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A 5-step process for handing-over work to other people

We all have things to do. Some of us have lists and lists of things to do. But that doesn’t mean everything on the list should be done by us, ourselves, alone. Before you take any action, slow down, look at your to-do list, and consider the following process for handing-over work to other people…

 

STEP ONE: Figure out what is for you and what is not… Ask 3 questions

What must I do myself?

  • These are the things that it would be wrong to give to anyone-else. This is your core functional and personal business. You can’t hand-over a personal medical check-up to someone else and you shouldn’t be handing over strategic decision making either.

What could I give to someone else?

  • Strictly speaking, this is everything left over after the first question. But its worth asking again as it gets you thinking about why you could hand it over. Sure, I like the grass to be cut in nice straight lines and sure I enjoy making that report, but I certainly could ask someone else to do these things.

What should I give to someone else?

  • Depending on your vision of work, your answers may vary. If you are the “Tim Ferris type” you might think that everything that could be handed-over should be handed-over. If you are feeling guilty about workload, you might feel that you should be doing it all yourself. This question is about the reasons why handing-over work could be the best thing for you, for others and for the organisation. Of all the things you could hand-over to others, what things should you give away so you can focus on bringing more value to the organisation? What jobs will give someone else the opportunity to grow and bring more value to the organisation?

 

Possibly, as you tried to answer these questions, you were thinking: “But there is no-one else!” and so the answers went as follows: Everything, nothing, not-applicable.

To really use this process, you need to forget all of this during step one and just move forward. Imagine a perfect world where you were surrounded with opportunities to hand-over work. Now go back and answer the questions!

 

STEP TWO: For whatever tasks you have decided should be handed-over to someone else, define the competence required for the job

Now you have listed tasks/jobs that you ought to give to someone else, answer the following 3 questions for each of them:

  • What knowledge is required to do this job?
  • What skills are required to do this job?
  • What attitude is required to do this job?

 

This step is all about defining requirements for the job. There may be other requirements like time, resources, specific environmental requirements… but right now, we are trying to imagine what competence someone would display in doing the job. Don’t worry yet about who does or does not have this knowledge, skill or attitude. Just name it.

 

STEP THREE: Think about the right people for the work

This is usually the point where people say again “But there is no-one!”. And telling you again to “imagine a perfect world” is too much to handle. So let’s get realistic about people with the following 5 questions. Answer them as they appear. Don’t get stuck on asking whether those people want to do the work or not…

  • Of the people who work for you, who could be good for this job and why?
  • Of the people in your immediate surroundings, team or department, who could be good for this job and why?
  • Of people in any part of your organisation, who could be good for this and why?
  • Of anyone else you know outside the organisation, who could be good for this and why? (yes, ANYone!)
  • Of anyone anywhere currently unknown (!?) who could be good for this and why?

 

Reading these questions, some people will find them ridiculous. But taking the time to ANSWER them often provides new insight. You might realise that this thing should never have been on your to-do list in the first place. Or that its time to recruit. Or that you have a bigger network than you thought. Or that your lower-level tasks can actually be awesome motivating work for someone else…

 

STEP FOUR: Take care before you take action

If by now you are ready to hand-over work to someone, just take a moment to define the risks associated with that:

  • How could this all go wrong? How likely is it that it will go wrong?
  • What will be the impact of this work not being done well?

 

Be careful with these questions. If you are into controlling everything or worried about letting people down, its very easy at this point to just think: “The risk is too high – I’d better do it myself”. But by now you should have realised that doing everything yourself is not the best solution ..or simply not possible.

 

STEP FIVE: Hand-over the work in the right way

Now it is time to actually give this work to someone else, take one last moment to consider the following 3 questions:

  • When is the right time to hand-over this work?
  • What support do you need to help you get the support you need?
  • How will you communicate the job hand-over?
  • How will you follow up on the work?

 

If you have followed the 5-steps and actually answered all the questions above, you might have realised a few things about yourself, the people you work with or your organisation. You might even be ready to hand-over some work.

 

Good luck!

 

 

ATD Keynote: Andrea Jung and 5 things leaders must remember today

Day 2 of the ATD2015 ICE is buzzing like 10,000 learning bees as delegates stream into the opening keynote session. Despite rumour that Mickey Mouse will be opening the conference, it’s Tony Bingham that takes the stage to introduce Andrea Jung for her talk. Former CEO of Avon, Jung was named one of the most powerful women in business by Forbes. She is here today to get us thinking about the 5 most important things leaders must remember in today’s global context..

 
 

The first thing Andrea Jung told us was about the importance of vision and values. She says that leaders have to ensure that vision and values are a real global language. Having spent the day yesterday with Jim Smith and Rick Lozano thinking (among other things) about personal mission, I am not so cynical about mission + values statements today. Often, as a employee, we see them as only words on a poster. But Jung believes that if we really mean it and really live it, it can make a real difference. I think it’s all about aligning the right people to the right passions and motivations and it starts at recruitment: Get the people in who really want to live this particular dream. Then help them to do it.

If the vision and values are sorted, then it’s all about influence. Jung says that leaders today are not about power. Cultivating motivation and engagement is key. And for this, you will need the competence of communication.

So, we have vision and values and we are influencing with communication. Now what? According to Jung, there are 2 special ingredients left: Innovation and women. As a board member at Apple, it’s no surprise to hear the word “innovation”, but what is the story with women? 

According to Jung, women are still the great untapped potential. Despite 51% of the population being women, most leaders, lawyers and business people are still men. This needs to change. She does not advocate filling the board room exclusively with women, but she does make a call for change. Considering her last messages about “being nice and kind”, I would say that’s not a bad thing. 

(But that could be a little sexist, right? 🙂 )

The Happiness Advantage and The Orange Frog – Dick Ruhe at ATD2015

Following on the accidental theme of happiness in Orlando today, I wonder if The Universe is trying to tell me something.. Time to get happy? As a fan of Tal Ben-Shahar’s “Happier” and the unpronounceable Hungarian-American’s “Flow” I am intrigued to see what session SU31XD has to offer. 

Dick Ruhe has taken the stage to tell us what the latest research on positive psychology can do for the workplace. (Tip number one: If anyone is looking unhappy, just slap ’em!) 

Ruhe starts by noting that most organisations seems to have the happiness formula backwards. We tend to think: Work hard -> Get success -> Get happy. But actually, it’s the happiness we need first. When we can find ways to get happy, we will work better and get better results. And when we keep this in mind people produce better business results. According to Ruhe, there are 7 principles we need to bear in mind if we want intrinsic motivation and increased engagement…


The happiness advantage
Organisations need to know this: Happy people get better results and attrition goes down. Ruhe cites how the brain creates endorphins and people feel better. But he adds that studies of successful organisations show that happy people are more satisfied and tend to stick around.

Do you believe this?


The fulcrum and the lever

The lens through which we see the world (the fulcrum) doesn’t shape us. It’s the way we see things that shape us. Two people can see the same situation completely differently. And if we can do something with that (the lever) we can influence our happiness and our results. Ruhe says that will require effort from leaders. We need to look for and embed positive (happy) experiences and work towards getting more of that. 

Are you doing this?


The Tetris Effect

These are the patterns we have for doing things in the organisations. After time, those patterns become habits and traditions and we continue to get more of the same things, over and over again. We need to see how the pieces are falling and what we can do about it to line things up better for happiness.

Are you doing this?


Falling-up

When people fail, falling-up is about how they focus and take action to move in a new direction to bounce back. The “on the other hand…” vibe. Ruhe mentioned a study where people were told to imagine they had walked into a bank which was being robbed and got shot in the arm. They were asked: We’re you lucky or unlucky? 70% said “unlucky”.

What would you say?


Zorro circles

The brain perceives big movements and big changes as overwhelming, which limits forward progress. But if we can start off small and see results, the brain can record the “win” and maintain the belief that their efforts can have an impact. 

Are you helping your people see their results?


The 20 second rule

This is all about doing something that easily will move us forward. The next concrete (easy) action. For example, if you are thinking “I need to run more”, you might start making a big plan with a SMART objective and some challenges in there. But when it comes to actually running, if it’s easier to turn on the television than go running, no change is going to happen. We need to make it possible in 20 seconds to take some easy action towards are goal. Whatever it is.

How can you move forward now?


Social investment
Connecting with the people around us makes everyone more happy. Ruhe suggests that we take more time to do this, everyday. 

Are you?



Reading back my notes, some of the points seem so obvious, I wonder what I get from it. But if I’m honest, I know I can do better.

Can you?
Thanks for reading

@dan_steer


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Liz Wiseman wants us to multiply

Liz Wiseman is closing ASTD2013. At this point in the day, the audience is tough. Most, like me, have already followed about 16 intense sessions with learning leaders from around the world on a variety of topics. Many have listening, tweeted and taken other notes, all at the same time. (And they partied all night. Every night.) Some are leaving for the flight home now. Others are actually sleeping.

But the message is important and its simple: We need to stop adding and start multiplying.

Why do some leaders drain talent, while others multiple it? Why do some leaders drive their people to burnout, whilst others release passion and turn Rick Lozano into a training rock-star?

Many people approach leadership (and human resource management) from an “addition” point-of-view. If I need to add more results, I need to add more people. If I want to add more revenue, it will add more costs. This is not going to work in today’s environment, says Liz Wiseman. today, resources are scarce, costs and being cut and more and more people are heading toward burnout. So we need to get a “multiplying” mindset. Or as my good friend and colleague Oisin Varian says ( whenever he can 🙂 “It’s not working harder, it’s working smarter.”

According to Liz Wiseman, effective leaders today function within a “logic of multiplication”. Instead of adding more, then try to create more connections. Like my friend at KPMG told me, managers try to help people function better in networks, providing access to new opportunities for development and more flow. Rather than trying to add (unavailable) resources, the focus is on utilisation of available resources. And not squeezing more out, but igniting more passion, creativity and collaboration.

Being a multiplier starts with how you see your workforce: Some leaders see highly productive people, working like crazy and immediately think: “Good.” Others look at those people trying to find ways to be smarter, more agile and more innovative.

Wiseman quoted CK Prahalad for saying: “It’s not what you know, it’s how quickly you access what other people know.” We live in the collaboration era. It’s all about mobility, connectivity, sharing and crowd-creation.

So what do multipliers actually do?

In her book “Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter”, Liz Wiseman outlines 5 main activities:

  • Talent identification and management. Managers who multiply work on identifying the core talents of people and try to find ways to put them to work. They extract all of the capability from all of the people. They become talent magnets.
  • They liberate the worker. From constraints, administration, micro-management. They give people space to breathe, work and grow. Think of the Google 20% and how other companies are adopting it.
  • To multiple results in a workforce, managers must create more debate. The power of “team-spirit” is in putting people together to create something new. Debate and conflict around traditions, processes and problems lead to something new. Consider De Bono’s 6 hats… By creating debate, managers get more buy-in and accountability for decisions.
  • In addition to challenging the status quo, managers who multiply create challenges for their people in order to stretch and grow them.
  • Multiplying managers give their people responsibility and invest in their success. This in turn, leads to more investment from the employee.
  • If you are interested in Liz’s ideas, read the book or watch the video:

  • www.multipliersbook.com
  • Video trailer
  • …and this additional resource (PDF) gives a synopsis of the core ideas presented
  • The impact of Dan Steer on your everyday life, by Tim Van Acker

    Tim Van Acker followed my Leadership Foundation training at the University of Gent in June last year and apparently I’ve been haunting him ever since 🙂

    What follows is a short article Tim wrote to share with other members of my LinkedIn group “Leadership Foundation”, where previous participants and people interested in the topic can share references outside of training. I think some of what you can read here is a great example of getting and staying in Flow – a wonderful story of intrinsic motivation and awesome success, despite drawbacks and a very busy life. As a fellow marathon runner, I know what it takes and Tim has done a great job!

    As a side-note, my insurance broker asked me to underline that I can take no responsibility for injuries sustained outside of training with me 🙂 Any further attempts to complete a marathon remain unsanctioned 🙂

     

    In June 2011, I followed Dan’s “Leadership Foundation Course” at Ghent University. During one of his classes on prioritizing, Dan stressed out that if something is really important, you just do it. If you don’t do it, it means it isn’t important. This struck me, as I always said to myself “one day, I will run a marathon”. Up to that day, I didn’t run it, it was one of the things on my bucket list, something I wanted to prove to myself but I hadn’t done it yet… Was it really important to me? I didn’t want people to mock me as “the guy that runs a marathon with his mouth but not with his legs”… So, on that very day I made the decision that in 2012 I was going to run a marathon!

     

    I had some running experience previously but I never ran further than 15km. In August 2011, I started training 3x a week to run a half marathon. I accomplished this goal in November 2011. It was hard, but I enjoyed the race and achieved my time goal as well. Ok, this was only half the distance I needed to run and winter was coming up which makes training harder… I decided to maintain my level of training throughout winter and spring and use summer to get in shape for the complete marathon.

     

    In April 2012, I needed to pick the marathon I was going to run. I felt I needed something big, not a race where only 5 people and 6 horses are watching. So I enrolled for the New York City marathon. This was it, the registration was final, my flights were booked, I had some supporters to join me, now I really had to run the race, no way back… I had my physical condition tested in the University Hospital in Ghent and via a mutual connection, I got in touch with a multiple Belgian marathon champion. My new coach did a test run with me and gave me a schedule for 6 weeks after which I had to do a test over 5km to see how my progress was. We are now August 2012. The schedule consisted of 5 trainings a week: 2 interval training (very fast and exhausting), 1 very long and slow training and 2 recuperation trainings. As I still had my daytime job to do and I’m also involved in a contemporary dance group (for which I have to train 3 evenings a week), I knew I was going to be busy the next couple of months… Some days were quite hectic: getting up at 6h, starting work at 7h, finishing at 18h, going home and eat in a quicky off to dance class, returning home at 22h, suiting up for a run of 1 and ½ hour, taking a shower and going to bed at 1h. But I really wanted this, I wanted to run the marathon, I wanted to prove to myself I could do it, I wanted to be an athlete and I wanted to be able to say “one day, I ran a marathon” instead of “one day, I will run…”.

     

    Six weeks later, my coach was happy with my progress and adjusted my training for the next six weeks. He really wanted me to perform at the best of my ability so the training volume increased. In November, I felt ready for it. My physical condition and confidence were peaking, I was going to conquer New York! Until hurricane Sandy arrived… The race was on Sunday 4th of November, we wanted to take a plane on Monday to adjust to the hour difference but Sandy made it impossible to leave… Our flight was rescheduled to Friday. Less recuperation time, but I still felt confident and motivated! We arrived in NY, retrieved my runner’s number… and found out just 15 minutes later that the marathon was cancelled… I have never felt so disappointed as I felt that moment. Three months of training, all for nothing…

     

    The next morning I decided that this wasn’t going to stop me: I was going to run a marathon and I was going to run it as soon as possible! The same day, I signed in for the marathon of Valencia which was held 2 weeks later. I contacted my coach and he adjusted my training schedule. Back to the training ground…

     

    Two weeks later, after all the training, the disappointment, the new trainings, I was more motivated than ever before. I was going to Valencia and I was going to give it all I’ve got! And so it happened that last Sunday November 18th, I finally did it. I ran the marathon of Valencia in 3h 23min 59sec. I was hoping for a time under 3h 30min and I achieved my goal. During the race, after 32km, I endured a pain I had never witnessed before but I kept going. Pain wasn’t going to stop me, everyone was suffering at that point, I had to succeed. Despite of the pain, I enjoyed the race. The atmosphere was great, especially during the last kilometer. When I entered the “stadium” were the finish line was and I heard the roaring sound of the crowd, my legs felt brand new and I sprinted like reborn to the finish line. I was an experience I will never forget, for that one moment I really felt like an athlete at the Olympics with thousands of people cheering for me. Once I crossed the finish, I was barely able to walk normal and I thought to myself “When did I ever had this stupid idea to run a marathon??!!”. But a couple of hours later, I was thinking “Actually, this was pretty cool, I might do it again one day…”.

     

    To conclude, after a course of just one week, Dan Steer controlled my life for almost a year… Thanks Dan, for triggering me to really go for my dreams! I suffered I don’t know how many hours in rain, wind and cold on the road, but I enjoyed every minute of it! And perhaps even more important than finishing the marathon (of which I feel so proud), I now feel like I can accomplish everything I want! It really was an experience I will tell my grandchildren about and I all started one day in a class room at Ghent University with Dan Steer…

     

     

    For Gods Sake, Listen to Me!!

    I’m sitting in a small outside dining area at my client’s office taking lunch, discretely eavesdropping on a meeting between a manager and her employee. It’s been 10 minutes now and the guy (employee) hasn’t managed to get a word in. Literally, every time he opens his mouth, she interrupts…

     

    Managers and Leaders: Please listen to your people!!

    I think this is one of the absolutely most important keys to successful leadership.

     

    Real listening is all about Active Empathy. All you have to do is drop your ego, ask open questions and drill down to get some real understanding…

    …not seeing any of that right now!!!

     

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    Neil Young on leadership, creativity, performance and people styles

    I’ve been watching the special features of Jonathan Demme’s excellent capturing of Neil Young in”Heart of Gold”. These words from Neil reminded me of the ASTD2012 session of John Kao on innovation and jazz improvisation …and also got me thinking about leadership skills, changing environments, the way we manage people, creativity, the differences between people etc… I won’t make an attempt to deconstruct each of Neil Young’s sentences. Just read and see for yourself….

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    “These are songs that I’ve never performed before, so I have to remember all the words and keep on top of the band playing all the parts.

    Remember, these are people that live in the moment. I mean, that’s why I play with these people. They’re not “reproducers”. They are creative people and creative musicians. They are not really supposed to do the same thing every time. So you have to give them room to be creative and still perform the same song in a way that’s reminiscent of the original record, kind of representative of the arrangement that we did on the record.

    Some of the musicians are better at reproducing their parts within a framework and doing it very freely and feeling very good about them. Others can never do the same thing twice.

    So you have to get them all together and that’s what happens… …you’ve got one shot… ..as soon as you start the songs you have to feel second nature about the song.. ..and that’s not easy to do with a song that you’ve never played before.. …it’s all new at that point.

    These are all first time performances.”

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    Leadership = Influence (Dr Paul Hersey on “Situational Leadership”)

    In a stunning display of endurance and personal effort, faced with the world’s worst microphone, but powered by an enthusiastic exhibition audience, Dr Paul Hersey (one half of the famous Hersey-Blanchard duo) explained at ASTD2012 ICE how…

    Leadership is basically one key skill: Influence

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    Good leaders exert influence by adapting their style on the basis of two main things: Task result/goal-driven leadership or Collaborative/relational dialogue-driven behaviour. In my experience, most people have a natural preference to lead and be led in a way that sits somewhere on the continuum between these two things…

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    Depending on the current development level of the people you are trying to influence (with regard to the task at hand) one of 4 styles will therefore be required

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    When using these different styles, it will be important to pay attention to simple guidelines:

  • If “telling”, it is important to explain how things should be done (LIKE THIS)
  • When “proposing”, to OFFER your own idea means you ask for and accept feedback
  • “Asking” (which the rest of the world calls “coaching”) is all about getting the other person to find solutions for themselves (NOT MAKING PROPOSALS) …if they are not able, the leader may go back to proposing
  • “Delegating” implies handing over a task with NO CONTROL
  • A good leader is able to observe the development levels and needs of the person to be led (with regard to the task) and use the right leadership style. Development levels are defined in terms of commitment to the task (understanding and motivation) and ability to do the task.

    By adapting styles according to the development level of the person (for the task), we increase and maintain motivation and develop people toward high performance… ..until ultimately, they don’t need any more leading and we can let them go!

    For more information and to learn the relevant skills associated with Situational Leadership, check out www.klu.be and follow the course “Working with People” ….with me 🙂