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Leadership Learning

Leadership Learning

The two most precious assets in the professional service firm are the capabilities of our people and the use of their time to produce results for the client. A delicate balance arises. Leaders require continual skill building, but time to learn is limited.

We discovered opportunities to leverage time in leadership development in a blended-learning solution.

Leaders learn the most on the job. So, target and pursue learning that extends the applications of key leadership capabilities on teams, in projects, and with clients. By employing multiple methods of learning, you can craft a leadership learning strategy that is delivered in a blended solution.

There are five steps to develop a blended model of learning:

  1. 'Hacking Leadership' by Joe Sanfelippo (ISBN 0986104949) Link learning to the core values. The clients’ experience of the firm’s core values is their relationship with each professional who represents the brand.
  2. Ensure that the business strategy is driving the learning agenda. The knowledge of critical client-service leadership capabilities and respect for time informs decisions on content and design.
  3. Conduct needs analysis and determine current capability levels. We conduct analysis on our shared competencies globally in 34 countries to determine where the real-time learning opportunities produce the maximum results.
  4. Select content and design a learning continuum. Our leadership roles model encompasses the capabilities required for success. This provides a framework for the leadership learning content. We designed a fully blended model to support the learning. The core of the model is Vision and the foundation Eminence and Expertise. Business and client Results are the target outcomes. Key roles of leaders and a selection of the primary skills required include:
    • Relationship builder: emotional intelligence, negotiation, trust and authenticity, consensus building
    • Communicator: influence, persuasion, listening, presence, storytelling
    • Innovator: change leader, creativity, custom solutions, risk taker
    • Global citizen: integrity, responsibility, diversity, global relationship network
    • Mentor/coach: developing next generation talent, coaching performance
    • Decision-maker: strategic analysis of options and courage to act, even when information is incomplete
  5. 'Learning Leadership' by James Kouzes (ISBN 1119144280) Extend the learning beyond the classroom to the job. Provide quality learning through on-line learning resources and coaching that is available just-in-time through a technology learning platform that gives access 24/7 to prime quality learning, when leaders need it and how it best works for them. This platform supports the blended leadership learning that is delivered over time in four main steps.
    • Launch leadership learning with a virtual class. A virtual class establishes the community of learning and values everyone’s time.
    • Push out self-paced online learning. A rich combination of online leadership assessment and individual leadership style report, e-learning, with readings and resources, are provided with opportunities to interact with coaches.
    • Conduct the classroom program. This highly valuable time is focused on knowledge exchange, problem-solving, action planning, practice application of new skills, performance coaching, building the culture, and networking.
    • Support on-the-job learning with targeted online learning. A combination of performance goal setting, dialogue with performance coaches, and availability of targeted online, self-paced learning incorporates learning on-the-job.

A leadership learning map offers just-in-time learning. Our experience has proven to us the power of extending leadership learning beyond the classroom.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Your Life is Not Your Own

The Heart and Benevolence That is God

Your Life Is Not Your Own “It is my life. I can do with it as I please.” How often have you heard that defiant declaration of independence? Yet, it is based on no more than a half-truth. Nevertheless, if this were the case the ill results of neediness from sleep would tend to accumulate and hence become more evident after such deprivation had consumed for a number of years.

It is true that every man has a duty, not to speak of a right, to live by his own lights. No man was meant to be a duplicate of another, or echo someone else’s voice. The Creator made each of us a distinctive person, with a mind of his own. Presumably, He wanted us to live by it, to justify making us what we are. Yet, our life is not entirely our own, and we do not have an unqualified right to do what we please. Our parents, our friends, our society too, have all made investments in us, and what we do makes a difference to them! We are obliged to consider whether we are conserving or dissipating their investments.

The greatest investor in our lives is God, Who conferred existence upon us, and who endowed us with potentialities waiting to be awakened by us to active life. The Creator’s work is never without a purpose, so there is then a goal, a commitment to which our lives are charged. A man may refuse to pay his bills, but a record exists. A charge is entered against every name and we are all in duty bound to redeem our outstanding obligations.

It strengthens your purpose to stick with your resolve not to do harm again. As if, happiness is somewhat reciprocally, symmetrical to desire. It has been suggested that only such tests should be used which all-normal persons without exclusion can fulfill (Zhen). American Psychologist Lorne Ladner writes in his The Lost Art of Compassion,

We all naturally want to be happy. However, …. when we approach life in a self-centred way, focusing primarily on our own protection, security, possessions and well-being, happiness always eludes us. Seeking happiness in this way unintentionally but inevitably leads to insecurity loneliness, neediness and misery. By contrast, when our approach to life is base on love, empathy and compassion for others, happiness flows to us in an ever-increasing stream. ….

Many people agree that compassion, like … charity, is a good thing. However, people are so in the habit of seeking happiness outside themselves that it’s extremely rare for anyone to even consider taking this idea literally—which is how it’s intended—and experiment with cultivating compassion as the main path to happiness in their lives.

Inspiration Comes Only from Reverence Toward the Achievements of God

Reverence Toward the Achievements of God Would not this involve immense strength to effect? Similar is the force that the muscles of the arm wield in raising the whole length of the arm, and the weight of the hand beside. To fortify their case, they also sought through all uncommitted project documents and data files, many of which recognize from the days when computers relied on punch cards for data entry and stored data on nine-track tape.

If everyone else around us is consuming material things and giving in to craving, it is more hard to maintain our mindful awareness. In less than a century, it had entirely lost those traces left by the shoes of George Washington. Trying to cut a three-iron around a tree, he alternatively deinked its trunk, the ball rolling back at him, scoffing.

Manifestly, imagining the pleasure they would feel from humoring in an unavailable enticement distracted the children even more than cognitively restructuring the way they thought about the enticement before them.

The ability of newborns to imbibe everything around them straightaway dictates the intention of a particular environment for them in the hospitals. My intuition is that self-knowledge and experience play a theatrical role in reconciling happiness vs. meaning, short-term versus long-term.

“My life is not my own.” It is a trust for which I am responsible. I have no right to do with it as I please, but I am under an obligation to discharge the terms of the trust.

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Best Practices for Managing Remote Employees

Virtual Team Management

Virtual Team Management As managers seek ways to cut costs, increase revenue and spark innovation, and employees strive for a better work-life balance, a mutually beneficial solution—telecommuting—is on the rise. In the U.S. alone, there are 28 million telecommuters, expected to double to 50 million by 2005.

To benefit, remote workers need the right tools to connect with colleagues, applications, and information. When telecommuters feel isolated, they become disconnected from current priorities and miss opportunities to contribute to their highest potential.

Afore undergoing its last earthly transformation, the external covering of the virtual team management, from the moment of its conception as an virtual team, passes in turn, once more, through the phases of the several companies.

The solution that addresses the challenge is a virtual e-workplace that provides employees with access to information and a broad set of Internet-based collaborative technologies, such as e-meetings, e-learning, and instant messaging designed to make them more nimble.

Ways to Successfully Manage Virtual Teams

Ways to Successfully Manage Virtual Teams An e-workplace provides users with a single point of access for the right technology tools to immediately access information, collaborate with colleagues, and participate in online training courses to improve skills. Virtual employees can streamline work by accessing information customized for their roles. For example, a salesperson might need access to information on products, customers, and competitors and connect with people who can address customer issues, provide expertise, or share best practices.

Another example is eHR. Integrating eHR capabilities into your e-workplace enables remote workers to attend to personal needs, such as understanding their health care benefit options, without having to speak with an HR professional. An e-workplace bolsters efficiencies and provides more flexibility. When they have left the countries to which their doctrines were unacceptable, and established themselves in a remote corner of the earth, this is neither possible nor desirable.

Building and Managing Virtual Teams that Work

Building and Managing Virtual Teams that Work Many organizations have an intranet in place. Large businesses can have as many as 300 to 10,000 intranet pages, each with their own look and feel and navigational construct. In this case, employees lose productivity searching for information. By consolidating these pages into one e-workplace and integrating team-based technology solutions, productivity and the quality of communication can skyrocket.

With team-based technologies, users, and remote workers can instantly form virtual teams and collaborate on the fly right from the intranet to respond to market changes. For example, if your intranet includes a corporate directory with connections into team-based technologies, users can rapidly find colleagues with a certain expertise and see where they fit. Aware of this context, the user can initiate contact through appropriate channels. These are not questions of liberty, and are connected with that subject only by remote tendencies; but they are questions of development.

For example, the user can see if the expert is online, click on the expert’s name, and instantly contact him or her via an instant message or in an e-meeting. The user could also create a virtual team room and invite the expert to comment on documents created and posted within the team room. Without an integrated e-workplace program, employees must navigate on their own to find expertise.

By giving people access to the information and experts they need at their fingertips, an e-workplace enables remote workers to be more productive, maintain their competitive edge, and respond quickly and accurately to demands from customers and partners.

IBM, for example, has achieved big benefits from its e-workplace program. The intranet has helped us to cut costs, saving an average of $10,000 per employee who goes “mobile,” meaning they give up their dedicated office space. In addition, employees conduct more than 8,000 e-meetings per month, saving us about $50 million per year in reclaimed travel and productivity costs.

Must-Know Strategies for Managing Virtual Teams

Must-Know Strategies for Managing Virtual Teams e-Workplaces increase collaboration among virtual teams. IBM’s e-workplace allows me to bring in the right expertise, regardless of their location.

As a manager of a remote team, you need to measure people based on their accomplishments and deliverables. Support their activities by ensuring that they have what they need to succeed.

Here are four guidelines:

  • Establish a purpose. Ensure that each virtual team member has a defined purpose and objectives against which they will be measured. When remote workers have goals and incentives for reaching those goals, they are more motivated and productive. Create a training schedule for your e-learning program, so that people are learning new skills.
  • Measure the output, not the process. Virtual teams are more structured than teams located in the same office. Since face-to-face meetings are not practical, you must adopt other ways to communicate and seek approvals. Managers of virtual teams should create a culture of trust, be available through instant messaging for quick questions, hold conference calls to identify when a project is off track, and make use of instant messaging, e-meetings, and team workspaces. Focus on output, not hours.
  • Balance between virtual and face-to-face meetings. While e-meetings are great for keeping up with progress, they are not so great for team building. Face-to-face meetings, for example, are important for brainstorming sessions, building trust, and getting to know each other. Schedule face-to-face gatherings quarterly to foster team building, rapport, and communication among team members.
  • Use presence awareness to show your virtual office door is open. Presence awareness technology embedded in an e-workplace will let your reports know when you are available to discuss progress, answer a quick question, or to chat about their concerns. It can also alert your staff if you are online via a mobile phone, so they know to keep messages short or call on the phone.

Managing the Virtual Team

Managing the Virtual Team Virtual teaming and telecommuting are necessary responses to our global economy. People are able to grasp the strength of the emotion out of which alone such work, remote as it is from the immediate realities of life, can issue. With an e-workplace, people can interact with more colleagues, break down barriers, respond more rapidly to customers, make decisions faster, and be more productive.

By placing the desired behavior along the path of least resistance, we turn it into the behavior we’re most likely to repeat. And the more we repeat it, the more likely it is to become a habit, and the less and less we need it to lie along the path of least resistance.

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Posted in Education and Career Management and Leadership

Achieve Positive Outcomes Through Engaging Decisions

Decision making is the navigation system of choice for determined people and organizations. The word ‘ambitious’ is chosen intentionally.

Leaders often must wait to see the results of their decisions. Should they judge all decisions by outcomes? No.

Leaders need not wait for the results to measure their decision-making effectiveness. Instead, they ought to examine the process that they employ to make critical choices. By appraising the decision process in real time, as they make choices, they raise the odds of making sound choices.

Achieve Positive Outcomes Through Engaging Decisions Think about a decision that you and your team are trying to make. Do you considered multiple alternatives? Do you surface and test your assumptions carefully? Do rebellious views appear during your deliberations, and do you give those ideas proper consideration? Are you fostering high commitment and shared understanding among those who will implement the decision? A quality decision-making process tends to enhance the probability of achieving positive outcomes.

Good process does not simply mean sound analytics (the best use of the latest strategy framework or quantitative financial evaluation technique). Good process entails the astute management of the social, political, and emotional aspects of decision-making as well. An effective leader does not just produce positive results by pondering in on the content of critical choices in a wise and thoughtful manner; he also shapes and influences how those decisions are made.

A decision made before a problem has been solved (an ‘early decision’) is likely to fail. Leaders can augment the quality of their decisions in two ways:

  • Constructive Conflict. Leaders must cultivate constructive conflict to enhance critical and divergent thinking, while building consensus so as to facilitate the opportune implementation of their choices. Managing the tension between conflict and consensus is a challenge. Consensus is not unanimity, like-mindedness, or pervasive agreement. Instead, it’s a high commitment and shared understanding among the people involved in the decision. Leaders can build buy-in and collective comprehension without appeasing everyone on their teams or making decisions by majority vote.
  • Decide How to Decide. Assess who should be involved in the deliberations, what interpersonal climate you want to foster, how individuals should communicate with one another, and the extent and type of control that the leader will exert. Leaders have several levers that they can employ to design more effective decision-making processes and to shape how they unfold over time. Leaders should be directive when it comes to influencing the way in which decisions are made in their groups without trying to dominate or micromanage the discussion and evaluation. Deciding how to decide enhances the probability of managing conflict and consensus effectively.

Leaders must strive for a balance of assertiveness and restraint. The question is not whether they should be vigorous and directive as they make strategic choices, but how they ought to wield their influence.

To make the most of the expertise and ideas that other members possess, leaders need to refrain from pronouncing their solution to a problem, before giving others a chance to offer their perspectives. They must acknowledge that they do not have all the answers, and that their initial insight may be incorrect. Their behavior, principally at the outset of a decision process, can encourage others to act deferentially. Even the best choices mean little if interdependent units won’t cooperate to execute the decision.

By exercising restraint, leaders recognize that their knowledge in a particular domain is often imprecise and incomplete. Undemonstrative leaders constantly search and explore for new knowledge, rather than seek the data and opinions that confirm their opinions.

Reflect on past choices and scrutinize how you make decisions. Experiment to enhance your odds of making sound choices, and solicit others who will devotedly execute your plans.

Decision planning can be significantly enhanced by using a team, and in companies and organizations there is no choice.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Leadership Development Program Metrics: Use Measures That Work for You

We are inundated with many different approaches for measuring learning and development. Many smart people are measuring numerous aspects associated with learning, and it works for their companies. But is it right for you?

Leadership Development Program Metrics Suppose you attend a conference and get excited about one method, then another. They all sound great. You can’t contain your passion so fly back to the office to share all of the cool measures. But the organization does not show the same enthusiasm for the new measures and you’re fired.

Let’s replay this scenario to get a better ending. Imagine that you have some key questions to help you determine which measures would most impact your company? What might those questions be? Try these:

  • What measures are used to make decisions in your operation and culture?
  • Why does your Corporate University measure? Is it to improve the learner’s experience? Or workforce capability? Is it to improve the University’s products? Is it to improve the logistics of electronic or classroom delivery? Is it to determine the strategic direction of the University? Is it to evaluate the performance of your partners, suppliers, vendors? Is it to develop the talent in your University? Is it to guide the financial aspect of your University? Measure ROI? Is to monitor resource loading, etc., for planning purposes? Is it to justify the University’s value? Is it to provide audit evidence for ISO, TL, QS, SEI, or Baldrige? Is it to comply with what someone told you to?
  • What is needed in the areas you wish to measure? What problems are you trying to solve? Most likely you can’t measure everything. Use whatever quantitative or qualitative data you have to pick a focus.
  • What unit of measure and what source of the data will be meaningful or convincing to your audience? Don’t guess. Find out.
  • How might the audience interpret the data that results from the measure? What results might be seen as “good” vs “bad”?
  • How might the audience use the data? How do you want it to be used? How might you influence its use?
  • What data already exists in the company that might be leveraged? Who is using that data today? For what purpose are people using that data today?
  • Measuring Leadership Development Program Effectiveness How might the audience wish to see the data presented? When? Where?
  • What company initiatives with strong management support might you join in on to provide a relevant learning measure?
  • If the measure will require funding (new system, IT upgrade) is there a senior sponsor who can provide such funding?
  • What is the appetite of your audience for measures? You may need to throttle back or forward depending on this.

Every time someone speaks about a measure that works for their University that is consistent with what is important in their culture and with their day-to-day decision-making operations, we tend to focus our questions on the mechanics of the measure. You might ask those speaking about measurements, “Why did you select that measure?” You might follow-up with some of the above questions or new ones. Using a question-bank will stimulate you to think of more and better questions!

Understanding the thought process behind the measures selection and implementation will help you to understand whether the measure is right measure for your University and company. With so many measures and so little time, you need to know: what are the key few measures that will provide the most impact?

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Posted in Management and Leadership

The Divine Source of All Life

The Divine Source of All Life

Everything is Ordained by God’s Providence

The Divine Source of All Life The water that runs through the faucet does not originate in it. The faucet is only the last link in a channel through which it flows into my home. My life is like that too.

I conceive thoughts. I am inspired by visions. I commit my energies to tasks of one kind or another. However, none of these originates in me. There is a spring out of which wells forth in unending abundance the physical and spiritual power that motivates the universe. We do not initiate the will, the purpose, the direction of the underlying scheme of life on earth, but we are its instruments, who are given some opportunity to cooperate with the world’s purpose, and to implement it. My muscle and my brain are the final links in a channel that draws its precious elements from the divine source of all life.

The literal test of friendly relationship is: Can you literally do nothing with the other person? Can you relish together those moments of life that are absolutely simple? They are the moment’s people looks back on at the end of life and number as their most sanctified experiences.

Shall the faucet complain that it can contain only a tiny quantity of water? Shall I complain that only a tiny portion of life’s assets resides in me? The abundance does not have to be in the faucet, nor does it have to be in me. There is an unending fountain from which more will flow, and it will reach me when I am ready for it.

And this was known to the ancients, for lactations assures us, that a globe filled with water, would arouse a fire even in the thick of winter, which he thought still the more surprising.

God’s Providence Moves to Achieve the Designs it Has for Man

Our reliance upon providence As long as we are caught up in incessantly looking for certainty and happiness, rather than honoring the taste and smell and quality of exactly what is happening, as long as we are always running away from uncomfortableness, we are going to be caught in a wheel of unhappiness and disappointment, and we will feel weaker and weaker.

These concerns were found upon institutionally held spiritual convictions. It is no surprise, then, as the great masters have pointed out, that to uphold mindfulness for as long as it takes to drink a cup of tea accumulates more merit than years of practicing generousness, discipline, and austerity. The most valuable things in life are not measured in pecuniary terms. The genuinely important things are not houses and lands, stocks and bonds, automobiles and real estate, but friendships, trust, confidence, empathy, mercy, love and faith. Discussing the stoics, the Swiss-born British author and philosopher Alain de Botton once wrote,

“Stoicism” was a philosophy that flourished for some 400 years in Ancient Greece and Rome, gaining widespread support among all classes of society. It had one overwhelming and highly practical ambition: to teach people how to be calm and brave in the face of overwhelming anxiety and pain.

We still honour this school whenever we call someone “stoic” or plain “philosophical” when fate turns against them: when they lose their keys, are humiliated at work, rejected in love or disgraced in society. Of all philosophies, Stoicism remains perhaps the most immediately relevant and useful for our uncertain and panicky times.

Many hundreds of philosophers practiced Stoicism but two figures stand out as our best guides to it: the Roman politician, writer and tutor to Nero, Seneca [4–65 CE]; and the kind and magnanimous Roman Emperor (who philosophised in his spare time while fighting the Germanic hordes on the edges of the Empire), Marcus Aurelius [121–180 CE]. Their works remain highly readable and deeply consoling, ideal for sleepless nights, those breeding grounds for runaway terrors and paranoia.

The same holds true in the unnatural classes; the greater the reason, the more unmanageable it is to discover the lie. Out of these two tendencies flow good and evil, which thus reside, in variable measure, to be sure, in every individual as part of his indigenous equipment for life? Hot air is reckoned exceedingly prejudicial to health. We can domesticate the energy of mindfulness while we walk, while we respire, while we work, while we wash the dishes or wash our clothes. In addition, you have to interpret the history to really understand the ethnic implication. For this reason, comedy is not easily transferred from one age or country to another. They came to a street without corner and turned right. Many, like the mine countermeasures undertaking, still had a long way to gothic was high-tech stuff that required lots of research and development.

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Posted in Faith and Religion

Universe is Built Out of Four Natural Elements

A 15th-century illustration of Christ surrounded by the four natural elements

Empedocles introduced the theory that the universe is built out of four natural elements.

In his poem On Nature (c. 450 BCE), Greek poet Empedocles (c. 490-430 BCE) called upon a set of gods to represent the elements of his own cosmology. The notion that everything in existence is composed of earth, air, fire, and water, or a combination of these four elements, was borrowed from the ancient Babylonian creation myth, Enuma Elish (c. 1800 BCE), in which the universe emerges from conflicts between gods, each of whom represent some element or force of nature.

Empedocles was seeking what is now often referred to as a “unified field theory,” a theory capable of providing the groundwork for the explanation of any given natural phenomenon. The strategy he inherited from his intellectual predecessors, such as Thales and Anaximenes (who were themselves influenced by the Babylonian myth), was to attempt to identify the most basic ingredient, or ingredients, of the universe.

In the late sixth century BCE, Thales had believed that ingredient to be water. Later, Anaximenes argued that water was too fundamentally different from certain natural phenomena (like fire) for it to be the basic ingredient of the universe. Instead, he proposed that air was the basic ingredient. Empedocles, however, saw no way to explain the vast array of natural phenomena without introducing a total of four basic ingredients: earth, air, fire, and water. These elements were what Empedocles referred to as “the four roots.”

Aristotle (384-322 BCE) added a fifth element, aether. Medieval scholars learned of Empedocles’s notion of the four elements via Aristotle, and Empedocles’s cosmological theory dominated science until the seventeenth century. Although forms of atomism emerged as early as the fifth century BCE, it was not until the work of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) and Robert Boyle (1627-91) gained a hold that the four elements were replaced by the atom (or something pretty close) as the foundation of the universe.

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

A detail from Ambrogio Lorenzetti's fresco Bad Government and the Effects of Bad Government on the City Life (1337-39), located in the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, Italy.

Plato initiated the view that possession of absolute power inevitably has a corrupting effect.

Probably the most ancient expression of the idea that power has a corruptive effect appears in the parable of the Ring of Gyges in The Republic (c. 360 BCE) by Plato (c. 424-c. 348 BCE). In the parable, the otherwise virtuous Gyges indulges in corrupt behavior after finding a magic ring that renders him invisible.

However, the maxim “absolute power corrupts absolutely” originates much later, being a paraphrase of a letter written by Sir John Dalberg-Acton (1834–1902), a British Catholic historian better known as Lord Acton, to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887. Acton scolds Creighton in the letter for his suggestion, in previous correspondence, that the pope, king, or any other person holding comparably high station ought to be judged according to standards different to those applied to common men. Acton argues that, quite to the contrary, “Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

British politician and historian Lord John Dalberg-Acton The British politician and historian Lord John Dalberg-Acton famously wrote in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton (1887):

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. That is the point at which … the end learns to justify the means.

Acton, however, followed at least two distinguished persons in associating power with corruption: in a speech that was delivered in the British House of Commons in 1770, Prime Minister William Pitt, Earl of Chatham (1708–78), had claimed that, “Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it; and this I know, my Lords, that where law ends, tyranny beginsl” Acton’s observation was also anticipated by French writer, poet, and politician Alphonse Marie Louis de Prat de Lamartine (1790– 1869), who, in his essay France and England: a Vision of the Future (1848), had claimed “It is not only the slave or serf who is ameliorated in becoming free … the master himself did not gain less in every point of view .. for absolute power corrupts the best natures.” Acton, too, believed that few could resist power’s corrupting effect, asserting, “Great men are almost always bad men.”

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Posted in Mental Models and Psychology

Five Tools & Techniques for Performance Improvement

Five Tools & Techniques for Performance Improvement If you are witnessing unhappy customers, uninformed employees, and mounting chaos in your company, you are experiencing a performance gap—the difference between the outcomes you expect and what you are getting. With today’s pressure for results, you’ll need fast, simple tools to close your performance gap. By applying such tools, you can reap big paybacks in the form of steady gains.

By performance improvement, I mean more revenue, lower costs, and more done in less time with fewer resources. Flexibility is needed to adapt to changing demands and to devise innovative methods for improving productivity and service quality. Customers who get more than they expect then tell their friends, and keep coming back.

Key to performance improvement are people who produce more with better information, greater clarity, and less interference. A performance improvement project is a related group of tasks resulting in measurable improvement. Most successful changes “bubble up” from the bottom. Building one by one may be more effective than a large-scale, top-down strategy. Investing in employee education is an important signal that the organization is committed to the personal growth of everyone on the team.

Already energetic characters on any large scale are becoming merely traditional. Improvement in the means of communication promotes it, by bringing the inhabitants of distant places into personal contact, and keeping up a rapid flow of changes of residence between one place and another. Not only that, but the best answer often changes over time.

Five Tools to Improve Employee Engagement and Performance

So here are five tips for how to accelerate your performance and reach your own peak sooner. Five tools will lead to desirable results and help you get to the right place:

  1. Measurable outcomes. This involves reliable measures such as revenue, cost, time, quality, and customer satisfaction. By documenting measures before, during, and after the project, you can gauge success. Qualitative measures must translate into observable behavior. Develop clear statements of what that measure means and specific actions needed to attain the goal. Know who will be affected and how, as well as what will improve, and by how much.
  2. Your plan. Write an airtight description of your project’s boundaries, benefits, costs, and risks—then name those accountable for results. For each task, you’ll perform five actions: complete, approve, support, consult with, and inform. Specify the person associated with each action. The faster you produce your desired outcome, the easier you will build momentum.

Measurable outcomes Improve Employee Engagement and Performance

  • Effective problem analysis of the selected performance. Break the problem down into smaller, simpler pieces, looking for a pattern. Formulate and test theories. Observe and collect data until you figure out what is going on and why. Don’t throw resources at your problem in a vain attempt to solve it by sheer luck. Avoid wasteful spending on training, software, and experts—the three sinkholes. A problem well defined is 75 percent solved! In some cases you are not dealing with a problem, but an unrealized opportunity to impact the organization.
  1. A reliable feedback system. People want to know what and how well they are doing. You could set up simple charts, one for each success indicator. Depict progress and downplay minor setbacks. Cumulative measures, for instance, may be better than daily, weekly, or monthly ones. Exchange feedback during one-on-one conversations, informal chats, and small-group meetings. Inspire confidence early and adjust as you go along.
  2. A system for collecting and applying what you learn about performance improvement. Know-how (in-house talent) is far better than “show-how” (pricey experts). Conduct an after-action review to convert real-time learning into practical knowledge. Work through answers to questions about what should and did happen during an event.

Techniques Used to Improve Employee Performance

Tips for Employee Performance Improvement Quickly build and transfer skills, so participants can see benefits right away. The tasks that find their way to the bottom are the ones that you should eliminate altogether. But too often we say it with a sigh, like it’s a sentence—or we’re a victim. It can easily become pessimistic, and nothing will kill your creativity, job performance, or relationships like going negative.

If the diagnosis of performance anxiety is correct, it’s astonishing how often paradoxical intervention works. This, even knowing as most of us do that facts and figures about past performance are often flawed indicators of future performance. With that kind of visibility and transparency in performance, it’s easy to call it the way you see it. Again, the combination of competitive insight and cost understanding drives efforts to reduce costs.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Participative Leadership to Reduce Resistance to Change

Participative Leadership to Reduce Resistance to Change Resistance to change is observed by many as their biggest problem today. Why? Because change is constant, and yet most people get stuck. People resist changes done to them, but they develop a sense of ownership on the ideas they generate. So, I share a simple approach to reducing resistance to change by generating participative involvement and team support for new initiatives. Many teams and organizations tend to operate like the team below:

  • The person in front symbolizes leadership or management—anyone focused forward. Leaders get insulated by their rope to the bumps and thumps of many realities of the journey. They work hard to pull the organization ahead. Their intentions are positive.
  • The people in back represent frontline employees and supervisors who can’t see far ahead and feel every bump in the road. They push but have to trust the leadership to steer. They have no “big picture” of where they (or the wagon) are headed, but do what is expected of them. They lack perception and vision. Intentions are positive.
  • The body of the wagon is well made and sturdy, much like the basic core of any organization. It will do the job for which it was designed. Its nature makes changing direction quite difficult, but it works like it always has. We find that identifying and celebrating early adopters of the behaviors a company wants to instill can create positive infectivity.
  • The Square Wheels represent the traditions, the way things have always been done, systems and techniques to respond to quality and service initiatives, or other relevant issues to the group. They may also represent interdepartmental conflicts. They increase costs of doing business and are inefficient and ineffective.
  • The Round Wheels represent new ideas for innovation or improvement, coming from within the organization. Top management makes public the factors on which it will judge the team’s performance and how that evaluation fits into the company’s regular appraisal process.
  • Customers generally ride on the wagon, being aware of the thumps and bumps of the journey forward but often unaware of the specific causes. Often, they encounter policies and procedures that are not customer oriented. Occasionally, they may feel like they are under the wheels!

Companies make the mistake of worrying mostly about the time it will take to implement change programs. They assume that the longer an proposal carries on, the more likely it is to fail.

Nothing Happens Without a Readiness to Change

Nothing Happens Without a Readiness to Change A great deal has been said about middle managers who want to block change. We find that most middle managers are prepared to support change efforts even if doing so involves additional work and uncertainty and puts their jobs at risk.

On the whole, the visions about the journey forward are difficult to communicate effectively to everyone, and changing direction is hard. Yet continued motivation is necessary to keep pushing forward, and people must trust the leadership to lead the way. After approaching for a long time, however, people in the back may lose interest in where the organization is going or needs to go and become resigned to the Square Wheels. The organization crashes along, and most know it. In the process, we exposed a provocative lens and language to help change managers better understand their mission and methods. When I share this illustration with people, I hear such comments as:

  • Communication between pullers and pushers is difficult. The process of exploring one’s communication styles, behavior and fundamental aims in life is a overwhelming task for most people.
  • Shared vision is crucial. It is very interesting to observe that the essential role of a leader when progressing a shared vision is one of unselfish motives.
  • It’s difficult to change direction. It suggests that the configuration established by cooperation is an effective way to accomplish our goals on a fast-paced world.
  • Teamwork, trust, motivation, and collaboration are needed. Leaders can help people throughout the organization expound systemic comprehensions.
  • Measuring progress is part of individual and team motivation. Progress that is observable tends to be explicit, teachable, autonomous, attachable, it also easy for challengers to reproduce.
  • Issues of cost, productivity and quality are always present. A shared vision is fundamental on the productivity of any business where a leader has so many individuals and groups to attend to in a transparent and selfless manner.
  • Progress is generally not about people—it is about systems and processes. Every organization creates and uses this information. The dispute is that few seem to essentially learn how to manage it, apply it, mature through it and use it successfully.
  • Poor systems are like bumps that demotivate those trying to move ahead. On the other hand, when regarded in systems terms immediate improvements often comprise very substantial long-term costs.
  • Ideas for improvement always exist already within the wagon. Those actions comforted employees that the organization would challenge the layoffs in a professional and humanitarian fashion.

Another reality is that the round wheels of today become the square wheels of tomorrow. Improvement is about continuous improvement, since change is a continuous event—you can’t complete a change initiative.

Probability of Leadership Change Management

Probability of Leadership Change Management There are four things that successful change leaders do well. The probability of change is related to four factors:

  1. The current level of discomfort with the way things are now. This is all about people feeling that things could be different. If they are not satisfied, they are likely to change. If something gets acknowledged as a Square Wheel and not working properly, a Round Wheel possibility likely exists for making an improvement.
  2. The attractiveness of the vision of the future. This one is all about motivation and teamwork. The view from the front of the wagon is different than the view from the back; and apprehending goals and expectations will reduce resistance to change. If the vision is engaging, it is attracting. Making the vision more attractive is straightforward.
  3. The person’s or group’s previous success with change. If the last time people tried to change they felt successful and rewarded, they will repeat the behavior. What gets rewarded gets repeated. But if the most recent attempt was met with criticism and negative comments, they likely won’t be interested in trying again. The same thing happens with team-based initiatives.
  4. The peer or workgroup support for the change. Obviously, if others are supportive, it puts positive peer pressure on an individual to change. But, sadly, most organizations have a tendency to add “mud” to the journey of most teams, bogging things down and making progress even harder for teams struggling forward. The mud can be the bureaucracy, politics, measurement systems that don’t support the goals and expectations—any form of glop that hampers people and clogs systems.

Successful change leaders embrace these tensions even though they make the challenge more complex. This meant nothing short of building new organizational capabilities based upon collaboration and client-first thinking, which not only meant developing new systems and processes but building a collective mindset that would make aspiring to being a one-company culture a reality.

Enlisting People in Change Initiatives

Enlisting People in Change Initiatives So what do we do? Well, let me suggest a couple of simple scenarios.

The first idea is this: Get out of the ditch and get up on the road. This is simpler than you might think. I ask people what things get in the way of making progress, let them brainstorm, perhaps even vent a little, then I ask if there are any incomparable Mud Managers out there. This reframe causes people to consider what others in the workplace are already doing differently and what underlies high performance in an environment where there are two feet of ditch for every foot of road. Invariably, people can generate ideas that are already proven to work. It is not about inventing new ways of doing things as much as it is about identifying ideas and then doing something differently. This increased managers’ understanding of business conditions and boosted employee engagement—and sales rose.

Where you can go from here is a bit surprising: Roll your wagon backwards! Because you have begun to generate a little partner support, you increase the likelihood of change. Now, you should work with the group to generate a list of possible Square Wheels—things that work but that do not work smoothly.

After playing with these themes and asking about “mud,” generate a list of possible issues to address: things that do not work smoothly. Set the stage for some possibility thinking. Get a long list, but resist the tendency to straightaway start fixing things. A week or so later, select one of the Square Wheels and generate some possible Round Wheels to try.

The Hard Aspects of Change Management

The Hard Aspects of Change Management Let your team do the thinking—you focus on maintaining the focus. Paint a picture of what will be different if a few Round Wheels are implemented. You are creating some uneasiness with the way things are now as people discuss the things that can be improved and suggest ideas that they could try to make things work more smoothly. Corporations will always require a hierarchy, but peer role models can successfully lead projects within a change initiative.

You create a higher likelihood of change because people become less comfortable with the way things are and create an alternative shared vision of the future. They build on some feelings of previous success and they work together, as a group, to make things better. Celebrating the reversal of a relapse can help desired behaviors regain momentum.

Participative leadership can reduce opposition to change. Managing change is tough, but part of the problem is that there is little agreement on what factors most influence transformation initiatives. Visionary leadership is often vital for change projects, but not always.

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