Showing posts from 2009

Retaining Top Talent in 2010

In my prior post, "Will Talent Head for the Door?," I started to summarize some of the key themes that emerged in response to my question on LinkedIn, Will Talent Bolt?

Most of those who responded said Yes there will be some movement. But there was also agreement that the best employees will stay in those organizations that demonstrate the right way to manage and retain top performers.

Let's distill some of the chief elements of the Right Way to take care of your top talent so that they do not head for the door.

1. Leadership - Art Worster wrote: "Good leadership has to be based upon principles of honesty, openness, and personal integrity. Many bosses can create the illusion of leadership skills in good times when conversations tend to be around positive things. However, when things get difficult, they tend to become insecure in these conversations and hide behind various screens. This is the time that true leadership steps out and truly leads. I think that hard times …

A New You in 2010

A few minutes ago on Twitter, management guru Ken ("The One Minute Manager") Blanchard tweeted: "Think about redoing yourself and becoming a better "you" in the new year."

That tweet came at the right moment, the kairos moment.

For the past few days, my wife Joan and I have been enjoying the cable TV show Clean House, a home makeover show, where a team of home organizers descends on hapless couples who are drowning in clutter. A very entertaining show about "letting go" of the material things that weigh us down.

Imagine if you could apply the "clean house" makeover to your career and life?

One of the things I like most about this time of year is the many blog posts on setting New Year's resolutions. The other day, Curt Rosengren had a great one called "What Is Your Theme for the New Year?" where he says:

~ "What if, instead of a random hodge-podge of well-intended but potentially ineffective positive efforts, you created…

Will Talent Head for the Door?

When the recession ends, will your top talent head for the door?

Some recent surveys, indicating that employees are anxious to bolt, have warned HR managers and business leaders to get ready for a talent exodus.

Wondering if this concern is well-founded, I recently asked this question on LinkedIn and got some very interesting responses.

In general, respondents said that some movement is likely. Especially in those organizations that did not do right by their workforces. Jay Foley's comment sums it up: "Organizations which were poorly led through the downturn and have lost the respect of their employees will likely suffer some appropriate backlash in the form of desertions. Those who were more careful, and did their best to maintain trust with employees during these times will reap the benefit of that effort."

But other organizations needn't be too worried about losing key talent when recovery comes. These employers have been doing the right things vis a vis their emplo…

Safeguard Your Future

Yesterday, a financial writer interviewed me about ways to safeguard yourself and prepare for job loss. In particular, she wants to reach professionals that have been at one company for many years, who are often ill prepared for the "shock and awe" of the pink slip. What can they do today to get ready for the rollercoaster ride of being "in transition?"

Here are a few of the ideas, that I offered up for the article, for professionals who are still working but who see "the handwriting on the wall:"

- Take training now - Is your employer offering training? Sign up. Take as much as you can.

- Take charge of your own learning - What are the "hot topics" in your field right now? Green? Sustainability? Lean Six Sigma? Sign up for courses. Read books. Get courses "on tape" that you can listen to in your car or on the train while commuting.

- Read outside your field - Are you a chemist? An engineer? Then start reading articles and books from othe…

Yay! Mr. Splashy Pants

Just watched a very entertaining and incredibly short (3 minutes!) TED Talk by Alexis Ohanian of about the effort to name the whale that was ultimately christened "Mr. Splashy Pants."

Ohanian's breezy talk ends with several key lessons from the world of internet democracy:

- Level the playing field
- No cost
- Be genuine
- You don't have to be serious all the time
- It's OK to lose control
- The message does not have to come from the top down

Can organization's adopt these lessons for their corporate communications?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Dec 22, 2009

The Gospel of Change

The word "gospel" means "good news." And what is the good news that the gospels proclaim? In a word: change.

As a faith-filled Org Change Guy, I have long been attuned to the messages about change that thread through the four Gospels. For example:

- "Repent for the kingdom is near" - Repent (from the Greek metanoia) means to turn one's self around, to change one's mind

- "He said to him, 'Follow me.'" - Conversion, from fisherman or tax collector, into apostle, can be quite dramatic, even astonishing to onlookers who can't quite figure out what has happened

- "Go and sin no more" - Forgiveness is perhaps one of the most poignant forms of change in that, when we forgive, we are choosing to let go of some past pain that we have been dragging around with us

- "With that their eyes were opened" - Whether one of His miraculous sight-giving cures, or in this case, the "aha moment" of the disciples walkin…

Give the Gift of Wisdom

Sybil Stershic, at her blog Quality Service Marketing, suggests that you give yourself and others the gift of a free e-book on employee engagement. It is chock-full of wisdom from a global community of 200 consultants and managers.

She writes: "This holiday, give the gift of employee engagement … and it’s free! Employee Engagement Advice Book is a new e-book written by members of the Employee Engagement Network (EEN) and compiled by network host David Zinger. EEN members (including me) share advice - limited to one sentence each - on how an organization can improve employee engagement."

Great idea.

Filled to the brim with such themes as caring, connecting, playing to strengths, communicating (especially listening), valuing employees, energizing and empowering employees, recognizing their efforts, growing and demonstrating leadership, and participative involvement.

Sybil adds: "It’s worth scrolling through to find the quotes that resonate with you. Pass it along and sh…

A Christmas Gift

They say that the best gift you can give is your presence. That may be truer in this economy than ever. In that spirit, I want to give you a gift that comes right from me.

It's a free e-pamphlet for job hunters called "Galvanize Into Action," that you can download from the app on my LinkedIn profile. If you have any trouble obtaining it there, feel free to send me an email (terrence dot seamon at gmail dot com) and I'll send it to you.

"Galvanize into action" is a quick guide to accelerating a job search, comprised of material published on this blog, Here We Are. Now What?, during this past year.

If you are seeking re-employment, I hope you find it helpful. If you know someone who is out of work, please feel free to forward it to him or her or them.

Best wishes to you and yours for much joy in this sacred holiday season.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Dec 14, 2009

Leaders and Systems

With the publication of Henry Mintzberg's new book on managing naturally, there has been a flurry of discussions about managing and leading. Are they the same or different? Do managers need to be leaders? Can an organization thrive without leadership?

All very interesting. All "right up my alley," so to speak.

Lately, in working with some client organizations, I'm sensing that the current leadership model in practice is quite different from the one we may sometimes espouse (i.e. leaders as visionary, wise, virtuous, courageous, role models etc).

The folks I've been working with lately (managers and professionals in the health care sector) describe their workplaces as fierce and stressful environments that are not for the feint of heart. Places characterized as:

~ lean, driven, and aggressive
~ production-focused, numbers-oriented, short-term
~ having high sense of urgency; valuing speed
~ where everyone is being asked to do more with less
~ where employees are expected t…

Spiritual Change Management 2009

In Isaiah, we read: "Prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight a highway for our God!"

John the Baptist proclaimed: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord."

This is Advent, the time of year when Christians get ready for the great feast of Christmas. The time to prepare the way of the Lord. Time to repent.

Repent. A word that is seldom used in the 21st century. What does it mean to repent?

Literally, to repent is to turn away from, to change one's self (the Greek term metanoia means "to change your mind").

To convert.

Spiritually speaking, whether Christian or not, the Advent season is sorely needed in this violence-filled world of ours. If we don't begin the disarmament of our hearts, we are headed for destruction.

The world (all of us) needs to repent, to convert, to turn away from violence.

Repentance means changing the mind, waking up, seeing things as they really are, and recognizing the error of our ways, leading to change of behavior, change in action…

Hanging In There

On our walk in the park this morning, my wife and I noticed that most of the trees were bare, except for a few here and there. Pointing to one small tree still full of thin orange-colored leaves, she said: "Look at that, Terry. Despite very strong winds the other day, some leaves are still hanging on the trees."

Still hanging in there.

How often have I uttered those very words to fellow job hunters: "Hang in there."

We job hunters, especially the veterans like me, understand the soft side of a long job hunt. The feelings you keep to yourself. The desperation you sometimes feel in the pit of your stomach when you stop and count the months that have gone by.

Knowing that these feelings will dog you along the way to re-employment, we also know how important it is to support and encourage one another. With little taglines like "Hang in there."

Or another one that a friend of mine uses:

"Keep the faith, baby."

As a person of faith, I like that one. But w…

In Praise of Dirt

My wife Joan is an avid gardener. Someday I hope to see her earn the Master Gardener certification because she is certainly a good candidate. For one thing, she is not afraid of getting dirty. In fact, if she is having a good day outside, you'll find her covered from head to toe in dirt. And loving it!

As a child, I was really into dirt --digging in the backyard, exploring gullies that fed into the Raritan River, or tunneling in sand at the beach-- much of it in search of rocks, old coins, fossils, and shells for my collection.

Recently I saw a science news story that said how important dirt is for our health. Dermatologist Professor Richard Gallo, of University of California at San Diego, said: “These germs (present in dirt) are actually good for us” in reducing inflammation after injury, when they are present on the skin's surface.

Even in the most humble and lowly there is great value, apparently.

Coincidentally, I've been musing on the word "humble" this past…

Thanks and Giving

One way to appreciate a word that you've seen and used all your life is to view it in a new way.

My pastor Fr. Doug recently did that for me when he took the word Thanksgiving and broke it into pieces: Thanks and Giving.

When I saw that at church a few weeks ago, "the scales fell from my eyes," and I was able to re-appreciate the actions embedded in the idea of thanksgiving, namely:

~ that we should be thankful, and express thanks to those who have done something for us, and

~ that we should give abundantly, like there's no tomorrow, give of our time, our treasure, and most importantly our talents

On this day of Thanks and Giving, I'm sending a message of gratitude and appreciation for all the angels (you know who you are!) who have been so supportive this year!

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Nov 26, 2009

From That Original Breath

Today November 24, we mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's book On the Origin of Species.

The New Scientist website is sponsoring a contest in Darwin's honor, to take the last sentence from his book and turn it into a work of art. Here is that line:

"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

Do I detect in the phrase "having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one," a nod to the Creator?

Breath is the motivating force that gets life going. It's a deeply ingrained metaphor that we take for granted in our everyday speech; for example:

~ "Major League Baseball needs Mark Cuban to breathe life into the game."

When we breathe life i…

Powerful Words

Feeling defeated? Powerless? In this economy, I wouldn't be surprised to hear "Yes" in response to such questions.

The good news, however, is that you have at your disposal a "secret weapon," a strength that you may not fully appreciate: the power of words.

Words can uplift, encourage, and inspire. Words can invite, welcome, and heal. The key, however, is to remember this bit of wisdom: "There's a great power in words, if you don't hitch too many of them together."

So keep your words simple, and down to earth.

Here are a few of the powerful words you already know and can start to use right away.

~ Thank you.

~ I'm sorry.

~ How can I help you?

~ What are the possibilities?

What are some other powerful words that you would add?

Remember: "Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world." Attributed to Buddha.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Nov 23, 2009

Finding Your Way

Some of the clients I've been working with these past couple weeks are feeling like their jobs (and their lives) are out of control. They have been through downsizings, and are now "doing more with less."

Some said they are overbooked and overwhelmed, feeling like they are drowning. Some have just about given up on planning because every day is filled with unplanned surprises. For others, stress is high, nerves are on edge, and tempers are rising. Some even said that their personal and family life is starting to suffer.

The flash that came to me was that they are trying to find their pathways through chaos.

Two of my favorite bloggers, Dick Richards and Curt Rosengren, have recently offered some wisdom about finding your pathway.

At his blog Riding on Dragons, Dick Richards has an entry called "Another Pathway" (a followup to an earlier entry called "The Mythic Pull of Pathways"). In these pieces about paths, roads and trails (that he has photographed …

Show Up. Give Back. Go Forth!

I'm pleased to feature my wife, Joan Best Seamon, the Director of Music at St. Matthias, as today's guest blogger! Recently, at our parish in Somerset, NJ, Joan wrote the following essay for our church bulletin. It was inspired by our parish engagement initiative.

Show Up, Give Back, Go Forth

Recently, our pastoral staff and pastoral council met to discern new directions for our parish over the next few years. As we shared ideas and concerns, our discussion centered on how we might express more clearly our expectations of the members of our parish.

So if you are a member of the Catholic Community of St. Matthias, what do we , or, even more important, what does God expect of you?

1. Show up! That sounds like a major oversimplification, but it’s true. We need you to come to Mass every week. Your presence as the Body of Christ receiving the Body of Christ is vital to the energy and spirit of our parish. Our weekly worship is our chance to see each other, pray with each other and be …

Put Yourself Out There

In getting ready to teach job hunters how to make the most of LinkedIn as a tool in their job search, I came across the article about Charles Pixley. He's the investment banker who, after losing his job in the recession, decided to market himself by wearing a sandwich board and standing at the corner of Broadway and Wall Street until he got an offer.

Pixley said: "Believe in yourself, improve yourself, put yourself out there. Have yourself seen. You resume will go into a pile. It's just another resume, just more words. There's no color. These posters provided my soul. It says everything in one lump page."

Take a close look at his poster. It says in part:

Investment Banker. 30+ years. Enlightened Leadership. Mission Driven.

Wow. What a great elevator pitch in visual form. Tenacious Pixley shows us how to put yourself out there and be seen.

The folks at the LinkedIn presentation were wowed by his example. And I showed them how LinkedIn can help them become more v…

Giving All You Got

Watching my son Dave and the rest of the Livingston College Theater Company cast of Rent these past few days at Crossroads Theater in New Brunswick, NJ, I am impressed by how totally committed these young people are to this show. My wife and I have gone to hundreds of high school, college and local theater productions over the years and the best ones always have that high level of commitment by the actors. The other production values, like sets and costumes and lighting and music, might leave something to be desired, but if the cast is "giving all they've got," you feel it. It grabs you. And the experience works.

As an organization development consultant, I wonder if my son and the other performers will have that same "fire" after they graduate and go into the world of work. Will their passion for performance, so much in evidence on stage, go on? Or will it be diminished by the organizations they will join?

One of the lessons of the Employee Engagement movement i…

Emotional Engagement

Consultant Judith Bardwick, PhD, author of the best-selling book One Foot Out the Door (from AMACOM, 2008), has said very forcefully, that employee engagement is critical to organizational success. But she has voiced frustration:

~ "I’ve been shocked over the last three to four years by the near universal ignorance of executives and managers about the compelling financial relationship between levels of employee commitment and engagement and success. In plainer words, the great majority of organizational decision makers do not know they will only succeed if they have their employee’s hearts, minds and guts."

They just don't get it.

But what is it that they don't get? Executives and managers are trained and developed to focus on numbers and facts. Other things, like emotions, relationships, commitment, trust, culture, and feelings, don't enter into the decision making.

But that's just it!

That's what the Employee Engagement movement, as exemplified by Judy B…

Employee Engagement Round-Up 2

Some time ago, I gathered up a number of my blog entries on engagement. Since then, a few more have appeared. So here is Round-Up Number Two on Employee Engagement. These blog entries deal with leadership, managing, change and engagement.

Engaging the Whole Organization

The Seven Essences

Clearly Engaged

The Engaging Manager

Employee Engagement Matters

Five Sentences

Leading After Layoffs

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Nov 3, 2009

Charter for Compassion

This morning, in an email from OD consultant John Scherer, I learned about The Charter for Compassion.

The Charter --crafted with input from people all over the world, by a multi-faith, multi-national council-- is a call for a return to the Golden Rule, the central principle of all the major religious traditions, considered to be the essence of religion, "that everything else was “commentary,” and that it should be practised “all day and every day.”" The Charter will be unfurled on November 12.

In his e-mail, Scherer asked: "How can we use the amazing technology available these days to rapidly spread a counter-virus to the hateful one threatening to tear apart the fabric of life? What will it take? Who will do it? Do those of us who know a little bit about change and transformation have a role to play? If so, what and how?"

One idea is: Stand up, show up, and be counted on where and when the need arises.

I had the opportunity to do this last week at an event calle…

It's Not You

Speaking with a wise old career coach a couple weeks ago, I was struck by his bracing point of view about the reality of today's job market. He said:

"It's not you. You're doing all the right things. You're not the problem. It's the market right now. There are very few openings in your field. Companies are moving very cautiously on hiring. And tons of competitors, with skills like yours, are vying for the same few spots."

So what do I do, I asked.

His answer: "There's nothing you can do. It's the market."

Not being the "do nothing" kind of guy, I received his wisdom with gratitude, but decided to continue doing a few things, especially networking.

At her blog Your Search Lights, coach and consultant Janice Lee Juvrud writes about the importance of networking:

~ "...many of us have learned an awful lot about networking. Now we know that continuous networking is essential to our professional development. I've learned net…

Body of Work

Lately, I've been pondering the lessons that Life is trying to teach me right now at this stage of my life.

One of the questions that has been sounding in my head is, What is your body of work?

In graduate school, back around 1980, my adviser suggested I read a book called Love's Body by Norman O. Brown. I think I gave my copy away years ago. But not until I had read and re-read it.

Love's Body is a strange and wonderful reading experience, like hurtling through a landscape of fragments, aphorisms and quotes on a tour of history, Freud, politics, philosophy, the soul, poetry and mythology, in a quest for . . . the meaning of life.

I'm not sure I understood what Brown was ultimately trying to say, but I loved following along with him, and listening to him paint his vast mural of ideas.

Thinking of what I have accomplished this year, and what I have contributed to my unfolding body of work, I would have to say that I have added a few brushstrokes to the mural of my life,…

The Striptease Job Search and other exotic ideas for job hunters

Kenny Moore has some decidedly different ideas for job hunters.

Yesterday, during his talk at the St. Matthias Employment Ministry mini-retreat, he was asked for his recommendations on resumes. Well, if you read my prior blog entry, you'll understand that his first response was, "You're seeking answers to something that is less a problem, and more a predicament."

Appreciating the need of many in the audience for some takeaways, Kenny relented and offered some unorthodox ideas for job hunters. Here are a few:

Use The Striptease Method - Kenny asked the audience, "In the old burlesque shows, did the stripper take all her clothes off at once?" The audience answered No. His point is that as job applicants, we should never reveal all, about who we are, all at once. Instead, give one little strip at a time.

Use A One Page Resume - As a former HR manager for a large utility company, Kenny used to get thousands of resumes. His advice: keep your resume to one page…

Specializing In the Impossible

For me, it's always refreshing to spend a couple hours with Kenny Moore. Yesterday, I had another such opportunity.

The St. Matthias Employment Ministry had invited Kenny to be the guest speaker for a mini-retreat called "Keeping Your Sanity, Your Sense of Humor, and Your Soul in Today's Workplace." Attracting an audience of the unemployed, as well as some who are employed, Kenny shared his wisdom. Here are a couple of his points that deeply resonated with me.

Stop looking for answers - Most of us have been trained in problem solving. And we are good at it. We know how to find solutions. Trouble is, however, that the situations we are facing in today's economy (such as protracted unemployment) are not problems that have clear solutions anymore. Now we face predicaments, dilemmas that are ambiguous, uncertain. Stop looking for answers, Kenny says. They don't exist. Instead, look for movement.

Ask better questions - So what to do in the face of predicaments? Ask…

Change One Thing

In the comedy City Slickers, the hapless hero Mitch(Billy Crystal) learns an important life lesson from the grizzled old cowboy Curly (played by the incomparable Jack Palance):

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? [pause] This. [holds up one finger]

Mitch: Your finger?

Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.

Mitch: But what is the “one thing?”

Curly: [smiles] That’s what you have to find out.

Great scene.

Fast forward to another gem from Peter Bregman, whose recent blog entry about change says:

"Everyone has one thing. Typically, people overwhelm themselves with tasks in their eagerness to make a change successfully. But that's a mistake. Instead, they should take the time up front to figure out the one and only thing that will have the highest impact and then focus 100% of their effort on that one thing."

Great point.

But like Mitch from City Slickers, how do you find out the one thing to focus on?

Bregman offers an interestin…

Highly Engaged Parishes

Have you ever wanted to boost the engagement level of the people who belong to your church?

What would do it? Better sermons? Better building facilities? Greater use of technology? More (or less) music? Shorter services?

I've been asked by my pastor to work with him, his staff and other lay leaders on a parish-wide engagement initiative. We are tackling a huge question:

- How to energize and mobilize more of our parishioners to get in the game and contribute more of their time, talent, and treasure to the mission of the parish

To help get everyone's thinking juices flowing, we are all reading a book called Growing An Engaged Church by Rev. Albert L. Winseman, published by Gallup Press. The book's subtitle is good: How to stop "Doing Church" and start Being the church again.

The other day on the ODNet listserv, I was reminded of a humorous old saying about involvement and commitment:

"Question: What can you learn about "involvement" and "commi…

Journey Coaching

In my preparation to teach a class on leadership for supervisors this week, I came across an old favorite, the GROW model of coaching. It's been around a long time, and even has a wikipedia article devoted to it, where the authors trace its lineage back to the book The Inner Game of Tennis by tennis coach Timothy Gallwey.

The GROW coaching model works like this:

G = Goal - Start with the goal. What is it you want to achieve?

R = Reality - Then look at where you are now, the present reality. Assess the gap between the reality and the goal state.

O = Obstacles & Options - In looking at the gap that you'll need to journey, identify, as best you can, any obstacles you can see or think you are likely to encounter. Then generate alternative options for ways to deal with the obstacles and successfully traverse the gap.

W = Way - Finally chart your course, the way you will go from where you are now to where you want to arrive.

Very simple and elegant. Just the kind of model I like best.

Meeting With Kenny Moore

Blogger Dick Richards wrote a great book called Is Your Genius At Work?

Best-selling author, former Catholic monk, and present-day business consultant, Kenny Moore could write one called Is Your Soul At Work?

The answer, of course, is Yes. But for many people, there is a deep disconnect between their jobs and their spiritual dimension.

To help address this, Kenny is blogging, consulting and speaking all over the place, including at my parish, St. Matthias in Somerset on October 24. It's a free, interactive, and entertaining afternoon of reflection, designed to explore the spiritual side of earning a livelihood while living out one's vocation in the marketplace.

His irreverent perspective is refreshing, and his wisdom is insightful.

If you are in the central NJ area and want to attend, here is the info you'll need:

Where: St. Matthias in the school cafeteria - 170 JFK Blvd. Somerset, NJ 08873
When: Saturday, October 24, 2009 from 1:00 - 4:30pm
To Register: Contact me at thseamon@…

The Seven Essences of Leadership

Leadership is on my mind today.

I just read Phil Gerbyshak's list of top management and leadership twitterers, that includes Rosa Say, Lisa Haneberg, Wally Bock and Steve Roesler. I heard about a new book called The Five Commitments of Leaders by Mark Leheney. And I am preparing to teach a module on leadership at the Rutgers Supervisory Management Development Program.

There are tons of thoughts out there in print and in the blogosphere about leaders.

A couple weeks ago, I had one of my little thought flashes that I usually get while riding on a train, but this one came to me in my kitchen. The word that surfaced for me was essence. So, as is my usual habit, I looked it up in the dictionary:

Essence = the basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing; the inward nature; the substance, spirit, lifeblood, heart, principle, soul, core.

So, I asked myself, What is the essence of leadership?

Purpose - A leader is here for a reason, a mission, and pursues it with intention and determination…

Ineffable Connectedness

Blogger Dick Richards is musing on Jung's concept of synchronicity in his latest blog post about parrots and pirates.

He says: "“Temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.” That barely comprehensible phrase is how Carl Jung once described what he called “synchronicity.” Fortunately, it isn’t all that hard to understand: improbable events happen that did not cause one another, and that seem connected in some way that appears to mean something that isn’t immediately obvious."

I've always liked that concept, and have experienced the feeling that Dick is writing about, that recent events seem connected.

For me this past week, it was Hair and Greeks. Hair, the landmark Broadway show about the Sixties. And Greeks as in people from Greece. Suffice to say, that within a two to three day period, I kept encountering both.

Why? There is sometimes an ineffable connectedness in life.

You notice it, but you can't explain it.

You wonder if the universe is trying to tell y…

Stop Harassment

Do you want to stop workplace harassment? Then you must DARE to take the lead.

- Diversity

In today's diverse workplace, it's becoming harder to figure people out. Our diversity can be a great advantage if we learn to appreciate differences. If not, our differences will be a source of confusion, conflict, and discord. The answer? Get to know others better, especially those who are different from you.

- Act

Detecting harassment in your workplace? Nip it in the bud. Take action on the problem fast, rather than ignoring, or sweeping it under a rug, or telling yourself that someone else will take care of it. Harassment can be stopped dead in its tracks if someone will dare to confront it with clear, direct, and specific communication. It takes courage sometimes to face a harasser. But remember: If no one objects to the behavior, it will continue. And maybe even get worse.

- Respect

Can workplace harassment be prevented? While there is no foolproof way to prevent it from ever occur…

The Change Formula

Why do so many change projects fail?

Yesterday, I attended a New Jersey Organization Development Network meeting where the presenters shared their story of business transformation at a very large and well-known company.

Then, the other night, at our weekly family "pizza nite," we had a big discussion (i.e argument) about a controversial topic at our church: whether to build a new church building, a parish center, and a gym for the school.

As a seasoned OD guy, what struck me about both discussions, was the relevance of the good old change formula (established by Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher, sometimes called Gleicher's Formula).

The Change Formula has several components and is written like this:

D x V x F > R

Here's a quick breakdown:

- D - To make change, there has to be Dissatisfaction with the status quo. This is critical, but not enough by itself. People live for years with dissatisfactory conditions, at work, and at home, and make little effort to change.


Today's OD Consultant

A colleague asked the other day what I would recommend he look for in hiring an OD consultant to expand his business.

Those of us in OD need to think big, make connections, challenge limits, facilitate the wisdom in the system, and possibilitize.

OD professionals must be consultative, approaching client engagements with a spirit of inquiry, observing, listening, asking questions, learning . . . striving to understand the client's needs before moving to solutions.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Sept 17, 2009

Thoughts on 9/11

Last night at my church, St Matthias, we held the annual 9/11 memorial prayer service.

It starts with our local fire department's roll call for the dead, naming all those fire-men and women who perished in the line of duty that day. Including one young man, John Collins, from our parish in Somerset, NJ.

We then pray for peace.

The call to service is part of our program. We suggest various service projects such as Habitat for Humanity. We also add giving blood.

The last part of our program is the call to action. We say that we are God's agents of love in the world.

And how shall we live? The following guideline from Micah points the way:

~ He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

Posted, in memory of all those who died that day, by Terrence Seamon, 9/12/09

The Suffering & Dreaming Organization

Back in July, blogger Dick Richards wrote an entry on the inherent in-human-ness of organizations. He says:

~ "To be human is to be imperfect. To be human is to be vulnerable. Humanity is denied when organizations encourage norms requiring that we relinquish our imperfection and our vulnerability, and require instead that we bring only our competitive nature, our striving, and the pretense of perfection and invulnerability within their doors. They then become inhuman."

I commented on Dick's site, "Taking this to the corporate world, I’d say that organizations are inherently (and wonderfully) broken…and gifted…because they are collections of people."

Organizations are mostly inhuman, often insane, places to spend your time. They deny basic aspects of our humanity.

His entry reminded me of the theme of brokenness that I have written about here at this blog. So I'd add to Dick's blog:

~ To be human is to be broken. To be human is to suffer.

Therefore, all hu…

What Every OD Practitioner Needs to Know

What is it that every Organization Development practitioner needs to know?

There are probably as many answers to this as there are OD professionals. So I'll start the ball rolling with my list of The Ten Paradoxes that Every OD Practitioner Needs to Know.

1) There is no such thing as an "organization." Organizations are collections of individuals, trying to do things in concert, aiming toward common goals. - AND - There are such things as organizations, dammit! Look at a flock of birds. It's as if there was one mind governing all the individuals.

2) Changing an organization is very hard. Like turning a battleship around. - AND - Changing an organization is very easy. Shoot the CEO between the eyes.

3) To really change an organization, you have to change the invisible wiring, the culture of the organization. - AND - You can't really ever change the invisible wiring, the culture, of an organization. It would be like trying to change the DNA.

4) When entering a…

Motivation, Captaincy, and Digging Deeper

Last week, I was on vacation, without a computer, and so it has been awhile since my last blog entry.

So here are three blog-thoughts in one.


Thanks to a note from my friend Loretta Donovan, I watched author Dan Pink give a talk at TED about what business leaders can do to better engage and motivate people.


One of the books I brought with me to read on vacation is Crossing the Unknown Sea by David Whyte. Beautifully written. One of the concepts he muses on is captaincy, the idea that each one of has the capacity to be the captain of our ship as needed.

Digging Deeper

I lost my reading glasses on our last day of vacation, so I had to buy a new pair. The next day, back in New Jersey, when emptying out my knapsack at home, I discovered my old glasses, buried deep under a bathing suit, stuffed down at the bottom of the sack.

My son Dave's comment, "Dig deep enough and you never know what you may find," struck a chord with me.

Time for some deeper digging.


Knowing Who You Are

Ever wonder how others see you? Now someone at MIT has designed an application called Personas that will tell you how the internet sees you.

One of the most profound things that you can discover in life is to figure out who you are.

The funny thing is, Who You Are can change.

I have some clients who don't want to go back to what they had been doing. Who are ready to do something else. As one put it:

~ "I don't want to be that guy anymore."

This is not a trivial decision. It bears directly on one's identity. And sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Nor is this an easy decision. Nor is it without risk. Or cost.

And it brings a puzzle: if I am choosing to not go back to Who I Was, then Who Will I Be next?

Some people know what they want to do. My father was a cop. When he retired from the police department, we encouraged him to do something new, to keep busy. We suggested that he consult or teach. We were concerned that he wouldn't have enough to do. That he'd b…

Add Some Spice

Has your job search gone flat? Add some spice:

SUPPORT - Reach out and lend your support to others. Ask, "How can I help?" at least once a day.

POSITIVE THINKING - Focus on your strengths. Work on your goals. Develop your value proposition.

IMAGINATION - Utilize your creative capacity to envision yourself in different roles, different organizations, doing different things.

COMMUNITY - Get out of the house and meet up with others. Join a group. Start a group in your area.

ENGAGEMENT - Undertake a project and get your mind and heart in gear.

One more thought: watch the series of short vids by Gerry Crispin on youtube. I like his idea of NEON.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 15, 2009

Zen and the Art of Career Change

I came across a blog entry by Melissa Dutmers called Zen and the Art of Change Management where she writes:

~ "Zen emphasizes (that) wisdom and awareness are realized through meditation and mindfulness of daily experiences. Zen practitioners believe this provides insights which ultimately lead to enlightenment. For those of you that have tried to meditate and quiet your mind, you know that it takes practice and you realize your mind is difficult to calm."

Indeed. And when you have been downsized and are conducting a job search, it is supremely difficult to calm the mind.

So what is zen? Writer Stephen Warrilow says:

~ "Zen simply means present moment awareness - to be fully present NOW. To be fully present now, is to be fully conscious."

And it is something worth practicing. Dutmers offers some ideas for Change Managers that have applicability for job hunters:

~ Practice mindfulness.

~ Practice slowing down.

~ Practice reflection.

And Warrilow offers this insight…


The other day, in a brainstorming session with some fellow career coaches, we were talking about reinvention: the choice that some are making, in today's difficult economy, to make a change. To re-imagine, re-think and re-package themselves for a career change.

Then I came across Meg Giuseppi's blog on reinvention for Baby Boomers where she shares some points from career expert Brian Kurth, including:

~ Identify your passion. What have you always dreamed of doing?

~ Take a "vocation vacation", as Kurth calls it. Take some time to explore an interesting field. His Vocation Vacation "program connects career transitioners with mentors working in the exact job they want, so they can test drive the job of their dreams."

~ Find a mentor. Select someone who can give you a guided tour of a field that you are intrigued by.

How about an example. Say you always dreamed of owning your own bed & breakfast at the Jersey shore because you have long had a passion for run…

Working On It

HR Blogger Mike VanDerVort had an entry over the weekend about summing yourself up in three words.

The idea comes from UK management consultant Colin Beveridge who suggests that coming up with your three keywords "can be a powerful exercise in critical self-evaluation."

Mike says: "Before heading into a job interview, you should take the necessary time and come up with a short three word description of what exactly it is that you do in your work life."

Mike offers a few from folks he knows:

- Learn from conflict
- Help people think
- Make information useful

A friend of mine asked me what my three words would be. My initial answer:

- Working on it

But thinking about it some more, maybe the question should be: What three words best capture your strengths?

In that formulation, my answer would be:

- Creating. Facilitating. Sensemaking.

What would your three word summary be?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 10, 2009


A dear friend has died. Today is her wake. Tomorrow, her funeral.

She lived with cancer for many years. Though battling the disease dominated her life, it did not define her life.

She defined her life in a way that many of us do: Family. Friends. Faith. And finding ways to touch and improve the lives of others.

She understood that the point of life is living. And that we have a choice about how we live our lives.

At Mass this morning, we heard the scripture story, from the first book of Kings, of Elijah and the angel. Dejected, Elijah asks God to take his life, but the angel arrives with a message, saying to the despondent Elijah:

~ “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”

My friend carried the cross of cancer for many years, never complaining, always getting up and going on with her life's journey.

She has passed on now to whatever comes next. She will be missed. And she will be remembered.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 9, 2009