Monthly Archives: November 2013

3 mistakes you can avoid when leading change

I recently attended a meeting where the CEO of a newly merged organisation addressed a group of employees. It should be noted that although coined a merger, this group of employees definitely felt like they were being taken over.Image

I was expecting a; “it’s for the best” approach, where the concerns of the audience were dampened down and a positive picture was painted of the future.  This CEO actually took the opposite approach, where he could address concerns with facts he did, but more often than not he painted a picture of how he imagined the organisation would operate.  To give context he used analogies and stories, but not from the business world, instead he spoke of his past, his family and other people who had influenced him. Finally, he often reverted back to the audience, asking how they thought things would happen or why they felt concerned in the first place.

There are lots of handbooks and guides on how to affect change; they’re very good, sometimes though it’s worth looking at the bad cases too, to see where others have made mistakes.  John Bossong wrote that Leadership errors get magnified, therefore it’s worth putting thought into your approach to avoid these 3 mistakes;

  1. Tell it to me straight, Doc – we often say we want the facts until we actually hear them.  Kotter suggests that we need to speak to peoples’ feelings to change behaviour and that both thinking and feeling are essential.
  2. This time next year – this CEO addressed concerns and asked about them, he didn’t try allaying or pacifying them. He didn’t ask for co-operation now for a reward later. Instead he reasoned that change would be on-going, bumpy and that the grass isn’t always greener.
  3. We’re all in it together – this may be a truism but it’s also trite. We all have influence over the impact and success of change but some have more than others. A management team claiming they’re in the same boat won’t win any followers, sharing their own concerns and what they intend to do about them, might.

This CEO also said that mourning is a natural feeling when going through a substantial change; wow it’s not many that would empathize so lucidly.

What’s your experience of change managed well and not so well?

What you should learn from your kids

My 4 year old daughter returned from school on Friday and announced that her teacher had asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. Intrigued I asked her “Well what did you say?” expecting an answer in the Disney princess mould. “A Seal Trainer!” she proudly declared.  Seeing the surprise on my face she kindly explained what was involved in training seals.  For a moment I thought about how great it must be to think everything is possible and then turned back to the everyday humdrum of family life.

I was reminded of this interaction a couple of days later when Michael Comyn posted a link to this video. It’s designed to make you think, and it did but in two very different ways;

  1. Record and reward those moments; it makes me think of those great things kids say all the time, our kids do 3 things many others can’t; they consistently make us laugh, smile and be proud.  Recognise those that do something that others can’t, won’t or haven’t thought of doing.
  2. When and how do we lose it? That belief, that optimism, the feeling that anything is possible simply because others have done it too.  Encourage the fanciful and ask if others are doing it, if they’re not you’ll have to invent it!

Next time we feel or we are told that something is beyond us try to apply the kid test;

  • Is there somebody else doing it?
  • Why can’t we do it?
  • It looks like fun, can we try it?

What have your kids taught you?

Golden Rule of Achieving Goals

road signsWe know all about SMART Goals and the benefits to a team of goal setting. But how do you talk to your team about goals? how do you evaluate progress and keep the plan relevant? The simple rule of thumb is to start with the end in mind.

This doesn’t mean leaders should grandstand their vision every chance they get, quite the opposite; try to button it more often! Instead of visionary declarations ask provocative questions like how does this help us achieve our goal? or what do you need from me to move this on?
Keeping on song doesn’t mean you have to keep singing.