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1 The Downward Spiral: Don't Set Yourself up for Failure with Your Boss (or Your Client!) Presented by: Rob Orr, SPHR HR Consultant.

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Presentation on theme: "1 The Downward Spiral: Don't Set Yourself up for Failure with Your Boss (or Your Client!) Presented by: Rob Orr, SPHR HR Consultant."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 The Downward Spiral: Don't Set Yourself up for Failure with Your Boss (or Your Client!) Presented by: Rob Orr, SPHR HR Consultant

2 2 “We’re running as an economy at 30% efficiency” Curt Coffman Employee Engagement Global Practice Leader, The Gallup Organization HRMagazine, February 2004

3 3 When people need help getting a job done, they will choose a ‘lovable fool’ over a ‘competent jerk’. Tiziana Casciaro & Miguel Sousa Lobo Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks Harvard Business Review, June 2005

4 4 The environment has changed 1.Technical skills not as critical for executives 2.Actuarial integrity less valued –Focus on profitability –Capitalism   demutualization, non-paternalistic Source: Sim Segal, FSA, MAAA Deloitte Consulting, LLP - used with permission

5 5 Session Objectives Identify the specific problems Actuaries face Identify cues to watch out for Recognize how Actuaries might contribute to the problem Identify steps to take to turn the situation around By the end of the session, you will be able to:

6 6 Agenda Review purpose and desired outcomes Difficult Bosses – Difficult Clients The Set-Up-To-Fail Syndrome How Individuals Contribute Taking Responsibility Summary

7 7 Your Difficult Boss / Difficult Client Use the worksheet to describe a difficult boss (or client) that you have known.

8 8 The Difficult Boss / Difficult Client 1. Negative, mean spirited 2. Autocratic 3. ______________________________ 4. ______________________________ 5. ______________________________ 6. ______________________________ 7. ______________________________ 8. ______________________________

9 9 The Set-Up-To Fail Syndrome Widespread Insidious & Pernicious Based on “Common Wisdom”

10 10 Common Wisdom Three Groups Stronger Performers Weaker Performers Deadwood

11 11 Different Strokes for Different Folks… Bosses consciously treat stronger and weaker performers differently –Stronger performers get autonomy –Weaker performers get help –Deadwood gets ignored (or an invitation to leave)

12 12 The Downward Spiral

13 13 General Session: Actuarial Communication- Is Anyone Listening? If They Are, What Do They Hear? Communication (how to deliver the tough messages) Opinion changes (are they effective enough?) Actuaries' images and roles in organizations Peer reviews Actuarial standards Professionalism Backbone

14 14 Labels, Biases, & Misperceptions Having formed an opinion, our minds draw on all possible evidence to support it. When confronted with evidence that contradicts our viewpoint, we overlook it or denigrate it, or find some other way of writing it off. That way we can cling to our original opinion as though it were a universal truth. Francis Bacon, 1620 (updated language by Manzoni & Barsoux.)

15 15 How does this start? Loss of Confidence in Subordinates

16 16 Triggers of Lost Confidence What would you say?

17 17 Triggers of Lost Confidence Disloyalty Complaining Negative attitude Low engagement or energy Low-self- confidence Insensitivity to signals Know-it-all Disrespect for Boss’s time Blatantly political Extrinsic motivation Trying too hard

18 18 Perceiving Performance What about objective performance measures ?

19 19 Perceiving Performance

20 20 Source: Sim Segal, FSA, MAAA, Deloitte Consulting, LLP- used with permission

21 21 Actuaries have lost industry dominance Fewer actuaries in C-Level positions Highly-technical actuaries not fast-tracked –Reserved for those presentable to C-suite Fewer automatic promotions upon ASA, FSA Narrower roles, fewer opportunities Source: Sim Segal, FSA, MAAA, Deloitte Consulting, LLP- used with permission

22 22 In-Groups and Out-Groups 80-90% of managers have sharply differentiated relationships with subordinates. In-Group members have close partnerships as “trusted assistants.” Out-Group members have low-quality relationships as “hired-hands.”

23 23 Performance Perceptions No correlation between objective performance & relationship quality: 1993 – Duarte, Goodson, & Klich Very high correlation between “liking” and in-group status: 1990 – Wayne & Ferris Boss expectation in 1 st week a better predictor of “in-group status” than actual performance at end of 2 nd week 1993 – Liden, Wayne, & Stilwell

24 24 The Self-Reinforcing Dynamic Boss’s behavior toward “weaker” performers Boss is increasingly impatient   pushy or intense during contacts Subordinate progressively disconnects Subordinate looks for excuses Boss is not well informed Boss is less able to make useful suggestions Boss‘s anxiety increases Problem recognition is delayed More problems arise Subordinate performs less well overall Subordinate spends time on excuses (rather than problem solving) Boss loses faith in Subordinate's excuses

25 25 Reality “Good people can quickly end up with bad labels. That needn’t be a problem. The boss’s inaccurate label becomes a problem because it is so hard to change.” Jean-François Manzoni & Jean-Louis Barsoux The Set-Up-To-Fail Syndrome

26 26 Are You in the Out-Group? Let’s take a look! Refer to the answers on Your Difficult Boss worksheet

27 27 Your Difficult Boss In small groups, share: –the situations you described on page 5 –the factors that contributed to the situation Agree on the common factors ( Write on page 20.)

28 28 “What is there in your approach or way of managing the situation that might be contributing to the problem or getting in the way of its resolution?” Peter Block Flawless Consulting, Second Edition 2000, Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer

29 29 Cues for Subordinates Attribution of negative personal characteristics Tendency to reduce contact with Boss Diminished self-confidence Hyper vigilance of Boss behavior Takes feedback with “a grain of salt” Tendency to bring up the past Reputation as “the person most likely to disagree with the boss” Tendency to engage in covert lobbying

30 30 The Difficult Boss 1. Negative, mean spirited 2. Autocratic 3. Stickler for details, intolerant, impossible to please 4. Intimidating, treats people as resources 5. Unrealistic 6. Stubborn; impossible to influence 7. Manipulative 8. Meddlesome; untrusting 9. Control freak; micro manager; evaluative 10. Uncommunicative; aloof; unsupportive 11. Weak, prone to favoritism; low performance standards 12. Impatient; temperamental; unpredictable 13. Ignorant bureaucrat; clueless; defensive 14. Stifling my development

31 31 The “Great Boss” 1. Development-oriented 2. Intuitive; decisive 3. Has high expectations and aspirations 4. Driven 5. Demanding; has high aspirations 6. Single-minded; focused 7. Politically astute 8. Helpful; caring 9. Encouraging; coaching; informed; close to the pulse 10. Thoughtful, busy 11. Allows self-discovery 12. Passionate; incisive; mercurial; (at worst) impulsive 13. Realistic; better judge; aware of interdependencies; victim of a poorly sold change 14. Considerate; letting me recover

32 32 The Observed Behaviors 1. Giving critical feedback 2. Making a unilateral decision 3. Instructing work to be redone 4. Imposing discipline 5. Setting stretch targets 6. Sticking with a doubtful course of action 7. Sending mixed signals 8. Giving unsolicited advice 9. Asking specific questions 10. Delaying response to proposal/ request 11. Not condemning a big mistake 12. Losing temper in public 13. Resisting a proposed change 14. Giving a routine assignment

33 33 Perception is Reality ActionIntentBoss seesBoss infers Discounting feedback EffectivenessIgnored feedback Anti-learning, lacks potential & respect Bringing up the past Avoid repetition Water under the bridge Lacks judgment & maturity Holding ground with Boss To be heardChallenging, foolish resistance Lacks judgment, self-control & discipline Covert lobbying To make things better Personal betrayal Lacks loyalty and integrity

34 34 Cues for Subordinates Attribution of negative personal characteristics Tendency to reduce contact with Boss Diminished self-confidence Hyper vigilance of Boss behavior Takes feedback with “a grain of salt” Tendency to bring up the past Reputation as “the person most likely to disagree with the boss” Tendency to engage in covert lobbying

35 35 Taking Responsibility Stop digging Start talking Accomplish some tasks

36 36 Taking Responsibility Stop digging –Get your job in order –Get your head in order –Don’t rush it Start talking Accomplish some tasks

37 37 Taking Responsibility Stop digging Start talking –Increase contact with boss –Make it easy for the boss –Invite your boss to a meeting –Have a new conversation Accomplish some tasks

38 38 Taking Responsibility Stop digging Start talking Accomplish some tasks –Maintain your own self- confidence –Fight the urge to withdraw –Don’t overreach

39 39 Things to Remember Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. There is no one to blame. Let go of expectations of your boss. Offer the benefit of the doubt. Produce hope, rather than pursue it.

40 40 The Set-Up-To Fail Syndrome Loss of Confidence Widespread Widespread Insidious & Pernicious Insidious & Pernicious Based on “Common Wisdom” Based on “Common Wisdom”

41 41 The Downward Spiral: Don't Set Yourself up for Failure with Your Boss Presented by: Rob Orr, SPHR HR Consultant


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