Does Counting Coins Make You More Money?

Technological advancements just keep on coming. And all the while we tout them as “more efficient” and “better.”

In many ways, though, the technologies seem to only take care of “keeping the lights on” tasks.

Wasting Our Time?

These are just mundane or routine undertakings that once “wasted” precious human time.

  • Are we really any more productive though?
  • What do these technologies do to our ability to collaborate and innovate?

Compare and Contrast

I recently took a trip to the grocery store with a year’s worth of change, and after about 30-seconds of dumping coins into a machine, I was given a total and a receipt for my 22 pounds worth of coinage. When I was younger, I would bring this same pile of change to the bank, and wait patiently while the teller spent 10 minutes counting it out. During this time, my parents would chat casually with one of the bank employees.

While this wasn’t a huge transaction, or even particularly important business for the bank, manually completing the task allowed time for relationships to be built between my parents (the customers) and various bank employees (the business).

Now the automatic coin-counting machine has replaced the teller for this task. Yes, that bit of technology frees up some time for the teller and allows him or her to “get more done,” but at the end of the day, is it really making any more money for the bank?

Getting More Done With Less

With all of these technological breakthroughs, most of us are able to be very self-sufficient in the workplace. We can accomplish dull tasks more quickly and more accurately than in years past.

With that tech-based efficiency, however, we’ve adopted this idea that the same amount of work can be done by fewer people – and therein lies the problem.

It’s true that technology allows us to be more “productive,” but what are the underlying costs to the organization?

No Bandwidth

A recent client of mine, an information technology group, reduced its team of database engineers from 55 to 45 employees. Because they are exceptional people with state-of-the-art technology, they were able to maintain the same level of customer and project support even with the reduction in staff. There was no noticeable drop off in performance or reliability. There were, however, some unintended consequences:

  • The team has little to no ability to take on new projects
  • Team member get over 400 emails every day, and that’s not including phone calls, instant messages, and texts
  • Career development is stagnant – not intentionally, but because there is no time to dedicate to it
  • Database interruptions, though rare, now take almost 30% longer to resolve

While the current workload wasn’t impacted, the reduced workforce left zero bandwidth available to take on anything outside of their narrowly defined roles. Customers were mildly disappointed in this lack of expandable service, and other IT teams found the group difficult to work with – because the level of stress (with no prospect of relief) has the team stretched tight like a drum.

Now What?

Instead of looking at how to get more done with fewer people, organizations need to start asking themselves, “what’s best for the company?”

In an emergency, sometimes layoffs can’t be avoided, but it’s worth considering that a team with adequate resources and enough members is far more capable of scaling to meet demand.

When every member of a workforce is operating at maximum capacity, there is no room for additional polish on a task, no room for an expanded market share, and perhaps most importantly, no time to devote to solving problems and innovating within the company itself.

Doing Things Better

Instead of looking for ways to do more with less, companies should simply be look at how to do things better. The push to “increase productivity” is a false measure of success, because efficiency is not necessarily akin to quality.

Productivity is not just accomplishing more with fewer resources, or in less time, but rather the collective result of taking on greater workloads, improving efficiency, and delivering a higher quality result at the end of the process.

There is an assumption that technology has made organizations more productive, but is this really the case? They may be able to get the same amount of work done with fewer people, but what about taking on more work? What about coming up with innovative solutions to customer issues? What about fostering relationships?

At what point does squeezing efficiency out of a company become strangulation? When does “trimming the fat” turn into cutting out muscle? How much staffing margin be in place to make sure your organization is primed for growth and opportunity? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Anil Saxena

Anil Saxena is a President & Senior Consultant Cube 214 Consulting
He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | (847) 212-0701

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Building Better Relationships, Building Better Business

Organizational Love

As an organizational communication professional, my goal is to help organizations do what they do, better. And I am very passionate about it!  

My earnest belief is that whether in a corporate, nonprofit, institutional, or government environment, employees are an organization’s greatest resource.

As such, developing and maximizing mutually beneficial relationships within and beyond the organization is critical to enhance satisfaction and effectiveness.

This is particularly true of leadership as their influence is so pervasively intertwined with the culture of the organization that it influences everything that occurs within that organization.

Types of Organizational Relationships

There are several types of organizational relationships:

  • Superior-subordinate
  • Peer-to-peer
  • Friendships

As well as the relationships with nonmembers, such as those between an organization and its various publics, including

  • Clients
  • Vendors
  • Contractors
  • And so forth.

Regardless of the level of connectedness, there are characteristics common to all relationships that must be considered to ensure that is rewarding to both parties.  Hon and Grunig developed guidelines for measuring relationships as a tool for public relations practitioners to assess the value of their programs.

These guidelines also serve as an excellent framework for examining our relationships, both organizational and interpersonal, to help reflect on areas which may need some attention to enhance the mutual rewards to all parties involved.

6 Components of Relationships

Hon and Grunig identify six components of relationships:

1) Control Mutuality

While balance in a relationship is key to its success, at varying times in the relationship one party will exercise greater control over the other. Control mutuality reflects the understanding between parties that this imbalance will occur, and recognizes (and accepts) that one party will exert greater control at given times.

For example, when a potential client asks you to present them with a solution to an existing problem, you control the situation through your selection of content, presenters and media which represents your organization and perspective in the best possible light.

Following the presentation, the control shifts to the client who, having several options from which to choose, can negotiate to their advantage.

 2) Trust

At some point in all relationships each party will open up to the other party, creating a level of vulnerability. Trust allows both parties to be confident in engaging in disclosures that help the relationship grow.

When pitching your presentation to a potential client whom you deem credible and desirable, you likely offer unique ideas and creative options. The client trusts that you will come through on the claims you are making and have the resources to do so.

Likewise, you trust that your ideas will remain proprietary and that the client will not use them to their benefit if they decide to go with another firm.

 3) Satisfaction

When both parties are happy because the positive expectations about the relationship are reinforced and outweigh the costs of the relationship, satisfaction occurs.

As the relationship with your new client progresses, satisfaction increases for the client as you continue to honor the conditions of your agreement by listening and responding to their needs and honor your commitments.

Your satisfaction increases when the client provides useful information from which to develop a plan; and also from the positive feedback received on the new project in your portfolio, as well as the potential for continued work or referrals.

4) Commitment

Relationships take effort, and commitment is indicated by a desire from both parties to continue with the relationship because they feel it is worth their energy to maintain and develop.

Even the best relationship experience challenges, but when a strong foundation based on trust and satisfaction is in place, it remains worthwhile to pursue. Communicating openly about concerns and disagreements help keep both the task and relational aspects in focus in order to achieve common goals.

 The remaining two components characterize the relationship more holistically.

5) Exchange Relationship

When one party in the relationship does something for the other party as reciprocation, either for a past or future service, it is considered an exchange relationship.

6) Communal Relationship

When both parties provide benefits to each other out of concern rather than payback, seeking no additional recompense, the relationship is communal.

For example, if your client moved up an important deadline to accommodate an unplanned visit from the CEO you might accelerate the schedule to meet the new deadline. As recognition for your effort you might request additional payment, or consideration for future projects (exchange relationship).

Alternately, you might make the necessary adjustments to meet the deadline simply because your client needs the assist (communal relationship).

Investments in Developing Relationships

While seeking compensation for services rendered is certainly reasonable, there may be occasions when building the relationship offers far greater benefits than would adherence to policy. As such, developing communal relationships should be an inherent organizational goal, particularly in key relationships, internal or external, that you would like to develop.

Beyond enhancing the relationship, individuals also experience positive outcomes such as greater self-esteem and satisfaction with life, further adding to benefits of engaging in such practices. Future posts will discuss each of these characteristics in more detail

Have you given thought recently whether your organization is (genuinely) people first or profit first? What practices do you employ that contribute to building communal relationships? Are these practices the norm within your culture, or “special circumstances?”

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———————–
Andrea Pampaloni

Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D is Professor of Organizational Communication at LaSalle
Her research focuses on Relationship-Building and Presentation of Image
Email | LinkedIn |  Web

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Bullet Proof Leadership: Leading with the Strength of Deliberative

Imagine this: You have great ideas, a lot of self-motivation, and you are ready to get started! Well, almost… Details are not your forte.

Not only that, you have no interest in them, much less troubleshooting your project.

Learning Vigilance

Instead, you go to your good friend and co-worker, Faye.

  • No matter the project, Faye has an innate ability to scour the details and identify, assess, and reduce risks.
  • She is able to slow you down, identify the potential minefields and bring them to your attention.
  • Her judgment and counsel are invaluable because she is inevitably able to see things you did not.
  • She has naturally good judgment, and after she is done with your project plan, it’s essentially bullet proof.

This because Faye is leveraging her Deliberative strength.

Things Are Not Always As They Seem

People strong in Deliberative know not to take everything at face value. Just because something appears to be air tight does not mean it is. You know that life is unpredictable, and beneath the surface you can sense the many risks.

For this reason, you approach life and your decisions with reserve.

You know that life is not a popularity contest, and that the right decisions are not always the most popular. Others can count on you to place your feet deliberately, and tread with care.

Leveraging Your Vigilance

As a Deliberative leader, your team can count on you to lead them in the right direction and to make well thought-out decisions for the team. You provide security and certainty, which is invaluable as a leader. Because you are not interested in popularity, you don’t play into office politics and can be relied upon to make unbiased decisions about your people and your team.

Your team will seek out your sound judgment.

As a leader, you also need to be aware that though you make great decisions, time plays a factor in the real world as well. Deadlines need to be met in order for things to get done. You know that all things carry inherent risks; it’s important for you to identify the most important ones and address those.

 

Balancing Strengths

It’s not efficient to deliberate over every single factor. Be prepared to leverage people with strong Command, Activator, and/or Self-Assurance Strengths. They will help you make strong, efficient decisions and implement them. It’s also important to be aware of your team’s perceptions.

No, being popular isn’t more important than making good decisions, but your Deliberative can be misconstrued as an inability to act or tentativeness when addressing challenges or change.

As a leader, that can be detrimental to your cause.

To avoid this, make sure you explain your decision-making process, and that you find the risks in order to mitigate and reduce them.

Leading The Vigilant

If you are leading someone strong in Deliberative, they can be a great asset for you, especially if you are strong in Activator, Achiever, or Futuristic. You will be inclined to move quickly and may not have thought of every possible outcome or pitfall.

Though it may pain you to take a step back and slow down, you will have more successful endeavors that not.

Your partnership will also benefit them because you will be able to push them forward, as they have a tendency to sit still for long periods of time.

If you are a Deliberative person, what’s your process for decision-making? Do others come to you to help them make decisions? How to you avoid taking too long while still being thorough? If you lead someone with Deliberative, do you leverage them in team decision-making processes? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————–
Alexsys "Lexy" Thompson HCS, SWP

Alexsys “Lexy” Thompson is Managing Partner at Fokal Fusion
She helps building Strong Leaders through Strong People Strategy
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On Leadership, Effectiveness and Succession Planning

Succession Planning

When we explore the role of leadership, its application, expectation and outcomes, we find a number of interesting and interrelated functions to which all leaders should aspire if they wish to move from good to great.

These functions can be from the leaders themselves or from those who have direct or indirect influence with them.

What’s a Leaders Role?

If you ask leaders what they think that their role is, you are likely to receive a host of very different and even complex answers.

And although leadership is generally regarded by many as setting the strategic direction of group or organisation, there is another often-overlooked component that is one of the hallmarks of truly effective leadership.

This is something called “succession planning.”

Succession planning is an element of leadership that eludes a great number of organisations, both large and small. And is often only considered when someone is about to leave an organisation.

This happens whether or not it is a job that the person in question has been doing for some time.

So Somebody Leaves…

When somebody important leaves their position at most organizations, oftentimes the panic button is pressed and something of a scramble ensues to see who can fill the shoes of the incumbent. There is seldom any long-term thought or planning that precedes this hive of reactive activity.

There is no prudent and carefully thought-out change management plan that seeks to make the transition from “what was” to “what is” as seamless as possible.

This is true whether it be for the people within the organisation, or other important people outside of the organization.

Often, there is no one being mindful to inform partnership agencies or clients who would benefit from knowing that their preferred or hitherto single point-of-contact within that organisation is about to move on to new pastures.  And little assurance is ever given as well to the fact that they will soon be contacted by their highly trained and equally capable replacement.

The Sad Reality

Such things are rarely mentioned in some organisations. The preferred method of managing such departures seems to be that of the “suck-it-and-see” approach or the all too common “fingers-crossed and hope for the best” method of administration.

  • How often have you worked for an organisation that has sought to identify its future leaders through a well structured and comprehensive ‘talent management programme’?
  • Whether it is through training, mentoring, coaching or continuous professional development.
  • Add to that the number of leaders who are comfortable with the idea of training their potential future replacement.

For most people it is likely that the answers to these questions are: no, and one or two at best.

It is certainly not the wholesale approach to leadership that an overwhelming number of organisations and or leaders share.

The Leadership Process

As previously stated, leadership is a multifaceted and multi-layered process, one that can produce tangible results if leaders choose to embrace a number fundamental truths.

One of which is that in order to establish a robust and consistent method of organisational development there needs to be a comprehensive and visible method of talent management, one that demonstrates the importance of succession planning and actively promotes the legacy of a well prepared and forward thinking organisation.

Questions:

• What is succession planning?
• Identify some of the benefits that exist for an organisation that embraces succession planning?
• Why do effective leaders embrace succession planning?

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———————
John Babb

John Babb is the author of “The Phoenix Leadership Programme”
He facilitates comprehensive and Bespoke Leadership Mentoring Programmes
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web

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On Leadership, Communication and Your Email Address

Communication

If you make a list of your pet peeves about work, I bet high on the list are, being kept in the dark, being patronised, and being misinformed.

Contrary to this type of workplace environment, healthy and successful organisations communicate as transparently as they can and keep secrets only as long as is absolutely necessary.

Great delivery also depends upon great communication, which should start at the top.” ~ Sir Richard Branson

Misunderstanding Communication

Talk to many leaders about communication and they think about, “how can I get my message out to the staff?” This is a symptom of how they perceive their relationship with their followers. They are in charge, they’re paid the big bucks to create the vision and strategy and they make all the important decisions.

Consequently they see communication as top-down delivery of their important information which should be understood and acted on in proscribed ways. This “information” is generally perceived by the recipient as poorly cloaked instruction and coercion intended to drive the company’s agenda.

In doing this leaders miss the purpose and full power of authentically open integrated communication entirely.

A Two-Way Street

Communication is at its simplest a two-way interaction but more often than not (and often unintentionally) is multi-directional.

On the one hand, your response to a message from your boss might be restricted to your own thoughts. On the other, you discuss the matter with a colleague who in turn talks to another and so on, with the inevitable distortion created by the rumour mill.

As is the case with the physical conservation of energy, human communications can never be destroyed, they are simply converted into other forms of communication often with unforeseen, unwanted and uncontrollable consequences.

Transparent Communication

Victor S. Sohmen (Drexel University) clearly explains the fundamental role of transparent communication in his paper “Leadership and Teamwork: Two Sides of the Same Coin” in the Journal of IT and Economic Development.

Ask yourself this:

  • If all communications are multidimensional, are never truly secret and you can never learn less from them, why not take full advantage of its power for good?
  • Why not give out your e-mail address to everyone and invite them to use it?

Create equally powerful multiple well-integrated lines of communication bottom to top as well as top to bottom in your organisation. The rest is about building flexible yet robust systems to manage information flow and integration.

Open Authentic Communication

In an excellent article “Relationship between Organizational Culture, Leadership Behavior and Job Satisfaction”, Yafang Tsai clearly describes the fundamental foundation of open authentic communication to building high performing organisational cultures.

Imagine a scenario where the brother of someone who cleans the toilets knows someone who is the father of a genius kid who has recently invented a new widget which could revolutionise your business. If you always excluded that cleaner from contributing their ideas they’ll cease to bother and you will lose out. If that sort of communication disconnect is a cultural norm in your organisation, then you are in trouble.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” ~ Peter Drucker

Best-Centered Communication

I am convinced most leaders are well-meaning and attempt to improve communication, but their efforts are generally self-centered and inevitably come across as patronising and back fire disappointingly. A good rule of thumb is to “ask” twice as many times as you “tell”.

As Vincent van Gogh said, “It is the little emotions that are the great captains of our lives.”

If we know that day-to-day we’re really heard, truthfully informed and treated as adults we feel valued, are more internally motivated and are much more likely to identify with our place of work and go that extra mile for the team.

Too many organisations feel that incentives will drive staff to behave like the 300 Spartans who laid down their lives at the battle of Thermopylae in an attempt to drive back invading Persians; THEY WON’T! But if they feel they can influence the future of their organisations THEY JUST MIGHT!

Closing Thoughts

Ask yourself these questions today:

  • Do you feel communicating with staff is a chore or a key element of business?
  • Did you communicate to your staff today? If your answer is “no”, why didn’t you?
  • What information did you send out today, to what extent might it be viewed by the recipient as patronising, opaque or misleading?
  • What open questions did you ask your staff?
  • Who has your e-mail and phone number; why them?

Make a brief cost/benefit analysis if you opened up your lines of communication.

A really good place to find your voice is “Leading Out Loud: A Guide for Engaging Others in Creating the Future by Terry Pearce.

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——————–
 Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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Hey Leader: Become an Organizational Life Giver

Triangle

Are your goals actually YOUR goals? Since the development of organizational strategic planning became a standard operating practice, organizations have set goals toward which they strive and around which they base decision-making.

Goals serve several purposes. Goals:

  • Defines future direction
  • Provides a tool for measuring success
  • Prioritizes resources
  • Aligns the collective efforts of the organization

Goals are essential to the success of any organization. So it makes sense to have them to help teams get their jobs done. But sometimes the very best intentions around setting and implementing goals end up causing unintended problems.

Un-Goals

Does this scenario sound familiar?

The senior leadership team in your organization holds a strategic planning day, usually off site, and your Director comes back with a new set of strategic priorities and a renewed enthusiasm for the great things the organization will accomplish at the completion of this new plan.

Now the task falls to each department to come up with their departmental goals that fit within the plan. You and your colleagues spend a few sessions brainstorming, defining and prioritizing goals to set the direction for your department. The team is motivated and energized and embarks on the journey to accomplish the ambitious goals.

At some point your department hits a road block and has to compete for the resources to continue.

What started as an execution of well-intentioned, well-thought-out plans becomes a frustrating power struggle between departments with competing priorities.

The relationships between departments breakdown and silos develop.

The Shape of Organizational Health

Picture the hierarchy in your mind. What shape is it? Probably a triangle, most are.

The fewest people at the top hold the most power. All of the weight of the organization rests on the shoulders of the people at the bottom. They give life to the mission. They are the first to know when something isn’t working and they are the first to know how to fix it. Yet, getting that knowledge to the top of the triangle is like swimming upstream.

Flip the triangle on its head and it resembles a filter. Now the power is at the bottom of the triangle, supporting the people with the knowledge, the skills, and the direct access to customers. Imagine that valuable knowledge flowing easily down through the filter to inform strategic decision-making.

Then those decisions conform to the reality and the knowledge from the “life-givers”, rather than the employees fitting into a mold that may not be what’s best for the company.

How could the triangle be flipped? Who are the “make it happen” people? Has your company struggled to implement something that front line people resist? Where are the voices of the “life-givers” heard? Where are they not heard? I would love to hear your thought!

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——————–
Jacqueline De Leebeeck

Jacqueline De Leebeeck is founding partner of Savvy
She facilitates leadership capacity building and team development
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5 Ways to Build Organizational Strength in Risk-Taking Arena

Time for Change

Because business, technology, and economics have changed so drastically, today’s leaders and organizations need to provide for stability during times of chaos.

They need to excel at the implementation of change in shifting work environments. And they need to provide tenacity of purpose that offers surety and clarity in times of uncertainty.

Unfortunately, these practices aren’t in the average organization’s arsenal.

For many, it feels like they are moving through white water, experiencing significant paradigm shifts, leading at the edge, operating in chaos and dealing with ever-increasing amounts of complexity.  We’re living the headlines, book titles, and dire warnings we’ve heard over the past decade.

The Key: Increase Your Risk-Taking Capacity

It’s going to take courageous leadership to make these necessary changes happen.  And, it’s not going to be an easy journey based on the results of this year’s Mindful Leadership Practices Survey.

Risk-taking is not the forte of the average organization.

Over 21% of respondents believed the following behaviors were rarely or never demonstrated in their organizations:

  • We are risk takers.
  • We confront each other, obstacles and “undiscussables” in order to unlock progress.
  • We excel at helping tap their hidden talents and potential.
  • We take gutsy steps that make a difference.

Deep fundamental change of our organizational and leadership practices is going to take a whole lot of risk.

What Got Us Here…

Won’t get us to tomorrow.

  • Our organizational and leadership practices need to change.
  • They don’t need massaged.
  • They don’t need tweaked.
  • They need to experience a shift as significant as the business world in which we operate has experienced.

It’s Robert Quinn’s Deep Change  concept applied to organizations.

5 Ways to Build Your Risk-Taking Arena

Here are five things you can do to help build organizational strength in the risk taking arena.

1) Learn from those who take risks (even if the outcomes aren’t always perfect).  Invite them in to speak to the organization, hold a video conference, or host panel discussions to learn about:

  • How they view challenges
  • How they determine what they should do
  • What they think about as they push boundaries
  • What they do when things don’t look promising, etc.

2) Help people baby-step their way into increased confidence and skill in the risk arena.  Most big risk takers learned their way there by taking earlier and smaller risks.  Ask people to find:

  • One innovative method a year that makes a difference
  • One practice that they would recommend be dropped
  • One wacky idea that if implemented could make a significant difference

3) Ask yourself (or the greater organization) what may be preventing you from supporting innovative approaches that are controversial.  Listen, really listen.  Then, take a couple of gutsy steps that would truly make a difference.

4) Publicly recognize and reinforce risk-taking efforts – both those that are successful and those that are less than fully successful. Point out that there is always learning that can contribute to future success.

5) Foster an environment of experimentation. What needs to happen to unseat the need to be perfect before moving forward, the need to research before taking action, and/or the need to nitpick an idea before experimenting?

One of the greatest inhibitors to success is the fear that a new idea, approach, or technique will not be perfect.  It won’t.

Collectively, we need all the help we can get. What other advice would you suggest?

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——————–
Rosaria Hawkins

Rosaria (Ria) Hawkins, PhDis President of Take Charge Consultants
She helps organizations build mindful strategies to ensure long-term success
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog

Image Sources: ruaa12.files.wordpress.com

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