Archive for March, 2013

light bulb team

We have been ticking down the list of the four things you must do to create a

Team Building Culture and they are:

  1. Assess the individual employee
  2. Assess the leader
  3. Assess the team
  4. Create a culture that values engagement

Today, we’ll take a look at our leaders.  Too often, folks are promoted to a position because they have proved themselves to be very good at the job they did.  There is a huge difference between being a great “Do-er” and an engaging “Lead-er”.  Since these skills often do not go hand-in-hand, appropriate assessments will tell you about the job fit of your leaders.

If employees are the foundation of a business, leaders are the essential framework as we begin building a business to a higher level.  The ability to engage others is the most essential part of every leader’s job profile and leadership skill set. The daily actions of senior leadership, managers and supervisors are the key drivers of engagement.

Appropriate assessments will tell you about the job fit of your existing leaders. This will allow you to identify top-performing and lesser-performing leaders.  The results will reveal a predictive performance pattern.  With this, you can compare the results to these benchmarks and accurately determine if your leaders are in the right jobs.  You can then decide if the gaps are because of a selection issue or if coaching and development can provide the solution.

Always begin by identifying the leadership skills that are most effective in engaging employees.When you increase the effectiveness of your leaders’ ability to engage and motivate their team, job satisfaction, productivity and better profits increase along with it. You will need feedback about each leader from his boss, peers and direct reports to accomplish this. When you have this information, you can successfully align leader’s behaviors and skills with the expectations of the organization and his boss.   Now, by the use of on-the-job coaching and performance feedback, you can begin to close the gaps in the desired skills and behaviors.

Next time, we’ll put together all the pieces of the team!


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Creating a Team Building Culture


Last time, we discussed “what not to do” when your mission is creating a culture that puts a high value on strong teams.  We identified the four things you must do to create a

Team Building Culture and they are:

  1. Assess the individual employee
  2. Assess the leader
  3. Assess the team
  4. Create a culture that values engagement

We begin with employees, because they are the foundation of your strong teams.  First, make sure they are in the right jobs. The average employee wants more than just a paycheck from his employer, many want training and stimulation so they can develop and promote. You can provide this opportunity using predictive performance or job matching technology. This way, you can strategically invest in your people, fully developing them for the jobs they are in, and you can tailor specific training for career advancement.

Identify your target employees, those who fit well in their current job, are fully engaged in their current role, and whose performance exceeds expectations. This is the kind of employee who achieves goals and has the ability to elevate the performance of other employees, teams, departments, and divisions. The right assessments will tell you about employees’ cognitive skills, job-related behaviors and occupational interests. You’ll need the right data for identifying your stand-out, target employees and those employees who are doing a good job but may not yet have emerged as your rising stars.

Challenge your employees! Managers may be four times more engaged than frontline employees because they have additional responsibilities. Give your employees stretch goals and let them learn from their mistakes. This will enhance the level of employee engagement.  Get their feedback as you challenge them because what you learn from them can be extremely important in helping implement solutions. Try this approach: Encourage the employee to identify: What can be improved?  What do we need here?  What can be adjusted? What should we start or stop doing?

The actions of senior leadership, managers and supervisors are the key drivers of your employee engagement. This is critical because it needs to be a vital part of every leader’s job profile and leadership skill set.  Next time, we’ll learn the value of assessing your leaders to reveal how adept they are at engaging those on their teams.  We will show you how!

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The principal opponent of the protagonist is a character known as the antagonist, who represents or creates obstacles that the protagonist must overcome.

This morning I had the opportunity to sit on a panel with some amazing women who have conquered significant obstacles in their journey through life.  More so, they have slain their antagonists; one right after another.

Thestrong_woman1-237x300 panel was for the Metro Omaha Women’s Business Center (MOWBC).  It’s worthy to note the Mission of MOWBC, “To empower women to become economically self-sufficient by providing targeted education, workshops, job training, strong relationships and resources that provide business, professional and personal growth.”

The meeting theme was ‘You’ve Come a Long Way Baby’ as we were there to celebrate Women’s History Month.  While each of us spoke from our own unique ‘life lens’, I noticed a key thread that wove through our stories…we each fought the antagonists in our lives and refused to allow them to hold us back.

Who or what is your antagonist?  How long will you allow it to hold you back?  And what do you plan to do about it? Jim Butcher’s famous character, Harry Dresden, offers this sage advice: “The only way to deal with the things we fear is to face them; to drag them kicking and screaming out of the darkness and destroy them.”

I have come a long way, baby.  Way longer and farther than most, who’ve known me for years, would likely know.   I am what most would call a ‘Survivor’; yet the lens I look through labels it ‘Success-0r’.  You see, I had the great fortune some years back to have worked for a great person who became my mentor, my friend, my coach.

My coach helped open my mind and helped me comprehend myself, all of which allowed me to bring to fruition my successes.  I could tell you all of the great things my coach said, because they’d all be true.  Or I could tell you about all the accomplishments I’ve had a result of that coach, because they’d all be true.  Heck, I could even talk of the fact that I have ‘come a long way, baby’ because of this coach, and it’d be just a plain fact.  But the truth is, the most important thing my coach taught me was the value of a coach.

Even today and though I carry the dual title myself of a Certified Leadership and Executive Coach and that of a Certified Business Coach, I myself still have a coach; a couple of them as a matter of fact.   I have a formal, certified coach that I keep in touch with regularly – who helps me on the professional side – and I have many ‘informal’ coaches that I tap into – personally – when needed.  All of whom help me continue to slay the antagonists who attempt to throw obstacles in my way.

In 17 days, I’m launching my newest business venture.  I won’t play ‘victim’ and describe the litany of obstacles I’ve faced in the past three years getting to this point.  But I will say a big “THANK YOU” to my certified coach and my informal coaches, without them I may not have had to courage to well…”drag my fears, kicking and screaming out of the darkness and destroy them.”

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through effective leadership coaching, proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments, Ellison Partners helps businesses and their leaders achieve results.

© Nikki Ellison, 2013.

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www.ellisonpartners.comBy now, most of us have forgotten our New Year’s resolutions and with good reason.  Most aren’t things we actually do but rather dream about.  The big question is, now that we are nearly a quarter of the year through 2013, how is 2013 shaping up for you? Are you well on your way to accomplishing – not your New Year’s resolutions – but those things that must happen this year for you to proclaim 2013 was a success? If not, what are you doing about it…TODAY?

I tend to focus on what is working and what the next thing is that needs to happen.  We refer to this as our “Keep Doing, Start Doing, Stop Doing List” where we keep doing what works, stop doing what doesn’t and start doing what needs to happen next.  We aren’t alone. Inc.com, in a January blog, cited a recent survey of 40,000 small businesses owners that asked ‘What’s working?’.  The survey found the best ideas boiled down to three key things:

1. Deciding on the right focus. Identifying the best and most profitable customers, and learning to say no to the non-profitable ones.

2. Using new products, services, and technology to increase efficiency and productivity. Some mentioned online payroll; a dentist talked about using an iPad to show his patients close-up pictures of their teeth.

3. Investing in current staff. A number of small business owners talked about training and educating their employees, as well as better communicating with them to make them feel more a part of the company.

I think most small businesses (those with up to $21 million in sales and up to 500 employees) would agree this is a great ‘Keep Doing’ list.  So what’s on the Start Doing and Stop Doing lists?   These two lists outline the steps you’ll take to drive progress.

You don’t need luck to ensure 2013 is your most successful year ever but it won’t be enough to just think “If you build it, they will come.”  Successful people know that ideas, strategy plans, and New Year’s resolutions don’t necessarily get you anywhere.  What will make 2013 successful for you? Action.

Krisztina “Z” Holly, founding executive director of the USC Stevens Center for Innovation and MIT’s Deshpande Center for Technological  Innovation and creator of the first TEDx conference was quoted in the March 2013 Leadership Issue of Entrepreneur magazine.  “Big ideas are just that – ideas – until you execute.” she says.  “A lot of company leaders like to talk about thinking outside the box, but there are so many ideas out there already ignored, ironically, because they don’t fit in or are just way too ahead of their time.  What we need to do is figure out what to do with the ideas we already have and make them work.”  By that, she means figuring out how these ideas will make money.

I challenge you to stop the urge to recreate the wheel; to stop the urge to create new ideas when you haven’t executed the great ideas you already have.   Today is about action.  Execute on what you know is working, stop doing what you know is not working and start doing what you need to do next.  These are very simple ways to create action toward executing those things that will make 2013 your best year ever.

What will you act on today? Chew on that one for a bit and I’ll be back with some ideas for your ‘Keep Doing, Stop Doing, Start Doing’ list.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through effective leadership coaching, proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments, Ellison Partners helps businesses and their leaders achieve results.

© Nikki Ellison, 2013.

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Return on Investment, otherwise known as ROI, is calculated on most business investments.  For money invested in training and development programs, ROI is measured by how well the participants apply the newly learned skilled.  Or is it?  Disappointingly few skills are actually implemented on the job and business results achieved as a result of applying those new skills are lacking.  Worse, effective leadership skills are among them.

Asleep at DeskBersin & Associates research found nearly 75% of all leadership teams fail to achieve business goals.  I cannot help but think about the sinking feeling you get when you realize your leadership team didn’t hit their business goals. It’s one we’ve all felt at times but successful leaders understand that to remain competitive they cannot afford to fail in achieving business goals.

The good news is that the Bersin research proves organizations have signficant opportunities to improve their bottom lines by developing leaders with the ability to act on their organizations’ business goals.  In fact, Bersin asserts the business case can be made for effective leadership training by citing research showing that good leaders can double profits.

So what can you do to ensure that your employees apply the skills they learn in training?

It’s really fairly simple when you think about it.  Start measuring the ROI on your training dollars spent.   If you aren’t measuring your ROI on training,  you’re risking ineffective training and employees who miss their business goals when they fail to carry out the skills learned.   I can’t help but wonder why any leader would tolerate this?www.ellisonpartners.com/leap.php

A colleague of mine, Andrew Neitlich, posed a key question to leaders he coaches: “What are you tolerating in your leadership role that is costing your team and organization revenues, profits, productivity, employee morale, and/or customer loyalty?”  Neitlich, Founder and Director of the Center for Executive Coaching, noted that ‘In life as in business, you get what you tolerate’.    He challenges leaders to control what they tolerate and what they don’t and to set the tone by chosing one thing you are going to stop tolerating in your organization and to take action today.

Smart leaders are chosing to stop tolerating another dollar being spent on training programs without a direct way to ensure skills learned are applied on the job and in their companies.  They’re taking action to ensure training ROI is achieved by insisting the training programs they invest in:

  • Show how they support the application of the newly learned skills on the job; and,
  •  Prove the link between the training and improved business outcomes as a result of applying new skills.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through effective leadership coaching, proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments, Ellison Partners helps businesses and their leaders achieve results.

© Nikki Ellison, 2013.

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Key IdeaPosted on March 8, 2013

Synergy, now there’s a buzz word if there ever was one.  So what does it mean?  “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Everyone’s heard that expression. OK, but what does that really mean? Simply this, an effective team can accomplish more together than the individual members can accomplish on their own. Building a high-performing team culture requires more than just throwing a group of outstanding folks into a room and telling them they can’t come out until they have a solution. Maintaining a team culture that’s highly productive requires planning, communication and decision-making. Assess individual strengths and weaknesses, build support, establish the conditions for effectiveness, agree on your goals—and you’re on the road to building a championship team.

If instead, you lead with your emotions, shy away from hard decisions, cross your fingers and hope that the process will “work itself out”, or if you build a team made up of your personal favorites, then don’t be surprised if your outstanding individuals fail to become your dream team. We see it in sports all the time and it happens in businesses too, maybe even more often. Based on our experience with many of America’s Most Productive Companies, we’ve identified four things you must do create an effective Team Building Culture which will sustain your high-performing teams. In order to create a team-building culture you must do the following:

  1. Assess the individual employee
  2. Assess the leader
  3. Assess the team
  4. Create a culture that values engagement

Next time, we’ll explore ways that you can do just that and you might be surprised at the results and delighted to see what it does to the effectiveness of your team.

Betty Streff is a Human Capital Expert and Leadership Coach with Ellison Partners.  She facilitates the LEAP™ leadership acceleration program and helps ensure leaders have the employee data necessary to effectively and profitably manage their workforce.

©Ellison Partners 2013.

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