June 2010 Newsletter

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Leader HQ Newsletter

June 2010

June is a time for weddings, graduation, and barbecues. With all of the events in our busy schedule, we sometimes forget to say thanks. For those of you who need it, here’s a reminder.

Happy Fathers’ Day

Forward to a Friend

Playing Favorites – Part One of a “Two-Parter”

One of the most difficult situations a leader will face is the accusation that they play favorites when it comes to workplace assignments and opportunities. To a leader, this accusation is hurtful because favoritism is one of the most hurtful and caustic practices in the workplace. It damages employee morale and engagement, and is so powerful that even the appearance of favoritism can sap a team’s momentum and effectiveness.

Leaders are in a difficult position. While they are responsible for developing the skills and abilities of their subordinates, they are also responsible for meeting the broader organizational goals to which they have been assigned. The dual nature of their position provides an opportunity for conflict. While a good leader wants to see all employees reach their full potential, the leader still has the need to manage their own performance or risk their own sub-par evaluation.Getting the job done quickly and correctly is also important. As a result, a leader may come to rely upon a few employees that have demonstrated that they can get the work done. Over reliance on the the same few employees is a spark that causes smoke, or even generates the wildfire that is favoritism.

So how can a leader balance developing the team and getting the “real” work done? Here are some strategies to consider.

Create Learning Situations – Strive to balance business expediency with opportunities for development. If developing people is already in your DNA, you know that planning for mistakes or re-do’s is necessary; be sure to add extra time into your estimates of how long it will take to bring a project to completion. To develop your staff, let a less experienced team member shadow a subject matter expert, or if you can spare the time and resources, pair two junior employees together and let them support each other.

Be Clear in Expectations and in Requirements – when posting a job or special opportunity be sure to clearly communicate eligibility requirements and desired experience. When the search process is complete and you have found the successful candidate, send out a brief announcement. This will serve to formally close the search process and gives you the opportunity to dispel notions of favoritism by showcasing the qualifications of the successful candidate.

Ensure Fairness and Not Equality – Remember that equal is not always fair. Giving someone who is unqualified and opportunity just because it is there turn is neither good for the employee nor the business, and it devalues the contributions of those who have honed their skills. It’s OK to make the best decision for the business, but take the time to explain how and why the decision was made, as well as how to prepare for the next opportunity.

Include Everyone – Like a good resort, a leader should be “all-inclusive”. Don’t make the mistake of being friendly with some of your employees and aloof or dismissive with others. At a minimum, be cordial to everyone. There’s no advantage in alienating part of your staff, and at it’s worst, differential treatment could lead to more than just the perception of favoritism.

Use an Objective Eye – Creating the appearance of favoritism is unintentional, but avoidable. Does the same person always cover for you when you’re out? Do you eat lunch with the same few employees? Golf or ski together on the weekend? Take a step back and evaluate whether your actions could be perceived as favoritism even if there is
no ill intent. If you are conscious of your actions, it’s easy to limit those perceptions by extending an open invitation to all members of the group. When in doubt, it’s better to be inclusive than exclusive.

In most companies, employee perception is reality when it comes to workplace favoritism. Leaders that take actions to reduce those perceptions and create a work environment where it not “who you know” but what you do, reap the benefits from heading up a fully
engaged and motivated workforce.

This is a “two-parter” because we’d like to hear from you. Send an e-mail to favoritism@leaderhq.com with a short note about how you dealt with favoritism from a boss, or how you as a leader worked to avoid the perception of favorfism in the workplace. Look for some of your comments in next month’s newsletter.–Raymund

Online Resource

Online shoe company Zappos is well known for it’s large selection and great customer service. Over time, Zappos has also been recognized for its unique corporate culture. The CBS program Sunday Morning recently broadcast a profile of the company and its CEO, Tony Hsieh. Although it may be difficult to duplicate their success at your workplace, you’ll find some interesting ideas on creating a workplace culture that pleases its customers, shareholders and its employees. You can view it here.

For an interesting counterpoint and a peek under the covers, you can read about the story behind Amazon’s purchase of Zappos at Techdirt.

On the Bookshelf – The Shark and the Goldfish

Layoffs and closures have greatly impacted those losing their jobs, and those who remain employed are overworked and reaching a breaking point. For both groups the level of change can be discouraging. Reading a fable about a shark and a goldfish might provide a well needed break.

In his book The Shark and the Goldfish – Positive Ways to Thrive During Waves of Change, Jon Gordon tells the tale of a Gordy the Goldfish. Gordy is unexpectedly placed in a situation he didn’t plan for and must learn how to survive. Gordy initially finds things to be tough, but with some lessons from his new friend, Sam the Shark, he begins to learn that things aren’t as bad as they seem. Eventually the “little appetizer” finds his way.

Through the use of memorable sayings, applicable to both goldfish and people, Gordon provides a quick pick-me-up to those overwhelmed by change or discouraged by recent events. This book is a great discussion starter for leading a group through organizational
change, or for a manager coaching a struggling salesperson. Although Gordon’s fish story bears more than a little resemblance to Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo, it still manages to get an important point across; successfully dealing with change is a matter of attitude and action. You can find The Shark and the Goldfish on Amazon.

Recipe for Success

Find yourself wishing you could roast some of your employees over the coals? Before you look for the matches, call Leader HQ. We can provide you with a better solution that won’t lead to
indigestion. Contact Leader HQ today and let us help you
create your own Recipe for Leadership Success.

As the weather gets warmer you’ll enjoy this refreshing summer soup. This months’ recipe
is for Shrimp and Cilantro Gazpacho. You won’t even have to turn on the stove if your grocery sells steamed or ready-to-eat shrimp.

Shrimp and Cilantro Gazpacho

2 pounds large ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 cup tomato juice
1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
1 cup cucumber, chopped, peeled and seeded
1 cup chopped onion
1 small loaf of french bread (or 2 crusty Kaiser rolls)
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 lb large cooked shrimp

Chop tomatoes and tear bread into 1 in. pieces. Add tomatoes and bread, along with other ingredients into a large glass or plastic bowl (the acid in the tomatoes will react with a metal bowl and give the soup a metallic taste). Mix ingredients thoroughly and allow them to rest for an hour..

Working in small batches, puree the mixture in a blender or food processor with a little of the tomato juice until smooth. Add additional tomato juice as needed. Season with salt and black pepper. Chill at least 2 hours. Top the soup with the cooked shrimp and serve cold.


In This Issue
Playing Favorites – Part One
Online Resource
On the Bookshelf – The Shark and the Goldfish
Recipe for Success – Shrimp and Cilantro Gazpacho


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