Category Archives: Change Management

Quote for Apr 2nd

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Thomas A. Edison 

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Is the Past Impacting Your Present?

MonksIt is easy to hang on to the things that happened in the past, some are good and some are bad. Either way they are familiar and comfortable. Moving onto new ideas and new challenges can be scary so we often stay in our comfort zone and avoid change. Unfortunately, without change there is no growth or progress.

The greatest destructive power the past has is when we hang on to past hurts, slights and disappointments. These eat at us and cause more problems now, most likely the issues from lingering anger and resentment are greater than the original problem. The problems of the past are poisoning the present which will lower morale, reduce productivity and impact quality because we are not paying attention to the present.

As leaders we set the example for those around us. If we are letting the past impact the present, our team will as well. It is important to learn from the past and apply it to the present, and then let it go. Every one of us has things we wish we could do differently; the key is to learn from those situations and use the information to create a better future. Show your team how to move forward in a positive manner by how you handle your own past and how you handle their mistakes.

See the parable below for an interesting look at how the past can shape your attitude in the present.

A Story of Two Monks

Once there were two monks traveling when they arrived at a river. At the river they discovered a woman struggling to get across. Without a second thought, the older of the two monks asked the woman if she needed help, then swiftly picked her up and carried her across to the other bank.

It should be understood that for monks, especially in ancient times, any contact with the opposite sex would be strongly frowned upon, if not forbidden. The actions of the older monk greatly troubled the younger monk, who allowed his feelings to fester for several miles while they continued their journey.

Finally, the younger monk confronted the older monk, “How could you have done such a thing? We are not even supposed to be in a woman’s presence, but you touched her, carried her even!”

The older monk calmly replied, “I put that woman down miles ago, back at the river. But you are still carrying her.” The younger monk realized the older monk was indeed correct and they continued on their journey.

How do you keep the past from negatively impacting your present?

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Self-Aware Leaders

IntrospectionAs a leader do you know your strengths and weaknesses?  Have you examined the things that have helped you get to this point and that have gotten in your way?  Most of us are well aware of the things we have done wrong over the years and we can name a few strengths, and yet to move ourselves and our teams forward we must be more self-aware.  Progress only happens when there is change and forward progress happens when the right changes are made.

To become more self-aware requires a commitment and consistent practice.  You have to be willing to take hard looks at yourself and solicit feedback from the people around you.  As well, this isn’t something that you do today and it’s good for life, you need to do it on a regular basis.  Timing will depend on how fast changes are happening in your world or on how fast you want to change your life.  When looking for quick change or when dealing with a situation that is in flux you need to evaluate your situation more often.  Otherwise, use the evaluations as course corrections to keep you moving in the right direction at the right pace.

Here are five steps to take to become more self-aware:

  1. Write down five strengths and how they have helped you succeed
  2. Write down five weaknesses and how they have slowed you
  3. Get feedback from at least five people around you, your boss, subordinates, peers
    • Ask them for five strengths
    • Ask them what they would like to see you do more often and do less often
    • Compare their assessments with your own, reflect on the differences
    • Using your goals determine what is helping and what is hindering your progress

Once you have determined what you want to address make plans to change your behavior.  Set goals and start small to gain traction.  As you get more comfortable with the new habits and behaviors you can take the time to look back and see how it’s working out.  If it’s moving you forward in the direction you want to go, keep up the good work.  Otherwise, make some new adjustments to get on track.  Doing this regularly will help you grow in the right areas and move you forward.

Another benefit of these five steps is that people will see you as more open and approachable.  Your credibility goes up when you seek feedback and then make changes based on what you learned.  Demonstrating your self-awareness, being open to feedback and changing will make it easier for you to drive change in your organization.  People will respect your thoughts on their development more when they see you doing the same thing.  Change is easier when a leader is willing to change first.  Change starts with self-awareness of what must change.

What steps do you take to evaluate yourself?

 

photo from iStockPhoto.com

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Quote for Mar 12th

If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.

Gail Sheehy

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Who Will Be Your Successor?

key to leadershipHave you identified who you want to groom to take over your position?  It’s possible that you will not be able to move onto a new opportunity unless there is a clear candidate for your current position.  Also, when you work hard to create a high performing group you want to see it continue to succeed.  Additionally, you then have the chance to help someone else grow into their leadership potential.

It’s clear that in the next 5 to 10 years there will be a dramatic shift in the workforce, both from age demographics and work style.  As the Baby Boomers move into retirement and more Gen Y enter the workforce the dynamics of how business is done will be changing.  Are you preparing your organization for these changes?

The changes that will be developing with the changing of the guard are both in how work is done and in leadership styles.  The younger generations have different views on employee/boss relationships, communication styles, preferred work style, motivation, etc.  The Baby Boomers who make up the majority of leader roles today are the ones who need to prepare people and organizations for the shift.  To accomplish this will be a challenge to them because much of what will work in the future goes against their natural instincts.  And yet, they must step up to the challenge.

Here are a few points to keep in mind when working to develop leadership skills in Gen Y:

  • Collaboration:  Teamwork ranks higher than individual efforts
  • Technology:  This generation grew up with computers and technology
  • Diversity:  Celebrating and accepting the differences of people is natural
  • Confidence:  They believe they can do anything they put their minds to
  • Goal Oriented:  Willingness to focus and achieve goals
  • Feedback:  Looking for constant feedback on performance

As you work on developing the skills needed for young professionals in your organization to take over leadership roles creating a structure where they can play to their strengths will help them succeed.  One challenge will be to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.  Historically this is a skill learned through time and experience.  The speed of change in today’s business world makes this approach ineffective.  The ability to think critically and strategically must be actively approached and developed.

Some tips to help grow this vital skill are:

  • Seek Input:  Draw information out of everyone and leverage technology sources
  • Solicit Ideas:  Get ideas for solutions from everyone – regardless of experience level
  • Encourage Discussion:  Create an environment where solutions are explored and discussed from all viewpoints – constructive conflict is great
  • Provide Feedback:  Ask stakeholders for feedback on needs and desires
  • Embrace Risk:  Evaluate risks and allow opportunities for people to take risks without being penalized heavily for mistake

Creating an environment where each generation can learn from each other in an open and encouraging world will help the newer generations learn leadership skills.  Leadership styles will change over time, as they have in the past, so it is critical for today’s leaders to embrace the differences in styles so that tomorrow’s leaders will be set to skillfully lead.

What are you doing to develop your successors?

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Are You Stuck

Man in Wheel

We are seven weeks into 2013 and how are you doing on your plans and goals for the year?  Have you gotten stuck in a rut?  Have you hit a plateau?  Are you stuck in old habits that are keeping you from moving forward towards the future you want?  If so, you are not alone.  Statistics show that 88% of people fail to meet their new year’s resolutions.  It’s not too late to get back on track.

So if you here are five steps you can take today to get unstuck:

  1. Review your goals & select 2 or 3 (max) that support your future
  2. Identify challenges / obstacles to achieving it
  3. Write down the benefits of reaching the goal
  4. Name the resources (people or tools) that will help
  5. Break them down into action items & schedule the time needed

If you follow these five steps you can refocus your attention and efforts onto achieving your goals.  To help you get moving forward again take the time to review your goals.  Ask yourself the following questions about each one:

  • Why is this on the list?
  • Is this going to help me reach my long-term goals?
  • Is this something I want for myself or something others expect of me?
  • Am I willing to commit to this at this time?
  • Will this improve my life/ health/ career/ family?
  • What is the driver behind this goal?
  • Is the driver an internal or external one?

Often we create goals for ourselves that are driven by what other people tell us or expect from us.  Evaluating your goals, both short term and long-term, in light of you situation and where you want to go with your life will help you cut out goals that are due to the expectations of others.  The goals that are driven by your deepest desires and will move you towards the future you envision for yourself are the ones that will hold your attention and you will have the energy to pursue.

Additionally by limiting the number of big goals that you have on your plate will help you manage them.  If you are trying to tackle too many important things at once you will become distracted instead of focused.  Creating a laser like focus on one item of one goal at a time will move you forward faster than bouncing from task to task.  To maintain momentum have a plan that shows all the steps needed to reach the goal.  Then when you finish one item you know what comes next.  This keeps you moving at all times.

If you have gotten stuck on a plateau take time to revisit your goals, why they mattered and decide to do something today that will get you one step closer to your goal.   Hitting a plateau gives you a chance to catch your breath, check the map and get moving again in the right direction.

How do you get yourself off of a plateau?

photo from iStockphoto.com

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Feedback or Criticism

Do you give feedback or criticism?  When you see something that needs to be corrected in someone’s actions or performance how do you approach the topic?  The difference is in the intent of the information you share.  If focused on improving its feedback.  When focused on proving what was wrong its criticism.

Feedback is:

  1. Focused on improving performance or behavior
  2. Seeks to prevent repeat issues
  3. Based on actions observed
  4. Solution centered
  5. Supportive in delivery

Criticism is:

  1. Focused on highlighting errors
  2. Seeks to showcase mistakes
  3. Based on personal observations
  4. Cause centered
  5. Demeaning in delivery

There is a fine line at times between these two types of corrective conversations.  Bosses will say they are giving feedback but the message is about what you did wrong, that’s criticism.  Feedback will inspire people to find better ways to act in the future while criticism will cause people to act out of fear.   No one wants to be “yelled” at when they make a mistake and no matter how its delivered criticism feels like you are being reprimanded.  

Stay focused on how to do better next time and the conversation will feel more positive and have longer lasting results.

For effective feedback:

  1. Seek to understand why the specific action was taken
  2. Look for solutions
  3. Ask how it could be done differently
  4. Use the phrase “I observed…” to point out behavior
  5. Explain the impact of the actions

Providing true feedback instead of criticizing your team will help you build a group who strives to always do better and go beyond expectations.

What is your best tip for giving feedback when something has gone wrong?

photo from iStockphoto.com

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Re-evaluating Your Goals

From time to time it’s important to take some time to reflect upon where you’ve been, where you are and where you are going.  This gives you the opportunity to celebrate the successes you’ve had, the progress you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learned along the way.  When you take in all your personal growth you may find that your vision of the future is slightly different than it was a year ago.  This is why regular reviews are vital for your continued growth. 

Recognizing that the things you have learned may lead to new paths to explore is key to personal growth.  As well, making sure your goals are still the right ones for you will ensure that you are focusing on getting the right things done.  Progress towards an outdated goal is not really progress, it’s just movement. 

For me personally the goals I had in mind when I started this blog last January have evolved.  I was looking to get back into the training and development world in a full time position.  As I worked through a move to a new city and taking in everything that I’ve learned from my blogging I came to realize that really wasn’t the right role for me now.  I still have a deep and abiding passion for training, learning and development.  However, I discovered that instead of a full time job within a company I was happier working one-on-one with people and helping companies improve their training and development programs.  As a result, I am focusing my efforts on becoming a performance coach to help young professionals build a strong foundation for long-term career success.  I will still do training in the areas of time management, leadership and team building while I work with people one-on-one to reach their potential at work and to find their work-life balance.

I’ve been very fortunate to have supporters, mainly mu husband, who have pushed me to stop and figure out what I really want to do next.  They have encouraged me as well as pushed and prodded on occasion to get me moving in this new direction.  Without that support it wouldn’t be possible.  It’s been hard work, a bit stressful and it has its risks, however, by shifting my focus away from the goal of last year I find I am more hopeful and overall have more energy to get this off the ground.

When you are pursuing the things that really make you excited about getting up each morning it hardly feels like work.  As Confucius once said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”   Aligning your actions with your goals and your goals with your passions will make the journey more enjoyable and well worth the effort.

As the year winds down take some time to re-evaluate your goals and make sure you are on the right track for you.

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Interesting Articles for November

Here are a few of the things that I’ve read recently that have caused me to sit back and think about things in a new light.  Hope you enjoy them.

  • I loved this video of Paul Castain’s that Tim Mushey shared on Sell, Lead, Succeed!  How true, if companies can make millions on selling water what can you bring to the table?  Paul Castain Says Screw the Water Go Brand Yourself.
  • Here is an interesting look at the tough side of leadership by Miles Anthony Smith on Great Leadership.  It really got me thinking about how often these things are overlooked in leadership training.  The 5 Perils of Leadership.
  • This is a great reminder of the power of the words we use when we talk to our team.  Make sure that the words you use bring out the best in everyone and help them reach their potential.  They will be eternally grateful to you for believing in them.  From Mike Rogers at Teamwork and Leadership.  Do You Make this Mistake with Those You Lead?
  • In this article Elizabeth Grace Saunders, on HBR Blog, points out the negatives associated with putting other people first.  Learning when and how to say no is one of the biggest steps for career success.  Stop Being a People-Pleaser
  • Do you value brains or results?  Often managers and companies hire the smartest people and yet this is not a guarantee of success.  In this article on Fast Company by Andrew Razeghi he demonstrates that innovation is being able to act on creative ideas; which can be more important than generating the ideas.  As well, he uses Edison vs. Tesla to demonstrate the impact of social skills on success.  Do You Hire for IQ or Klout Score?
  • When was the last time you took inventory of your management skills?   In this article Tina Del Buono on PPM Blog provides a great road map to examining your skills.  Examine Your Management Skills

What reading have you done that inspired you?

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Course Corrections

As you work towards your goals there are times when you find that the plan you set is not getting you where you want to go.  So what do you do?  You can stay with the plan and keep plugging away hoping that you get to the right place eventually.  Or you can make some changes; adjust your course if you will. 

This is like sailing; the captain is always making adjustments to his sails, to his direction based on the wind and the currents.  He started with a plan of going from A to B along this route, but the environment can push him in new directions so he has to constantly make changes to get where he wants to go.  In the end he got to his destination but during the trip his plans changed based on what he was experience at the time.

Why not apply the same principles to our pursuit of goals?  When we decide on a goal we create a plan to get there.  Then life happens and things change as we move forward.  Adapting and adjusting our actions will provide a greater likelihood of success and satisfaction as we reach our goal.  Sticking to a plan without adapting to the changing world is frustrating and often self-defeating.

Here are a few things that may cause you to make some course directions as you work towards your goals.

  1. Lack of focus.  You may be chasing too many things at once and you are not able to focus on any one of them.  This means you are not making significant progress on anything.  Sit down and evaluate which of your goals you want/can achieve first and focus on that one.  Once it’s complete move on to the next one.
  2. Tackling too big of a change.   At times we set goals that require significant change in what we are doing.  Making a huge change all at once can be overwhelming and then it becomes difficult to maintain.  If your goal requires big change, find steps to take to get there instead of jumping off the cliff.  It will be easier to maintain long-term if you take smaller, yet measurable, steps to get you there.
  3. Changing passion.   You may find that your passion has changed, it may be due to external forces or your life has taken you in a new direction and so your passion has shifted.  Whichever is the reason, take the time to figure out what makes you excited to get up in the morning and move towards it.  Over time that can and probably will change, so adapt and go in the new direction.

As the year is coming to a close it is a good time to stop and reflect on where you are and where you want to go.  Take an honest assessment of your goals and your plans.  If you find that you aren’t on track anymore, that the winds of time have shifted your direction, spend a little bit of time looking at what you can do to make some course corrections to get you where you want to go.  Making the needed adjustments will help ensure the things you are doing are the best use of your time; that they will get you to your goal.

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