Monday, August 19, 2013

10,000 hits for ProAxios as of August 19th, 2013

Great day today!

The Nuts and Bolts of Change matter most!

Friday, August 16, 2013

"And that sort of stuff ..." Do we believe what we teach?

It was a simple, off hand comment I overheard from a Learning and Development person
after we discussed some training focused on building leadership trust, recognition behaviors, team building and effective communication.  These behaviors are the heart of what makes leadership effective ...

BUT ...

It was the response that "we teach that sort of stuff..." which made me cringe.   I really wasn't sure what to make of it, but it dawned on me that I have heard that sort of thing before ... many, many times.  I have heard trainers, OD specialists, Change Managers, and HR team members refer to these skills as some peripheral set of tools in an offhanded way.  That's troubling. 

It's almost as if we don't really believe what we teach, yet we know, from research, experience and hard fought skill that these skills are essential for leadership success.

It's almost as if we believe this 'stuff' is good for other people, but not for us. 

It's almost as if somehow, we see these tools and techniques as things we discovered to help others, and we will somehow enlighten them. 

My father had a phrase: "Practice what you preach."  It has stuck with me for years, decades, a lifetime.  Essentially he meant, in his practical way; "if you think something is important enough to use as advice, you need to act it out.  It needs to be real.  Otherwise it is just words."

Implications to our practice (and my own practice):

When people who are not among the Training, Development, OD, and HR ranks hear us refer to training and skills as though they weren't essential parts of leadership, we diminish their belief in us and in the process we so boldly proclaim. 

This isn't just 'stuff' ... it isn't just a course someone takes.  It is real flesh-and-blood action that influences team members and organizations.

We need to take it seriously ... or others will not. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

This is the passion that guides me ...

I have a belief that organizations can be exceptionally exciting places to work, where people find joy in achievement. 
Again and again, I have seen people change through a combination of caring management linked to a massive challenge.
It’s a matter of solid leadership that provides radical clarity of vision, consistent behavior modeling, and transparency in actions.
I am committed to helping people develop ‘white hot’ teams who enjoy their success and demonstrate dramatic levels of accomplishment.   

Ultimately, when people see themselves as respected, valued contributors in their organizations, nothing can stop them.  Nothing.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Organizational Efficacy: Analyzing Organizational Level Capability

Organizations are complex entities with manifold influences impacting their output.  Methodologies exist to analyze organizations from limited viewpoints such as employee engagement, but, in the end, it is the organizational level, not the individual level, that predicts success.  A few star employees cannot provide the necessary organizational power to overcome massive challenges or to produce overall organizational output.  It is the organizational level that matters.

When someone assesses their confidence (efficacy) to do something, they cognitively weigh many things.  They are considering their experience, their skillset, their education, their surroundings, support, decision-making capabilities, and ultimately evaluate all those elements to answer the question “Can I do this?”  It is a moment of ‘yes, I can’ or ‘no, I cannot’.  In the end, it is one’s overall level of confidence (efficacy) that determines the things people choose to do, and how much effort they will put into the work.
What if we could do that with organizations?  What if we could assess, at a very high level, the sense of whether an organization has the power to achieve its strategies?  We can. 

Organizational Efficacy is a research derived social-psychological metric that includes the collective viewpoints of people within an organization to assess whether that organization can succeed.  It is a measure of “can do”.  It evaluates (1) whether people know where the organization is going, (2) whether they can work together to accomplish their organizational goals, and (3) whether they will persist in achieving organizational goals when things go wrong.

By assessing at an organizational level, Organizational Efficacy takes into account organizational influences ranging from vision statements to hiring practices to reward systems to product innovation, leadership capabilities and everything in between.  It is an inclusive metric designed to evaluate overall organizational ability to produce an outcome.
An analysis of Organizational Efficacy gives Senior Executives and Human Resource teams the data to:

Find the “Weakest Link.” Analyzing the Level of Organizational Efficacy at the departmental level to help you strengthen your weakest link.  By doing so, you enhance the performance of the entire organization.

Assess reasons for poor performance. Organizational Efficacy tools assess where to focus budget, managerial effort, and training to improve performance.
Plan for success.  The Organizational Efficacy diagnostic tool assesses how teams and organizations will manage new challenges, especially during times of major organizational change. Deficits can be addressed to ensure the team has a greater likelihood of success.

Analyze exemplar teams to assess why they have such a strong level of efficacy, and leverage that knowledge to improve your entire organization!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Changes within a change ...

We have all read and heard the statistic that 70% of all changes fail.  Many good reasons have been cited for this extraordinary level of failure:

1.    Lack of leadership support.  This is a primary issue in CM failure, for without strong leadership, few changes are likely to bear fruit.

2.    Lack of resources.  Clearly, without proper resources, funding, and an effective team, a change will fail.

3.    Resistance.  This issue is brought up again and again as a source of failure, and, thankfully, is receiving some academic attention, since resistance to change is not always a malicious attempt to derail an initiative.  Resistance is more complex that people who say "I don't want to do this." 

The Hidden Reasons:

1.    Managerial overload due to excessive projects:  Organizations abound with new initiatives, but rare is the corporation that effectively coordinates the requisite actions to manage the interface of multiple projects.

2.    STAR players burn out: The best people get picked for the hardest projects ... again, and again, and again.  Organizations require all team members to be involved, not just a few. 

3.    Changes within the change: Although common sense would seem to raise this issue, very often managers and executives fail to see the deeper complexity of changes within a change.  For example: a company decides to use a new software for their HR systems.  For most people, this will be perceived as an IT/System change.  BUT!  The cognitive changes required at the employee level (new thinking, learning, training), managerial level (new metrics, processes, reporting and workflow) and executive level (increased expectations for data access, improved performance metrics and rapid assessment of issues) are part of the changes within the change.  Simply think of how difficult it is to learn a simple, new software package without assistance, and you'll see what I mean.

4.    Tensions within the change:

Respect the past                                                                 Embrace the future

We used to do it this way                                                    We need to do it this new way

It was a lot easier back then                                               The new system requires learning

Centralization                                                                     Decentralization

Team needs                                                                       Organizational needs

Individual needs                                                                 Organizational expectations

Frontline employees                                                            Executive viewpoints

Each of these elements is present with every change - these are hidden tensions deep below the surface, and each one requires explanation, understanding, and resolution.  Sometimes people are able to resolves these issues on their own, but very likely they will require assistance in sorting out these tensions.

How do we resolve this? 

The power of the human brain cannot be underestimated when considering how it will force out unwanted and useless information in the quest for a goal.  So ... leaders who carefully articulate the Raison d'ĂȘtre for the change are miles ahead in their change management efforts.  "Knowing where we're going" is a big deal, since a clear direction removes other decision options.