Archive for the ‘Talent’ Category

Three Signs of a Miserable Job: Anonymity

March 15, 2008

I recently read Patrick Lencioni’s book “Three Signs of a Miserable Job”. A brilliant overview of how leaders in an organization can foster an environment where people love what they do for a living. In Patrick’s model, there are three key areas that contribute to overall job satisfaction: Anonymity, Irrelevance and Immeasurement.

In this post, I will discuss Anonymity, its importance and what leaders can do to make their people feel cared about at work.

According to Lencioni, “People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone in a position of authority. People who see themselves as invisible, generic or anonymous cannot love their jobs, no matter what they are doing.”

As a leader, I have seen the value of really knowing my people cause great results. The simple act of acknowledging that they have a life outside the confines of the office creates a relationship between leader and employee that transcends the latest project or office politics. My team wants to perform better because they feel a bond to me as their leader that is substantial and personal. Think about it: do you perform better when you want to do something for someone or when you have to do something for someone? It’s a no-brainer. When I ask my team to do the impossible in a very short time frame (which is too often), they do so willingly, and it fills me with pride to see them step up.

So, how do you really get to know your people and remove the barrier of anonymity in your workplace? It’s easy. All you have to do is care. You need to treat your team as talented contributors as opposed to simply resources for getting things done. When you ask about their weekend, have a genuine interest in their response. If they have children, understand that their kids are more important to them than anything that happens in the office. If they are just starting off in life, be willing to sit down with them and walk through the steps of buying a house, refinancing a mortgage or setting up their 401(k).

Simple actions like this humanize the workplace and create an environment where everyone feels better about spending their time together striving for a common goal. You can’t fake this stuff. You can’t go through the motions and not genuinely care about your people. This can’t be a means to an end. It has to be real, heartfelt and tangible. If you have to fake it, your team will see through your actions and create a distrust of you, your sincerity and your integrity.

To close, a former boss of mine said something that is relevant to the dismantling of anonymity in the workplace: “Treat your people like volunteers, and they will move mountains for you. Treat them like employees, and you’ll never know what they are able to accomplish.”

If you have any thoughts or comments on ways to remove anonymity on your team, let us know by leaving comments. Through the sharing of information and ideas, we all benefit.

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Speak Up!

March 15, 2008

It’s easy to say that you want your employees to speak their minds. All of the management books you read claim that you need to create an environment where your subordinates feel comfortable with disagreeing with you or questioning the status quo. It feels good to say you foster this environment.

Do you really? How do you react when one of your direct reports has a different idea than one you hold dear? Does your voice tense up? Do you seek to explore the new idea or do you shut the conversation down quickly? Do you reward them for speaking up or make them wish they’d kept their mouth shut 30 seconds after voicing their thoughts?

You know the right answers to these questions. Your best people speak up. If you don’t foster an environment where they feel like they can, they’ll choose to work somewhere that allows them to do so.

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Job Titles

March 5, 2008

Dan Miller has posted an interesting entry about job titles. It is difficult to come up with something more meaningless that a job title. What value does it serve? It allows Human Resources to quantify people based on a loosely defined set of skills that people may or may not utilize in their jobs. Thinking in regards to Talent as opposed to Human Resources, I think that titles should be abolished. They are self-limiting and encourage people to see themselves in the confines of a probably irrelevant set of qualifications.

An organization that relies on growing Talent as opposed to the mechanistic structure of Human Resources should abolish job titles or at least allow their Talent to define their own creative titles based on their unique skills.