Tag Archive: performance management

The 4 Leadership Essentials Required for Long Term Success

September 19th, 2013
Excellent leadership is required to outshine the competition.

Excellent leadership is required to outshine the competition.

No matter the client, I’m continually reminded of the critical importance of leadership. If you have to choose between leadership skills and prior work experience / technical skills, undoubtedly, leadership skills must win the day. My clients with exceptional leaders outperform the rest – every time.

So, what could be more important than discussing leadership essentials? In my 20+ years of experience as an entrepreneur, business consultant and business executive (and thanks to my HR mentor), I’ve uncovered the top leadership essentials required for long-term success. 1) Integrity. 2) Vision. 3) Communication. 4) Performance management.

1. Integrity – It’s vital to start with integrity. Without integrity, none of the other essentials matter. A year or two ago, I did a survey of a dozen business executives on keys to success. I was surprised that every successful executive included integrity on the list. You don’t typically see this in popular business books or discussed at conferences yet it was one of the only essentials in common among the best leaders. Take note of the importance as there is no way to “train” or provide experiences to build integrity.

2. Vision – People follow those with vision. Enough said. How do you know if someone has vision? Do they seem to be confident about where they are headed? Do they share where the company is headed? Why it’s headed there? Do they seem passionate about it? If so, you’ve found a leader with vision.

3. Communication – If there is something in common across almost every client, it is the feedback of the lack of robust communication. Communication is bedrock to success. For example, if your team doesn’t know where they are headed, why they are headed there, how each person matters etc.; do you think they’ll be interested? I doubt it. Do you provide upfront communication? That’s not nearly as easy as it sounds. Do you make sure to ask for feedback? Do you continually clarify plans? Do you keep people in the loop? Communication alone can be a full-time job!

4. Performance management – Typically I try to limit my key points to three; however performance management cannot be forgotten. Assuming integrity is intact, those leaders who partner with employees to set goals, provide ongoing feedback, celebrate successes, track progress, and provide career planning advice will leapfrog those who don’t every time. The biggest roadblock I hear consistently is the lack of time. What could be more important? Make it a priority.
Not only will solid leaders never go out of style but they are also critical to achieving bottom line business results. Start by making leadership a priority. Without it, you might as well hang up your hat.



Profit Through People

September 17th, 2013
Solid leaders develop strong teams and deliver results

Successful leaders develop strong teams and deliver results.

In my experience as a global business consultant and former VP of Operations, I’ve yet to find a business with lousy people practices and successful long-term business results. Instead, I’ve found several mediocre businesses with exceptional people who thrive.

Undoubtedly, people are your #1 asset.

Even though I typically am called into clients to elevate business performance derived through topics such as supply chain and operations management, collaborative inventory programs (such as Sales & Operations Planning) and ERP selection and project management projects, the 80/20 of my time and success goes back to people. Do you focus on people as if they are your #1 asset?

I’ve used Profit through People as a core brand since my consulting practice’s inception as I valued people and their impact on the bottom line. Recently, I’ve re-branded and created additional service lines/ brands yet Profit through People remains intact. Similarly, I’ve noticed that my best clients keep people forefront in their mind.

I’ve found the following topics to be of upmost importance when it comes to people: 1) Leadership. 2) Culture. 3) Change management. 4) Performance management

  1. Leadership: As my HR mentor used to say, “It begins & ends with leadership.” Thus, I had to give this the first position on the list! She was unequivocally correct. In consulting, while you are working on a particular project, you absorb what is going on around you. Thus, you’re in the interesting position of observing various approaches and seeing the results. Solid leaders develop strong teams and deliver results. Weak leaders surround themselves with less-capable leaders who struggle and fight fires.

    To sum it up, leaders need to think about what they say, what they do, how their perceived etc. Everyone is watching and will follow suit. Do you value employees who go the extra mile for the customer? Or do you value employees who help to achieve an internal metric while asking the customer to hold? Do you address poor performance or sweep it under the rug? One of my most interesting observations is that employees are energized to perform when they see the leaders making tough choices – and sticking to them. If you think it’s swept under the rug and forgotten, it’s not!
  2. Culture: I used to lump culture with people in my mind until I realized that too many companies ran straight into the wall, even with great people, if the executives didn’t deliberately consider culture. What set of beliefs governs behavior in your company? Does your culture support what you’d like to achieve?

    Changing culture can take time; however, it is important to think it through and deliberately manage it. Most often, I find that employees aren’t the roadblock with culture change; it’s the leaders. Which metrics are you tracking? Who do you recognize? Do you find exemplars to help instill the culture? Or do you tend to seek out the familiar?
  3. Change management: In today’s new normal business environment, volatility is the new norm. Thus, change will become more commonplace – sales peaks and valleys are typical, customers lose contracts, suppliers go out of business, natural disasters occur, political turmoil extends the supply chain etc. How do we manage change successfully?

    In my experience, people aren’t afraid of change. Instead, they are afraid of understanding what the new roads mean and how it will affect them. Will they be able to attain the skills? What happens if they make a mistake? How will they work through problems? Who is on the team? The more you help define the path forward, the better. Additionally, if you’ve created the right environment and culture to support change, you’ll be exponentially more successful.
  4. Performance management: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention performance management. It is the most overlooked “people priority” in organizations today. Do you sit down with your folks to set goals? Do you discuss potential roadblocks? Support systems? Do you track progress? Do you provide immediate positive and corrective feedback? How often do you meet with your employees? I find that managers and leaders complain about their people yet say they have no time to sit down for 30 minutes on a weekly basis – how can this be? Certainly not your #1 asset?!

    Those executives and companies that prioritize people succeed. Profit is NOT the main focus yet profit always follows. It might be counterintuitive; however, I’ve yet to have a “labor dollar” think up a multi-million dollar idea whereas people often do!

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Why bother with a year-end review?

November 27th, 2012

Only if you want the best employees!

I find it interesting that many managers do not have “time” to talk with employees about performance. The lack of time is not a resource issue; it is a priority issue.

How can we not dedicate a few minutes to our most important assets – people? I’ve continually found that those who value and provide constructive and positive feedback continually not only outperform their peers but have happy employees to boot! Similar to time, money isn’t a motivator; it’s only the lack of money that is a motivator. Instead, employees who are valued, appreciated and paid attention to tend to be more motivated – interested in the company’s success. After all, who isn’t interested in someone showing interest in what we’re doing?

Listen to my webinar about the importance of conducting a year-end review – and tips for success to kick off 2013 on the right foot.



Why Care About Year-End Reviews?

October 22nd, 2012

Certainly, every one of my clients has more to do than can possibly be done! In today’s new normal business environment, customers want better and faster service with higher levels of collaboration – for less money. Yet most businesses remain lean. Thus, the trick is how to stand out in the crowd vs. your competition in this challenging environment. In my 20+ years of experience across multiple industries and globally, I find it boils down to people. Of course, process and systems are important as well; however, I’d take exceptional people anyday over solid processes and systems without the exceptional people!

Therefore, hiring is critical; however, with the shortage of high-skilled talent available in today’s economy (and the upcoming retirement of the baby boomers with their vast experience), you must retain and build top talent. I’ll discuss this topic in my upcoming ExecSense webinar, “CTO Best Practices for Holding Year-End Reviews with Your Teams“.



Lisa’s Tips – Safety

November 6th, 2010

Bedrock – always appropriate. I want to thank my mentor in this topic, Debra Daniels for her expertise – Debra, have I incorporated your wisdom appropriately?

Build safety into the culture – most safety programs are pointless as they are considered an outside program (and many times, meetings are viewed as something to survive through). Instead, build it into the daily routine – it is the ONLY road to success.

Emphasize common sense – instead of complex programs and useless signs that most employees ignore, emphasize common sense. If sticking your hand into the machine might cause it to be cut off, don’t do it. Obvious but not necessarily common if the company focuses all communications on efficiency at the expense of all else.

Involve the employees – who knows best what is safe and how to ensure safety? The person dealing with the topic on a daily basis.

Make safety a top priority – it doesn’t work to say it’s a top priority but only follow it when convenient or easy. Instead, communicate its importance. Assign key resources to the topic. In essence, show that it’s a priority.

Don’t forget to track progress – TIR or total incident rate is a common metric. Track progress. But ensure that employees are encouraged to report close calls and opportunities; otherwise, you’ve violated the #1 rule of “saying it’s a priority but not demonstrating it’s a priority”.