Posts Tagged ‘IESE business school’

Leo Messi is the greatest footballer in the world.  His peers say so.

He plays for Football Club Barcelona.  3 of the other world top 5 footballers also play at FC Barcelona.  Leo Messi doesn’t play with his best friends from school.  He doesn’t keep a space on FC Barcelona for a friend who just happens to be available.  He doesn’t, but most business people and entrepreneurs do.

Why do we treat football differently than business?  Is it less important?  Is it more important?

How to run your talent program like FC Barcelona

At a conference at IESE Business School last week, Geoff Smart spoke to the audience about how to source, select and attract top talent to your organization.  He asked “has anyone ever hired someone who looked great on paper, only to find out weeks or months later that it was a terrible decision?”  Many hands were raised in the air.

Hiring for football is easier – we see past performance, in business it is possible to hide the past in paper (CVs).

Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, says that the very first step of leaders who create massive success in their businesses is “get the right people on the bus”…  and the corollary…  get the wrong people off the bus.

There are four parts to hiring well.

  1. Know clearly what you want the person to achieve. Go beyond vague descriptions of skills. eg. “Analytical Thought Process” develop further to “Distinguishes key facts from secondary factors; can follow a progressive thought process from idea to idea; makes sound observations.”  Jonathan Davis, founder of HireBetter says that this is a big failing of hiring managers
  2. Go to where the best people are. Where are the best people? They are not looking at job adverts.  They are not spending their weekend reading job websites.  They are passionate about their current role.  It is unlikely that those who are actively searching through non-personal channels are top performers.  The top performers are still doing well in their current jobs. How to find the best people? There is only one way: Network. If you want talent: ask who the best people are, get to industry events, meet people at conferences. Watch people in action, know them through their activity, read their books, their tweets, their Quora profiles, their blogs.
  3. Selecting the A players: focus on the past, not the future. Don’t ever ask “how would you solve the problem?”.  Ask “tell me about a time when you solved a similar problem?” Everyone can tell you a great story about what they would do.  The top performers are not smarter, don’t have better to-do list systems, better technology.  The differentiator is that they have found the way to overcome procrastination.  They actually do the things that they say they will do. Give them a present problem and ask them to solve it. See their creative thinking, not necessarily the solution. Look for performance, don’t ask for opinions.
  4. Selling the opportunity, building the culture. Selling the opportunity to an A player does not mean “be their friend”; it means sell them on the personal growth, the professional growth the opportunity to impact the world on a massive scale.  This is what great people want.  Not more friends. They want to be pushed and demanded and be allowed to change the world for the better. Jonathan Davis says that culture is hard to build and easy to destroy. Jonathan turned down a hiring contract recently with a big company.  He told the CEO “You cannot be client of ours.  I’ll tell you why. Your VP of sales is a !@#$%^!. He won’t waste an opportunity to tell you how awesome he is.  We can help you recruit a great employee, but he will leave.” It is the culture that you build that will really attract and keep the top talent.  If you create a great culture, you don’t need to pay employees to bring people in…  they will bring their ambitious, high performing friends in.  The online shoe retailer Zappos pay $2000 for people to leave.

How do you do this without any effort?  You don’t.  Good talent doesn’t just happen because you are showing up.  One of the hardest things in business life is removing a loyal but mediocre performer from your team.  There may be bonds of friendship, there may be many good shared experiences in the past, feelings of connection.  However, the continued presence of mediocrity in your team is a cancer that will eat away at your ability to achieve important goals.  One way to reduce the pain of having to let go of mediocre performers is to get very good at only hiring star performers into your team.

My father once told me that the greatest service you can do for an unhappy, underperforming employee is to let them go – it frees them to search and find a place where they can contribute and find greater meaning.  They won’t thank you in the moment, but this is the service of a leader – it is not about giving – it is about serving; it is not about the easy answers, it is about the right answers.

Highly Demanding, with Love

How would you get Leo Messi to play for your football team?  It would help if you had 3 of the top 5 footballers in the world already on the team.  How do you attract the top talent to your team?  Build a culture of high performance around you.  This starts with a zero tolerance of mediocrity.

A participant on my course last year began his speech “I have often wondered whether it is better as a parent to be permissive or authoritarian.  Which is better?  At a conference a few years ago, I had the opportunity to speak to one of the world guru’s on child development.  I went up to him after his talk.  I congratulated him.  I asked him the question: ‘is it better for a parent to be permissive or authoritarian?’  The guru smiled and said ‘highly demanding with love’.”  It is the same as a leader – can you be highly demanding, with love.  Expect the best from those around you and they rise to the challenge.  Accept the worst, and they will coast in comfort.

Habits play an important role in the origin of leaders. Successful leaders understand this.

How do we succeed in making changes in our lives?  How do we convert an event into a pattern—or ongoing habit–into our character or ongoing daily activities?

For example, when I first moved to Spain, I had only ever drunk one cup of coffee in my 29 years of life.  In my first month in Barcelona, I began to go to the coffee bar with my friends in the morning, as is the daily tradition here.  Over the course of the month I had a few coffees.  Some days yes, some days no.

The second month I started to enjoy this little habit and so probably had a coffee each morning. Over the next 8 years, however, I reached the point where I “need” 3 coffees during the 7am to 2pm period!  (I have probably drunk a swimming pool’s worth of coffee!)

What’s the point? I would never have drunk so much of coffee had it not been one of my daily habits. Drinking coffee is perhaps not an example of a positive, productive habit – but the story shows how habits enter a life.  I started writing seriously about 2 years ago.  I write 500 words a day.  Sometimes I write more, but my conscious daily habit is to ensure that I write 500 words each day.

We are what we habitually do

You are not a smoker if you smoke 1 cigarette.  You are not a smoker if you smoke 2 cigarettes.  You become a smoker at some point where it becomes a daily thing!

Likewise, you’re not a writer if you write today.  You are not a writer if you write a couple of times a year.  You only become a writer when it becomes a daily thing.

We overestimate what we can achieve in a day and underestimate what we can achieve in a year.  This is a widespread human challenge.  Most people, including myself, will set a list of to-dos for today that is impossible to achieve.  I overestimate what I can realistically get done today.  I underestimate the interruptions, the distractions and my ability to maintain focus on the tasks.  However, we underestimate our potential to create over the course of a year – if I do a little bit each day.  In my coffee example, if somebody showed me a big vat with all the coffee I drank last year and said – “can you drink all this?”  I would balk at the sheer volume.  However, done step by step, over many days, as a habit – enormous things are achievable.

What are habits?

Habits are actions you regularly do.  Smoking starts as an event, turns into a pattern, and becomes a habit.  Aristotle says “we are what we habitually do”.  Who I am and become is directly related to my daily habits!.

Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly.  As the routine is repeated more and more regularly it takes less and less effort or self-discipline to begin and complete the routine.  Some say that it takes 30 days of sustained routine for it to become habitual.  If you write for 10 minutes for the next 30 days before you begin your day’s work, it will be an effort and require discipline for the first few days, but if you have the strength to keep it up it will become almost automatic around the 30 day point.

Start the day slowly

Ken Blanchard starts each day the same way.  After waking, before getting up and meeting the day, and certainly before checking emails, he sits on the edge of his bed.  He places his hands with palms down on top of his thighs and he listens to the thoughts running through his mind, the ideas, the people, the doubts; he listens to his body, how it feels, where it hurts.  After 5 minutes or so when he feels he has heard what his mind has to say, he turns his hands over so the palms facing up.  He thinks “what do I want to be grateful for at the end of today?”.  He starts each day this way – he calls it “starting the day slowly”. This start means that he spends the day on what is important.

Habituating Learning

All senior executives of Goldman Sachs are on 2 teleconferences every day.  At 6am and at 6pm they all dial in and have short conversation.  The 6am call looks at what patterns are happening today and gets each leader reflecting on the day ahead.  The 6pm call answers one question “What did we learn today?”.  This routine ensures maximum learning every day through a habitual reflection on what worked and what didn’t work during the day.  How do you ensure that you learn from each day?  Do you pause to reflect on what worked and what did not?

Routine sets you free.

I had a coffee with Verne Harnish just before Christmas at IESE business school.  Verne is author of The Rockerfeller Habits and founder of Entrepreneurs’ Organisation.  We talked about habits.  Verne says “routine sets you free”.  Deciding on what works and ensuring that it is a daily habit is something that makes the successful leaders stand out.  Michael Dell has a routine, regular habits, for reviewing his business performance.  Steve Jobs has a routine.  Bill Gates has a routine.  Warren Buffett has a routine.  Do you have a routine?  What differentiates the great work days in your life from the others?  How can you ensure that every day has the habits of the best days?

Verne coaches hundreds of businesses.  One important habit that he pushes in a big way is to ensure that all employees spend time in a daily huddle.  This daily huddle is used by hundreds of businesses.  It is a short 10-15 minute meeting where each person only says 2 things – what they are working on that day and (optionally) an obstacle that is in their way.  This 10-15 minute meeting allows a connection of the people within the company, and ensures that employees are proactive in planning their days.

Summary

We are creatures of habit.  We will repeat what we have done yesterday.  We are creatures of precedent. Share the habits you’re building into your life!

12/17/10 Update – Himanshu sent a CR workbook to BNA detailing the revised estimates for all CSOW items