A Sport Few Americans Know Anything About Can Teach Plenty About Leadership

Cricket, the precursor to baseball, was popular in early America. Immigration from South Asia is boosting the sport and displaying the skill required to lead a team.

6 employee warning signs — and what to do about them

SmartBrief is talking directly with small and medium-sized businesses to discover their journeys, challenges and lessons. Today’s post is from Matt Straz, the founder and CEO of Namely, the HR and payroll platform for the world’s most exciting companies. Connect with Straz and the Namely team on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Are you a small-business owner and would like to share your story? E-mail senior editor James daSilva at jdasilva [at] smartbrief.com.

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You know when something’s not quite right. Your new employee is the black sheep of the bunch, and you aren’t sure if they might be the wrong fit for your company or it’s just the learning curve.

Employee fit is influenced by both skill and culture. Skill is the easier aspect of these two, because it’s more tangible and you can always train someone to master a skill. Cultural fit is harder to pin down. It involves an employee’s personal values and the social norms they live by.

One issue with cultural fit often comes when someone puts themselves ahead of the team and the company. In a previous company, I had a person who felt that it was more about them, such as wanting a sales commission for deals they didn’t actually close. I also had a marketing person who would consistently try to be in the limelight. such as being in articles or advertisements.In hindsight, I wished I acted quicker on that behavior because, ultimately, I had to dismiss those people. Nobody wants to work for someone who is selfish and tries to take all of the credit.

If your employee is the wrong cultural fit for the job, you’ll want to know sooner than later so you can prepare. Replacing an employee can cost companies more than 20% of the employee’s annual salary. It’s time to investigate if there is a problem so you can be proactive rather than reactive in your management strategy.

Here are a few signs your new employee might be the wrong cultural fit for the job, accompanied by tips for improving the situation before deciding to let him or her go:


  1. “That’s not my job” mentality.

When an employee refuses to take on tasks outside of the position’s normal job duties, it shows she’s not a team player. If your company values flexibility and team collaboration, she’s probably not the right cultural fit for your company.

Sometimes, employees can learn to be great team players by watching others on the team support one another. Give the employee a project and supply her with the team and tools she needs for success. Ideally, throughout the project she will learn the advantages of working on a team and the value of others stepping outside their normal duties to accomplish the big picture goal.

  1. Negative attitude.

Pay attention to the way your employee speaks to others about work. Expressions like, “I don’t want to be here,” and “this place” are signs your employee feels negative about where he works. If any of those expressions contain profanities, you’re in trouble.

Why? Negativity in the workplace is contagious, research shows. One negative employee can affect your whole team and, if you aren’t careful, bring the whole business down.

A great way to combat workplace negativity is with positive activities that enhance team bonding. Take everyone out for happy hour. Perhaps all your new employee needs is to feel connected. If things don’t turn around in a few weeks, you’ll want to cut him loose.

  1. It’s ALL about the money.

If you’re employee asks more questions about paychecks, bonuses and raises than he does about the company or job function, that should raise a red flag. He might nickel-and-dime you for every expense, but when it comes to his work, he overlooks details easily and seems blasé about his work in general.

First, if an employee seems unhappy in his current department, check other departments to see if his skills might be a better fit there. If that’s not an option, try offering money-based performance incentives for elements like deadline timeliness, accuracy, and overall work quality.

  1. Extended absences.

After the fourth time-off request in a month, you’re starting to get suspicious. You’ve noticed your employee come into work 30 to 45 minutes late every morning. She seems to take extended lunches, too, some lasting more than two hours. Is it your employee’s goal to be at work as little as possible?

All of this time off wouldn’t be as much of a problem if she met her deadlines, but she doesn’t. Ask your employee out to lunch to discuss her self-proposed flexible hours. Are there any personal or family emergencies happening that are requiring her to take extra time off?

Stress the importance of meeting deadlines, and explain that you don’t mind allowing time off, as long as quality work is turned in on time.

  1. She lives for the weekend.

“Is it Friday yet,” you’ve heard repeatedly coming from your employee’s office. When you walk by, she’s texting or on her cell phone making plans with friend. At 4:30 p.m., she’s already logging off and packing her bag, even though her to-do list is still more than half full.

Talk to your employee about using personal time such as lunch breaks to make plans with friends. Work with her to develop an agenda for managing her work every day, give estimates for time spent on projects, and clarify daily deadlines.

  1. You need an “employee-sitter.”

If you have the sense that your employee is a loose cannon about to go rogue, he probably is. You gave him a project with a checklist, but still found five items overlooked. You asked him to prepare a report in a specific format, and he used a completely different program. You asked him to attend a business-casual after-hours company event, he showed up in cutoffs and a Hawaiian shirt. Mahalo.

It seems this employee is an independent thinker, which you value when it comes to innovation. The problem is you don’t want to send this employee anywhere alone for fear that he might make crucial errors, misrepresent the company, or worse, steal clients.

Talk to your employee about his training experience. Was he shown how things are done properly? What questions does he have? Give timely and consistent feedback on his performance. Be specific and use a method for presenting criticism in a positive way such as the sandwich method. Your employee will then know what your company values about them, and some things he should work on to be a better fit for the job.

Don’t doubt your intuition, especially if you’ve been working in management for several years. If you sense something is off, spend some extra time noticing your employee’s habits and patterns. If you think someone might be the wrong cultural fit, try a few of the methods above to see if things change after a few months. If not, it might be time to put up the hiring sign.

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6 employee warning signs — and what to do about them originally published by SmartBlogs

Target’s Kim Strong: Promoting women leaders through mentoring, connecting and engaging

Strong (right) talks about her career path at the SmartBrief offices

Strong (right) talks about her career path at the SmartBrief offices

Even in retail, an industry that might more often be associated with women rather than men, women executives are hard to come by. But Kim Strong has navigated her way to the top, becoming Target’s first vice president with diversity inclusion in the title.

Strong stopped by SmartBrief’s offices this week to talk about her experiences as a woman in an executive leadership position. She recounted her career and the challenges she has faced along the way during, talking about her professional life and personal life and how they did (and sometimes did not) mesh.

Strong has been with Target for her whole career, starting out in operations and human resources for former Target division Marshall Field’s and eventually moving up to become director of human resources for Mervyn’s, another former Target division, vice president of human resources for Target’s southern stores and vice president of diversity and inclusion for all of Target, the position she currently holds.

In her role, Strong develops initiatives and programs for Target and works on making the retailer a diverse and inclusive organization. She said that the company uses representation, retention and reputation to measure its diversity efforts, and benchmarks those efforts to make sure people are all moving in the same direction.

Getting to the point where she was developing such efforts on a corporate level was Strong’s biggest challenge of her career, she said. Working with employees on the store level was very different from working with employees at Target’s headquarters because she had to shift to getting people with different positions to work together.

“I had to figure out how to motivate people differently,” she said. “When I just stopped worrying about it … I figured it out.”

On her personal journey rising through the ranks of Target, deciding to relocate from her hometown of Detroit to California with her son and husband was a major turning point. And during her experiences relocating for the company, it became a balancing act to juggle personal demands like getting her son enrolled in school and setting up new homes and professional demands.

“I thought I had to do it all,” she said.

In the end, Strong identified three key things that have helped her throughout her career and that are essential to promoting women leaders in general — saying that mentoring, making connections and engaged leaders all played an integral role in her career path.


Strong said that mentorship and connecting with people both within your organization and outside of it is key for women and professionals in general. At Target, employees are offered a formal mentoring program at every level down to the store cashier, and it is a robust process that has follow-up. The retailer also has a women’s business council that seeks to connect and engage women working for a common purpose.

Strong said she personally has one mentor outside of Target, three mentors within the company and what she called a “reverse mentor” — a 29-year-old who provides her with a different perspective on the industry and things like social media. She mentors five people and sponsors one. A key to mentorship, she said, is always saying yes to at least having conversations with people who are seeking to be mentored.

Making connections

According to Strong, the No. 1 rule in the professional world is be nice to everyone, because you never know when someone you meet might make a repeat appearance in your career, and you always want to be in a position to use connections to your advantage. She said her mission is always to be a “hyper connector,” and she engages people within her own organization, at other organization and through social media.

One of the inclusion efforts she has worked on at Target has been focused employee groups. Strong said there are more than 110 networks for Target employees organized around things like running, scrapbooking and motherhood.

Engaged leaders

Strong said that engaged leaders who are interested in promoting women are essential to propelling women in leadership, particularly engaged male leaders.

“That’s 80% of the secret sauce right there,” she said.

At Target, “our best story is our women’s story,” according to Strong. The retailer’s corporate board is more than 33% women; 50% of executives reporting to the CEO are women; 67% of women have profit-and-loss responsibility; and the company as a whole is more than 48% female. All of that is because Target’s male CEO and other leaders have been engaged in promoting women’s leadership and mentorship.

And when it comes to areas where Target still has some work to do with diversity, such as supply chain, distribution and asset protection, Strong said the company ensures that the people involved have very focused conversations to make sure everyone is prepared and to make sure the environment is inclusive.

Julia Russell edits retail and food and beverage newsletters at SmartBrief and covers industry news for SmartBlog on Food and Beverage. She graduated from the Philip Merrill School of Journalism at the University of Maryland in College Park and did media research for cloud-based marketing software provider Vocus before joining SmartBrief.

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

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Target’s Kim Strong: Promoting women leaders through mentoring, connecting and engaging originally published by SmartBlogs

Tim Cook Is Gay. But As Apple’s CEO, That Isn’t His Biggest Revelation.

Cook knows his responsibilities as CEO of Apple. He proved that in his coming out.

How to Be Happy. (Really.)

There is cause and effect in the universe. Happiness is an effect, not a cause. Don't buy into the happiness craze.

Evaluating a cloud-based hiring platform: 6 keys

This post is sponsored by SmartRecruiters.

Finding the right candidates for your organization is no small feat, especially in today’s saturated job market. To stay on top of this, a growing number of organizations are turning to cloud hiring platforms as a way to recruit and vet potential talent.

But what should you look for in a hiring platform? In its white paper, Guide to Cloud Hiring Platforms: 6 Requirements, cloud provider SmartRecruiters outlines the six keys you need to consider when choosing a hiring system.

A delightful candidate experience. Make sure you can offer job hunters a simple, efficient engagement experience. Candidates should be able to apply for or get information about a job opening with one click, from any device. The system should integrate with the major social networks, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and pre-fill forms with the candidate’s information. It should also provide timely communication — personalized to the candidate’s job profile — and allow recruits to respond to invitations for interviews.

Easy adoption. Hiring managers have enough on their plates. Make sure the system they use is easy to implement and manage. A cloud-based service eliminates the need for time-consuming deployment and configuration. It should also support collaboration, allowing team members to review and discuss candidates through a single portal.

Optimized for mobile. Candidates want anytime, anywhere from any device connectivity with potential employers. Your cloud service should include a mobile Web site that allows job hunters to peruse and apply for new openings. It should also offer iOS and Android apps that enable managers to easily keep up with new applicants, receive feedback from other team members and check the talent pool, right from their mobile device.

Connected to what matters. An integrated platform centralizes all stakeholders and communication channels on a single system. Push out job notices through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social avenues. Create online job boards with posts for specific markets, regions and positions. Build areas to manage recruiters and agencies. Streamlining on a cloud service allows you to efficiently manage all your critical touch points and teams.

Socially engaging . Your platform should foster intuitive social engagement. It should allow users to share jobs, refer candidates and submit resumes. It should also enable hiring managers to interact with potential recruits, communicate privately with team members and collect hiring documents. Ideally, your hiring platform should function as an extension of your organization’s social media strategy.

Smart analytics and reports. An effective cloud service should come with reporting functions that enable you to gather data and see how your outreaches are performing. Analytics give you deep insight which you can use to plan future initiatives and forecast outcomes.

A cloud-based hiring system allows you to keep your attention focused on your most critical task: finding talent. For more insight on evaluating a system or connecting with the right job hunters, download SmartRecruiters’ Guide to Cloud Hiring Platforms: 6 Requirements and The Candidates Are Coming — Hide Your ATS!

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Evaluating a cloud-based hiring platform: 6 keys originally published by SmartBlogs

Challenges in Developing Biologics


Shawn Heidel

Shawn Heidel, DVM, PhD, is Executive Director, Global Lead Optimization and Program Management at Covance. In this role, he is responsible for scientific and business strategy for the pathology, toxicology, pharmacology and imaging groups involved in preclinical development. He also works across Covance’s business units to ensure delivery of client solutions for nonclinical development. In this post, sponsored by Covance, Heidel talks about the nonclinical challenges of developing biologics and other industry issues.

Question: We’ve seen the new Covance advertisement with the slogan that “No Two Are Ever the Same” for biologics. What does this mean?

Answer: Biologics are medicines that are manufactured in living cells and are structurally unique depending on the conditions under which they are manufactured. You can manufacture the same biologic in different cell lines and get a structurally different biologic because the manufacturing conditions can change them.

Biologics [today] have varying degrees of human gene sequence. If you go back 20 years ago, most biologics had substantial non-human sequences. Now, there are fully humanized sequences and a wide array of constructs that contain both human and non-human sequences.

To sum it up, the physicochemical structure, the intended target, the immunogenicity potential and the species selectivity of each biologic makes them unique.

Q: Building on this theme, how does this apply to development examples in the lead optimization space? 

A: Lead optimization is a critical—and time-consuming—phase in the process of drug discovery. Each biologic, each program has to have a [unique] series of studies. Some biologics will need a battery of tests, which may include extensive toxicology testing, and some will only need a simple, single-dose pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) study. One commonality that all biologics share is that all of them will need reagent development for quantitation in enzyme-linked immunosorbant assays (ELISAs). But knowing which reagents are needed to build very unique bioanalytical assays requires development experience. Development experience is absolutely critical to understanding which way to turn, what are the right assays.

You need to consider the complexity of bioanalytical method development, as well as the tests that will be needed for pharmacology, toxicology, and PK/PD for the specific biologic. And it may be some [of those tests] or none of them, such as in vivo pharmacology. And you don’t know until you see what the biologic is—and characterize it and know the target.

Q: How does this apply to good laboratory practice (GLP) study designs?

A: Going back to the notion that no two biologics are the same, the GLP studies that directly support that first-in-human clinical trial aren’t like boxes that you can just tick off. Some programs will have a single study in a nonhuman primate. Some will have a set of studies, including a rodent study, a large animal study and a complete battery of safety pharmacology studies. And designing the appropriate study goes back to the issue of experience. You have to have the experience of which set of studies to design and, more to the point, how to design each study.

Q: What are the nonclinical challenges of developing some of the more novel classes of biologics, such as cell-based or gene-based therapies?

A: First, as far as the challenges go, there’s no ICH (International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use) program to guide development. What that means is that there isn’t an overarching worldwide guidance. The other thing is that cell-based or gene-based therapies are by definition designed to modify or replace cell function and that means that you have to be concerned about cell proliferation and creating cells that could cause cancer. Therefore, parameters in the study must look for things like tumorgenicity, or the potential of causing cancer within humans.

To summarize some of the key nonclinical challenges: 1) There are no ICH regulations to design the program; and 2) there are different considerations for safety when compared to more traditional molecules, like monoclonal antibodies, cancer risk being the greatest concern.

Q: Are you seeing a shift in what clients are asking for from Covance?

A: What we are finding is that clients are asking for development experience. To design a biologics program, you need deep experience, 10 years at a minimum. We have gone to great lengths to hire those experienced people. In addition, clients are looking for people trained in immunotoxicology because biologics are inherently immunogenic and frequently have targets in which immunotoxicology experience is needed. Finally, clients are looking for CROs [contract research organizations] that have vertical integration: CROs with experience in toxicology, pharmacology, biologics chemistry, manufacturing and controls, and clinical experience, and that can put together a team of experts that covers all the disciplines.

It comes back to that notion of no two are ever the same: you have to have that experience, whether it is for nonclinical or clinical. You need experience to design the right development program that gives the right answers to the client.

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Challenges in Developing Biologics originally published by SmartBlogs

Do the right thing

I was recently listening to a spiritual talk when one of the speakers said something that struck me: We must always try to do the right thing, and when we do, not only does it help others, it also helps us to feel good about ourselves and what we do.

John Fontana, a management consultant and the director of the Arupe Center of Ethics in Business, believes that grace and spirituality in the workplace can be transformative to an organization’s culture and spirit. While not everyone may embrace the idea of spirituality, many people would appreciate a culture that is about a lot more than revenues.

What I mean by spirituality and grace, really, is the idea that the people of an organization, including the senior leadership, strive for a greater purpose, such as honoring people’s personal goals, their families, their traditions and their personal and professional growth. It’s about honoring the whole person in each team member in their company.

Being a student of leadership, I know how important it is to do the right thing in business, as well. I know we all agree. Our attitudes and actions in business are so important, mean everything.

My friend Meg Mannion, an accomplished commercial real estate and branding executive, tells a story I just love. When she was pregnant with her first child, she was with a large real estate company in St. Louis. Meg worked up until a few days before her due date. Before she left that last afternoon, she told her boss to let her know that, if he needed anything, she would try to help if she could.

When she was in the hospital shortly after giving birth, she got a call from her boss. He started to apologize, and Meg said please, no need, just quickly tell me what you need. He was at a closing in New York City, asked Meg a few questions, which she answered and the deal closed successfully.

Meg’s message is, “Find out what needs to be done — and just do it! No one wants drama or intrigue. Just do it.”

What company wouldn’t want people like Meg, people who just do what needs to be done?

Doing the right thing in business means being a source of positive energy, and only positive energy. That means being encouraging and helpful to others, to those who report to us, to our team members and other colleagues, and to those whom we may report to.

The right thing is being a giver, helping others. It means never talking about someone behind her back or complaining. Negative energy hurts a company and does not reflect well on the speaker.

Doing the right thing is being an attentive listener, listening to understand and being open and eager to learn. And doing the right thing is about being up front and honest, doing what we say we will, keeping our word, treating people fairly and with respect, and being appreciative.

It’s about humility, really. From humility comes our desire to be respectful, appreciative, helpful and encouraging to others, and to continue to learn and grow ourselves.

Emily White, a talent management specialist at Optoro, epitomizes doing the right thing. She holds herself to high standards and is a lifelong learner. She also has no personal agenda. She is always responsive and cheerful, and she’s all about the team. She is doing all the right things.

Emily’s protégé at her previous job is Sarah Hay, associate director of career services at Georgetown. Sarah embodies these same qualities. She has no ego, she just wants to serve and be helpful to others. Sarah is a great teammate, easy to work with, and very accomplished.

It was Sarah, from whom I first heard use the phrase “grace in business.” I explored this idea in an article and received a lot of appreciative feedback. The idea of grace in business seemed to open up thinking about creating optimal organizational environments.

As I write this paper, I’m thinking about the many men and women with whom I have the privilege of working, who are great examples of grace in business. They are servant leaders who lead with positive energy, who genuinely care for their colleagues and make the time for conversations with them.

Let’s think about what we’d like our legacy to be. Let’s treat our team members well, respect them and help them grow and succeed at all levels of our company.

We have choices all day long. Let’s take a moment to think “What’s the right thing to do?” and that’s what we should do.

John KeyserJohn Keyser is the founder and principal of Common Sense Leadership. He works with executives helping them develop organizational cultures that will produce outstanding financial results year after year, and a striving for continuous improvement, theirs and their team’s. You can reach Keyser at john@johnkeysercoach.com and 202-236-2800.

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Do the right thing originally published by SmartBlogs

Aubrey Daniels on how to make a better budget

Many budget processes look like this:

  • They happen once a year and go out a year ahead.
  • Managers and departments have every incentive to ask for everything, whether they need it or not, because their demands will be negotiated down. If they don’t ask for everything, someone else will.
    • Managers and departments often also have the incentive to spend everything from the year before. If you save money, you obviously didn’t need it and won’t get it next year.
  • Trust is minimal, as is input from people outside the room — the rank and file, particularly.
  • A budget is cobbled out of this somehow and sets the tone — and maybe the strategy — for the next year. See you in 12 months.

Sound familiar? For Aubrey Daniels, a noted expert and author on performance management and other management, leadership and workplace issues, budget planning is one of the more frustrating things about companies today, and he has some ideas on how to improve the process.

That fix doesn’t require getting rid of budgets, Daniels says, which can bring discipline to companies and help everyone have a basic understanding of where the money is and where it’s going.

“It’s the managing and behavior around the budget that’s the problem. It’s developing a way that people feel a commitment to a number because they came up with it.

What are we to do? This seems to me to be a problem that can only be overcome one company, one budget cycle at a time, and only if senior management is interested in doing things a different way. That sounds, and is, difficult, but not necessarily impossible.

And so the best course of action isn’t a step-by-step plan, perhaps, but a change of mindset. Here are some of the keys Daniels offered to me recently about how companies can get into a better mindset for budget-planning.

Acknowledge the problems

“You need a budget at some point; you need to know how much money you’ve got,” Daniels says. “And of course, if you think about the annual budget, people do better when they have some targets.”

The problem is that budgets rarely come out this way: “When I was in the Army, there was a saying, ‘Ask for four, expect two, and get one.’ You always asked for more than what you wanted because you knew you wouldn’t get what you wanted.”

Those are the games companies play. And woe to anyone who tries to unilaterally do things the right way. As Daniels relates about his time advising an electric company,”One of the guys said, ‘I’m just gonna ask for what I need. They told us, ‘Look, we need a bare-bones budget, so I’m going to tell them what I can do.'” The company asked for cuts, but told managers this was the last set of cuts. That manager made a budget request that reflected what he could “live with.”

But months later, the company came back for more cuts, leaving this team underfunded. Were the other teams underfunded? No, because they asked for too much, and the later cuts brought them in line. That one manager was penalized for giving an honest projection.

“There’s no particular glory in meeting your budget”

The other problem is when you don’t spend all your money. You’ve saved! Congratulations. But, and Daniels experienced this personally, if you spend less than your budget, your “reward” is to have your budget cut.

“I was a naive, brand-new clinical psychologist, and I thought saving money was good. So I trained volunteers to do some of the things that normally staff would do, and I had money left over. I had a couple positions I didn’t need to fill. … So I was real proud of the fact that I’d saved about $300,000, which was big money in those days. But my boss cut my budget by $300,000, since I saved that much. And so it was the last time I ever did it.”

It’s worth noting that there are exceptions — Daniels described a particular Kodak manager who was so proficient at hitting goals and budgets that his requests were eventually accepted without question.

Senior management sets the tone, but …

As the manager at the electric company learned, individual managers and departments can’t make change happen themselves. A supervisor or department head can get ideas and input from their people, which is great, but it’s difficult to go rogue on a budget request — especially if you’re offering a true number when nobody else is.

What is needed in terms of top-down leadership? It’s as simple as senior management demonstrating trust and trustworthiness, Daniels says. “If they have a process where the senior management says … ‘You’re important to us. Your ideas are important, you have a lot of ideas about how we can economize, about how we can increase revenue and all this kind of things, and we want to hear them. And we want to use them to develop a beginning budget for next year.'”

… success start at the bottom

It’s a good step to get ideas from your department heads, but that alone is woefully inadequate. Daniels notes the saying, “‘The people who do the job know the most about it,” but when it comes time for budgets, companies rarely go to those knowledgeable people and ask, “Here’s the deal. Here’s what we spent last year. I need your ideas about what we need for this coming year.” Such a request can be delivered in many ways, but “having their involvement in it at that level produces a very different outcome,” he says.

Daniels discussed a television tube manufacturer that had a problem for 18 months. He advised supervisors to go to their teams, say they had a problem, and ask for help. The supervisor with this protracted issue went to his team, and a worker immediately said, “I know what that is.” That worker had the answer, so why didn’t he say something? He said, “Nobody ever asked me.”

Trust, transparency and clear requests to smart people on the front lines are inherent in the approach Daniels advocates for. Engagement and idea generation is done by doing, not by wishing it so. And the rewards of such efforts? Better intelligence, better ideas and a better chance of having employees commit to the overall budget and plan.

Faster, quicker, smarter budgets

Deliberate planning can occur outside of the yearlong budgeting model. Daniels says that timespan makes for planning that can easily become out of date and a company that has little ability to respond. The problem only gets worse when the acceleration of technology advancement is considered, he argues.

One example we discussed was Instagram and its rapid growth in a field that essentially didn’t exist before the mobile app was created. While Instagram is a bit of an outlier, not having revenue and the startup culture necessarily more flexible than an old-line firm, there’s also no way the company could have scaled to 7 million users in less than a year if it ran on year-long planning and budgeting cycles.

How can companies have more nimble planning? That remains a difficult question to answer, but, as Daniels argues, if you focus on having more people involved, invested, committed, you’re much more likely to budget successfully — and pivot when needed.

James daSilva is a senior editor at SmartBrief and manages SmartBlog on Leadership. He edits SmartBrief’s newsletters on leadership and entrepreneurship, among others. Before joining SmartBrief, he was copy desk chief at a daily newspaper in New York. You can find him on Twitter discussing leadership and management issues @SBLeaders.

Aubrey Daniels, Ph.D., is the founder of workplace consulting firm Aubrey Daniels International and president of the Aubrey Daniels Institute. Dr. Daniels, who coined the term “performance management,” has written six best-selling management books and is a sought-after keynote speaker. He can be reached at acdaniels@aubreydaniels.com.

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Aubrey Daniels on how to make a better budget originally published by SmartBlogs

Craft a roadmap for leader effectiveness

There were 25 managers in a recent leadership program I facilitated. Part of the program included a pre-work assessment where each manager and their direct reports assessed the manager’s leadership behaviors and overall effectiveness.

For many leaders around the globe today, such feedback is unusual — and a bit threatening. Most organizations don’t provide leaders with this kind of feedback very often.

These managers had never received such feedback in their company. I walked them through the data, helping them understand where their team members see them doing well and not as well as needed.

One manager blurted out, “I’m a great engineer. I’m clearly a lousy manager!” (His terminology for “lousy” was, um, colorful.) The whole room laughed and a number of heads nodded.

I hope — and believe — I helped these managers learn from their assessment and “get past” the critical feedback they received.

What is obvious is that this company has been somewhat casual about defining leader effectiveness. Bringing in a proven leadership-development program certainly helps, but they have a ways to go. Unless an organization has been intentional with how they want leaders to lead, leaders and managers are left to their own devices. They have to figure it out by themselves. There will be more trials and errors than successes, which isn’t any way to create effective leaders.

Here are three steps a company can take to create a clear roadmap for leader effectiveness.


First, formalize your company’s leadership philosophy, expected behaviors, and outcomes. “Lead well” is a nice bumper sticker but it’s not specific enough to help leaders understand what a good job looks like. If you want leaders to inspire teamwork, top performance and innovative solutions to customer needs, state that clearly. If you expect leaders to model behaviors such as “keep your promises,” “treat everyone with dignity and respect,” and “praise progress as well as accomplishment daily,” state that clearly.

Second, mentor and coach leaders so they can get better every day. Once your leader-effectiveness standards are defined and communicated, you must implement practices to align leaders to those standards in every interaction. Assign mentors and coaches to every leader. Ensure those mentors praise aligned behavior, promptly. Ensure they redirect misaligned behavior, promptly. You’re creating new fundamentals and coaching needs to be frequent to break old habits (and build desired new habits.)

Third, provide feedback regularly so leaders know where they stand. In the absence of feedback, we can convince ourselves that “everything is fine.” We must honor team members’ daily experiences by asking for their perceptions of how their team leader is doing and on how their team is operating. Conduct these assessments twice annually. Praise aligned behavior and redirect misaligned behavior. Don’t rely exclusively on performance data — that’s only one facet of leader effectiveness.

Don’t leave leader effectiveness to chance. Create a clear path for it — and help keep leaders on that path daily.

What do you think? Does your company have formal expectations for leader effectiveness? How often do leaders receive feedback from their direct reports? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

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Craft a roadmap for leader effectiveness originally published by SmartBlogs