Performance Drivers

Powerless Communication?

Revisiting the “80/20 rule”

The challenge of balancing confident AND collaborative communication

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Despite the fact that this is an age-old challenge, the topics appears to have legs for women. No fewer than four other conference speakers raised an aspect of my thesis in their remarks.  Furthermore, I know the topic still has legs for women because based upon the session description alone it was oversubscribed by the attendees at the conference and was standing room only.  So there is still work to be done.

Since energy is a manifestation of how we feel, think, and behave…it is a complicated matter.  My session at this conference focused mostly on the […]

What can you learn by simply switching lenses?

Last month I spoke at the CLO Exchange, held on Coronado Island off of San Diego in southern California. A beautiful venue for a thought-provoking gathering of Chief Learning Officers and other learning professionals from around the country.

One of my messages was the importance of expanding beyond our functional expertise as learning professionals, to integrate best practices from other disciplines. Every function or discipline approaches problem solving through a particular lens, and often the solution can be found by simply switching lenses.

The case study I shared was about integrating marketing principles as learning professionals. I find that many learning and development practitioners struggle with how to get buy-in or support from the business leaders with whom they work for the portfolio of learning and development programs and services they offer. What is the ROI? How can we measure the outcomes? In a resource constrained world, both financial and human, business leaders are appropriately challenging their learning organizations as to the value of a leadership development workshop, or the rotational program for high performing talent. The natural tendency is to respond by defending the proposed workshop, to justify the cost of the rotational program, and to attempt to quantify the value of work that is inherently qualitative and difficult to measure. As an aside, I advocate for measuring business outcomes not the learning program, and linking the business outcomes back to the learning. But this is a topic for another blog posting…

Rather than falling into a trap of defending and justifying each workshop and program, what can we learn by looking through the lens of the marketing professional. Marketing teaches us the power of a brand. A strong brand equals a strong reputation. If you […]

Who do you want to be in 2015?


Last week I reflected on the question of how we each spend the 24 hours we are given each day. I am going to continue this line of reflection as we move into 2015, with the annual opportunity to define new beginnings. What are we going to finally start or stop doing? What New Year’s Resolution can I put into place that is going to have a profound and significant impact on the quality of my life? The challenge that many of us share is that we live in overly-scheduled, overly-demanding worlds that make it difficult to pack in all that we desire. My life is no different. I don’t have time to do all that I desire to do? Or do I?

I found a compelling answer in a book called Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul authored by Bill Hybels. Last August I attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Conference led by Bill about which I wrote two blog postings at the time (What kind of leader do you want to be? and Words Matter). I found the conference to be inspiring and engaging that challenged my thinking on a number of topics. In Simplify, Bill reframed the question that we often ask ourselves as we manage the exploding demands on our time. Rather than asking “what am I going to do today, this week, this month, or this year”…ask “who do I want to BE at the end of today, this week, this month or this year?” As I evaluate each opportunity regarding how I spend my time against the question of who I want to BE, what I choose to do becomes much more clear. The question of who I want to […]

Strategy and Culture Should Meet For Breakfast

Welcome to JoinDrPam.  The following essay was recently published in a collection of essays curated by the Executive Learning Exchange in a book titled, “Learning Beyond the Classroom: Producing Competitive Business Reesults.”  The essay can be found in the Strategy section.
Please considering purchasing the book which is a collaborative project to create a relevant and actionable collection of poignant lessons learned, directly authored by learning and talent development thought leaders.  All proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit RightStart4Kids a 501c3 nonprofit organization that focuses on initiatives to help children globally start life out right from the start.
Strategy and Culture Should Meet For Breakfast
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is attributed to Peter Drucker, an influential thinker on modern management theory and practice, but is it true?
If strategy is most broadly defined as “where we are going” and “how we are going to get there” it provides vision and a plan. Strategy does not speak to how to engage people to execute against that plan. That happens, in part, by helping them understand “how we do things around here,” or the culture. Great leaders, enabled by great learning organizations, create culture that will drive business performance.

So does culture eat strategy for breakfast? Strategy cannot be implemented without regard to culture and culture without strategy is equally doomed. It is rather a paradox where both culture and strategy are required for success. Success is found when the two are aligned.

At Hospira, the arrival of a new CEO created an opportunity to examine culture and to reinforce alignment between culture and strategy. The then-new CEO started using language to describe what he was looking for; behaviors he thought would drive success. The language he used […]

Feedback is a Gift: There is No Such Thing as Negative Feedback!


Welcome to JoinDrPam.  One question I was recently asked, which I often get, and which I would like to eradicate, is “What is the best way to give negative feedback?”

In order for feedback to be valuable, we need to move away from the notion that feedback is “positive” or “negative.”  Feedback is either appreciative or constructive.  Appreciative feedback tells us what we are doing well and need to continue in order to be effective, and constructive feedback tells us what we need to change in order to be more effective.

Both forms of feedback are positive…meaning constructive and helpful.  Neither form is negative… meaning harmful, damaging or destructive.  Feedback should be none of those things.  Given this reframing that all feedback is positive, the question is how to deliver it, even the constructive feedback, in a manner that will be well received by the recipient.  Here are a few tips or best practices on how to deliver feedback.

Pair appreciative feedback with constructive feedback, in that order.  People are more willing to listen to the constructive feedback after hearing what they are doing well.

Deliver the constructive feedback using language like, “you could be even more effective if…” People are more willing to accept the constructive feedback if the language speaks to how they could be more effective, rather than how what they just did really sucked.

Give constructive feedback early.  If you give constructive feedback the first time you observe a less than desirable behavior, you have a better chance of helping to keep one incident from becoming a negative pattern of behavior.

Deliver feedback 1:1.  Providing feedback is a mini development conversation and developing and coaching employees is best done during 1:1 sessions rather than in team […]

To assess or not to assess (with assessments)

One of the things that makes human capital management so interesting is that on the one hand it is a behavioral science; yes, “science” meaning that there has been systematic study of human behavior through observation and experiment that has yielded a body of knowledge on the subject.  On the other hand, it is the science of how people behave, and we are all unique individuals who can be surprising.

An area where this tension between the science and art of behavior exists is with high potential talent identification.  One could argue that it is increasingly important to determine in whom to invest limited resources from a development standpoint, thus requiring differentiation of talent into buckets, like high potential.  The artistic approach would suggest that “we will know them when we see them,” however perhaps there is a way to benefit from the behavioral science platform to be more systematic about how we identify this talent.

There are many assessment tools and resources out there.  So why is such a small percentage of the talent management world taking advantage of them?  In a recent AMA Enterprise survey, only 9% of HR and talent management professionals indicated that they have a systematic process for high potential identification.  Furthermore, of this relatively small percentage that have a process,  many use assessment processes that are subjective, including manager appraisal or a consensus approach in which leaders meet to discuss and assess whether someone should be considered high potential.  The most sophisticated and scientific approach of using assessment tools is rarely used.

Is it because leaders prefer the more artistic approaches?  Or is there some other root cause?

What do you think?
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Dr. Pam


Is successor and high potential development a luxury?

I think most would agree that doing succession planning and development and retention of high potentials is important for any business.  More advanced organizations also connect their high potential and succession processes to their learning and development processes so these populations can identify and develop in the required areas for future success. 

Those development planning programs can be quite elaborate and include a multitude of options including, but not limited to task forces, mentoring, coaching, action learning, various forms of assessment and feedback, experience management, and job rotations.  All of these options can generally be done while someone is in-role.  In addition, development can include changing roles specifically for the purpose of development.  

Kevin Wilde from General Mills has put together a nice presentation, “Temptations of a High Potential” that discusses these various development options and organizes them into four types of assignment.  The first three are all positive and allow people to develop exposure, competency or wisdom.  The fourth is called “stuck” and is an assignment that extends beyond that which was intended for any number of reasons.

This is just one of many well thought through and developed approaches to successor and high potential development.  My question is, if you are not in a large company with the luxury of thousands and thousands of roles to rotate people through, and/or are resource constrained such that it is difficult to provide stretch opportunities to people who are already overwhelmed with work…how do you execute these programs?

What do you think?

Dr. Pam




Are you managing change or managing VUCA?


When I speak at a conference, I always find that I learn as much as I hopefully contribute.  Such is the case when I presented earlier this month at the Talent Management Alliance conference in Atlanta. GA.  The theme was Assessing and Developing High Potential Talent, and I found many of the other presentations to be informative and thought-provoking.

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One concept that I walked away with that was new to me was VUCA, an acronym used to describe or reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations. The common usage of the term VUCA began in the 1990s and derives from military vocabulary and has been subsequently used in emerging ideas in strategic leadership that apply in a wide range of organizations, per Wikipedia.

What I like about VUCA is that it takes the concept of managing change to a whole new level.  It deconstructs the concept of change into multiple components which underscore the extent to which managing change is really managing multiple interconnected variables. First, there is the speed of change (velocity). Then there is the fact that despite the best strategic planning efforts, there remains significant unpredictability in what actually will occur (uncertainty).  Furthermore, every situation in today’s organizations has confounding issues (complexity), and there are multiple interpretations for most situations so that truth becomes hard to define (ambiguity).

So while today’s leaders may be better at managing change than they used to be, are they prepared to manage VUCA?

What do you think?
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