Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Your Tag Cloud

What does your "tag cloud" say about you?

Some far more blog-savvy folks than I have been tinkering around with this idea, and have boiled down some thought leaders to see what they are all about via their unique tag clouds.

As a Technorati user, I get an updated tag cloud whenever I visit my blog there. The top ten terms that show up the most in my latest blog entries are:

~ change
~ leadership
~ management
~ stewardship
~ business
~ engagement
~ goal setting
~ spirituality
~ coaching
~ organization development

That seems right to me.

What is your tag cloud saying about you these days?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Feb 27, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

"Dare to Dream. It's Possible."

One of the best movies of 2007 was a wee little indie from Ireland called Once, about two musicians who meet and fall in love in Dublin. The stars, Irish busker Glen Hansard and Czech pianist Marketa Irglova, won an Oscar last night for Best Song.

The most poignant moment in last night's telecast was the return of Irglova, to give her acceptance speech after the orchestra had swelled when Hansard finished speaking (proclaiming "Make art! Make art!") and "played her off" a few moments earlier.

She said:

"The fact that we're standing here tonight, the fact that we're able to hold this, it's just proof that no matter how far out your dreams are, it's possible. And, you know, fair play to those who dare to dream, and don't give up. This song was written from the perspective of hope, and hope, at the end of the day, connects us all, no matter how different we are."

Best Actress winner Marion Cotillard said: “It is true there are some angels in this city.”

What a great line.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Feb 25, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Coaching's Bustin' Out All Over!

Coaching seems to be all around me lately...

Yesterday I had the good fortune of interviewing "Coach to CEOs" Stephen H. Baum for a webcast based on his new book What Made 'jack welch' Jack Welch: How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary Leaders. It is a rich conversation about the role of coaching in developing highly effective leaders. I hope you will tune in when it is broadcast on March 5.

A few of Stephen's coaching ideas:

- that leaders need to cultivate their own personal board of directors: a few trusted advisors who can provide wise counsel to a leader in time of need.

- that leaders should cherish their "guardian angels:" the people inside or outside the leader's organization who are looking out for the leader in some way.

- that leaders need to overcome fear and take the risks that will promote learning, breakthroughs, and further personal development.

- that effective leaders develop strong interpersonal communication skills, such as active listening and story-telling, in order to engage and inspire others.

Blogger and leadership coach Ron Hurst has honored (and stunned and flattered) me by featuring an interview with me at his blog, Material Leadership, where he has a series in progress on purposeful leadership development and coaching. Thanks, Ron!

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Feb 21, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Alternative to Performance Reviews

A couple weeks ago, inspired by Chief Happiness Officer Alex Kjerulf, I posted a blog entry about The End of Performance Reviews. Ah . . . if only that were possible. Since Performance Review is not likely to go away unless there is a viable alternative, here goes a suggestion.

Instead of the Performance Management and Review process, how about the Organizational Results Planning and Accomplishment (ORPA) process? The key elements would include...

~ Engagement = The ORPA process starts (and never ends) with linking and aligning employees to where the organization is heading and how it is doing. Information about the organization's strategy, goals, and performance is the life blood of ORPA.

~ Goals = Every employee is linked to the strategy via goals and objectives. The goals are not only SMART, but they are START NOW goals as well.

~ Strengths = The 21st century management theory is Theory S which says that we are at our best (and do our best) when we are using our strengths.

~ Coaching = Managers are trained to be Coaches who develop their players. Like coaches of sports teams, they focus on each player's strengths. Coaches then play to the strengths of each employee in order to benefit the entire team.

~ Recognition = Timely acknowledgement of progress and achievements, throughout the year, as well as at year's end, with a versatile arsenal of forms of reward.

Starting with engagement, and featuring a tri-focus on strengths, coaching and recognition, ORPA assumes competence, promotes performance, and expects achievements.

What do you think?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Feb 17, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Love and Chocolate

According to some recent research, love is good for the heart. . . as is dark chocolate and red wine.

Wow, three of my favorite things.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Feb 12, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

Living the History of the Future

I just saw a comment on someone's blog that the Democrat race for President between Hillary and Obama is so significant that "we may be living history."

That phrase --"we may be living history"-- caught my eye. Aren't we always living the history of the future?

I guess there are certain moments, like when John F. Kennedy was shot or when the World Trade Center was attacked, that stand out like sharp spikes on the ever-spooling graph of life. Moments that forever after we talk about by saying "Oh yes, I remember exactly where I was that day when..."

And in each person's life, there are days of great personal significance, like the day you got married, the day your child was born, or the day your parent died.

But when you stop and think about it, every day of life will someday be a day in history in the future, right?

So shouldn't every day be a day of meaning?

The reality is that a lot of our days (too many, in fact) are uneventful and flow by without much notice...and one day we wake up and notice that life is half over.

I want to "live the history of the future" each day with a sense of meaning and purpose. From what I hear in his speeches, I think Barack Obama wants this too. Maybe that's part of why he is so appealing to so many. He knows that he is "living history."

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Feb 11, 2008

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Positive Workplace Challenge

Blogger Jo, from Working 2.0, has posed a challenge to find and highlight organizations that are embracing a positive view of people and their potential, organizations that are well run and good places to work.

Jo suggests that we try to find 20 such organization by Christmas 2008. Seems doable to me.

OK, I am hereby tossing this challenge to the following folks:

- Don Blohowiak
- Annette Clancy
- Phil Gerbyshak
- Gautam Ghosh
- Alexander Kjerulf
- David Zinger

You are encouraged to answer it yourself, and you are invited to spread this challenge around to others.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Feb 7, 2008

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Employee Engagement Network

I joined another network on ning the other day called The Employee Engagement Network, founded by David Zinger (who I have mentioned on this blog before).

Looks like a good place to network on this important management topic. Already I've seen that Rosa Say, Phil Gerbyshak, Anna Farmery, and Cindy Ventrice are there.

I am hereby "spreading the word" to the following to join up: Kenny Moore, Bob Nelson, Loretta Donovan, Gary Lear, Francis Wade, Gautam Ghosh, Steve Pashley, Don Blohowiak, Anuradha Ganapathy, Terry Starbucker, Astha Parmar, Regina Miller, Ron Hurst.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Feb 5, 2008

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The End of Performance Reviews

Since it's "that time of year" when many organizations go into their year-end cycle of reviews, it seems appropriate to stir the pot on Performance Reviews.

Chief Happiness Officer and blogger Alex Kjerulf recently gave the pot a good stir with his entry called "Performance Reviews Are A Big Fat Waste of Time."

At the Mass Bay OD Learning Group, Jim Murphy has posted an intriguing question: "What is the OD view of performance management?"

As an OD Guy, I try to look at performance evaluation processes as objectively as I can, while recognizing that I do have a personal bias about them.

To adopt a more objective view, I could put on Deming's cap and ask, "Does this performance evaluation scheme promote or erode the values of Quality that Deming cared so much about," e.g.

- customer focus

- systems thinking

- teamwork

- process improvement

- fact-based decision making using measurement

- how employees are treated, motivated and developed

If the performance management process supports these values, it's a good thing. For instance, if it enhances how employees serve the customer, that is clearly a benefit to the organization as well as to customers and other stakeholders.

If it detracts from these values, it is a danger. For example, if it diverts employees from a focus on the customer to some other organizational value such as jobs-per-day, then productivity may increase while customer satisfaction (not to mention employee morale) may fall.

From my standpoint, the Deming position is a great way to get into a discussion of management's responsibility for stewardship of people.

Just as management is responsible for the utilization of the organization's financial resources, so also is management responsible for the utilization, and development, of the organization's human resources.

What makes this stewardship of people unique is the development aspect. This stewardship of development is operationalized through such processes as orientation, communication, mentoring, delegation, training, coaching, disciplining, giving feedback on performance.

Who is in the best position in the organization, to observe, and judge, the execution of this stewardship? The employees who receive (or do not receive) it.

That's where upward feedback comes in. Upward feedback is the process whereby subordinates give their boss feedback on how the boss is doing. For this feedback to be most useful, it needs to be structured. That way, the boss gets actionable input.

Far too much emphasis is placed on downward feedback (aka traditional "performance appraisal") in most organizations, with relatively little attention paid to how the boss is doing.

So, to wrap up, there are a lot of problems with performance review processes and
practices (see Alex' post for a good rundown).

The great W. Edwards Deming wrote that evaluation of performance, merit ratings, and annual reviews of employee performance comprise the third of his "Seven Deadly Diseases" of management. Why? Because there is often a conflict between these practices and the values of Quality.

Among the values of Quality that Deming cared so much about was how employees are treated. For Deming, the motivation and development of employees was tremendously important, yet very difficult, requiring a high degree of focus and skill on the part of supervisors and managers.

To the extent that an organization's performance management process supports the development of people through training, mentoring and coaching, it's a good thing. To the extent that it drains and demotivates people, it is a danger and should be considered a candidate for the corporate scrap heap.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Feb 2, 2008