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2 stages missed in your change management story

In Project management, just like a great story, there are three main stages.

  • Start (setting, characters, goal) PMI – initiating
  • Do (plot and climax) PMI – planning, executing, monitor & control
  • Finish (discovery, how the hero is changed) PMI – Closing

Many companies see change management as a “doing” activity, where you bring a change management resource (OCM lead) in at the execution phase of the project. The OCM lead is then asked to “smooth things over” or “make it nice” for the people.

Typically, this means – plan the training and communications at the lowest cost possible to the project. Likely, the project wasn’t resourced to include a fully baked change program, to begin with. All good stories are about the people.

I could list a hundred reasons for the fallacy around this thinking and why OCM needs to be included from Start to Finish, (or as we like to call it, Readiness to Sustainability) but I will only list a couple here:

  1. It is not about the technology, it is about how the technology is utilized, used, and being implemented to create efficiency and productivity. That is all about the people.
  2. The technology does not install itself, a team of people does, the integration efforts are also about people. OCM applies to the group making the changes as much as it does to the end-users being implemented.
  3. People are messy. They come with different viewpoints, challenges, aspirations, desires, experiences, and talents, then you throw them into a room to make the change and you choose not to manage that dynamic from the human side and stand firm it is only a technical exercise.

By the time your project is in execution mode, or just prior to execution, it is too late to start the OCM story, so the OCM lead is forced to do what they can with the little they have to work with. This costs the company in many areas:

  • The time to build awareness and pre-training has been lost.
  • Team engagement does not occur, increasing risk and resistance.
  • Gaps in knowledge and understanding for isolated project streams.
  • Minimal training opportunities, leading to poorly utilized software solutions.
  • Limits the communications to emails that are likely ignored.
  • Drop in user efficiency and proficiency.
  • Poor hand-over to final owners of the solution.

I could go on, but those are key to the success of a project. One might argue that the people will make their way through it so why add dollars to the cost of your project?

Because you can spend the money in resources during the project, or you can spend much more AFTER the project closes in support and productivity loss.

Having a people change strategy with an OCM who partners with the Project Manager from readiness to sustainability will save you money. Maybe not in the project budget itself, but it definitely will through sustainability.

An OCM lead should be there through the whole story to:

  • Help develop the desired state (what is the goal?)
  • Build the vision and benefits (visualize the goal and why it is important)
  • Better understand the stakeholders (build out character understanding and how changes impact their lives)
  • Properly build the awareness plan long before execution (know the plot and what the characters will do about it)
  • Keep the technical streams engaged and fully aware of their actions on impact events. (technical solutions people are not always aware that even small changes are impacts.)
  • Gain agreement from stakeholders about the roll-out of the solution (all protagonists need supportive actors)
  • Empower the support team through the development of DIY troubleshooting collateral (discovery of a new normal)
  • Develop hand-over packages that provide a clear understanding of how people will do things differently from now on. (conclusion)

Every OCM has the potential to transform how you make change happen if they are brought in and are given the ability to positively impact the success of your projects. They are crafters of a new story, writers of a new direction and will save you dollars in the long run. Not to mention, they will contribute to the ROI of this technical investment you have made.

One way to determine if your company is flexible enough to be ready to change is to better understand the company’s change maturity level. Prosci has an easy chart to determine this:

At which project stage does your company bring in Change Management resources?

Linkedin Articles on Change:

Project Engagement Can Drive Action

Outside Observations of a Project Failure

Your Grand Investment and Why it Fails

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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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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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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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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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What’s the Protocol?

What the Show ‘Covert Affairs’ Can Teach Leaders. 

Covert affairCovert Affairss is a spy show about CIA operatives. A few years ago I learned a hard lesson when I failed to ask a very important question while media were gathered around a significant event; “What’s the protocol?” This question appears a lot in Covert Affairs.

Background

Let me explain. As the Chair Person of a Board of Directors of a not-for-profit, I was given the honour of leading a ground-breaking ceremony for a new school being erected that served preschool children with disabilities and their families. I will admit, it was a great feather in my cap personally, and I was extremely proud to see the model moving to the building of a school, when all previous expansion had been through purchase of an existing building or rental. I had spent almost 10 years with this organization and saw it grow from one building serving 173 children to the building of a 6th school that would eventually assist over 900 Children with disabilities. I was very proud of that growth, especially since during that time the organization successfully maintained the importance of focus on the child with an 83+ percentage of outcomes reached.

The Protocol

As a leader intent on supporting the good work of the team, I don’t particularly care for the focus on me, but as an ambassador of the organization it was occasionally my job to showcase the organization to groups. What I had never done before was a ground breaking ceremony. I worked hard in preparation, the Development team had prepared a schedule, a script, reviewed my speech, and I’d practiced until I was blue in the face. They had a wonderful child there who would be helping with the ground-breaking and many community individuals, dignitaries and media had been invited. The event had been very well organized and I was amazed at all that went into it. I just had to show up and be the spokesperson.

What I forgot to ask about the dignitaries and their respective roles, was; “What’s the Protocol?”

My role had always been to highlight the organization and its history, to use real and compelling examples of children and their progress, the heart-strings would always find themselves drawn into the story. I loved it being about the kids, about success and about the way kids overcome adversity. I was on a role, and my young 5 year old helper was a smashing hit, I made sure of it.

Sadly, I was completely unaccustomed to the importance of political dignitaries. Basically, I failed to understand the significance of their presence as it related to the funding, publicity and importance their role plays in the ongoing workings of a non-profit school. Their presence was about future dollars!

Basically, they were ignored. Ground-Breaking

And the Crowd Dispersed

Yes, there were photos with them at either side of my little pal and I holding the golden shovel, but they were just a stand in presence to what should have been a more significant role. What a wonderful media gift it would have been had I known the best part would have been giving those politicians the shovel and asking them to take the first dirt with their new little 5 year old friend and stepping back to let them!

Then I forgot to properly thank them, I took my little 5 year old over to the play area the event team had set up and I talked about the kids, with my little friend sharing his laughter and heart with the crowd. Oh the media loved the little guy – and I was asked for interviews later (which I never do well as cameras intimidate me) and those politicians went on with their busy day, wondering why they’d been called to attend in the first place. Talk about poor political moves!

In the end, the Development Team deemed the event a success, as they did get some much needed media attention, the cameras moving to the main school to shoot additional footage. They never once commented on my faux paus or political immaturity, but I am sure words unsaid were thought. Conversations around, “how do we keep MLA so-and-so here for a bit?” and other comments I heard as the crowd milled about in smaller groups made it obvious, and I grew increasingly aware of what I’d just done.

What’s the Desired Outcome?

Leaders, managers, employees all function under a layer of expectation and understanding. Some of the expectations may seem obvious to their bosses, but not to them. By asking the question, “What’s the protocol here?” gives them an opportunity to truly understand the expectations being placed upon them.

Basically, all meetings, all gatherings and all activity needs to lead to a desired outcome or outcomes. Some of those will be assumed. Some of us will be so entrenched in our duties we will fail to see the importance outside of our typical actions. We need to always be asking – what is the desired outcome, what is my protocol in this situation. Many a problem could be avoided, especially in terms of media communication of we knew that.

Change Management includes a strong definition of desired state for a reason, we want all activities to lead to the desired outcomes we are trying to achieve. Without a clear understanding we will be involved in changes that will be less than successful than we had planned.

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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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Change Management and Saving Sears Canada

2sears-storeNew CEO Ronald Boire says Sears is here to stay. He is the newest member of 4 recent leaders in 3 years making a go at keeping Sears alive in Canada, our team chatted among ourselves as to how we might approach such a feat.

Growing up on the Canadian prairies, Sears Canada was a solid thread in the fabric of suppliers for all things home and garage, a virtual security blanket of where-to-get-what and all in one place. Sears was the place my brothers bought decent tools and we could count on Sears to always be the same and carry the goods we wanted. But in the competitive retail marketplace, a lot has changed, and a company that rarely changes will see themselves falling off the radar faster than you can say “rebrand me”.

Changing was once the name of the game for Sears (formerly Simpson-Sears) between 1953 and 1962, from mail order to retail stores they enjoyed a great deal of growth as they moved through building new credit systems and adopting new technologies. They were a force to be reckoned with in the Canadian retail market. Through to the late 70’s there were few Canadian children who didn’t wait at the door for the Christmas Wishbook to arrive. Nary was a ‘Santa list’ created without that prize catalog of toy-land-discovery being carefully perused and assessed. So what happened from the mid-eighties until now to change the powerful force that Sears held on our Canadian Retail market? The landscape changed, but did Sears fail to change with it?

Sitting in our offices today, a discussion ensued about the kind of changes needed for Ronald Boire to truly save Sears Canada, (and shift where necessary) to keep the icon relevant in Canadian Retail.

Where to Start

Building the plan will take an enormous strategic effort, and the planning and readiness through that strategy development is vital. We cannot impress upon them more that the key to a successful change rests upon the importance in having the right data at hand before making major decisions. What data? Let’s start here:

  1. Market Segmentation
  2. Consumer Behaviour
  3. Customer demographics
  4. Multi-channel delivery
  5. Corporate Partnerships
  6. Industry & Marketing Trends
  7. Consumer Engagement and Relationships
  8. Customer Service
  9. Identity
  10. Internal Training Programs

In preparing through the readiness step, Sears Canada reports they have done much in the way of cutting costs, setting themselves up for being able to remain sustainable through a complete overhaul of how they do business, but there is still a long road ahead. Each of the above areas must be analyzed by people who understand the data but more importantly, know how to align it. Considering the whole host of micro data within each area above, it is important that Sears is willing to shift from the “it’s worked before” mentality to a “what does the data tell us, really” mentality. And the decisions will need to take into serious consideration those managers and middle managers who must implement change. Having the corporate focus on true data and stakeholder information, with means and measures of where and how to gather that data and the strength in understanding how to interpret it for the decision makers will make it much easier to evaluate.

Identity Crisis

Do you remember being a teenager and wondering where you fit, wanting to be part of several different groups, but never really feeling like you belong anywhere, you don’t know yourself well enough to self-define so you slide and hope someone picks you up? It appears Sears Canada is in that same realm- floating to be defined but never really knowing themselves well enough to identify where they fit. As a teen must get to know themselves and the people and environment around them better to know who they are, Sears must do the same. They require a solid understanding of the market, the consumer habits and behaviors, the industry trends and what customer engagement looks like in 2014 and to anticipate where it is going. We are in a relationship market and customers want transparency, demand great customer service and want to engage quite literally with every online conversation, blog and write-up. If a business can’t clearly define their own identity, the right customers will not be correctly targeted.

The company is long overdue helping us understand who they are and where they fit within the Canadian marketplace. Are they the middle ground between the low-cost Wal-Mart stores and the higher-end The Bay? (Both of which have their own shifting to consider.)

A clear, desired state must first be defined – who they will be in the future and how that looks, feels and materializes is vital, they need to know where they fit in the Canadian Market and precisely who they are for their customers. Then they need to clearly convey this message from Corporate through to consumer – simply, articulately and soon, so everyone “gets it”. It is not enough to say they are in it for the long-run, they need to share the vision.

Technology

In 1959, Sears was instrumental in embracing new technologies by being a pioneer of the Telex Service providing improved international record keeping allowing them to increase their credit accounts by 190,000 within a single year. Sears was rocketing by being technically savvy.

It’s fundamental to take a long hard look at technology and what exists in the current business, evaluating it against what will be needed to accommodate current consumer behaviour and trends and implementing the right strategies moving forward. This is an expensive and important investment that cannot be taken lightly, a plan to ensure all technology is vetted through an overall big picture view rather than a “grasp at mini solutions” ad-hoc set of implementations is paramount.

Areas of technical evaluation to consider will be internal and external. Data management & analysis, metrics tracking, sales and delivery tools, procurement and inventory systems will all need a solid review and update. Externally, digital catalogs, mobile device applications, client engagement tools, and social media strategies. All of these tools interconnect as a means and way of remaining relevant and top-of-mind to today’s consumers and the market Sears chooses to call their own. (See identity crisis above.) Take Neiman Marcus, for example, they saw the benefit of teaming up with the company Slyce to connect people with their products, now that is making themselves relevant.

People

With all companies, a strong organizationally developed company can gradually slide when they are busy bailing the water out and trying to fix the leak. A myopic view of business challenges can put the people in last place. A once great management training program will need to change as Sears begins to change. They have a pretty solid 18 month training program for their Management staff with a focus on Merchandising, Supply Chain, Marketing and Retail Operations as well as varied store visits and shadowing. Kudos for Sears in building operational processes for management, but there are some key areas of leadership development, change management, leading employees, understanding new consumer trends, reaching the community and other programs we could not find when we did a little research on the company. Their old standard of pop-up in store promotions just isn’t gathering the crowd like it used to. If they have developed some current trends in these areas, it’s not obvious. Shifting the company to a stronger growth-focused environment will require some key elements that support great leadership in addition to strong merchandising skills. Knowing the consumer better, shifting with the consumer and being flexible in reach will help managers better know how to support their staff to sell.

Areas of focus for all change will need a full review of the HR policies, procedures, benefits, training, loyalty programs, incentives, support systems, customer service delivery, and sales practices.

Alliances

As with the Neiman Marcus and Slyce partnership, Sears is due for a relevance shift. Partnering with companies that serve a broader reach and partnering with retail suppliers in unique ways to drive traffic and sales is long overdue. Most of what our team has observed is that the catalog needs a full technical overhaul to make it easier to buy, flyer marketing needs to include a price because people no longer will go in-store to find that out, a great app for getting current deals is non-existent, and we see very little draw to engage with the consumer.

Take one small example from Costco, they may be a warehouse model where dozens of folks flock to their bricks and mortar to get product, but they also have a pretty solid online system. We are not just talking about an online catalog, however, because members at Costco are provided with something relevant in the area of content management. They ship a magazine/catalog that provides information useful to the consumer, something they can read and enjoy, something that gives them recipes, articles on travel, and more and their lives are enriched by the engagement. Within this magazine are relevant products available at Costco.ca for anyone to purchase conveniently, and presented in bite-sized chunks made into a shopping experience. Once on the website – their search engine and transparency are exceptional. It pays to invest in your technology!

Conclusion

Times change, consumers change, and trends and technology drive those changes. The organization that understands the change management process, that looks at the overall organizational development within their company, and who is exceptional at data collection, review and alignment is better prepared to change with the times and consumers.

Because of the very early beginnings of Simpsons and their merger with Sears, our whole team feels nostalgic about Sears and truly hope they make this fly. Sears needs identity, relevance, reach and engagement to once again become a leader in the retail space in Canada, it will be interesting to see where they take it.

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Own It to Change It

Own_It_Change_It How does organizational change occur?

Change occurs because people, just like you and me, made the decision to change. How that decision came about may be different for each individual involved; the motivator, influence or even traumatic event that may occur and spur someone toward change is usually personal and unique to each.

In the end, change occurred because the individual decided to take responsibility for their contribution to the current state of affairs & take action toward the future.

Every stakeholder involved plays an instrument in the orchestra of change.

Successful, sustained change occurs when someone owns and takes responsibility for their individual piece of the musical score, especially if it achieved a not-so-appealing outcome based on past performance.

Change is hard. It involves leaving our comfort zones, habits or belief systems and developing new ones. The transition is messy while we figure out how to accomplish new behaviours. There will even be a few mistakes along the way and people will need to readjust, (forgive), move forward and shift action. It can be awkward or frustrating. Keeping the whole orchestra (organization) and the final performance (goals) in focus will help.

  • Each person needs to know what instrument they play and how that instrument contributes to the whole.
  • Each person will need their own sheet music and it will be slightly different than someone playing a different instrument.
  • Each person will need to own their personal performance AND how they perform along with others. (You’ve all heard music when one instrument is off or out of tune.)

Making change is not about laying blame, it’s about being responsible for and owning ‘what doesn’t work’ or is no longer sustainable action – owning it personally in your corner of the stage – and it will take practice. Equally important to successful change is collaborating with others, following the beat or lead of another, being supportive of and aligning with other members of the orchestra, not to mention caring deeply about those people who will bear witness to the performance.

Own it to change it…

With luck, your orchestra has a supportive and active conductor guiding you along the way.

P.S. If you have an absentee or a non supportive conductor, you are still part of an orchestra and need to own your part in the overall performance in spite of a lack of leadership. Working together WITH the other musicians toward the greater performance is the best way to win with change.

P.P.S. Pointing fingers at others and blaming a lack of leadership as an excuse for poor performance or a bad attitude is a cop-out that shifts responsibility to others – this is a lose-lose activity. Win-Win activities involve owning it to change it.

 

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Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Question“We find … it’s much more important and difficult to ask the right question. Once you do that, the right answer becomes obvious.
~Amory Lovins

If you want to know more about why people do or don’t change, then ask more questions.

When working with organizations and teams, it is important to first listen and understand before building plans and developing programs for them. For organizations that do not have coaching as a mainstay offering for their leaders, they may be surprised to hear it is those coaching methodologies that open the door to understanding. For a large company, it is definitely worthwhile for key individuals and leaders within the organization to be coached, and for those in charge of organizational development (OD) to have some coaching training behind them.

There is a generalized stigma around coaching that can be hard to shake and it’s often referred to as that ‘airy-fairy’ soft-skills stuff. There is nothing soft about coaching!

If you remember being figuratively pinned to the wall as a teen in high school as some wise adult helped you learn to stand up and take responsibility for your own actions, you can easily recognize the value for coaching in any environment. Through great questions, a coach can dig deep enough to get to the root of why you choose your current thought patterns and reactions, helping you better understand where you fit among the dynamics of a multifaceted team of individuals. There is nothing soft about it. The secret to a coach’s success is the training they receive within two areas:

  • learning how to ask questions and
  • the right questions to ask.

This is why people in Change Management (CM) are also effective coaches. One who seeks to understand the stakeholders and the stakes involved in any change initiative is best served by first knowing the right questions to ask. Great questions return great results, further creating introspective reasoning for the individual who is providing the answers. The people being asked begin to think a little more about what they do and why they do it, eventually getting to the heart of why, within a change initiative, the stakes are so high for them.

This doesn’t mean the stakeholders are all in an ‘organized coaching program’, but rather, through a varied series of meetings, one-on-one discussions, facilitated group sessions and other forms of analysis and risk analysis, the CM professional is able to dig deep to the heart of any challenges that may inhibit change.

Change is inevitable, but change as a push mechanism is rarely successful. Change initiatives that take into consideration all stakeholders and build a plan for change that motivates and inspires people to move forward from resistance to desire find greater success. It is my experience that there is usually a lot more to resistance than what is initially shared, and a little coaching methodology can certainly loan itself to finding the greatest resistance and helping the people within an organization work through it.

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patticroppedPatti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations to develop
Happy Workplaces world-wide guiding them toward mastery and leadership
through consulting, advising, coaching, speaking, and delivering training.

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

Contact us here to book for Idea Sessions, Change Management, Executive Coaching or Team Development.

Idea Sessions | Change Management | Executive Coaching | Team Building

 

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Are You A Team Player?

Team-700x350

In his blog titled, “We Don’t Need To Make it Better” on February 5, Seth Godin says this about improvements.

“Just because it is uphill doesn’t mean it’s hopeless, though. One of the most essential tasks a leader faces is understanding just how much the team is afraid of making things better (because it usually means making things worse—for some people).

Change is scary for most people, and risky change that might adversely affect someone or cause a wave, even scarier! The thing is, it is important to do what is RIGHT instead of working in fear.

Malcolm Gladwell notes in his book, “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference

Cooperation and conciliation and compromise and teamwork are all arts, and like all arts they require practice and commitment. In a complex world, success is not possible without teamwork.”

Let me put it this way, if you are a member of a team or a ‘Tribe’, as Seth Godin calls them, you have a responsibility to that team; not only to each other, but to the overall mission (or company) as well. If you have been hired in a role and you work with other people to accomplish that role, you are being paid to work with them and help develop plans for reaching the BIG PICTURE. Not sure what that is? As a team, ask these questions:

  • What is our collective why?
  • What exactly does success look like, what are we trying to accomplish overall?
  • Who is needed to accomplish that goal?
  • What do I have to do in my specific role to make it an amazing success and who do I need to collaborate with in order to reach success for the BIG PICTURE?

Now bump it up…..

  • How can I bring the very best of myself to that role and help everyone else shine so they too can accomplish our BIG PICTURE Mission?

Ultimately, it is not about you. If your loyalty is only to yourself and not with the team and the company who is paying you, you are in the wrong job or at the very least not giving your best to the job you have.

Here are a few great actions of a team-player.

  • They keep professional confidences and do not put the company or their team mates at risk for selfish gain.
  • They see and recognize the strengths that EVERY member of the team brings to the table and are willing to work WITH those people for the BIG PICTURE success.
  • They are both transparent and honest, protecting the path to the BIG PICTURE along-side their team members.
  • They deal directly with the individual they have a qualm with and do not drag clients or outside individuals into their emotional dramas or insecurities. (P.S. that is called gossip)
  • They do not disparage other team members to each other (or anyone else for that matter), but rather find ways to turn the other team member’s poor performance or lack of success into a coaching opportunity before writing them off.
  • They are loyal to the BIG PICTURE realizing the people or organization paying their salary are where their loyalty lies, and they work together to meet that big picture.

Getting the drift? If you are a member of a team within which you can take these actions, then you are on the right team.

If you cannot find yourself loyal to the team or play well in the sandbox with the people you are supposed to be reaching the collective goal with, united for a common cause, (or you don’t believe in the cause), it is time to find a different place to work.

Why? Your heart is with you, not the team or the goal.

Go do something GRAND, something you can be passionate about in reaching a common BIG PICTURE goal WITH people you can respect – or – find a way to be a solid member of your existing team, unite and build a plan together so that you can again be passionate about what you do and who you work with. Stop waiting for your company to change so you can make this happen – you have much more power than you think.

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Policies, Procedures and the Leadership Team

PoliciesWhether you have 10 people walking in the door for work or 1000, they all bring with them their dreams, hopes, values, frustrations, problems and their desire to make their career the best it can be. People bring with them every experience they have ever had, and their perception of what that experience has meant to them, good or bad. Most of them will react to everyday situations based on those experiences, putting a wrapper around the situation based on what they believe it means to them.

Witnessing the human dynamic can be both awe inspiring and difficult, depending on what is playing out at any given time within the organization. You will have motivated and non-motivated employees, you will have great leaders and managers who are biding their time. There will be people with good intentions and the odd one with not-so-good intentions.

And this is why every company needs to have policies and procedures in place with strict adherence to them.

For the routine actions and for the unusual actions that will occur in any company, a set of guidelines for both employee and employer provide clarity and help avoid miscommunication.

First, the best place to start is to look at your Provincial or State labour standards or code. These are the guidelines you as an employer must uphold, it is the law in the place where you live. It is also the job of every manager in your company to know what these are; are you helping them? Small companies without a solid HR presence will especially need to know what the rules are.

Second, you need to protect the company and your employees from harm. Harm includes law suits, security issues, labour problems and safety. There are clear guidelines in all of these areas as well. Do your homework, make sure you know what your rights are and make sure you know the rights of your employees. A company handbook can include some of these items.

Third, you need to understand what processes you as a company wish to work within, basically; “What are my manager’s supposed to do and what are they allowed to do within these walls and how do I want them to accomplish it?” AND “What are my employees supposed to do and how do I want them to accomplish that?”

Many companies are unaware of how important their own policies and procedures are.

Executive team, not everyone ‘works like you and thinks like you.’

I know a lot of companies are weary trying to keep up with the legislated pieces and want to apply more of the budget to operations rather than HR. However, HR, when given the right direction and authority, have the ability to save the company many dollars in the long run.

From vacations to stress leave, from benefits to complaints, without a solid set of procedures to access and the guidelines of what to do, your employees will be scrambling for answers and wanting support. In most companies employees want their immediate manager to have both the answers and the authority to make a difference for them. Have you prepared your management team to handle all they will need to handle when they encounter a difficult situation or event, a budgetary shift, a grievance? Have you prepared your HR team to take on what the manager cannot? Have you outlined the differences in their roles? Are you tracking attrition, complaints, costs of transition, and more? Have you outlined the overall ‘behavioural intolerance level’ your company will not accept and what happens when they arise? If not, you have some work to do.

It is easy to make the assumption your staff understands how you want the company to run, after all, you are there every day and you are showing them how to do it. Be cautious, leader, these people need things clearly laid out, eliminate as much opportunity for misinterpretation of your desires as possible. Empower your staff to make decisions without you because the policy or procedure is spelled out in a way that supports your teams and protects your organization. But be aware, this is not a quick task or a two month answer, you will need facilitation and direction through about 18 months to two years of development if this is the first time you have embarked on such a task and you have more than 20 employees.

Give your Managers and HR department the tools and the power to make a difference for you and for your staff. Develop a company where everyone knows what support looks like and your teams are empowered to shine.

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patticroppedPatti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations to develop
Happy Workplaces world-wide guiding them toward mastery and leadership
through consulting, advising, coaching, speaking, and delivering training.

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

Contact us here to book for Idea Sessions, Change Management, Executive Coaching or Team Development.

Idea Sessions | Change Management | Executive Coaching | Team Building

 

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Why I Can’t Be Hired

Be willing to do the work, not play the victim of circumstance

get-hiredWorking in Organizational Development (executive coaching and change management) is my passion. I love situational, character and behavioural development within an organizational environment. I personally study hard to build my programs and I take neuroscience, anthropology and psychology research into account for all jobs involving people. I have done this self-study for almost 20 years regardless of where I have worked – I am fascinated by people. What really charges me is when I am asked to come in and work with teams for greater collaboration and communication.

To determine if I am a good fit for the consulting contract, I ask the following two questions:

  1. How much action and change is the executive leadership willing to take on in order to make my efforts worthwhile for the company?
  2. What kind of support will be available from the top in order to make positive change happen?

The one statement that leads me to decline a consulting role with a company is this:

“I just want you to come in and fix ______________.” (This statement is rarely associated with actions of the executive leadership.)

First, your people don’t need fixing. Second, I am powerless to ‘fix this’ because as the consultant that is not my job, as the leader it is YOUR job. Third, I am hired to guide you and lead the way, the work involved belongs to each and every individual within the company STARTING with the top level leadership and supported through to the front lines.

When a problem exists, the first step is for the leadership to be able to admit there is a problem, but they cannot stop there. They must be willing to admit the actions they have been taking thus far are not working and something needs to change. It needs to change first at their level.

I have been known to decline any job whereby the hiring individual is unwilling to do what it takes to turn around the morale or working relationships within the company. I will also turn down coaching jobs with any manager who is not willing to take the action necessary to make change at their (leadership) level.

Coaching and consulting are about providing the assist, but we don’t come in and score the goals for our client, that is their job. They must be willing to do the work – not play the victim of circumstance.

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patticroppedPatti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations to develop
Happy Workplaces world-wide guiding them toward mastery and leadership
through consulting, advising, coaching, speaking, and delivering training.

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

Contact us here to book for Idea Sessions, Change Management, Executive Coaching or Team Development.

Idea Sessions | Change Management | Executive Coaching | Team Building

 

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Rock and Roll Momentum

Rock N Roll

Have you ever noticed when a really catchy song comes on the radio, you can’t help but tap a toe, hum or even sing along? For me, it is when a song from my late teens and early twenties comes alive. There is something about reminiscing back to a time of personal freedom, and feeling like the world is your oyster, that truly gets a person going.

Do you remember when you first entered your career or business and you could feel your body vibrate with excitement about what you were doing? Remember the thrill of anticipation for a new project?

How long has it been since you felt a rock and roll momentum in your job?

Perhaps it’s time to shake things up and take a good look at what you do every day.

  1. What are the work activities that charge you the most?
  2. What action could you do to bring an inspiring activity at work into your every day?
  3. Who are the people at the office that you can collaborate with to give you the kind of energy and enthusiasm you want at work?
  4. Is there a project you can get approved that keeps innovation and motivation charged?

The key thing to note is this:

People have a tendency to wait for their boss, employer, co-workers to present them with activities to excite them about going to work.

The reality is that we create our own motivation and inspiration. Stop waiting for the company, boss, co-worker, department to change, start taking action to create your own beat and dance to the music.

The energy we put into our work is the energy we get out of our work.

Now, shake, stir, repeat!

Every day is a new beginning granted to us for approaching life with enthusiasm – and life includes work! Find at least one activity or action to bring you closer to a rock and roll momentum, then seek approval, schedule it and enjoy!

Opportunity: There is a good possibility you will be rewarded with renewed respect from co-workers for your innovative and enthusiastic attitude.

What kinds of activities give you a charge you at work?

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patticroppedPatti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations to develop
Happy Workplaces world-wide guiding them toward mastery and leadership
through consulting, advising, coaching, speaking, and delivering training.

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

Contact us here to book for Idea Sessions, Change Management, Executive Coaching or Team Development.

Idea Sessions | Change Management | Executive Coaching | Team Building

 

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