In leading change, leaders should be aware that change does not always lead to improvement. I am sure that we have all seen many changes made over the years that, at the end of the day, did not really make a difference to the product or service that our teams provide.
How can we know whether changes are resulting in actual improvements?
Do your homework
“It seemed like a good idea at the time” is not really a good enough rationale for making changes, especially if the changes are substantial and will impact many people in the organisation. Slow down and do your homework. This will give you a stronger foundation to pitch the changes and a rationale to fall back on if the changes are a disaster. Ask these questions: Have other organisations made similar changes? Have these changes led to significant improvements? Is there any research that supports the changes that you are proposing?
Decide on how you can measure improvement
Change is easy to see, but improvement is challenging to measure. We will talk more about this next time. The first thing is to decide what KPIs or measurements are needed to asses the current situation and the impact of the changes.
Consider a trial period
We live in a fluid world where change is constant. The changes that you are proposing might not actually work or they may need to be tweeked for optimal improvement. Don’t set the change in concrete. Suggest a trial period with evaluation before a long term decision is made.
What changes have been made in your organisation that have not led to improvement?
How will you know that the changes you are proposing are really going to make a difference?
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading”
One of the most important tasks that a new leader has is to build a strong and effective leadership team. This can be a challenging thing to do, especially if there are under-performing members in the team.
Sometimes, senior leaders sense very quickly that a team member may need to be moved. Other times it becomes obvious during the first year. Some things to think about when considering making early changes to the leadership team are:
Has the person been made aware of the concerns with their performance?
When working with an under-performing team member, it is easy to assume that they have been made aware of the issues of concern by the previous leader. This may not be the case. Some organisations are very weak on performance feedback and operate within a culture of “niceness”. Nice is nice but it can then come as a great shock to the team member that there are real concerns with their work. It pays to ask what evaluations and training have been carried out in the past.
Is the person going to be given a chance to improve?
Once aware of the performance issues, can the person be offered extra training or coaching to have a chance to show improvement in the areas of concern?
Is there another role within the organisation that they would be better suited to?
Sometimes people who are under-performing in a particular role may shine in another role within the organisation. If so, they may actually be happy to make a change to something that better suits their strengths and experience.
When is the right time to make the move?
There is no simple answer to this question. Some leaders make this decision very quickly and move the person out in order to build the team with people they have confidence in. There is some logic in this, but leaders do need to be aware of workplace legislation, previous contracts and the human side of making such changes.
Other leaders take some time to make the moves. They communicate their vision and expectations to those on the team, set the bar high and offer to help any team members who are struggling. After a while, the team member either sees that they won’t make the grade or is asked to move based on their under-performance.
Sadly, some leaders never make the changes. They form patterns of work that by-pass the under-performing team member and just accept they will always be there. Personally, I don’t think this is a good option as there will be growing tensions and frustrations developing over time and the rest of the team and the organisation is being penalised by carrying under-performing staff.
How to make the move with care?
When moving people it is really important to do it with care. Moving people can have a big impact on how they feel about themselves and their career future. Remember to be sensitive as you guide them through this process.
In 2014 do you need to make some changes on your leadership team?
How will you do this?
” Remember upon the conduct of each
The beginning of a year or the commencement of a new role is a time when leaders are often thinking about the changes that need to be made in their teams and organisations. New leaders are full of energy and ideas and are ready to start moving things around.
The key to leading change is making the right changes at the right time. There are no clear rules that will guide the leader but here is a 3 level framework that might help you to make the necessary decisions at the right time.
Level One Changes
I would call level one changes the small changes that may be stylistic or procedural that will hopefully bring a freshness and greater operational effectiveness. Examples could be new colours in the office, procedures for communication, reporting and planning.
The good thing is that as a new leader people will be expecting you to be making some of these changes. Even if the changes are small, there still may be criticism and resistance; we all know, not everyone will welcome change. Level one decisions still need buy in from the team but is an area where the leader can make some immediate changes and hopefully secure small wins quickly.
Level Two Changes
These changes are bigger and will affect more people. Some examples would be new role definitions for team members and major changes to operating procedures. With these changes the leader should really think through the process and the timing. It also depends on the culture of the organisation and the role the leader has been brought in to fulfill.
Making these changes too quickly can backfire if the team doesn’t understand the need for these decisions or feel that all that they have been doing has just been dumped. Sometimes new leaders may get away with making these changes early, as they rely on the goodwill of others when they are still in their “honeymoon period”. Sometimes it is still better to be patient and work towards these changes.
Level Three Changes
These are significant changes and should be considered very carefully. Some examples would be replacing under-performing members of the team, radically changing the operational procedures or the long term strategy of the organisation. Rushing in to these changes can have some disastrous consequences. Next time we will talk more about this level of change.
The way that these major changes will work well is if the leader guides the group through the change process. It is important to guide, discuss, inspire, train and support members of the team for the changes.
In 2014 what are the changes that you will need to lead?
If nothing changes, nothing changes
Besides these emails there may be other ways that I can help you to grow as a leader and strengthen your team.
What I do
In my work as a consulting psychologist, I spend most of my time helping leaders and their teams become more unified and effective by using a STRENGTHS-based approach. When people become aware of their strengths they are encouraged and can see more clearly which activities will lead them to greater effectiveness and fulfilment.
As each team member becomes aware of the strengths of others in the team, they can appreciate each person’s contribution and discover ways to work together more effectively.
How I do it
A personal focus. When working with a team, I ask each person to do an online survey which helps identify their top strengths. Then, either in person or through skype, I work with them to see how these strengths are already helping them in their role and how focusing on them will lead to a greater impact.
A group focus. Then, in a group workshop, we look at the results for all the group members and share encouraging observations of how these strengths have been seen in action. It’s great to see those light-bulb moments when people really start to understand each other.
This is also a great way for team leaders to get a snapshot of the strengths of the people in their teams, helping them lead more effectively.
Why I do it
Helping leaders and teams grow is more than a job for me, it’s my passion. I really enjoy seeing leaders understand how these strengths influence their work and leadership style. Helping leaders grow has positive effects for them, their teams and their organisations.
I also believe that when team members gain insights into the personalities of others in the team they can appreciate them more fully and understand possible sources of conflict and frustration.
Real growth and change comes from a combination of insight, personal application, discussion and re-inforcement.
Please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more. I hope that 2014 will be a strong year for you.
At this time of the year, in many parts of the world, we see so many pictures of the sweet baby Jesus. How serene he is in the classic manger scene that we see on many cards, often with a soothing, glowing light effect eminating from him.
What is easy to forget is that Christmas is not just a celebration of the little baby, but the radical reformer that the baby grew up to be. While only a small child, he was already seen as a threat by the King at the time who tried to have him executed. In his lifetime, he shook things up by:
Accepting those marginalised by society.
From the records that we have, Jesus extended friendship to and spent time with people that society shunned; tax collectors (very unpopular at the time), prostitutes, those with serious illnesses and those who had been deemed as unacceptable by the religious leaders of the time. He also challenged racial barriers that were very prevalent at that time.
Publicly challenging the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of the time.
Instead of the religious leaders being beacons of hope and love, many had become sidetracked by man-made religiosity and the status that came with being a “respected” religious leader. Instead of the classic popular portrayal of Jesus as “meek and mild” he publicly and strongly confronted these hypocrites and those who sought to “cash in” on religion.
Teaching and modelling the idea that serving others is more fulfilling than serving yourself.
Instead of the attitude of “what can I get from others?”, Jesus modelled the higher way of loving and serving others. This principle is still so true. I believe that some of the happiest and personally fulfilled people this Christmas will be the ones who will be giving and serving others in a practical way. Personal sacrifice is usually a prerequisite to making a positive mark on society.
I believe that Jesus won over the cynics, hypocrites and haters through his message of love and service and that through his death and resurrection he showed that he was even more than a reformer.
So, this Christmas, apart from having a great time with family and friends, let’s also think about;
So remember the baby and have a radical Christmas.
” Jesus Christ was an extremist
To a large extent, the influence and success of a leader will depend on whether or not he or she is trusted. As a new leader, you may have the best and brightest ideas for the future but to bring them to fruition you will need team members on board and receptive to your leadership.
Sadly, throughout the world, many people have real trust issues with their work, political and religious leaders.
There are no short-cuts to building trust. Although, here are some things to think about. Building trust involves:
Acting with integrity
This should not come as a surprise, but the key to gaining trust is to be trustworthy. As a new leader you will be watched by others in the team and they will form an impression of you from what they hear you say and watch you do. Leaders are respected when they have clear and noble values which they live by. Every breach of integrity will damage your leadership influence. Leaders aren’t perfect, so when you make a mistake admit it, accept responsibility and ask for forgiveness.
Letting people down with consistency, delivery and quality will erode their confidence in you. There are some people, who we know from experience, won’t ring us when they have said they would. It’s not that they are dishonest but they are someone who forgets or gets sidetracked. Even worse if it’s the leader who cannot be relied on. Through rain, hail or snow make good on your promises. Always deliver at your highest quality.
Leaders who believe they are perfect, all knowing, always right and superior to the people in their teams are not only kidding themselves but will not be able to build trust from their team members. Likewise, leaders who are always sharing their intimate problems, failures and weaknesses will also not inspire others to have confidence in them.
However, leaders who have a healthy awareness of their strengths and share their mistakes or their feelings, show the team that they are humble and open. I find that, by being a little vulnerable, people feel that leaders are fallible and are on a journey of growth just like they are.
Accepting that you can’t win them all
One other thing that I have learnt about leadership is that there will always be people who won’t trust you because they don’t trust ANY leaders. You may never win with them, so just keep doing what you do well and do it on time and honestly.
If someone is attacking your integrity be confident that most people will judge you based on their experiences and not on negative chatter. If the undermining is ongoing and serious, then perhaps it is time to challenge the person to give examples of how you have allegedly lacked integrity. Maybe it’s time for them to put up, shut up or just shut the door as they leave.
Do your team members trust you?
If you have a credibility issue, how can you work at repairing it?
In my younger days I did a lot of competitive swimming. Besides the seemingly endless laps that we did daily, I remember that we spent time practicing our starts. Starting well had two components: mind and skills. In many ways, these two components are essential as someone prepares for a new role, especially if they are moving into a role with greater responsibilities. To start a new job well you need to be ready in your mind and with your skills.
Being mentally prepared
As a person starts a new role, it is important for them to be focused on the race ahead and how they plan to start. Just jumping in and seeing what happens is not a recipe for a strong start. It is important to be ready and know what you are about to do.
In his book, “The first 90 days”, Michael Watkins highlights the need for people to mentally promote themselves into their new role. It is important to understand the nature of the new role and to begin to think differently. If you are promoted into a senior leadership position it is vital to really think this through as what you will be expected to do may be very different to what you have been doing and the way that you have been operating.
Being mentally prepared means being focused, ready, psyched and excited as you anticipate the start.
Being prepared in our skills
As we consider a new role it is very likely that our strengths, experience and skills will be an enormous help to us. After all, that is why we got the job. However, it is important to think about whether there are any gaps that may need some work before we start.
Our previous skills may not be enough to ensure our future success. This is especially important if a person is going into a higher level leadership role. The classic scenario is when the successful salesperson is promoted to the position of sales manager. This can go wrong if the person doesn’t ensure that they have the skills to lead and manage as well as their skills in sales. Before starting a new position ask yourself:
What are the areas where I will need to grow? How can build my skills in these areas?