The New Manager’s Big Change Initiative is failing
Go-ahead manager Bob Newcomer begins his position in the well-established company, Slo-Gro products. He is full of ambition and eager to prove himself as the new head of the team.
After a few weeks, Bob can already clearly see that the processes, methods and traditions in the company are totally dysfunctional and in desperate need of change.
Therefore, after less than two months in office, Bob announces his Big Change Initiative. He introduces several radical transformations. He changes the organisational structure; he starts re-engineering processes; he demands new attitudes and new behaviours from his subordinates
Not surprisingly, Bob Newcomer faces huge resistance. Things are just not happening the way he planned. His orders are not being carried out. People don’t follow his new procedures.
He replaces several of his managers, but improvement is still not forthcoming.
Tips and tricks for leaders to reduce conformity in their team.
The old saying goes: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” True enough: on one level, conformity – people’s natural tendency to do as the others do – is a great thing. It helps us to be in harmony with our environment. It helps us to form cooperative groups by harmonising our behaviour with others.
On the other hand – as we saw in last week’s article – a high level of conformity can be a great burden in a workplace. It can cause team membersto stay quiet at meetings even when they disagree which can result in catastrophic decisions.
Conformity can also be the killer of innovation. People’s desire to stick to the mainstream opinion instead of challenging it will prevent innovative ideas from surfacing and being implemented.
Therefore leadership techniques that reduce conformity and make people speak up are worthy of any manager’s attention. Read More
At the Monday morning meeting there is a loud, energetic discussion about the new plan. However, Sally, one of your most talented colleagues, is quietly sitting there. She has quite a few doubts about the feasibility of the plan itself. She doesn’t really believe in the whole thing. But she doesn’t say anything. “It’s just not worth speaking up,” Sally might say to herself.
Tom, in the other corner of the room, has very similar thoughts. Yet he doesn’t really feel like contradicting the others. Taking the role of the annoying person who slows down a discussion that seems to be going so smoothly – well, it is not very appealing to him. So Tom just sits there quietly, waiting for the meeting to finish.
Sally and Tom stayed quiet at the meeting. But it doesn’t mean they agreed. Far from it. Read More
What is the first step on the journey to becoming an outstandingly supportive and valued internal HR service provider?
You need a high-performing, motivated HR team.
A HR director participating in our Best of HR Project faced a big challenge two years ago: employee engagement within the HR team was one of the lowest within all the teams in the whole company.
However, through some radical changes – both within the HR team and in his own leadership style – he managed to improve things so dramatically that, just one year later, HR had become the most engaged team in the organisation.
In the interview with him he shared with us the key elements of their success. Read More
Are you stressed at work? Quite probably – even if sometimes you are not aware of it. And it is equally likely that you have heard or been told that you should change your lifestyle in order to relieve this stress. Maybe you should work less. Sleep more. Do more exercise. Or drink less coffee, eat better, and so on.
It seems like a big project. Perhaps this is why you haven’t started yet.
While I strongly believe that long-term fundamental changes to our lifestyles is the ultimate answer to the problem of stress, I also believe that any small step that can reduce stress levels is very useful. In fact, such simple techniques can be the first steps towards some more fundamental lifestyle changes.
In this post we will look at four quick and simple 5-minute techniques that you can try TODAY; four simple methods to give you some relief here and now. Doing them several times a day can help you keep your stress levels down. Read More
For some companies their CSR commitment simply involves giving money to a couple of non-profit organisations a few times a year. Others regard CSR as a great marketing opportunity: let’s show the world and our customers that we care, that we give back to society.
But I rarely come across a company that regards CSR as a way to boost employee engagement, to motivate staff and to increase loyalty.
One of the HR directors participating in our Best of HR Project shared with us how CSR and employee motivation are strongly linked in their organisation. She also gave us some hints as to how a system like this can be built up until the CSR buzz spreads among employees like a virus.
Let me share some of the things she said.
CSR is a joint effort between individuals and the company
“We are very proud of our CSR programme. Whenever the company gives to charity we always make sure that our employees are part of it. Read More
One of my clients asked me the other day: “I know why having a vision is important. I get that. But what is the point of a value statement?”
I could see where he is coming from. There are so many companies whose value statements are only a list of mundane expressions such as “customer focus”, “excellence”, “cooperation” etc., which are posted on the walls of the corridors and on the company website.
Regarding these “value statements”, I fully agree with my client – there is absolutely no point to them. Read More
How to spare each other from the overuse of these three simple e-mail functions
In last week’s article I discussed typical ways in which the “CC”, “BCC” and the “Reply to all” functions get misused at workplaces. This week I will focus on possible solutions to those problems.
How can we change our e-mailing habits?
Have we got a problem with our e-mailing habits? Let’s change them. Let’s agree on some simple rules and then stick to them.
This approach often works. It helps people understand each other’s preferences. It helps to harmonise people’s communication habits. In this article I will give you some examples of such rules that can simplify e-mailing and reduce e-mail burden.
But there is a deeper layer to the CC-BCC issue that we shouldn’t ignore. Without fully understanding the root cause that makes people overuse or misuse the CC function, we will only be able to scratch the surface using our new guiding rules for e-mail use. The real problem won’t be solved.
How to drive each other crazy using three simple e-mail functions
Show me your e-mail habits, I will see your corporate culture
The way employees in an organisation use their e-mail can tell us a lot about the organisation’s culture. Is e-mail the main form of communication, or do people prefer calling each other or talking in person? How quickly do people reply to an e-mail they receive? Does the answer arrive promptly or does it take a week to get a reply? Are e-mails typically short and informal, or long, elaborate and very polite?
There are many aspects of e-mailing that would be worth looking at; however, in this article we focus on only one aspect: colleagues’ use of three related functions: CC, BCC and Reply all. Read More
After almost a year of nearly starting, stopping, thinking again and then finally getting round to launching this blog, I thought it would be appropriate to write a post about procrastination. With all this experience behind me, I think I have a lot to share.
Then one day while I was wasting my time doing the usual gloomy “Right, I really am going to write something today” business (which in my case usually means browsing the internet, daydreaming about writing great posts, having a coffee, making a phone call, browsing a bit more and then… oh my god, I am running late and I need to pick up the kids), I bumped into this article:
How do you tap into employees’ creativity and quickly turn innovative ideas into product development projects?
How do you save and share the kind of tacit knowledge which can’t be explained, only shown?
How do you collect employees’ experiences in the form of ready to use cases and apply them to actual problem solving situations?
Last week I was invited to an event that promised to answer these three questions, by introducing participants to the latest technological innovations that might be ways of solving these commonly met dilemmas.
I have to admit that I have never been a tech guy. And I have always been a bit suspicious when it comes to technology in the HR field. When we try to replace human relationships with technology, I think we are on the wrong track.
However, the presentations showed that technology in HR can work the other way round: it can actually be the facilitator of more sharing and more open discussion, and help create more inspiration between colleagues.
I am happy to share what I learned about these three very interesting technological solutions.
As part of the Best of HR Project I recently had a very inspiring conversation with the regional HR manager (CEE) of a big international company, who told me about his experience of building a highly effective regional HR team. I am happy to share his story with you here.
When I received the regional HR manager’s position…
I was promoted into the regional HR manager’s position almost two years ago. These two years have been hard, but we have managed to build a regional HR team which is not only performing outstandingly, but is also fun to work in. I am sure it is possible to push a team to exceptional performance by putting a lot of pressure on them, but in the long run that isn’t sustainable. Instead, I wanted to create a culture of trust and openness. Read More
The other day I heard a song on the radio which I haven’t heard for about 25 years.
The thing is, when I last heard this song as a kid, I didn’t speak much English, so all I could understand was “Susana, Susana”. Now, however, I can follow the lyrics and my first thought is:
Why the hell did he pick up the phone?
(For those of you who don’t know the song, or are too professional to listen to it during working hours, here is the short summary of the story: The guy is having the perfect romantic moment with Susana. Just then the phone rings. He picks up only to find out that it was a wrong call. By the time he returns to the girl the “magic is gone, it is a disaster”. In fact, she soon gets up to leave.)
No wonder the magic is gone! You picked up the stupid phone! What did you expect?
I feel like saying the same thing to many managers who keep multitasking, picking up phones, sending texts and trying to hold a conversation simultaneously. Read More
„We are in the middle of a big transformation and it is an absolute chaos.”
This is not a quote from one particular person. Rather it is something almost everybody has said, or could have said at some point during an organisational change process, irrespective of what kind of change we are talking about. Whether it is a change of organisational structure, the introduction of the new SAP or a big cultural change project, the phenomenon of “nobody knows what they are doing” is always there at some point.
This chaos causes employees to despair and managers to panic. So, you might ask, how can we plan and implement a smooth and chaos-free change process? The answer is: we can’t.
Ever since I first read the post in 2009 I have been looking out for signs of organisational “bear shaving”, in other words, offering a superficial solution to an organisational problem instead of addressing the root cause. Read More
Practical solutions to form a cohesive middle management team
“I don’t want to be bossy, it might spoil the team spirit.”
Anne is young and talented. She was the best in her team. No wonder she was the one to get promoted when their team leader went on maternity leave. But after 6 months of being the new team leader, she is in trouble. Her team’s performance is gradually decreasing.
“They are my friends after all,” she keeps saying. “Me and my team members have been working together for 4 years now. I don’t want to spoil the team spirit by becoming bossy all of a sudden. But then how can I make them perform better without being bossy?” Read More
“Our sales team is not doing well. The markets have shrunk and we haven’t reached our targets in the last 6 months. We need to find new ways. We need new skills. We need some sort of sales development,” complains the Head of Sales
“No problem,” says HR. “We could organise some sales training.”
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But it’s not so easy in real life.
One of the reasons many people struggle in matrix organisations is having multiple supervisors.
“It is difficult,” one senior employee comments. “My local boss sets the priorities, I start working, then at the 10 am morning meeting my regional boss from Germany has an idea and he needs me to come up with a first draft by tomorrow. I can’t clone myself, can I? Everybody seems to assume that I have my full working day to complete the task THEY set.”
The assertive-organised-good networking-quick learning matrix superhero
It is never easy to work in a matrix organisation. An employee needs many skills in place to cope with the demands of a matrix organisation. When I asked HR managers about this, they drew up with a long list of skills they consider when it comes to recruitment or development. Employees in a matrix are expected to be flexible, assertive and well organised. They must have good networking skills; they need to be proactive, but they must also quickly learn to say no… A good matrix worker needs to have many skills to succeed. Sometimes it almost seems that in order to cope with a matrix, one needs to be a superhero. And sure enough, companies invest a lot of their resources to improve their employees’ in those skills needed to cope with multiple supervisors. They send them to superhero training courses, they assign mentors to them until they become fully equipped to handle conflicting instructions well…
But how about looking at the situation from the bosses’ point of view?
“We have been trying to fill this senior position for over half a year with no success.” This is a common complaint of many senior HR professionals and managers. The higher the position is, the more difficult it becomes to find the right candidate for the job. So they keep searching on the job market, but often they forget to look around within the company itself.
“If I have a vacancy to fill, I’ll promote someone into it, then fill that newly vacated post from below, and so on,” said a HR manager, “until, finally, there is left a vacancy further down the organisation which is easy to fill from outside. So when there is a vacancy, we typically fill it from inside the company, and create a chain reaction of people moving upwards. This is all planned as much as possible. We know where to look for a replacement when a vacancy arises, so it is easy to prepare to move the system. As many as three promotions can be effected in a single round. It is great from the motivational point of view – you can communicate it, for example, we express our congratulations in a newsletter to those who have been promoted. This gives motivation and provides perspective to those who work here.”
So what are the key elements in starting a career chain reaction? Read More
Pickled onions are difficult to make. You are mixing two very different ingredients – vinegar and sugar. Sweet and sour. It is difficult to get the ratio right.
It is the same with assertive communication: it is difficult to tell how much to emphasize your own needs and interests and how much to consider the other’s needs and interests to make the balance right.
No wonder people often get it wrong and go from one extreme to another. This funny video illustrates exactly that.