The Desk

March 12, 2013

Consultant’s Desk: Succession Planning Papal Style

Filed under: Delegation,Management — Yvonne LaRose @ 7:02 PM
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Consultant’s Desk: Succession Planning Papal Style.

The resignation of Benedict raises some additional issues that most corporations and businesses include in their officers and directors plans – in the bylaws. Provisions for an annuity, a retirement fund, protocols for how to treat the outgoing Pope compared with the inductee.

March 27, 2010

Facing Situations

Relationships have peaks and valleys as they form. In some situations, there are struggles for dominance that resolve into one (Alpha person) taking the lead in most situations. There are other situations where the struggle for dominance turns into Alpha’s total domination.

The latter is primed by the fact that the less powerful (Beta) person is more submissive and not as assertive as they could be. It’s driven by the fact that the more Beta person looks to others for validation and support. They rely on others to put forth their argument and either do not know their own “voice” or never learn how to use it. We tend to find youthful, inexperienced people in the Beta position as well as women. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all people with one (or all) of these profiles is actually youthful, naive, inexperienced, or female. It simply means that particular person is less assertive.

There is a danger in putting these two types of people together, especially when they are extreme polar opposites. The Alpha can easily become not only the dominant party but also a bully. Even worse, the Alpha could easily become abusive.

There are methods to avoid these undesirable consequences. One of them is to not put the pair together. We already realize the combination will be like putting dynamite in a nursery. The management costs in terms of labor hours lost in managing the situations that come up between the pair will be enormous, not to mention health insurance costs from depression and other psychosomatic ailments. But the Beta person has value and their talents are beneficial. To lose them is to lose some unique skills, talents, knowledge, and work attitude. It’s better to simply sidestep that can of worms.

There’s another reason for not putting the pair together. You avoid being in the way of a potential law suit for negligent hiring or allowing an unsafe work environment or a workers’ compensation claim for work related injury (in the form of depression and related psychosomatic ailments).

This pair requires a vigilant managerial style and frequent coaching on communication and work styles. There will be days when it seems like simply doing the work of the two yourself will be less intensive, less headache, and just plain ole easier. But that’s a cop-out and we shouldn’t go that route.

The far better alternative is to establish the workplace ground rules immediately. Outlining what are each allowed to do and defining their limits as well as overlap areas is a prudent option. Also wise is to allow the Beta person to speak up when it appears they are deferring to the Alpha. Ask them for their input with regard to the work. Make certain their opinion is solicited in front of the Alpha. Make doubly certain both offer their input publicly so that the pall of clandestine favoritism is abated.

The alternative of having the Beta voice their input rather than allowing them to be a shrinking violet who defers to the Alpha’s input all of the time is another way of providing assertiveness coaching while still remaining productive.

What also helps with building confidence and assertiveness is allowing the Beta to feel it is all right to voice their objection to something. After they have given voice to their position, ask for feedback from the Alpha. Ascertain where they see the benefits of the proffered input. Ask both whether they have experience with the same or a similar situation or project so that expertise can be established by both. This will allow the Beta to start building their internal confidence; they’ll have the opportunity to talk, without boasting, about their success stories. Eventually they’ll see the benefit of including those success stories on their resume.

The Alpha partner will want the opportunity to share their input and success stories as well. Make certain the sharings don’t become a competition for who’s better. Instead, let those situations become times when they can reveal their knowledge in order to establish where they have strengths and how they can contribute to the overall project as a team member.

But the critical factor for the Beta personality is that they gain skills in assertiveness. No, you do not need to go into hand holding all of the time and being the parent figure who constantly covers for one while holding the other at bay. You hired this oil and water combination because of the unique benefits they bring to the workplace. Rather than allow them to become a combustible, let them be the salad dressing (please forgive the allegory) applied in just the right amounts.

It’s important to recognize the friction that can evolve if Alphas and Betas simply go along their career highways doing what they do best — dominate others and subordinate themselves. Far better is to show them how to play up their best traits while respecting the esteem and benefits of having the team member on board.

May 12, 2007

Making Your Statement

Filed under: Career Advancement,Delegation,Job Search,Management — Yvonne LaRose @ 9:10 PM

There are examples all over the landscape. It’s just that we don’t always pay attention to them because when we see them, they’re out of context in relation to their usual work environment. The examples of which I speak are the nonconformists. The ones who wear the long hair, have piercings or tattoos, wear corduroys jackets and faded blue jeans, or wear ethnic clothing to a Chamber of Commerce meeting.

These are the people who hear a different drum and march to it. But they also recognize that the preliminaries must be handled before they dive into making their personal statement. I’ve met several. In fact, I admire (as many as I can remember) all who I have met. The basis of my admiration for these people is that they are comfortable with their selves.

They know who and what they are and do not feel intimidated or ashamed any part of them. They are confident about what they know and are very aware that they have a great deal to share with others. They give freely. Their conversation is open, positive, and accepting. They listen carefully. They get rid of the baggage so that they can hear and comprehend. Perhaps these latter factors are part of the success they project.

So why am I not surprised at finding a dean at USC who is another of those who hears a different drum? Earlier today, I talked with a student who took a seminar from him. The excitement and enthusiasm he inspired several months ago is still evident. This person is interesting. I repeated and then wrote his name. Michael Quick, College Dean of Research in the School of Arts and Letters. Then I read an article written about him in the USC College News. The article captures the description that my acquaintance gives. It also captures the spirit of the man who inspires.

Those of you who know me realize one of my hallmarks is analysis. Going on the little information I had about him, there was a rapid parsing of Michael Quick. He succeeds by being able to communicate with students. He does not see himself as some pompous campus dignitary. He sees himself as a leader and a manager whose purpose is to inspire. And with that inspiration is a desire to stretch toward greater accomplishments.

But his comfortable persona was not an overnight statement. It evolved over time. It was earned. And that is the important point of today’s words. And the point being driven home is essentially the same as the one made on March 1, 2006 when I spoke of the Validity of Dress Codes (now on Career and Recruiting Entrances. It’s important to get rid of the clutter that distracts from learning the essentials of your art and craft, the discipline for your chosen path. In order to fit in, it is critical to know what the basic disciplines are and be accepted into the mainstream. Once you’ve succeeded in establishing your knowledge and expertise, it’s fine to begin, little by little, to begin expressing yourself within the bounds of your particular culture. But you need to start with the basics first.

This is not just me piping philosophy. During a recent business trip, I encountered a young black female bank representative. Expressing a desire to know different perspectives, I asked her about acceptance of dreadlocks and such in the conservative world of banking life. With her several years of experience in the industry, she confirmed that it is important to start off in the conservative mode. In fact, most banks will not allow dreadlocks (or most other ethnic looks) because they are too off-putting to customers focused on their security and wealth management.

The woman had some other words of advice with regard to types of individuals who will be accepted, certain body builds, and types of personalities. But we can explore that information on another occasion. The bottom line for today is, start by getting yourself grounded and know your profession. Prove yourself. Then let your personality blossom when you’ve been accepted as an outstanding professional.

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