Tag Archives: Success

How Do You Address a Key Manager Functioning at 80%? Three Points

Situation: A small company has a key employee who has been with them for one year.  Previously, this individual had been a production manager in a large company managing as many as 100 employees. He excels at analysis, QA and other “doer” roles but has not demonstrated strong supervisory skills. How do you address a key manager functioning at 80%?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Small companies are different from large ones. In a small company, people must wear multiple hats and be willing to roll up their sleeves with the others. The atmosphere can be very different in a large company. Past experience in a large company does not mean that previous skills are transferable.
  • If the person is not a fit for your needs and organization, then you must find a fit or make a change.
    • Do you have room on your payroll for a job appropriate to this individual’s skills and talents? If so retain him in a new role. If not, then take action.
    • Engineers often do not transition well to management positions. Different skill sets are required. Shortcomings may have been masked in a large company.
    • If your future need is for an individual to take on many or your current responsibilities in the role of General Manager, hire an individual who has demonstrated success in this position in a company of in size and focus as yours.
  • If you need to hire a different person, review your selection process.
    • If this position requires the wearing of multiple hats, indicate the range of responsibilities in the position description.
    • During the selection process query candidates on their experience handling these responsibilities. Ask open questions and look for specific instances where they have demonstrated talent. Confirm responses in reference checks.

Key Words: HR, Selection, Performance, Doer, Manager, Supervisor, Big vs. Small Company, Success, Experience, Selection, Position Description, References

How Do You Add a Layer of Management? Five Suggestions

Situation: A company has been seeking additional engineers. Unexpectedly, three excellent candidates independently approached the company seeking employment. This opens the door to expand the department and also to create an additional layer of management consistent with the company’s growth objectives. Currently, in this small company all engineers report directly to the CEO. What are best practices adding a layer of management to the company?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Remember that aspiration does not equal talent. There is a big difference between good individual contributors and good managers. The best predictor of managerial success is past successful experience.
  • You have a number of senior engineers who have been with you for a long time. Have any expressed an interest in management responsibility? Do any of them have a track record successfully managing teams? Similarly, evaluate your new candidates both in terms of both their ability to contribute as engineers and their prior management experience.
  • If you hire one or more of the candidates, start them at the senior engineer level. Let the company and the rest of your engineering team get used to them and observe the quality of their contribution.
  • Once you are ready to create a new level of management, make this an open process. Announce your plans to the engineering team, and ask them to approach you individually if they are interested. See who steps up.
  • When the time comes to make the promotion, how do you communicate this to the group?
    • If you’ve used an open process to evaluate one or more candidates for management, the group will already be prepared when you announce the new structure and promotion.
    • An important part of the message is that the company is growing and that there will be ongoing opportunities for talented engineers to earn promotions to management.
  • For those interested, start with small steps as leads in team projects. Who if effective at guiding their team? Who is a positive source of energy for the team? Who is helpful and goes above and beyond for other team members and for customers? How do they respond to team obstacles? Observe and coach them along the way.

Key Words: Engineer, HR, Management, Candidate, Aspiration, Talent, Individual Contributor, Manager, Experience, Success, Involve, Time, Announce, Process, Communication, Coach

How Do You Build A High Performance Environment? Three Steps

Interview with Paul Limbrey, CEO, Elkiem USA

Situation: Leaders who are successful in the long-term have figured out how to build high performance environments. This enables them to continually produce breakthroughs by stimulating the performance of others, and to rise above their competition. What are the factors involved in building a high performance environment?

Advice from Paul Limbrey:

  • Our work is based on 20 years of research into high performance in individuals and organizations. First one needs to understand the dynamics that stimulate high performance in people.
    • Our research indicates there are several elements that combine to form a system that stimulate improved performance in populations. These elements include concepts addressing Direction – Achievement, Failure and Strategy, providing Status of current performance, and Motivation – reason/purpose plus reward/consequence. The final unifying element is the culture or guiding philosophy in an environment.
    • On a company level, the first task is to understand these dynamics as you have created them today. This enables you to see where you need to tweak your environment to better stimulate high performance.
  • How consistent is high performance across difference fields of human endeavor?
    • We find that all elements that encourage high performance exist in all environments.  However the potency of each element varies with the particular environment.
    • For example in some environments the Goals are more potent (Sales groups or athletes). In others culture is potent (the Military or companies like Southwest Airlines). In others the reward systems are most potent (Investment Banking) or the potential for failure (airline pilots or first responders).
    • Any of the elements can stimulate performance improvement.
  • How does one go about matching the right system and solution for a particular company?
    • Start by focusing on the potency of each subsystem – Directional, Status and Motivation – in your particular environment. How critical is each in shaping decisions and action taken?
    • Take the example of a CEO who has no vision for the future of the company. The result is inconsistent decisions day to day or week to week. The organization can’t focus on effective execution. The solution is to focus on Direction.
    • What about the CEO who is concerned with complacency. This is best addressed by looking to define what represents sub-standard more clearly for the organization.
    • If you have an “excuse rich” environment or desire greater accountability, look to your status or “exposure” systems to provide more accurate performance status first before looking toward your consequence systems.

You can contact Elkiem at usa@elkiem.com

Key Words: Leadership, Strategy, Performance, Environment, Success, Goals, Compensation, Measurement, Values, Behavior

How Do You Chase A Moving Ball? Three Fundamentals

Interview with Michelle Bonat, CEO and Founder, RumbaFish Technologies

Situation: Early stage companies focusing on social commerce and analytics face an unpredictable market. Nobody can accurately forecast market direction or even who the players will be in 2 to 3 years. What are best practices for chasing a moving ball?

Advice from Michelle Bonat:

  • In a rapidly evolving market it is critical to have laser-like focus on the needs of your customers. You must create value for them by understanding their needs, businesses and challenges. While technologies and markets change and evolve, human behavior is remarkably consistent over time. By focusing on rewards, sharing and customer motivations we better understand their needs. We see three fundamentals in working with customers.
  • First, focus on understanding needs versus wants. If Henry Ford had asked what customers wanted for better transportation they would have said “a faster horse.” They needed a faster way to get from Point A to Point B without getting rained on. We invent solutions that are incrementally better at addressing fundamental customer needs by leveraging technology and social commerce.
  • Second, work collaboratively with your customer. As we develop an understanding of needs versus wants, we develop an arm in arm relationship with customers and partner to evaluate solutions that work for them. We use short versus long release cycles with frequent checkpoints to assure that both sides are on the same page and that we understand the features that are most important to the customer. As a result, our customers become evangelists not only for the resulting product or service, but for us!
  • Third, go into any project with the customer’s success foremost in your mind. We focus not only on getting the solution right, but on assuring that the solution optimizes the customer’s primary objectives. That way we all share in the win.
  • The bottom line is that customers want to be treated as individuals and want their individual needs met. We honor this and make it central to our customer interactions. This way, no matter where the market goes, we will be a player.

You can contact Michelle Bonat at michelle@rumbafish.com

Key Words: Strategy, Leadership, Social, Media, Commerce, Analytics, Predictability, Unpredictability, Market, Direction, Player, Customer, Value, Needs, Wants, Behavior, Engage, Share, Understand, Technology, Social Commerce, Collaborative, Relationship, Success, Solution, Individual