Why Heroic Efforts Are Damaging Your Company Growth

One of the things we celebrate, particularly in entrepreneurial organizations, is the last-minute effort a person or a team puts in to beat a tough deadline. Maybe it’s a product team hustling to complete a prototype against the clock, a group of accountants and lawyers working through the night to close an acquisition, or even a CEO swooping in to save a key account at the last minute. Heroic efforts like these should be celebrated, right? Actually, no. These kinds of heroic efforts are actually damaging the long-term growth prospects for your organization.

Let me explain why.

I’ve written before on this blog and in my book, Great CEOs Are Lazy, that every well-run organization has to balance a yin-yang between talent and process. For young companies, who have yet to develop processes and systems, it’s natural to rely on the heroic efforts of your people like I described above to help grow the business.

But if you want to build a truly scalable business, you need more processes and systems. . I know that most entrepreneurs are practically allergic to processes – I get it. But you can’t afford to rely on the heroic efforts and expect people to pull all-nighters every week to grow the business and expect them to stay healthy physically and mentally.

I recall a time when I was the CEO of a business that made industrial controls. We had a big trade show coming up and we were planning to debut a cutting-edge new calibration product to our customers. The engineer in charge of the product, a guy named Craig, ended up working something like three straight days to finish the prototype in time for the show. In fact, we ultimately found him sleeping on the floor next to his finished demo unit the morning before the show.

When we all got together for our next company meeting a few weeks later, Craig was counting on getting some praise for all his heroic effort to save the day. But I wasn’t going to go there. Rather, I told everyone that I was glad the new product was done–but that I hated how we did it. I knew in this case that Craig had been working on this product for almost a year.

Every time I inquired about his progress, or offered him help and resources, he turned me away. Why did he wait until the last few days to finish it? The truth is he created the very conditions where he needed to step up and save the day and be a hero. I wasn’t going to celebrate his efforts because I wanted to change the culture of how we worked and become more methodical and predictable.

I know that some of us work better under pressure–like pulling the all-nighter the night before an exam. But again, it’s not sustainable. By contrast, we also had another engineer on staff named Napoleon, who was incredibly capable and productive. He just went about his business and got his work done without drama: no muss or fuss. I think employees like Napoleon generally don’t get applauded enough because the way they work doesn’t call attention to themselves the way Craig did. (Craig eventually left the company over his perceived slight of not being recognized for his heroic effort.)

There are plenty of different approaches to product development, for example, like Agile, Scrum, and Stage Gate. Any of those can work perfectly well. The point is to have something in place where you have a more planned and methodical process that doesn’t require heroic efforts or sacrifices to get the work done. These systems are also how you give employees like Napoleon the chance to thrive.

When you rely on superhuman efforts to get work done rather than systems, it also puts incredible pressure on the types of people you hire. Not everyone is willing or capable of doing that kind of work–they’re hard to find. It’s why you hear so many leaders say things like, “It’s so hard to find good people.” The truth is that there are plenty of good people out there, but they need good processes and systems to thrive.

But this lesson doesn’t just apply to your people–it also applies to the heroic CEO as well. I write in my book about the tendency of CEOs to go into “Player Mode” where they ride in to save the day, maybe by closing a sale at the last minute or mobilizing the resources to get a job done just in the nick of time. While you might need to become the hero from time to time, there is a cost whenever you do it. You’re missing the opportunity to build organizational muscle and capability–as well as the processes and systems–you need in place to scale the business. Otherwise, you become the constraint that keeps you stuck in place.

When you think about how your organization operates, do you rely on superhuman and heroic efforts to get your work done? If so, be careful, because you’ll face real issues growing your company to the next level.

By Jim SchleckserCEO, Inc. CEO Project

Source: Why Heroic Efforts Are Damaging Your Company Growth

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Investing In Your Team: Driving Professional Development

Professional development is one of those things that we all say we want from an employer, but few companies seem to actually deliver. For marketers, in particular, staying ahead of the curve by honing your professional skill set is critical, as the media and cultural landscapes are constantly evolving, and “best practices” are never static.

But even for the best managers, making the time for professional development can feel like a daunting challenge. At best, it feels amorphous and uncertain. And at worst, it can feel like you’re in over your head and forced to make promises you might not be able to keep.

Professional development shouldn’t just be about money and titles. Great professional development is all about understanding an employee’s ambitions and crafting a plan together that helps them work toward that goal. It’s also an essential step in ensuring wider success across the business and establishing a team that will succeed in the long term, as employees with professional development opportunities are 34% more likely to stay at their jobs than those without.

So how can you structure these conversations to be mutually beneficial for both you and your team?

Plan ahead, and get out of the office.

Trying to tackle professional development topics during a regularly scheduled one-to-one meeting seldom works because it’s all too easy to get sucked into day-to-day tasks instead of talking about the real meat of the conversation. That’s why it’s helpful to schedule separate times for professional development apart from your regular meetings. This dedicated time provides an opportunity for you and your employee to develop an open-door relationship around career-path conversations. I recommend doing this about once per quarter, depending on the size of your team.

It’s also useful to get out of the office for these discussions. If it’s a nice day out, take a walk outside or grab a seat in a nearby park. Or even grab a coffee somewhere in the neighborhood. It seems like a small thing, but conversation flows so much more openly when you’re not in a conference room in the office. The change of scenery can inspire candor and openness that’s not always easy to achieve elsewhere in order to continue to build trust in the working relationship.

Ask questions, and then really listen to the answers.

A good professional development conversation should involve managers listening more than speaking. This should really be the employee’s time to share with you what’s on their mind. Not all employees will immediately open up, so here are some questions you can use to get the ball rolling:

• What do you like most about your current role?

• What are some skills that you’d like to improve on?

• What do you see as the next career step for yourself?

• What’s most frustrating about your current role?

• What would make you better at your job?

Aim to deliver actionable feedback.

It’s only natural in these conversations for employees to ask about what it will take to move up to the next level and when they’ll get there. After all, everyone wants to know what the path forward looks like. Instead of driving toward specific dates, which tend to be arbitrary, it’s more effective to focus the conversation around the skills, competencies or behaviors that the employee needs to demonstrate in order to advance their position.

It’s best if you can come to the conversation prepared with some thoughts on this topic, but if you’re not prepared for that, just be honest about the fact that you need to give it more thought. It’s much better to follow up with specifics a week later than to make something up off the top of your head that the employee takes as gospel. Just remember: It’s OK if you don’t have answers on the spot, but you must follow up, or else you’ll risk seriously demotivating the employee.

Don’t miss the opportunity to ask for feedback, too.

While the bulk of the conversation should be focused on helping the employee achieve their goals, these candid conversations are also a great opportunity to ask for direct feedback about how you’re performing as a manager.

A good way to jump-start this conversation is by asking about what you should keep doing, what you should stop doing and what you should start doing. Be open, and listen — don’t be defensive — and you’re likely to uncover some important nuggets that can help you retain and motivate your team.

Practice makes the professional.

Professional development conversations may seem daunting at first, but they do get easier in time. And if you’re ever not sure how to proceed, just think about the conversations you wish your manager would have with you. After all, being recognized and knowing there is a path forward is something we all strive for.

Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

Vice President of Marketing at AppNeta, and writes about leadership, marketing, and creating high-performing teams. Read Amanda Bohne’s full executive profile here

Source: Investing In Your Team: Driving Professional Development

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Get a free coaching session with Stephen Goldberg for leaders and managers https://mailchi.mp/4966f7407de6/freec… Sgn up to receive my bi-monthly newsletter http://eepurl.com/gChMb Download free worksheets, forms and templates from https://www.eloquens.com/channel/step… Get access to forms worksheets and templates from my website http://eepurl.com/ccGNlX Read articles on my blog http://www.optimusperformance.ca/blog/ Support the making of these videos by becoming a Patreon https://www.patreon.com/StephenGoldberg The old expression, “failing to plan is planning to fail” also applies to employee development. In my recent article (http://www.optimusperformance.ca/mana…) about a leaders’ struggle to deal with employees being resistant to change, I wrote that strategic planning for employee development is a practice that a leader must undertake to avoid this dilemma. Developing a human resource or employee development plan is often the responsibility of the human resource department if there is one. From my perspective, it’s the leader’s responsibility because the leader is accountable for the performance of the department and each employee. Here is my list of things for the leader or manager to do to develop a strategic plan for employee development….. Read full article here: A Leadership Job Description :http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt… How to set and achieve any goal using a goal planning worksheet: http://www.optimusperformance.ca/how-… Learn How to Write a Job Description including a downloadable template https://curious.com/stephengoldberg/j… Learn How to Set & Achieve Goals including Goal Setting Form for download https://curious.com/stephengoldberg/g… Take my lessons +20,000 more @Curious on anything from tennis, to test prep, to tango. As my student, get 20% OFF! http://curious.com?coupon=curiousteac

Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson Dies Unexpectedly, Here Is His Impact

In stunning news, healthcare lost a major leader today. Bernard J. Tyson, the Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, unexpectedly passed away in his sleep at just 60 years young. Unexpected is an understatement since it was only yesterday when Tyson was a guest speaker at the AfroTech gathering in Oakland as shown by this tweet:

                               

And three days prior, he had been in New York City to speak at the Fast Company Innovation Festival as seen in this picture:

Today In: Innovation

Discussing and advocating for key health issues was a big part of Tyson’s life. Through my career, I have met many hospital, health clinic, and insurance executives, and Tyson without a doubt has stood out from most of the rest. He was far from a “mind the store and pick up the paycheck” CEO. Sure, we can rattle off what happened to the typical metrics used to measure hospital and insurance CEO’s since he became Kaiser Permanente’s CEO in 2013 and it’s Chairman of the board of directors in 2014. Kaiser Permanente went from having 9.1 million members to 12.3 million, employing a workforce of 174,000 to 218,000, and generating $53 billion in annual revenues to $82.8 billion. These are all very impressive jumps but do not begin to capture the larger and what I think are the more important steps that have occurred.

Tyson has helped Kaiser Permanente become a leader in transforming how healthcare systems can have a greater impact on population health. Historically, many hospitals and much of the health care system in the U.S. have been way too focused on inpatient and “sick” care, because surprise, surprise, that’s where the immediate money seems to be. You can make a whole lot more money today trying to fix a medical problem (and even failing horribly to fix it) than preventing the problem in the first place.

This has made much of healthcare far too reactive, waiting for problems to occur, too focused on repairing people after they have already been broken. It’s like waiting at the of the wall for Humpty Dumpty to fall rather than helping him down from the wall or at least installing some seat belts. It can also be analogous to waiting for a car to fall into pieces before you take it (or rather carry it in a bag) to the shop and ask the mechanic, “hey, can you do something about patching everything together? I need to drive to a date tonight.”

Under Tyson’s leadership, Kaiser Permanente has taken major steps to expand the role of health care beyond the walls of hospitals and clinics. For example, as I reported previously for Forbes, there are the ongoing initiatives to address obesity and homelessness in the communities surrounding Kaiser facilities. Tyson covers the latter in this Kaiser Permanente video:

                                  

Another example is their first-of-its-kind partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to tackle (or rather, since it’s basketball, assist with) children’s health issues, which I also have written about for Forbes.

Then there’s climate change, which for Pete’s and everyone else’s sake exists. Recognizing the impact that all of their facilities and many employees can have on pollution and the climate, Kaiser Permanente has been taking steps to become carbon neutral by 2020.

If this doesn’t sound like your typical hospital system or clinic, it isn’t. Tyson hasn’t been your typical healthcare system CEO either. When I spoke to Tyson earlier this year, the conversation was more about a vision of how healthcare should be and what a good healthcare system should be doing rather than a review of how great things already are. He didn’t dwell on dollar signs and listing the clinical services that Kaiser and its many physicians offer. Instead, he talked at length about how Kaiser was trying to not just be reactive but rather address the “social determinants of health” such as “improving basic infrastructure, promoting healthy eating, working on exercise, and taking care of the key ingredients to promoting health.” As he emphasized, “great health care is not just engaged with treatment.”

Tyson also pointed to a part of the body that healthcare systems frequently neglect. No, not the feet or the spleen. It’s the head or more specifically the mind, which incidentally should be connected to the rest of your body. As Tyson mentioned, Kaiser has been “extremely focused on the mind, as in mental health and well-being,” and “looking at the whole person.” He spoke of the “comprehensive package, looking at health and health care.” Again, while healthcare systems may talk about mental health and well-being, talk is cheap. They often don’t mind the gap or rather address the gap in taking care of the mind in the community. How many have actually invested in community well-being programs as Kaiser Permanente has?

Of course, Kaiser Permanente does have strong incentives to keep its millions upon millions of members healthy since it serves the dual purpose of insurer and healthcare system. However, this dual role alone may not necessarily lead to transformative change. When you talk to Tyson, you never got the sense that he was just spewing platitudes. Rather, expanding healthcare these directions seemed to be a passion.

For example, take a look at his experiences as a child. As he related to me, he was “greatly impacted by a wonderful mother, who was sick all of my life and wonderful doctor who take care of her and us.” This combined with the fact that his “father was a minister” meant that his “line of sight was always the community of the congregation. The community was the family.” He spoke of “having resources in the community and encouragement with multiple ‘moms’ who raised me as a child. The community came together,” and offered “a support system that you can rely on, that was in your corner,” that was encouraging, “you to be all that you can be.”

Certainly, Tyson was much more than the color of his skin. Nevertheless, in this day and age, color of the skin still unfortunately can be a major barrier in healthcare. It was an important step that Tyson, as a racial minority, became the leader of the largest nonprofit health plan and integrated delivery system in the United States. This brought a little more demographic diversity to healthcare leadership, which remains way too homogeneous. If you look at pictures of many healthcare system executives, the colors of the neckties are often more diverse that the colors of the skin. Tyson helped get many people more used to seeing an effective and forward-thinking healthcare system leader from a different background.

Tyson didn’t shy away from talking about how race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation either. These demographic characteristics still unfortunately affect healthcare inside and outside hospital and clinic walls. In fact, he had strong interests in reducing disparities of care as well and said, “The fact that someone may not be getting what they should be getting because color of skin or sexual orientation is unacceptable. Period. No sentence to follow.”

The Kaiser Board of Directors has named Gregory A. Adams to fill Tyson’s shoes as Chairman and CEO on an interim basis. These are certainly big shoes to fill. Adams is no stranger to the Kaiser system as he had been reporting to Tyson as the Executive Vice President and Group President, overseeing all eight Kaiser Permanente Regions that includes 38 hospitals and 651 medical office facilities. Additionally, Adams has led Kaiser Permanente’s national Medicare care delivery strategy and was responsible for Kaiser Permanente’s partnership with the NBA. Adams appears in this video covering the launch of the NBA partnership:

                                

Adams has been with Kasier Permanente since 1999, beginning at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California and subsequently holding positions with increasing leadership responsibility. Adams’ Kaiser Permanente biography includes more information on his background.

In a statement, Ed Pei, Kaiser Permanente board member and Chair of its Executive Committee and the Governance, Accountability and Nominating Committee, said: “Bernard was an exceptional colleague, a passionate leader, and an honorable man. We will greatly miss him. The board has full confidence in Greg Adams’ ability to lead Kaiser Permanente through this unexpected transition.”

Indeed, in his five years as CEO and over 30 years in the Kaiser system, Tyson made a major impact on healthcare that went well beyond hospital and clinic walls in many ways. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to see all that he could have done with more years at the helm.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I am a writer, journalist, professor, systems modeler, computational and digital health expert, avocado-eater, and entrepreneur, not always in that order. Currently, I am a Professor of Health Policy and Management at the City University of New York (CUNY), Executive Director of PHICOR (@PHICORteam), Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, and founder and CEO of Symsilico. My previous positions include serving as Executive Director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins University, Associate Professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Associate Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh, and Senior Manager at Quintiles Transnational, working in biotechnology equity research at Montgomery Securities, and co-founding a biotechnology/bioinformatics company. My work involves developing computational approaches, models, and tools to help health and healthcare decision makers in all continents (except for Antarctica) and has been supported by a wide variety of sponsors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NIH, AHRQ, CDC, UNICEF, USAID and the Global Fund. I have authored over 200 scientific publications and three books. Follow me on Twitter (@bruce_y_lee) but don’t ask me if I know martial arts.

Source: Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson Dies Unexpectedly, Here Is His Impact

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The Kaiser Permanente model is all about integration and partnerships, and how everything comes together for patients, said Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson. Tyson thus has to balance his time with both internal and external constituents, which is a non-trivial task for an organization of Kaiser Permanent’s size. “The outside influences so much of what happens on the inside, that I have to spend a lot of my time with customers, the government and other key parties.” In his visit to Systems Leadership on April 25, 2019, Tyson spoke with Lecturer Robert Siegel on the challenges of running an $80B per year company in a complex world while still focusing on the goal of keeping patients healthy.
Read more on Medium: https://stanford.io/2XZKhTZ
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