Leadership Procrastinationitis

by Dr. Bärbel Bohr

Procrastination.jpg

Is there a prescription treatment for procrastinationitis? This is the “disease” that seemingly permeates people so that every action needs to be delayed until…. well, ….. uh,…. later, I guess?

Some Things Never Change…

I knew it would happen this way. When I sat together with my colleague Linda to prepare the quality feedback survey for our courses, I handed her over questions #1-5 to cross-check on them.

Backgrounder: [Linda was supposed to have prepared questions #6-10.]

Looking at me innocently, Linda shrugged her shoulders and showed me her most charmful smile and said:

Well, you know,” she answered while her eyes avoided to look at me: “My daughter got sick and I had to run so many chores yesterday that I couldn’t prepare the questions.”

I suggested a break and decided to get some tea from the cafeteria to cool down.

Yesterday!” she had said.

We got the assignment one week before Christmas and were at the beginning of February now! I couldn’t believe it. She could have prepared everything well in advance. Instead, we would have to do everything together now in order to keep our deadline. I felt cheated.

On my way to the cafeteria, I remembered that last year she had put up a big post-it on her desk visible to all of her colleagues and her boss:

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. (Walt Disney)

When we saw the post-it, we all looked at each other sighing and thinking:

Well, she is giving it another try.”

Linda, a charming, witty and very creative colleague who we all cherish, is a chronic procrastinator: our cinderella of “last-minute”-stands. Two months into the new year the post-it disappeared without any further mentioning it.

“Procrastinators Anonymous”

I assume most of us, including myself, have some procrastination attacks from time to time, yet around 20% of the population suffer from the chronic form of procrastination.

My students call it “procrastinationitis.”

There is tons of material out there in form of books, blogs, self-help courses that try to help and don’t need to be repeated here. On Wikibooks you can find a comprehensive overview of available resources on procrastination.

It is a wide-spread disease, no doubt.

What Linda tried in the past, some of us may have to get inspired to do now; overcome procrastination.

  • What would you say?
  • Have you made progress?
  • Or have you already reached the slump so that you feel like giving up?
  • Is it that you, um, perhaps, are reading this blog article in order to avoid doing something else that you should do right now?
  • And now feel tempted to switch to your email because you start to feel guilty?
  • Or do you perhaps happen to know some employee of yours who has taken this resolution?

According to studies on the subject, many therapies fail because the patients are supposed to change in a way that does not suit their personality. Authors of self-help books on the topic tend to be well-structured and organized. It must be very frustrating for procrastinators to see all the plans, control patterns they are supposed to learn.

Joseph Ferrari, associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, sums this up nicely:

Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up.

Procrastination and Corporate Culture

Even though it is always one’s own decision to stop procrastination, I started to think on my way back from the cafeteria in how far we as leaders and colleagues in companies and corporations can foster the tedious process of behavioral change and make it easier for the individual to adapt to it.

After all, procrastination may cause loss of productivity because most people are not happy that they delay their activities.

I came across some suggestions for team leaders and managers in Kevin Burns’ blog that I would like to share with you.

His Top 3 list of advice contains the following items:

  1. Break down projects into digestable pieces: The shorter the deadline, the less possibility for the procrastinator to delay the work
  2. Always ask the procrastinator for the status when you see him or her and do it in public. This will help to develop reliability.
  3. If a procrastinator does not deliver on time, show consequences and pass on work to a good worker

These pieces of advice sound convincing, but I am sure they would not work in all types of corporate culture. “Forced control” mechanisms like these might lead to more sophisticated ways to achieve procrastination in the long-term and might even develop mistrust between leader and employees.

I would, hence, rather favor measures, which help the employee remain accountable for putting off the work, and avoid patterns, which require permanent interventions by the manager. Measures that I prefer see the manager or leader in the role of a temporary coach so that the employee can really find out the reasons why the work is getting delayed so very often.

A coaching relationship would be the first step to a real cure, not just fighting the symptoms. This, of course, would only work if the manager is not a messy procrastinator him- or herself. As we all know, overworked managers have a tendency to procrastinate, too.

What do you think about these suggestions? Which ones would work for you? How can you as a leader help your employees heal procrastination?

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——————–
Dr. Bärbel Bohr owns “Bärbel Bohr – Projekte mit System”
Lecturer at HSR Hochschule für Technik / Rapperswil (Switzerland)
She inspires success in leaders & students on communication & culture awareness

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Mentoring in the Workplace: Spreading the Knowledge

Sharing Knowledge

We often hear about the need for gaining and sharing organizational knowledge to further our careers, reach our goals (and create new ones), and make connections in various industries.

One of the best ways to share knowledge is also a vital part of the leadership toolkit – mentoring.

Mentoring in the Workplace

Mentoring is an essential leadership skill, and encompasses the professional development of others. Mentors show others the ropes, answer questions, and guide mentees in the direction they need to go.

When a new employee first meets with a mentor, the first question often is this:

What can you tell me about your experience at this organization?

Mentees must get oriented to their working environment and learn how to handle the challenges it poses. The mentor serves as a guide through those challenges with advice and constructive criticism, while paving the way to the mentee’s next goal or challenge.

Throughout the process, mentors build on their acumen as leaders and information sharers.

Sharing Knowledge

Sharing organizational knowledge is an invaluable part of mentoring, as much as it is a way to keep an organization’s business practices. Mentoring to share knowledge is different from traditional mentoring, in that there is more emphasis on practical applications than on organizational culture or building networks.

The key is to combine both types of mentoring.

Sharing information about an organization and teaching about its culture, mentors offer mentees a richer experience and a more complete picture of the organization and its needs.

Types of Knowledge

Knowledge management (KM) is the process of capturing, distributing, and using knowledge, and considers an integrated approach to sharing the information assets of a given organization. These assets include policies, databases, documents, procedures, and the expertise and experiences of individual employees.

KM looks primarily at two types of knowledge, explicit and tacit, which are the primary types of knowledge imparted to employees, especially via mentoring; a third type, embedded knowledge, can be found in processes, organizational culture, and ethics.

  • Explicit knowledge is codified, and can be found in documents and databases.
  • Tacit knowledge is more intuitive and is rooted in experience, context, and practices.

Learning How to Teach

One way to look at mentoring is to imagine teaching someone how to ride a bike. The act of learning to ride the bike is the tacit knowledge, while a set of precise instructions on how to ride the bike is the explicit knowledge. And embedded knowledge is the “rules of the road” to keep in mind while riding the bike.

Establishing mentoring relationships are crucial to fostering leadership skills and professional development, both for mentors and mentees. Mentors ensure the transfer of organizational knowledge and offer guidance to those who may one day become leaders themselves; mentees benefit from learning about their roles and the organization.

So how are you doing at creating an atmosphere and workplace that actively relies upon sharing knowledge, experiences, and expertise? If you are not doing this, what steps can you take now to implement a process of systematic mentoring to help people learn, grow, and develop? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Linda R. Ranieri

Linda R. Ranieri is a Graduate Student in Communication
She works in the Medical Testing and Assessment Industry
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Send Them to a Movie, Don’t Train Them!

by A.D. Roberts

Movie

People love training when it’s entertaining and they enjoy themselves.

They like it when the training gives them information that provides hope. Hope that their life will get easier, that the organization will be more successful, that their job security is enhanced, etc.

It’s good when you leave a training session fired up and ready to go use the techniques that you’ve learned. It’s good when you feel you’ve learned all the information you need to solve your workplace problems.

What’s bad is—thinking the training session alone will change anything!

Do What You’re Told!

People do not learn from being told or exposed to the information one time. Research shows we need an average of six exposures to the information with reinforcement (using the information you were exposed to) between the exposures to retain the information.

Of course the complexity of the task and each individual’s previous life experiences are just a couple of the factors that will determine how many exposures to the information being trained the individual will need.

Do the Math

I’ve done training programs costing hundreds of thousands of dollars with multiple sessions of in-depth information. I always advise management that in order for a training session to have a positive effect, the participants must have multiple exposures to the information.

Since I am only paid to deliver the information once, the organization (with my help) must use other methods to ensure that everyone gets their multiple exposures. It can be structured and timed e-mails that require a response to all participants. Or it can be a strategically placed sign with key elements of the training. Or even supporting audio materials playing in the break room, etc.

I offer clients a number of different ways to give their participants multiple exposures at no additional cost. Even when it’s easy and inexpensive, many clients do not provide follow-up activities and methods for multiple exposures.

The truth is, if you are not going to provide the necessary multiple exposures then, “SEND THEM TO A MOVIE, DON’T TRAIN THEM!” It will only be an entertaining waste of money that way.

Square Peg, Square Hole

Square PegAnother critical aspect of training retention is adjusting organizational policy and procedures to fit the new requested methods of behavior. Once individuals are trained to perform through new and different procedures and techniques, their evaluation and performance procedures and policies must be altered to support the new behaviors, If they are not, then they are forced to return to the old behaviors.

People cannot do something differently if they are forced down an opposing path.

One of the reasons I have observed to explain this phenomena is a lack of participation from the decision-makers (management) in the training. If management does not fully understand the information being delivered, they cannot adjust the policies and procedures to fit the requested behaviors and procedures.

If you aren’t going to change the policies and procedures to support the purchased training, “SEND THEM TO A MOVIE, DON’T TRAIN THEM!”

Big Picture

As a professional trainer, coach, and consultant, my mission is to share information that makes my clients more profitable, gives them a better work environment, increases customer satisfaction, and builds individual and organization success.

Entertaining people is fun; however, educating them so they can achieve their goals and aspirations in life is much better! Make training count! Give your team the information but also the supporting elements that ensure their retention of that information and organizational success.

So please take this REAL advice:

DON’T TAKE THEM TO A MOVIE, TRAIN THEM RIGHT!

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——————–
Tony Roberts
A. D. Roberts is President/CEO of A. D. Roberts Consulting, Inc. in North Augusta, SC
He helps with Leadership & Interpersonal Communication Consulting & Training

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5 Company Benefits Most Valued by Employees

Things Leaders Should Know About Their People

Employee Perks

When people work for a company, they need to know that their company will take care of them. They need to know that they are appreciated. Far too many employees report that they have toiled for years and not received any recognition at all.

For far too many, their employer does not care about them and does not provide them with the benefits they need to live their daily lives. In fact, offering a substantial benefits package to employees can often attract the best talent. People who know that they have a lot to offer to a company will often have the luxury to search around for the employer who offers the best benefits.

The question is this: What are these benefits?

5 Company Benefits Most-Valued by Employees

1) Daycare on Site

The most important question that people ask when they go to work is what their children will be doing. Their children need to be properly looked after and educated throughout the day. Parents will often have to pay for expensive daycare programs that will look after their children while they are at work.

However, many companies have a daycare program on site. Having their children near them throughout the day will seriously reduce the stress of employees and will be of great financial benefit.

2) A Fitness Center or Gym Membership

Regular exercise is proven to reduce stress. An employee who is not stressed out is likely to be much more productive. Further, exercise will increase the IQ. It is not only physical exercise. It is also mental exercise.

Employers that provide gym memberships for their employees are preparing them for a more productive output as well as giving them a helpful benefit that increases their self-confidence.

Also, an increase in self-confidence will be helpful in several industries, particularly anything involving sales.

3) Additional Benefits

Many employers provide health insurance for their full time employees. But what about a dental discount plan? Dental insurance can be important, particularly if you have children. Optimal dental health would involve going to the dentist at least twice every year.

Those visits can be costly, especially if you need a filling. Only 47% of employers provide dental coverage. Talented employees who have children will want to work for a company who offers this amenity and might be willing to shop around until they find one.

This is one of the most valuable benefits an employer can provide for their employees.

4) A Few Days Off for the Holidays

Most businesses will slow down a bit around the holiday season. There are not a lot of people making business related transactions around this time of year. If you give them a few days off, they will remember that and they will know that they are appreciated.

Employees who have a break from the workplace will also have time to refresh and when they return to work, they will be more productive. People enjoy working for an employer who recognizes how important family and time off is to their employees.

5) Host Events

Find out what everyone likes to do together and take them out on a regular basis. If they would have fun bowling, then have a bowling night once every week. If they would like to have dinner, take them out to dinner. This will foster friendships between employees that transcend the workplace.

They will truly become friends. When they really are friends who are freely choosing to spend time together, they will function better as a team. Hosting events, then, is beneficial both for the employee who enjoys the event and the general atmosphere and productivity of the workplace.

So what are you doing to maximize your employee motivation and retention? how can adopting one or more of these suggestions aid your bottom line and overall confidence in your organization? And a big one…  How are your employee benefits and perks competing in the marketplace? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Dennis Hung

Dennis Hung is a Business Consultant specializing in Mobile Technology and IoT
He’s spent most of his career consulting for businesses in North America
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L2L Broad View: Creating New Working Environments

5 Tips and Best Practices for Moving Into New Offices

Moving Day

Every organization’s success is always related directly to their people, and what they do, and how they do it. When you have the right people, in the right places, doing the right things, in the right environment, then you have a formula for success.

But when an organization must uproot their physical location to move to another, leaders need to be on top of the emotional, physical, and psychological aspects of a move and make sure that things run smoothly during this kind of potentially turbulent transition.

Relocating Challenges

Relocating to a new office setting need not be stressful or overly time-consuming. The key to a smooth transition is effective strategic planning that neutralizes and minimizes lost hours and costly downtime. If you are planning an office move soon, you will appreciate the following tips that will reduce the stress of relocation while hitting your budget targets.

1) Create an Address System

Your new office location will likely be configured differently than your present environment. This will make it impossible for personnel to know where all their “stuff” is once the movers do their job. Solve this problem by creating an address system that informs movers exactly where they need to position each item, packed box or piece of furniture.

You can set this system up by creating two sets of floor plans. One set for your existing office and one for the new. With a ruler, pencil in a grid system using letters to represent one axis and numbers for the other.

Every intersection on the grid represents a unique address consisting of one letter and a number. For instance, if you are in NYC, instruct your New York city movers to relocate every item based on its assigned “from” and “to” address. This system will cause every item moved to gravitate closer to where it needs to end up.

2) Label Everything

It is difficult to attempt to comprehend the sheer quantity of office furniture and equipment we have that consists of identical copies of the same item.

Knowing where all these things belong is the responsibility of the office move coordinator who should place labels on everything whose ownership could possibly be subject to dispute later on. Labels should be easily seen by movers and by all means, they should have item relocation addresses clearly marked on them.

3) Allocate Resources Accordingly

If temporary workers that you can hire to pack for you cost less per hour than your existing staff, then you need to think twice about having regular staffers pack and clean up.

The budgeting of resources for your move should take into account lost productivity resulting from using your staff as a moving company. Just double-check to make sure that you are putting all your resources in the right places.

4) Start With the IT Department

Owing to the risks associated with security breaches and network outages, every commercial office relocation plan should begin with the IT department’s needs. There will be telephone system issues, data cabling installation issues, wi-fi issues, and possibly air-conditioning issues that need to be addressed.

Ideally, you will have an IT relocation checklist prepared by, or at least approved by a network engineer. The process of coordinating a move with your data carriers, ISPs, and technology vendors can take two months or more. Be sure that you plan well in advance for every contingency.

Transporting office technology equipment requires special handling and expertise. Your data and high-end equipment will require transit protection. Make yourself aware of your special IT needs and allow yourself time to thoroughly test all your systems and equipment once your systems are reconstituted.

5) Update Your Website, Business Cards and Stationery

Moving an office can induce minor trauma. Settling down and getting down to business once relocated is paramount. You don’t want to wait until the last moment to think about updating your business communication tools.

This includes the company website, management’s business cards and the company stationary. You will want to know how much lead time is required in order to complete these updates so you can plan accordingly.

Leading Success

The difference between a hectic relocation nightmare and a smooth transition into new digs is nothing more than a solid effort in planning. The investment in time that you make drawing up your plans will pay off handsomely when you observe that your employees are spending their time serving customers rather than adjusting to their new environment.

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———————
Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
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The Essence of Life and Leadership

Learn Lead

“Emotions transform energy; energy creates movement; movement is change; and change is the essence of life.”  ~Darren Weissman 

Did you know?

  • Only 20-50% of re-engineering efforts succeed [1]
  • Only 28% of information technology projects are successful [2]
  • Only 33% of corporate mergers are successful [3]
  • 50% of firms that downsize experience a decrease (not increase) in productivity. [4]
  • 75% of all change efforts fail to make any dramatic improvements. [5]
  • An astonishingly high percentage of failed projects had excellent technical plans. [6]
  • Failure to change is the primary source of organizational failure.5

Empowering Interface

These dismal revelations about change management success and failure come right out of the research of real organizations, real projects, real managers, and real leaders.  If we were grading leaders and managers on their change management report card, they would get a ‘C,’ at best.

And wouldn’t you agree that, like life, change is arguably also the essence of leadership?

While there are many change management models, if there is one thing that would help your organization dramatically improve the quality of outcomes, it is empowering interface.  That’s what researchers from the University of Bath and George Washington University called it.5

Empowering interface occurs when executive leadership empowers middle management to interface comfortably between executives and frontline employees breaking down silos and enabling both macro and micro variables to change and cascading empowerment across the firm.

This process requires executive transparency and a “change sponsor” or “change champion.”

Change Champion

What does it mean?

It means that executives need to change the way they look at change.  In order to be successful at change leadership and management, you must break down the silos between executive and frontline levels using middle management, create a safe climate, and generate empowerment and trust through transparency and responsiveness.

If there is not open two-way communication and action, change efforts could be doomed.

Empowering middle management, especially with increasing discourse between executives and frontline, greatly increases the odds of success.

Exactly How to Fail

Macro initiatives designed solely by executives (no middle management or frontline input) creates a “closed system” or silos and spreads disempowerment (through rumors, false assumptions, and miscommunication) and that cultivates strong resistance.  Put another way, when change initiatives are rammed down people’s throats and without involvement, expect contempt, defiance, subversion, and eventually failure.

Successful change leadership and management are all about communication, relationships, empowerment, respect, and responsiveness.

This sounds a lot like love, if you ask me.

Work-Out and CAP

Jack Welch and Steve Kerr of GE developed one of the most well-known and successful change models in the late 80’s and early 90’s and used it successfully at GE.6  They called it “Work-Out.”  Similar to a “time out,” those on a change project take a “work-out” from typical bureaucratic practices and behaviors and instead rely on continuous focus, efficient decision-making, and accelerated implementation.

The Change Acceleration Process (CAP) part of Work-Out became popular because of its effectiveness and has since been marketed to many other institutions and industries.

It is no coincidence that a significant portion of CAP – the first four (of seven) steps – are exactly what the researchers describe as empowering interface above.

They call them:

1.  Leading change
2.  Creating a shared need
3.  Shaping a vision
4.  Mobilizing commitment

The last steps in CAP are:

5.  Making change last
6.  Monitoring progress
7.  Changing systems and structures

Change is at the very essence of life and leadership and “resistance to change” doesn’t have to be a given – at least not strong resistance.

Both the research and successful organizational change models like CAP are telling us that when people are involved in the change process, not only does cooperation increase, but the quality of the outcome dramatically improves, as well.

So how do you effect change with those you lead and your extended team?  What is the change management and leadership model and philosophy were you work or lead?  Do you or your organization even have it defined?  What steps can you take today to improve it?  What other models or techniques have helped you and your organization arrive at successful outcomes?

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——————–
Alan Mikolaj

Alan Mikolaj is a Professional and Inspirational Trainer, Keynote Speaker & Author
He is the author of three books and holds his Master of Arts  in Clinical Psychology
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[1] Strebel, P. (1996, May/June). Why do employees resist change? Reprinted in Harvard Business Review on change in 1998. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, pp. 139–157.
[2]
Farias, G., & Johnson, H. (2000). Organizational development and change management: Setting the record straight. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 36, 376–379.
[3] Dinkin, D. (2000). Unlocking the value of M & A. The Banker, 150(895), 118.
[4] Appelbaum, S.H., Everard, A., & Hung, L.T.S. (1999). Strategic downsizing: Critical success factors. Management Decision, 37(7), 535–552.
[5] Raelin, J.D. & Cataldo, C.G. (2011). Whither middle management? Empowering interface and the failure of organizational change. Journal of Change Management, 11(4), pp.481-507.
[6] Von Der Linn, B. (2009). Overview of GE’s Change Acceleration Process (CAP). Retrieved August 24, 2013, from Bob Von Der Linn’s HPT Blog: http://bvonderlinn.wordpress.com/2009/01/25/overview-of-ges-change-acceleration-process-cap/

 

Leadership Lessons: Success and Fatal Flaws

3 Flaws That Never Get Talked About

Fatal Flaw

There is so much glitz and glamour that comes with that power-word “success.” It says “You’ve made it!” And “From here on, life is good! Right?”

Well, no… Not so fast…

The biggest distraction to success is all the stress and anxiety that sits like a weight in the pit of the stomach that often comes with the territory. It has to do with the worry that it will all disappear tomorrow, the next day, someday.

Falling From Grace

You know the saying:

The higher they go the harder they fall?”

It’s a warning to watch out, be careful because you never know when the party is over.

How about this saying:

“Don’t rock the boat.”

This tells you to play it safe and not take too many chances, especially once you have the houses, the cars, the perks.

Keeping Your Grip

So many films show the fall from grace; quickly going from success to the gutter. Why is this amorphous thing that we all covet, called success so tenuous to grab and to hold?

Partly because once success hits, there is a tendency to hide the fear by acting over-confident. You get used to being bowed to, applauded, and respected by folks who only know you by reputation.

They never see your uncertainties, hesitations, and inadequacies.

  • But what explains the unsettling tendencies for success to be so tenuous and difficult to support?
  • What are the enemies to success?
  • What causes a strong journey to fail along the way?

Take a look at these recipes to sabotage success.

3 Fatal Flaws

Here are the 3 Fatal Flaws that never get talked about:

1) Entitlement

Paradoxically, many people do not feel entitled to success.

Stupid idea? Perhaps.

However there is a sense that many successful people have, the “if they really knew me syndrome.” That thought of being in a masquerade, being seen as more than one really is, waiting to be “caught with pants down” often is a fatal flaw that sets up the fall down the slippery slope to failure.

You see so many times we have these self-fulfilling thoughts and deep in us we would rather be right than to be happy!

Doesn’t make logical sense, yet in the emotional parts of the brain, it is exactly correct and makes total sense.

2) Loyalty

Another flaw is loyalty spawned from generational expectations. This is where we look at success in terms of our lineage to understand benchmarking and standards. Consider this line of thinking:

If it is good enough for my parents and grandparents, then it is good enough for me.”

That is a set-up to not be capable of going beyond the level of the family, often for generations and generations. It means that if no one ever went to college, well you may be able to wear that cap and gown, but don’t ever expect to get the top job.

Or, if you do become the top dog, expect the fall from success to come along eventually. “After all, one shouldn’t stray too far from living at the level of the rest of your family.”

Does this make sense? Not really. Does it happen often? Absolutely.

3) Patterns

We all play roles in our families that become familiar ways to stay safe and accepted. Often these patterns show up when we are tense and anxious. When stress hits the hot button, we all tend to revert to childhood patterns that were there for security and survival.

These patterns may not be effective in high level positions, yet there they are making us look like we have spilled a bowl of oatmeal on our shirts.

So, if you think you’ve been acting like a baby, you’re right!

Now you know the flaws to watch. Take the time to understand and work on these areas of entitlement, loyalty, and patterns. By bringing to light these often invisible forces you can harness and refine them so that you will continue to build on success after success and leave a powerful legacy for future generations.

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——————–
Dr. Sylvia Lafair, Business & Leadership Coach

Sylvia Lafair, PhD. is President, Creative Energy Options, Inc.
She does Workplace Relationships, Conflict Resolution, Exec Coaching & Consulting

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Imaginary Leadership (Part 2 of 2)

Ending the Persecution of People, Productivity and Profit

Empty Suit

Many leaders may be imaginary, but the pain, problems and privation they cause to people, productivity and profit are all too real!

In part one of the two-part series, I compared the profile of Imaginary Leaders to that of Real Leaders—a distinction with a profound difference—and introduced what I consider to be the top three practices of Imaginary Leaders:

  • The persecution of people by proxy
  • The persecution of productivity by process
  • The persecution of profit by policy

Now I want to spend some time breaking these down a bit, so they’ll be easier to spot for Real Leaders and those who endeavor to make the transformation to Real Leadership.

Persecution of People by Proxy

A “proxy” has the authority or power to act as a substitute and, in this case, it is the Imaginary Leader playing the part. It could also be the Manager who confuses his roles and supplants Real Leadership with Managership. In either case, the persecution of people occurs when their:

Personal strategies related to aspirations and conduct

Interpersonal strategies related to one-on-one interactions with others

And organizational strategies related to using systems, structures and resources to influence the thinking, behavior and performance of others actually promote a defensive/unadaptive operating culture.

Punishing Pratices

I’ve written elsewhere about these types of unhealthy cultures and the damaging effects they have, so I won’t go into detail here other than to reinforce the idea that they devastate people through the Leadership-Culture-Performance Connection.

Below are a few of the more popular punishing practices that emerge in a cause-effect layout, along some ideas on alternatives for your consideration:

Personal

  • Withholding information from someone who could learn, change and grow from it or could actually fix/ improve the system as a result of having it.
    • Effect: “An individual without information can’t take responsibility. An individual with information can’t help but take responsibility.” – Jan Carlzon
    • Alternative: Follow Meg Wheatley’s advice in Leadership and the New Science: “…create much freer access to it….everybody needs information to do their work….it is no wonder that employees site poor communication as one of their greatest problems. People know it is critical to their ability to do good work. They know when they are starving.”

Interpersonal

  • Using fear to manipulate performance (e.g., annual performance/ merit review, management by numbers/ objectives, as well as outright threats, intimidation, bullying, etc.) or allowing fear to be propagated by others.
    • Effect: Personally, fear is an extremely limiting emotion. According to Dwoskin in The Sedona Method (Chapter 3), it is just above Apathy and Grief in the hierarchy of suppressed emotions, limiting our energy to the point it is mostly painful. Organizationally, it creates loss from “…an inability to serve the best interests of the company through necessity to satisfy specified rules, or…a quota” and “…where there is fear, there will be wrong figures.” – Deming, Out of the Crisis (Chapter 8).
    • Alternative: Deming suggests driving out fear (Point # 8 of 14, Chapter 2) through embracing new knowledge—to discover by calculation whether performance deviations are out of control with respect to other conditions—for improving the system and also eliminating annual performance appraisals/ merit reviews (Deadly Disease #3, Chapter 3).

Organizational

  • Applying extrinsic motivators, otherwise known as reward and reprimand or “carrots and sticks.”
    • Effect: Destroys intrinsic motivation and any value in the work itself, as well as pride and joy in workmanship.
    • Alternative: Commit to removing the demotivators (e.g., micro-managing the down-line, telling them that their “job is to make you look good” and holding them accountable for things they can’t control) and barriers to successful work that exist. Use the Deming/ Scholtes-style of MBWA—not just walking around, but knowing what questions to ask and stopping long enough to talk to the right people and get the right answers (e.g., Genchi Genbutsu or Gemba)—as a strategy for finding out what those demotivators are. This “go and see at the real place” approach will provide feedback from the voice of the customer (i.e., the employees) and the voice of the system (i.e., the process) that will invariably require something the leader must work on improving, whether related to him/her self or the system.

Stop and ask yourself this:

To what extent am I relying on these strategies as part of my personal leadership platform?”

Then yield to an awareness that produces learning, acceptance that produces change, action that produces growth and achievement that produces new levels of Real Leadership.

Persecution of Productivity by Process

The persecution of productivity (and I include quality and competitive position in my use of the term) occurs when Imaginary Leadership doesn’t understand the work that they or their down-line are responsible for and, as a result, can’t do much of anything to measure or improve performance.

Deming once quipped:

If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.”

He also said in The New Economics:

We should work on our process, not the outcome of our processes.”

The Heart of Quality

As Scholtes taught in principle number two of his six Principles at the Heart of Quality:

Leaders must understand their systems, processes and methods in terms of capability and variation. Data gathered on the variation of systems and processes over time will help leaders understand the characteristics of work performance in their organization.

When managers don’t understand the variation inherent in their systems and processes, they make themselves vulnerable to some serious problems:

  • They miss trends where there are trends.
  • They see trends where there are none.
  • They attribute to employees–individually or collectively–problems that are inherent in the system and that will continue regardless of which employees are doing the work.
  • They won’t understand past performance or be able to predict future performance.”

Understanding Process

But how many leaders today still don’t understand processes—not to mention the system; what Deming defined as “a network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system—or, if they do, still focus more on process outcomes (results) than on the process (effort) itself?

This isn’t a hard question to answer. Just check to see how many of your current metrics are defined around outputs vs process or inputs. Better yet, just think about where you spend most of your time.

Is it truly on understanding characteristics of work performance like variation around materials, methods, equipment/ machinery built into the end-to-end process or on trying to improve certain outcomes of a sub-process (usually by focusing on the attentiveness, carefulness and speed of individual workers) that you know “the boss” is going to ask about?

Deming would again suggest that this invariably leads to optimizing the sub-system at the expense of the total overall system.

Persecution of Profit by Policy

This may seem harsh, but research and reality suggest that, as mission and operating philosophy (e.g., goals, strategies and policies) emerge as part of any organizations maturation and development process, ways of people relating to each other and their work are collated into a comprehensive framework of “the way to do things,” and much of that operating philosophy is not conducive to improving financial performance.

The persecution of profit occurs when Imaginary Leadership continues to deploy policies that constrain organizational value-creation for customers, whether related to innovation, quality/ service, speed or cost.

These include policies that are intended to govern/ control who, what, where, when, why, how and how much a company purchases in products/ services, attracts/ trains/ retains talent, measures/ improves performance, et al., and the outcomes typically effected include things like teamwork, turnover, earnings/ sales volatility and net profit after taxes (NPAT).

For what to do instead, I’ll simply refer the reader to an article on The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog by John Hunter: Nobody Gives a Hoot about Profit, which includes an incredible video with Dr. Russell Ackoff about Values, Leadership and Implementing the Deming Philosophy.

Ending the Practices of Persecution

It is not going to be easy, but it is worthwhile. It starts with changing your point of view and I’d refer the reader back to Continual Improvement (CI) in part one of the two-part series. This commitment to transformation must come from you, personally…there is nothing anyone else can do.

Personal transformation can’t occur without your permission. It is a choice, and herein lies a danger that both Deming and Drucker pointed out. It is not mandatory. No one has to change. Survival is, and always will be, optional.

Choose wisely!

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Richard Dillard

Richard S. Dillard is Founder/ Managing Partner at Dillard Partners, LLC
Pursuing Success at the Speed of Leadership!
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8 Quick Tips Every Startup Should Know

Success and Failure

According to the United States Small Business Association, there are over 28 million small businesses operating in the US. These small businesses are responsible for 54 percent of domestic market share.

If you are launching a startup and want to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward, here are eight tips you’ll want to keep in mind.

8 Quick Tips Every Startup Should Know

1. Carefully Consider the Competition

No matter what type of business you’re launching, you need to be aware of the competition and the industry standards. For example, you may feel it’s reasonable to charge by the hour only to discover others are charging piecework or by project.

Learn about standard deposits, pricing, turnaround times, promotions and accepted unwritten rules before you embarrass yourself or drive away potential clients.

2. Define the Scope of Your Business

New businesses often struggle to define their parameters at the start, especially if clients are asking for services you may not have considered. If you launch a venture that offers printing for brochures, business cards, and training materials, clients may also start asking about billboards, banners, graphic design services and other related products.

Know where your scope ends and where to direct clients if you can’t meet all of their needs. Resist the urge to say yes to every requested job or you may find yourself mired in projects you are wholly unprepared to handle.

3. Enumerate What Makes Your Venture Attractive to Prospective Employees

The Wall Street Journal lists broad job categories, a customized position, more flexibility, opportunities for growth, and better employee treatment as ways to lure quality talent away from huge corporations. New startups often make the mistake of only worrying about attracting clients, but you also need to think long and hard about how to entice the best employees to your door.

Put together a list of potential benefits you’re willing to negotiate. Some, like flexible hours, may cost you nothing at all. Others, like offering quality health insurance and short-term disability insurance, may be worth the cost if they get you top talent.

4. Define Short and Long-Term Goals

Entrepreneur Magazine recommends setting goals of varying time frames so you are able to judge your progress with your own yardstick. For example, if you simply want to run a small side business from your home with perhaps one part-time employee to help you during the holiday season, there’s little sense comparing yourself to a startup venture where the owners are pushing to go public in five years. Know where you are going and where you want to be.

5. Organize Your Finances

Your startup may not make a profit for a while and you may also want to reinvest any profit back into the business. Make sure you have an adequate emergency fund and startup capital so you won’t be juggling your office lease with your mortgage.

If you will be doing your own bookkeeping, learn the software before you go live to avoid costly and time-consuming errors.

6. Know Where to Find Assistance, if You Need it

If you have an accident, get sick or need surgery, having someone you can trust to step in for a while can save your business. You also need to consider if you’ve networked enough to get professional assistance when you need it, especially if you anticipate large projects in the future.

Consider the “what if” scenarios now before they happen.

7. Keep a Reasonable Schedule

Launching a business can easily eat up your every waking hour. Exercise, time with loved ones, meals and even sleep can start to take a back seat to the demands of your startup. From the beginning, define your schedule and keep to it as much as possible. If you want to shut off your business phone at five each evening, do it. If you won’t respond to emails on weekends, make that clear from the beginning. Don’t allow your ambition to overrun all other facets of your life.

8. Make Certain You’re Properly Insured

The Small Business Association enumerates the various types of business insurance available, and the options are broad indeed. General liability insurance can cover everything from slip-and-fall accidents at your shop to legal fees for libel or slander.

If you produce a consumable product, you may want to consider product liability insurance. Meet with your insurance agent early to discuss your venture’s details before a situation arises where you should have already been insured. A single lawsuit could put you out of business, so it pays to explore all options.

Launching your own business is an exciting time. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be better prepared for the process and can avoid costly, frustrating errors.

Do you have any other additional tips on how to be successful in a startup business? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
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On Leadership, Transparency and Breaching Confidentiality

Confidentiality

What happens when a seasoned manager doesn’t know the difference between being transparent and breaching confidentiality?

In a nutshell, you get this: Distrust, demotivation, and an epic failure in leadership.

I am an Information Technology Manager at a Fortune 100 firm. We had made some significant changes in how our teams will get work done in 2015.  I was asked to objectively facilitate the many hours of work needed to get to a new organizational model.

I was thrilled at the opportunity to lead change and impact results!

Organization over Ego

When the work started on our new initiative, I was very impressed on the amount of sharing and openness our managers had toward making a major shift in software development.

Dialogue was open and people were engaged. The goal would to be less hierarchical and become more of a flat management structure.

With this new initiative, the change required moving people to co-located teams. This resulted in 30% of the employees having a new manager. And with this amount of change, you can expect that things didn’t always go smoothly.

Ego Takes Over

Unfortunately, when plans were on the drawing board and people were moved around on paper to new positions and reporting structures, the defensive walls started to build and lines of territory started to be drawn.

The professional maturity of each manager started to become clear. Some showed signs of professional maturity and dealt with things well, even if they felt inside that they had a big (and unfair) challenge ahead of them. While many others acted the opposite.

They were much less willing to work for a bigger picture and took a selfish stance.

 Organizational Nightmare

When the discussion moved to the skills and performance of the managers, senior staff sequestered for confidential discussions. The results from this was that we constructed the first hierarchy for the new organization.

And with the historic attitudes reigning, the new org-chart looked exactly like the current one.

  • We had one manager of managers
  • Several first line managers
  • And half a dozen senior individual contributors reporting to the director

What an OD nightmare!

Many members believed we could not get the change needed if we didn’t change the management structure so a flat, balanced organization model was recommended.

Maintaining the Status Quo

Believing that he was just being transparent, the manager with the majority of the organization under his control gave access of the confidential organizational structure options being considered to his first line managers.

This manager was too busy persuading people that his way was the right way that he failed to hear the recommendation was to flatten the organization; including his team.

He also shared with one of his direct reports a discussion that occurred during a closed meeting whether the manager was ready for the more complex role including the name of the staff member who raised the concern.

This was not being transparent. This was breaching confidentiality!

The Let Down

When it came down to the final staff meeting to finalize the new organization, the leader, in order to minimize thrash and too much change, kept the unbalanced organization model.

When the announcements started to roll out, managers who had seen the flat model and thought they would now be reporting directly to the leader of the organization were blindsided. The manager who was told of the confidential discussion confronted the senior staff member.

This not only destroyed the trust. but it also damaged the trust of the senior staff member with his peer. He believed he could raise a concern in a closed staff meeting and not have his confidence breached.

The Moral of the Story

Leaders are always more successful when they are transparent with the people they lead. When they provide the reason for change whether it be due to cost cutting, greater efficiency or because the industry has shifted and the organization needs to shift to remain successful.

However, breaching confidentiality to be transparent and not understanding the difference is a failure in leadership.

Sharing too much detail, including the details and hard discussions that have to happen for a decision to be made, is just poor judgement.

Leaders need to be aware of all of the conversations happening, not just focused on driving their own agenda. In this case, the miss and the failure resulted in several valuable people leaving the organization.

How important is transparency in your leadership practices and how do you groom your managers to clearly understand being transparent without breaching confidentiality?

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Cheryl Dilley

Cheryl Dilley is an Information Technology Manager at Intel Corporation
She is passionate about changing the game for women in the tech industry
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