Some years ago, people in different locations used to communicate by phone. That’s nothing unusual since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone around the year 1875. For more than 140 years since then, 2 people easily communicate verbally by phone. And that’s still OK when we talk about general or personal topics. But what about talking business or very important technical details for a project involving a lot of high technology, when usually the information must be heard and even seen by a team of participants in different locations in different countries? Can we easily communicate our message and ideas just using the classical phone? Of course we cannot. We need a better way to share our ideas and insights. We need a better interface. We actually need a new product of better communication.
Like in many other fields, new products that can improve the User Experience for which they are created. Today we can communicate very easily not only audio but also video. We can share everything in real time, doesn’t matter how many participants are involved or where they are located. This was only possible due to intensive work of UI/UX Design Engineers which are becoming more and more in high demand. The UI/UX Designers are helping people to create new products that can improve life and work. These engineers are design thinkers.
For design thinkers, however, behaviors are never right or wrong, they are always meaningful. Just simply saying that the job of a designer is: “converting need into demand” by putting people first. This is exactly what a designer does. On the face of it, this sound so: just figure out what people want and then give it to them. But if it’s so easy , why don’t we see more success stories like the iPod? The Prius? MTV and Amazon?
The answer is that we need to return human beings to the center of the story. We need to learn to put people first. There is lot of written material out there about “human-centered design” and its importance to innovation. But since there are few truly compelling stories, it’s good to ask WHY is it so difficult to spot a need and design a response. The basic problem is that people are so ingenious at adapting to inconvenient situations that they are often not even aware that they are doing so: they sit on their seat belts, write their PINs on their hands, hang their jackets on doorknobs and chain their bicycles to park benches.
Henry Ford understood this very well when he remarked “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said ‘a faster horse’”. This is WHY traditional techniques such as focus groups and surveys, which in most cases simply ask people what they want, rarely yield important insights. The tools of conventional market research can be useful in pointing toward incremental improvements, but they will never lead to those rule-breaking , game-changing, paradigm-shifting breakthroughs that leave us scratching our heads and wondering why nobody ever thought of them before. Our real goal as design thinkers, then is not so much fulfilling manifest needs by creating a speedier printer or a more ergonomic keyboard; that’s the job of classical designers. Our goal as design thinkers instead is helping people to articulate the latent needs they may not even know they have, and this is the challenge of design thinkers.
How should we approach it? What tools do we have that can lead us from modest incremental changes to the leaps of insight that will redraw the map? There are actually 3 mutually reinforcing elements of any successful design program. These are: INSIGHT, OBSERVATION and EMPATHY.
INSIGHT = Learning from the lives of others
Insight is one of the sources of design thinking and it does not usually come from reams of quantitative data that measure exactly what we already have and tell us what we already know. A better starting point is to go out into the world and observe the actual experiences of for example commuters, bikers or registered nurses as they improvise their way through their daily lives. Just observe simple things such as: the shopkeeper who uses a hammer as a doorstop; the office worker who sticks identifying labels onto the jungle of computer cables under his desk. Rarely will the everyday people who are the consumers of our products, the customers of our services, the occupants of our buildings or the users of our digital interfaces be able to tell us what to do.
Their actual behavior, however can provide us with invaluable clues about their range of unmet needs. The creative process generates ideas and concepts that have not existed before. These are more likely to be triggered by observing the odd practices of an amateur carpenter or the incongruous detail in a mechanic’s shop, than by hiring expert consultants or asking “statistically average” people to respond to a survey or fill out a questionnaire.
The insight phase that helps to launch a project is therefore every bit as critical as the engineering that comes later, an we must take it from where we can find it. The evolution from design to design thinking is the story of the evolution from the creation of products to the analysis of the relationship between people and products, and from there to the relationship between people and people.
OBSERVATION = Watching what people don’t do, listening to what they don’t say.
Walk into the offices of any of the world’s leading design consultancies, and the first question is likely to be “Where is everybody?” Of course, many hours are spent in the model shop, in project rooms, and peering into computer monitors, but many more hours are spent out in the field with the people who will ultimately benefit from our work. Although grocery store shoppers, office workers, and schoolchildren are not the ones who will write us a check at the end of a project, they are our ultimate clients.
The only way we can get to know them is to seek them out where they live, work, and play. Accordingly, almost every project we undertake involves an intensive period of observation. We watch what people do (and do not do) and listen to what they say (and do not say). This takes some practice. There is nothing simple about determining whom to observe, what research techniques to employ, how to draw useful inferences from the information gathered, or when to begin the process of synthesis that begins to point us toward a solution. Observation relies on quality, not quantity.
The decisions one makes can dramatically affect the results one gets. It makes sense for a company to familiarize itself with the buying habits of people who inhabit the center of its current market, for they are the ones who will verify that an idea is valid on a large scale-a fall outfit for Barbie, for instance, or next year’s feature on last year’s car. By concentrating solely on the bulge at the center of the bell curve, however, we are more likely to confirm what we already know than learn something new and surprising. For insights at that level we need to head for the edges, the places where we expect to find “extreme” users who live differently, think differently, and consume differently-collector who owns 1,400 Barbies, for instance, or a professional car thief.
EMPATHY = Standing in the shoes (or lying on the gurneys) of others.
It’s possible to spend days, weeks, or months conducting research of this sort, but at the end of it all we will have little more than stacks of field notes, videotapes, and photographs unless we can connect with the people we are observing at a fundamental level. We call this “empathy,” and it is perhaps the most important distinction between academic thinking and design thinking.
We are not trying to generate new knowledge, test a theory, or validate a scientific hypothesis-that’s the work of our university colleagues and an indispensable part of our shared intellectual landscape. The mission of design thinking is to translate observations into insights and insights into products and services that will improve lives. Empathy is the mental habit that moves us beyond thinking of people as laboratory rats or standard deviations. If we are to “borrow” the lives of other people to inspire new ideas, we need to begin by recognizing that their seemingly inexplicable behaviors represent different strategies for coping with the confusing, complex, and contradictory world in which they live.
The computer mouse developed at Xerox PARC in the 1970s was an intricate technical apparatus invented by engineers and intended for engineers. To them it made perfect sense that it should be taken apart and cleaned at the end of the day. But when the fledgling Apple Computer asked us to help it create a computer “for the rest of us,” we gained our first lesson in the value of empathy.
A designer, no less than an engineer or marketing executive, who simply generalizes from his own standards and expectations will limit the field of opportunity. A thirty-year-old man does not have the same life experiences as a sixty-year-old woman. An affluent Californian has little in common with a tenant farmer living on the outskirts of Nairobi. A talented, conscientious industrial designer, settling down at her desk after an invigorating ride on her mountain bike, may be ill prepared to design a simple kitchen gadget for her grandmother who is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. But even empathy for the individual, as it turns out, is not sufficient. To the extent that designers have one at all, their prevailing concept of “markets” remains the aggregate of many individuals. It rarely extends to how groups interact with one another. Design thinkers have upped the ante, beginning with the premise that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
I could have written more about the fake life we have at workplace everyday. There is a lot o shit happening out-there but this is the last lie I write about.
If you would ask 1000 people: why they work for a company?, more than 80% of them will tell you that it’s because they have to, but not because they want so, and not because they do it with pleasure. And If I extrapolate this to the world population I guarantee you the a massive majority of people will tell you the same, they work because they have to. You don’t believe me?? Alright, then go ahead I provoke you to try and do the exercise. Ask randomly 1000 people why they work of a company? And draw your own conclusions. 🙂 :-). But indeed, why do we behave like that? Well …it’s because many of us think that we must obey to those who lead, because we are also told that LEADERSHIP IS A FEATURE and we all must agree with that. Well ….I this post I will tell you that this is nothing but a LIE. Leadership is NOT a feature. Not even a little one.
But this post is not about leadership. And I can say a little more. I can say that there appears to be broad agreement that certain people exhibit a definable, consistent, and meaningful quality called leadership. That there are some characteristics of a person that are in some way above and different from that person’s technical skills (whether he or she can write good code, for example, or good English) and that also transcend that person’s interpersonal or “soft” skills (whether he or she can make the sale, or negotiate a deal) and that make the person a leader.
I can also say that we tend to agree that all the best leaders possess this quality, or set of qualities – so, leadership is something that lives, specially, in those who lead and is in some way responsible for their ability to do so. And I can say that, as a consequence, most of us would agree that if you want to be a leader, you have to have this set of qualities.
There is a frustrating circularity to this argument – that there’s a feature called “leadership“, and we know it’s a feature because leaders have it, otherwise they wouldn’t be leaders. It’s like saying your cat has catness because he’s a cat: it might be true, but it’s hardly helpful to your hamster if he dreams, someday, of being a cat. This know-it-when-we-see-it vagueness explains, in part, why we can talk about leadership so much without usefully advancing our understanding of it, or “getting much better at it”. Perhaps to combat this vagueness, some go further and begin to try to specify some of the qualities that make up leadership. As for example:
Being inspirational seems to be important.
Being able to create and articulate a vision matters a lot.
The ability to formulate strategy is good, as is the ability to distinguish a good strategy from a bad one.
Sometimes mastery of execution makes the list – the art of getting stuff done.
Setting a direction for an organization is important, and, in concert with this, bringing people into alignment with that direction and motivating them to move ahead.
Decision making is high on the list, together with managing conflict.
Innovation and disruption usually put in an appearance.
Communications skills also rank highly, and having what’s commonly referred to as “executive presence” is also felt to be critical.
To this collection of long-limbed characteristics are added some personal traits. Leadership requires:
authenticity (the ability to come across as a “real” person) and often, too,
vulnerability (the courage to be imperfect in public, to relinquish the need to be right or to be the smartest person in the room).
These things, and a few others, are said to be needed so that our leaders can build effective relationships with others. And yet these characteristics are curiously circumscribed: authenticity is important, right up until the point when the leader, authentically, says that he has no idea what to do, which then fractures his vision.
Likewise, vulnerability is important until the moment when the leader’s comfort with his own flaws causes us to doubt him, and to question whether he is sufficiently inspirational. Apparently, we require authentic sureness and reassuring vulnerability, however contradictory those things may be. The personal qualities that make the list are Goldilocks qualities-they must be neither too hot, nor too cold, but just right.
These little inconsistencies, however, melt away in the face of our conviction that leadership is a great good at work – it is always better for a person to have more of it, and the more leaders an organization has, the better. This much, at least, appears settled – and as a result you will be told that the most important thing you can do to advance your career is to “grow your leadership.”
Now, some might choose other attributes for their lists, but those above are a reasonable summary of the theory-world view of leadership. And the reason that this isn’t a post on leadership is not that the qualities listed aren’t useful (they are) or that this topic has been done to death (it’s dose) but, rather, that when I look critically, I realize that we may well have misunderstood leadership altogether. Indeed, the lie that we encounter at work is that leadership is a feature. Well it is NOT.
As reference for leadership I can not find a better example – which for sure will be remembered forever in the leadership history- than the story of Martin Luther King.
This guy is an icon for real. What he did and the consequences of his actions have definitely changed the way we thing about leadership today. To make it short, seeing the story of Martin Luther King I can simply say that it’s a story about the other 11 men who followed him, and it’s a story that –in all the theorizing about leadership, in all the competing lists and competencies, in all the articles and surveys and assessments and books, in all the dissection and analysis and categorization – is sadly lost. For leadership does not live in the abstract, does not live in the average. It lives, instead, in the real world. And if we look at that world, this is what we see.
1st – the ability to lead is rare. It was not inevitable that Martin Luther King Jr. would emerge from the Montgomery bus boycott as a national leader whom millions would follow-there were other good people guiding the Montgomery Improvement Association, just as there were other, earlier bus boycotts a couple of years before 1956. But something about King in Montgomery was special. The fact that we lionize those who have this special ability; the fact that we spend so much time looking for it and trying to get more of it; and the fact that it plays such a prominent role in how we think about our organizations: these point not to its ubiquity but to its scarcity-and this scarcity, in turn, belies the supposed ease with which we’re all meant to be able to get better at it. If leading were easy, there would be more good leaders. If there were more good leaders, we might be just a little less focused on it.
2nd – leaders have shortcomings. Their skill set is incomplete. We don’t need extra surveillance files to reveal that King was not in possession of every quality the perfect leader should possess. And this is confounding, because it challenges the notion that there is in fact a list of leadership qualities, each of which is essential. For every quality on the list, we can think of a respected leader in the real world who lacks it.
If leadership is about being inspirational or visionary, then what should we make of Warren Buffett, whose principal activities as a leader seem to consist of sitting in an office in Omaha, Nebraska, drinking Cherry Coke, and finding companies to buy?
If leadership is about creating a winning strategy, then what should we make of Winston Churchill, whose disastrous policies in the 1920s and 1930s led to his exile from government?
If leadership is about execution and communication, then what should we make of King George VI of Great Britain, who was revered for his leaders hip of that nation during the Second World War, but who could barely speak in public, and who wasn’t in a position to execute anything?
If leadership is about building a winning coalition, then what should we make of Susan B. Anthony, whose falling-out with her fellow women’s-suffrage leaders created a split in that movement that lasted twenty years?
If it’s about ethics, what do we make of Steve Jobs‘s buying a new car every six months to avoid registering it, so as to be able to park in handicapped spots whenever he wanted to?
If it’s about caring for those in your charge, what do we inake of General George Patton and his physically assaulting soldiers with PTSD?
If it’s about authenticity, where does that leave John F. Kennedy and his hidden illnesses and affairs?
What does it mean for all the models and lists if the things on them are optional? The lesson from the real world is not that there is any particular collection of qualities that every leader has, but rather that every leader we can think of has obvious shortcomings-that leaders aren’t perfect people, not by a long way.
And finally 3rd – it follows that leadership is not about being the most well-rounded of the well-rounded people. As I explained in Lie Nr. 6 The best people aren’t well-rounded. The same is true for the leaders we see in the real world-and even more so. As with some of the great performers I mentioned earlier – think Lionel Messi and his amazing left foot – we don’t see the most respected leaders spending much time trying to round themselves out, trying to develop abilities in areas where they have none. Instead, we see them trying to make the best use of what they already have, with the result that whenever we look closely, we see them going about the task of leading in very different ways. In this way, leading is the same as all other fields of human endeavor-high performance is idiosyncratic, and the higher the level of performance the greater the level of idiosyncrasy.
This is why the idea that “leadership is a feature”is a lie. When you take any of our definitions of that feature, and then try to locate it in the real world, you encounter exception upon exception upon exception. The very least I can conclude is that if there is some magical set of attributes, we haven’t yet figured out what they are, and that plenty of leaders are doing plenty of leading without many of them. And if that’s the case, then the things that supposedly make up leadership neither add to our understanding of it nor help us be better at it.
But if the real world shows us what leadership isn’t, does it give us any clues at all that we can learn from?Can we say nothing more than that leading is a free-for-all, a grab bag of different skills and attributes and states and traits that will remain ever mysterious? Or is there a different way to understand what’s going on?
What’s most remarkable about the events in Montgomery in 1956 is not that one individual took a stand and was imprisoned as a result, it is not what this one man said or did. It is rather that others chose to follow him. What is truly before us is a story of a leader (M.L. King Jr.) and his followers – and it is because, on that day, the 11 chose to follow that 60 years later we know their names. In the midst of physical attacks and intimidation and firebombings, the 11 saw something special in King, something that they chose to follow, and because of what they did, and then because of what countless thousands and millions did in the ensuing years, we recognize him as a leader.
This is the true lesson in leading from the real world: a leader is someone who has followers, plain and simple. The only determinant of whether anyone is leading is whether anyone else is following. This might seem like an obvious statement, until we recall how easily we overlook its implications. Followers – their needs, their feelings, their fears and hopes – are strangely absent when we speak of leaders as exemplars of strategy, execution, vision, oratory, relationships, charisma, and so on. The idea of leadership is missing the idea of followers. It’s missing the idea that our subject here is, at heart, a question of a particularly human relationship-namely, why anyone would choose to devote his or her energies to, and to take risks on behalf of, someone else?? And, in that, it’s missing the entire point.
This notion – that a leader is a person with followers – does not emerge from a list of skills, or tactics, or competencies; it doesn’t coincide with a person’s level within a hierarchy; and it doesn’t actually tell us very much about the nature of the leader him -or herself. But it does capture a condition for leading. And that condition is precise – it’s about the presence, or absence, of followers.
So the question we should really be asking ourselves is this one: Why do we follow? With its following additional sub-questions:
What is it that makes us work hard late into the night to go beyond what’s expected of us?
What makes us move someone to the front of our queue?
What makes us voluntarily place some part of our destiny in the hands of another human being?
What makes us give our breath to another?
What made those 11 men entrust their well-being and their hopes to Number 7089 (Luther King)?
Broadly speaking, we want to feel part of something bigger than ourselves – the “Best of We” – while, at the same time, feeling that our leader knows and values us for who we are as a unique individual – the “Best of Me.” More specifically, we follow leaders:
who connect us to a mission we believe in,
who clarify what’s expected of us,
who surround us with people
who define excellence the same way we do,
who value us for our strengths,
who show us that our teammates will always be there for us,
who diligently replay our winning plays,
who challenge us to keep getting better, and
who give us confidence in the future.
This is not a list of qualities in a leader, but rather a set of feelings in a follower. When we say to ourselves that leadership is indeed a feature, because we know it when we see it, we’re not really seeing any definable characteristic of another human. What we are “seeing” is in fact our own feelings as a follower. As such, while we should not expect every good leader to share the same qualities or competencies, we can hold all good leaders accountable for creating these same feelings of follower-ship in their teams. Indeed, we can use these feelings to help any particular leader know whether or not she is any good.
The 8 items I’ve introduced in LIE Nr. 2 are a valid measure of a leader’s effectiveness. We need not dictate how each leader should behave, but we can define what all good leaders must create in their followers. And since we measure this by asking the followers to rate their own experiences, rather than rating the leader on a long list of abstract leader qualities, this measure of leader effectiveness is reliable.
Leadership isn’t a thing, because it cannot be measured reliably. Followership is a thing, because it can.
And it’s a lie that leadership is a feature because no two leaders create followers in quite the same way. What’s true in the real world is that leading is many different things. Your challenge as a leader is not to try to acquire the complete set of abstract leader competencies – you will fail, not least because the first hurdle you will fall at is authenticity. Instead, your challenge is to find and refine your own idiosyncratic way of creating in your team these eight emotional outcomes. Do this well and you will lead well.
Interestingly and happily – these two are linked. Your ability to create the outcomes you want in your followers is tied directly to how seriously and intelligently you cultivate your own idiosyncrasy, and to what end. The deeper and more extreme your idiosyncrasy becomes, the more passionately your followers follow-and while this is frustrating to us when we happen to disagree with the ends of a particular leader, it is so nonetheless.
When King was in jail in 1960 in Birmingham Alabama due to some accusations that he organized a nonviolent campaign against segregation he had written what is now known as the Letter from Birmingham Jail. It’s a long letter-an impassioned letter. It’s a plea against settling, against compromise, against the path of least resistance. And in it, King talks about extremism. “The question,” he says “is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be.”
Warren Buffett, the uninspiring Coke – drinker from Omaha, is an extremist. He’s exceptional at finding and buying companies. Winston Churchill, while he might have been a poor policy maker, was exceptional at inspiring uncompromising resistance. Susan B. Anthony was really good at focusing her energies, and those of the people around her, on a specific goal. Steve Jobs was really good at creating hardware and software that was delightful to use. George Patton was really good at fighting, with his whole being, whatever was in front of him on any given day. And John F. Kennedy was really good at making the future feel universal and morally uplifting. What each of these leaders had in common was that they were really good at something – each was, in their different way, an extremist.
We have seen, already, that the best people aren’t well-rounded, but are instead spiky – they have honed one or two distinctive abilities that they use to make their mark on the world. What we see in the best leaders is a similar extremism – a few signal abilities refined over time. But now, these abilities are so pronounced, and the leaders so adept at transmitting them to the world, that they stand out to all of us. And so this truth: we follow spikes.
This particularly human characteristic presents a challenge for you, the modern day leader. You are charged with rallying your team toward a better future, yet many on your team are fearful of this future. And this fear isn’t unjustified. It’s adaptive. Those of our forebears who lacked it, who paddled their little rafts toward the horizon, asking themselves “Ooh, I wonder where the sun goes to sleep?” often didn’t return to pass on their genes. Being a bit cautious can be a sensible thing. As a leader, you can’t be dismissive of this fear. You can’t tell your people to “embrace change” and to “get comfortable with ambiguity.” Well you can, but you will then get them thinking ever more deeply about change and ambiguity, which will, in turn, increase their anxiety and lessen your effectiveness as a leader.
The final characteristic of the best teams, as we saw in Lie Nr 2, is the feeling that, for each team member, “I have great confidence in my company’s future.” This confidence in the future, it seems, is the antidote to our universal uncertainty. And it explains why we follow.
The act of following is a barter-we entrust some part of our future to a leader only when we get something in return. That “something in return” is confidence. And what gives us confidence in the future is seeing, in a leader, some great and pronounced level of ability in something we care about. We follow people who are really good at something that matters to us. We follow the spikes.
It’s as if the spikes give us something to hook on to. We’re well aware of our own shortcomings, and we know that what lies ahead of us in life is unknowable. We’re aware, also, that our journey will be easier if we can do it in partnership with others. And when we see, in those others, some ability that offsets our own deficits, and that removes for us, even if only slightly, some of the mist of the future, then we hold on. We don’t necessarily follow vision, or strategy, or execution, or relationship building, or any of the other leadership things. Instead we follow mastery. And it doesn’t much matter how this mastery manifests itself, as long as we, the followers, find it relevant.
One of the lessons of all the lies I’ve wrote about is that when we blind ourselves to what’s around us, and instead theorize about how the world ought to be (or how we’d like it to be if only it were tidier), our people vanish. We stop seeing them. We mute our curiosity, and we replace it with dogma and dictum. The same happens with the people we call leaders-the moment we start theorizing, they vanish, too. And here are the truths that vanish along with them:
The truth that no two leaders do the same job in the same way.
The truth that as much as we follow the spikes, they can also antagonize us.
The truth that no leader is perfect-and that the best of them have learned how to work around their imperfections.
The truth that leaders are frustrating-they don’t have all the abilities we’d like them to have.
The truth that following is in part an act of forgiveness-it is to give our attention and efforts to someone despite what we can see of their flaws.
The truth that not everyone should be, or wants to be, a leader-the world needs followers, and great followers at that.
The truth that a person who might be a great leader for me might not be a great leader for you.
The truth that a person who might be a great leader for one team, or team of teams, or company, might not be a great leader for another.
The truth that leaders are not necessarily a force for good in the world-they are simply people with followers. They aren’t saints, and sometimes their having followers leads to hubris and arrogance, or worse.
The truth that leaders are not good or bad-they are just people who have figured out how to be their most defined selves in the world, and who do so in such a way that they inspire genuine confidence in their followers. This isn’t necessarily good or bad. It just is.
The truth that leading isn’t a set of characteristics but a series of experiences seen through the eyes of the followers.
The truth that, despite all this, we reserve a special place in our world for those who make our experience of it better and more hopeful.
And the truth that, through it all, we follow your spikes. We spend vast sums of money, in the corporate world, on training and developing our leaders. We never ask why, given your particular jumble of characteristics, anyone would follow you. We never ask how-given that one-of-a-kind mixture of states and traits that makes you who you are-you would use those things to create an experience for the people around you, and use what you have to help them feel better about the world you’re all walking through together, and, while we’re at it, how we might give you some measure of that so you can adjust your course as you go.
So we need to stop with the models. Stop with the 360-degree assessments. Stop with the minute and meaningless parsing of how to move your “effective communications” score from a 3.8 to a 3.9, while also figuring out why your peers gave you a 4.1 on “strategy” yet your boss gave you a 3.0. Stop with the endless lists of abstractions. Stop debating whether it’s authenticity or tribal leadership or situational leadership or level-five leadership or whatever the latest leadership nirvana thing is. Stop with the one-size-fits-all.
Instead, let’s get humble -the experience of the people on our teams and in our organizations is a true thing, and we don’t simply get to choose what it is. Let’s get curious about that experience and how our actions shape it. And let’s follow our own reactions to real people in the real world. When we feel uplifted by what someone does or says, we need to stop and ask why. When we feel a fresh rush of energy after talking with someone, we need to stop and ask why. When we feel, in response to another human being, that mysterious attraction tugging on us – like a fish on a line, or like a needle twitching in a compass, an attraction that says here, something is happening, something true and visceral and substantial, something that will change, however slightly, the arc of our future – we need to stop and ask why.
We need to get to know real leaders in the real world, and we need to come to know them as followers ourselves. Then we can start learning. We follow a leader because he is deep in something, and he knows what that something is. His knowledge of it, and the evidence of his knowledge of it, gives us both certainty in the present and confidence in the future.
Leading and following are not abstractions. They are human interactions; human relationships. And their currency is the currency of all human relationships-the currency of emotional bonds, of trust, and of love. If you, as a leader, forget these things, and yet master everything that theory world tells you matters, you will find yourself alone. But if you understand who you are, at your core, and hone that understanding into a few special abilities, each of which refracts and magnifies your intent, your essence, and your humanity, then, in the real world, we will see you.
Ok, this is a topic highly promoted mostly in the so called “multinational companies”. And at some points I would truly agree that indeed diversity can bring a big added value to any business. While the traditional notion of workplace diversity may refer to representations of various races, genders and religious backgrounds, today’s concept of workplace diversity is all – encompassing. Aside from these variables, considerations are also made on: personality, age, cognitive style, skill-set, education, backgroundand more. The focus of workplace diversity now lies on the promotion of individuality within an organization, acknowledging that every person can bring something different to the table. An organization that is committed to a diverse workforce, therefore, is one that aims to harness a pool of individuals with unique qualities, seeing this combination of differences as a potential for growth rather than opportunities for conflict.
Let’s see first the background theory. Attached to this commitment is also an intention to nurture and develop the potential of each individual. So what is it about diversity that can give organizations an edge?
Here I try to sum up 5 advantages I can consider of having a diverse workforce.
1.Various opinions and perspectives
Employees with different background and experiences will bring together a variety of perspectives, thereby evoking alternative solutions and approaches when discussing a topic or issue. If managed well, the strengths and best insights of every individual can be harnessed to heighten productivity and deliver better results. The composition of a team will dictate its potential for success. There needs to be a mix of capabilities to ensure that essential components and skills fromstrategic planning, execution, follow uptocommunication abilities and conflict resolution are present.
At times we overlook the need for diversity, given the pressures that a limited pool of resources puts in organizations. However, if we give in to this pressure, we will ultimate suffer the consequences of having a workforce composed of individuals that can only see things from the same perspective and are unable to contribute different points of view or alternatives due to their limited and similar background, exposure and experience. This amalgamation of diverse individuals also sets the stage for creativity as different ideas can be tested against one another, and new ones may be birthed. Employees stand to experience more personal growth in an environment where they are exposed to differences in culture, opinions and ideas.
2.Growth of employees
Employees stand to experience more personal growth in an environment where they are exposed to differences in culture, opinions and ideas.
“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know,” goes the Aristotelian saying. 🙂 But the following can also be said: The more you know, the better your capacity to test and refine your own perspectives and opinions. Employers will have to improve their ability to adapt to different circumstances in a diverse environment. They have to work through differences in personality, culture and background. Underlying ethnocentric notions may finally be brought to the fore and confronted as they learn to work with different styles and cultures.
3. Unity of diverse strengths
Diversity also presents the opportunity to unite specific strengths to the advantage of the organization. As every person has different skills and possesses varying strengths, these can be combined for greater performance and productivity. Technical strengths in one individual can be united with the management strengths of another, and the sales strength of yet another. Likewise, the cultural expertise of diverse individuals can be leveraged for the benefit of the company. Especially for global organizations, diversity in a workforce can optimize an organization’s ability to meet the needs of each market. Representatives of specific demographics can be paired with clients of the similar backgrounds, helping clients feel more comfortable and sense an affinity with the employee, and thereby, the organization.
4.Make company attractive
From the marketplace perspective, a company that promotes workplace diversity and an inclusive work environment adds to its attractiveness as an employer. A work place that is open to exploring new ideas and styles is especially appealing for the adventurous open-minded employees of Generation Y. If an organization makes it known that they focus on what individuals can bring to the table more than the candidate’s socioeconomic background, ethnicity and the like, they are more likely to attract a diverse range of applicants.
5. The schedule advantage
is also a practical advantage in having a diverse workforce. As individuals
have their unique time commitments, having a varied group helps ensure that work
tasks can be fulfilled at all times of the year. Various races are represented
particularly in their roles that involve shift work. Acknowledging that various
ethnicities and religions have different celebrations they adhere to, making
sure they have a diverse group of employees ensures there is a workforce across
different festival periods during the year.
THE CHALLENGES OF DIVERSITY
Now let’s look realistically at all the aspects I mentioned above an I will demonstrate that the title of this post “Diversity is the best way to succeed” is in fact a veritable lie.
There are, however, natural obstacles to embracing and implementing diversity in an organization. We would be ignoring the challenges firstly of advocating diversity and then managing it in a manner than ensures it is a strength, and not a human resource and operational nightmare. The goal is to create an environment where every employee has opportunities to be successful and where their differences are leveraged for the success of the organization. The challenge is “the issue of inclusion” or “muscle memory” as one of the main obstacles to workplace diversity, referring to the attitude that says “This is how it has always been done. Why change it?”
Hidden biases form a major component in the formation of this “muscle memory”. Subconsciously, every person has a tendency to draw on their hidden biases when making decisions about who they think will be the best candidate for a particular role or opportunity. They may favor people of a particular race or educational background, gender or individuals of a certain a personality type. A quick glance at the leadership composition of an organization can reveal predispositions that they are inclined towards. You may hear phrases like “It’s not intentional,” . “It’s just this feeling that I’m more comfortable with people like me.” Concerning this is advisable that people, especially managers, must be aware of their personal biases and understand that they may be preventing them from considering other possibilities.
CLASH OF APPROACHES
There is also the very real issue of differences in perspectives leading to a clash of approaches. Culture, personality and background differences can erect social divisions between employees that they need to recognize and overcome. Naturally, this can present disruptions when working in teams as individuals learn to adapt and understand on another. However, this can turn to an advantage if individuals recognize that different, sometimes conflicting ideas, are important to make sure a team does not have tunnel vision. We can see it as a “dynamic tension” that can bring the best results.
So with other words : it is simply better to leave Rome to the Romans. Such theories about diversity are just theories, but in reality saying that “Diversity is the best way to succeed” is of course a lie. The best way to succeed is not Diversity, The best way to succeed is Professionalism.
The art of persuasion makes the difference.
And this is one of the most crucial business skills. Without the ability to persuade others to support your ideas, you won’t be able to attract the support you need to turn those ideas into realities. And though most people are unaware of it, the ways you seek to persuade others and the kinds of arguments you find persuasive are deeply rooted in your culture’s philosophical, religious, and educational assumptions and attitudes. Far from being universal, then, the art of persuasion is one that is profoundly culture-based.
That was the hard lesson which I learned during my career working with people coming from different culture than mine. My longest experience is with Germans, but I also had opportunities to work with French, British, American, Brazilian, Japanese, Chinese, Romanians, Hungarians, Italians, and many others; usually all in the automotive industry. But I must admit that the most easiest for me was to work with Latin, American and British people. But now after some years in the field I have learned the German style too. I realized that being persuasive in German environment would require a different approach than in American environment for example. Talking with Americans was quite easy for me to persuade them, a but Germans are a bit the opposite. I feel more comfortable between Americans and Latins anyway. But I am already very used with Germans too.
When I think back to my first meetings with German managers and colleagues, I wish I had understood the difference and hadn’ t let their feedback get under my skin. If I had held my cool, I might have been able to salvage the situation. I was born in Romania and I also spend my school years in Romanian culture as well, I did have some short time jobs in 100% Romanian environment also. Before having the first contact with Germans I was used to behave as all Romanians do. But later on, I have discovered that all Latin cultures are pretty much the similar. Romanian, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese culture have something in common. But American and Germans are 2 totally different cultures.
Therefore, when I worked with my Latin people I had almost not problem to share my ideas and to make them clear for everybody. I did that with Americans too. What I did is (and I still do) are projects in engineering in automotive industry, discussing new design solution and creating new products, with other words mechanical engineering and design stuff. Currently I also do quality engineering.
When I was offered a similar position as mechanical engineer working for a German company in automotive industry, things were different. After visiting several German automotive plants, observing the systems and processes there, and meeting with dozens of experts and end users, I have collected a set of recommendations that I thought it would meet the company’s strategic and budgetary goals. So, I traveled to Germany couple of times to work there for a while and finally to participate to some meetings concerning the part design I was working for and to make a sort of a one-hour presentation in front of decision makers and a group of German managers. The success of those meetings would have given me the opportunity to get other future innovative projects and therefore at my first such a meeting in preparation, I thought carefully about how to give the most persuasive presentation, practicing my arguments, anticipating questions that might arise, and preparing responses to those questions. I was in fact applying the American style of persuasion.
I delivered my presentation in a small auditorium with the directors seated in rows of upholstered chairs. I began by getting right to the point, explaining the strategies I would recommend based on my findings. But before I had finished with the first slide, one of the manager raised his hand and protested, he said:
“How did you get to these conclusions? You are giving us your recommendations, but I don’t understand how you got here. How many people did you interview? What questions did you ask?” Then another manager jumped in: “Please explain us what methodology you used for analyzing your data and how that led you to come to these findings.”
I was taken aback. I assured them that the methodology behind my recommendations was sound, but the questions and challenges continued. The more they questioned me, the more I got the feeling that they were attacking my credibility which puzzled and annoyed me. I have a master degree in material science and engineering and my expertise in injection molding and plastic parts design was widely acknowledged so far. Their effort to test my conclusions, I felt, showed a real lack of respect. What arrogance to think that they would be better able to judge than I am! So I reacted defensively, and the presentation went downhill from there. I kick myself now for having allowed their approach to derail my point. Needless to say, they did not approve my recommendations, and some weeks of research time went down the drain.
The stone wall I ran into illustrates the hard truth that our ability to persuade others depends not simply on the strength of our message, but on how we build our arguments and the persuasive techniques we employ.
On the other side one of my German colleague who worked some years in the U.S.A. experienced similar failures at persuading others, though the cultural disconnect ran in the opposite direction. He recalled problems he’ d had the first few times he tried to make a persuasive argument before a group of his American colleagues. He’ d carefully launched his presentation by laying the foundation for his conclusions, setting the parameters, outlining his data and his methodology, and explaining the premise of his argument. He was taken aback when his American boss told him:
“In your next presentation, get right to the point. You lost their attention before you even got to the important part.” My german colleague was unsure. “These are intelligent people,” he thought “Why would they swallow my argument if I haven’t built it carefully for them from the ground up?”
The opposing reactions that me and my German colleague received reflect the cultural differences between German and American styles of persuasion. The approach taken by the Germans is based on a specific style of reasoning that is deeply ingrained in the cultural psyche. Later on my colleague told me:
“In Germany, we try to understand the theoretical concept before adapting it to the practical situation. To understand something, we first want to analyze all of the conceptual data before coming to a conclusion. When colleagues from cultures like the U.S.A or the U.K. make presentations to us, we don’t realize that they were taught to think differently from us. So when they begin by presenting conclusions and recommendations without setting up the parameters and how they got to those conclusions, it can actually shock us, We may feel insulted. Do they think we are stupid-that we will just swallow anything? Or we may question whether their decision was well thought out. This reaction is based on our deep-seated belief that you cannot come to a conclusion without first defining the parameters”
My colleague’s time in the United States taught him that Americans have a very different approach. They focus on practicalities rather than theory, so they are much more likely to begin with their recommendations. Unfortunately, this reasoning method can backfire when making presentations to an audience whose method of thinking is the opposite-as I discovered.
THERE ARE TWO STYLES OF REASONING: PRINCIPLES-FIRST VERSUSAPPLICATIONS-FIRST
I. Principles-first reasoning(sometimes referred to as deductive reasoning) derives conclusions or facts from general principles or concepts.
For example, we may start with a general principle like “All men are mortal.” Then we move to a more specific example: “Elon Musk is a man.” This leads us to the conclusion, “Elon Musk will eventually, die.” Similarly, we may start with the general principle “Everything made of copper conducts electricity.” Then we show that the old statue of a leprechaun your grandmother left you is 100% copper. Based on these points, we can arrive at the conclusion, “Your grandmother’s statue will conduct electricity.”
In both examples, we started with the general principle and moved from it to a practical conclusion.
II.Applications-first reasoning(sometimes called inductive reasoning), general conclusions are reached based on a pattern of factual observations from the real world.
For example if you travel to Seattle 100X during January and February, and you observe at every visit that the temperature is considerably below zero, you will conclude that “Seattle winters are cold” (and that a winter visit to Seattle calls for a warm coat as well as a scarf, wool hat, glove and ear warmers). In this case, you observe data from the real world, and, based on these empirical observations, you draw broader conclusions.
Most people are capable of practicing both principles-first and applications-first reasoning. But your habitual pattern of reasoning is heavily influenced by the kind of thinking emphasized in your culture’s educational structure. As a result, you can quickly run into problems when working with people who are most accustomed to other modes of reasoning.
Take math class as an example. In a course using the applications-first method, you first learn the formula and practice applying it. After seeing how this formula leads to the right answer again and again, you then move on to understand the concept or principle underpinning it. This means you may spend 80% of your time focusing on the concrete tool and how to apply it and only 20% of your time considering its conceptual or theoretical explanation. School systems in Anglo-Saxon countries tend to emphasize this method of teaching.
By contrast, in a principles-first math class, you first prove the general principle, and only then use it to develop a concrete formula that can be applied to various problems. As a French manager once told me, “We had to calculate the value of pi as a class before we used pi in a formula.” In this kind of math class, you may spend 80% of your time focusing on the concepts or theories underpinning the general mathematical principles and only 20% of your time applying those principles to concrete problems. School systems in Latin Europe (France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Romania), the Germanic countries (Germany, Austria) and Latin America (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina) tend to emphasize this method of teaching.
In business, as in school, people from principles-first cultures generally want to understand the WHYbehind their boss’s request before they move to action. Meanwhile, applications-first learners tend to focus less on the WHY and more on the HOW.One of the most common frustrations among French employees with American bosses is that the American tells them what to do without explaining why they need to do it. From the French perspective, this can feel demotivating, even disrespectful. By contrast, American bosses may feel that French workers are uncooperative because, instead of acting quickly, they always ask “Why?” and are not ready to act until they have received a suitable response.
In the U.K. for example the learning is all about concept. Only after we struggle through the theoretical we do get to the practical application. The U.S. was exactly the opposite. Compared with other European cultures, the United Kingdom is quite applications-first. But when the United Kingdom is measured against the United States, it appears strongly principles-first-a vivid illustration of the power of cultural relativity to shape our perceptions.
You may be wondering where the Asian cultures fall on the persuading scale, since they don’t appear in the diagram. Actually, the view of the world most common in Asian cultures is so different from that of European-influenced cultures that an entirely different frame of reference, unrelated to the persuading scale, comes into play.
HOLISTIC THINKING: THE ASIAN APPROACH TOPERSUASION
Across Western countries, we see strong differences between applications-first and principles-first patterns of thinking. But when considering the differences between Asian and Western thought patterns, we need to use a different lens. Asians have what we refer to as holisticthought patterns, while Westerners tend to have what we will call a specificapproach.
I give you here some best example of psychological research which clearly show these 2 patterns of thinking. In the 1st study two distinguishable professors: Prof. Richard Nisbett (from University of Michigan and prof. Takahiko Masuda (University of Alberta) presented 20s animated video vignettes of underwater scenes to Japanese and American participants.
Afterwards, participants were asked what they had seen and the first sentence of each response was categorized. The results of the study were remarkable.
While the Americans mentioned larger, faster-moving, brightly colored objects in the foreground (such as the big fish visible in the illustration) the Japanese spoke more about what was going on in the background (for example, the plants or the small frog to the bottom left). In addition, the Japanese spoke twice as often as the Americans about the inter-dependencies between the objects up front and the objects in the background. As one Japanese woman explained “ I naturally look at all the items behind and around the large fish to determine what kind of fish they are.”
In a 2nd study, Americans and Japanese were asked to “take a photo of a person”. The Americans most frequently took a close-up, showing all the features of the person’s face, while the Japanese showed the person in his or her environment instead with the human figure quite small in relationship to the background
In the 3rd study prof. Nisbett and prof.Masuda asked American and Taiwanese students to read narratives an watch videos of silent comedies – for example, a film about a day in the life of a woman during which circumstances conspire to prevent her from getting to work and then to summarize them. In their summaries the Americans made about 30% more statement referring to central figures of the stories than their Taiwanese counterparts did.
Notice the common pattern in all three studies. The Americans focus on individual figures separate from their environment, while the Asians give more attention to backgrounds and to the links between these backgrounds and the central figures.
So the same happens in the multinational work environment with multinational managers. While Western European and Anglo-Saxon managers generally follow the American tendencies of specific thinking patterns, East Asians respond as Japanese and Taiwanese did in this research.When Westerners and Asians discuss these studies, the dialog is the following:
Western participant:but the instructions said to take a photo of a person, and the picture on the left is a photo of a person.The picture on the right is a photo of a landscape. Why would the Japanese take a photo of a landscape when they have been asked to take a photo of a person?
Asian Participant:The photo on the left is not a photo of the person. It is a close-up of a face. How can I determine anything about the person by looking at it? The photo on the right is a photo of a person, the entire person, including surrounding elements so you can determine something about that person. Why would Americans take a close-up a face which leaves out all of the important details?
Perhaps it is not surprising that Westerners and Asians tend to display these different patterns of interpretation. A common tenet of westerners philosophies and religions is that you can remove an item from its environment and analyze it separately. Cultural theorists call this specific thinking.
Chinese religions and philosophies, by contrast, have traditionally emphasized inter-dependencies and interconnectedness. Ancient Chinese thought was holistic, meaning that the Chinese attended to the field in which an object was located, believing that action always occurs in a field of forces that influence the action Taoism, which influenced Buddhism and Confucianism, proposes that the universe works harmoniously, its various elements dependent upon one another. The terms yin and yang (literally “dark” and light”) describe how seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent.
With this background in mind, after considering the fish and photo research studies we can say that: Chinese people think from macro to micro, whereas Western people think from micro to macro.
For example, when writing an address, the Chinese write in sequence of province, city, district, block, gate number. The Westerners do just the opposite they start with the number of a single house and gradually work their way up to the city and state. In the same way, Chinese put the surname first, whereas the Westerners do it the other way around. And Chinese put the year before month and date. Again, it’s the opposite in the West.
It’s easy to see how these differences in the characteristic sequence of thinking may cause difficulty or misunderstanding when people from Asian and Western cultures are involved in conversation.
A typical example is that Westerners may think that the Chinese are going all around the key points without addressing them deliberately, while East Asians may experience Westerners as trying to make a decision by isolating a single factor and ignoring significant inter dependencies. This difference affects how business thinking is perceived in Western and Asian cultures. In the eyes of Asian business leaders ,European and American executives tend to make decisions without taking much time to consider the broader implications their actions.
AVOIDING THE PITFALLS, REAPING THE BENEFITS
With words like “diversity” and “global” all the rage, many companies are seeking to create multinational, multicultural teams in an effort to reap benefits in the form of added creativity and greater understanding of global markets. However, as we’ve seen, cultural differences can be fraught with challenges. Effective cross-cultural collaboration can take more time than mono-cultural collaboration and often needs to be managed more closely, here are two simple tips that can help you realize the benefits of such collaboration while avoiding the dangers.
Tip 1 =on a multicultural team, you can save time by having as few people in the group work across cultures as possible. For example, if you are building a global team that includes small groups of participants from four countries, choose one or two people from each country-the most internationally experienced of the bunch-to do most of the cross-cultural collaborating. Meanwhile you can leave the others to work in the local way that is most natural to them. That way, you can have the innovation from the combination of cultures, while avoiding the inefficiency that comes with the dash of cultures.
Tip 2 =think carefully about your larger objectives before you mix cultures up. If your goal is innovation or creative, the more cultural diversity the better, as long as the process is managed carefully. But if your goal is simple speed and efficiency, then mono-cultural is probably better than multicultural.
So that being said, in order to be successful in your business apply ProfesSionalism thinking first, not Diversity.
I’ve been in this situation a lot of times until now. I would say that I’ve been more rated than rater. But either way, this is the most impossible thing that a human can do to another human. Those at HR departments who think they will ever have any accurate results to such ratings, they are definitely wrong, in most cases they rate good guys with bad results because they are simply disconnected from reality and their ratings are totally based on wrong data. Or if some still thing that they do a good job, HR partner or team leader or manager of whatever his/her rank is, then I have some questions for you guys. Give me a clear answer to the following questions:
How much do you think you can know about a person simply by watching him?
If you work with him every single day, do you think you can figure out what drives him?
Could you spot enough dues to reveal to you whether he’s competitive, or altruistic, or has a burning need to cross things off his list every day?
How about his style of thinking? Are you perceptive enough to see his patterns and pinpoint that he is a big-picture, what-if thinker, or a logical, deductive reasoner, or that he values facts over concepts?
And could you parse how he relates to others, and discern, for instance, that he’s far more empathetic than he appears, and that deep down he really cares about his teammates?
Perhaps you can. Perhaps you are one of those people who instinctively picks up on the threads of others’ behaviors and then weaves these into a detailed picture of who a person is and how he moves through the world.
Certainly, the best team leaders seem able to do this. They pay close attention to the spontaneous actions and reactions of their team members, and figure out that one person likes receiving praise in private, while another values it only when it’s given in front of the entire team; that one responds to dear directives, while another shuts down if you even appear to be telling him what to do. They know that each member of their team is unique, and they spend a huge amount of time trying to attend to and channel this uniqueness into something productive. So then I keep asking:
How about rating your team, though? Do you think you could accurately give your team members scores on each of their characteristics?
If you surmise that one of your team is a strategic thinker, could you with confidence choose a number to signify how good at it he actually is?
Could you do the same for his influencing skills, or his business knowledge, or even his overall performance?
And if you were asked how much of these things he had in relation to everyone else on the team, do you think you could weigh each person precisely enough to put a number to each person’s relative abilities?
This might sound a bit trickier – you’d have to keep your definition of influencing skills stable, even while judging each unique person against that definition. But if I gave you a scale of 1 to 5, with detailed descriptions of the behaviors associated with each number on the scale then:
Do you think you could use that scale fairly, and arrive at a true rating?
And even if you are confident in your own ability to do this, what do you think about all the other team leaders around you? Do you think they would use the scale in the same way, with the same level of objectivity and discernment as you?
Or would you worry that they might be more lenient graders, and so wind up with higher marks for everyone, or that they might define “influencing skills” differently from you?
Do you think it’s possible to teach all of these team leaders how to do this in exactly the same way?
It’s a lot to keep straight – so many different people rating so many other different people on so many different characteristics, producing torrents of data. But keep it all straight we must, because this data represents people, and once collected, it comes to define how people are seen at work.
At least once a year, a number of your more senior colleagues will gather together in a room to discuss you. They will talk about your performance, your potential, and your career aspirations, and decide on such consequential issues as how much bonus you should get, whether you should be selected for a special training program, and when or if you should be promoted. This meeting, as you might know, is called a “talent review”, and virtually every organization conducts some version of it. The organization’s interest is in looking one by one at its people-its talent-and then deciding how to invest deferentially in those individuals. The people who display the highest performance and potential – the stars, if you like-will normally get the most money and opportunity, while those further down the scale will get less, and those struggling at the lower end of the scale will more than likely be moved into a euphemistically described Performance Improvement Plan (P.I.P.) and thereby eased out.
These talent reviews are the mechanism that organizations use to manage their people. They want to keep the best people happy and challenged, and simultaneously weed out those who aren’t contributing. Since, in most organizations, the largest costs are people’s wages and benefits, these meetings are taken very seriously, and the most pressing question-a central preoccupation of all senior leaders in all large organizations-is, “How can we make sure that we are seeing our people for who they really are?”
This is a wake-up-in-the middle-of-the-night sort of question for senior leaders, because they worry that their team leaders might not, in fact, understand the sort of person the organization needs nearly as clearly as the senior leaders do, and further that the team leaders might not be objective raters of their own people. To combat this worry, companies have set up all sorts of systems designed to add rigor to this review process. The one you may be most familiar with is the nine box.
This is a graph showing performance along the x-axis and potential up the y-axis, with each axis divided into thirds – low, medium, and high-to create nine possible regions. Each team leader is asked to think about each person on his or her team and then place them, in advance of the talent review, into one of the nine boxes -to rate them, that is, on both their performance and their potential. This system is designed to allow a team leader to highlight that a particular person might have bags of potential, and yet not have translated that potential into actual performance, whereas another team member might contribute top-notch performance, and yet have very little potential upside – he’s maxed out in his current position. With this data displayed in the talent review, the leadership team can define different courses of action for each person: the former will be given more training and more time, for example, while the latter might just be offered a healthy bonus.
Many companies also give people performance ratings on a scale of 1-5, either in parallel with or as an alternative to the nine-box process.
Again, each team leader is asked to propose a rating for each person on his or her team. Then, before or as part of the talent review, there is a meeting called a “consensus” or “calibration” meeting, which goes something like this: your team leader talks about you and defends why he ended up giving you a 4 rating, and then his colleagues weigh in on why they gave their people 5s, or 4s, or 3s, whereupon debates ensue about what really constitutes a 4, whether a 4 on one team is the same as a 4 on another team, whether you truly deserve a 4 this year, and if you do, whether the organization has enough 4s left over to allow you to have one.
If the organization has run out of 4s -which happens often since many team leaders are reluctant to give a person a 3 or, perish the thought, a 2 – then your team leader may have to give you a 3 and tell you that, though you truly deserved a 4, it wasn’t your turn this year, and that he will look out for you next year. This is called “forcing the curve,” which is the name given to the rather painful process of reconciling the organization’s need to have only a certain percentage of employees show up as super-high performers with the team leaders’ tendency to give high ratings to everyone so as to avoid having unpleasant performance conversations.
Forced curves are no one’s idea of fun, but they are felt to be a necessary constraint on team leaders, and a way of ensuring that rewards are appropriately “differentiated,” so that high performers get much more than low performers. Perhaps wanting to add more precision to the words performanceand potential, many organizations have created lists of competencies that team members are supposed to possess, and against which they are rated at the end of the year.
I am still in doubt that these models are true reflections of what performance looks like in the real world. Does anyone really have all of the competencies?Can we really prove that those who acquire the ones they lack outperform those who don’t?
Nevertheless, many organizations still rate each person against such standard checklists. To aid in this, each competency is defined in terms of behaviors, and then the behaviors are tied to a particular point on the rating scale. So, for example, on a competency called organizational savvy and politics, if you see that the person “Provides examples of savvy approaches to successfully solving organizational problems,” then you’d rate her a 3. If you see that she “Recognizes and effectively addresses politically challenging situations,” you would rate her a 4. Using your behaviorally anchored competency ratings as your building blocks, you would then be asked to construct an overall rating of her performance and potential, and this is how she’ d be represented during the talent review.
Historically, the talent review has happened only once or twice a year. With the arrival of smartphones it’s now technologically possible for an organization to launch short performance-ratings surveys throughout the year. Each person can be rated by their peers, direct reports, and bosses, and then the scores can be aggregated either at mid-year or at year’s end to produce a final performance rating. This race to real-time ratings appears as inevitable as it is frenzied, and all of it is in service of the organization’s interest, which is to answer the question, “When it comes to our people, what do we really have here?”
Your interest in all this is related, but different. You won’t be too worried about competencies, and calibration sessions, and behavioral anchors, all of which probably sound a bit esoteric. Instead, you’ll be acutely aware of a few real-world practicalities that boil down to the fact that your pay, your promotion possibilities, and possibly even your continued employment are being decided in a meeting to which you are conspicuously not invited. The people who are in the room-some of whom you know, and some of whom know you, and others of whom you’ve never met-are talking about you, and people like you, and they are rating you, deciding which box you go in, and thereby deciding what you will get after a year of hard work, and also where your career will go next. You may not realize this during your first couple of years in the workforce, but once you do, it will preoccupy you.
You’ll think to yourself: Do I really want these people to think well of me?. Do I really, really want these people not to think ill of me. But most of all, I want the truth of me in the room where the decisions are made. This is your interest.
You will come to wonder about these rating scales, these peer surveys, and these always-on 360-degree apps, and you will hope that there is enough science in them, enough rigor and process, that you-ideally, the best of you – will be portrayed accurately. After that, let the chips fall where they may. At least, then, you will have been given a fair hearing on your true merits as a person, and as a team member.
It is going to bother you greatly to learn, then, that in the real world, none of this works. None of the mechanisms and meetings – not the models, not the consensus sessions, not the exhaustive competencies, not the carefully calibrated rating scales – none of them will ensure that the truth of you emerges in the room, because all of them are based on the belief thatpeople can reliably rate other people. And they can’t. This, in all its frustrating simplicity, is a lie.
It’s frustrating because it would be so much more convenient if, with enough training and a well-designed tool, a person could become a reliable rater of another person’s skills and performance. Think of all the data on you we could gather, aggregate, and then act on! We could precisely peg your performance and your potential. We could accurately assess your competencies. We could look at all of these and more through the eyes of your bosses, peers, and subordinates. And then we could feed all this into an algorithm, and out would come promotion lists, succession plans, development plans, nominations for the high-potential program, and more. But none of this is possible, despite the fact that many human capital software systems claim to do exactly what’s described above.
Over the last forty years, we have tested and retested people’s ability to rate others, and the inescapable conclusion-reported in research papers is: that human beings cannot reliably rate other human beings, on anything at all.
We could easily confirm this by watching the ice-skating scoring at any recent Winter Olympics – how can the Chinese and the Canadian judges disagree so dramatically on the scoring of that triple toe loop? This is extremely subjective due to on single factor: the unique personality of the rater. The same happen at work. Each rater-regardless of whether he or she is a boss, a peer, or a direct report – displays his or her own particular rating pattern. Some we have very lenient raters, skewing far to the right of the rating scale, while others were tough graders, skewing left. Some had natural range, using the entire scale from 1 to 5; while others seemed to be more comfortable arranging their ratings in a tight cluster. Each person, whether he or she realize it or not, has an idiosyncratic pattern of ratings, so this powerful effect come to be called the Idiosyncratic Rater Effect.
Here’s what’s going on. When Lucy rates Charlie on the various subquestions in the competency called strategic thinking, there is a distinct pattern to her ratings, which her organization believes reflects her judgment about how much strategic thinking Charlie has. For this to be true, however, when Lucy then turns her attention to a different team member, Steve, and rates him on the same competency, the pattern of her ratings should change, because she is now looking at a different person with, presumably, different levels of strategic thinking. We can therefore conclude that Lucy’s pattern of ratings does not change when she rates two different people.Instead her ratings stay just about the same-her ratings pattern travels with her, regardless of who she’s rating, so her ratings reveal more about her than they do about her team members.
I think that rating tools are windows that allow us to see out to other people, but they’re really just mirrors, with each of us endlessly bouncing us back at ourselves. And this effect is not, by the way, associated with unconscious bias on the part of the rater for or against people of a particular gender, race, or age. These biases do exist, of course, and we should do everything we can to teach people how to see past them or remove them – what I can clearly say is that the Idiosyncratic Rater Effect applies regardless of the gender, race, or age of both the rater and the person being rated. This is the first hurdle we must face.
The idiosyncrasy of the rating pattern sterns from the uniqueness of the rater, and doesn’t appear to have much of anything to do with the person being rated. In fact, it’s pretty much as though that person isn’t there at all. When we rate other people on a list of questions about their abilities, the Idiosyncratic Rater Effect explains more than half of why we choose the ratings we do.
Since you’re most concerned that the truth of you be in the room, this should worry you enormously. The rating given to you tells us, in the main, about the rating patterns of your team leader, and yet, in the room, we act as though it tells us about the performancepatterns in you. And even if we could in fact correct for our rating idiosyncrasies, we’d still have another hurdle in front of us. The people you work with simply don’t interact with you enough to be able to pinpoint the extent to which you possess, say, influencing skills, or political savvy, or strategic thinking, or frankly any abstract attribute.
People at work are preoccupied (with work, mainly), and paying attention to you closely and continuously enough to be able to rate you on any of these abstractions is a practical impossibility. They simply don’t see you enough. Their data on you is insufficient-hence the name for this second hurdle: data insufficiency.
If Olympic ice-skating judges can’t agree on the quality of each triple toe loop, when the only thing they are doing is sitting watching triple toe loops one after the other, then what hope does a busy peer, direct report, or boss have of accurately rating your “business acumen”?
Even if we changed the world of work, and created a job category of roving raters whose sole responsibility was to wander the hallways and meeting rooms, to watch each person act and react in real time, and then to rate each person on a list of qualities, we still wouldn’t get good data, in part because our definitions are poor.
A triple toe loop = is defined as a take-off from a backward outside (skate) edge assisted by the toe of the other foot, followed by three rotations, followed by a landing on the same backward outside edge-and this is the only definition of it.
Business acumen = is keenness and speed in understanding and deciding on a business situation … people with business acumen … are able to obtain essential information about a situation, focus on the key objectives, recognize the relevant options available for a solution, [and] select an appropriate course of action.
And this is just one of many definitions you’ll encounter. Furthermore, there is a world of difference between the specificity of “take-off from a backward outer edge” and the vagueness of “essential information,”“key objectives,” and “appropriate course of action.” But then let me ask you:
Essential to whom?
Key objectives as determined by whom?
Appropriate course of action as determined how?
Of course, each of us reading the definitions thinks, “Well, I could easily define those for myself”– but that’s the point. When we rate people on abstractions, there is even more scope for our ratings to reflect our own idiosyncrasies. And because one person’s understanding of business acumen is meaningfully different from another’s, even when two highly trained and focused raters rate the same person on the same quality, they find it extraordinarily difficult to arrive at the same rating for the same quality. To all this talk of the Idiosyncratic Rater Effect and data insufficiency, however, some will tell you to calm your fears. The truth of you will indeed emerge in the room, they’ll say, because even though one _ person might be an unreliable and idiosyncratic rater, many people won’t be.
The problem with almost all data relating to people-including you – is that it isn’t reliable. Goals data that reports your “percent complete”; competency data comparing you to abstractions; ratings data measuring your performance and your potential through the eyes of unreliable witnesses: it wobbles by itself, and fails to measure what it says it’s measuring. One of the most bizarre implications of this systematic unreliability is that, in what is supposedly the age of big data, no organization can say what drives performance-at least, not knowledge-worker performance. We may be able to say something intelligent about what drives sales, say, or piece-work output, because both of these are inherently and reliably measurable-they can be counted.
But for any other work-which means most work-we have no way of knowing what drives performance, because we have no reliable way of measuring performance. We don’t know:
whether bigger teams drive performance more than smaller teams.
whether remote workers perform better than colocated workers.
whether culturally more diverse teams are higher performing than less diverse ones.
whether contractors are higher performers than full-time employees, or if it’s the other way around.
We can’t even show that our investments in the training and development of our employees lead to greater performance.
We can’t say anything about any of these things, precisely because we have no reliable way to measure performance.
I began this post by asking you how you can be confident that the truth of you is in the room during the talent review-how you can be confident that decisions about your pay, your next role, your promotion, and your career are being made based on a true understanding of who you are. But actually, you don’t want the truth of you in the room. You don’t want someone to be in any room pretending that they have a reliable measure of who you are.
In the same way that you hated your singular performance rating-you were never just a 3, because you were never just a number-so you will come to despise the newer tools that now claim, ever more loudly, to capture all your essential competencies. They don’t, and they never will: they simply add gasoline to the conflagration of bad data purporting to represent you. Any tool that pretends to reveal who you are is false. What you want in the room is different: not the truth of you, but just the truth. You don’t want to be represented by data that attempts, arrogantly, to divine who you are. Instead, you want to be represented by data that simply, reliably, and humbly captures the reaction of your team leader to you. That’s not you, and it shouldn’t pretend to be you. It’s your leader, and what he feels, and what he would do in the future. And that’s enough. Truly.
This is again something that many managers think so. They really thing that THE BEST PLAN ALWAYS WINS. Sometimes I just stay alone and ask myself, why the business world and (not only) is ruled by so many incompetent people which are easily promoted in management position without having done anything remarkable, except the fact they were just in some favorable circumstances or as many of them are just there because their company is a incubator of assholes (and here I include big multinational organizations which are quite favorable places for such things) where if you reach the maximum level of being asshole then you have the chance to become the biggest asshole in that company and then when you are on the top, you think you are “The one and only”. Those guys,in fact have no idea how to grow a business. Some are literally stupid. I fail to understand who the hell they become managers, no matter how much I try.
Do The Best Plan Always Wins??== Absolutely not. My answer to that question is: a big FUCKING NO. The more in detail you plan, the more in detail you’ll fucking fail. The level of details you put in that plan, is equivalent with the level of how deep you go in the shit afterwards. Or at least perhaps you succeed in some proportions, but you still get some tracks of bullshit as payback reward. So here is the thing, don’t plan to much, play smart and you will have 10X changes to win than by doing the best plan in advance. You don’t need to waste your time trying to plan something in too much details which in almost 100% of cases it won’t happen as foreseen anyway.
Let me give you a simple example. Have you seen the movie “Mission Impossible” with the main cast Tom Cruise?
I guess this is a stupid question, right? :-). Of course, that even if, there is someone who didn’t see the full movie set, at least saw a trailer with this movie. The first movie in this set was so successful that until today the 6th installment has been already released and it is still not over. The directors already announced that the 7th and 8th installment are on going and prepared to be released in the near future. So for those who didn’t see the movie yet, I really recommend you to watch it. It is an action movie full of adrenaline and it keeps you awake and alert all the time. It’s a movie full of special effects and includes very dynamic action scenes.
For those who already have seen it then, I am sure that you may have noticed that in this movie called “Mission Impossible” in fact, what Tom Cruise is doing it turns to be “Mission Possible”. In the movie the flow of actions are very diverse and the suspense is always there, showing that everything which was well planned in advance didn’t truly happen as expected. Instead Tom had to deal with all sort of difficult situations which he all the time make them turn in his favor, but not because he planned to be like that, but because he played his role perfectly and his intelligence made him succeed without planning anything in advance at all. He had good fellows around him and they trusted in each other. But this is in the movie, in real life the opposite is happening. So as we talk about work, let’s put this in the context of working in an organization. The opposite is happening in business every day.
If you’ve recently been promoted to team leader, the first thing you’ll be expected to do is create a plan. You’ll be asked – before you even start, most likely – what your plan is for your team, or, more specifically, what your 90 day plan is for your team? You’ll have to sit down, think hard, survey your team members (many of whom you will have inherited), and then do your best Tom Cruise impression and make your plan.
And when you do this: you’ll quickly realize one of the many differences between your team and Cruise’s: his team works alone, while yours appears to be connected to a whole host of other teams, each with their own version of the plan. In fact, poke your head above the parapet of your team for a second and look out across all the other teams in the company, and you’ll discover something of a planning frenzy. Every team is about to go, or is away on, or is just back from, or is just debriefing from, their off-site, during which they formulated, or perhaps reformulated, their current version of the plan.
It won’t be immediately obvious to you, but after a few years you’ll discern that there is a pattern to this planning, a predictable rhythm that repeats itself year after year: in September, in advance of the November board meeting, the leaders of your company will go away on a senior leadership retreat. They may do a SWOT analysis (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats – and it’s just as fun as it sounds); they may bring in outside consultants to help them; and after much analysis and debate and proposal and counter-proposal, the white smoke will emerge from the chimney, and the leaders will emerge with:
The Strategic Plan.
They will then present this plan to the board, and once it’s approved, they will share it with their direct reports. This plan will then be sliced up into many other plans (departmental plans, divisional plans, geographic plans, and so on), each slice-finer and more detailed than the preceding one, until you, too, are asked to take your team off – site and construct your version of the plan.
We do this because we believe that plans are important. If we could just get the plan right, we think, and weave every team’s plan into the broader company plan, then we could be confident that our resources were allocated appropriately, that the correct sequence and timing were laid out, that each person’s role was clearly defined, and that we had enough of the right people to fill each required role. Buoyed by this confidence, we’d know that we’d only have to galvanize our teams to give their all, and success would follow. At the same time, there is a yearning quality to all this planning. We are attempting to shape our future, and our plans can feel like scaffolding stretching out into the months ahead, upon which we’ll build our better world – their function is perhaps as much to reassure us as it is to make that world real. Plans give us certainty, or at least a bulwark against uncertainty. They help us believe that we will, indeed, walk out of the casino with the cash.
And yet, just as this cycle of big plans leading to medium plans leading to small plans is familiar to you, so – surely – is the nagging realization that things rarely, if ever, turn out the way you hope they will. Sure, planning is exciting in the beginning, but the more you sit in all these planning meetings, the more a feeling of futility creeps in. While it all looks great on paper, tidy and perfect, you sense it’s never really going to play out like this, and that as a result you’ll soon be back in yet another planning meeting. You’ll leave this one with the broad contours of your plan sketched out, and you’ll agree on the next steps necessary to refine those contours into something specific and actionable, and then the meeting to make things actionable will get postponed a bit, and then, when it finally happens, it will drift off in another direction. And then, when your team finally gets around to nailing the details, some new idea or thought or realization will emerge that leads you to rethink what you started off with. Tom Cruise never had to deal with this.
But in the real world you’ll have to. The defining characteristic of our reality today is its ephemerality – the speed of change.
Everywhere we look we see this speed of change. When you put your plan together in September, it’s obsolete by November. And if you look at it in January, you might not even recognize the roles and action items you wrote out in the fall. Events and changes are happening faster than they ever have before, so dissecting a situation and turning it into a meticulously constructed plan is an exercise in engaging in a present that will soon be gone. The amounts of time and energy it takes to make a plan this thorough and detailed are the very things that doom it to obsolescence. The thing we call planning doesn’t tell you where to go; it just helps you understand where you are. Or rather, were. Recently. We aren’t planning for the future, we’re planning for the near-term past.
And where are the people who are making the plan? So far behind the front lines of the company that they don’t have enough real-world information upon which to make the plan in the first place. How can you make a plan to sell a particular sort of product to a particular sort of customer when you’re not out selling every day? You can’t, not really. You can make a theoretical sales “model” based on your conceptual understanding of an abstract situation, or on an averaged data set that summarizes trends. But if it’s not grounded in the real-world details of each actual sales conversation-when do the prospects’ eyes glaze over, when do the prospects lean forward, when do they start to finish your sentences-your plan will always be more assumptive than prescriptive.
Your people want and need to engage with the world that they’re really in, and to interact with the world as it really is. By harnessing them to a prefabricated plan, you’re not only constraining your people but, quite possibly, also revealing how out of touch with reality you are. This is not to say that planning is utterly useless. Creating space to think through all of the information you have in your world, and trying to pull that into some sort of order or understanding, has some value. But when you do that, know that all you’ve done is understand the scale and nature of the challenges your team is facing. You’ll have learned little about what to do to make things better. The solutions can be found in the tangible and changing realities of the world as it really is, whereas your plans are necessarily abstract understandings of the recent past. Plans scope the problem, not the solution.
So, though you are told that the best plan wins, the reality is quite different. Many plans, particularly those created in large organizations, are overly generalized, quickly obsolete, and frustrating to those asked to execute them. It’s far better to coordinate your team’s efforts in real time, relying heavily on the informed, detailed intelligence of each unique team member.
If you move information across an organization as fast as possible, and do so to empower you will get a immediate and responsive action. Underlying the assumption that people are wise, and that if you can present them with accurate, real time, reliable data about the real world in front of them, they’ll invariably make smart decisions.It’s not true that the best plan wins. It is true that the best intelligence wins.
What can you do as a team leader to create such an intelligence system for your team?
First: liberate as much information as you possibly can. Think about all the sources of information you have, and make as many of them as possible available to your team, on demand. Planning systems constrain information to those who “need to know.” Intelligence systems don’t – they liberate as much information as possible, as fast as possible. So don’t worry too much at first about whether your team will understand the data or be able to make use of it. If you think the information will help your people gain a better understanding of their real world in real time, share it. And encourage your team to do the same. Help them understand that sharing what they know about the world, frequently, is vital. Make sure your team is swimming in real-time information, all the time.
Second : watch carefully to see which data your people find useful.Don’t worry too much about making all this data simple or easy to consume, or about packaging it for people, or weaving it together to form a coherent story. The biggest challenge with data today isn’t making sense of it – most of us deal with complexity all the time, and are pretty good at figuring out what we need to know and where to find it. No, the biggest challenge with data today is making it accurate-sorting the signal from the noise. This is much harder, and much more valuable for our teams. So be extremely vigilant about accuracy; watch which information your people naturally gravitate toward; and then, over time, increase the volume, depth, and speed of precisely that sort of data.
Third : trust your people to make sense of the data.Planning systems take the interpretation of the data away from those on the front lines, and hand it off to a select few, who analyze it and decipher its patterns, and then construct and communicate the plan. Intelligence systems do precisely the opposite – because the “intelligence” in an intelligence system lies not in the select few, but instead in the emergent interpretive powers of all front-line team members. You are not the best sense maker. They are.
A pretty good way to ruin someone’s day is to fill it with meetings. Meetings, for most of us, are a way of taking time that could be put to good use in doing real work, and instead using that time to hear presentations of varying relevance to our immediate challenges, or to discuss topics that might appear important in the grand scheme of things, but that hardly seem urgent on any given day. And while countless meeting “best practices” (have a written agenda, document follow-up items, and so on) at least – ensure some degree of utility, the fact remains that most meetings contain one or more people thinking to themselves that they could be doing something useful, if only they weren’t doing this.
If you study the best team leaders you’ll discover that many of them share a similarly frequent sense-making ritual-not with 2000 people, but with 2. It’s called a check-in, and in simple terms it’s a frequent, one-on-one conversation about near-term future work between a team leader and a team member. How frequent?Every week. These leaders understand that goals set at the beginning of the year have become irrelevant by the third week of the year, and that a year is not a marathon, planned out in detail long in advance, but is instead a series of 52 little sprints, each informed by the changing state of the world. They realize that the key role of a team leader is to ensure that Sprint Number 36 is as focused and as energizing as was Sprint Number 1.
So, each and every week these leaders have a brief check-in with each team member, during which they ask two simple questions:
What are your priorities this week?
How can I help?
They are not looking for a to-do list from the team member. They simply want to discuss the team member’s priorities, obstacles, and solutions in real time, while the work itself is ongoing. Making sense of it together can happen only in the now. The generalizations that emerge once the passage of time has blurred the details are not the stuff of good sense making. So, doing a check-in once every six weeks or even once a month is useless, because you’ll wind up talking in generalities. Actually, the data reveals that checking in with your team members once a month is literally worse than useless.
While team leaders who check-in once a week see, on average, a 13% increase in team engagement, those who check in only once a month see a 5% decreasein engagement. It’s as if team members are saying to you, ”I’d rather you not waste my time if all we’re going to do is talk generalities. Either get into the nitty-gritty of my work and how you can help right now, or leave me alone.”
Each check-in, then, is a chance to offer a tip, or an idea that can help the team member overcome a real-world obstacle, or a suggestion for how to refine a particular skill. Check-ins can be short-10 to 15 minutes – but that’s plenty of time to do a little real-time learning and coaching. And, like all good coaching, this has to be rooted in the specifics of the particular situation the team member is facing, the psychology she/he is bringing to it, the strengths she/he possesses, and the strategies she/he might already have tried. Again, the only way to surface these sorts of microdetails is to make sure that the conversations are frequent.
This leads us to one of the most important insights shared by the best team leaders: frequency trumps quality. They realize that it’s less important that each check-in is perfectly executed than that it happens, every week. In the intelligence business, frequency is king. The more frequently and predictably you check in with your people or meet with your team-the more you offer your real-time attention to the reality of their work-the more performance and engagement you will get. In this sense, checking in is akin to teeth-brushing: you brush your teeth every day, and while you hope that each brushing is high quality, what’s most important is that it happens, every day. Twice-a-year super-high-quality teeth-brushing is as absurd as it sounds. So is twice-a-year super-high-quality intelligence. A team with low check-in frequency is a team with low intelligence.
And this realization in turn gives the lie to the complaint-heard so often from senior leaders and HR executives-that “our team leaders aren’t skilled enough to coach their people!” The data reveals only that those team leaders who check in every week with each team member have higher levels of engagement and performance, and lower levels of voluntary turnover. It doesn’t have anything to say about the quality of those check-ins. We know for sure that if a team leader checks in often with a team member, the team member gets something really positive out of it. And besides, if the team leader struggles initially with his check-in quality, at least he’s able to practice it 51 more times with each team member every year. No matter what his starting point, or his level of natural coaching talent, he’s going to get a little better.
Now, you, the team leader, might think: “Well, I would love to check inwith my people every week, but I can’t. I’ve simply got too many people!“If that’s you, then yes – you have too many people. One of the longer-running debates in the world of people and organizations is the span of control debate, which grapples with exactly how many team members every team leader should manage. Some say between 1 and 9 employees. Others say between 1 and 20. Some nurses manage staffs of 40; some call-center managers lead 70 or more.
But by pinpointing the weekly check-in as the single most powerful ritual of the world’s best team leaders, we can now know the exact span of control that’s right for every single team leader: it’s the number of people that you, and only you, can check in with every week. If you can check in with 8 people, but you can’t fit 9 into your schedule, your span of control is 8. If you can find a way to check in with 20 people, then your span of control is 20. And if you’re one of those people who can legitimately manage a weekly check-in with only 2 people, your span of control is 2.
Span of control, in other words, isn’t a theoretical, one-size-fits-all thing. It’s a practical, function of team leader’s-capacity to give attention thing. Your span of control is your span of attention.
In the service of intelligence, then – in the service of making sense of real – time information together – the weekly check-in is the anchor ritual. You need to design your teams, and their size, to enable it. And if ever you become a leader of leaders, you’ll need to ensure that your leaders know that this check-in is the most important part of leading. Checking in with each person on a team –listening, course-correcting, adjusting, coaching, pinpointing, advising, paying attention to the intersection of the person and the real-world work-is not what you do in addition to the work of leading. This is the work of leading. If you don’t like this, if the idea of weekly check-ins bores or frustrates you or you think that once a week is just “too much” that’s fine-but then don’t be a leader.
In many situations it can be critical for team members to come to trust their team leader. Frequent sense making together in your weekly check-ins-can help with this since it leads not only to better decisions but also to the building of trust. 2 of the 8 engagement items (as I mentioned in my previous post about Lie Nr.2-People do care which company they work for) directly address this issue of trust:
“In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values” and
“My teammates have my back.”
When these items receive low scores on a team it’s easy to assume that the problem is one of intent-that team members don’t really care for one another or want to support one another. More often than not, however, low scores are a function not of bad intent but of poor information: team members don’t know how to support one another, because they don’t know what’s going on in enough detail to offer assistance. If they don’t know what one another is doing, how can each learn what the others truly value?
Likewise, if they don’t know what work each is engaged in, how can any one of them feel safe? You can’t watch someone’s back if you don’t know where his or her back is. The more frequent sense-making rituals you establish on your team, the more information you will liberate, the more intelligence you will generate, and the more trust you will engender.
It is far more powerful for a leader to free the most information and the most decision-making power than it is for that leader to craft the perfect plan. Another of the 8 aspects (see LIE NR. 2) that distinguish the best teams, as we’ve seen, is the sense of every team member that:
“At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.”
Whether informed by any number of management truisms in between, or simply by what seems intuitive, our assumption has most often been that the best way to create clarity of expectations is to tell people what to do. It turns out, however, that by the time you’ve managed to do this, your directions are wrong because the world has moved on. In this way, the systems we’ve built to tell people what to do at great scale-planning systems-fail. The best, most effective way to create clarity of expectations is to figure out how to let your people figure it out for themselves. This isn’t a question of removing complexity, but is rather one of locating it in the right place-not hidden from view as the input for a grand plan, but rather shared for all to see. To do this, give your people as much accurate data as you can, as often as you can-a real-time view of what’s going on right now-and then a way to make sense of it, together.
If you only care about your future projections in career, then your team will behave accordingly, meaning that they won’t give a fuck on your plans.
This statement is very common in many organizations. If you want to apply for a job which require a high qualification and offers you nice benefits in return, you will get first a long list of requirements from that company which is asking you to prove your competencies in as many of your future tasks as possible. You must be skilled and experienced in a lot of things and you have – let’s say 1 hour for the interview – to prove that. If you are weak at some criteria or you really don’t have one of the required skill or competency at all, you may already expect to be rejected without too much talk. The company will tell you usually after few days that they decided for another candidate, which in many cases is a lie. They didn’t decide for anything, they just did not find the perfect candidate which can fulfill 100% all the requirements. They are all following the idea that the best candidate is well-rounded and therefore they put effort to spend time and money to find that candidate. Well… let me say, that anything more stupid in any hiring process than this it can not be.
Those organization who have this approach are just wasting their money for nonsense. It’ s definitely wrong to judge like that, saying: the best staff is well-rounded. Maybe at some point in the future the Artificial Intelligence will create such a tool perfect for everything, but humans will never ever be well-round for any job. This is a very big lie. I am gonna talk about this lie in this post.
Look, the best example I have in mind in this moment is Lionel Messi.
For all the football fans, there is no need for me to tell you who Leo Messi is. In case there are still some who probably don’t know about him, Messi is one of the best (because Cristioano Rolanldo also is 🙂 ) football player in the world. We won’t see another one like him soon. He is good in this sport. Extremely good. But he has all the credit for that; First he has talent and second he plays with pleasure, he really loves what he does. He gained the admiration of the whole world and he really shine in his actions on the football field.
Messi plies his trade on the world’s largest sporting stages, but you may have experienced similar admiration for colleagues at work. One of them puts together a presentation and delivers it with wit and clarity, and you smile. Another handles a grumpy customer with just the right mix of empathy and practicality, and you marvel at how easy he made it look. Another defuses a complex political situation, and you look at him in awe and wonder how on earth he did it. As humans we are wired to find joy in seeing someone else’s talents in action. We resonate with the naturalness, the fluidity, and the honesty of a thing done brilliantly well, and it attracts us and draws us in.
You will have recognized the Messi’s joy when it is your own performance that you’re experiencing, too – that is, when you are expressing your own strengths. This sensation is not, at root, created by how good you are at something. Rather, it’s created by how that activity makes you feel. A strength, properly defined, is not “something you are good at.” You will have many activities or skills that, by dint of your intelligence, your sense of responsibility, or your disciplined practice, you are quite good at, and that nonetheless bore you, or leave you cold, or even drain you. “Something you are good at” is not a strength; it is an ability.
And, yes, you will be able to demonstrate high ability – albeit briefly – at quite a few things that bring you no joy whatsoever.
A strength, on the other hand, is an “activity that makes you feel strong.”
This sort of activity possesses for you certain definable qualities. Before you do it, you find yourself actively looking forward to doing it. While you are doing it, time seems to speed up, one moment blurring into the next. And after you’ve done it, while you may be tired and not quite ready to suit up and tackle it again, you nonetheless feel filled up, proud.
It is this combination of three distinct feelings – positive anticipation beforehand, flow during, and fulfillment afterward – that makes a certain activity a strength. And it is this combination of feelings that produces in you the yearning to do the activity again and again, to practice it over and over, to thrill to the chance to do it just one more time. A strength is far more appetitethan ability, and indeed it is the appetite ingredient that feeds the desire to keep working on it and that, in the end, produces the skill improvement necessary for excellent performance.
This is what work does to Stevie Wonder when he composes and sings – he finds joy. This is what work does to Lionel Messi when he dances round defenders and finds the net from impossible angles – he finds delight. This is what we see when we see anyone who is really good at their work – we see someone who has found love in what they do. And this is what your company hopes your work will do for you. When your leaders say they want you to be creative and innovative and collaborative and resilient and intuitive and productive, what they are really saying is, “We want you to fill your working hours with activities that bring you joy, with tasks that delight you.”
Oddly-and sadly-this set of observations is often dismissed in business circles, because business is meant to be about rigor and objectivity and competitive advantage, next to which the idea of looking for joy in work, as a precursor to excellence in work, seems rather soft. Fixing shortcomings, no matter how hard that might be, seems like the hard-boiled business of business; finding delight is the province of poets.
Somehow, on the best teams, the team leader must be able not only to identify the strengths of each person but also to tweak roles and responsibilities so that team members, individually, feel that their work calls upon them to exercise their strengths on a daily basis. When a team leader does this, everything else recognition, sense of mission, clarity of expectations-works better. But when a team leader doesn’t, nothing else that he or she tries, whether in the form of money or title or cheerleading or cajoling, can make up for it. Ongoing work-strengths fit is the master leverfor high-performance teams: pull it, and everything else is elevated; fail to pull it, and everything else is diminished.
Nothing thus far should be particularly surprising. We’ve all seen people like Lionel Messi demonstrate their brilliance, and been uplifted by the sight. We’ve watched colleagues excel, and we’ve felt happy wonder in their success.Which makes it all the more surprising (or frustrating, or depressing) is that companies are not, in fact, built to help us pinpoint and then contribute our unique strengths. Intheir systems and processes and technologies, in their rituals and language and philosophies, they evidence exactly the opposite design: to measure us against a standardized model, and then badger us to become as similar to this model as possible. They are built, that is, around the lie that the best people arewell-rounded.
At some point in your career, if you haven’t already done so, you will bump into a thing called a competency model. A competency is a quality you are supposed to possess in order to excel in your job. They look like this: strategic thinking, goal orientation, political savvy, business acumen, customer focus, and so on. The idea behind them is that excellent performance in a job can be defined in terms of the right grouping of competencies.
Thus the company’s top leaders will be asked to examine a long list of these competencies – there are literally thousands to choose from-and then pick the ones that everyone agrees each incumbent in each job should possess. One widely used model, for example, identifies five categories of competencies (core, leadership/management/business/interpersonal, job functional, job technical, and technical-task specific) and then a further list of competencies within each of these, so that “core,” in this case, includes for example 22 leadership competencies, 18 management competencies, 45 business competencies, and 33 individual competencies, for a total of 118.
Entry-level jobs are assigned fewer or simpler competencies, and the further up the hierarchy a job is, the more numerous and the more complex the competencies assigned to it tend to become. Having defined competencies for each role, the leaders will also usually define a desired proficiency level for each competency on a scale of 1 to 5, so that they can say, for instance, that such-and-such a job requires strategic thinking at a proficiency level of 3, whereas it needs customer focus at a proficiency level of 5.
This entire construct – the chosen competencies and their required proficiency levels, for each seniority level, for each job, across some or all of an organization – is called a competency model. In a typical model, a given job might be defined to require a few dozen competencies at varying proficiency levels.
So far, this might seem unobjectionable, if a little unwieldy: a group of leaders getting together to define what they feel the ideal employee should look like. It might not be our first choice for how they should spend their time, but at least no one has been harmed in the making of this model. It’s what happens next, however, that leads us into choppier waters, because once created, the competencies show up everywhere.
Your manager and your peers will rate you on them, and your overall performance rating will be derived in large part from how much of each of them you possess. During annual talent reviews, the competencies will be the language used to describe your performance and potential: if the consensus is that you possess them all, you will be considered for promotion, or paid more, or selected for plum assignments; whereas if you do not possess them, or display gaps in a few of them, you will be told to take the relevant training programs, and work on proving to your company that you have plugged your gaps. These competencies will become the lens through which your company sees you, understands you, and values you.
All of the major Human Capital Management tools – the enterprise software systems that companies use to keep information about you, pay you, allocate benefits to you, promote you, develop you, and deploy you – are built around competency models, and how closely you and your colleagues match up to the models. The concern here is the theory of work that those companies embody and that underlies so much of what we do in organizations today. (in automotive industry all of them are guided by such competency models: B.M.W, Dailmer, AUDI, VW, Renault, Toyota, Ford, NISSAN, and so on, all of them.)
In the FIRST part =The theory goes something like this: we live in a world of machines, code, and processes, and when these break, we have to identify the faulty component or line of code or process step and fix it – to take dysfunction and repair it. The first part of this competency theory of work, then, extends this thinking to performance. Once we’ve located you on our proficiency scales, we tell you that your lowest scores – those where you are most “broken” – are your “development areas,” and that the best path to greater performance will come from unrelenting focus on these areas.
The second part of the theory takes this line of thinking to its logical conclusion: we reason that if improvement in performance comes from remedying shortcomings, then high performance excellence – must be the result of having removed shortcomings across the board, from having a high score on every scale. Excellence, in other words, is a synonym for all-round high ability: well-rounded people are better.
This is the lie that underpins the tyranny of competencies, and it is persistent and pervasive. But to see the truth, we need only to understand two particular facts
FACT NR. 1 = competencies are impossible to measure.
Take “strategic thinking” as an example. Is this a state, something that is variable and subject to flux? Or is it a trait, something that is inherent and relatively stable over time? Well…We can measure these two phenomena quite differently. When we are measuring states, we either devise surveys that ask a person about his or her state of mind, or we create tests with right and wrong answers to determine whether a person has acquired the necessary knowledge.
STATES = A person’s voting preference is a state, as expressed in a survey. We presume it can change, such that when we ask a person about it at Time 1, and then give her new information, we expect her preference might well be different at Time 2. Mood is a state. Although it does appear that each of us has a unique happiness set point, we assume that a person’s mood can change around that point, such that when we ask about it at Time 1, and then a change in situation or circumstance occurs, we may well observe a difference in the person’s mood by Time 2. Similarly, skills and knowledge are states. If we test you on a certain skill or knowledge base at Time 1, and then give you more training in these areas, it’s likely that you will get more of the answers right at Time 2. These are all states, and we expect them as such to change over time.
Traits = on the other hand, are inherent in a person. Extroversion is a trait, for example, as is empathy, and competitiveness, and need for structure. Each of us possesses certain unique predispositions and recurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior, and the overwhelming evidence is that, while each of us can learn over time to be more intelligent and effective at contributing through these patterns, the patterns themselves persist throughout our lives. Traits cannot be measured with a survey or a skills test. Instead, they have to be measured using a reliable and validated personality assessment. The two most prevalent kinds of personality assessments are self-assessments (involving a number of carefully worded statements measured on a strongly agree-to-strongly disagree scale) and situational judgment tests(involving a number of situations with a list of possible response options from which the test taker selects the one that fits her best).
Before you set about measuring something you have to decide which of these – states or traits – you are trying to measure, so that you can properly select your measurement method.
Here’s the point. Seen in this light, what is a competency such as “strategic thinking”? Is it a state or a trait? We need to know, if we want to measure it – and the entire purported purpose of competencies is to measure something.
If we think a competency is the former, a state, then we should measure it either with a survey asking about the person’s state of mind or with an actual test that has correct and incorrect answers. I should never ask your manager or your peers to rate you on it, because they can’t possibly know how much of this abstract quality you possess, any more than they can accurately divine your voting preferences or the score you would get on a test.
And if we think a competency is the latter, an inherent trait, then we should use a personality assessment to measure it, and I should never tell you to take a “strategic thinking” class so that you can improve in it, because if it’s a trait, then, by definition, it probably won’t change much.
But the truth about competencies such as strategic thinking, political savvy, or any of the others is that they are a haphazard mix-up of states and traits. I don’t know whether goal orientation, say, derives from the way you are wired, or from what you have learned to do, or from what you have been told to do. I don’t know whether “customer focus” is a different piece of your wiring, or a different skill you have learned, or the same skill used differently, or something else entirely. A scientific approach to performance would start with what is measurable, and only then study how those things contributed to performance.
Because competencies are unmeasurable, it is impossible to prove or disprove the assertion that everyone who excels in a particular job possesses a particular set of competencies. It is equally impossible to show that people who acquired the competencies they lacked outperformedthose who did not-that, in other words, well-rounded people are better.
These two statements together are the foundation for most of what companies do to develop the talents of their people, yet each of them is unfalsifiable – you will find no academic papers in any peer – reviewed journal proving the necessity of possessing certain competencies, and no proof that acquiring the ones you lack nets you any increase in performance. Both of these assertions, despite the good intentions that created them, are conjured from thin air-and we can never know if they are correct.
But hang on, you may say:
Isn’t the art of business the art of making decisions with incomplete data?
Isn’t that what business people get paid for-taking risks in the face of uncertainty?
Even if we can’t prove, measurably, that acquiring a list of competencies helps a person to excel, what’s wrong with trying nonetheless?
Surely a good team leader should encourage each of his people to pinpoint capability gaps, to strive to plug these gaps and thereby become more well-rounded. Surely both the team and the individual would benefit from getting each person to conform ever more closely to the well-rounded ideal. Indeed, surely that’s what growth is – the process of gaining ability where we have little.
Well …again, no. Which brings us to the second fact.
FACT NR. 2 = the research into high performance in any profession or endeavor reveals that excellence is idiosyncratic.
The well-rounded high performer is a creature of theory world. In the real world each high performer is unique and distinct, and excels precisely because that person has understood his or her uniqueness and cultivated it intelligently.
We see this most easily in the world of professional sports. If we were to design the theoretical model of a high-performing attacker on a football team, we would not create a Lionel Messi, with his diminutive stature and ineffectual right foot. Instead we might devise a player who looks more like Cristiano Ronaldo – a taller, more physically imposing player who is equally at ease with his left foot, his right foot, and his head (though even here we would likely erase from our theoretical design Ronaldo’s ego, individualism, and occasional petulance).
In our theoretical world, in other words, we would pick and mix the qualities we thought preferable. But obviously, in the real world no one gets to do this, whether they’re a football player, a tennis player, or a team leader.
In the real world each of us learns to make the most of what we have. Growth, it turns out, is actually a question not of figuring out how to gain ability where we lack it but of figuring out how to increase impact where we already have ability. And because our abilities are diverse, when you look at a great performance you see not diversity minimized but rather diversity magnified; not sameness but uniqueness. But these are all extreme examples, and might seem remote from the real world of work. What happens when we measure the strengths and skills of a regular job? Do we find idiosyncrasy or well-roundedness?
Excellence in the real world, in every profession, is idiosyncratic. In the theoretical world that exists inside most of our large organizations – a world preoccupied with the need for order and tidiness – the perfect incumbent of every role possesses all the competencies that can be dreamed up and defined. In the real world, however, these long lists of intricately defined competencies don’t exist, and if they did, they wouldn’t matter.
In the real world, each of us, imperfect as we are, strives to make the most of the unique mix of traits and skills with which we’ve been blessed. Those of us who do this best – who find what we love about what we do, and cultivate this love with intelligence and discipline-are the ones who contribute most. The best people are not well-rounded, finding fulfillment in their uniform ability. Quite the opposite, in fact-the best people are spiky, and in their lovingly honed spikiness they find their biggest contribution, their fastest growth, and, ultimately, their greatest joy.
On some level, we have all long known this. But then why do these competency models and their associated 360-degree assessments, feedback tools, and development plans exist?What could have prompted otherwise sensible people to have spent so much time and energy and money building models whose efficacy is intrinsically unprovable, that require enormous amounts of time and energy to create, and that fly in the face of our own experiences in the world? The simplest answer is that, though we are deeply aware that each of us is unique, and that no amount of training or badgering will remove that uniqueness, it is still quite overwhelming for a busy team leader to allow himself to come face-to-face with the fact that each of his team members thinks differently, is motivated by different things, responds to relationship cues differently, and gets a kick out of different sorts of praise.
Who has the time for all these subtle shadings of diversity? Better to just define a model, and then manage to the model (hence the automated feedback writer we encountered earlier). For a company, it’s all about control. The strong instinct of most corporate leaders, faced with the teeming diversity not just of gender, race, and age but of thought, drive, and relationship inside their organizations, is to look for some way to exert control – to rein it all in, to impose conformity on the chaos, and hence to be able to understand what’s going on, and to shape what will happen next.
And so companies have spent, and continue to spend, large quantities of time and money trying to work around each person’s uniqueness – and this is where these models bubble up from. The models promise rigor – a dear set of characteristics against which everyone can be measured, a sort of “apples-to-apples” comparison (even though in the real world it is always “apples-to-oranges”).
The models promise analytical insights a way to understand the entire workforce. (It’s no accident the systems are known as performance management systems) The models promise fact, evidence, truth. The creeping suspicion, on the part of more and more leaders, is that the models offer none of the things they promise, is an inconvenience to be minimized. And to be dear, it isn’t just the competency models that are dubious but the ideas behind them. There is the idea that improvement comes from repairing our deficits.
There is the idea that failure is essential to growth. Failure by itself doesn’t teach us anything about success, just as our deficits by themselves don’t teach us anything about our strengths.
Just let’s consider for example that recently the following:
Facebook is facing numerous government inquiries intothe use of its data to influence elections;
Uber has curtailed its self-driving-cartesting because one of its cars hit and killed a cyclist;
Yahoo has long sinceceased to exist in any meaningful sense.
It is unlikely that anyone is celebrating these and other failures, and the “fail fast” speed with which they’ve been achieved.
And then there is the idea that our strengths are to be feared-that we should avoid overusing them because that will somehow pull us away from our proper focus on failure and shortcomings, and instead pull us toward laziness and complacency. Of course, if we were able to watch a great athlete training, or a great writer writing, or a great coder coding, we would see that honing a strength is hard work – it is by no means easy to find that incremental margin of performance when you are already operating at a high level-and that a strength is not where we are most “finished” but in fact where we are most productively challenged. Yet we are told to resist the temptation to “just”play to our strengths, and instead to work constantly on our weaknesses.
Yet these are the ideas that competency models, 360-degree assessments, talent reviews, feedback tools, and much more are built on – that what is most important for us is to understand our deficits, embrace failure, and be wary of our strengths. To be dear, I are not, here, making an absolutist argument: I am not saying that there is nothing to be gained from trying to improve our shortcomings, or that we shouldn’t try new things for fear of failure. I am, however, arguing for priority, for focusing first, and predominantly, on our strengths and our successes, because that is where the greatest advantage is to be had. And the great shame in all of this is that the very systems that we might hope would be aimed at discovering and unleashing each person’s unique talents have, in fact, the effect of inhibiting those talents, and denying what makes each one of us unique. They don’t, in the end, help performance. They hinder it.
While the outcomes of high performance are visible and clear, the ingredients of high performance vary from person to person. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to human beings; and there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to great performance.
Well-roundedness is a misguided and futile objective when it comes to individual people; but when it comes to teams, it’s an absolute necessity. The more diverse the team members, the more weird, spiky, and idiosyncratic they are, the more well-rounded the team. Competencies, and all the other normative and deficit-focused tools we have, don’t push in this direction – of expressing and harnessing diversity. They do just the opposite, as we’ve seen.
So we should remove from our competency models the levels of ability, the individual evaluations, the feedback, and all the other things that they have become encumbered with, and we should instead simplify them, clarify them, recognize them (and name them) for what they are, and stick them on a wall for all to see. When we carry our competencies across the measurement bridge, we enter a fake and dangerous world-as a tool of assessment, order and control, they are worse than useless.
Again this is of course an illusion. It is a very big lie which most people are so brainwashed that finally they truly believe that it’s a great truth. No it’s not. It’s another fat mistake that an incredibly big amount of companies continue to use it in their business. Goals are the same like feedbacks (as I said in my previous Lie -Lie nr.4). People don’t need feedback they need attention. The same here, people don’t need to receive a set goals for their work, they need to understand the meaning of their work.
Unfortunately in the majority of big German companies/organization (such as VW, BMW, CONTINETAL, BOSCH, AUDI, DAIMLER,SIEMENS, etc… and put any other like that in the list) they still promote this idea that people must have a set of goals for their work. In fact this trend is more or less present in all international organization worldwide, not only within the German ones. I am talking here about big organization because this is according to what I’ve seen so far during my work experience. But I may be wrong in the case of other small enterprises or Start-ups. At least in the case of Start-Ups I would not be surprised to see different approaches. But due to this wide-spread concept between big corporation, it can be general accepted that in order to be successful in business , it’s necessary to cascade goals.
Well, I DON’T agree with that. No, absolutely not. goals are not necessary to be setor cascaded, and above that it is completely a nonsense to evaluate someone’s performance strictly based on how much of his/her imposed goals have been reached at the end of the fiscal year. In my future company I will never cascade goals for my employees, instead I will definitively cascade MEANING. But to make it more clear what I want to say with that, allow me to go more deep in detail with this. I will explain why I thing like that. So here is my argument…..
Goals are everywhere at work – it’s hard to find many companies that do not engage in some sort of annual or semi-annual goal-setting regimen. At some point in the year, usually at the start of a fiscal year or after bonuses and raises have been paid, the organization’s senior leaders set their goals for the upcoming 6 or 12 months, and then share them with their teams. Each team member looks at each of the leader’s goals, and figures out what to do to advance that goal, and thus sets a sort of minigoal that reflects some part of the leader’s goal. This continues down the chain, until you, and every other employee, has a set of goals that are miniversions of some larger goal further up in the organization. Insome organizations, goals are also grouped into categories, so that each person is asked to set, say: strategic goals, operational goals, people goals, and innovation goals.
Once the goals have been created, each is then approved by the person’s immediate leader, and then by the leader above that person, and so on, with each layer assessing whether each goal is sufficiently challenging, and whether it’s properly aligned with the goals above, up and up and up the chain. As the year unfolds, you may well be asked to record what percentage of your goals you’ve completed. This “percent complete” data is then aggregated into bigger and bigger groups so that the company can, at any point during the year, say things like, “65 % of our teams have completed 46 % of their goals. We need to speed up!”
And, at the end of the year, you’re asked to write a brief self-assessment reflecting how you feel you’ve done on each goal, after which your team leader will review this assessment and add his own, in some cases also saying whether he thinks each goal was actually met, or not. After HR has nudged him a couple of times, he’ll input all this information into the company performance management system, where upon it’ll serve as a permanent record of your performance for the year, and will guide your pay, promotion opportunities, and even continued employment.
If you’re in sales for example, your sales quota will work in a similar way – an overall corporate sales goal is sliced into parts and distributed across the organization. The only difference being that your quota, or your team’s quota, is usually just a single number handed down to you from above, defining you and your work throughout the year – which is why salespeople, in most companies, are referred to not as people but simply as “quota carriers.”
And, in the era of the smartphone, once-a-year goal-setting has been deemed Not Enough, and so your phone will soon be dramatically upping the frequency of all this goal – setting, assessing, and tracking, if it hasn’t done so already – all because we have come to believe that the successful companies cascade goals.
The names we give these goals have changed over the years. It started with MBOs, (Management by Objectives). Then came SMART goals, (goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound), followed shortly by KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). The latest incarnation, OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), originated at Intel and is now used for defining and tracking goals and measuring them against your “key results.” Across all the different technologies and methodologies, massive amounts of time and money are invested in this goal-setting. When companies like these shell out dose to €1 billion on something every year, there must be some truly extraordinary benefits. What are they?
Well, every company is different, of course, and each makes its own calculus, but the three most common reasons put forth for all this goal-setting are:
The First = that goals stimulate and coordinate performance by aligning everyone’s work;
The Second = that tracking goals’ “percent complete” yields valuable data on the team’s or company’s progress throughout the year;
The Third= that goal attainment allows companies to evaluate team members’ performance at the end of the year.
So, companies invest in goals because goals are seen as a stimulator,a tracker, and an evaluator – and these three core functions of goals are why we spend so much time, energy, and money on them. And this is precisely where the trouble begins. In terms of goals as a simulator of performance, one great fear of senior leaders is that the work of their people is misaligned, and that effort is being wasted in activities that drag the company hither and yon, like a rudderless boat in a choppy sea. The creation of a cascade of goals calms this fear, and gives leaders the confidence that everyone on the boat is pulling on the oars in the same direction. Of course, none of this alignment is worth very much, if the goals themselves don’t result in greater activity – if the boat doesn’t actually go anywhere. As it happens, no research exists showing that goals set for you from above stimulate you to greater productivity. In fact, the weight of evidence suggests that cascaded goals do the opposite: they limit performance. They slow your boat down.
Before to continue, let me ask you something: Have you ever tried to hail a cab in New York City on a rainy day?
Believe me, it’s not easy. That’s exactly what happened to me when I was in New York. But this not just an isolated case, it is really happening in general almost all the time when it rains. You stand there on the corner of 52nd Street and 3rd Avenue waving frantically at any vehicle that’s even vaguely yellow and bemoaning the fact that every one of the (suddenly scarce) cabs is taken. If you’re up on your economics, you might even surmise, as the water drips off your nose, that the rain has increased the number of taxi hailers (demand) while not changing the number of taxi drivers (supply), hence the problem.
But actually that’s not quite what’s going on. Cab drivers have an informal “daily goal”, or quota, for the fares they want to earn before they allow themselves to stop working – for most cabbies that number is twice the cost of renting the cab for the day. The moment the day’s receipts add up to twice their rental fee, they head home and rest up for the next day of battle. Now, they have this goal every day, but on rainy days – because more people choose to take a cab – they hit that goal earlier in their shift, and the moment they do they vanish off home.
The same thing happens with sales quotas. Leaders set quotas because they want to stimulate the performance of their salespeople. But quotas don’t actually work like that. The very best salespeople hit their quota months before the end of the year, whereupon they do the sales equivalent of vanishing off home – that is, they start to delay the closing of their deals so that they can “bank” them and ensure that they begin the next year with a head start. Sales goals actually degrade the performance of top sales people – they function, as they do for New York City cab drivers, as a ceiling on performance, not a catalyst for more of it.
But what about salespeople who are struggling, or middle-of-the-road?Won’t goals serve to stretch them upward toward their quota, in much the same way as a guy who runs a marathon goal will help to stretch him upward toward greater endurance? Well, again, not exactly. In reality, what happens to middling or struggling salespeople is that their imposed quota increases the pressure on them. And this is not the self-imposed pressure that comes from attempting to achieve something we feel is important the sort our marathon-training friend will feel on a Sunday morning when he forces himself to get up and go running. No, this pressure to achieve company-imposed goals is coercion, and coercion is a cousin to fear. In the worst cases, fear-fueled employees push and push and, falling short, resort to inappropriate and sometimes illegal tactics in order to meet their goals.
None of which is to say that sales quotas are useless. In fact, they can be an excellent forecasting device. Senior leaders can use them to estimate what the company’s top line is going to be for any given period, and then announce this to the board and the investment community so that all interested parties can get a sense of the expected revenues, against which costs, investments, and ultimately cash flow can be assessed. The best executives are good guesstimators – they have a sense, born of long experience, of what the median quota should be, the “line of best fit” around which the variation of salespeople’s performance will cluster. Some will outperform their quota by 10 %, others will fall short by 10 %, and thus at year’s end the sales goals, when guessed well, will be hit. But these sales goals don’t beget more sales; they just anticipate what the sales will be.
How about tracking performance?Do goals allow companies to do that? Hardly.
Even though so many companies ask employees to write down their yearly goals and track their progress using some sort of software; even though there are written books which say that humans love to track their progress and that they derive joy from each achievement; and even though, in the last few years, the trend is to see more goal tracking and not less; none of this tracking does what it is intended to, for the simple reason that your progress toward a goal is not linear.
Take our marathon-running friend. If, at the end of February, he calculates that his training regimen is 62% complete, does that mean that he has only 38 % of his marathon goal left to go? Obviously NOT: he has 100 % left because he hasn’t yet started his actual marathon. And what happens when he does indeed run his race? When he has finished his first 13 km does that mean he is now 13 out of 26 km, or 50 % of the way toward completing the race? Again, NO.
As every marathon runner discovers, the first half of the marathon is the comparatively easy part. It’s the last half – in particular, the last 6 km – that’s brutal. Only when you pass the 20 km mark do you begin to feel the legs harden and the mind weaken; only then do you know whether you have the physical and mental strength to complete your goal. And what percentage of the whole does the refining fire of the last 6 km represent-40 %? 60 %? 90 %? It’s impossible to put an accurate number on it because, in truth, the first 20 km of a marathon are one thing, and the last 6 km a very different thing.
So our friend can’t be 62 % done with his marathon preparation, nor he can be 50 % done with his actual marathon. He can only either complete the goal or not complete it. All goals, at least in the real world, function in this same way. You are either done, or you are not done: goal attainment is binary. You might want to set some intermediate goals along the way, and tick these goals off as they are done (or not done). But you won’t ever be able to assign a “percent complete” to your bigger goal as you tick off these mini-goals. And if you attempt to, or if your company asks you to, you will only be generating falsely precise data about the state of your progress.
Finally, what about evaluating employees? Can we evaluate a person based on how many goals he or she has achieved? Many companies do this, for sure. But here’s the snag: unless we can standardize the difficulty of each person’s goals it’s impossible to objectively judge the relative performance of each employee.
Let’s say we have two employees we’re evaluating, Sarah and Albert. Each is aiming to complete five goals, and at year’s end Sarah has achieved three goals and Albert has achieved five. Does that mean Albert is a higher performer? Not necessarily. Maybe one of Sarah’s five goals was “Govern an empire” and one of Albert’s five goals was “Make a cup of tea.” For us to use goal attainment to evaluate Sarah and Albert, we need to be able to perfectly calibrate each and every goal for difficulty – we need each manager, with perfect consistency, to be able to weigh the stretchiness or slackness of a given goal in exactly the same way as every other manager. And as it happens this sort of calibration is a practical impossibility, so we can’t. Sorry, Albert.
Despite this evidence, however, it remains true that goals, and cascaded goals in particular, have an intuitive appeal to many leaders who find themselves in search of ways to ensure efficient and aligned execution in their organizations. And, at the same time, it also remains true that for those of us in the trenches, our experience of goals feels non-intuitive, mechanical, fake, even demeaning. Why is that?
Well, in the real world, this is what’s going on. Firstly, and oddly, when you sit down to write your goals, you already have a pretty good idea of the work that you’re about to do. After all, it’s not as though you roll up to the office on a Monday morning desperately trying to figure out how you’re going to fill the time. So what the goal-setting process is asking you to do is to write down work that you already know you’re going to do. Your work goals aren’t out ahead of you, pulling you along like our marathoner’s goal; instead they’re just behind you, being tugged along by your own preexisting understanding of the work you’re going to do anyway.
The goal categories – strategic, operational, innovation, people, and so on – are odd simply because work doesn’t come in categories. You don’t plan your time by thinking, “Well, on Tuesday I’ll do some operational, and hopefully make time for a bit of innovation on Thursday afternoon.” Work usually comes in projects, with deadlines and deliverables, and so when you’re asked to translate it back into category goals, you (and most every other employee) fudge it and force – fit your work to the categories, while hoping no one will mind too much.
And while it’s not unreasonable to hope that the work you do matches up to what your team leader wants you to do, setting goals that are a subset of his goals, or reviewing your goals against his, is actually a pretty strange way of going about this. Your team leader already knows what you’re doing, because in the real world you talk to him about it, all the time. If you’re off working on origami and he’d rather you were working on quilting, he’ll tell you. And when something changes, a few days later, and he needs you to shift your focus over to glass-blowing, again, he’ll just tell you. Even if he doesn’t tell you, and you continue to potter away at something that’s all of a sudden out of whack, the very last thing he’d think of doing to communicate this to you is to go back into your goal form, change your goals, and hope you’ll notice.
Again, cascaded goals are tagging along behind the work, not out ahead of it: as used in the real world, goal setting is more a system of record keeping than a system of work making. Then there’s the fact that you don’t go and look at your goals once you’ve set them. If they were supposed to be guiding your work, you’ d think you might.
And what about the gritty point of it all, at year’s end, when you’re supposed to self-evaluate against your goals?
While your boss may imagine that you’re engaging in honest and earnest reflection on the year gone by, you’re probably trying to find the elusive sweet spot between, on the one hand, saying that you hit all your goals out of the park, by which you’d risk seeming arrogant or deluded, and, on the other, acknowledging that some things didn’t go as planned, by which you’d risk giving your boss – or some unseen higher-up-an excuse to decrease your bonus. Self-evaluation of goals isn’t really about evaluating your work, in other words: it’s a careful exercise in self-promotion and political positioning, in figuring out how much to reveal honestly and how much to couch carefully.
This is no comment on you, by the way. Carefully calibrating your self-evaluation to find this sweet spot is a practical response to a bizarre situation. The company has asked you to evaluate yourself against a list of abstract goals that were irrelevant a couple of weeks after you wrote them down. You’re being asked to do something meaningless and pretend it’s meaningful. It’s enough to make you a little crazy.
And your team leader’s in on the crazy. When the end of the year comes around and he has to sit down with a stack of goal forms and write-under each goal you typed in months and months ago one or two little sentences describing how you’ve done against each one, what must be going through his mind?
More than likely it isn’t related to you or how he thinks you’ve done, but is more about how quickly he can get through the stack and cross “goal review” off his to-do list. Like you, he’s got a nagging feeling that he’s wasting his time – because what’s in front of him now is a random subset of things you thought you might be doing a while ago, shoehorned into whatever categories you thought you could get away with at the time, written so as to look maximally impressive for anyone reading the form, and now garnished with your delicately positioned self-evaluation. He knows that the work changed an equally long time ago and has very little to do with what’s on the form, and that he’s already told you how well you did on the work that actually happened, by talking to you about it as the year went along. To his this form filling is the worst kind of administriviamasquerading-as-management, so he writes the little sentences and hopes that no one will complain if they’re shorter than last year’s.
In the real world, there is work-stuff that you have to get done. In theory world, there are goals.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Goals can be a force for good.
Look again at our soon-to-be-marathoner friend: he has taken something he deems valuable (fitness) and turned it into a tangible achievement (the marathon). He has made it real. This, ultimately, is what goals are for: to help you manifest your values. They are your best mechanism for taking what’s inside of you and bringing it out where you and others can see it, and where you and they can benefit from it. Your goals define the dent you want to make in the world.
And this in turn means that the only criterion for what makes a good goal is that the person working toward it must set it for him- or herself, voluntarily. The only way a goal has any use at all is if it comes out of you as an expression of what you deem valuable. It doesn’t have to be SMART, or big, hairy, and audacious. It doesn’t need to contain key performance indicators or be built from objectives and key results. If a goal is going to be useful, if it is going to help you contribute more, then the only criterion is that you must set it for yourself, voluntarily.
This doesn’t mean, though, that there is nothing we should cascade in our organizations. Since goals, done properly, are only and always an expression of what a person finds most meaningful, then to create alignment in our company we should do everything we can to ensure that everyone in the company understands what matters most. And so the truth:
So, in addition to giving our teams and their members a real-time understanding of what is happening in the world, we need to give them a sense of which hill we’re trying to take. Instead of cascading goals, instead of cascading instructions for actions, we should cascade meaning and purpose.
Whereas cascaded goals are a control mechanism, cascaded meaning is a release mechanism. It brings to life the context within which everyone works, but it leaves the locus of control – for choosing, deciding, prioritizing, goal setting – where it truly resides, and where understanding of the world and the ability to do something about it intersect: with the team member.
Therefore the prevailing assumption is that we need goals because our deficit at work is a deficit of aligned action. We’re mistaken. What we face instead is a deficit of meaning, of a clear and detailed understanding of the purpose of our work, and of the values we should honor in deciding how to get it done. OUR PEOPLE DON’T NEED TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO; THEY WANT TO BE TOLD WHY.
To be specific, here are the three levers to be used in order to create such great effect by cascading meaning.
THE FIRST LEVER =Expressed Values : which iswhat you write on the walls.
I don’t mean that you should literally write out your “values.” Many leaders and many companies set about doing this and wind up with a list of generic values such as integrity, innovation, or , teamwork – and then wonder why the whole exercise doesn’t seem to have made much difference. Instead, apply some creativity to how you want to bring your meaning to life for your people. Don’t tell them what you value, show them.
What do you actually want them to see and to bump into at work?.
What are your expressed values?
What have you written on your walls?
What do your people encounter when they walk in through the door?
What do they see when they turn to the left?
And what do those things tell them about who you are?
THE SECOND LEVER =Through rituals.
Facebook has their famous bimonthly hack-a-thon; Chick-fil-A stops work on Sundays. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club, had a ritual he practiced every single Friday until he was physically unable to do it anymore: he would pick a store, move the merchandise around on a particular end-cap display, and come back on Saturday to see what had sold. It was his own version of QMI, (Quick Market Intelligence), and what it signaled, to his employees, was his deep belief that no one, not even the boss, knows the brain of the customer better than the customer.
You already have rituals, whether they are conscious or unconscious, and these rituals-the things you do repeatedly-communicate to your people what is meaningful to you. If we followed you around for a week, we’d see them. Let’s say you have a meeting:
What time do you show up?
Are you five minutes early, or five minutes late?
What are you wearing?
Do you catch up with your team members about their personal lives or do you launch right into business?
Who talks first?
Do you allow your team members to speak, or do you cut them off?
Does the meeting go long?
Do you hold people back to finish things up?
These are all aspects of your rituals, and we, your team, see them, make sense of them, and draw our conclusions-whether you want us to or not. The question, then, isn’t whether you have rituals or not. The question is whether or not you are deliberate about what your rituals communicate.
THE THIRD LEVER = Through stories.
Chick-fil-A for example makes an art of its storytelling through the operator profiles during Seminar. The company dedicates time to going out to each operator’s store, taking photos, and learning about his or her family and community, precisely so it can share these stories with the rest of the company.
Many of the best leaders are story tellers, not in the sense of writing a novel or a screenplay, but because they cascade meaning through vignettes, anecdotes, or stories told at meetings, on email chains, or on phone calls. They are always telling these little stories, because the stories that they choose to tell convey what they value. Stories make sense of the world: they are meaning, made human. That’s why religions tell stories about their messiah and the creation of the earth, and include parables within those stories that help us learn what is meaningful. And that’s why you can tell a lot about what matters to a team by the stories that the team members tell themselves.You tell stories, whether you know it or not, and you’re telling them all the time, in every conversation and at every meeting.
What stories are you telling?
And what do they say about what you find meaningful?
As a leader, you are trying to unlock the judgment, the choices, the insight, and the creativity of your people. The way we go about this doesn’t make much sense. We cloister information in our planning systems, and we cascade directives in our goal-setting systems. Instead, we should unlock information through intelligence systems, and cascade meaning through our expressed values, rituals, and stories. We should let our people know what’s going on in the world, and which hill we’re trying to take, and then we should trust them to figure out how to make a contribution.
No they don’t. It’s exactly the opposite = People DON’T NEED FEEDBACK. This is again something worth to be discussed.I am 100% sure that everyone of you at least 1 time per year give a feedback at work (either to evaluate someone’s performance in the same team or to evaluate someone from another team ). A feedback is actually not something wrong at all, I don’t what to say that, but it should be given as something more like an opinion and not as a standard rule for people to improve their work. Or even worst, a feedback must not be a criteria for evaluation of someone’s performance at work or elsewhere.
But unfortunately in a lot of organization there is this bullshit called Target Agreement or A Yearly Evaluation of an employee, which is usually done by the team leader. Such criteria of evaluate somebody based on feedback must be completely eliminated. It’s not objective and It’s not important neither. People need Feedback??? Absolutely NOT. People need ATTENTION.
A feedback is just an opinion for someone which is taken at the moment of discussing about a certain topic, it’s doesn’t matter if it’s a negative feedback or it’s a positive feedback, for me it’s the same shit. But when someone pay attention to your actions that means something totally different. If you draw attention on you with something, this means you do a thing that people will surely need in the near future, and if they already look at you, and they like what you do, you may be advised to keep going and do better stuff. And for sure you will grow on long term. Instead a feedback is just a short impression given on a specific moment and soon after, doesn’t matter at all. Based only on feedback you will never grow and improve anything. So to go more deep to the point, if you want to understand this and if you want to see what’s the difference between “giving feedback” and “paying attention“, just keep reading this post, I will explain my point of view more in details.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a millennial in possession of a job must be in want of feedback. Actually, not just millennials. It goes without question that feedback for each and every one of us at work is a good thing, and that more feedback is an even better thing. As a result, today we are blessed with different types of feedback, such as:
and anonymous feedback,
And with all of these flavors and variants has emerged a cottage industry of classes to teach us both how to give this feedback and how to receive it with grace and equanimity. We seem certain that modern employees need, and indeed cannot but benefit from, a real-time, straight-up assessment of their performance, and an appraisal of where they stand in relation to their peers. Indeed, of all the things we “know for sure”, this is the one we know for surest. If there is any complaint in all this, at least on the evidence of recent innovations in HR technology, it’s that this feedback doesn’t happen nearly enough, so coming soon to a phone near you is an array of tools designed to enable you and your company to generate feedback at any time, on any person, about any and all aspects of his or her performance.
You, as the team leader, will be told that one of the most important and tricky parts of your job is to convey this feedback to your people, no matter how negative the reviews might be. Your job is to accelerate team performance, and it’ll be your responsibility to hold a mirror up to the performance of your people so they can see themselves as they really are, and see their performance as it truly is. This, you’ll be told, is the secret to both success and respect as a team leader – so much so, in fact, that this sort of direct, dear, unvarnished feedback has its own special name at work: it’s called candid feedback.
And this in turn means that you need to maintain a certain distance, lest you lose your objectivity and compromise your candor. Although you may sometimes wonder if people would give more and grow more if you showed that you genuinely cared about them, the refrain you’ll hear is that if you get too close to your team members you’ll never be able to give them the candid feedback they need. To aid your development as a leader, others will recommend to you the many books on how to have tough conversations, and will suggest you read from the growing pile of articles describing just how much Generation Y and millennials crave constant corrective feedback.
You’ll be taught phrases such as, “Is now a good time for me to give you some feedback?” And, “Would you care for some feedback?” And the slightly more assertive, “I have some feedback for you. Are you sitting down?” Having learned how to give feedback, you’ll also learn how to receive it through techniques such as mirroring (“Did I hear you say that I need to work on my ‘organizational savvy and politics’?”) and active listening (“Can you clarify what you mean by “hopelessly naive” and give me a couple of recent examples?”).
And of course, should you reject the feedback you receive from someone else because it feels odd, or confusing, or just plain wrong, you’ll be helped to understand that this feeling is just a natural reaction to threat, and that to grow as a person and as a leader you will need to “let go of your ego,” to “embrace your failures” and to always maintain a “growth mindset.” If you can re-frame all this feedback as valuable input to help you grow, then – you’ll be told – you’ll soon find yourself addicted to it. Seeing such enthusiasm for feedback, we might start to wonder what an entire company would look and feel like if everyone was giving everyone else reviews at every turn – if feedback were pervasive and continuous??.
A good alternative to this situation is to build such a company around a commitment to “radical transparency.” This means that, the way to be successful is to see and engage with the world as it truly is, no matter how positive or negative these realities are. No hierarchy or office politics should prevent anyone, no matter their level in the company, from challenging an assumption or interrogating a course of action. The real world is right there: it is what it is. We must face it with all of our intelligence unfettered, and we can’t allow our politeness or our fear of repercussion to prevent us from seeing what is there to be seen, and thereby changing it for the better.
Of course, people are part of this real world, and they too must be seen for who they really are, without filter, without delay. But for that, not only every meeting must be videotaped, archived, and made available for every person in the company to view in the company’s “Transparency Library” (radical transparency is total and without irony), but also each employee must be issued with an iPad loaded with a variety of apps for rating his or her fellow employees on a lot of attributes, such as “willingness to touch the nerve,”“conceptual thinking,” and “reliability.” Employees are expected to rate their peers after calls, meetings, and daily interactions, and all the resultant ratings are analyzed, permanently stored, and then displayed on a card that each employee carries with him or her at all times.
People leave teams, not companies. Therefore it’s a general established consensus that people needfeedback, and that the best companies and the most effective team leaders must figure out how to give it to them. In part, this consensus is a perfectly reasonable reaction to the absurd in frequency of traditional performance reviews. Because companies report their financial results annually, we have all become used to altering people’s compensation annually, and since many companies came to espouse “pay for performance,” it was inevitable that goals would be set annually, and performance reviews conducted annually, and therefore feedback given annually.
This cadence, though it worked for the financial folks, made little sense for either team leaders or members. Leaders felt burdened by the need to put everything into one set of goals at the beginning of the year and one set of laborious reviews at the end, while team members simply felt ignored. No one was served by this annual infrequency, yet there wasn’t much to be done about it – if we hated filling out one long set of forms at the beginning and the end of the year, nothing would be gained by upping the frequency of the form filling.
And then technology came to the rescue, as it were. With the creation of app-enabled smartphones, the subsequent near ubiquity of these phones, and then their integration with corporate IT infrastructure, companies gained the ability to give every employee the power to launch a survey to anyone in the employee census file, and collect, aggregate, and report the results. Today we can get feedback from anyone, on anyone, at any time, quickly and easily. But while this might explain why we are now able to give constant feedback, it doesn’t help us understand why we would so desperately want to.
Let’s say that one of your colleagues is late for an important meeting. As you sit in mild annoyance waiting for him to arrive, you create a little story in your mind that explains his tardiness as a result of his disorganization and lack of prioritization, and his lack of concern for all the people he’s keeping waiting. This sort of interpretation of others’ actions is so commonplace that it would be unremarkable, except for the fact that it contains a kernel of reasoning that’s demonstrably flawed, and that nevertheless has a huge impact on how we design our organizations. What we’re doing, in creating our little story, is coming up with an explanation – an attribution,if you like – for our colleagues’ actions, and those explanations, when they concern the people around us, overwhelmingly ascribe others’ behavior to their innate abilities and personality, not to the external circumstances they find themselves in.
In this case, your colleague is late because of his innate disorganization, for example, not because a senior leader grabbed him in the hallway to ask a pressing question. This tendency of ours to skew our explanations of other’s behavior (particularly negative behavior) toward stories about who they are is called the Fundamental Attribution Error. Show us someone doing something that annoys us, or inconveniences us, and we’re instantly certain that it’s because there’s something wrong with that person.
And the “Fundamental Attribution Error” has a cousin. While our stories of others center on who they are, we are much more generous to ourselves in our interpretation of our own actions. When it comes to our self-attributions, we skew the other way, and over-ascribe our behavior to the external situation around us, to what’s happeningto us. If we’re doing something that annoys someone else, then that person is annoyed only because he or she doesn’t understand the situation that’s forcing us to act that way. This tendency is called the Actor-Observer Bias, and it’s one of a number of human-reasoning biases that fall into a category called self-serving biases, because they serve to explain away our own actions in a way that props up our self-esteem.
These biases lead us to believe that your performance (whether good or bad) is due to who you are – your drive, or style, or effort, say which in turn leads us to the conclusion that if we want to get you to improve your performance we must give you feedback on who you are, so that you can increase your drive, refine your style, or redouble your efforts. To fix a performance problem we instinctively turn to giving you personal feedback, rather than looking at the external situation you were facing and addressing that. And by the way, if you think about it, much of the world of work is designed this way – it’s designed for Those Other People:
who need to be told what to do(hence planning instead of intelligence),
whose work needs aligning(hence goals over meaning and purpose),
and whose weaknesses put us all at risk(hence the deficit thinking, instead of the focus on distinctive abilities).
One of the inconvenient truths about humans is that we have poor theories of others, and these theories lead us, among other things, to design our working world to remedy or to insulate against failings that we see in others but don’t see in ourselves. Add to this the wonky logic that since success is achieved only through hard work, and since giving negative feedback, receiving negative feedback, and fixing mistakes are all hard work, therefore negative feedback causes success, and you can begin to see why our faith in feedback, and specifically negative feedback, is so firmly rooted – why we “know for sure” that feedback is helpful and that our colleagues need it.
But this just ain’t so. Let’s go back to where we began, with millennials. The various books and articles argue that millennials crave feedback in part because they are addicted to social media, and to the dopamine hit of one more Facebook “like,” or one more Instagram “love.” So let’s interpret a little bit this behavior as the result of millennials’ need to always know how they are perceived by others and where they stand. So, according to this reading, you’re in big trouble as a manager if you aren’t constantly attending to how they’re doing and telling them how to do it better. But if we look more closely – if we look at which features have become more popular on the various social media platforms, and at the details of how users choose to interact with these platforms – a different picture begins to emerge.
Consider, for example, the very different approaches taken by Facebook and Snapchat to providing for user feedback. A couple of years ago Facebook had been researching additional response emojis beyond the classic “like.” After much experimentation (and constant reassurances to its users that the company wasn’t going to launch a “dislike” button), Facebook announced the addition of six new emojis so that users could offer more-nuanced feedback to other user’s posts, the six finalists were: “love”,”haha”, “yay”, “wow”, “sad” and ” angry”
Yet soon after the launch, Facebook discovered that, despite the company’s careful research and testing, hardly anyone bothered with the new options. Snapchat, meanwhile, was growing, and then growing some more. Snapchat didn’t have six possible responses to a post – it didn’t even have one, in fact, because there was no Snapchat “like” button, and there isn’t to this day. Its appeal was precisely that on this new platform no one would rate you. The user just posts a story, or sends a friend a snap message; the friend responds or doesn’t; and then poof! – in 24 hours the story or snap is gone, permanently. If you talk to heavy users of Snapchat – and there are now over 200 million of them – you’ll discover that what’s attractive about Snapchat to millennials is precisely that they can go there, post there, and share there, all without feeling the pressure of feedback. They see the size of their audience. They keep their snap streaks alive with their friends.
But they never have to worry about feedback at all: there is no judgment, let alone any permanent record of judgment. Instead there is just the connection to a friend or an audience. For all of Snapchat’s early users this was a relief. Snapchat became one of the precious few places in their lives where they were free to be themselves and connect with each other without filters. The very absence of permanent feedback allowed them to be more casual, more at ease, and more real, and this safe, attentive place attracted them in the millions.
It is extraordinarily difficult to start a social-media platform and have it grow organically-users are busy and have established behavior patterns, and the power of the network effect to prevent those behaviors from changing is strong. Ning, Path, and latterly MySpace were all launched (in the case of MySpace. relaunched) with great fanfare, and all faltered because they didn’t tap into the essence of human nature purely and powerfully enough. Snapchat‘s chances of success were arguably slim, and yet, because it found an important missing ingredient in young people’s lives (a safe place filled with an admiring audience), it was able to find a path to exponential user growth. And then Facebook and Instagram, to their credit, got curious, listened and learned, and did whatever they could to make themselves more like Snapchat.
If the Snapchat example is any guide, it would seem that at root, social media is more about publishing – about positive self-presentation. It matters less to us whether this “self” is truly us, or whether, as many have observed, our online selves are aspirational projections, than it matters to us that others see us, and like us. We aren’t looking for feedback. We’re looking for an AUDIENCE, and all of us-not just millennials- seem drawn to places that provide us with a way to meet our audience and gain its approval. What we want from social media is not really feedback. It’s attention, and the lesson from the last decade is that social media is an attention economy – some users seeking it, some supplying it – not a feedback economy. And ironically, while the design of today’s social-media platforms reflects the fact that millennials are attracted most to environments without feedback, today’s companies point to these very same social-media platforms as their primary evidence for why millennials crave feedback.
The Snapchat growth story is only the most recent addition to a large body of evidence about the human need for uncritical attention. More recently, epidemiologists, psychometricians, and statisticians have shown that by far the best predictor of heart disease, depression, and suicide is loneliness – if you deprive us of the attention of others, we wither. The truth, then, is that people need attention-and when you give it to us in a safe and nonjudgmental environment, we will come and stay and play and work.
But it’s a bit more complicated than that, as it turns out, because feedback – even negative feedback – is still attention. And it’s possible to quantify the impact of negative attention, if you will, versus positive attention, versus no attention at all, and thereby better understand what sort of attention we most want at work.
In their ongoing study of engagement in the workplace, researchers at the Gallup Organization asked a representative sample of American workers whether their managers paid most attention to their strengths, to their weaknesses, or to neither, and they then asked a series of follow-up questions to measure how engaged each of these employees was. They then calculated the ratio of highly engaged employees to highly disengaged employees for each type of “attention.”
Their first finding told them, in effect, how to design the World’s Worst Manager.
To create pervasive disengagement, ignore your people. If you pay them no attention whatsoever-no positive feedback; no negative feedback; nothing – your team’s engagement will plummet, so much so that for every one engaged team member you will have twenty disengaged team members.
The second finding might, on its face, look like a pretty encouraging outcome. They found that negative feedback is forty times more effective, as a team leadership approach, than ignoring people.
For those employees whose leaders’ attention was focused on fixing their shortcomings, the ratio of engaged to disengaged was 2 to 1. But if we remember that “engagement” in this case is a precisely defined set of experiences that have been shown to lead to team performance; and if we recall that most of us have been taught that negative feedback is the best, and that most of us experience mainly negative feedback in our professional lives; and if we consider what the researchers found when they looked at positive attention, then this ratio of 2 to 1 becomes much more worrying.
The third finding was this: for those employees given mainly positive attention that is, attention to what they did best, and what was working most powerfully for them – the ratio of engaged to disengaged rose to 60 to 1.
Positive attention, in other words, is thirty times more powerful than negative attention in creating high performance on a team. So while we may occasionally have to help people get better at something that’s holding them back, if paying attention to what people can’t do is our default setting as team leaders, and if all our efforts are directed at giving and receiving negative feedback more often and more efficiently, then we’re leaving enormous potential on the table. As I said before people don’t need feedback. They need attention, and moreover, attention to what they do the best. And they become more engaged and therefore more productive when we give it to them.
So far, so good. We like positive attention, and it helps us do better work. But what about learning? If all we get is attention to our strengths, how will we ever develop? A team leader must surely want her team members to grow and get better, and won’t this necessitate that she spend most of her time pinpointing flaws and fixing them? Again, our informal theories of work-our “know for sure” theories – let us down. We seem to accept, on its face, the idea that “strengths” go at one end of the scale and “areas for improvement” or “areas of opportunity” go at the other, that areas of high performance are where we are most complete and areas of low performance are where we should, and can, grow.
PERFORMANCE AND DEVELOPMENT
The single most powerful predictor of both team performance and team engagement is the sense that “I have the chance to use my strengths every day at work.” Now, we tend to think of “performance” and “development” as two separate things, as though development or growth is something that exists outside of the present-day work. But development means nothing more than doing our work a little better each day, so increasing performance and creating growth are the same thing. A focus on strengths increases performance. Therefore, a focus on strengths is what creates growth. The best team leaders seem to know this. They reject the idea that the most important focus of their time is people’s shortcomings, realizing instead that, in the real world, each person’s strengths are in fact her areas of greatest opportunity for learning and growth; and that consequently, time and attention devoted to contributing to these strengths intelligently will yield exponential return now and in the future.
Some of these leaders know this instinctively – or perhaps they’ve figured it out from their experience with real humans on their teams – but for the rest of us there is a wealth of biological data to reinforce the truth that positive attention accelerates development.
Of course, we can all learn to do it right, or at least, righter. We can all learn to be slightly better at skills that we apply ourselves to with disciplined practice. However, what the brain science also reveals is that while the brain does continue to grow throughout life, each brain grows differently. Because of your genetic inheritance and the oddities of your early childhood environment, your brain’s wiring is utterly unique – no one has ever had a brain wired just like yours, and given the brain’s complexity, no one ever will.
Negative feedback doesn’t enable learning. It systematically inhibits it and is, neurologically speaking, how to create impairment. On the other side, positive, future-focused attention gives your brain access to more regions of itself and thus sets you up for greater learning.
We’re often told that the key to learning is to get out of our comfort zones, but this finding gives the lie to that particular chestnut – take us out of our comfort zones and our brains stop paying attention to anything other than surviving the experience. It’s clear that we learn most in our comfort zone, because that’s our strengths zone, where our neural pathways are most concentrated. It’s where we’re most open to possibility, and it’s where we are most creative and insightful.
If you want your people to learn more, pay attention to what’s working for them right now, and then build on that. The question is, how?How can you stimulate learning and growth within your team, steer clear of the negative feedback that sets your people back, and still ensure that your team is running smoothly and efficiently? There’s one thing you can start to do immediately: get into the conscious habit of looking for what’s going well for each of your team members. The pull to look at the negative is a very strong one.
In the world of computing, there’s an event called a high-priority interrupt. It tells the computer’s processor that something requires its immediate attention, and so it needs to “interrupt” normal processing and jump the particular something to the head of the processing queue. In the real world of team leaders you’ll have quite a few things that function in the same way – that grab your attention and force you to act. The majority of these high-priority interrupts are going to be problems, and that’s normal.
You don’t want to administer medicine to a patient if it’s the wrong medicine. You don’t want to present something to your executive if you’ve just received information that half of what you’re presenting is now obsolete. Any system or process that breaks down will demand that you, the team leader, address it. This is a high-priority interrupt doing what it should do: stopping everything to seize your attention.
And the same high-priority interrupts will occur when one of your people messes up. You’ll see something someone does wrong – a poorly handled call, a missed meeting, a project gone awry – and the same instinct will kick in: stop everything to tell that person what he did wrong, and what he needs to do to fix it.
The difficulty for you here is that people aren’t processes, nor are they machines – what works for processes and machines doesn’t work for men and women. Processes and machines are finite and static, and unless we change something about them, they either stay the same or gradually wear out. People, by contrast, are in a constant state of learning and growing, and, as we just saw, they grow the most under positive attention and the least under negative feedback.
Paradoxically, then, the more your high-priority interrupts involve catching your people doing things wrong (so you can fix them), the less productive each person will become in the short term, and the less growth you’ll see from your team members in the long run. Finding itself in negative-criticism territory, the human brain stiffens, tenses, and – in meaningful ways – “resists improvement”. Machines and processes don’t do that. You can fix a machine, you can fix a process, but you can’t never fix a person in the same way – people aren’t toasters.
So, when it comes to your people, what should be your high-priority interrupt? If what you want is improvement, then it should be whenever someone on your team does something that really works. The goal is to consciously spend your days alert for those times when someone on your team does something so easily and effectively that it rocks you, just a little, and then to find a way of telling that person what you just saw. This sounds as easy as “catch people doing things right,” but as we’ll see, there’s a little more to it than that.
Nowadays, recognition has become a synonym for praise, but in doing so has moved some way from its origins. Thus, to recognize a person, in essence, means to come to know him anew. Recognition, in its deepest sense, is to spot something valuable in a person and then to ask her about it, in an ongoing effort to learn who she is when she is at her best. The trick to doing this is not just to tell the person how well she’s performed, or how good she is, While simple praise is by no means a bad thing, it captures a moment in the past rather than creating the possibility of more such moments in the future. Instead, what you’ll want to do is to tell the person what you experienced when that moment of excellence caught your attention – your instantaneous reaction to what worked.
For a team member, nothing is more believable, and thus more powerful, than your sharing what you saw from her and how it made you feel. Or what it made you think. Or what it caused you to realize. Or how and where you will now rely on her. These are your reactions, and when you share them with specificity and with detail, you aren’t judging her or rating her or fixing her. You are simply reflecting to her the unique “dent” she just made in the world, as seen through one person’s eyes-yours. And precisely because it isn’t a judgment or a rating, but is instead a simple reaction, it is authoritative and beyond question. It’s also humble: when someone says to you “I want to know where I stand” she doesn’t actually mean this, and you, frankly, are in no position to tell her-you are not the ultimate and definitive source of truth for where she stands. Instead, what she means is “I want to know where I stand with you.”And happily, here your truth is unimpeachable.
With each replaying of these small moments of excellence, relayed through the lens of your own experience, you’ll ease her into the rest-and-digest state of mind, her brain will become more receptive to new information and will make connections to other inputs found in other regions of her brain, and she will learn and grow and get better. It is, in short, the best recognition she could ever receive. You are learning about her, and relaying that learning to her, and, as on the best teams, she knows that tomorrow you will be doing so again. On such rituals is great performance built.
The nature of your attention is key. If a team member screws something up, of course you have to deal with it. But remember that when you do, you’re merely remediating – and that remediating what’s wrong, so a mistake won’t happen again, moves you no closer to creating excellent performance.
If a nurse gives someone the wrong medication, ignoring that mistake could be lethal. So you can, of course, say to him, “Don’t ever do that again!” And you can, of course, design a process to ensure that the medicine is always triple-checked before being administered to a patient. But as you do this, know that if the nurse now consistently gives the correct medication to his patients, this does not mean he’s now giving excellent care leading to a faster and more complete recovery. Correcting the nurse’s mistake won’t lead to this, any more than correcting someone’s grammar will lead to her writing a beautiful poem, or telling someone the correct punchline to a joke will make this person funny. Excellence is not the opposite of failure: we can never create excellent performances by only fixing poor ones. Mistake fixing is just a tool to prevent failure.
To conjure excellence from your team requires a different focus for your attention. If you see somebody doing something that really works, stopping them and replaying it to them isn’t only a high-priority interrupt, it is arguably your highest-priority interrupt. Get into this habit and you’ll be far more likely to lead a high-performing team.
All that being said, however, there will inevitably come a day when, despite your best intentions and careful highlight flagging, one of your people will implore you to give him negative feedback or corrective action. Tell me what I’m doing wrong, he’ll say. Or he’ll say that he finds himself stuck in the middle of a difficult situation, or is struggling with his job and is turning to you for advice on how to move forward. What do you do? To begin with, try to resist the powerful temptation to jump in with your very best advice.* (*And the irony that I am here advising you not to give advice has not escaped me)
So that’s why I say feedback is not necessary, instead paying attention as a enormous effect.Stop doing those extremely subjective employee evaluation each year, which are always based on some sort of feedbacks absolutely irrelevant. Giving a feedback and conclude on the performance of someone only on that, and creating some new targets for the next evaluation also based on the previous feedback it won’t bring you any added-value. Almost all such target agreements have no real metrics as criteria for evaluation so it won’t motivate your employee at all. He will not learn anything, on the contrary he will be worried not to reach the target for the next evaluation and he will immediately start thinking to find another job. This is very inefficient human resources management.If you want to improve and grow your business then pay attention and give recognition to your employee. Just STOP GIVING FEEDBACK.
Whaaat??? A Balance??? No it isn’t. I repeat what I’ve already said couple of times in my previous posts: Work is something people don’t want to do, but they still do it anyway because the system is made so to keep us wired and to be forced to work. There are exceptions of course but a massive amount of earth human population is working for the monthly pay check and they are ready to compromise everything and everybody they love just to work on something they hate.
When I was a kid I had nothing but my childhood and a lot of free time to spend with my friends and do whatever I loved. Now I afford almost everything I want, but I don’t have the time to spend with my friends and to do whatever I love. Why? What happened? Well…After finishing my studies I had to start my adult life and to start doing what all adults do: TO WORK. And I had to work hard many times on something that I didn’t really like. Exactly like me are billions of people on this planet. At one point in your career you could find your WHY by understanding the purpose of your work, and start working on something you love and of course make money out of it. But to say that in general “Work-Life balance matters most” is of course nothing but a big veritable LIE. How the hell can you balance something you hate, with your life?
Do this test!!. Get out, go for a walk in your city-center and stop randomly people on the street and ask them if they love their jobs. Do this!! Let’s say by asking 100 people. And collect all the answers, you will see that I am right. People could hate their jobs for different reasons, but one of them is for sure also that they don’t really enjoy it. They do it anyway because they HAVE TO. But to find a balance with that, is like trying to match a circle in a square both having the same size (diameter = length). It will never fit.
Work is hard. Every day, you feel the stress of performing, of delivering against your goals and objectives, of earning enough to support your family, of learning how to advocate in just the right way to advance your career and thereby earn more. And always, hanging over your head, is the threat of change as your company shifts its focus, outsources your role, or finds a particularly smart machine that can do your job better, faster, and cheaper. And then there are the other people you have to work with – an ever changing cast of characters, some of whom work across the hall, others of whom work across the world, whose collaboration you seek, but whose motives and methods remain mysterious. The commute doesn’t help neither, I am talking from my own experience, I did that too 🙂 : the daily battle with your fellow strivers on trains, planes, and freeways, everyone rushing in and rushing out, dogging the arteries of your city, raising your stress level. Forty-five minutes, an hour, ninety minutes each way – or a two – hour flight if you work for one of the big consultancies and have to show up at the client site – all just so you can begin your daily race of life-at-work. On the way home you steal a brief moment or two to decompress, and then, once home, you have a quick dinner with the family before dragging out the phone again for the evening volley of e-mails and texts, hoping to catch one last request so that it won’t need immediate action before your shower in the morning.
Work – our experience teaches us – is toil; a stressor, a drainer of our energy – and if we are not careful, it can lead to physical exhaustion, emotional emptiness, depression, and burnout. It’s a transaction– we sell our time and our talent so that we can earn enough money to buy the things we love, and to provide for those we love. Indeed, the term we use for the money we earn in this transaction is compensation, the same word we use for what we get when we’re injured or wronged in the eyes of the law. Our wages are not just money, then: they are money to make up for the inherent badness of work- A BRIBE, if you will, to tough it out.
Work is even a distraction from work. When we need to get something important done, we recognize that it will be hard to do unless we can somehow make our escape from the daily grind, and so we go on a leadership retreat to get away from the noise and stress of work, to better focus on other work. And because the effects of work are so potentially toxic, the obvious and sensible precaution to take, so that we don’t all expire at our desks, is to balance it out with something else, with something better. With life.
We lose ourselves in work, and rediscover ourselves in life.
We survive work, but live life. When work empties us out, life fills us back up.
When work depletes us, life restores us.
The answer to the problem of work, the world seems to say, is to “balance” it with life. Of course, we are simplifying things here. Some people succeed in finding great satisfaction in their work, while others have hugely stressful lives outside of work. We know, too, that some jobs seem to be inherently difficult, or even inherently boring. No one’s work, or life, is ever completely joyous, or completely controllable. Yet still, the assumption that pervades our working world is that “work is bad” and “life is good” and therefore work-life balance mattersmost.“Does the company support work-life balance?” is right up there with “What’s the company culture like?” in the list of questions candidates inevitably ask during the interviewing process – which explains why, in these tight labor markets, companies highlight their on-site: dry-cleaning, banking, and child-care services, their quiet rooms, in-chair massages, sleep pods, and luxury shuttle buses. These perks are tremendously well intended and are often highly valued by employees – and at the same time are rooted in the idea that work is a heavy weight on the scales, and that the enlightened organization is one that does everything it can to lessen that weight, and thereby tip the scales back toward life. Good intentions aside, the problems with all this begin with the concept of balance – and it’s a concept with a long history.
You’ve striven for it, haven’t you? You’ve tried to find that delicate “balance” between the needs of yourself, your family, your friends, your work colleagues, your boss, and your community. You’re aware that each of these constituencies places different and often conflicting demands on you, and you’ve struggled to give due attention to each one, satisfying their differing needs while still attending to your own. You’ve sat on a conference call in the car-pool line and mouthed “Sorry!!” to the kids in the back. You’ve rationalized a missed President’s Day outing with the family because, well, it’s a Monday, your other team members appear to be online, and besides, President’s Day isn’t a proper holiday anyway, not really. You’ve taken on a “stretch” assignment because it might – just might!-come with a raise, or at least a bonus, and so enable you to afford a better house for your family. But because you now have more work to do, and more resting on it, you’ve found that you can’t attend that school-board meeting, or your cousin’s wedding, or that online management course, because life is about trade-offs and this one is yours. You’ve found yourself spinning plates, or juggling balls, or plugging gaps-whatever the metaphor, you’ve known too often the feeling of too many requests from too many quarters and not enough hours in the day. You’ve told yourself that if you can just keep the plates spinning, the balls in the air, the gaps plugged, then perhaps you can parcel out your attention and energy so that no one, in your work or your life, will feel too neglected – so that, although you can’t be all things to all people, your unflagging efforts will at least achieve some sort of equitable distribution.
But in the real world does anyone, anywhere, man or woman, young or old, affluent or barely solvent, ever actually find balance? If any have, I haven’t met them yet. And this is why balance is more bane than benefit. In practice, striving for it feels like triage, like trying to erect some sort of barricade against the endless encroachments on our time and the relentless ratcheting of expectations to work more, all while worrying that someone else has figured out how to do this better than we have. Obviously, triage can be necessary in life, but it surely is not enough – it keeps things at bay, but it takes us away from ourselves. And in the end, balance is an unachievable goal anyway, because it asks us to aim for momentary stasis in a world that is ever changing. Supposing we ever get things just exactly in balance, we know for sure that something will come along and unbalance them and that we’ll be back to pushing our balance rock up the hill again. So what then should we do? Work can be hard. So can life. And there’s too much of both, too much of the time. If balancing everything out isn’t the answer, then what is?
Your life is the most important gift you have. All what you need to do is to stay healthy,enjoy the life and do something you love, money is then another subset of life. You are not wealthy if you have money, you are wealthy if you are healthy. Therefore we need a new way of thinking. About work. About life. Neither you nor your life are in balance, nor will you ever be. Instead you are a unique creature who takes inputs from the world, metabolizes them in some way, produces something useful, and does so in such a way that you can keep doing it. At least, you are when you’re healthy, when you’re at your best, when you are contributing all that your talents allow you to. When you’re flourishing you are acting on the world and it on you. Your world offers up to you raw material-activities, situations, outcomes – in all parts of your life, and some of this raw material invigorates you and gives you energy.
You are at your healthiest when you find this particular kind of raw material, draw it in, allow it to feed you, and use it to contribute something-and when that contribution actually seems to leave you with more energy, not less. This state, not balance, is what we should strive for. You want to find love in what you do. However, the moment you start thinking this to yourself, you almost immediately dismiss it as sappy or unrealistic. Watch any famous commencement address on YouTube, or take a long lunch with a mentor, and it’s almost guaranteed that at some point you’ll hear the advice to “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life again.” And when you hear that, your heart sinks. On the one hand, the thought seems to make perfect sense – wouldn’t it be great if we could all do what we love?
But on the other side, it seems, in this day and age, to be something of a luxury, it invites the response that it’s all very well for you, lucky person, to have made your way doing what you love, but for the rest of us work is very much a requirement, and love is just an added and rare-bonus. Linger on it for a moment, though. We’re going to take a longer look at love. Therefore I would just like to share the truth that-more than striving for balance between work and life love-in-work matters most.
Because love-specifically, the skill of finding love in what you do, rather than simply “doing what you love” – leads us directly to a place that is the epitome of pragmatism. On the face of it, though, organizations don’t appear greatly concerned with love. Southwest Airlines can stick a heart on its planes, and Facebook can claim that its mission is to “ship love,” but in these two cases, as in most others, the love refers to the customers, not the employees. It doesn’t matter which industry are you in, the first thing you as company owner must do is to LOVE YOUR EMPLOYEES, only the second love your customers. Unfortunately, most organizations are much more worried about the meaty stuff: performance, goals, achievement, discipline, execution, and rigor. Get all this done, meet all the deadlines with the necessary levels of quality, and maybe then you can sprinkle a little dusting of love on it at the end. If this is your view of your organization, then you – and it, if it shares this view – are missing the mark. Because the truth is that even the most hard-nosed, performance-oriented organizations desperately want you to find great love in what you do. They just don’t call it like that.
Have you ever been deeply in love? Cast your mind back to when that was – when you were so in love with someone that you couldn’t wait to see that person, when time flew by quickly when you were together, and when, after parting, you ached to see your love again. When you’re in love, you’re a different person. Looking at the world through the rosy lens of love, everyone seems wonderful, people are beautiful, the world is happy and kind, and spring is in the air. Love lifts you up. It elevates you to a new plane, where you’re at your most productive, creative, generous, resilient, innovative, collaborative, open, and powerful. When you’re in love, you are simply magnificent.
Look at those adjectives again: productive, creative, generous, resilient, innovative, collaborative, open, powerful. Not only are they a pretty good description of how you hope to be in your life, or how your spouse or family wants you to be, but they’re also, surely, the exact qualities your organization’s CEO is looking for in every team member. Put the list of you-in-love qualities next to your CEO’s list of ideal-employee-at-work qualities and you’ll see that the list is the same. But you don’t get to feel any of these things by writing them down, just as your organization won’t create any of these in you merely by discussing them with you in a training class. You – and your organization – get them only if you create them, and you create them only through love. Most organizations shy away from the word love, preferring more business-appropriate terms such as committed or motivated or discretionary effort. But in the real world we have to engage with what really is, not some watered-down version of how we’d like people to be or to feel. If we want our people to flourish, if we want them to be creative and intrigued and generous and resilient, then we’ve got to help them find what they love to do.
There’s love in work, and we should use the word. We should be curious about how each of us can find it. We should honor the truth that our organization can never find it for us, can never define it for us. For too long we’ve allowed our organizations to appropriate human words – such as: love, passion, excitement, thrill – and persuade themselves that, by invoking these words, they’ve created genuine human feelings. They haven’t, and they never will. The organization is a fiction, an “inter-subjective reality,” and it’s simply not real enough or human enough to know which activities at work you love. Only you can know that. Only you are dose enough to yourself to know where you find love and where you don’t.
Organizations are not powerless, but their power (and their name) comes from their ability to organize what is already there in plain view. Your organization, if it is careless, can crush your spirit, can diminish or ignore it. But only you can animate it. Only you can bring love into your world at work. And when you do, all sorts of good things happen. The big question, then, is how to make this happen?. Whether we call it love-in-work or anything else, the fact remains that work is called work for a reason, and your work is not only busy and sometimes repetitive but – more to the point – is not always of your own making. You have a particular job, in which certain outcomes are expected, and your responsibilities are what they are. What’s love got to do with that?
So, here’s a way to remove the problem – here’s how to intentionally and responsibly weave love into your work. Think about the most successful person you know. Not in terms of money, necessarily, but in terms of her contributions to her team, and her organization – someone enormously productive, creative, resilient, and seemingly at one with her work. More than likely, as you think of this person, you’re thinking she got lucky. “How,” you’re asking yourself, “did she find that role?,how did she find that work?, how did she find that life? I wish I could find something that fits me as well as her work fits her.”
If you are indeed thinking this, then first, good for you for recognizing something special and precious, and second, you’ve landed on the wrong verb. This person didn’t find this work – she didn’t happen upon it, fully-formed and waiting for her. Instead, she made it. She took a generic job, with a generic job description, and then, within that job, she took her loves seriously, and gradually, little by little and a lot over time, she turned the best of her job into most of her job. Not the entirety of it, maybe, but certainly an awful lot of it, until it became a manifestation of who she is. She tweaked and tweaked the role until, in all the most important ways, it came to resemble her – it became an expression of her. You can do the same.
Think of these activities as your “red threads.” Your work is made up of many activities, many threads, but some of them feel as though they’re made of particularly powerful material. These red threads are the activities you love, and your challenge is to pinpoint them so you can ensure that, next week, you’ll be able to recreate them, refine them, and add to them. You are weaving red threads into the fabric of your work, one thread at a time. Now, you do not have to end up with an entirely red quilt.
The researchers found that when the physicians spent more than 20 percent of their time on activities they loved, there was no corresponding reduction in burnout risk. The 20 percent number was a threshold, which is to say that a little love goes an awfully long way: when you can deliberately weave your red threads throughout the fabric of your work you’ll feel stronger, perform better, and bounce back faster. These red threads are your strengths. Typically we think of our strengths as what we’re good at and our weaknesses as what we’re bad at, and that our team leaders, or our colleagues, are therefore the best judges of both. But this is not the best definition of either strengths or weaknesses. A strength is any activity that strengthens you, and a weakness is any activity that weakens you, even if you’re good at it.
“Performance” is what you have done well or poorly, and your team leader can be the judge of that. Team leaders and colleagues, however, can’t judge what strengthens or weakens you. If you spend a week in love with your work and realize that you love finding patterns in data, then your team leader can legitimately tell you, in regard to your performance, “Well, you’re not explaining the patterns well enough,” or “Well, you’re not finding patterns that are useful,” or, “You’re not putting them on a PowerPoint slide properly.” Your team leader can say all these things. But what he cannot say is, “No, you don’t love finding patterns in data,” He can’t say that your red thread isn’t a red thread. You are the one and only judge of that.
And don’t imagine that your teammates in the same role as you share the same red threads as you. They don’t. You have a unique relationship with the world, a relationship that reveals to you things that only you can see. It offers thread-weaving opportunities all the time, but the only person who knows if those threads are red is YOU. The world won’t do your weaving for you – it doesn’t care about your red threads. The only person who can stop and be attentive enough to identify these threads, and weave them intelligently into the fabric of your work, is you. You’re often told, by the way, to “take ownership of your career.” This is what it actually means – it means taking ownership of the weaving of your red threads.
This is true not only in your work life but in your life in general. Despite how it might feel a lot of the time, you do not have many different compartments of your life, each of which must be carefully balanced. Instead, you have one life, one whole cloth, one fabric for you to weave your red threads into. It’s up to you to know what you love about work, what you love about hobbies, what you love about friends, and what you love about family, and those things will be different from everyone else’s things. So when people say, “Well, as a father/friend/colleague I think you should do this or that,” remember that they do not know you, like you know you, that they are well intended yet blind. Your world has an n of 1, and that 1 is YOU.
Should you work fifteen hours a day?
Should you have three kids before the age of thirty?
Should you devote all your time to your career until you can afford the day care you will need?
Should you take six weeks of vacation a year, or none?
Should you quit your job and go surfing or van-ing?
These are all choices that only you can make, and the only way to make them wisely is to honor the truth that your life will give you strength, if you can but pay attention to your emotional reactions to the events and activities and responsibilities you choose to fill it with. Based on this assumption you can make a list of “Love It” things.
And what of the list of “Loathed It” things? Obviously these are your fraying, weak threads, and your aim is to incorporate as few of them as possible in your life’s fabric – either by stopping these activities altogether, by partnering with someone to get them done as painlessly as possible, or by seeing if, in being combined with an activity you love (by being braided with one of your red threads), they can become less draining for you.
When you start to think about your life in this way, you’ll quickly realize not only that “balance” is an unhelpful idea but that we have the categories wrong. What we all wrestle with every day in the real world is not so much work and life as it is love and loathe. Watch for your red threads. Take them seriously. They are light, they are strong, they are true, and they are yours. And when you feel run down, or burned out, or at risk, or that everything is coming apart at the seams, ding to them tightly. They will hold fast until you have the strength to begin weaving something new. This new thing you make, this new idea, or project, or job, or relationship, or life, will not necessarily be balanced as others see it. It will not necessarily be a life that others would have made or would even approve of. Nor will it necessarily be easy. But it will be yours. It will be crafted from sources of strength felt only by you, and so it will be strong. It will flourish. It will not wither, and neither will you. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if work were for love – if the point of work were to discover that which each of us loves? Obviously, today we don’t think of it that way. We think of it as a transaction: you get things done, and then we pay you to buy things you love. But what if we flipped that all around? What if we made the purpose of work to help people discover that which they love.
For example if we changed the American Management Association slogan from “Get work done through people” to “Get people donethrough work?” We’d fail, of course, because people are complicated, and so is work, and so is life. And besides, no person is ever “done.” But what if we made the attempt the entire point of work: To teach our kids and our college graduates, our workers young and old, our people in the second decade of their first career and our people in the first year of their third career, how to use the raw material of work to find their very own red threads and then to take responsibility for weaving them into something fine and strong?
But if you build technical craft on a loveless foundation, you net only burnout, because technical mastery absent love always equals burnout. Burnout isn’t the absence of balance but the absence of love.The power of human nature is that each human’s nature is unique. This is a feature, not a bug. So your responsibility is to take seriously the uniqueness of your uniqueness, and design the most intelligent, the most honest, and the most effective ways to volunteer it to the rest of us. We – your teammates, your family, your community, your company – are waiting for you to share with us your unique loves. We’re here for but a few short years. Please don’t make us wait too long.
First of all let me say it exactly how it is. Of course this is another big fat lie about work. The general truth is exactly the opposite = People DO NOT care for which company they work for. In fact, people in general don’t give a shit on that.
AUDI, BMW, TOYOTA, MICROSOFT, GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, DAIMLER, TESLA, NASA, APPLE, SAMSUNG, SONY, PANASONIC, LG, INTEL, HONDA, AIRBUS, SIEMENS, BOSCH, DASSAULT SYSTEMS, EXXON MOBIL, CONTINENTAL,BOEING – just to name some of the most known and hunted companies worldwide which people want to have a job at. Of course, the list of “wanted companies” is much longer but who cares so much?. Having a job in a place where you work because you “have to”, but not because you “want to”, then you are no different than the slaves from some centuries ago. You are in fact still a slave but a kind of optimized one for the modern times. Therefore most people are wired, they work 9a.m. to 5p.m. all their career. Some literally really die working.
In exceptional cases, it is also true that it may be challenging to work at such companies for a certain goal, but then means you know WHY you do what you do. If you succeed to make money from your job done by passion then yes, you may care a bit of one of those companies. You must have a goal and that goal must be beyond money. Money will surely come after, no doubt. I don’t want to extend it in this post but take the well known example of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. They both had a goal, they both knew WHY they do what they do. And the rest is history; those 2 guys created a huge impact on the human lifestyle on Earth. They both were dedicated and worked for passion. There is now not the case to say how much money did they make. So yes, If you know your WHY then yep, you could care. Unfortunately the majority of people don’t know their WHY.
If I would ask all the people at those companies why do they work there, I am pretty sure that the majority of them won’t be able to give me solid arguments for that. Most people work purely to have a kind of financial stability and eventually other benefits. That’s all. Nobody cares about the rest.
“We are a family”, “ All for one and one for all”“Together we change the world”“We make the best products for the everyone”, “The … (“company X”) way”, and all kind of such combination of slogans are just empty words. Ooo…Just give me a break… as long as that company whatever that company could be, if it doesn’t have a strong strategy to create such a culture and valuate its people to simply inspire them to work for pleasure first and for money second, that company will not survive long or it will survive based on an continuous staff turnover which is the same boring thing. They will loose money anyway. People just come, they will work for a while and they will leave as soon as new opportunity arises. Companies are exactly like money. They come and go – I mean they have value one day but they can vanish the other day. Look at NOKIA. Do you know what I mean? :-), unfortunately they lost the battle forever. They will never return and compete against Samsung or Apple.
You can only truly care for which company you work for, if that company is entirely or almost entirely yours. Bill Gates cares about Microsoft (at least he did for very long time), Elon Musk cares for Tesla and Space X, Mark Zurckerberg cares for Facebook, Steve Jobs cared about Apple and so on. Of course those people cared, because they were in a good position in the company to do so, additionally they were passioned about it. But as I said, in general people don’t. On the contrary, nowadays it is quite common that people change their jobs at every 3 or 4 years. Some even earlier. So once again why should anybody care about the company they work for?. This the sad or maybe a good conclusion that I can draw during my years on the job market. Let me explain a bit more in details below.
From the outside looking in, it’s pretty hard to figure out what it might be like to work for a particular company. If you’re job hunting, you might start by searching online as many of us do – perhaps on Glassdoor.com or on one of the other job boards where employees can rate their current company – even on LinkedIn or Moster.com – or by talking to friends about where they’ve worked and what their experiences were. You might try to talk to a recruiter, although it’s tricky to do that if you’re not yet sure you’re going to apply. You might try to figure it out by reading the coverage of a company in the press, but this can be frustrating, since articles tend to focus more on a company’s products or its strategy, rather than on its culture per se. Wherever you look, you’ll find yourself wondering if what you’re discovering is really representative of the company, and is giving you a good sense of the inside story. In search of more objectivity and breadth, then, you might turn to Fortune magazine’s annual ranking of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.
If you are indeed looking for a job, you read Fortune’s list in search of insights about a given company. And you start asking your self the following:
What will your colleagues be like?
How will they treat you?
What will a typical day be like?
Will your work be interesting, challenging, and valued?
Is this a company that really cares for its people?
Ifyou go through the long process of applying, and interviewing, and negotiating an offer, and ultimately landing a job there:
Will this be a company that puts as much into you and your career as you’re going to put into it?
What, precisely, is this list measuring about these companies?
Read the submissions, the press releases, and Fortune’s own descriptions of the winners, and the word you land on is culture.
Judging by these considerations, this thing called culture really matters. It is potentially more important than what the company does, how the company does it, how much the employees get paid, or even the company’s current stock price. Culture matters, according to the voluminous literature on the topic, because it has 3 powerful contributions to make.
CONTRIBUTION Nr. 1 = it tells you who you are at work. If you’re at Patagonia, you’d rather be surfing. You work in beautiful Oxnard, California, and your on-boarding consists of a day-long beach party where you are gifted the CEO’s autobiography – Let My People Go Surfing – and where your first meeting takes place around a campfire. If you’re at Goldman Sachs, then never mind the surfing – you’d rather be winning. You wear your bespoke suit every day because you’re a winner. It means something to say that you work for Deloitte, or for Apple, or for Audi, or for Tesla – and this meaning says something about you, something that locates you and differentiates you, that defines your tribe.
CONTRIBUTION Nr. 2 = culture has come to be how we choose to explain success. When Tesla’s stock was on the rise in the early part of 2017, it wasn’t because people were finally getting the electric cars they’ d paid deposits for a year earlier – they weren’t. Rather, it was because Elon Musk had created a culture of cool, a place where you couldn’t even see the cutting edge because it was so far behind you. When Toyota had to recall over six million vehicles, the direct cause was a problem with the shift – lever assembly, but the deeper explanation I arrived at was that it was a problem with their polite yet win-at-all costs culture.
CONTRIBUTION Nr. 3 = culture is now a watchword for where we want our company to go: almost overnight, a big part of the job description of senior corporate leaders has become to create a specific sort of culture, a culture of “performance” perhaps, or a culture of “feedback” or a culture of “inclusion” or a culture of “innovation”; to shape the direction of the company they lead by infusing it with particular traits that govern how people behave. Beyond explaining the NOW, culture has become our handle on the NEXT.
As a team leader you are going to be told, repeatedly, that you must take stock of all this because you are responsible for embodying your company’s culture, and for building a team that adheres to these cultural norms. You will be asked to select only applicants who fit the culture, to identify high-potentials by whether or not they embody the company culture, to run your meetings in a way that fits the culture, and, at company off-sites, to don the T-shirts and sing the songs.
All of which is fine, right up to the point where you start to wonder what, precisely, you are being held accountable for. Read the Fortune list again and you’ll be struck by the fact that a very small percentage of what’s written about your company is in your job description. Having an on-site day-care facility, giving all employees 20 percent of their time to pursue their own interests, offering large rewards for referring a new hire, and building solar panels on the roof are all admirable initiatives, yet none of them is within your control. They are commitments made by others – the executive committee or the board – and while you may think them worthy, and may indeed be proud that they are something your tribe contributes to the world, you can’t do anything about them. They are off in some other place, far from the day-to-day projects and deadlines, the ongoing actions and interactions, that actually comprise your world of work. When people ask you what it’s “really like” to work at your company, you immediately know you’re going to tell them not about the solar panels and the cafeteria, but about what it’s really like. So you’ll get real, and talk about:
how work is parceled out,
whether many managers play favorites,
how disputes get resolved,
whether the real meeting happens only after the formal meeting is over,
how people get promoted,
how territorial the teams are,
how large the power distance is between senior leaders and everyone else,
whether good news or bad news travels fastest,
how much recognition there is, and
whether performance or politics is most prized.
You’ll get down to the two-foot level of how work actually gets done, and try to tease out what your company truly feels like to the people on the ground. You won’t know whether to call this “culture” or not, just as you won’t necessarily know how to label each of these two-foot-level details, but in every fiber of your being you’ll know that this ground-level stuff is what will decide how hard people will work once they’ve joined, and how long they’ll stay. This ground-Level stuff is what THEY truly care about. Indeed, this ground-Level stuff is what YOUtruly care about. In which case, your most pressing question, as a team leader, will be something like this:
If I am to help my team give their best, for as long as possible, which of these details are most critical? Tell me the most important ones, and I’ll do my level best to pay attention to those.
Therefore saying that “people do care which company they work for” it’s a lie, it sounds so odd to label it like that, since each of us does indeed feel some sort of connection to our company, but read on, and I think you’ll see that while what each of us truly cares about may begin as “company” it quickly morphs into something else rather different. So far during my professional career I have just noticed and I still keep noticing, 8 aspects of the employee experience that exist disproportionately on the highest-performing teams. These 8 aspects, and exactly these 8 precisely worded items, validly predict sustained team performance:
I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.
At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.
In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values.
I have the chance to use my strengths every day at work.
My teammates have my back.
I know I will be recognized for excellent work.
I have great confidence in my company’s future.
In my work, I am always challenged to grow.
You might notice a few things about these items right away. 1ST = the team members are not directly rating their team leader or their company on anything – they are rating only their own feelings and experiences. This is because people are horribly unreliable raters of other people. When we ask someone to rate someone else on an abstract quality such as “empathy” or “vision” or “strategic thinking”, their responses tell us more about the person doing the rating than the person being rated. To get good data we have to ask people about their own experiences.
2ND = you may also notice that the 8 items fall into two broad groupings. The first is the odd-numbered items:
1. I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.
3. In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values.
5. My teammates have my back.
7. I have great confidence in my company’s future.
These deal with the elements of a “person’s experience” created in their back-and-forth interactions with others on the team-the communal experience of work, if you will. What do we all share, as a team or as a company? We can think of these as the “Best of We” questions.
The second group comprises the even-numbered items:
2. At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.
4. I have the chance to use my strengths every day at work.
6. I know I will be recognized for excellent work.
8. In my work, I am always challenged to grow.
These deal instead with the individual experience of work. What is unique about me?What is valuable about me?Do I feel challenged to grow? I can think of these as the “Best of Me” questions.
These two categories of experience – We experiences and Me experiences – are the things we need at work in order to thrive. They are specific; they are reliably measured; they are personal; they reveal a local individual experience intertwined with a local collective experience. They are everyday.
What I see in the 8 questions above and the 11 skills as shown below is a simple way of measuring experience-at-work, and one that you, the team leader, can do something about.
What distinguishes the best team leaders from the rest is their ability to meet these two categories of needs for the people on their teams. What we, as team members, want from you, our team leader, is firstly that you make us feel part of something bigger, that you show us how what we are doing together is important and meaningful; and secondly, that you make us feel that you can see us, and connect to us, and care about us, and challenge us, in a way that recognizes who we are as individuals. We ask you to give us this sense of universality – all of us together – and at the same time to recognize our own uniqueness; to magnify what we all share, and to lift up what is special about each of us. When you come to excel as a leader of a team it will be because you’ve successfully integrated the two quite distinct human needs (Me Experience +We Experience)
I now know that these 8 questions measure very precisely those aspects of our experience of work that matter the most-in other words, the aspects that drive performance, voluntary turnover, lost work days, accidents on the job, and customer satisfaction. So, if it is true that in large part people’s experience at work is driven by the company they work for, then when if I ask these 8 questions to every person in every team at a particular company, I should get, generally, the same responses. There shouldn’t be variation from team to team, because the day-to-day experience of working at this particular company should remain mostly consistent. But that’s not the case- in fact, it’s never the case. The statistical measure of variation is called range, and these scores always have a greater range within a company than between companies. Experience varies more within a company than between companies. When people choose not to work somewhere, the somewhere isn’t a company, it’s a team.
If I put you in a good team at a bad company, you’ll tend to hang around, but if I put you in a bad team at a good company, you won’t be there for long. The team is the sun, the moon, and the stars of your experience at work. When I push on the data, and examine closely its patterns and variations, I can conclude that: while people might care which company they join, they don’t care which company they work for. The truth is that, once there, people care which team they’re on.
If the team has the same goal, share the same vision and the team leader creates a culture so that all people working in that team are like a true family – I mean the team members behave one to each other not only as colleagues at work but also real friends in their daily life – then YES. You might care. And such exceptions exist inside those companies which I’ve just mentioned at the beginning of this post. But unfortunately this just a minority. People still quit their jobs from those companies, and they are a lot. But at least one thing remain valuable forever: THE WORK EXPERIENCEat those companies.
There are also a lot of people who after quitting theirs jobs at a company, after a while they return for pursuing another visionary project. But that can also happen everywhere in any company. It doesn’t have to be a famous brand, it’s is enough to be innovative and for sure it will attract people. Few years ago and maybe today too such a company was/is Microsoft, (many people would like to have jobs at Microsoft). But now is Google more wanted than Microsoft, because Google really has a lot of innovative projects and they continue to do innovate even more. So people could care to work there, but this can change rapidly depending on how innovative the company is. Look at Apple vs. Samsung, few years ago Apple dominated the smartphone industry, Samsung was good but not the best. Today Samsung is really one of the best in the world for what they do; from my point of view they already have beaten Apple. So for such company YES, I could care a little bit to work for. But this are just exceptions from the rule. So the general truth is the PEOPLE DON’T GIVE A SHIT ON THE COMPANIES WHICH THEY ARE WORKING FOR. Why???
I will always believe that : Due to unskilled people which hold a leadership position in those companies. INCOMPETENCE IN MANAGEMENT IS THE ROOT CAUSE TO FAIL IN ANY BUSINESS.
I must admit that after working in industry for some years and seeing how companies work I can perfectly understand why many of them fail in business, some are failing dramatically. Or let’s say they literally go bankrupt. Why ? well… that’s very oblivious for me, I have no doubt that it’s due to huge incompetence in management and very poor sense of leadership. Well incompetence in management = poor sense of leadership in fact I said the same thing twice because this is the only reason not to be successful in business. I want to highlight this. So the first lie about I will talk about here is about “having potential”. Most of the managers judge people like that. But not only the high level managers, but also al kind of job in higher hierarchy from team leader to CEO. Most of them have this sick judgement by saying: “People have potential” therefore “we must find those with big potential”. My dear friends in management positions, if you have this mentality you, can very friendly go to hell and never come back. I would never accept to have one of you having this attitude as my manager. Keep reading this post and you’ll see what I mean.
In order to begin let me tell you ”The story of Joe”.
“Joe’s an entrepreneurial sort. In the early days of the internet, he founded a pioneering yellow-pages company that integrated directory listings with mapping technology and managed to secure backing from a venture-capital firm. The investors came in and, as is the practice of such firms, evaluated all the existing executives on their potential for guiding the future of the company. Sadly for Joe, they decided that he didn’t have much of it. He had never displayed leadership in his high school or college life, he wasn’t class president or captain of the lacrosse team, and now, looking at his current work and style, they determined that he lacked the potential to set the future vision and to build the right team around him. They demoted him to head programmer, and brought in a professional executive to run the company. Joe didn’t shine in this new role either. He had some software skills, but they were unpredictable, resulting in a mess of spaghetti code that other, more experienced developers had to pull apart and de-tangle. In fact, so messy were his creations that the entire code base of the company’s product had to be rewritten. Everyone agreed that although Joe clearly had drive, he would never become one of the company’s leading software engineers. He just didn’t have enough potential. Becoming increasingly frustrated with his diminished position, and sensing that the investors didn’t see much of a future for him, Joe waited for the company to be acquired and then left to start his own financial services company. Here, he did what he’d always done – worked hard, pushed hard, challenged everything – and his new company grew large enough that an even bigger player swooped in and bought it from him. The leaders of this new company, too, were unimpressed with his potential – or confused by it, or something – so he left once more, this time to see whether he could do interesting work in the fields of mechanical and electrical engineering. The jury is still out on his new ventures, and real profits have yet to show up on the books, but with him at the helm, his companies currently employ hundreds of people and are making truly innovative products. If he hadn’t done what he did, these jobs wouldn’t exist, and neither would the products. And in this sense, Joe is exactly what we want a team leader to be: a person who makes the most of his unique strengths and thereby creates a better future for all of us. Joe’s experience is relevant here because this post is all about the future. Specifically, it’s about your future, and the future of everyone on your team – and about all the Joes out there in teams large and small, who are misunderstood by their companies, mislabeled, mismanaged, and, in the end, missed altogether.”
Just for a moment, think of all the people on your team. Bring to mind each of their faces and names. Imagine and ask yourself:
What they’re working on now?
What they thrive at doing?
What they struggle with?
and what they aspire to?
And now, if you can, answer this: Which one of them has the greatest potential?
Sooner or later in your time as a team leader, you’ll be asked this exact question and told to plot your response on the potentialaxis of your 9-box grid. And as you ponder your answer, you’ll pretty quickly run into some challenges. You might be quite clear that Jack is doing really well in his job today, but find yourself unsure of whether that means he has potential. And you might be equally certain that Jill is also doing well, but at the same time realize that her job is very different from Jack’s job. If one of them has potential, does the other?
If, as seems to be implied, potential is some sort of universal quality, then:
how should you gauge it in two different people doing two different jobs?
and what if Jill is in fact struggling in her current role?
You might start to ask yourself whether current performance is the same as future potential or merely a clue to it, or whether, alarmingly, the two are not related at all. Perhaps you’ll think to yourself that Jill might have, hidden somewhere within her, the potential to do really well at something else. You might not ponder this for long, though, because if (like Joe) she seems to lack potential in one role, and then subsequently another, it will be quite hard to convince yourself that she does indeed have potential for an entirely different role. If she’s struggling now, then won’t she struggle wherever she goes?
Even if she isn’t struggling, if she is in fact one of your current high performers, she nonetheless wants to be challenged to grow, so you’ll be forced to start thinking about other jobs on other teams, jobs she might do equally well – or even better. And when she starts asking you about her future – as she surely will – you’ll quickly find yourself peering out into the fog. Since you’re not nearly as familiar with those other jobs on those other teams as you are with those on your own team, how can you truly know if she has the potential to excel elsewhere?
As a good team leader, you have a pretty clear sense of her present performance – what’s in front of you right now – but being asked to weigh her potential requires you to project out into a world you know much less about. This can be quite intimidating, not least because you’re aware that how you weigh Jill’s potential – specifically, how you rate it – will more than likely stick to her for a long time. If you rate her highly, then the received wisdom, passed on to your fellow team leaders, will be that she is now a “high potential,” or “hi-po” and she will carry this quality around with her wherever she goes. She will get more attention from these other team leaders, be given more opportunities, more training, more investment, and if ever her performance falters, more benefit of the doubt.
On the flip side, you realize that if you rate her poorly on potential, she’ll become a proverbial “lo-po,” which will be a tough label to shake off, no matter how hard she tries. Your rating of her on potential, or more accurately, your guess about how much value she will bring to the company in the future, will, in all sorts of real ways, create her future. That’s a lot of responsibility for you to bear.
Jill, meanwhile, perhaps aware that there’s another talent review in the offing, is wondering whether she’ll make the “hi-po” list. Like you, she isn’t sure what potential is, or what a high potential is. She’s just trying to do good work every day. She knows that potential is dearly a good thing to possess – it comes with all sorts of goodies and perks – but, at heart, what she really wants to know is whether she’s doing well enough in her job right now, and where her career is going next. If your rating of her on potential helps her career, then wonderful – but if it doesn’t, or if being branded a “lo-po” makes getting help with her future less likely, then she’s going to be frustrated. There’s a great deal at stake for her here. At some point, she will ask you what you rated her, and then you’ll somehow have to justify your decision. And this will be super tricky, since, in the back of your mind, you’ll know that you weren’t so very dear what potential was in the first place, nor what dues might point you to it, nor what scale you should have used to rate her on it.
But that’s a worry for later. Right now you’ll look around and see that other team leaders on other teams seem able to announce confidently who has potential on each of their teams, so you’ll put Jill’s inevitable questions out of mind, pull out your 9-box grid, and do your best to do right by her. And her future.
Of course, you can’t really blame your company for putting you into this sort of high-pressure situation. Assigning a “potential” rating to each employee is a product of some very good and necessary intentions. Your company is a maximization machine – it wants to make the best use of its finite resources – so it is greatly interested in identifying precisely who to invest in, and how.
The problem with this sterns from the way your company executes on these good intentions. Why, for example, does it assume that it will net a good return only from certain people? Surely, the cliche that “Our people are our greatest asset” applies to all of the people in the company. As we’ve seen, every human brain retains its ability to learn and grow throughout adulthood. For sure, each brain grows at a different speed and in a different way, but this implies only that each person learns differently, not that – categorically – some people do and some don’t. Therefore, the best course of action for any maximization machine worth its salt would be to figure out where and how each brain can grow the most, rather than zeroing in on only a select few brains and casting aside the others. But sadly, somewhere along the line, companies by and large recoiled from this natural diversity, seeing it as simply too varied and too individualized to make sense of, and decided instead that the most pragmatic approach would be to invent a generic quality called “potential” rate every person on it, and then invest most in those who have lots of it, and much less in those who don’t. The lie that people have potentialis a product of organization’s desire for control, and their impatience with individual differences. When you think about it for a moment, the notion of a generic quality called “potential” is actually pretty odd. Look around you and you’ll find hundreds of different definitions, but there’s no need to look any further than Harvard Business Review’s very own:
“High potentials consistently and significantly outperform their peer groups in a variety of settings and circumstances. While achieving these superior levels of performance, they exhibit behaviors that reflect their companies’ culture and values in an exemplary manner. Moreover, they show a strong capacity to grow and succeed throughout their careers within an organization – more quickly and effectively than their peer groups do”
This seems like an eminently desirable quality. Who wouldn’t want people who “outperform their peer groups,” not just in their current role but “in a variety of settings”; who, in addition to performing with excellence, also “reflect their companies’ culture and values”; and who, all the while, show “a strong capacity to grow”? We all would, of course-high-performing, culture-embodying people blessed with oodles of learning agility and lashings of successitude are the stuff of every team leader’s dreams. And yet, this definition almost immediately rings hollow for you.
First, there’s the feeling that, although you might want such a person in your team, you don’t recognize yourself in the definition. When you think about yourself at your best, you land on specific activities you love, or skills at which you shine-whereas in contrast, this definition appears strangely vague, untethered from any actual work.
And then there’s the part of the description that seems to imply that you can excel anywhere, at virtually anything, “in a variety of settings and circumstances.” Not only is this unlikely, but more to the point, who among us actually aspires to this sort of Jack-of-all-trades-ness? If we were to have this quality it would imply, surely, that we were not unique and distinct, but instead were empty learning vessels, blank slates waiting for our settings and circumstances to define us, adept at learning, but featureless. How depressing.
Beyond the disquieting emptiness of this definition, the most damaging inference is that this quality called “potential” is inherent in a person, and that people bring it with them from situation to situation: that no matter what “setting or circumstance” they encounter, those people with lots of it are blessed with a special power enabling them to learn faster, grow more, and achieve more. High potential is the corporate equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket: you take it with you wherever you go, and it grants you powers and access denied to the rest of us. The distinction between traits, which are inherent in a person, and states are changeable in the person. Using this framing, potential is clearly something we think of as a trait – it is inherent in the person, some people have more of it than others, and those who do take it everywhere with them (Although we might question why, if it’s a trait and doesn’t therefore change much, we re-rate people on it every year)
Assuming just for the moment that potential actually is a trait, the first problem we encounter is how to measure it. As we saw earlier, if we want to measure a trait, we can’t ask someone to rate you on it, because it’s impossible for any rater to be either perceptive enough or objective enough to reach into your psyche and assign a number to what they see inside you. And in the case of potential, the measurement challenge is orders of magnitude more difficult, since we are asking the rater to rate you not on a trait displayed in your current behavior but on a projection, a probability that you possess something that might just possibly be displayed in some future situation. It’s flat-out impossible for the rater to do this reliably, so whatever data he produces about you will be the very worst kind of bad data. Yet this data will, as we saw with Jill, create the future. But:
Is there even anything here to measure-is potential a thing at all?
Do we really think that there exists in people a trait that confers on some lucky few the ability to grow more and learn more regardless of setting or circumstance?
That we could throw this hi-po into any situation and his potential would enable him to adapt, and then thrive?
That this general potential will act like a turbocharger, and take any inputs from the world of work and boost them into outstanding performance?
If we do think this, then we do so in the complete absence of any evidence. Over the last hundred years we’ve wondered whether there was such a thing as general intelligence – the elusive G factor – and discovered that if it exists, we can’t find it. Sure, we can build a test that reliably measures a thing called IQ, but we don’t actually know much about what IQ is – it doesn’t seem to independently predict educational success, career achievement, health, or happiness.” It’s just a score on a test. The best this test can do, it appears, is tell us that, if your test score is very low, you probably have cognitive impairment and will therefore have difficulty learning. So it works as a predictor of problems but not as a predictor or descriptor of flourishing. Likewise, evidence for the existence of general potential is nonexistent. Instead the evidence points in exactly the opposite direction. We know that each person’s brain grows by adding more synaptic connections, that each person’s synaptic pattern is unique, and that therefore each person’s brain grows uniquely. Therefore we know:
a) that the ability to learn exists in us all
b) that it shows up differently in each of us, and
c) that while we can all get better at anything, none of us will ever be able to rewire our brains to excel at everything. More simply, we can all get better, and we will all get better at different things, in different ways, and at different speed
So there is no such thing as “having potential”. Or rather, there is, but it doesn’t mean anything. Or rather, it doesn’t mean anything beyond being a human. To say that you have potential means simply that you have the capacity to learn, and grow, and get better, like every other human. Unfortunately, this won’t reveal anything about precisely where you can learn, and grow, and get better, or how, or how fast, or under what conditions. Potential, like being human, doesn’t tell us anything about what particular human you are, or what direction would be best for your sort of human in the future. And, of course, if having potential is just being a human, then we can’t rate you on it. We can’t split our company up into hi-po’s and lo-po’s, any more than we can rate you on your human-ness and give the most stuff to those who are most human and the least to those are who least human. This sort of apartheid does terrible things to a company. The careless and unreliable labeling of some folks as hi-po’s and others as lo-po’s is deeply immoral. It explicitly stamps large numbers of people with a “less than” branding, derived not from a measure of current performance but from a rater’s hopelessly unreliable rating of a thing that isn’t a thing. And then this rating of a thing-that-isn’t-a-thing opens doors for some, confers prestige on some, elevates some, blesses some, and sets them up for a brighter future, all while relegating others to a status less than human. How explicitly awful. It is also unproductive. The maximization machine should make the most of every single human within it, not just a rarefied subset.
This notion that some people have lots of potential, while others don’t, leads us to miss the gloriously weird possibilities lying hidden in each and every team member, even the ones who, at first blush, seem to have little to offer the team’s future. If we have in our head a preconceived notion-even, as in the case of the Harvard Business Review definition, a detailed description-of what a hi-po should do, feel like, and act like, then we will cease to be curious about the many possible futures of each idiosyncratic person in our team.
This, certainly, is what happened to Joe’s employers. They had a set idea of what a high-potential CEO should look like, and what a high-potential software engineer should look like, and neither of them looked like Joe. They stopped looking at Joe, became impatient with him, diminished his role, eased him off to the sidelines, and were more than happy when he decided that his most interesting and challenging work lay elsewhere. And that’s a shame for them, because Joe is a pseudonym.
His real name is Elon. That yellow-pages company was acquired by Compaq for $307 million. The financial-services company, X.com, became better known as PayPal and sold to eBay for $15 billion. At which point you may say, “Yes, but have you seen what he’s done lately?” and reference his fining by the SEC, his joint-puffing on a podcast, and any number of other transgressions that may have occurred from the time of our writing to the time of your reading. And my reply would be, “Yes, but have you seen what he’s done lately?” 🙂 and we’d reference his reinvention of the automobile industry, his re-invigoration of the space industry, and his counter-intuitive alarm-sounding of the dangers of AI. As the New York Times put it immediately after the 2018 SEC action against Musk was concluded, “The Future of Electric Cars Is Brighter with Elon Musk in It.” Yes, he is the spikiest sort of leader, given to impulsive and imperfect actions, but to dismiss his potential is to miss pretty much everything meaningful about him. He may be a handful, and intemperate in his tweeting, but if Elon Musk wasn’t a high potential, then it’s time to admit that the concept serves no purpose.
Yet still you are going to be asked by your company to rate people on their potential, and by your team members to guide them toward ever-more-challenging work. So what on earth do you do?How can you honor your company’s need to get the most from each person, and yet not segregate your team into artificial and demeaning categories, such as hi-po’s and lo-po’s?
In the world of physics, there’s a name for the discrete, measurable, definable, and directional thing that is produced when mass and velocity combine. It’s called momentum. In the world of teams and team members, the same applies. By keeping these two ideas about someone – mass and velocity separate,and by using momentum to describe their combination, we suddenly enable you, the team leader, to do all manner of useful things to help your team members.
First, you reject the apartheid of potential, where everyone is separated into hi-po and lo-po. “Do you or don’t you have potential?” is a question that exists to serve the (well-meaning but misguided) company. But it’s not helpful to you as a team leader, and it’s completely uninteresting and unhelpful to your team members. Because they know it’s not a matter of whether they can learn and grow, but how, and how efficiently, and in what direction. Only certain people have “potential”; everyone has momentum. One team member’s might be more powerful than another’s, or speedier than another’s, or pointed in a different direction, but everyone has some. The question isn’t whether you inherently possess a lot of it or not. Instead, when it comes to momentum, the question is how much of it you have at this very moment, right now.
Second, you convey to them something real: namely, that the speed and trajectory of their momentum at this very moment are
c) within her control.
When you talk to your team member (let’s call him Jeff) about his momentum, you help him to understand where he is at this moment in time, not so that he can be catalogued and categorized and put into one box instead of another, but so that he can understand what paths are possible next. His career is moving on a particular trajectory at a particular speed, and he – with your help – can take the measure of his accomplishments, his loves and loathes, his skills and knowledge, and see where he can accelerate, or shift the path slightly, or even attempt a great leap. Where potential is assumed to be a fixed, inherent quality – he’s a hi-po or a lo-po – momentum is, by definition, always in a state of change. And if Jeff wants to speed it up, or alter its direction, he can.
Third, you help him identify which parts of his current career are a function of who he is as a person-parts he will therefore likely bring with him, situation to situation-and which parts are entirely situation-dependent, and which he could change if he so chose. Given how dose we all are to our own performance, and given that we are sometimes misguided in our career desires, this kind of subtle and specific insight could very well prevent his from making an ill-advised career move. Finally, understanding Jeff’s career in terms of momentum doesn’t just benefit him. It frees you, as his team leader, from the awful burden of having to determine him entire future based on a fiction.
It’s not true – or, indeed, useful – to think that people have potential. Instead, the truth is that people have momentum. Potential is a one-sided evaluation. Momentum is an ongoing conversation. In a world of “potential,” it’s hard to imagine what, exactly, a career conversation looks like once your employee has been shunted off into the lo-po dungeon. Momentum, on the other hand, represents the opposite of “up-or-out” thinking. And it’s the best concept to address one of the key survey items that measure engagement and performance: “In my work, I am always challenged to grow.” Potential doesn’t do that – it doesn’t challenge you to grow. It tells you that you either will, or you won’t. Addressing their potential makes people feel like they’ve been dealt with. Addressing their momentum makes them feel understood. More important, it helps them understand themselves, by encouraging them to consider where they are, right now-not as a point of stasis, but as a unique human being moving purposefully through the world.
Our people tools and processes can never compensate for bad team leaders. We like to think so-we figure that, even if your team leader is ignoring you, at least your crowd-sourced feedback will tell you how you’re doing; or that, even if your team leader never asks about your career, at least the talent review will give you something to go on.
But aside from the flaws that we’ve already seen with these and other common approaches, any large-scale system can never hope to replicate the very particular and specific attention that a team leader can offer. Again, teams are where we live, and team leaders can make or break that experience for us. And rather than investing in systems and processes to provide a fallback in case our managers are found wanting, it’s far better to invest in helping our team leaders do what we need them to, by:
) getting rid of ratings of “potential,”
) teaching team leaders what we know about human growth, and
) prompting them to discuss careers with their people in terms of momentum-in terms of who each team member is, and in terms of how fast each is moving through the world.
This is harder, of course, than buying the latest piece of enterprise software and then imploring our people to use it, but it’s the right hard thing to do. This is what I also do and I will always do it.
Dit gebeurt meestal wanneer je baas uit een andere cultuur komt dan jouwe en duidelijk hij denkt dat wat in zijn land van herkomst werkt, werk ook in het nieuwe land waar hij verhuisd is. Daarnaast gebeurt ook wanneer je baas geen internationale leidende ervaring heeft en natuurlijk hij spreekt niet de taal van jouw land. Dit is precies het geval voor een expat-baas. Zoals heb ik al gesproken in een van mijn vorige berichten. In dit geval hij is volkomen nutteloos.
Dus, hoe varieert leiderschap tussen culturen? Hoewel alle culturen – inclusief kleine en middelgrote bedrijven, Fortune 100 bedrijven en naties – worden beter gediend door leiders met meer in plaats van minder integriteit, competentie en mensenvaardigheden. Op een meer gedetailleerd niveau, sommige verschillen in leiderschapsstijl zullen iemand ook effectiever maken als leider. Het klassieke kader om deze stilistische verschillen te begrijpen, is het cultuurmodel van sociaal psycholoog Geert Hofstede. Dit model identificeerde vier belangrijke aspecten van culturele verschillen in werkgerelateerd gedrag, waaronder leiderschap. Deze aspecten zijn :
Laten we ze een voor een nemen.
Culturen verschillen in hun mate van dominantie met dominante culturen die assertieve, overmoedige en autoritaire leiders omhelzen. Zoals we zouden verwachten deze dimensie van cultuur wordt geassocieerd met sterkere voorkeuren voor mannelijke leiders en meer weerstand tegen vrouwelijke leiders. Bovendien, hoog-dominante culturen zullen minder ontvankelijk zijn voor mannelijke leiders die zich op een meer consultatieve, koesterende, empathische manier gedragen met duidelijke implicaties voor genderdiversiteit. Dominante culturen zullen er geen probleem mee hebben alleen door mannen geleid te worden en verwachten dat die mannen zich stereotype mannelijk gedragen. Voorbeelden van nationale culturen met een hoge dominantie zijn onder meer Mexico, Japan en Nigeria. Landen met een lage dominantie zijn Zweden, IJsland en Noorwegen. Industriesectoren die worden gekenmerkt door dominante culturen zijn onder meer bankieren, wet, het leger, terwijl de industrieën met een lage dominantie omvatten onderwijs publieke relaties en nonprofits.
Culturen verschillen ook in hun niveau van comfort met spontaniteit en improvisatie. Spontane culturen omhelzen onzekerheid. Ze hoeven niet alles te plannen en ze kunnen functioneren zonder een duidelijke set regels of goed gedefinieerde processen. Om in deze culturen te slagen, moeten leiders zeer aanpasbare en bekwame improvisatoren zijn. In tegenstelling,culturen zonder spontaniteit zullen daarentegen regelgebonden zijn en een duidelijke set regels opleggen aan zowel werknemers als leiders, die de neiging hebben onzekerheid en ongemak te ervaren wanneer dit nodig is om onafhankelijk beslissingen te nemen. Voorbeelden van spontane nationale culturen zijn Argentinië en Brazilië. Landen met meer voorzichtige culturen zijn Singapore en Japan. Over het algemeen zullen culturen met een hoge spontaniteit mannelijke leiders bevoordelen, omdat mannen minder consciëntieus, georganiseerd en risicomijdend dan vrouwen zijn.
Zoals de alledaagse betekenis van het woord aangeeft individualistische culturen belonen onafhankelijke acties en hebben de neiging om de prestaties van individuen te vieren in plaats van teams. In dergelijke culturen zullen de grenzen tussen in-groepen en uit-groepen relatief los zijn en leiders zullen worden geprezen om hun non-conformiteit en originaliteit. Opvallen, een wenselijk doel voor zowel werknemers als leiders is over het algemeen een nadeel voor groepsactiviteit. Zoals we zouden verwachten, mensen streven vaker naar leiderschap in individualistische culturen, omdat leiderschap op zichzelf wordt beschouwd als een manier om zich te onderscheiden van de menigte. Omgekeerd collectivistische culturen richten zich op team in plaats van individuele prestaties en hebben sterkere voorkeuren voor leiders die ingehouden en bescheiden zijn. leaders in individualistic. Leiders in individualistisch culturen krijgen meer ruimte om beslissingen met één hand te nemen en hebben procedurele macht terwijl collectivistische culturen zullen genieten van consensuele en democratische besluitvorming. Voorbeelden van individualistische landen zijn de Verenigde Staten, het Verenigd Koninkrijk en Australia; Collectivistische landen zijn onder meer China, Zuid-Korea en Indonesië. Individualisme is een prominent cultureel principe in het bankwezen en de academische wereld terwijl collectivisme vaker voorkomt in het leger en in de beroepspraktijksport – In het algemeen zullen individualistische culturen ten goede komen aan mannelijke leiders, omdat vrouwen over het algemeen meer teamgericht en collectivistisch zijn, zowel als werknemers als als leiders.
Culturen verschillen ook in hun acceptatie van rang. In het bijzonder, rang-gerichte culturen beschouwen grote machtsverschillen tussen individuen als natuurlijk en accepteer dat bepaalde mensen altijd beter af zullen zijn dan anderen. Wanneer leiders in dergelijke culturen opduiken, ze zullen meer privileges en autoriteit krijgen. In dergelijke culturen, sociale en economische ongelijkheden zullen groter zijn en ondergeschikten zullen dat doen eerder een leider accepteren op basis van zijn of haar sociale status dan op talenten. Op dezelfde manier ondergeschikten in dergelijke culturen aarzelen over het algemeen om hun leiders te bekritiseren, dus de leiders zullen zelden profiteren van opwaartse feedback of opbouwende kritiek van degenen die aan hen rapporteren.In tegenstelling , culturen met een lage rangoriëntatie zullen egalitair en meritocratischer zijn. Ze zullen meer bereid zijn om genderdiversiteit te accepteren en leiders – misschien zelfs te kiezen – van buitenaf te tolereren de status quo. Voorbeelden van status-accepterende nationale culturen zijn China, Indië en Nigeria. Landen die natuurlijke rangverschillen verwerpen, zijn onder meer Nederland, Duitsland (hier ben ik niet zeker van) en Denemarken. Hoge rangsectoren omvatten het leger, overheidsdiensten en gezondheidszorg en industrieën met een lage status omvatten media, inclusief entertainment en de tech startup wereld. Omdat culturen met een hoge status de neiging hebben om traditie en de status quo te omhelzen, het zal over het algemeen moeilijker zijn voor vrouwen om leiders te worden in dergelijke culturen.
Tenslotte, als organisaties de formule voor effectief leiderschap op het meest gedetailleerde niveau willen kraken, ze kunnen veilig de bredere categorieën van cultuur, zoals land, sector en zelfs bedrijfspraktijken, negeren en hoogpresterende leiders binnen gewenste rollen benchmarken. Ervan uitgaande dat een organisatie genoeg voorbeelden van, en gegevens uit het verleden over goed presterende en slecht presterende leiders heeft, het kan ontdekken wat een goede (en slechte) leider in een bepaalde rol maakt. Wat misschien in het verleden heeft gewerkt, is natuurlijk niet zo noodzakelijkerwijs werken in de toekomst. Maar organisaties hebben de neiging de impact van verandering te vergroten en geobsedeerd te zijn door veranderende omstandigheden. Deze houding leidt groepen er vaak van af de basis goed te krijgen of wordt een excuus om het niet eens te proberen.
De basis goed krijgen
Als de formule voor leiderschapspotentieel niet zo complex is en de essentie van leiderschapstalent bijna universeel is, Waarom kunnen niet, meer organisaties het goed krijgen? Om het goed te krijgen en de kwaliteit van hun leiders te verbeteren organisaties/bedrijven moeten vijf veelgemaakte fouten aanpakken in hoe zij leiderschap zien. Zoals getoond in onderstaande tabel.
Zoals de tabel laat zien, organisaties definiëren een leider vaak als de verantwoordelijke persoon of in een formele positie van macht. Gebaseerd op mijn internationale ervaring tot nu toe, Ik kan bevestigen dat dergelijke metaliteit in de meeste Duitse bedrijven bestaat.
Maar op feiten gebaseerde aanpak visie van een leider is dat van iemand die in staat is een groep op één lijn te brengen bij het nastreven van een gemeenschappelijk doel. Overeenkomstig sommige mensen bevinden zich misschien niet in een positie van autoriteit maar kan fungeren als leiders door mensen aan te moedigen samen te werken als een gecoördineerde eenheid. Eveneens, sommige personen die formeel de leiding hebben, opereren mogelijk niet als leiders of hebben weinig talent voor het vormen van een winnend team. Dit conflict tussen ware vaardigheid en een leiderschapsopdracht ontstaat vaak wanneer werknemers worden beloond met een leidende rol vanwege hun prestaties in het verleden als individuele bijdragers. Onder deze omstandigheden leiderschap is meer een symbolische titel of erkenning voor eerdere inspanningen dan een echte bron voor het team of de organisatie.
Zoals vermeld in de tabel, het belangrijkste doel van een goede leider is niet om de top van een groep of organisatie te bereiken maar om het team te helpen zijn rivalen te verslaan. Hoewel dit doel duidelijk is voor professionele sporten die een duidelijke set regels en doelstellingen hebben en waarvan je de prestaties met objectiviteit kunt beoordelen dit doel is niet zo duidelijk in de meeste organisaties/bedrijven.
Bijgevolg, organisaties gaan er vaak van uit dat het carrièresucces van een leider zijn of haar prestaties weerspiegelt – hoe hoger een leider, hoe getalenteerder de persoon moet zijn. Om het talent van leiders te beoordelen, we moeten objectief rekening houden met de prestaties van hun teams. Een objectieve beoordeling kan echter worden verward door een gebrek aan vergelijkende gevallen het bestaan van verwaarde factoren, of gewoon lawaaierige of onvoldoende gegevens. Maar ondanks deze uitdagingen organisaties moeten nog steeds proberen de teamprestaties te beoordelen. Als dat niet lukt, kunnen we teammoreel als een goede proxy beschouwen omdat het zowel een oorzaak als een gevolg van hogere teamprestaties is en omdat teams weten hoe hun leiders zich gedragen. Bovendien, het doel van ondergeschikten is niet om hun leiders te helpen meer persoonlijk succes te bereiken; ze willen een gemeenschappelijk doel nastreven, die de leider moet faciliteren. Duidelijk de eigenschappen van de leider die dit gemeenschappelijke doel nastreven, zijn geen zelfvertrouwen of charisma maar eerder competentie en integriteit.
Dus, wanneer het team of een deel van het team middelmatig of heel slecht presteert de verantwoordelijke hiervoor is de leider, maar niet zijn ondergeschikte. Wanneer bedrijven de leider vragen om de prestaties van zijn teamleden te evalueren de leider moet zich ervan bewust zijn dat in feite slechte teamprestaties zijn fout zijn. Boven dit, nadat de leider zijn team evalueert het is heel constructief dat het team ook de leider evalueren kan. De evaluatie feedback moet wederzijds zijn. Helaas wordt een dergelijke aanpak in veel bedrijven vermeden en de leider wordt nooit geëvalueerd door zijn groep werknemers of teamleden. Het is eigenlijk een soort dictatuur, aangezien dat veel werknemers over het algemeen gewoon bang zijn om hun leider te bekritiseren. En veel leiders zijn van mening dat ze het voordeel mogen halen om hoger in hiërarchie te staan en ze kunnen wat dan ook de hel ze willen. Ze maken een grote fout in dit geval en de bussines kunt ernstig worden beïnvloed. Arrogant zijn kan meer schade aanrichten dan alleen wat winst verliezen door bijvoorbeeld lage verkopen. Een van de belangrijkste redenen waarom zoveel mensen van baan veranderen, is ook te wijten aan een baas die een klootzak is. Mensen verlaten het bedrijf niet, ze verlaten hun giftige baas.
Let’s see why Design Thinking is much more important than any other criteria in the development of new products. And this is applicable in any kind of product you create. Considering my experience in engineering, I will take in this case: the engineering approach. I am working in automotive industry for some years and now after seeing how businesses in this area run, I can conclude, that the “Change by Design” is the main requirement mandatory to create successful businesses. Whatever you design the first thing you need in order to start is “DESIGN THINKING”. To say it differently –in automotive industry – you need skilled mechanical design engineers who are able to develop your product from the concept idea to serial production. This is not the only type of engineers you need, of course you need also electronics engineers, software engineers, material science engineers, manufacturing engineer and eventually ”quality engineers”. I say the word “eventually” for quality engineers on purpose. Because this category of engineers are not necessary .If the other category of engineers as I just mentioned , do their job correct, quality engineers are something additional and not necessary. If those engineers (mechanical, electronics, software, material science and manufacturing) have a strong design thinking at the end you don’t need any quality engineer at all. What you need is maybe just a sort of technician in quality who supervise the outcome from the production line and gives feedback to designers and the other engineers involved. I have come to this conclusion acting myself as quality engineer after having a extensive experience as design engineer. There is a huge difference, in quality you cannot innovate anything if you don’t have previous experience in other engineering fields. As quality engineer you just follow some rules and apply some tools to track the problem you have usually on production line. Those tools in Quality such as: Ishikawa Diagram, 8D-Reports, a lot of ISO standards including ISO 9001/ISO TS 16949, 7STEP, VDA Norms, and a lot of other internal quality norms -all are there just to be followed. Therefore a regular quality engineer just follow those norms but unfortunately many quality guys are just there to get their monthly salaries, the are useless because they are unskilled. Not to say anything in addition about the Managers in Quality, those in big majority are even more useless. Exceptions in such cases are very rare. One of them is me :-):-)/… just kidding … but honestly I really see the quality assurance like that and I will use my experience as designer to improve the quality too, but unfortunately not all Quality Engineers have the same thinking.
Engineering in Quality??? There is something that indeed companies must pay attention. Of course you need this, because is the last gate from your product development stage to the customer yard. If quality is not good, for sure you will not sell anything. But if the design is bad since the beginning of your product development you can not have quality at the end neither.
Therefore every manager in industry must understand that „Design Thinking“ is vital. If you have unskilled design engineers, you can have the best quality engineers in the world, you will never succeed. A quality engineer doesn’t improve anything, he just reports the failure but in many cares has no idea about the corrective measure and why is that better. But on the other side the information provided by the quality engineer can be helpful for a designer to understand better the consequences of a bad design. Therefore, a quality engineer may be creative only if he work closely with the designer and find solution together. „Design Thinking“ approach should be the ability that all engineers in a company must have, including the quality guys.
In contrast to the champions of scientific management at the beginning of the last century, design thinkers know that there is no “one best way” to move through the process. There are useful starting points and helpful landmarks along the way, but the continuum of innovation is best thought of as a system of overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps. We can think of them as :
inspiration = the problem or opportunity that motivates the search for solutions
ideation = the process of generating, developing, and testing ideas
implementation = the path that leads from the project room to the market
Projects may loop back through these spaces more than once as the team refines its ideas and explores new directions. The reason for the iterative, nonlinear nature of the journey is not that design thinkers are disorganized or undisciplined but that design thinking is fundamentally an exploratory process; done right, it will invariably make unexpected discoveries along the way, and it would be foolish not to find out where they lead. Often these discoveries can be integrated into the ongoing process without disruption. At other times the discovery will motivate the team to revisit some of its most basic assumptions.
While testing a prototype, for instance, consumers may provide us with insights that point to a more interesting, more promising and potentially more profitable market opening up in front of us. Insights of this sort should inspire us to refine or rethink our assumptions rather than press onward in adherence to an original plan. To borrow the language of the computer industry, this approach should be seen not as a system reset but as a meaningful upgrade. The risk of such an iterative approach is that it appears to extend the time it takes to get an idea to market, but this is often a shortsighted perception. To the contrary, a team that understands what is happening will not feel bound to take the next logical step along an ultimately unproductive path.
I have seen many projects killed by management because it became clear that the ideas were not good enough. When a project is terminated after months or even years, it can be devastating in terms of both money and morale. A nimble team of design thinkers will have been prototyping from day one and self-correcting along the way. That’s why I say: “Fail early to succeed sooner.”
Insofar as it is open-ended, open-minded, and iterative, a process fed by design thinking will feel chaotic to those experiencing it for the first time. But over the life of a project, it invariably comes to make sense and achieves results that differ markedly from the linear, milestone-based processes that define traditional business practices. In any case, predictability leads to boredom and boredom leads to the loss of talented people. It also leads to results that rivals find easy to copy. It is better to take an experimental approach:
encourage the collective ownership of ideas
enable teams to learn from one another
A second way to think about the overlapping spaces of innovation is in terms of boundaries. To an artist in pursuit of beauty or a scientist in search of truth, the bounds of a project may appear as unwelcome constraints. But the mark of a designer is a willing embrace of constraints. Without constraints design cannot happen, and the best design – a precision medical device or emergency shelter for disaster victims – is often carried out within quite severe constraints.
The willing and even enthusiastic acceptance of competing constraints is the foundation of design thinking. The first stage of the design process is often about discovering which constraints are important and establishing a framework for evaluating them. Constraints can best be visualized in terms of three overlapping criteria for successful ideas:
feasibility = what is functionally possible within the foreseeable future feasibility
viability = what is likely to become part of a sustainable business model
desirability = what makes sense to people and for people
A competent designer will resolve each of these three constraints, but a design thinker will bring them into a harmonious balance.
The popular Nintendo Wii is a good example of what “happens when someone gets it right”. For many years a veritable arms race of more sophisticated graphics and more expensive consoles has been driving the gaming industry. Nintendo realized that it would be possible to break out of this vicious circle-and create a more immersive experience-by using the new technology of gestural control. This meant less focus on the resolution of the screen graphics, which in turn led to a less expensive console and better margins on the product. The Wii Console strikes a perfect balance of desirability, feasibility, and viability. It has created a more engaging user experience and generated huge profits for Nintendo. This pursuit of peaceful coexistence does not imply that all constraints are created equal; a given project may be driven disproportionately by technology, budget, or a volatile mix of human factors.
Different types of organizations may push one or another of them to the fore. Nor is it a simple linear process. Design teams will cycle back through all three considerations throughout the life of a project, but the emphasis on fundamental human needs-as distinct from fleeting or artificially manipulated desires – is what drives design thinking to depart from the status quo. Though this may sound self-evident, the reality is that most companies tend to approach new ideas quite differently. Quite reasonably, they are likely to start with the constraint of what will fit within the framework of the existing business model. Because business systems are designed for efficiency, new ideas will tend to be incremental, predictable, and all too easy for the competition to emulate. This explains the oppressive uniformity of so many products on the market today; have you walked through the housewares section of any department store lately, shopped for a printer, or almost gotten into the wrong car in a parking lot? Well that’s exactly what I am talking about 🙂
A second approach is the one commonly taken by engineering driven companies looking for a technological breakthrough. In this scenario teams of researchers will discover a new way of doing something and only afterward will they think about how the technology might fit into an existing business system and create value. Therefore reliance on technology is hugely risky. Relatively few technical innovations bring an immediate economic benefit that will justify the investments of time and resources they require. This may explain the steady decline of the large corporate R&D labs such as Xerox PARC and Bell Labs that were such powerful incubators in the 1960s and ’70s.
Today, corporations instead attempt to narrow their innovation efforts to ideas that have more near-term business potential. They may be making a big mistake. By focusing their attention on near-term viability, they may be trading innovation for increment. Finally, an organization may be driven by its estimation of basic human needs and desires. At its worst this may mean dreaming up alluring but essentially meaningless products destined for the local landfill-persuading people, in the blunt words of the design “to buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress neighbors who don’t care.” Even when the goals are laudable, however- moving travelers safely through a security checkpoint or delivering clean water to rural communities in impoverished countries – the primary focus on one element of the triad of constraints, rather than the appropriate balance among all three, may undermine the sustainability of the overall program.
Designers, then, have learned to excel at resolving one or another or even all three of these constraints. Design thinkers, by contrast, are learning to navigate between and among them in creative ways. They do so because they have shifted their thinking from problem to project. The project is the vehicle that carries an idea from concept to reality. This is what every design engineers needs and this is in fact all the engineers need: to learn and apply the Design Thinking.
Don’t ever expect that such thinking to come at first from a quality engineer. As I said quality engineers are useless if the designer is stupid. In fact the reason why most of the quality engineers exist today is because the company doesn’t have good designers and like that they hire more quality engineers which is even worst. A quality engineer without a basic design-of-stuff knowledge, and without a manufacturing knowledge is absolutely useless. Not to say the same thing about Quality Managers.
I only show here one very simple example. The ketchup tube. This is how good Design Thinking works:-). We have User Interface which is how the initial idea was created versus User Experience which is how the user really want to use your product.
So the best suggestion I can have for companies in automotive industry – but not only – is to STOP CREATING QUALITY MANAGER ROLES or QUALITY ENGINEERING JOBS, HIRE DESIGN THINKERS (such as: UX designers, mechanical designers, electronics engineers, software and manufacturing engineers and of course materials science engineers) and even quality engineers but with design thinking ability. Otherwise you just burn your money for the sake of your stupidity.
Improve the Design Thinking in your company and you will be boost the creativity, you diversify the range of your products, make a good design-to-cost and a design-to-quality products and for sure you will win customers. It is useless to mention, but it will be very obvious that you will have a huge profit afterwards. Just think about for a minute to what I wrote in this post and try to apply this, you’ll see the change J
This is what Apple, Google, Samsung, Daimler and
Toyota (just to name few of such big companies) do.
THE CORPORATION WHICH DON’T BRING NEW INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS ON THE MARKET WILL BE EXTERMINATED. ONLY THE PERFORMING ONES WILL THRIVE.
Beware, this is becoming reality. Indeed Artificial Intelligence is rising and it is happening fast, it is just under our nose right now. We are already living in the future, exactly as we imagined some years ago when we said that such advanced technology exists only in the Sci-Fi movies. Well… guess what, those Sci-Fi movies from the years ‘80 and ’90 are today real life. Touchscreen??? Just no more that 15 years ago people would have said this is just a fantasy, it’s not possible.
FLASHNEWS : Touchscreen gadgets are everywhere and more than that people are addicted to them.
And prepare for more, we are already preparing to launch self-driving cars and not only that. Self-Driving things will invade our lives in the coming years. There will be self-flying planes, self-running trains, HyperLoop transport systems, space tourism will be for sure available too, the dentists are ready to launch the technology which can make your missing teeth grow back again, the blinds will see again, the deaf will hear again and the people with amputated or missing members will walk, write and prepare their food alone again. Some truly unimaginable things will change our existence as living species on Earth. What is next for sure will create an enormous impact. Genetic engineering is active more than never, therefore the human life will be extended. We won’t die at 70 or 80 years old, we will be still young at 80. Our life expectancy will reach the average of 130-150 years old in the next 100 years.
Therefore in the next years a lot of innovation in technology will occur. The speed of technology development is incredible. This rise of Artificial Intelligence will of course remove a lot of boring and routine jobs, which is actually a very good thing. Humans will have more time to spend on creation. The Agriculture will be very much automatized so that,the hard work on the fields won’t be a human activity anymore. In industry the same, the job that are routine done by workers in a factory will be also removed and replaced by robots.
In fact this is really boring. Why shall I work years in a factory on the assembly line of something – let’s say in automotive industry – where a worker has simply no opportunities to grow professionally? To become expert in what? In drilling a hole or screwing bolts and nuts? In painting something with the same color 8h/day? That’s a fucking boring job. There is nothing interesting in having such a job.ZERO.NADA. So it’s definitely a waste of time for a human.
It was a time when by starting as a worker in a manufacturing plant somewhere, by a continue ass-kissing period at high level, after some years such guys may become a sort of team leader or a small manager. Not because they were remarkable good but just because they were assholes and pushed everyone aside just for them to be in the front. I personally know people which from worker level without any study in engineering have reached in some years a position of a team leader of engineers without being truly remarkable good in something. Such guys are only able to thrive like that just if they stay in the same company, but once the storm is coming and perhaps they must somehow change the company they will never perform at the same level. This is one way how incompetence in management is developed.
The other way of incompetence development in management is to assign people too fast in such high position without having any remarkable results in their past activity. No skills and also no technical knowledge in something, but the only basis of judgement in their evaluation being the ability to “show confidence”. Some people really do this successfully. Confidence is an ability good to have, but only when it’s combined with competence, or to be more precise when it is backed up with a very strong basis of competence. Otherwise just having a high confidence is the worst criteria to assign somebody in management position. Just by having a high degree of confidence in you, means you are able to tell lies very convincing, but your real competence doesn’t exist at all. A management style based only on confidence without competence is the straight highway to failure.
With Artificial Intelligence such things will be considerably diminished and the managers today must understand that the greed for money and the thirst for power, by controlling people will not exist anymore at such level as today. The slavery will be gone for real. If you are a narcissist manager you are professionally dead. But If you are a leader which shows empathy and help others to thrive then you may have a very good chance to be and stay successful.
As I said before Artificial Intelligence will remove many boring jobs and in this category the managers are included too. In the companies of the future you don’t need many managers, you need engineers. Managers don’t create anything, engineers do. The Manager role is just to establish strategies and empower people with vision and high goals. A manager must do whatever necessary to create the best work environment for their engineers in order to let them innovate more. The innovation will be the rule to succeed in business starting from today and the years to come. A good engineer doesn’t need any manager to guide him what to do best. A good engineer always knows better what’s the best to do. An engineer doesn’t have to listen to what the manager is telling him about the job, it is exactly the opposite. A manager must always shut up and listen to what his engineer is telling him. The engineer comes with the idea and the manager takes the appropriate actions to make the idea a successful business.
If you are a smart-creative, the Artificial Intelligence can help you a lot. You will not need to many people to create a successful business. You just need some passionated engineers and give them the necessary tools and to create for them a work environment as a perfect place for innovation. As a leader your role is also to do everything necessary for your engineers to keep them motivated. If a leader can do that, it’s already a guarantee that his engineers will keep innovating and will keep the business alive and successful. A successful company is that company which has 1 good leader at let’s say every 20 engineers, but not 20 leaders at every 5 engineers.
As the situation is today , everytime when a company is in trouble and needs to reduce costs, one of the common option is to lay some personal off in order to save the business. Many people were and still are affected by such bad practice, when the company management immediately decide to fire some regular employees ,considered as weak performers, in order to hold the business up. Especially in automotive industry, this approach is happening very often.
At some point I can understand that firing some workers from the assembly line could be actually good for them. But not because they are not performing well, but simply because the job they are doing is repetitive and boring. Humans are creative beings, keeping a person on the assembly line in a production factory is the same as slavery. You force people to do something that they don’t enjoy but they just do it because they need money. No, that’s a waste of resources, just take the humans out and put robots to do that stupid job. But then in the same time, the people which are laid off must be supported to become creative. Once again, a leader helps other people to grow, that’s the fundamental role of a leader. A leader which don’t help and motivate his people to grow is not a leader. He’s just another asshole.
But in case a company is in trouble the biggest mistake a manager can do is to fire some of his engineers. There is no stupidity in management bigger than to fire the engineers and keep the managers. That’s really supreme stupidity. A good engineer won’t be affected for too long because other companies will be interested to hire them, but I a manager with a bad performance will be less likely to be hired so fast. If you want to save costs, don’t fire engineers, fire the managers. Yes, indeed, unfortunately in multinational corporation there are to fucking many managers which bring Zero added value to the company’s business. They are paid a fortune and they do nothing relevant for the company. Many such managers don’t have any strategy or vision for long term in their minds. They are holding those high rank positions simply because they are well paid. Some are paid 10 to 20 times more than a regular employee (engineer or simply worker). So by firing a regular employee the company doesn’t save to much. Instead if the company fires the weak managers than it will save a lot.
With so much technology available out-there it is very easy to become creative and big companies will rapidly loose their most valuable resources: The engineers. Why I say that? Well… the software engineers, the electrical engineers, the mechanical designers, the materials science engineers, the architects just to name the most important ones, are now able to create new products more fast and easy than ever. If one of such guy have a great idea of a new product, with the tools and available technology they can create whatever they want by themselves, no need to be employed in a big company. Big companies won’t be successful anymore like was the case in the past and for the moment still is.
The most successful companies will be the small ones (let’s say from 5 to 3000 employees) like for example the case of start-ups. When I say big company I am talking about multinational corporations which have something like more than 10,000 employees. In fact the bigger you are the most difficult will be to succeed. Artificial Intelligence will remove the number of employees mostly from the big companies, therefore there won’t be such big companies at all.
With a good vision and well established strategy of course you can be successful as big company too, but then you need to look after the engineers and fire the managers, just keep few leaders which are performing and fire the rest of them. On one side companies such as : Samsung, Apple, Google, IBM, Daimler, AUDI, Toyota, Honda, Sony, BMW, Panasonic, LG, Bosch, Siemens,Airbus, Boeing etc those are big players, today. Those companies do create new products and they are successful by keep doing it.
But on the other side they have also a lot of management problems. I mean within those companies there is also huge incompetence in management, they have a lot of useless managers inside which burn millions of Euro/Dollars every month. But that’s No need for that. As I said, to be creative you don’t need managers. You need engineers. So my message for those companies is: Fire the incompetent managers, they are to many. Fire them and your business will grow. Artificial Intelligence is created by engineers not by managers. Therefore give the power to your engineers and send back home the useless managers.
And one last most important message for the companies I mentioned above, STOP CREATING NEW MANAGEMENT ROLES in the future. If you want to have a huge cash flow, collect engineers,hire them and let them create your future products. Put value in that, not in management.
What is an expat ?. Well I will define it like that: Theoretically It is a kind of expert send by a company to work temporary abroad (usually 3 to 5 years) in order to share his knowledge and in the same time to learn something new which can be valuated once she/he returns in her/his country of origin. Usually this practice is very much applied in tech companies such as automotive industry, aerospace, IT, hi-tech or any other related to engineering business. It may be very well applied also in other domains (probably medicine, law, media etc.) but in general is related to activities in engineering. The purpose of an Expat it may also be to build a team of enthusiast engineers in such a way that at the end of his contract, the team can continue alone to create and develop new amazing products for the future of the company.
In some cases an expat can be also compared with a kind of mentor or a leader which help his employees grow in their career and why not to become new leaders as well. If the expat does a good job, of course he will be rewarded and even promoted once returned back home in his motherland. Therefore such an expat really need to have some great skills both technical and social. I mean on one side he must be technically really good in his field of activity, able to give realistic technical solution to any problems and to be very creative in approaching any technical challenge he may face, with other words to be a real inventor.
On the other side socially speaking he must first of all socialize and communicate with as much as possible people at work around him. This means the NR.1 skill for that is to speak the same language with his new team. If he is a technical a good engineer, but at first doesn’t master the language, at least he must immediately start to intensively learn the new language in such a way that after the first year of his expat contract to be able to have at least a basic conversation in the language which most people around him are speaking it as native language. If he is able to master the language after his 1st year the rest will come very easy afterwards and additionally he will create a lot a new great friends which may be of a great help in his future professional career and not only. Having good friends on which you can fully trust is the most valuable thing that a person can have in her life. A good friend is like a gold mine with unlimited resources. If you have that, you are richer than any other guy who has money instead.
So coming back to language skill of course it depends a lot which language is that. If is Chinese, well then it would take more time until you master it, but if is English you have no excuse.
But all what I have just mentioned above is just pure theory. In practice in the most cases it is exactly the opposite. During my entire professional career I have never met any skilled expat engineer or even worst, an expat which is suppose to behave as new manager or team leader. I still want to believe that such expats as I theoretically described in the first part of this post, really exist and I will be honored to meet one of them in the future. But talking strictly about what I have seen so far, I can only say the world is really a big place for idiots which beside that are also paid. And some are really fucking well paid.
This phenomenon is very much present in the multinational companies which have also a lot of idiots in management positions too. So therefore their companies somehow still continues to promote the incompetence masked by confidence instead of pushing forward the true competence and creativity. They continue to excel in their stupidity by thinking that if they send expats where their company is locates abroad it would bring any added value in return somehow. How the fuck do they choose their expats qualified to represent them abroad?
Well… this is done by putting money on the table and simply saying: who wants to go? And there are many morons to jump first and go screaming me, me, me,, just pick me….muuuuu…. miaw, miaw… chif; chiff… Perhaps I exaggerate a bit, but this is the only thing I have in mind after seeing how much incompetence is actually send abroad. The most expats I ever met so far were and still are unable to socialize with native people let alone and not to speak about their technical skills. They are so afraid not to loose their jobs in their origin country, that they immediately accept to do whatever the company can offer, but only to keep the comfort of having a secured monthly pay and not to become unemployed. Some people unfortunately really work to live, and they let money master their lives instead of being the opposite. Many are even relocating with their entire family (wife, husband, kids, cats, dogs etc).
The adults are in such cases very naive. If you carry children after you, you are not smarter than a frog. The social development of your kids will be considerably damaged if they don’t fit in the new culture with the native children. I know many families like that where their kids became anxious and very reclusive. Those which are in this category are of course receiving a good benefit package from the company such as even their kids (school or kindergarten expenses) and unemployed wife/ husband are completely covered for the entire period to be spent abroad. It’s absolutely a huge waste of cash for the company. If the expat is lucky enough to be from the U.S.A., U.K. or any other English speaking country relocated in a non-English speaking country, that is still OK because English – even if is not the Nr.1 language spoken in the world taking into consideration only the native speakers (I guess is the 3rd after Chinese and Spanish) anyway English is the world language, the most easiest to learn. There is no country in the world where you cannot find anyone speaking it. You can learn English even at the North Pole. Absolutely everywhere on the planet you can study English language. Even so, if you are native English speaker it would be a huge step forward to become good friends with your new non-English speakers colleagues, if you put the effort to learn their native language.
But except English speakers, the speakers of other language than English have no excuse. At least they first of all must master English before to make any step in a foreign country. And in this pocket there is no need to mention that I will put the most French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Italians, etc expats have a huge problem to be successful abroad. They relocate abroad and pretend that people will speak the language of the country of company’s origin. Let’s take for example the German companies. Everywhere in the world where there is a local site of that company, they go there and pretend that all people in the new location – at least all white collars – will master German. Hey assholes… German is a multinational language only spoken in 3 main countries in Europe, you can not compare it with English. People in the new country don’t have to adapt to speak any German at all, its is the German expat which must adapt and learn for God’s sake the damn national language in the country where they go for work. I don’t want to generalize but unfortunately a big part of Germans are not able to properly articulate a good English. It’s somehow understandable that their language abilities are quite poor developed during their school years.
I also don’t say that Germany doesn’t have a lot of good technology, yes of course they have and thumb up for that, big respect, I have no problem with that at all. I respect Germany, until now I’ve invested almost all my career so far to work with them, also from respect I became fluent in German too. But I am only talking about how some Germans behave outside Germany (or let’s say German speaking area). As social individuals many of them are not adaptable. If they go abroad as a group of expats from Germany they almost never mix with the local people. The expat managers are even worst, they really don’t socialize at all and they put ZERO effort to learn anything new ( a language, a technical skill or whatever it may be), in their mind they come from Germany, therefore no need to improve anything.
Which in fact it is quite obvious that they have no idea about anything, they are just present because they company offered them a nice benefit package and that’s all that matters. In that case I have also have ZERO respect for such individuals. The smart Germans don’t go abroad, they stay in Germany because they are damn good right there. That’s why German engineering is excellent, the smart and highly skilled German engineers always remain in the country and the low skilled ones are trying their chance abroad because they are aware that in Germany they can not compete. Germany tries to get rid of unskilled engineers and the only opportunity is to send them abroad to let them embarrass themselves. I am sorry to say such words but this is exactly what I see and I don’t exaggerate anything.
Referring to English language skills, look, I just have a Famous German example in mind : Arnold Schwarzenegger. – I am a big fan of him by the way 🙂 – He lives in the USA for decades. Without praising him too much, I would say he is the most famous and successful German speaker alive. He spent all his adult life in the U.S.A. and he still have that funny German/Austrian accent. But man, I love this guy, I wish him a very long life :-). But there are also perfect examples such as Christoph Waltz. This guy is also amazing, in fact they both are Austrians :-). If I reconsider my saying above about Germans perhaps I shall exclude Austrians from the picture. I have worked with Austrian people and indeed they seem different than Germans. Austrians have something specific, they are even funny guys and they speak better English than Germans :-).
That’s why I say is not a bad thing to work abroad as expat for a while, but for that you better put your ass at work and the first thing you have to do before anything else is o start studying the language or improve it a lot while you are abroad. Otherwise you totally compromise yourself, people won’t have any pleasure to work with you and they will actually want you to go back from where you come from. And if you are also not technically skilled in something, that will make the things even worst for you. If you really want to succeed as expat, either as simple engineer or as manager just put away the greed for money and thing twice before your departure why do want to do what you plan to do. Do you have a goal beyond the money? Do you see where is your final outcome of your activity there? Will you create impact by improving yourself and the others? If you know WHY you do it and you have answered YES to those questions, then go ahead. Go for it man!!. Be an example for many.
Unfortunately, in many cases the expats I’ve met so far, after their rerun in Germany they were not promoted at all and in fact their career didn’t evolve in any remarkable way. To work in a different country that yours, is a huge engagement. You only succeed if you integrate yourself as much as possible with that new culture. Otherwise stay the fuck at home . Don’t go anywhere, you have no idea how stupid you look in the eyes of the other local native people. Stay where you are and take care of your family.
P.S. – I have given the example with Germans because I deal with them for very long time, but this is the same applicable at some different scale to French, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and any other wide-spread successful companies, even the English/American ones. The culture map is very different. I will talk about that more in detail in my future posts J. In case someone who read this post is getting offended about what I said, please just understand the context, I have German friends too. I have friends from many different countries. But if my words are to harsh … let that remain at the level of opinion about expats, I don’t apologize for anything. Take it as I said!!!
De beste antwoord is: omdat hij ZELFVERZEKERD is. Ik kan bevestigen dat tenminste in automotive bedrijven is meestal zo. Dus, om de vraag op een andere manier te stellen: Waarom incompetentie in management tegenwoordig erg groot in bedrijven aanwezig is, en niemand praat erover? Nou…Dit is eenvoudig omdat zelfverzekerdheid vermomd als competentie is. In dit bericht, Ik zal het vertellen waarom .
Tijdens mijn loopbaan in de werkomgeving bij verschillende bedrijven, Ik heb een patroon opgemerkt die helaas zeer veel toegepast in multinationale ondernemingen wordt. Ik praat over het patroon van hoe de bedrijven hun managers kiezen, die met een grote meerderheid op toppositie komen niet omdat ze competent zijn, maar omdat ze zelfverzekerd zijn. Nu, laten we veel aandacht besteden bij die 2 criteria voor het kiezen van leiders voor bedrijven. Ik herhaal, ZELFVERZEKERDHEID en COMPETENTIE.
Ik heb gemerkt dat er enorm veel van leiders gekozen zijn vanwege hun ZELFVERZEKERDHEID, die helaas heel fout is. Ik kan bijna zegen dat ZELFVERZEKERDHEID = INCOMPETENTIE. Laat me jullie vertellen waarom zeg ik dit.
Hier is een klein waargebeurd verhaal, die bijna overal in elk werkomgeving is. Ik kies gewoon willekeurig 2 fictieve namen, maar het verhaal is heel echt. Dus hier gaan we:
” Finn en Ethan zijn teamcollega’s in een groot wereldwijd automotive bedrijf. Hoewel Finn meer gekwalificeerd en ervaren dan Ethan is, ze worden gelijk betaald. Finn is vijf jaar meer bij het bedrijf dan Ethan, maar Ethan maakte zo’n indruk tijdens zijn sollicitatiegesprek dat hij werd aangenomen op het niveau van Finn, ondanks dat hij minder gekwalificeerd zijn. Zijn benoeming is niet verwonderlijk, gezien de interpersoonlijke bravade van Ethan. Zijn eigenbelang is duidelijk niet alleen tijdens sollicitatiegesprekken maar ook in interne team-opdrachten klant / leverancier presentatie en netwerkevenementen. Ethan spreekt meer en luider dan Finn, en hij zal veel meer andere mensen onderbreken in zijn enthousiasme om zijn ideeën te delen, die hij graag presenteert. Hij zal zijn verklaring minder waarschijnlijk kwalificeren met kanttekeningen en meer geneigd om met vette lijnen te spreken – iets wat zijn baas ziet als “visie hebben “ Wanneer hij en Finn aanbevelingen doen aan de klant of leverancier, praat Ethan meestal. Wanneer de klanten vragen stellen, Finn biedt waarschijnlijk een reeks opties voor verder onderzoek en discussie. Als hij stomp is, hij zal het toegeven. Maar Ethan haagt nooit . Hij komt meestal met een enkele aanbevolen manier van handelen. En als een klant hem iets vraagt dat hij niet weet, hij zal de vraag vakkundig ontwijken. Overeenkomstig , hun baas neemt aan, dat Finn minder zelfverzekerd is en bijgevolg minder competent is. Tenslotte, Ethan wordt bevorderd tot een leidende rol, terwijl Finn blijft waar hij is”.
Klinkt bekend? Nou… dit is zo ongeveer overal ter wereld – tenminste wanneer gegevens werden verzameld – we associëren vertoon van zelfverzekerdheid met leiderschapspotentieel. Maar het verschil is groot.
HET VERSCHIL TUSSEN ZELFVERZEKERDHEIT EN COMPETENTIE
Laat mij beginnen met een vraag: Hoe goed denk je dat je bent? Uitzonderlijke presteerders schrijven hun prestaties soms snel toe aan hun zelfverzekerdheid. Gewoon om maar een voorbeeld te geven van een bekende succesvolle persoon: Roger Federer.
Hij is aantoonbaar de grootste tennisser aller tijden, won zijn 8e Wimbledon-titel, hij werd door de BBC-verslaggever gevraagd om het geheim van zijn succes te onthullen. Het Antwoord van Federer? Dat het allemaal komt door zijn zelfvertrouwen en zelfverzekerdheid. Hij geloofde in zichzelf en dan hij won. Oooh really????. Zou het niet zo kunnen zijn dat zijn uitstekende en uitermate verfijnde tennisvaardigheden op zijn minst een rol hebben gespeeld?
Om zeker te zijn, er is geen tekort aan mensen met Federer-esque zelfverzekerdheid , maar ze hebben de neiging om het talent te missen om het te ondersteunen. De prestaties van Federer zijn ongebruikelijk vanwege zijn talent , maar niet vanwege zijn zelfverzekerdheid. Als ik zou moeten kiezen, Ik zou liever de talenten van Federer hebben dan zijn zelfverzerkerdheid, niet in de laatste plaats omdat talenten meer zelfverzekerdheid geven dan andersom. Ik zou liever als baas een taxi bestuuder en vooral een hartchirurg hebben, die competent is in plaats van zelfverzekerd.
Competentie is hoe goed je in iets bent. Zelfverzekerheid is hoe goed je denkt dat je in iets bent. Competentie is een vaardigheid. Zelfverzekerdheid is het geloof in dit vaardigheid. Zo’n geloof of zelfevaluaties kan verwijzen naar aangeleerde vaardigheden (zoals : het zingen, Mount Everest beklimmen en mensen leiden) of naar persoonlijkheidskenmerken (zoals: slimheid, volharding en creativiteit).
Daarom zou ik zeggen dat managers nog meer van negatieve feedback worden beroof dan werknemers. Hoe succesvoller en krachtiger je bent, hoe meer mensen je opzuigen – zelfs als ze slecht over je denken. Managers moeten daarom ongewoon zelfkritisch zijn en bescheiden om op potentiële kritiek te anticiperen en streven ernaar het beter te doen. Uit enquêtes blijkt dat de meest accurate kritiek zou komen van de directe medewerkers van een leider, omdat ze de beste kennis van de prestaties van de leider hebben. Maar hoeveel werknemers zouden zich vrij voelen om hun baas regelmatig te bekritiseren? Heel weinig. Maar sinds de meeste leiders – in het bijzonder mannen – zijn extra zelfverzekerd over hun prestaties; het zou naïef zijn om te verwachten dat ze negatieve feedback of kritiek accepteren, vooral van hun medewerknemers.
Omgekeerd, individuen die zich bewust zijn van hun zwakheden en hebben een realistisch gevoel van hun beperking, kunnen afstemmen op hun ondergeschikten en begrijpen wat ze moeten doen om te verbeteren, maar ze zouden eerst leiders moeten worden. In een werkomgeving waar leiders worden geselecteerd voor extra zelfverzekerdheid, mensen die overdreven zelfkritisch zijn – misschien zelfs een beetje onzeker – zal veel gevraagd worden, maar ze worden eerder genegeerd of belachelijk gemaakt in de veronderstelling dat ze niet voldoende sterk of veilig zijn om te leiden. En ondanks de algemene perceptie dat zelfverzekerdheid een zeer wenselijke kwaliteit is. Het is alleen wenselijk als het vergezeld gaat van daadwerkelijke competentie. Helaas zijn er voor de meeste organisaties weinig objectieve gegevens om de prestaties van leiders te evalueren. Wanneer je de competentie niet adequaat kunt beoordelen, het is moeilijk om extra zelfverzekerdheid en de incompetentie die het maskeert te herkennen.
Daarom verliezen bedrijven marktaandeel, daarom hebben mensen ontslag genomen, en daarom gaan sommige bedrijven zelfs failliet. Het is natuurlijk vanwege incompetentie in management. Nog een laatste voorbeeld, Kijk maar eens naar dit hele verhaal met Diesel Gate bij VW Group. Waarom denk je dat alles gebeurt? Dat is precies waarom. Opnieuw, het is vanwege te veel incompetent management.
This is not something new. Everyone in a working class today knows what I am talking about. Just type on Google „my boss is“ and immediately the following auto-complete options pop up : „crazy“, „mean“, „incompetent“, „ a control freak“, “bulling me to quit “ and so on. There are also a lot of opinions surveys that produce similar results. For example according to Gallup which is a global polling firm that periodically collects attitudinal data from employees all over the world, 75% of people quit their jobs because of their direct line manager. Such results reveal the bad leadership as the Nr.1 cause of voluntary turnover worldwide. In U.S.A. for example 65% of Americans say they would rather change their boss than get a pay raise. This shortsighted response fails to recognize that the next boss might not be any better, but worse. This is general valid in Europe at the big scale too.
In small companies this phenomenon is unfortunately turning bad for employees quite fast, because at any sign of loosing some market share or simply because some delay in project planning due to incompetent management the first to be laid off are the regular employees which actually do their job well. The mentality of many managers is that job-market is abundant of job seekers therefore in their mind it is not a problem to hire new people when the things come back to normal.
In big (multinational) corporations it happens quite often too. In this case such companies loose a huge amount of money due to too many poor, bad, incompetent, unskilled, very low trained managers. Big corporations have literally too many completely unnecessary management position at many levels. That’s the reason why many such corporations try to cover the poor leadership by launching a recruiting campaign where they push a lot o fake propaganda by posting all sort of job openings and lying very credible the job-seekers that if they apply of a job at the company there will be a lot of benefits for them and wonderful career opportunities, brainwashing the candidates as they will join the perfect workplace. I very much cases I’ve met many people who told me that they talked about something at the interview and after signing for and starting the job, something else was delivered. It happened to me too. 🙂
What to make of the obvious fact that most “leaders” inept or otherwise, are male ? (well… this word is a too high title for many with this rank – difference between being a leader and a manager is quite big, I will talk about that later in a future post, but for now I will just say « Manager» instead of « Leader ») ,
Since women make up around 50% of the adult population and throughout much of the industrialized world, outnumber and outperform men in college, we might expect at least equal representation of women and men in Leadership positions. And yet the reality disagrees. In most parts of the world the notion of leadership (or board management) is so masculine that most people would struggle to name a famous female business leader.
The under-representation of women in leadership is not due to their lack of motivation, but to our inability to detect incompetence in men. When men are considered for leadership positions, the same traits that predict their downfall are commonly mistaken – even celebrated – as a sign of leadership potential or talent. Consequently men’s character flaws help them emerge as leaders because they are disguised as attractive leadership qualities.
Oh really ? hell no… traits like overconfidence and self-absorption should be seen as red flags. But instead they prompt us to say « Ah, there’s a charismatic fellow ! He’s probably leadership material ». I don’t want to enter in politics field, but to be more specific both business and politics is a surplus of incompetent men in charge and this surplus reduces opportunities for competent people – women & men – while keeping the standards of leadership depressingly low. In the world there are many rich countries in natural resources and people with great potential, but they are doomed to stay in poverty due to their very weak leadership. Many companies are exactly like such countries. Multinational corporations still survive because they have capital reserve but in the Start-Ups World many go bankrupt and simply disappear in their first 5 years of existence. All these just because they promote at high levels the management incompetence and the lack of vision on mid and long term.
If you have ever worked in an office, then you have very probably experienced a particular form of bad management displayed by bossed who seem unaware of their limitations and are clearly and unjustifiably pleased with themselves. They are overconfident, abrasive and very much in awe of themselves, particularly in light of their actual talents. They are their own biggest fans by some distance.
Instead of treating leadership like some kind of glamorous career destination or personal reward for reaching the top, we should remember that leadership is a resource for the organization – it is good only when employees benefit from it, by boosting their motivation and performance. Elevating the standards of leadership should not be the top priority.
In business a bad manager significantly affects subordinates by reducing their engagement – their enthusiasm for their jobs and the meaning and purpose people find at work. There are many surveys performed which report that a staggering 70% of employees are not engaged at work and that only 4% of these employees have anything nice to say about their bosses. Therefore it is quite clearly that good leadership is not the norm, but the exception. Productivity loss is not the only downside of disengagement. Disengaged employees are also more likely to quit their jobs. Employee turnover incurs a huge burden, including separation costs, damaged morale and productivity losses associated with the time and resources needed to find and train newcomers.
If the leader takes care of its employees, the employees will take care of business, not the other way around. The leaders must always “eat last”. That’s just a short difference between a “manager” (who most of the time tries to keep everything for himself) and a leader.
Zoals ik al zei in mij vorige berichten, de technologie is nog niet volwassen genoeg. Er zijn grote obstakels die moeten worden gebroken.Dus Ik zal over hen in dit bericht praten.
TECHNISCHE OBSTAKELS VOOR ZELFRIJDENDE AUTO’S
Zelfrijdende auto’s vereisen een redundante camera, radar en lidar (wat lijkt op radar voor lichtgolven, om het vermogen om te zien na te bootsen). De sensoren compenseren elkaars sterke en zwakke punten. Camera’s zijn goed in objectdetectie maar worstelen met weinig licht. Lidar werkt in alle lichtomstandigheden, maar lijdt in scenario’s zoals sneeuw. Maar overtollingheiden kunnen het risico op fouten vergroten. De vraag is: hoeveel overtollingheiden moeten er worden toegevoegd, om het voertuig betrouwbaarder te maken, zonder het feitelijk minder betrouwbaar te maken? Nou…het antwoord is simpel: hoe meer hoe beter 🙂 . Kunstmatige intelligentie komt weer op zijn plaats en big data zal het verschil maken.
Na het geven aan een robotauto de mogelijkheid om te zien er is de extra uitdaging, om het te laten begrijpen wat het ziet. En een geloof in de kernindustrie – dat kunstmatige intelligentie een zilveren kogel zal zijn – staat onder druk. Oneffen terrein en slecht weer blijven uitdagingen. Ondertussen, De GM Cruise zelfrijdende auto’s (foto) hebben naar verluidt moeite om te identificeren of objecten bewegen of stilstaan, nalaten voetgangers te zien terwijl ze fantoomfietsen zien. En ook de zelfrijdende auto’s van Waymo zouden problemen hebben met onbeschermde bochten naar links. Dus, het bedrijf zette veiligheidschauffeurs terug in de voertuigen nadat ze hadden geprobeerd ze eruit te halen.
De grootste uitdaging is om het voertuig de wereld eromheen te helpen begrijpen, en wat er gaat gebeuren in de wereld eromheen, en doe het in een mate die betrouwbaar en robuust genoeg is zodat het veilig is voor de openbare weg. Een van de lastigste dingen is om auto’s zonder bestuurder de ‘subtiele signalen’ te laten herkennen die mensen kunnen identificeren bij het voorspellen hoe andere weggebruikers zich zullen gedragen. Machine learning is sterk, maar het is nog broos in vergelijking met het menselijk brein dat een opmerkelijk vermogen heeft om hiaten in informatie op te vullen.
JURIDISCHE, REGELGEVENDE UITDAGINGEN VOOR AUTO’S ZONDER BESTUURDER
Afgezien van de technische obstakels, blijven er wettelijke en regelgevende hindernissen bestaan. De zelfrijdende auto-sector wacht nog steeds op federale normen die een lappendeken van staatswetten en vrijwillige richtlijnen zullen vervangen. Bovendien, is het nog steeds onzeker wie aansprakelijk is voor zelfrijdende auto-ongelukken: de bestuurder of de autofabrikant? Sommige mensen zouden zeggen in dat geval, de fabrikant van de auto zou zijn. Oké, maar wat als de maker van de auto de technologie zonder bestuurder niet ontwikkeld heeft?
Waymo heeft bijvoorbeeld zijn zelfrijdende technologie geïnstalleerd op Chrysler Pacifica-minibusjes in Arizona. Het heeft geprobeerd dat aansprakelijkheidsdilemma weg te gaan. Het bedrijf werkte samen met het start-up verzekeringsbedrijf Trov om zijn renners te verzekeren voor reisgerelateerde medische kosten en materiële schade.
Automakers wachten niet op regelgevers. Dus, GM, Ford en Toyota Motor werkten in april 2019 samen om een aantal veiligheidsnormen voor zelfrijdende auto’s te creëren. Een belangrijke katalysator voor ontwikkeling zal zijn indien bedrijven kunnen samenwerken bij het oplossen van incidenten, met of zonder een regelgevingskader.
PUBLIEKE PERCEPTIE-UITDAGINGEN VOOR ROBOTAUTO’S
Dan is er de consument, die grotendeels geen cavia wil zijn. Bijvoorbeeld, 7 op de 10 Amerikanen zijn bang om te rijden in volledig zelfrijdende voertuigen, een recente poll van de American Automobile Association gevonden heeft. Minder dan één op de vijf zou hun kinderen in één zetten. Deze Autos hebben inderdaad een mooie design maar op dit moment zijn nog steeds niet veilig om te rijden.
Amerikaanse en Europese bestuurders moeten nog vertrouwen winnen na de dodelijke ongevallen van vorig jaar met een Uber zelfrijdende auto en een Tesla in Autopilot-modus. Ze maken zich ook zorgen over een cybersecurity-aanval in de hele vloot van Tesla.
Recente dodelijke 737 Max-crashes met zeer geautomatiseerde Boeing-jets hebben de inspanningen om menselijk oordeel te vervangen door kunstmatige intelligentie verder ondermijnd. Soms maakt scepsis plaats voor wantrouwen of regelrechte vijandigheid. Mensen in Arizona hebben geschreeuwd, rotsen gegooid en een pistool op zelfrijdende auto’s van Waymo gericht. Slash banden ? Natuurlijk, dat hebben ze ook gedaan.
Regelgevers en de industrie moeten ook vragen beantwoorden, zoals wie een klant in een rolstoel zal helpen als een robotaxi geen bestuurder heeft?. Op de een of andere manier zullen ze die cirkel moeten kwadrateren omdat het wegnemen van menselijke stuurprogramma’s een “must” is voor het zelfrijdende bedrijfsmodel. Als je een bestuurder kunt verwijderen die $ 50.000 of $ 100.000 per jaar verdient, dan betaalt het voor de technologie. Maar als je het menselijke bestuurder niet kunt verwijderen, maar hebben twee menselijke bestuurders nodig – de een om de ander wakker te houden – dan heb je echt een ongunstig economisch model.
Dus ik zou zeggen dat de zelfrijdende auto’s niet volledig in staat zijn om alleen te rijden zonder constant menselijk toezicht. Het is vergelijkbaar met de cruise control wanneer je op de snelweg rijdt. Het is een soort semi-zelfrijdende ding die eigenlijk met succes door AUDI,B.M.W. en Daimler getest werd. De nieuwe Audi A7 is zo’n model dat dat kan, maar de mens moet permanent achter het stuur blijven en de controle overnemen wanneer de auto zich bijvoorbeeld voorbereiden op de volgende afslag van de snelweg te nemen. AUDI heeft ook een nieuwe zelfrijdende concept die zal ziens beschikbaar zijn: Dit is AUDI AICON, maar opnieuw, het is alleen een mooie Auto.
Maar dit is eigenlijk een goed teken 😉 dat betekent dat we de auto op een dag echt volledig zelfrijdend kunnen maken. Het duurt even voor een tijdje. Hetzelfde gebeurde niet lang geleden met smartphones en tegenwoordig is touchscreen-technologie overal. De technologische vooruitgang in de afgelopen jaren is sneller dan ooit en met dit evolutietempo is bijna niets onmogelijk ;-). Als we de auto’s hoogstwaarschijnlijk zelfrijdend kunnen maken, kunnen we dat ook met de vliegtuigen doen. En als we gek genoeg zijn om dat te geloven, kunnen we op een dag zelfs op vakantie naar Mars reizen, hetzelfde als we nu reizen naar Australië of de Noordpool of ergens anders op aarde. Menselijke creativiteit met behulp van technologie is letterlijk onbeperkt. Ik kan niet zien waar we kunnen stoppen.
De beste manier om de zelfrijdende wereld te begrijpen, is door niet te vragen Wanneer deze aankomt, maar Waar?. En Hoe? En Voor Wie? Ondanks de grote spelers die waggelen over tijdlijnen voor zelfrijdende auto’s, hebben de afgelopen maanden alleen al grote ontwikkelingen doorgemaakt.
Amazon investeerde in Aurora in een waarschijnlijke weddenschap op autonome pakketlevering. Waymo heeft aangekondigd dat het een fabriek voor zelfrijdende auto’s in Michigan opent. GM heeft zijn personeel verdubbeld voor zijn taxivervoer zonder chauffeur. En Ford investeerde in een nieuwe productiefaciliteit voor zelfrijdende auto’s die in 2021 aankomen. Naast voertuigen voor persoonlijk gebruik en taxivloten de markt zal waarschijnlijk uitbreiden naar autonome mijntransporteurs, tractor-opleggers, bulldozers, oogstmachines, vorkheftrucks, vrachtwagens en drones. Maar nu de vraag komt: Is het een goede zaak dat beleggers geen vergelijkingen maken tussen iPhone-acceptatie en het gebruik van AI (artificial intelligence) in leven-en-doodsituaties op de openbare weg? Oh hell yeah 🙂 , JA, natuurlijk is het goed 🙂
Ik heb een snelzoeken op internet gedaan, om precies te zien waar we vandaag zijn. En sommige van die dingen, heb ik al met eigen ogen al gezien tijdens mijn reis in de VS dit voorjaar en ik heb een paar dagen geleden soortgelijke dingen gezien in Singapore tijdens mijn zomervakantie.
Tegenwoordig werken echte zelfrijdende shuttles in drukke stadscentra, die actief zijn in steden als Detroit en Columbus, Ohio. Met een vangst: De routes zijn extreem beperkt, meestal slechts 2 km of drie. Ook komen ze soms met een bestuurder achter het stuur, alleen om op de tech te babysitten. Bijvoorbeeld , De zelfrijdende ontwikkelingshub van de Universiteit van Michigan – De MCity heeft zojuist haar plannen aangekondigd om een gratis autonome pendeldienst op de North Campus van de school te lanceren.
GEREEDHEID = Waarschijnlijk in de komende jaren.
KEY PLAYERS = May Mobility, Ultra Global PRT
BEST-CASE SCENARIO = Regelmatig, snel, goedkoop, pijnloos rijdt naar het dichtstbijzijnde treinstation.
WORST-CASE SCENARIO = Lidar wordt donker en je moet je eigen verdomde bagage een paar kilometer sjouwen.
Gedefinieerde ruimtes zoals universiteiten, woonwijken en senioren wonen faciliteiten zijn ideale testterrein voor AV’s [Autonomous Vehicles]. Tet verkeer beweegt langzaam, mensen volgen voorspelbare schema’s, en wegen zijn goed aangegeven. Dat is de reden waarom sommige bedrijven ritten maken in onderverdelingen in Boston en senior ontwikkelingen in Californië en Florida.
GEREEDHEID = Er zijn pilootprogramma’s aan de gang.
KEY PLAYERS = Optimus Ride, Voyage.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO = Je oma maakt een autorit zonder chauffeur naar de winkel.
WORST-CASE SCENARIO = Nieuwe school rage: bot-tipping.
Dit is de situatie die de meeste mensen waarschijnlijk (uiteindelijk) zullen tegenkomen. Zoals Uber, maar zonder Uber-stuurprogramma’s. Deze auto’s zullen je rondjagen in een stad of buurt, met beperkingen – misschien rijden ze niet in de regen of tijdens de spits of op bepaalde wegen.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO = Veilig, betaalbare liften op een zonnige dag – geen rare chauffeurs
WORST-CASE SCENARIO = Werkloze coureurs blokkeren wegen uit protest .
LANDBOUWBEDRIJF EN MIJNMACHINES
Als je zelfrijdende voertuigen al aan het werk wilt zien, ga je naar de boerderij. Of de mijn. Voertuigen zonder bestuurder zijn op die plaatsen bijna een half decennium actief geweest. Herhaalde taken, prive-bezit, weinig mensen om te vermijden, dus: De Robots graven het. Deze machines zijn duur, maar dit is de plek waar de toekomst al als het verleden aanvoelt.
GEREEDHEID = Reeds in commerciële exploitatie.
KEY PLAYERS = Caterpillar, CNH, John Deere, Volvo.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO = Geen mijnbouwongevallen meer en hoge voedselproductie van een verouderende bevolking van boeren.
WORST-CASE SCENARIO = De robots zetten hun werktuigen op hun supervisors :-)…hahahaha
E-commerce, Amazon Prime en Amerikaanse luiheid hebben een monsterlijk inefficiënt systeem gecreëerd waar luide, vuile vrachtwagens altijd aanwezig zijn in zelfs de stilste woonstraten. Dus, kleine elektrische autonome voertuigen – navigeren op straat of op het trottoir – kan het antwoord zijn, boodschappen, maaltijden en pakketten naar jouw deur brengen.
GEREEDHEID = Er zijn pilootprogramma’s aan de gang
KEY PLAYERS = Amazon, Marble, Nuro, Starship
BEST-CASE SCENARIO = Minder vrachtwagens verstoren straathockeywedstrijden en vervuilen de lucht.
WORST-CASE SCENARIO = Maffia leert hoe te coderen, hack de bots om smokkelwaar te verplaatsen.
Eén manier gezien: vrachtwagenvervoer op afstand is een ideale industrie voor zelfrijdende voertuigen. De snelwegen zijn saai en uniform, dit is precies alles wat de robots dichtbij en dierbaar voor hun CPU’s hebben.
Een andere manier gezien: Niets zou een moderne-dag neo-Luddite-beweging teweegbrengen, net zoals slecht functionerende 40-tons bestuurderloze 18-wielers die amok runnen. Dus, de ingenieurs moeten veel perfectioneren.
GEREEDHEID = Waarschijnlijk in de komende jaren.
KEY PLAYERS = Ike, Kodiak Robotics, Waymo, Volvo
BEST-CASE SCENARIO = Ongelooflijk veilige robotvrachtwagens, gebruik de snelwegen. Geen ruststops nodig en de economie houdt ervan 🙂
WORST-CASE SCENARIO = Je hebt Mad Max gezien…hahahaha.
In the last let’s say 2 years this subject is intensely debated. Everybody is in a hurry to predict very optimistic dates by when the self-driving cars will be available. The idea of having autonomous cars is actually a fantastic one and it will entirely change the lifestyle of humans on planet earth. In a perfect controlled system it will literally eliminate the car accidents, living beings won’t be anymore in danger of bodily injury or death. But that’s still at theoretical stage. In practice the situation is far to become reality soon. Self-driving cars once seemed poised to inaugurate a new era in transportation, but now, driverless cars are further away than most analysts thought.
Why? Well….What many had hoped would be a market worth trillions of euros has hit a wall of technological, legal and public-perception obstacles. Thinking that the fully autonomous vehicle is around the corner, with a collision- and congestion-free future riding shotgun, remain a dream which may become true at one point in the far future. Therefore prepare for disappointment. A decade of massive investment in robocar tech has spawned impressive progress, but the arrival of a truly driverless car—the car that can go anywhere anytime, without human help—remains delayed indefinitely. We are not ready for that yet.
Not only self-driving cars but even the technology for the full electric cars needs a lot of improvement. There are currently many drawbacks with these concepts (electric and self-driving cars in the same time) so it will for sure take at least a decade (for self-driving cars) from now on until the technology will be mature enough to convince people that it is worth to take into consideration and finally buy such a car. But the technology progress is skyrocketing these days so even if I say a decade, it won’t be a surprise if it will become available sooner. But at the today’s state of the art the most optimistic prediction is at least another 10 years from now on until the technology will reach its maturity.
Despite Elon Musk’s self-assured claim that Teslas will have “full self-driving” capability by the end of 2020, the world is too diverse and unpredictable, the robots too expensive and temperamental, for cars to navigate all the things human drivers navigate now.
Meanwhile, American,European and Japanese consumers and lawmakers remain leery of self-driving cars that Alphabet’s (GOOGLE) Waymo, Uber , General Motors , Ford Motor, Tesla, Audi, B.M.W, Daimler,VW, Toyota , Honda and Nissan are all launching. What car companies are currently doing is learning about customer experience around these vehicles and trying to develop business models that will be viable, But the reality is: general consumers are not going to be buying automated vehicles in the foreseeable future. It’s going to take a lot longer than people anticipate. The good news is still there due to electric cars, people have already started to buy them, and indeed the sales for electric cars are increasing year after year. So that’s a good trend actually, for sure in the future people will become more and more interested to buy such cars, but for a self-driving car we must for sure wait for a while. And that’s despite the industry pouring billions more into the technology. In fact, investments in self-driving cars surged from $6 billion in 2015 to more than $60 billion in 2018.
The self-driving cars are already on the road now in a handful of cities worldwide. And thousands of people were willing to pay up. In 2018, an Aptiv and Lyft venture gave its 25,000th ride in Las Vegas. Driverless car startup May Mobility, which has integrated its self-driving technology into shuttle services, completed 10,000 shuttle trips in the Midwest. Waymo started a commercial robotaxi service.
But here’s the rub. These early robot cars all have humans as backup drivers to take over if things go wrong. The robotaxis also drive along slower, simpler routes or in select areas of carefully chosen cities. They can’t go anywhere at will.
Currently all the car manufactures in the world are making a huge marketing campaign not only for self-driving cars but also for electric cars. All big names in the industry are ready to produce in this moment entirely electric cars. Many really intend to stop producing classic cars completely and focus only on electric cars and on the future self-driving models.
But again this is just a very expensive marketing campaign; in fact people still don’t buy such self-driving cars. Tesla is the biggest cash burner on this type of marketing. But also the sales for the electric models from Tesla are not very promising. Everybody praise for example the electric Tesla Model X how awesome is, what a fantastic car, it is so great and bullshit like that. No it’s not. I’ve been traveling this year in many places worldwide, I’ve been in Scandinavia, in U.S.A. and recently I am just returned from Singapore, I wanted to see it myself. Hell no, I haven’t seen many Tesla Models neither in New York nor in Washington, Brussels, Copenhagen, Malmo or Singapore. Almost nobody is buying Tesla cars as the marketing said. Sales are quite low for Tesla. Indeed I’ve seen some electric cars running (such as AUDI E-Tron, B.M.W. i8, Honda Clarity, etc.) But Tesla is extremely rare almost not existing on the roads. People still buy the classic cars, Toyota is by far the very successful example worldwide, they have a lot of hybrids and also electric models which people are ready to buy anytime. I’ve have seen all types of Toyota cars everywhere I’ve been so far.
I’ve had the chance to play a bit with Tesla Model X (electric car) but after the first touch I would say that I would do many design optimization for that car. My personal impression is that Toyota, Audi and BMW are much more better in Design and Interior Comfort than Tesla. In Addition Tesla is also too damn expensive. Well …. in general all the new electric cars are expensive but Tesla doesn’t worth its price at all. There are other better alternatives with the same amount of money or less.
Come on seriously, how many people can afford to pay 120.000 Euro for such a car which won’t take you further than approx 400 or perhaps 500km with a full battery loaded? At least in the U.S.A where the distances between big cities are bigger than 200km. It is very unpractical. Tesla looks good on advertising, it may have some interesting performance on short distance and let’s say for some people it also looks attractive in design too but that’s all, people just watch it, but at the end they don’t buy it. I can bet that for example BMW, AUDI, Daimer and Toyota have better sales for electric cars than Tesla.
For example, let’s consider the new AUDI A7 which is a very stable car and is performing good in many tests. This Audi model has a semi-automatic self-driving system integrated. Which means the car can drive alone once being on the highway and no crossroads ahead or cars coming from opposite direction. There is a lot of AI (artificial inteligence) incorporated so that the car permanently communicate with the human driver. Recently AUDI and Hanson Robotics (the creators of the humanoid robot Sophia) did a test together in order to see the interaction with Self-Driving Car towards Artificial Intelligence used in humanoid robots.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Just a few years ago, industry leaders stressed the disruptive potential of self-driving cars and talked up an opportunity of $4 trillion-$7 trillion by 2050. But in the last year, leaders have instead been noting the challenges robot cars face.
Waymo CEO John Krafcik declared triumphantly in 2017 that “fully self-driving cars are here.” He also said his company was taking safety drivers out of its cars. But in 2018, he said “autonomy always will have some constraints.”
Similarly, GM CFO Chuck Stevens in 2017 talked up self-driving cars as potentially bigger than GM’s current business. Then in 2018 another GM executive called it “the engineering challenge of our generation.”
And in April this year, Ford CEO Jim Hackett admitted, “We overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles.” He added that Ford’s robotaxis will be geo-fenced, meaning they will likely operate on specific well-mapped roads, “because the problem is so complex.”
Pfffuuff….. that´s so embarrassing…But those guy are just having numbers in their head as many managers in general do. A real engineer who knows a bit more in detail about the technology would not be such a dreamer. Not surprisingly, Tesla’s recent attempt to hype its driverless cars flopped. When Tesla forecast a million robotaxis without safety drivers on the road by mid-2020, analysts weren’t buying it. They noted how the self-driving cars hesitated to change lanes, failed to recognize traffic cones and almost missed a turn on a ramp.
And recently, Consumer Reports warned Tesla’s Autopilot, which has already been involved in recent fatal accidents, was a safety risk. The watchdog group said drivers often had to prevent Autopilot from making poor decisions. “Despite Tesla’s promises that it will have full self-driving technology by the end of next year, this experience with Navigate on Autopilot suggests that it will surely take longer.
Artificial Intelligence is really skyrocketing. The progress in this area is incredible fast. A lot of today job demands will be strongly diminished and some of them will be even completely extincted and replaced by algorithms used by Artificial Intelligence. We are today at a stage where AI can be compared with a new born child which is currently in a deep learning process. The more data are collected, the more accurate the using of AI will be. And that will happen in Human Resources as well. The interviews today are performed by humans, at the first stage by the so called „ Recruiters“ or “Head-Hunters”. Well …. In the near future those people must think seriously to change their career. I don’t want to say that HR activity will not be performed by humans at all, but for sure many steps from the current hiring process will be performed by AI. Of course there will be the need of humans at some stages, mainly at the final decision of hiring a person or not. But as those of you, who have been so far to job interviews, you all know that the first talk with a company representative doesn’t mean anything. You will never sign any contract after the first formal talk. In big corporation there are many stages in hiring process and for some it can take quite long until you finally sign something. You may even go to a couple of interview sessions without having a clear picture or it may not be even clear what exactly your job will be. You get just a very formal job description given by the company but such job description contain a lot of lies about your future tasks and many of the candidates are really that naive to believe that the job will be exactly as described.
If you discover at a later stage that something is not alright, the company of course will try to argue that you don’t have to be sticked to that description but you must show some flexibility. Of course it’s a bullshit, that’s not an credible excuse. Flexibility at work doesn’t mean that you must perform whatever is new, even if is not related to your job at all. Many times the interviews and even the managers of the department in which you will probably work, they have no idea what actually they are doing there on long term and most important WHY they need new employee. The lack of long term vision is damn visible in many cases. They just want to hire someone in order to fill some gaps but not because they have a vision to develop new products and definitely need some smart-creatives in their team. Most of those interviews are a big waste of resources (time and money) and is very inefficient. And in many cases can cause frustration for the candidate which actually is really ready and skilled for that job but at the end of the hiring process the outcome is negative, and like that many skilled engineers are rejected.
I personally know a lot of skilled engineers who have been at job interviews and after some steps in the hiring process they got exactly nothing. Such cases are very frequent and the main reason is not because the candidate is not skilled enough for the company or he said something inappropriate during the interview. No, none of that. The reason is that the interviews done by humans are very much emotional and based on the perception of body language or dressing code. Those interviews are extremely subjective, very much based on emotional reaction on the company side by its representatives (the manager himself and his HR partner). Such interviews are similar with a psychiatric session. You go there and you are loaded with all sort of emotions and of course you thing how to lie better in the hope you make a good impression (sometimes if you are a good looking girl and the interviewers are men you may have a chance to be hired , no matter how smart you are).
Therefore one of the main aspect to take into consideration is when you talk about the compensation package and all the benefits that the company in cause will/could provide you. The subject here is of course the MONEY. So far, I have been to a lot of interviews during the years after my university graduation and I can already see the same pattern in the human negotiation about salary. Here is what I have noticed and I can recommend some tactics to apply in order to delay answering the question about money. As a candidate for a new job, I recommend to any candidate as job seekers not be the first to open the talk about money. Let the company ask you. Here are some points worth to take into consideration.
It is good to put off answering the salary question as long as possible. You can strategically delay answering the salary questions with a specific number.
When asked: “What are your salary expectations for the job?” – This is a great opportunity to sell yourself while putting the pressure on the organization to make a fair offer by saying something along the lines of: “I’m more interested in finding a position that’s a good fit for my skills and interests. I’m confident that you’re offering a salary that’s competitive in the current market.” You’re letting them know that you’re confident of your abilities and respect yourself too much to sell yourself short. At the same time, you’re giving them an opportunity to earn your respect by making a fair offer. By doing this, you’re tactfully letting them know you’re not desperate and expect to be compensated appropriately for your time and talent. By playing hardball on the salary issue and not giving in and answering right away, you’re also letting the hiring company know that they’re getting a savvy and tough negotiator if they hire you. This may be the perfect incentive for a better salary offer.
Naturally, some interviewers will press further for a specific number. At this point, you can say something like: “Well, according to my research and past experience, my understanding is that 75-90K per year is typical based on the role and requirements.” This frames the number as “here’s my understanding of what’s competitive” as opposed to “here’s what I want.” If you’ve done your research as a mentioned on one of my previous post you’ll be able to quote a reasonable range and then they can respond.
When asked: “What are You Making Now?” For the most part, interviewers ask this question believing that offering a salary 10 to 15% higher than your current salary will be sufficient to lure you away from your current position. There are a number of reasons why this question may not be so straightforward for many candidates. Most typically, many candidates are either underpaid or overpaid in their current roles. They fear an overly high or low number could lead to an unattractive offer or knock them out of contention. Others may be making a career change or moving from commission-based to salary work or otherwise in a situation in which the comparison isn’t valid.
If you’re making “too much,” the interviewer may feel they can’t afford you or you are overqualified. This can be a problem if you are okay with taking a lower salary — perhaps because you know you are/were overpaid, you are making a career change, or you are prioritizing work-life-balance or other aspects of the job. It’s far more common for someone to be underpaid and worried about the perception that there’s something “wrong” with them for that reason. If you’re not making the market rate, or close to it, potential employers may begin scratching their heads and asking why. The problem is that many people choose jobs with lower salaries for reasons that have nothing to do with work ethic or job performance including the following:
Opportunity to take on new responsibilities and gain experience even if your salary didn’t increase accordingly
You don’t want to let the decision to work for a less than stellar salary in the past derail your opportunity for a competitive salary in the future. In any of these cases, deflection, on this particular question, can be your best bet. Eventually, you will have to address this question. However, you will be in a much better position if you can deflect until they already love you and you have more leverage to negotiate. When pressed to give your current salary when you know it would sabotage your chances, consider the following tactic to delay the question a little longer, if not put it off altogether:
“Since this position is not exactly the same as my current job, let’s discuss what my responsibilities at this company will be and work together to determine a fair salary for this position.” If you feel you must reveal your lower salary earlier than you would like, don’t forget to mention the contributing factors too. Employers will understand that a job in Madrid (Spain) paid less than a job in New York City (U.S.A.), for example.
That’s why I say and I repeat it again, this stages of hiring is very emotional and the human interviewers must be completely removed. And this is for sure going to happen not far in the future.
As I said before AI is at the early stage but will invade many areas of human activity including recruiting process. In fact, already large companies began to actively use artificial intelligence as an assistant. There is no denying that AI is redefining industries by providing greater personalisation not only to companies but also to users and is disrupting how people used to work. Of course, this technology has not yet been completed to the end and cannot completely replace a person and by itself hire employees from beginning to end. But I strongly believe that we have already overcome the first steps in creating digital profiles and now we need to move further and expand the range of AI applications.
At the moment there are several AI-based interview platforms that work the same. Usually the platform is equipped with AI, sentiment analysis, facial recognition, video analytics, neural language processing, machine learning and speech recognition. AI-powered interview platform uses deep learning to deliver a human-like conversation to the candidate and it understands context, complex, multi-part statement, changed answers, or interjections and it can also change conversation direction. Talking about interviewing, these platforms screen candidates based on few parameters:
based on candidate’s facial expressions and gestures
sentiment analysis of voice and text
ability and knowledge required for the job role
workplace competencies, cultural fitment and personality
That is not all, these platforms are in continuous learning the process as their machine learning algorithms improve with every conversation. And this means that the more candidates pass through these platforms, the better they analyze potential employees and the better they become. Though A.I. can speed up the process of getting the right candidate in the door, in professional industries with limited job seekers like IT, nursing, top managers, it will be harder to use these platforms, since these positions are not so simple, there will need human intervention. But it does not say that these platforms are useless there, they should also be used and continue to train, they can still ease the task of recruiters and help them select employees better.
While it is certainly too early to talk about sending your own AI-powered digital profile instead of yourself, but soon it will become possible and during the interview one artificial intelligence will communicate with another and it will look very unusual. One day it will come, given the speed of technology development, you should not be surprised if this happens next year for example. Over the past ten years, super fast computers have been invented, rockets have been sent to Mars, artificial intelligence has reached unprecedented heights, and this all seems ordinary to us. For our generation, nothing is impossible and we will be able to achieve a lot in the next few years, which will again seem usual to us, so we will see the emergence of digital profiles as a simple phenomenon. So if your next interview will take place with an AI robot, do not be surprised and try not to lose yourself, because these robots pay attention to your every action and every emotion. The robots have no emotions instead. So you you are good in something you will be definitely correctly evaluated purely according to your skills and not emotions, dressing code or whatever such bullshit the humans are looking for to have a first impression which is actually in the huge majority of cases a fake impression. Nobody can judge the skills of a candidate based only on his emotional presence or other crap feelings that the most of managers and their HR partner put in place after the interview. AI is definitely needed and I am glad that is already coming.
When your friends are living in another country with different living standards or even in the same country but in different cities, when the discussion about your job pops up, in many cases people ask you this question. It doesn’t matter too much for many, if you are working on something truly revolutionary or just for a new interesting concept which is better than something already available. The majority of people you know they want to know how much cash you get on monthly basis. That’s happening the same when job seeker candidates apply for jobs, most of them have no idea WHY they want the job they are applying for. It is equally the case for everyone, either as a white collar, blue collar or high level position. Everybody will push to get as much money as possible. And some people under favorable circumstances really succeed to get a big amount of money. They are not qualified to be there but still they get it. (for example many managers are like that – companies loose money by paying them but I will write about this in a future post)
There are extremely few people which really work for something they truly believe in. A cause, a vision, a dream that in one day will come true. Now of course Money is one of the reason to work for, but unfortunately for the majority of people the Money is the one and only reason WHY they do what they do. To give some real examples of people which have purpose in what they did or still do what they do I cannot find something more relevant than names like : Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt and many more (perhaps I will be in this list for the future as well… hahahahaha… nice joke :-), but who knows…). Those guys, really had a purpose in their jobs and they all have something in common : a vision for long term.
For example when Steve Jobs shared his vision of having a device that can act as a main matter of communication and entertainment between people, many told him that is Sci-Fi, stop dreaming and get busy with some real stuff . But Steve had a clear vision and he never gave up. Today we are all addicted to the products created on the base of Steve’s vision. Everybody has today at least a smartphone (or other device with touchscreen feature) Steve created an enormous impact the way how humans communicate. Of course he got a lot of money because of that , and he fully deserved, too bad that he is not with us anymore. His purpose in work was beyond the Money.This wasjust an example of having a vision in WHY you do what you do. There are a lot of other examples like that out-there. Unfortunately this is quite rare. People go to work just to have some financial stability. They don’t work on something they really like, they just work for money.
So coming back to the question: How much is your salary?… well…. here almost everybody I met/know, never give a clear answer. In that case me neither. Why should I be honest by telling my salary if the others are hiding it? … However, Money don’t come that easy as many people expect, and that is why everybody lies and try to hide or fake the reality. When people change jobs for example they do it in many cases for more money but at some point you can not do that forever. Even if you work for a good corporation or company, you still want to change something because money will not grow more than a certain limit. Not even in management position.
As you can see in the picture above, the reason for quitting a job is only 25% because of money. So , If you still want to gain more, then the only option is to create your own business and invest your money so that you reach a cash flow that make you comfortable. Otherwise in regular jobs, if you have no vision in something, you are not a smart-creative, and your only goal is to pay your bills at the end of the month, then stop dreaming of higher salary, you will never get more than maximum 2200 Euro (in good cases). Or I would better say in between 2000-2500Euro. And that is mostly in Western Europe countries or let’s say around 3000$ in the U.S.A..This is “cash in hand” for regular engineering jobs. In many other non-engineering jobs, the amount is even lower, in many countries this amounts are lower in general. Of course there are other company extra benefits, this depends on the area of activity and the size of your company. The Brutto salary may vary but at the end all that matters for many people is ”Cash in Hand” as Netto Amount.
So people which change jobs for higher pay, in the condition I mentioned above I suggest you to stop having a fantasy, you will not get more that this limit. Doesn’t matter how good you are. If you don’t know WHY you do what you do, namely you don’t have a vision for your work than your level stops here. You will retire most probably with some added value of money due to your contribution during your working years inside the company, but you will spend your entire professional career having almost the same salary. The quality of the job you are doing depends a lot on your ability to negotiate your money. If you have a purpose for what you will do for that job then you can handle money more easily. The same question will for sure arrive when you go to an interview. Answering the consequential salary expectations question the wrong way can cost you a job offer. It can also put you in an untenable situation by forcing you to consider a job at a less-than-desirable salary. After all, in some circumstances, the only thing worse than failing to get a job offer after an interview, is failing to get an offer that’s sufficient to support you and/or your family.
Before to change your job think about WHY you do that. In many cases job changing is not strictly related to Money.
I must say in my case was always for ” The Opportunity to do more meaningful work”.
Now when you go to an interview, there are some tactics to follow if you have a scope for that. Why it is this Important… and Tricky? Well…. You may be wondering what the big deal about the money question is? yet it’s one question that often stumps job candidates. Not only that, but it can change the climate of an interview from red hot to ice cold as a result of a few digits of difference in thinking.
Why do companies ask job candidates the salary question? Ultimately, company leaders and HR professionalswant to know if they can afford you before they invest time and resources courting you to come to work for them. Some employers are bargain hunting. Despite a general market value for certain positions, some companies place a bigger premium on certain positions than other companies. This means that the salary they expect to pay for a certain position may be lower or higher than the going rate. Another possible reason is that they’re trying to see how you value your work. Are you confident enough to ask for what you deserve or will you meekly accept whatever they offer?
Then Your mission is to: Sell them on you, and convince them of your worth to their organization before you reach the point of salary negotiations.
the Salary Question is Asked
Usually, “the salary question” is one or both of the following: 1) What are you looking to make?2) What are you making now?
Each of these comes with different challenges. The question(s) can come up early on as part of the screening process or can pop up later after you’ve answered a few of the behavioral, skill, or background questions. In some respects, it’s a good thing when the salary topic comes into the interview conversation. It indicates that there is some interest in having you come to work for the company. The other side of the coin, though, is that when you’re not prepared, it’s easy to make a misstep on this question that could prove costly.
Then Your mission is :Expect the salary interview question and have plans in place to address it before going into the interview.
Answering “What are Your Salary
It seems like an innocent enough question. It makes sense that potential employers would want to know a ballpark figure for your expectations, right? Not so fast. Be aware that candidly stating your salary expectations too early in the interview process can lead to problems.
Problem 1. Early on, the company in question isn’t sold on you just yet. They’re still feeling you out and doing comparison shopping between you and the other candidates. You’ll have better leverage to negotiate later, so it serves you best to avoid naming a specific number too early.
Problem 2. You may be tempted to sell yourself short to move forward in the process. While some businesses will jump at the lowest offer, there are plenty of others out there that understand the marketplace and will shy away from candidates that seem too eager to lower their standards to get the job. It may make them worry that you’ll lower your standards elsewhere as well.
Furthermore, do you really want a company that makes you feel as though they’re only after the cheapest possible deal?Or do you want to work for a company that’s after the most qualified candidate for the job?
Problem 3. A high number can price you out of contention before you’ve even had a chance to make a good impression. Low or high, if you name a price that’s outside of their expectations, it can remove you from the running for the position. Problem 4. Going too low can also put you in a position where you can’t afford to take the job, yet can’t afford to turn the job down. This is especially true for job candidates who offer low-end figures out of desperation and in hopes of getting the job. This rarely leads to a happy work situation.
Then Your mission is: Before you consider answering the question, it’s important to know the going rate for jobs in your field and in your job market (location). These can be found at websites like: Glassdoor.com or Salary.com
Do some research on these sites to understand the market salary range for the position, size of the company you’re interviewing with, location, and your experience level. You will probably find some conflicting information and wide ranges in some places, but at least you’ll get a general sense if you look at a few sources. Your goal is to arrive at a reasonable salary range that seems fair based on market value and your current or most recent salary. This way, if pressed, you can name a number that’s based on real data and position it as the market range and not just what you want. You will also want to think a bit about best case scenarios (what salary offer would make you say yes on the spot) and worst case scenarios (what salary offer would you walk away from).
But remember during the interview everybody lies, after you get the job you will see exactly how the things really are. If you are strictly focused on gaining money no matter what, you most probably will be very disappointed about the situation and you’ll start searching again a new job. But on the other side if you are confident in yourself and have clear vision in what you what to achieve, money will come for sure as a second stream. Remember the visionaries I mentioned above, they didn’t do their work for money. They had already a lot of money coming automatically without playing for them. Bill Gates doesn’t work for money anymore. He has already a lot. You must love what you do in order to be financially save.
I just want to write something about this topic which is very common in many organizations/companies . I am talking about BUSINESS TRIPS.
I’ve have seen and done a lot of such activities during my professional career in engineering. But to be honest, to do a business trip to your customers or supplier can generate a positive impact to your “on going’’ project, but if you do that often on weekly (or even monthly) basis WITHOUT having a plan or an agenda of your effective activity during that B-Trip it is rather a complete waste of resources (money, time, expertise …you name it). I experienced that myself a while ago when I had to travel in different countries almost weekly, 2 or 3 days. I was continuously tired. At one point you can even succeed to annoy your supplier or customer with your useless visits, when you have literally no reason to be there. But many employees just go in BT, because their boss wants so.
Your organization (well… in fact your direct manager who approves your travel) thinks that if you are traveling automatically means you return with improvement in process or design or whatever his dream is. If you travel just because your boss wants, that’s such a huge waste. You’re not smarter than a frog which is jumping randomly in case a threat is posed. If from your point of view is not relevant to go and you know exactly what are you talking about, then don’t go.
But unfortunately the opposite is exactly what’s happening in many cases. Some « technical » staff travel just because it is the management wish to do that, but not because they have a clear purpose for it. Travel and expense policy of a company is created to limit the expenditure of an employee while on a business trip. But in such a case, many employees take advantage of this and charge additional expenses to fill their own pockets. Making an effective travel expense policy is a time consuming process and producing a fraud proof one is even harder. Proper guidelines are crucial to control the outflow of money.
A typical large business loses 20-30% due to inefficient processes in their travel program. Maybe even more. And the main responsible for that is the incompetent manager that blindly approve it or demands his team member to go there but without having a clear purpose.
As I said travel is a business expense that can produce a significant return on investment if it is conducted properly. That means :
1. adopting a policy tailored to your needs,
2.contracting appropriate suppliers and
3 implementing processes that maximize efficiency.
Unfortunately, those three elements don’t always align, leading to cost blow-outs, supplier disputes and traveler frustration. Here are some common pitfalls I’ve seen/met so far – and potential solutions.
1.Wasting time on bookings Some staff travel regularly and are familiar with your company’s policies and processes. But these people are most productive when they’re literally doing their jobs – but not spending time making bookings. You can ensure they use their time efficiently by providing them with appropriate online tools, enabling them to make their bookings with a few clicks. Larger organizations have dedicated travel bookers to handle their bookings. Whether your travelers book for themselves or not, it makes sense to make it as simple as possible to manage the booking process. Everything from making and approving bookings, to updating profiles and travel preferences, to managing bookings when the inevitable happens and plans change, should all be possible from an online portal. If your Travel Management Company (TMC) can’t offer single sign-on access to all your daily travel tools then it’s likely that improvements could be made.
2. Booking the wrong services. Your team has done the market analysis, selected suppliers/customers and negotiated rates. But the savings you have chased will not materialize if your travelers don’t “do the right thing”. It’s important to design a policy based on those procurement decisions and to communicate it to all staff who are likely to travel. But simply knowing the policy may not be enough. That’s where well-implemented technology can help. Your TMC should be able to provide – or at least support – an efficient self-booking tool that encourages travelers to make the right choices. If your policy does not allow business class on domestic flights/hotels, your booking tool shouldn’t show it. Your tool should default to approved suppliers and specified services, helping to ensure traveler compliance.
3. Incurring unnecessary fees. For many people, it’s tempting to pick up a phone and get their agent to make bookings. However, with the move to transaction fees, this approach can be costly and wasteful, especially if you already have an Online Booking Tool (OBT) in place. Smart organizations encourage employees to book online by automating as much of the process as possible. This means travelers simply tick the boxes and choose from approved services from mandated suppliers. They can do so quickly, efficiently and, most important, within policy.
4.The cost of poor planning. Travel, unlike most indirect commodities, has wildly fluctuating pricing. Two passengers on the same flight will almost certainly have paid very different fares – sometimes one paying more than double. It is already known that there are huge benefits in booking early and booking smart. But those savings evaporate quickly if your travelers constantly change their plans. This is equally valid for hotel bookings, too. Your TMC should be able to analyze your past travel patterns and advise on the optimal timing of bookings – and the kind of fares that suit you best.
5.Unauthorized travel. Even the most sophisticated tools can only do so much. So, there’s always some risk of wastage, inefficiency or even fraud. This can be mitigated relatively easily with a robust approval system. Approval mechanisms can be automated or may require human intervention, and your TMC should be able to advise on a solution that meets your corporate culture and individual needs.
6.Accounting costs. Besides booking travel, your team also needs to monitor the spend. Many organizations use inefficient manual accounting processes to track their travel spend, relying on invoices and receipts. The manual accounting approach is time-consuming and, worryingly, it is also notoriously unreliable since it often requires manual data input. Increasingly, there is a move towards automated expense management solutions (EMS). These EMS offerings are even more efficient when they are integrated with travel booking engines. That way, when a booking is made and approved, the corresponding expenses are captured and can be tracked.
7. Loss of negotiating power. When you sit down with your suppliers/customers to renegotiate rates and terms, the first thing they’ll examine is your past performance. If you can’t accurately track your travel performance and spend, your negotiating position is significantly undermined. On the other hand, if you or your team travelers have used your OBT and all their data has been captured by your EMS, you will not only be able to question past inconsistencies, but you’ll strengthen your hand for future deals. Your TMC should also be able to harness insights from the data to suggest continuous process improvements for your program.
8. Looking for missing travelers. We seem to be facing more and more crises these days: everything from terror attacks to floods and volcanic ash clouds.These events can be debilitating for travelers directly affected, but are also more than a mere inconvenience for employers. How do you know if any of your staff are stranded (or worse!) if you don’t know exactly who is traveling at any given time? If all bookings are made according to policy and with the appropriate tools, it’s easy to pinpoint all your travelers – any time of the day or night. And if you can’t do it on your own computer or mobile device, your TMC should certainly be able to provide that information instantly.
9. Automate, integrate and save. Business travel can be complex and traveler behavior can be unpredictable. However, with a sound and well-communicated policy, clear processes and the right technology, you should be able to reduce the risk of leakage and non-compliance. A well-run travel program which harnesses the assistance and support of your suppliers is an efficient program. And an efficient program makes the most of the deals you have struck. It also ensures alignment of the internal and external elements of the travel program. In short, the efficiencies you can access will allow travelers to get what they’re expecting, without any nasty surprises for your other stakeholders. So here again, Artificial Intelligence can be largely deployed.
Dit is een normaale vraag in België. We vragen dit de hele tijd aan een nieuwkomer. Wij zijn een van de landen met de meeste poliglots ter wereld. Veel belgen spreken vloeiend tenminste 2 talen. We hebben 3 officiële talen (nederlands, frans en duits). Maar het meest gesproken zijn het nederlands en het frans (Nou…. natuurlik met hun specifike dialecten). Duits is alleen voor een minderheit mensen die in het oostelijk België wonen. Maar, om een nieuwe taal te leren tot een goed gesprekniveau je hebt niet zo veel tijd nodig. Ik zal het jullie hieronder laten zien. Je hebt alleen een sterke motivatie nodig. Maar natuurlijk, het hangt er erg vanaf wat jou moedertaal is.
In Europa wij heben met een groete meerderheit 3 categorieën talen:
Maar in de hele wereld zijn er vandaag 7100 talen die gesproken worden. Al deze talen zijn verschillende talen (niet dialecten).
Maar van dit groete aantal 7100 talen ongeveer een derde van hen zijn nu in gevaar om te verdwijden. Ondertussen, slechts 23 talen worden gesproken voor meer dan de helft van de wereldbevolking. Ok dit it goed om te weten. De vraag is in dit geval: Hoe definiëren we eenvoudige talen om te leren?. Nou, om een antwoord te vinden wij moeten rekening houden met de volgende 3 kenmerken:
Heeft de nieuwe taal, nieuwe grammaticale structuren die veschillen van je moedertaal zijn?
2. Heeft de nieuwe taal nieuwe klanken die niet aanwezig in je moedertaal zijn?
3. Heeft de nieuwe taal andere overeenkomsten met jouw moedertaal? Zal dat je leren helpen of hinderen?
Alle 7 miljard van ons lijken sterke opvattingen te hebben over onze moedertaal .Twee mensen in hetzelfde land (zelfs dezelfde stad ), zal je met evenveel vertrouwen vertellen dat hun taal superhard en supergemakkelijk is , dat je het nooit zult leren of dat het een eitje is . Ze zullen je zweren dat Engels een fluitje van een cent was om te leren, of dat het het moeilijkste is dat ze ooit hebben gedaan. Wat verklaart deze enorme meningsverschillen? Twee dingen:
Er bestaat niet zoiets als een universeel gemakkelijke taal
Het gemak van een taal hangt af van de leerling
Dus een nieuwe taal leren betekent niet van nul af aan beginnen. Bijvoorbeeld, de germaanse talen komen uit dezelfde taalfamilie als het Engels, dus de woorden en grammatica lijken vaak erg op elkaar. Soms, hoe harder je het probeert, hoe moeilijker een taal is om te leren. De meeste mensen zullen vroeg of laat opgeven als ze niet genieten van wat ze doen. Als taalonderwijs te moeilijk is, dit kan contraproductief zijn van 2 redenen:
het is moeilijk om aan te nemen
creëert stress en maakt het lastig om gemotiveerd te blijven
De tijd die het kost om een taal te leren, hangt van een aantal factoren af :
Hoe dicht de nieuwe taal is voor jouw moedertaal of andere talen die je kent?
Hoe complex is de taal?
Hoeveel uur per week besteedt je aan het leren van de taal?
De bronnen voor het leren van talen die voor je beschikbaar zijn.
Omdat Engels de meest gebruikelijke en gemakkelijke taal om te leren is, ik zal dus Engels kiezen als referentie voor het leren van een nieuwe taal.
Heb je raden welke taal het dichtst bij het Engels is? Het is een taal genaamd Friese taal die voornamelijk in Friesland in het noorden van Nederland wordt gesproken. Fries is eigenlijk een groep van drie, nauw verwante talen met Engels maar als mensen Fries zeggen, bedoelen ze meestal West-Fries, omdat dit het meest gesproken wordt. Maar nu hoe eenvoudig zijn de gemakkelijkste talen?
Dit eenvoudige taal begint plotseling als een hoop hard werk te klinken. Natuurlijk, deze aspecten zullen niet voor iedereen hetzelfde zijn. Het hangt er vanaf hoe gemotiveerd je bent, hoeveel ervaring je hebt en de technieken die je gebruikt. Talen die veel gemeen hebben met jou moedertaal, zijn meestal gemakkelijker dan die welke heel verschillend zijn. Dus de gemakkelijkste talen voor Engelssprekenden zijn allereerst natuurlijk de germaanse talen. Engels is een Germaanse taal, zoals het Nederlands en het Zweeds, maar het heeft ook veel gemeen met Romaanse talen zoals het Frans en het Spaans. De 5 eenvoudige germaanse talen om te leren voor Engelse sprekers zijn: Duits, Nederlands, Zweeds, Noors en Afrikaans.
Waarom zijn ze gemakkelijk? Deze talen zijn afkomstig uit dezelfde taalfamilie als het Engels, dus ze delen veel vocabulaire, grammatica en uitspraakfuncties. Degenen in deze lijst hebben geen ingewikkelde casussystemen zoals in het Duits, waardoor ze een beetje makkelijker op te halen zijn.
Moedertaalsprekers van deze talen spreken vaak fantastisch Engels, dus het kan moeilijker (maar niet onmogelijk) zijn om mogelijkheden te vinden om te oefenen.
De tweede categorie van talen die eenvoudig voor Engelse sprekers zijn de romaanse talen. De 5 eenvoudige romaanse talen om te leren voor Engelse sprekers zijn: Spaans, Portuguees, Roemeense, Frans en Italiaans.
Waarom zijn ze gemakkelijk? Romaanse talen hebben hun wortels in het Latijn. Omdat de meerderheid van de Engelse woordenschat (58%) afkomstig van het Frans of het Latijn is. Wanneer je begint met het leren van een Romaanse taal, zul je realiseren dat je al heel veel woorden kunt zeggen door simpelweg een hammy-accent aan te brengen. Spaans, Italiaans en Roemeens hebben eenvoudigere spellingssystemen en minder klinkers dan het Engels, waardoor de uitspraak betrekkelijk eenvoudig is.
Hoewel de grammatica gemakkelijker is dan talen zoals Duits of Russisch, moet je nog steeds grip krijgen op werkwoordsvervoegingen, dat wil zeggen, wanneer werkwoorden verschillende vormen hebben, afhankelijk van wie ze doet. Zelfstandige naamwoorden in Romaanse talen hebben ook een geslacht, dat aanvankelijk een beetje loco kan aanvoelen. Daarom voor Engels moedertaalspekers, hebben we 3 grote categorieën talen als volgt:
1. Gemakkelijke talen. – zijn die talen die nauw verwant met Engels zijn. Dus als je een van deze talen studeert voor 3h30/ dag en elke dag voor een tijdsbestek van 5,5 maanden, je kan de taalvaardigheid bereiken.
2. Medium talen. – zijn die talen die een significante verschiellen van het Engels hebben. Dus als je een van deze talen studeert voor 3h30/ dag en elke dag voor een tijdsbestek van 10 maanden, je kan de taalvaardigheid bereiken.
3. Moeilijke talen – zijn die talen die echt moeilijk voor Engels spekers zijn. Dus als je een van deze talen studeert voor 3h30/ dag en elke dag voor een tijdsbestek van 1 jaar en 8 maanden, je kan de taalvaardigheid bereiken.
Zoals jullie kunnen zien, het nederlands is een van de gemakkelijke taal om te leren. Ik vind dit uitstekend, hè? :-). Dit patroon kan ook gemakkelijk worden geëxtrapoleerd voor Nederlandse sprekers. Cool Thing, 🙂 .!!!!!
Dus het Nederlands moet worden de tweede meest gesproken taal wereldwijd na het Engels. Dat zou gelweldig zijn , denken jullie niet?!!! :-), 🙂 (hahaha.. just kidding)
I know is too early to talk about this idea, but for sure we are going in that direction. And honestly I can’t wait to see it happening. When people in general go to an interview to get a job they are very much loaded with emotions and still on the way to the interview the candidate has a lot of strategies in his mind how to lie in a very credible way and try to look cool and to show that he master the situation, hoping that he/she will convince the interviewer to accept the candidature. The interviewer on the same way he also tries to look very sure in everything he says and even try to dominate the candidate, so that at the end when he asks the candidate if he/she has a any specific question, the candidate to just answer: “no it’s ok, everything’s fine” . This is crap, Artificial Intelligence should definitely come in place. It is still at the early stage of development but for sure is coming in the next decade.
Now, I don’t say that companies don’t need recruiters at all, but they should not be so many recruiters involved in a hiring process. There are already companies which started to use the AI for recruitment process. These tools offered by AI are there to help but not to completely replace the humans. These are the so called AI-Powered chatbots.
Now why is this good. Well …there are many advantages versus the job done by recruiters. First of all a human recruiter can do a lot of mistakes, and actually they do a lot. I will write about this too, in another future post. Therefore I will name just few of the advantages delivered by AI-Powered chatbots as follows:
The AI-Chatbot never sleep, so no matter when or how many candidates they are checking, those AI-Powered chatbots are never tired.
They can conduct a basic screening so you can only engage with the most qualified candidates
They can capture a job seeker’s contact information so you can follow up later.
A robot will assess candidates only based on the candidate’s answers, there are no emotions involved.
As soon as the technology advances those things will be applied more and more in the recruitment process.
Now, let’s come back to our dear incompetent human recruiters. Well…I apologize, if I am too tough in my words but I can not find another word for that. I’ve been to a lot of interviews so far and I have never met a really professional recruiter which actually knows what is going on. Those guys are actually the first in a company trained to lie and fake the reality about the company. In fact at a face to face interview which usually takes let’s say between 30-40 min, this is a contest of lies. Everybody lies at the interview for a job. The candidate lies, the company representative lies. But the biggest filthy liar is the company itself by its representatives during the interview.
A continuous recruitment process shall not exist at all. I don’t say it must never be conducted, I would just do for example one intense recruitment process per year. But this is mostly when I want to start my business and I need to build a team. Once I defined a good team and I can manage to keep my people happy and motivated then the business goes on. There is no need to recruit other people. Therefore I don’t need recruiters neither.
Today many companies, especially big corporations are having a long boring recruitment process and they burn a lot of money for this without being effective. If a company has every month some open positions to offer, it’s clear there is a problem in that company. The company is loosing market share and they try desperately to recover by launching a great recruitment process. As today also many people are jobless, they are also desperate to get a job so we have a circle game here. For the jobless people the goal is to get a job no matter what, doesn’t matter if they are really qualified or they really like the j