The hidden (and most important) information in every organization


hidden information

What is really happening here?

In my recent TEDx talk: Reclaiming Humanity at Work, I told a story about how when I started a new executive level job, that I wasn’t sure exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

A mentor told me, “Talk to everybody and you’ll know what to do”.

I took this quite literally, and in my first 2 weeks I did 100 one-one meetings.

In each of meetings I asked people, “What do you think is working and not working? What do you think we need to change or do differently? What do you think we should stop doing? What do you think is most important moving forward?”

This was life changing for me. After those 100 meetings I felt like I had a super power.

Not only did I know what I needed to do, but I had 100 people who were motivated to help me go do it because I had respected them enough to ask them “What do you think?”

I got the information about what was really going on.

I learned that we had duplicate competing efforts in the group.
I learned that I had a manager who was a bully on my team.
I learned that we were not effectively communicating across the organization.
I learned that we were waiting forever for commitments from another group.
I learned that people were unmotivated because they didn’t understand the strategy.
I learned that people did not know things that my managers told me that everyone knows.

The only way to uncover the secrets

The most important thing I learned is that the information about what is really happening is totally hidden from an executive if you only rely on your managers telling you things.

It’s not that the managers are actively trying to hide anything — most of the time they are not. It’s just that nothing can substitute for real interaction and getting information directly from people who are doing the work.

When I looked around and noticed that my peers were not doing this with their organizations, by comparison they looked like they were shooting in the dark — where I knew exactly what to do.

I have taken this approach of talking to everyone forever after — because it made me so much more competent, and it made everyone else so much more engaged and motivated.

When my organizations got bigger, I could not have thousands of 1-1 meetings but I always had some — every week. I always had small group meetings, and 1-1 meetings with some individuals every time I visited a site.

The ride in the car

One of the most valuable sources of information I got as an executive was from going to visit customers.

It was not anything that happened at the customer meeting itself, it was what I learned during the ride in the car to and from the airport with the sales rep.

If you want to know what is really happening in your business, spend some time with sales reps, sales engineers, and service people. Learn what they think, see and experience. They will tell you more about what business you are in than anything you can learn at headquarters.

Put aside the hierarchy for a minute

It is so important as a leader to step outside the hierarchy and to have real conversations with the people who are actually doing the work on a regular basis.

Those executives that instead, pretend to act like a big-shot all the time, and would never think of talking to people below them, are cutting off the most important source of information there is.

As I also mentioned in my talk…tragically, people have died on operating tables, and planes have crashed because the leader refused to step outside the hierarchy to listen to the people who actually knew what was going on.

You’ll never find this hidden, most information in your organization if you never take the time to have human to human conversations with the people doing the work.

Watch my TEDx Talk here: Reclaiming Humanity at Work

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my Facebook page Patty Azzarello Practical Business Advice for Humans.


About Patty
patty blog image crop

Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

Reclaiming Humanity at Work: It’s here!


I’m happy to announce that my TEDx talk can now be viewed online!

“Who are your enemies?”

I have been asked that interview question for my whole life as I was growing my career.

I am recalling being in my twenties, sitting across the table from a grizzly and embittered executive who would ask me, “Who are your enemies?”

When I would fail to produce a list of enemies, the interviewer would look at me with disdain, like I was the most irrelevant person on the planet, implying, “How can you claim to be competent if you haven’t made powerful enemies?”

That scene seems so ridiculous to me now. Because, you know what? I ended up doing OK for myself without leaving a trail of bodies and enemies in my wake.

I built my own success by making friends, and helping others to succeed too.

Win-lose or win-win?

The idea that “for me to win, you have to lose”, never made sense to me. If I can win AND you can win, how does that hurt me? Why is that not better?

I have found that by respecting people’s humanity, and making them feel like winners and heroes, that you can build a tremendous amount of loyalty and power in your organization.

I was able to win because they were able to win.

Thank you

I am grateful to my mentors and to all of the people who jumped in the boat with me so that we could create success together.

And I am much prouder that I have a group of friends and supporters too long to list, than I am ashamed that I can not name my impressive list of enemies.

So I was grateful in this TEDx talk to have the opportunity to share this idea that is very important to me: Respecting Humanity at Work is not only good for the people, It’s good for business!

Hope you enjoy it and I’d love to know what you think.

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my Facebook page Patty Azzarello Practical Business Advice for Humans.


About Patty
patty blog image crop

Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

Who should be the hero in your team?


hero

Lately I have been having a lot of conversations with clients about leadership and delegating.

Delegating is one of the most important things that effective leaders do.

But I have been noticing a stumbling block with some leaders when it comes to delegating that is a bit of a paradox.

Who is the smartest?

1. One of the most common reasons that most people think delegating is hard is because you are better at the thing you are delegating than the person is, so you are afraid it will not come out right. You would like to be able to delegate more, but you don’t trust the person to do a good enough job.

2. Some leaders feel like they should be, and remain the smartest person on the team, because being the smartest and most capable is the thing that will inspire their team.

Do you see the disconnect here?

The way to solve the delegating problem is to hire people who are smarter and more capable than you are, not less.

If you want work to get done, aren’t you better off finding someone who is really great at doing that work? Why would you want someone to help you that is NOT better at it than you are?

If you hire a plumber, a lawyer, an accountant, a dog groomer — you seek to find the person who is best at that job — better than you. Wouldn’t it be terrible if every person that you hired in every service capacity in your life was not as good as you. Imagine your haircut!

So why is it so hard at work to let the people who work for us be better than us?

Make people feel like super-heroes

“Patty, When I worked for you, I thought I was Superman.”

I got that message awhile back from a former employee. It was wonderful to get that message. But additionally, those 10 words sum up for me, in a pretty profound way, what I believe being a good leader of a high performing team is about.

He continued… “I have occasionally reflected on why that was. Not sure I know all the answers, but the things I do know are that the environment was real, the energy was high and the crap was low.”

After getting that message, that idea became my measure of what my job was as a leader.

A leader should make the people on the team feel like super-heroes!

They way you do that is to get people in the right roles, give them important work, hard problems to solve, big decisions to make, then support them, get the crap out of the way, and let them be amazing.

Hero managers

Some managers struggle with this because they feel like they need to be the hero.

The reason this happens is one of values.

When you are an individual contributor, you need to be brilliant at the work itself to stand out. If you are, you get recognized and rewarded for that, and it is what you base your self-worth and self-confidence on.

But when you step into management, and each time you step up a level in fact, the job is a different job. And it’s important not to miss the transition. (I talk about this in my book RISE in the chapter “The Level Dilemma”.)

It is a necessary step in the evolution of a manager at each level to ask the question, what is my value based on now? To myself and to others.

Hint: It is not being the smartest one at doing the detailed work anymore.

What is inspiring?

If you tell yourself that the reason your team will be inspired and value you, is because you are the smartest one in the room… If you get your own sense of value from being the hero and always being the one to jump in and save the day when your team is not up to the challenge, you are not doing the job of a leader.

The job of a leader is to develop everyone else on your team competent enough to do the most important work, to save the day, and to feel like heroes — not claim that spotlight for yourself.
(and keep yourself over-busy because you should be delegating)

As a leader, you need to find satisfaction and base your personal view of what being valueable means to developing a high performing organization, not from being the smartest one on the team.

Think about it this way…

If smart leaders hire only even-smarter people, and those people hire only even-smarter people, the organization gets even stronger and smarter as it grows.

But if a leader wants to remain the smartest person on the team, and only hires people less smart than they are, and so on, the entire organization gets weaker and dumber over time.

The team can never be more capable than the leader. What a shame that is. Your team should make you bigger, you should not make your team smaller.

A leader who tries to do all the important work and make all the important decisions personally eventually stalls out, and is seen as ineffective because organization can’t deliver or scale.

Use your power for good…

If you are indeed the smartest one, that’s OK. But make sure you do not use that skill to make your people feel small.

Give yourself a detailed, technical project that is on the side, that does not interfere with the development of your team.

Use your skills to be a teacher. But be careful to not always be in the position of telling everyone that their work is not good enough and jumping in to fix it.

Teach them how to fix it. Teach them how to develop their skills.

If you can make 10 people as smart as you are (or smarter), you have added way more value to the company than making sure that you remain the smartest.

See also, how to manage your team when you don’t understand the work.

So back to delegating

As a leader, delegating is your best method for helping people to grow and making them feel like super-heroes.

Give them important work and support them. Don’t micromanage them, but delegate in a way that you have confidence you will get the right outcome.

Don’t think about delegating just as assigning work, but as developing your team.

Delegating = building capacity. Delegating = teaching. Delegating = opportunity to grow.

I offer a webinar on this called: Delegating for High Performance that you can find in the member library.

It’s free to members or available on the store.

Be a real hero

What makes a leader a real hero is building highly capabable, motivated team that can scale, and letting letting the people on the team be amazing.

See also, how to manage your team when you don’t understand the work.

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my Facebook page Patty Azzarello Practical Business Advice for Humans.


About Patty
patty blog image crop

Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

Trust. There is no Neutral


Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 3.08.24 PM

The Monday MOVE Idea

Each Monday until the launch of my upcoming book MOVE, I’ll be sharing an important idea from the book. This week: Trust — There is no neutral.

Most people are pro-trust.

You don’t see people walking around saying that they don’t think trust is important, or that they think trust is a bad thing.

But what you do see is that many leaders take trust for granted. They don’t think about trust in a way that they believe they must do things on purpose to build or maintain trust.

They just don’t see trust as an action item.

The thing about trust is that there is no neutral.
You are either building trust or you are destroying it.

If you do nothing, trust will bleed out of the system because people will not see you showing up, personally doing and investing in the things that build trust.

Even if you are not doing anything bad, you are still letting trust degrade by your inaction.

Without a specific focus and consistent actions to build trust, trust will bleed out of the system, and your transformation is likey to get stuck somewhere during the long Middle, where even the most important strategies lose momentum.

In MOVE I share many important ways to be building trust throughout your whole transformation so that people feel confident and motivated to stick with it.

Read MOVE

I’m really excited to share the important ideas, and all the tools I put in my upcoming book MOVE to help managers at all levels get your team to execute your strategy more decisively.

MOVE will be available February 28, but you can download a free preview now or pre-order your copy now.
Click to download
Click to Pre-order
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What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.

Who else would like to see this?

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About Patty
patty blog image crop

Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

Building Trust and Motivation



This month’s Professional Development webinar was on the topic of Building Trust and Motivation.

building trust

If you missed it you can download the recording.

Members of Azzarello group can download this webinar for free.

Don’t leave trust to chance!

Most people would say that trust is a good thing, and that it is good for motivation and business. But I did this webinar because I also see that many leaders leave trust to chance. It’s important to remember that trust doesn’t happen automatically in an organization.

The only things that happen automatically in an organization are entropy and employees getting nervous.

You need to do stuff on purpose if you want to maintain a positive atmosphere of trust in your organization — which you need to do because trust drives action.

This is a very useful webinar to download if you want to:

  • Understand the value of trust and how it works in a company
  • Learn how 5 specific behaviors that build or degrade trust
  • Motivate and develop a loyal team without a lot of money
  • Make your communications more effective to drive action
  • Build a more authentic (and comfortable) leadership style

The webinar

In this webinar: Building Trust and Motivation you’ll get ideas for understanding how trust works in an organization, the big opportunity and advantages gained from getting it right, and the risks of getting it wrong. And of course, I shared lot’s of practical ideas for what to do!

There is no neutral…

You are either building trust or destroying it. There is no neutral. If you do nothing or leave trust to chance, trust will bleed out of your organization.

You need to invest in behaviors that build trust on purpose, every day.

Here’s a summary of what the webinar covers:

  • The trust bank account – how it works
  • 5 things that build or degrade trust
  • Your role as a leader in building trust
  • Communications that grow or damage trust

1. Trust is Personal Authentic

It all starts with one person trusting another person. There is no trust initiative you can roll out and expect people to hop on board.

Some leaders engage in a personal authentic way, and others don’t.

For all of the introverts out there, this is not about sharing your deep personal secrets at work, it’s about not being or treating others like work robots. People trust people. People don’t trust work robots.

In the webinar I shared some personal stories of hits and misses and some ideas to make connections that build trust in way that feels authentic and comfortable. For awhile early in my career I thought that being all work made me credible and powerful. It didn’t.

2. Consistent, Effective Communications

There is nothing more important to building trust than communicating. Consistently.

We talked about what people need to hear from you and how you can make sure that your communications don’t undermine what you need your team to focus on.

You need to show up. Clarity, consistency, reliability are all trust builders. Absence of communication is the #1 trust destroyer. Don’t expect people to just know stuff. Communicate.

3. Clear Measures and Follow-through

Treating people equally destroys trust.

In the webinar I gave several examples of how to differentiate between high, average and low performers.

Fairness builds trust. Remember everyone is watching.

4. Context and Connections

One way I see a lot of leaders miss opportunities to build trust or actively rob the bank account is by keeping the important information and connections only to themselves.

Share!

5. Recognition and Appreciation

Acknowledgement goes a long way. In the webinar I shared some stories about how I learned about the value of acknowledgement, and the tremendous pay off it has for putting equity in the trust bank account.

Sadly, acknowledgement is a rare commodity among many business leaders. I’m not sure why because it’s so very damaging to skip it, and it’s so very effective (and totally free) when you do it consistently.

I shared some ideas for how to make sure you are not missing opportunities to give acknowledgement and make connections for people in a way that is very useful and rewarding.

Want some help?

To get some help with this and learn the specific ideas and techniques that we talked about, download the webinar: Building Trust & Motivation, now.

Members: Download the webinar for free.
Non Members: You can purchase this individual webinar or podcast (links below).

There are some other really useful webinars in the Member Library related to this topic.

Members get these additional webinars for free:

So if you are not yet a member, you might as well join and get them all for free!

Let me be your mentor

Members of Azzarello Group basically get me as their mentor.

Every month you get new insights and tools in the form of these webinars, as well as the chance to call into a monthly members-only coaching hour where you can get direct personal coaching from me.

People tell me that membership gives them a totally new way of thinking about their career, getting promotions, solving difficult problems with bosses, peers, employees, and other annoying people, communicating better, being more influential, becoming a stronger leader, and enjoying their work more. I love to hear this, and I love to help!

If you join now, you’ll not only get this webinar, but all the other webinars in the Member Library.

AND you’ll get the opportunity to participate in monthly Coaching Hour conference calls with me.
Check out what we talk about.

AND as a member you’ll get to download your copy of the Career Year of action Guide (a $30 value) for free.

Membership is a great resource (and a steal at $179 for a whole year) to help you advance your career.

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ABOUT PATTY:

patty blog image
Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

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