Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke

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Leadership Savvy: Retail vs. Results – What’s Your Mindset?

Volume: August 2008

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com

Todd is a clock watcher. He arrives early to work and takes careful note of the time that his people arrive at the office. A typical business owner, he is frequently the last to leave at the end of the day. Thus, it is easy for him to notice when people pack it in and head for home. Todd values time. So much so that he gauges productivity by it. In other words, in Todd’s mind Joe in marketing, who works ten hours a day, is busting his hump. Todd values his hourly team members in the same fashion. As such, he could care less that he consistently pays Wanda seven hours of overtime per week. She is always there, which must mean that she is hard working, serious about her job, and committed to the company. Todd possesses what I refer to as a retail mindset – basing productivity solely on the basis of hours worked. In turn, he over-values their time and under-values their productive impact. Todd’s viewpoint is not unique. Far from it, his measure of productivity is all too common. Why do so many leaders embrace a retail mindset? The answer is twofold: ease of measurement and social morays – it is an engrained measurement in our national culture.   

How should Todd be measuring productivity? By results, of course! Now, do not underestimate my affection for dedication or work ethic – they are invaluable qualities. In fact, the two hard workers referenced above may be superstars for Todd’s company. The problem is Todd has been using a simplistic productivity measure for so long that many people in his company pull the wool over his eyes. Sure, they work a ton of hours, but many have become masters at the art of retail surprise. The surprise in this case is team members getting half of the work done in double the amount of time. 

So what should Todd do? Well, there are at least four avenues for him to consider. Conveniently, they are outlined below.  

  1. Put key metrics in place. Since we can only manage what we measure, Todd needs to create a more strategic method of measurement. He should consider coming up with three to five key metrics that each team member’s productivity can be measured against. The metrics he and his team create should be as quantifiable as possible and be placed in a “dashboard” for all to see. Please recall from my earlier columns that a dashboard is a leadership tool that contains a handful of key measures that helps leaders drive their organization in the best direction. The measures vary from organization to organization based on the unique ingredients that make the business successful. 
  2. Perform a Peer 360o review. Feedback is a wonderful way to assess your current situation and help tweak your company’s vision and strategy. Whether you refer to them as Training 360o reviews, Performance 360o reviews, or Peer 360o reviews, gaining feedback from team members about their peers, superiors, and subordinates is critical. Peer 360o reviews also include the all-important self-assessment. Often times, the latter piece opens many eyes.      
  3. Get out of the office. Todd tends to perch himself in his office and is far too focused on his own tasks. He is clearly not working on his business, because he is too embroiled in it. In other words, he is not leading. At least twice per day he should tour the office and greet and support his team. It does not have to take a lot of time, yet the education that he will receive as a result will be outstanding. He will begin to learn just what goes on – first hand.
  4. Communicate. Results management requires communication in order to be effective. Without clear communication of goals and your perception of people’s progress, their mindset may default to “time worked = perceived productivity.”      

As an aside, Todd actually put these measures to work and affirmed that Joe in marketing is indeed a gifted and loyal team member. In addition, he discovered that Wanda has been robbing him blind – effectively producing about 20 hours per week, yet being paid for 47. 

The end game: Todd is opening his mind to other areas in which his team can improve such as performance coaching and time management workshops. Joe is in possession of a nice raise. Wanda is, well, toast.   

Think strategically leaders. Identify your superstars and understand very clearly just why you value them as such. Then, communicate with them frequently so that they embrace their role in the company and feel a part of its success.        

Doug Van Dyke is a leadership and communication consultant, executive coach, and business planner. His book, Leadership Simplified, as well as audios and video are available at the Productivity Store of www.leadershipsimplified.com. To learn more about consulting services, coaching, and training, or to have Doug speak at your next event, contact him today at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or at 941-776-1121. 

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