Check Your Map…Achieve Your Goal

At the beginning of the year I pitched a way to achieve your New Year’s Resolutions. (https://christopherstcyr.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/time-to-reflect-plan-act/) 0322141247One of the steps I suggested was to periodically check your list to measure your progress and adjust your course. That time is upon us. I know because the reminder I set in my calender alerted me to check my progress on my goals.

I use a goal setting check list to help me focus on task steps and measures for success. I used to keep them on paper, but as time and digitization have progressed, I have found using a word processor or even better, the task list on my email client work great. Your worksheet does not have to be fancy. I combined the format I learned in the Army to evaluate training with some of the great ideas Ken Blanchard pitched in his book, The One Minute Manager with a couple of theories I have learned about SMART goals. If you did not put your New Year’s Resolution in writing in January, you still have time to do so. The benefit of having your goal in writing is being able to sit down periodically (like now) to review your progress.

For those of you who did make some notes, dig them out and lets check your progress. I have learned several things throughout the years I have used this process. Your work sheet is like a map. As you travel you find roads exist not appearing on your map, and some roads on your map are more like mountain foot paths. For goal setters that means you may have found some of the steps you planned to take were not required, however things you did not know when you began the journey require you to complete tasks you did not anticipate, and that is okay. Just like our journey on an previously unknown but shorter or better road, as one works towards a goal and finds a shorter or better way to complete the task, you do. Note the changes on your map during your review. Enter comments about the progress of each task and check off completed steps. Open your calender and schedule time to complete the next series of activities on your journey to completing your goal.

An important question to ask as you check your progress is, “How will I recognize success?” The answer to this question becomes the measures of the success for your journey. If you goal is to improve your health (a common New Year’s Resolution) how will you know you are healthier? Some metrics may include a target weight, the ability to lift an amount of weight, the ability to be able to run a certain distance in a given amount of time, the measurement of your waist so you can once again fit into your High School jeans, your blood pressure number or the levels of cholesterol. What ever standard you select, make it specific and measurable by some recognizable value.Image

Checking the progress of your goals on a regular basis is important to your success. By having a map in the form of a goal checklist you improve the chances of your arriving at your intended destination, your goal. Your check list should include the route of travel and measures of attainment so you stay on track, or recognize when you have to adjust course. If you don’t know where you are going, it is impossible to know when you have arrived. Take a few minutes today to review and update your goals. For those of you who have yet to do so, set ONE goal today and develop your route and metrics. I have posted a sample goal setting worksheet on SlideShare. Check it out and use, change and adapt it to your needs. Move forward by taking that next, charted step to your personal success.

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AW…do we have to plan AGAIN?!

“Plans are nothing; Planning is everything.” Dwight D. Eisenhower. Planning is one of the fundamental functional areas of management. Leaders at all levels plan. Depending on the event and their level in the organization determines how they plan, but the planning process should remain the same. Whether you want to develop a new vision for your organization, or you are putting together a small meeting for your staff, planning is the process that identifies the needs for what is desired in the future, the resources necessary to accomplish the task, actions requiring completion, controls and guide posts to watch for along the way and a statement of success. One of the reasons planning is valued more than the finished plan is understanding that no battle plan ever survives past first enemy contact, but in the planning process, key leaders have opportunities to evaluate different courses of actions allowing them to change course as the situation evolves. This topic deserves more than the few hundred words dedicated here, however my intent is to provide readers a general direction for their own planning processes.Image
The first step in any plan in to identify the objectives. Plans are only required if there is difference between the current situation and what you expect in the future. The purpose of the plan is to change the future. At the strategic level, leaders develop mission statements, share their vision and establish guiding principals. At the operational level, leaders develop work processes, gather resources, train workers and establish goals and task steps.
Once the object is identified, develop alternative actions. Often this is done during brain storming sessions although other idea generating activities also work. Ideas do not have to appear practical or traditional. The important action at this stage is to developing ideas. You may find that some of what originally appear to be flaky ideas in the beginning, when paired with other ideas may work the best.
Now that you have several alternatives, take time to evaluate them whether alone or in a group. Identify their efficiency, alignment with organizational guiding principals, likelihood of success and other factors selected by the group’s leaders. During this stage you should start to develop the measure for success. As alternatives are eliminated the better ideas become evident. The completion of this step should involve a completed written plan. The plan does not have to answer all questions but should provide enough information for those charged with implementing understand the intent. Remember the old saying, “An imperfect plan delivered on time trumps the perfect plan delivered a day late.”
Action is the next step in the planning process. A complete plan is not required to begin action. The great thing about mission and vision statements are they provide everyone an idea about which direction they should be traveling even if they lose the directions to the final destination. Once the decision has been made to move towards a certain goal, action can begin. Starting movement is the hardest part of any change. Starting movement is they only way the plan will succeed.
Once things begin to move it is important to monitor progress. The plan should include specific check points where staff gather to report progress. Like any journey, if you don’t take the time to check your compass and read the road signs you may find you took a left when you should have turned right in Albuquerque. These controls may include checks on spending, use of resources, percent of quality improvement, number of units sold or any other metric that measures progress.
A final and critical step in the planning process is obtaining commitment from stakeholders. Too many projects fail for lack of this important support. Ensure the key leaders understand the resources requiring commitment for success. Obtain contracts from customers if necessary. Lock in resources from suppliers early.
A finished plan may not be fancy. It may not be complete. What matters is the process used to arrive at the plan. Follow these steps and you increase your plan’s success. Start by determining the objective. Identify alternatives to reach the objective. Evaluate the alternatives selecting the one most in line with organizational values and vision. Begin action as soon as there is commitment. Obtain commitment from key stakeholders. Check your progress regularly and plan those check-ups. As your project rolls along, you may find success lies off the road you selected to reach your destination, but through your planning process you identified detours and side trips. In the end you will find your planning helped you make small adjustments along the way and reach your destination.

 

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Leaders Training Future Leaders

ImageAll trainers are leaders because they influence people in their organizations to accomplish the mission. The flip side to that thought is that all leaders are trainers. In too many organizations however leaders are selected based upon their ability to accomplish tasks more than their ability to influence others and too many organizations fail to train their highest performers to become leaders. Possession of influence is more important to a leader than possessing an ability to complete a task skillfully. Learning how to engage others to influence them to perform is more important skill for leaders than the task to be performed. Teaching the leaders to teach becomes that challenge for the middle and senior leaders of organizations, one that is poorly executed. Consistent leader training and development is critical to any organization’s long term success. Four simple, repeatable steps separate are the foundation of an enduring leadership training program. Those steps are telling, demonstrating, practicing and correcting.

Telling. The quickest way to transfer information is to tell the other person. When sending a message you want the receiver to remember ensure the receiver has a method of recording the information, whether it is a notebook, a voice recorder or a note on their device. Unrecorded information is sure to be forgotten. When someone writes, they remember better in the future and create a record for future reference when the teacher is absent. During the review of the lesson, the teach can have the student read back the notes ensuring all important details were discussed.

Demonstrating. You demonstrate the task. In this blog, demonstration is listed as the second step, but in practice, it is the first. When others work for you, you demonstrate leadership for them daily. When you take time to counsel the new leader, you demonstrate the importance of counseling. Your methods become the lesson as the techniques and practices you expect them to employ in their leadership role. Counseling is just one area, but the example crosses many such topical areas.

Practicing. At first you may be inclined to linger. This may not always work well. For the same reasons it may not be practical for your trainee to sit in on a counseling session with a fellow employee with a family problem, it probably is just as likely you should not sit in on similar situations unless you are invited. The senior leader has other duties. If she spends all her time overseeing one new supervisor, she ignores other areas of responsibility. It is not unreasonable to follow up by asking to see documentation of a process or to check progress of employees. This lets both the employee and their supervisor know you are paying attention to important aspects of their work and lives.

Correcting. Do this as close as possible to the performance of the activity. Often in performance oriented training we ofter students feedback in the form of an after action review within a few minutes of completing the activity. There is no reason to not apply the same practice. If you are invited to observe a process improvement meeting, plan on five or ten minutes after the meeting to review the supervisor’s performance.

When you have completed all the steps, repeat them until the leader performs them nearly perfectly. As they improve, you allow them to tell you how they can improve their performance instead of providing feed back from you. As you do so, you prepare them for increasing levels of leadership and improve the organization.

Good leaders are also trainers. They set the standard by telling, They live the standard through demonstration. They allow others to try to practice and correct mistakes so success is achieved. These steps train and develop leaders follows the same model. Tell them what the expectations are, demonstrate the way you expect them to behave, allow them to perform, make corrections and repeat. Leaders who practice these steps increase their sphere of influence, allow others to see he uses power to make the organization better, has concern for the future of the group and its people and is willing to e what he knows. Observers recognize the spark and passion of the leader doing the training and the overall success of the organization. Take the first step today with your young leaders.

Photo Credit:  tanakawho from flickr.com creative commons license

Why Run Alone?

Seems about this time of the year dues for many of the organizations I belong to are due. Each year I use the opportunity to decide what associations are important to me and my future by deciding which dues bills I pay. A couple decades ago I remember thinking it was a waste of time for one of the fraternal organizations I belonged to to send representatives to either the state or international conferences believing they were little more than a fun-filled weekend away at the organization’s expense. As I’ve grown I have learned the importance of associating with others. Leaders interested in continued improvements benefit from rubbing elbows with leaders from other communities and fields. These associations keep their perspectives fresh by infusing their network with people who possess different skills, learning about industry trends and expanding their sphere of influence.

If leadership is about influencing others to accomplish things while continually improving, it makes sense to consisteImagently meet new people. When one meets people with different backgrounds, skills and experiences one no longer needs to develop that particular skill; at least not alone. At some point you will find a situation where the skill of the person you met at one of these meetings, conferences or conventions is necessary to solve a problem your, your organization or someone you know needs. By contacting them, you solve the problem, expand your influence and allow others to expand their influence.

Breaks and social events during conferences provide opportunities to meet with the movers and shakers on the cutting edge. Conversations often revolve around trends that may not have hit popular industry media. Having such information provides you and your organization an opportunity to react before bad things happen, or develop strategies for positive outcomes.

Developing and using your network creates opportunities you never have running alone. Many Americans imagine success as something obtained by an individual struggling on his own to meet daunting challenges. In reality, most successful people are surrounded by smart people offering a helping hand here and a leg up there. Occasionally they slip and fall, but because of they are working with a net, bouncing back is easier.

As you connect people, expand your skills and network and develop the reputation as all-around helper, more people inside and outside your organization turn to you when seeking information, skills and services. Each contact may not result in a direct benefit for your organization. Working with others cooperatively helps them successful. They in turn find ways to help your organization succeed. Your greater sphere of influence puts more people indirectly to work for your organization improving the likelihood of mission accomplishment. The choice is yours; you can strike out alone and figure things our for yourself or you can run with the pack using the energy, skills and wisdom of the group to push you to succeed.

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Why Run Alone by Christopher St. Cyr is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Leadership Vision; A Requirement for All Leaders

vision

Leadership vision helps leaders look ahead to prepare and avoid obstacles allowing their organization to achieve its mission.

Several years ago I attended a leadership seminar taught by Richard Ayres retired FBI leadership trainer coaching leaders from all walks of life. He was not the first to discuss the importance of leadership vision, but he was the first who caused me to reflect upon the importance of leadership vision at every level within an organization whether they are the CEO, or a brand new front line supervisor with only one direct report. Often leaders on the line or somewhere in the middle think their slice of the organization is so small they have no affect on the course of the organization. Without vision the small groups these middle and front line supervisors lead will drift in the wind and dragging on the success of the larger organization. There are ways non-executive leaders can develop a small group vision for their sections that complement the larger organization and inspire employees.

Lower level leaders are the people that get things done in organizations. An organization can survive without a CEO or miss several VPs. Run an overnight shift with poor leadership and before long everyone know who the important leaders are; the local leaders who interact with employees daily.

Developing a vision is not difficult. Focusing on what is important and communicating your vision to your leaders, peers and followers is another story. When you announce, “Go west young man!” others may not understand why. New leaders who learn to succussfully identify key tasks and direction have the edge developling their vision. Many issues, problems and people compete for their attention they do not know what is important and what is window dressing. Experienced leaders develop skills to help them focus on the real issues quickly. New front line leaders lack this background but a good mentoring program helps them by providing tools and strategies to focus their attention quickly.

Assessments are one tool. Start by assessing yourself. Identify your core values. Ask how these align with the principals of the organization. What strengths and weaknesses do you bring to your new position? Take time to write these down. Assess your people, not only your direct reports but as deep as you can reasonably dig. Identify their strengths and weaknesses, skills and passions. Learn by talking to each of them one-on-one. Document what your learn.

Examine the environment. Determine how your section supports the organizational mission. Identify the guiding principals of the organization. Learn about your leaders’ vision for the people they lead. Identify opportunities and threats to your small group and the organization, both internal and external. This may be the most difficult portion of the assessment because obtaining accurate information about the intentions and actions of competitors, collaborators and regulators is difficult for many reason.

Use this information like a jigsaw puzzled. As you work on analyzing the information you will notice that the pieces come together revealing a map that shows where you and the organization has been and where it is now. You also see the goal or destination desired by those who lead you. Like early explorers learned maps are only an image of what the cartographer thought the world looked like at the point in time it was created and may not reflect reality. The process provides ideas of where your slice of this organization should be headed to support the larger group.

This becomes your vision, tell your employees where they are going, show them what your group will become. Schedule resources, plan for training, develop a plan and mark your route. Your map also serves as ammunition to argue for resources. Your vision is not only a rosy only picture, but illustrates the rough roads and alternative paths. With this information in hand, prepare your followers and leaders for the curves, potholes and slippery spots on the road ahead.

Vision is critical for leaders at all levels. Front line supervisors’ vision while limited by their location on the organization’s ladder is pivotal to their success. Leaders must create the time to map out the territory allowing them to see where they have been, where they are and where they are going. Their map provides primary routes and detours to arrive at the end point. Traveling along the path, they recognize sign posts and mile markers to measure progress. Whether you are a newly assigned rookie leader or a grizzled leadership veteran, having a vision for your organization improves organizational performance. Dig out you binoculars and climb on the roof. Find out where you have been and most importantly, where you go from here!

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Two Things Leaders Care About

Funny thing about leaders…even when they lack a title, they still influence others to become better people and improve their organizations. Former followers seek out the leader months and years after their formal leader-led relationship ends. The best leaders often find themselves providing purpose, direction and motivation to former followers who have exceeded the leaders success. Identifying everything that goes into long-term leader-follower relationship can and has filled many pages. This blog will hardly scratch the surface and instead of providing proven, empirical data about the qualities of great leaders, it seeks to encourage readers to evaluate their own leader-follower relationships to identify ways you each can become better, non-titled leaders.

There are two areas that great leaders concern themselves; caring for people and achieving results. They know that in order to make the organization successful, they need quality people who are dedicated, knowledgeable, skilled and motivated. The leader communicates the organizational goals and his or her vision for the future and turns the followers loose to use their skills and abilities to accomplish great things that move the organization in the direction of success. Once success is achieved however, the leader sets a new course, but only after acknowledging the work and sacrifices of those who followed. Along the way, the leader creates opportunities to become familiar with employees, their families, their dreams and hopes, their needs. The leader develops ways for his followers to align their personal aspirations for growth with the growth of the organization. As the organization achieves success, so does the employee encouraging greater dedication.

Each great leader develops her personal style to learn about their followers and to communicate how their desires and abilities intertwine with those of the organization. Some leaders throw parties for their employees on their birthdays. Others use group training activities. Some dedicate a few moments each day to speak to their people and ask about important personal and professional issues. In every case, the interaction between the leader and follower is personalized in some way. The follower comes to believe the leader personally cares for them and their situation. If faked the facade quickly tumbles causing major problems for the organization.Image

After the American Civil War, Robert E Lee returned to the south to live a quite life. He was one of the best loved military commanders in the Nation’s history. Throughout the war he showed concern for his soldiers at all levels. For years after the war his followers sought him out for letters of reference, financial assistance and inspiration. It is said that he never refused a request of a veteran of his Army if he could fulfill it. Lee’s obligation to his men ceased the day he surrendered and dismissed the troops. His caring continued until he died.

Great leaders have two important concerns. Success of their organization and success of their people. They understand that unless the aspirations of employees are tied to the vision of the organization, neither will be truly successful. Leaders inspire their employees to succeed by learning their dreams, concerns and desires and find ways to align them with those of the vision and mission of the organization. When employees achieve success in their positions within the organization, the organization become more successful. Great leaders extend their influence long after formal relationships end because they genuinely care for the people they lead.

Photo Credit:  National Archives.  Retrieved from:  http: // www. flickr. com/photos/usnationalarchives/4176668765/sizes/o/in/photostream/ 10/29/13

Powering the Leadership Spotlight

Wise leaders understand and obtaining power at many levels. While the opening statement may sound Machavellian and turn away, power is necessary to influence others to accomplish tasks that grow and improve the organization. Leaders set agendas. Without power, organizations deteriorate or cease to exist. Leaders do not work alone. If you want to lead you need to acquire and harness power.

Power focuses organizational energy. Think of power like a spot light. The leader focuses the light in the direction he wants the followers to go, illuminating the objective. Without a power source there is no light to focus, no objective to achieve.light-black-and-white-white-street-night-photography-266526-pxhere.com.jpg

In an organization leaders often have one or more power sources available to accomplish goals of the organization. The common power sources include, referent, expert, coercive, legitimate and reward. A short description of each and their uses follow.

Referent power is likability. A more common word, is charisma. This source of power may get you in the door, but rarely lasts long except with those who are weak.

Expert power stems from one’s ability to do well or have specialized knowledge. This provides power in two ways. The first is like the artillerymen of old who guarded the secrets of their craft so their skills would always be in demand by armies. The second yet potentially fleeting source is through the ability to teach others your skill or knowledge. When you share those secrets that have made you successful, you have the potential to create rivals and replacements. Alternatively, you could also develop collaborators who desire to achieve more than either of you could alone.

Legitimate, reward and coercive often go together but not always. Legitimate power is granted when awarded a leadership position within an organization. CEOs have legitimate power to run their cooperation. They also possesses the ability to dole out rewards such as pay raises, promotions and prime parking spaces. On the coercive side, is employment termination, demotions and selection of another’s pet project. Reward and coercive power does not solely rest with formal leaders. Sales reps can influence behavior by offering a better price or withholding the latest product based on previous purchasing decisions.

Power is a tool. If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem or opportunity looks like a nail. However the skilled carpenter with a small complement of tools is capable of building beautiful things. Between his experience and tools he can fashion wood into anything he can imagine. Take another person with a workshop full of tools and no skills. This person would have difficulty building a simple wooden box.

Leaders need to develop a full complement of power sources to influence others. They must learn how to obtain, develop and use each tool. As they practice they will find that the tool they used to accomplish a task with one piece of wood, will not work so well with another piece. One version of a tool may not be capable of completing every job much like using a framing hammer to drive a tack. A tack hammer is the better choice.

As leaders practice their leadership skills they increase the power options available. Using a variety of tools shape followers into quality employees, volunteers and future leaders. When they show those future leaders how to use the full spectrum of leadership powers, they prepare the organization for continued success well into the future as new leaders learn to adjust the focus and intensity of the organization’s spotlight.

Training Ethics or Ethical Training?

There are so many ways to approach ethics training that it is unethical to have people sit bored while training ethics. Instructors can conduct ethics training on three levels. ImageThe first is to demonstrate by training ethically. The next is to provide ethical training. The third is to identify organizational behaviors that require changing and provide training that will change that behavior. What follows is a short dissertation how trainer can accomplish each of these goals without having to speak above the din of snoring in the classroom.

 Within the realm of training ethically there are three sub-categories; civil liability, ensuring employees are fully prepared to complete their duties and using the time of trainees well. Every organization wants to avoid law suits. Training your employees to do the right things the right way for the right reason ensures tort avoidance better than the coverage from insurance. By training employees well to avoid liability, you create added value by developing better employees who do their jobs well. Trainers have a responsibility to ensure they train employees well and when you do, students’ time is wisely used. Everyone despises the torture known as Death by PowerPoint. The point of presentation software is to help make critical points powerfully. By showing everything you are going to say on the slide the importance of the points are lost. Be prepared to speak ideas, not the slides.

 The next major area of ethics training is training ethics. Teach organizational standards, orders, policies or other written documentation governing behavior in your organization. These rules establish expected behavior. Let students know what the maximum and minimum penalties as well as the typical penalty for violating norms. Often these topics are approached by reading each document verbatim. A better idea is to assign the reading to be completed before class, review the material in the form of questions and answers and then use stories as examples of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Facilitated classes are great opportunities to share ethical theory with students showing how their biases effect their focus of organizational standards.

 The next area is training to change behaviors. Repetition is required for this training to be successful, but do not teach the exact same class to the exact same audience time after time. Both you and your students will become bored quickly. The point of this training is to focus student attention to behave in compliance with the organizational mission, principals, expectations and norms. Use this time to explain what the mission statement means to their section. Talk about how the organizational principals support the mission. Express your vision for the future of the organization. If you are training others, then you have been chosen to lead. Leaders have a better view of what lies ahead. Share your vantage point with others so they understand the importance of doing the right things the right way.

 As you develop training for each of these areas, you will soon find you have far more material to cover than the time available. Newer trainers will curse and try to squeeze everything into the allotted time. Experienced trainers recognize the opportunity to provide follow up training without repeating previous classes improving student attention and retention in subsequent classes. Focus on the three areas, ethically train, train ethics and change behavior. When you do, your students will clamor for more.

Inspire Others to Go Forth and do Good

ImageAs the hour draws to a close the speaker comments on what a great bunch your group has been. She was so concerned things would not go well because she was not sure what she had to offer would meet the needs of the rest of the team or that she had enough material for the 60 minutes she was allowed. She asks of there are any questions; there are none, and thanks you all for coming. You stand up hoping to sneak out of the room before your boss has an opportunity to corner you about the poor performance of your direct report during the monthly senior staff training, too late, he yells across the room to meet him in his office in five minutes. What went wrong?

Often employees or outside subject matter experts are asked to make presentations about hot topics. Powerful presentations are not guaranteed just because the presenter possesses expert or referent power and may deny the members of the organization the inspiration to do great things with what they have learned. Even when the person makes a great presentation, they may end up talking about everything except the one or two areas of concern for your organization. Taking the time to identify objectives of what you want participants to learn helps you and the presenter focus on material that will enlighten, educate and inspire. Steven Covey calls it beginning with the end in mind.

It may seem too simple to write out a comprehensive terminal learning objective. Doing so focuses the efforts of the trainer to only that information which will help the audience achieve the final educational goal. The end result is a focused presentation meeting the needs of the audience. Steven Covey covers this principal when he advises his readers to begin with the end in mind.

There are three important parts of every learning objective whether it is the capstone objective, or a smaller piece of the puzzle. The parts are action, condition and standard. The action is what you want the student to learn how to accomplish when they complete the training. An example might be something like, “The clerk will complete a telephonic customer order on the computer.” The conditions for the task or action to be completed should include the environment and any tools or resources available while completing the action. Often training is conducted in a classroom or conference style setting and that should be reflected in the condition statement. Finally spell out how someone will know when the student has achieved success by stating the standard. This can be performance steps, standards for a finished product, a score on an examination or any other means of measuring performance. Often in a classroom this may be as simple as, “The student will respond correctly to questions related to the action.”

This is a sample of a TLO for a classroom setting where there will be no formal testing.

Action: Complete a telephonic customer order on the computer.

Conditions: A classroom environment, a block of instruction and random questions from the instructor.

Standard: Correctly answer questions related to taking a customer order on the phone and entering the data into the computer.

Ideally action statements start with a verb. Conditions describe resources available to complete the action. Standards should be measurable and attainable, very much like setting SMART goals.

Establishing learning objectives when assigning someone to conduct training improves communication and enables the trainer to understand the perceived needs of organization. Given an objective such as the one above instead of some generic statement like, “Hey Smith, I need you to give a class on that new software at the next staff training conference next week.” With the first, employees should walk out of the training understanding how to take customer orders using the new software. Who knows what you will get with the second. When you are tasked to provide training, having an understanding of the process allows you to develop a TLO, run it by the person who assigned it and then help you focus your attention on what is necessary to meet expectations.

Developing training objectives help trainers focus on presenting important information in the time allowed for students to achieve a given task. When assigned, both the manager and the trainer have better expectations of what the finished product includes. Quality learning objectives contain three parts, the action, the conditions, and the standards. When assigned by your manager to train others using a learning goal ensures you and he understand what is expected of you. Don’t let your next presentation flop. Take the time to develop an objective for the time you are given to teach others.

References

Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. electronic edition. New York, NY: Rosetta Books, 2012.

Henry, V. E. (2002). The COMPSTAT paradigm: management accountability in policing, business, and the public sector. Flushing, NY: Looseleaf Law Publications.

http://www.grayharriman.com/ADDIE_Writing_Learning_Objectives.htm

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Focusing on Ethical Lenses

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Wall Street struggles with insider trading scandals. Capital Hill drowns in waves of corruption. The military suffers from being blown up by sexual assault after sexual assault. All these organizations have professed values. They have codes of ethics. They investigate allegations of wrong doing daily. In spite of their best efforts the same problems continue to plague them.

Each of these organizations teach ethics. Many of us have sat through classes teaching us what is right and what is wrong based on organizational principles. None of these classes explores the underpinnings of ethical thinking and are therefore doomed to fail.

In their book, When Generations Collide, Lynne C. Lancaster & David Stilman explore the differences between generations based on the differences of the history that defined the moments each grew up with. The thesis of the book is that understanding the forces that shaped each generation allows the others to understand the motivations behind the behaviors of each group of people. Young people are not lazy, but rather value their free time to associate with friends and family. Boomers think globally and act locally. Understanding the forces that shaped the values of others creates harmonious relationships at work and home.

Ethics are the same. When an organization professes to value loyalty, the committee that established that as an important guiding principle envisioned that everyone understands what loyalty means. Everyone does, but brings their own history to the definition. One who has strong family ties is loyal to his family. Another employee who values friendships is loyal to her friends. A third employee is third generation at the company. He benefited from many of the past policies that rewarded hard working employees, his loyalty lies with the company. From different points of view come different views of loyalty each equally valid yet when viewed by the others, bound to create disagreement and tension. A study of ethical theory enables understanding of how others define ethical values such as loyalty, honor or duty.

Four major concepts of ethical thinking include:

  • Seeking to do the Greatest Good for Me,
  • Accomplish My Duties & Safeguard My Rights,
  • Making Choices that are Just and Fair for All,
  • Living Virtuous Life According to a Selected Code of Conduct.

Using a story will help put each theory into perspective. While shopping, a person notices another placing a package of meat into a pocket on the inside of a bulky coat. What is the ethical thing to do?

If we use the first theory, by reporting it he may find he is required to make a written statement, wait for police to arrive and possibly testify in court. This may mean missing time for work and not getting paid. From this point of view, the person may reason the best thing for him to do is nothing.

Using the second ethical view, the shopper may decide that she has a duty to report what she saw to the manager which may require the same sacrifices already described. In addition she has a right to pay the lowest possible prices. People stealing food causes prices to rise so by reporting she fulfills her duty and protects her rights.

Using the third outlook the shopper may take into consideration things like the ability of the thief to pay as well as missing work and going to court. He may reason that overall it is not fair for everyone to pay higher prices, but also that the other should be able to purchase food at a reasonable rate. He may choose not to report, but rather approach the thief and offer to buy the meat for the other.

I the final theory, the shopper decides that virtue requires reporting. She determines that if no one pays for the food than the store goes out of business and there is no place to shop. Stealing is against the law no matter the reason (the selected code of conduct) and must not be tolerated. Additionally if everyone turns a blind eye to theft, stealing will escalate resulting in the store closing. Reporting is the only virtuous thing to do.

As the example shows, the lens of one’s ethical view determines how principles such as loyalty, duty and honor focus actions. Based upon the ethical point of view none of the answers provided are incorrect. Likewise in the workplace, when employees make decisions, they select choices based on their ethical lens changing the focus to actions that match. In order to maximize mission statements, value selection, guiding principals and visions for the future, leaders must not only provide ethics training, but also train understanding which lenses employees use. Failure to recognize employee focal points ensures failure of ethical decision making efforts by leaders. Take the time to teach junior leaders and their employees which lens is used by the key leaders to view the world so they can make better choices.