Not Just Who, But How Much

Ever get blindsided by someone who said they’d support you, but voted against your initiative when it came time for a vote? Ever been surprised by someone you naturally assumed would support your request, only to find that they were quite vocally opposed to it?  Ever wondered why the level of support you THOUGHT you had on something/from someone was far less than what you really DID have?

It’s a surprisingly common occurrence, actually. Why? Because support is rarely a static thing. Rather, “yes or no,” it’s almost always dependent on  circumstances. And that’s not entirely inappropriate.

  • I may be very willing to support your request for non-budgeted funds … but not if it means funding your request with  dollars already committed to spent out of MY budget.
  • I may be very willing to support your request to take on additional responsibilities … but not if it upends a set of well-running processes already in place.
  • I may be very willing to support your request for a temporary reassignment of staff from my area to your … but not so quickly, or for so long.

In truth, many of THEIR surprises can be eliminated by eliminating YOUR surprises. So if you’re wanting someone’s support, it’s best to be fully transparent about what kind of – and how much – support you’re really requesting from them.

You don’t always need the SAME level of support from everyone on every thing. But you need to know the level of support you DO need – and currently have. So let’s take a closer look at some different LEVELS OF SUPPORT* that are possible:

  • a willingness to LET it happen – This level of support is totally passive, but  more-than-sufficient when all you need is for someone to NOT say, “No!” to your request.
  • a willingness to HELP it happen – This level of support does require some action from the other person, but is more-than-sufficient when all you need is a little assist to get (or keep) things rolling.
  • a willingness to MAKE it happen – This level of support requires the use of someone’s full effort and/or authority on your behalf to insure the desired results are actually achieved.

To take a more systemic approach to determining what levels of support you need from whom, try this exercise taken from the For Clients Only/Client Resources section of the LeadershipTraction website: 

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*Based on the work of Richard Beckhard, Organizational Transitions: Managing Complex Change.


The Patience Mind Hack

Image Source: SavageChickens.com

Some things take time. A LOT of time. More time than we’d like them to – like that promotion we were promised year; approval for that non-budgeted project we recommended last quarter; staff recommendations on those procedural changes we asked for last month; or any number of other things we’ve been wanting, and waiting for, no longer so patiently.

But just because  circumstances aren’t changing as fast as we’d like doesn’t mean that we can’t change how we ARE with them. To that end, here are some ideas:

  1. Embrace Patience – Yeah, I know, “easier said than done.” And you’re right. But sometimes a few deep breaths and a commitment to “be more patient” can go a long way, or least help us  get over the hump-du-jour.
  2. Focus on the Journey, rather than the Destination – Poet Don Williams, Jr. said, “The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” A fair point. So what ARE the lessons to be learned from this journey “twisting and turning” in this way? And how might we, if we so choose, travel in this direction with greater clarity and ease? (Perhaps of note, Williams is also quoted as saying, “Any day above ground is a good one,” so clearly, he knows a thing or two about setting constructive expectations!)
  3. Get Busy – Perhaps the easiest way to take our minds off of the things that are bugging us, though, is to put them to work on something else – something more constructive. So what ELSE is on that to-do list of ours? What have we been MEANING to work on that, for whatever reasons, we haven’t gotten to yet? Maybe it’s time to refocus our energies in one of THOSE directions for a while and see what that does for us. 

The change (of perspective AND attention) would likely do us good, I’m thinking. How about you?


Interview Practice Questions

Want to “up your game” on EITHER side of the job interview conversation? Try asking/answering some of these questions:

  • What’s a career accomplishment you’re most proud of?
  • What’s a decision you wish you could do over?
  • What current initiatives are you working on?
  • What’s one thing you’re trying to do better?
  • How do you measure your personal effectiveness?
  • What lessons have you learned from the recession?
  • Who’s your favorite sports figure?
  • What book are you currently reading?
  • What’s a pet peeve of yours?
  • If you weren’t in this field, what field would you be in?

Adapted from CIO Profiles at www.informationweek.com/topexecs.



Conducting Better Job Applicant Interviews

Inc.com’s 3 Interview Questions That Reveal Everything really DOES live up to its applicant-vetting promise. For each job listed on a  job candidate’s resume, simply ask these three questions:

  1. How did you find out about the job?
  2. What did you like about the job before you started?
  3. Why did you leave?
“Move quickly, and don’t ask for detail,” suggests author Jeff Haden. “And don’t ask follow-up questions, at least not yet.” But be prepared to be amazed.

How did you find out about the job?

Most people find their first few jobs via job boards, general postings, online listings, job fairs, etc., “so that’s certainly not a red flag,” continues Haden. But if a candidate hasn’t been recruited by a prior boss or colleague by Job Three, Four, or Five, that likely indicates that the person was unable to build the type of trusting relationships you likely want for your organization.

“On the flip side,” says Haden, “being pulled in is like a great reference – without the letter.”

What did you like about the job before you started?

If you repeatedly hear phrases like “great opportunity,” “chance to learn about the industry,” or “next step in my career,” that’s another red flag.

Why did you leave?

People leave jobs for a variety of interesting reasons, some good, many less so. But “resist the temptation” to ask for more detail. Just ask the question and and let your candidates say what they will.

“In the process, many candidates will describe issues with management or disagreements with other employees or with taking responsibility – issues they otherwise would not have shared.”

When vetting applicants for leadership positions, there’s one additional question to ask:

How many people have you hired, and where did you find them?

It’s one thing when a leader can assume responsibility for a team that was already in place. But when employees, gainfully employed elsewhere, are willing to change jobs just so they can work with a particular boss,  well, that says something else entirely about that leader.

Simple. Powerful. Effective. Dont’ you agree?!

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Image Source: http://www.elec-intro.com
Special thanks to coaching colleague Donna Karlin who shared the Inc.com article in a LinkedIn update.