8 Steps to Jumpstarting a Truth-telling Workplace Culture

Greatleaders hipbydan - Tue, 01/08/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Jim Haudan and Rich Behrens:
What do a water cooler, bathroom, and hallway all have in common?
These are three places in the workplace where people feel “safe” to tell the truth.
Many leaders believe that their people feel safe in telling them what they think and feel. But this is a misconception—or a blind spot, as we call it in our book, What Are Your Blind Spots? Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back
Consider these stats: the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that people’s trust of their CEO, and CEOs in general, is at an all-time low. Sixty-three percent of survey respondents said CEOs are somewhat, or not at all, credible. That is 12 points lower than the previous year’s results. Clearly, the trend of not being candid with higher-ups is becoming worse, rather than better.
Why? People don’t feel safe telling the truth because they don’t think it is smart or safe to do so. Many leaders believe that to be effective and successful, they need to be smarter than the next guy, fight for their area of the business, and not show vulnerability. This mentality creates a lack of trust, collaboration, and common ownership for a greater goal—and ultimately greatly slows down execution speed.
We can’t overstate the impact that truth telling can have on the engagement, optimism, and hope people feel about their organization and their team. Truth telling makes all the difference if you want your teams to successfully work together.
So, how can leaders tell if their people feel safe telling the truth? Try this quick 45-minute activity. We call it “Walls of Greatness and Reality,” and the activity begins with a discussion of what we are good at, and then moves to what we are not so good at.
Follow the steps below to complete the activity:
1    1. Give each team member three or four large sticky notes. Ask each of the members to write down one item per note that is great about the team, and how it has worked together and executed in the past 12 months.
2.    Have the team members place each of these on an open wall space and start to “affinity-group” them. Line up the various notes that fit under the same theme. You should end up with numerous vertical rows of key themes.
3.    Have team members alternate reading all the notes aloud, providing any commentary they see fit. At the end, ask the group for the story that describes what the team is great at. Capture the “Wall of Greatness” story on a flipchart.
4.    Repeat the activity by giving everyone another three or four large sticky notes and ask each person to write down where “we are creatively dissatisfied with the current state of our business”, related to marketplace, strategy, operating model, culture, or behaviors.
5.    Place these notes on a different space on the wall. Repeat the activity of affinity-grouping the notes and reading the vertical columns aloud, with the team standing in front of the wall.
6.    Ask the team members to put a check mark by the three issues they each believe are most relevant and represent the greatest opportunity for the team.
7.    Identify the two or three key themes that emerge from the group.
8.    Ask the following questions:a.    Why do you think these realities exist? b.    How have we helped create these realities? c.    How have we personally benefited from these realities? d.    What can we do to make sure our Wall of Reality looks different six months from now?
This activity can give leaders quick insight into how comfortable their teams are in talking about difficult issues, while jumpstarting the truth-telling culture.
Establishing a culture of truth telling is hard. It requires leaders to be vulnerable and to be open to hearing things they may not want to hear. But truth is a critical blind spot that can create an environment of poor decision making mixed with a significant lack of trust and disengagement in your organization.
If leaders don’t make the effort to allow truth to guide teams, the true problems of an organization and the best ideas of employees will remain buried in the hearts and minds of their people.
So, leaders: let your employees speak candidly and you will have an organization that soars.
Jim Haudan is Co-Founder and Chairman of Root Inc., the organizational change expert on helping companies create leadership alignment, execute strategies and change successfully, build employee engagement, and transform businesses. Rich Berens is CEO and Chief Client Fanatic of Root Inc., and has helped align leaders at Global 2000 organizations to drive strategic and cultural change at scale. Jim and Rich are authors of What Are Your Blind Spots? Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back, published by Berrett-Koehler and released in October 2018.
Categories: Blogs

Employee Burnout: 5 Organizational Programs That Can Reduce It

Hr Bartender - Tue, 01/08/2019 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by Concordia University, St. Paul (CSP). Become a more effective HR professional with an with an online Bachelors in HR or an online Masters in HR. CSP offers small class sizes with a personal learning environment geared toward your success and knowledgeable faculty who have industry experience. Enjoy the post!)

Nearly half of HR leaders say that employee burnout is responsible for up to 50 percent of the company’s turnover, according to a survey from Kronos Incorporated. In addition, ninety-five percent (95%) say employee burnout is sabotaging workforce retention. Think about that for a moment, not only is burnout a cause of turnover, but it’s an obstacle to retention. We know what that means. The area between retention and turnover is disengagement. 

“Employee burnout has reached epidemic proportions,” said Charlie DeWitt, vice president of business development at Kronos. “While many organizations take steps to manage employee fatigue, there are far fewer efforts to proactively manage burnout. Not only can employee burnout sap productivity and fuel absenteeism but, as this survey shows, it will undermine engagement and cause an organization’s top performers to leave the business altogether. This creates a never-ending cycle of disruption.”

Unfortunately, there may not be a simple solution to employee burnout, but many factors contributing to it are within the organization’s control.

What is Employee Burnout?

According to World Psychiatry, employee burnout is a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job. The response has three key dimensions: overwhelming exhaustion,feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, andasense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.

It’s important to realize that employee burnout is not typically the result of a single factor, such as working too many hours or having a demanding boss. Employee burnout has complex causes, which is why it’s so costly to individuals and organizations. 

The Five Domains of Employee Burnout 

There are several organizational risk factors for employee burnout, but five domains have been identified by researchers:

  1. Values are the ideals and motivations that originally attracted employees to the job. They motivate workers beyond money or advancement. A conflict between individual and organizational values forces a trade-off between work employees want to do and work they have to do.
  2. Work overload is (obviously) having too much work. When employees have work overload, it weakens the employee’s ability to meet performance goals and leaves little opportunity to rest and recover.
  3. Control and community become a factor when employees feel they don’t have an influence on decisions that impact them, their work, or their career. And that they don’t feel anyone cares. Employees aren’t looking for absolute control. They understand there’s an organizational hierarchy. But they do want to feel that they have a trusting community of supporters.
  4. Rewards and recognition show employees that they and their work are valued by the organization. The rewards and recognition can be financial, institutional, social, or a combinationof all three. While rewards and recognition are always important, they are especially so when employees have a lot of work to complete (See #2).
  5. Fairness refers to work decisions being perceived as fair and equitable. Employees tend to gauge their value on the quality of procedures and their own treatment during the decision-making progress. Not being respected can lead to cynicism, anger, and hostility.
Employee Burnout: The (Negative) Business Outcomes

Employee burnout can negatively impact workers and organizations in three areas: employees, teams, and organizations. 

Employee burnout contributes to poor health. Physical exhaustion is the most predictive variable of stress-related health outcomes and is linked to symptoms like headaches, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, muscle tension, hypertension, cold/flu episodes, and sleep disturbances. 

Team dynamics are impacted when employees experience burnout. It is perpetuated through social interactions, personal conflict, work disruptions. Burnout causes negativity in working relationships. 

For organizations, employee burnout is linked to job dissatisfaction, low employee loyalty, absenteeism, disengagement, and turnover. Burnout makes it more likely for workers to leave the company, and those who stay tend to have impaired quality of work and lower productivity. 

5 Employee Programs That Can Help Reduce Burnout

To reduce burnout, organizations can implement programs that are directed at the major causes. According to human resources consulting firm Robert Half, here are five ways to enhance retention that could also assist in reducing employee burnout.

  1. Employee Compensation: In the Kronos survey, forty-one percent of respondents said that unfair compensation was the leading cause of employee burnout. Organizations can distinguish themselves in the job market and address burnout by offering competitive compensation and benefits packages.
  2. Training and Development: Professional development programs can help employees improve their skills, which benefits employees and organizations alike. It not only helps employees manage challenges but it’s a strong way to hire from within.
  3. Recognition and Rewards Systems: Organizations can demonstrate appreciation through a heartfelt email message, a gift card, or an extra day off. A small budget shouldn’t discourage managers from recognizing hard work.
  4. Work-life Balance: Flexible scheduling allows employees to arrive at work later than normal for personal reasons or following a late night of work. Another way to enhance work-life balance is with telecommuting. One study in Harvard Business Review found that remote workers were happier, less likely to quit, and more productive than their in-office peers.
  5. Mentorship Programs: More experienced employees can mentor colleagues to provide them with the guidance and resources they need. By using peers instead of work supervisors, employees can receive help in a less intimidating environment.
Make an Investment in Reducing Employee Burnout

Employee burnout is a multidimensional response to several risk factors. However, the complicated nature of employee burnout is not the reason it has become one of management’s biggest challenges. According to the Kronos survey, the reason that burnout is a major organizational issue is because organizations are not focused on enhancing retention. Approximately one in six survey respondents said that funding is the biggest obstacle in improving employee retention and engagement.

Which is surprising, because turnover in organizations is costly. Research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests that direct replacement costs can reach up to 60 percent of an employee’s annual salary, with total costs ranging to as much as from 200 percent of annual salary. Given the link between employee burnout and turnover, it’s time for organizations to invest in the employee experience and create programs that will help thrive.  

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Categories: Blogs

What’s Your Story?

Leadershipnow - Mon, 01/07/2019 - 01:03

WHAT GREAT LEADERS have in common is their ability to communicate and create meaning from their words. Much of that ability speaks to the ability to listen and read between the lines to develop an understanding with those you lead. Great stories begin with great listening. From there you can learn how to connect your perspective to theirs.

This is especially important today when ironically our ability to communicate in a meaningful way is deteriorating. The structures we used to have to develop that skill are diminished. Bursts of thought do not help to create the empathy we need to function effectively as a civilization. We don’t connect in bursts of thought but in shared stories. A good story can set the tone for a deeper connection and empathy for another’s perspective.

In a September 2018 interview with Fast Company magazine, Doris Kearns Goodwin talks about her book, Leadership: In Turbulent Times, and the ability of the four presidents she delved into to communicate through stories. Each of the presidents she portrays could help their audience see themselves in the future they were describing. A well-crafted story has the power to give the audience ownership of the idea that is woven into the story.

Goodwin is asked, “What’s the most important lesson that business leaders can take from these presidents?” If I were to pick one, it would be the ability to speak to audiences with stories. [Take] Abraham Lincoln: While we celebrate his beautiful language, his speeches really worked because they were filled with stories and illustration. He believed people remembered anecdotes better than facts and figures. When he was young, he would listen as his father and the people who would come by his little log cabin told stories. He’d go to bed at night and try to translate those stories into [his] words, so he could then go out on the field the next day, stand on a tree stump—he’s like eight, nine years old—and entertain his friends.

Each of these leaders was fortunate to live in a time when his particular kind of storytelling fit the age. Lincoln’s speeches were printed in full in newspapers; they could be read aloud all over the country. Teddy Roosevelt had this punchy way of speaking—“square deal,” “speak softly and carry a big stick”—that was perfect for the new newspaper age. FDR had the ideal voice for the radio age and a conversational, intimate style. People felt they were listening to him one-on-one. After he died, they felt they had lost a friend. Clarity, simplicity, humor—these people were experts.
Goodwin adds this about Theodore Roosevelt’s ability to relate—even today: What really interests me is thinking about which of these [presidents] would give a speech that would be relevant today. It would probably be Teddy Roosevelt. Think about where we were at the turn of the 20th century: The industrial revolution had shaken up the economy, immigrants were pouring in, cities were replacing towns. A gap was developing between the rich and the poor, and the social landscape was changing because of all these new inventions: the automobile, the telegraph, and the telephone. You had populist movements that called for restrictions on immigration, and the establishment worried about [giving] power to ordinary people.

Teddy was able to channel those emotions into positive, moderate reforms. Even his slogan would work today: “A square deal for the rich and the poor.” He was a fighter, but he understood that democracy would founder if people began to see each other as the other. He’d also be great at Twitter, with all his phrases: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” He’d be perfect at that.
Ryan Matthews and Watts Wacker begin their book, What’s Your Story? with this observation: “Long before the first formal business was established, before the first deal, the six most powerful words in any language were Let me tell you a story.

What’s your story?

* * *
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Categories: Blogs

Connect and Engage with Job Candidates Using These 5 Recruiting Strategies

Hr Bartender - Sun, 01/06/2019 - 02:57

Organizations spend hours sourcing applicants, reviewing qualifications, interviewing candidates, and internal discussions among the recruiting team. But one of the most important steps in the recruiting process is one some companies spend very little time doing – selection. When it comes time to evaluate and select a candidate, some hiring managers will spend minutes making a final decision on who to extend an offer to.

It only seems logical that candidates accept job offers from organizations they’re excited to work for. The question becomes, how do organizations create that excitement? The answer is by connecting and engaging with the candidate. Find ways to learn more about the candidate and vice versa. Connecting and engaging might seem like the same thing, but they’re not. Connecting means providing a way for communication to happen. Engaging is starting the dialogue.

It’s an important distinction because the way a candidate interacts with you during the interview process can help you evaluate how they will behave as an employee. For instance, if a candidate shows up for an interview and treats the company receptionist badly, what are the chances that they will treat customers badly? The good news is that in today’s technology driven business environment, we can connect and engage with candidates before ever interviewing them.

5 Recruiting Strategies for Connecting and Engaging with Candidates

Connecting and engaging with candidates isn’t a one-way activity. Remember that candidates are doing their own types of connecting and engaging activities to learn more about the organization. Here are five recruiting strategies to consider:

  1. Create a robust employee referral program. Current employees are “connectors”, meaning they can introduce a candidate and the company. The organization benefits from the recommendation from a current employee, who knows what it’s like to work there. Meanwhile, candidates can learn the inside scoop about the organization from those same employees. This recruiting tactic continues to provide the highest quality of hire at the best cost per hire.
  2. Develop a talent network. According to a CareerBuilder’s Candidate Behavior Study, sixty-four percent (64%) of candidates research a company before applying to a job posting. This doesn’t mean that a candidate will never apply, but instead companies need to realize that the decision for a candidate to apply could take some time. Building a talent network, a place where candidates can virtually ‘hang out’ before they’re ready to apply is a great way to promote their employment brand as well as engage.
  3. Maintain a social media presence. Speaking of promotion, some of a company’s social media interactions can happen via their talent network. The goal is to be where your candidates are. Organizations want to understand how candidates find out about them and their openings. The desired result in connecting and engaging with candidates is getting them to apply. So, using social media to stay top of mind keeps the company visible with active and passive job seekers.
  4. Consider collaborative hiring. HR and hiring managers do not have to be the only people connecting and engaging with candidates. Collaborative hiring allows organizations to build recruiting teams, that include not only HR and the hiring manager but also include key employees that the candidate would regularly interact with. There are many benefits to this approach, especially during onboarding. Candidates can build relationships with more employees before day one.  It also means that more employees have a vested interest in the candidate’s success. 
  5. Use technology strategically. All of these activities point to the need for organizations to use their recruiting technology strategically. Today’s recruiting technology solutions allow companies to connect and engage with candidates before they apply as well as during the hiring process. In addition, companies can stay in touch with former employees and applicants, who can be a source for employee referrals and (possibly) become boomerangs. 
Build Recruiting Strategies that Connect and Engage Candidates

To make the best hiring decisions, organizations need to take advantage of every opportunity they have to learn about the candidate, and not just their knowledge, skills, and abilities. Organizations want to know that a candidate is going to like the work and the company.

That’s why successful recruiting strategies involve connecting and engaging with candidates. Organizations can use their resources, including current employees and alumni, to build an effective recruiting community that will help them find the best talent. Because the greater the candidate engagement, the more likely they are to accept a job offer and become an engaged employee.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the Wynwood Wall Art District in Miami, FL

The post Connect and Engage with Job Candidates Using These 5 Recruiting Strategies appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

Give Employees Recognition and Rewards That Matter – Friday Distraction

Hr Bartender - Fri, 01/04/2019 - 02:57

This Time Well Spent from our friends at Kronos ran shortly before the holidays, but I thought the message was an important one to share even after the New Year. 

I’m sure 2019 is going to be a busy year. Every year seems to get busier than the last. Our calendars are full of meetings. We’re thinking about all of the goals we need to accomplish. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. The New Year can be exciting. But in all of the excitement, we can’t forget about recognition and rewards for employees and their hard work and efforts.

More importantly, we need to recognize and reward employees in a way that means something to them. Giving employees an “ugly sweater” is awesome if an employee wants an ugly sweater. Or lives someplace where they can use a sweater in general. 

Find out what motivates employees. There are plenty of opportunities to ask employees what matters to them. You can ask during the interview. Or maybe create an activity during orientation where employees make a personal user guide that includes how they prefer to be recognized. Another option is to straight up ask them during a one-on-one meeting. Whatever method you choose, don’t make assumptions that every employee values the same things.

Step out of your comfort zone. When it comes to recognition and rewards, managers should not expect employees to conform to the manager’s style. Managers need to deliver recognition in a way that is meaningful to the employee. Some employees appreciate public recognition. Others are mortified by it. In addition, if you’re a manager that prefers staying out of the spotlight, you might need to step into it to properly recognize an employee. 

Look for signs that the recognition or reward was valued. I will admit that sometimes employees say, “Oh boss, I just love this!” and the truth is they hate it. But the employee doesn’t want to hurt feelings. If you want to know if an employee values a gift – see if they use it. Or pay attention when they mention recognition. It could be a small indicator of something that an employee appreciates. 

We spend a lot of time talking about employee engagement and the employee experience. Recognition and rewards are big parts of it. And we’re not talking about big, expensive items. It could be as simple as “thank you”. But that thank you needs to be sincere and delivered in a meaningful way. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that employees aren’t going to engage with an organization where they’re not appreciated. Because they can go find a company that will. 

The post Give Employees Recognition and Rewards That Matter – Friday Distraction appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

What Habits Are You Building This Year? Here Are Mine (and What I’m Learning from Them)

Eblingroup - Thu, 01/03/2019 - 06:43

So, welcome to the first work day of 2019. By the time you read this, we may be into the third or fourth day or beyond, but as I write this, it’s January 2. And, by writing this, I am following through on one of the habits I set out for myself in my annual planning period between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. The particular habit I’m talking about is to write at least 500 words a day Monday through Friday in 2019.

Why am I setting that up as a habit for myself? It’s because I realized during my annual retreat with Diane (my all-star life and business partner) that I am better when I write regularly. (You can read our tips for how to do a great annual retreat here) I think more clearly and deeply. I’m more creative. I see patterns better. I learn more. I connect with more people more frequently. My 500 words can take the form of a blog post like this one. It could be an entry in my journal. It could be working on a longer essay or article or it could be taking notes as I brainstorm other ideas or projects.

Like a lot of people, I’m always looking for ways to manage myself more effectively (Manage Yourself is the first of three key leadership imperatives I address in the new 3rd edition of The Next Level.) With that in mind, some of the other habits I’m taking on this year include:

Reading more books: I’ve always been a voracious reader but I’ve noticed over the past couple of years that I’m spending too much time reading the news. That’s been a problem for a lot of us lately. It’s important to keep up with what’s going on but how much marginal value is there in reading four or five articles on the same story? Not much really. So, to make sure I read more books this year, I’ve set up a reading list (you can see it here) and a plan. All the books I’m going to read are already on my Kindle app (there’s a lot I’ve bought the past couple of years but haven’t read). That makes it easy for me to get in 15 to 30 minutes of reading time in between meetings wherever I am. I’m not going to read more than two books at a time. There will be a morning book and a rest of the day book. The morning book is to get me in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day. The rest of the day book is to expand my breadth. Using this method, I finished John Carreyrou’s award winning page turner, Bad Blood about the fraud that went on at the former Silicon Valley unicorn, Theranos. I’m about two-thirds of the way through the thought provoking Buddhism Without Beliefs as my morning book and just started Stan McChrystal’s Leaders: Myth and Reality as my rest of the day book last night. I’m loving this routine!

Getting More Cardio: If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you know that I’m pretty much an everyday yogi. I took up yoga a little over eight years ago to manage the effects of my multiple sclerosis. It’s done that and so much more. I’m probably as strong as I’ve ever been, my balance is great and I’ve made a lot of good friends as part of the deal. You don’t get a lot of cardio fitness with yoga though and as I ran for connecting flights a few times last year, I noticed I was getting overly gassed. I don’t run much for fitness anymore, so I’ve joined a gym close to where we live and have started taking bike, cross-fit and elevated treadmill classes three or so mornings a week. The trick I’ve found for sticking with it is when you sign up for a class on the gym’s app you can’t cancel it less than three hours before the class without endangering your right to continue to sign up for classes online. So, this morning I wasn’t exactly excited about getting out of bed at 6:30 am for a 7:00 am class but I sure wasn’t going to get up at 4:00 am to cancel it so I could sleep in! I’ve been doing this for a couple of months now and have yet to regret going to class. I’ve also noticed that I’m doing better when I have to break into an unexpected sprint!

Getting real about guitar: Last summer, I gave into my rock and roll dreams and bought a beautiful black Fender Stratocaster guitar. (It looks like the one that David Gilmour played in Pink Floyd but is not nearly as expensive.) My original plan was to teach myself how to play using the Fender Play app and I’ve completed two of the five levels of lessons in the app. The other thing I’ve been doing is randomly learning how to play different songs that pop into my head by finding an online video lesson of someone teaching you how to play that song. It’s been fun, but frankly I’ve been driving Diane crazy as I’ve been plunking stuff out on the guitar saying, “Listen to this. Recognize it?” The answer is usually, “Um, no.” The problem is I haven’t had a plan to really learn how to play. Everything was too random. Fortunately, there’s this wonderful Australian guy online named Justin Sandercoe who, for years, has been putting together an incredibly comprehensive set of videos and programs for learning to play guitar. I’m starting with the beginner level and am going to proceed step by step from there.

OK, I could go on, but what are the takeaways that might apply to you? There are a few principles at play in my habit examples that are helping me manage myself more effectively for 2019 that I think can help you too. Here they are:

Have a plan – You’re much more likely to build new habits if you have a plan. It could be a reading list, a well-designed instructional program or anything that creates a map for how you’re going to follow through.

Break it down – I love bite-size chunks. If you have a plan, there’s actually a lot you can do in 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes. Break your habit plan down into digestible bites.

Set some metrics – Write 500 words a day. Go to a cardio class 3 times a week. Have two books going at any given time. Those are all simple metrics that keep my habit goals in front of me. What are yours?

Make it easy  – My online buddy Justin makes it super easy to learn guitar. He’s available whenever I can fit him in and I don’t have to get in the car to go see him. Carrying my books around on my Kindle app makes it easy to read wherever I am without the extra 2 to 3 pounds of book in my backpack (which I don’t always carry with me anyway. I always carry my phone). Make following through on your habits as easy as possible.

Build in accountability – Make it hard to back out. Telling all of you what I’m doing with my habits this year is one way for me to do that. Signing up for an early morning class knowing that I won’t have the opportunity to cancel it is another. What kind of simple accountability processes can you create for yourself so you’re compelled to follow through on your habits?

So what habits are you intending to establish for yourself this year? What kinds of plans do you have for doing that? What’s working for you? I’d love to hear your ideas!

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Categories: Blogs

Management and Leadership: Organizational Strategies for High Performance

Hr Bartender - Thu, 01/03/2019 - 02:57

Every organization is striving for high performance. I don’t know of a single organization that’s saying, “Our vision is to be mediocre. Let’s just do enough to get by.” Organizations want to be the best. To do that, they need high-performing employees.

But to have high performance, organizations need to think about their learning and development strategies. Here are a few popular HR Bartender posts from the year that focus on learning and creating high performance.

The Difference Between Goals, Objectives and Outcomes

The key to employee engagement is employees who feel their work is valued. Talent management links value to business outcomes via goals.

How to Create Learning Paths that Align with Company Goals

Learning paths allow employees to build knowledge or skills. We want them to align with company goals. These six steps help align learning paths to goals.

Employee Coaching Is a Form of Accountability

Employee coaching is not the same as discipline. That’s important because coaching is often perceived as negative. It’s a discussion for accountability.

4 Ways to Measure the Success of Your HR Programs

There is only one sure way to know if your HR programs are a success – measure the results. There may be many was to do that. Here’s a proven method.

Managers are key in the execution of the company’s learning and development strategies. Organizations need to not only make investments in employee learning but manager development as well. Here are some topics to consider when it comes to management development programs

The 10 Basic Skills that Every Manager Should Have

There are skills that every employee should have. Managers need those too, plus a few others. These are the 10 basic skills every manager needs to have.

Managers Should Spend the Majority of Their Time Doing This

Managers have a lot to do. And that’s exactly why managers should spend most of their time doing this. It helps with goals, performance and learning.

4 Ways Managers Can Create the Work Conditions for High Performance

Employee engagement and high performance should go together. There are 4 ways managers can encourage engaged employees into high performance.

Organizational success (which includes the bottom-line) is a result of employee performance. It only makes good business sense to invest in programs that will help employees become high-performers. This includes developing managers to be excellent coaches, trainers, and leaders.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after exploring the streets of Gainesville, FL

The post Management and Leadership: Organizational Strategies for High Performance appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

Newton’s First Law and Your Life

Leadershipnow - Thu, 01/03/2019 - 01:34

IN 1686, Sir Isaac Newton presented three laws of motion. The first law is often referred to as the Law of Inertia. The law states that every object will remain at rest or continue in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. In other words, things stay the way they are unless something comes along to disrupt them. This law has the power to make us or break us. And it is at work in our lives all day, every day whether we are conscious of it or not.

When we kick a soccer ball, it heads in a specific direction until it is acted upon by a force greater than the force that is currently propelling it downfield. Like that soccer ball, our life is moving along a path that is taking us to a particular future intentionally or not. And we will continue along that path to its destination until we do something different. It’s not about what we want. It’s about what we are doing. Our intentions mean nothing. It’s a law, and as such, it is objective and indifferent to our intentions.

In other words, our 2019 will be just like our 2018 unless we exert a force to change our direction that is greater than comfort we enjoy by continuing to do what we have always done producing the same results again and again. No force, no change. 2019 will be 2018 all over again.

If you’re not where you want to be, change your direction. Get on a new path. New actions will produce different results.

We can use Newton’s law to our advantage. For every cause, there is an effect. Today is connected to tomorrow. Every action we take and everything we say is taking us somewhere. We just need to be sure we are on the path that is taking us where we want to go; a path that is taking us to the person we want to become.

If we work harder than we did last year, then we will do better.
If we sacrifice now, then we are investing in our future.
If we reflect, then we will grow.
If we improve our leadership, then people will follow us.
If we are courageous, then we will inspire.
If we are curious, then we will learn.
If we avoid the trappings of power, then we will stay connected with those we serve.
If we surround ourselves with the right people, then we will be enriched and will lift others up.
If we are authentic and humble, then we will build trust.
If we work this law to our advantage, then we will eradicate regret.

If we don't improve, then our circumstances won't improve either. We can’t tell ourselves that it’s not going to be alright if we are headed in the wrong direction. Life naturally pushes us off-course and takes us on tangents. Anything meaningful in life is produced by moving upstream – against the current. When we find ourselves where we don’t want to be, we must acknowledge the fact that we have drifted; we have gone with the flow. We need to make some course corrections. We all do from time to time.

Of course, this implies getting uncomfortable. It’s helpful to have a mentor, a coach, or a program that will keep us accountable, because we tend to say, “I pushed hard enough” when we’ve barely touched our potential.

As we look at our life, we all have directions that need to be changed. It helps to begin this process by asking ourselves questions and giving serious and honest thought to the answers.

The big general questions are: What worked for me last year and what didn’t? What habits are holding me back? What three things do I want to accomplish by 2020? What is that one thing I need to accomplish in 2019—your BHAG—my Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal? What does a good day look like? What routines keep me on track? Why do I do what I do?

And most importantly, what am I grateful for? Then drill down into specific areas of your life:

Do I make time to study and grow spiritually?

What habits are draining my time and attention?
What activities replenish me?
Am I taking time to relax and grow in other areas of interest?

Am I sleep deprived?
Am I eating healthy and avoiding processed foods?
What do I need to change in my diet in 2019?
Am I exercising regularly?
Am I drinking enough water? Is my morning and evening routine setting me up for my best day?

Am I living within my means?
How much do I want to make in 2019?
What do I have to do to reach that amount?

What weaknesses do I need to minimize?
Am I where I would like to be in my work or career?
How can I increase the value I bring to work?

What relationships are building me up?
Are any relationships taking me off-track?
Who do I take for granted?
Do I support those around me?
Do I support and encourage others?
Do I focus on building others up?
Do I make time for others?

Where do I need to grow?
What strengths do I need to improve on?
What do I need to learn?
What books do I need to read?
What seminars do I need to attend?
What can I learn from the mistakes I made in 2018?

The key to moving forward is the first step. Every destination needs to be broken down into incremental markers or indicators on the way to the destination. What is the first thing you need to do to get you moving in the right direction? As you begin, focus on the actions required and not the end result. A small step is easier than a leap. Once the first step is made, it is easier to continue down the right path to your desired destination.

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Categories: Blogs

3 Moving-Target Issues Every Leader Must Be Following

Greatleaders hipbydan - Wed, 01/02/2019 - 06:00
Guest post from Alexandra Levit:

As a futurist, it’s my job to track the evolution of the 21st century organization, and as of late
we’ve come upon new challenges in reputation management, intellectual property, and digital transformation and disruption. Your challenge as a leader? Strive to fit these pieces together as the realities of our future workforce become ever more salient.
Reputation Management
As we approach 2030, the importance of online reputation will only increase. Now, reputation management exercises are largely undertaken in response to a crisis, once damaging information has gone viral. In the next decade, though, most organizations will become more proactive. Artificial intelligence and tracking software will help companies crack down on fake reviews and employment experiences, counteract negative commentaries with positive ones, and spot and address problematic situations more quickly.
By the same token, analytics advances will amplify consumer power, as reviews will be quantified to produce a master rating that can change by the second. Applying for a new job? Your phone might flash a warning that a company has dropped below the average in terms of employee desirability. You might decide to eschew your choice of restaurant when you suddenly receive an alert about health department citations. In other words, we will live in a Rateocracy.
To operate effectively in this climate, planning and investment is essential. Leaders must hire staff with specific oversight and responsibility for online reputation management. They must establish protocols for generating positive reviews and responding to negative ones. Using the most sophisticated tools available, reputation teams will track social media channels and other relevant forums to understand current sentiment about their organization, their competitors and their industry.
Intellectual Property
According to futurist Thomas Frey, author of Epiphany Z: Eight radical visions for transforming your future, future intellectual property (IP) issues will be focused on ownership, privacy and freedoms as new technologies will fit poorly into the existing legal frameworks.
Potential (and thorny) IP issues include: Will companies have the right to automatically control and use data that comes in from employees while they are at work? How can organizations prevent sensor networks from being hacked, monitored or stolen by outside forces? When the seamless interface of Internet of Things devices allows companies to search and learn all kinds of details about their customers and employees, who owns this information?
Besides answering these complex questions, which can’t happen overnight or in a vacuum, there are steps you can take to protect current and future IP that’s specific to your organization: Emphasize data security and protection, educating your employees and stakeholders about how proprietary data should be stored and shared. Use a single technology platform for all your IP so it’s easier to manage and update, and so you can eliminate redundancies. And finally, seek to grow your IP by developing employee skills and soliciting feedback from customers.

Digital Transformation and Disruption
Technology’s impact on the workplace has been discussed ad nauseum. However, most overlook how a company gets from here to there. That path is known as digital transformation, or the process of converting all or most of an organization’s operations to online or otherwise computerized mediums.
In most companies, total digital transformation is a long and at least somewhat disruptive process. Some colleagues will inevitably fight against change in favor of the status quo, and future-minded leaders require strategies to bring them into the fold.
Before you attempt to persuade colleagues to jump right into a specific initiative, provide a safe space to discuss disruption in general. Ask questions like: What technology-based disruptions are you seeing in your business? What concerns you about implementing new technologies for existing processes?
Go out of your way to attend forward-thinking industry events. The sessions and conversations you and your colleagues will have at conferences centered on digital transformation and disruption will take your thinking to another level. Encourage your colleagues and employees to see for themselves what digital transformation and disruption mean and what they can do for growth and profit.
Sometimes an internal leader can repeat the same message dozens of times, but no one really hears it until it comes from the mouth of an external consultant who is perceived as an expert. When it comes to embracing disruption, you might make greater headway by bringing on a single or team of advisers who can offer an objective picture of your organization’s digital transformation status compared to the larger market and can provide direction and next steps.
Alexandra Levit is the author of the new book Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future (Kogan Page). A partner at People Results, she helps Fortune 500 and government organizations and their leaders prepare for the future of work through proprietary research, consulting, and program development. For more information, please visit
Categories: Blogs

First Look: Leadership Books for January 2019

Leadershipnow - Tue, 01/01/2019 - 03:05
Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in January 2019. Don't miss out on other great new and future releases.

Unlocking Creativity: How to Solve Any Problem and Make the Best Decisions
Michael A. Roberto

Leaders do not have to conceive innovative ideas, but rather open the path for curious and creative employees within their organization. Unlocking Creativity aids organizations in removing obstacles to the creative process and helps to form an atmosphere of imagination and innovation.

Be Fearless: 5 Principles for a Life of Breakthroughs and Purpose
Jean Case

When National Geographic Chairman Jean Case set out to investigate the core qualities of great change makers, past and present, from inventors to revolutionaries, she found five surprising traits all had in common. They weren’t wealth, privilege, or even genius. It was that all of these exceptional men and women chose to make a “big bet,” take bold risks, learn from their failures, reach beyond their bubbles, and let urgency conquer fear.

Creative Construction: The DNA of Sustained Innovation
Gary P. Pisano

The conventional wisdom is that only disruptive, nimble startups can innovate; once a business gets bigger and more complex corporate arteriosclerosis sets in. Big organizations require a different set of management practices and approaches—a discipline focused on the strategies, systems and culture for taking their companies to the next level.

Scaling Leadership: Building Organizational Capability and Capacity to Create Outcomes that Matter Most
Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams

Is your leadership built for scale as you advance in today’s volatile and disruptive business environment? This context puts a premium on a very particular kind of leadership—High-Creative leadership capable of rapidly growing the organization while simultaneously transforming it into more agile, innovative, adaptive and engaging workplace.

Return on Courage: A Business Playbook for Courageous Change
Ryan Berman

Return on Courage is the go-to courage instructional manual that helps readers attack and shrink business fears head-on. They will learn how to relentlessly play offense, drive change, and transform into a Courage Brand®. ROC can be the secret weapon to innovating new products and services, maximizing ROI, and revolutionizing their industry.

Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want
Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni

Study after study confirms that career development is the single most powerful tool managers have for driving retention, engagement, productivity, and results. But most managers feel they just don't have time for it. This new edition offers a better way: frequent, short conversations with employees about themselves, their goals, and the business that can be integrated seamlessly into the normal course of business.

For bulk orders call 1-626-441-2024

Build your leadership library with these specials on over 39 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

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“Books, because of the power they possess to exert intellectual influence, more so than any other form of serious communication, change the way readers — and even leaders — see the world and set the stage for them to change it.”
— Peter J. Dougherty, editor-at-large at Princeton University Press

Categories: Blogs

LeadershipNow 140: December 2018 Compilation

Leadershipnow - Mon, 12/31/2018 - 08:36

Here are a selection of tweets from December 2018 that you don't want to miss:
See more on Twitter.

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Categories: Blogs

Looking Back at 2018

QAspire - Mon, 12/31/2018 - 08:14

This blog has been my online home for over 12 years, even before I got onto Facebook and Twitter. The blog has evolved along with me. It is a platform for me to learn, think clearly and share whatever I learn through posts and sketchnotes.

This blog has had an amazing journey so far. Hundreds of posts, tens of thousands of readers each month and plenty of social sharing just encourages me further to continue this journey.

This year was a slow one for blogging but here is a round up of some of the most popular post written in 2018:

For 2019, one of my intentions is to get back to blogging more regularly (once a week) and get into a regular rhythm of consuming meaningful stuff, thinking, reflecting on my experiences, learning and sharing.

The Year of Sketchnotes Going Places

My pursuit of synthesizing and curating my lessons through sketchnotes found newer grounds.

One of the major milestones in this journey was visualizing case studies for Tiffani Bova’s new book “Growth IQ – Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business” and it was a great learning experience.

It is an amazing book that became a Wall Street Journal bestseller within a few weeks and Tiffani has squeezed years of experience in this book to outline 10 growth paths through well researched case studies for each growth path.

Apart from this, sketch notes also went places and here are a few glimpses:

I created a sketchnote selfie last year and it inspired Claire (National Health Services, UK) to encourage her workshop participants to create their sketchnote selfies. Here are a bunch of people with their sketchnote selfies!

My blog was featured in Training and Development magazine (published by Association of Training and Development) last year with a special mention of sketchnotes.

My sketchnote on “Working Out Loud” was featured at European Commission in June.

Karyn Prather from Kimberly Clark (a consumer packaged goods company that has created strong five billion-dollar brands including Huggies, Kleenex, and Scott) presented my sketchnote (and insights from the amazing John Stepper) at Microsoft Ignite Content 2018, Orlando FL in September 2018.

My #sketchnote on Mindset Shifts for Transformation was presented at AIM Norway Symposium, University of Oslo by Thomas Anglero. AIM stands for Artificial Intelligence, Minds+Machines.

Richard Tubb for sharing my insights and sketchnote to French IT and MSP companies in early December at Paris.

My biggest lesson from all this?

Labor of love is powerful. Applying what you learn is powerful. And when your gifts are deployed in significant service of others through generous sharing, it results in leverage and learning.

Grateful for all the Recognitions

I consider all recognitions as by-products of the pursuit and once in a while, when you think of them, they only encourage the pursuit.

For the Fifth consecutive year, I was fortunate to be ranked amongst Top 30 Indian HR Influencers on Social Media in May 2018.

Also, a big thanks to my friend Kurt Harden for including QAspire blog in his annual list of “25 Blogs Guaranteed to Make You Smarter” for 6th consecutive year. Love all the selections in this list and always grateful for his generosity.

Change is a Constant Work

At work, it was again a year of change. Leading an organization in times of change is a challenge and an opportunity to learn a great deal in the process. Nothing in business is (and can be) stagnant and job of leaders is to communicate relentlessly and enable people make sense of changes. Leaders create an ecosystem where people not only adapt to change but also contribute positively to it.

And Other Stuff

I tried as much as possible to stay close to my intent of consuming less and creating more, dwelling in possibility and simplifying. I think I can do better on that last bit of simplifying since I have a tendency to take on more than I can handle.

Competing with the self is always exhausting because you never win!  But guided by intent of learning constantly, sharing generously and putting it al to good use, my journey continues.

A Note of Gratitude

This blog is not possible without YOU – who care to read what I write, share it along widely and encourage me all the way. I am extremely grateful for everyone who read this blog, are connected on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Here’s to a glorious 2019!

Categories: Blogs

Employee Engagement: Resources to Plan Your 2019 Strategy

Hr Bartender - Fri, 12/28/2018 - 02:57

I don’t have to tell you that employee engagement will continue to be a hot topic in 2019. Finding the best talent is incredibly competitive. The last thing companies want is to spend their resources bringing in the best talent, only to have them never become engaged with the organization (and then leave). So, debating about engagement seems like a non-issue.

But being able to craft an engagement strategy is a challenge. How to sell the idea of creating a strategy, what to include, and how to measure results can be hard. So, I’ve put together a round-up of the most popular articles on HR Bartender that focus on building an engagement strategy. 

Organizations Must View Employee Engagement as a Long-Term Business Activity

We know the business value of engagement. Organizations must view the employee experience long term, set realistic expectations, and focus on culture.

Employee Engagement and Commitment Are Not the Same Thing

Engagement is high priority today. It helps with retention and productivity. But we also want commitment from our employees. How do engagement and commitment differ?

Employee Engagement Is a Financial Strategy

The employee experience, engagement and satisfaction have value. Measurable financial value. And competition is driving that value to new heights.

How to Get to the Root Cause of Employee Engagement Issues

Action determines the success of your engagement surveys. Taking the right actions means understanding the specifics of employee feedback and what really matters.

Employee Engagement Surveys: 4 Planning and Execution Must-Haves

We know the value of the employee experience and using surveys to develop programs. Proper planning and execution are crucial in engagement surveys.

HOW TO: Turn Your Employee Engagement Survey Results into Action

Engagement surveys give employers a wealth of information. Here are three steps to turning engagement survey results into action.

Increase Employee Engagement and Retention with Better One-on-One Meetings

Communication helps managers drive employee engagement. One-on-one meetings are more important than ever to grow engagement and improve employee retention.

Employee Engagement Roadmap: It Is Not Too Late to Create Yours!

An engagement roadmap helps connect organizational actions with long-term goals and guides managers in activities that help build strong engagement.

These articles have examples and downloads that might help human resources departments guide their organizations through the exercise of creating an employee engagement strategy. I hope you find the information helpful.

Engagement has been around for decades. The value of a great employee experience isn’t going away anytime in the near future. People might try to find new names for it, but it’s still the same thing. The question is, what are organizations going to do about it. Because disengaged employees cost the organization hard dollars. 

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the 34th Street Graffiti Wall in Gainesville, FL

The post Employee Engagement: Resources to Plan Your 2019 Strategy appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

Five Problems with Virtual Communication & What to Do About It

Leadershipnow - Thu, 12/27/2018 - 22:31

EVEN THOUGH WE have entered a new world of virtual communications, we still communicate in real-world ways that don’t always work in the virtual world. We’ve all sent an email or a text where we meant one thing and the recipient took it in a completely different way. They never saw the smile on our face, the touch of our hand, or the look of concern. There was none of the emotions that we take for granted in the real-world to guide them in the virtual world to a proper conclusion.

We need new approaches and to become more conscious of what we are doing. We need to sharpen our communication skills in the digital world. We have to put the emotion back.

Nick Morgan is here to do just that in Can You Hear Me? Nick Morgan is a master communicator and speech coach. And this book reflects that. His website Public Words is one of my favorite. The focus is public speaking, but the principles apply in most contexts including one-on-one conversations. Don’t miss it.

The world of communication in the real-world and virtual world are very different with different dynamics. The same rules don’t apply. This leads to five major problems with virtual communication that need to be addressed.

Problem One: The Lack of Feedback

In the real world, there are two kinds of feedback: implicit and explicit. Implicit feedback is all of the non-verbal sounds, facial expressions, touches and body language that goes with conversation. Explicit feedback is the straightforward, unvarnished communication we get from others. In the real world, there is a mix of the two. But in the virtual world, implicit communication is almost nonexistent.

In the real world, implicit and explicit work together to toughen the soft messages and soften the harsh messages. When we remove the implicit feedback from our communication, it’s little wonder we have misunderstandings, confusion, and often hurt feelings. (Emoji were introduced to help with this problem, but I find on important communications, an emoji doesn’t really convey the feelings behind our words.)

Morgan says what has changed online is the nature of trust. “Trust in the virtual world is much more fragile, though perhaps easier to establish initially. But the big difference comes when something threatens the trust.” He explains: And feedback depends on trust. In face-to-face relationships where there is trust, one party may do something to screw up, causing friction, anger, and even a bit of mistrust to creep in. But if the connection is strong enough, the feedback begins. The issue will get thrashed out, the perpetrator will apologize, and trust will be restored. Indeed, once restored, the trust may be stronger than ever.

How different it is in the virtual world! Once trust is threatened, it’s easily broken, and it’s nearly impossible to reestablish it. People simply move on. Since trust was more fragile in the first place, it shatters with very little provocation.
Here are a few of Morgan’s suggestions to offer effective feedback in a virtual world:

Virtual feedback should be appropriate and honest, but it doesn’t need to be cruel. “Leaven clarity with kindness.”

Virtual feedback should be specific and focused on the relevant object, performance, or creation and not on the person. “A failed artistic performance doesn’t entitle you to judge the character of the performer. And general comments are far less useful—and far more damaging—than specific ones.”

Virtual feedback should never be more about the giver than the recipient. We have all frequently seen where the feedback given “really concerns what the giver knows at some deep level to be the problem with his or her own work. If you’re going to offer feedback, you have to have enough security, distance, and impartiality to deliver an opinion that is truly helpful.”

Problem Two: The Lack of Empathy

Our virtual world robs us of real closeness and intimacy. “The distance provided by a virtual connection creates conditions where people are much more likely to behave badly to one another and are much less likely to be sympathetic to other’s feelings. There’s a lack of empathy.” When we are face-to-face, even the coldest of us find our mirror neurons firing when we are with someone who is experiencing an emotion. We laugh together, cry together, bond together. Put us in the virtual space, and empathy can’t work as well. The mirror neurons don’t fare as readily. We remain disassociated.
The key lesson regarding empathy: “If you can possibly begin a relationship of any importance in person, you should do so. Period, full stop, end of discussion.” If you can’t, “do everything you can, especially early on, to be consistent, trustworthy, and transparent.

In a virtual world, our stories are more important than ever. “Your online presence needs to meet four criteria: authenticity, clarity, comprehensiveness, and consistency.”

Problem Three: The Lack of Control

The virtual world is unforgiving. Online, “we hold others to rigid standards of behavior and are much less forgiving. In virtual space, this double standard is particularly compelling. If you behave badly, it’s because you’re a troll, and your mother and her mother before you, back a thousand generations. These feelings are not logical, but such is the nature of virtual relationships. Lacking emotional depth, we substitute brittle, intellectual, standards.”

We don’t have control over what others say about us and others. And we rarely forgive inconsistent online behavior. So we need to be intentional about who we are and be consistent with that image. Decide now who you will be. Take control of your online life by creating a personal values statement.

As an example of the kind of transparency, control and consistency Morgan is talking about, is Chris Palmer. Palmer is an environmental filmmaker with a personal mission statement (which you can find at the bottom of this page) he published on his website. Palmer told Morgan that publishing it “has transformed my life. I use it to guide my daily activities. Instead of confusion, I have clarity. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I feel in control. Instead of ennui, I have purpose.” How do people see you online? What do you stand for? How could a personal mission statement guide your interactions online?

Problem Four: The Lack of Emotion

The emotions that come naturally in face-to-face communications is almost nonexistent in virtual communications. “Every face-to-face communication is two simultaneous conversations: the content (what you say) and the body language (how you say it).” Both are essential and very different. And when we take the emotion out we get bored, nasty or both.

We are wired to make an emotional connection with others. Emotions are a vital part of our communications, and we base our decisions on emotion. “And removing that natural, easy, unconscious emotional data stream, as virtual communication does surprisingly well, is particularly crippling.” The virtual space we’ve created is uniquely set up to make it difficult for us to conduct our human business in the way that we’ve done for thousands of years. We think we’ve created something convenient, cost-effective, and efficient. Instead, we’ve created something that this stultifying, expensive in terms of emotions and decision-making, and wildly inefficient.
Because of this, we need to consciously create tools that replace the unconscious connection tools we have in the real world. This would include becoming “exceedingly conscious about taking turns and allowing others to do so” and signaling that you are nearly ready to stop talking. Mediating conversations becomes more important. Morgan also suggests ways to add a three-stage “temperature” check to your conference calls.

Problem Five: The Lack of Connection and Commitment

Virtual communications aren’t as satisfying and emotionally compelling as our real-world interactions. Take the emotions out and we feel alone. We need to create engaging approaches that combine both the virtual and real-world behavior that leads to commitment in the end.

Research Lynn Wu of Wharton found that the “more that individuals used social words in their chat with colleagues, like ‘coffee,’ ‘lunch,’ or ‘football,’ the less likely they were to be laid off.” Of course, these online tools can be misused, so balance is required. Nevertheless, connection with others and job security are closely tied.

A few ways to create commitment in the real-world work well online. People look to others for cues, so use social validation to push people toward commitment. Remember the golden rule of reciprocity. A “strong feeling of cooperation allows people to connect, commit, and support each other.” Always be consistent. Look for similarity. “Similarity builds rapport.” Tell stories. “The best way to get and hold someone’s attention is to tell a story.”

In part two of his book, Morgan provides specific techniques for various digital channels of communication: email, texting, conference calls, webinars, chat sessions, and sales efforts. All contain helpful advice to avoid misunderstandings.

Our virtual relationships are more fragile and “these weaker ties mean we inhabit a more toxic world. The research shows that negative conversations stay with us longer than do positive ones because of how we metabolize oxytocin and cortisol differently.” In the real world we let our unconscious minds do the heavy lifting—and pick up on those implicit messages. In the virtual world we don’t have that luxury. My journey into the online world to understnd the virtual communicator has led me tounderstand how profoundly inhuman many ways of virual communication are. Our very human job now is to learn to put the emotional and memorable back into this attenuated world that has srung up around us.
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Categories: Blogs

Hyperfocus: How to Take Control of Your Mind

Leadershipnow - Tue, 12/25/2018 - 13:25

THERE ARE LIMITS to our attention. There is only so much we can focus on at any given time. So it becomes critical what we allow in our attentional space if we want to get anywhere in life. (And heads up. Your attention space shrinks as you age—but your mind wanders less.)

When we try to cram too much into our attentional space, we experience attention overload. When we do that we forget things because we didn’t leave enough space for what we originally intended to do.

What is going on in our attentional space is the subject of Chris Bailey’s Hyperfocus. Bailey shows us how we can use our limited attentional space intelligently and deliberately so that we can focus more deeply and think more clearly.

Hyperfocus happens when we consciously expand our attention to fill our attentional space. It is when we are the most productive—and happy.

So, how do we enter hyperfocus mode? Distractions are distracting because they are more attractive than what we are focusing on. We have to plan in advance to remove them. Distractions are costly. Put the phone down. Don’t check the emails. “It takes an average of twenty-five minutes to resume working on an activity after we’re interrupted, and before resuming that activity, we work on an average of 2.26 other tasks.” Not good.

Our smartphones rob our attention probably more than anything else. Bailey offers this great advice: “Resist the urge to tap around on your smartphone when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, walking to the coffee shop, or in the bathroom. Use these small breaks to reflect on what you’re doing, to recharge, and to consider alternative approaches to your work and life.” Reflection is one of the biggest gifts we can give ourselves.

And then we have to deal with the natural wandering of our mind by continually and consciously refocusing. It also helps to plan to hyperfocus for a predetermined length of time. “Setting specific intentions can double or triple your odds of success.” Bailey has a whole chapter on taming distractions and offers techniques to help us with all of this.

Although your attentional space naturally shrinks as you age, study after study has shown that you can expand it through the practice of meditation. “Meditation involves continually returning your focus to a single object of attention—usually your breath—as soon as you notice your mind has wandered from it.” Breathing is the go-to because “the smaller the object of attention, the more your mind will wander, but the more you’ll expand the size of your attentional space as you focus on it.”

Ironically, as important as it is to hyperfocus, we must also scatterfocus. That is direct our attention on nothing at all—but in a deliberate way. In scatterfocus mode, we are at our most creative and it also allows us to recharge. And because in this mode our mind spends most of its time thinking about the future which is good because we can set intentions and plan for the future. It also “enables us to better weigh the consequences of each decision and path.”

“With hyperfocus you direct your attention outward; with scatterfocus you direct your attention inward.” In scatterfocus mode, you can capture ideas and actionable material. You can discover solutions to problems and connect ideas. It also serves to replenish our mental energy. Hyperfocus takes a lot of energy, and when we feel our attentional space contracting, we need to recharge our attention by deliberately entering scatterfocus mode.

Scatterfocus mode is a great place to connect the dots providing you are collecting valuable dots in the first place. People become experts on particular subjects by accumulating and connecting enough dots related to them, in the form of experiences, knowledge, and best practices.

As we cluster more and more dots about a given topic, we naturally develop expertise, which in turn helps us better manage our attentional space. Curiously, the more we know about a subject, the less attentional space that information consumes.

The more dots we’re able to cluster, the more efficiently we’re able to use that space, as we can accommodate and process a lot more pieces of information when they’re linked together.
With that in mind, it is wise to guard just what dots we are collecting on a regular basis. Some dots build us up, and some don’t. Defend your attentional space. It’s good to collect dots that add to our existing skills and knowledge, but it is just as important to collect dots that are unrelated to what we know. This often where new perspectives and breakthrough ideas will come from. “Every time you stop consuming trash, you make room for something useful to add value to your life.”

Not surprisingly, a positive mood expands the size of our intentional space, and a negative mood shrinks it. Unhappy people take longer to refocus. Guard your thoughts. Hyperfocus can help you get an extraordinary amount done in a relatively short period of time. Scatterfocus lets you connect ideas—which helps you unearth hidden insights, become more creative, plan for the future, and rest. Together they will enable you to work and live with purpose.
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Categories: Blogs

5 Distinguishing Traits of High-Performing Leaders

Leadershipnow - Fri, 12/21/2018 - 16:25

WHO WE ARE speaks louder than what we say. Respect for others is the cornerstone of high-performing leaders. Respect is demonstrated daily through skills that we can all learn and make a part of who we are.

Through his experience as an executive coach, Fred Halstead has defined in Leadership Skills that Inspire Incredible Results, seven skills that when practiced yield meaningful results. You may not be an expert at all but you can get better at every one of them.

Demonstrating respect is more about asking the right questions than being ready with answers. Halstead admits though that “asking questions—in particular, questions than can inspire clearer thinking, solutions, and action plans—is challenging, especially when we are used to just telling others what we know should be done.” But to succeed we must have teams that are self-reliant, who understand their purpose and can execute on that purpose. Asking questions and guiding requires real focus.

It’s about our team’s success. “Those who truly want others to excel are the ones who also achieve the greatest personal success.” To demonstrate respect and quip others we need to practice these skills with others:

1. Become a Fully Connected Listener

Listening shows respect and appreciation. Listening must come first. It requires patience. As Fran Lebowitz observed, “The opposite of talking is waiting.” Our natural desire to talk, judging others, our biases ego, and our business, all inhibit our inclination to listen. “The less we worry about appearing smart, the smarter we will appear to be by just listening and asking smart questions.”

Listening is easier when we are curious. It’s easier too when you know and believe in your purpose for listening. More than just gathering information, “when you listen to someone, you learn how that person thinks, which provides insight into how you can use them most effectively on a project, team, or in the organization.”

Listen for intent and observe body language. Much of what you need to know is communicated in this way. Respect others by taking a breath. “When we’re great listeners, we give others the gift of silence. We’re not in a hurry, so silence—time to think—gives the speaker the opportunity to formulate and express her best thinking.”

2. Ask Powerful Questions

When you ask questions, you become more engaging and it creates bonds with others. It means they will want to listen to you.

The right questions are important. “The right question is often a crystallizer. It helps put a bow of clarity around one’s thoughts.” It can help them to articulate their own thoughts and expand their thinking. Clarity questions are “What concerns you most about this?” “If there is one thing you could do to begin to resolve this issue, what is it?” “What are your instincts telling you?” Timing matters when you are listening. Ask when you need clarity.

Great questions open the door to additional thought. “Is this the solution?” opens the door to additional thought but closes the door on the conversation. A better question would be “If there is one thing that would make this solution better, what is it?” Halstead helpfully provides examples of powerful questions to achieve specific goals. The response, “I have not thought about that” is one of the best you can receive from your questions. You’re giving the other person the opportunity to think about new solutions in a positive way. You also show respect for the person being asked the question.
3. Develop Other’s Best Thinking

Great listening and questions lead other from “I don’t get it” to “I got it.” You bring out the best in others. “By helping others grow, you give them the opportunity to take ownership of their actions and the results.” That’s leading.

Be forward thinking—solution oriented. “When leaders focus on what can be done, people are inspired to achieve more, especially when they think of and articulate what it is that they are going to do.”

One of the best ways to inspire your team to follow you because of you rather than in spite of you is to acknowledge the things they do well. More than a compliment, by acknowledging someone you are “calling attention to a specific behavior or talent, and it comes without any type of extra modifiers.”

4. Wise and Thoughtful Delegation

Delegating demonstrates that you believe in others and they often respond by “expanding their ability to do more and perform at a higher level.” As a leader, the more you put everyone in the sweet spots of their talents, including you, the greater the likelihood of achieving short- and long-term exceptional performance. Delegating wisely both develops and uses those talents
Thinking we are can do it better, impatience, a lack of trust, a lack of clarity about the job to be done, all inhibit our desire to delegate tasks. And that’s on us.

5. Create Consistent Accountability

A culture of accountability means that people will do—actually accomplish—what they say they will do when they say they will get it done. Accountability builds trust.

What often holds us back from creating a culture of accountability says Halstead, is that we what to be seen as nice. But when seen properly, accountability is nice. Accountability builds others up. Like delegating, we think we could do better and so we don’t hold people accountable. But when we do, we might learn from how they achieve the desired result. And frankly, we lack faith in others. We don’t really believe they have what it takes to get the job done properly. If this is the case, Halstead recommends that we walk them through the process so they can see what it will take to get the job done. Also, remind them of the talents they have that will be useful in accomplishing the task.

These five skills, when practiced consistently will help to inspire incredible results. The thread running through them all is “as you respect others and put the interests of others in a paramount position, our personal success thrives, maybe in ways that you could not imagine.”

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Categories: Blogs

The Secret to Leading Organizational Change Is Empathy

Harvard business - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 08:00
Menahem Kahana/Getty Images

I’m working with a CEO who’s in the midst of rethinking her company’s strategy so it can better meet customer demands and thrive financially. These are major changes that will affect every aspect of how the firm operates — from the services it offers to the structure of her organization.

When I sat down with the CEO and her executive team to think through their communication plan, I asked not about the change itself, but about how her employees might feel about what’s ahead. We started with her team because, in my work as a communication consultant, I’ve observed the same thing time and time again: how information is communicated to employees during a change matters more than what information is communicated. A lack of audience empathy when conveying news about an organizational transformation can cause it to fail.

Studies on organizational change show that leaders across the board agree: if you want to lead a successful transformation, communicating empathetically is critical. But the truth is that most leaders don’t actually know how to do it. In fact, at Duarte, the communication consultancy where I’m Chief Strategy Officer, we conducted a survey of over 200 leading company executives and found that 69% of respondents said that they were planning to launch or are currently conducting a change effort. Unfortunately, 50% of these same execs said they hadn’t fully considered their team’s sentiment about the change. Worse, about half said they were just approaching the change “going on gut.”

If you are a company leader hoping to undertake a successful organizational change, you need to make sure your team is onboard and motivated to help make it happen. The following strategies can you help you better understand your employees’ perspectives.

Profile Your Audience at Every Stage
Change consultants typically advise leaders to create personas of various audiences when they kick-off a change initiative. But, considering that people’s wants and needs will evolve throughout the process, you should reevaluate these personas during every phase of the journey.

With the CEO I mentioned earlier, we first created audience personas that mapped to key employee segments in the company by level and function. Then we interviewed individual employees in each segment to get a sample perspective on typical mindsets. During the interviews, we asked questions designed to uncover beliefs, feelings, questions, and concerns about the company’s current strategy. We also asked if there were specific changes they hoped management would (or would not) make. 

Using the insights from these interviews, we were able to identify how each employee segment felt about the change effort, and planned communications based on whether they were excited, frightened, or frustrated. Employees who were excited about the change, for example, received communication that encouraged them to motivate their reluctant peers.

As your organizational transformation unfolds and you enter new phases of the change, make sure you repeat the interviewing and empathetic listening process. That way, you can gauge how people are feeling over time, and tailor your communication to match their mood.

Tell People What to Expect
While you may need to keep some facts private during a transition, the general rule is that the more informed your people are, the more they’ll be able to deal with discomfort. So, learn about your team’s specific fears, then acknowledge them openly. 

While working with the CEO who was making strategic shifts in her company, we talked about how she could acknowledge some of the fears revealed in a company-wide survey. One employee had expressed concern that the changes would cause talented employees to leave, which would lead to a greater burden on remaining employees.

In the next company-wide meeting, the CEO acknowledged there was worry about brain drain, then shared statistics about how the recent company turnover was designed to reduce the number of low performers and alleviate resulting drag on other employees. She also explained how the HR department was redoubling its efforts to speed up the recruiting process and add more rigor to interviews to ensure new hires were more likely to be high performers.

Having the CEO talk about the departures in an open company forum might seem like a dicey proposition when HR usually prefers to keep exit details private. But feedback from employees afterward showed that the CEO was able to build credibility and trust by addressing the fear of talent loss head-on.

Involve Individuals at All Levels
A transformation won’t succeed without broad involvement. A large European retail bank modeled this well during an organizational overhaul. Following a “dialogue-based planning” model, the CEO created a top-level story for the bank, then asked his executive directors to add a “chapter,” sharing details relevant to their departments. Each director then asked their own team to add to the chapter, incorporating ideas about how a change would impact them and their unique responsibilities. This continued down five levels, all the way to branch managers, and helped every impacted individual understand their part.

An exercise like this can help everyone feel like an active participant with something valuable to add. At that same bank, the director of retail operations wrote about how customers wanted the banking process to be faster. When members of the branch staff read this, they added that document imagers broke down frequently, which was a major headache and caused regular slowdowns. In the end, these frontline employees ended up bringing about a practical, useful change at the organization — one that improved things for all parties.

Business practices evolve rapidly, but there’s one technique business leaders should always rely on to effectively motivate and lead: empathic communication. Develop and show empathy for everyone involved in your corporate transition, and you’ll lead a team that feels valued, included, and driven to help your initiative succeed.

Categories: Blogs

The Right Way to Use the Wisdom of Crowds

Harvard business - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 07:00
Paul Taylor/Getty Images

Management teams are responsible for making sense of complex questions. Maybe it’s estimating how much a market will grow next year, or finding the best strategy to beat a competitor. One popular approach for navigating these questions is turning to the “wisdom of crowds” – asking many people for their opinions and suggestions, and then combining them to form the best overall decision. Evidence suggests that the combination of multiple, independent judgments is often more accurate than even an expert’s individual judgment.

But our research identifies a hidden cost to this approach. When someone has already formed an opinion, they’re far less likely to be receptive to the opinions of others – and this can lead to evaluating other people and their ideas more negatively. Fortunately, our work also suggests a few ways to minimize this cost.

The problem of independent judgments

The “wisdom of crowds” refers to the result of a very specific process, where independent judgments are statistically combined (i.e., using the mean or the median) to achieve a final judgment with the greatest accuracy. In practice, however, people rarely follow strict statistical guidelines when combining their own estimates with those of other people; and additional factors often lead people to assess some judgments more positively than others. For example, should the boss’s estimate count for more simply because of status? Shouldn’t an expert’s opinion count more than a novice’s?

In our research we find another factor that seems to impact how we evaluate other people’s opinions: when someone forms his or her own opinion. As team leaders, we started to notice that a common source of team friction came from members committing to their own ideas before the team as a whole agreed to a course of action. We wondered whether a simple matter of workflow ordering – forming a judgment before evaluating someone else’s judgments – was causing tension.

To test this question, we conducted an experiment where we randomly assigned the order in which individuals formed an estimate of their own versus evaluated the estimate of another. We asked 424 parents in the U.S. to estimate the total cost of raising a child from birth to age 18. They also evaluated another person’s estimate – which we framed as that of “another parent.” In fact, it was the consensus estimate created by financial experts.

Even though the estimate being evaluated was always exactly the same, we found that parents who had made their own estimates first evaluated the other person’s estimate more negatively. Parents who first made their own estimate were 22% less likely to think that the other estimate was at least “moderately likely to be correct” than were parents who evaluated the other estimate before making their own.

We wondered if this effect varied among different types of people. In this study and the others we conducted, we looked at whether men responded differently than women, whether older individuals responded differently than younger individuals, and whether experts responded differently than non-experts. None of these differences mattered. Regardless of their gender, age, or expertise, decision makers who first formed an opinion of their own were more likely to negatively evaluate another’s opinion.

In a second study, we asked 164 U.S. national security experts to assess a hostage-rescue strategy and evaluate what “another national security expert” proposed. Unlike the cost-estimation question of our first study, this question was not quantitative, nor did it have a clear right answer. Despite these differences, and despite the fact that the individuals in this case were experts, the effects of forming an opinion before evaluating someone else’s were the same. Those who first formed their own opinion offered systematically lower evaluations of a peer’s strategy, compared to those who evaluated the peer’s strategy before forming their own opinion.

We also asked participants how intelligent or ethical they perceived the other person to be, based on their recommendation. Even though the actual recommendations were exactly the same across our ordering conditions, those who first formed their own opinion made more negative inferences about the peer than those who formed their opinion later.

Why do people penalize the judgments of others after forming their own opinion? The key factor seemed to be how far someone’s estimate diverged from the other person’s. When we asked participants in these two studies to simply look at someone’s judgment and form an opinion about it, participants own estimates were pulled toward the estimate they were considering, a phenomenon often referred to as “anchoring.” By contrast, when participants made their own estimate independently, they were more likely to disagree with the estimate they had to evaluate later, viewing it as too different from their own, and thus less likely to be correct.

While disagreement is not necessarily a bad thing – combining diverse judgments and estimates underpins the wisdom of crowds –in order to be effectively leveraged it first has to be correctly interpreted. In most cases, disagreement should signal that either or both parties are likely to be wrong. Our data suggest the problem is that people interpret disagreement in a self-serving way, as signaling that their estimate is right and the other party is wrong.

We ran a final study to test this interpretation. We asked 401 U.S. adults to form a judgment before seeing the judgment of another participant selected at random from a prior study. Some participants saw peer judgments that were in close agreement with their own, and others saw estimates that differed dramatically. We then asked them to evaluate the quality of both judgments. We found that, as disagreement increased, people evaluated others’ judgments more harshly – while their evaluations of their own judgments did not budge. Our participants interpreted disagreement to mean that the other person was wrong, but not them.

Across our studies we found that forming opinions before evaluating those offered by others (compared to evaluating first and forming one’s own opinion later), carried social costs – participants thought less of the other person’s estimates and ideas, and, in some cases, thought the other person was less ethical and intelligent.

How to make better decisions

What should a manager do if she wants to get to better judgments and minimize the costs that arise from people getting enamored with their own opinions? The evidence is strong that to maximize accuracy, team members should form independent opinions before coming together to decide as a group.

But our findings suggest that groups of decision-makers should also precommit to a strategy for combining their opinions. The specific strategy will depend on the type of question a team faces. However, committing to an aggregation strategy ahead of time can protect teams from the negative social consequences of evaluating each other’s judgments in light of their own previously-formed opinions.

Teams facing quantifiable questions should aim for strategies that, as much as possible, remove human judgment from the aggregation process. A team estimating how much a market will grow faces a quantifiable question; they should pre-determine an algorithm (such as a simple average or median) for combining the opinions of different team members.

Teams facing non-quantifiable questions will have to rely on human aggregation in some form. For these questions, teams should prevent the person responsible for the final judgment from forming an opinion of her own before seeing the opinions of others. This is not always easy. By the time managers evaluate their subordinates’ ideas, they often have already formed their own opinion.

This highlights an important point: committing to an aggregation strategy is as much a structural matter as an in-the-moment decision. Unbiased aggregation requires structuring work flows so that those responsible for combining opinions do not first form their own, or at least work to not let that opinion undermine the decision-making process.

At the individual level, team members should reframe how they think about disagreement. Our studies suggest that many people interpret disagreement to mean that someone else is incorrect. With a concerted effort toward intellectual humility, however, this does not have to be the case. For teams, disagreement should be thought of as valuable information. Thinking of it as signaling value, rather than as a reason to derogate, may be the single-best way to defray the costs of turning to the crowd to answer complex questions.

Categories: Blogs

Why CRM Projects Fail and How to Make Them More Successful

Harvard business - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 06:05
PM Images/Getty Images

In 2017, CIO magazine reported that around one-third of all customer relationship management (CRM) projects fail. That was actually an average of a dozen analyst reports. The numbers ranged from 18% to 69%. Those failures can mean a lot of things — over-budget, data integrity issues, technology limitations, and so forth. But in my work with clients, when I ask executives if the CRM system is helping their business to grow, the failure rate is closer to 90%.

The primary reason they miss the mark in helping companies increase revenue is that CRM systems are too often used for inspection — to report on progress, improve accuracy of forecasts, provide visibility, predict project delivery dates, and provide a range of other business intelligence — rather than creating improvement in the sales process. Front-line sales professionals and managers rarely find the majority of these capabilities useful in winning more business for the company.

CRMs today also serve a lot of masters, from executives in the C-suite, technology, marketing, finance, and, oh yeah, sales. They try to address more objectives than are reasonable for any software system. I recently led a working session for a team of executives looking to select a CRM provider. By the time everyone weighed in on their must-haves, we had identified 23 unique objectives. With such a diluted focus, it’s virtually impossible to succeed.

I saw this clearly at another client where there was a wide range of answers to the question, “Was the CRM implementation a success?” The EVP of marketing was pleased she could now track the assignment of every single lead. The CIO was unhappy about data integrity issues that arose from the integration of more than 20 discreet databases. The EVP of sales liked the easy-access dashboard to report on metrics and the forecast. Sales management was less positive but acknowledged that it helped them monitor activity. And the sales team — well, they mostly hated it. They had to enter a lot of information that added little value (for them), and provided no help in selling more. Because the sales team had so little incentive to keep up with the data entry requirements, the quality of the data in the system became less and less reliable over the following year. The result? Incomplete or inaccurate information from the CRM was exported into Excel spreadsheets for further manipulation by each level of management.

If you want your CRM implementation to increase revenue (which it only will if it enables your sales organization to increase sales), I recommend doing the following:

Re-think your CRM as a tool to increase revenue. Period. That is why you bought this system and spent millions, sometimes tens of millions, on its deployment. Broadcast this message loud and clear from the CEO and sales leadership. Your sales team needs to understand that they drive the execution of your strategy every time they interact with a client or prospect. Your implementation of a CRM system is not about the technology, and it is not to fulfill an administrative reporting requirement, which is how too many sales teams view them. The CRM is a tool to help them sell more, access support resources during sales cycles, and manage their territory or “book of business.” If the sales team recognizes the value of this tool, you’ll get all the metric and forecast information you desire. If not, you’ll be back to modifying guesses in Excel spreadsheets.

Integrate your marketing efforts with sales activity. Historically, these two functions collaborate on CRM implementation so poorly it’s almost a cliché. Marketing blames sales for not following up on all the leads produced. Sales points out that marketing doesn’t understand field reality and truly qualified leads. Overcoming these interdepartmental squabbles requires a collaborative effort by both teams throughout the sales process. Early in the sales cycle, marketing and sales have roles to play in identifying and qualifying opportunities to actively pursue. As sales cycles develop, they should have a shared understanding of what constitutes a qualified lead, as well your ideal customer profile — both in terms of the company and level of buyer. This helps filter out business you shouldn’t pursue. Later in the sales cycle, marketing works with sales to create materials that can be customized to client objectives and case studies, instead of the generic collateral sales teams often see as low value. Finally, working together on win/loss analysis provides an active feedback loop for joint planning and addressing future needs. This kind of integration, using your CRM as the glue, will improve marketing’s efforts to create gravity with prospects, and sales’ ability to accelerate sales cycles. It’s an advantage for the business if you can use at least some of the same metrics to evaluate the success of both departments.

Managers provide coaching to improve, not reporting to inspect. The pivotal role in driving CRM success is not individual sales people. It’s sales management. They will determine how the sales team uses and experiences the CRM. If they use it solely to check on the amount of activity, call volume, or other measures of efficiency, it’s of low value to the sales team and likely be rejected or filled with fictional data. Instead use it as a tool to jointly create strategies for major opportunities, and help the sales team to maximize opportunities by coaching them throughout the sales process. I’ve written in the past about the high value of coaching and the fact that it’s rarely done well. But CRM can be a powerful mechanism to support coaching for individual sales calls, as well as opportunity, account, and territory management.

CRM is an important tool, but it is just a tool. When the laptops are shut down for the day, it’s your sales team that is responsible for bringing value to clients and driving revenue. Implement your CRM with that in mind and you’ll be pleased with your ROI.

Categories: Blogs

6 Reasons You’re Not Thinking Clearly

Greatleaders hipbydan - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 06:00

Guest post from Karen Martin:
Ambiguity has become the status quo in most of our organizations. And, it’s the enemy to efficiency, productivity, and a healthy bottom line.
Achieving clarity is the only way to defeat this enemy. But getting clear on everything, from why your organization exists and what its priorities are, to how people must operate based on their clearly defined role, requires time and effort.
Considering that it can take two people half a day to get clear on a question as trivial as what to eat for dinner, it’s no wonder that many feel that the complexity of the organizational environment makes clarity seem impossible. In addition to our current cluttered environment, habits and our psychological makeup can stand in the way of clear thinking.
Here are six traps to watch out for:
You’re in the dark. The first step in changing any habit is recognizing that you have it. This is harder than it seems with clarity since it lies in that middle of what’s being communicated and what’s being received. I might think an idea is perfectly clear but fail to get it across to you. You, in turn, may think you understand something but don’t. Communication and repeating back your understanding is key.
You lack curiosity. “Why?” is the most frequent question children ask and reflects our innate desire to know. But as we grow up, our curiosity is drummed out. This is a shame. Curiosity pushes us to try things people say we can’t accomplish or to differentiate between two options. Fortunately, organizations are filled with people with dormant curiosity waiting to be sparked. With a bit of coaxing and the cultivation of a welcoming culture, they can reinvigorate this curiosity where questions are both encouraged and rewarded.
You think you know it all. Many leaders think they know, but they don’t, and they aren’t going to ask. Their hubris gets in the way and keeps them from seeing the full picture. Fortunately, mindsets are malleable. People can overcome their hubris and adopt a growth mindset with reflection, coaching, and some work on the self. They can choose to let go of their belief that they know everything and start asking more curiosity-driven questions of more people.
You’re biased. Biases serve as filters for the brain. They sift through the thousands of pieces of information and let through only the ones they deem important. Biased decisions sometimes work out okay but leaders should beware of relying on their “instincts.” That’s because biases are unreliable by definition. My biases may be different from yours, and yours different from someone else. We are not all steering in the same direction if bias is driving us.
You pack the plate too full. Organizations give people at all levels far more to do on a given day than they can reasonably achieve. People often feel like they don’t have the time to stop, assess, and consider whether the actions they take by rote are the right ones. Few of us are in control of our time but those who are, or who can influence how time is spent by others, should invest in giving people a percentage of their time for assessments and problem solving.
You’re afraid. All of the psychological and behavioral obstacles to clarity share a common cause: fear. Fear comes in many forms and has many roots. Yet in most cases the fear people feel about seeking clarity in the workplace is based on incomplete thinking. The problem you are avoiding exists whether you seek clarity on it or not. Realize that the longer you wait, the worse the consequences of that problem can become—and the harder to fix.  Achieving clarity is hard work—but it can be liberating, productive, efficient—and lucrative.

Karen Martin, president of the global consulting firm TKMG, Inc., is a leading authority on business performance and Lean management. Her latest book, Clarity First, is her most provocative to date and diagnoses the ubiquitous business management and leadership problem―the lack of clarity―and outlines specific actions to dramatically improve organizational performance. 
Categories: Blogs


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