Employers forced to promote ‘technical experts’ despite poor leadership qualities by Tom Newcombe

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Employers are facing increased pressure to promote “expert employees” even though they display poor leadership qualities, according to a report published today.

The report Leading technical people, published by employee engagement and leadership development firm BlessingWhite and seen exclusively by HR magazine, revealed the retention of such experts is a particular business challenge in industries where expertise is rare and in high demand, such as petrochemical engineering and specialist law practices.

The report also found the ability of an organisation to attract technical talent in the first place is based on a reputation for being a place where technical people can thrive.

‘Best of a bad option’

However, the report revealed the majority of these technical experts “stumble” when taking on managerial roles or leadership positions.

Fraser Marlow, head of marketing and research at BlessingWhite, said: “Organisations are increasingly dependent on the passion, creativity, energy and engagement of the workforce, and in particularly on expert employees in fields such as finance, engineering, design and technology.
“However, making them [technical experts] leaders is the best of a bad option,” said Marlow.

Poor leadership

The report found technical experts often have poor people management skills, and feel disempowered when given leadership responsibilities.
But despite this companies have no choice but to increase their reliance on technical leaders, the report said.

– See more at: http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hro/news/1077928/employers-forced-promote-technical-experts-despite-poor-leadership-qualities#sthash.eyHFr6ZX.dpuf

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Are You a Leader or Just Bossy?

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by Aileron

The word “boss” conjures up an idea that with this title, every manager can now magically get employees to do whatever they need. The simple image is that when they tell someone to do something, they immediately go do it. This may work in the movies, but unfortunately in a small business, this is far from the truth. Employees these days are far too independent and a company’s workforce is typically too geographically dispersed for this to be effective.

In fact, being “bossy” as a small business owner only adds to the weight of managing people by trying to control them. It separates out a group of people trying to work together for a single goal and creates distance when collaboration is sorely needed. It ultimately sets up an external system based only on penalties and rewards. This very old management style is proving to be less valuable over time. Although every successful organization has formal hierarchies, they are more effective when they do not have to be rigidly enforced. If a manager has to tell an employee that they need to do a certain task and then constantly checks to see if it was done, the organization will never be successful. Furthermore, if the manager has to threaten the employee to complete a task, then that employee is not a valuable addition to the team.

Being a leader is about engaging employees and fostering their loyalty. Great leaders do not use threats and traditional control tactics, but take actions that yield commitment and loyalty. It is ineffective to try to keep track of what every employee is doing. In fact, this puts the burden of getting the job done on the boss rather than the employee. Great leaders are able to motivate their employees to work hard by getting them to believe in the mutual benefits of a common goal. They set an example as someone willing to work along side of an employee, rather than traditionally working from far above them.

Which are you: a boss or a leader?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/aileron/2013/03/28/are-you-a-leader-or-just-bossy/

Break Your Addiction to Meetings

by ELIZABETH GRACE SAUNDERS

Manager, noun.

Textbook Definition: An individual who is in charge of a certain group of tasks, or a certain subset of a company. A manager often has a staff of people who report to him or her.

Modern Translation: An individual who races through the halls in a frantic attempt to make the next meeting on time while also answering e-mails on his or her mobile device.

A few of you may adhere to the textbook definition of “manager,” and if so, kudos to you. But most managers no longer have any time to manage the people who report to them.

If you’re a manager caught in the frustrating cycle of frequently canceling one-on-one’s, delegating poorly, and feeling out of touch with your team, you probably already feel bad enough. I’m not here to make you feel worse. But I do want to encourage you to start taking steps to not only fulfill your own responsibilities, but also to develop an awesome team. These strategies come from my time coaching work with managers on how to more effectively lead their teams — without working more hours.

You can’t give other people what you don’t have. So if you’re confused and scattered, your team will be too. You need to make time to get clear on what you want to achieve out of every interaction; this means spending more time on priorities, prep, and follow-up, and less time in meetings. Reducing your meeting time so you have more time to think strategically will require a group effort, but you can make it happen with some simple strategies.

First, reduce the number of meeting invitations you accept. Ask yourself whether you’ve fallen into the common trap of looking at your calendar as a popularity contest. Do you measure your value by how many meetings you’ve been invited to? Going to a lot of meetings may make you feel important, but it’s not a good way to allocate your time. Before accepting a meeting invite, ask yourself, “Do I really need to attend?” If the answer is “no,” decline the meeting or use one of these less time-intensive strategies:

Ask for a pre-meeting look at the agenda so you can pass on your comments to the facilitator to share. (Bonus: this may force the facilitator to actually make an agenda!)
Send someone else from your group to communicate your team’s position.
Request a copy of the meeting notes after the fact.

If you still struggle with feeling guilty or possessive about turning down any meeting requests, reframe the question this way: “If I was sick on the day of this meeting, would it need to be rescheduled?” If you answer, “No,” there’s a good chance you don’t need to attend. If you do need to go to quite a few meetings, but only to give strategic input, not to assist with tactical implementation, then request your part of the discussion happen at the beginning of the allotted time. Following that part, excuse yourself from the discussion.

Second, reduce the number of meetings you schedule — and reduce their length. Do you schedule meetings where you spend most of the time talking — perhaps giving “updates” to a room of people subtly checking their phones? Do you default to scheduling hour-long meetings (or longer)? If so, you need to reprogram your default response of “when in doubt, schedule a 60-minute meeting.”

Your new default should be to choose the least “costly” time investment that still accomplishes the end goal. Don’t schedule a meeting for something that you can solve in a phone call, and don’t make a phone call for something that can be communicated in an e-mail. If you must schedule meetings, challenge yourself to make them leaner. Try out 30-minute or even 15-minute meetings, and set a goal to finish early. If you find you consistently need more time, you can increase the meeting length in the future, but often with increased focus, you won’t need it.

Once you are modeling good meeting etiquette, ask your direct reports to follow good meeting procedure, too:

Don’t schedule meetings for FYI items that you can communicate via e-mail. Only use meetings for discussions and decisions that must happen with a team, in real time.
Send a clear agenda when you send the meeting invitation — not two minutes before the meeting — so it’s easier for everyone to tell whether they need to attend.

Designate someone to take thorough notes on the discussion, the decisions, and the rationale behind those conclusions. Circulate those to your manager, and anyone else who might need to be in the loop — but doesn’t need to come to the meeting.

Finally, keep your calendar clear by blocking in work time. Seize the freed-up time before it evaporates. As you transition from a reactive state to a proactive state, you might feel a little disoriented with all your new-found time. But now that your calendar isn’t so full of “busyness,” you can fill it up with actual business. Do so quickly, before work expands to fill the time available. Set aside time for e-mail, meeting prep, one-on-ones with direct reports, and strategic thinking time. Keep your commitments to yourself in the same way that you would with someone else so that you (and others) can trust you to get things done — and on time.

By cutting down on the number of meetings you’re in, you’ll free the people around you to make reasonable choices without always looking to you for input. That will automatically reduce the number of meetings you need to attend, and instill more confidence in your team. And if you’re using that time to shape strategy and set clear priorities, your team will make the right decisions — whether or not you’re in the room.

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/02/break_your_addiction_to_meetin.html

Here’s a decision-tree that you can use as an effective replacement strategy:

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Six Ways To Get Things Done When You’re Not The Boss

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by Nan S. Russell, author of the book, The Titleless Leader: How to Get Things Done When You’re Not in Charge (Career Press, 2012). You can follow her on Twitter.

You’re a manager, but not THE boss. Don’t feel that you have no power to accomplish things. This is a great post that shows you how you get things done…

“Achieving your goals in today’s workplace is about the right behaviors–not the right job titles. That’s true whether you’re operating in a boardroom meeting, on a PTA committee, or running your own small company. It’s possible to get results from people who don’t report to you; influence colleagues in differing roles or generations; and lead initiatives without being the boss. These steps can help you create a natural following.

1. Customize your approach. Bend, adjust, and mold your style to fit someone else’s. If she wants to hear from you via voicemail and email, it doesn’t matter if you think that’s outdated or cumbersome. You’ll get better, faster results if you adjust your style to what she wants, rather than communicating with her via text because you prefer it. When you make it effortless for someone to respond to you or work with you, she will.

2. Control the vision, not the process. If you can help others see what you need from them, you’ll be more likely to get it. People want a clear vision of what’s expected so they can successfully achieve it. But leave the how-to-get-there to the person whose help you seek. Don’t micromanage the process. Instead, fill in your end-result picture with exceptional detail and allow others to chart a path.

3. Enhance the commitment. Salespeople ask for the sale, and you need to ask for a commitment and projected delivery date: “Can I count on you for this? When can I expect you’ll get it to me?” Then offer assistance and ask what help might ease their priorities or smooth their way: “What can I do to help you? Is there anything you need?” Follow through immediately if you need to involve others, or provide additional information.

Then, get permission to follow up: “Is it okay if I check back next week and see if you need anything else?” This check-in is not an attempt to manage them; that’s not your role. Rather, it’s a second chance for you to clear obstacles or assist should difficulties arise that could prevent you from getting what you need when you need it.”

Read the rest here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2013/02/08/six-ways-to-get-things-done-when-youre-not-the-boss/