Monday, May 26, 2008

You Are A STAR

Just a couple Saturdays ago at my church, I was teaching some job hunters the SOAR method for summarizing and communicating your accomplishments:

Situation - a statement of the time and place where the accomplishment occured

Obstacle or Opportunity - the problem (or opportunity) you faced

Action - the actions you took

Results - the results you achieved

An alternate way to do these is with STAR where the "T" stands for Task.

Today I noticed that Mike Schaffner mentioned STAR is his blog entry on Robin Kessler's Competency Based Performance Reviews. I am not familar with Kessler, but if she has a better way to do the dreaded performance review, I'll take a look at it.

My take on performance reviews is simply to ask:

- Does the process make us stronger and more effective as an organization?
- Does it enhance employee engagement?
- Does it help us to deliver a better product or service to our customers?

If it isn't strengthening people and adding value to the business, then it's hurting you. Scrap it.

The leader's job is to strengthen people for the challenges they face. To help them succeed. To make them shine like stars.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 26, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Blog Who You Are

William Zinsser once gave this now-famous advice to writers: Write what you know. And what do you know better than your own life story and the meaning you are making as your life unfolds?

The best bloggers, I think, proceed from this starting point. Here are a few I have recently come across.

Learn2Develop where Chris Morgan writes about his love for the Learning and Development field (my chosen field as well, for nearly 30 years).

Endless Knots where consultant Jessica Lipnack writes about all things virtual in a globally interconnected world.

Developing Leaders where Ron Hurst connects with other folks (including me) for conversations about managing, leading, coaching, and developing.

At his self-named blog, Michael Lee Stallard writes about leadership, engagement, and connectedness.

And last, though by no means least, Fearless Leadership where coach and blogger (and my colleague at AMA) Bettina Neidhardt gives advice on how to act with confidence.

Bettina's blog is just like Bettina in person: motivating, assured, direct, and fearless.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 25, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

The RASCI Tool

Looking for a helpful and easy-to-use tool to clarify accountability and enhance decision making, especially in projects and change management?

Many years ago, I was introduced to RASCI. I wish I could tell you who invented it, but I cannot. Maybe someone knows...and will add a comment about it?

RASCI is a way to delineate and clarify "who is doing what to whom" on a project:

R = The person who has ultimate Responsibility for the task or project. Only one person can have the R. If you work in an organization where several people think they have the R on a project, be ready for confusion...and failure.

A = The person who will Approve any decision on the project. This is the project owner and true decision maker.

S = The persons who will Support the project. These are the "go to" people who will help get it done.

C = The persons who will be Consulted along the way because of their expertise.

I = The persons who must be kept Informed along the way. These are the stakeholders who are the recipients of change. Keep them well posted and included because it will pay off later when it's time to implement.

Some versions of RASCI drop the "S" (i.e., RACI), but for my money I'll take the complete tool.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 23, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A City With Heart

Disappointment: a feeling of dissatisfaction that results when your expectations are not met; the feeling of being let down by someone or something.

Disappointment happens all the time. In the workplace, there can be many disappointments; for example:

- when a job turns out different than you had expected or hoped for
- when your ideas are dismissed
- when your request for flexibility is answered with policy

Psychoanalytic organizational consultant and blogger Annette Clancy from Ireland is studying disappointment. She was in New York recently, to speak about her research into the experience of disappointment in organizational settings.

One thing that she was not disappointed about was her experience of New York. She writes: "Each time I come to NYC I'm taken aback by the generosity of complete strangers. New York is a city that's dedicated to capitalism and the contemporary but it's also a city with a huge heart that remembers its friends."

I'm glad we did not disappoint her.

Those of us Americans that are of Irish descent often say that New York is the westernmost city of Ireland. Indeed, my Reilly (from Meath) and Doyle (from Cork) ancestors came here to start anew.

I wonder how much disappointment they felt when they left their homeland to trek to America?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 22, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pay Em to Quit?

Here's something you don't see every day: Zappos is a company that offers new employees $1,000 to quit.

Zappos is so serious about engagement that they have to know if the hew hire is truly committed to their company and passionate about serving customers. So, after being paid for 4 weeks training, they offer $1,000 to quit.

It's a test of the level of commitment to the organization.

Hmmm...I wonder what i would do?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 21, 2008

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ideas on Employee Engagement

Looking for ideas for engaging employees? How about 300 ideas?

Consultant David Zinger has just published an e-book that you might find useful. He calls it the Keys of Employee Engagement: 12 Authors and 300 Ideas Embedded in Their Employee Engagement Alphabets.

Here are a few excerpts:

David Zinger: Connection. Employee engagement is created through caring connections with others in the workplace and connections to our work — stay connected and you
will stay engaged!

Tim Wright: Mastermind. Engage your people in developing their engagement. Invite discussion, ideation, forums that generate ways to engage. No matter what you call it, every time your folks turn on their idea-machines, they engage themselves.

Lisa Forsythe: Differences . Celebrate the differences between people. Differences are opportunities to step outside our frame of reference and connect with others in a way they find meaningful.

Angela Maiers: Joy: Children are learning machines and have untold hours of play and joy...until... they are "educated" - educated to behave otherwise. If we want a better class of thinkers and innovators -- people with explosive curiosity and creativity, we need to bring FUN back into our classrooms. We need giggles and laughter, enthusiasm and excitement. School can become a place remembered for the love of learning, if for no other reason than it feels joyous!

Click here to download.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 9, 2008

Sunday, May 04, 2008

One Page HR

Not so long ago, I had a couple entries (here and here) about the problems with performance reviews, and some possible fixes. In a nutshell, my position is that this process should be blown up.

So the other day, at the 10th Annual New Jersey Organization Development Sharing Day conference, I truly enjoyed the keynote talk given by Marc Effron, Global VP of Talent Management for Avon. Especially the parts about blowing up HR processes that weren't working.

In his highly engaging presentation, dubbed One Page Talent Management, Effron described one HR process after another that he and his team ripped out and replaced with processes that were:

- built with client input
- designed to address business needs
- and as simple (i.e., easy to use) as possible

If there was a way to get it down to one page, he strove to do so.

For example, the new performance review is one page. There is a space for three goals. Beneath that, a space for two competencies. That's it.

Effron's position is that 3 or 4 goals per year is enough. Any more undermines focus, and your efforts get diffused. And while there may be many important competencies relevant to your job, you can only work on 1 or 2 at a time, so pick the two that are most critical to the goals you have for a given period.

Effron is so passionate about this business-centered approach to HR that he is starting a Talent Management network...and perhaps a movement.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 4, 2008

Friday, May 02, 2008

Why Do We Group?

Author and organization development consultant Geoff (The Consultant's Calling) Bellman is wondering, Why do people group?

I was at a conference yesterday (the 10th annual New Jersey Organization Development Sharing Day) where Bellman was a keynote speaker.

He asked us to think about a time when we were part of a group that accomplished something that we recall favorably. It could be a work group or a non-work group such as a family, or a ball team, or a rock band. Further, he asked us to distill from that memory, some of the factors that contributed to that successful group outcome. He then asked us to share those factors as three bullet points.

Mine were:

- Trust
- Collaboration
- Risk taking

Others said things like:

- Shared vision
- Team work
- Leadership
- Good communication
- Ability to resolve conflict

He then challenged our thinking, to peel the onion back further than we ever tend to go, to try and delve deeper into why we as humans form into groups, why we work together, and what it all means to us.

Bellman (who is writing a book on this topic) suspects that there is some primitive urge that is hardwired in us as a species: that grouping is a hallmark of what it means to be human. In other words, grouping is natural. It's in a group (first the family, and later other groups) that we discover meaning.

Organizations, on the other hand, may not be natural at all for most humans, Bellman suggests. Though organizations are comprised of many interacting groups, the most natural home for the individual person is in a small group.

Could this be one of the secrets to organizational excellence? Focus on building and sustaining successful work groups. Identify what is keeping the work group from reaching its potential. Then improve the conditions that promote work group success.

Hmmm...I think Bellman may be rediscovering what Organization Development was (and could still be) all about.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 2, 2008