It was another late night returning home from a business trip this week. Spring weather in Denver has been rainy for a week straight. We need the moisture (not as badly as other parts of the country), so no complaints.

The overcast was heavy with a light sprinkle as I left the airport on the hour’s drive to our mountain neighborhood. There was little traffic at midnight. When I got within 2 miles of our home, a heavy fog stopped me cold.

Visibility was less than 10 feet (!). I could barely see the center line, much less the outer edges of our paved two-lane highway. The rest of my drive home was at less than 5 mph, sometimes dead stopped, creeping along to ensure I was on the road, not heading off of it!

It was an unsettling end to an otherwise boring drive home. I simply couldn’t see. The fog caused me to slow way down, to discount my years of experience (driving on this road), and to increase my frustration and anxiety. (read more…)

Customer service is something that is a reflection of corporate values.

Good service is a reflection of good values. When an employee says that management makes it easy to do what’s right, it means they are teaching employees to put customers first and, most importantly, backing it up by example.

Organizations whose cultures place a premium on doing what’s right are organizations for which employees want to work and customers want to patronize.

 

John Baldoni is chair of leadership development at N2Growth, is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2014, Trust Across America named him to its list of top 100 most trustworthy business experts. Also in 2014, Inc.com named Baldoni to its list of top 100 leadership experts, and Global Gurus ranked him No. 11 on its list of global leadership experts. Baldoni is the author of more than a dozen books, including his newest, “MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership.”

If you enjoyed this article, join SmartBrief’s e-mail list for our daily newsletter on being a better, smarter leader. (read more…)

In my latest book. I describe Hidden Leaders as the people in companies that provide a powerful leadership presence despite the fact that their title or position provides them little to no authority. In fact. the topic I’ve received the most feedback on from the book is the importance of leading through relationships.

To the naked eye, it may seem they are simply able to get things done. Look closer, and you’ll see that they are demonstrating strong leadership and influence by dint of relationships they’ve developed. Look closer still, and you’ll see that it isn’t simply niceness or collegiality that has earned them this influence. Too many people seek to establish trusting business relationships centering on likeability. I’m not suggesting that likeability isn’t good, only that it isn’t sufficient. When I observe Hidden Leaders in action, they lead through relationships in the following ways:

Your team is made up of some of the best — you have seen them in action and you know they’re great players. Every day, you see them minimize risk, manage issues and deliver quality work. They almost always execute flawlessly and you trust them to get the job done, praising and motivating them to perform well. Do you trust them enough to let them make mistakes?

There’s value to being able to follow a known path and complete the work, but we all know that projects (and lives) rarely follow a script. There are always unknowns and unexpected issues, no matter how well you plan.

Think about these specific questions:

  • Do your employees feel confident that they can tackle the day-to-day challenges with creativity and innovation?
  • Are they free to try something new, welcome to suggest taking a chance that might deliver faster, cheaper or better results?
  • Do they know you’ll be there with them, not there against them, if it doesn’t work out?
  • (read more…)

The annual performance appraisal might be among the most reviled of time-honored workplace traditions. And it makes sense.

Managers must invest countless hours in a process that endeavors to boil a year’s worth of a human being’s contribution down to a series of check boxes, numeric ratings, and bulleted highlights. Employees — those human beings whose contributions are being over-simplified — may look forward to a chance to discuss their performance (since those conversations generally happen infrequently) but often leave feeling empty, demoralized, and undervalued.

As organizations like Microsoft, Adobe Systems, and The Gap jump ship on the traditional performance appraisal and the press continues to pummel this business practice, one might wonder if the annual performance review will soon go the way of the dinosaurs. Likely not! At least not until the value it’s intended to bring can be re-created through other means.

Performance appraisals are designed to serve multiple masters:

  • At the organizational level, they provide critical information for workforce alignment, succession planning, compensation calibration and budgeting.
  • (read more…)