Tag Archive: Change Management

No No Nancy Strikes Again

Season Two, Episode Six. Podcast recap! (And if you missed the podcast, you can find it here.)

Podcast Recap: Season 2, Episode 6

Every Office Has One

This week on the podcast we tackle that one person in the office that makes everyone groan. No, not Peter with all his horrible Dad jokes. No, we gave Peter the week off.  Instead we are talking about “No No Nancy”.  She’s negative. She hates change. She’s a downer. She doesn’t like new things.  She doesn’t even like old things.  She definitely doesn’t like you.  She says “No” a lot  – and her behaviour is a drag.

As always, our guiding principle here at Whiteboard is to seek to understand, so we should probably start with trying to uncover why some people have that negative style and others don’t.

Is the negativity a result of  personality preferences?

According to Myers-Briggs theory, people with a preference for Sensing (S) typically need factual, real, observable data in order for them to consider it trustworthy information.  Their personality opposites, those with a preference for Intuition (N), tend to trust information on the big picture and possibilities.

When our big picture thinkers (N) bring ideas/concepts/changes to our fact folks (S), the latter typically respond with a barrage of questions. These questions, used simply to get more data, information, and facts, are commonly interpreted by N’s as REALLY NITPICKY AND NEGATIVE: What’s the cost per night? Whats the weather that time of year? What was the data from last year? etc etc.

They aren’t meant to be negative, but that’s how they sound to their counterparts. As Ruth, Whiteboard’s resident S says, it’s “No for now, until you can prove otherwise”.

Similarly – S’s might start off proposals for change and meet with a similar perception of negativity from their N counterparts: What’s the big picture? How does this link to the strategy? Have you thought of other ideas? etc. And the perception is the same – a negative response that is a huge drag.

How to Deal?

If you’ve identified your No No or Negative Nancy as someone who just needs more data, BRING MORE DATA. As I (Nicole) mentioned, I deal with my seemingly super nitpicky, annoying husband who loves facts, data, and observations (love you babe) by always bringing facts and data with my ideas about which I want him to make decisions.  You know, like spreadsheets of vacation options with a zillion columns.

If you are the data driven realist trying to appeal to a big picture seeking N, can you give some thought to strategy and future possibilities to accompany your data and appeal to their thinking style?

This is all fine and dandy – but what if this isn’t a personality issue because there seems to be more going on?  Is it possible Nancy’s No’s are the result of some past experiences that are triggering a negative behaviour response? Or said differently…..

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

So this particular negativity comes from people who are impacted by past history/experience. Now the big question is how do we differentiate between the two sources of negativity, and more importantly does it matter? Let’s use Neville (Ruth’s Harry Potter obsession is really taking over…) as an example.

Every time Neville hears about a project he rolls his eyes, mutters under his breath, and is just generally grumbly.  Is he just being difficult because of past experience? Is he looking for the data? How can we find out?

Use open ended statements like:

Tell me more…..Help me understand…

to “peel back the layers of the onion” and find out.

You might hear:

  • I don’t understand it.
  • I don’t see the logic.
  • I don’t see the research.

Tell me about a time when this did work?

This is an Appreciative Inquiry technique that helps people focus on the art of the possible.

Either you’ll hear some positive ideas that you can work with, or, you might hear:

  • This always happens.
  • This never works.
  • I’m tired of all this.

This sounds like change fatigue, or previous examples of change that haven’t worked well or caused some workflow issues.

In this case you might want to find out where the person is in their journey for change? Maybe set some expectations about your topic.

But wait there’s more (like a great infomercial).

What if you hear:

  • I’m really mad about [insert unreasonable scenario that no one should be mad about here].
  • I can’t stand [insert really nice person who seems to just be driving Neville nuts].
  • Can you believe [insert really normal story that shouldn’t be alarming at all].

Sounds like maybe this is just a case of the MONDAYS. Sounds like this is just a grumpy day and will probably pass. Might be a good day to let someone just vent and be grouchy and not worry about this type of negativity bringing down the office culture too drastically.

BESPOKE COACHING

At the end of the day. Who’s on the “Bus to Change” with you? Who’s slashing the tires? Who’s grumpy in the back? And who’s gleefully singing songs at the front of the bus?

Deal with your negative Nancy’s/Neville’s/Nanette’s in respective order to their potential damage to your bus destination.  Before you come to a solution:

  1. Seek to understand,
  2. Then give info (if required), and/0r
  3. Then coach, and/or
  4. Give advice/support, and finally, if all else fails:
  5. Be directive.

The moral of this episode is….just because the symptoms sound the same (negativity), doesn’t mean the solution is the same.

You have to investigate and find the source of the negativity in order to deal with it effectively.  Listen to the podcast for Ruth’s Dog Bark/Tail analogy.

Next week on the blog we fire Peter.  Well not exactly – but we tell you what firing Peter might be like and how to prepare.

And we give you a sneak peek on Season 3 of the podcast! So keep on listening.

Until next time….

Nicole

 

What’s Your Corporate Climate Like?

We originally wrote the following blog post last winter, and were thrilled it was picked up by The Huffington Post on March 27, 2017.

What’s your Corporate Climate like?

Before you answer that, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page with respect to the use of the term “climate.”

We aren’t talking about the temperature in your office, or whether it’s really dry from the winter cold, or whether there aren’t any blinds on the west-facing windows so it’s unbearable on summer afternoons.

Rather, we are talking about an alternate definition provided by the Merriam Webster dictionary: “the prevailing influence or environmental conditions characterizing a group.”

What Defines a Corporate Climate?

We define the Corporate Climate as the synergistic effect of all the things that influence how, how well, and what work gets done in your organization. This includes things like:

  • People: There may be people who have influence over others at any level of the organization; it could be the CEO, an administrative assistant, a manager, or a new hire. If that person has a presence that influences (positively or negatively) other people, then he or she is shaping your Corporate Climate.
  • Policies & Processes: There may be policies & processes that are outdated and confusing, or relevant and useful. Some may be formally documented, and others may have evolved over time. Either way, they are impacting the quality of the work that is done.
  • Traditions: Do you hear the phrase “We’ve always done it this way” a lot in your organization? It could be a good thing (We’ve always had a company picnic and included all the families”) or a not-so-good thing (“We’ve always done this manually”). These traditions are a huge part of the Corporate Climate because they influence how and how well work is done.
  • Values: Does your organization have a values statement? Is it recent? Do leaders demonstrate those values and are people held accountable to them? Those values (or lack thereof) impact the Corporate Climate because they influence the way employees and customers engage with the organization.

Why You Should Care

Your organization’s Corporate Climate has a direct and measurable impact on the bottom line.

That’s it. That’s all you need to know.

Oh, you’d like to know how it impacts the bottom line? Ok.

The Corporate Climate influences employee engagement, which causes your team members to:

  • Wake up to the day’s most important news.
  • Stay or quit,
  • Do high quality work or the bare minimum,
  • Work as a high performing team or do their own thing,
  • Treat each other respectfully or tolerate incivility, and
  • Speak well of their organization or trash it.

Gallup Research consistently shows that ​employee engagement is an important predictor of corporate performance, even in a tough economy. They say, “engaged workers have bought into what the organization is about and are trying to make a difference.”

The Corporate Climate also influences the consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness of your products and services which:

  1. Causes customers to love you or hate you,
  2. Adds or reduces your sales and expenses, and
  3. Improves or reduces your level of employee engagement.

So, a positive Corporate Climate = a strong bottom line.

It’s Not Easy, But It’s Possible

Creating a positive, vibrant, and successful Corporate Climate is not easy, and yet – it’s possible!

Step One: Assess your Corporate Climate of your team, department, or the whole company. Consider the four categories we discussed:

  • People: How is our employee engagement? Do we have people that are positively or negatively influencing the Climate? Do we promote or coach those people accordingly?
  • Policies & Processes: When was the last time our policies were updated? What do we expect from our people? How do we treat them and each other? Do we have documented business processes? How long ago were they examined? Could we do better? Be more efficient?
  • Traditions: Are our traditions entrenched in the right areas and challenged in others? What high level traditions do we share and talk about? Do we know what traditions exist at the team level? Do those traditions represent what we are trying to do at the Corporate level?
  • Values: Would our employees be able to state what we value as an organization? Would our customers agree that we demonstrate our values? Have we ever defined what we value?

Step Two: Which of the areas above is the most pressing? Engage people in answering that question, and brainstorm some different answers and impacts.

Step Three: Start with one thing. Measure how it is now, take some focused action, and measure it again in six months. If there’s no change, go back to step two!

Your Corporate Climate is important. Take some time to assess yours today.

The Risk of Being Too Comfortable

Last weekend I found myself listening to Stuart MacLean‘s “Vinyl Cafe” on CBC Radio. I was driving north for a few hours, and prefer to listen to a talk show or podcast so my brain stays active and I stay awake – always a good thing when driving solo. If you have never heard a Vinyl Cafe podcast or listened to Mr. MacLean tell a story about the fictional Dave and his wife Morley, then you are missing out on a good piece of Canadiana and the opportunity to enjoy a full belly laugh.

The podcast I listened to was called “Summer,” and was the story of how Dave and Morley rented a cottage in the Laurentian Mountains (north of Montreal). Instead of paying for the rental, they agreed to do some work around the cottage, including removing a wall and tearing up the lawn. Sadly, they stayed in the wrong cottage and disaster ensued. It turns out this cottage owner liked things to remain the same in all ways, and his cottage hadn’t changed in over 50 years. Of course Mr. MacLean tells the story much better than I can – suffice it to say, the moral of the story is that change can result in good things, but you should try to avoid being surprised by it.

During the telling of the story, Mr. MacLean used the phrase “The Cathedral of Constancy” in reference to Jean-Francois’ cottage. He said that although nothing had changed in 50 years, we mustn’t assume that it is in disrepair. Oh no – it is well maintained, neat and clean. “It’s been kept up perfectly,” he says, “but not updated.”

That got me to thinking – isn’t this avoidance of change the way we often get into trouble?

Our computer gives us a notice that we have an update to do, and we don’t do it because it’s a pain. We keep clicking “remind me later” and suddenly a quick update becomes a huge deal when we finally get around to it. Or worse, it crashes.

We refuse to get a new phone until the old one breaks, bypassing several new models and operating systems, and then realize the differences are so enormous from our old phone that we have to learn a completely new way of communicating.

We keep things the same in our organization, relying on efficient processes that work just fine, thank you very much. We don’t modernize or innovate – because we don’t see the need – and then someday we realize that the business world has passed us by, and we have a whole lot of catching up to do. Never mind the principle of staying “ahead of the game,” we aren’t even keeping up with “the game!”

“But Ruth,” I can hear you thinking, “aren’t you always saying that consistency and repeatability are good things? That they ensure efficiency and effectiveness?”

Well, yes. Yes I do say those things, and I believe them. And I also believe that there is a danger in becoming complacent in that efficiency; that the desire to avoid change, stay comfortable, and rely on what we know may cause us to miss out on things that are even better.

It is just as important to maintain vigilance on efficient processes as it is to completely shake up the whole system and innovate. (Click here to tweet that statement.) The trick is to do both at the same time, and to ensure that changes to the processes are properly planned, communicated, and implemented.

Is your organization a “Cathedral of Constancy?” Or are you and your team on the lookout for opportunities to modernize and improve? How do you balance consistency with innovation?

Leave us your thoughts in the comments below – we’d love to hear them!

Until next time,

Ruth.

PS – you can find the podcast called “Summer” in iTunes. It first aired on May 6, 2016, and the story of Dave and Morley begins a few minutes into the recording.

Crush Your Next Interview

interview

The image above shows all the classic things we’ve learned to do before an important meeting or interview.

  1. Dress appropriately. Not only does that mean not “under dressing,” but it also means not “over dressing!” Do your research and then dress one level up.
  2. Arrive in good time. Well, duh.
  3. Body language. Be aware! Assume an open and interested position (arms resting in your lap or on the arms of your chair), don’t check your watch or (heaven forbid) your phone, and above all else, don’t interrupt!
  4. Expect the unexpected. Yup. What if you’re kept waiting 30 minutes? What if you have to do a presentation on the spot? What if it’s super hot in the interview room? Plan to keep your cool in all situations.
  5. Ask questions. For sure. And don’t ask “when will you make your decision,” as if you already have the job. A great one is “what will the most challenging thing be for the successful applicant?”

But those are the standard things. The things you can learn if you google “interview prep” or ask your friend how they got their job.

Secrets to Crushing Any Interview

  1. Use “I” not “we.” Yes, that’s right. Talk about yourself. As someone who has interviewed hundreds of people, I can tell you that when you are asked to “tell me about a time when you led a complicated project with a diverse team,” then I want to know what YOU did specifically. Not what your whole team did. Now is not the time to “share the credit.” For example:
    • Bad answer: I was the project lead for Project X, and we worked together to create SMART goals, communicate effectively, and follow project management principles.
    • Good answer: I was the project lead for Project X, and early on I established the team guidelines. I facilitated the team agreement on goals, coordinated and moderated regular updates, and developed job shadowing practices so that people could fill in for each other during crunch times.
  2. Use action words. In the example above the words “established,” “facilitated,” “coordinated,” “moderated,” and “developed” are all action words. Example: “Tell me about the work you did in your most favourite job?”
    • Bad answer: I loved my job two years ago because I was responsible for team engagement and new employee onboarding and it was very rewarding.
    • Good answer: I loved my job two years ago because I championed team engagement by leading quarterly brainstorming sessions, developing and implementing engagement programs like Job Shadowing for new employees, and facilitating bi-annual engagement feedback sessions with the VP. It was really rewarding to see engagement scores increase and to get positive feedback from the team.
  3. Tell stories. Many interviewers will start a question with “describe a time when you…” Others will start with, “have you ever…” And still others will say things like, “what’s your greatest or worst skill?” Each of these is a chance to tell a story. It will be tempting to answer quickly, but what you want to do is answer in a way they will visualize and remember. Example: “OK, you’ve been telling me about all these things that you do so well, but we all have weaknesses or opportunities to improve. What’s one of yours?
    • Bad answer: I actually don’t have any weaknesses because I have been honing my skills for years. (I’m not kidding. That’s a real answer I got once.)
    • Alternate bad answer: A weakness? Oh. Well, I guess I can get flustered some times when timelines shift quickly, but I am really good at re-configuring my plans so everything comes out ok.
    • Good answer: On a recent project the timelines shifted a few times, as they often do on large projects. By the third time shift I realized that I should be using a different milestone chart that is more adaptable when there are changes. By implementing that, I was able to reduce the frustration I can feel if things shift too frequently.

crushed it

These three tips will help you stand out (in a good way) and increase your likelihood of winning the competition. Have you used any of these before? Let us know on Twitter (@whiteboardcons) using #InterviewPrep!

Until next time,

Ruth.

PS – did you know we offer coaching for interview prep? It’s true. Click here and read all about it.

Advice vs. Coaching

puzzle

“Oh, I’d love a coach!” said Bob after chatting with Melissa at a cocktail party. “I’ve been looking for one for a few weeks, actually.”

“Cool,” replied Melissa. “What is it that’s triggered you to look for a coach? Something at home? At work?”

“There’s lots going on at work, and I have no idea what to do next,” Bob sighed. “I need someone to tell me what to do.”

Melissa takes a deep breath. She has no intention of telling anyone to do anything – she’s a coach, not an advisor.

Advice vs. Coaching

There are so many people in our lives who will happily tell us what to do. Friends, parents, siblings, co-workers – the list is endless. Some of these people have the experience and technical skills to give us highly valued and valuable advice, and yet it’s interesting – in the end, we follow our own advice.

There are remarkably fewer skilled people who know that you are your own best resource, and who have the ability to help you get out of your own way and find the pathway that resonates with you the most.

Henry Kimsey-House, co-founder of Coaches Training Institute and respected author, has a great way of describing the difference between coaching and advising. (Listen to his ten minute discussion by clicking here.)

Advisors, he says, stand in front of you and face you. You ask them their opinions and they give them to you, based on their experience and background.

Coaches, however, stand next to you, facing the same direction, and look to the horizon saying, “Where do you want to go?”

horizon

So what do I need then – a coach or an advisor?

  1. Do you need help sorting through highly technical issues that require specific areas of knowledge? –> you need an advisor
    • stocks or bonds
    • surgery or medication
    • corporation or partnership
    • skills required to move into a specific role (i.e. mentorship)
  2. Are you trying to decide between a few different options? –> you need a coach to help you pull out the answer that is already in your head, but is hiding behind the swirl of facts and choices and noise
    • take job 1 or job 2
    • quit a job or try a different approach
    • love it or list it (haha – HGTV reference)
  3. Are you trying to figure out what to do next? –> you need a coach to help you plot your course and consider barriers and enablers along the way
    • grow the business now or later, and what’s the first step
    • prepare for retirement
    • land a job you want
    • make a major shift in your life
    • cross something off your bucket list
  4. Are you frustrated in dealing with difficult people? –> you need a coach to help you understand your own styles before you can understand others

It is SO tempting to just have others tell us what to do. And guess what? Even when they tell us, we still have to make the final decision.

Trust an advisor when you need technical advice and information. Trust a coach when you need to sort through options. You’ll be so much more satisfied with the result.

Until next time,

Ruth.

Happy Birthday to Us!

bday

On March 28th Whiteboard turns 4 years old. 4 years! This is a big deal – according to Start Up Canada, only 70% of the more than 100,000 new small businesses that open each year actually last to year 2, and only 51% to year five. These are pretty daunting stats, and we are really thrilled to still be here, loving what we do.

What’s our secret?

Besides persistence and patience you mean? Well, the other day Nicole and I were talking about how our business has changed and grown in its short four-year existence. We started out as a company focused purely on process improvement consulting, determined to help businesses become more effective and efficient using our own methodology, The Whiteboard Way©.

We soon discovered that people didn’t just hold up their hands and say, “Oh pick us! We need process improvement!” No, in fact a lot of people don’t even know what the term means or why they should care about it. So we found ourselves trying to explain our business to people, most of whom nodded politely or stared like a deer in the headlights.

We found our work shifting to training and facilitation, knowing that what people REALLY need is a culture shift that will encourage innovation, inspire creativity, and allow people to try, fail, and try again. It is only by developing culture that organizations can attempt a massive (or moderate) change and hope to be successful. As the saying goes:

We started focusing on proving training on things that are most likely to help organizations be successful at implementing change. Things like:

  • Learning how (and when) to have rewarding conversations with people at work. Yes – conversations. It’s not as simple as you might think, and our coaching course helps people-managers build their skills in this area. It’s probably our most popular course.
  • Understanding the difference between leading and managing, and why that’s important in building an effective team.
  • Becoming self-aware and realizing how that can lead to truly effective communication.
  • Knowing how to set goals and understanding why measurements are important (hint: people like to know when they’re winning).
  • Helping teams understand the flow of work through an organization, and how gaps in process can cause frustration and inefficiency.

So now we don’t do process improvement? We teach?

Uh, no.

Don’t misunderstand me. We “do” process improvement. It happens to be one of the most amazing tools there is to help organizations improve business results. It’s just not the only tool.

We now describe ourselves as Change Management consultants who help uncover hidden opportunities to improve business results. And we do that by seeking to understand our clients, our course participants, our partners, and – always – ourselves.

  • Through our coaching program, we seek to understand you – the person – and help you get to the root of whatever barriers are in your way.
  • Through our process improvement work, we seek to understand the organization, and uncover hidden opportunities to improve business results.
  • Through our psychometric assessments (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) we help you seek to understand yourself and the people around you.
  • Through our speaking, training, and facilitation, we seek to understand our participants, and by so doing we ensure our workshops are dynamic, fun, relevant, and valuable.

And for our 5th year?

Not only have we added new services to our repertoire, but this year we are also excited to be exploring a new associate model which will allow us to expand the Whiteboard brand to other cities! This is going to be awesome, so stay tuned for more on that later in the year.

Thank you to all our clients, partners, and supporters who make it continually fun to do what we do. We couldn’t – and wouldn’t – do it without you!

Until next time,

Ruth.

 

3 Questions to ask your potential new boss to avoid a toxic workplace.

Why oh why did I take this job?

You spent days perfecting your resume.  Days finding the right salutation for your cover letter.  Weeks ruining your manicure fretting about the interview process.  And if you happen to work in the public sector, you’ve spent hours rehearsing your presentation assignment with anyone who will listen.

All that hard work, and the phone finally rings – “We’d like to offer you the job!” download

Fast forward 2 goodbye cake parties, 12 transition meetings, and 17 emails about how lucky you are to “get out of here”.  You’ve got your big girl/boy suit on and it is week 3 of your new job.

You said the biggest challenge was going to be what?

You thought you did the right thing! You asked the golden end-of-interview question:

“What will be the biggest challenge you foresee for the winning candidate in this new role?”

This is a great question.  But they didn’t tell you that the office is the perfect example of a toxic workplace! You are dissapointed, demotivated, and think you may have made the worst decision ever!

Don’t get me wrong,  “a challenge” from one individual to another has a great deal of variability. For one it might be subject matter expertise, for another it is senior management support. Managers looking for a team member aren’t going to say things like:

  • The culture is super toxic, have fun!
  • I’m a really great operational manger, but I suck at leadership (oh and I hate team meetings FYI).
  • Your team is the worst performing team in our entire company.
  • My boss is even worse than I am.

3 Questions to ask your potential new boss (BEFORE you say YES!)

You might feelimages awkward asking these questions.  I guarantee that this moment of mild awkwardness is FAR less painful than arriving at TWCC (Toxic Workplace Culture Central). Read more on the signs of a toxic workplace culture here.

  1. How would you describe the culture of the organization? This is a great open-ended question that’s pretty hard to hide behind. If you have an honest hiring manager, they will be clear about the challenges and opportunities.  Be ready with some probing questions to help you out in case you get some tight lipped answers (i.e. You say “Great”, tell me more? How would employees describe the culture? How would another team describe the culture?).  I would be delighted with answers like: our branch does a bi-annual team building event offsite, we have a running club, we have a lunchtime yoga session that more than half of the team participates in etc.
  2. Can you tell me about the history of the team that I’ll be working with? Ooh.  This question is more loaded than a baked potato. Here’s where you can find out things like how new (or how established) your team is.  Perhaps you do some diagnosis on their stage of team development, or how you might apply the situational leadership model.  You can start to understand how resilient the team might be to change (based on their recent history with change).
  3. What kinds of systems/processes are currently in place in the organization to support open and transparent communication and team building? What I would want to hear in this answer are things like: we have weekly 1:1 coaching sessions with our team, we have a very rigorous performance review process, we believe strongly in training, coaching, and having difficult conversations…

Remember, the hiring panel is not only interviewing you, but you are interviewing them – to see if this job, culture, and environment is a great fit for you.  Otherwise, on to the next opportunity!

Now what if you’ve got the job and you’ve got the toxic culture blues? Not to worry, stay tuned and next time I’ll share the top 3 tips to dramatically improve your culture (even if you aren’t a manager)!

Until Next Time,

Nicole

P.S.  Looking for a new role?  Ruth is offering 3 coaching sessions to a select few volunteers, snag this $500 value before spots are gone! Ruth@whiteboardconsulting.ca/staging 

The Process of Managing Change

This week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Lisa Chicules, a brand and strategy expert, for her radio show “Chat With Chicules” on the Voice America Radio Network. Lisa is a real expert and leader in her field, unearthing the brand potential for organizations of all shapes and sizes. One of my favourite quotes of hers is “uncover the right insight and don’t stop until it’s brilliant.” She may not know it, but with thoughts like that, she’s not only a brand expert, but also a process thinker!

Needless to say I was both honoured and excited to be on her show. It was a first for me – talking isn’t a problem, but having a big shiny microphone in front of you is a whole different ballgame. We had a blast, and I really enjoyed our topic: The Process of Managing Change. (You can listen to it by clicking here.)

Because everything is a process, right?

Right. If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know that we believe a process is a process is a process, whether you are making a martini, filling out your tax forms, or implementing a major new project or change initiative in the office.

And yet, as Lisa pointed out, so many organizations struggle with the process side of change. They focus on the “Big Shiny Goal” and forget about all the little things that go in to making that goal successful. “Why is that?” Lisa wondered.

Well, frankly, it’s because the Big Shiny Goal is more fun. It’s sexier, it’s what gets noticed, and it’s where a lot of Senior Leaders spend their time and energy. Then when they’ve developed this latest and greatest thing, they pass on their idea to someone else, say “Make It So,” and then move on – you guessed it – to the next Big Shiny Goal.

The problem is that “Make It So” doesn’t even begin to convey all the information required by an implementation team to make the Big Shiny Goal a reality. As it turns out, there’s quite a bit of context required in order to support the process (yes, process) of managing the implementation (or change) effectively.

John P. Kotter, business guru and best-selling author, developed a model that shows the 8 Steps of effective Change Management. Thankfully, I’m only going to focus on the first one because in my humble opinion, it’s the most important.

Kotter

The first step in our process is to create a sense of urgency. In other words, provide the context that is SO STRONG, that people will understand the reason for the change and why it has to happen right now. They may not love it, but they’ll get it.

For instance: let’s say you have to move your office to a new location. There are two ways you can announce this to the team:

  • The usual way: “Hey everyone, in three months we will be moving to a new office location on the other side of town. Now before you get excited, let me tell you how amazing this new building is – first of all, it’s all floor to ceiling windows, so it will be really bright and you’ll all have a window seat. Secondly it has a fully equipped kitchen, a Starbucks in the lobby, and gym membership is included. And finally, the elevators are all brand new so you won’t have to wait for ages like you do in this ancient old building. Ha ha ha. Isn’t this great?

What they hear: “Hey everyone, in three months we will be moving to a new office location on the other side of town. That’s right, an extra 30 minutes commute for you, and a completely different location from your wife. You may even have to get a second car. And you know your kid’s daycare that’s right across the street now? You probably won’t be able to pick them up by the 6pm cutoff any more. Oh and one more thing, there is no public transit, and it’s $6/day to park.”

You see, people don’t hear benefits right after a change announcement. They are overwhelmed by the impacts on their personal lives, and they they start to think – what the heck are they doing this for? This is awful!

Now let’s try to re-frame using the “hot problem / cool solution” concept, in which we state a problem that EVERYONE wants to avoid, and then provide the solution. This creates a sense of urgency that people can buy in to.

  • The better way: “Hey everyone, we have a fairly urgent issue to deal with, and I want to share it with you and tell you what we’ve come up with. As you know, budgets are being cut, and we’ve had to come up with $1.2 million in cost savings over the next three years. As you can imagine, there are a few ways to do this and we’ve been trying to figure out the way that will have the least impact on this team. In order to keep this team and its operations whole, we are going to have to move to a different office on the other side of town. I know this is going to have an impact on some of you, and I want to discuss it with each of you personally and see if we can come up with a solution.

Only then is it ok to start talking about benefits.

The second step in our process involves setting metrics so that people know if they are winning. Stephen Covey’s The Four Disciplines of Execution talks about the need to have a scorecard that is displayed in a public place so that everyone knows if they are meeting their goals. It sounds simple, yet so many organizations miss this piece and fail to set their goals in a measurable way at the beginning of the change or strategic implementation.

What are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? Note the word KEY. If you have more than 5-7 KPIs in your organization, then they are not the key metrics. Do you have a big spreadsheet with 20+ measures that are tracked regularly and reported to a large group?

Yes? Well that’s too many.

Many operational areas must track dozens of measures. That’s normal. But don’t call them Key Performance Indicators and share them with the whole organization – it’s not relevant, eyes gloss over, and the important story is lost.

Business analytics is all about telling the story, helping people understand what they are measuring, whether they are winning (on track), and if not, what some possible root causes may be. It is imperative that these metrics are set out at the beginning of any implementation.

Finally, the third process step I discussed with Lisa was effective communication. If you have ever participated in an employee engagement survey, then you know that communication is almost always in the top 3 things to improve. Why is that? Why can we never get it right?

communicate

I believe that too many of us communicate with others in the way that WE like to be communicated to. That is – I like eMails, so I send eMails to everyone and think I’ve done an awesome job communicating.

The problem is, many people don’t read those emails, so I haven’t communicated with them at all.

But that’s their fault, right? Shouldn’t they have just read the emails?

Yes. And by saying so, I’d be right. I’d also be really ineffective.

The great leader considers the people to whom he/she must communicate – all their differences in language style, medium preference, and even cultural concerns – and adjusts their communication accordingly. It might mean an email to some, a phone call to others, and even a quick face-to-face with a few others. It may seem like a waste of time, but it really isn’t.

Easy peasy, right?

Well maybe not. This is an awful lot to think about, even though it’s only three steps. And yet these things are absolutely essential in implementing a successful change. Miss out on any one of these things, and the best project plan in the world will not save you.

Remember:

  1. Set up the right metrics at the outset.
  2. Use Change Management theory to ensure you have set the context.
  3. Communicate to be effective, not just right.

If you’d like to listen to the radio broadcast I did with Lisa on this topic, click here and it will take you right to the recording. You can also download it from iTunes as a podcast if you search “Chat with Chicules” and look for the episode on The Process of Managing Change.

Until next time,

Ruth.

Sometimes the Flavour of the Month is Chocolate. And It’s Good.

flavour2

If you work for anyone other than yourself, you have probably lived this phrase in some way:

“Ugh – this new initiative is nothing other than the new flavour of the month. It’ll never stick and next year they’ll roll out something else.”

Sound familiar? These words have probably assaulted your ears (or crossed your lips), when the organization is trying with best intentions to make a change or an improvement. The person who is responsible for the change is excited about the initiative, and is frustrated beyond believe with this blasé response from the team.

So why do people say it?

First, a little Change Management theory for you – we know from Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross‘ work that people experience grief in an emotional roller coaster. When Kubler-Ross pioneered the concept of the 5 Stages of Grief, people became aware that grief impacts us all the same way and yet differently too.

In other words, we all go through the stages of Grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance), but we may go through them differently. Some may linger in one stage or another, and some may fly through a stage so quickly as to appear to bypass it. The way in which we go through these stages is greatly impacted by our personal resilience, the amount of stress we are dealing with at the moment, and our experiences with grief in the past.

The same is true with change. In fact, Kubler-Ross’ model has been adapted to create the Change Curve, used by Change Management experts, teachers, and coaches. There are several different variations of the curve itself, and we like this one the best:

change curve

You can see the similarity to the 5 Stages of Grief – in this model we have Denial, Anger, Exploration, and Acceptance.

Imagine then, an employee who is not only experiencing change at work, but also at home (spouse has been demoted, child has moved out, parent is ill). This employee, we’ll call him Rob, has been a good worker and has been around for about 15 years. You are Rob’s manager, and very excited about a new program to create a more efficient process for doing the work of Rob and the entire team. When you meet to discuss it, Rob breaks open the “Flavour of the Month” remark, and the team snickers.

This is because Rob has been around for a couple of business cycles. He’s seen change implemented, re-implemented, de-implemented, and implemented again. He’s tired and his resilience is low – he feels that change is a pendulum, and that people should just make up their damn minds and stick with something.

Well, here’s the thing…

The United States’ National Bureau of Economic Research states that since 1945 the average business cycle has been just less than six years. That length of time may also be impacted by your industry, budget issues, technology advancement, and general business trends.

So in other words, every few years the business world changes. And in order to be relevant in that world, an organization must change with it. The change the organization is implementing is probably the right thing, for right now. In a few years it may no longer be the right thing. So yeah. It might well be the flavour of the month, and there’s nothing wrong with that (unless an organization is making change for change’s sake – and that’s a whole different discussion.)

The trick is to implement the “new flavour” carefully, using change management best practices from the outset and communicating the “why and why now” message in the most effective way for the team.

If that’s all done correctly, then the answer to Rob is as easy as, “Yes Rob, it IS the flavour of the month. It’s chocolate. And it’s good.”

Until next time,

Ruth.

 

How to use process tools for anything. Even moving!

Moving is a Process.

Think of your last move. You and your spouse/partner giggling hysterically while you pack boxes.  Flirtatiously throwing bubble wrap at one another while you pack? Then after a smooth experience with your moving company, arriving at your new home, giddy with excitement, settling into at least 10 glasses of champagne next to a cozy fire.

If you just snorted or guffawed- you aren’t alone.

What does a living hell look like?download

The first thing I did when we bought our new house was open a bottle of wine (it wasn’t going to open itself was it?).  Then, being the process geek I am, I began to map the current state of moving that I had experienced in the past. I won’t bore you with the VISIO document. But it sort of went something like this:

Step 1. Buy House

Step 2. Start Packing random stuff.

Step 3. Stop packing for a while because have run out of Cardboard Boxes (so has nearby grocery store).

Step 4. Unpack most of things packed in Step 2 because I needed them.

Step 5.  Nearly murder partner/spouse because they have to date packed nothing.

Step 6.  Pack frantically and angrily for a number of days.

Step 7.  Stop packing.  Realize move is still 3 months away.

Step 8. Unpack 90% of Step 6 items while looking for yoga mat that have not used in 3 years but need for “Girls Yoga/Brunch” on Sunday.

Step 9.  Realized have not booked movers.  Panic.  Call first movers that appear on The Google after searching “Movers Toronto”.

Step 10. Begin frantically packing again. Rip 7 boxes because I overpack them and everything falls through the bottom.

Step 11. Stop packing because it is Les Mills Release week and I have to go to every gym class ever.

Step 12. Begin frantically packing.

Step 13. Cancel girls indoor rock climbing date because “I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THE #&$^#% MY ROCK CLIMBING SHOES ARE.

Step 14-18.  Slight wine induced blur of packing, crying, fighting with spouse irrationally, and scramble packing.

Step 19. ARRIVE AT NEW HOUSE!! Look lovingly at spouse/partner and sip champagne for about 13 seconds.  Immediately proceed to next step.

Step 20. Unpack frantically trying to get house ready for guests.

Step 21. Repack 70% of items as realize new house does not have closet space.

Step 22. Frantically look for that black top for girls wine night. WHERE THE &#&^#^#^#^ is that TOP?????

Step 23. 6 months later feel settled and have shit together.

So pain. So pain.

So this time, older, wiser, armed with process tools out the wazoo I vowed that this time my move would be better.  So first I focused on what I felt were the key pain points  (or for us process geeks, two Lean Wastes) for me during this process:

lean

  • not being able to find one blasted thing before or after the move, causing packing and unpacking again (OVERPROCESSING)
  • running out of  boxes/ripping boxes due to overpacking and having dead time where I wasn’t doing anything. (INVENTORY/WAITING)

The first thing I did being the consultant I am – I outsourced.  I rented reusable, stackable boxes that come with little labels  from (no kickbacks or anything for me, I just found these guys awesome and fast). No running out of boxes. Check!

The next thing I did, was made some space in my garage, and I used huge post-it notes to label each major room in the house (Kitchen, Living Room, Master Bedroom, Master Bathroom etc.)

Next I started packing things that 100% would not be required (i.e. Summer clothes, clothes that no longer fit me yet I am very hopeful that one day I will look like I did when I was 22, shoes that I paid alot of money for however never wear because I work from home in workout wear 98% of the time).

I packed one to two boxes a day.  Every day I brought them down to the garage, put them beneath the room they were assigned to, and labelled the box K1 = Kitchen box 1.  I then quickly wrote on the post it note on the wall, K1= dehydrator, stand mixer, and baking supplies. This way – when I nonsensically needed to make jerky in a hurry or bake homemade bread for the first time before we moved, it would be simple to find which box it was in.

Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams.

 

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Fast Forward 3 months later this was me on moving day.  Ha. It was great.  The easiest move ever. Check me out with my feet up on moving day!

And then when we arrived at the new house and got ourselves settledd my husband turned to me and said – “Sweetheart, do you know which box the Apple tv is in?”. I gleefully pulled out the post-it notes I had collected from the garage, and promptly announced: “LR11!!” with a huge boastful/gloaty smile.  He replied: “Gosh you are an amazing woman!”.  We quickly connected to the internet (that I had arranged installation for weeks in advance)and were cozily catching up on our favourite documentary. *

We laughed and giggled, clinked our champagne glasses together, and smiled.  Life was good. **

Notes:

*I forgot to to order internet installation. So we didn’t have internet for about 3 days.  I’m the worst.

 

**Actually, I collected the post it notes from the garage and randomly jammed them into an ottoman as the movers were putting it into the truck.  I didn’t find the post-it notes until 3 days later.  When husband asked for them and I couldn’t find them he may have replied something along the lines of:  “You are a total bozo.”

Moral being – there is ALWAYS room for more process improvement – in ANY process.  Just imagine using this in a more formal way at the office and you can only imagine the reduction in stress, overtime, and rework!

Tell us about your favourite day-to-day process improvements especially moving @Whiteboardcons #movingisaprocess!

Until next time,

Nicole

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