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Owen Robert’s TEDx Talk: Chances Lead To Choices Lead To Changes

In his current role as General Manager for Microsoft’s Americas Operations Center, Owen Roberts leads a team of more than 2,000 employees and contractors in operational roles that support the fulfillment and revenue processing operations of the company’s $80+billion business. In addition to developing and nurturing partner and customer relationships, Owen’s team is responsible for building, launching, and maintaining operational programs and processes, and putting the infrastructure in place for Microsoft to support the technology of tomorrow.

Owen gave a masterful talk at TEDxUniversityofNevada 2015 about how he has embraced risk taking and change in his life and career. He shows how in his own life choosing adventure and uncertainty over safety and certainty has lead to career opportunities and set him ahead of his peers. Even though this advice is not new, so few people choose to really embrace change as a habit of well-being and success.

Please take the time to watch Owen’s talk and then share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Liz Wiseman’s TEDx Talk – Living And Working With Child-Like Wonder

The Definition Of A Great Boss

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Liz Wiseman’s TEDx Talk – Living And Working With Child-Like Wonder

We were extremely pleased to have Liz Wiseman as the first speaker at TEDxUniversityofNevada 2015. Liz  teaches leadership to executives and emerging leaders around the world. She is the President of the Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development firm headquartered in Silicon Valley. She is the author of the “Rookie Smarts, Why Learning Beats Knowing In The New Game Of Work.”

In this very insightful talk, Liz describes how being inexperienced can actually help us and our teams do better and faster work because we are forced to assume a posture of learning. Living and working with rookie smarts can be accomplished with three simple choices 1) ask more questions, 2) seek novelty, and 3) treat work as play.

Please take the time to watch Liz’s talk, then share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Success Takes More Than Performance

We have an amazing group of students in our Executive MBA program at UNR. They all have a strong desire to advance their careers by becoming better leaders in their organizations.

Is superior job performance enough to succeed and advance in your organization? The truth is performance alone is probably not enough. Even if you perform well, it’s going to be tough for you to get ahead if your supervisor does not like you; however, if you perform with distinction, you are more likely to strengthen your supervisor’s relationship with and commitment to you. Keep in mind that if your supervisor does not like you, it will have a negative impact on how she or he perceives and evaluates your performance in the first place.

In his brilliant evidence-based management book entitled “Power: Why some people have it and others don’t,” Jeffrey Pfeffer argues that you are going to need to acquire power to get ahead at work, and “one of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that good performance – job accomplishments – is sufficient to acquire power” (p. 22). According to Pfeffer:

The people responsible for your success are those above you, with the power to either promote you or to block your rise up the organization chart. And there are always people above you, regardless of your position. Therefore, your job is to ensure that those influential others have a strong desire to make you successful. That may entail doing a good job. But it may also entail ensuring that those in power notice the good work that you do, remember you, and think well of you because you make them feel good about themselves. It is performance, coupled with political skill that will help you rise through the ranks. Performance by itself is seldom sufficient, and in some instances, may not even be necessary. (p. 35).

If you want to succeed, you are going to have to develop your understanding of the principles of power and be willing to use them with political prowess. Performance matters, but if you aspire to be an effective executive, you are going to need more than performance.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Focusing On Performance Enhances Employee Motivation

Does improving employee motivation require improving job satisfaction? Not necessarily. We all know people that love their jobs because they have a great salary and supportive co-workers, but at work do only enough to get by. By the same token, many of us have had jobs that for one reason or another were less than stellar (e.g. budget cuts, poor leadership), but we still gave a good-faith effort to perform on a daily basis.

In his book “Becoming The Evidence-Based Manager,” Gary Latham states “if you want motivated employees, you should focus on ways your employees can be high performers, rather than focusing on ways to increase their job satisfaction per se” (p. 85). Productive employees are often very satisfied employees; consequently, Latham believes that the ability to be productive is the real heart of motivation.

Partner with your employees to continually improve the systems (e.g. staffing, training, policies) that keep them from being as productive as they know they can be. Help them make daily progress doing work they find meaningful and watch as their motivation, performance, and satisfaction flourishes.

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Five Keys To Employee Motivation

Most managers I meet admit that motivating employees is one of the most challenging issues they struggle with. In my EMBA class on Organizational Behavior, we spend several weeks digesting the most recent evidence on employee motivation and engagement.

In our assigned reading from the book “Becoming the Evidence-Based Manager,” Gary Latham offers the following five evidence-based suggestions to help motivate employees to become high performers (pp. 75-76):

  1. Attend to employees’ psychological and security needs
  2. Make sure your employees have high, specific goals
  3. Focus on job performance
  4. Understand and change the work environment if necessary
  5. Avoid demotivation

What doesn’t work? The evidence shows that using money as a motivator in the form of a raise or occasional bonus does not get you much improvement in performance. Oddly enough, giving employees a monetary reward for work they would have done anyway can reduce the intrinsic appeal and satisfaction of doing the work.

Pay is important for motivation because it must be seen as sufficient and fair. Latham goes on to say:

Pay is important to the extent that it enables employees to satisfy their needs for security and autonomy. Pay is not motivating if it is not closely tied to performance. If high performers are paid the same as low performers, both job performance and job satisfaction will be low. Money is motivating to the extent it leads to the setting of and commitment to high goals. (77).

Latham is not saying that money is required for people to set and commit to high goals. Money is most effective when it is aligned with the goals people would set anyway to excel at the work they love to do.

What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

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