Crack The Behavior Code

Share

The 7 Most Common Ways Leaders Unknowingly Sabotage Their Team

Season 1, Ep. 6

Sometimes leaders call me saying they want help to fix their team. That’s always a red flag for me.


A CEO of a west coast food company called me a while back. He said his team lacked accountability and he wanted me to “fix them”. As I asked him questions a disturbing trend appeared: his retention was some of the lowest I’d seen in my 30+ year career.


Even his executive team didn’t stick around—the longest tenure there was under 2 years, and the CEO had been around for over 15 years! What was happening here?


How’s the accountability in your organization? Would you like it to be stronger? If so, then please do this first:


  1. Look at your company’s values – is accountability mentioned and sacred?
  2. Look at your team’s emotional engagement – are they enrolled, aligned, engaged?
  3. Look in the mirror – does your behavior support accountability? Are you a model of it?


I’ve Seen The Enemy—And It’s Us


It’s because a human isn’t a simple being. We all have parts of ourselves, and some are in conflict with one another. A part of you wants to hold others accountable, yet part of you doesn’t want to be the “the bad guy/gal”.


Here are the top 7 factors that I find prevent, or at best reduce, accountability:

  1. Conflict Avoidance – if we don’t deal with what’s happening, like a missed deadline, then we “teach” everyone that accountability isn’t taken seriously
  2. Organizational Values that don’t honor accountability – if it’s not part of our code of conduct, of what we hold sacred, people won’t take it seriously (again!)
  3. An Absence of Process – if we don’t follow a standard process to ensure accountability, we’ll have communication misses that will set us back. Do you:
  4. Delegate with a clear spec (and ask your direct report to echo back to ensure your communication was clear)
  5. Empower them to succeed (give them what resources they need and check in mid-way to make sure they’re ok and on track)
  6. Celebration or consequences upon completion (make it feel good to be accountable, and feel bad to not be—remember the human being will always choose the “best feeling” behavior on their behavioral menu… it’s your job to make accountability feel goo)
  7. Leaders that don’t model accountability, so the team doesn’t take it seriously – yes, it’s up to us to walk the walk and talk the talk or nobody else will
  8. Assumption others won’t be accountable – I see this in cross-functional accountability break downs. One team trashes or distrusts the other, telling their team that the other one won’t come through, and surprise, they often don’t… or if they do they’re perceived as having not come through due to the potent negative PR machine.
  9. High staff turnover – back to the prospect at the beginning of this blog—he kept deeming people “disappointing” that he either fired them or they quit to find a better working environment. If your turnover is super high, look at how you’re causing it.
  10. Deadlines and projects the responsible party hasn’t agreed to/are unrealistic, constantly changing priorities and incomplete communication overall– sometimes accountability is broken because a person didn’t agree they could deliver the deadline per the spec they were told, or they don’t realize the priorities have changed—they weren’t communicated to them by leadership. So they’re working on the old priorities. Or they’re scrambling, trying to figure out what exactly the priorities are because they’re hearing from other teams that the world has changed. Or they’re irritated and rebellious because they were told to do the impossible and weren’t given a chance to negotiate a more realistic deadline/approach.


What Actually Increases Accountability


The great news is you can turn around your accountability challenges quickly, due to your own new behaviors:


  1. Resolve the challenges on the list above that apply to you
  2. Forge a powerful group and individual identity around accountability
  3. Give status in the tribe via public and specific recognition
  4. Noting and sharing each team member’s superpower(s)
  5. Make accountability a “good feeling” behavior
  6. Increase communication and clarity on priorities and performance – use Quarterly Business Reviews or Monthly Business Reviews, Weekly Status Reports, Kanban Boards, SmartSheets, whatever method keeps visibility high
  7. Ensure all understand the what, when, why and how of needle movers/KPIs


The Accountability Equation may come in handy too:


Assigner’s (Leader’s) Clear Expectations + Owner’s (Team member’s) Agreement + Personal Celebrations/Conversations (for Team Member) = High Accountability and Ownership


The Net-Net

How will you create the conditions for greater accountability?


Resources Mentioned:


You’re busy growing. Let’s have a strategy session when it makes sense, which means you are…


· Committed to getting better results and finding out how awesome your performance can truly be

· Ready to make this a priority and get started in the next few months

· Allocating budget to improving the leadership, culture and results of you and your company

· Able to make the decision to move forward (or can convince the person who can)


Ready? Great! Please fill out the form here. If not, check out our resources and subscribe to receive news and more tools as they become available, and we’ll work together when the time is right.

More Episodes

9/9/2021

Right Person, Wrong Role?

Season 4, Ep. 10
People get into the wrong roles for a number of reasons.Perhaps there was a reorganization and the company didn’t want to lose them, so they were reallocated without consultation or training. Maybe they were promoted beyond their capability without a training plan. Or maybe they were hired to do a project that’s now irrelevant and they’ve not been redeployed to produce meaningful results elsewhere. And then there’s our all-time favorite, the Untouchables.Do you have Untouchables? Also, known as Sacred Cows? These are people who were hired because they are related to (or friends with) the CEO or other powerful team members. Even though their performance is sub-par, they get promoted or allowed to stay on for emotional reasons.[Shutterstock]Case Study: Company XCompany X was a tech consulting firm with a $37 million in annual revenue and approximately 270 employees, about two-thirds of whom were consultants. They were tracking at $137,000 in revenue per employee… ouch! The company was run by a married couple, John and Sarah, who initially contacted us about perfecting their sales process. They felt that their salespeople could be performing much better. What we found was amuchbigger issue.Assess: What We FoundThe findings were grim: a fear-driven culture with 53% employee turnover each year. Company X did an exceptional job of technical training for new hires, only to see them leave for higher pay within a year.The two owners of the company had virtually oppositeMeta Programs, and this was causing chaos. Sarah (Active, Toward, Options, Difference) would proactively start an initiative, rally the troops to move toward the new goal, then jump to the next option/project. John (Reflective, Away, Procedures, Sameness) would want to analyze before launching the new initiative, so he would kill it or block it, minimize exposure, and set up a procedure to handle the proposal through testing, no matter how much or little, the cost associated risk. The resulting chaos was confusing to the team and sending them deep into Critter State.The glaring gap in the consultant’s training curriculum was in sales. Even though their role was heavily client-facing, the consultants weren’t trained in the basic selling skills and had no incentive to do anything but fix technical problems. They also had no interaction with the sales team — which was sequestered in a different area of the building. The consultants were the right people in the right role — but with no support to perform their best.Harry, the new sales manager, had been with the firm for three months. Shortly after hiring Harry, the company had reorganized to close a failing business unit. Sarah and John had moved their niece, Toni, the VP of the failed unit, into a new role as the VP of sales and marketing —wait a sec! What? Did we read that right? Yep, the niece was given one of the most important roles in the firm after killing an entire business unit. Sounds like a sacred cow to me.There were three problems with this scenario:Harry (who now was sales manager) had no sales expertise — his entire background was in Internet marketing)Toni was an experienced sales manager but wasn’t strategic and had no marketing expertiseThe two disliked each other — Toni was threatened by Harry and Harry thought Toni should have been fired for her lackluster leadership of the failed business unitTo make matters even more fun, Toni’s boyfriend, Taylor, had been hired as director of client care. He had solid experience, but a perpetual mocking smirk when interacting with anyone but Toni.Act: What They DidThe first thing we had John and Sarah do was to create a clear and compelling mission, vision, and value statements. This would help everyone know why they were coming to work, and where they were going together, and how they agreed to behave. They posted these statements in the lobby, and the managers worked with smaller teams until everyone was on board.Next, we establishedNeedle Moverstogether (first for the executive team and later for everyone) in line with the new mission, vision, and values, and radically increased accountability using weekly reporting and theAccountability Equation. We created a reporting process for the sales pipeline and marketing effectiveness metrics and set up an incentive plan for the consultants to source future sales.We also redefined the roles and responsibilities throughout sales and marketing to get the right people in the right roles. Some people were reallocated, and one or two were let go respectfully. Since the company had a history of high employee turnover it was key to minimizeCritter Statevia thoughtful communication.John, Sarah, Toni, and Harry worked on their on key challenges. Toni got the tools to turn her department around. Harry was moved out of sales management and into the right role — marketing —where he is brilliant and a perpetual learner. He still reports to Toni, who now manages the sales team directly. Harry’s initiatives have made Company X top of mind in their target market. Now that John and Sarah communicate more explicitly, they are no longer creating chaos, and Toni and Harry have developed a mutual respect for each other. Taylor had to be let go. He didn’t want to uphold the company values and had burned too many bridges to be salvageable.ROI: What They GotAbout six months into the change process, things got pretty scary. The consultants became resistant and didn’t want to work on internal projects for which they had no billable hours, and John and Sarah almost pulled the plug and reverted to chaos. Instead, they appliedenergy managementtools, worked through their own resistance, recommitted, and held their team accountable to the direction they had chosen together. The results were not all immediate — patterns occasionally resurfaced and to be readdressed — but overall the results have been phenomenal. They zoomed through the $50 million inflection point and are preparing for $100 million. Their employee retention is now normal for their industry, and employee surveys show that engagement and satisfaction continue to improve.
8/26/2021

Special Episode: Inside Leadership with Guest Cheryl Farr

Season 4, Ep. 9
Cheryl Farr, Founder & Chief Brand Officer of Signal.CSK, is our special guest for this insightful episode of the Crack the Behavior Code podcast where we discuss the importance of finding opportunity in times of crisis and much more.Who is Cheryl?Cheryl builds accessible, exciting, audience-engaging brands and brand-driven marketing programs that strengthen brand power and drive real marketplace results. She founded SIGNAL.csk in 2009 to help organizations of all kinds realize and exercise their true brand power. She empowers organizations that value fresh creative thinking, purpose, alignment, and the strategic pursuit of excellence to be strong stewards of their own brands — and their people to be passionate brand leaders and evangelists. Cheryl and her Denver-based team work side-by-side with their clients to expertly align visual and verbal identity, products and services, organizational decision making, and marketing initiatives to meet brand and business goals. Their proven True, Meaningful, DifferentTM and Brand SignalsTM methodologies build brand value by illuminating what their clients can uniquely own in the hearts and minds of their target audiences and reinforcing it across all touchpoints. Hundreds of successful client engagements include Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, where Cheryl helped positon the then-fledgling brand for expansive worldwide growth; Taylor Morrison, the nation’s largest regional homebuilder, for whom she developed its first award-winning active adult brand; and PetSmart, where she led the sensory branding work that innovated the total in-store experience.Find Out More About Her Work Here:LinkedIn: Cheryl Farr | LinkedInWebsite: Home - SIGNAL.csk (signalcsk.com)Facebook: SIGNAL.csk Brand PartnersTwitter: SIGNAL.csk (@SIGNALcsk)
8/12/2021

Why Smart People Make Stupid Decisions

Season 4, Ep. 8
We’ve all been there.We make what we think is a rational decision. And then seconds, minutes, or days later we wonder “What was I thinking?!” Was it a temporary lapse of sanity? Were we just distracted and decided anyway?We knew it wasn’t the right decision or the best decision, but in that moment, we made a decision anyway. And it ended up being a stupid one. Why?[Shutterstock]The Science Behind “Stupid”Does this mean that we are indeed stupid? Nope. It simply means that not every decision we make is actually rational. We see what we want to see filtered through our inherent biases, and then we make decisions based on those biases. These biases are called cognitive biases and we all have them.Acognitive biasrefers to the systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment. These biases cause conclusions, inferences, assumptions about people and situations to be drawn in a less than logical fashion. We all create our own “subjective social reality” from our perception of the input we receive— both from outside of us and inside of us.How can we stop making stupid decisions and start making smart ones? By spending time understanding our cognitive biases.Understanding and checking our biases leads to better decisions and more accurate cognition.When we understand, we make better decisions.Check out this graphic, then in a few minutes, I’ll walk you through how I used it to help a client make asmart hireinstead of a stupid one.What’s Your Bias? Or How Bias Impacts BusinessNeil Jacobstein, an expert in artificial intelligence, notes that we all use AI and algorithms to mitigate and compensate for many of the following heuristics in human cognition (thinking):Anchoring bias:Tendency to rely too heavily, or “anchor,” on one trait or piece of information when making decisions.Availability bias:Tendency to overestimate the likelihood of events with greater “availability” in memory, which can be over-optimistic, overestimating favorable and pleasing outcomes.Bandwagon effect:Tendency to do (or believe) things because many people do (or believe) the same. Related to groupthink and herd behavior.Hindsight bias:Sometimes called the “I knew it all along” effect, the tendency to see past events as being predictable at the time those events happened.Normalcy bias:Refusal to plan for, or react to, a disaster which has never happened before.Optimism bias:Tendency to be over-optimistic, overestimating favorable and pleasing outcomes.Planning fallacy bias:Tendency to overestimate benefits and underestimate costs and task-completion times.Sunk-cost or loss-aversion bias:Disutility of giving up an object is greater than the utility associated with acquiring it.Click herefor a complete list of all cognitive biases.Jacobstein is fond of pointing out that your neocortex has not had a major upgrade in 50,000 years. It is the size, shape, and thickness of a dinner napkin. “What if,” he asks, “it was the size of a table cloth? Or California?”The Benefits Of Bias—And How To Optimize YoursBiasescan be helpful. They filter through information overwhelm, they help make sense of the world, they allow us to make quick decisions in a fast-paced world. Check out this recent challenge an executive coaching client of mine had.My client needed to hire a VP of marketing to take the company to the next level. He had four candidates that had made it to the interview stage and one had even made it onsite to meet with four different key stakeholders in the organization. I asked him why he favored this one candidate by such a long shot. As I listened I heard the following biases. He was showing:• Planning fallacy bias:Underestimating how long the process would take and what a great hire would cost.• Anchoring bias:Focusing on one piece of information (the candidate’s current job accomplishments but not his entire career—his resume hadtwo decades of one to two-year roles).• Availability bias:Because the candidate was successful (in a huge company with tons of resources available) he assumed he’d be successful in a much smaller company (with about 1/6 of the resources the candidate was accustomed to).• Optimism bias:Some of this too…thinking we’d have a solid candidate identified, screened, hired within sixweeks.I expressed these concerns, and how cognitive biases can be busted when you:• Take Your Time:You will make better decisions when you aren’t hungry, tired, or stressed. Taking time before making a decision allows you to have to think about the future and the impact of your decision.• Get An Outside View:Ask a trusted advisor or peer for their opinion.• Consider Options:What else could you do?Then he asked me to interview the candidate. I deeply questioned the candidate in each of the bias areas our client had. The result? They’re not the right fit for the company. Not by a long shot. The excellent news is our client avoided a costly hiring mistake and the super excellent news is that he still has three candidates that mightfit the billonce they are interviewed by carefully avoiding cognitive bias.While we’ll all still make stupid decisions now and then (welcome to being human!), once you understand cognitive biases you’ll mitigate risk by implementing the tools above.