JDL Group Speaks to 150 on Employee Derailment

On August 28th, Jared Lock conducted a webinar for about 150 clients of Validity Screening Solutions on the topic of employee derailment.

Employe derailment is defined as the tendency to engage in a particular set of behaviors that can limit or undermine effectiveness -- in other words, doing things that screw up your own performance.  Employees most often derail under stress or in novel situations.  While some derailing behaviors extend from nefarious circumstances, many often result from positive characteristics taken to the extreme -- e.g., too much self-confidence can be perceived as arrogant or perhaps feedback resistant.

Carey Parks, Director of Compliance at Validity Screening Solutions indicated, "this was one of our best attended webinars yet.  I thought it went great and we have already had several follow-up requests as a result of this presentation.  Even though I knew what was going to be presented, Dr. Lock's style compelled me to listen and I even learned a few things.  I thought it went very well".

Employee derailment is a real issue that will impact virtually all employees at some point in their career.  But, adds Dr. Lock, "we all have some derailment tendencies ... employees will react negatively under stress and pressure at some point in their careers.  As such, as manager or HR Professional, your role is not to be judge and jury, but instead you should understand these stress reactions and find a way to either mitigate the reaction or create ways to work through the scenario to a more predictable conclusion".

The JDL Group has access to one of only a handful of well-validated proactive measures of derailment on the market and this is important because derailers rarely show up in the interview.   For more information, please contact The JDL Group.

A copy of the webinar can be found via: http://vimeo.com/validityscreening/review/104654758/b3072ce64c


Driving Fast Without Brakes Is NOT A Good Idea Either

Many leadership development "experts" are touting Strength Building as the best new way to develop leadership talent.  Strength Building suggests a leader should spend what little development time they have learning to accentuate their top 5 strengths, versus shoring up their weaknesses.  The suggestion is that it is easier to gain productivity and success by doing what you already do better versus trying to become good at the things you are not.  And, if everyone knows their strengths (and deficiencies), the organization can work together to fill in the blanks -- a very “positive psychology” approach to leadership.

While accentuating your strengths will benefit, ignoring weaknesses really is not a wise choice.  Think about it:

  • If your car is good at going fast, but poor at braking, should you concentrate your time on learning how to go faster or might it be a good idea to fix the brakes?
  • In baseball, if you can hit a high fastball, but not a curve ball (or low fastball), should you continue to work only on hitting high fastballs, leaving large gaps in your swing for pitchers to exploit?
  • To use Strength Builder leadership parlance, if you are futuristic, have ideation, and intellection, but lack interpersonal sensitivity, should you continue to shout your ideas at others hoping they get it and want to follow your lead?
  • If you can only work on 5 strengths, does that mean you cannot have all 9 qualities of extraordinary entrepreneurs (http://ti.me/JX51T1)?

While the examples are not all based on “leadership competencies” (see Marc Effron’s post for thoughts on competency utility -- http://www.hrexaminer.com/competency-model-good-luck-in-your-future-endeavors), the point is clear.  While using strength accentuation to get leaders to improve at something is a positive first step, it is not the only step.  The research, starting 5 decades ago with Ben Schneider (i.e., A-S-A), shows that organizations naturally gravitate towards having leaders with similar strengths and, therefore, there almost always are deficits and holes in performance that will not be filled by others.  In fact, focusing solely on strengths (individually) will lead to a group of hybrid specialist leaders, which reduces leadership utility across an organization.

So, what to do?  Here are three leadership and development points that should help guide your path:

Strengths (or characteristics that are used in a positive fashion) account for about 1/6th of a leader’s performance.  The other 5/6ths of the performance equation are made up of
(a) our education and experience in performing the job,
(b) the negative characteristics that get in our way,
(c) how well we fit with the organization’s culture,
(d) our cognitive complexity, and
(e) how our brain power is used to solve problems and make decisions.

Lesson:  Continue to look at your strengths and really understand them … but understand them within the complete -- focusing on only 16% of your capacities is not the best solution.

A complete “whole person” assessment (not that “magic bullet” assessment you keep being sold) will give you the capacity of choice and the strategic insight to:
(a) focus on accentuating your strengths,
(b) learn to stay out of situations where your weaknesses thrive,
(c) ignore improvement and doing what you have always done, or
(d) work directly on developing your leadership deficiencies.

Lesson:  Good planners should still offer their planning expertise to the organization while they learn to become more strategic (see (a) above).  Using e-mail (that is less confrontational) versus face-to-face exchanges (where you may become nervous with Bill -- the aggressive guy down the hall) is fine until you learn better how to deal with aggressive people (see (b) above).  Realize that choices (a) and (b) above are precursors to becoming a well-rounded leader.

With concerted effort, a strong feedback loop, and desire, improvement can occur.  Also, research shows leaders who are at least proficient at all aspects of their role gain better commitment from employees than those who are one-dimensional (or in this case 5-dimensional).

Lesson:  Leadership is a lot like lifting weights or staying fit.  It is never easy to improve and to get good at it requires resistance (i.e., pushing beyond your comfort zone).  So, open your eyes to your entire leadership repertoire, be strategic in how you spend your development time, don’t drive your car without brakes, and keep pushing to improve SOMEWHERE.

100 years of Culture Insights and Research – Leading to Solid Business Strategy

“I heard Apple provides employees a dog sitting service. We are going to start this practice in order to keep our good employees”.

“If I create a culture like Apple’s, I should get the same level of innovation”.

Along with the quotes from above, over the last several years, I have heard some variation of the following “epiphanies” (quotes added): (a) Apple’s culture is almost perfect and should be emulated whenever possible, (b) culture is extremely important to business success, and (c) the “right” culture is one with high levels of “engagement”. Watching people discuss culture like some eye-opening experience or newfound nugget of knowledge makes me certain we have forgotten the culture, values, and motivation research from the past 100 years.

The following are four universal truths and lessons that come out of this research – they have always been true but apparently people have not been listening (or reading). You may have heard some variation of a few of these, but doubtful you have heard them all.

  1. Culture Flows From the Top. Regardless of your Mission Statements, Philosophies, and Truths, employees look to their boss to see what s/he cares about, which leads directly to what is followed and (sometimes more importantly) what is ignored. This is a tiered process with each subsequent leader (a) working in ways that please those above (at least when the boss is looking) and (b) tweaking the interpretation to fit their own style and culture when managing those below.Lesson: This is why using assessments to measure culture and then to hire people who at least care about 1-2 core cultural attributes is so important (and tied to success).
  2. You Can’t Fake Culture. Well, you can fake it a bit when you think about it, but reputation/personality by default, is you. Further, “being you” (good or bad) is especially true when you feel stress and pressure (i.e., every day in the work place) or are put into novel situations or situations of uncertainty (e.g., economic downturn, upset customers, etc.).Lesson: Employees follow those they trust. The quickest way to lose trust is to say one thing and do another. While you likely consciously try to say “the right thing” (e.g., be like Steve Jobs), unconsciously, you will do what you do. So, go ahead, be yourself, be realistic about yourself, and do not make excuses — it is part of being a leader.
  3. Culture Variables are Tough To Define. The solution I keep seeing is go into a room, light a candle, turn off the lights, meditate, and write down your thoughts. This does not work because most values are unconscious/unknown and those that are conscious are difficult to describe.Lesson: Defining your (personal and then company) culture in a few think sessions will lead to another meaningless list on the wall. Instead, like we do with our clients, actually measure (with analytics and measures) values and culture concerns and put them up against the stated words on the wall – powerful understanding and clear direction will follow.
  4. There is no “right” culture. I heard two consultants giving a public talk where they said, “the best culture is an engaged culture, where employees get a voice in shaping direction”. The problem is that ideals (engaged employees) and activities (giving them the right to help make decisions) are not mutually inclusive. The research is clear: 30% of employees want this right, 30% of them want it but only when the organization asks them to do something they do not want to do, and 30% actually do NOT want this right and it has NOTHING to do with engagement. In other words, emulating Apple will not lead to performance.Lesson: The only “right” thing you should worry about is the right business strategy/product that the consumer wants/needs. If you have a Consistent culture, the work will be performed consistently. My best example of this is a client who has a “shut your mouth and do as you’re told” culture. Through hiring—training—developing—quitting–firing, they have found employees who love the culture and are engaged – their performance is the highest and turnover the lowest in the industry. As I always tell them, “It is your culture and your company … do what you want … I wouldn’t want to work here … but we will find you people who do”. That is the point, isn’t it?

The JDL Group Speaks to 175 on Talent Management

On March 8th, Jared D. Lock, Ph.D. conducted a webinar for just over 150 clients of Validity Screening Solutions on the topic of Talent Management.  A recorded copy of the webinar can be found at https://youtu.be/0szgUTKp4EY.

While Talent Management encompasses virtually all topics from hiring to retiring, Dr. Lock indicated that talent management success, "... is not about a software purchase.  Instead, our data show that if you take care of the basics -- Defining the culture, Sourcing in ways to fit your culture, Hiring the right people, and then On-boarding them or otherwise giving them every chance to succeed -- the rest takes care of itself".

In fact, industry research shows that those organizations with a strategic talent management program in place, (a) Generate more than twice the revenue per employee, (b) Have a 40% lower employee turnover rate, and (c) Have a 38% higher level of employee engagement

Mike Fowler, Educational Services Executive for Validity Screening Solutions indicated, “this was a solid webinar" and when reviewing the participant feedback continued that, "... the well attended webinar received all positive feedback, which is a win in my book".  One reviewer commented that the presentation was full "... of great information and gave me a lot to think about".  

Talent Management success, according to Dr. Lock, really comes down to one thing -- "being true to your culture and true to your organizational offer.  If you give people an honest choice based on direct and reliable data, they will choose to work in your company (if they fit) and want to work in ways that are conducive to your success".

The JDL Group has access to one of only a handful of well-validated proactive measures that cover the full range of talent management needs.   For more information, please contact The JDL Group.