Looking For Laura? You’ll Find Me Here

LBacci MallorcaHi!

You may have thought that I’d disappeared off to some exotic island as I haven’t been posting anything for a few months now.

In fact, I’ve been working really hard at putting together some great content for you!

There’s a new ebook on management, lots of new blog posts, and a resources page with a comprehensive list of my favourite books and videos. You’ll find everything here.

And if you’re into Facebook, don’t forget to also check out my brand new Facebook page. I post interesting articles that I come across and useful tips almost daily. Like it here.

You prefer Twitter? No problem, let’s tweet here.

Have you enjoyed the content on talentedEU so far and don’t want to miss out on new articles? Then sign up on my website and you’ll get my ebook “Manage Me!” for free.

Let’s keep in touch on www.laurabacci.com.

Best wishes,

Laura

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Do You Make These 6 Management Mistakes?

Most companies don’t hand you a management no-no list when you move up the corporate ladder. Here are some blunders you really want to avoid.

The first time that I got the results to my 360° annual evaluation I nearly fell off my chair.

I had the HR Director staring at me across her desk and we were in a 2m² office with no windows.

It was June and hot. And it was about to get much hotter…

Bad manager As she read out the anonymous comments from my direct reports, I couldn’t stop asking myself “Is this really me that they’re talking about?”

When I got home that night, I said to my husband: “I don’t want do this manager thing anymore. I’m trying very hard, but it’s clearly not working. I can’t understand what I’ve done wrong and what I should do differently!”

The whole thing mortified me for about two weeks. That’s a lot of lost sleep!

Over time, I’ve come to be a big fan of 360° evaluations and have taken away some valuable lessons:

First, people use it as an excuse to vent out their frustrations on you. Unfortunately, most people don’t provide constructive feedback and forget that managers are human beings with feelings.

That’s just a fact. So take the results with a pinch of salt.

But do see them as another opportunity to further develop your management skills. There will always be some truth, even if it is hard to accept. Focus on the takeaways.

Second, if an organisation uses 360° evaluations, then everyone –from the front desk assistant to the CEO- should be getting one. It’s just too easy to say that the Managing Director, Chairman, and all those highflyers don’t need to take one.

It takes a lot of guts to listen to your evaluation results. And everyone, regardless of their level and status, should be investing some time and effort in developing their skills, right?

So pat yourself on the back if everyone in your company gets one.

And question your HR department if those with important titles in the business don’t. That’s not a good sign.

6 Management Missteps To Watch Out For

I have been a lousy manager at times. Yes, I admit it.

But this wasn’t because I’m a mean person. No, I just didn’t know any better!

So here I share with you the most common mistakes that managers make. Those that I’ve made myself and those that I have seen in others.

If you catch yourself doing these, then you know it’s time for a change.

1. Manage your inbox, not your team. Ever had a meeting with your manager and he kept checking his screen every time that a new message popped up? Or he just had to look at that oh-so-important text message.

This is just plain rude and a waste of time for everyone involved.

A one-to-one meeting with your direct report (face-to-face, by phone or Skype) is always a fantastic opportunity to connect, check-in to see if everything is OK, exchange ideas, etc.

Focus on the person in front of you. Give them your undivided attention just like you’d like to receive it from your own boss.

2. Expect your direct report to be Mini-You. “I would never have said this (or done that, or asked for that) when I was her age”. Does this sound familiar?

I’ve fallen for this one too.

The chances are that you won’t hire your own clone to work for you. Making such statements just makes us sound like old-timers.

You wouldn’t want to be working with someone just like you all the time anyway, it would just get boring!

Get to know your direct report better and learn to work with them. Stop trying to fit them into a mold, it’s counterproductive.

3. Take credit for everything that goes well. This is something that I learnt from one of my bosses.

He said: “You are a great manager when you accept that your direct reports take all the credit for a project. It means you’ve managed and trained them well. Take pride in that”.

So true, and yet so many people have trouble letting their teams get the limelight.

4. Believe that family life and personal problems stay at home. At some point in your working life you are bound to experience difficult times at home: a bereavement, a divorce, a difficult pregnancy, a sick child, and so on.

People are human beings, they don’t leave their problems at home when they lock the front door to come to the office.

Grief, sadness, frustration and worry are emotions that take a lot of space in someone’s mind. Be understanding and be flexible.

This is not about being unprofessional, it is about being human.

If your direct report has done a stellar job for you until now, it is likely that they’ll do so again in the future.

Maybe one day you’ll be feeling down yourself. That’ll be the time when you’ll be glad to walk into the office and find understanding and supportive colleagues.

5. Pretend that, because you are the boss, you have answers to everything. You might be the most senior person around, but that doesn’t necessarily imply that you should know how to solve every single problem that pops up. You should, however, be able to anticipate problems!

Be transparent and say it when you don’t know something.

Ask your team for advice. They’ll appreciate getting involved and being part of the solution.

And, in any case, people aren’t fools, it just shows when you’re fibbing.

6. Think that promoting someone or giving them a pay rise will make them happy. Okay, it works in the short-term, but it is not always the best way to go.

Sometimes you need to dig deeper and understand why someone is frustrated. It is not always about status and money.

People value working in a fun environment, having interesting an job, feeling appreciated by colleagues, learning, and having a work life balance.

These elements should never be underestimated.

If someone is voicing their discontent, take the time to find the root cause of the problem. Otherwise, you’ll find your newly promoted direct report curdling the office environment again in a in a few months’ time.

What about you?

Have you come across any additional management slip-ups that should be on this list?

–          Laura

Related posts

Is Creating A Happy Team Making You Unhappy?

5 Tips To Get Your Team To Step Up

5 Tips To Get Your Team To Step Up

Tired of having no free time for your family, friends and hobbies? Does managing your team feel like you are dragging a cart (and its horse) up a hill? Look no further. Children Puzzle

What if the key to trying to get your team to be more proactive lied in children’s games? Wouldn’t that make managing a team much easier, lighthearted and fun?

Interested? Then you need to read this.

Here are five ways to motivate your team into action:

1. Playing Puzzle

Asking your team to help you out on a new project without explaining to them why doing it is important (for them, for your department, for your company) is like asking someone to put together a puzzle without showing them the picture of what it should look like when it’s finished.

Think about it. Would you REALLY want to dedicate the next 960 hours of your life (the equivalent of 6 months of work) implementing your boss’s next big shiny plan when you don’t understand how it fits into the overall business strategy?

You will do it, yes. You will try hard, maybe. Will you be 100% committed to making it work?

No.

As the team leader you will have a sense of the bigger picture and a good understanding of why something needs to happen. You probably have a good grasp of the vision (or maybe you are the visionary that had the idea in the first place), and therefore it makes absolute sense to you.

But for your team members to really buy into that new strategy, you need to make sure that everyone understands three things: why it is important for the organisation, how it will impact the team (more sales, leaner processes, etc.), and what is in it for them as individuals.

Next time that you’re presenting a new project to your team, think of the puzzle.

2. The Smurfs’ Village

My favourite. Not just because there’s Smurfette!

Have you noticed that they all have very different personalities and roles? They all have distinctive characteristics based on their skills.

Here’s a secret. If you really want to leverage your team members’ talents, think of yourselves as… er… smurfs.

I use smurfs when I’m facilitating team coaching sessions for my clients. Crazy, I know, but it is very effective.

And here’s why: when you have been working in the same team for a while you tend to forget what the other people are good at. You get into a routine and don’t take the time to think about what each person excels or is an expert in.

The question is: “What are his/her unique skills and how can they be of most use to the whole group?”

Picturing each other as smurfs helps everyone visualise their colleagues’ strengths and capitalise on all the untapped talent. And it will also make one of your team meetings a bit more entertaining, don’t you think?

Imagine yourself walking into your next team meeting saying: “Good morning all. Thanks for coming to today’s meeting. Agenda point number one: the Smurfs!”.

3. The Domino Effect

Remember lining up your dominoes and then knocking the first one down to let it fall? It pushed the next one off balance and whole line of dominoes ended up falling.Children Dominoes

When someone in a team fails to reach an objective, this has a domino effect on the whole team.

People come up with the most convoluted explanations to show that they are not the weakest link in their team. You did your best but your colleague just failed to reach his goals…

Too late. You are the next domino in the line. Someone in your company will always remember that you were part of the team that went 50k euros over budget, failed to meet the sales targets or lost that Fortune 100 client.

Install the “if one of us fails, we all fail” mentality in your team. At the end of the day we all want to succeed in whatever we are doing, right? So let’s help each other get there and not lose anyone along the way.

4. La Piñata

We have email, we have fax, we have Skype, Facebook, Twitter, conference calls, instant messenger, etc. but for most teams communicating in an effective way is still a problem.

Why?

Simply because we have a growing tendency to communicate via email rather than go and see our colleague sitting in the office next door. Or we just forget to pick up the phone for a quick live conversation if we work in different sites.

Have you ever played piñata? It is a very popular game in Mexico and Central America. The Free Online Dictionary describes the game as follows: “papier-mâché figure filled with toys, candy, etc., and suspended from above, especially during Christmas or birthday festivities, so that children, who are blindfolded, may break it or knock it down with sticks and release the contents”.

The other children at the party give the blindfolded child instructions as to where he needs to go with the stick to knock down the piñata.

Hint: they don’t send email or a text message.

People have different communications styles: some are direct and others are indirect. Some people like to chit chat and others can’t handle getting into personal information territory.

As the team manager, you’ll create opportunities for your team members to gain awareness about other people’s preferred ways of interacting. And you will encourage more open and direct communication amongst your team members.

5. Showing The Red Card

OK, this might belong more in a sports section, but football (soccer) is still a game.

When a player breaks the rules of the game, the referee pulls up a red card.

How is this relevant to creating collective responsibility in teams?

Well, it is about establishing a set of agreements within the team so that when something goes wrong, people feel that they can blow the whistle. And it is OK to do so.

This technique encourages people to speak up instead of venting out their dissatisfaction around the rest of the office. It also prevents problems from escalating and getting out of hand.

You need to create a safe space for everyone in the team to hold each other accountable. It is about acknowledging that something has gone wrong or someone has gone off-track and rectifying. And it involves being respectful, providing constructive feedback and trusting one another.

To Sum Up

Collective responsibility is closely linked to motivation, camaraderie, self-discipline and alignment.

In the context of today’s tough economic climate, not all companies have the luxury of investing in team development programmes.

However, the tips that I’ve listed in this post will help you to significantly improve your team’s dynamics. There’s something about working with children’s games in an office environment that brings up the playfulness in us, sparks creativity, and breaks down barriers.

Let me know how you get on with the Smurfs.

– Laura

Related posts

This post is a follow-up to another one I published last month in which I talked about the danger for team leaders of falling into the trap of to-do lists, and argued that they might be better off adding value to their organisations at a more strategic level. Here it is:

Is Creating a Happy Team Making You Unhappy?

Is Creating A Happy Team Making You Unhappy?

Taking a closer look at how managers get caught in a spiral of to-do lists and why so many teams fail to deliver on expectations.

You work between 10 and 18 hours a day. There are the client meetings, the catch up sessions with your direct reports, the networking events, reporting back to your boss (and your boss’s boss…), the endless list of mails in your inbox…  And that’s just during office hours.

Does this sound familiar? It does to me. This is how I lived my life for years!

Let’s carry on…

You rush out of the office to pick up the kids from school (even manage to get on some conference calls whilst driving), give them dinner and put them to bed. You remember to check in with your wife/husband and ask how their day went. You try hard to pay attention to what their saying and listen with intent, but your mind is on overload.

Finally, the day is over. You walk into your office at home and lock the door. You breathe. Now you can focus on your “real work”. Those tasks that only you can do.

You are tired. Exhausted.

You feel like you’re working day in and day out on an autopilot. You’re not spending quality time with your family. You are not having fun in your job as you did before. That creativity, that drive and enthusiasm that got you this job in the first place, they’re long gone. And your team… well, sometimes it seems like everyone is working against you.

Unhappy business man

And yet you’re really trying hard to work things out. You have weekly team planning meetings and regular one-to-ones. You support them in their career development plans and try to get them a promotion or secure a full-time job for them.

You want to delegate more, you really do. They know what they are supposed to be doing.  But, somehow, they’re not pulling their weight. The last thing that you want is to been seen as a micromanager. And, in any case, there’s just too much work on everyone’s plate anyway.

Let’s face it, at the end of the day you’re the one whose responsibility it is to keep the ball rolling. You need to pick up everything that has been left unfinished by your team during working hours and make sure that it gets done. Somebody has to do it. And that’s you. Right?

Wrong.

This approach will get you nowhere.

It took me a while to figure this one out. Years of working a full day in the office, getting home and working another 5-8 hours in the evening. Time spent getting frustrated with my team, feeling drained, and getting disconnected from my family and friends.

So, here’s the reason why the I’m-the-leader-of-this-team-and-therefore-ultimately-responsible-for-everything approach won’t get you anywhere (except a bit closer to burnout):

You didn’t get this job to “get things done”. Yes, that’s it. Simple.

You got this position to successfully lead a team that would accomplish great things. Focusing on “getting things done” is like slipping back into your first few years in the office when you were asked to perform tasks that required little or no work experience.

Your job now is to define a vision, develop a strategy and set objectives. You are here to create a common sense of purpose for your team so that everyone is aligned and working hard to achieve the desired outcomes. This is the real value that you bring to your business or organisation. This is what you get paid to do.

Strategy definition and goal setting will get you a lot of kudos in-house and with your clients. However, delivering results is just as important.  Team alignment is critical here, and it is not an easy nut to crack. This is one of the key reasons why a large number of strategies go bust at the implementation phase.

Because they are implemented by a group of individuals and not a team.

What’s the difference?

A team acts as a single entity where there’s a real sense of collective responsibility. If someone fails to deliver, the whole team fails. There’s a place for exchanging ideas and plenty of room for disagreement. Diverging opinions don’t create stumbling blocks. They can help teams leap forward. With a caveat: there has to be a real sense of cohesion, interdependence and a shared vision.

Happy team

If it feels like you’re dragging your team behind you, ask yourself this question:

“Are we a real team or just a group of individuals working together?”

If the answer is the latter, then things need to change. You can’t have a happy team with an unhappy manager. And you can’t have a happy manager with an unhappy team. Both options are unsustainable.

What 5 strategies could you use to install a sense of collective responsibility in your team? Let me know.

That’ll be the topic of my next post.

And, until then, get some rest!

– Laura.

Why assertiveness matters to business

In tough times, organisations are looking for well-balanced assertive leaders. Do you measure up?

Article published in Communication Director Magazine (March 2013 issue)

Assertiveness by itself will not get you a promotion, nor the respect of your peers and direct reports. But failing to stand your ground effectively, and conversely – being too controlling and aggressive, can halt your advance up the corporate ladder. So why are organisations seeking out assertive leaders and where do you fit on the assertiveness barometer?

© Larshallstrom | Dreamstime.com

© Larshallstrom | Dreamstime.com

Assertiveness is a way of describing how people defend their interests. Assertive leaders can create a compelling vision, communicate strategy and clearly define objectives and service quality standards. They inspire their people, gather support, and create alignment within a team so that everyone moves in the same direction. They avoid the confusion and disorientation caused when team members are trying to second-guess what they’re supposed to be doing and why.

Assertive leaders exude confidence. They are prepared to stand their ground when they walk down the corridor to deal with HR or Finance! They create a safe space for team members to voice concerns and discontent, avoiding the trap of toxic communications cycles. They can even encourage your most soft-spoken people to share their thoughts and ideas with the wider team; ideas that might turn out to be star dust further down the line.

Until now, organisations have viewed assertiveness as a trait that relates exclusively to the personality of the individual. Either you are assertive or not. But it is now time for companies to start looking at assertiveness as an institutional issue. That’s because the structure and function of every organisation has a direct impact on whether the next generation of leaders are capable of rallying their people in the right direction.

Organisations also have a responsibility to ensure that their current crop of leaders has the right environment in which to be assertive. They cannot expect team leaders to act assertively if those leaders don’t have a clear mandate from management, or if their jobs are constantly being put on the line. The organisation as a whole has to create the right environment for assertiveness to flourish.

Why should you be an assertive team leader?

Being assertive is a fantastic trait whether you are managing relationships upwards, downwards or horizontally within an organisation. It comes in very handy when you are negotiating resources for your team, trying to get budgets approved, securing full-time employee positions or backing your KPIs in front of the big boss during the annual review process.

If you are servicing other departments you need to be able to say what needs to be said in a constructive manner. In doing so, you will establish your team’s reason for existing and defend their expertise. In the process you are also likely to challenge misconceptions, push-back unrealistic deadlines, create a productive dialogue and develop trusting relationships with your peers.

With the external eco-system a little assertiveness is also of great value. Whether you are doing business with contractors, managing complex campaigns with multiple stakeholders, or negotiating deals on behalf of your company, assertiveness will bring dividends.

Walking the assertiveness tightrope

Research published by the American Psychological Association shows that individuals who come across as too low or too high in assertiveness tend to be rated as ineffective leaders by their colleagues. Highly assertive individuals do get the tasks done and achieve short-term goals. However, they often dampen relationships and are likely to undermine team spirit over the longer term. While low levels of assertiveness might make you popular, it often goes hand-in-hand with underperformance.

Being assertive is a little like walking a tightrope which is suspended 10 metres above the ground. What is likely to make you fall and what will keep you balanced?

There is no straightforward answer to this question. This is because balance comes from aligning your own personal values, strengths and sense of purpose with the needs of the outside world. Assertiveness involves taking charge from the inside out. Know who you are and what you have to offer and listen carefully to what is going on around you. That will help you to apply the right degree of assertiveness to the right group at the right time.

Staying in balance

So how can you keep your assertiveness in balance, and what cues should you look for to recognise when you are out of balance? The answers depend on a number of factors which are, quite often, out of your control. Factors such as the direction of the organisation, the nature of your team and the individuals who are part of it.

Where is your company heading?

You need to pick your leadership style (and with that, the right amount of assertiveness) depending on your organisation. What is the overall strategic business, and what are its financial and organisational objectives?

The leadership style you choose is not necessarily your own personal working style. For example, you cannot suddenly decide to be an authoritative leader so you can take your team through a restructuring phase – but then fail to make yourself heard by displaying low assertiveness skills. You will not get the results you were expecting, and you will lose credibility within the company.

Remember, you need to be adjusting your leadership style and assertiveness level all the time. If you are naturally an authoritarian leader, you must balance this with more federative and coaching styles of leadership. If you don’t, you risk that your team will view you as manipulative, abrasive and self-driven. And vice-versa, if you are comfortable acting like a counsellor to your team and like to keep everyone happy, you should be capable of switching your leadership style and assertiveness level to be able to take tough business decisions or implement change within your organisation.

What is the nature of your team?

Teams that are working physically together have very different dynamics to those working virtually or in separate locations. Individual members of these teams will exhibit different assertive behaviours – and this will vary depending on the way of working.

The diverse nature of these teams requires different levels of assertiveness from the team leader. For example, virtual team leaders might need to be more assertive during the initial development of their team. They can gradually shift to a less assertive style as the right processes, roles and responsibilities are laid out, reporting lines become clear, routines settle in, and trust becomes established within the team.

If you are heading a cross-cultural team, you must strive to be sensitive to the different national perspectives, desires, work methodologies and cultural backgrounds of your team members. The more cultures in a team, the higher the complexity of the relationships between individual members of the team. There is also greater room for misunderstandings, even if you all speak the same working language. As the team leader, you need to watch out for what is not being said, read between the lines and decipher what level of assertiveness the team requires you to demonstrate in order for it to function efficiently.

To keep reading click here: Communication Director, Why Assertiveness Matters to Business

They (HR, Finance, Legal) come from another planet

© Ron Chapple | Dreamstime.com

© Ron Chapple | Dreamstime.com

A former colleague now working in a new company recently said to me: « I can’t understand the people from the marketing & sales department. They just don’t get what we do and we constantly seem to be working against each other”. And who hasn’t heard things like: “HR people come from Mars” or “The finance department is constantly out to get us”? Well, I’ve just come across something that has shed some light on all of this…

They (the sales department, the finance department, the HR department, the legal department, etc.) don’t actually come from another planet. No, really, they don’t. But, sometimes it just really feels like they do. And this is all backed by empirical data. I love it!

In their article ‘The Neuroscience of Leadership’, published in Strategy & Leadership, David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz point to research that shows that attention continually reshapes the patterns of the brain. One of the implications of this is that, according to the authors, “people who practice a specialty every day literally think differently, through different [brain] connections, than people who don’t practice the same specialty”. Isn’t this fascinating? It shows that a team of people who carries out a specific function in an organisation will think differently to those working on something else in the same company. This study shows that the brain evolves and develops in a different way depending on what tasks the individual is focusing on day in, day out. And this physiological difference makes it difficult for professionals to approach and analyse an issue in the same way.

This is why it seems like people working in other departments are worlds apart. It takes more energy to understand them, more brain power, focus and effort. But it’s worth the try. Trying to understand them better and seeing things from a different perspective can add value to your work and be of great benefit to your organisation in the long-run.

Now leave your screen and run down the corridor to the marketing and sales department. They are not aliens.

The right message to the right audience

© Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com

© Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com

I came across this model whilst I was listening to a webinar on brand development techniques. It is a tool called Empathy Map developed by XPLANE, a US-based company that focuses on business design thinking. In a nutshell, it provides companies with a process to understand their potential clients better. I’ve been working with the map for a few weeks now and have found it extremely useful.

What I like about it is that it provides you with a systematic approach to analysing your target audience by asking questions such as “What motivates X?”, “What challenges is X facing?”, “What is at stake for X?”, “Who is X influenced by?” and so on. You can use it to identify your key stakeholders when you’re developing a public affairs campaign plan, and it’ll also be useful when designing a marcoms strategy as it’ll help you formulate more resonant and compelling messages to address to your target audience.

Those that are unfamiliar with EU public affairs and who, incidentally, tend to be the budget gatekeepers (trade association members, agency clients, etc.) tend to judge campaigns by the length of the stakeholder list. Or rate their visit to Brussels as successful when their day is packed with meetings. But here, less is more. A couple of meetings with the top decision-makers and thought leaders will be far more effective than a room full of random people.

Use this model to prove that you have done the necessary research and analysis and haven’t just been cutting & pasting names from a directory or online portal. The Empathy Map will help you anchor and validate your strategy vis à vis your clients/members.

And the beauty of it is that the Empathy Map can also be applied to studying not only external audiences, but also your internal stakeholders. This model can help you understand the people within your organisation better, improve your working relationship with colleagues, help a team get over toxic communications cycles, and so on.

Finally, it is a very visual tool so it makes it easier for right-brain thinkers (like me!) or people working under time pressure to dive into the essence and get the bigger picture straight away.

Sounds like the obvious thing to be doing anyway? Well, yes, in theory. Using this tool might avoid more than one embarrassing mismatch in Brussels!

Budget planning 2013: training & development programmes in or out?

How many people do you know that have changed jobs in Brussels in the past year? Quite a few judging by the number of LinkedIn profile updates hitting our mailboxes on a regular basis. Isn’t it interesting that there’s still so much movement in times of economic crisis? Those who predicted that people would stay put in their roles until things started picking up again have been proven wrong. People are still on the lookout for new jobs, and they are obviously getting either a more interesting job or a higher salary package (or both!) with their new employer.  Otherwise, why would they want to leave?

Talent retention is a big issue in Brussels. The most badly hit by staff turnover are consultancies, NGOs and trade associations and, much less so, the corporate representation offices. We’re not talking about the usual carrousel of stagiaires or small percentage of people that return home because they miss family and friends. No, we are talking about people who leave their jobs because their work becomes repetitive, there’s little scope for a pay rise or promotion, and no real chance to take on more responsibility or get involved in an interesting in-house career development programme.

I understand that salary rises are a bit of a stretch nowadays. And yes, creating a credible in-house training & development programme costs money. Yes, you need to tighten the budgets in times of financial instability, I get that. But have you calculated the total costs (actual + man hours) of not having a training & development strategy for your organisation?

© Alain Lacroix | Dreamstime.com

© Alain Lacroix | Dreamstime.com

Well, think about the recruitment process: writing a job spec, advertising, the selection of CVs, the first round of interviews, the second round of interviews with shortlisted candidates, the final selection stage, the offer and negotiation of the package, the recruitment agency fees if you use one, the induction package or hand-over period, and then the time that it takes an individual to be fully operational (about 6-12 months depending on the level of seniority). And that’s not taking into account the organisational knowledge and expertise that is acquired over the years by an employee and gets “lost” when he/she leaves. If you work out the figures, you’ll get a cold shiver running down your spine.

Think again – are you going to allocate some money for staff training & development in 2013 or will you keep your fingers crossed hoping that people don’t leave your organisation?

What kind of a corporate athlete are you?

© Martinmark | Dreamstime.com

© Martinmark | Dreamstime.com

The London Olympic Games have come and gone. A few weeks before they actually started, I reflected on the analogy that Loehr & Schwartz made between executives and athletes in their article: The Making of a Corporate Athlete. So I’d like to ask you the question: what kind of a corporate athlete are you?

Think about it. If you were on your country’s Olympic team, in which discipline would you be competing? Would you be a 100 m sprinter or would you be more inclined towards endurance events such as the marathon? Do you get excited about the 400 m hurdles, the javelin throw or the madness of table tennis? How about team sports like water polo or hockey? Would you go for scary sports like diving, or aesthetically pleasing ones such as synchronised swimming? What about being an all-round decathlon champion?

Have you ever taken the time to explore what type of corporate athlete you are? What makes you excited, what are you good at? What are your natural talents? What discipline should you really be in? Are you a solo athlete or a team player? What times of the day do you give your best performance? When do you take a break from the training and what’s your recovery time? How do you deal with setbacks? What do you need from your coach?

Above all, what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and perform to the best of your physical and mental abilities? Is it the thought of the gold, or are you just taking part?

Now think about the people in your organisation. Do you know what motivates them? Do you know how you can motivate them better?

Remember that the one thing that ensures companies succeed in business – in whatever industry, wherever they are in the world – is people. What do you and they need to beat your competition to the gold?