But, is there another side to these enchanting stories? Could extravagant service have a return on investment of sufficient size to warrant repetition? Should managers challenge their employees to “bring me more lavish bills for unplanned, unbudgeted red carpet treatment for customers!” In this era of tight margins, ferocious waste reduction, and microscopic expense control, how do you cost justify an encounter which is by nature extravagant?

Service extravagance does have an important role in any service quality effort. Power, however, lies first in its uniqueness. A steady diet of extravagance and you not only abuse the bottom line, you turn unique into usual—and the magic disappears. However, what mileage can be gained by going the extra 10 miles? Assuming unique is kept unique, there are advantages to encouraging an occasional service extravaganza.

Experiment with service extravagance and customer enchantment

Three Big Benefits of Customer Enchantment

While the CFO might have to take a leap of faith, there are great payoffs of service heroics. Service indulgence fosters customer love and other benefits.

  1. Service Extravagance Releases Employee Power. When the subject of empowerment is discussed with leaders, they all bewail that employees have far more power and authority than they typically use. And, it is generally true. Get a group of employees together and they will quickly gripe about their lack of authority. Empowerment (or lack of it) is often code for fear of failure. Celebrating service heroics can encourage employees to “take it to the limit” and “push the edge of the envelope.” When their confidence is matched by affirmation, they learn to take risks. The goal is to encourage employees to experience the limits and, if they go too far, learn that the leader response will be support and coaching rather than punishment and rebuke. Empowerment begins with error; error begins with risks. Employees risk when they believe failure will spark growth, not censure.
  2. Service Extravagance Keeps Service Quality Top of Mind. The challenge in creating a service culture is how to keep the “shine from wearing off.” The early elation of the “The year of the customer” kickoff quickly turns to exertion when incensed customers make unreasonable demands on an already fatigued front line. How do you insure excitement wins over despair? Part of the answer is celebrated heroics. Effective service celebrations begin with “see.” The telling of heroic service stories provides a graphic pictures of what great service looks like. Too often those witnessing a celebration learn who but not why. They depart with little to emulate. So, tell the story in detail, along with the philosophy or attitude.
  3. Service Extravagance Builds Teamwork at Its Best. Service extraordinaire events, when instigated and implemented as a team, can raise morale and reinforce important lessons in interdependence. The adage that “nothing pulls a team together more than a crisis” can be expanded to a “celebration” as well. And, since teamwork is a decisive commodity in today’s service, the winners in the eyes of the customers are less likely to be the single acts of excellence, and more apt to be the collaborative efforts of colleagues who craft an experience which customers retell over and over. Simply the act alone can fuel teamwork.

'Delight Your Customers' by Steve Surtin (ISBN 0814432808) Remember: Celebrate customer extravagance as extra-ordinary. And, teach employees the principle behind the peculiar. Give leeway for the exceptional, and your employees will have exciting standards for excellence that can energize them to produce service performances customers will remember as special.

Experiment with service extravagance and customer enchantment.

Posted in Management and Leadership

Customers Expect Rewards in Exchange for Their Loyalty

'Customer Loyalty: How to Earn It, How to Keep It' by Jill Griffin (ISBN 0787963887) If you are over sixty, you may remember the thrill of filling S&H Greenstamps books and taking them to the redemption center.

That is how loyalty programs suck us in: we buy the things we always buy, but we get something extra. The more we buy, the bigger the reward. Today we expect loyalty programs to be part of our purchases, hence the popularity of frequent-flyer miles, supermarket discounts, merchandise rewards for credit card spending, and lower fees for maintaining higher bank balances.

But Loyalty Programs are Not Enough

You must offer a compelling value proposition and ensure that the customer’s experience is positive.

The financial value of a loyal customer is well documented. It costs a company to acquire (buy) customers with advertising, loss-leader items, and other incentives for initial purchases. If customers buy again, the company makes back its money. If they keep buying, more money is made. It becomes cheaper for the company to satisfy customers because repeat customers do not need as much support and understand the value of the brand. They even send new business. Therefore, companies need enticing ways of keeping customers.

You now have many options for incenting loyalty. You can offer discounts, provide points redeemable for free stuff, offer improved service (such as free shipping or fast turnaround), or priority treatment. As you look at your loyalty programs, determine which rewards appeal most to your customers—and then match the rewards to their desires.

Three Motivators for Loyalty

Three Motivators for Customer Loyalty Programs I see three reward programs, each supporting a different motivation for loyalty. Each motivation can be expressed positively or negatively:

  1. Reward/Greed. This is the “I get something for nothing” motivator. Flyer miles, and membership points are examples that appeal to people on a personal level. S&H Greenstamps recently reinvented itself as S&H Greenpoints ( Their motto is “Earn them on the things you buy. Spend them on the things that make you happy.” You now register as a Green–points user and collect electronic points for shopping at affiliated stores or Web sites. You redeem your points from an online catalog of products.
  2. Philanthropy/Guilt. Some customers react more on a community level. These customers respond most positively to loyalty rewards such as donations to charity. A good example is the affinity credit card. I have accepted credit card offers from banks because a small donation in my name will be made to my alma mater. You can get affinity cards for your favorite charity. It is a painless method of philanthropy because you do not take anything out of your wallet; the vendors with whom you do business give the money.
  3. Love/Obligation (or Fear). This loyalty program is targeted at customers who want rewards to serve them as a family rather than an individual. These customers also want relief from the financial burdens of family obligations. A new company that has endorsed this motivation for loyalty is UPromise. Its loyalty program makes donations in their children’s names to tax-deferred college funds when purchases are made from participating companies.

Most companies have a mix of customers with different hot buttons. You can offer different types of reward programs to appeal to each type of customer.

Dangers of Outside Loyalty Programs

Customers Expect Rewards in Exchange for Their Loyalty Loyalty programs provide rewards separate from the brand of the company sponsoring the rewards. In addition, there are dangers inherent in promoting outside brands as a bonus.

  1. More expensive to fulfill. When you offer a product from a different company, you may pay less than its list price, but the cost is still tangible, and you do not control it.
  2. Loyalty to the reward, not the brand. The biggest danger of offering rewards that are not part of your brand is that customers become more loyal to the reward system than to you.
  3. Held hostage to your loyalty program. As a company offering rewards you are, in some way, being held prisoner by your rewards provider.

As appealing as loyalty programs may be, they are not enough to keep customers coming back. Unless the customer finds value in your products and finds it easy and pleasant to do business with you, no loyalty program will work. You must have a compelling value proposition independent of any reward system. Your customers must value you! The loyalty reward is just a bonus.

Identify the motivators and incentives that appeal most to your target audience and customers.

Posted in Business and Strategy Management and Leadership

Leadership Lessons from Katharine Graham

Katharine Graham, renowned publisher of The Washington Post, spent 30 years overseeing and enlarging her media empire. Yet the rigidities of being CEO never discouraged her from the core mission of journalism, and she showed her responsibility by her actions.

The best leaders know that you cannot just talk about priorities; you have to exhibit what you care about by taking action. You can show your priorities in five ways:

  1. 'Personal History' by Katharine Graham (ISBN 0375701044) Get out of the office and into your employees’ ecosystem. Graham spent time in the newsroom each day. Ben Bradlee, the editor Graham hired who directed the paper through the Pentagon Papers and Watergate dramas, said that Graham had “round heels for reporters.” For her, “writing the first draft of history” (journalism) was at the center of her company. Employees felt she recognized their work because she observed it as it happened. In addition, Graham intensified her understanding of jobs in the newsroom by her direct observation, by listening, and by asking questions.
  2. Be proactive in building competence and knowledge. Graham held lunches for reporters in her private dining room, and welcomed experts for briefings. Journalists coveted being invited to these luncheons, which permitted them to deepen their knowledge of both their subject area and their publisher’s mentality. Once Graham brought in a psychologist to discuss personality disorders, notwithstanding the sensitivity she must have felt from her husband’s manic-depression and subsequent suicide. Graham carefully questioned the psychologist, and gave her journalists permission to explore the subject.
  3. Show that you are willing to jump in when needed. Graham built her resources by adding news bureaus worldwide, and boosted editorial budgets and staff, but she always saw herself as an operational part of the team. She would eagerly call in tips she picked up at social occasions and take excellent and extensive notes of speeches. During a violent press operator’s strike, which nearly shut down the paper, Graham lived inside the Post building. She did everything from taking classified ads to stuffing newspapers in bags, getting ink on her designer dresses. She was undeterred, and after the strike, directed the paper to its greatest financial success.
  4. 'Katharine Graham: The Leadership Journey' by Robin Gerber (ISBN 1591841046) Stand up for your employees. One Sunday afternoon Graham heard that the Chinese government ransacked the room of one of her foreign correspondents and held the woman for questioning. Graham did not pick up the telephone or ask for a letter of protest to be written. She put on her heels and single strand of pearls and drove to the Chinese embassy, marching up to the door and insisting on a justification. Her actions were not lost on her reporters.
  5. Follow your core convictions—even in small matters. In writing about Katharine Graham, Robin Gerber tried to get an interview with Warren Buffett, who had been Graham’s friend and mentor. In a final attempt, she sent Buffett the draft manuscript with a note saying that she hoped he enjoyed it. Two weeks later, he called her and talked about Graham, her leadership, and his relationship with her. He told Gerber about an occurrence he felt she had gotten wrong and gave her a quote for the book cover. Why did the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway take time to talk to Gerber? He could have dictated a note about the error, or asked his assistant to call. It is because the legacy of his friend is important to him. Devotion to relationships, identifying outstanding CEOs, and sticking with them has been a characteristic of Buffett’s success.

Leaders show their priorities through their actions. Think about how you are connecting to your staff through what you do, rather than through what you say. Make your actions fit your company’s mission and others will follow your lead.

Posted in Management and Leadership

How to Use Benchmarking as a Strategic Leadership Investment

Benchmarking in Strategic Management

Benchmarking is more than simply making a collection of statistical comparisons. If handled properly, the technique can be used to create significant efficiency improvements in your organization.

A company measures its performance against that of other companies to assess whether it standards are higher or lower.

Collecting snapshots of what that so doing, but failing to examine the reasons for differences in performance, and not using the data to identify and developing best practice.

Benchmarking in Strategic Management

There is little point in spending time and effort collecting comparative data for its own sake, or if managers use it is only to justify current standards.

There are five main stages to effect a benchmarking.

  1. Selecting aspects of performance that can be improved, and defining them in a way that enables relevant comparative data to be obtained—in effect, producing performance indicators that will make sense to other organizations.
  2. Choosing relevant organizations from which to obtain core or headline data
  3. Studying the state to improve possible opportunities for improvement.
  4. Examining the procedures of the best performing organizations to pick ideas that can be adopted or adapted to achieve performance improvements.
  5. Implementing any new processes.

'Benchmarking for Best Practices' by Christopher E. Bogan (ISBN 0070063753) In selecting performance indicators the call for in pieces of initial data collection, it is helpful to distinguish between input and output measures and, unpredictable, the place priority on the latter. It is often easier to define inputs and outputs. Examples of input measures include staffing ratios, per capita expenditure on training or, in manufacturing companies, the wearying proportions of labor, materials, and overhead costs.

The drawback with input measures is that they greatly provide an indication of the quality of outputs. Take, for example, the widely used indicator of response time to customer enquiries. This provides only part of the picture because it gives no indication of the quality of service. Apparently, good figures may conceal significant customer dissatisfaction, while longer response times may result in clients being delighted with the results.

Benchmarking for Strategic Leadership

Benchmarking for Strategic Leadership

Ideally, this practice involves high standards in both inputs and outputs. Indexes of customer satisfaction one form of output measurement. Some personal departments conduct surveys in which their international clients—the line managers—are asked to rate the quality of the various services provided by the Department. If other organizations conducting similar surveys can be found, these ratings can for part of a benchmarking study and may indicate areas where a change of procedures could lead to improvements.

There are two different approaches—genital and selective—are choosing organizations from which to obtain comparative data. The main purpose of the fourth month in is to produce a whole range of performance measures across an entire sector. Examples of general data sources include the government’s ratings of people performance in every primary school; the audit commission’s performance indicators for local authorities et cetera.

The state must be considered with caution. Misleading conclusions can be drawn from individual performance indicators when they are viewed in isolation.

Approach that is more selective is required when an aspect of performance and that requires attention has already been identified.

In this case, it is necessary to identify organizations of brought similar nature—preferably those with a reputation for effectiveness in the relevant activity.

With the topic-based benchmarking, it is possible to collect more data about a single issue than can be obtained from a general survey. It may also be feasible to ask but spends to supplement their answers by sending details of specific policies, such as copies of absence control procedures of performance appraisal guidelines.

Performance and Competitive Benchmarking

'Benchmarking The Search for Industry Best Practices' by Robert C. Camp (ISBN 1563273527) The purpose of obtaining benchmark data needs to be kept firmly in mind: identifying potential improvements in performance. Once such opportunities have been spotted, the more intensive aspects of benchmarking can begin.

The score beyond the study of comparative statistics and the documentation of other people’s procedures. They involve a detailed, on the ground study of the methods of high performing organizations. Understandably, this requires the full co-operation of the group concerned, though it is encouraging that many companies are willing to provide extensive information and facilities.

The organizations that have benefited from the suspect of benchmarking recommend the use of steady teams including staff from different functions and levels.

The final stage of the benchmarking process is the implementation of new systems. Here, it is important to recognize that the success of other businesses may be influenced by the motivational and cultural context in which their systems operate, as much as by the technical characteristics of the systems themselves. As a result, of the issues for steady teams to investigate is the nature of the homework environment—physical and psychological—in which best practice flourishes.

Posted in Business and Strategy

Best Practices for Managing Remote Employees

Virtual Team Management

Virtual Team Management As managers seek ways to cut costs, increase revenue and spark innovation, and employees strive for a better work-life balance, a mutually beneficial solution—telecommuting—is on the rise. In the U.S. alone, there are 28 million telecommuters, expected to double to 50 million by 2005.

To benefit, remote workers need the right tools to connect with colleagues, applications, and information. When telecommuters feel isolated, they become disconnected from current priorities and miss opportunities to contribute to their highest potential.

Afore undergoing its last earthly transformation, the external covering of the virtual team management, from the moment of its conception as an virtual team, passes in turn, once more, through the phases of the several companies.

The solution that addresses the challenge is a virtual e-workplace that provides employees with access to information and a broad set of Internet-based collaborative technologies, such as e-meetings, e-learning, and instant messaging designed to make them more nimble.

Ways to Successfully Manage Virtual Teams

Ways to Successfully Manage Virtual Teams An e-workplace provides users with a single point of access for the right technology tools to immediately access information, collaborate with colleagues, and participate in online training courses to improve skills. Virtual employees can streamline work by accessing information customized for their roles. For example, a salesperson might need access to information on products, customers, and competitors and connect with people who can address customer issues, provide expertise, or share best practices.

Another example is eHR. Integrating eHR capabilities into your e-workplace enables remote workers to attend to personal needs, such as understanding their health care benefit options, without having to speak with an HR professional. An e-workplace bolsters efficiencies and provides more flexibility. When they have left the countries to which their doctrines were unacceptable, and established themselves in a remote corner of the earth, this is neither possible nor desirable.

Building and Managing Virtual Teams that Work

Building and Managing Virtual Teams that Work Many organizations have an intranet in place. Large businesses can have as many as 300 to 10,000 intranet pages, each with their own look and feel and navigational construct. In this case, employees lose productivity searching for information. By consolidating these pages into one e-workplace and integrating team-based technology solutions, productivity and the quality of communication can skyrocket.

With team-based technologies, users, and remote workers can instantly form virtual teams and collaborate on the fly right from the intranet to respond to market changes. For example, if your intranet includes a corporate directory with connections into team-based technologies, users can rapidly find colleagues with a certain expertise and see where they fit. Aware of this context, the user can initiate contact through appropriate channels. These are not questions of liberty, and are connected with that subject only by remote tendencies; but they are questions of development.

For example, the user can see if the expert is online, click on the expert’s name, and instantly contact him or her via an instant message or in an e-meeting. The user could also create a virtual team room and invite the expert to comment on documents created and posted within the team room. Without an integrated e-workplace program, employees must navigate on their own to find expertise.

By giving people access to the information and experts they need at their fingertips, an e-workplace enables remote workers to be more productive, maintain their competitive edge, and respond quickly and accurately to demands from customers and partners.

IBM, for example, has achieved big benefits from its e-workplace program. The intranet has helped us to cut costs, saving an average of $10,000 per employee who goes “mobile,” meaning they give up their dedicated office space. In addition, employees conduct more than 8,000 e-meetings per month, saving us about $50 million per year in reclaimed travel and productivity costs.

Must-Know Strategies for Managing Virtual Teams

Must-Know Strategies for Managing Virtual Teams e-Workplaces increase collaboration among virtual teams. IBM’s e-workplace allows me to bring in the right expertise, regardless of their location.

As a manager of a remote team, you need to measure people based on their accomplishments and deliverables. Support their activities by ensuring that they have what they need to succeed.

Here are four guidelines:

  • Establish a purpose. Ensure that each virtual team member has a defined purpose and objectives against which they will be measured. When remote workers have goals and incentives for reaching those goals, they are more motivated and productive. Create a training schedule for your e-learning program, so that people are learning new skills.
  • Measure the output, not the process. Virtual teams are more structured than teams located in the same office. Since face-to-face meetings are not practical, you must adopt other ways to communicate and seek approvals. Managers of virtual teams should create a culture of trust, be available through instant messaging for quick questions, hold conference calls to identify when a project is off track, and make use of instant messaging, e-meetings, and team workspaces. Focus on output, not hours.
  • Balance between virtual and face-to-face meetings. While e-meetings are great for keeping up with progress, they are not so great for team building. Face-to-face meetings, for example, are important for brainstorming sessions, building trust, and getting to know each other. Schedule face-to-face gatherings quarterly to foster team building, rapport, and communication among team members.
  • Use presence awareness to show your virtual office door is open. Presence awareness technology embedded in an e-workplace will let your reports know when you are available to discuss progress, answer a quick question, or to chat about their concerns. It can also alert your staff if you are online via a mobile phone, so they know to keep messages short or call on the phone.

Managing the Virtual Team

Managing the Virtual Team Virtual teaming and telecommuting are necessary responses to our global economy. People are able to grasp the strength of the emotion out of which alone such work, remote as it is from the immediate realities of life, can issue. With an e-workplace, people can interact with more colleagues, break down barriers, respond more rapidly to customers, make decisions faster, and be more productive.

By placing the desired behavior along the path of least resistance, we turn it into the behavior we’re most likely to repeat. And the more we repeat it, the more likely it is to become a habit, and the less and less we need it to lie along the path of least resistance.

Posted in Education and Career Management and Leadership

Achieve Positive Outcomes Through Engaging Decisions

Decision making is the navigation system of choice for determined people and organizations. The word ‘ambitious’ is chosen intentionally.

Leaders often must wait to see the results of their decisions. Should they judge all decisions by outcomes? No.

Leaders need not wait for the results to measure their decision-making effectiveness. Instead, they ought to examine the process that they employ to make critical choices. By appraising the decision process in real time, as they make choices, they raise the odds of making sound choices.

Achieve Positive Outcomes Through Engaging Decisions Think about a decision that you and your team are trying to make. Do you considered multiple alternatives? Do you surface and test your assumptions carefully? Do rebellious views appear during your deliberations, and do you give those ideas proper consideration? Are you fostering high commitment and shared understanding among those who will implement the decision? A quality decision-making process tends to enhance the probability of achieving positive outcomes.

Good process does not simply mean sound analytics (the best use of the latest strategy framework or quantitative financial evaluation technique). Good process entails the astute management of the social, political, and emotional aspects of decision-making as well. An effective leader does not just produce positive results by pondering in on the content of critical choices in a wise and thoughtful manner; he also shapes and influences how those decisions are made.

A decision made before a problem has been solved (an ‘early decision’) is likely to fail. Leaders can augment the quality of their decisions in two ways:

  • Constructive Conflict. Leaders must cultivate constructive conflict to enhance critical and divergent thinking, while building consensus so as to facilitate the opportune implementation of their choices. Managing the tension between conflict and consensus is a challenge. Consensus is not unanimity, like-mindedness, or pervasive agreement. Instead, it’s a high commitment and shared understanding among the people involved in the decision. Leaders can build buy-in and collective comprehension without appeasing everyone on their teams or making decisions by majority vote.
  • Decide How to Decide. Assess who should be involved in the deliberations, what interpersonal climate you want to foster, how individuals should communicate with one another, and the extent and type of control that the leader will exert. Leaders have several levers that they can employ to design more effective decision-making processes and to shape how they unfold over time. Leaders should be directive when it comes to influencing the way in which decisions are made in their groups without trying to dominate or micromanage the discussion and evaluation. Deciding how to decide enhances the probability of managing conflict and consensus effectively.

Leaders must strive for a balance of assertiveness and restraint. The question is not whether they should be vigorous and directive as they make strategic choices, but how they ought to wield their influence.

To make the most of the expertise and ideas that other members possess, leaders need to refrain from pronouncing their solution to a problem, before giving others a chance to offer their perspectives. They must acknowledge that they do not have all the answers, and that their initial insight may be incorrect. Their behavior, principally at the outset of a decision process, can encourage others to act deferentially. Even the best choices mean little if interdependent units won’t cooperate to execute the decision.

By exercising restraint, leaders recognize that their knowledge in a particular domain is often imprecise and incomplete. Undemonstrative leaders constantly search and explore for new knowledge, rather than seek the data and opinions that confirm their opinions.

Reflect on past choices and scrutinize how you make decisions. Experiment to enhance your odds of making sound choices, and solicit others who will devotedly execute your plans.

Decision planning can be significantly enhanced by using a team, and in companies and organizations there is no choice.

Posted in Management and Leadership