Growth

A Case Study On Retention and Growth Solutions

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To continue our series of conversations on hiring, developing, and retaining great new hires and internal leaders, Voltage is excited to exhibit a case study on a phenomenal client of ours.

This past Friday Torc Robotics was acquired by Daimler Trucks, a trucking subsidiary of the German automaker behind brands including Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner. This is big news for Torc Robotics and Blacksburg, Virginia.

Voltage has been working with Torc Robotics for over 5 years now and would like to show you a piece of how we have been able to assist Torc in their growth!

CATCH PEOPLE WINNING

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It is easy to find fault – with ourselves and with the work of our teams.  A critical eye is what allows leaders to find the opportunities and correct the liabilities in their people and processes.  Everyone can miss a deadline, miss the point, or miscommunicate.  Everyday something goes wrong…and we focus on it so we can fix it.

The challenge is this:  what we focus on grows.

If all we focus on is what is missing and what was missed, we rob ourselves of the chance to develop in our people their biggest asset:  their enthusiasm.  We also fail to give people the chance to know, clearly and specifically, what works.

Catching people winning is not the same thing as offering praise.  “Atta-Boy”, “Congratulations!”, and “Thank You” are not enough.  When I encourage clients to catch people winning, I ask them to take intentional time, every day, to stop and:

·       notice

·        name

·       appreciate

something specific that is being done right.  When someone does something well; meet a deadline, make good progress on a project, develop a strong plan, or deliver a great performance in a key meeting, and we let them know on the spot, specifically, what went right, we Catch People Winning.

When we catch people winning we feed them two essential ingredients for success: enthusiasm and wisdom.  Offering specific feedback when people get things right increases their energy and grows their wisdom and insight.  They learn what you value and that you notice the efforts and advancements they make.

Why does this matter?  In a word: Trust.  People trust people who notice and acknowledge the work they are doing.  Catching our people winning grows their inner confidence and grows their trust in us.  They have greater assurance of their own skills and greater confidence in themselves and trust in the relationship they have with us, their leader.  Trust develops and trust is a key ingredient to achieve exceptional pace, productivity, and performance.

When people on our teams experience us noticing and celebrating their achievements, they begin to believe we are invested in their successes and, as a result, our credibility grows.

Catching people winning arms leaders with trust and credibility, offers our workforce a dose of enthusiasm and, together, these create the ideal environment to develop and coach our people for better and better performance. 

The dividend of Catching People Winning is their responsiveness.  It is much easier for our people to act on new challenges when they have strong enthusiasm for their work.  It is much easier for our people to hear difficult feedback from us when they believe we are interested and invested in their success.  Catching People Winning creates the environment for performance excellence.

All we have to do is stop and notice what is going right.  It is happening around us all the time.

Catch someone winning today.  Go find 3 great things and recognize the person today. You will feel more successful yourself when you do.

How to Think and Act Like a Day One Executive

We recently had April Armstrong on our Voltcast: Illuminating Leadership Radio Show. April is the CEO of Aha Insight and author of the upcoming book called The Day One Executive.  We had a fast-paced conversation about how you could start thinking like an executive. If you already an executive, we also talked about some good practices to sharpen our leadership saw. Below are a few highlights from our conversation.

Jeff-Why did you write the book?

April-If you’re lucky you’ll have a mentor in your career. But I recently spoke to a group and 2 people in the room raised their hands that they had never had a mentor in their life. This book is for them. And quite frankly, even if you’ve had a mentor – this book reflects my experience with hundreds of executives from all walks of life, my journey as a very young executive in a very big company, and a lot of research into top executive traits.

J-What does it mean to be a Day One Executive?

A-You show up differently. You are like the lion looking for “the standard” to eat for lunch. You are that aware. And you show up as an executive starting on Day One of your career. It is a choice to show up as an executive. Anyone can be an executive. This is not something you have to wait for someone to promote you to.

J-How is this different from a lot of the other “leadership” books out there?

A-This takes a close look at a very specific attribute of leadership. Not all leaders are executives, and by no means are all executives leaders. This book is for the born leader who wants to bring out and cultivate their inner executive – starting right now.

J-What’s an example of something from the book that folks may not have heard someplace else?

A-Know the real driving force of the business you are in.

J-Won’t millennials do it all different? Will this book be out of date by the time it is printed?

A-There’s a lot of chatter about millennials versus Gen X and older. And they will do it different. They will reshape the world. But what is not likely to change dramatically is the fundamental underpinnings of what it takes to change the world.

This book isn’t written for climbers or coasters. It’s written for people who want to change the world and it takes a certain leadership to do this. 

I encourage you to buy April’s book. It is filled with ideas, suggestions and tips to help you become a better executive. Here are a couple of thoughts that I have to get you started:

1.     Create an advisory board—identify 3-5 people that can give you feedback on your leadership skills. Have lunch or coffee with them 2-3 times a year and ask them for feedback on how you can grow as a leader.

2.     Be curious about your organization. What are the driving forces of your business? What can you do to take the initiative to help the organization be successful in the key aspects of the business.

3.     Be clear on your development and then go get better at what you are working on. Read a book, watch a YouTube video, find a good podcast to listen to or identify a coach or thinking partner that can help stay accountable to your growth.

4.     Grow others—might be in your organization or could be in a volunteer setting. The best way to hone your executive skills is to teach others and notice where you still have growth for yourself.

Good luck and let me know what you are working on. Thanks to April for a great show!

CAN ANYTHING GROW HERE?

Growth environments are created and cultivated intentionally. Business leaders need a growing environment in their business just as farmers need healthy soil and enough rain and sunshine to grow their crops.

If your people cannot grow inside your business, ideas will not take root, productivity and engagement will falter, passions will wilt, and the organization becomes irrelevant.

Have you ever worked in a killjoy environment?

Those kinds of workplaces don’t just kill our joy; they can also kill ideas, our growth, our productivity, our creativity.

When we don’t create growth environments:

·       New ideas don’t take root

·       New experiences are not allowed

When we do create growth environments:

·      people have new experiences

·       individuals and teams learn new things

·       everyone continues to gain competencies in new areas, AND

·       they feel safe even when they fail.

Recently we launched a new radio show at Voltage Leadership.  It was an opportunity to both do something new, and to share what we are discovering about today’s best practices from the successes of our clients.  Here are some simple lessons that we teach and applied to our own new experience as we continue to grow as a company and as a leadership team:

1.      The leader goes first.

Our CEO, Jeff Smith, launched our show by having himself as the guest. In this way, he learned about the experience firsthand before asking the rest of his colleagues and other thought-leaders to join him.  This is both good hospitality and good business.  You can’t be a coach unless you have had the experience, and he gave himself the opportunity to go first and learn so that he could then lead.  

2.      Leaders keep learning.

A great leadership practice is to put yourself continually in the position where you are learning something new from someone else.  There is no better way to equip others to lead than by being constantly in the experience of learning.  We learn and grow as coaches every day, and it is our responsibility to be on the forefront of leadership innovation in order to equip our clients to be at their best.

3.      Start small.

Yes, we chose to launch a radio show, but we committed to a few shows, not a full year. We want the chance to evaluate our progress and measure the experience for impact. Then we can refine, retool and re-launch the experience based on that new knowledge. Usually when you start something new, it fails in total or in part.  Be ready for that and plan accordingly.  Start small so that you can fail fast and fail small.

4.      Create learning environments.

This is the cornerstone of our success and a key ingredient we find in our most successful clients.  When people are allowed to learn, the conditions are right for both the people and the business to grow.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself and your people to test your business’s growth capacity:

·       When was the last time you tried something new at work?

·       Tell me about what happened the last time you failed?

(Was there punishment or coaching?  Did you get pulled from the assignment or encouraged to try again?)

·       How would you rate your ability to test new experiences and ideas?

With these questions you can discover more about the capacity of your culture to punish or to coach, to strip responsibilities or to encourage engagement and accountability.

I have two hopes for you:

·       The next time you miss the target, someone encourages you to aim and try again, and

·       When someone falls short of your expectations, you offer them clear coaching and new tools and tips to go back to the drawing board and try again.

FEEDBACK IS A GIFT! Part 1

Feedback is essential for our growth, our development and our ability to hit our goals.  So why is it so hard for people to give it and receive it?  I am not immune to this dilemma myself.  When someone wants to give me feedback, I can feel my heart start to race and my breathing become a bit shallower, and I can get defensive and try to explain myself.  Even when the feedback is positive, I find myself blushing or cutting the person off so that I can get out of the situation.  I used to think I was alone in this challenge, but I see it every day with the people I coach and teach.  The question is, “What to do about feedback?”

We have to understand that we need to give feedback.  It is even more important in this digital age.  A text, tweet or email is generally not the best way to deliver feedback.  The best way is face to face, but that may not always be possible. 

·       Try to deliver improvement feedback either face to face or on Skype so you can see the other person’s reaction.

·       Aim for a balance between direct and compassionate.

I see many people who are nervous giving feedback and who take one of two tracks:

1.      Get direct and get out of there!  Well, it is over quicker that way, but the receiver is left feeling run over and unsure how to move forward.

2.      Get vague, talk in generalities and hope the receiver translates the message.  I tend to have this challenge. The problem is that, while it may make the deliverer feel better, the goal is really for the person and/or the process to improve.

Some of the best practices for effective feedback delivery include:

·       Have a clear intention for the feedback

·       Find a good time for both of you to be able to have a productive conversation

·       Find a good location

·       Be specific in the feedback

·       Ask for feedback from the recipient regarding what they think about the feedback they received

·       Determine the next steps and accountability for the next steps

·       Thank the recipient for participating.

Notice what type of feedback you normally give.   A good book to use is Leadership Conversations:  Challenging High Potential Managers to Become Great Leaders by Alan Berson and Richard Steiglitz.

 A model that I like from the book is ACE.  This describes three types of feedback:

1.    Appreciation

2.    Coaching

3.    Evaluation

All three types of feedback are critical, but it is important to know:

·       What type of feedback you are planning to give

·       Your intention for the session. 

If you plan on talking about performance and then spend most of the time in appreciation, the message about performance gets lost.  Similarly, if you only ever give me feedback about ways to improve and never provide recognition, I want to start avoiding you like the plague!  

Feedback Goals

·       Clarity

·       Provide all three types of feedback over the course of a year

·       Be open to feedback yourself.

One final note:  give feedback often.  One of my clients called me in to do a 3-way conversation because the top two leaders would battle each other. We were able to get to a good place after about three meetings over four days, but there were a lot of hurt feelings.  The root causes were that neither person really gave the other feedback, that each made assumptions about the way the other was acting, and that each leader was judging themselves by their intentions.  We were locked in a dramatic scene that could have been made into a movie.  However, once we set some clear expectations, shared some feedback, and looked for ways to recognize each other’s strengths, we were able to find common ground.  The two leaders now meet weekly to share feedback so that it does not build up so much.

Who do you think you want to give feedback to?  Take a moment to plan it out, take a deep breath and go do it.  

CATCH PEOPLE WINNING

It is easy to find fault – with ourselves and with the work of our teams.  A critical eye is what allows leaders to find the opportunities and correct the liabilities in their people and processes.  Everyone can miss a deadline, miss the point, or miscommunicate.  Everyday something goes wrong…and we focus on it so we can fix it.

The challenge is this:  what we focus on grows.

If all we focus on is what is missing and what was missed, we rob ourselves of the chance to develop in our people their biggest asset:  their enthusiasm.  We also fail to give people the chance to know, clearly and specifically, what works.

Catching people winning is not the same thing as offering praise.  “Atta-Boy”, “Congratulations!”, and “Thank You” are not enough.  When I encourage clients to catch people winning, I ask them to take intentional time, every day, to stop and:

·       notice

·        name

·       appreciate

something specific that is being done right.  When someone does something well; meet a deadline, make good progress on a project, develop a strong plan, or deliver a great performance in a key meeting, and we let them know on the spot, specifically, what went right, we Catch People Winning.

When we catch people winning we feed them two essential ingredients for success: enthusiasm and wisdom.  Offering specific feedback when people get things right increases their energy and grows their wisdom and insight.  They learn what you value and that you notice the efforts and advancements they make.

Why does this matter?  In a word: Trust.  People trust people who notice and acknowledge the work they are doing.  Catching our people winning grows their inner confidence and grows their trust in us.  They have greater assurance of their own skills and greater confidence in themselves and trust in the relationship they have with us, their leader.  Trust develops and trust is a key ingredient to achieve exceptional pace, productivity, and performance.

When people on our teams experience us noticing and celebrating their achievements, they begin to believe we are invested in their successes and, as a result, our credibility grows.

Catching people winning arms leaders with trust and credibility, offers our workforce a dose of enthusiasm and, together, these create the ideal environment to develop and coach our people for better and better performance. 

The dividend of Catching People Winning is their responsiveness.  It is much easier for our people to act on new challenges when they have strong enthusiasm for their work.  It is much easier for our people to hear difficult feedback from us when they believe we are interested and invested in their success.  Catching People Winning creates the environment for performance excellence.

All we have to do is stop and notice what is going right.  It is happening around us all the time.

Catch someone winning today.  Go find 3 great things and recognize the person today. You will feel more successful yourself when you do.