Working your way up to a C-level executive position can be an exciting achievement, but the mindset that many maintain when they accomplish this feat can set them up for failure down the road.
While you are the leader of the company and are expected to grow it and carry it forward, you will need to be receptive as well, listening to the needs and ideas of those who are working with you. For those who are just coming into a company, the initial onboarding process may seem like a time to find out who works there and to see the system behind how things are being run.
These are only two pieces of the puzzle, however, and in order to be a truly effective leader, you have to make sure that you are taking the time to learn more about those who work in the company as well as how you can make valuable changes within the company as well.
If you have just landed a C-level executive position and want to make sure that you start off on the right foot, here are three steps to preparing yourself for successful leadership that you will need to follow when you first enter a company. 1. Engage in Mindful Listening During Listening Tours CEOs or other C-level executives who take listening tours of their new companies forget that this is the prime time to evaluate the current state of their organization and to learn where their skills and guidance will be most needed. A tour is never just an introduction. It is an opportunity to learn!
As with every aspect of your new position, you are going to need to pay careful attention to every portion of each tour, ask questions, and engage with those who are showing you around the company that you will be running. Not only is mindful listening a skill that will make your job easier when you start taking on the work, but it will also help you develop better relationships with people on your team.
As I stated in my book, In Great Company, one study conducted in 2018 that assessed the interactions between public speakers with engaged groups and with distracted groups found that those who were speaking to engaged listeners felt significantly less anxious and were able to easily connect with these individuals while providing a more beneficial demonstration.
Put simply, active listening results in better communication, which is essential if you plan on doing your job to the best of your ability and build relationships with the people who will be helping you to ensure your company’s success. Find out what drives them, their passions, their purpose – and how you can help them get there. Give of yourself and what you can do for them, and good things will follow. 2. Carefully Observe Your Surroundings and the Processes Currently in Place All companies have areas that need improvement, regardless of the success that they have achieved to date. As the new leader of a company, it is your responsibility to take the time to examine a company’s processes and operations in order to identify those weaknesses and to implement better practices that will spur growth and generate positive results.
There is no better time than a company tour to begin evaluating where they have potential and where they may be failing. As you are brought through the different departments and taught how things work, ask yourself, what could we do better? Where can we improve, and how can I begin to make those improvements? What is working for us, and what needs to be adjusted or removed?
One excellent example of this from, In Great Company, is the rebound of then-suffering Best Buy. In 2012, Best Buy was buckling under the weight of its poor management, losing profits and customers rapidly as they failed to make necessary changes to their current structure. Fortunately, enough, Hubert Joly took the reins by utilizing their base of existing employee talent and enthusiasm and injecting his own vision to reinvigorate the company and bring it back to profitability and relevance.
Of course, his vision won’t be the same as your vision, but the important takeaway from the example above is that there are always existing positive qualities of a company that you can leverage while you support the areas that are failing. A good CEO pays close attention to how their company operates and makes the necessary changes to ensure its future success. 3. Develop a Report That Will Help You Cultivate a Better Future for the Company Behind every great execution stands a well-thought-out, organized plan. While remaining attentive and being inquisitive are two invaluable skills that will help you get the most out of the initial onboarding process with your new company, taking everything that you have learned and crafting a detailed plan of how you will move forward is the next logical step.
One great way to accomplish this is by organizing your thoughts and ideas into a PowerPoint. There you can figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your company, what aspects you want to nurture and grow, what things you need to change or replace, and what unique talents you can contribute to the company. This is also a great time to layout your core values and to figure out your approach to your new leadership position.
Continuing with the above example, Joly improved the company through actions such as:
● Aligning strategy with structure by lowering prices to meet customer demands while still providing the excellent service that their employees were known for. They also allowed for more flexibility so that they could quickly respond to change and allowed their employees to succeed at what they did best. ● Setting people up to succeed by providing the necessary training that helped the organization meet your clear-cut goals. ● Playing to win by continuously seeking growth, opportunity, and success. ● Fostering resilience by focusing on strengths and tackling issues where present.
With the right outline for success combined with your own infusion of talent, you can carry your company to victory!
Being a successful leader begins as soon as you accept a C-level position, but not everyone knows exactly how to start off on the right foot. If you believe that the guide above will help you successfully make the transition, make sure to read In Great Company: How to Spark Peak Performance By Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace to gain more insight into what great leadership looks like!
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla., Dec. 3, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Louis Carter, the current number 7 Global Guru in Organizational Culture, has been re-nominated as one of the key organizational culture experts by Global Gurus and Marshall Goldsmith. The award-winning CEO executive coach, business strategist and organizational development expert applies his own research, with the research of his peers and mentors to real life situations and creates measurable results.
Louis Carter, CEO and President of Best Practice Institute started applying his Social Organizational Psychology skills as far back as 2001 by combining it with his other life’s passion – drumming. A Social/Organizational Psychology Grad Student at Columbia University in NYC and musician on September 11, 2001, Carter used his skills to create a haven where people that had been through the horrors of that day can come together and grieve, while sharing their experiences. Not being one to conform with organizational practices which he considered orthodox and ineffective, Louis Carter brought a new and different approach at the time to corporate structures where he could change them to be dynamic and effective.
During the same year in 2001, Louis met Bishop William Swing of the Episcopal Church of California, who changed the way Carter would think about how to turn around dysfunctional, low performing and unmotivated groups and organizations. Bishop Swing founded the United Religions Initiative as a model to the United Nations with guidance and commitment from leaders of many of the world’s religions, including the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, the Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram, Islam’s Grand Mufti of Egypt, and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
This relationship inspired Carter to create the same for corporations in the form of helping CEOs and teams co-create a shared ecumenical document for their company. This document allowed companies and its teams to execute on shared goals which, through Carter’s recent research for his book, In Great Company (McGraw-Hill, 2019), has proven to increase motivation, accountability and time to execute.
Carter founded Best Practice Institute(BPI), a management consultancy firm that specializes in helping budding and realized mid to large sized companies, and their senior executives, with plans and strategies to run, manage and lead their businesses. During the past 18 years, companies in every major vertical industry have gone through Carter’s programs, coaching, and consulting. Global Gurus are voted for entirely by their industry peers, based specifically on the profound impact the experts have had on them, their teams and their organization. Global Gurus are selected due to their actions, unique concepts and the personal ability to apply and benefit from what the work have taught. To vote for Louis Carter to remain the top Guru in Organizational Culture for this year goto: https://globalgurus.org/organizational-culture/
Louis Carter, along with his firm, Best Practice Institute, continues finding new ways to get the best out of organizations, which makes clear why in 2018 he was named the number 7 global guru in organizational culture. Louis Carter is also proud to be handpicked by Marshall Goldsmith as a MG100 coach, where he provides one pro-bono project a year, to “pay-it-forward” and provide help and accountability to other thought leaders to become even more successful.
About Louis Carter Louis Carter is CEO and founder of Best Practice Institute, a benchmark research consortium, association and management consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and C-suite senior executives achieve their market strategy through talent management, executive coaching, leadership development, organizational culture and change management. He is the author of nearly a dozen books on best practices and organizational leadership. Published by Jossey Bass/John Wiley and Sons and McGraw Hill, including Change Champions, Best Practices in Talent Management, Best Practices in Leadership Development and Organization Change and Leading the Global Workforce. In his speaking career, he has taught at the Tsinghua School of Business and People’s University in Beijing, Jackson State University, Seton Hall University and Universal Network Intelligence (UNI) in Asia, HR Magazine in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and the Dubai HR Lighthouse Initiative. Louis is widely sought after as an expert in the field where he helps successful leaders and teams achieve their business goals. He has been quoted and profiled by Fast Company, Investor’s Business Daily, Business Watch Magazine, Pando Daily, CNBC, Forbes and CIO Magazine; while his research and teaching has been translated across Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North & South America. He has held numerous executive coaching, business strategy consulting, facilitation and business acceleration roles. His newest book is In Great Company: How to spark peak performance by creating an emotionally connected workplace (McGraw Hill).
Feedback is a part of every workplace and a common tool for individual improvement. Applying constructive methods to improve existing and develop new skills is crucial to any performing culture, or individual, seeking advantages. Yet through this tried, long standing interaction, we overlook how to enhance the ways we give feedback. The constant change among workplaces demands new, emerging, interpersonal strategies that challenge the status quo of feedback and how to develop the individual.
Enter Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame #1 Executive Coach in the world, and my mentor and good friend of 20+ years. His work continues to accomplish leadership and workplace development through the newest coaching concept of “feed-forward”. Feed-forward is a constructive communication style that delivers individual growth by focusing on what’s ahead and collaboratively preparing the individual for future success.
Feedback, which many falls back on, is rooted in the negative by looking back on mistakes and attempting to develop from there. If mishandled, this can lead to lower individual motivation to change and, in group settings like meetings, innovation and dialogue can be suppressed. Feed-forward changes the conversation by looking ahead. It positively influences the dialogue and encourages individuals to grow. Here are 5 actionable ways you can begin applying it:
1. Start with the Question Arguably any leader’s greatest strength is in the questions they ask. Powerful inquiry opens the doorway for reflection, conversation and development to begin. As a leader, applying the feed-forward approach, each question must be constructed with a focus on the future, and it should include ideas related to what the individual can do and how they can develop. What can I do better next time? What is the best way to achieve this in the future?
2. Forward Influenced Conversation As leaders, if we engage with others to think about the future and what can be done to prepare for it, then our conversation must also reflect this philosophy as well. Put simply, the dialogue between leaders and others should consistently integrate future thinking. Rather than stating “Here’s what you did…”, the message can be phrased as “Next time, you can…” A simple tweak in how the message is communicated can make all difference between dwelling in the past or looking towards the future.
3. Dialogue and Co-Create Rather than Sell and Tell There’s a fundamental difference in dictating and dialoguing in an interaction, and the difference is easy to recognize. Feeling patronized is experienced when we are being talked at; the conversation is a one-way trip with little room for questions. Dialoguing differs by framing the conversation as a two-way conversation; the other side can participate, ask questions and speak. By creating equality in the conversation with equal airtime, feed-forward further encourages the spark for the individual to change. Using this approach may phrase questions as “Help me understand…” Or “Would you mind…”
4. Active Listening How we organize our messages and communicate them is just as powerful as how we listen. At the core, feed-forward is about weaving the developing individual’s mind, thoughts, and focus on what they can do. As dialogue is formed, active listening is critical here (pun intended). It presents an opportunity for the individual coaching to confirm that they are engaged with the other side. If needed, it also works as a method to clarify and adjust the conversation; ensuring all parties are on the same page. Where hearing occurs when one regurgitates verbatim what was said, active listening plays back what was said through the individual’s authentic style. Phrases that support these situations can be “What I’m hearing you say is…”, “Thank you sharing that, my understanding is that…” or “Would you clarify…”
5. Use “And” Rather Than “But” And… after actively listening and mirroring back your understanding be sure to use the words “and” rather than “but.” Saying the word, “but” negates your last statement. Imagine you were just told you are a great physician, BUT you need to think about the bigger picture. Change that to “You are a really great physician AND I invite you to think about the future of your work.” Sounds different, right? Now you can be both a great physician AND consider other ways of thinking.
6. Reflect on your Feed-Forward Skills Providing actionable, productive feed-forward communication is a skill and just like throwing a baseball or playing an instrument, it needs practice to become natural. The same goes here for applying feed-forward into your life and daily interactions. After a session or session has concluded, take a few minutes to debrief and think over how well it worked. Perhaps it’s better to write your thoughts in a journal, record a video or connect with another coach.
Feed-forward asks us to breakaway from what we know and what we’ve experienced through feedback. Feedback can crush motivation and sour relationships by focusing on what people did wrong. By integrating these steps and frequently applying them, the channels of positivity and motivation to change openly. The goal of any coach should be to add value in every conversation and the feed-forward approach weaves this idea together.
At some point, it seems money will solve all our problems at once. Money buys wanted things, it helps to keep up with the Joneses, and it pays for the work we do. And, for reasons lost in history, too many employers remain stuck in time and motion mindsets when they organize work.
In one form or another, management and stakeholders assumed efficiency lay at the heart of all business performance. Analysts examined and revisited worker performance to find the most efficient method of completing a task. One early study of coal shoveling workers redesigned shovels to make their arduous work even more efficient.
The idea that employers should compensate employees for the speed and quality of their tasks still informs management approaches.Inc.com, for instance, puts compensation at the top of its list of nine ways to motivate employees saying, “Pay your people what they are worth.” Of course, you should pay people what they are worth – but that certainly doesn’t make them want to perform more and better for you.The research included in my new book,In Great Company offers a significant paradigm shift proving invaluable to profitable organizations.
5 things you can do
The idea of “happy” workers can present a linguistic problem because “happy” has its subjective perceptions. But it is clear employees suffer less stress, work more creatively, and contribute more when employers remove the barriers to their working with a focus on tasks in which they can lose themselves. Our research studied such “happy” workers and the context in which they performed trying to discern a prototype of “the most loved workplace.”
Jenny Darroch, Dean and Professor at The Peter F. Drucker Management School, summarized the link Drucker made between change and success. “Change leaders ask questions, listen, and observe, filter what is discovered through the lens of who the customer is and what the customer values, place bets, abandon the old, and serve as excellent executors of strategy”
Leaders start with deep and wide observation, immersing themselves in the flow of employee work and the personalities they bring to the task. Where consensus proves weak, they fix the work or the teams. Where questions are not asked, leaders ask the questions. And where organization individuals have not met customers, leaders initiate the relationships.
The change leaders running the best performing organizations have come to share the human value in emotional connectedness, the human sense of belonging linking family members, community efforts, faith groups, sports teams, and more.
They find success in adopting the behaviors listed here:
Make collaboration a method and goal!
Systemic collaboration gets to the core of true functional collaboration, a part of the inner-workings of the organization and its decision-making processes. Employees work well in small teams where they can co-create results in sharing information and advice freely, where contributions are respected, and where their feedback is used. Encouraging and modeling collaboration creates and sustains social connections that prove emotionally satisfying to the employees.
Ensure a futures focus!
Change requires surrendering the past. All organizations tend to protect and continue the patterns they know best. They are not inclined to reinvent any wheels. But the continuity is an illusion. It only sustains a sameness which loses market demand in time. Future markets demand innovation and the passion to make it happen. And that requires workers moving forward in a unified way. To move an organization from the status quo, change must show the way, draw the map, and model the alignment.
Align the values!
As organizations move beyond values like efficiency, they aver their commitment to higher values like honesty, integrity, transparency, and customer satisfaction. The resonance with personal beliefs connects concerns and efforts. Of course, nothing happens until everyone embraces the values in common effort. Granular practices include doing what you say you are going to do or speaking truth instead of avoiding it. More conceptually challenging practices include living espoused values and ethics.
Use respect as currency!
Respect must be the organization’s language and currency. As respect becomes compensation, it values and connects persons and their capabilities. It becomes a social currency with reciprocal values in exchange. From “Well done!” to trophies and plaques to newsletter headlines, and so on. The respect is a constant, a fiber and glue holding the organization together and perhaps leaning forward. It informs practice, plans, and performance.
Deliver killer achievements!
Achievements feel hollow unless both the individual and organization get something out of them. Killer achievement delivers a combination of financial and emotional benefits amplifying the effect for everyone. Employees love a workplace that empowers people to focus on the customers and critical goals while eliminating extraneous minutia. In this case, emotional connectedness is markedly deepened when people have objectives that are simply stated and when the system removes competing interests blocking the path to success. Critical to this dimension are identifying and measuring the elements most important to the organization and allowing easy options for executive coaching, leadership and organization development.
The profit in performance
A workplace established on emotional-connectedness makes sense and dollars. Consider the likes of Zoom Video, In-n-Out Burgers, LinkedIn, Trader Joe’s, Southwest Airlines, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Wegman’s Food Markets, and more listed byGlassdoor’s 2019 Best Places to Work.
Chief among the habits of their employees is their constant willingness to brag about their workplace, affirm what it means to them, praise their co-workers, and recommend working there.
Louis Carter, MA is author of over 10 books on best practices in leadership and management including Change Champion’s Field Guide, Best Practices in Talent Management, and In Great Company. He is one of the top advisors to C-level executives – helping them and their organizations achieve measurable results. Carter is the recipient of ELearning! Magazine’s Trailblazer Award, HR Tech Conference’s Top Products Award, and Leadership Excellence Magazine’s Best in Leadership Development for his work as Chairman and CEO of Best Practice Institute. He received his MA in Social/Organizational Psychology from Columbia University
Carter, L. (2019). In Great Company. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.
Darroch, J. (2017, June 2). How to Manage through Change, the Drucker Way: Where are the Change Leaders? Retrieved Feb. 20, 2019, from HuffPost: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-to-manage-through-change-the-drucker-way-where_us_5930f752e4b0649fff2117cb
Economy, P. (2016, March 16). 9 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Team. Retrieved Feb. 22, 2019, from Inc.com: https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/9-super-effective-ways-to-motivate-your-team.html
Turnover is a real issue, even in the most employee-friendly company. Things happen and situations arise that drive the cycle of departure, but as the boss, you can take steps right now to ensure the employees you value remain as members of your team. Keeping employee motivation high may seem impossible, especially when everything in the company does not go as planned. However, the most trying times in your business may create extraordinary opportunities to reflect on organizational behavior and give your corporate culture a boost.
Exercise an Open-Door Policy
One of the easiest ways you as a manager can get your employees to want to stay is by making yourself and your counsel available. In good times and bad, some people may require more reassurance or guidance than others. Some may feel uneasy about their performance and desire feedback to improve it. Showing your workforce that you want to help gives them the chance to engage with you and get the coaching they need to perform at their best.
However, you need to strike a balance so problematic people do not take up all your time. Establish office hours and allow people to sign up for 15-minute time slots. If a matter demands more time, extend it as needed. Creating boundaries with the process makes it run more smoothly.
Take Action When Issues Arise
Allowing complaints against an employee to stand without recourse sends the wrong message to the rest of your workforce. Taking action to stop the spread of poor attitudes and behavior demonstrates that you know what is happening in the business and that you are willing to make difficult decisions to rectify any issues. If you ignore rumors and negativity too long, it can take root and affect employee morale.
Stay Away From Micromanaging
Your workers should lift each other and stay on task without you involving yourself in every aspect of the job. Empowering people drives employee motivation. It fosters an environment of autonomy and allows people to feel less fettered when performing everyday duties. It also helps promote a creative environment and may push employees to go above and beyond the norm.
Recognize and Reward the Good
When something goes wrong, it is easy to dwell on the negative, especially when it comes to a careless mistake. However, if your corporate culture practices employee-shaming, you will not spur employee motivation. On the other hand, if you flip the policy and spend more time praising the excellent work done, employees should take notice.
Rewards and recognition do not always have to be financial, although money definitely motivates. Set up a monthly luncheon and choose a top worker each week to attend. Send a company-wide email that turns the attention to the good things people do. Pointing out the hardworking members of your workforce encourages others to push themselves. Reward shows employees you recognize the good, so when something negative requires your attention, it will not seem that is all you focus on.
Take Team-Building Out of the Office
Hanging around the office day in and day out can become a drag. Get with your management team and put together fun out-of-office days to mix in some excitement. You do not need to make it elaborate; take smaller groups to the movies or maybe do a ropes course or outdoor activity. Even a simple barbeque in the park is a great way to lift the spirits of all.
Employee motivation is essential in retaining people in a competitive market. If your workforce gets the impression you don’t care about them, it can send some of your best people packing. Taking a few simple steps to show workers their worth to the bottom line can keep them clocking in day after day.
Severing an employee isn’t easy, but it can be necessary. If you have any workers who are toxic to the company, it’s time to let them go. Ideally, employees and employers come to an agreement about employee severance. Then, each party goes its separate ways. This is ideal but not always the usual. When employee motivation is down, you need to look at the employees responsible. For unsure employers, this is when you know it’s time to let an employee go and when to do it.
Misconduct and Unethical Conduct
Misconduct is serious. If an employee shows any sexist, racist or problematic behavior, let him or her go. Do not allow threats or other misconduct to go undisciplined. Unethical conduct can include the following:
Your company’s reputation hinges on your employees. Don’t let one employee ruin your reputation.
Absences and Poor Performance
Employee motivation goes down if they notice some co-workers aren’t working as hard. Poor performance and chronic absences are a reason for termination. If productivity slips, it may be time for a talk. If the behavior does not change, then it may be time for termination.
Drama and Complaints
Office drama happens. You can’t always avoid it. Some people, unfortunately, like to cause drama. If someone is stirring the pot, gossiping and always the center of drama, it’s a problem. This creates a negative corporate culture.
Complaints also matter. If your employee has customers, vendors and coworkers filing complaints, it’s time to look closely at that person.
Lack of Growth
The office is a place for personal and professional development. If your employee is not willing to improve or to train, then he or she may drag the company down. Employee motivation needs to be high. If your employee makes mistakes and doesn’t seek to fix them, he or she is not useful.
Poor Time Management
Now and then tardiness happens. Good organizational behavior is important. This is especially true when it comes to time management. Say you have an employee with a case of chronic lateness who misses deadlines. Seek to work with him at first. Let the employee know that he isn’t meeting your standards. If the employee continues to struggle, then your company might not be the right fit.
Terminating an Employee
If you determine it’s time to let an employee go, when you do it is important. How quickly do you want the employee out of the office? You also want to consider your worker’s feelings. You should never fire someone callously. Make sure that you take the time to be considerate. This also includes terminating at the right time.
In the past, employers would fire on Fridays. This is a bad idea. The weekend gives the employee time to stew on the firing. He or she can’t jump straight into a job search but has to wait all weekend. Most employers agree that it is better to fire in the middle of the week. You don’t want to fire on a Monday. This leads to feelings of time wasted. Make sure to terminate early in the day.
Remember that a crying or upset co-worker can drop employee motivation. Give the terminated employee a quiet or private space if he or she is upset. Treat him or her in a dignified way. You should always have respect, no matter the conditions of the termination.
When it comes to firing an employee, always consider the matter carefully. Some decisions aren’t as clear as others. Take into account the advantages and disadvantages of keeping an employee. Someone who does more harm than good has to be let go. Nevertheless, remember even in cases of termination to treat all employees with respect.