Posts by Delana Mckinsley

A consulting professional offering business advice with respect to organizational and operational assessments and needs.

Leading Change When it Bursts Through the Doors

Open Doors

Whether it is a planned or unplanned change, the disruption through a transition is often underestimated.

Are you ready for change?

4 Key Drivers 

Common to businesses are four key drivers and the organizational strategy for each one of them. Once a successful link has been made to each area, each team and individual goals are understood alongside execution and fair metrics.

Keep in mind, the sum of all the parts are the performance engine of your business.

The four key drivers to business success are:

  1. Financial
  2. Customers
  3. Internal and Operations
  4. People (any or all of HR, Learning, Talent ManagementOrganizational Development)

However, this framework is not free from effort or disruption. There is a catch to this perfect model.

Handling Change

This level of performance is driven by what goes on in between the lines, what is being measured, the execution of strategy.  In a steady state of business, we can navigate and flex through the ups and downs that occur in between these drivers and the shifts that need to be made to stay on the overall organizational track.

However when change bursts through the door, the drivers are kicked out of gear.

You are now driving a golf cart on a freeway through the mud and it is likely headed for one spot – the ditch.

Your business will neutralize if you do not know how to navigate through transition.

There is no special time limit on transition.  Just know that it just won’t go away with time.

It is a process that has a methodology. Another complexity is do you have the skill set to get through this. It comes down to the leadership through the storm and the management of Change. You must understand it is a skill you can acquire and not an event.

The Change event is liken to a birth announcement, but it isn’t quite so cute.

This baby is going to need a lot of attention. If you have ever raised a child or been on an airplane recently forced to observe these tiny terrors for a snippet of time -  you know it’s not an overnight thing.

Getting an Approach

Do not make the mistake of underestimating what needs to be done. The good news is, there is certainly a systematic approach to get out of the neutral zone.  What can get confusing is there is much literature surrounding the topic.

In my years of teaching about change and transformation, I like what Daryl R. Conner had to say in Managing at the Speed of Change.”

Use these quick tips to diagnose and learn more about this and  how to out of transition.

Adapting only a snapshot from this book and many hands on experiences with businesses experiencing the underestimation toll –  here is what I took away.

  A change cycle happens.  

Phase 1 is Endings

The way things use to be is no longer. It’s over – whether we like it or not.

Phase 2 is the Neutral  Zone  or Eye of the Storm

We can’t hold onto the past even if we desperately want to because it ended. It’s over. Yet sadly, we are not yet attached to the future. This is the ugliest part of the transition.

Phase 3 is New Beginnings

We start to see the future. We move out of the neutral zone and finally as the phase is aptly named – onto the new beginning of now.

Remember the cycle.  Get back to your drivers: Financial, Customers, Internal Operations, and People.

Take the time to realign the strategy and cascade it back down to link to new goals, metrics, and the  execution will commence again.

Critical Success Factors

Finally, there are critical success factors which all need a plan.

The way things used to be is over so the old plan needs some work.

What does the future look like?

Try planning for success around these  7 Critical Success Factors.

Realign your:

  1. Vision/Mission
  2. Customer Focus
  3. Leadership
  4. Teamwork
  5. Communication
  6. Employee Commitment
  7. Sales and Service


 Golf carts are not meant for the freeway. They will only get stuck in the mud. Dont let that happen to your business and its performance.

Have you ever had any formal training on how to manage change in your life or your business? What are the key issues facing change and the leadership in your business or organization? What would you like to see happening that isn’t? What can you do as a leader to prepare yourself, your team and or your organization for the change skill set?


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Delana McKinsley - Zarokostas is a Consultant at her company, The Werkx.
She serves her clients in building organizational development and effectiveness.
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Skype: delana1973 | (403) 472 – 7779

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Next-Gen Leadership: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

My Generation iPod

You have likely at some point in your life or career had a course or two referring to communication.

We’ve all learned something about how to relate to others. It is my belief that we all try very hard to do this. Much research has been tuned into this subject for many decades, much involving primates.

The New Workplace

The New WorkplaceI’d like us to leave the monkeys alone and get some simple tools to help us out with one glaring and urgent issue facing management and communication.

This not so new but not yet understood aspect of communication  – generational communication gaps.

It is my belief that the social media surge has turned nicely moving gaps into gaping canyons!

Let’s refresh our memories and solve this.

Use this chart and simple exercise – it works.

Characteristics of Generational Management Styles

(1922 – 1945)
(1946 – 1964)
GEN Xers
(1965 – 1980)
(1981 – 2000)
General Overview Control and Command Participative Collaborative Hypercollaborative
Behavioural Characteristics RIGIDDo what I say; not what I do POLITICALDo what we’ve all agreed upon STRAIGHT-FORWARD
Do what we need to do to get results
PERSONALDo what each of us is best at and wants to do
Expectations Micromanagement Flavour-of-the-month – latest management trend Performance-based management Just-in-time management

Flex your Generational Style.

  1. Which one are you?  You will automatically think this is the ‘right way’ to do things so shouldn’t be hard to spot.
  2. Write down names of people who you work with/serve the community with/interact with/family members.
  3. Put your best guess of which generation they belong to.
  4. Compare it to yours.

How many GAPS are you away from each other.  Hint: A canyon in my books is more than one.

Boomers and Gen Y

Lets use BOOMERS and GEN Ys for our example and apply this.


You are a boomer and you have Gen Ys on your team.

(Hello – parents – you can apply this workplace example to your house as well. You have a young adult in the house. Same thing.  Potentially the same gap. )

BOOMERS: You think GEN Ys are incredibly rude because they are texting each other during a meeting. (or the dinner table)

BOOMERS: You may be thinking “What has happened to this generation?  No manners!”

REFRAME: Here is what they may have intended. Typically, Gen Ys are hyper-collaborative and will query each other via instant messaging. The reasons they do this is so they don’t bother the other people in the meeting (dinner) and they are comfortable with technology.  Their intention is not to be rude at all. Quite the opposite, actually.

ADVICE TO BOOMERS: You may want to quit being a “Boomersaurus.”


Okay, Gen Ys – its your turn to relate.

Yes you recently (via tweet) declared yourself the tweet queen.  Congratulations.

Now, think about this for a moment.  When you are texting each other and naturally collaborating, no one else is hearing your question(s) and the experience around the table isn’t able to chime in and give you some 20+ years of hard-earned lessons from the trenches and seasoned, value added advice.

This is the dark side of your tweet awards.  Yes, technology.

There are times when you may miss the reasons for doing what you are doing. Technology is an enabling tool and artificial intelligence. Dont forget that it’s the brain – not the computer – that needs to make the decisions about the services being provided to clients in the workplace.

Remember that your Boomersaurus colleagues (parents) have much wisdom to impart and please don’t throw the boomer out with the bath water.

Have you ever dismissed a colleague or team member because of age differences?  What happened? What are the key issues facing your team/home/organization with respect to bridging the generational differences in talent and performance? What would you like to see happening on your team/in your household, that isn’t?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Delana McKinsley Zarokostas is VP Housing & Dev at Related Group of Companies
She serves her clients in building organizational development and effectiveness

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Skype: delana1973 | (403) 472 – 7779

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Slacker Talent: Your Recipe for Disaster

Loser Sign

The number of employees that are highly disengaged has doubled since the beginning of 2008.

It’s tough enough to make it out of an economic downturn, but companies and leaders now also have to deal with the legacy of the talent they hired during a boom that came before that downturn.

Remember the good times? The good times we enjoy in our economy aren’t always great for recruitment. For hiring the right person in the right job, the good times seemed to cover over poor recruiting just to “put cheeks in seats.”

You have a very small pool to swim in and sometimes you unwittingly hire slacker talent.

So What To Do?

On Managing Performance in an Uncertain EconomyThe Corporate Leadership Council is making research available to its members on topics of great interest. The legacy of the boom coupled with the downturn is a recipe for disaster.

This one caught my eye:

“How do we keep high performance, manage out low performers, and improve productivity of the broader workforce?”

Yes I guess I did say it out loud. Slackers. Lazy people. Ill-fitting talent.

All I see clearly is this: You have the wrong person holding court in a job that perhaps is getting very little or no results but sucking the energy out of you and your team.

Like Ill-Fitting Shoes

Final SaleIt’s perhaps haunting your performance reviews much like the running shoes you bought that never really fit because they were available and on sale.

They just stare back at you with the new tags still hanging off… only worse because the tags are really faded and worn now.

So you can’t take them back anymore. And they are keeping you from running.

Even worse, they had the red tag – the FINAL SALE.

A Better Way to Win

Thankfully in our talent decisions, we don’t have to have a final sale that we are stuck with. It‘s time to get out while you can. And you can. Don’t wait.

Like Nike says – Just do it!

The cost of a bad hire is astronomical. Some experts in recruitment have estimated $15,000. I think that is a drop-in-the-bucket. Many studys say the cost is as high as 2 1/2 times a person’s salary.

What about the cost to the team and all that driving time when you should be listening to your favourite music is fraught with what can I do to make this work. Slackers are playing on your radio. You have dead-weight dragging your good and great performance down into the mud…. and it has been going on for perhaps way too long.

Justifying Your Past

Don’t be too hard on yourself. After all, recruiting and hiring during a time when the talent was downright dismal was, in fact, downright dismal.

You might be thinking, “We did the best we could with what we had.” “We did all the right things:

  • Spent more time trying to manage poor performance…
  • Invested time trying to ‘coach, manage, develop competency’…
  • Thought about it in the car ride home…
  • Discussed it…
  • Mentioned it at lunch…

But Let’s Get Real

Guess what? You didn’t do the right things at all. They didn’t fit the first time. They never did. It’s time to clean that shoe closet. The impact of low, no, or negative performance from these ill-fitting team members can’t be ignored any more.

So now that the downturn will likely be another upswing at some point (…my guess is very soon), always remember the tough lessons.

At the very worst, keep the position empty as a vacancy causing no performance is better than negative performance and cost associated with the wrong shoe rotting in the closet.

Lesson In Shoes

Never buy something that doesn’t fit or sort of fits – even it looks like a bargain. Its true with retail running shoes and in recruitment.  Two great tips. I hope they fit.

Have you ever hired the wrong fit?  What happened?  What did you do about it?  What did you wish you did about it? What are the key issues facing your talent and performance? What would you like to see happening on your team that isn’t? What can you do as a leader to prevent slacker talent from infiltrating? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Delana McKinsley Zarokostas
is VP Housing & Dev at Related Group of Companies
She serves her clients in building organizational development and effectiveness

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Skype: delana1973 | (403) 472 – 7779

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Check-the-Box Leadership

Leadership Checklist

Does your leadership style sometimes end up blurting out on you?

blurt (blûrt)

tr.v. blurt·edblurt·ingblurts

To utter suddenly and impulsively

Check The Box

Checklist~ You went to the courses.

~ You learned about yourself and others.

~ You even brought it back to the team and taught a lunch-and-learn.

Voila. All done.

Check the box.

You’re a bona fide leader now. You have the certificate to prove it.

That was last Tuesday…


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Back to Reality

Now, your work has piled up, AGAIN. You have three people off sick, your own family have non – stop lessons, homework, you are trying to get to the gym and the car needs an oil change.

It’s time to forget about the course and the lunch-and-learn.  The fun relationship time, well – you don’t have time.

All you have time to do is ‘take charge’; get back in control. The list of tasks comes out and you start “managing.”

Do this. Do that.

They are not listening.

“My staff is really annoying me today.”

So, they get more ‘managing.’

Do some more of this.

Do some more of that.

Still not getting the results?

Or even worse, you did get the results, today.

Guess what they are up to tonight?

They are on the job site uploading their resume.

It’s the blurt band-aid. And it’s back.

  • The blurt band-aid is what we come back to that is familiar.
  • It is the old adage: “Old habits die-hard.”
  • This is where your metal as a leader is tested.
  • You can’t go back. You must only go forward.
  • It is absolutely HARD to be a leader.
  • It is exhausting at times.
  • You have to think about what everyone needs.

Be Heard

So how does a leader balance all of their day-job stuff and still be there for all of the pesky needs of their teams?  It gets easy if you slow down and and try to gain some perspective. Think about what you need. Diagnosing where are they at and how you need to change and flex to be understood. You have to consider that the reason ‘they are not listening’ is because you haven’t earned to right to be heard.

You are not speaking their language, simply blurting.

There are so many great leadership concepts, books, courses, development pieces out there. but it is absolutely up to you to commit to finding the one that rips that band-aid off forever.

Study It, Practice It, Earn It

Becoming a leader isn’t a promotion but rather it is a skill set. You would not become a CA or a lawyer without study, development and practice.  This area of discipline comes with equal responsibility. One is to stop blurting and invest in your own development and awareness, your talent, your community and consider leadership just as you would a degree.

What are top strengths as a leader? What are the areas in which you may be blurting rather than leading? When did you last consider your leadership style and the match to each of those that you provide leadership to? Is it a mismatch? Why?  When did you last take charge of your own development and create a plan for yourself? I would love to hear your insights!

Delana McKinsley Zarokostas is VP Housing & Development at Related Group of Companies
She serves her clients in building organizational development and effectiveness

Email | LinkedIn | FacebookSkype: delana1973 | (403) 472 – 7779

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