Managing Dynamic Change in 2018

Managing Dynamic Change in 2018

For years, I have witnessed companies struggle with creating a better workplace, good profits, and true growth by introducing improvements into every function and process. Competitive pressures keep increasing, the pace of change keeps accelerating, and companies MUST continually search for higher levels of quality, service, and overall business agility. The treadmill moves faster, companies work harder, but results improve slowly or not at all. Dynamic change is not a DIY project.

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Lopsided leadership - Competencies come in pairs

Lopsided leadership - Competencies come in pairs

Most leaders are familiar with the concept of leadership competency skill sets coming in pairs. Multiple assessment tools classify people’s preferences as either “task-oriented” vs. “people-oriented", “big picture” vs. “detail-oriented” or “analytic” vs. “intuitive”.

There are many different models of leadership competencies. One model proposed by Kaiser and Kaplan in their book Fear Your Strengths: What You Are Best at Could Be Your Biggest Problem (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2013) illustrates the tension of dualities that arise in the execution of leadership responsibilities. 

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Development Stages and Effective Leader-Managers

Development Stages and Effective Leader-Managers

Developmental theories have been around for decades based on 50 years of psychological research into how adults mature. How are developmental stages applied to leader-managers? How do leader-managers grow into more effective levels of maturity, wisdom and agility? Organizational psychologists have since applied the basic tenets to leadership development. Read further to learn about their conclusions and the affect on leader-manager effectiveness and peak performance.

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Agility and Resilience: The Urgent Need to Grow Better Leaders

Agility and Resilience: The Urgent Need to Grow Better Leaders

Currently, few leadership-development initiatives are addressing the inner game: how leaders perceive, find meaning, make decisions, and handle complexities. However, accredited executive coaches have been preparing for this shift over the evolution of executive and leadership coaching. The shift is from transactional and situational coaching toward coaching the essence of leaders and appreciating developmental-stages theory.

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Re-Ignite Your MOJO. Make Your Work More Meaningful and Fascinate the World Around You

Re-Ignite Your MOJO. Make Your Work More Meaningful and Fascinate the World Around You

Many executives are concerned about losing their passion at some point in their career. The concern can be attributed to a midlife crisis or can be a result of a personal or professional setback such as a critical illness or a loss followed by a less than positive return-to-work experience. Often the default decision of changing jobs, switching careers, or starting a new business appears to be the only way out, but caution is wise in these uncertain times. Before you jump ship, read further.....

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Motivate without Micromanaging

Motivate without Micromanaging

Over-management can manifest as micromanagement. When you tell employees what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and why your way is better, you undermine their ability to think for themselves. Instead of enjoying some control over the way they work, they begin to feel powerless and controlled. They many even start to doubt their competency. Their relationship with you deteriorates, as it is now based on compliance and conformity.

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5 Steps to Build Peak Performance – Step 5: Shine

  • 750 words
  • Average Reading Time: Less than 3 minutes

Previous blogs have summarized the first 4 steps in the Cycle of Excellence and referenced in the book Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011).

Recap: Dr. Hallowell, the author, a psychiatrist and behavior expert, draws on brain science, performance research, and his own experience to present the Cycle of Excellence process and the 5 steps to build peak performance:

  1. Select: Put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.  
  2. Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
  3. Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.
  4. Grapple and Grow: When the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
  5. Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

We continue with the fifth step.

Step 5: Shine

I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health. –Voltaire-

People rarely give out too much appreciation. In my work with leaders and executive teams implementing Quality Management Systems and Healthy Workplace programs, I witness the emphasis on identifying deficits, gaps, and non-compliance.  Mistakes, unsatisfactory performance, and non-conforming processes get too much attention. Overwhelming energy is spent on analyzing weaknesses and attributing blame.

Not enough attention is given to recognizing strengths, talents, and attitudes. An analysis of what is working well and celebratory meetings focused on attributing praise is rare in the workplace. Yet research shows most people learn better from positive reinforcement of success than focusing on improving weaknesses. Every employee should feel recognized and valued for what he or she does well.

 “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”  Alexander Pope, “Essay on Criticism”

I would add to this quote: To acknowledge successes, divine!

People learn from mistakes and continue to develop when their successes are noticed and acknowledged. Letting them know that you appreciate efforts and victories large and small will motivate them to shine.

Ironically, when a person is underperforming or otherwise disengaged, lack of recognition may be the root cause. An employee will rarely come right out and tell you that she feels undervalued.  It’s one of those dreaded conversations that people avoid while the issue festers.  An astute leader and manager will be alert for the subtle signs that an employee is suffering.

Preventive and Predictive Action

I encourage my executive clients to follow a process of preventive and predictive action rather than fighting fires when employees disengage and problems arise:

  • Be on the lookout for moments when you can catch someone doing something right. It doesn’t have to be unusual or spectacular. Don’t withhold compliments.
  • Be generous with praise. People will pick up on your use of praise and positive acknowledgment and will begin to emulate for themselves and each other.
  • Recognize attitudes as well as achievements. Optimism and a growth mindset are two attitudes to single out and encourage. Look for other desirable attitudes.

Notice that the above actions have a positive-focus aka “positive psychology interventions”.

Positive Psychology Interventions

Insights from the recent Canadian Positive Psychology Conference in Ottawa validated positive-focused interventions. Try a few simple positive psychology interventions to add praise and positive acknowledgement to your workplace culture:

  • Begin your meetings with “what’s going well”.  End with “what we learned today”.  Best Practice: Make it safe for everyone to engage in positive feedback.
  • Install a Gratitude Bulletin Board beside your Health and Safety Bulletin Board.
  • Post-the-positive on your Employee Communications Board on a regular basis including positive affirmations; acknowledgements; employee achievements behind the scenes and outside the workplace; and positive news. Based on personal experience with clients and their employees’ response, I guarantee this one positive intervention will stoke your employees’ desire to excel and shine.

Simple interventions promoting positive psychology in the workplace are good for business; the workplace; and the community.  Everyone has a right to flourish.

When you’re in sync with your people, you create positive energy and opportunities for peak performance. Working together can be one of life’s greatest joys—and it’s what we’re wired to do.  Watching people grow and excel can be most gratifying – it’s what leaders are wired to do.

What do you think about this?

  • Are you watching for and acknowledging what is going well?
  • Are you modeling a culture of praise and positive feedback
  • Are you going beyond your workplace celebrities and acknowledging the work been done behind the scenes and bright lights?

Books and Audiobooks

Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011)

On iTunes

Stay positive

5 Steps to Build Peak Performance – Step 4. Grapple and Grow

  • Less than 650 words
  • Average Reading Time: Less than 3 minutes

In previous blogs, I have summarized the first three steps of the Cycle of Excellence referenced in the book Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011).

Dr. Hallowell, the author, a psychiatrist and behavior expert, draws on brain science, performance research, and his own experience to present the Cycle of Excellence process for getting the best from your people and providing optimal working conditions for peak performance.

To recap, the following are the 5 Steps to Build Peak Performance.

  1. Select: Put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.   
  2. Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
  3. Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.
  4. Grapple and Grow: When the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
  5. Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

Today’s blog continues with the fourth step.

Step 4: Grapple and Grow

growFollowing up on Step 3. Play, people will eagerly stretch beyond their usual limits when there is a supportive environment to engage imaginatively with tasks they like and at which they excel.

If tasks are too easy or too routine, people fall into boredom and apathy. If there is no encouragement, opportunity, or a safe environment for creative and critical thinking, people will follow rules and regulations with blind compliance or perhaps worse, they become lone rangers or saboteurs wreaking havoc for everyone.  With the latter, no one makes progress, learns anything new, or contributes with peak performance.

Your job, as a leader or manager, is to be a catalyst.  When people get stuck, ask powerful questions to engage their creative and critical-thinking. Offer a few suggestions and then let them work out solutions.

The Right Environment for Grapple-and-Grow

Provide a physical environment that inspires and induces a different way of thinking and a different approach to finding solutions.  One of my clients set up different “creative-thinking” zones throughout the workplace where employees can switch their brains from routine operational work to more strategic and creative work.  The zones are designed for grapple-and-grow experiences that are fun.  Two zones incorporate physical play, a basketball hoop and a foosball table.  Other zones offer solitary or team challenges along with mental and physical challenges.

growing

Another client has yearned for a place where she could focus solely on her strategic-thinking away from the distractions of routine deskwork and other interruptions. Getting past the initial inertia of needing to make the space perfect-before-use was a “grapple and grow” exercise in itself providing valuable insights in how she approaches challenges.  She now sees the space as sacred, evolving, and a place to develop mastery.

The Grapple-and-Grow concept is as important, if not more important, in work that is routine and structured such as administrative, accounting, and front-line service.  Encouraging a different way of thinking and a different approach to finding solutions adds energy to work that can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining.  It’s in the process of finding a different way that we often find the better way.  Finding the better way develops mastery.

Pressure Can Make or Break

Adding pressure to complete tasks quickly is counter to grapple-and-grow and leads to shortcuts and stress that usurp creative and critical-thinking. On the other hand, the right amount of pressure and the right amount of creativity enables employees to grapple, grow, and achieve mastery over their work.

 

What do you think about this?

  • Are there job functions that need review to avoid boredom and apathy?
  • Are you presenting meaningful challenges and allowing people to grapple and grow?
  • Are you applying the right amount of pressure to create some sparkling gems in your organization?

 

Books and Audiobooks

Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011)

On iTunes Stay positive

5 Steps to Build Peak Performance – Step 3. Play

  • Less than 760 words
  • Average Reading Time: Less than 3 minutes

Are You Having Fun at Work?

In Dr. Hallowell’s book Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011), his third step in the Cycle of Excellence refers to play in providing optimal working conditions for peak performance.

To recap, the author, a psychiatrist and behavior expert, draws on brain science, performance research and his own experience to present the Cycle of Excellence process for getting the best from your people:

  1. Select: Put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.   
  2. Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
  3. Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.
  4. Grapple and Grow: When the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
  5. Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

One of the most important things leaders and managers can do for people is to help them expand and use their imagination.

Standards and Compliance Need a Little Creative License

My work coaching executive teams often involves rules, regulations, standards and compliance. When I begin working with my client, I often see one of two scenarios.

  1. An overemphasis on rules and regulations that blocks creative thinking and demoralizes employees who really want to perform beyond mediocrity. Bright performers are stifled when they hear “This is the way we do it around here.”  The message is “Don’t ask questions. Do it our way, or else.”  A throwback to “command and control”.
  2. Rules and regulations that are impossible to implement consistently because of a poor fit and/or the lack of commitment and energy to enforce.  The resulting message is that rules, regulations, and standards don’t really matter – it’s all lip service.  Leaders and managers lose face as employees ignore the rules and regulations.  One of the best examples I come across is the “Dress Code”.

Some would think there is no place for creative license in developing rules and regulations.  However, when implementing initiatives based on any standard, I coach my clients in interpreting the standard so that it fits and complements their business.  Forcing the business into the standard for the sake of compliance is like a forcing your foot into an ill-fitted shoe. There’s going to be pain! I stress that their work is to create policies, procedures, rules, and regulations that serve the business, the workplace environment, and the community that the business serves.

Rules and regulations that serve only to meet compliance squeeze the spark out of people, leaving them dull and disengaged.  A common symptom is the growing attitude of “I have to”.  Wouldn’t we all perform better if rules and regulations provided structure while cultivating the attitude of “I want to”?

Bear with me! You may be thinking there’s not much time or energy for socializing and having fun at work.  There is resounding evidence that much more can be accomplished with a sense of play.

In fact, the success of your business and your employees depends on it. Here's why.

Step 3: Play

Play isn’t limited to break time. Play is any activity that involves tgroup of business people playing and being creative in the officehe imagination, lights up our brains, and produces creative thoughts and ideas.  Peak performance takes positive physical, mental, and emotional energy.  Play provides all of this by boosting morale, reducing fatigue, and bringing joy to our workdays.

Bringing play into daily workplace activities is not as difficult as some may think. Leaders and managers could encourage imaginative play more frequently with these steps:

  • Ask open-ended questions.

o   Expand thinking beyond “yes” and “no”.

  • Encourage everyone to produce three new ideas each month.

o   New ways of working.

o   New ways of making customers happy, etc.

  • Allow for irreverence or goofiness (without disrespect), and model this behaviour.

o   A breakout of laughter, song, or even dance will boost any business environment.

  • Brainstorm.

o   How can we do this better?

o   What’s missing?

  • Reward new ideas and innovations.

o   Acknowledgement with a sincere “thank you” is powerful whether in private or in public.  Small rewards often are more effective than a big production once or twice a year.  Don’t cancel your big celebrations; just add smaller and more frequent celebrations.  Make them sincere and meaningful.

  • Encourage people to question everything.

o   Accept the questions and open up for discussion.  Expand critical-thinking.  Make it safe for everyone to learn from sharing and questioning.

What do you think about this?

  1. Do you pay attention to playfulness and opportunities to be creative and imaginative?
  2. Do you have fun at work?

Books and Audiobooks

Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011)

On iTunes Audiobook

Fun is Good: How to Create Joy & Passion in Your Workplace & Career, Mike Veeck & Pete Williams (Rodale Books, 2005)

Photo © iStock.com / ParkerDeen

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5 Steps to Build Peak Performance – Step 2. Connect

  • Less than 550 words
  • Average Reading Time:  Less than 2 minutes

In reading Dr. Hallowell's book Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011), I was drawn to the 2nd step of his Cycle of Excellence, about connection.

To recap, the author, a psychiatrist and behavior expert, draws on brain science, performance research, and his own experience to present a process for getting the best from your people:

  1. Select: Put the right people in the right job and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.
  2. Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
  3. Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.
  4. Grapple and Grow: When the pressure is on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
  5. Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

A manager or leader’s first step for bringing out the best in people is ensuring a person is well matched to a job. Step 1. The Right Fit provided many great assessment tools that help to identify an employee’s talents and strengths in order to then evaluate the fit with the tasks he or she is responsible to perform.

Now let’s turn our attention to finding connection and interpersonal relationships at work.

Step 2: Connectinterpersonal relationships in organizations

A positive working environment arises from the way leaders and managers handle negativity, failure and problems. They set the tone and model preferred behaviors and reactions. Employees take their cues from those who lead them.

Leaders, managers, and employees require a mutual atmosphere of trust, optimism, openness, transparency, creativity and positive energy. Each group can contribute to reducing toxic fear and worry, insecurity, backbiting, backstabbing, gossip and disconnection.

As a leader and manager, here's what you can do to encourage connection:

  • Look for the spark of brilliance within everyone.
  • Encourage a learning mindset.  Share what you are learning.
  • Model and teach optimism for overall wellbeing of the employees and the organization
  • Model the belief that interpersonal relationships are key to effective teamwork and can overcome any problem.
  • Use human moments instead of relying on electronic communication.
  • Learn more about each person. Get beyond what makes them tick and learn what makes them shine.
  • Treat everyone with respect  ̶  especially those you dislike.
  • Meet people where they are and know that most will do their best with what they have.
  • Encourage reality testing.
  • Use humor without sarcasm or at others’ expense.
  • Seek out the quiet ones.  Bring them in.

In the work I do as an Executive Coach focusing on Emotional Intelligence and Positive Psychology in the workplace, many hours are devoted to exploring how my client wants to develop connections with and among people at work.

What do you think about this?

  1. What ways can you improve connection with your people?
  2. What resources do you need to improve interpersonal relationships with and among your employees?

Books and Audiobooks

Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011)

On iTunes

The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, Third Edition, Steven J. Stein, Ph.D. and Howard E. Book, M.D.

On iTunes

Assessments for effective connection

For information about qualified administration and briefing of the following assessments, contact Patricia at patricia@maestoquality.com or call 905-858-7566

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

DISC Behaviour Assessment – Thomas International

EQ – Emotional Intelligence – EQi 2.0 and EQ 360

Stay positive