Let’s be honest, any kind of change, much less corporate change, is difficult, really difficult. Whether a start-up experiencing growing pains, a company faced with increased competition, a floundering company trying to stay afloat, or a successful business attempting to expand into global markets, the path toward change can often be unclear at best and the barriers can seem insurmountable at worst. Yet change your company must if it is going to become or remain a “player” in its market. The question isn’t whether your business must change; that is a given if you want it to survive and thrive. Rather, the question is: Will our company change?
If you answer in the affirmative, there are two more questions that you must ask. First, what will your company change? In the ever-morphing marketplace, there isn’t always clarity on what needs to be changed for a company to stay competitive. Second, how specifically will your company change? It’s one thing to have grand ideas about what changes your company needs to make. It’s an entirely different thing to take those “50,000 feet” ideas and bring them down to Earth.
Though change is always complex, like all complicated processes, it begins with a basic framework that orients and guides the course of transformation. A useful way of framing this process is by what The Trium Group calls “the Six I’s”: intention, inspiration, information, insight, integration, and implementation.
The foundation of any change is intention that change is needed. Intention provides the objective for an initial course of action that will lead to the desired change. For example, “We intend to modify our sales practices to make it more customer friendly” or “ Our intention is to increase our market share by 25% over the next 12 months.” This intention creates a sense of purpose that provides the preliminary impetus for the change.
As the saying goes, though, the road to you-know-where is paved with good intentions. Simply knowing what your company wants just isn’t enough for change to occur. Instead, there needs to be inspiration that puts the wind in the sails to propel the change forward. Because change is so difficult, the motivation to change must come from a deep place within the leadership of an organization and that strong desire for change must then emanate outward and be embraced through all levels of the organization. This inspiration can be grounded in many forms so that it is more readily accessible to everyone involved in making the change a reality, whether due to a sense of ownership, pride in being part of a productive team, personal ambition, or the determination to take the company to the next level. The key is to infect your organization with this inspiration from the corner office to the “boots on the ground.” Without this powerful emotion, any efforts at change are sure to be dead in the water.
One of scariest things about change when it’s first proposed is lack of clarity and its magnitude.
Everyone knows that a change needs to be made, but there are many questions that are left unanswered and the change can seem overwhelming It can feel like you are told to climb Mt. Everest, but without the necessary equipment, route, or guidance. This feeling of “How can I possibly do this?” is where the idea of change collides with the reality of change. And that collision can stop even the most powerful inspiration in its tracks.
The remedy for this feeling of being overwhelmed is information. When everyone in your organization has the relevant data needed to put the required change in perspective, the scope and process of change seem more manageable. You want to answer the what, why, who, where, when, and how of the change. So, my recommendation to you when it comes time to announce the changes through your organization is to follow it very soon after (if not concurrently) with the information that will allow everyone to gain perspective and understand that the change is not only possible, but doable.
Once everyone in your company understands the ins and outs of the proposed change, insight is necessary to take the intention, inspiration, and information and make the change personal. In other words, every team member must understand their role in the organization-wide change. This insight provides each person with a framework and process that will guide them in their particular responsibilities in making the change happen.
One of the most challenging aspects of company-wide change is that your team is expected to make the changes while also continuing to fulfill their normal roles and responsibilities. The stress-inducing question that everyone asks is: “How am I going to do this when I’m already maxed out in my ‘day job’?” This is where you must ensure effective integration of the change process into everyone’s already-busy schedules. The simple reality is that change will not occur if your people lack the time, energy, or resources to do their part in initiating the change. You must be explicit in identifying the when and how of the change for each member of your team, otherwise they are likely going to feel overwhelmed and demoralized, both of which will undermine the company-wide efforts at the needed change.
All of your company’s efforts to this point are in preparation for rolling out the intended change in your company. Everything to this point will go for naught if it isn’t able to take action in pursuit of the change objectives. The final phase of the change process, implementation, is where the rubber meets the road. If you have successfully fulfilled the mandates of the first five I’s, meaning everyone in your company knows the what, when, where, and how, implementation should be, well, not easy, but a natural extension of the earlier groundwork. These efforts will then, over time, produce the intended change and help your company to achieve its goals and find continued success.
About the author:
Jim Taylor a partner at the Trium Group, a boutique corporate consulting firm based in San Francisco that specializes in strategic, organizational, and human transformation and performance. You can contact Jim at
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Let’s be honest, any kind of change, much less corporate change, is difficult, really difficult. Whether a start-up experiencing growing pains, a company faced with increased competition, a floundering company trying to stay afloat, or a successful business attempting to expand into global markets, the path toward change can often be unclear at best and the barriers can seem insurmountable atJim Taylor, PhD Articles
Turmoil, stress and uncertainty would all describe the working experience of many of us over the past three or four years and even today as we are beginning to look forward to an improving economy, many millions of Americans remain out of work. Many millions more remain marginally employed and stuck in a world that does not give them the luxury of choice. A job, any job, remains a blessing and upward mobility remains a distant memory to many among us. Confidence remains tenuous in the American work place. As leaders, not only are we tasked with hitting our benchmarks and goals, we are also responsible for looking out for the welfare of our people. The current economy gives us the chance to do both.
There is no doubt that the fight and drive of the American worker took a hit several years back, when we went from, what on the surface, looked like a strong healthy economy, to one where nothing was for certain and one where we did not immediately know where the bottom was. It took agonizing months to understand just how low it could go and suddenly jobs were at a premium, companies were disappearing and millions of Americans whom had never seen or experienced a true economic down turn, were out on the street and unemployed, unemployed and with no immediate prospects of finding another job. Talk about frightening!
I would have to admit to loving the spirit of the American worker. Irascible to the core but damn they can surprise you with their ingenuity and willingness to put their head down and get the job done. The chances are very good that they will whine about something after the crisis has passed but there is not a more productive worker in the world. Part of what makes them such an incredible and productive asset is that ingenuity and the great initiative they show in getting the job done. Needless to say, the trauma suffered by the US economy in 2008 and well into 2009, was way more than enough to dampen that spirit and way more than enough to take away that incredible initiative.
Though I am very cautious in saying this, and though the signs and measures remain very mixed, it would seem that the American economy is in recovery. There remain any number of challenges and obstacles to our getting back to something resembling the powerful economic engine we had known and pretty much took for granted but consumer spending and confidence are steadily improving, the unemployment rates are inching downward and the real estate market has regained a pulse, though it remains in very grave condition. This is a critical moment in time and one in which strong and effective leadership can and should play a big role.
Certainly it would be hoped that leadership has sustained us through all that has gone on but now it has gone from being a fight just to survive, for both the business and our staffs, to one where we need to stand up and move forward, to compete, to attack, to overcome and to win. A great many of our staff members are scared and very reluctant to move and we as leaders need to show them the way. Leaders have to lead, that is what we do and why we are here. In taking these initial steps, we have every opportunity in the world of getting shot down or shouted down but our determination to stand up and move forward will give our people great reasons and the inspiration to do the same. I can promise you that there will be many wanting and hoping we will fail, not many willing or able to face their fears and do much more than keep their heads down. Our willingness allows them to have hope, to believe that something can get better and it will inspire others to follow suit. More than anything else, leaders are purveyors of hope and hope can lead to action and action well directed (leadership) can lead to success.
Of course there is that chance that our timing will be off or that our actions and message will be misunderstood and we end up standing out there by ourselves looking the fool but that is why we do this right? I can promise that the alternative and our failing to stand and make the attempt to move our people will not move us any further toward success.
In the aftermath of this long and very deep recession there are not many among us who are looking forward to doing anything other than keeping their heads down and remaining a part of the anonymous masses. There are not many among us who are that confident in our status and willing to stick out their necks. The immediate and most obvious impact of this fear driven environment is a complete lack of initiative. People who are scared do not take chances and do not stick their necks out. Our job as leaders is to give our people the confidence to step forward to have the willingness to take chances, to make mistakes and to have the courage to succeed. Leadership and only leadership can inspire that change.
Why does any of this matter? Isn’t blind compliance a good thing in the work place? What does it matter if our staff members have initiative or not, as long as they do their job? As leaders we are not so much the ones doing and touching everything, as we are the ones assigning who does what, to what standard, as well as assuring that tasks are getting completed and assuring that those standards are being met. There is no doubt that our lives are simplified if our people are doing what they are told and shutting up in the process but without an attachment and sense of ownership to the tasks our staff members would take on, there is no sense of accomplishment, no sense of ownership and no sense of pride. Beyond that there is no interest in finding better or more effective methods and little or no desire to improve. It is nice to think of ourselves in our various leadership roles as being all knowing and omnipotent but that is just not reality and beyond benefitting from the collective knowledge of those we lead, a huge side benefit to listening and giving voice to their suggestions or concerns is letting them know they are valued and that their opinions matter. Even if we ultimately choose a different path, that we listened and considered their suggestions is extraordinarily important and encourages that initiative and extra effort we need as leaders. Beyond simply accomplishing tasks, there has to be something in it all for our people and a big part of leadership is providing that insight, that vision of something better. If they can see it, they are much more likely to accomplish it.
For his actions on 16 February 1967 in the Republic of Viet Nam, Platoon Sergeant Elmelindo R. Smith of Honolulu Hawaii was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was 32 years old. The chances are very good you never heard of him. I wonder why that is?
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty: During a reconnaissance patrol, his platoon was suddenly engaged by intense machinegun fire hemming in the platoon on 3 sides. A defensive perimeter was hastily established, but the enemy added mortar and rocket fire to the deadly fusillade and assaulted the position from several directions. With complete disregard for his safety, P/Sgt. Smith moved through the deadly fire along the defensive line, positioning soldiers, distributing ammunition and encouraging his men to repel the enemy attack. Struck to the ground by enemy fire which caused a severe shoulder wound, he regained his feet, killed the enemy soldier and continued to move about the perimeter. He was again wounded in the shoulder and stomach but continued moving on his knees to assist in the defense. Noting the enemy massing at a weakened point on the perimeter, he crawled into the open and poured deadly fire into the enemy ranks. As he crawled on, he was struck by a rocket. Moments later, he regained consciousness, and drawing on his fast dwindling strength, continued to crawl from man to man. When he could move no farther, he chose to remain in the open where he could alert the perimeter to the approaching enemy. P/Sgt. Smith perished, never relenting in his determined effort against the enemy. The valorous acts and heroic leadership of this outstanding soldier inspired those remaining members of his platoon to beat back the enemy assaults. P/Sgt. Smith's gallant actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and they reflect great credit upon him and the Armed Forces of his country.”
Leadership, no matter how much we would try to make it into an academic exercise, is our looking our people in the eye and asking them for something better and our being willing to, not only stand with them, but to stand out in front of them, in the effort. If we are not willing to take risks and sacrifice toward accomplishing an end, why should they?
Leadership is about inspiring others in accomplishing our goals, even if we are wounded and have to crawl or perish in the attempt.
Who have you inspired today?
About the author:
Brian Canning is a regular contributor to weLEAD and a business analyst working in the federal sector. For the past thirty years he has worked in the automotive repair industry, most recently as a leadership and management coach with the Automotive Training Institute in Savage, Maryland. After serving as a tank commander with the 1st Armored Division in Europe, he started his career as a Goodyear service manager in suburban Washington D.C., moving on to oversee several stores and later a sales region. He also has been a retail sales manager for a large auto parts distributor, run a large fleet operation and headed a large multi-state sales territory for an independent manufacturer of auto parts. His passions are history, leadership and writing.
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.
Turmoil, stress and uncertainty would all describe the working experience of many of us over the past three or four years and even today as we are beginning to look forward to an improving economy, many millions of Americans remain out of work. Many millions more remain marginally employed and stuck in a world that does not give them the luxury of choice. A job, any job, remains a blessing andBrian Canning 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
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.
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
In an interview, comedian Joan Rivers was asked how she stayed so thin and trim and the interviewer said, “Do you do a lot of exercising?” “Oh, my Lord no,” said Rivers. “If God had intended me to bend over, He would have put diamonds on the ground.”
When actress and screen writer, Mae West, was asked about dieting she said, “I never worry about diets. The only carrots I’m interested in are the carats in a diamond.”
Hungarian born American film and stage actress, Zsa Zsa Gabor said that she never hated a man enough to give him back his diamonds. And she received diamonds from 9 husbands.
Diamonds have been considered precious for centuries. Geologists say diamonds were formed billions of years ago deep inside the earth by tremendous heat and pressure. They have literally been around since the beginning of time and they will last through eternity. As the title to a popular James Bond movie states, Diamonds Are Forever, literally.
Even though they have been around forever, diamonds are rare and they are hard to find. They come to the surface of the earth during volcanic eruptions in a bluish substance called kimberlite.
To find these rough diamonds, you can search in the marshes, ponds, streams and lakes near volcanos that have erupted, or you can dig deep mines to find rough diamonds still inside the earth. However, you have to process about 22 to 100 tons of kimberlite to find one diamond. This makes a diamond very precious.
Each stone is unique and it takes a skilled technician to cut and polish the rough stone into the beautiful diamond that sells for thousands, even millions of dollars.
Application for the Charismatic Leader
Charismatic and savvy business leaders are rare. They are hard to find. Charismatic leaders are unique, each having their own facets of strength. They are precious because of the value they add to organizations. They become skilled technicians as they form, develop, and polish people into productive teams.
The four qualities of diamond you can put into your life to become a more charismatic leader are:
1) Diamond Hardness: Diamond is the hardest natural substance in nature. It is four times harder than the next hardest substance. It can cut through any other natural substance so it is used extensively in industry for drilling and polishing.
As a charismatic leader: When I ask you to emulate the hardness of diamonds, I DO NOT want you to be hard to get along with, I DO NOT want you to be hard on people; I DO NOT want you to be hard on yourself.
I do want you to equate the hardness of a diamond with being HARDY – self-determining and self-reliant. And TOUGH – tough enough not to fracture and break from the economic pressures faced in organizations today; tough enough to tell the truth; tough enough to cut through problems to solutions.
2) Diamond Clarity: Diamond has greater clarity or transparency than any other solid or liquid substance. The greater clarity in a diamond, the greater the value.
As a charismatic leader: We are going to translate this into clarity of purpose. The clearer you are on the goals of your organization, your own department or team, the greater impact you’ll have on daily productivity because work will be tied directly to results. Daily efforts bring you and your employees closer to successfully executing your organizational stewardship.
Clarity for your organization, department, unit or team comes from goals setting and time management processes. Do not feel this work is insignificant but give it the time it deserves.
3) Diamond Melting Point: Diamond has the highest melting point of any natural substance: 6422 degrees Fahrenheit.
As a charismatic leader: When it comes to relationships, have a high melting point and give others the benefit of a doubt. Work to raise the melting point of discussions and disagreements. Model for your employees the ability to Pause, Think, and then ACT. Not the reverse order: Act (often inappropriately), then pause and think. Your goal is to replace meltdowns with dialog.
4) Diamond Conductivity: Diamond conducts heat better than anything – five times better than the second best element that conducts heat, silver.
As a charismatic leader: The “heat” you need to conduct is positive energy and a belief in the future. On a daily basis I encourage you to be the conductor of optimism and hope. If you can be a positive leader, you will be as a beacon of light in the darkness.
These four qualities of the element diamond are fundamental for you to emulate in your leadership career. Master them, and your employees will WANT to follow you as they give you discretionary effort, a prize to be cherished by any leader.
About the author:
Karla Brandau is CEO of Workplace Power Institute. The Workplace Power Institute helps organizations be more competitive in the global marketplace by removing blocks to organizational productivity and improving collaboration. For more program information visit the web site: www.WorkplacePowerInstitute.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.
In an interview, comedian Joan Rivers was asked how she stayed so thin and trim and the interviewer said, “Do you do a lot of exercising?” “Oh, my Lord no,” said Rivers. “If God had intended me to bend over, He would have put diamonds on the ground.” When actress and screen writer, Mae West, was asked about dieting she said, “I never worry about dKarla Brandau Articles
Burnout. Too many priorities to tackle. Insufficient resources. Difficulty motivating volunteers or staff. These are the challenges facing executives and managers of non-profit organizations and agencies. Non-profits are having the same problems as for-profit corporations, such as concerns of recruiting and retaining excellent staff, with the added difficulty of fewer resources to execute tasks and to attract employees. In addition, those organizations receiving grantor funding must provide greater assurance that they will be able to deliver on the funded project goals. The work of non-profit organizations is vital to our society, but how do we inspire, motivate, and support the leaders of these important agencies? One of the most proven and cost-effective methods for enhancing loyalty, retention, and the accomplishment of goals is Coaching.
According to Daniel Goleman (2006), psychologist and award-winning author of Emotional Intelligence (EI) says, nonprofit leaders can incorporate different leadership styles in their relationships with employees. The leadership style used least by nonprofit leaders is the Coaching style. In a nutshell, Coaching leaders encourage employees to establish long-term development goals and help them conceptualize a plan for attaining them. The ongoing dialogue in a coaching relationship ensures that employees know what is expected of them, and how their work fits into a larger vision of where the organization is going. Coaching is a relatively new and promising tool for leadership development for non profit leaders who find themselves in an increasingly challenged and often isolated role, according to a national study of nonprofit executive leadership conducted by Compass Point (Wolfred, Belland Moyers, 2001). Statistical surveys and anecdotal evidence alike support Coaching as a great instrument for advancing nonprofit leadership and improving nonprofit organizational effectiveness. Leadership Coaching requires exceptional leadership and questioning skills to be effective. At no point is leadership more important than in assisting others in defining their performance issues and identifying the underlying causes. This Situational Leadership style provides the needed structure to guide leaders in working with their clients.
The underlying principle in Situational Leadership is that Executive Coaches should adjust their leadership styles to their client’s readiness level (ability and willingness) to perform a given task. Leadership is the amount of task behavior (direction) and relationship behavior (support) given by a leader. To be effective the Coach must adjust the way in which they lead their clients based on their level of readiness for each task that they are expected to perform. Leadership coaching is a unique application of the principles of Situational Leadership that guides leader coaches as they work with their clients.
The Situational Leadership method from Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey holds that managers must use different leadership styles depending on the situation. The model allows you to analyze the needs of the situation you’re in, and then use the most appropriate leadership style. Depending on employees’ competences in their task areas and commitment to their tasks, your leadership style should vary from one person to another. You may even lead the same person one way sometimes, and another way at other times.
Blanchard and Hersey (1985) characterized leadership style in terms of the amount of direction and of support that the leader gives to his or her followers, and so created a simple matrix.
The lowest readiness level (D1) for an individual or group is described as not willing and not able to do a given task. The appropriate leadership style (SI) is that of providing high amounts of task behavior (direction) and low amounts of relationship behavior (support). The next readiness level (D2) is described as willing but not able. The appropriate leadership style (S2) is that of high amounts of both task and relationship behavior.
The next readiness level (D3) is described as able but unwilling in that the individual lacks confidence or commitment. The appropriate leadership style (S3) is that of high amounts of relationship behavior and low amounts of task behavior. The highest readiness level for a group or individual to do a given task is willing and able (D4). The appropriate leadership style is that of low amounts of both relationship and task behavior.
Within the learning organization there is a focus on developing new ways of thinking and working (Senge, 1999). A coaching culture is the framework of any learning organization. These organizations are characterized by relationships of trust, collaboration, insightful guidance, and a focus on assisting people to maximize their potential. Learning organizations differ from others in that they have shifted from a focus on performance to an emphasis on sustainable growth. People are given the opportunity to enhance and strengthen the concept of ongoing learning and development by creating a culture where coaching thrives.
Regardless of which enterprise the Coach is engaged in, he or she requires a solid knowledge of the organization. The coach has to be aware of its climate and culture, the current challenges it faces, its current learning and development programs and its people management programs and philosophy. Although the importance and usefulness of conducting a Coaching Needs Analysis alone is not sufficient for the Coach to embark upon working in an organization. In the same way, neither process knowledge or proven ability to work with personal mastery skills will equip the Coach to work effectively in an organization.
The Coach has to be familiar with various models of organizational change and the model or framework, either explicit or implicit, within which the particular organization operates. If a Coach chooses to work within an organizational environment, it is recommended that he or she adopt a systemic approach, that is, one that recognizes, acknowledges and can work with both internal and external factors that impact on the organization and its individuals. The Coach’s role may be to focus on human processes in the organization, on organizational design, developing and enhancing job competencies, or on coaching individuals through technology change programs.
The Coach as change agent is a person who is formally conducting a change effort. The change agent is involved in all steps of the process of change. Coaches are required to both change the level and standard of personal and professional skills sets, attitudes, thinking, beliefs, values, motivation of an individual or group, in order to help them (and their organization) perform even better and derive greater satisfaction from their everyday work life and their careers. Coaching is fundamentally about achieving behavioral change (what people do and say).
Coaching Leadership works well when employees want to advance and achieve their potential. This type of leadership doesn't work as well when employees are resistant to learning or changing their ways. In such situations, nonprofit leaders have to dig below the surface to understand what's causing the resistance. They will often discover that the resistance stems from a misunderstanding of the process: unlike many so-called "performance improvement plans," which are thinly disguised warnings to improve one's performance or face some undesirable consequence, the professional development plan with its clearly defined milestones and measures of success is designed to help employees succeed.
Coaching can occur one-on-one or in groups, on the telephone or in-person. When considering the cost of replacing and training key staff members, volunteers, and leaders, it is one of the most proven and cost-effective methods for enhancing loyalty and retention, the accomplishment of goals, and the power to transform organizations and their communities.In her article, “The Case for a Coach,” in Association Management, April 2001, Sheila
Maher outlines some of the advantages of coaching for non-profit leaders, managers, and volunteers. Maher’s experience coaching key staff officers at various associations has demonstrated that coaching provides:
• The ability to lead with vision rather than just manage day-to-day activities
• Reduction of over-commitment and stress
• Continued strategic thinking even when pulled in many directions
• Maximized staff effectiveness rather than micro-managing
• Using time more effectively
• Improved interpersonal skills in dealing with difficult people
Mary Beth Bos, CFRE, in her article “Leading on the Frontlines with a Coach on the Sidelines,” Customer Development Solutions, quotes a social services executive, a human services executive director, a foundation CEO, and an arts executive director on what they obtained from coaching. Their descriptions can be summarized as:
• Feeling “heard” and being self-expressed
• Establishing a vision, encouraging ownership, fostering partnership, and improving pacing
• Improved ability to be pro-active, accessible and open to staff
• Building cooperation and team-spirit, increased respect from others, and a stronger ability to handle issues before they reach a crisis stage
In addition, the non-profit leader--whether board member, volunteer, executive, or department manager--benefits personally with improved health and well-being, greater life balance, less stress, and greater productivity. The organization benefits from a more well-rounded, loyal, and dedicated leader with a clear vision, better strategies to reach goals, improved relationships with and outside the organization, improved morale, and a more successful plan of work. They are also more efficient and work in a manner consistent with the agency’s goals and plans. Even the volunteer leadership of a non-profit organization can benefit from coaching when it affects one’s individual career.
Blanchard, K.H. & Hersey, P. (1985). SLII: A situational approach to managing people. Escondido, CA: Blanchard Training and Development.
Goleman, D. (2006). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Bantam Books.
Goldsmith, M. & Lyon, L. (2006).Coaching for leadership (2nd Ed). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Peters, J. and Wolfred, T. (2001) CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, San Francisco. See also Teirney, T. (2006) The Nonprofit Sector’s Leadership Deficit. The Bridgespan Group; and Bell, J, Moyers, R. and T. Wolfred (2006) Daring to Lead 2006: A National study of Nonprofit Executive Leadership.CompassPoint/Meyer Foundation.
Senge (1999). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. Currency-Doubleday.
Burnout. Too many priorities to tackle. Insufficient resources. Difficulty motivating volunteers or staff. These are the challenges facing executives and managers of non-profit organizations and agencies. Non-profits are having the same problems as for-profit corporations, such as concerns of recruiting and retaining excellent staff, with the added difficultyMaxine Scott Articles
Engagement. It’s the new business buzzword. It just sounds good coming off the tip of your tongue. What is it? Well, there are a lot of different interpretations of the definition of engagement, but there is one thing that most everyone agrees with: it’s a problem. While people may be struggling to figure out what the best definition of ‘engaged’ is, more people agree on what an actively disengaged employee is. According to Gallup Poll, an actively disengaged employee is, “unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to coworkers.” (Gallup) According to Gallup Poll results released for 2012, 24% of workers worldwide are actively disengaged. With statistics like that, it’s no wonder executives are scrambling to try and fix the engagement problem.
One common method to identify why employees are disengaged is to take a survey. Gallup Poll and other companies will happily take a company’s money to perform this service. However, I would propose to you that there are several potential flaws with this approach. First, by the time most executives get to the point of paying another company to perform a survey, they already know they have a problem. Second, performing a survey once may identify areas within the company that could be strengthened, but to see if a company is making any progress, the survey must be run over multiple years. Third, are the engagement plans. Once weak areas have been identified, management has to try and fix the problem. So they work with their employees to create engagement plans. This is where I have to take a pause. According to the National Business Research Institute, one of the most common employee complaints is being overworked (NBRII). If one of the causes of employee disengagement is overwork, then how is giving them more work in the form of engagement plans supposed to help fix things? This sure sounds like the catchphrase, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” Next, there is a very tempting trap for managers to fall into, and that is improving scores instead of digging down into the true heart of the difficult issues that are the cause of poor engagement. Let’s face it, educating an employee on how to take the poll to increase their score is a whole lot easier of a way to show that you are making progress on engagement on paper.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that engagement polls are necessarily a bad thing. I will say that I think the expectations of many senior executive leadership are too high when it comes to these surveys. The Gallup Poll has been conducting engagement surveys for over 30 years. Many of the companies that are just now taking their survey for the first time have also been in business for that long or longer. How is the culture of a business, which is shaped and fostered by the executive leadership style over decades, supposed to change in just a couple years? Sure, executives are part of Gallup’s survey, but if they weren’t 100% engaged with their company’s business strategies, then they would have never made it to the positions they are in. The more senior the executive, the higher they tend to score. Scores begin to deteriorate the farther down the management chain you go, until finally you reach the employees, where it appears all of the engagement issues are occurring. The reality is the motivation of the executives giving the survey is not focused on the well-being of the employees. So if executives are engaged, and year after year we continue to see employees disengaged, maybe it’s time to change our focus.
Let’s start by looking at the executives who run the companies with the highest engagement scores. Stephen Cannon is the CEO for Mercedes Benz, who was ranked 94th in Forbes best 100 companies to work for this year. Stephen states, “We’ve been investing in programs to allow our leaders to create great places for our employees to work. Great organizations are all about people.” (Linkedin) In an interview with Paul Amos, CEO of Aflac, he discussed his basic employee principles in the Aflac Way handbook. “Everyone is important. No matter who walks through the door, whether it’s the man in overalls or a straw hat or the man in a $500 suit, everyone is treated equally.” (Faith&Leadership) Aflac is number 58 on Fortune’s top 100 companies to work for this year, and they have been on the list for the last 16 consecutive years. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and number 38 in this year’s Fortune list states the following: “It actually doesn’t matter what your core values are.” “What matters is that you have them and commit to them. And by committing to them, you’re willing to hire or fire based on them independent of actual job performance.” (Greatplacetowork) Last, Larry Page, CEO of Google and Fortune’s number one business to work for states the following; “My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society.” (Fortune)
What’s the common theme from these executives of Fortune’s top 100 companies to work for, over and over again? People and core values. It’s no secret that business are in business to make money and increase shareholder value, but it’s how a business makes its money that effects employee engagement. If the employees of a company are treated as just a tool to increase stockholder value and like they are easily replaceable, then of course they will be disengaged. The bottom line is that it’s about trust; it’s about a culture that puts the employee and customer needs as the top business priority and it all starts from the top of a business, down. Employees need to have trust in their organizations to perform at their best, and CEO’s have to work on that trust from the top. If companies truly want to become great places to work, then they have to focus on their employees and their employee’s needs. Trust comes into play because a lot of what the employees need may seem counterproductive to increasing shareholder’s wealth. Better pay, more recognition, a balanced family-work life, flexible hours, are all things that can contribute to better engagement, but might hurt the bottom line of a company on paper.
By the time a company gets to the point of taking a survey, chances are they recognize that there is already a problem and that the current way of doing business just isn’t cutting it. This is when executive leadership engagement comes into play. I propose that the mission statement of a business is the place to start. This is nothing new or earth shattering, but it’s where I feel executives can get huge results from their company while maintaining a loyal workforce. Does the mission of the company have more of an employee and customer focus than money? If not, then maybe it’s time for a change. If it does, then maybe the business has strayed away from its core mission over the years and forgotten how important the employees are to that mission. How do CEO’s and executives learn what matters most to their employees? A survey might give them some clues, but are often expensive and time consuming. I propose that good old fashioned face-time is the best method. Take an interest in their well-being, and find out what would motivate them. It’s already been shown by many businesses who repeatedly made the top 100 places to work list that it can be done, and the results can be amazing. Take the leap of faith, together as executives and employees as one company and see what the results of true engagement can do.
*image courtesy of imagerymajestic/freedigitalphotos.net
Worldwide, 13% of Employees Are Engaged at Work. Retrieved from
10 Things employees dislike most about their employers. Retrieved from
Mercedes-Benz CEO: Customer Experience is the Brand!! Retrieved from
Paul S. Amos: This is not who we are. Retrieved from
How Zappos Creates Happy Customers and Employees. Retrieved from
Larry Page: Google should be like a family. Retrieved from
Engagement. It’s the new business buzzword. It just sounds good coming off the tip of your tongue. What is it? Well, there are a lot of different interpretations of the definition of engagement, but there is one thing that most everyone agrees with: it’s a problem. While people may be struggling to figure out what the best definition of ‘engaged’ is, more people agree on what an activelSteven Madison Articles
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