New Managers and Appropriate Boundaries with Employees; Advice on Finding the Right Balance

Managing people can be extremely rewarding, but it’s not without its challenges. It’s important to establish some boundaries regarding the relationships you have with your direct reports. Through our management training and leadership development programs, Career Partners International (CPI) has over thirty years’ experience helping new managers grow, thrive, and increase contributions to their organizations. Learning how to establish and maintain appropriate boundaries with employees is central to the development of every new manager.

People you manage can’t be the friends you go out for drinks with after work on a regular basis, even if you did so previously. It’s reasonable to arrange occasional social events with your direct reports—and as the boss, you can expect to pick up the check—but it would be wise to keep it to a minimum.

Another part of maintaining appropriate manager/employee boundaries involves the way you present yourself at work. Make sure your attire, behavior, and communication style are all professional. Consider, too, the kind of management style you want to adopt. Do you want to be a very hands-on manager? Do you want to be a laissez-faire manager? Determine what the right role is for you, your people, and your organization’s culture. Keep in mind that with your new responsibilities you’ll be reviewed on your capabilities as a manager. Take some time to reflect on the managers you had who were the most effective—regardless of their age—whose style you could learn from and emulate. Additionally, think of the managers who you found ineffective and consider how to avoid those pitfalls.

Focus on what the essential role of a manager is: ensuring that your employees have the skills, tools, support, and energy to understand and succeed at their responsibilities and to remain engaged with the organization. In this role, you will be providing reviews of your team members’ contributions and areas for them to develop. It’s crucial to provide feedback to employees in the right setting.

Work on making sure your communication and actions are framed positively. The difference between thinking of your job as supporting employees’ success vs. catching them doing something wrong will help you establish appropriate relationships. Regardless of age of the new manager, everyone must establish an effective management approach—you want to be supportive and focused on development vs. nitpicking and finding everything that’s wrong with your employees’ performance. You also don’t want to take the overly agreeable approach of letting people go early or come in late as a way to build allegiance to you as a leader. Professional is your key focus.

New managers especially need to pay extra attention to confidentiality. There are a number of things you can no longer discuss with your coworkers that you may have formerly discussed over lunch or a break. You and your team need to recognize this shift, so that your employees don’t put you in a position of asking for more information than you’re able to give.

If your relationship with your employees is overly casual and friend-based, you might experience challenges to your authority or unprofessional reactions to feedback. If you are too aloof, you are not presenting your authentic self, which is key to good workplace dynamics. Managers want to have good relationships with the people they work with. This means understanding and acknowledging who they are outside of work on a regular basis; it does not mean being best friends who share everything over cocktails. A supportive and understanding management style will help build long-term successful relationships, exceptional productivity, and long-term success with employees of any age.

Strong managers lead to strong teams that are more effective and contribute more to an organization’s goals. CPI is committed to providing a range of assessments, manager training, and leadership development programs to develop strong managers, leaders, and teams in support of successful organizations.

By Elaine Varelas, CPI Board of Directors Treasurer and Managing Partner at Keystone Partners

The post New Managers and Appropriate Boundaries with Employees; Advice on Finding the Right Balance appeared first on CPIWorld.

New Managers and Appropriate Boundaries with Employees; Advice on Finding the Right Balance

Managing people can be extremely rewarding, but it’s not without its challenges. It’s important to establish some boundaries regarding the relationships you have with your direct reports. Through our management training and leadership development programs, Career Partners International (CPI) has over thirty years’ experience helping new managers grow, thrive, and increase contributions to their organizations. Learning how to establish and maintain appropriate boundaries with employees is central to the development of every new manager.

People you manage can’t be the friends you go out for drinks with after work on a regular basis, even if you did so previously. It’s reasonable to arrange occasional social events with your direct reports—and as the boss, you can expect to pick up the check—but it would be wise to keep it to a minimum.

Another part of maintaining appropriate manager/employee boundaries involves the way you present yourself at work. Make sure your attire, behavior, and communication style are all professional. Consider, too, the kind of management style you want to adopt. Do you want to be a very hands-on manager? Do you want to be a laissez-faire manager? Determine what the right role is for you, your people, and your organization’s culture. Keep in mind that with your new responsibilities you’ll be reviewed on your capabilities as a manager. Take some time to reflect on the managers you had who were the most effective—regardless of their age—whose style you could learn from and emulate. Additionally, think of the managers who you found ineffective and consider how to avoid those pitfalls.

Focus on what the essential role of a manager is: ensuring that your employees have the skills, tools, support, and energy to understand and succeed at their responsibilities and to remain engaged with the organization. In this role, you will be providing reviews of your team members’ contributions and areas for them to develop. It’s crucial to provide feedback to employees in the right setting.

Work on making sure your communication and actions are framed positively. The difference between thinking of your job as supporting employees’ success vs. catching them doing something wrong will help you establish appropriate relationships. Regardless of age of the new manager, everyone must establish an effective management approach—you want to be supportive and focused on development vs. nitpicking and finding everything that’s wrong with your employees’ performance. You also don’t want to take the overly agreeable approach of letting people go early or come in late as a way to build allegiance to you as a leader. Professional is your key focus.

New managers especially need to pay extra attention to confidentiality. There are a number of things you can no longer discuss with your coworkers that you may have formerly discussed over lunch or a break. You and your team need to recognize this shift, so that your employees don’t put you in a position of asking for more information than you’re able to give.

If your relationship with your employees is overly casual and friend-based, you might experience challenges to your authority or unprofessional reactions to feedback. If you are too aloof, you are not presenting your authentic self, which is key to good workplace dynamics. Managers want to have good relationships with the people they work with. This means understanding and acknowledging who they are outside of work on a regular basis; it does not mean being best friends who share everything over cocktails. A supportive and understanding management style will help build long-term successful relationships, exceptional productivity, and long-term success with employees of any age.

Strong managers lead to strong teams that are more effective and contribute more to an organization’s goals. CPI is committed to providing a range of assessments, manager training, and leadership development programs to develop strong managers, leaders, and teams in support of successful organizations.

By Elaine Varelas, CPI Board of Directors Treasurer and Managing Partner at Keystone Partners

The post New Managers and Appropriate Boundaries with Employees; Advice on Finding the Right Balance appeared first on CPIWorld.

When CEOs Go Rogue: Director Oversight of Corporate Goodwill and Social Capital

“The CEO did what?” While this question may be popping up in boardrooms a lot lately, corporate reputation crises are not new. Companies have long faced risks associated with their operations—risks that a process, product, or service will result in injury, real or imagined—which can result in reputational harm. However, with the increasing use of social media as both a medium for executives to share their viewpoints and as a forum for public debate, boards must now oversee the risk that an executive will become the focus of a public controversy that could threaten the company’s goodwill and social capital.

Under common law, goodwill entails a group of intangible corporate assets, including stakeholder trust and corporate reputation, and is directly related to the value and quality of a company’s social capital. These assets can be subject to risks that manifest in multiple ways, ranging from unfiltered tweets to moral missteps, and to violations of law. In cases in which an executive is the face of the company, reputational risks that arise from the executive’s behavior can be particularly sensitive for boards to navigate. Due to the current social media climate, a high-profile blunder or scandal of any variety or degree can result in a decline in the company’s stock price, not to mention investigations, litigation, and intense public scrutiny and criticism.

Elon Musk tweets about corporate strategy, Nasdaq temporarily halts trading of Tesla’s stock, and regulatory inquiries ensue. Papa John’s founder resigns after allegedly making offensive comments and subsequently creates his own website to argue for a change in corporate leadership. Uber Technologies’ CEO resigns amid numerous allegations regarding his oversight of and participation in a toxic corporate culture. Steve Wynn resigns as chair and CEO of Wynn Resorts after allegations of decades of sexual misconduct hit the press. These are just a few examples of the very public corporate scandals that have rocked companies’ reputations recently, and the fallout in each case has threatened to tarnish the company’s goodwill and social capital.

So how should directors oversee the potential for a reputational crisis based on an executive’s behavior? While typical, boards should make sure they are prudent in their appointment or approval of executives, including asking candidates to disclose information that would be relevant to assessing the likelihood that their conduct could create reputational risk. Any hesitance to discuss sensitive or potentially controversial matters should not overshadow a board’s duty to ensure that the company is operating in the long-term interests of its shareholders, including the protection its goodwill among its stakeholders.

Beyond a thorough vetting process, we recommend the following steps.

  1. Understand the source and value of the company’s social capital and its vulnerabilities. Directors should understand how the company’s reputation and social capital fit in the corporate strategy, including the degree to which their company’s reputation is particularly impacted by the personality of a key executive, and the attendant risks resulting from that strategy. For example, for boards overseeing executives who can be unpredictable, directors should evaluate the degree to which the executive’s actions can benefit the company by potentially raising its profile with the public, including information about its business and strategy, versus harming the company by making it the focus of public controversy.
  2. Read the signs. Most boards are aware if an executive has exhibited warning signs of unpredictable or noncompliant behavior in the past, and that awareness should factor into the board’s review of that executive’s performance and succession planning for his or her role. Key questions regarding how the executive perceives his or her role and responsibilities with respect to the corporate image and social capital should be included in the executive’s performance review.
  3. Engage in proper crisis preparation. Although reputational crises are more difficult to anticipate, ultimately the impact of these risks is not unlike other risks associated with a company’s operations. Proper board-level crisis preparation, including the creation and testing of a written response plan, can help a company navigate even these risks should they be realized. Mitigating the damage of a reputational crisis can be largely dependent on the company’s ability to react quickly and in an effective and targeted manner. Having the right plan in place enables a timely response.
  4. Be proactive about succession planning. Succession planning is one of the board’s most critical tasks, but as governance professionals, we are aware that it can be an area of sensitivity. We suggest that boards desensitize the process by regularly engaging with the members of management that report to the C-suite and include them in general discussions regarding the board’s crisis plan.
  5. Engage governance counsel early. Remember that corporate counsel’s duty of confidentiality can be very beneficial. While many boards leave it to their company’s legal department to engage governance counsel, board-level governance counsel can assist the board in considering its options in advance of a crisis. In addition, counsel can assist boards in reviewing their policies to ensure that the board is setting the right tone at the top with regard to compliance and internal transparency.
  6. Oversee executive-level social media training. Boards can sometimes assume that their C-suite also knows when and how to appropriately use social media for corporate purposes, which is not always the case. An executive-level training covering social media use policies, as well as policies for communicating with outside constituents, generally is often beneficial to all involved.

While it is impossible to foresee every risk or forestall every harm, boards that both monitor whether executives are enhancing (rather than compromising) the company’s social capital and plan for contingencies, will position their companies to be better-equipped to weather any reputational crisis that may develop.

Elevating Board Performance in the New Era of Extreme Innovation and Risk

When NACD was founded more than 40 years ago, one of our mantras was “nose in, fingers out.” John Nash, Ron Zall, and other director education pioneers at NACD were teaching directors to oversee management without getting too involved in it. Governance (also known as oversight) was considered to be very different from management (also known as operations). Directors were to keep their hands off the company’s steering wheel.

During that same era, in perfect parallel, federal securities rules (under Section 14a of the Securities Exchange Act, to be exact) identified certain topics as off-limits for proxy resolutions because they were deemed to be about ordinary business and not proper for shareholder votes. When companies have asked for permission to exclude such proposals, they have received assurances that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would not take action in so-called no-action letters.

However, in recent years the formerly sharp separation between governance and management has blurred. To keep pace, NACD’s courses today focus on a wide range of topics, and the agendas of our educational events, in-boardroom programs, and local chapter events are rooted in helping directors lead with confidence in the boardroom. While our programs historically focused primarily on the core duties and responsibilities of directors, our programs today help translate the unknown into the merely uncertain, and no topic is off-limits for our educational programs if it matters to long-term company value. For their part, regulators have taken the stance that shareholders should be able to propose resolutions on any topic of strategic importance; these are no longer excludable under Section 14a.

What happened? From my standpoint, the sharp increases in both innovation and risk moved the needle for board involvement. This is why discussions with corporate directors about topics such as the intersection and convergence of cloud, mobile, and social media have evolved from “those are management topics” to “I need to know how emerging technologies are impacting our business.”

We’ve seen how Airbnb has transformed the hospitality industry, how Uber and Lyft have transformed the transportation industry, and how Amazon has transformed retail and health care via its acquisition of Whole Foods Market and their partnership with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Berkshire Hathaway. All of these stories exemplify innovation.

The plot thickens when we add regulation to the mix. Many of our discussions with boards and directors today are focused on understanding the convergence and intersection of innovation, risk, and regulation. Consider Getaround, which is leveraging the sharing economy to enable car owners to rent their cars to others for income and provides on-demand car rental insurance. To accomplish this goal, the founders of Getaround needed to work with financial services regulators to create insurance policies that would enable their business model. Getaround’s model is now working, so to the directors who oversee Hertz, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and National Car Rental are now asking management, “How are you going to evolve?”

Finally, we have seen how cryptocurrencies and blockchain—which are rooted in the intersection and convergence of innovation, risk, and regulation—are creating, disrupting, and enabling industries. In response, we are seeing how both the SEC and board members are playing catchup.

All of these examples are reflected in a recent NACD survey showing that industry disruption tops directors’ lists of business concerns. In such an environment, directors may well keep their hands off the wheel, but they will be standing at the tiller right beside management, offering encouragement and wisdom, and asking more than a few questions.

What’s next for directors and boards? My suggestion is to keep learning.

It’s Lonely at the Top; CEOs Benefit From Executive Coaching

Among top talent in executive offices, the vast majority of leaders have proven themselves to be intelligent.  That’s a given.  The difference between success and failure as a leader often comes down to soft skills, those traits that aren’t found on a resume.  Based on an anonymous survey, Harvard Business Review notes that 68% of surveyed CEOs did not feel adequately prepared for their position, largely due to poor preparation of interpersonal skills.

Career Partner’s International (CPI) has over thirty years of experience developing leaders, preparing them to manage themselves and their teams effectively and efficiently.  CPI executive coaches work with clients and leaders, employing wide variety of assessments and tools to harness a leader’s strengths and identify areas for improvement.  CPI utilizes a custom process and framework to ensure leaders are developing and client’s goals are being met.  No two coaching sessions are the same, every engagement is specifically tailored to meeting a unique business case.

Thousands of executives around the globe have found success in their roles with the support of CPI.  “My coach helped me develop self-awareness, allowing me to better communicate with my staff.  She challenged my own paradigms and helped me to think with a new focus which created more success in my business.”  -CEO

Forward thinking organizations use coaching as a core component of their leadership development strategy.  Through coaching, leaders’ personal and interpersonal skills are enhanced, allowing them to focus on and drive continued business growth.  CPI programs are designed to deliver measurable results that meet and exceed the organization’s goals.

The post It’s Lonely at the Top; CEOs Benefit From Executive Coaching appeared first on CPIWorld.

It’s Lonely at the Top; CEOs Benefit From Executive Coaching

Among top talent in executive offices, the vast majority of leaders have proven themselves to be intelligent.  That’s a given.  The difference between success and failure as a leader often comes down to soft skills, those traits that aren’t found on a resume.  Based on an anonymous survey, Harvard Business Review notes that 68% of surveyed CEOs did not feel adequately prepared for their position, largely due to poor preparation of interpersonal skills.

Career Partner’s International (CPI) has over thirty years of experience developing leaders, preparing them to manage themselves and their teams effectively and efficiently.  CPI executive coaches work with clients and leaders, employing wide variety of assessments and tools to harness a leader’s strengths and identify areas for improvement.  CPI utilizes a custom process and framework to ensure leaders are developing and client’s goals are being met.  No two coaching sessions are the same, every engagement is specifically tailored to meeting a unique business case.

Thousands of executives around the globe have found success in their roles with the support of CPI.  “My coach helped me develop self-awareness, allowing me to better communicate with my staff.  She challenged my own paradigms and helped me to think with a new focus which created more success in my business.”  -CEO

Forward thinking organizations use coaching as a core component of their leadership development strategy.  Through coaching, leaders’ personal and interpersonal skills are enhanced, allowing them to focus on and drive continued business growth.  CPI programs are designed to deliver measurable results that meet and exceed the organization’s goals.

The post It’s Lonely at the Top; CEOs Benefit From Executive Coaching appeared first on CPIWorld.

It’s Lonely at the Top; CEO’s Benefit From Executive Coaching

Among top talent in executive offices, the vast majority of leaders have proven themselves to be intelligent.  That’s a given.  The difference between success and failure as a leader often comes down to soft skills, those traits that aren’t found on a resume.  Based on an anonymous survey, Harvard Business Review notes that 68% of surveyed CEO’s did not feel adequately prepared for their position, largely due to poor preparation of interpersonal skills.

Career Partner’s International (CPI) has over thirty years of experience developing leaders, preparing them to manage themselves and their teams effectively and efficiently.  CPI executive coaches work with clients and leaders, employing wide variety of assessments and tools to harness a leader’s strengths and identify areas for improvement.  CPI utilizes a custom process and framework to ensure leaders are developing and client’s goals are being met.  No two coaching sessions are the same, every engagement is specifically tailored to meeting a unique business case.

Thousands of executives around the globe have found success in their roles with the support of CPI.  “My coach helped me develop self-awareness, allowing me to better communicate with my staff.  She challenged my own paradigms and helped me to think with a new focus which created more success in my business.”  -CEO

Forward thinking organizations use coaching as a core component of their leadership development strategy.  Through coaching, leaders’ personal and interpersonal skills are enhanced, allowing them to focus on and drive continued business growth.  CPI programs are designed to deliver measurable results that meet and exceed the organization’s goals.

The post It’s Lonely at the Top; CEO’s Benefit From Executive Coaching appeared first on CPIWorld.

How Lead Directors Are Helping Their Boards Keep Pace

The demands on the board’s time and agenda continue to mount as a host of critical issues—from technology and business model disruption to investor scrutiny, and from regulatory and political uncertainty to geopolitical risk—collide and reshape the business landscape.

As the business and risk environment becomes more complex, how are lead directors helping their boards add value and raise their game? What are their key areas of focus?

Discussing these questions with a number of lead directors in the past several years, I’ve heard recurring themes: the importance of the lead director’s role in setting the board agenda, the lead director’s relationship with the CEO, CEO/leadership succession, and shareholder communications. But virtually all the lead directors emphasized the importance of two additional topics that need to be top-of-mind: board composition and diversity, and enhancing board operations and oversight processes.

Board composition and diversity

Institutional investors continue to focus on board composition and diversity, expressing concern about low director turnover and whether board directors can guide the company and its strategy in the future. As Vanguard Chair and CEO William McNabb wrote in a 2017 letter to public company directors, the board “is one of a company’s most critical strategic assets,” and it should be “a high-functioning, well-composed, independent, diverse, and experienced board with effective ongoing evaluation practices.”

Developing and maintaining a high-performing board requires close coordination between the lead director and the nominating and governance committee chair—whose responsibilities for board composition may be similar or perhaps overlap. Determining the company’s current and future needs is the starting point for board composition, but a broad range of related issues require leadership and coordination—including succession planning, director recruitment, age and term limits, diversity, board and individual director evaluations, removal of underperforming directors, and board refreshment, as well as disclosures on these issues. As one governance observer has noted, the quality of board governance begins with board composition.

Enhancing board operations and oversight processes

Operations and oversight processes are also top-of-mind for lead directors today. This includes coordination across committees to focus on the issues most critical to the company’s success and long-term value creation, such as strategy, innovation, disruption and strategic risks, capital allocation, performance, leadership, and talent.

To devote more time to these issues while also remaining focused on compliance, operations, and so-called “rear-view mirror items,” many boards have significantly increased their time commitment in recent years. But that alone is insufficient, and lead directors and nominating and governance committee chairs are now focused on how they can improve board operations and oversight processes—and the nature of their engagement with management teams and among directors—to devote more time to these critical issues.

The steps lead directors are taking include:

  • Crafting board agendas to devote more time to key issues
  • Assigning board committees to take deeper dives into issues that require more focus and attention
  • Improving communication between the board and its committees
  • Considering the quality of information flow and boardroom discussions
  • Reassessing committee structure, including the need for additional committees (e.g., finance, technology, or risk)
  • Encouraging greater engagement among directors between board meetings
  • Tapping individual directors to take the lead on specific issues
  • Developing an effective process to “connect the dots” and help ensure talent, compensation, culture, risk appetite, and controls align with strategy

In short, the important, and difficult, question lead directors are asking today is whether management and the board have the right governance structure and processes in place to drive critical business activities—to manage risk and calibrate strategy in a coordinated way.