Articles tagged with: Change Champion

Sustainable Change for 2017.. and Beyond

Time and again, as the years fly by, we find ourselves seeking to improve either our skills or our habits so that we might increase our chances of professional success. We buy new books, we attend shiny seminars; our hunger for success drives us to such extremes that we go through the same motions every year. It is because of this intense frenzy to improve that we forget the most essential fact in this whole scenario: with just a tiny bit of guidance, the ability to improve and succeed lies within our own control.

 

With this new year upon us, and working with the same drive and enthusiasm that we use every day to elevate your career, let’s look at the factors that will ensure positive, and sustainable, change for 2017.

 

Discover Yourself

It all starts with self awareness. Taking an assessment like Strengthfinders or Emergenetics will help you identify the types of activities that either give you energy or drain your energy . The insight you gain with this information will be crucial in understanding where your strengths lie so that you can capitalize on them and shine. Sure, you may be able to do any given job. Who knows, you might even be able to master it. However, the real payoff comes when you discover your underlying strengths (ones that you might not even know existed) and pursue them with the same amount of gusto that you otherwise might have wasted on a job that is draining the life out of you.

 

Gather Feedback

What have people said to you about your work or your habits? What have you heard them say that you are good at? Better yet, what have you hear them say that you are not good at? The more honest the feedback, the better. Because we are not the best at analyzing ourselves in these types of circumstances, gathering this type of information will be a tremendous help. Make sure to nurture a thick skin though, because believe it or not, none of us are good at everything. In American culture, we have heard time and again that we can do anything. Well no, sorry to say, the truth is that you cannot do anything. Just recognizing that can be liberating and empowering.

 

Question Yourself

With your personal values clear in your mind, ask the types of questions that will help you understand what is genuinely at your core and what it is that you truly seek. Do you want to be in a small organization or a  large organization? Do you want to be in a private, public, or non-profit setting? Does the purpose of the organization align with your purpose? What kind of people and team do you want to work with? Think about what it is that you are really looking for. For example, if you want a job with adventure and you get a job requiring you to be behind a desk all day, it  can be extremely unfulfilling. Of course, you can seek adventure in other parts of your life, but think about it: a day job is 10 hours a day. If you can find something that gives you energy, rather than drains it, that is the perfect start for positive and sustainable change.

 

Prepare for Challenges

If you are not careful, your career controls you. If you get on a path where you are getting promotions but being moved around and getting positioned where you are losing control of the important things around you, you are now wearing the golden handcuffs. You have a great job, a title and money, but you feel miserable. You’ve let your career control you instead of you controlling your career. If you are going to make a career change, this is your opportunity to slow down, answer these questions and figure out what you really want.

 

Sustainable change is difficult, there’s no question. We all face daily battles that seem to put us back five steps after we’ve fought tooth and nail for the last four . It is for this very reason that, before we set out into the unknown, we need to first do our homework and figure out what really makes us tick. Go take that assessment, talk to that trusted friend, ask yourself those important questions and, most importantly, prepare for what might set you back. With each step you take and question you ask, you are gathering the building blocks for a solid foundation for change. Finally, be confident that you will ultimately make the right decisions that will keep paying you back day after day. You owe it to yourself.


Be A Change Champion

Great leaders love and champion change…well, at least that’s what most business articles would have you believe. I believe that the question begs a more complex answer to provide true guidance. As managers, we can each “champion” change, what we need to explore is how to develop our personal skills and how this becomes part of our leadership journey.


So what do we mean by “championing change”? Change Champions are leaders selected and trained to manage the inevitable uncertainty that is bound to arise within your team when faced with a program of change. To consider your role, I will examine change at three core levels: Championing a Quality Culture for Change; Leading your Team through Change; and Your Role as a Change Champion.


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Change Champions-Harnessing the winds of change

I have met a few amazing people who just love change. They are energized by the challenge just around the next corner even if they don’t know what it will be.  I have to confess in the spectrum of comfort with change, it takes me a bit more effort. 

The term “Change Champion” summons a vision of leading a team to victory.  Some leaders have an innate natural energy for this role and can inspire a team to action.  The challenge for me is balancing the comfort of valued processes built over time with an appetite for new ideas and change.  The good news is that simple time and effort is all that is necessary for anyone to activate our energy to become change champions.

Family Road Trip Wisdom:

August is the summer tradition for road trip vacations in my family…a tribute to the final days of summer before back-to-school and changing to the more structured tempo of fall.  As we pile into the car with more duffle bags, suitcases, and boogie boards than clowns in a Volkswagen Bug, the circus begins.  As with most family adventures, you learn over time the different preparation styles that each person has to be ready to leave.  The “late packer,” the “early packer,” the “everything has to be done before we leave,” the “GPS” versus the “map reader,” each has a different checklist.

Leadership and planning with a group takes similar styles and can benefit from similar preparations to bring the group together in a happy travel plan.  Consider the following five approaches to start on a planning journey that can be fun.

  1. Pick a destination that everyone is excited about – This is the essence of strategy and planning.  If everyone is excited about where you are going, the rest of the details will be much easier to sort out.
  2. Plan your route – There is nothing worse than getting lost at the start!  Annual planning is just that simple.  There is no GPS for business so you have to manually take the time to write down the steps and check your progress.
  3. Set some ground rules – Setting expectations for the process and how the group will operate helps your different planning styles to work together.  Have enough flex in the timeline to accommodate the “late packer” with an extra reminder.
  4. If you get lost, learn something new – Getting lost can either have tempers flaring or provide an opportunity to have some fun.  Similarly, if your goals are going in a different direction or if there is a hurdle you didn’t anticipate, this challenge can be an opportunity.  Remember how many failures ultimately become big successes.  Taking the time to learn a new lesson is a great opportunity.
  5. Pack snacks – In the car, small snacks can be a lifesaver by satisfying an appetite that is off schedule.  In strategy and planning having some progress points can encourage small victories along the way.  In short, it keeps your momentum moving forward.

As you consider your transition to the fall, the timing is great for revisiting your strategic road trip. Take the time for a fall planning retreat.  Thinking about your goals as a team and refresh your plan.  This can make a big difference for your leadership travels.

Consider the experienced resources of MSBCoach to help facilitate your fall planning with the content, coaching, and dynamic tools to generate a great discussion. 


4 Tips to Unlock the Potential in Millennials and Unify Your Workforce

We are embarking on a time when we will have five generations in the workforce including: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials (Gen Y), and the newest generation about to enter the workforce, Generation 2020. Many say they have had difficulty leading such generational diversity, especially with Millennials. This is illustrated by the countless negative articles, discussions, and blogs on the dilemma of hiring and working with Millennials, also known as the “Entitled Group”. Concerns are so widespread and misguided that Strategy + Business magazine published an article titled, “Five Millennial Myths: Forget what you think you know about your Gen Y employee”. The article provides insight into the many disparaging myths that shroud this generation.

Each generation grows and adjusts with the dynamic world in their time, facing different events and challenges as they make their way into adulthood and the workforce. One’s world experience is a major part of the fabric that makes everyone authentic. This combination of generations, experiences and uniqueness make it an incredibly exciting and challenging time to lead!

Here are 4 tips for leaders to help unlock the potential in Millennials and unify your workforce:

  1. Unlock their passion. Assign a mentor who will show them the ropes, help set goals, and help them understand boundaries and expectations. Spend quality time with them and learn what motivates and excites each individual. This can be done by administering behavior/personality assessments and conducting regular coaching sessions geared toward helping them find their place in your organization – (for more information on human behavior assessments, contact me at ). By allowing Millenials to feel comfortable and welcome, you give them the freedom to express themselves and find passion in their work.
  2. Promote contributions. Renowned psychologist B.F Skinner said, “You can build a society entirely on the basis of positive reinforcement”. Encourage and promote their insight and ideas by acknowledging and celebrating great input, solutions, and accomplishments. Use positive reinforcement instead of negativity when they don’t quite hit the mark, taking care not to squash creativity.
  3. Ignite creativity and innovation. The Millennial generation is more technically savvy than any before them. They were practically born on the computer and use social media to connect with people and information all over the world. We need to align our businesses and relationships to accommodate their level of connectivity. Maximize the authenticity of the Millennial generation to ensure we do not get left behind or become status quo. Allow them the opportunity to do for you what they do best.
  4. Encourage teamwork. “…there is nothing more important than teamwork. It gives people a sense of connection and belonging, which ultimately makes them better…”—Patrick Lencioni One of greatest contributions of this generation is their ability to function as a team. This is a result of receiving constant (and as the parent of two teenagers, I’m told, annoying) parental guidance and support as well as the trend of recognizing teams’ accomplishments by promoting the “everybody wins” approach to competition. Millennials know that they are never alone in their endeavors and associate being a part of a team with winning. They ask for help when they need it and do not take issue with being a follower. Leaders building highly effective teams would do well to learn from Millenials.

Working with Millennials and untapping the many talents they bring to your organization should not be difficult for good leaders. Their talents are a gift to us. The ultimate gift that you can give to your organization is to identify all the strengths and invest in those you lead. The returns are boundless! It is our time as leaders to mold and prepare younger generations to be tomorrow’s leaders.

How are you making a positive difference unifying your Millennials with all the generations in your workplace? Share your comments!

Also check out, Do Gen-Y’s make good Leaders? by Michelle Braden and Five Millennial Myths: Forget what you think you know about your Gen Y employee”,   written by Jennifer J. Deal.


Strategic Transformation: The HOW Matters!

Thanks for joining us again for the third post for the Strategic Transformation Series. In the first two entries we talked about The Strategy and Engagement Connection & To Plan or To Transform? We look forward to your comments and questions as we dive into how strategic planning can not only enhance your company’s bottom line, but the engagement of your employees as well.

True transformation comes down to Intent. If our intention is to truly transform our organization through strategic planning, then that significant intention will require significant action.

Create a Strong Foundation If your last strategic plan is collecting dust on the shelf, let me ask you a few questions:

  1. How organized was the pre-planning? Did you identify stakeholders, decision makers, timelines and milestones?
  2. Was the rest of the organization well informed of this plan? Did you continue to communicate transparently and frequently?
  3. Were the right people involved? Did you have enough diversity of experience, subject matter expertise and perspectives to create a full picture?
  4. What historical information was gathered and provided to the team? Did they know what worked and didn’t work in the past?
  5. Were the leaders of your organization in the right frame of mind and open to thinking big about the possibilities for the future?
  6. Was the team prepared to communicate effectively and deal appropriately with conflict? Was there a designated facilitator?

By answering YES to these questions, we show our intent to create strong foundation for success by HOW we prepare. Important work and we haven’t even started the planning! This important phase of creating cultural preparedness for your organization will help you create that all important buy-in from your teams that you need to have the transformation you desire.

Define the Future

Once you’ve created the foundation, it’s time to get to the business of planning. Here are some things to consider as you create the high level strategy that we are all familiar with.

  1. Is your mission and vision clear? Does everyone have the same understanding and clarity that you need to move forward?
  2. When’s the last time you took inventory of everything that your organization does? You might be surprised how many “I didn’t know we did that…” comments you hear around the room.
  3. Are they the right activities? What would you like to be doing? How would you enhance those activities? What would it take to get there?

Strategy, at its heart, is about great communication. Remember – this intent is that this strategy be something everyone in your organization understands and lives by. Be mindful of the strong foundation and work to develop the goals and objectives collaboratively and interactively through a series of facilitated sessions that draw upon all stakeholders’ input and perspectives.

As you write the plan, keep the messaging clear, concise and actionable. Less is more. Consider a strategy map to help as a communication tool that can help to internalize this strategy in your culture.

The Plan to Get There

The typical next step is to issue the plan to the entire organization and instruct that they cascade the high-level goals and objectives into their operational divisions. We might even instruct that performance goals be tied to this strategy.

This all sounds good, in theory. However, Implementation Planning is often missing key results such as:

  • opportunities for collaboration between divisions to execute the goals
  • collective priority setting and coordination
  • adequate resources to execute across the organization
  • measurement of progress and enhanced performance

HOW you plan to implement the strategy is key to its success. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste; be sure to create a consistent process by which divisions are creating work plans that contribute to an overarching organizational work plan. Then work collaboratively to ensure the proper priorities and resources are allocated to TRANSFORM your organization!

MSBC brings an innovative approach and a team with extensive experience to guide your leadership through this Strategic Transformation process. Let us know if you like to learn more at .


To Plan or to Transform? “Strategic Transformation Series: Part 2”

Thanks for joining us again for the second entry in the Strategic Transformation Series. In the first entry we talked about The Strategy and Engagement Connection. We look forward to your comments and questions as we dive into how strategic planning can not only enhance your company’s bottom line, but the engagement of your employees as well.

Let me ask you a question. When is the last time you read your strategic plan? If you are like most leaders, you read it when it was published (if you even read the entire plan then…). If you didn’t have anything to do with creating it, you most likely felt one or more of the responses below:

  1. Confused
  2. Infuriated
  3. Amused
  4. Motivated for about 10 minutes before you put it on the shelf to collect dust

Now some of you may have answered the first question with “I read it last year at performance time; our goals and objectives were tied to the plan.” But I’m willing to bet that that hasn't gone so well for you or your team members either. What we often see is that the new goals and objectives aren't clear, or it’s not obvious how your current job objectives should be aligned to the goals/objectives. It’s also very possible that you aren't in agreement with the priorities or approach to the objectives.

Most of us will go about doing our job anyway, even when we do not understand or agree with the strategic plan. However, I encourage you to ask yourself this question, “Are you really making a difference toward executing the plan?... Do you care?... Do you feel that sense of contribution and purpose that you want in your job?”

Most leaders agree that a strategic plan is necessary. You invest your time, money, and resources to develop the plan, so why are so many strategic planning binders sitting on the shelf collecting dust?

One would think that an organization that has invested time, financial resources, and mental effort into strategic planning surely intends for it to launch a transformation of the organization. As engaged and effective leaders, we want to do better than the typical stagnant and abandoned strategic plan documents that do little to align, engage or create change in an organization.

You may now be asking, “How can I create this transformation?”

At MSBC we believe that HOW we lead and execute the planning process is just as important as what comes out of it.

Simply put, strategic planning, when done well, is an opportunity to engage in creative thinking about the possibilities of the organization, and develop stronger leaders and teams while defining the future and how to get there. Lastly, it must also include integrated implementation throughout the operational divisions to drive buy-in and commitment to the goals of the organization so that it doesn't just collect dust.

As an engaged leader, would you like to see this kind of transformation and alignment in your organization?

We will continue our dive into “Strategic Transformation” next week as we explore the “HOW” and discuss important components of what will help your organization transform itself with the help of your powerful and engaged workforce. I hope you’ll join us and give us your thoughts and feedback.

MSBC brings an innovative approach and a team with extensive experience to guide your leadership through this Strategic Transformation process. Let us know if you like to learn more at .


Do Gen-Y's Make Good Leaders?

In my experience as a coach to emerging leaders from this generation and as a parent of a Millennial, there are challenges and strengths just like any other group. We see in this generation a creative ability to multi-task and use technology to get things done more efficiently. They tend to see everyone as being on the same playing field. Organizations should be flat and everyone has the right to speak and to be taken seriously and judged on their merits, not on status or position. The challenge is that the greatest strength can become the greatest weakness. We know that multi-tasking can actually create an inability to focus and more mistakes in the long-run. We know everything cannot be solved via text or email, that human interaction, soft skills, the ability to read and express proper body language is imperative to business success. We also know that even in a flat organization a leader will rise even without a title. So I think as with any generation, this generation brings amazing skills to the table. They will also have the challenge of the school of hard knocks, which all of us will agree is a powerful teacher.

I will share a story with you. I have always believed in everyone pulling their weight whether in a business or a family. When my son was 16, I was having a difficult time getting him to keep the yard up. I was a full time, single working mom (not to mention he needed to do this anyway to be responsible) and needed his help. I was so frustrated with “nagging”. I then began to think a little more, How can I motivate this kid, what inspires him? Well, he likes to be in control, he wants to make his own decisions, he likes positive feedback and he likes to spend money. I made him the yard director for the summer, gave him a budget, and told him to spend it however he chose but the outcome was to be a great looking yard. This fed all his needs. I could not believe the pride he took in our yard. What this means is that if you are leading a Millennial, you are going to have to think deeper than “just do this because I said so”. “That dog don’t hunt!” I don’t know if this is any different than it was with any other generational cohort. The difference is this cohort is not afraid to ask why. They want to attach meaning to their work – purpose. Truth is, there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone does not get the trophy at work but you can build a relationship (which is very important to Millennials) and mentor them to greatness. This may be the next great generation. Our ceiling should be their floor! I think they can make amazing entrepreneurs. They have funding money, technology, relationship support but they need to develop their interpersonal, leadership development and long term thinking skills and they can create success. I believe all funding organizations should require a year of leadership/business coaching to be included in their funding to help ensure their success rather than handing over money from a good business plan to make better widgets.


Free Yourself of "Quick-Fix" Thinking

I am always amazed how many leaders and organizations want immediate results in areas where immediate results are not possible.  I am even more amazed how many executive coaches and training organizations promise to deliver "Quick-Fix" results.

The truth is it takes time to develop leadership, change a culture, and build a business or anything else that is worth the investment.  There are strategies to set, skills to learn and new ways of thinking to embrace.  We then need to execute and implement over a period to create new patterns.  It is very similar to taking care of the body.  You cannot join the gym on January 1 and expect to be in perfect shape by January 30.  It takes time and commitment to see long-term results, but it is so worth it.

I tell my clients and myself all the time, if you want something different; you have to do something different.  Creating new patterns is an investment.  Let go of the notion it will happen with one or two day workshops or a few coaching sessions.  Make the investment for the long-term solution; you will be glad you did!


Should I Develop A Niche?

Ask MSBCoach is your opportunity to ask our professional coaches, trainers and consultants about your specific concerns in your career or organization.  The truth is, many others out there are probably having the same struggles.   We’re looking forward to hearing what is on your mind and offering our advice or suggestions and sharing them for all to benefit.   

Dear MSBCoach,
 Is a niche market a good thing? Why is it difficult for me to develop it? – New Entrepreneur, Staunton, VA.

Dear New Entrepreneur,

Fear is often the root cause for an entrepreneur to not develop a niche market, the other is lack of understanding of it's importance. Most new entrepreneurs want business so bad that they are afraid a niche will exclude them from potential customers. The truth is just the opposite.

A niche allows the consumers to know exactly what you do. It sets you apart from anyone else and makes you the specialist. Often I will hear entrepreneurs describe their business something like this, "We are a graphic design company that will help brand your organization, we also can create mailing lists for you, print your products and develop your web site... oh yes, we also have several years experience in landscaping too."

I know this sounds crazy but it happens. This message confuses the consumer. It is too much information so instead of choosing which one to talk to you about, they do not talk to you about any of them. The last comment about landscaping tells the consumer in case you don't make it in your graphic design business you have a back up plan. You may have a back up plan; however, your customer does not need to know about it. Once you have built a relationship with a client within your niche, it is then OK to offer more services to them.

Let me leave you with this thought - could you imagine if Coke's tag line was, "Have a Coke and a Smile and by the way, we now sell tires...." The goal is KISS - Keep it simple sweetie - LESS is MORE!

If you have more questions, contact me at


Cultivating Creative Leadership

Cultivating Organization Creativity in an Age of Complexity With Susan J. Thomas, Ph.D., IBM Global Business Services, Organizational & People Consulting Practice and MSBCoach The new leadership differentiator is organizational creativity, but how does an organization identify and cultivate this capability? IBM conducted a global study of 40 creative leaders to explore this question our part of their Centennial Research projects.  Findings from IBM’s CEO study indicated that creativity was a key leadership characteristic necessary for success for the next decade; however, a CHRO study also by IBM, indicated that Chief Human Resource Officers didn’t know how to develop creative leaders and are seeking guidance.

In this webinar with MSBCoach and Susan J Thomas, We will explore how organizations can uncover, unlock, and unleash the creativity within their leaders. We will review short case studies and specific suggestions that leaders can use in their organization.

This webinar will answer the following three questions:

  • What are the key creative capabilities of an organization?
  • What are the catalysts of these creative capabilities in leaders?
  • How can these capabilities be scaled across the organization?

Susan J Thomas

Susan J. Thomas is Managing Consultant with IBM Business Consulting Services, Human Capital Solutions. She works with a variety of clients and companies to provide consulting services in the areas of skills competency analysis (which includes different types of questionnaires), certification test development and skills assessment, questionnaire development (both paper-based and Web-based), and training evaluation. She also assists clients with data-based decision making by helping them design question-naires and by performing statistical analysis and data mining to help them make recommendations and create action plans. Prior to joining the IBM Corporation, she was a measurement statistician and test development specialist with the Educational Testing Service. She was also an adjunct professor at Rider University, where she taught graduate courses in research methods (including questionnaire design), testing and measurement for teachers, basic statistics, and authentic assessment. Previously, she was a faculty member at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Florida State University, where she taught courses in measurement, research design, and various areas of educational and developmental psychology. She has directed numerous funded research projects, has presented extensively at the annual meetings of the American Educational Research Association and the National Council for Measurement in Education, and has served as a Divisional Vice President of the American Educational Research Association. She has published several journal articles, as well as Evaluation Without Fear with coauthor Roger Kaufman, and Designing Surveys That Work!, a predecessor to the current book. She conducts workshops for teachers on topics related to assessment and has developed many training guides for these workshops. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and received her Ph.D. from Purdue University.