Should You Shake Up the Team When the Going Is Good?

Scenario: Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane with Athletics Assistant General Manager David Forst met in the draft room prior to the team selecting the number 10 pick in the first round of the draft at the Oakland Coliseum on June 7, 2010 in Oakland, California.   When things are going well, it is difficult to see the changes that you may need to make.   Pat Caputo, a Detroit-based radio sports host and columnist, made this point about the Detroit Red Wings, which won a record 23 consecutive home games last season. The Wings seemed in control of their destiny and did not make a significant trade during the season. Yet, the season ended poorly when the Red Wings were bounced in the first round of the NHL playoffs.   Managers too cannot be blind to the effects of success. While they do not have the luxury of trading players the way sports franchises do, they can make moves with people and with resources that will correct deficiencies and give their team a better chance of success going forward. The challenge however is to diagnose the shortcomings and make appropriate moves. So if things are going well (or well enough) what should a manager do, if anything?   Here are three questions to consider:   What is the team doing well now? This question is fairly easy to answer. Itemize what the team is accomplishing is step one. Step two involves considering how well individuals on the team are working together and if they have the right resources to succeed.   What could it do better? Such a question may be difficult to answer when things seem to be going well. In sports we ask: are players “playing over their heads” or just plain lucky? […]

When Choosing a Job, Culture Matters

Harvard Business Review, Bill Barnett Some organizations will excite you. They’ll stimulate your success and growth. Others will be stressful. They may lead you to quit before you’ve accomplished much or learned what you hoped to. With the pressure (or excitement) of finding a new job, it’s all too easy to pursue a job opportunity or to accept an offer with only a hazy view of how the institution really operates. The path to an institution you’ll like is to investigate the culture you’re thinking of joining before you accept the position.     Sean (name has been changed) is a master at this. He pursued a job offer at a Fortune 500 company to be the first Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). He was well-qualified, presented himself well, and got the offer. He’d been competing with capable people. He was proud he’d “won the contest.”   The next step was a return visit, after which he’d decide to accept the offer. Sean had already learned a lot about the company’s businesses and some things about the organization. His priority now was culture and how the new position might fit: “I asked people, ‘What are you excited about? What are you proud of? Who are your close friends in the company? How does the group function together?’” Sean learned things like who the heroes were, what made them successful, and what his biggest challenges and opportunities would be in the job. The different people he met with were learning from his questions. It was almost like he already worked there, and they were jointly determining how to make the […]

Terra Incognita – No Dragons, Just Gremlins

  Thoughts From the Coaches’ Corner By Gordon Silcox   Medieval maps are popularly thought of as marking dangerous, unexplored territories at the edge of the known world with such phrases as, “Here There Be Dragons” or even, “Here also are huge men having horns four feet long, and there are serpents also of such magnitude that they can eat an ox whole” (quotations from Wikipedia).   Today, now that technology has pretty well put to rest the notion of serpents lurking in remote watery regions of the Earth, interest in the concept of “dangerous, unexplored territories” is still very much alive – among our Hand & Associates leadership coaches.  Our coaches frequently venture with their clients into the unknown, to observe the processes that influence the complicated functioning of their minds and emotions.  This is where the modern-day ox-eating serpents lurk.  We’ll call them “gremlins,” who whisper and sweet-talk and trick clients into perpetuating—to mention a few of gremlins’ ghastly gadgets—blind spots, denial, and fear of loss of “something,” such as prestige in the eyes of others.   We all rely on habits we have formed, as we strive to sustain order and meaning in each of our lives.  But some mental habits can prevent us from facing up to those pesky gremlins, and can prevent clients—even among excellent-performing leaders—from energizing their untapped potential and reaching yet higher levels of achievement.  We all know the terminology:  “I need to get out of my comfort zone,” or, “I know I’ve got to think outside the box.”  But oh, so difficult to achieve on one’s own!  It often takes a skilled coach, working in partnership with the executive client, […]

Why Your Employees Are Leaving …

One day when I was out getting a coffee, I overheard a man talking on his cellphone.   “We need to be stricter with our hiring practices next year,” he said. “We want to keep them past a year.” I wanted to turn around and tell him, “Maybe you don’t need to be stricter with your hiring practices. You can bring them in but you’re not keeping them. It could be your corporate culture.”   Managers Authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman said in their book, First Break All the Rules: What The Worlds’ Greatest Managers Do Differently, that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. If employees don’t get along with their managers, don’t like them or don’t respect them, they will leave a company despite a high salary or great benefits. A bad manager is a big factor in employee performance. A good manager, no matter the salary, will inspire loyalty.   Managers who don’t create the right opportunities for their employees, don’t communicate with them, and don’t appreciate them often find themselves dealing with a high turnover rate. Good managers are people you keep in touch with even after you leave a position. Bad managers are people you keep track of so you can avoid them in future.   Constant Reorganization Companies that seemed to reorganize every six to nine months don’t have a good retention rate. Their upper management gets shifted into different positions, managers are changed and even business units are renamed. Almost every time a reorganization happens, people get laid off. This creates an environment of uncertainty and people don’t feel like they can lay down roots.   Negative Competition Competition is good, gladiator wars aren’t. Pitting people and departments […]

Technological Know-How Is a Job Requirement

By Daniel Gulati   As the internet has grown from 70 million users in 1997 to 2.2 billion, entrepreneurial companies with technology at their core have disrupted entire industries and threatened or eliminated incumbents. For example, Square, the new electronic payment service, has already upended a long-established financial ecosystem, with some arguing that it may even replace cash.   In recent years, incumbents have fought back. A 2011 IBM study of over 3,000 CIOs revealed that CIO-CEO alignment is stronger than ever, with traditional companies aggressively investing in technology innovation. Big-box retailers, like Best Buy, now have large, fast growing e-commerce businesses. The New York Times and other traditional publishers are launching digital products tailored to the mobile web. Even the big banks are getting social.   Yes, this is creating unprecedented demand for employees with serious technical chops. But as more traditional businesses are being run on software and a larger component of a company’s customer experience is being delivered online, everyone from marketing to general management needs to take notice. Studies confirm that technology skills will be crucial for future employment prospects. Engineer or not, the managers and employees who understand new consumer technologies and can create value by deploying software as a solution will be those most valued by organizations young and old.   Firstly, entirely new categories of technology jobs are forming, creating exciting opportunities for today’s job seeker. A few years ago, community managers did not exist. Yet with 67% of surveyed brand managers planning to launch social media campaigns in the next 12 months, community managers are now amongst the most sought after marketing professionals. With the rise in new web-based 

Marquis Club – March 2012

  Guest Speaker: Terry Schuler, EVP CHR, East West Bank Terry Schuler is a Senior Human Resources Executive with extensive experience in HR leadership; he is an expert in Succession Planning. He gave this presentation in Mar 2012 at Hand & Associates Marquis Club. Topic: Succession Planning Preview Video:

Get Immediate Value from Your New Hire

By Amy Gallo, HBR   There are many theories on how to correctly “onboard” someone to an organization or a team. Most focus on how to provide the new hire with the information and skills she needs to succeed. But that can only take her so far. She will need connections and an understanding of the inner workings and culture of your company to be truly successful. Whether she is transitioning from another part of the organization or is brand new, you can get her up to speed more quickly by going beyond the basics and explaining how things actually get done.   What the Experts Say According to Michael Watkins, the Chairman of Genesis Advisers and author of The First 90 Days and Your Next Move, there are four domains that new hires need to master: business orientation, expectations alignment, political connection, and cultural adaptation. The last two are often the hardest for managers to convey, and yet the most critical for the new person to understand. Watkins’ research shows that lack of cultural adaptation is the most common reason newly-hired managers fail. “It’s also the hardest area for managers to provide good advice, in part because they are embedded in the culture and not necessarily reflective about it,” he says. Jon Katzenbach, Senior Partner of Booz & Company, author of The Wisdom of Teams, and co-author of the forthcoming Leading Outside the Lines, notes that “a lot of onboarding focuses on the formal side of the organization and is programmatic.” But helping new hires understand the informal side of the organization will accelerate their acclimation. Follow these three steps to get your new employee […]

Interview With Kevin Hand On Outplacement

Interviews Over Lunch

Interviews Over Lunch (download) How to best conduct yourself in a job interview over lunch or dinner. Executive coach Kevin Hand gives you useful tips on how to impress your future employer.  

Impact Of Stimulus Spending On Jobs

Impact Of Stimulus Spending On Jobs (download) How has government spending over the past 2 years affected the private sector’s job market? What kind of jobs have been created by the Obama Administration stimulus package? Kevin Hand answers these questions brief and to the point.