Leadership Behavior Scorecard


201906 blog picThe behavior of leaders is a very powerful indicator of how a company truly operates from a people perspective. Which aspects of the business are mostly focused on by leaders? How are decisions made and communicated? Most change initiatives include specific behaviors which leaders need to role model in order to ensure a successful outcome for the initiative.

The typical approach to measure how leaders are behaving is to obtain input from those around each leader – those who interact with the leader on a regular basis.  The groups of people asked to provide ratings for each leader could be:

  1. People who report to the leader
  2. People who are colleagues of the leader
  3. People who are more senior than the leader
  4. If appropriate – external parties who interact with the leader on a regular basis.

The process of assessing leadership behavior typically follows these basic steps: Collecting ratings, consolidating the ratings, providing feedback to leaders and using the results to plan further actions as needed.

201906 process

The tool needed for this exercise needs to be developed, reviewed and agreed and then introduced before the process starts. Once the key behavioral elements are defined, a tool is needed to capture feedback from others about leadership behaviors. The tool I am sharing is an excel spreadsheet which can be shared with or emailed to those who need to provide ratings and comments regarding the desired behaviors for each leader that they interact with on a regular basis. Some people automate the feedback gathering using a free tool like http://www.surveymonkey.com

Free resource (Clicking on the colored text links to googledrive where you can download the excel spreadsheet for free)

Process notes:

  • Behaviors used for ratings have to be very well defined so that they can be observed and does not require someone to guess at the intentions or motivations of the leader. A behavior must be observable or produce visible results.
  • Ask raters to add comments to help you interpret the scores. This understanding enables the creation of realistic follow-up actions after the results are available.
  • Ratings should not be requested too often – raters get “survey-fatigue” and your results become less meaningful.
  • The objective is for the tool to support the leaders by providing helpful and actionable feedback. The tool also helps to understand how the change initiative is progressing towards desired milestones.

You will notice in the shared resource (tool) example that leadership behaviors were defined in 4 categories: Commitment Behaviors, Communication Behaviors,  Teamwork/Collaboration Behaviors, and Safety Behaviors. Your categories will be determined by your own change initiative and you will need to also define the specific behaviors that are desirable for leaders given your project. Simply use the downloaded excel sheet and type over the category names and behavior definitions to create your own Leadership Behavior Scorecard.

Important watch-outs:

  • Be careful when you consolidate the results from various raters. If you had agreed to keep rater identities confidential, summarize the results by subgroup. Provide an average per subgroup for each of the behavioral elements. Do not provide a subgroup score if there were less than 3 raters.
  • Follow-up actions should also include recognition/appreciation for those leaders who are role modeling the desired behaviors in the organization.
  • Consider using some examples from the higher ratings to create case studies to the organization. It is easier for employees to understand how to apply desired behaviors when they receive actual examples that illustrate how decisions were made or implemented using the desired behaviors. An example makes it easier for others to follow.

The tool is relatively simple to use, but it is vital that it is designed well and introduced correctly into the organization. Assessment tools can be seen as a negative element if the objectives and the way results will be helpful (to the organization and those who are assessed) are not communicated appropriately.

Reference checks on job candidates


After interviews have taken place you will want to take a few more steps before you decide whether to make an offer to one of the job candidates you have for a vacancy. You may want to ask candidates to complete assessments or you may want to get the perspectives of their former colleagues before you make a decision.

The reference check template shared here contains a few questions to help you understand whether one candidate may be preferred compared to another given their experiences and approaches.

This link shares the template from google drive

Additional steps after initial interviews or between rounds of interviews could include:

  • Tests or assessments.
  • Practical exercises like a business case or even a presentation to be made to some senior leaders or experts at your company.
  • Reference checking with former colleagues, former direct reports or former supervisors of the candidate(s).

Background checks are used in some countries but can be harder to obtain in countries or regions where data and privacy protection laws exist. In most cases, criminal background and/or financial history information can only be obtained if the prospective employer can show a direct link between the requirements of the role and the information it wishes to obtain. Reference checks are typically easier to conduct in most countries, but be mindful of the kinds of information that you would be reasonably able to obtain given local laws.

Be mindful to:

  • Ensure that you notify any impacted job candidates (i.e. in areas such as Europe) about the data you wish to obtain and how you would process this data to avoid the risk of non-compliance. Job candidates need to know this at the start of the process and they must (actively) agree with your proposal for collecting data before you are able to proceed.
  • Ensure that all data obtained during the recruitment process is archived or destroyed after the process has been completed for a specific vacancy. All HR personnel who deal with such data would need to understand that this also includes any data that have been saved to their individual computers during the process.
  • Make sure the data you wish to obtain is relevant to the hiring decisions you wish to make. And make sure that those who would speak with candidates or possible referees can explain the connection.

Assuming that you have taken all precautions to ensure you are not incurring any risks with your planned reference checking approach, here is a template with questions for you to consider when you contact the list of referees provided by the job candidate.

You can use the template in a few ways:

  • Set up a time to talk to each referee via phone or Skype and go through the questions, capturing his or her responses.
  • Send each referee a form and ask him/her to complete it and return it to you – typically via email. Be aware that this approach does not offer you much opportunity to ask further questions to clarify without creating a few extra emails to the original string.
  • Set up the questions as an online survey (for example using www.surveymonkey.com) and share the link with referees. Note that data interpretation may be an issue here – not knowing what a referee meant by a specific score or comment. This also means you would have to contact referees again to clarify feedback. One way to improve data interpretation is to build in comment fields to explain scores.

Finally, it is important to understand that a reference check is just one of the data points that could support decision-making related to hiring the best candidate for the vacancy. Feedback may be incomplete for a number of reasons:

  1. The referee wishes to avoid any unpleasant situation with the former employee and wishes to be cautious in his/her responses.
  2. There may be laws in the country which specifies what referees can or should say and what they cannot comment on.
  3. The previous company may have clear policies about what can be shared by referees, which may be limited to job title and years of employment at the company.

Getting feedback from those who previously worked with a job candidate can still be valuable – understanding how the candidate’s knowledge or work methods would fit in with the job requirements or the company culture. For this reason, it can be good to get more perspectives. Just be aware of possible risks given the changing legal environment as you obtain feedback from referees.

Questions for Coaching


Many managers make the mistake of thinking coaching is about “telling” others what they should be doing. While some very inexperienced people may need you to tell them what to do or how to do it, most others need to learn and explore topics and new skills or behaviors with their coaches instead. The hard part for many coaches is to listen and ask the right questions and to refrain from taking up most of the airtime during coaching sessions talking about their own lives and their own stories or just offering advice. While children happily accept new information simply because you tell them how things are, adults prefer to explore and learn by comparing and assimilating what you are sharing with what they already know and have learned in their pasts.

Asking the right questions is not an easy assignment to have as a coach. Some questions shut others down while limiting them to “yes” or “no” answers which does not allow for a rich conversation of exploration around the topic concerned.closed question examples

Here is a list of more useful types of questions to ask :

  • Open-ended questions help others expand on ideas and contribute to the conversation vs staying mostly in listening-mode. These kinds of questions can help you discover the other person’s thought processes, motivations and how they feel about a topic or an option.
  • Clarifying questions are helpful to ensure you understood your conversation partner correctly. When people get going on topics that they feel quite excited or passionate about they can sometimes lose sight of how familiar you are with that same topic. To ensure you (the coach) are able to follow along, you may need to pause, look back and clarify any comment made which you were unable to place within the context of the topic being discussed.
  • Paraphrasing. This is a useful technique to summarize what you heard so far and help move the conversation towards a decision or planning a specific path forward (action). It also helps ensure that your impressions of what was said are correct. It can be very validating for someone to hear their own words summarized correctly by another trusted person (in this case you, as the coach).

This Questions for Coaches reminder can help you plan to ask the right questions at your next coaching session. I recommend you read through this as you prepare for the session, but do not commit yourself to asking specific pre-determined questions regardless of how the conversation goes. The important part about asking questions at a coaching session is that you (the coach) come with a mindset of curiosity. That enables learning and exploration of concepts, ideas and options to take place which is vital for adults in their learning process.

Questions for Coaches  link

Use the links I show below and also the resource I am sharing above as a way to prepare for and get into inquiry mode before the planned coaching session.

These are great questions to consider asking when you coach: Life Coaching Questions    Coaching questions for managers

Coaching your direct reports


I often hear from managers that they don’t know what to coach their direct reports on. It appears the word coaching implies to them that they must have some special insights and skills which would qualify them to coach someone else. Most managers do not realize that they actually know a lot about the company, how things work, how things should be working and how it is going generally. Perhaps all they need is a way to get the conversation going?

Many junior level employees or those with only a few years of working experience (in total) typically need a lot of guidance on some very basic questions which they have about the company, their roles, and what they can and should expect. Some of these relatively inexperienced employees are often not that good at identifying and verbalizing their own underlying questions and instead just keep asking for feedback, which is a very vague term for most managers to interpret.

Coaching your direct reports can be much easier if you use this little summary sheet showing the basic questions that most employees have for the person that they report to. As their manager, you can open a conversation covering one of the questions on the sheet and just state “I can imagine you may have some questions or would like to know more about….” (use one of the questions shown on the sheet). Once the conversation is kicked-off it often happens that the employee will start to bring up more specific questions that he or she may have.

This graphic shows the basic 4 steps that can be used to start and keep a good coaching relationship going. coaching process 4 steps

Coaching can be a highly structured program requiring a lot of specialized communication and coaching skills and training. It can also be simply helping employees understand the basics around their roles, the company and how things work in their environment. It is your role as their manager to coach them and develop their knowledge, skills and competencies on an on-going basis. If you need more training and support with regards to coaching, do talk to your HR representative. In the interim, this conversation-starting summary sheet may be helpful to you!

Coaching your direct reports Summary sheet link.

Feedback from internal customers on HR Function SURVEY


In the same way that companies would approach external customers to gather their views on what is going well and what needs improvement (customer satisfaction), the HR function should reach out to its internal customers to find out how satisfied they are with the services and support that they receive. It is true that there are more than one model for HR service delivery, but that does not change the fact that it is wise to gather feedback on the services and support that you do provide given the structure and focus for HR in your company.

The HR function is often guilty of focusing its developmental and improvement efforts exclusively on helping other departments and neglects using those same skills and expertise to improve the HR function as a whole and developing the people who deliver the HR services to others.

The HR Function Feedback Survey can help you gather the information you need from your internal customers to help you identify specific areas of excellence in HR and also those areas where improvement may be needed. When improvement is needed it will often imply additional training and development of some HR representatives and may also  include communicating the HR vision and goals more clearly within the HR function. Remember to recognize and reward those who were part of delivering excellent services when you review the survey results.

Tips:

  • Do be sure to provide survey participants with feedback on the outcome of the survey and the actions that you plan to take as a result of the survey. This motivates participants to continue providing you with valuable feedback in the future.
  • Create an action plan and communicate that clearly within the HR function so that everyone understands which areas you plan to address and how you plan to do that. It may help to set specific metrics around your planned improvements to make it easier to report progress.
  • Regularly update stakeholders – internal to the HR function and those who are internal customers in your company – on the progress of improvement efforts as you implement the post-survey action plan.
  • Remember to celebrate successes (milestones and outcomes achieved) and be prepared to add additional actions to your plan in cases where your improvement efforts are not reaping the results you had planned for.

The HR Function Feedback Survey link

Employee Feedback Planning Template


feedback

Giving and receiving feedback especially around undesired behavior can be a daunting task. Not only is it typically hard for employees to hear corrective feedback, but it is also typically hard for managers and supervisors to give that kind of feedback. It nevertheless remains an important part of ensuring that performance expectations are set and met.

This template helps a manager or supervisor think through the important aspects of giving feedback to an employee and helps to plan the actual feedback meeting.

Employee Feedback Planning Template

The template and approach also helps plan positive feedback to employees. This aspect is often neglected, but equally valuable in helping employees understand what specific actions and communications are valued and should be continued.

Some reminders:

  • Never give important feedback via an email or sending this worksheet to the employee. It should always be done in person or at least by phone or skype – if you have remote team members.
  • The feedback should be given as soon as possible after the event to minimize surprises at the annual performance feedback meetings and to ensure the employee still has a good recollection of the situation or event that took place.
  • Do allow the employee to respond once you have shared the feedback to ensure that your message is understood and that you get an opportunity to understand any nuances which you may not have been aware of.
  • It is always a good idea to agree on a check-in moment at some time in the future. This is an opportunity to see if the employee may have further questions or comments at that time or perhaps he or she worked on improving a particular skill and may have some successes to share.

Presentation Feedback Template


Developmental assignments is a great way to expose an employee to the challenge of working on specific skill areas while learning how to apply newly acquired knowledge and skills to solve some predefined business issue or question. Preparation of an assignee is key – along with ensuring that the learning objectives of the developmental assignment and the business issue or question to be addressed is well understood. The other side of the coin would be to evaluate what an assignee has learned from his or her developmental assignment at the end.  Of course the topic warrants its own post at some point, but let’s just stick with the evaluation for now.

Evaluations can be based on the basics of the assignment and how the employee experienced the preparation phase, support during the assignment and the coaching/mentoring he or she received while working on the assignment. Evaluation should also include a review of the assignee’s learning and this is often done by means of a report and/or a presentation to an audience including at least some senior level managers or executives.

The templates I am sharing include a presentation feedback form which can help those attending the presentation to structure their feedback to the presenter (the assignee) in a consistent way. An HR or Training/Learning/Development representative can collect all the feedback forms afterwards and collate those into one feedback document for the benefit of the assignee.  Having this feedback available enables presenters to become mindful of the way they communicated and how effective they were at conveying what they intended when they prepared for the presentation.

Presentation Feedback Template

Combined Feedback Form Template

Tips:

  • Customize the first column to include specific details around developmental objectives that were set as a part of the assignment. That way the presenter gets very specific feedback on how well he or she met those expectations through the presentation and handling questions during the session.
  • Be sure to prepare those who would provide feedback so they understand how feedback is to be captured on the form – sometimes they are confused about the columns and you may even prefer to just have one column with a score. Specifically ask them to add comments to help enrich the feedback and make it easier for the presenter to understand how to improve on his or her performance in future.
  • Deliver the feedback in person (vs by email) once the combined Feedback form is completed. Presenters may have further questions on how to interpret the feedback or how to improve on their own performance and should have the opportunity to get guidance and coaching on that during the feedback meeting to optimize the learning opportunity.

Action Plans for Employee Surveys


The most important action to take after you are clear on the results from an employee satisfaction or employee engagement survey is to ensure you develop a realistic action plan to address the highest priority areas of concern. I am assuming that you have already decided when you would communicate the results to the survey participants and whether or not you would wait to include the planned actions based on the survey in the feedback.

The first template helps you to describe and be clear on which areas you plan to address in making improvements to how employees experience their work environment etc. Specific actions are then selected and jotted down. (Always remember to make actions SMART – Specific, Measurable (what progress can be observed/measured from this action?), Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.)

Employee Survey Action Plan Template

The second template relates to the regular updates that management typically expect from those who are managing the process of setting the action plans, actioning the plans and updating the plans. It focuses specifically on the agreed actions with a simple indication of progress. You can always add a comments column if your manager requires more details than the indicator of progress to date.

Employee Survey Action Plan Update Template

Some reminders:

  • Remember to communicate the survey results, the actions planned and action status updates to those who participated in the survey. It motivates employees to participate in future requests for input and establishes credibility in the process and management’s intentions to ensure a good working environment and fair and supportive treatment of employees.
  • Don’t pick more than four areas to address. If you pick too many actions and areas to action you could easily be overwhelmed by the activities that need to take place on top of your normal day-to-day workload. It is important that you are able to show progress according to your plan – to management and to survey participants.
  • Don’t survey employee opinion too often – this leads to survey-fatigue and your participation rate can drop. How often? Depends on the length of your survey. A short “employee happiness” check with about 10 questions or rated statements may be done on a quarterly basis. A full-blown survey with between 40 and 80 questions should not be considered more often than perhaps 18 to 24 months apart.
  • Explain the context of actions from employee surveys. Most people dislike being expedited on the actions that they need to take according to the action plan. It is not always true that the individuals responsible for these actions understand how the action that he or she needs to take relates to the overall action plan and the employee survey. Knowing the context of their activities and how these activities relate to a greater cause can be very motivational and may simplify your job of ensuring progress on action plans.

Training Needs Analysis – Templates


Understanding what kind of training you should plan to provide to employees can be a daunting task. On the one hand there is what employees would like to have, but do they really understand what they need to learn to improve their performances? On the other hand there is what the manager thinks his or her people should be able to do better. This is a good perspective since the manager at least knows (if your performance management process is working well) what the gap is between expected employee performance and how employees are actually performing. Another consideration would be whether your current training offerings are aligned with what is actually needed? If you have the standard classes : delegation skills, leadership skills, first-time manager training, time management etc, are you sure that you are covering everything that should be made available?

If this is already giving you a headache, relax. The task of determining training needs for next year is not a simple task to perform and all of these angles are valid input to consider in making that determination. I am going to share at least 3 different tools with you to help with your training needs analysis:

  1. Self-rated individual training needs. The quality of the results you obtain from this tool depends on whether you have a good career development tool/framework in place, motivated employees who maintain and work on their own development plans on an on-going basis and whether your managers/supervisors provide quality performance feedback to employees on a regular basis. Self-rated individual training needs
  2. Manager assessment of department/team. If the manager does not have a good understanding of your performance management process and your career development tool he or she may be basing input to this tool mainly on gut-feel, which may not be reliable. The manager should also be very familiar with the definitions to interpret the knowledge and skills areas shown in this tool correctly in order to make the right judgments. Manager rated Training Needs
  3. Training needs and budgeting. This tool assumes that all the courses and learning events that will be offered are known and it helps you to budget for the events planned for next year. This means that you have already collected input from managers, performance appraisals or any other reliable source to know what employees need. The outcome will help you understand and track spending associated with training events. (Some people like to track money spent on training vs planned spending on training. You may also want to track your training budget per employee or per hours worked or actual money spent on training per employee/hours worked.) Training needs and budgeting

Tips for training needs analysis:

  • Create a process that you follow consistently every year. This helps your managers to understand how training offered relate to what is needed. It also helps them to be able to provide the needed  input  easier and faster if the process and tools/templates stay the same.
  • Be clear with managers which part of the training costs would be booked to their budgets. For example – where do employees charge their time when they are in a training class? To your budget or to their manager’s budget?
  • Ask yourself how much training does it make sense to provide internally vs using an external vendor. Some topics are very basic and can arguably be offered internally but do you really think it is the best use of your time to try and be a credible facilitator for every training needs topic that comes out of your annual analysis as a need?
  • Determining the training offerings for the following year should also include a good review of the evaluations that you have collected from course participants this year. Are your current training classes good enough or do they need to be improved or outsourced?

Evaluating Training Classes


The topic of evaluating training events is quite a tricky one. There are several evaluation models out there and articles delving deeper and deeper into what should we exactly try to measure? On the surface level you just want to make sure that the basics were good – the arrangements, logistics, catering, invitations and how people felt about attending the class (including materials and trainer experience). This kind of feedback helps you to improve how you go about setting up classes, inviting people and which trainers are better than others in conducting a particular course.

It is also true though, that there are quite a number of people who can be categorized as “training tourists.”  They attend several classes, enjoy meeting new people/colleagues, enjoy the food and especially the fact that they are not expected to be behind their desks for the duration of the class. They don’t actually learn anything, nor do they intend to learn anything and they do fill up your class and may take up places that could have been better reserved for those who actually did have the intention to learn something. This surface level training evaluation will not show you whether one of those people have attended your session or not since it does not measure whether learning has taken place, whether behavior has changed or whether the value created by those who attended the training have increased after their attendance.

But let’s not try to solve world-hunger just yet. It is always good to have a surface level evaluation especially if it is the first time that you are using a particular venue, catering/event vendor or training company. The attachment which I am sharing below is a good basic level evaluation to help you understand whether the basics did go well or not.

Basic Training Class Evaluation Template

Tips:

  • Get their impressions immediately. Expecting people to follow an online link and complete a training class evaluation electronically after the event can be difficult as people may have to travel back to their offices or may get sucked into the day-to-day activities pretty fast after the class. This means they may have forgotten a lot of the impressions you were hoping to capture by the time they see your online link. Consider using paper copies of the evaluation and collecting the responses before people leave the location.
  • Illegible comments. It is a good idea to give each submission a quick overview while the person is still around in case you can’t read their handwriting very easily after the event. I have seen training support personnel spend quite a bit of time trying to puzzle and interpret a comment written down in haste at the end of a session.
  • Focus on the trends. In most cases the most important factor to look for in the consolidation of responses is the extremes: what are the highest scores and the lowest scores?  Then check for comments which may help you understand those extreme scores. The trends will give you a quick check on whether anything was considered completely out of the ordinary or as expected by participants.
  • Cultural impact. The way that people look at scoring on an evaluation sheet can vary quite dramatically among employees from different companies or different geographical regions. In some regions or companies it may be considered impolite to be overly critical while in other regions or companies a critical eye may be considered a sign of intelligence. Bear that in mind when you try to interpret scores for a group that may be made up of non-homogeneous  participants.