Let’s Lead Change, Not Just Manage It

lead change

Change is a subject that’s near and dear to my heart.  It’s been at the core of what I do for over 25 years.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about the topic of leading change.  We’ve talked for years about managing change but not leading change.

Leading change is different from change management.  Change management is a well thought out set of approaches and tools that supports change, often at a project level.  For example, there is a change management component to installing a new system, transitioning how you do performance management, or introducing a new project. It happens in parallel to the project to make sure the business solution is implemented and that people adopt the new behaviors associated with it. It focuses on understanding the difference between the current state and future state, creating communication and training plans, identifying early adopters and resisters and paving the way for the business outcome to be reached. It is a very important toolkit and competence that should be part of projects that introduce change.

Leading change is about creating and communicating a vision for change and is not directly tied to a project or initiative. It is what drives the business solution, not what implements it. It is transformational. It creates a mindset across the organization that focuses on what could or should be different rather than asking them to simply adopt an already determined solution.  It removes the shackles of how we do things and asks people to truly engage in the change, to become part of creating a solution. It enables others to think differently.  It moves change along more rapidly and more efficiently, even while it creates a sense of upheaval. It is what makes people say “I HAVE to be part of this.” It creates momentum and a desire to continually move to the next phase or next level.

Most executives I talk to and organizations I work with are hungry for change leadership.  What about yours? Do you only manage change or do you truly lead it?

Your Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the edge having a growth mindset gives.  Research shows it is a better predictor of success than IQ.  A growth mindset embraces challenges, persists in the face of setbacks, believes effort will lead to a level of mastery, and learns from criticism. The problem is, on those days when we need it the most, when we are facing challenges and setbacks and nothing seems to be going right, is when it can be the most difficult to engage with a growth mindset.  After all, in the short run, it’s sometimes easier to just throw up your hands, take the easy route or just walk away.

What question is is how do you feel about that choice tomorrow.  Quite possibly you tell yourself that you could have stuck with it a little longer. You may realize that at least some of the criticism may have been justified.  Or, you may decide that the route for growth really was to walk away. Sometimes the setbacks you’re facing are the very things that are telling you to move on and grow in a different way.  The way to face of the setbacks is to make a left turn and go around it rather than trying to bulldoze through it.  Many people will tell you it’s that growth, the growth that happens when we take a totally different view of the setback and how we can move towards mastery, that creates some of the greatest breakthroughs in your life and your work.

Is Middle Management Really Going Away?

Middle Managers

I had the pleasure of watching an interview with Jay Samit, CEO of SeaChange International and author of Disrupt You speak at the C-Suite Network conference a few months back. One of the more provocative predictions he made was that in 5 years, one half of all middle management jobs will be gone. Not 20 years. Not 50 years. Five.

Needless to say, the number of implications that creates are far too many to discuss here. Jeff Hayzlettthe interviewer, asked the question we were all asking ourselves — if half of all middle management is going away, what should middle managers do? Here are Samit’s 3 pieces of advice:

  • Commit to life-long learning: change is occurring so rapidly that we can’t possible know what our opportunities will be in 2 or 3 years much less 10 or 15.  By continually learning you can see what may be coming around the bend and be ready for it while those who have chosen to shut-off their learning will never know what hit them.
  • Keep an open mind: the further we go in life we can begin to assume that we know the answers and how it should work.  The truth is, without an open mind, it’s amazing how wrong you can be.
  • Invite data in:  in some circles, you hear a lot about big data.  Data comes in many forms – quantitative, qualitative, anecdotal. Data is available in so many ways, don’t be afraid to gather and use data to help inform your path and illuminate possibilities.

The quest for certainly blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.”

-Erich Fromm

Tic, toc, tic, toc — Getting Beyond Time Wasters

Time Wasters

I don’t know about you but the first half of the year has flown by for me.  Time has a way of doing that, moving quickly.  So, it’s important that we use our time well. Here are three tips for making the best use of your time:

1) Weigh urgency and importance.  We all have things in life that need our immediate attention.  We also have things that are important for us to achieve the outcomes we desire.  They are not always the same thing.  If something is urgent and important, it usually gets our time. However, if it’s important and not urgent it is very easy to not give it the time it needs. Take a look at how you’re using your time.  Are the things taking up your time urgent? important? urgent and important? or urgent and unimportant.  If too many are in the last category, you probably feel frustrated.  Recalibrate and determine how to move those things off your plate and make more room for the important and not urgent.

2) Build mental breaks into your day.  If you don’t build in mental breaks, you become less effective. And more prone to get distracted by Facebook, fantasy football or your text alerts.  However, if you know you will be taking break to get your electronic fix, you can spend time truly focusing on what needs to be done rather telling yourself ‘I’ll only take a minute to check…’ Research shows it takes 25 minutes for us to completely refocus after an interruption. So that ‘minute’ becomes more like 30.

3) Create blocks of time for just you.  When you lead other people or work in a team, it’s easy to have your time become booked with meeting after meeting or for people to continually stop in because of your open door policy.  All of us have work that needs our undivided attention.  Build times into your calendar that are sacred so you can focus on that work.  Let your team members and other people who may need to know that at a certain time, you’re going to be in your office (or cubicle) with the door (or imaginary door) closed so that you can focus on work that needs your undivided attention.  Ask them to please not disturb you unless absolutely necessary.  Then close your door and get to work!
Cheers!
Edith

Worried about retention? Some news about millennials

Millennials and careers

 A recent article from Reuters provided some insights into why millennials quit their jobs and just how many of them plan on doing so in the next 2-4 years. First, the numbers:

  • Sixty percent of millennials, those people who are 22-32, have changed jobs 1-4 times in the past 5 years, according to State Street Global Advisors. Could be some of the younger millennials in the survey population were moving from part-time or ‘I needed a job’ jobs, but that numbers should give you pause.
  • If given the choice, 44% would leave their job in the next two years and 66% expect to change their employers in the next 4 years. Not would if they could. They expect to change.

Why? As we’ve all heard, millennials want work that aligns with their values. Old news.  What was interesting is how important it is even to those who are what they call ‘senior millennials’ — those with high-level job titles. Sixty-one percent of them say they’ve chosen not to undertake a task at work because it conflicts with their values. So much for work is not personal.

However, this article points out that isn’t the whole story. Turns out money does matter. A woman quoted in the article only chose to change to a career she thought she would like better when she figured out it was lucrative in the market where she lives. It also notes how often millennials are developing additional revenue streams outside of their jobs. Sounds pretty entrepreneurial to me.

What can you do to keep your millennials around.  Most likely, they will leave you at some point but you can probably extend that timeframe by focusing on three things:
  • Know what your millennials, as individuals, value and integrate that into their work.
  • Give them the opportunity to generate business ideas and be entrepreneurial. Their doing it on the side.  Why not as part of their regular job?
  • Don’t think that all of this takes the place of money.  They want financial rewards for their effort.  What may be different from others is that the rewards need to be aligned with their values, how they are making a difference and the ability to be entrepreneurial at work.
Cheers!
Edith

Change Your Attitude

change your attitude

Anyone will tell you that attitude can make up for other things that may be lacking when it comes to success.  Carol Dweck’s most recent research shows that attitude is a more effective predictor of success than IQ.  However, what makes a difference is not whether you are Mary Sunshine, alway arriving with a smile and a spring in your step or Sam Schlubbum who greets interactions with a stoic face and isn’t excited about too much of anything.

The key difference is whether you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.  A growth mindset embraces challenges, persists in the face of setbacks, believes effort will lead to a level of mastery, and learns from criticism.  A fixed mindset,on the other hand, tends to avoid challenges, gives up easily, doesn’t believe effort will lead anywhere and ignores useful criticism. I’m sure we all know people who fit both of these descriptions.

If you’re stuck in a fixed mindset, don’t despair. Anyone can move into a growth mindset. The key is to start small. For example, when you’re faced with a challenge and ready to give up, decide to work at it for a few more minutes. Decide what you’re passionate about and find ways to incorporate more of that into your day. When the answer is no, don’t be afraid to try again. Countless successful people were rejected over and over again.

Watch the people around you this week.  Who is exhibiting a fixed mindset?  Who’s exhibiting a growth mindset?

Are These People a Team?

TeamThe word and idea of a team gets used a lot in the work world. Managers talk about their teams. Teams are pulled together to solve business issues. Teamwork is touted as the best way to achieve results.

I’m often asked to work with teams who are not performing as well as they should be. Some are outright dysfunctional. And, sometimes, the group is not a team at all. They are a group of people who report to a particular manager or who serve a particular client group. Usually, the person who brought me into the organization thinks they are or should be a team, but in reality, they aren’t or don’t need to be. There are four reasons why what is often called a team is not a team at all:

  • Lack of common purpose: A team needs to have a common purpose that can only be achieved by the members of the team working together. If the purpose can be achieved without that kind of collaboration or if the only commonality is that we have the same boss, it’s not a team.
  • Individual, not shared, goals: Teams have shared goals and accountabilities. If each individual only has individual goals and there is no need for shared goals, then what is it we are all trying to achieve together?
  • Team members aren’t bought into the cause. If the team members don’t find the purpose of the team to be compelling and can’t really see how they add value, there is no team. Team members need to believe that the work being done by the team is important. They need to be committed and motivated to achieving the results.
  • They only get together to share information. Many of us have been in team meetings where the sole purpose is for each team member to update the other team members and this is the only interaction the team members have with each other.

Teams exist to take action against a shared purpose and goals. If we do not work collaboratively to generate ideas, to make decisions or to execute specific actions, then the “team,” is really a very labor-intensive communication vehicle. The “team” is a distribution channel. It’s not really adding any value, just getting information from one point to another.

The Leadership Multiplier Effect

A third of all CEO’s surveyed by The Conference Board say the most pressing issue they have is attracting, developing and retaining the right talent. Two of the biggest factors in engagement and retention are trust in senior leadership and the relationship people have with their managers. With 75% of employees in a recent Gallup Organization survey reporting that they are unengaged or actively disengaged at work, leadership is not successfully addressing this issue.

Leadership excellence has a multiplier effect on organizations. Investing in developing leaders, increasing the leadership multiplier effect, is a short-term and long-term strategy that allows your organization to adapt and thrive in various economic circumstances by attracting, retaining and engaging your human capital.

What is the Leadership Multiplier Effect?

Resources spent on leadership development have a cascading effect throughout the organization. The effective leader creates exponential value for the organization through his or her influence on the strategy, people and processes in the organization. One leader’s effective decisions and actions has a ripple effect that can impact dozens or hundreds of employees, positively changing business performance for the entire department or business unit. Likewise, the impact of poor leadership decisions and actions can lead to the decreased ability to attract, develop and retain the right talent.

In addition, effective senior leaders model behaviors and skills for other leaders in the organization. They set the tone for the leadership practices that define the organization and its culture. They demonstrate the business skills that address business issues and create innovation. They define and operationalize high performance through their interactions with each other and the entire organization.

As others mature in their leadership roles, their effectiveness is increased for having been effectively developed and for the role-models presented by senior leadership. A cascade is created. With more effective leadership focused on the right things at all levels in the organization, factors impacting business performance improve. Groups led by effective leaders are more engaged resulting in higher productivity rates, increased willingness to give extra effort, and greater acceptance of change. In other words, effective leadership creates an environment that attracts and retains high quality talent.

Ensuring the effectiveness of your leaders is critical whether your business is expanding or contracting. When your business is expanding, bringing on new people, introducing new products, serving new customers, leaders need to integrate and assimilate the growth. They need to plan strategically for growth, effectively develop their teams, establish business practices and maintain the engagement people feel in those initial few months on the job.

When business is contracting, leaders need to manage the change brought on by staff reductions, reduced revenue streams and increased cost constraints. They need to maintain the remaining staff’s focus and morale. Need to maintain customer service levels, identify how to do more with less.

Optimizing the Leadership Multiplier Effect

For the leadership multiplier effect have its maximum impact, leaders must be developed effectively. Effective development includes:

1.  Identifying the core of effective leadership. What makes leaders effective? One way to start thinking about leadership effectiveness is to identify what results you want the leader to achieve and use this to identify behaviors that are effective in achieving those results.

2.   Communicating what is expected of a leader. This communication is not always in words. It’s important to understand that how you select, how you assign resources, what people are held accountable for and how you recognize and reward say a great deal about your expectations of leaders.

3.   Assessing your leaders against your model of effectiveness. If some are less effective than you need, identify a strategy for addressing it. It may be development, assignment changes, or an exit strategy. No matter what strategy seems most appropriate, it should start with a frank conversation with the leader.

4.   Identifying potential leaders within your organization and outside your organization. Do you have the bench strength you need? Also remember that leaders aren’t just those with formal titles but also those in roles that are pivotal to business success.

5.   Developing leadership effectively. Formal learning experiences, business-driven assignments and projects, coaching, mentoring and other leadership development experiences need to align with the business strategy and the expectations you’ve communicated about leadership within your organization. Utilize a suite of development activities that build leaders throughout their careers. Developing leaders is process not an event. You must take a planned approach to leadership development, not one that only addresses obvious flash points that may be ignoring underlying causes.

By taking advantage of the Leadership Multiplier Effect, you will optimize talent and create competitive advantage.

Getting Real is Now an E-book

Getting Real Front Cover

It finally happened…Getting Real is available as an e-book.  

Get one for yourself. Share this with a friend or colleague. Don’t miss what Marshall Goldsmith calls “instrumental in taking your personal leadership strategy to new heights.”
Available on Amazon.
Cheers!
Edith

About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. She is the author of the Amazon bests seller Getting Real:  Strategies for Leadership in Today’s Innovation-Hungry, Multi-Tasking, Time-Strapped World of Work. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive.  As the President of Factor In Talent,  Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.

What’s Your Talent Investment Plan?

Knowledge Investment

“Knowledge and skills have become the global currency of 21st-century economies, but there is no central bank that prints this currency. Everyone has to decide on their own how much they will print.”

–Andreas Schleicher, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Schleicher’s quote is from Pass the Books. Hold the Oil by Tom Friedman in the March 10 New York Times. The piece talks about how performance on Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, exam is correlated with how few natural resources a country has. The fewer the natural resources the better the performance on the exam. As another contributor to the article, K.R. Sridhar, founder of a fuel cell energy company in Silicon Valley says, “When you don’t have resources, you become resourceful.”

Those countries with the least natural resources have learned that in order to compete over the long term on a world stage they need to invest in educating their student populations.

Over the past few years, most businesses would say they’ve learned a difficult lesson of what it is like to live in a resource constrained environment. And the ones that will achieve continued success are those who have continued to invest in developing the skills and capabilities that will bring the biggest return on investment for their business. There’s no one perfect solution for every business. It needs to work in your business and in your business environment.

In the 21st century, competitive advantage comes from the strength of the people you have. As Schleicher argues “the only sustainable way is to grow our way out (of the recession) by giving more people the knowledge and skills to compete, collaborate and connect in a way that drives our countries forward,”

What is your talent investment plan?