Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


How can leaders use 360-degree feedback to boost employee engagement?

Guest post by Steve Brown

One of the popular approaches to improving performance and employee engagement is to set up 360-degree reviews. With this process, a person gets feedback from their peers, as well as their manager. Management people also get feedback from the people who report to them. The fact that you receive performance feedback from many directions is why it’s termed 360-degree feedback. While many companies have achieved good results with this system, others have failed. Here are some steps for understanding and using 360-degree feedback effectively. Continue reading


Finding your strengths

Think about the following statement: “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do the best every day.” How do you respond? Do you get the opportunity to use your best skills and strengths for what you do every day? Or are you still living in the “You can be anything you want to be, if you just try hard enough” mindset? Hard work is absolutely critical for success, but if you are working at something that is not a natural fit for your skills and natural talents you are missing a huge opportunity.

In the book Strengths Finder 2.0 author Tom Rath gives an action plan for helping you find the qualities at which you excel. The book is based on research by the late Dr. Donald O. Clifton, considered the father of Strength’s Based Psychology, who discovered and developed 34 themes to clearly classify human strengths. This is a “2.0 version” of the book that provides a succinct description of each theme, ten “ideas for action” that help you apply the theme, and three suggestions for working with other people whose strengths apply to that theme.

Each copy of the book has a unique access code to a comprehensive Strengths discovery and Action-Planning Guide on their website. After completing strengths assessment you receive an email detailing your top five strengths. You then use the descriptions and ideas for action for your top themes to help you identify what you can do, and what you might need to change, to apply your strengths to your work and other important aspects of your life.

The author’s studies indicate that people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general. The stated goal of the book is to help organizations overcome the “epidemic of active disengagement” that has become prevalent in many organizations.

Mr. Rath sums it up this way: “Far too many people spend a lifetime headed in the wrong direction. They go not only from cradle to cubicle, but then to the casket, without uncovering their greatest talents and potential.”

The Product Management Perspective: One of the great things about product management is you get to use many different skills. However, knowing your strengths will help you focus on areas that are most important to your products’ (and your own) success.

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Book Review: Without Warning

Without Warning“Problems are our greatest challenge and opportunity, our greatest strength and weakness, and our greatest chance for success or failure.” According to Rodney Johnson, author of Without Warning: Breakthrough strategies for solving the silent problems taking aim at your organization, silent problems are one of the greatest challenges facing every organization, every business, and even public institutions. He writes about three types of problems plus one: simple, complex, wicked and silent. The first three are easier to deal with because people recognize them, they are out in the open and known to all involved. However, silent problems often get swept under the rug because they point to issues that are difficult to face; people don’t talk about them because they want them to go away.

In Without Warning Johnson recommends dealing with silent problems through what he calls the “CAP Initiative,” a process for solving silent problems. CAP is his acronym for Create-A-Problem. CAP is a process for bringing silent problems to light, putting context around them and arming you with tools to help you effectively solve and eliminate them. “The CAP initiative resets the silent problem, resets the questions, and begins to reset the behaviors and actions of the participants.”

To effectively use the CAP initiative to solve silent problems, Johnson recommends the following four steps:

  1. Make the problem visible and memorable: Bring the problem to the forefront; lead with the solution and create attention to the problem.
  2. Create a sense of urgency: Find ways to rally the team and help them understand the implications of the problems and the need to solve them.
  3. Allow anger — avoid fear: Fear leads people to avoidance. Anger, if channeled correctly, will motivate people to solve problems.
  4. The power of influence: The goal of a CAP initiative is to influence. Bringing silent problems out into the open makes them silent no longer. Once they are out you can deal with and solve them quickly and effectively.

Without Warning is a fast read with excellent real-world applications and pertinent information for leaders who are striving to move their organizations forward without the barnacles of silent problems.