Archive for Executive Coaching

Why People’s Experience Matters

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The point in the image to the left is clear about human experience:

What you design for people, and the experience they prefer are often two separate things. 

In change management, this is significant, because when change rolls out to the organization, utilization is driven by experiential use – and ‘people experience’ will always be chosen before an isolated design will.

Design thinking is sexy, it is pretty, and it is important, but it falls short when the experience for the stakeholders is dismissed or forgotten in the change plans.

Experiential Design requires a high level of engagement.

Unfortunately, ‘human experiential design’ is viewed as counter to the task at hand by most technical teams, they see the big job as rolling out technology and they focus on the push, and not a handshake.

Not great when you are standing on the cliffs of change.

If you want a change management plan to work, then you must understand the users’ current experience, how they will experience the change, and work with them to develop a new experience; one that will change behaviour, drive the business objectives for that technology, and one that people can get behind.

There is nothing worse for a company than to spend millions on the change only to have users adopt none of the features that drove the need for change in the first place. Worse yet, choose to side-step the change all together!

Have you built a Journey Map?

Are you shaping your projects as ‘hospitable’ for the people being asked to change?

Drop us a line and let us know what you think!

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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What you tolerate, you propagate!

Shocked Behavour

They did what??

Much has been said in magazines, articles, blogs, and on social media regarding Silicon Valley’s recent gender issues. With the resignation of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, and the recent resignation of Silicon Valley investor Dave McClure from 500 Startups, we believe there are ways to stop your company from moving down the same path.

The two good-old-boys above resigned because of a media storm that occurred when they were ‘found out’ not because the behaviour was dealt with internally. Only after large public descriptions of their activities hit the media were their respective organizations compelled to take action. We are proud of the women who have taken a stand to highlight the issues, yet the internal workings of the companies continued to display long-held misogyny and hubris that went mostly unchecked regardless of the fact they knew it was happening.

We have some advice for organizations who are worried about ensuring more equanimity between the genders and who are trying to figure out how to salvage their own organization before they, too, become headline news. We’ll start with the title of this post, a saying we repeat in all of our transformation work.

What you tolerate, you propagate

This means that every time you let even one individual get away with illicit, illegal, immoral, harassing, bullying, or unethical behaviour, you are saying you “tolerate” that behaviour. If your organization tolerates it once, then it will tolerate it again, and in-action on these issues is what truly creates your culture. When it is tolerated by the senior leadership, well, you have just paved the road to a slow but sure demise.

If a company wishes to change its culture, it must first make a clear decision on what they are willing to tolerate, then be very transparent about the consequences for what they will NOT tolerate. Here are a few thoughts about transforming a culture and standing firm on gender issues, bullying, sexual harassment, poor conduct, or other ‘bad person’ issues that companies will face from time-to-time.

“We are….”

Decide who you are as an organization by creating your “we are…” statements, here are a few examples:

  1. We are an equal opportunity culture that champions equality and diversity.
  2. We are a culture of respect in the workplace and we believe in honest and transparent business conduct.
  3. We are a culture that champions merit and compensates hard work of all individuals.

“We Do Not Tolerate”

Identify the type of behaviour you wish to curb by being very transparent about what you will not tolerate, here are a few examples:

  1. Harassment in any form will not be tolerated. (Then give clear examples of what harassment looks like)
  2. We do not tolerate the undermining of individual merit based on race, color, ethnic, cultural, community or national origin, religion, sexual orientation/identity, family or marital status, gender, disability or age.
  3. We do not tolerate illicit, illegal, immoral, unethical business conduct. (Then give a few clear examples)

Consequences

It is important to have processes and guidelines in place for how your organization will apply consequences for the actions and behaviours you say you will NOT tolerate. The processes must be in line with your State or Provincial Labour Standards, and they must be followed fairly, no matter who the individual is who ‘crossed’ the line.

Once you are familiar and clearly understand the legal State or Provincial standards and how to meet them, then you must define the manner in which your organization will roll out those standards in addressing the actions you wish to change.

Caution

Employees WANT to trust the company they work for. If for any reason one or two people in the organization are let to get away with behaviour not tolerated of others, you will have created a significant trust issue. Employees want to know they have somewhere they can go and still be protected from retribution if they report wrong-doing. Sadly, many organizations tend to sweep poor conduct and behaviour under the rug rather than deal with it head-on. This puts the whole company at risk, and that company can wind up in the same situation as Uber or 500 Startups.

The Good News

There are many companies who follow good practices with regard to respect in the workplace. Activities that have been transforming for some of the ones we have worked with are below:

  • They have mandatory training on their “Respect in the Workplace” program.
  • They follow the same process and subsequent consequences for investigating complaints regardless of the title or status of the individuals involved.
  • Managers are provided information to better understand what harassment, inequality, or disrespect look like.
  • They put an investigator in charge who is neutral to the individuals involved, some use an outside service.
  • They provide employees with an anonymous “whistle-blower” process or tool that protects complainants.
  • They are clear and transparent throughout the organization on what are and are not tolerated behaviours and actions.

Great companies can and do exist, with some of the tips above, we simply need to follow their lead and begin shaping the culture we really want, not the one that has simply evolved because we were too uncomfortable to deal with the issues.

Are you new to our blog? We'd love to have you stay, sign up for our newsletter HERE.

___________________________________________

Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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When employees care – office politics

Change Mangement is all about people strategy, from sponsor to front lines. Because of this, we get to meet many caring people who want nothing more than to do a great job and help the team find success.

One piece of advice for senior management teams and sponsors is to allow us to help you identify these people because regardless of scope, budget, or schedule, they are the ones who will make a difference for your projects.

There are many different reasons people walk into your company’s door and why they stay and do their job. Some of them are passionate about the work, some want to expand their career, some are motivated by salary or path, and for some, it doesn’t matter where they land so long as they are able to do what they do best, and with great quality.

The employee that truly cares about the people, the work, the outcome – these people will make a difference to leaders and their organizations. You, as a leader, need to know who they are and let them do it. Why? Because they will make you and your project shine!

Office politics exist in every company or organization where people are gathered to get a job done. Senior managers who focus on their own motivation or agenda and fail to see those who truly care are actually doing themselves a disservice. Their KPI’s (key performance indicators) are definitely important, but if meeting those KPIs are at the cost of the growth and quality of the work, success will come slower.

BUT, leaders still have a silver bullet – and it lives with the people who care. True leaders know that even though they have to meet specific criteria set forth by the people above them, that it’s the people reporting to them who make them successful. And this kind of success happens when the leader’s agenda doesn’t get in the way! Tricky work, but worth the effort in the long run.

Why don’t some leaders do this?

  • Some feel threatened by people who outshine them.
  • Some are so driven to meet their agenda, they barely notice the people.
  • Some just aren’t good at seeing anything other than their own needs/wants.
  • Many assume everyone else is motivated by the same things they are.

If you are in management, think about your agenda and find the people who care, then let them use their strengths.

If you are an employee and caring about your work is perceived as a threat, consider where your strengths can be applied. Begin your plan to find a leadership team that wants you to contribute to their success. Find a leader whose agenda doesn’t stop you from being a terrific employee contributor.

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Thoroughly Uncommon Common Sense.

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commonsense

Everyday people are witnessed doing what appears to us as totally out of the realm of what you or I might call sensible.

Is There Such a Thing as Common Sense?

From one’s own view point a solution might look simple because the other person just needs to apply some “common” sense. Unfortunately common sense only consists of the knowledge we have managed to acquire to the point where we need it! For example, an experienced driver will slow for a corner and accelerate through the turn. The inexperienced driver will tend to enter the turn at speed and break in the turn. To the experienced driver the inexperienced driver has no common sense. Add a race driver and he will assess his speed, visualize the line he wants his vehicle to travel and through a combination of braking and accelerating will minimize deceleration and maximize acceleration. The race driver will view the other drivers as having no “common” sense based on the knowledge the race driver has acquired.

It Starts With Common Knowledge

In effect, there really is no true ” common” sense just gained experience and knowledge for each individual. So it would seem common knowledge would fit as a good base for a form of common sense.

How about an example of common knowledge:

The world is flat (common knowledge) – don’t sail out of sight of land or you will fall off the edge of the world (applied common sense).

Within each persons realm of being, there are multiple sources of “knowledge” that shape the base where decisions are formed. The first time a person forgets a cast iron frying pan on the stove and they realize something is burning (sometimes the flames are a clue) the first reaction is to grab the handle and remove it from the heat. Most will get burned because they acted without considering that the handle would be too hot for an unprotected hand. Good old common sense says if the pan is hot the handle will be hot too! Sense of survival says get the pan off the heat (put out the flames if there are any). If you happen to be a child or a teen you likely were told, “Don’t touch that, it’s HOT!” And we all know a child or two who simply needed the experience themselves to believe it – ouch.

 Can Experience Get In The Way?

Insurance companies know all about experience, common knowledge, and common sense, just ask anyone who runs a golf course. When dark and scary clouds roll in, golf courses are made to blow a loud horn to signal danger and bring people in off the course, the rule is there for a reason. You see, common knowledge is…if you play outside swinging sticks of metal in the air, then the risk of getting hit by lightening increases. Easy, common knowledge, right? Unfortunately, this is where ‘experience’ can get in the way. Our common sense is so tightly tied to our own experiential knowledge that the message “It’s never happened to me before” gets in the way and finishing play often trumps the horn. The number of golfers that fail to heed the horn is significant and scary, and the insurance rates align with that information. The fact is, you won’t see a player who has been hit by lightening wait for the horn, his experience tells him to get out of there when the clouds start coming in, and chances are he’s watching them closely.

Strategic Sense

Yes, we know it’s the name of our company, but we also get asked a lot why we chose it. Well, we wouldn’t want to depend on just plain old ‘common sense’, I mean, earlier we said it doesn’t exist! Great leaders, though, they understand the value of strategic sense in all depths and breadths of decisions. A few questions to ask prior to making a decision are:

  1. What do we know and believe about this?
  2. What don’t we know?
  3. Are our common understandings really true?
  4. What experiences have we had that may shape our decision?
  5. What experiences haven’t we had that may get in the way of a good decision?

Stop for a moment to consider a big decision you have to make in life or at work. Try running it through this set of questions. Odds are, you will discover you need more data before you make your final decision, at least a wise one.

The Contemplative Leader

Companies don’t always consider the ‘contemplative leader’ as driven enough and look for the quick-answer-dynamo when promoting. The fact is, contemplative leaders are less likely to blow a cannon off into a crowd the way some dynamos might. Perhaps contemplative leaders who make good calm decisions are actually naturals at running through a filter of strategic sense.

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Why a Journey Map Matters

When we take on a project, one of the first things we do is to lay out a journey map. We do this because it helps us tell a story, outlines where we are going, and most importantly, it outlines the stages or gates that help us know if we are making progress.

For a full change management overview of the journey, there are three specific views that will make a difference.

  1. Sponsor journey map
  2. User journey map
  3. Development (or project) journey map

Sponsor journey map

The sponsor journey map gives the sponsor an idea of what we are doing, the key dates when activities are occurring and the approval gates the sponsor will want to ensure approvals are performed. This journey map

User journey map

The user journey map is the journey the user will go through so the project team can layout the path that the user can expect to follow during an implementation. This will include informing their teams about when communications will come out, dates that will impact the users, and the implementation, training and support plans. It will give key dates and provide them will information they will need to know on the “day of” cut-over.

Development (or project) journey map

This is the journey map that allows all specialties to work with and is the most detailed. It will identify the following:

  • Phases of the project
  • Important design or decision dates
  • Specific changes that will occur and how those changes impact the business, users, or customers.

These are important items so that the specialist teams can provide the support needed for the project. Specialist teams such as training, communications, development, document managers, etc.

To truly provide a rich experience for the people being impacted by change, without a journey map they may flounder in understanding what actions to take, the key messages that need to be shared, and the plan moving forward. During a project, the journey map matters!

It is not the only thing that matters, there is a lot of work in a project that involves readiness, development and sustainability planning, but the journey map can remove a lot of headaches and help everyone see the bigger picture.

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Did your technology investment fail?

Technology solutions

Efficiency at the cost of humanity may cause more harm to a company than good. Well-designed people strategies and tactical action among teams as aligned with efficiency models, yes, but let’s not try to solve productivity with the implementation of software if people strategies have not been considered in the overall plan.

Let’s decode this from the corporate speak…

If you are going to buy the software there needs to be a plan in place for the people who use it!

Case in Point

Shared with us in a meeting this week was the sad story of an organization who indeed did buy a software solution but put no plan in place for the people who will use it. That plan would have involved the following:

  1. Communicate: Know the desired outcomes for the software and how it is intended to be used, then convey it to the people who will be using it. (Vision)
  2. Implement well: A lot of software has multi-level offerings which allow the product to scale along with your company’s growth by providing additional plugins and add-ons to increase functionality. Hire someone from the vendor site to come in and assist the project team in implementing the solution. Target specific needs and functionality to meet desired outcome. As an added change management strategy, ensure that front line users and decision makers are included in design workshops to make sure the tool is being built and rolled out to meet actual need. This will simplify the task for your IT team who are unfamiliar with the software and generate increased buy-in as teams get involved.
  3. Train: When you ask your employees to self-learn a new software, that software will not give you the bang for your buck that you were hoping for. Your team is likely too busy in their day jobs to find resources and play with the tool. Why would you want them to trade efficiency for a savings on training? Let them learn from an experienced trainer, with all the hints, tips and shortcuts provided in a day or a weekend to benefit your investment rather than the plethora of hours your team is taking away from the day-job as they navigate their way through self-tutelage.

Non-technical people often make the assumption that those who appear tech-savvy instantly know how to use all technology. This, simply, is not the case and why it is so important to provide administrators and users with training and certification courses. In addition to that, you want your team using the software in a consistent manner.

If you want to realize a decent return on your investment (ROI) from your new “efficiency” or “Client Relationship Management” tools, you need to wrap some people strategy around their use. Fail that, and you fail your expected ROI.

I laugh when someone states, “That technology was a waste of money.” When more often than not, the technology was never the problem to begin with, it was the lack of people strategy around the solution.

This version of this post was also presented on Linkedin as “Your Grand Investement and Why it Fails”

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So, What Say You?

AwkwardHave you ever shared something out loud and it came out in such a way that you offended someone, but were not aware of the horrible impact you had? I have, and it was not until I began noticing that I was being “put in my place” over and over again, or when word began filtering back to me that it had been discussed by others.

Sadly, what was said was never meant to come off as condescending or rude, but the judgement stuck. Before someone made an effort to get to know me, to learn about my heart, before anyone even tried to cull from me the actual meaning of what I was trying to convey, the words were judged, shared, and shared again.

In the end I was made to feel ostracized and ignored. No amount of good-effort on my part will likely change the opinion I had given them with two poorly worded sentences. They will never know how much I admire their talents, their contributions to their work or how much I wish to learn from them.

The personal brand had been set, the path drawn and the relationship skewed.

My fault for not choosing my words more consciously, for allowing some things going on in my personal life to cloud my ability to say what I really meant, and for uttering sentences that poorly described what I was trying to convey.

Yes. Lesson learned, think first, and speak later.

But I have to wonder what makes us so afraid to say;

“Are you aware how what you just said made me feel? That I felt lessened by those words?”

Oh how different things might have been! How easily I could have been given an opportunity to right the sentences, to utter what I really meant. What a lovely opportunity I would have been given to build a relationship rather than be branded.

Our words matter – mine did and I must live with that. But actions matter too.

Dealing with ‘difficult people’ is never easy, but it is swiftly accomplished if you are first willing to approach the ‘difficult’ person directly.

Leadership lessons for me:

  1. What I say and how I say it matters, always.
  2. Try to address the person making uncomfortable statements first.

All of us are both easy to get along with or difficult to get along with, depending on the audience, what one is going through, or the environment in which they find themselves.

Have you ever wished you could take back words that were conveyed in a way you never meant to convey them?

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Culture Matters in M&A

ROIEvery company has their own culture – basically, the manner in which employees behave, follow common norms and interact with each other – this includes values, behaviours, assumptions, and the understanding of a common mission. The culture makes up a company’s ‘personality’. Within that, you will find teams and departments that have their own slightly different culture from the overall company culture, ‘mini’ cultures of a sort.

Typically there are many similarities between the two, although it is possible for companies with a highly competitive culture contain mini cultures of collaboration and entrepreneurial kinship. For example; where the operations are somewhat cut-throat yet the development team isolate into a unified and solid group of collaborators.

Most companies have a pretty good unwritten understanding of their own culture and with just a few questions are able to define the existing culture fairly well and then work with us to identify areas of needed growth or change. It is when companies merge or an acquisition has been made that culture becomes a significantly different conversation. Sadly, few mergers and acquisition (M&A) pre-work evaluates the differing cultures to identify risks associated with the merger or acquisition.

The greatest risks associated with bringing two companies together often lay within the strongest reasons why two companies want to join forces in the first place:

Financial – M&A selection is vital to understanding the financial benefits and possibilities due to a complimentary, formerly competitive or growth opportunity into play.

Brand Association – There are some great benefits to leveraging a solid and well-loved brand to create a stronger and more powerful company offering to the customer.

Knowledge – Picking up or combining forces to obtain or grow the technical or industry knowledge for a company, add technical competency or expand an offering based on an additional functionality desired.

All the above sounds pretty great, but what’s great on paper is not always deemed so great by the people being asked to live the change. In fact, the people with the greatest power to make or break a merger or acquisition can be middle management through to front lines and yet those areas are the most often ignored within the M&A transition plan.

Understanding cultural risk, cultural collision and people strategy are vital in making certain that large investments such as M&A actually realize their return on investment.

Transitional planning is needed right from the beginning of a merger, preparing for culture clash or shock, planning around every small change that affects the manner in which people from both organizations do their everyday work, creating a change plan that involves a solid communication strategy, all of these are vital in an M&A program.

Based on research, where does a good transitional plan begin?

  1. Organizational Culture Assessment: a system of shared assumptions, values and beliefs which govern how people behave in organizations. Evaluate each company and determine any commonalities.
  2. Evaluate the 8 Organizational Cultural Characteristics: evaluate the priority that the company values would assign to each of the following organizational characteristics.
    • Innovation – risk orientation – evaluate priority high, moderate, or low.
    • Attention to Detail – precision orientation – high, moderate, or low value?
    • Emphasis on Outcome – achievement orientation- high, moderate, or low?
    • Emphasis on People – fairness orientation – high, moderate, or low?
    • Teamwork – cohesiveness orientation – high, moderate, or low?
    • Aggressiveness – competitive orientation – high, moderate, or low?
    • Stability – maintenance orientation – high, moderate, or low?
    • Agility – change orientation – high, moderate, or low?
  3. Develop a transitional plan based on a comparison of both companies developing action items that address commonalities and friction points.

These are steps for the beginning while the purchasing company is assessing financial risk. Companies putting out money to purchase or merge with another company should understand the cultural risks of the deal. Comparing the two organizations is vital in knowing just where to begin with a transition plan.

Do you have examples of organizations that have merged and failed to do the cultural assessments and develop a solid work it into a solid transition plan?

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(Note: 8 Organizational Culture Characteristics from Professor Roger N. Nagel at Lehigh University – our assessments and research utilizes these characteristics in addition to other organizational research.)

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A New Manager’s Guide to Honesty

LeadingFirst, a short story.

Not long ago, a team we are familiar with described their experience with a difficult manager. The frustration level was such that the core team were ready to quit.

Their issue? A lying Manager.

The team was weary, distrustful, often cranky and angry at each other, and they were beginning to unravel thread-by-thread. It was easily traced to the manner in which the manager had been handling the team.

Sadly, the issues they had went on for a number of years:

  • They were all privately told different versions of what was going on in the team.
  • The manager made promises to all of them, separately, but did not always back it up or follow it through.
  • The manager continually deflected accountability for actions by pointing in any direction but his own, including pointing up the chain or at other team members.
  • Many of the stories pitted members of the team against one another.
  • The manager promised roles to team members when that role already belonged to other team members, without using professional due process.

In addition to lying, the key ingredients to frustration were the manager’s inability to take ownership or accountability for most actions, especially anything the employees disliked or when they challenged his lack of willingness to be open about future planning.

The thing about lying is, as mentioned in a previous post Liars get caught, period, the lies are almost always found out, eventually. When a manager lies to his team, he destroys trust. Avoiding difficult situations, or conflict altogether, are as good as lying and continues to diminish trust within a team.

Ways to be an honest Manager, especially through change

Hold yourself accountable and take responsibility for moving the team forward. The manager who falls into the habit of blaming their bosses for decisions made loses the team and creates an ‘Us against Them’ environment. This can be avoided by one of the foundational principles of management, keeping the team unified and in alignment with the company strategy.

  • Take ownership of the decisions which are out of your control and made at a higher level.
  • Champion these decisions as your own and encourage your team to do the same.
  • Recognize when you are powerless to change the decision and move on professionally, even if you disagree (keep it to yourself) as you are the ambassador for the people who lead you.

Build the functional capability of the team as a team. Many a manager believes that once given the title they are empowered to make all the decisions and the team must simply follow it through. While that may be true in terms of power and authority, by disrespecting your team members’ valuable knowledge and ignoring group decision making, a manager may be putting the team, and ultimately the company, at risk.

  • Make meetings productive by listening, not by trying to be the smartest person in the room. Ask a lot of questions and get answers from your experts, leverage the team ‘on the ground’ and utilize and respect their knowledge.
  • Mine solutions from the whole group then ask all in the room to question the validity and be the ‘friendly critic’ who can identify associated risks.
  • Keep ‘water cooler’ conversations away from planning and decision-making unless you are focused only on that team member’s performance.
  • Never make promises you cannot keep, the entire team will slowly begin to distrust your leadership.
  • Focus on the strengths of the whole team united, the importance of a team that works together and is not in conflict.

These are a just a few ideas for helping your build honesty and trust within your team. An honest, transparent and trustworthy manager is far more effective than a top-down, distrustful one. Leadership is not about you, it is about the team and what is best for the company. Open, honest transparency will be a far better guide through change and will serve you as a new leader in all walks of life.

What ideas can you share with new managers?

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Your Yes Men Are Hurting Your Business

clearYes men are the people always willing to agree with or go along with the leader for any of a number of reasons.

Yes men (or women) have a reason to believe that contradicting the boss or executive is detrimental to their career.

If you see this in your business, and you are at the top – you did this. You either inherited or created a culture of Yes Men and you likely have failed to address it.

At first it feels good. It’s great to feel like the smartest person in the room that everyone looks up to, the person who everyone agrees with. But it does not bring change, it will not bring innovation, it will never make your company distinctive or set you apart from the competition. It will stagnate you.

Yes Men fail in the actions your business really needs:

  • Challenging how money is being spent and why
  • Courage to innovate
  • Willingness to be accountable for a creative solution
  • Desire to adopt new ways of marketing or selling your brand
  • Being a unique player in a highly competitive market

Sure your business is doing fine. But, are you okay with fine?

Yes men are more about someone’s ego than what is right for the business.

Be willing to hire strong, capable people who are experts in their field. Create an atmosphere of trust where they feel safe telling you what they believe or think. Learn how to facilitate the kind of meetings that pull the best ideas out on the table. Ask yourself these:

  • When a “friendly critic” comes into the company, are they embraced or chased out?
  • Do you take challenge as a personal attack?
  • Think about it. Who could you ask or trust in the business to tell you what you really need to hear?
  • Who is the person who has the guts to challenge the status quo?
  • Are your ‘challengers’ really contrarians or do they have a passion for success?
  • Are they discounted because they are not following in the steps of your Yes Men?

Are you a strong enough leader to allow yourself to be challenged by your employees?

It’s YOUR culture, what are you going to do about it?

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Open Letter to Criticizers of Restaurant Manager as new MLA in Alberta – no matter what party you support

restaurant_managementDear Criticizer,

RE: Graham Sucha voted in as MLA for Calgary Shaw

Both a daughter and a son in our family are restaurant managers, and I take great exception to the insinuation that restaurant managers are of a lower unqualified class of flunkies as portrayed by the comments I am seeing on several news posts. Let me make myself clear, restaurant management is one of the most complex, detailed, and difficult businesses in which to succeed and the companies that run them do not select flunkies to be in charge of their margins. 

So, for you salaried employees who work a 40-60 hour work-week, who are not in charge of your department’s budget, marketing, training, staffing, or procurement – perhaps you have a bit to learn about just what kind of a job this is.

The Restaurant Business is a Business!

It is hard-won, always changing, consistently challenging and one of the most difficult roles to take on because you must give up your whole life to make it successful. The dedication of someone who chooses restaurant management is tough, they must be responsible for much more than most MBA’s will have to experience in a life-time. Their fiduciary responsibilities go beyond duty and care, they are the stewards of the entire operation and must do so with fewer resources to support them than the average business.

Data Analysts

Restaurant managers must make good business decisions, and they must do so in good economies and bad. Data gathering and forecasting for both supply and service is a detailed and constantly moving target. They must gather data, understand the meaning behind the data and use that data to ensure consistency of service at the same time costs are being tightly controlled.

Re-engineering Gurus

Policies, talent management, streamlining, constant quality improvement, minute-by-minute business and resource optimization and continual response to environmental shifts outside of their control are all necessary for a restaurant manager to be successful. They are hit by more outside influence than most businesses and they are required to react on an instant.

Ultimate Customer Experience Experts

Few people either understand or care to learn about all that goes into your customer experience within an organization that gets an hour or two of your time while you are enjoying yourself. But to give you your water, wine and put a meal out in 12 minutes that is the right temperature, high quality, delivered with exceptional service in an ambiance that meets with your high standards is nothing short of miraculous. Restaurants require a high level of collaboration of all its parts, both front and back of house, and is like a well-oiled machine. Only an exceptional manager can achieve this kind of coordination from all their employees.

Business Management

I reiterate, restaurants are a BUSINESS. They have margins and budgets, supply, demand, service, and staffing issues. Unlike most businesses which are affected by occasional outside influences over the period of a year, restaurants deal with outside factors on an hourly basis. A downtown-city restaurant can have one day where they pull in $1500.00 in receipts to another day where $20,000.00 of receipts are brought in – all within the same week. This fluctuation of supply and demand cannot change the quality or experience to the customer, thus making their job extremely difficult. Budgetary forecasting, review of multi-year actuals, detailed understanding of the complexity of their location, client base, city events, sporting events, special days like Mother’s day, Father’s day, Canada Day, and more – are all on the agenda for pre-planning long before a customer even considers them. And as for competition, they have 8 other stores down the street that are vying for the very same customers so they must be dedicated 24/7 to win the hearts and loyalty of their customers, and they don’t do it by being lazy flunkies.

Personal Commitment

I’m guessing that some of you may head into work on a day off on occasion, that’s because you are dedicated! But did you know that the average restaurant manager is there on their ‘scheduled’ day off almost always as a rule? They are dedicated to their craft, they miss out on all of your fun events because nights and weekends are their busy times, they miss a lot of family functions, they are lucky if they marry a thoughtful spouse who is willing to manage children, house and home while they are consistently raising the bar to compete with the other store down the street, and at a lessor salary than you. So why do they do it?

It is a vocation, it is a love of people, of service and is a dedicated craft that involves dealing with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations. They are faced daily with incredible experiences and for a moment are brought into the lives of their patrons who are celebrating, enjoying and feeding their lives through experience.

Yes, even the arrogant, entitled people who look down their noses at restaurant management as a lower-class choice in work leave with a meal served in only minutes with a high quality of standard and their glass filled.

Compared to a few MLAs of the past, I am thinking perhaps a little business management, by a people oriented person, would be welcome in our legislature, regardless of what party you support. The fact that this one chooses to seek advice from someone who is familiar with public life, is right out of the books of some of these folks.

Kind Regards,

Patti

NOTE:

I happen to know the young man that has been voted in as NDP MLA in Calgary Shaw and have witnessed his dedication and commitment, I am certain he will apply it as steadfastly to this new role as he has in management, and learn just as quickly. 

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Use Your Simplicity Super Powers

Super PowersWhen I am with a coaching client, it is my job to focus on that client without distractions. They are often grateful for the time because they are able to focus on their own personal goals without their usual complex environments filled with distraction.

Finding simplicity in a confusing and chaotic world can be as good as a vacation. I can hear the resounding “ahhhh” now as all you readers begin to imagine your lives with less stress, less connection, less of everything. Not feeling the simplicity love? Use your superpowers.

Simplifying

The Tiny House movement is one example of how many people are feeling burdened by the trappings of what was once a lofty goal – big house to hold lots of things and more and more gadgets. And yet there is a feeling of great weight that seems to have loaded people up to the point where more and more people are sharing, dreaming and talking about tiny houses…but not living in them.

Real Simple, the magazine, strikes deep longing breaths as one paws through each page longing for less pressure, less clutter and less hassle, yet it gets stacked in a pile next to all the other interests beside the couch in a living room filled with so many children’s toys one can barely move.

Software websites that once held flashing reminders to buy, buy, buy have simplified to beautifully designed simplistic pages with a small scattering of visual-based links that draw the mind into believing solutions are simple, but people are failing to purchase because the choices of similar software are far too grand and need more investigation.

Not Really Simplifying

The thing is, we want and crave simplicity, less distraction, less of all the millions of messages hitting us on a daily basis, overwhelming our senses and distracting our focus – but actions and wishes do not always match. Goodness knows, I am guilty of getting sucked into the ‘always on’ mentality!

Human beings crave attention – and the digital age has provided us with an attention banquet unsurpassed in history – often at the expense of giving attention to those we are with. We have at our disposal, hundreds (if not thousands) of attention getting gadgets, platforms and media to fill every minute of our day and keep from every getting anything of value accomplished.

Sit in a coffee shop and watch the throngs of people sitting with each other but all looking down on their phones. Sit in a meeting and notice how many people are actually listening compared to how many are checking phones. Notice how many people on their drive home from work are texting, talking or handling their handheld devices – in spite of legislation that tells them it’s illegal.

We crave simplicity, yet we ignore the many avenues for gaining it. I find I am most successful when I drop the gadgets and start listening and doing and that requires super powers!

Use Your Super Powers for Good!

All your gadgets, devices, applications and digital connectors to your world have hidden super powers. That’s right – and we are going to show you a few.

  • Voice Mail: For meetings, driving, paying at the till, walking your dog, getting stuff done. This little super power of your cell, desktop and home phone gives you the power to organize your life. Stop running to answer and be respectful of the people who you are actually with.
  • Airplane Mode: This is great for tablets, laptops, phones and other devices we may not know about. Can’t get something done? Shut ‘er down, my friend and finish that project.
  • Flag or Close Your Email: You are the hero of this story – you get to decide when you check your email and you get to decide when you will get back to someone. Prioritize who gets instant gratification from you.
  • Stop answering texts – hit the call button. Are you getting inundated with texts? They take time, especially if you are a slow texter. Hit the call button and call them back when you are finally alone, make it quick and answer fast.
  • The power button, on your T.V., computer, or any other distracting electronics. This ultimate of super un-power gives you those long craved for moments – go for a walk, soak in a tub, play with the kids – escape the time suckers.
  • Turn off Social Media Notifications – you don’t really need to check EVERY ping and knock from your social media, it’s not like it’s going anywhere! Check it after a nice lunch – perhaps

You get the hint – take control, because the attention you are getting from a text, social media notifications, email, or any other distracting forces in your life is taking you AWAY from simplicity and pulling you toward loneliness and complexity.

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One Man One Kit

own-itI have a friend who was in the military and one evening over dinner he and his wife were discussing their training for an upcoming lengthy backpacking trip where the wife was slowly increasing weight by adding 10lb bags of sugar each week in order to build up to the experience. It was the first time I’d heard the expression, “One man. One kit”.

Those four little words convey so much meaning.

A military ‘kit’ is comprised of 90+ lbs of military supplies used while deployed on mission or training. The expression is clear in its understanding – it is your job to take care of your own equipment. You pack it, you haul it, and you bring it back. (I am not military – so please, if you are, feel free to correct me if my understanding is incorrect.) What impressed me the most about the saying ‘one man, one kit’ is its use is very applicable for our roles in companies.

You have a job to do, it is your job and you are responsible for the outcome.

On a military mission, there will be roadblocks, challenges and one might even encounter the enemy, no matter what happens, you are responsible for your part of the mission and your own kit. This doesn’t mean your squadron or troop won’t step-up when you are down, it means you are responsible for your part in the mission.

Used in accordance within a company, if everyone owns and takes care of their own ‘stuff’ it becomes much easier to work together, have each other’s backs, and work as one so no person is dragged down by having to bear the weight or ‘kit’ of another unless that person truly needs a hand. Unnecessarily over-burdening another when you are fully capable of doing the job builds resentment and frustration in a team. There are always exceptions to a rule or times when one needs to get a little help, but the point here is to be responsible and accountable for what you were hired to do.

Owning your own ‘stuff’ contributes to a healthy organization. One man. One kit.

There are many leadership lessons that translate from the military to corporate, do you have any to share?

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A Little Bit of Anarchy

People will meet performance evaluation before they exceed expectation.

People will meet performance evaluation before they exceed expectation.

Many businesses going through a transformation do so for two reasons:

1. Their business is struggling and they need to stop the bleeding.
2. Their leadership is intent on maintaining a continual path to improvement and growth as they remain competitive.

The latter speaks for a leadership who understands that a little bit of anarchy or disruption can feed innovative solutions, and perhaps create innovation itself. But these leaders don’t make change for the sake of change.

Fear of change is a well-documented and well-understood reaction to ‘doing things differently’, but it is not necessarily true that people don’t like change itself. Ask anyone who is on the hunt for a new car, a bigger house, a better job, or who has solved a significant problem – change is exciting and worth the anticipation. The kind of change people dislike is the kind that is thrust upon them, without consideration of the impact it has on lives, jobs, teams, or culture.

Companies that ‘change right’ are open to positive anarchy and growth disruption. Their leadership does not need to pretend they know it all, they make great efforts to be involved with the process and are open to learning from their front-line experts.

Leaders who fight change? Sometimes it comes down to ego and those egos might just need a shake while they learn to measure for what they are seeking from their teams.

· Measure performance like you want your teams to innovate, and they will live up to it.
· Measure performance solely based on cost cutting and your teams will live up to it.

On average, people will meet performance evaluation before they exceed expectation.

Straight across cost cutting does not grow a company. Innovative companies that grow are not afraid to investigate ways to grow, many stick to the 70-20-10 rule. 70% of time on core business, 20% of time in supporting efforts for the core business and 10% of time reaching outside the core to innovate and grow the business, and they measure their teams’ performance accordingly, creating an environment for innovation.

Funny, companies with a top-down structure have a fear of disruption, and are often unwilling to change, yet they are the companies who eventually land themselves as the first example; they will struggle and be forced to change to stop the bleeding – somewhere down the road.

Which company do you work for?

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