Posts

Showing posts from 2016

Top Posts of 2016

Surveying this year's blog posts, several seemed to have caught a larger share of views than others. Posts about culture, and about change, were more popular.  

For Creative Innovation, Get Some Kids

Three Roles for Leaders of Change

Winning Attitude

Culture:  By Default or By Design?

Crazy Good

The Way to Build A Better Company

What's Stopping You?

It's Not About You

Your Culture is the Key to Your Success

Looking forward to more in 2017....

A Year of Change

Image
What a year of change!

Much of it positive, though not all.

After thirty years in New Brunswick, we moved! We had been talking about it for several years. We had agreed that, when our elderly neighbor was gone, that we would go too.

Her death was a major turning point for us because, not only had we lost a friend and neighbor, but her house would soon become a rental for Rutgers students.

Even with an agreement that we would sell our home, it was still incredibly hard, especially for my wife Joan who suffered emotionally throughout the process. There were days when I thought I might lose her.

Not long after, we also sold our "vacation home," a rental we had purchased for our sons, and their friends, to live in while in college.

In so doing, we cut our ties with New Brunswick, my home town where I had lived for over 61 years.

At this same time, our favorite restaurant, Tumulty's Pub, was sold, and our go-to auto service station, University Shell, was sold too.

And we sol…

Zombie Performance Reviews

You know why zombies are so popular in contemporary culture? You can't stop 'em. There's something weirdly fascinating about the idea of the dead suddenly and inexplicably re-animating...and coming after you for its next meal. But we can turn off the TV and leave the theater after a zombie show and comfort ourselves with the thought that there is no such thing as a zombie in real life. Right? Wrong. We apparently have a bona fide zombie apocalypse happening in parts of corporate America: the once dead-as-a-doornail performance review process has sprung back to life. Just the other day I came across some updates on LinkedIn about a new resurgence around performance reviews. Apparently, if HR and business leaders reframe their thinking, and alter their culture, then performance reviews can deliver on their promise. As an OD Guy, I try to look at performance evaluation processes as objectively as I can, while recognizing that I do have a personal bias about them. To adopt a …

Two Ways to Measure Employee Engagement

Recently, in several client sessions on the topic of employee engagement, I was asked, How should you measure engagement?
Without saying so directly, I facilitated them toward the answer to another question: Why would you measure it?
Here's how we did it.
After setting the stage with information (drawn in part from the work done by the Gallup organization) about What employee engagement is and Why it's so important, I asked this polling question:
What can a Manager do to promote employee engagement?
As each person answered, we kept a running tally of the answers on a flipchart or white board. The answers included such ideas as...
Keep an open mindSolicit inputCommunicate oftenListenBe availableProvide coachingGive feedbackRecognize each person for the contribution they make to the teamBe flexibleEmpower the team

And more. You can imagine what other answers were given.
What comes next, though, is the important part.
These answers can be turned into two types of measurement tools for empl…

Leading is a verb

I write about leadership quite a bit. It's a big part of the work I do with my corporate clients when they bring me in to help them with things like change, engagement, and culture.
The other day, a colleague of mine shared a reaction to the word "leadership," saying:
When I see the word leadership, I think of the quote from the author John LeCarre: "A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world." What ever happened to MBWA?
Good point.  Leading is a verb. A leader is known by the actions he or she takes.
Here are three actions of real leaders.

1. They ask for input - Leaders know that power is not in position. Rather, power is in posture. And the most powerful posture is humility. An open and receptive posture that invites and welcomes many voices and perspectives. "What are your thoughts?" is a positive power play with real potential. So, leaders actively seek the ideas of their team members. "What do you guys think we should do?" i…

Change: A Moving Experience

My wife and I moved recently, after living in our prior place for 30 years. Trust me when I say, it was truly a moving experience.
Change guru William Bridges was right about the phases that one goes through during a major life change such as moving.
After 30 years, in a home where we raised our two sons, the Ending phase of change was swift but the Letting Go was hard. Even though we chose this path, the sense of loss was deeply felt. My wife really went through the famous cycle of emotions first described by Elizabeth Kubler Ross in her classic work "On Death and Dying."
After we sold our house, we entered the Neutral Zone, a period of transition that lasted for months, as we waited for the owners of our home-to-be to move out and go on with their next chapter in life.
We moved in with one of our sons, in a small rental property, and disturbed his equilibrium in every way.
Being in-between put us in internet limbo for quite some time. My smart phone became my internet device. W…

Soft Skills vs Hard Skills?

Does the expression "soft skills" irk you or work for you?

Here is a little diagnostic:

In your business, does it matter how your reps treat your customers?

In your business, does it matter how your supervisors and managers treat their subordinates?

In your business, does it matter if your teams get along well?

Let me cut to the chase. Soft skills ARE hard skills.

They  are hard to master.

They are hard to beat when you have them.

And it will go hard for you when you don't.

This is true because your hard results such as production and profits, depend on them.

Terrence Seamon teaches soft skills to help his clients achieve success.

Know Thyself

Image
In ancient times, the Oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece admonished "Know thyself."
In more recent times, two psychologists, Joe Luft and Harry Ingham, created the JOHARI window to help us do just that, develop greater self insight.
Having more self understanding is vital to anyone in a helping profession such as OD work.
Minneapolis area consultant John Persico published an essay on what it takes for an organization to really be effective. In essence, Persico says, organizations must become more self-aware. Especially about their own built-in blind spots. He says:
"...most organizations are blind to the intrinsic problems that underlie their failures."
What is an organization to do? Persico offers some good ideas, including listen to your dissenters and "embrace your difficult people."
Here are five more tips that I would add:
Get feedback from others - The Scottish poet Robert Burns once pointed to the value of finding out how others perceive us when he wrote …

Feeling Fatigue? Reload Your Accumulator

Are you running on empty? It is probably time to reload your accumulator. Our good friend from Germany, Wolfgang, once recommended that we take a vacation. He wrote: "...you need some time to relax and to reload your accumulator, and I know from my own experience that it is far the best to do it away from home." Never having heard the phrase "reload your accumulator" before, I plugged it into an online translator and converted it to German: deinen Akkumulator neu laden. Question to my German readers: Does that phrase make sense to you? As the Summer passed, Wolfgang's recommendation went with us. At each place we visited, we would recall his admonition to "reload your accumulator" and we would do our best to live up to it. Did we reload our accumulator successfully? Yes, I think we did. We got away from home. We went to new places. We enjoyed nature. And we relaxed with friends. For you who are tired, stressed out, and experiencing change fatigue, pe…

Planning to Change? Simply BEGIN

Thinking about making a change of some sort...perhaps a personal change? Or maybe an organizational change?
The secret is...to simplyBEGIN.
Break it down- Many say that "change is hard." It is. But change is also huge. Or at least it seems so before you start. Change often seems overwhelming. That's why we often fail even before we get going.
So the B in BEGIN stands for "Break it down." Chop it into chunks. Lay out the steps in the roadmap that will get you to the goal.
Energize yourself and others- Another reason we often fail at change is inertia. "An object at rest will remain so unless acted upon." So the E in BEGIN is Energy! You've got to energize yourself and others.
What can help you energize? Perhaps a sense of urgency. Perhaps a sense of competition nipping at your heels.
What about your vision? What is the change about? Why are you making the change? What will the result of the change be? 
Get going- Southwest Airlines' founder Herb Kell…

Does This Make Any Sense to You?

Image
A frazzled cowboy once said, "I'm so busy, I don't know if I found a rope or lost my horse." Clearly that dazed and confused cowboy is trying to make sense out his situation. How often, in your life, can you relate to that? Organizational psychologist Karl Weick wrote some very interesting stuff about human behavior and organization. In one piece, he wrote about a team of smoke-jumpers who were dropped by parachute into a major forest fire. Though highly trained, some things happened that they were unprepared for. As a result, they became disorganized and sadly most of them died. What happened? Weick wondered if there was a failure of sensemaking. Sensemaking is the process by which people give meaning to what they are experiencing. Weick's concept of  "sensemaking" refers to the mental process of interpreting and constructing the reality we find ourselves in. So defined, we are sensemaking pretty much all the time as we go about our daily lives. Most of…

Come to the TABLE for Culture Change

Image
I once learned, from consultant Kenny Moore, that the meaning of the word company is from Latin:  com (with) + pane (bread).  He wrote: "At its core, company is about meaning, purpose and mutual support. Many of today’s businesses had their origins around like-minded individuals coming together to support and nurture each other in starting a labor of love." That gave me one of those "Whoa!" moments. How many companies have an awareness of this? How many have lost this sense of company...and lost their way as a result? So people who work together in a company can be thought of as people breaking bread together, sharing a common meal. Pretty strange thought, eh? Maybe even striking? Moore points out a connection to employee engagement: "It is when people feel a sense of belonging and purpose that they more willingly contribute not only their hands but also their heads and hearts to bring about business success." What are the implications for leaders? Moore…

Your Culture Is the Key to Your Success

Experts in mergers and acquisitions see this all the time:  Culture makes all the difference. Get the culture right, they say, and you have the key to success. But what is it exactly that they are pointing to when they say "culture?" Simply put, culture is the way we do things around here. Some experts in corporate culture dislike that simplistic definition, but it works for me. Sometimes simple is the best. There is nothing quite so practical as a good theory. So let's look at the "way we do things around here." It could be your biggest blind spot. Do you even know? And what things make the difference? In looking at your corporate culture, some of the things that make the most difference include... How do we treat each other?  Do we treat one another with kindness and respect? Do we look out for one another? Do we intentionally try to bring out the best in each other? Are we always looking for better ways to unleash people so they can use their talents? Are we r…