"It's not just work, it's an Adventure! There are 250,000 U.S. service members stationed overseas. What did the military do to assist them as they entered a foreign land and what can corporate America learn from it?"
Going Global? With over 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power outside of the United States, more and more U.S. companies are jumping on the bandwagon.The reality of opening or moving a business to another country is that it can be a daunting task.
Language barriers, cultural nuances, government regulations, politics and more all contribute to the challenge of going global. Some American companies who overseas efforts have gone down in flames because they neglected some of these issues include Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and DaimlerChrysler.Although they recovered, it was not without frustration, missed opportunities, and billions in sales.How can your organization avoid some of these pitfalls? A good place to start is by examining how you handle your most valuable assets when going global - your people.
The U.S. military began setting up permanent bases in foreign countries in 1903 when the first overseas base was established at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. By 2010, there were 662 U.S. military bases in 38 foreign countries. These bases range in size from over 50,000 Americans to less than ten. Countless service members and their families have made the move to a new country and many lessons were learned throughout the decades. This article will examine some of those “lessons learned” to see if there are pitfalls or best practices U.S. businesses desiring to make the move overseas can learn from.
Who Should Go?
Living and working in a foreign country can be an exciting prospect for anyone. However, through experience, the military has discovered even if someone wants to take an overseas assignment not everyone is cut out for it. As a preventive measure, the Navy, like the other services, has developed a detailed screening process which service members and their families must complete prior to heading out for that new adventure. First the service member must be qualified to perform the work. Beyond that, before an overseas assignment is finalized, the service member is screened for an acceptable level of physical fitness, performance, discipline issues, financial stability, individual and family characteristics, and drug and alcohol issues. If someone is taking their family, those family members must also be considered. Family members are screened to ensure no special medical, dental, community or educational requirements exist which may not be available at the duty station and could place undue stress on a service member and their family. The military has found when mismatches like these occur there can be significant costs to both the organization and the family. Consequences include increased absences from work, poor quality of life, unplanned expenditures, and service members and their families being sent home before the end of their tour.
Making a Smooth Move
Once screening is passed, it is time to get ready for the actual move. Moving to a foreign country can be a daunting experience for anyone but especially if a company is just establishing a presence there. Are visas required, how do personal belongings/furnishings get there, what parts of the city are not safe to live in, are there English speaking schools, what is the cost of living, is temporary housing available and where, what medical facilities are available – the answers to these questions and more should be provided to any employees before they leave. In this regard, the U.S. Navy tries to ensure success for service members and families moving overseas is by providing an Overseas Transfer Workshops for family members 12 years old and above. During the workshop information is provided on moving household goods and cars, financial planning, travel arrangements, legal documents which should be completed or hand carried vice shipped, pet quarantine requirements, country information, passports, and more. How-to guides and checklists are provided to facilitate the many details which must be handled for the move. Personal security and culture shock are also discussed during the workshop. Welcome aboard packages are provided to service members and families which include information about the new country such as places to visit, monetary exchanges, shopping, transportation options, schools, important phone numbers, and where to find help if needed.
Straight from the Source
Since moving to a new country and culture can be overwhelming, the U.S. military has developed sponsor programs which allow service members to hear the “real deal” from someone who is already there. If there is an established presence in a country, service members are assigned a sponsor to help them before and upon their arrival at the duty station. Sponsors contact the service member and guide them through the move process, and help orientate them to the new location and culture. Additionally, large foreign duty stations have Family Service Centers to assist service members and their families. Depending on their size, they can provide assistance in job searches for a spouse and information on churches and religious services, childcare, continued education, afterschool care, volunteer opportunities, social activities, medical and dental facilities, and more. Some duty stations with families also provide sponsor programs for children from seven to eighteen who are matched by age, gender, hobbies, etc. This has been found helpful in reducing anxiety for children moving to a new country and culture.
Not understanding the culture of a country different from the United States almost guarantees failure. The military learned this during the Vietnam War when the U.S. tried fighting a conventional war. The communist insurgents fought the only way they knew how using guerilla warfare. As the Americans approached, they withdrew and waited for them to pass by. This cultural misunderstanding contributed to lengthening an already costly war in money and lives. On a more tactical level, after the U.S. Army went into the Middle East, they discovered the OK sign was considered an obscenity to Afghans and the thumbs-up sign was offensive to Egyptians. Obviously, these are some lessons corporate America would rather learn from others rather than discover personally!
Like the other services, today the U.S. Army takes culture issues seriously. The Army wants their soldiers to possess a cross-cultural competency to include cultural learning and cultural agility. Experts have reported cultural learning enables people to quickly gain an understanding of the socio-cultural context of operations and cultural agility provides the ability to respond effectively in situations of cultural diversity. The Army Learning Concept for 2015 calls for a blended approach of social and contextual learning with guided traditional learning to develop cross-cultural competencies through continuous learning over a soldier’s career. Currently, before a soldier deploys to a specific area they are provided what has been called “cultural training on steroids” which includes anthropology, language, heritage, history, and cultural no-nos. The goal is for the soldiers to be able to “form relationships, build trust, communicate, and collaborate with people of greatly different backgrounds.”
As the military has learned, cross-cultural training and education can be invaluable to corporate personnel sent overseas to work and yet many organizations fail to provide it. Sometimes companies are unaware of available resources or feel it is not necessary especially when dealing with another Western culture or English speaking country. Other times, employees feel they don’t need it or with all the pressures of moving overseas, this training falls off their plate. The U.S. State Department has long recognized the importance of cross-cultural training and encourages corporations going overseas to take advantage of it by listing reputable sources of non-governmental training on their website. Additionally, the State Department website has detailed information on embassies, country profiles, political issues, security issues, economics, transnational issues, and more. Other helpful websites available on cultural issues include the Central Intelligence Agency’s World FactBook and the Hofstede Centre’s National Culture Dimensions. All information on these websites can be sorted by country and in the case of the Hofstede website two countries cultural dimensions can be compared and contrasted.
How do you say…?
Although English is considered the universal language of business, there are times when not speaking a language can become a definite disadvantage. Within the military, commanders leading troops overseas have suggested a soldier’s ability to speak the local language is just as important as his skills with a rifle. Learning a new culture becomes much easier when the local language is understood. However, because learning a new language such as Pasto or Dari is difficult and there are few native speakers in the military, commanders have experienced much frustration. To combat this, the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) offers military members over two dozen languages in a resident program and through immersion programs. Included in the language training are cultural considerations for the each country. Similar to the CIA and Hofstede websites, DLIFLC provides numerous language and cultural resources on their website which can be sorted by country and do not require any special access. Included are helpful briefings, tutorials, pamphlets, and “cheat sheets” on language survival kits, language pronunciation, cultural orientations, myths and folklores, country perspectives, and more. 
When expanding into other nations, corporate leaders should plan what language skills are needed at each level in order to communicate effectively with the local workforce. Given the time it takes to learn a new language or find native speakers, these requirements need to be identified early. Fortunately today there are many resources, such as Rosetta Stone, in addition to those already highlighted to help businesses going overseas.
Lessons Learned from the World’s Mightiest Military
Through the decades, the U.S. military has uncovered several keys lessons which today’s leaders can use to their advantage when going global:
- The costs of sending the wrong person or family member overseas can be enormous both to the organization and the people involved. In order to increase the chances of success, employees and, to some extent, their family members should go through a review or screening process to ensure there are no existing circumstances which could prove problematic in a foreign setting.
- The actual process of moving overseas is complicated in the best circumstances. Providing employees with detailed “how-to” information or guides on getting passports or visas, making travel arrangements, moving household goods, finding lodging and transportation, and such will lessen delays, frustrations, and unnecessary costs. Providing this information through workshops or seminars will allow questions to be answered on the spot and allow for sharing other helpful tips.
- Establishing a sponsor program where employees are matched with another employee already in the foreign country can facilitate a smoother transition. Having a sponsor to bounce questions off can help employees avoid false starts and ease apprehensions.
- Avoiding culture shock is another key to a smooth transition. This is done by preparing employees and their families for the cultural differences they will encounter instead of them having to learn it the hard way. Providing employees with formal cultural training and awareness on the country they are heading to can facilitate assimilation and help avoid awkward situations.
- Addressing language issues early on can provide employees with an advantage upon arrival and prevent unnecessary misunderstandings. Although most people cannot quickly learn a new language, providing them with key phrases and learning resources will make the transition easier.
- Companies and corporations should also take advantage of the wealth of information on almost every country in the world which is available on the internet via the websites identified within this article and elsewhere.
Going global can be an exciting time for a company or corporation, but it can also be fraught with difficulties and pitfalls. The U.S. Armed Forces has over 100 years of experience in sending people into foreign lands and establishing a presence there. Through the years, the military has noted their mistakes and what things facilitated a smooth move overseas for service members. Those things which worked were formalized into programs and policies which now guide overseas transfers. Screening service members and their families and providing them with information on what they need to accomplish before they go, how to get there, and what they will find there saves time, money, and frustrations for both the service member and the organization. Each company or corporation which enters the global market will have issues to address which are specific to their industry. However, when moving Americans overseas, many of the issues are universal to any organization. Corporate leaders going global would do well to look to the military to avoid some of the landmines discussed herein. After all, this is not the first time the military has stepped on landmines, it would be a shame if no one learned from their sacrifice!
Preparing the Battlefield!
These resources provide information on culture, language tips, myths and folklore, politics, economics, security concerns, country perspectives, and more.
About the Author
Captain Jeanne McDonnell (ret.) served on active duty for over 25 years. Assignments included command of Naval Support Activity Norfolk and Transient Personnel Unit Norfolk, and service on the Joint Staff, the Navy Staff, Commander Surface Warfare Atlantic Staff, and Joint Forces Staff College. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Strategic Leadership at Regent University.
*Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
 Department of Commerce, International Trade Commission. (2013). Exporting is good for your bottom line. Retrieved from International Trade Commission website: http://www.trade.gov/cs/factsheet.asp
 Zweifel, T. (2013). Culture clash 2: Managing the global high performance team. (p. 147). New York, NY: SelectBooks, Inc.
 Zweifel (2013). (p. 147).
 Department of Defence, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment (2010). Base structure report fiscal year 2010 baseline. Retrieved from Department of Defense website: http://www.acq.osd.mil/ie/download/bsr/bsr2010baseline.pdf
 Department of the Navy, (2006). Navy military assignment policy (OPNAVINST 1300.15A). Washington D.C.: Chief of Naval Operations.
 Department of the Navy, (2007). Fleet and Family Support Center Program (OPNAVINST 1754.18). Washington D.C.: Chief of Naval Operations.
 Linh, N. (2010, April 30). Culture clash and communication failure. The Washington Times. Retrieved from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/apr/30/culture-clash-and-communication-failure/?page=all
 Cohan, J. (2013, January 13). 'Smart power': Army making cultural training a priority. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/12/us/troops-cultural-training/
 Caliquiri, P., Noe, R., Nolan, R., Ryan, A., & Dasgow, F. Department of the Army, (2011). Training, developing, and assessing cross-cultural competence in military personnel. Arlington, VA: U.S. Army Research Institute for Behavioral Sciences.
 Caliquiri et al. (2011). (p. 4).
 Cohan (2013).
 Cohan (2013).
 Mohn, T. (2010, March 8). Going global, stateside. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/business/global/09training.html?_r=0
 U.S. Department of State, Under Secretary for Management. (2013). Cross-cultural training and consulting. Retrieved from website: http://www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc/79756.htm
 McCall, M., & Hollenbeck, G. (2002). Developing global executives. (p. 81). Boston, MA: Harvard Business School.
 Thompson, M. (2011, August 24). The Pentagon’s foreign-language frustrations. Time, Retrieved from http://nation.time.com/2011/08/24/the-pentagons-foreign-language-frustrations/
 Thompson (2011).
 Department of Defense, Defense Language Institute. (2014). Country familiarization. Retrieved from Foreign Language Center website: http://famdliflc.lingnet.org/productList.aspx?v=language
Avoiding Landmines: What Corporate America Can Learn From the Military When Taking Their Most Valuable Assets Overseas
"It's not just work, it's an Adventure! There are 250,000 U.S. service members stationed overseas. What did the military do to assist them as they entered a foreign land and what can corporate America learn from it?" Going Global? With over 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power outside of the United States, more and more U.S. companies areJeanne M. McDonnell Articles
This is a short story about a small high tech company that in spite of some developing employee relations issues has been very successful. In order to protect the guilty, we will call this company Wacko Technology.
On the surface everything at Wacko appears to be rather calm. They are making money so little else seems that important. Oh, there are one or two tell-tale signs of trouble brewing beneath the service such as Wacko’s rising 18% turnover rate. Also Wacko’s break room is filled with “toxic gossip” as well as the not too small matter of constant employee gripes and complaints. To say the least, all was not well at Wacko.
While considering Wacko’s situation, I began to get those same uneasy feelings you get when watching a documentary on volcanoes. In the program’s opening scene you are speeding in a helicopter towards a tropical island paradise, surrounded by clear blue water and white sand beaches, covered in softly swaying palm trees and beautiful tropical flowers. But just before the first commercial break your dream of this island paradise becoming your next vacation destination is totally destroyed by the shattering forces of an exploding volcano. The shock is so great to your senses you grab the remote and quickly begin searching for an escape, but you end up settling on another disaster by watching the Red Sox blow a seven game lead in the AL East.
It has not been that good a day. After having spent your entire day fighting fires at work and now to see you vacation dream being consumed by smoke and ash followed by watching another year of the Curse of the Bambino play out on ESPN has about pushed you over the edge.
If you are experiencing pre-volcano anxiety concerning your organization, this may be a good time to intervene with an employee driven organization development program that is based on the principle that, "the person closest to the problem is the best expert on the problem". Don't worry, this solution is not going to replace you. In fact, it will contribute greatly to strengthening your position of leadership at all levels of the organization. The leadership principle at work here is simple. Give your employees a voice by “asking employees their opinion, listening to what they have to say and acting on it”.
You begin by first asking your employees in confidential one-on-one interviews; “What three things, if done extraordinarily well, will have the greatest impact on the quality of work and the quality of work life for you, your fellow employees, customers and your company?” These interviews are best conducted by your HR department or an outside consultant. Once you have completed interviews with each of your employees (or a representative percentage), organize their suggestions in order of importance and provide your employees access to your listing through feedback meetings or by email. This lets employees know you value their opinion. On the front end, if there are any suggestions you will not be implementing, it is very important to let your employees know what you will not be doing and explain why. Don't be afraid to say no as long as you explain why.
Next go to work on a “quick start plan” by announcing and implementing any suggestions that can be put in place quickly and that you feel are critical to addressing employee dissatisfaction. In order to address the remaining employee suggestions create an Organization Development Committee (7 to 9 member committee) made up of a cross section of employees, which should include two or three well respected front line managers. This committee will be responsible for developing, for management’s approval plans and programs that address employee concerns and suggestions taken from the employee OD interviews. The manager’s involvement in the committee is to act as the “boss interpreter” directing the group’s recommendations towards plans that will be accepted by management. Allow the committee to own the process and the chairperson of the OD committee to be responsible for communicating to employees all aspects of the committee’s activity including announcement of action plans and programs developed as a result of employee input. An OD Plan of this type has a six month shelf life so I strongly suggest someone in senior management take responsibility for championing the OD committee work.
By asking your employee’s for their opinion you begin a participative process that will change the culture of your organization. But what is so remarkable about an employee driven OD program is not only will your employees effectively address issues that threaten employee morale and productivity but the program will also empower employees companywide by giving them a voice. Your employees’ voice will be expressed by:
*Creating a belief that they can make a difference by seeing their ideas are valued and implemented.
*Taking greater initiative and action to make things better.
*Taking responsibility to do the right thing and not always waiting for management direction.
*Taking leadership by being willing to help others move in the right direction.
*Becoming self-correcting by making themselves accountable to the standards they set.
*Becoming more confident and proud of the work they do and the organization they work for.
*Working in a more collaborative way to help assure the best thinking and employee support made part by the critical plans as they are implemented.
*Taking responsibility for developing and maintaining a positive employee culture.
Strengthening relationships that are built on trust.
*Expanding of the social circle within the organization where employees feel like they belong to something bigger them themselves.
Creating peer pressure for the majority who are no longer willing to accept difficult, nonproductive employee behavior. These problem employees then become isolated and their counterproductive attitude and behavior will be minimized. These employees will either slowly change for the better or will become so uncomfortable they will leave the organization. This is how you create positive turnover.
Volcanologists tell us that the study of volcanoes is not a perfect science and that there is much more to learn before they are able predict a volcanic eruption. The same may be true for predicting the eruption of employee relations problems, but there is a way to prevent these nasty employee eruptions …. simply give your employees a voice.
About the authors:
Michael E. Hackett is a retired Human Resource executive and management consultant based in Brentwood Tennessee. www.hacketthrconsultant.comj Michael has distinguished himself in the field of Human Resources Management and Organizational Development, with more than 40 years of human resources consulting, management and executive level experience in business, industry, government and healthcare. Michael has served as an Adjunct University Professor for more than 25 years, where he has taught a variety of management, leadership, customer service and strategic planning courses. Hackett has authored a number of management articles; and as conference leader, he has conducted training programs for business, industry, government, hospitals, universities, and professional associations. Michael’s academic credits include a BS and MS degrees from The University of Memphis. You may reach Michael at email@example.com
P. Daniel Hackett is a Construction Project Engineer with J. E. Dunn Corporation in Brentwood Tennessee. Dan’s academic credits include a BS degree in Building Construction Science from Auburn University and a MS degree in Sustainable Practices from Lipscomb University in Nashville. Dan was also a intern assistant with Hackett and Assistant while attending Auburn University.
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
This is a short story about a small high tech company that in spite of some developing employee relations issues has been very successful. In order to protect the guilty, we will call this company Wacko Technology. On the surface everything at Wacko appears to be rather calm. They are making money so little else seems that important. Oh, there are one or two teMichael and Daniel Hackett Articles
Any change to an organization can be disconcerting, but when new leaders come in it can be particularly unsettling. Many times it seems that whenever a new leader comes into an organization, they want to make changes. Whether we like it or not, it is human nature that some new leaders feel an urge to make their mark upon arrival. It is also human nature for the rest of the organization to resist or fear change. Military organizations are no different than corporate America in this regard. It may even be worse given the frequent turnover of leaders. Change has to happen in order for any organization to keep up with the changing world but it is not always a good thing, especially if it is made for the wrong reasons. This essay will focus on change within the realm of Navy shore commands, look at real examples of change, examine costs of changes, and provide recommendations.
Anticipation – What will change this time?
Every Navy command has a Commanding Officer (CO) who is responsible for the safety, well-being, and efficiency of their command and for carrying out the mission. Operational commands such as ships, submarines, and air squadrons normally do not give their COs as much opportunity to institute major changes as shore commands. Operational commands are too busy with carrying out their mission and are guided closely by their type commanders. On the shore command side, it is a little different. There is more flexibility, there may be civilian personnel, and people normally get to go home at night and on the weekend. The tempo of operations is also normally slower at the shore commands. The length of time CO serves in a tour can range from fifteen months to three years. Rarely does a CO serve over three years.
Getting a new Commanding Officer can be an exciting time and an anxious time. Sailors and government workers know a CO rotates on a regular basis and know when to expect the next one. As that time approaches, there will be discussion at all levels of the command. “Have you heard who the new CO is?” “What do you know about him or her?” Members of the command may feel excited to get new leadership, especially if the outgoing CO is not well liked. If the CO was popular, people may feel resentment and concern that a new CO is coming in. But the bottom line everyone wants to know is “How are things going to change around here?” and “How is this going to impact me?”
Congratulations Future Commanding Officers!
This is the greeting prospective Commanding Officers receive in their welcome letters before they attend the Navy’s Prospective Commanding Officer Leadership course. This two-week course provides information on almost anything the COs will need to know for command from ethics to military law to communications. The advice and training received during this fire-hose course runs the gamut and attempts to provide the tools for success. One thing these leaders do not learn is when and how to implement change and the costs of change. However, one old adage passed down in the Navy is whenever you take over a new command; do not make any changes in the first thirty days. This gives the leader an opportunity to see how the command runs. This can be a heady time for the new COs, many who may have worked their entire careers for this moment. Let’s look at a possible scenario using Commander I. M. Newbie:
After graduation from the leadership course and any other training required, the big day comes. Commander Newbie participates in the traditional change of command ceremony, says a few nice words about the outgoing CO, and reports to his new boss. Family and friends cheer and congratulations are spread all around. CDR Newbie is now the CO, responsible and accountable for the new command. CDR Newbie only has a relatively short period as commanding officer and wants to do the best job he can. He receives briefings, talks to key leaders and other command personnel, conducts tours, and makes observations for the first 30 days as advised. Now it is time for change! After all, CDR Newbie is only going to be here for a short period of time. He will most likely be ranked against other COs of his pay grade – how will he break out? What can CDR Newbie do during his relatively short command tour to make an impression that will lead to the kind of fitness report he needs to make Captain and beyond?
Let’s change something!
This urge to make changes and accomplish great things is not restricted just to commanding officers. Navy leaders at any rank may get the urge to make changes just like their counterparts in the civilian world who are put in a new leadership position. We are taught that change is the way to go. Northouse, an organizational change expert, noted “Change, rather than stability, is the norm today. Whereas change once occurred incrementally and infrequently, today it is dramatic and constant.” So CDR Newbie has precedence for coming in and making change. But, is it possible that CDR Newbie and other new leaders like him are making change for change’s sake?
The primary purpose of change is to improve the organization and make it more competitive and responsive to customer needs. Real change requires a reason and strategy for why you want to change, the skills to make the change, and the long-term and short-term tools to support the change. Additionally these areas must be aligned between the leader and the followers or the optimal outcome may not happen. West and Cianfrani (2004) discussed the importance of alignment of the organization’s objectives, leader’s objectives, and individual objectives. All three should work together with their eyes fixed on common objectives. When objectives are not thought through or aligned properly, things can become difficult and frustrating and result in unintended consequences.
A recent military example of this was the change in Army camouflage uniforms. In 2004, the Army issued a new digitized uniform to be worn in all environments. Problems have abounded with the uniform to the point where American soldiers actually stood out in the Afghan landscape instead of blending in. Earlier this year, it was announced that this uniform will be replaced because it does not meet needs. Reports were that Army leaders sped along the decision before testing was complete. All to the rumored tune of $5 billion. How many military awards or civilian bonuses were given out to the perpetrators of this ineffective and expensive uniform? We can only imagine what the additional costs to reinstate new or previous uniforms will be. In this case, objectives were not aligned and this change caused undo frustration and wasted taxpayer dollars.
Making a Mark!
But, let’s go back to CDR Newbie. With all good intentions, he looks to make his mark on his new command and the Navy. However, making a mark may be more difficult than CDR Newbie originally thought. First, most Navy commands are run efficiently and effectively thanks to previous COs who have made needed change. By the time CDR Newbie takes over, there may not be any obvious low-hanging fruit. Yikes! What can he do in his pursuit of that elusive fitness report or evaluation bullet? Let’s look at some examples of real life changes that other COs made:
A commanding officer reports into his new command and decides he does not like the exterior of the building that houses his command. Despite the building being almost as big as a city block, he begins to work to get the exterior of the building redone. Many weeks go into planning, finding funding, and making it happen. To the surprise of command personnel, the CO obtains a considerable amount of funding to put on a new exterior. After several months of disruption to the command, the job is finished leaving subordinates scratching their heads as to why the Navy would spend big money to make a relatively small cosmetic change.
On another base not far away, a new CO reports in. Things must be going well because there are not any significant changes for a few months. Then the new idea for change arises – change the name of the command. People are confused…change the name of the command? Only the Secretary of the Navy can change the name of a command. The new name does make the job of the CO seem bigger and more important, however. It takes over a year, but the name change is approved. Costs include considerable personnel time and effort and the changing of all base signs, highway direction signs, administrative materials, and patches on all enlisted uniforms. More scratching of the head…
Civilian government workers can stay at a command for many years or even their entire career. This gives them an opportunity to see many changes over the years. What can be most frustrating is when one CO comes in and makes a change and then another comes in a few years later and changes the change! These changes are not only costly financially but suck up energy and effort. Then there’s the frustration level of employees. For example:
A long, long time ago, in a far away fleet concentration area, a new regional commander decided to move his headquarters off one base onto a smaller piece of property that was more central to all the nine bases he commanded. Each of those bases had their own CO who reported to him. The thought process behind this move was that the current location not only infringed upon that particular base’s CO but it also appeared to the other base COs that the CO whose base he was on may have special access to him. The move was made, was generally accepted, and appeared to be working well. The move consisted of moving a large staff out of the new location and onto another base. Renovations were done on the buildings and the regional commander’s staff was moved in. A year later, a new regional commander came in and was also pleased with the arrangement. Three years later, another new regional commander took over and decided that his headquarters should be not only back on the base that it originally was on but back into the same building. This required, once again, moving a large staff out of the original building and back to the other property and then moving the commander’s staff back to the other base. The cost of changing the change was enormous – with estimates as high as several hundred thousands of dollars.
Another example in this same fleet concentration area involved the regionalization of several support programs including family housing; morale, welfare, and recreation; bachelor housing; family advocacy; galleys; and family service centers. Several years ago, the regional commander put one CO in charge of these programs which were spread out on nine bases and included over 3,000 personnel. This change was considered a success, saving the Navy millions of dollars and improving service to the sailors and their families. One of the real tests of the success of this effort was the ability it gave the Navy to respond to the devastating attack on the USS Cole. Thanks to the regionalization effort, within hours personnel and resources from around the region quickly mobilized to provide counseling, housing, meals, and a wide range of other services for the hundreds of family members who converged on the USS Cole’s homeport from around the country. Captain Joe Bouchard, the base CO, noted “The families were effusive in their praise. By all accounts, the effort to support the crew of the Cole and their loved ones was a tremendous success-and a testimony to the soundness of the Navy's often maligned and little understood decision to regionalize the management of its shore installations.”
Captain Bouchard was so impressed with the regionalization efforts, he wrote an article praising the process which was published in Proceedings Magazine. To answer the COs who thought regionalization might take some power from them, he reported, “Regionalization is founded on proven, long-standing organizational and command principles commonly used across the Navy. I have no less authority as a commanding officer than did my predecessors…The Navy cannot afford to return to the old way of doing business without unnecessarily diverting scarce resources from personnel, readiness, and modernization.” Later I became a base CO in the region and was equally impressed with the regionalization efforts. A few years later, under pressure from other base COs who wanted more control, the regional commander reversed the regionalization efforts. Total costs to reverse this effort were not documented but are estimated to be considerable. A price could also not be put on the frustration and confusion the 3,000 employees endured.
The fact that changes did not stick even though they were good ideas is not surprising. It has been reported that on-half to two-thirds of major corporate change initiatives fail and that less than 50% of reengineering programs succeed. In giving advice to public service ministers in England, Richard Layard noted: “…many different organizational structures can be made to work equally well. What cannot work is constant reorganization, where nobody understands what is happening, institutional memory is lost, and everybody worries about their future rather than the job in hand.”
What can be done?
The Navy has a great respect for Commanding Officers and their position and generally hesitates to interfere with changes they make unless they are immoral or illegal. Like CDR Newbie, most COs are not completely self-motivated. If they were, it is unlikely they would choose the military for a career due to the personal hardships required and the relatively low pay. Navy officers generally want to do the right thing for the right reasons. Through the Prospective Commanding Officer Leadership Course, the Navy tries to give the COs the tools they need for success. By adding a learning objective on change theory, the COs may be better prepared to address change, determine where it is needed, weigh the costs of change, and the best way to implement it if needed. They should also be made aware that the legitimate function of resistance to change is avoiding unnecessary change.
Avoiding these types of changes by COs in Navy shore commands will require a culture change. Currently, the culture is “what can I do to stand out among my contemporaries?” The other cultural issue at work at all levels and in all organizations is that new leaders feel they have to make change. Cultural change may be the hardest change of all. This is especially true when the culture is not something that is generally talked about. Attention to these issues should be made through open discussion during Navy leadership courses and other avenues. Commanding Officers need to know that carrying out the mission of their command effectively, efficiently, and safely will make them stand out – not change for change’s sake!
 Gilley, Ann. The Manager as Change Agent. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2005. 4-5.
 Layard, Richard. "No change for change's sake." The Guardian. 13 Jul 2007: Web. 24 Oct. 2012.
 De Jager, Peter. "Resistance to Change: A New View of an Old Problem." The Futurist. May-June (2001): 24-27. Print.
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
 Half, Robert. "Getting to know you: How to start right with a new boss." Experience. (2008): n. page. Web.
 Daft, Richard. Organizational Theory and Design. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2010. 412-415. Print.
 Gilley, Ann. The Manager as Change Agent. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2005. 4-5. Print.
 Carter, Eric. "Successful change requires more than change management." Journal for Quality & Participation. Spring (2008): 20-23. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.
 West, J. E., and C. A. Cianfrani. Unlocking the Power of Your QMS: Keys to Business Performance Improvement. Miwaukee, WI: Quality Press, 2004. Print.
 Kilmas, Liz. "Huge let down: Army will yank widespread camouflage pattern deemed a 'colossal mistake'." The Blaze. N.p., 26 Jun 2012. Web. 23 Oct 2012.
 Bouchard, Joseph. "Regionalization: An insider's view." Proceedings Magazine. Oct. 2001: 83-88. Print.
 Gilley, Ann. The Manager as Change Agent. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2005. 4-5.
 Layard, Richard. "No change for change's sake." The Guardian. 13 Jul 2007: Web. 24 Oct. 2012.
 De Jager, Peter. "Resistance to Change: A New View of an Old Problem." The Futurist. May-June (2001): 24-27. Print.
Any change to an organization can be disconcerting, but when new leaders come in it can be particularly unsettling. Many times it seems that whenever a new leader comes into an organization, they want to make changes. Whether we like it or not, it is human nature that some newJeanne M. Mc Donnell Articles
Over the 20 years that I’ve been advising leaders and their teams on how to enhance customer service, I’ve found that with proper training, customer contact workers can quickly learn to enjoy dealing with external customers - even those who are stressed. The main people who make their jobs stressful are their internal customers; their co-workers, subordinates, and supervisors. Turns out, the problem isn’t usually the job itself – it’s office politics. If you’re not into playing politics, if you don’t want to suck-up to supervisors, if you don’t want to step on others to climb the ladder, here are a few questions and answers they won’t tell you in the company manual.
How do I handle a colleague who is bad-mouthing me to the boss without looking like a whiner?
You don’t. Or you will indeed look like a whiner. If your boss has a problem with you, he or she will bring it to your attention sooner or later. Focus on doing your job well and ignore the other person. If they write lies about what you’ve said or done, then you need to refute them (in writing, without exaggerating) and copy your boss on it. Stick to facts only; your opinion will only make you look desperate.
I feel awkward trying to find mentors in the office just so I can get a promotion. What’s an authentic way of meeting influential people?
Join your professional association and get involved. Plumbers have plumbers associations; dog walkers have dog walking associations. They are clamoring for volunteers. You can easily distinguish yourself by showing-up, offering to serve, and being reliable. Mentors will appear. You’ll develop your expertise and your professional network. Eventually, people will want you to become their mentor.
I'm older and I’m concerned I may not fit in with younger coworkers. Any suggestions?
In this case “fitting in” doesn’t mean trying to become one of them. It won’t work and will only make you look insecure. I’ve had similar questions from married employees with young families who are concerned they may not fit in with single workers who socialize after hours. It’s human nature to worry about whether people like us – but it’s a waste of mental energy. The real secret to being liked at work is to be reliable and deliver solid results. Treat everyone positively and respectfully. Then go home and socialize with your own family and friends.
I just got a promotion and it’s awkward to delegate and discipline my colleagues who were my friends up until recently. Your advice?
You’re right, it will be awkward, but that’s true for any leader; whether they were buddies with the person or not. I suggest you call a meeting with your team. Openly explain that of course things will change now that you’re their new boss; things would change with any new supervisor. Explain that whatever happens – good or bad with the team - it will be you as their supervisor who will now be ultimately held accountable. So, while you will ask for their input, you will make the final decision. You will also be giving each of them one-on-one feedback, both positive and areas for improvement. In turn, this role is also new to you. So you will also be asking for individual feedback from each them about ways you can improve as a supervisor. If they have concerns about your leadership, you are asking them to discuss it directly with you; not behind your back. (That won’t prevent back-biting from happening, but it will make them more conscious about it when it occurs).
Some reality TV programs give the impression that the only people who get ahead in their careers are those who connive, backstab, and toot their own horns. That may be true in Hollywood. It rarely works in the real world with successful organizations led by ethical people. That is the kind of place where you want to work, right? In reputable organizations, shameless self promoters quickly wear out their welcome. Ironically, the best strategy for winning at office politics is to refuse to become embroiled in them.
About the author:
This article is based on the bestselling book, Influence with Ease by customer service strategist and certified professional speaker Jeff Mowatt. To obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit www.jeffmowatt.com
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
Over the 20 years that I’ve been advising leaders and their teams on how to enhance customer service, I’ve found that with proper training, customer contact workers can quickly learn to enjoy dealing with external customers - even those who are stressed. The main people who make their jobs stressful are their internal customers; their co-workers, subordinates,Jeff Mowatt Articles
The hiring retention success rate is disheartening with some studies reporting a rate lower than 50%. Through more than 50 years of combined experience 50+ in helping organizations improve their business performance, we (Tony Kubica and Sara LaForest) have uncovered three reasons why most companies and organizations fail to hire and retain top talent.
The First Reason Why Most Companies Hiring Retention Rate is Less Than 50%!
In the movie “Field of Dreams”, Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) hears a voice as he walks through his cornfield—"if you build it, he will come". Over the years it has since become part of our lexicon of misused quotes. It has even seeped into the talent integration and talent management world.
Many CEOs, executives, managers and HR directors believe if you hire them (or promote your employees) they will contribute. Well, to use another well-known phrase—"not exactly".
Why would you believe that hiring or promoting employees into a new job or position will result in immediate success?
The Second Reason Why Most Companies Retention Rate is Less Than 50%!
Many executives, managers and HR managers fail to plan out completely:
*The job requirements
*What needs to be done
*What skills, behaviors and attitudes are required for success now
*What role adaptation is anticipated for the future
If you fail to map out exactly what you are looking for as well as the position you are hiring for - you might as well spend your money on a trip to Las Vegas to roll the dice! The chance of winning is about the same - or maybe slightly better in Vegas (and likely you will have more fun).
The Third Reason Why Most Companies Retention Rate is Less Than 50%!
Most companies are still hiring and promoting candidates using the standard elements:
a) An application
b) A resume
c) An interview (or two, potentially including a panel)
d) Perhaps a background check,
e) And references.
However, these really only tell you only what the candidate wants you to know. Meaning, good creative writing and strong impression management skills do not necessarily equal the most suitable candidate for your organization. Just because candidates can report experience and expertise on a resume does not mean they have the personality and character attributes to do the job and it doesn’t mean that they are the right fit for your company.
For example, we saw one of our clients hire a department director who was charged with turning around an under-performing department. He appeared to be well-qualified, coming from a department that recently had undergone a very successful turnaround. He was the assistant director.
But, he floundered in the new job. One of the reasons is that he was too empathetic and had a very high-interpersonal sensitivity toward others. Simply, he could not make the tough people decisions. Nowhere on the resume, during the interview, nor with the hand-picked references did this come out.
To Integrate Your New or Promoted Talent Effectively, You Need to Start Considering the “Talent Integration Potential”
This means, you need to look specifically to how a candidate fits the prospective role and how suitable the candidate is to your organization. Just as you cannot fit a square peg in a round hole (without damage), you cannot make successful a person who does not have the basic ingredients for success in the job you need done.
This does not mean the person cannot be successful. It just means they cannot likely be as successful in a particular job or perhaps even in your organization.
So, how can you know?
4 Ways to Uncover If a Candidate is Perfect For the New Role & For Your Organization
1) Use behaviorally-based interview questions that probe their history of actions and outcomes respectively.
2) Include some culture-based questions to help you determine values and motivators as compared to company values and attributes.
3) Include/give them time for a scenario based problem to work and resolve and report back on.
4) Have top candidates complete personality-based and job performance indicators that measure a candidate's potential for success in different business environments and roles. (Though such an assessment should never be used as the sole criteria for selection. As part of a selection set, it can be an invaluable tool to avoid hiring the wrong candidate for the job.) It can also be used as a tool to support and coach the new employee in areas that need to be addressed to ensure a fast and effective integration into a new job and organization.
Now, are you ready to start increasing your top employee retention rate? Great! Then, change your thinking from “if you hire them or promote them – they will contribute” to “if I hire the right talent, they will contribute.” And, start following my advice by taking action on the items listed in this article.
About the authors:
Sara LaForest and Tony Kubica are management consultants with more than 50+ years of combined experience in helping organizations improve their business performance simply by improving the leadership effectiveness of top management. You can find out more about their work at http://www.kubicalaforestconsulting.com
The hiring retention success rate is disheartening with some studies reporting a rate lower than 50%. Through more than 50 years of combined experience 50+ in helping organizations improve their business performance, we (Tony Kubica and Sara LaForest) have uncovered three reasons why most companies and organizations fail to hire and retain top talent. TSara LaForest & Tony Kubica Articles
Leaders tend to invest a tremendous amount of time, money and energy in long-range initiatives and various organizational designs to achieve a competitive edge. However, no sooner than these initiatives hit the market, they became almost obsolete. Often, it appears that current organizational designs are too complex to blend in with unforeseen markets trends or too weak to quickly and effectively adapt to ongoing technological advances. While constructing relevant organizational designs may be difficult and time-consuming at best, it is hard to imagine how companies settle for the typical, ad hoc organizational structures that have no stake in assisting the company in its ability to reinvent itself when the need arises; or take advantage of emerging opportunities.
This paper describes the importance of organizational design and how 21st century organizations can use organizational design to increase their competitive advantage. It discusses the challenges and requirements of effective organizational design and describes three areas of considerations as the impetus for future reconfiguration efforts. These areas of emphasis include: 1) Investment in leadership knowledge and the knowledge worker; 2) Elimination of organizational boundaries; and 3) Implementation of strategic initiatives.
Definition of Organizational Design
According to Dumais (2011), organizational design is not simply about structure and organization charts. It is also not about balance sheets. The true essence of organizational design -as a process- rests in the relationships and interconnectivity between people, work, formal structures, informal practices, and cultural behaviors, both internally and externally. Moreover, it is about the way in which an organization manages and coordinates its human, administrative and operational resources to benefit from unique capabilities over the long-term. Deborah Jenks (2007) surmises that in the 21st century, the role of organization design has been redefined because organizations can no longer adequately compete using traditional structures. Jenks reminds us that the world has become global and complex, and organizations must not only accommodate that complexity, but become authors of it to remain competitive.
Organizational design is a fluid process oriented toward achieving results based on current and future environmental, economic and global influences. Gilmore (2007) posits that organizations exist to realize the purpose of achieving a competitive advantage. Daft (2007) agrees that it is this purpose and direction that helps shape how the organization is designed and managed. To wit, executives must appreciate their role in organizational design “because they see their decisions as high-leveraged, and see effective organizational design as a source of notable improvement in a world of temporary advantage.” Thus, organizational design, at its core and fundamental base of assumption, refers to the principles and tools leaders use to develop business entities in a more superior manner than their competitors.
Requirements of Effective Organizational Design
In today’s global and competitive digital age, research suggests that there is a tremendous need for organizations to work faster and achieve more with much less. During the 20th century, most organizations gained their business structure from an industrial system that viewed profits as the only bottom line indicator. Therefore, organizations approached their business development from a hierarchical, authoritative, vertically integrated alignment. Of course, this structure had its place and purpose. However, as technological advances expanded, the demand for a more agile, flexible organization design leaped into the discussion and created the need for 21st century organizations to consider a broader perspective. The challenge, then, became the requirement for organizations to “respond effectively and rapidly to customer demands with the ability to achieve a unique competitive advantage (Gailbraith, 2002). These challenges take into account an organizational framework, which Galbraith refers to as a “series of design policies controlled by management and influenced by employee behavior.”
Gailbraith calls this framework the ‘Star Model.’ The Star Model includes five categories of emphasis: strategy, structure, processes, rewards, and people. But at the heart of this strategy is leadership. Galbraith believes leadership must develop the strategy, which then propels the organization in a winning direction. He also believes that through effective leadership, power and authority will be properly placed and exercised; and excellent processes and procedures will be implemented to correctly direct the flow of resources and information. Furthermore, he notes that strong reward systems invigorate people to perform. Meanwhile, human resource policies are developed to address employees’ skills and mindset. If realized, all of these efforts underpin an organizational design that embodies the responsibility of leaders who make good choices and sound decisions that have a profound and positive impact on the organization’s competitive advantage. In spite of great leadership, however, inherent challenges will continue to abound and, if not properly checked, can adversely affect the complexities of change within the organizational structure. The next section discusses what some of these challenges are and how they can be addressed.
Inherent Challenges of Organizational Design
During the 20th century, organizational designs were generally based on the “keep it simple” philosophy. The primary structure was often defined by a Chief Executive Officer and a number of hierarchal Vice Presidents who served as department heads or business unit leaders. The guiding principle was the efficiency of the organization which often utilized information technology systems to reengineer business processes and spur growth of the bottom line. Employees were required to navigate around production systems, processes, and changing business needs. “What is the profit margin?” was the all encompassing question. Yet, Handy (1990) describes a current period where the changes being experienced by organizations and individuals in the 21st century are different than those experienced in the past.
Handy (1990) asserts this difference is a phenomenon he terms “discontinuous change.” He concludes that effective organizations work differently when they are indeed interested in sustained growth. In other words, 21st century organizations embody certain business structures that not only look different, but exemplify different working habits, different age profiles, and different traditions of authority. This requires a certain organizational design which supports an environment of flexibility and quick self-adjustments aimed at an esteemed sense of purpose. Bryan and Joyce (2005) note that trying to run a 21st-century company with 20th century organizational models puts a significant burden on how well a company performs. They surmise that current organizational designs hamper modern corporations with hard-to-manage [decentralization], thick silo walls, confusing matrix structures, e-mail overload, and “undoable” jobs. Yet, this organizational dilemma offers opportunities for design change and structural reinvention that has the potential to generate positive outcomes in the 21st century.
Considerations for Organizational Design in the 21st Century
If done correctly, effective organizational design provides the framework for developing a company’s capabilities. At every level, the design helps shape not only the company’s profits but its people and their willingness and ability to improve their performance over the long term - utilizing their inherent knowledge, experience and expertise. I believe companies can significantly reduce the challenges of organizational interactions and improve the overall quality of their internal collaboration by implementing three interrelated design principles: 1) Investment in leadership knowledge and the knowledge worker, 2) Elimination of organizational boundaries; and 3) Increasing the organization’s strategic initiatives.
a. Investment in Leadership Knowledge and the Knowledge Worker
David Nadler and Michael Tushman (1997) assert that the only real sustainable source of competitive advantage left in our volatile environment is in the organizational architecture (design) – the way in which an organization structures and coordinates its people and process in order to maximize its unique capabilities over the long-term. The time to make changes is before they are needed. As a result, successful organizations create flexible architecture that can accommodate constant change. Flexible architectures and designs that leverage competitive strengths will remain the ultimate competitive advantage deep into the 21 century.
Jim Murray states that in the 21st century, the very nature, speed and complexity of change will alter the way organizations address their internal functions as well as their global reach. If that is indeed the case, then the nature of leadership also requires reconsideration. What made the leaders of yesterday will not make the leaders of tomorrow. Murray notes that in the past, the leader was a “doer.” Yet, the leader in the 21st century must be a “planner,” not only charting the organization’s strategic direction, but recognizing and leveraging the organization’s capabilities; while further creating, harnessing and developing intellectual capital. Rather than simply deploying organizational assets, the 21st century leader focuses on increasing the organization’s capacity to achieve greatness through agility and resiliency.
Additionally, knowledge leaders in the 21st century must understand how to share information and build social networks rather than rely on stale hierarchies or silos to generate a competitive edge. They must be able to distinguish between the costs of paying people from the value of investing in them. They must cultivate and expand their expertise in the context of human strategy; that is, they inspire smart people to work smarter by making tacit knowledge more explicit, and understanding how to train people, as well as embracing the limits to training (Murray). In the 21st century, knowledge leaders are expected to not only be good at contributing direct and distinct knowledge to the organization, but also for developing the knowledge talent of others. Hence, the knowledge worker is a vital partner in organizational design for the 21st century.
Bryan and Joyce (2005) cite Peter Drucker as coining the phrase "knowledge worker" to describe a new class of employees whose basic means of production is no longer capital, land or labor, but the productivity of knowledge. Drucker’s vision is of professional employees who are knowledge generators rather than commodity or capital generators. He puts forth the notion that these intellectually skilled and educationally talented workers are the innovators of new business ideas, making it possible for companies to deal with today’s rapidly changing and uncertain business conditions; thereby producing and managing the intangible assets that are the primary way companies create value (Bryan and Joyce, 2005).
1) Elimination of Organizational Boundaries
The 21st century business is in the midst of a social and economic revolution, shifting from rigid to permeable structures, while creating something new: the boundaryless organization. Boundaries are necessary to prevent chaos, yet it is imperative that they allow greater flexibility and fluidity of movement between people, processes, and production (Askenas, Ron, Ulrich, Dave, Jick, Todd and Kerr, Steve, 2002). In fact, there are a number of studies that suggest the purpose of leadership in the 21st century is not about making money, but about the process of making sure the right people are talking to one another about the right things and have enough resources and flexibility to do what needs to be done. This means that unproductive designs are discarded and vertical structures that prohibit professionals from working horizontally across the whole of the organization are ignored. The elimination of organizational boundaries make it easier for workers to exchange knowledge and collaborate with other professionals both internally and externally. The new organizational design of the 21st century recognizes the value of people and their capacity to generate ideas across organizational boundaries.
Nadler and Tushman (1997) make a very succinct point about organizational design and capacity for workers to interconnect, especially outside of the proverbial company walls. They note that the role of organizational design in contemporary 21st century corporations is to streamline and simplify vertical and linear structures. Traditional lines of supervision, they suggest, tend to create barriers, which block the willing transfer of knowledge and hinder important bilateral relationships. Thus, they conclude that the organizations of the 21st century do not resemble organizations with vertical and linear constraints. Rather, their appearance is of fluid and dynamic groups similar to cross-functional work teams. Each group has an assigned membership; but they also have the ability to draw temporary members into the group for special projects and share their resources with other groups in an environment of fluidity and flexibility. Having the ability to interact and overlap across operational lines results in leaner, less vertically and linearly oriented designs.
2) Increase Efforts in Strategic Initiatives
One definition of strategy initiative includes a process whereby an organization takes various actions to gain and maintain a competitive advantage. To this end, leaders invest enormous energy in understanding their current organizational designs and engaging in long-range planning processes to adapt, evolve and adjust. That being said, Bryan and Joyce (2007), contend that most leaders overlook a golden opportunity to create a durable competitive advantage and generate high returns for less money and with less risk by failing to make organizational design the heart of their corporate strategy.
At the corporate level, this puts forth the notion that companies must manage their short and long-term earning in a way that integrates their spending on strategic initiatives within the overall budget, so they need to adopt a systematic, effective approach of making the necessary trade-offs. This is what Bryan and Joyce calls “dynamic management.” Dynamic management helps organizations in the areas of decision-making protocols, rolling budgets, and management procedures. These opportunities make it possible for companies to manage the portfolio of strategic initiatives as part of an integrated business approach. (Bryan and Joyce, 2005).
In the last century, we witnessed national monolithic organizations choosing a strategy of “going global.” Organizations grappled with how to morph hierarchical and American headquarters –centric structures-- into organizations that worked effectively across borders and with empowered workforces (Jenks, 2007). And, while de-centralization, diversity, and teams became local and global issues, the old success factors of size, role clarity, specialization, and control have been replaced in the new paradigm with speed, flexibility, integration, and innovation (Jenks, 2007). What does this mean for organizational design in the 21st century? Simply put, a new organizational model for today's big corporations will not emerge spontaneously from the obsolete legacy structures of the industrial age. Rather, companies must design new models from a holistic point of view; using new principles that take into account the way employees behave and the way professionals view and embrace value and culture. Big companies that follow these principles will get more organizational mileage - at less cost - from the managers and the professionals they employ and lean on for vision and execution. In the process, they will become fundamentally better at overcoming the challenges—and capturing the opportunities—of today's rapidly changing environment both at home and abroad.
Askenas, Ron, Ulrich, Dave, Jick, Todd and Kerr, Steve (2002). The Boundaryless Organization, Breaking the Chains of Organizational Structure. Josey-Bass. San Francisco, CA.
Byran, Lowell and Joyce, Claudia. (2005). The 21st Century Organization: Big corporations must make sweeping organizational changes to get the best from their professionals. The McKinsey Quarterly.
Byran, Lowell and Joyce, Claudia. (2007). Better strategy through organizational design. McKinsley Quarterly. Retrieved from https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Better_strategy_through_organizational_design_1991
Daft, Richard (2007). Organization Theory and Design. Thomson South-Western, Mason: OH.
Dumais, Paul. The Role of Organizational Design in 21st Century Organizations. weLEAD Online Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.leadingtoday.org/Onmag/2011%20Archives/Feb%2011/pd-february11.pdf.
Galbraith, Jay R. (2002). Designing Organizations, An Executive Guide to Strategy, Structure, and Process. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA
Galbraith, Jay R. (2000). Designing the Global Corporation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gilmore, Bridget (2007). The Role of Organizational Design in 21st Century Organizations: Capitalizing on Intellectual Property. Retrieved from http://www.cioindex.com/cio_career/ArticleId/1303/The-Role-of-Organizational-Design-in-21st-Century-Organizations-Capitalizing-on-Intellectual-Propert.aspx
Handy, Charles (1990). The Age of Unreason. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing
Jenks, Deborah F. (2007). The Role of Organizational Design in 21st Century Organizations. weLEAD Online Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.leadingtoday.org/Onmag/2007%20Archives/september07/dj-september07.pdf
Nadler, David A. and Tushman, Michael L. (1997). Competing By Design, The Power of Organizational Architecture. Oxford University Press, New York, NY.
About the author:
Jacob Kelly is a Doctorate candidate in Strategic Leadership at Regent University
Leaders tend to invest a tremendous amount of time, money and energy in long-range initiatives and various organizational designs to achieve a competitive edge. However, no sooner than these initiatives hit the market, they became almost obsolete. Often, it appears that current organizational designs are too complex to blend in with unforeseen markets trends or too weak to quickly and effectiveJacob Kelly Articles
If you employ workers whose first language isn’t English, you may have come to regard these individuals as your organization’s greatest resource. They are hard working, appreciative, and utterly reliable. Unfortunately, these same workers may also be your organization’s greatest vulnerability. Employees whose English isn’t proficient may be unintentionally straining relationships with your customers. Simply put, if customers can’t easily understand your employees, they will take their business elsewhere; to a place where they won’t have to work so hard to spend their money.
That’s why when organizations bring me in to do customer service training seminars for their team members, we occasionally need to address some of the language issues. Feel free to pass these tips to your team members …
If English is your Second Language
The locals are friendly
As a foreign-born person now working in Canada or the USA, you may have experienced some local customers being impatient or rude. You might possibly interpret this as bigotry or racism, when in most cases it isn’t. More likely, if your English skills (or in Quebec, your French language skills) aren’t proficient, then chances are, that’s the main reason customer are being less than friendly. So, let’s talk about English language skills.
Don’t stop improving
The fact that your employer hired you indicates that you already have a basic understanding of the English language. However, a basic understanding is only the beginning. You need to know the language well enough to clearly understand requests from customers, coworkers, and supervisors. And you need to speak English fluently enough to be easily understood by others.
When it comes to improving your English, you’ll get the fastest results by enrolling in courses on English as a second language (ESL). These programs are widely available through community colleges and other providers. As for the cost, it is money well spent. By improving your English as quickly as possible, you make yourself available for jobs that involve greater interactions with customers. These are the kinds of jobs that typically bring-in more income. In other words, you are not saving yourself or your family any money whatsoever by choosing not to invest in language lessons. To get the greatest return on that investment you’ll also need to practice.
When to speak English
No matter how many courses you take, your English will not improve unless you actually practice speaking-it. The perfect place to do this is at work. Even if your workplace has lots of people who speak the same language other than English, take the opportunity to practice speaking English.
What’s not appropriate is speaking your first language with a co-worker, then suddenly becoming silent when a customer approaches. That can be perceived to be rude. It makes customers feel like they are not welcome; as though they are invading a private party. As LL Bean said, “Customers are not interruptions to your work; they are the purpose of your work.” To avoid creating these ill feelings, make it a habit to speak English: a) during your working hours and b) in any location where customers have access. If you are on a break and in a location that’s designated for “employees only”, then you might choose to speak your first language with a coworker. Keep in mind though, that the more you practice speaking English – even during breaks - the easier it becomes. Plus, you and your coworkers can help each other to improve.
Your golden opportunity
Bottom line - your job is more than a just wage; it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to help yourself and your family. It’s an opportunity to build community. And, it’s an opportunity to master a new set of skills. One way to make the most of this opportunity is to focus on practicing and improving your English. Good luck!
About the author:
This article is based on the bestselling book, Influence with Ease by customer service strategist and certified professional speaker Jeff Mowatt. To obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit www.jeffmowatt.com
If you employ workers whose first language isn’t English, you may have come to regard these individuals as your organization’s greatest resource. They are hard working, appreciative, and utterly reliable. Unfortunately, these same workers may also be your organization’s greatest vulnerability. Employees whose English isn’t proficient may be unintentionally strainiJeff Mowatt Articles
Many of us grew up watching teenage movies with themes based on the popularity of high school cheerleaders, beauty queens, and good-looking star athletes. These were the “beautiful people” that everyone admired and wanted to have as friends. Of course many times these popular teenagers were actually self-centered, insensitive, and very superficial. Before the end of the movie the true character of these idols was exposed. The exposure usually came with the triumphant recognition by the students of a timid, shy, mousy teenager who really possessed the true character.
Stephen Covey, in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, identifies a change that has taken place in America over the past fifty to seventy-five years. For the first 150 years in America the success literature focused on what he calls the “character ethic.” Individuals living their lives based on ethical principles such as honesty, integrity and humility characterized this earlier period. Around World War I there began a gradual shift from an emphasis on character to an emphasis on personality. This shift was toward what Stephen Covey calls the “personality ethic.” It places emphasis on outward appearance rather than character. It emphasizes “appearing to be” rather than “actually being.” 4
David Riesman, in his book The Lonely Crowd, says that character is developed in the home and then dispersed into society through work, play, politics and various activities of society. 7 Riesman recognizes that the emphasis on character that was dominant in America in the nineteenth century has gradually been replaced. Today the success literature emphasizes techniques more than character. Communication techniques, public relations techniques and dressing for success are major themes today.
Recently, a friend of mine shared her experiences about an employee who was a true diamond in the rough. Prior to returning to the work force full-time, she was working a few hours each week as a consultant to several small businesses. Entering a client’s business one day, she observed that the whole office was in an uproar. The problem was that on the day before, the owner had hired a person we’ll call Mary, who appeared in short shorts and looked like she had just left an all night bar. Because the owner was short handed and desperately needed help, he hired Mary on the spot and put her to work immediately.
My friend soon came to depend a great deal on Mary to assist her. Mary was always eager to learn and do things the right way. As my friend spent more time with Mary, she began to see that Mary had real character built on a strong work ethic. Unfortunately, like the greater part of an iceberg, this character was hidden “under water” from the casual viewer, and only the “tip of the iceberg” was visible to others. Mary was abrasive at times and lacked many social skills.
Stephen Covey uses the iceberg as a metaphor to explain the relationship between personality and character. 4 Covey explains that personality is like the tip of an iceberg—the part that people see or come in contact with first. In teenage movies, and many times in real life, we judge people by their physical beauty or their possessions. The tip of the iceberg symbolizes all these traits that are immediately visible.
The first time that my acquaintance suggested to Mary that she continue her education at the local college, Mary was horrified at the suggestion and said it was something that she could never do. No one in her family had ever graduated from college. Mary had been scripted by what Stephen Covey calls the “social mirror.” Each of us tends to form the perception of our self from our surroundings and the opinions, perceptions, and paradigms of others. How we perceive ourselves is often very distorted and out of proportion. 4
You can see someone’s outward beauty, but you can’t physically see character. Character is “below the surface.” People with character are honest and sincere in their relationships. They demonstrate integrity daily by standing up for what they believe, and they know what is right and what is wrong. They treat people fairly. They live the six “pillars of character,” which are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. 2
The “character ethic” is based on such pillars, and principles such as sincerity, temperance, humility, courage, integrity, honesty, industry, and thrift. These principles cannot be violated if an individual wishes to be truly successful. 3 True success goes beyond financial success. This character, symbolized by the larger portion of the iceberg submerged under the water, was still extant in 1933 during the Great Depression. Many Americans were without work and lacked any means of supporting their families. President Roosevelt implemented an emergency assistance program to help these individuals. Written into the law was the requirement that assistance be given in cash. It was hoped that by giving assistance in cash, officials would be able to convince these proud men, who were industrious, to accept government help. 1 How times have changed!
Some people have a tremendous strength of character but it is hidden behind a personality or appearance that is not acceptable. How often do we ignore such people or “write them off” immediately as failures? We need to prepare ourselves to recognize when a character base is strong enough to overcome the lack of an acceptable personality or image, and give such people support and encouragement until they are able to acquire the necessary social skills to function in healthy personal and business relationships.
I was once so introverted and awkward that one of my teachers told me I would never be a public speaker. A manager once painted a mental picture of me working in an office by myself for the rest of my life, with someone sliding a tray of food under the door at lunchtime. I carried these images, derived from the social mirror, in my head for many years. I accepted them as reality—“the way things are.” Thanks to the help and encouragement from many people over the years, I came to recognize that my self-concept was not totally accurate—and certainly not predetermined. I discovered that I could be proactive and change my social skills over time. Today I speak regularly before audiences of hundreds of people and have taught communication and leadership courses at the college level for many years.
Some time passed and my friend had been working full time at another location for about a year when a position came open in her department. She immediately thought of Mary. Forgotten was her lack of acceptable social skills and her unprofessional dress and language. What was remembered was the fact that Mary was a dedicated employee who worked very hard, was very honest, and always eager to learn. As brusque as Mary could be at times, she was never mean or spiteful or cruel to anyone. She did not have a winning personality, but she did have a lot of character.
My friend hired Mary. When Mary came to work for the department, the response was worse than it had been at the first business where she had worked. Employees would come to my friend and say, “Did you hear what she just said?” “I can’t believe you hired her!” One manager even said Mary needed to be talked to about the way she conducted herself when men came in the office. However, there was never a single complaint about her work or her work ethic—only her social skills.
Within a year Mary had won over the office staff just as she had won my friend. They too began to recognize the solid character underneath the unsuitable social interaction. People in the office began to informally help Mary become more aware of her inappropriate dress and language. Mary was also urged to continue her education. She finally developed enough confidence to enroll at the local junior college. Once she saw that she was an “A” student, she decided to continue her education and pursue a management degree at the local university.
Last May my friend attended graduation ceremonies and watched Mary graduate magna cum laude! Over the past eight years, Mary has developed a winning personality, which complements her outstanding character. Because of her hard work, dedication, and work at self-improvement, Mary has moved into a professional position within her organization and is considered a very valuable employee.
Many times we are guilty of “selective perception.” When we first meet someone, we are often guilty of judging the value or worth of the person based on what we immediately see—the “tip of the iceberg.” Often the halo effect causes us to make a determination about the person we have met based on a single characteristic, such as their looks or their speech. 6 The shortcuts we use to judge others may keep us from opportunities to help others to grow and mature. How many people appear to be “losers” at first, but turn out to be real “winners” once we get to know them? Judging on outward appearance and first impressions can keep us from developing personal and professional relationships that would be very fulfilling and beneficial.
Personality is unique to each individual. Some people have very flawed personalities, yet under the surface they have a magnificent character. Often it takes time to discover this since it is “below the surface.” My personal experience tells me that a person with a flawed personality and strong character is usually easier to assist than a person with a winning personality and a flawed character!
Anybody can lead perfect people. Servant leadership organizations believe that a person that is immature, stumbling and inept is capable of greatthings when wisely led. As Robert Greenleaf said, “The secret of institution building is to be able to weld a team of such people by lifting them up to grow taller than they would otherwise be.” 5
As leaders, we are in the business of “growing people.” We must not overlook those who may lack certain social skills, but have character. Once such a person is worked with, there is no limit to what such a person can contribute to the organization.
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. J. Howard Baker is Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Dr. Baker has been a Franklin Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People certified facilitator for eight years, and has served the University of Texas at Tyler as their facilitator for four years. During the summer he offers a graduate and undergraduate course at U. T. Tyler in personal and organizational leadership. He holds a B.S. in Management from Samford University, a Master of Accounting (MAcc) from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington.
1. Bernstein, I. (1985). A Caring Society: The New Deal, the Worker, and the Great Depression. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
2. Character Counts! Retrieved July 28, 2001 from http://www.newciv.org/ncn/eric/character.html
3. Character Ethic Vs. Personality Ethic. Retrieved July 28, 2001 from http://www.ryu.com/mascio/7habits/Chicago/sld017.htm
4. Covey, Stephen R (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster.
5. Greenleaf, Robert K. Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. New York: Paulist Press, 1977.
6. Frequently Used Shortcuts in Judging Others. Retrieved July 27, 2001 from http://mars.acnet.wnec.edu/~achelte/obl/lprob03/tsld009.htm
7. Riesman, David (1974). The Lonely Crowd. Clinton, Massachusetts: The Colonial Press, Inc.
Many of us grew up watching teenage movies with themes based on the popularity of high school cheerleaders, beauty queens, and good-looking star athletes. These were the “beautiful people” that everyone admired and wanted to have as friends. Of course many times these popular teenagers were actually self-centered, insensitive, and very superficial. Before the end of the movie the tJ. Howard Baker Articles
"I know that many times I have to remind employees to put principles above personalities. That we are here to work on a project and the fact that you may dislike a co worker should not come into play.
But sometimes that is easier said than done. How do you deal with employees who want to have a confrontation instead of a conversation. Unfortunately, dismissing one or removing one from the team is not an option."
Answer: Primarily, never forget that we lead people! We don't lead organizations… but people. The
word "organization" is a created term to refer to a group of individual people who have a shared
interest or purpose. We may work for an organization, or serve an organization, but ultimately it is people we are leading. The reason I mention this is that many authors and consultants speak of rebuilding or changing organizations as if they are dealing with a single individual. In truth, if we are interested in growing or changing an organization, we must change the people, one-by-one, who collectively are the organization.
I am a firm believer in the principle of “cause and effect.” This problem you describe exists because our historical business culture rewarded competition within the workplace environment. People were rewarded and promoted for making their co-workers look inept and inferior to them. The people who traditionally got ahead were the “politicians” who worked hard to diminish the value of everyone else in order to make themselves look loyal and valuable to the organization. Confrontation was viewed as an admirable trait that showed everyone who was “in-charge” and was potential managerial or executive material.
When this kind of a culture exists, a large part of everyone’s positive mental and emotional resources are wasted playing “got-ya” in an effort to allow the egos of some to make themselves appear superior to others. This problem has been modeled in government, business, and many religious organizations for hundreds of years.
Culture is never an easy thing to change. It takes time, energy and persistence. But, here are some things you can do.
1. Lead by example. Don’t participate or play the game of “got-ya.” When this is done in your presence, let it be known by your look and gestures that you are not impressed by this kind of self-absorbed behavior. Whatever you do… don’t laugh at putdowns, or do anything that openly or even subtly encourages this kind of behavior. If it continues…
2. When an individual does this in a group, or to you personally, say with a smile on your face, “Greg, this kind of an attitude is not important or relevant. The question we should be addressing is what is wrong, not focusing on who is wrong.”
If the behavior continues make statements like, “This approach of making everything personal is not helpful to our team. I would appreciate it if we could focus on genuine problems and not the people you differ with. If it continues…
3. You need to address this issue “one-on-one.” No one ever said that leadership is easy. Sometimes you must address issues head-on, and for the sake of the organization you need to be frank and pointed. Let the person know that their behavior is not professional, mature or productive in the workplace. To see how to correct a co-worker effectively read this leadership tip.
4. If it continues… there are a number of options you need to consider. Is there another supervisor or executive who can also approach this individual with a similar message to reinforce what you said? Are the individual’s contributions so important that everyone else can endure his or her behavior? Is the behavior so divisive and harmful to productivity that the person needs to be employed elsewhere? If you get to this point, these are serious questions that must be answered.
If you are a manager or supervisor never… ever… promote a person who demonstrates this kind of behavior. If you do, it sends a loud message throughout the organization that being a jerk who criticizes and confronts everyone else is what it takes to get ahead in this company. Be assured of this fact. You will inadvertently reinforce a culture of negativity and politics in the organization and this is destructive. If the person is extremely talented and otherwise promotable, let them know that it is this trait that is holding them back. Document it on their annual review.
If you address this problem with skill, patience and dignity you may help that person to see how harmful their behavior really is. The truth is they are very insecure and lack a real sense of self-worth! They mask this to the world by confrontational behavior. You may help this individual grow to another level and at least modify their attitude and behavior. But remember that you can’t change their behavior… you can only point out to them how they come across and hurt others. Only they can change themselves.
If you have a challenging question you would like our consultant to discuss, please email your question here. We will be happy to keep your question anonymously.
* The advice and counsel offered by the consultant is based on the limited information provided by the questioner. No two situations are exactly the same, and the consultant makes every effort to provide helpful and educational counsel based on the information supplied.
About the author:
Greg has an extensive thirty-five years experience in public speaking and has spoken to hundreds of audiences worldwide. Greg has a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Bellevue University, where he also has served as an adjunct professor teaching courses in business management and leadership since 2002. His first book, 52 Leadership Tips (That Will Change How You Lead Others) was published in 2006 by WingSpan Press. His second book, Making Life's Puzzle Pieces Fit was published in March 2009. Both are available at amazon.com. Greg is also the president of Leadership Excellence, Ltd and a Managing Partner of the Leadership Management Institute. Leadership Excellence, Ltd. effectively builds individuals and organizations to reach their highest potential through enhanced productivity and personal development using a number of proven programs. He is also the president and founder of weLEAD Incorporated.
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired at the weLEAD website.
Question: "I know that many times I have to remind employees to put principles above personalities. That we are here to work on a project and the fact that you may dislike a co worker should not come into play. But sometimes that is easier said than done. How do you deal with employees who want to have a confrontatiArticles Tips
In just about any book on management or leadership and you will eventually come across the term ecosystems. It may not sound very exciting but is essential in understanding the complexity of modern organizations! The concept of ecosystems in an organization stems from a biological model. In nature, an ecological community coexists together within its environment. Many things can affect the ecosystem. For example, conflicts between species can influence an ecosystem. The introduction of an outside species can alter or change an ecosystem. Moore uses this analogy to define a business ecosystem as "an economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individuals." This is in concert with an understanding of general systems theory. The bottom line is that otherorganizations and institutions within our society do influence today's businesses and their environment. Rapid changes in science, technology, knowledge and changing social norms compound these influences.
Galagan defines a business ecosystem as a "system in which companies work cooperatively or competitively to support new products, satisfy customers, and create the next round of innovation in key market segments." I believe the five competitive forces as presented by Michael Porter help to define at least part of an ecosystem we face in the business community. These forces shape and influence competition within most industries. They are:
1) The risk of new entry by potential competitors
2) The degree of rivalry among established companies
3) The bargaining power of the buyers
4) The bargaining power of the suppliers
5) The threat of substitute products
These many competitive influences make the role of leadership more complex and challenging. It is important to understand the linkage between an organization as an ecosystem and leadership strategy. I will discuss what I believe are major linkage qualities.
A leader attempts to motivate other workers into action toward a goal or various goals. Leaders can do this by providing vision, and explaining how the purpose of each activity is designed to dovetail into the larger picture of an overall strategy. In other words, their role in the organization is important and valued by the entire organization. Providing direction by conveying a clear vision of what is necessary to get a task completed and how to proceed in that direction is vital. Acquiring and using your analytical skills is essential since an ecosystem can change quickly. Culture also plays a major role in the linkage between ecosystems and leadership strategy. An organizations goals and values will be under constant attack both internally and externally. Its culture must be cohesive to withstand negative pressures and influences from many directions. Leadership strategy must include the objective of gaining and sustaining the active support of the organization's people and resources.
Complementing sound internal analysis is the creation of an effective feedback loop structure. You need to know how decisions and actions are affecting various parts of the organization. A superior feedback system is essential to success. In an open system, the external environment intermingles with the internal environment. Jennings and Zandbergen comment that a system functions properly "when a variety of negative and positive feedback loops are in place." However, they admit a problem exists for the leader. The problem is that these "effects through feedback may take a long time or be indirect." In other words, the effects may take place in only one area of the ecosystem before they are felt elsewhere. As Hill & Jones emphasize, the feedback loop should indicate to leaders that strategic planning is an ongoing process. The execution of a strategy must be monitored to effectively gauge if activities and objectives are being achieved. Furthermore, Hill & Jones add that as the feedback loop passes back to the corporate level it "should be fed into the next round of strategy formulation and implementation." Rummler contends that organizational outputsare produced through processes. Using the analogy of an "x-ray", he stresses that critical performance variables include "job responsibilities and standards, job design, feedback, rewards and training."
Good leaders must provide motivation by rallying the willingness of subordinates to work toward the corporate goals and objectives. Rewards rather than punishments should almost always be used to achieve this within the organization. Developing a mutual trust and respect for each other, including the organizations shared values, enhances this motivating principle. Another linkage is both honesty and openness in communication. Many leaders will find that sustaining continued effectiveness might be very difficult. Many subordinates may have been successful for many years, almost to the point of being taken for granted. A sudden change in the ecosystem may necessitate a change in strategy and this may cause confusion or discouragement among formerly contented workers. Understanding an ecosystem teaches us that we must continually grow, adapt, change, and become stronger to survive. Dealing with rapid change is difficult. Nevertheless, we must never be satisfied with our current level of achievement. Often a new leaders first job is to create an integratedattitude that fosters cooperation, harmony and effective results among the stakeholders.
I believe strategic planning is essential for success in any modern organization. Here are some of the reasons why. Strategic planning provides a vision of the organizations goals and mission. It analyzes the external environment to identify threats and opportunities for the organization. The strategic planning process helps the organization to select strategies to build on its own strengths, and correct or minimize its weaknesses. This allows the organization to take advantage of external opportunities and to counter external threats. This process can assist the organization in creating a strategy implementation process that designs appropriate structures and control systems to put its chosenstrategy into action. If we dont chose and implement our own strategy, we will become a victim of someone elses!
In contrast, the lack of strategic planning places the organization's future at risk for failure. It often times will lack a clear delineation of its goals and mission. It is not prepared for external threats to the organization and is not often prepared to take advantage of opportunities. It does not often recognize its own strengths and weaknesses and is not in a position to select strategies to deal with these important internal matters. The end result of no real organizational strategy or a misguided strategy will most likely lead to failure. In essence, the lack of a leadership strategy places the organization in the role of a victim in a changing ecosystem. Using an analogy from nature, who wins when a slow moving caterpillar walks into the path of a preying mantis?
Another important linkage is the example of ethics demonstrated by the leadership of an organization. Hill & Jones place the importance of values in a succinct manner. "The values of a company state how managers within the company intend to conduct themselves, how they intend to do business, and what kind of a business they want to build." This is true for both modern business and the military. Business decisions do have an ethical component that can effect strategy! Hill & Jones continue by stating that "the purpose of business ethics is not so much to teach the difference between right and wrong as it is to give people the tools for dealing with moral complexity, tools that they can use to identify and think through the moral implications of strategic decisions". More than ever, in a rapidly evolving ecosystem, leaders must deal with complex moral decisions that do have an impact on the organization's strategy.
Regarding ethics, a leadership strategy should attempt to establish a climate that emphasizes the importance of ethics. Creation of this climate should include three steps. First, top managers or officers must use their leadership role to incorporate an ethical dimension into the values they want to stress. Secondly, for a business, these ethical values should be incorporated in the company's mission statement. For the modern military, it is incorporated in a code of conduct. Third, these ethical values must be endorsed and respected. A sound leadership strategy should include incentivesystems that highlight the importance of respecting and acting upon ethical values in strategic decision-making.
The linkage between an organization as an ecosystem and an effective leadership strategy is a process. A leader can shape an organizations culture in many ways. The leaders personal influence can be demonstrated as part of a strategic leadership team and modeled individually. This influence can occur primarily through a combination of socialization tactics. These can include unique myths, stories, rites, ceremonies, and organizational rewards. Leadership strategy should encourage an adaptive culture that allows for innovation and rewards initiative for lower and middle-level managers. This can result in a greater ability to exploit new opportunities. A leader also understands that excellent organizations create an incentive system that motivates and reinforces desired behaviors. Rewards for individuals may include piecework plans, commission systems, bonus plans and promotion. Rewards for groupsmay include a group-based bonus system, profit sharing system, employee stock option plan and organizational bonus systems. By the way, dont forget the most basic need all of us need in the workplace. It is respect, dignity and appreciation for a job well done!
A good leadership strategy should make an investment in the business to become a learning organization. Learning organizations are those that are structured to learn rapidly and use additional knowledge to become even more effective. In this environment the desire to learn is encouraged and proper resources are allocated for training and education. The values of learning are embedded into the culture. A leader's strategy can encourage a culture that accepts reasonable risk taking by cultivating values that tell subordinates they should perform their jobs in creative and innovative ways. Leadership can have a powerful impact on an organizations culture. John Masters, the President of Canadian Hunter has stated, Leadership committed to excellence, the proposition of team work, team support by management and values are essential to team management.
In conclusion, the effective linkage of an ecosystem and leadership can be difficult. A leader must recognize there are numerous environmental influences and attempt to control them. The leader must gain an expansive knowledge of human psychological, social and physiological needs. The leader must understand the broad spectrum of organizational development. This is a lot to require from any one individual or small group of individuals! For this reason, I believe this linkage should be a sharedleadership approach tapping into the skills and talents of many.
About the Author:
Frederick Weiss has over 20 years of management experience including 14 years at an executive level. Mr. Weiss is the Vice President of Finance & Administration at Vita-Mix Corporation, a privately owned manufacturing company. He has been a driving force in changing the culture of Vita-Mix from a small-family-leadership style to a professionally managed company during its growth from $5 million to over $60 million.
Galagan, P. (1997) Strategic planning is back. Training and Development, Vol. 51, 04-01-1997
Hartwick Classic Leadership Cases (1993). Strange Days in the Oil Patch.
Hartwick Humanities in Management Institute, pp. 23-24
Hill, C. & Jones, G. (1998). Strategic Management. (4th Ed.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Jennings, P., & Zandbergen, P. (1995) Ecologically sustainable organizations: an institutional approach. Academy of Management Review, Vol. 20, 10-01-1995, pp. 1015.
Leadership In Organizations. (1988). Gordon City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, Inc.
Moore, J. (1996) The Death of Competition. (1st Ed.) NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
Porter, M. (1998) Competitive Strategy. NY: The Free Press
Rummler, G. (1996) Redesigning the organization and making it work. CMA Magazine, Vol. 70, 06-01-1996, pp. 29
Taylor, R. & Rosenbach, W. (1994). Military Leadership. (3rd Ed.) Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
In just about any book on management or leadership and you will eventually come across the term ecosystems. It may not sound very exciting but is essential in understanding the complexity of modern organizations! The concept of ecosystems in an organization stems from a biological model. In nature, an ecological community coexists together within its environment.Weiss, Fred Articles Tips
- Employee engagement
- Employee motivation
- Leadership Development
- Leadership Principles
- Leadership Styles
- Leadership Tips
- Management development
- Organizational Culture
- Organizational Design
- Organizational leadership
- Personal leadership
- Sales Techniques
- Servant leadership
- Transformational leadership
- Workplace Challenges