My guest for Episode #175 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Janet L. Polach, Ph.D. She is a global leadership development partner and coach. She has developed leaders in the U.S. and around the world.
As a retired lieutenant colonel having spent 20 years in the Marines, Janet knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a great leader.
After receiving her Ph.D. in organizational development and working with a global consulting firm in China, Janet launched her own consulting practice helping hundreds of companies across the globe including major brands and government contractors.
Her no-nonsense but lighthearted approach is what separates her from the boys and creates transformational results for even the most struggling leaders. She’s also the author of the book The Seven Mistakes New Managers Make.
Her website is www.inthelead.co.
In this episode, Janet tells her favorite mistake story about losing her patience and losing her temper in front of others. She was working in the private sector and realized that a business partner hadn't held of their end of the bargain. But Janet agrees we need to “live and learn,” so she shared what she learned and how she adjusted from this encounter.
We also talk about questions and topics including:
- Praise publicly, criticize privately?
- What was the culture in the Marines regarding criticism
- Look for red flags during the interviewing process…
- I think of Marines as being very serious, with a serious mission… why do you think it’s important to have a “lighthearted” approach?
- Why write a book about leadership mistakes? Is that more helpful than saying what TO do?
- “We don’t train brand new leaders”
- How to do an effective 1×1??
- Mistakes that ORGANIZATIONS make — promoting the best individual contributor to a management role?
- Telling managers to basically just figure out how to manage?
- $166 billion is spent every year on leadership training but companies are still struggling due to a lack of leadership — WHY?
- How does the Marine Corps teach leadership? Classroom, behaviors modeled by senior leaders? Coaching?
- Mistakes in change management… what mistakes to leaders make and what should they do to full engage if not excite people about change?
- There are many mistakes we might make in giving feedback to somebody… what comes to mind and what do you recommend?
- Congrats again on the publication of your book… I understand there was/were Book(s) you attempted to write but didn’t finish?
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- Video of the episode
- How to subscribe
- Full transcript
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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)
Mark Graban (1s):
Episode 1 75, Janet Polach, former Marine Lieutenant Colonel, an author of the book, The Seven Mistakes New Managers Make.
Janet Polach (11s):
I pretty much lost my patience and lost my temper. And there unfortunately were three or four people around me.
Mark Graban (22s):
I'm Mark Graban. This is My Favorite Mistake. In this podcast. You'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes because we all make mistakes. But what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at myfavoritemistakepodcast.com to learn more about Janet, her consulting, practice her book and more. Look for links in the show notes, or go to markgraban.com/mistake175. As always. Thanks for listening.
Mark Graban (1m 2s):
Well, hi everybody. Welcome to My Favorite Mistake. I'm Mark Graban. My guest today is Janet Polach. She is a global leadership development partner and coach. She has developed leaders in the U.S. And, and many countries, many continents around the world. She's a retired Lieutenant Colonel having served and spent 20 years in the Marines. So Janet knows the thing or two about what it takes to be a great leader. And we're gonna explore that here today. So before I tell you a little bit more about Janet, welcome to the podcast, how are you today?
Janet Polach (1m 33s):
Thank you so much, Mark. It's a delight to be here.
Mark Graban (1m 36s):
Well, I'm excited to talk to you and we'll hear your story. And I wanna talk about your book. Janet is the author of a book titled the seven mistakes managers make. So you can understand. So Janet's in the right place. She's received her PhD in organizational development. She worked with a global consulting firm in China after doing so. She launched her own consulting practice, helping hundreds of companies around the globe, including major brands and government contractors. And Janet's bio says she describes a no nonsense approach. Maybe that sounds like what we might expect from the Marine Corps, but also a lighthearted approach in what separates her.
Mark Graban (2m 19s):
That's part of what separates her from the boys. And as she puts it and creates transformational results for even the most struggling leader. So again, the book is the seven mistakes managers make and Janet's website is www.inthelead.co and there will be links in the show notes. It would be a mistake to not mentioned. So again, it's inthelead.co. So Janet there's so much, I want to ask you about from your experiences and even from some of the, the colorful language in your, in your bio there, but we're gonna dive in as we normally do here, if you would, you know, thinking of the different things you've done, what is your favorite mistake?
Janet Polach (3m 1s):
Well, My Favorite Mistake happened when I got back from China, my husband and I spent three wonderful years living and working there. I got a chance to work for Korn Ferry International, which is really one of the leading leadership development firms around the world and got to work with, you know, an amazing suite of fortune 50 companies around Asia. And so I was hired to build out a leadership curriculum for a company here in Minneapolis and came on board and had some conversations with senior leadership about, you know, how robust do you want the program? Do you want world class? Or do you want something that's pretty solid because you know, world class programs take a lot of resource and they said, oh no, we want world class.
Janet Polach (3m 47s):
You know, give us all you got. And so I spent the next several months working with an incredible designer and we put the program together and the people that were working on the logistics side just didn't hold up their end of the bargain. You know, we had a couple speakers that never got scheduled. We got, we had people that got invited at the very last minute. We had materials that weren't ready. And at one point I finally said to this person that I was working with, she and I didn't really hit things off. When we first came together in the first place, I finally told her how disappointed I was. I pretty much lost my patience and lost my temper.
Janet Polach (4m 30s):
And there unfortunately were three or four people around me at the time. It was a really bad experience. Needless to say, I am no longer with that organization. And, but here's what I learned. What I learned is first of all, some people just aren't made to work together. I do this in a lot of my coaching work. I work on diad relationships and sometimes, you know, that gap just can't be filled. The other thing I learned is fit matters. When you go to work for an organization three months into this job, I lasted, I think about two years, but three months in, I was shaking my head like, oh, this is not the right place for me.
Janet Polach (5m 15s):
They're not in a very challenging industry. They're not, they're not oriented. And so it was a struggle all along. And I probably had seen the signs as I came on board, but was excited for the job and excited for the challenge. So we live and learn. Don't we Mark.
Mark Graban (5m 38s):
We, I mean, we all, we all live. We all make mistakes. And you know, as we encourage here on My Favorite Mistake, hopefully we are learning from those mistakes. And, you know, from that story, I mean, it seemed like there's, there's a lot to unpack there. You know, fir I mean, first off it sounds like, you know, know that they, they, in that moment of giving that feedback or getting upset, that was more of a, a no nonsense moment for you.
Janet Polach (6m 7s):
It was a no nonsense moment for me because the, the lack of follow through did make me look bad. You know, when you have a program that you're running and the speaker doesn't show up, you know, you have time to fill you, like it's a problem. And when you're the face to the, to the program, it's a difficult one to deal with. And yet giving any kind of constructive feedback in front of a group is, is really never appropriate. I talk about it in my book, you know, the keys to giving effective feedback and at the top of the list is do it in private
Mark Graban (6m 46s):
Right there. There's, there's kind of an old rule there. I've heard it said as what praise publicly…
Janet Polach (6m 57s):
Mark Graban (6m 58s):
So, you know, that that came through in your retelling of the story. I'm, I'm curious in, from, from your 20 years in the Marines, was that practiced in terms of praise publicly criticized privately. Like, I, I don't have any military experience of my own, but the stereotype of military, let's say, you know, boot camp, and this could be just Hollywood nonsense is being criticized in front of others all the time. I'm curious. What was the leadership style in the Marines,
Janet Polach (7m 28s):
Very public criticism, at least during those, those first several months of your induction, you know, whether you go to officer candidate school or you go to bootcamp, you know, what you see on television is a lot what you get. And, and it's all part of, of the shtick. I would say, of, of the style of the mil of the us military, which is kind of break people down from their old habits and then start to build them up. So by the time you become a Second Lieutenant or a Lance Corporal or a Corporal, there's a lot, you know, it's, it's pretty uncommon to get called out in a very public environment. I do think that most Marine officers, you know, work at sharing that same adage about criticize privately.
Mark Graban (8m 18s):
Yeah. So there's difference there there's there's difference perhaps in the more professional environment, maybe amongst officers, there's, there's a different dynamic there than there would be during induction.
Janet Polach (8m 32s):
I think so. Absolutely. Yeah.
Mark Graban (8m 35s):
Yeah. And, and, and when you say, I mean that that's more of a dynamic you would expect in any workplace, let's say peer to peer or giving feedback to an employee. Yeah, yeah,
Janet Polach (8m 47s):
Yeah, yeah. I think Mark, there's probably one exception to that and, and it fits so closely into our military experience, which is when there's a safety issue involved, you know, if someone is doing something that's unsafe or on the battlefield, they're making a decision that just is not prudent and will put others in risk. You know, that's when all, all constructive feedback guidelines go out the window. Right. You know, it's always, always safety first.
Mark Graban (9m 15s):
Yeah. And that's, that's good to hear. And I I've seen that modeled by leaders in different settings, including manufacturing of, you know, leaders whose default mode would be to ask questions and to stay calm. And like, if they see somebody with their safety glasses on top of their head, they may, they may lose it momentarily. But, but for, but for good reason and yeah, maybe it's the urgency of, of the matter. But, you know, I'm curious to hear your reflections, like in that story that you told, not the words you used, but it sounds like you lost your cool a little bit in the moment. I'm, I'm, I'm curious your reflections on that. And you know, when, when faced with a frustration or a disappointment today.
Mark Graban (9m 59s):
Yeah. How, how do you react to things?
Janet Polach (10m 4s):
I, I think I've learned, you know, you, you learn what your triggers are. And in my case, this particular coworker was a trigger. You know, I, I couldn't count on her for follow through. I, I know she was talking about me and my style behind my back. And so it was a relationship that was probably doomed to end sooner than later. But, you know, I think anytime even talking about this makes me uncomfortable. It was not, it was one of my worst moments professionally it's, it's never okay to, to share your own frustration on top of somebody else.
Janet Polach (10m 44s):
And when you're in a public setting, particularly I did apologize after the fact. And, and I think that's important. I mean, that's really about the only thing that we can do when we lose our temper is once cooler heads prevail in my book, I talk about giving feedback and I encourage people not to do it in the moment because you might get caught up in that frustration and your own emotions to let sometimes settle in on both parties. But again, thinking about as a mistake, it's not one I'm, I'm certainly not proud of that moment.
Mark Graban (11m 25s):
Well, I, I appreciate you being willing to share the story and to, to, to talk about that, Janet, one, one other question about the story and the scenario that you told, you mentioned, you know, three months in, you felt like this wasn't a good fit and I've, I've had other guests, you know, it's always that challenge of it could be a mistake of leaving a job too quickly, or it could end up being the opposite of looking back and saying the mistake was maybe sticking with it too long. I'm I'm, I'm, I'm curious your reflections on, you know, would it have been a mistake to leave after three months? Did, did you feel a, an obligation to, to, to try to fix things?
Janet Polach (12m 10s):
Yes. I, I think we do right. As, as we're hired as senior professionals, we do feel an urge to fix things. You know, that maybe I'm not reading this correctly. Maybe it's, it's not as bad as I see it in this, in the situation. And so you do kind of hang in there. What I tell people though, when I, you know, I, I interact with a lot of people, I'm sure mark, as you do, who are job looking? I tell them to be very mindful of the red flags because they're, you know, I worked for one of the large consulting companies many years ago. And in that hiring process, there were many red flags, including the partner canceling the interview after I had arrived.
Janet Polach (12m 58s):
Yeah. Because he was too busy and he didn't get it on his calendar and, you know, I should never have taken that job. And so I think the, you know, the bigger mistake sometimes is being lulled into thinking, oh, well it won't be that bad or I'm misreading the situation or I can make it better. But I think in the interview process, if you, if you hear red flags, you're probably right.
Mark Graban (13m 27s):
Yeah. And there's that question of, you know, do you follow your gut? Or if we're thinking of reasons to accept the job and reasons to not accept it, you know, where, where do we find that balance? Those are not easy decisions for sure.
Janet Polach (13m 43s):
No. And they certainly have a lot to do with what's your personal situation, you know, how desperate are you for that job? How long have you been outta work or are you leaving? What situation are you leaving? So it is very much variable on the individual situation.
Mark Graban (14m 0s):
Yeah. So again, our guest is Janet Polach. Her book is the seven mistakes managers make before we talk about the book and, and, and talk more about leadership and mistakes that, that you've seen. And that you write about back to your bio, you know, we talk about, you know, no nonsense. That seems to be, again like the, the, the model we think of with the Marines, you know, it's a serious mission, it's serious responsibility. Where, where, where did you, or why do you think it's important to also have a lighthearted approach? Was that just kind of part of your nature and personality?
Janet Polach (14m 34s):
I think it is part of my nature. And what I learned in the Marine Corps is that you really can be yourself, even when you are in an organization that has a very strong persona and many organizations across the planet have that same thing, whether you're in healthcare or you're an airline pilot, or what have you, there are expectations about how we act. But I think it's very, I think you can also find a way to bring yourself to that, that environment. If I spill milk on the floor in my kitchen, I usually laugh about it because you can either get angry or you can say, oh my gosh, I have big mess. Like, how did that happen?
Janet Polach (15m 16s):
And so my natural tendency is to not laugh at people, but to laugh with people and say, there are a lot of things in this country, in this world that could be a lot worse. And this is just, does not measure up to that catastrophe in the moment.
Mark Graban (15m 32s):
Yeah. And I, I guess one other question, you know, I'm curious about your time in the Marine Corps. Like what, what, what percentage of officers at your level or above were women? Imagine it was a pretty small number.
Janet Polach (15m 46s):
It is small. So pretty much consistently the, the us Marine Corps has had about 10% of its its ranks in as women that did change during the first desert storm in Iraq, we took our women along, you know, we always kind of scratched our heads. Like if we get deployed, what are we gonna do? And the answer was everybody's going. So bring them along. And what happened in several cases is that women just performed admirably. They knew their jobs, they did it, they didn't complain. If there was a physical lift involved, they, they literally pulled their weight.
Janet Polach (16m 27s):
And after that, then things really changed for women in the us military. And while our, you know, our life plan is very rarely defined. And we, you know, most of us aren't able to go from step one to two to three as we played out, but I could not have been more fortunate at the time I joined the Marine Corps because everything changed for women in the 20 years that I was in. When I was a second Lieutenant, I would've bet you anything that we would not have women helicopter pilots, because they were combat, you know, all of our helicopters are combat oriented aircraft.
Janet Polach (17m 8s):
And yet we have helicopter pilots. I remember the day, probably 10 years ago when the first woman helicopter pilot died in combat, it was a tough day for me. She happened to be from Minnesota and I did reach out to the family to try to remind them that her daughter, their daughter was doing what she loved and that this kind of came with the territory, but it was still really difficult to see that happen. You know, hear about that happen, which is on the one hand, this is something we worked so hard for. But on the other side, there's a real dark side to right. To getting what you ask for.
Mark Graban (17m 49s):
Yeah. And, and, and times have changed. I mean, again, this is, you know, pointing to Hollywood, but the 36 years between the original Top Gun movie and the new Top Gun Maverick and the original women were there for Tom Cruise to flirt with, or then
Janet Polach (18m 7s):
Mark Graban (18m 7s):
There and there,
Janet Polach (18m 9s):
This time they're in the lead,
Mark Graban (18m 11s):
There was one female fighter pilot in the new movie. Yeah. More, more, you know, reflecting more diversity and reflecting how the military has changed.
Janet Polach (18m 23s):
Mark Graban (18m 26s):
So back to the book on, you know, seven, the, the seven mistakes managers make, I I'm curious, like, as you were starting to go from idea to book framing, I'm, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on framing things around a book about leadership mistakes or management mistakes, as opposed to a book that says, here's the seven things you should do.
Janet Polach (18m 48s):
Yeah, well, that was my editor's suggestion. I said, I'm really stuck on a title. And she said, I think books that talk about things that you wanna avoid rather than the things that you do are probably a little bit more interesting. It was the seven mistakes was a COVID book, you know, things, the first six months of COVID went just fine for me. I continued my coaching and my leadership development, and we transitioned, you know, to virtual. But the last, the last of that first year, the last six months were a little bit slower. And I had had on my to-do list to write a book. And so I looked back through my content and surprisingly, I had written about this a lot already.
Janet Polach (19m 33s):
You know, I had presentations, I had facilitator guides, I had blog posts. And so the book kind of came together nicely. You know, why seven mistakes? You know, there could be I've, I've talked to a lot of people like who will say, oh, my boss made 142 just yesterday. And, and sadly, we've all worked for really bad managers. And there, we, I think the reason is, is because we don't train brand new managers. We spend a lot of money developing leaders, but we usually do it at the very top of the organizations. We promote people because they're really good individual contributors.
Janet Polach (20m 15s):
And so we think they can be good managers when in fact those skills don't overlap very much. And so the average this from the conference board got this, the average individual in the United States is promoted to managers somewhere between age 29 and 31. And they don't get their first management development experience until their mid forties. So we are all feeling that with bad managers, people are leaving because of them. They don't, they get so busy trying to run their department, that they forget it's the people that will create their success.
Janet Polach (20m 57s):
And so I hope the book really gives new managers and experienced managers an opportunity to think about here's what good looks like. I don't have to do all seven things every day. I don't have to avoid every single one every day, but here are some of the baseline skills for being a really great manager of other people.
Mark Graban (21m 19s):
And I certainly recognize those, those mistakes, those failure modes that you describe, I've seen it in healthcare of, you know, the, the, the trap of taking the best individual contributor. And assuming that they'll be a great manager. And then the second mistake that often compounds, if you've selected poorly, the, the lack of lack of investment, the lack of training, the lack of coaching, you know, man managers above that frontline manager are busy and they don't, they don't, if the organization doesn't expect that a big part of their job is teaching and coaching the leaders below them, that, that, that just creates all sorts of dysfunction to say the least
Janet Polach (22m 6s):
It does. It does. And I think organizations don't know how to tackle the problem because of course there's a lot more frontline leadership leaders than there are vice presidents. And so, you know, how do you invest in all of these managers as they're new to the management rank? And it doesn't have to be hours and hours and days and days of training. What we learned, I think in spades during COVID is we can do a couple hour session in a virtual environment and talk about the basics of giving feedback about setting performance, expectations about managing change.
Janet Polach (22m 47s):
We can do that over the course of, you know, five or six weeks with an interaction every, you know, once a week and, and kind of get those, those standards built up.
Mark Graban (22m 60s):
Yeah. And I, I can imagine, I'm curious your experience with this, the data you pointed to of let's say somebody is in a management, or they've progressed through management roles for at least a decade before. They're now at a level where the organization deems them worthy of this investment. Like that, that, that sort of, that sink or swim dynamic could lead to people like, are, are people swimming or are they staying above water by stepping on others? Like what habits have they developed on their own? Like how much of that can actually be, if need be trained out of somebody.
Janet Polach (23m 37s):
I had a manager in a session the other day, she'd been a manager for four years. And I said to the group, what are your one-on-one likes? What are, what are your one-on-one meetings like? And she said, well, Janet, I don't really do them because I don't know what I talk about. So imagine that, and, and she was a very caring person. She, she really wanted to do well by your employees, but I think managers, who've got no background in how to manage or, you know, haven't had good role models are just figuring out. And so she said, I talk to my people all the time I ask 'em what they're working on. And we talk about status and I say, is there anything I can do to get you on stock?
Janet Polach (24m 20s):
But that's not really a good one on one. She didn't, she wasn't aware what their career aspirations were. She didn't have a sense about what they really loved about their job and where they really struggled. And so I, I do think mark, we can train out some of these old habits once we set the expectation that this is what good looks like, right?
Mark Graban (24m 44s):
Caring about your people, not just the work and the results is what I hear you saying.
Janet Polach (24m 49s):
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think what you just said, caring about the people, as much as it work is what's at the core, what's at the center of this great resignation or, you know, the great rethinking, as some people have said, employees are learning because they're leaving, cuz they're not appreciated. They're, they're working longer and longer days because people have left and they aren't having quality interactions with their managers. And so they feel like just a cog in the wheel.
Mark Graban (25m 22s):
Yeah. One, one data point, you, you point to one number that you point to Janet is 166 billion spent every year on, on leadership training. And you know, you've pointed out that gap where a lot of people aren't getting it in their first decade or so. I mean, do, do, do you think there's more of that money that's wasted because the training is not even solid yet alone world class is the training being aimed at the wrong people.
Janet Polach (25m 55s):
I think it's both. And I think we're not invested in our brand new managers in those first 2, 3, 4 years of management of management experience. I think we may be spending, and I shouldn't say this cuz I'm also an executive coach. I think we're maybe spending too much money at the top of the house. Yes. Those challenges are significant and we need our leaders to be strategic. And yet, you know, if you took the price one coaching engagement and said, what could I do with those dollars and redirected it towards the bottom of the house, what would your turnover situation be?
Janet Polach (26m 35s):
Like? What would your intention be like? What would your employee engagement scores look like?
Mark Graban (26m 41s):
Yeah. So when you talk about the different or, or if we think about the different ways somebody might learn about leadership, I'm, I'm curious your experience from the Marine Corps of, you know, how much was, how much of the leadership expectations and behave in terms of what they do and how they do it. How much of that was, let's say classroom training, how much of it was just behaviors were modeled by officers above you? How much of it was through coaching?
Janet Polach (27m 12s):
Yeah, so I, I would say a lot of it is classroom training and, and it's it's months and months long as a brand new captain, you go to something in the Marine Corps, amphibious warfare school, and it's nine months long, every single day. And so it's, there's an inordinate amount of training that happens in, in the military every single day, troops go out to the field and practice tactics and fire on, on, on the ranges. And so learning how to work together. But of course then their superior who ever that is with the group is giving them feedback is talking about what went well and what didn't go so well.
Janet Polach (27m 57s):
So it's really built in, I think to the backbone of the United States, military, the Marine cor being who I was involved in. And it's really what gave me my underpinnings of what does good leadership look like? The military also uses a single performance review that hasn't changed in years. And it's all about leadership that once your St a non-commissioned officer, a corporal in the Marine Corps, you are assessed on your leadership skills. And so they live and breathe at leadership in every aspect of, of what the military does. And I do think civilian organizations can do the same thing.
Janet Polach (28m 39s):
You know, so many organizations keep redoing their performance review, you know, people aren't doing it. So they make it shorter. It's too short. So they, now they make it long. They do it quarterly, but it's just as long. And really it's about having conversations with employees about what matters to you. What gets you excited about this job? What else do you wanna learn? And imagine if you have those conversations, at least on a monthly basis with employees, they're going to, even if they're doing the most mundane work, they are still going to be engaged because they're engaged with each other. They're engaged with the people that they work with. They're getting their cup filled from their manager.
Janet Polach (29m 21s):
Mark Graban (29m 22s):
That's I, I, I love the way you articulated that. And yeah, I mean, I, I was, it was a little surprising. I mean, I wouldn't have expected as much classroom training. I would've thought it would've been more field based or more feedback or coaching based, but what I hear you describing, you know, I could see where, you know, a theory book learning, if you will. Yep. You know, the classroom education would only get you so far if it was not followed up with field practice and coaching and feedback, it seems like sometimes organizations, they say, well, the classroom training is a waste of time, but you're gonna learn by doing that could be an effective knowledge or theory only could also be effective.
Janet Polach (30m 7s):
Yeah. Well, and I think the military does that really well of doing theory to practice so that, you know, that nine month program I described is probably, I don't know, let me just guess 20 or 30% actually in a classroom. And then the classroom is taken outside and tactics are run, you know, exercises are done. And so there, there is AB you're absolutely right. Mark is then application with of course, feedback instructors and individuals who are critiquing, how things went.
Mark Graban (30m 42s):
And, and there's, I think a parallel in healthcare, clinicians who get a lot of classroom knowledge and then they go out and do their, their, their practical education, their, their clinicals, whether it's a nurse or it's a doctor, a resident. And, and I've heard like, especially in nursing, there are concerns that has the amount of classroom knowledge, the need for that has expanded. It's squeezed out the practical and the clinicals. And, and so that means organizations have to adjust in terms of how their continuing some of that education that they might have assumed was already there.
Janet Polach (31m 25s):
Yeah. And, and in healthcare, it's a challenge because we're already short staffed. And so thinking about how do I build training or development into a day to day, a day in, day out. It it's a difficult thing to, to think about. And, and yet it can be built in. We know that the most effective learning happens on a job right. In the flow of work. And yet it, it takes a deliberate effort to say, all right, you know, we're gonna spend 30 minutes in your shift today, learning something new or teaching what you know, to someone else, which is really just as instructive and as developmental as a course, sitting in a classroom.
Mark Graban (32m 12s):
And so there's, you know, this leadership development, and then there's, you know, broader organizational change that I know you focus on. You know, people will use the phrase, change management. So, you know, you talk about the need to fully engage people to excite people about change are there. And this could be an hand answer. Mistakes made in, in how leaders go about change management, or just a lack of emphasis on proper change management.
Janet Polach (32m 43s):
I think sometimes they just don't know how to manage a change. And there's nothing special or magic about managing to change. It's finding out what people are worried about, finding out how we're gonna get them ready and then deploying a plan. I, I think that the attitude that the manager has about the change makes a big difference if she is talking about, oh, we tried this five years ago, it didn't work. Then I don't know where, why we're trying it again. You know, this is gonna be a lot more work for us. That change is probably dead on arrival. But if the manager can understand what's behind the change, what's the rationale.
Janet Polach (33m 26s):
Are we saving money? Are we saving steps? Are we increasing quality? And, and it really embrace what is behind that and then help the staff understand. So here's, what's gonna happen. There's gonna be a downside while you learn how to do this new thing, we're gonna learn from each other. We get a chance to refine the process as we learn. And we're in this together, that kind of attitude is going to get that change much more successfully implemented. Then here we go again.
Mark Graban (34m 1s):
Yeah. There's I mean, I think there's different mindsets. There's the, here's why it's not going to work negativity. And then there's the, here's what we would do to make it work positivity. Yeah. There's two sides of that same point of there are going to be challenges. And what I hear you saying is be honest about that. Don't yes. Don't sugar coat. It don't deny. It
Janet Polach (34m 21s):
Mark Graban (34m 22s):
Sounds like an element of just be honest with people.
Janet Polach (34m 25s):
I think so. I think so, because sometimes, you know, managers are in two camps around change. One is they initiate it themselves. You know, maybe there's too many mistakes. Maybe there's too much turnover, maybe there's too much whatever. And so they initiate a change, but at least half the time they get a change sent down to them, you know, corporate did it to us again. And this is gonna make sense. And maybe from a corporation perspective, that change does make a lot of sense, but I think a good manager and I, I talk about this in the book and I spend a whole chapter on how do you effectively manage a change regardless of whether you are introducing a change yourself or the change is coming from above.
Mark Graban (35m 10s):
And I'm, I'm curious to hear your reaction. I mean, a pet peeve of mine is when let's say there's a lack of change management and then leaders blame the people who aren't accepting change, that really irritates me or the, the nails on the chalkboard phrase to me is like, oh, well, they're resistant to change.
Janet Polach (35m 27s):
Ah, you know, they're not resistant to change. They're unknowledgeable about the change. If you suddenly came to a group and said, okay, now we're gonna turn right. And you gave them no explanation about why we're gonna turn, right. What happens when we turn, right? What happens if we don't turn right? And so it's all of that background and perspective and perfect perspective setting that's required in managing a change that busy, busy managers don't necessarily pause and take time to say, all right, now, how do I craft this message? Not as a Pollyanna, because I don't think mark, that's what we're talking about.
Janet Polach (36m 11s):
I think it's being very realistic, but getting, taking time to get the background about what's driving this and why is it driving it now?
Mark Graban (36m 21s):
So Janet, maybe one other question, something you mentioned earlier, giving feedback and, and there's, there's certainly more in the book. I'm curious if you have advice or if there's a mistake, if you wanna frame it that way, a mistake that's often made. If someone's trying to give feedback up to their boss or to somebody, a couple levels up, or there things to look out for, be careful about do or not do, if you're trying to give feedback upward, especially, let's say if it's un, If it's unsolicited
Janet Polach (36m 51s):
Feedback. Right, right, right. I, I think it, you know, first of all, prepare good feedback describes the impact. It, it describes the behavior, it describes the impact. And then it's forward looking. So taking even a minute to say, what is the purpose of my feedback? What's the behavior that's getting in the way, what's the impact that behavior's had. And what would I like to see you do differently instead next time, because you know, it doesn't do us any good to plow old ground, right? Like you did this and you did that and you did this and you did that, that suddenly creates defensiveness. So I think number one, prepare, I think number two, finding a time where just you and your boss are together and maybe it's just finding 15 minutes on their calendar to tee up the issue, trying to give feedback in that at the end of a meeting, cuz you finally have three minutes is probably not gonna be a fact of, but I think starting very frankly with, I'd like to give you some feedback is now a good time.
Janet Polach (38m 0s):
And usually that creates enough of a curiosity in the other person and whether the person accepts the feedback or not is not your issue. Your issue is to deliver it in a professional way. And whether the person takes that on or not is up to them. I do a lot of 360 assessments and often, you know, not, not often often, but every once in a while, about 10, 15% of the time, it's some really difficult feedback. This person is, is domineering. They cut people off.
Janet Polach (38m 40s):
They think they're the smartest person in the room. And my job then is to deliver this feedback. And many times I would say almost all the time with this kind of individual, they say, I've never heard this before. And sadly I have to say to them, well, you didn't hear it because you wouldn't let it be heard. Yeah. You cut them off. You were defensive and the person just said, forget it. You know, I, I tried, I'm gonna move on. So I do think, you know, the critical side of feedback, the constructive side of feedback needs to be said, but the, we all need to be open to that. You know, nobody wants to hear constructive feedback, but boy, oh boy, if I'm doing something that my team doesn't find productive, I'd sure rather Le hear about it than have them just plain leave.
Mark Graban (39m 29s):
And it sounds like it's probably not a mistake for leaders to ask their employees. Occasionally. Do you have any feedback for me?
Janet Polach (39m 37s):
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Teams that have the Franklin Covey has done a bit of research on this and they've discovered that teams that engage in regular feedback, both constructive and redirecting feedback are much more effective as teams than the ones that just don't create that habit because then otherwise feedback is suddenly, oh my gosh, there's a huge problem. Rather than next time don't present your point of view and let other people weigh in.
Mark Graban (40m 10s):
Yeah. What do you by redirecting feedback
Janet Polach (40m 14s):
Redirecting is here's what I'd like you to
Mark Graban (40m 17s):
Janet Polach (40m 18s):
Here's here's what you could do next time.
Mark Graban (40m 21s):
Yep. Looking forward instead of just looking back at what wasn't ideal in the past.
Janet Polach (40m 27s):
Mark Graban (40m 29s):
Yeah. Well again, our guest today has been Janet Polach. Her book is the seven mistakes managers make. And final question for you, Janet. You, you had mentioned when we talked before that there, there, there was a book or books you had started, you had attempted what I'd be curious to hear about that.
Janet Polach (40m 48s):
So seven mistakes is my third attempt and so not every time you'll need to be successful. And all three were after I wrote my dissertation. So I am used to writing in bulk. But the second one that I did was about I'm sorry. And I started about three or four years ago because there was this, it was about when me too was coming around and we heard these stor, you know, from high profile individuals who always used the word if in their apology, if I offended anybody well, you're being sued, buddy. Of course you offended someone. Right?
Janet Polach (41m 28s):
And so I, I, I took on to try to wa you know, what is a good framework for apologizing to someone else? And I got stuck because I reached out to friends and said, do you have a story about when you apologized or when you were apologized to, and how did that go? And sadly, I just didn't get enough stories, you know, and me, when you and I first connected, I was so delighted that you've got this podcast that focuses on mistakes because that's fundamental to apologizing is that I have admitted, I've done something wrong and I've done something wrong to someone else and I wanna make it better. And so I, I learned in the book writing experience that, you know, all books don't have to be completed, maybe.
Janet Polach (42m 13s):
Yeah. That, that, I'm sorry. Book will, will rear it's ugly head again in another couple of years. And the stories will start flooding in.
Mark Graban (42m 22s):
Well, as, as you often see with entrepreneurs and, and others have been on the podcast, success often comes out of, or, you know, something successful in this case is successfully completed and, and published book. Congratulations for that. It often comes in the, the follow up to attempts that didn't go as well, one way or another. Yes. So
Janet Polach (42m 44s):
Mark Graban (42m 45s):
A good story of perseverance. And, you know, I'd like, I'd like thing it's, it's, it's a podcast about learning from mistakes. And, and part of that is admitting the mistake. So Janet, thank you for your, your graciousness and your, your willingness to share the story. And more importantly, what you learned from it, your, your reflections here today. I really do appreciate that.
Janet Polach (43m 7s):
Thank, so this was really a delight and my pleasure.
Mark Graban (43m 12s):
So again, Janet Polach, her website is inthelead.co. Her book is The Seven Mistakes New Managers make. I encourage you to check that out. There'll be links of course, in the show notes. So, so Janet, thank you. Thanks again for, for being here today.
Janet Polach (43m 28s):
Thank you so much, Mark.
Mark Graban (43m 30s):
Again, thanks so much to Janet for being a guest today, to learn more about her, her book, her consulting work and more look for links in the show notes, or go to markgraban.com/mistake175. As always. I want to thank you for listening. I hope this podcast inspires you to reflect on your own mistakes, how you can learn from them or turn them into a positive I've had listeners tell me they started being more open and honest about mistakes in their work. And they're trying to create a workplace culture where it's safe to speak up about problems because that leads to more improvement and better business results. If you have feedback or a story to share, you can email me MyFavoriteMistake email@example.com.
Mark Graban (44m 11s):
And again, our website is MyFavoriteMistakePodcast.com.