Today, I spoke with Ken Blanchard, who is one of the most influential leadership experts in the world, an bestselling author multiple times over, a world famous speaker and author of the new book, Helping People Win At Work. In this interview, Ken discusses how employees can win at work, the training and development employees need, and more.
Do you think every employee can win at work? What about the ones that don’t fit into the culture?
I think everyone can be coached and supported to be a high performer in their area in their responsibility, unless it’s just not in their DNA. I could be coached all day and would never be a good accountant. The key concept in Helping People Win at Work is to make sure that everyone has the final exam ahead of time (at the beginning of the fiscal year), and that they know what they are being held accountable for and what good performance looks like. Then it’s the responsibility of their manager to help them win.
If a manager works closely with a direct report and performance is still not good at the end of the year, then that’s good evidence that maybe this person is in the wrong job. If the person is a good values match to the culture, then most managers would see if they could find another job for this values-driven person. If a person isn’t performing and they’re not a good match for the culture this is a good time, as Garry Ridge suggests, for you to share that person with the competition.
What type of training and development program should be standard in the workplace?
“Everyone should be taught how to set observable and measurable goals.”
They also need to learn how to ask for help. This seems like an unusual part of a training and development program, and yet in our self leadership program—how to take initiative when you don’t have power—we teach people that the most important phrase they can learn in their life is “I need.” A lot of people fail at work because they’re not willing to ask for help. They act like victims: “Nobody’s giving me a hand.” “I’m in the wrong position.” And they bang the nails into their own coffins. At any point when they are not performing well, people should ask for help. Managers should all be trained in how to listen.
What happens when you have a “toxic” manager or employee? What do you do?
Toxic managers or employees should be told quickly about what makes them toxic. A firm belief I have is: When in doubt, confront, and when all else fails, try honesty. You always want to give somebody a chance to change their behavior and make it part of their performance review. Once people know what they are working on, give them feedback and applause for their improvement.
Paul Meyer, with whom I coauthored the book Know Can Do!, worked with a VP of Finance who was incredible in the financial tasks of her position but a wet blanket on all new ideas. He called her in and told her how good she was as a financial officer, but her killing of all new ideas was career damaging. He told her from now on, at meetings with him or their team, if a new idea came up she could not say anything negative about that idea. In fact, she was in charge of “green light” thinking. It was her job to come up with all the positive reasons for why things should go forward. It was amazing to hear her report out after a year or so of this kind of responsibility. She had trouble finding fault with things because she had been so taught to be a positive thinker.
Can you name a company that has helped people win at work?
Southwest Airlines is a perfect example of a company that has helped people win at work. Herb Kelleher, who cofounded the airline, has been a firm believer in helping everybody win at work. At Southwest Airlines they have a clear mission, set of values, and goals for every department and position. Everybody is encouraged to help each other win at work. They don’t have a normal distribution mentality. Their philosophy is: When you hire somebody to be on your team, you want them to win.
Ken Blanchard is a prominent, sought-after author, speaker, and business consultant. Ken is one of the most influential leadership experts in the world. Dr. Ken Blanchard is the cofounder and Chief Spiritual Officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies, an international management training and consulting firm. In addition to being a renowned speaker and consultant, Ken also spends time as a visiting lecturer at his alma mater, Cornell University, where he is a trustee emeritus of the Board of Trustees. His phenomenal best-selling book, The One Minute Manager, coauthored with Spencer Johnson, which has sold more than 13 million copies and remains on best-seller lists. His books have combined sales of more than 18 million copies in more than 25 languages. Ken has been inducted into Amazon’s Hall of Fame as one of the top 25 best-selling authors of all time. His two latest books are Who Killed Change? and Helping People Win at Work. You can read more about Ken’s views on his blog, howwelead.org.