Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lessons from Procter & Gamble - 10 People Lessons for Leaders

Procter & Gamble prides itself on providing outstanding training for its people. Actually, it is a necessity, since the company has a strong “promote from within” policy. The senior executives have risen from the ranks. Not only does this instill common values by weeding out those who do not share the same values, but it also forces the company to have strong training and development programs. As a result, there are a number of significant lessons that have been learned over the course of a 23 year career at Procter & Gamble like I had. This is part of a series of articles which will share some of those lessons.

10 People Lessons for Leaders

1. P&G leaders get to know people as individuals. The leaders take the time to understand the strengths of their people and how to capitalize on these strengths most effectively to help them to win. Group activities are great for building teams, but one-on-one interactions build trust.

2. P&G leaders take a personal interest in their people’s success and let them know it. When employees understand you genuinely care about their well-being and career advancement, they will give you their best performance.

3. A leader gives credit to others, particularly in team situations. Since in most instances, analysis and creative solutions are sent up the line in recommendation form, starting at the lower levels, the credit for the good idea generally goes to the ones who are closest to the business. It is okay to accept credit for your part but successful P&G leaders make certain that the right people get the credit.

4. The most effective P&G leaders are good listeners. They encourage others to talk about themselves and make them feel important. John Pepper and AG Lafley were particularly good at this. The organization rallied behind them and pushed the company to exceptional performance.

5. P&G leaders are predictable by being constant. While it is acceptable to change one’s mind as new facts are uncovered, the leaders explain the rationale. This not only helps others understand the decision but helps train them so that they too can reach the sound conclusion. It enables others to trust you and your thinking.

6. Decisions are fact based and it is generally not who is right, but what is right. As a result, P&G leaders have their people’s back. They do not let their employees take big risks alone.

7. Make certain expectations are clear. All people want to succeed and they can accomplish this most effectively when the expectations of success are made clear in the beginning and then reinforced throughout. Failure to deliver against fuzzy expectations is not the employee’s fault, it is the manager’s.

8. Feedback is important. Open and honest feedback is essential even if it is uncomfortable for development of employees to occur. Hidden agendas never stay hidden and they breed mistrust. Regular performance reviews on a formal basis are best supplemented by informal reviews at the time of a “training” situation.

9. Listen for cries of help or assistance and respond quickly. When your employees raise a problem to your attention, it is usually viewed as a big issue in their mind. Take action, so it doesn’t end up growing into a big problem in your mind, too. That doesn’t mean taking over the problem. It does mean that your experience has probably handled this type of problem in the past and you can provide the appropriate direction.

10. “Do what is right” is a stated company value. This guides decision making and causes the organization to quickly understand and support even difficult decisions. This is most critical when it comes to the people and the way that they are handled. Employees expect and respond to honest and helpful feedback and criticism. They appreciate development plans that are designed to help them become more effective. They respond positively to reinforcement of their worth. They may not be in the right job and their talents may be suited better in another area. Letting them know this and working productively for them and the good of the business will generate productive winners throughout the organization.

There are going to be other articles in this series so stay tuned. If you would like the benefit of this expertise applied to the business acceleration opportunities in your business, contact us.



John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management
View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

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