Archive for Executive Agenda

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.

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

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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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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?

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

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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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(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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Why Buy-in Isn’t Enough With Change

readiness-123rf-16527177_sIn a nicely written post titled, “Resistance is Not Futile” by Jon Tveten about managing resistance, he indicates the C-level suite is often surprized by the resistance to change. To quote Jon;

How could people not be falling in love with their brilliant new strategy? How could they fail to see the benefits to be wrought by this wonderful change?”

And Jon’s post goes on to discuss the importance of listening as a selling tool of the change.

This brought the word ‘dialog’ to mind. With information coming at us 24/7, high-speed technical advances, doing far more work with far less resources, being inundated with the pressures of shareholders and a highly competitive landscape, it seems we have failed at knowing how to maintain honest and transparent dialog.

The industry uses words like “stakeholder impact analysis” and “process evaluation” to describe a couple of change techniques, and yet we as consultants often hear the words – “Just get them to buy-in” from leadership we also hear; “We were never asked our opinion” from the front lines.

Getting Buy-in

Buy-in sounds great, but what does it really mean? Basically, it tells you that others have agreed to go along with a decision. GREAT! But, is it enough they have agreed to go along? We don’t think so.

Truth is, this isn’t necessarily as great as it sounds. Consider this scenario;

Marcella, the CEO, and Dean, the VP of technology, make a decision to transition the global team to a new HR management system. This involves a complete shift in how the organization manages staff in 8 different countries. The reason for the change is that the VP of technology pays for the cost of the software out of his budget. At present the annual enterprise costs for this system require a yearly investment, a maintenance and service contract, and the company is beyond initial warranty so they also pay for each upgrade. By all intents and purposes, Dean looks to save $15,000.00 a year on his budget by putting in a new system. The numbers were crunched, the spreadsheets shared and Dean made a very compelling case for change based on a budgetary bottom-line.

In the yearly strategy session, Marcella makes the announcement to the other VPs and director-level staff that this change will be made in the New Year, deferring to Dean for explanation. The project will be a 6 month effort and they will bring in the consultants from the new HR management system software company to help implement the solution. It is assumed that everything will transition smoothly.

What’s right about this?

Sounds familiar and straightforward, right? Fiduciary responsibility is what these folks are hired for.

  • Business is business, the deal is that a company needs to generate more income than output in order to continue at the very least and grow at the best.
  • The C-Suite is where these decisions need to be made, and the final call should be theirs.
  • The VP of Technology likely did his homework in doing a technical comparison of the two pieces of software and believes he made a great selection that weighs both price and functionality.

What might be wrong about this?

Stakeholders! This is where the word ‘dialog” comes in and below are the questions rarely asked upfront – prior to decision making. This is a big part of readiness for change.

  • Was this decision made without Rob, the VP of Human Resources? This decision impacts and affects his entire department and every individual who works for him.
  • Was a use-case study of how the current software is being used by the HR team done prior to making the decision and is the new software a major improvement or is it at par?
  • Was an end-user impact analysis done to understand how this HR management system affects every employee’s access to their benefits and employment information completed?
  • Will any current, highly utilized functionality be lost or are there tightly linked 3rd party or custom applications highly dependent on the current system? (Sometimes only front-line staff can answer this).

The readiness piece is missing in this fictional scenario, but it doesn’t sound foreign to many people who have been through similar change. While the compelling case in numbers makes sense, there are a myriad of hidden costs associated with a change such as this. “What will break?” Answering that question can identify much of the dollars, then there are the costs of the transition such as training, etc. Without a solid change strategy prior to decision making, companies are time-and-again finding themselves with over-run project costs, delayed implementation schedules, stronger than expected resistance and a very frustrated staff-base and implementation team. Brining in a change team to ‘manage’ the roll-out is too late – failing to hand the change team the ability to gather data prior to decision-making is where most companies cripple their change initiatives.

Open Dialog

Making decisions in large companies is a complex dance that is not taken lightly by the C-level leadership. Every decision weighs heavily on them and the pressure to perform is constant and ongoing. Many leaders hesitate to strike fear of change into their employees by even hinting about upcoming change. The fear that the larger collective will ‘get-wind’ of something they don’t like and a campaign against a change will start before a solution can be found can break down transparency and dialog. Let’s face it – as Jon says in his article – people don’t like to change their habits.

Companies who invest in up-front use-case and impact work on an on-going basis as part of their readiness and decision making process is far ahead of those who don’t. The C-level decision makers count on the teams to provide the right data, too often there are many numbers left out in the analysis of bottom line costs associate.

Leaders who fall into the trap of believing they have all the answers will miss some very valuable solutions. Continual evaluation of what and how technology is being used, or ongoing reviews of process and policy with all stakeholders makes for good business.

Readiness is more than a line on a piece of paper, readiness is about being Poised for Change™ and is best applied when built into the way companies do business every day. Creating a solid platform for preparing for ongoing change on a continual basis means they have better information for decision making. As my colleague and friend Jeffrey Summers of Summer’s Hospitality Group said recently, “Companies need to adapt, innovate or embrace change in order to remain relevant.”

Remember ‘Buy-In’?

Just because the strategy session ended with everyone saying they will “go along with” a decision does not mean they agreed with it. Dialog and well-managed readiness, inclusion, transparency and consideration of the stakeholders up-front prior to making decisions will move the organization much farther ahead in making great decisions and reducing resistance to change. Facilitated efforts and the right kind of dialog will give your organization leverage for doing what Jeffrey Summers says; “…adapt, innovate and embrace change to remain relevant”.

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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Culture, looking to shift…

 

Stories

It seems the holidays and approaching New Year puts many leaders into a state of reflection and renewal. January hearkens the desire to keep what works and change what doesn’t. The time is ripe and prime for a shift….but you have been through this before…it isn’t easy to address a culture shift.

“So, tell a better story…” Work cultures are built on the stories we tell and most companies are filled with stories that embody the image employees have of their company – sometimes these stories are accurate, and sometimes they are not. “If they don’t like it they can leave.” is the kind of story employees will share for years, or at least the ones who stayed, even if it was poorly translated and uttered by a single executive who did not intend it to come off quite as harshly as it did.

First step to take is to know and understand what the existing stories are, what compels your staff to either love or hate the company in which they work and what stories do they repeat most often to support those beliefs? If those stories are truly an inaccurate depiction of the whole truth, what are you doing to share the stories that are most relevant to meeting the truth?

Here is the second step…if you are looking for culture shift find the employees who act in the manner to which you wish your culture to shift… then tell their stories proudly and often. What have they done that is positive? How do they do those things? What do you do to support that kind of behaviour?

It isn’t enough to ‘like’ their actions – we need to support those actions, tell their stories, coach others to behave similarly.

What else can you do? Take action yourself – adopt activities that empower the kind of shift you want the company culture to take – and let your employees tell those stories.

Transition will be weird, even messy at times – the stories won’t match what they already believe, but that will shift over time. Not an executive? That’s okay, anyone who witnesses positive action, collaboration, great execution – they can tell stories too!

 

What’s Your Story??

 

 

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Walt Blackstaffe works with Golf and Ski Operations in process and procedure development, streamlining business practices and managing change, guiding them toward increased revenues and business proficiency. Walt accomplishes this through analysis, interviews, procedure review and bringing a life time of experience and passion in the recreation management industry to every engagement.

You can reach us at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

 

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