Finger Pointing – Leaders Should Do More of It.
“Finger Pointing – Leaders Should Do More of It” originally published on LinkedIn by Jeanniey Mullen, Global Chief Marketing Officer Mercer.
Let’s face it – If you aren’t calling people out at work for their wins, you aren’t driving the best results possible. Don’t believe me? Read on.
Over the past few months I‘ve been on a mission; to observe the behaviors of my global team members, analyze the results driven by our marketing efforts, determine the most strategic and impactful manners to deliver measurable results (and learn as much as I possibly can). If you ask anyone who works with me, they will tell you that I am determined to drive results but only if we create a positive and powerful environment along the way.
In my recent travels as the Global CMO of Mercer, I have visited five different countries, and at least 13 different states, meeting with clients, prospects, press, team members, business team leaders, vendors, start-ups and even competitors, searching for every opportunity to learn how to improve my company and team’s performance (in addition to boosting my leadership skills). Out of all of these meetings my biggest take away is simple: We don’t do enough finger pointing.
For anyone looking for move their team’s performance to the next level, or to improve their team’s skill-set, my advice to you is this. Take every opportunity to engage in finger pointing. I know some might think that finger pointing is negative, and about calling someone or something “out.” But, what if we flipped it to recognize and highlighting the positive?
I’ve assembled the top ways that I have observed finger pointing working.
Why Finger Pointing Works
It builds the brand. A sales colleague in our Mercer Montreal office met with me and shared research showing that some of the top performing brands frequently share big client wins on social. They point out their top performers and their clients and thank them for their trust and opportunity to work together. This motivates the sales team, sets expectations for the client services team and publicly thanks the client. If you are not finger pointing when it comes to wins, you might want to start! (Thanks Frank)
It drives immediate results. A marketing colleague in Singapore was telling me about a program they were “hoping” to put into place over the next six months to improve events. As I listened to the challenges they wanted to overcome I remember a colleague in the United States just invested three years living through the almost the identical situation, and had built the ideal platform. By pointing to the successes of the US team, the team in Singapore was able to implement some of the learnings and move faster to market. If you are not using your management skills to connect teams together and leverage learnings (and failures) your finger pointing skills might be a bit rusty. (Great teamwork Rasika and Lisa!)
It motivates (most) employees and gives courage to others: We have a finance director who is one of the smartest people I have ever worked with. He really cares about the business and the people. Whenever we have a tough question we ask him. It has gotten to the point where we created our own hashtag to refer to him #WWGD (What Would Gerry Do?). This continued positive recognition and appreciation enables the entire team to celebrate Gerry’s skills, and it encourages others to contribute more. They feel safe that their efforts are seen for the positive contribution they deliver as long as they are thinking about the business first like Gerry. It’s awesome— If you aren’t having fun when you are finger pointing, you may be missing the point.
It challenges people to be their best. Recently while in Australia, I was impressed with a presentation by our marketing team, I asked one of the team members to take the main stage at a large industry event and present with me. Thankfully Dan was willing to jump on stage, and the presentation was a success. As our internal social media went crazy over seeing a colleague on stage, others started to reach out to me to share their success stories. All of the sudden, the entire team stepped up their game. A sincere outreach turned into a finger pointing moment that delivered critical results. (Thanks Dan!)
It keeps people focused. When I moved into the Global CMO role I spent time to define four critical areas we need to focus on to excel. I need to keep everyone focused on these four things to keep winning. Around the globe we point fingers at people who align their efforts to these goals. We call them out and celebrate their efforts in Town Halls and our internal networks. We point fingers at business team members who support us. We point fingers at gaps in our strategy, and opportunities to fix them. We point fingers at our failures along the way and make sure we learn from them. Finger pointing has kept us laser focused and enables us to deliver faster results. (Animesh, Hope, Missy, Adam and the rest of the Senior Marketing Leadership team- you rock!)
It drives creativity and innovation. A few months ago, one Mercer employee snapped a photo of himself wearing a “Team Mercer” shirt and posted it on social with the hashtag #MercerActive. Since then, hundreds of Mercer employees around the globe have united over social, and continuously converse about personal adventures, work and their families. When we noticed what was happening, we created Twitter and Instagram accounts whose sole purpose is “finger pointing,” as a way to share our pride in being part of a great company and incredible culture. A fun effort called #FollowTheShirt evolved from this. With it our colleagues choose where and how they share their Mercer pride. It’s not as large as the Ice Bucket challenge (yet), but we love it. We continue to leverage the creativity and innovation that comes out of these conversations to the business. It’s is powerful for the culture and for new business ideas and increased collaboration. (Christina, Akhil, Danielle and the rest of the crew- you are my hero’s!)
So you see. Finger pointing works. Hopefully these examples will inspire you to do more finger pointing. It’s never to early or late to start. The cultural lift and critical results will amaze you.