Archive for Change Management

Why Buy-in Isn’t Enough With Change

readiness 16527177 s 300x300 Why Buy in Isnt Enough With ChangeIn 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”.

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Patti Snippet Why Buy in Isnt Enough With ChangePatti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations for engaged and successful change, guiding leaders and their organizations toward mastery and leadership through change management advising, coaching, innovation, facilitation, process review and efficiency.

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

Contact us here to book for:

Innovation | Change Management | Executive Coaching | Team Building | Facilitation

___________________________________________

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Change Management and Saving Sears Canada

2sears store Change Management and Saving Sears CanadaNew 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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Patti Snippet Change Management and Saving Sears CanadaPatti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations for engaged and successful change, guiding leaders and their organizations toward mastery and leadership through change management advising, coaching, innovation, facilitation, process review and efficiency.

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

Contact us here to book for:

Innovation | Change Management | Executive Coaching | Team Building | Facilitation

___________________________________________

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Rocks Nests and Curiosities of Change

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smRockFormation Rocks Nests and Curiosities of Change

It always surprises me a little when someone says; “I leave my personal life at the door when I come to work.” While that may be what some companies want to hear, the reality is quite different. People’s lives are not compartmentalized, every thought, feeling and emotion they feel permeates every other thing in their day. The person who ‘checks it at the door’ is more than likely in better control when it comes to showing it.

All transition provides lessons and we know transition is that difficult, awkward, uncomfortable time preparing us for the new. Change comes into our work life for all kinds of reasons, sometimes it is a welcome change driven by us, other times it is a change handed to us. Either way, the change is there and we need to face it. But first, we need to move through transition.

The Rock

Transition periods are tough for people. In that period it’s like the person is a rock formation in high tide, being slapped furiously and repeatedly while remaining stalwart at the job, trying to survive. One can imagine how easy it would be to resent being that rock. But there are gifts in change. Check out just what happens to a large rock formation as it gets cleansed, reshaped and even sheds off debris and all that clings to it for security begins to wash away. The old begins to disappear and the new forged beauty begins to show. Surviving transition and being willing to take the hits often leads to better things so try not to run.

Mark Mueller-Eberstein in his TED talk discusses the transition curve of denial, anxiety, shock, fear, anger, frustration, confusion and stress. These are the many emotions of a team member at the end of one way of doing things, and prior to reorientation of a new approach. Morale begins to drop just after fear. Have you as a leader addressed it?

The Nest

It’s easy to see why mitigating resistance during a change is hard. Transition‘s ugly, and the nest of ‘what has been’ is comfortable. Ever awaken on a very cold morning and not want to get out of bed because you know once you do, you’ll be shivering? Loved ones, friends, plans, and yes, even breakfast are right there outside of that bed, but you can’t make yourself move. The comforter isn’t more important or more loved; it’s the transition you are avoiding. The thought of going through the goose-bumps, the shivering, and the cold on your way to the things you love will keep you there so long you even hold off going to the bathroom as early as you should. We like our comfort; we truly hate leaving it especially to move through transition. It’s even worse, when companies fail to prepare their people or help their employees understand what the vision is and what that transition might look like.

The Curiosity

Regardless of the catalyst for change, people want to know what’s going on. They want to know what to expect, what they will be losing and what they aim to gain. They want leaders with enough emotional intelligence to recognize the stages of transition and to carefully guide them past the stress toward creativity, acceptance, hope and enthusiasm. Basically, they need the right information to do their job and believe they will still have success after the change. They need a reason to shed what’s comfortable and move toward the new vision. Honestly, which would get you out of bed faster – if you thought is was cereal for breakfast or you were told it was a 3 cheese omelet with bacon?

Leading Change

Sharing the vision is the most important thing you can do, over and over and over again!

Planning the path is second, and that path is going to be slightly different for every group, person, and department – because ‘what’s in it for them’ will be slightly different. You can use any methodology you like, any system you like, but if you don’t coach and enable a leadership and subsequent management staff to focus on owning and dealing with the people through that change, then adoption will take much longer, I can guarantee it.

Lead change, give vision and time for the rocks, manage the transition, give people a reason to leave their nest and be willing to own it.

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Patti Snippet Rocks Nests and Curiosities of ChangePatti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations for engaged and successful change, guiding leaders and their organizations toward mastery and leadership through change management advising, coaching, innovation, facilitation, process review and efficiency.

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

Contact us here to book for:

Innovation | Change Management | Executive Coaching | Team Building | Facilitation

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Positive Patterns in Life and Work

positive change Positive Patterns in Life and Work

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I had coffee with a buddy from high school  a few years ago where he described a bit of his research in neurosciences to me. While much of what he talked about was a little above my head regarding his Alzheimer research, when we moved onto the topic of change, I was completely fascinated and engaged. He told me much of what we perceive regarding our own habits and patterns is a fallacy when it comes to describing those habits as; “It’s just genetics.”- “It’s who I am.” -“I can’t help it. – “I am just not _____________.” (fill in the blank with any perceived short-coming)

Working in the area of leadership development, through the coaching process, and any change-management initiative, we’ve learned many people resist change at the expense of their futures to maintain their current comfort. Some even resist it to maintain their current discomfort. Why? Because changing takes work. There is no magic wand transitioning us instantly to a goal or desired state. We must fight the path of least resistance and begin that hard cognitive work of changing ourselves and, inevitably, it will shake up every part of our lives when we do.

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~Anatole France

Here are three steps one can take to do the hard work to create positive change:

Own It

Realize if you are an adult and have been for a number of years, you are responsible for your life. You made the decisions to get there, you built or eliminated the relationships, you are the one who reacted to your environment or events and that reaction has put you in the place you now stand. Taking responsibility for your existing patterns and habits is the first step in the change process. Deflecting responsibility or accountability for your life on others will keep you exactly where you are, no matter how much you “wish” things were different. So long as you can pass it off as someone else’s fault, you will not change a thing. (Keep in mind that we are talking about personal choices, not external influences outside of our control.)

Practice Discipline

Changing patterns or habits is a lot like practicing piano. You start with a few easy things and increase the difficulty as you go, however, unless you practice, practice, and practice, you will not create a habit. A habit is just that, doing one thing over and over again until you don’t even have to think about it. This takes discipline over a long period of time, especially if you are attempting to eliminate a different habit. Changing your lifestyle, your money patterns, and your work routines does not happen overnight. It can take as many as 25-27 months in our experience coaching leaders as they use discipline to develop new habits, reactions and work patterns to improve or grow as strong leaders of people.

Reset Thought Patterns

This is the tough one. Just as a truck creates a path in a wheat field, that path grows firmer and more solid every time it is driven upon.  Unfortunately, so do the neurotransmitters in your brain. A farmer who needs to enter the field will take the easiest path, the one created first so as to make it easy to enter without disturbing the crop. Your brain works the same way, each time a similar situation arises, our brains take the path of least resistance, the one created the first time a situation arises, and it does so at lightning speed. Add 25-40 years of traveling that same route and you can see how easy it is to think “it’s just how I am”. But you can drive through a different field. First, you need to identify the patterns needing a reset, and it’s never easy. Get some help in learning how to reset your thought patterns by contacting a counselor for personal and relationship issues or a coach/strategist for leadership and business. There is great value in someone offering you a vantage point from the outside, as well as provide solutions and strategies you had not previously thought about.

Most often, the necessity for change enters our personal lives as a push, a difficult period or a life awakening – our business lives force change for many reasons related to the business or the market/environment. Sometimes our eyes become opened to a better way, or we are simply so uncomfortable stagnating that without change we feel we may not survive. Sound dramatic? Well, life can be that way. How we react to our lives, remain open to new things, accept positive criticism, stretch outside our comfort zones and work hard to reach our greatest potential is when we feel the greatest reward. Notice I said work, great things rarely come easy, but they are usually worth the hard effort it takes to get there.

This post was originally published for the Life Change Network in November 2012.

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Patti Snippet Positive Patterns in Life and WorkPatti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations for engaged and successful change, guiding leaders and their organizations toward mastery and leadership through change management advising, coaching, innovation, facilitation, process review and efficiency.

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

Contact us here to book for:

Innovation | Change Management | Executive Coaching | Team Building | Facilitation

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Are You Leading for Change Management?

website media Are You Leading for Change Management?Leading for Change...a few years ago Patti, our Strategist,  was interviewed for an article of the same title in Success Magazine.  In that article she stressed the importance of involving the team in finding solutions, saying;

“When employees know the plan, the direction, the mission and the goals, it gives them something concrete and real to focus their actions toward. It helps them understand how they add value to the direction of the company and shows them their own worth toward building success for the organization.”

Recently, a new client approached us because they have been struggling with the internal management of some of their change initiatives.  The topic of managing change is a relatively new area for them and they have made assignments regarding the change management role.  When we identified for them that they have not developed a common understanding across the organization as to exactly what change management is, they began to better understand why some of their initiatives were failing.

What was happening?

  • Employees believed they WERE performing change management in their respective areas.
  • The words Change Management were being used but not necessarily performed in the manner the industry recognizes.
  • They were seeing ‘ownership’ of their piece of the project threatened by the new change management role, assuming their piece would be taken away.
  • They were unwittingly sabotaging the change efforts of the change manager.
  • They had a number of ‘change’ initiative going on, but did not support at the highest level.
  • They were treating the process as an administrative duty.

It didn’t take long to get them on the right track, what they needed was a company-wide definition of the Change Management Process for their organization. They needed to engage the people in the organization to clarify this common definition for the entire company.  Then they needed to engage teams in learning just what that involved.  Most had no idea that change management is actually a process, not a series of random steps performed in isolation of the other steps.  “We added a little Change Management to this…” means they had no idea what change management actually involves.SuccessMagazine e1389916187730 Are You Leading for Change Management?

In your best sponsorship, are you leading change by creating clarity and understanding from the top and including people from ALL levels of the organization so that they have both input and a common understanding of initiatives? Here are some ways to help you build the competency in your organization:

  • Bring in someone to help you define a change process for your organization.
  • Train the people you will be assigning as change practitioners
  • Enlighten the organization with clarity on exactly what change management involves.

Let me leave you with Patti’s other quote I like from the article:

“You don’t have all the answers, and science is showing that a group of committed collaborators trumps a single genius for finding amazing solutions.”

Clarity and engagement – two keys to success in Leading Change – Make it Grand!

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Walt Blackstaffe Are You Leading for Change Management?Walt Blackstaffe works with Organizations in process and procedure development, streamlining business practices and managing change, guiding them toward mastery and leadership. Walt accomplishes this through Analytics, Change Management, Advising, Coaching, and delivering team building.

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

Contact us here to book for:

Innovation | Change Management | Executive Coaching | Team Building | Facilitation

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Own It to Change It

french.horn2  Own It to 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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Patti Snippet Own It to Change ItPatti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations for engaged and successful change, guiding leaders and their organizations toward mastery and leadership through change management advising, coaching, innovation, facilitation, process review and efficiency.

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

Contact us here to book for:

Innovation | Change Management | Executive Coaching | Team Building | Facilitation

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Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Question Are You Asking the Right Questions?“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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patticropped 150x150 Are You Asking the Right Questions?Patti 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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Sometimes Mirrors Are Scary

The economy may not be in a hurry to recover, but some employees might be.

Unhappy Sometimes Mirrors Are Scary

photo courtesy of Felix atsoram, Argentina

Desperate employees are the easiest to retain within ‘miserable to work for’ companies when times are tough and jobs are hard to find.  Even better for that miserable company is the reasoning that the poor economic environment requires everyone to ‘buck up’ and ‘give one for the Team’.

It’s a great run for short-sighted organizations who fail to see the lack of business sense and poor strategy behind the ‘right now’ chaos where the horse is often chasing the cart down the hill. That strategy won’t take your company where it needs to be when the market improves.

When jobs are easier to find, unhappy employees will make a fast exodus out the door straight to a happier workplace and they take all that valuable knowledge with them.

Being aware of poor morale and unhappy employees isn’t enough – companies need to take action to make positive changes.

The solution most often preferred by the folks in charge is to make a shuffle and rearrange management.

Just remember, a bag of marbles is the same bag of marbles no matter how you arrange it. Unhappy employees are a symptom of the real cause.

I leave you with seven thoughts on leading toward building a happier workplace:

  • To solve your problem it will take great courage in targeting the cause, not the symptom.
  • Change requires you take a good honest look at your entire organization in the mirror – top to bottom – with a fresh eye.
  • You must be willing to take some of the heat in order to make the right changes.
  • Accountability, responsibility, transparency and clear strategy are going to be vital with any change.
  • You must be willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.
  • You will hear a lot of things you don’t want to hear, listen to them.
  • Trust the employees to want to make it better.

These are just a few – but the courageous leader who cares about their company is going to make some hard calls and is going to be unpopular for them.  I have never tried to convince someone that doing the right thing is easy, but it is worth it.

Good luck, Make It Grand!

 

Patti Image.sm  150x149 Sometimes Mirrors Are ScaryPatti Blackstaffe, President of Strategic Sense Inc, is a Speaker, Strategic Advisor and Trainer in Leadership, Customer Service and Cultural integration through Mergers and Acquisition.You can book her to speak at her personal page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals, teams, group training and company strategy. Read what folks have to say about her eBook Leadership XXL: 11 Practical Steps to Living Leadership Extra, Extra Large.

Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there, and call us. (403) 201-8512

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‘Step Up’ and Direct Change For the Future

Strategic Sense, in addition to providing Leadership Training, has made a commitment to highlight some of the remarkable authors, leadership professionals and business people we’ve had the great fortune of meeting and working with over the last 3 years. On Wednesdays you will see guest-posts from some of these folks. All are leaders in their field and have solutions to some of our biggest workplace issues.  Such as Jeffrey Summers, the President and Founder of RestaurantWorx who wrote about Building the Ultimate Customer Experience.

Today’s Guest Post is by Joan Koerber-Walker who has recently stepped up again as  President and CEO of AZBio and whose blog we follow and share regularily because of it’s insight and great messages.

And now, here’s Joan…

 

DSC00084 Step Up and Direct Change For the Future

The Great Wall of China – © Chris Walker 2001 all rights reserved

Change is not a passive activity. Leadership isn’t either.   When we see something that is changing, we find our opportunity to step up and lead.  Just as with the Great Wall of China, there are thousands of opportunities to step up.

As we look around our businesses, our homes, our communities and our countries, we can always find areas in need of improvement.  In each of these areas, we have a choice.  We can sit back, watch and complain OR we can step up, lead and direct change for the better.

Take your walking stick on the journey.

Whether we choose to keep our world small or embrace it globally, each of us have our own unique talents, skills, and experiences that we can use to drive innovation in the world around us,  These are the tools at our disposal that act as walking sticks, supporting us with each step we take IF we choose to use them. Some leadership journeys can be very long and others can be incredibly steep.  Bringing everything you have to offer to the project gives you something to lean on along the way.

Connect your steps.

Stepping up does not have to  mean traveling alone. It’s been said that it’s lonely at the top. Keep in mind that it does  not have to be.  Just like the Great Wall, there really is no “top” just a series of plateaus and mile posts that connect along the journey.  With each connection comes the opportunity to form a bond with others who share your goals, passions and reasons for taking the lead.  These bonds foster communication and the sharing of ideas just as in ancient times the Great Wall served as China’s foundation for a network of communications linking outpost to outpost.

Look back… Move Forward.

At times, when stepping up, the journey may seem too long ahead of us.  This can sap our energy and slow our steps.  When this happens, don’t be afraid to pause and look behind you at all of the steps that have lead you to this point.  The progress you have made will fuel your energy once again and the momentary rest will give your leadership muscles a chance to recover.  Then, when  it is time, move forward to step up again.  You might just leave a legacy as enduring as the Great Wall of China.

 

John.JKW  Step Up and Direct Change For the FutureJoan Koerber-Walker recently stepped up again as  President and CEO of AZBio, the Arizona BioIndustry Association to lead an organization dedicated to the growth of the bioscience industry in her home state and its impact on health, energy, agriculture and the economy.  A two time Stevie Award National Finalist and former Fortune 500 executive, she is also the  Chairman of the Board of CorePurpose, Inc. and the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation and serves as Executive in Residence for Callaman Ventures.  As the former CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association and a past member of the Board of Trustees of the National Small Business Association in Washington, D.C. she has worked with hundreds of small businesses and on behalf of thousands.  Chat with her on Twitter as @joankw, @JKWgrowth, @JKWinnovation, @JKWleadership and @CorePurpose or at her blog at www.JoanKoerber-Walker.com.

Patti Image.xsm  Step Up and Direct Change For the FuturePatti Blackstaffe, President of Strategic Sense Inc, is a Speaker, Strategic Advisor and Trainer in Leadership, Customer Service and Cultural integration through Mergers and Acquisition.You can book her to speak at her personal page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals, teams, group training and company strategy. Read what folks have to say about her eBook Leadership XXL: 11 Practical Steps to Living Leadership Extra, Extra Large.

Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there, and call us. (403) 201-8512

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When cultures collide, does the CEO take charge?

 

Rutting sm1 When cultures collide, does the CEO take charge?

Image provided by Sias van Schalkwyk, South Africa

If you’ve ever belonged to a company that’s been taken over through a merger or acquisition by another company, rest assured, your original Executive will change camps.

Companies typically buy other companies for how the product leverages its portfolio or market share, not because it’s filled with rocking collaborators.

I have yet to see a merger or acquisition result in anything less than a collision of cultures.

The difference in the success or failure after the purchase or merging of these cultures can be described in how the collision takes place.  It can be anywhere from a bump of the shoulders and eventual turn toward the same goal to a total a write-off like a car left in a twisted wreck.

The change-management of such a significant alteration in the ‘flow’ of an organization takes time and effort, and it begins at the CEO level.   Acceptance of good decisions in the purchase or merger with another company almost always is adopted by the executive first.  Let’s face the fact, it behoves them to do so.  The higher in the organization you are, the more you must adopt the direction set forth before you if you are to remain and still play nice in the sandbox and reach success.

If little or no change-management or clarity of direction is offered the employees, they’ll feel like they’ve been betrayed as they witness their executive ‘going over’ to the other side.

People like their current work-flow (good or bad) and significant change shakes up the apple cart – this requires guidance and leadership.  Guidance begins, (and must be followed through), at the CEO level.  The CEO who rolls up the sleeves, gets involved in the change-management and helps the organization evolve is better equipped to retain its best talent, industry expertise and product knowledge.

Choose to leave it to others, and those others will follow your lead, leaving it to others all the way down the chain until the mass exodus out the door begins at the front line levels and works its way back up.  What are you risking by ignoring the obvious?

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Patti Snippet When cultures collide, does the CEO take charge?Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations for engaged and successful change, guiding leaders and their organizations toward mastery and leadership through change management advising, coaching, innovation, facilitation, process review and efficiency.

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

Contact us here to book for:

Innovation | Change Management | Executive Coaching | Team Building | Facilitation

___________________________________________

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