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04 2011

Sorting Out Value from Hype

Syndicated from: balance-AND-results

Is it me or is there an increasing deluge of workplace advice to leaders? Of course I read this stuff routinely for work, but the sheer volume is staggering. Take just one issue of Talent Management’s email newsletter a couple of weeks ago, with some pros and cons. One might think the topics would have to do with succession planning systems or the like and the lead article (from their magazine) fits. The HR guy for Sean “Diddy” Combs, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group, talks about talent audits, identifying hipos (high potentials) and, interestingly, career pathing among their 300 employees to ensure engagement and prevent poaching by rival entertainment organizations. That’s interesting and a great overview of talent management in brief as a unified, centrally branded approach that many companies would do well to emulate. Good for them for poaching a chief talent officer from a “global advertising media company” (I should say so – Young and Rubicam) – wow, what were they doing wrong? So far so good, but it’s tough to find unique items like that every month or week. Next is a plea to help newly hired executives craft a leadership message – echoing others’ advice that being great presenters is now almost a prerequisite for leaders. Scary, but likely valid – and we might do well to help new leaders out with this. Again a relatively unusual bit of advice to ponder, a good second lead. Skip the next report of a survey showing bomb squad technician is the scariest US job (edging out stunt person and high school teacher – maybe it wasn’t as difficult when I was in the latter role early on since I don’t recall shaking in my boots). Then an article on the need to convert annual reviews to on-going feedback to enhance performance. Not new, but true, followed by a pitch to get more value than damage from 360s by focusing them on development opportunities rather than (negative) assessment. OK, we’re still in talent management if not terribly fresh territory. Skipping to popular stories of the week and archived favorites we see: a new look at engagement (not so new), how to create a solid working relationship with your boss, lessons from the ousted Tribune CEO (as noted in earlier posts here: a startling example of dreadful behavior), then: backstabbing bosses followed by building a civilized workplace (definitely some themes here for leaders, but do we really need this again and again). But the one that caught my eye most was ‘Man’agers Best Friend: Sniff Out New Management Skills. Oh my. OK, I read these for my spouse who’s violently allergic to dogs and others in her family who are terrified of them even as adults because they had to avoid them as kids. Of course there’s an argument it can reduce stress in the workplace (for the dog’s owner and dog fans, that is), but it rarely rates a mention that it can severely increase stress and illness for others, to the point they quit or don’t take the job. Writers of such articles tend to pooh-pooh “a few” oddballs who are fearful of pets, but isn’t that a bit like saying ‘only some people get sick from cigarette smoke, so to heck with them, it reduces stress for smokers?’ How is this worthwhile Talent Management advice? Well it turns out we can also learn major leadership lessons from dogs, too, to paraphrase: “patience, listening, forgiveness, minimal ego, minimal judgment, learning how to read people and how to be more open – a wonderful mirror on how others read your cues – just by watching how your dog reacts and recognizes.” OK, I’m off the rails on the last bits. Are we to take one fond owner’s word for it that she can, and therefore that we should be able to, see these qualities in dogs. If you love animals and anthropomorphize their behavior, perhaps this is what you might think you notice reasonably consistently, but if you tend to see dogs behaving when afraid or over-excited, as unpredictable dangers that might bite unexpectedly or jump on you with muddy paws, claws and energetic licks that, to some, seem like germy opportunities to catch diseases, I don’t think you’ll be noticing patience or listening (as you cry, “down rover”). And dogs with muzzles? Somehow it’s hard to see them as patient. By the way, I’d just as soon not work for a boss who took his or her leadership lessons from these creatures who probably know how to behave just fine in their appropriate habitats, but perhaps not so much at work, thanks. At least it’s different. Oh the topics we have to call on to fill publications continually with new stuff. Aren’t we criticized in HR for always having a ‘program flavor of the month?’ There’s some inconsistency here. Bookmark and share this post More »

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