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WINNER AND LOSERS
You must have heard this from somewhere, that in any change initiatives, there will always be losers and winners. But this is not as clear-cut as we think this to be. With varying degrees of complexity, everyone can be in the same page on issues but with different positions approaching solutions.
Problem-centric people try to diagnose the problem and beat it until it's blue in the face.
Solutions-centric people deny the magnitude of the problem and want to jump straight to solutions.
Radical change leaders want to overthrow the whole organization from bottom to top.
While the incrementalists are taking their sweet time to effect changes.
These are stereotypes and the binary of losers and winners, if you still have that perspective in your organization is very 60s. Champion a win-win approach to any substantial changes in the organization. Yes, there will be groups that will be mostly affected and mitigation should be front-and-centre and not an afterthought.
I just recently observed a massive transformation in a large organization. When asked, middle managers don't know what's actually going on. The top executives will gladly do a rodeo on each unit/department, taking the most expensive, yet direct route to engagement. What about these middle managers who can act as natural bridge between those at the top and those at the bottom? What about these natural spokespersons and representatives of specific groups, are they engaged in a way that ensures change outcomes are retained in the best way?
People will believe in the change based on what they see, not on what your Townhall proclaims.
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REFRAME AS YOU TALK
I was in a conversation a few weeks ago for about 15 minutes, the quickest business call I had on Zoom.
When the conversation started to veer away from the unstated and unspoken main agenda, I tried to put it back to where the 'meat' is so both our needs are met by reframing and reorganizing the discussion.
After 15 minutes, with bluntness allowed, we got through a common understanding and with some laughter. We didn't get to determining a follow-up, but a positive rapport created a desire to talk again. A stranger became a friendly acquaintance.
The biggest lesson is to reframe a scenario right where you are, when you know it can quickly deteriorate and leave you thinking what just happened.
Do you know that we can frame everything based on our perception of value? We talked differently with bosses, our peers, our stakeholders, our partners, and investors. The frame becomes the shape that controls the kind of relationship and transaction that comes after, as in building a house or a ship.
Re-framing is essential for busy executives with enough work but limited time for the mundane. Seize the moment, identify your musts, and never feel that you need to subordinate your need. That way, you don't have to repeat the scene in your mind post-mortem.
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I was in the physical therapist' office a few weeks ago. I was feeling something in the wrist. He said that it might be connected with the neck. Aha! I never thought about that connection. Same happens while in the doctor's office, some tingling in my toe, had a connection in other parts of the body.
The body is one big connected organ. I never thought that it could be as latent as that. But your organization, whether it's a two-person or a large enterprise with subdivisions operating beyond borders, is also interconnected and must work synergistically.
A corporate strategy has to trickle down to individual departments, staff, and even to the janitor. How and why things are moving in a 'certain' direction should be and can be answered by any staff you meet in the corridor. Failure to communicate this very important piece leaves room for ambiguity and frustration.
I was in a phone call a few years ago, talking to a Program Administrator. I inquired about the program advertised in their website. She told me that the program has been rescinded. The new strategy provides the opportunity for them to review what their offering versus what exactly they should doing. A case of 'good to have' versus 'our musts/our unique value.' If I were her boss, I will be very proud of such employee. She cares so much to know and to communicate her knowledge to all the stakeholders concerned. She owns her role.
Are you taking the time to really communicate your grand vision and overall direction to all the people in your organization? Are your employees being a part of your communication strategy?
When everything is well-coordinated, your toes and fingers can do their best job too!
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3 WAYS YOU CAN HELP THE CUSTOMER NOT TO BUY
We are all buyers, clients, customers for various goods and services. Recently, I encountered three vendors for the service I would like to get. The three vendors operated in various ways to get the sale.
The first one was the patient type and to a certain extent, the friend of the customer. He was understanding, knew his products very well, and listened intently. He was there at every stage of the process. During the final negotiation, he presented a impossible barrier for the customer to decide to buy from him. He wanted an upfront payment for the preliminary assessment so that he would know what solutions he can offer!
The second one was also helpful in the beginning. When it was time to get serious, he pedaled back, wanting to build a more trusting relationship with the customer. He wanted to prolong this 'trust stage' so he would know that the customer will surely buy from him. Instead of presenting the most credible solution and addressing the need of the buyer, he wanted to 'test' the buyer first!
The third one was a non-nonsense vendor. He stated his methods, prices, and his approach to the solutions. But at the earliest stage, he started criticizing the customer for the state of his affairs. He was also saying that after he was done with him, expect that there will be more work (costs) to be done. His contract was one-sided, all provisions pointed to his risk mitigation.
All these three vendors were successful in helping the buyer not to buy from them. Their perspectives were self-centered- to protect themselves at all costs. Instead of helping solve a need upfront, they relied on their tactics and methods that backfired.
Contrast to this one vendor. He didn't care about the trusting process, the 'fit' between customer and vendor, stated his methods and explained his fees. He was consistent, on-the-ball, and no drama. When the customer talked to him, he was assured, well-versed, and credible. He didn't promise the moon but the way he would approach the project was reassuring. The rest of the process was smooth and unencumbered.
A trusting relationship is critical to any sale. But forcing the trusting relationship by rigging it do not serve the transaction. Building trust is about serving the needs of the client now (when he/she is talking to yo) and being consistent throughout all the stages of the sale.
Is your process, communication, and projection pro-customer or pro-self-preservation?
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WHEN EMOTIONS GET IN THE WAY
In an change effort, the worst leaders can do is to ignore the emotional aspect of the change process.
Impact organizations are 'people organizations.' The people are the lifeblood of the organization for which any discussion about growth, scaling-up, or stability is generally about how the people can be nurtured, developed, managed to get to your strategic objectives.
While the change management field is filled with approaches and strategies to slay resistance and achieve a transformational change that any CEO would be proud of, in general, emotions can get the better of any leader.
In a recent local change effort that I have studied, I noticed that the President in his speech only mentioned once that they will be compassionate with the people that will be affected by the change.
Being compassionate is one thing but before they begin to determine the extent of impact that changes will have on staff, they should have the following at the back-end:
1) increased relations with every one concerned, even before the impacts will be felt, communicating what is to come and determining the best method to resolve it without accruing undue stress for staff;
2) increased trust-building; a low level of trust does not engender cooperation to find the best solutions for all parties;
3) increasing the voice of employees, whether they have a say or not, they should be informed and their voices heard;
4) build a strong follow-through in your every action; no one wants to be left behind after a decision had been made from the top;
These are not good-t0-haves but are musts when it comes to managing the emotions, defusing tension, and building a more collaborative approach to solutions-finding.
When one think that people will take a very rationale approach to changes is a very unfounded reaction. People have built in resistance to anything that could disrupt or alter their existing comforts, positions, and privileges. Moving them along towards a better state means more work on the journey where denial, resistance, and low-energy can bring your efforts to a grinding halt or slow motion.
Emotions are powerful elements if used in a positive way. In reality, a negative emotion is a fact and must be managed well.
It's risky to do all these steps after you have announced a change or about to announce one.
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ACTIVE LISTENING IS PREVENTATIVE
I was teaching a Management Course for the last four weeks now and everyone agreed that we could do better in the area of active listening.
Listening is a under-developed skill for the majority of professionals and managers.
We always have to have a say when simply the answer can be found in listening with intentions.
80% of conflicts and misunderstandings can be prevented and resolved by simply listening with the heart and mind together.
We do not have to win every argument or be the last one to say something marvelous. We don't need to be 'the smartest person' in the room either.
We don't need to boost our ego for senseless showmanship.
I heard one person talked about using 'verbal judo' in dealing with difficult people.
I would say, try the active listening jujitsu first and see the difference.
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WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?
What could possibly go wrong?
When vaccines are in short supply while thousands get infected everyday with the new variants overwhelming the health-care system...
When officials implement draconian measures to curb the transmission without due regard of rights, equity, and fairness and apologize with tears afterwards..
When science-backed findings do not get into the policymakers' heads.. or when science is distorted to reflect reality and not the other way around..
When simply going about your ways as if the COVID19 doesn't exists is a form of escape..
Where are the best minds in our country who can help out right now...
Perception is reality.
When the government says that it's under control, it doesn't mean that it's all under their control.
What can possibly go wrong when everyone conforms to the desperation and no one appeals for collective wisdom and an enlightened approach?
In your organization, are you just adhering to the instructions or are you actually listening for what is not being said? Can you make an intelligent analysis and come up with suggestions when others act on the basis of fear?
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NAME YOUR GAME
What's the name of your game? What business are you in?
Let's start with McDonald's. You might think that they're there for flipping burgers and selling $1 coffee. Think again. They hold the best real estate everywhere they go, all over the world.
If you're on-purpose organization is about saving the world, think again. There's no such thing as saving the world in general terms and hope that it sticks. The more precise you are about you're raison d'etre, the more power you have to bring your mission out into the world.
Focus on what you are built up to do, not what you are tempted to do.
Focus on external impacts for your main customers/clients. You exist to give value, no less than that proposition.
What differentiates with you from other organizations doing the same things are you values, ethics, and culture.
These three things permeate all throughout the organization, creating tremendous impact on your bottom lines and your impact achievement.
Name your game and be ultra-excellent in carrying out your mission, that no one can ignore you!
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PERCEIVING RISKS & REWARDS
Tired of wearing mask? I hear you.
I was talking to a colleague from Australia last week.
She said that in her country, they are required to wear mask everywhere at a 250+ rate of new infections a day. While I said, I was driving by a lake last week for a presentation, people are enjoying every inch of the beach space. No mask at all.
There is a dissonance between what the public health authorities are asking everyone to do and what people are doing otherwise. People go to the beaches, enjoy public events and restaurants, avail of health services, and outdoor sports and recreations, like they used to.
The fatigue in keeping the rules of social distancing and wearing masks is a social phenomenon. There is a certain limit to how far the public can keep up with restrictions in the name of collective public safety, health, and well-being. The social deviance is a response to this but there are deeper factors at play.
It is beginning to show that individual registers to risks and rewards are very different and sometimes, antithetical to the establishment. In fact, I would surmise that instead of being able to curb out deviant behaviors through fines and penalties, it will rise up as force to reckon with.
How much of what is perceived are purveyors of real risks? How much is pure fluff and can be dismissed as overreaction?
Perception is reality. Perception is the only real thing.
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MANAGING REMOTE TEAMS
How do you manage remote teams and ensure that productivity and quality work are guaranteed?
There many ways to do that:
1. Communicate the outcomes needed to be produced on a weekly basis. Know what each of the staff will be delivering and give them the timeline to accomplish those.
2. Make regular check-ins to see how they are doing. Some would be sick and will be self-isolating and some will not be able to work at all due to childcare issues and other reasons.
3. Get a standby roster of contract staff that you can use in emergency situations. Let me them know that you might need them to complete a certain task, or a project that needs their expertise and skills on a short-term basis.
4. Confine your communication to a few emails per day. Too many communications can make them feel overwhelmed as a single email can have several agenda on it.
5. Create a tier of managers that staff can communicate on a regular basis. Even yourself can fall sick and not be available for days. Have a list of other people to connect with so that information flows smoothly.
6. Empower them to make decisions at their level. Give them permission to make some mistakes as things are fluid and that today could be different from yesterday and the day before. Scheduling can be done online and let people know what's the best time to for the online meet.
7. Take time to celebrate remote staffs' achievement by giving them regular feedback about their work. If they are doing well, let them know. If they are struggling, let them know you are available to support them. Remote work is tough and the first few weeks could be slow crawl for some.
I hope these are helpful. Stay healthy!