Category Archives: People Matters

Posts related to the people side of strategy and operations

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Leading Online Business Site Publishes IntelliVen Article on How to Drive Elite C-Suite Performance

Flevy, the marketplace for premium business documents, has published an article on an innovative approach to assessing and developing top team skills by IntelliVen Principals PeterD and Dr. Brent Green. A recent case study is covered in the article.

In a traditional performance evaluation, someone is assigned to compile and review with each executive a summary of her/his strengths, contributions, growth, and opportunities for improvement. The traditional process has many weaknesses which are summarized in the article, such as:

  • Compiling a quality performance assessment is difficult; consequently it often gets put off to be done at the last minute but it also takes time to do a good job and time runs out.
  • Assessment content tends to be arbitrary based on ability, skills, and perspective of the reviewer and may not represent the best thinking or interests of the team.
  • Reviewers tend to avoid raising and dealing with tough matters that should be addressed aggressively because it is uncomfortable and they are not trained or motivated to do otherwise.

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How to head off unwanted voluntary attrition and what to do when it happens.

Exit Interview Form Icon - unwanted voluntary attritionWhen an employee departs voluntarily it is almost always unanticipated and unwanted. Too often, though, leaders rationalize that employees who leave voluntarily were marginal and will not be missed.

To keep the best on board, and to head off after-the-fact rationalizations, ask managers now to identify employees they would least like to lose. Go on to also ask what is being done to keep each and every one of them engaged and on track to success in the organization. Follow up to make sure what needs to be done is actually done.

When any employee leaves of their own choosing, assign a senior person with no stake in the case to speak with the departed. Use the survey questions in the form linked to the above graphic to draw out what happened, why s/he has decided to leave, and to be sure whatever needs to be unearthed and learned is brought to light. Continue reading

What to do when an employee no longer cuts it.

Two PeopleBefore terminating an employee for poor performance, first double and triple check that the real problem is not that  expectations are undeveloped, unclear, or not understood and aligned with abilities and interest.

Resist the temptation to reassign the person to another part of the organization in order to not have to deal with the matter. Instead collect, consolidate and review input from the team with respect to what s/he is good at doing, what s/he has recently contributed, how s/he has grown, and what s/he should focus on doing and accomplishing next.

Validate that the assignment is a good match with employee skills, interests, and experience. If it is, but performance lags, it may be due to distractions or lack of drive. Talk through with the person, tweak incentives if needed, and, if lack of attention and effort is the problem, insist s/he focus on what has been asked. Continue reading

Paying Fair: Four paths to fair pay and succession for private venture executives.

Synthetic Equity Cover - Paths to fair pay and successionBackground

Public company equity-based pay practices, such as stock, restricted stock, and employee stock options are often a poor fit for private companies committed to reward leaders for performance and growth and to motivate leadership and capital succession.

Equity based programs that make sense and work well in a public company come with many ills for private companies: they can be costly, tax-inefficient, static, ineffective, and sometimes downright unfair. In the worst case, equity pay practices can derail the owners’ plans for growth and succession.

Dynamic synthetic equity presents a more tailored solution for private companies interested in leadership and capital succession. Restricted stock and employee stock options often distort outcomes for private companies. Consider that:

  • The underlying stock price in a private company gyrates as owners enter and exit from, for example, a living or a death buyout or even a recapitalization. Stock price can jump 50% – unjustly rewarding the owners of true equity awards.

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How a top team spent a little time and took a big step to the next stage of growth.

Skills by stageBackground

Leaders of fast growing, early-stage organizations operate at a fast pace. Often the last thing there is time to do is assess the top team’s performance to determine how to prepare them for the next stage of growth.

Most team members know each other pretty well. They have a good idea what each other is good at, has contributed, how they have grown, and what each should focus on next for success. However, team members rarely have the time, energy, training, or nerve to share what they know in a forthright, supportive conversation with one another.

Yet there are serious consequences to not providing feedback when it is needed most. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “How To Tell If You Are a Jerk in the Office” (C-Suite Strategies, Journal Report, Feb 23, 2015), for example, highlights the importance of confidential feedback for executives. Not only are leaders and co-workers affected adversely by dysfunctional behavior but business performance and customer service can be damaged, often permanently, if poor behavior continues.

IntelliVen, a San Francisco-based organization improvement firm, uses a proprietary approach to help leaders and their top teams address top executive feedback head-on. Early this year, for example, IntelliVen worked with a rapidly evolving, $10M financial analytics firm serving Freddie Mac, US Treasury, and Capital One among other leading US financial institutions. The IntelliVen approach was used to assess the top team of senior executives relative to norms for successful organizations at a similar stage of evolution and to identify individual and team opportunities for learning.

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Six Power Skills to Manage Organization Politics and Make the Most Out of Any Job.

Organization Politics GroupOrganization politics make a lot of people uncomfortable. The untrained hope is that if politics are ignored, and if a job is done well, then well-earned rewards will come. Things rarely play out that way.

Organization politics is defined as anything done at work to increase the odds of success that has nothing at all to do with the work itself. Master executive coach and workplace psychologist, Dr. Dory Hollander, presents three unassailable truths about how things work in organizations and Six Power Skills for mastering the art of career enhancement.

Three Unassailable Truths:

Truth 1 — There is Insider-Outsider Sorting

  • All organizations continuously sort people into insiders or outsiders.
  • There are things that distinguish insiders from outsiders among various stakeholder groups.
  • Insider/outsider status is subject to change.
  • Being an insider in one group is no guarantee of being an insider in another.
  • Leaders can help newcomers transition to insiders or let them struggle. The former makes more sense

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Why every organization needs its leader to try not to do anything.

Every organization has, or needs, a leader. And it is true that the power of one committed, clever person can make all the difference in the world. But no one individual, even the greatest leader, does anything of much significance alone. The simple truth is that it takes a team to lead an organization. The action motivated by this truth is for the leader to decide what kind of leader to be and then to attract, collect, and align his/her top team and collect followers.

The best leaders figure out that it is not all about them. It is about their organizations and the decision to either manage or lead is a false dichotomy. The one in charge needs to manage in order to lead and, indeed, can and should Manage to Lead his/her organization to achieve the stated vision. The top person’s job starts with managing his/her own self to lead. Continue reading

How an Executive Performance Assessment Process helped a COO become a CEO.

Self Knowledge - Populating Your Johari WindowLeaders of fast growing, early stage organizations operate at such a fast pace that often the last thing there is time to do is assess each member of the top team’s performance to determine how to prepare them for the next stage of evolution.

Most team members know each other pretty well. They have a good idea what each other is good at, has contributed, how they have grown, and what they should focus on next for success. However, team members rarely have the time, energy, training, or nerve to share what they know in a forthright, supportive conversation with one another. Continue reading

Critical Mass for Business radio interview uncovers why peer groups are important to leaders.

Ric Franzi, on Critical MasCritical Mass for Business Radio Shows for Business radio, featured a 50-minute interview yesterday afternoon with Peter DiGiammarino to discuss IntelliVen and Manage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World. Click the play button below to listen to the entire show.

An excerpt from their discussion follows:

Franzi:  You have outlined a “Support Structure for Success” of the top executive.  In it you suggest a CEO have an outside Executive Group and Belong to a CEO Peer Group outside their firm.  Would you take us through your thinking and what you why you feel they are so important?

 DiGiammarino: CEOs who participate in peer forums help each other become great CEOs and better people. Specifically:

  • It is a place where a CEO does not have to behave as if s/he knows all the answers and can, instead, be genuinely open to input and where it’s ok to be vulnerable, and even to be wrong, in front of each other; there is no need to put on airs or skirt around the hard stuff.

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Volunteer to Improve the World and Yourself

Act Intentionally...Persist Variously
Act Intentionally…Persist Variously

While putting full attention on accomplishing one thing increases the odds that the thing will be done well, it is all too easy for the career minded professional to end up doing nothing other than their work!

They would be wise to realize that top performers at all levels make time for other things such as family, recreation, exercise, spiritual development, and even volunteer work.

Participating in volunteer work can add a healthy perspective to life and position for growth which makes it all the more rewarding to find a way to pitch-in. Continue reading