Book: Growing Great Employees

growing_great_employees“Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers” by Erika Andersen.

This book has some good tactical tips on how to lead a team of subordinates. Here are my notes:

  • Listening
    • “Listening to your employees first allows you to ‘dig it up and see what’s there.’ That is, it gives you a chance to find out what people actually know and don’t know. what has and hasn’t been done, where the concerns and misunderstandings are–as well as the enthusiasm and clarity. Listening gives you the best sense of who your employees are and what they’re capable of doing. In the process, it creates an atmosphere of mutual respect–one where people feel valued and encouraged to express their ideas, opinions, and concerns.”
    • The skills of listening are:
      • Paying attention
      • Inviting
      • Questioning
        • Listening questions:
          • information-gathering
          • curiosity-based
          • asking for speaker’s P.O.V
        • Non-listening questions
          • information-sharing
          • giving directives
          • asserting a P.O.V
      • Restating
    • Things not to do when practicing listening:
      • Interrupt
      • Divert
      • Monologue
  • Interviewing
    • ‘what-if’ question: “what would you do if you were in this situation?”
      • “It’s a true curiosity-based question, which the person being interviewed has no choice but to answer from his or her own experience and understanding.”
  • Learning
    • “learning begins with awareness, which we define as the person seeing, ‘I could do this differently.’ Then, the second step of learning is for the person to be motivated to say, ‘I see the benefit to me of doing this differently.'”
    • “for the third step; providing a new skills and knowledge.”
      • “who, how, and what”
    • “the fourth step; the person’s behavior changes–they start using the new skills or knowledge.”
  • “Believing in your people’s potential and wanting to help them succeed.”
  • Styles
    • Assertiveness
      • “people who are more assertive tend to speak, move, and respond more quickly; to tell others their thoughts and opinions; and to be forceful in their gestures and decisions. People who are less assertive tend to speak, move, and respond more slowly; to gather ideas and information from others before expressing the own opinions; and to be more reserved and moderate in their gestures and decisions.”
    • Responsiveness
      • “People who are highly responsive are easy to ‘read’; their face, voice, body, and words convey how they feel about things. People who are low on responsiveness scale are much harder to read; they give few vocal or facial clues, and they don’t talk much about emotions, preferring to focus on facts.”
    • The Social Style Model
      • Driver:
        • “high assertive and low responsive. These people are fast-paced and decisive and they can be impatient with those who can’t keep up with them. Their favored approach is to act quickly, based on the information they consider relevant–and to make course corrections later if needed.”
        • “Drivers want to get it done. They take a deadlines seriously, plus they derive great satisfaction from completing tasks or projects and moving on to the next challenge.”
        • How they like to be managed
          • “Clear goals and time frames”
          • “Rewards for meeting goals and deadlines”
          • “Succinct meetings and direction”
          • “Autonomy”
        • What they need (but may not like)
          • “To learn to dialogue”
          • “To be encouraged to gather more data”
          • “To be required to build consensus”
          • “To be held accountable for the ‘how’ as well as ‘what'”
        • Critical growth area
          • “Look for others’ perspective”
        • “When they get too narrowly focused on moving things forward, they can be seen as autocratic, or as not taking time to consider alternatives, or as impatient or inconsiderate.”
        • “You need to help your Driver employee understand that actively seeking others’ points of view will ultimately help him or her get things done; when people feel heard and included in planning and decisions, they’re likely to be far more committed to the outcomes.”
      • Expressive:
        • “high assertive and high responsive. These people are fast-moving and adventuresome. They like to come up with new ideas. Their favored approach is to create a vision of the possibilities and then get others’ support by selling the benefits of their vision.”
        • “Expressives want to get it further. The get excited about the idea of breaking new ground in their areas of interest, and rarely feel satisfied settling for the status quo.”
        • How they like to be managed
          • “Taking through decisions and plans”
          • “Being supported to innovate”
          • “Being acknowledged for contribution”
          • “Freedom to get results in their own way”
        • What they need (but may not like)
          • “To learn to communicate the essence”
          • “To be encouraged to plan”
          • “To reorganize the impact of their words and actions”
          • “To be held accountable for getting clear agreements”
        • Critical growth area
          • “Do reality checks”
            • “looking at the downsides and implication of an exciting idea before recommending it or moving ahead with it.”
        • “Their ability to think and act in innovative ways can slip into a stubborn unwillingness to look at the constraints, or follow even necessary rules, or take responsibility for the negative impact of their actions.”
      • Amiable:
        • “low assertive and high responsive. These people are considerate and supportive. They like to take time to build rapport and to focus on team results. Their favored approach is to get consensus and to mediate–they believe that the best solution is one where everyone involved is ‘on board.'”
        • “Amiables want to get to it together. They really enjoy figuring out how to reach a goal without leaving people behind; they’d prefer to see everybody on board and committed to the result.”
        • How they like to be managed
          • “Time to build teams and relationships”
          • “Knowing how decisions affect people”
          • “Well-defined structures and interactions”
          • “Support for their actions and decisions”
        • What they need (but may not like)
          • “To learn to confront difficult issues”
          • “To be encouraged to say what they think”
          • “To recognize when a person or project can’t be ‘saved'”
          • “To be held accountable for necessary decision-making”
        • Critical growth area
          • “Take a stand”
        • “When over-relied -upon, the Amiable’s focus on mediation and consensus can turn into unwillingness to confront difficult issues, and perception by others that the Amiable can be taken advantage of, can’t take decisive action, or doesn’t have a strong point of view.”
        • “to consider the negative consequences of not taking a stand and the positive consequences of taking a stand.”
      • Analytical:
        • “low assertive and low responsive. These people are cautious and thoughtful. They like to make sure that all the details are in place before moving ahead. Their favored approach is to minimize risk by looking at all the options before making a decision.”
        • “Analyticals want to get it correct. They set accuracy as being key to excellence, and generally don’t feel comfortable with ‘close enough.”
        • How they like to be managed
          • “Sufficient information”
          • “Time to think through the implications”
          • “Lead time for making decisions”
          • “Calm and balanced feedback”
        • What they need (but may not like)
          • “To learn to make quick decisions”
          • “To be encouraged to lead with the positives”
          • “To recognize when they need to ‘make a case'”
          • “To be held accountable for timely results”
        • Critical growth area
          • “Share their thinking”
        • “When taken to an extreme, the Analyticals’ focus on detail and precision, on facts and backup, can turn into an unwillingness to decide quickly when necessary, or to consider intangibles, or to see how others might look at a set of facts and come to a different conclusion.”
        • “Interestingly, I’ve found that getting them to share their thinking about where they are in a decision-making process often helps them to decide.”
      • Versatility: “the level to which you are perceived as bing willing to change your preferred behaviors to make others more comfortable with you.”
  • Making clear agreements
    • Clarify
      • “describing the goal or responsibility in specific, measurable terms and providing as much detail as appropriate.”
      • “Finally, you make sure the agreement is doable: that the employee has the necessary skills, knowledge, and resources (or can get them), and that any other obstacles to fulfilling the agreement an be overcome.
    • Commit
      • “you make sure that you and the employee understand each other, are agreeing to the same thing, and will have some way of checking to see whether the agreement is working.”
      • “Ask the employee to summarize:
        • What s/he has agree to do
        • What you have agreed to do
      • Set benchmarks and time lines”
    • Support
      • “Honor your commitments
      • Offer feedback
      • Maintain the mind-set of a coach”
  • Feedback
    • Include the Impact: “First, explain why changing this behavior is important to the business, to the department, to their teammates, or to their own current or future success. Then, let them know how important it is (i.g. is it key to their success, a possible derailment factor, or simply something they should be more aware of?). Including the impact in this way helps assure the employee’s motivation to change”
    • “feedback is actionable when it’s behavioral.”
    • “It’s not fair to hold someone accountable for something he or she hasn’t agreed to do, so make sure the person has committed to do the behavior you’re requesting before you give corrective feedback.”
  • Coaching Errors
    • Treating LOW as if HIGH: “This means coaching new or inexperienced people as though they are experienced.”
    • Treating HIGH as if LOW: “This error happens most often when managers are ‘stuck’ on a certain approach to coaching, and coach all employees as though they are novices.”
    • Leaving High Along: “Very experienced or skillful employees are then likely be thought of as low-maintenance, and are more or less left to their own devices; in other words, they may get no coaching at all.”
  • “Someone who’s responsive to feedback would listen without interrupting, blaming, or accusing; as questions for clarity; engaging in discussions about next steps; and make efforts to change the behavior.”
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