Category Archives: People Matters

Posts related to the people side of strategy and operations

Do we ask a potential hire what their parents told them when they spilled milk?

It wasn’t Sigmund Freud, but the 19th century poet William Wordsworth who said, The child is the father of man. But Freud, of course, would have agreed in that he argued that most, if not all, of the foundation for who we are as adults is cast in the first five years.

So, what are we to make of this? Are we stuck with our pre-verbal responses to authority, to failure, to success, formed long before we have conscious memory or control? After all, most of us neither remember nor had any say-so over what happened to us when we spilled our milk, refused to be potty trained, tried to please our parents, or told an untruth.

Still, one tenet of psychology is that to understand who we are today, we must understand who we have been. What shaped us to respond so viscerally to criticism and praise, to be driven to achieve or content to do little, to be fiercely independent or reliant on others?

This is where cognitive behavioral psychology makes it debut.

The idea is simple. We tune-in to what we are saying to ourselves in the moment, when we feel unfairly criticized, unappreciated, inadequate, excluded, reviled. When we do, chances are we will actually hear those old messages programmed into our operating systems, long before we had choice. Continue reading Do we ask a potential hire what their parents told them when they spilled milk?

A Blueprint for Entering CEOs

CEO transitions into organizations are not easy. How long CEOs last and the frequency with which their own, and their Board’s, expectations are met have been studied in academia and well reported in the media. The results are stunning.

Two out of five incoming CEOs fail to meet their objectives in the first 18 months. Even those who make it past 18 months now have an average tenure of 7.6 years, down from 9.5 in 1995. The outlook is even bleaker for outside CEO hires, who take twice as long to ramp up as those promoted from within. Only one in five CEOs hired from outside are considered high performers at the end of their first year by their boards and nearly half leave within 18 months (reference: Harvard Business Review, 2014).

CEO failure may have less to do with competence, knowledge, or experience than with how CEO transitions are orchestrated and whether key support steps are missed. While not a guarantee, a programmatic approach to new executive transition can increase the odds and shorten the time-frame in which success is likely to be achieved.

Four goals, detailed in a previous IntelliVen post, guide the approach. Though they are simple to understand, the goals are not easy to achieve. Expert third-party facilitation, an authorizing environment committed to success, and previous experience, diligence, and focus go a long way towards improving the odds. Continue reading A Blueprint for Entering CEOs

What to do when the hiring manager says: “Name your terms!”

“What will it take to hire you?” These words may be music to your ears, but how you respond makes a big difference. Take your time, collect your thoughts, and follow these seven tips to make the most of the opportunity:

  • Decide you want the job. Make sure you like what the organization does and that the people you would work with give you energy and get energy from you. If you do not like and want the work, or if you do not look forward to spending time with the people every day, a job at any pay will turn into a grind. If not, politely let them know and move on…it is a waste of their time and yours to do otherwise. If you want the job ask for a day or two to discuss it with advisers before getting back to them.
  • Know your worth. Research the web and ask around to learn the current market value for your basket of skills. If you think you might undersell yourself, do some digging to arm yourself with up-to-date information and boost your confidence. On the other hand, be honest with yourself to avoid an inflated sense of worth. Make sure your expectations are reasonable given your compensation history and relative to those with comparable scope and scale of responsibility, experience, and results in your location. Do not go just by job title. For example, a first-time manager of a six-person team is not worth the same compensation as a 15-year veteran who has successfully led a 30-person team over multiple years, even though both are called Project Managers.

Continue reading What to do when the hiring manager says: “Name your terms!”

How three levels of human identity can be used to build relationships that work across difference.

Alliances_Across_Difference_CoverThe business case for Diversity and Inclusion programs in organizations has been building for decades. The increasingly global nature of business leaves us with an ever greater need to integrate cross-cultural skills and competencies into multiple levels of system in organizations across the world. As a result, education and change management plans that help leaders, managers and staff navigate their differences and use them to achieve better business results are more and more common.

Consequently the need has never been greater for organizations to have common language and frameworks to help individuals understand the complexities of communication dynamics posed by working across social group identities such as age, ability, gender, culture, class, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and more.

In her article Alliances Across Difference: Useful strategies for building effective relationships across difference,” Amber Mayes illustrates two critical foundational concepts: Levels of Human Identity and Social Power and Group Dynamics. As a consultant for over 15 years, she has used these concepts with leaders across sectors, industries and geographies to resolve conflict and unleash the power of diversity in organizations. Continue reading How three levels of human identity can be used to build relationships that work across difference.

How rational actors can reach agreement.

Thesis: In the face of the same data, two rational people will make the same decision.

Implication: When two people disagree on something it is likely that there is something one knows that the other does not.

Strategy: When two people disagree, each should strive to reveal what is relevant that s/he knows and that the other does not until both know everything that the other knows.

Conclusion: Agreement should be reached if both are rational; that is, neither is acting based on self-interest, emotion, fear, etc.

Implication: When you reach an impasse with someone on an important matter, reflect on what is important that you know that the other party might not know and offer to share it. Similarly, ask the other party what s/he knows that is important that you may not know. Continue reading How rational actors can reach agreement.