Friday, October 1, 2010

Too Much Recognition?

Can a leader give too much recognition?

Yes -- too much or the wrong type of recognition and attempts at positive reinforcement can backfire. Showing sincerity and making sure that the effort is worthy is essential. Next, it is imperative to know how individuals want to be rewarded most. What may be a reward or great recognition for one person, may be an aversion or distasteful experience for another.

We measure ten key "Driver & Rewards Needs". One of these is "Fame & Feedback" and I have two quick stories that depicts the impact of rewards backfiring. We had a client who rewarded a nursing manager as the "leader of the year" and picked her up in a limo, celebrated at a big party-like event in the parking lot with all employees present, and she was the honoree. Well, she scored under 5% (on a scale of up to 100%) on her need for Fame & Feedback. She told me that if they ever did anything like that again that she would resign immediately. She was mortified. She said it was the worst day of her life.

At a university, one director who I had coached who herself had a low score on Fame & Feedback, rewarded a new employee with a balloon bouquet as thanks for bringing in a new corporate client. She was trying to acknowledge that others frequently have a higher need for recognition than she had so her intent was admirable. Well, with this gentleman, she was wrong. She sent the bouquet without having his data -- later to find out that his score on Fame & Feedback was even lower than hers. (Of course we laughed after that story but this did re-affirm the point.)

Interestingly, with this same scale when people have high scores (needs), we have coached people who have left jobs because they didn't get sufficient thanks or appreciation for their contributions. They didn't get the respect or visibility they so needed. (Even though it doesn’t cost the business a cent.)

FYI, the other Drivers & Reward facets we measure include: Business & Finance (money), Artistic Endeavors, Companionship & Affiliation, Amusement & Hedonism, Humanitarian Efforts, Power & Competition, Scientific Reasoning, and Safety & Security. So the question is on all of these for each person: is it a driver, non-interest or aversion or unimportant to you? Managers typically err by rewarding what they personally value most which may or may not match what the employee really wants and needs. While the intention may be sincere, rewards can and do backfire.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pay ≠ Motivation

I was once asked if improving motivation increases productivity. Which then prompted a series of questions: Can we improve motivation? And, is there a level at which motivation is maxed out? Should we try to find each employee's threshold?

In reality, we do not seek to "improve" motivation, but rather to create innovative compensation systems that naturally tap into the ways that people like to be rewarded. Which in turn will more likely lead to improved satisfaction.

An individual's interest/reward profile is only one piece of the performance puzzle--others include characteristics such as diligence, ambition, and role-fit. However, assessing what drives a person and how they like to be rewarded provides a framework for task assignment and incentives that maximize team member interests.

Sure, financial incentives are the traditional reason for being employed. However, these alone will not increase productivity and may even decrease it over time.

Stepping back for a moment, one way to conceptualize the relevance of personality to work is to classify jobs by occupational type and then consider the personality requirements and performance criteria relevant to that occupational type.

Top vocational psychologist John Holland's occupational choice model established a general classification system for personality styles. These styles are classified into six categories based on patterns of interests and are linked to a classification structure that organizes occupations according to similar traits.

If we take two vocational types and compare them, we can elucidate how rewards systems can naturally vary. First, let's work under the assumption that two individuals are incented equally by the payroll. Bill is V.P. of Audits; Jack is V.P. of Sales. Picturing these two men sitting across the table from each other, we can imagine that they would approach their work quite differently. Bill is likely more organized, task-focused and slightly introverted. Jack is likely a maverick who switches gears easily, people-focused, and extraverted.

Thus, if we paid Jack significantly more money to be an auditor, would he be more productive? And vice-versa with Bill? Not necessarily. Because, again, there are many facets at play in a person's performance arc.

So, what would these two guys find to be motivating? A job and environment they find pleasing with an incentive system that rewards them in ways that matter to them. Which for Bill might include opportunities to participate in sessions on financial planning, college funding and the like, the latest state of the art software, and/or a private work space where he can bunker down and get things done. Alternatively, Jack might really prefer to be rewarded with public limelight for meeting his goals, with extra days off, and/or opportunites to develop creative strategies with the marketing team.

It is important to understand that managers have much greater flexibility and ability in this area than they often believe. When a person’s compelling individualized needs are being met, it is more likely that positive performance will result. Assuming that other business needs and behavior trends are appropriately tended to, a culture and reward system that serves to "actually reward" versus "hope to reward" will lead to a happier and more loyal work group. And a happier and more loyal work group will most assuredly produce.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Coaches' Certification Workshop in St. Louis

Executive Coaching Certification Workshop
to use the
CDR 3-Dimensional Assessment Suite®
March 11 & 12, 2010, St. Louis, MO

· Are you ready to fast forward leader development by shaving a year or two off of the normal cycle time?

· Would you find it helpful to move beyond the information that 360s offer by learning why behaviors manifest the ways that they do? (i.e, to the root cause of behaviors)

· Would tools that can be used for a wide range of applications such as: leader coaching, strategic team development, staffing decisions, succession planning, be of value to you?

· Are you willing to provide your clients with candid, accurate insights that they have not heard before? (i.e, this takes a good mix of courage & compassion.)

· Do you want to help leaders identify their authentic talent and vulnerabilities so that they can steer their developmental actions accordingly?

If you answered YES to all or most of the questions above, then you should consider enrollment in this exceptional learning process for internal and external coaches.

For more information, go to:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Three Coaching Traps and the Egotist Executive

Executive coaches can toss out their normal play book when taking on the Egotist executive client In fact, effectively and productively coaching the ardent Egotist is a steep challenge that many executive coaches are ill prepared to tackle. There are three distinct traps coaches may get caught in while working with the Egotist. These traps can hinder, or even ruin, the coaching relationship and progress.

The first trap to be wary of is that while good news sells, it is not enough. While developing and leveraging a leader’s best strengths and talent is a pivotal part of the executive coaching process in many instances, focusing predominately on strong suits alone with the Egotist executive can be counterproductive.

The second executive coaching trap is that the inherent nature of the Egotist is to reject negative feedback. Candid criticism, and anything less than glowing reviews, is not something that Egotists accept easily. Their sense of being uniquely superior and gifted is naturally at odds with these critiques. The CDR Risk Assessment describes that the Egotist leader

“is self-centered, has a sense of entitlement, takes credit for others' accomplishments, is viewed as a hard-nosed competitor, has a sense of superiority, and expects to be looked up to.”

The third problematic trap is the lack of essential baseline data collection early in the executive coaching process. When working with limited data, executives are provided only partial, potentially skewed, and superficial findings.

Clever and manipulative Egotists are adept at dismissing easy-to-mold, incomplete data. 360 feedback is not enough. It is important to have personality characteristics, risk and motivational data to get a clear reading on why behaviors manifest they ways that they do. Then, along with 360 feedback, there is no wiggle room for the Egotist.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is Your Executive Coach a Help or Hindrance?

Many executive coaches are overpaid and underperform. Unfortunately, many of the best known and highly compensated executive coaches waste a great deal of time, energy, and client resources. While they may provide ample opportunities for leaders to confidentially explore issues and observations, discuss goals, and brainstorm, often these services do not get to the root cause of performance behaviors and inherent capabilities. Without getting to the crux of these behaviors, the coaching dialogue often does little in the way of producing tangible results. Often, coaching session dialogue includes traditional information exchanges and stays within what feels most comfortable. While the executive goes through the motions, little or slow progress is made towards accurately identifying matters of real consequence.

What are your thoughts and experiences?