LEADERSHIP: How The 1998 Chicago Bulls Eliminated Dissension and Reached Their Goal....

I'm not a big gimmick/team-building exercise guy.  I find most team-building stuff to be a little forced, although I will say that I always dread it and emerge from it with some type of positive.  The positive I get is usually empathy towards a team member that I didn't necessarily like or feel close to.

I ran across a team building/unity exercise yesterday and wanted to share.  It's from the the 1998 Chicago Bulls, who had won 5 titles and where getting ready to start the playoffs for what everyone was sure would be their final run. Jackson

Their season was full of distraction, arguments and distrust.  Here what Phil Jackson, the legendary coach, did to quiet the noise and circle the wagons one last time.   More from Bill Simmons at The Ringer:

Jackson gathered players, coaches and trainers for a special meeting before the 1998 playoffs, asking everyone to write a message about what that final season meant to them. A poem, a sentence, a song, whatever. It had to be 50 words or fewer. Everyone obliged. They went around the room reading their messages, even Jordan, and when they finished, Jackson burned them in a coffee can. All the chaos and dissension burned away with it. They banded together for eight weeks and prevailed again, for a lot of reasons, but mainly because they employed the greatest player ever.

Before you kill me - I get it - this exercise doesn't work for most of the team building needs you have.

But I like this one a lot for teams who are getting ready to have to come together for a big challenge, teams that maybe could be fired if the next month or two doesn't go well, and especially if those teams are generally bitchy towards each other.

50 words or less.  Maybe you frame it as what your job means to you.  Who knows what comes out of these people's heads, right?  Could be stupid stuff, or it could be fascinating.

One thing's for sure - no one is going to try and look stupid if they have the floor and they've had some time to think about it.

What I love about this exercise is that it gets you into the head of your teammate.  Maybe it's someone you don't like very much.  What happens when they try and have a serious moment is what I mentioned before - empathy from others.

Ahhhh.  That's who you are.  Got it.  With empathy and understanding comes a couple of other things.  Patience.  A little bit of trust.

Can you use this exercise today?  Probably not. Should you be looking for ways to make your team more empathetic to each other?  Absolutely.

The Bulls won their 6th title in 1998, primary because they had Michael Jordan.

But a little bit of that title belongs to Jackson, who kept the lid on long enough to make the last title run with Jordan.

Don't forgot to burn the paper your people bring in.


Want to Be a Great People Manager? Don't Watch The Ball...

I've got a simple post today.  It starts with sports and rapidly moves off that.  Hang in there.

You know what separates good and great coaches in team sports from average ones?  They don't watch ESPN_Gruden_ the ball.  Regardless of the sport, the best coaches are the ones who spend 80% of their time watching the activity off the ball.  They figure the guy with the ball is going to react to what's going on and do what's necessary.  But the people without the ball?  That's where the action is.

Off the ball is where you have people reacting to what's going on in front of them, behind them, to what they hear - all in an effort to be prepared and be in position to make a play when the opportunity presents itself.  There's a world of activity going on off the ball, but almost all fans and many average coaches focus almost exclusively on the ball.  

You want to be a great manager of people?  A great coach in your organization?  Find the equivalent of "off the ball" for the people you manage and coach.

Examples:

  • A direct report's prep (or lack thereof) to talk to an influential person in another department at your company.
  • Abruptness in email communication that doesn't fit the culture of your company.
  • Giving "gifts" of time and effort in an organization that your direct report doesn't have to - because it's good for them, you and the company - and almost always gets repaid.
  • A direct report's ability to give feedback to people up and down the organization in a way that makes everyone feel like she's looking out for them rather than telling them they suck.

There are a million examples, so let your mind flow.  

Real coaches don't watch the ball.  They coach off the ball.  In sports and in companies.

Be a better manager.  Don't watch the ball.   


When Your Boss Acts Like a Dinosaur and You Just Serve Up The Brontosaurus...

In case you missed it, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the latest leader VP level FTE of the free world to espouse the benefits of having his underlings print stuff out for him to chew on.  Damn kids!  Where's my digital information printed out on something I can take notes on?  Or use to throw away my gum?  BTW, I'm almost out of Big Red - send the intern to the store. 

OK, let's look at the quote and analyze it after the jump.  More from Newsweek:

"Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that he prints out President Donald Trump's tweets and uses them to inform decision-making on foreign policy. Tillerson

The Texan was speaking to his predecessor Condeleezza Rice at a Stanford University event on Wednesday, at which he said the president is "world-class at social media," on which he reaches millions of people via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with messages that sometimes even his own team remain unaware of. 

"The challenge is getting caught up because I don't even have a Twitter account that I can follow what he is tweeting, so my staff usually has to print his tweets out and hand them to me," Tillerson told Rice."

Random and at times, astute thoughts on this:

1.  Condi is pressing her tongue against her teeth - or whatever method she uses - not to laugh out loud at Tillerson thinking he's being cool with this response.

2.  It's hard when you have an otherwise talented boss ask you for something stupid.  Sometimes the caveman just wants to eat, and it's easier to serve him the Brontosaurus than walk him through the issues.

3.  There would be A LOT MORE DINOSAURS in the world receiving this level of service.  But most of us saw administrative assistants go away in the 1990s, never to return.  So while this type of story is rare, it would be more common had the great OD plague of the 1990 not wiped 80% of the admins from the face of the earth.

4.  Tillerson has a legitimate security concern in not having a twitter account.  But I'm pretty sure that there's an analyst at the State Department that can set up autoforwarding to his smart phone via email or even a secure app - let's name it Sexy Rexy - and have it pop the minute Trump tweets.

5.  And yes, someone close to Tillerson has to tell him how bad this makes him look and help him at least have the appearance of looking digital.

It's one thing to have Marge print out the tweets.  It's another thing to tell the world you're on top of twitter and use it for policy by - wait for it - printing stuff from "The Twitter Thing" out.

 

 


How to Involve Employees In Goal Setting - Even If You're 99% Sure Some of Their Ideas Will Suck....

I'm up over at Saba Software talking about goal setting - something that should be on everyone's mind at the start of the year, right?

You must include your direct reports in the goal setting process. I know – sometimes their ideas aren’t great. It’s OK – I'm going to show you how to involve the direct report in the goal setting process without being held hostage by bad ideas about goals. You can include them and maintain control of the process.

The more you can show they had input, the more you win by increased engagement towards the goals. Take a look at this episode of TalentTalks at Saba Software to learn more/how.

Click here to see my video for a 3-step process to including your employees in goal setting - in risk-free, no BS way.

Goal setting

Why "Get Focused/Do Better/Play Harder" is a Horrible Coaching Strategy...

In the business and sports world, there's a huge coaching crutch that's often said, but rarely means anything.

"Get Focused...Do Better...Play Harder" Screaming-coach

You hear the first two (and versions of those two) often in the business world.  Someone is struggling and everyone is frustrated - the manager, the employee in question, the skip level folks watching the show, the teammates impacted by the individual's struggle - everyone.  

When it comes time to coach the person in question - and perhaps help them - only general advice is given.

Get focused. Please.

The same story exists in the sports world.  I have a saying when it comes to coaching in the sports world - "When you hear a coach constantly telling a struggling player or team to play harder, just accept the following fact - he/she doesn't know how to fix the problem."

To be sure, getting focused in business and playing harder in sports is required.  But when performance issues are apparent, the thing that's generally missing is technical advice and coaching on both fronts.

You're overwhelmed by what is in front of you on the job.  Let's break down what you should do first.  You're struggling with a specific part of the job - let me help you find a path to improve in that area since I'm your coach.

You can't stop anyone from scoring in a team sport.  I could scream at you to play harder, but that's probably not going to result in better results.  Instead, I have to dig into your defensive technique and find a way to make you better individually and then show how that fits into the team philosophy.

After I coach you technically, of course I have to hold you accountable to delivering on what we covered, as well as continuing to coach the technique and make you better.

When you hear a manager or coach telling a struggling individual to get focused or play harder, it means they don't know how to fix the problem.

If you want to be a better coach in the business world, focus less on glittering generalities and start coaching technique/approach.

 

 


You Might Need A "Managed By Me" Operator's Manual in 2018...

Quick thought for you today.  If you're looking to refresh the working relationship you have with the people who work for you in 2018, it might be time to publish an "operator's manual" for those that report to you.  What's a "Managed By Me" Operator's Manual look like?

Managed by Me Operator's Manual - a guide put together by a manager of people to let his/her direct reports understand the best way to operate the complex machinery/algorithm that represents them as a manager. Hit me

Wondering what could be included in that?

1--Behavioral strengths and weaknesses.  Don't forget that most extreme scores in any behavioral category serve as both strength and weakness.  Depends on the circumstances.

2--For Best Results, please ___ and ___.   You're human, so it stands to reason that there is a "most effective" way to deal with you.  This could easily be broken up into guidance on how to maximize results related to communication style, level of information you want, etc.

3--Common Issues.  Yes, people have had problems with you before.  You've been manufactured in a six sigma facility, but given the number of reps you've been used, there's bound to have been some problems.  You tell people about those problems and tell them how to fix/who to call/what the warranty period is.

4--Some Maintenance Required.   That's right!  You don't just run a car for 20,000 miles without doing some routine things to make sure you're good to go.  The same holds true with you.  Tell them what maintenance is required to maximize their time with you.  If you expect rundowns of major projects, tell them what you need, how often, etc.

The point of the "Managed by Me Operator's Manual" is to refresh.  You've been around your people for awhile, and things might seem flat.  You can change it up by providing this doc to you people and perhaps have some fun on the way.

You think they know how to work with you.  I guarantee they don't know everything you think they know about you.  In addition, we're trained as managers of people to believe that it's up to us to manage our teams.  

Truth is that managing teams is a two-way street.  They're as responsible for managing up to you as you are directly managing them - if you want the best results.  The Operator's Manual on you as a manager is a fun way to refresh the relationship and put some of that burden back where it belongs - on them.

 


Forcing Managers to Interview Minority Candidates - Necessary or Pure Bureaucracy?

Capitalist Note - If you follow sports, you may have heard that the Oakland Raiders (soon to be the Las Vegas Raiders) are set to hire Jon Gruden, current ABC/ESPN commentator, past head coach in the NFL and yes, a white guy.  It's said at this writing to be a done deal, but the Raiders have to interview other candidates as required by the NFL's Rooney Rule.  I'm re-running this post to explore the merits of forcing managers to interview minority candidates in searches.

If you follow sports, you're probably aware that Pete Carroll, head football coach at the University of Southern California (USC), is leaving USC to become the head coach of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.  On the surface, this is pretty pedestrian stuff - head coach wins national titles in college, gets a chance at a big payday in the NFL.  Yawn...

What you probably don't know is this: before the Seahawks and Carroll could sign an contract that had already been agreed to verbally, the Seahawks had to interview at least one minority candidate as part of their process.  It's required in the NFL, and here's how the rule (known as the Rooney Rule) is positioned:

"Under the NFL's Rooney Rule, any team in the National Football League offering a head coaching position must interview at least one minority candidate. Named after the Pittsburgh Steelers' owner Dan Rooney, chairman of theMike_tomlin league's diversity committee, the rule was created in the hopes of increasing the number of minority head coaches in the league.  

How do you feel about that?  Here's how I feel about that.  Stop talking about Affirmative Action and start talking about how the world works as you consider this one. On many occasions, hiring managers have a candidate in mind that they think they want to plug into a job.  When this happens, they're usually so set on the decision that they think any other interviews may be a waste of time.  The tough part about that is that your company still has a process, and the hiring manager needs to put forth a little more effort.  So, let's take the focus off of minorities and plug another group of candidates in to discuss the wisdom of forcing your hiring managers to interview candidates they don't think have a chance - internal applicants.

Let's say your hiring manager has an external candidate they think would be great for the job, but you've also got 3 internal candidates for the position who have applied.  Your company has a process that says all internal candidates are, at the very least, going to get a brief conversation/interview with the hiring manager in question.  Your hiring manager doesn't want to do it, and he's bitching about it.  You're faced with the classic catch-22 - you either force the process and risk looking like a bureaucrat, or you let the hiring manager do his thing without interviewing the internals, which is decidedly bad for your culture and employee relations environment.

I'm tagged as a capitalist.  You might think I would allow the hiring manager to skip the internal interviews with a name like that, right?  But I don't, and here's why.  I've learned that for every 10 internal interviews you make a hiring manager do against their will, they are going to get 2-3 pleasant surprises, meaning they're impressed enough by the candidate in question that they'll change their mind and offer them the job, or they'll put the memory on reserve and as a result, hire them for a future role.

My stance on internal interviews is easily carried over to the Rooney Rule. By forcing interviews of minority candidates, you've got a shot to make the hiring managers go HMMMMM....

Need proof? That logic is documented when Mike Tomlin became the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers at the young age of 34 (and later led them to a NFL Championship):

"Mike Tomlin wouldn't have gotten this opportunity without this rule," said Shell, the first modern black NFL head coach. "He never would have sat down with Dan Rooney."

Said Rooney: "To be honest with you, before the interview he was just another guy who was an assistant coach. Once we interviewed him the first time, he just came through and we thought it was great. And we brought him back and talked to him on the phone and went through the process that we do, and he ended up winning the job."

The Rooney Rule is the same thing as your rules regarding how internal candidates are handled. You don't put rules on interviewing minorities or internal candidates in place because it's the right thing to do.  You do it because the exposure gives strong talent an opportunity to surprise hiring managers who wouldn't otherwise be exposed. 

And that, my friends, should be our main objective in the Talent game.


The Self-Sabotaging Nature of Loving Drama In the Workplace...

"Some men just want to watch the world burn"

--Alfred in Batman

--------------------------------------------------------

Short post today as you go into the holidays, shut it down and think about 2018.

You've got people in your professional life who love drama.  They're wired to create angst, conflict, infighting and many times, they're not even aware Batmanthey're doing it.  It's how they are genetically wired behaviorally.  Rather than observing, learning and maximizing themselves in any situation, they create chaos by inviting others to react to their presentation of facts - which are usually drawn to create a reaction - otherwise known as drama.  They do this even if it hurts them long term.

If you think about all the players in your life, you can probably identify who these people are.

I'm here today with a new year's resolution for you - don't allow people who love drama to draw a reaction from you in 2018.

What these people hate most is not getting the reaction.  There's also learning that goes on as you deny them the combustion they seek.  After the 2nd or 3rd time you deny the drama queens and kings the reaction they seek, they'll stop trying to get it from you, and your life will improve.  

So that's the resolution.  Stop letting the drama people stoke you up.  Try giving them a "hmmm" when they stoke you, and instead of participating in a communal rant, try saying the following:

"I'm going to think about that"

"That's interesting. I'm going to ponder that a bit"

"Get the #### out of my office"

That last one is a joke, because that actually creates drama.  You should avoid reacting when they try to suck you in at all costs.

Measured response is a good leadership technique, both for the drama lovers and also for people who are bringing you bad news, observations and gossip.  Don't get sucked in.  Stay calm.

Of course, if you're a leader, of the things you'll have to deal with is drama kings/queens spinning up other drama kings/queens as a normal course of business.

But that's for another day.  For today and moving into 2018, the thought is this - don't allow people who love drama to draw a reaction from you in 2018.


Publicly Shaming Good People Removes Them From the Conversation on Change...

Look - I get it - there's a lot of stuff going on in the world that's been a long time coming for society in general:

--Protests against police brutality and the impact of that on minorities - check. Duncan

--the #metoo movement and shining a light on the pig-like behavior and conduct of way too many men in our society - check.

--Equal rights for the GLBTQ community - check.

There's more, but I'll stop there.  Us talking about those things and hopefully course correcting are good things on all levels.  But what's become a by-product of that process is going after people with good intentions by a form of public shaming, and that shaming is focused on calling out people as being non-friendly to any or all of the groups in question.

Of course, social media makes the shaming easy to do.  And the shaming is subtle - it rarely calls someone a racist, a harasser or a bigot in general directly - it simply accuses you of not being as sensitive as you should, which implies that the target of the shaming is any or all of the things I just mentioned.

Here's what happens when you call out a normal, good person with good intent and try to shame them - You push them away from the conversation.  They'll leave the arena, usually never to reengage. And if it's change you seek, that's not a good thing.

Quick story - was doing a webinar a couple of weeks ago for about 400 people.  Going through some slides, and had a shamer hijack the Q&A section by suggesting that my slides didn't have enough diversity.  That's fair on the surface (my slides did include diversity, with about 25% of the slides including non-white people as one form of measuring diversity, and my case study featured a woman), but the intent was clear - the commenter felt one way and tried to hijack the show.

Meanwhile - and I can't make this stuff up - the webinar was slides plus video of the presenter and the following is true....

Behind me on my wall (I'm the presenter) was a canvas oil painting of Tim Duncan (that painting is pictured to the right of this post).  Tim Duncan happens to be black, and he was in my video frame and visible to all participants for 55 MINUTES OF THE WEBINAR.

Translation - my webinar had diversity visible for the entire show.  But the shamers came out.  Lucky for me my skin is thicker than a rhino.

But most people in our workplace don't have my skin thickness and haven't put themselves out there for criticism like I have.  Most of the good faith/good effort people we know will withdraw from any type of risk - and therefore meaningful conversation - as soon as they are shamed.

Shaming shines a light on the obvious bigots.  But when you shame normal people, I'm here to tell you that you're reducing the level of conversation - and probably guaranteeing we don't progress as quickly as we could in our society.

Change is good in the all the areas listed. Be careful you aren't eliminating great people from the conversation by attempting to publicly shame.

 


VIDEO: Using BHAGs as a Goal Setting Technique for High Performers...

Big, hairy, audacious goals, or BHAGs, are visionary, strategy statements designed to focus a group of people around a common initiative. They traditional differ from our other goal setting techniques because BHAGS are usually positioned toward by a large group (rather than individuals) and they typically span a large amount of time than any of our other goals. They’re huge.

Even though BHAGs are generally goals for companies and collective groups, smart managers are increasingly using them for individuals as well. I explain the merits of using BHAGs in this fashion in the following episode of TalentTalks from Saba Software.

Take a listen (email subscribers click through for video below) and hit me in the comments with a BHAG that's been useful in your career or managing a talented direct report!!!