Millennials Driving New Management Styles

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International

Takeaways: Millennials are driving new trends in management and productive work space. Companies are downsizing into open space environments and flexible work schedules enabling staff to work from anywhere at any time in collaborative, bee hive types of space.

Much has been written lately about the trends in management style and office space. This is being driven by the new young turks, the Millennials, who are moving into management positions.

For them, the old management styles of top-down leadership or management by objectives just don’t ring true. Instead, they want to get to know their team members, become friends, and learn what motivates them. This is an entirely new style of leadership that requires active listening and asking questions.

The result is a model called, Holacracy, where clear communications, incentives and accountability are key components to keeping staff motivated and engaged. See the article, How Medium is Building a New Kind of Company, which was published in firstround.com. Rather than a hierarchy of workers, the organization is built around a hierarchy of work that needs to be achieved.

Unlike their predecessors, the Millennial generation is all about collaboration, not building “turf kingdoms”. Consequently, many don’t have private offices, but prefer to be out in the main room at a desk with their teams. In fact, many teams are fluid, forming and re-forming around projects rather than departments. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t even have an office. He and other senior execs sit with everyone else, although they do have private conference rooms assigned for their use when needed.

So what are the implications?

Traditional office spaces are being converted into open spaces where everyone has a desk with or without any dividers. Some have half cubicles separating the desks; others place people side by side and across from one another. While the workers like this kind of environment because it’s more casual and family-like, research is showing that productivity has declined due to distractions and noise. In order to concentrate, workers check out time in private offices or conference rooms and use sound-cancelling headphones.

Open offices - Miamishared.com. See this photo gallery of office space designs from Miamishared.com

Open offices – Miamishared.com See this photo gallery of office space designs from Miamishared.com

The result is that many companies are reducing their office space requirements. Open areas require fewer build outs and less square footage. Additionally, companies have moved to flexible work programs allowing staff to work from anywhere at any time. So they may rent desks at open space places called “bee hives” for use when their workers need to go into an office to work vs. working from home or elsewhere. These shared work spaces appeal to the ever mobile Millennials and to start-ups, giving them access to other professionals with whom to network.

In her article in Forbes, Open Spaces are Here to Stay. Now How Do We Get Any Work Done?,  Barbara T Armstrong cites the many implications these trends are having on furniture design, as well as workplace design specialists. Time will tell how successful these new environments are for engendering productivity.

Innovation Comes from Collective Creativity

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International

Takeaways: Innovation is about unleashing the creativity at the bottom to encourage truly innovative ideas and solutions. Rethink leadership roles as those of connectors, social architects and aggregators of ideas. Act your way to the future rather than plan.

Linda Hill, Management Professor at Harvard Business School, shared a TED Talk based on her book, Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation. Over nearly 10 years she and three colleagues observed innovative leaders up close in several countries to determine what it is that made their companies innovative. The bottom line, she said, is that we need to unlearn what we’ve been taught about leadership.

 Invert the organizational pyramid

Innovative leadership is not about creating a vision and getting your staff to implement it. It is about managing collective creativity, amplifying conflict and discourse without unleashing chaos. You have to turn the organizational structure on its head and unleash the creative genius from the bottom up.

Innovation, said Hill, is about creating a space for three capabilities:
Creative abrasion
Creative agility
Creative resolution

Creative abrasion is about having heated, constructive arguments to create a portfolio of ideas. People learn how to actively listen and also how to strongly advocate for their position. Innovation rarely occurs unless you have both diversity and conflict.

Creative agility is about continuously testing and refining your portfolio of ideas. Instead of creating a strategic plan and implementing it, you “act your way to the future” through discovery-driven learning. This includes design thinking where the focus is on running a series of experiments, not a series of pilots. Test and refine. Test and refine.

Creative resolution is decision-making that combines opposable ideas to reconfigure in new combinations that produce useful solutions. It is patient, inclusive decision-making that allows for “both/and” solutions to arise, not just “either/or”.

Innovative organizations like Google and Pixar allow talented people to play out their passions by having multiple experiments running in tandem. Teams form and re-form as needed and everyone has access to the leaders at the top.

“Leadership is the secret sauce”, she says. Leading innovation is about creating the space where people are willing and able to do the hard work of innovative problem-solving. It’s about building a sense of community – a world to which people want to belong – and building those three capabilities described above.

What can we do to make sure all the small voices, the disrupters in the organization, are heard?

As Google has done under Bill Gate, you nurture the bottom up. Be the social architect that encourages discourse, differing viewpoints and multiple ideas, no matter how far-fetched. Bestow credit in as broadly as possible. Pixar, for example, includes the list of babies born during a film’s production in the credits at the end of each film.

Bill Gates encourages people to co-create with him while preventing them from degenerating into chaos. His role, according to Hill, is to be the human glue, a connector, an aggregator of viewpoints.

As innovative leaders we need to redefine our leadership role – not by title, but by function: role model, coach, nurturer. We need to hire people who argue with us, not those who agree with our viewpoints.

Instead of providing all the answers or solutions, leaders must “see the young sparks at the bottom as the source of innovation. Transfer the growth to the bottom. Unleash the power of the many by releasing the stronghold of the few,” says Hill.

If only the multi-state bank and the newspaper I worked for earlier in my career had done this. I recall my first month of training at the bank. I was sent out to a branch office to study how it operated and produce a report. One of my suggestions was to increase the salary of the tellers since they were the first line of contact with the customers and they frequently were responsible for million dollar cash drawers. Yet they received the lowest salaries and had no voice in the way the branch should work with customers.

At the newspaper, I frequently offered ideas which were squashed because that “wasn’t the way we do things around here”, or they jeopardized the power of the few. Never mind that the old ways weren’t working any more. I tried to implement innovative leadership techniques among my own small staff, but that was hard to do when no other departments, let alone other managers in my department, were doing anything similar.

What a breath of fresh air to hear Linda Hill talk about how really innovative companies turn the pyramid on its head! Give your staff at the bottom the opportunity to rethink their jobs, to offer solutions to everyday problems they face, and as Hill says, “create the space where everyone’s slices of genius can be unleashed and turned into collective genius”.

Watch the TED Talk. Buy her book. Change your thinking about leadership.

Trends for Managing Change in 2015

By Eric Denniston, Managing Director, Denner Group International

Takeaways: Review of ten trends for managing change in a practical context. Think more clearly about the impact of the trends. Consider if any external help can improve your performance. Refocus on the speed of change and the need for greater agility in adapting to changes.

While conducting a quarterly scan on trends for the next two to three years I came across a brief SlideShare presentation by Dennis McCafferty in CIO Insight, titled Ten Execution Trends for 2015, which you can view by clicking here. The overriding theme in the trends he mentions is that while planning is always extremely important, flexibility and agility in executing your plans is becoming much more important in order to overcome the challenges of doing business. This piece focuses on the IT issues of organizations but the trends mentioned affect managing all aspects of all organizations. These are the trends:

  • Real-time planning is mission-critical
  • Leading indicators take on greater prominence
  • Project management tackles enterprisewide tasks
  • Cultural difference foster collaboration
  • IT takes a seat at the “Influencers” table
  • Agility dominates
  • The “Organizational Surfer” rules the day
  • Everyone’s a designer
  • Value trumps all
  • Just do it

We see greater importance given to future trends over research on past trends. We see the increasing need for a holistic approach to how projects and initiatives are planned and executed. We are reminded of the value of embracing cultural differences in fostering collaboration. IT now wields greater influence overall on the organization. The increased speed of change in general is driving us to delegate the execution of projects more thereby increasing agility, and as a by-product, provide Millennials with a more attractive work environment.

We also see a return to the concept of “roving staff”, which I experienced in banking in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, now called “Organizational Surfers”. This was also common in large organizations with a group of employees who would “sub” for line staff, such as tellers, on vacation or sick leave, but are now found at all levels in the organization. There is also a notable increase in cross-functional collaboration and training in design thinking to extract great ideas from everyone possible in the firm regardless of whether those ideas pertain to their work or department.

Creating value for the customer is now job #1 over cost containment and problem solving. The final comment of the piece is titled “Just Do It!” It points out the danger in over-thinking things to the detriment of simply getting them done, thereby “staying ahead of change”.

Do your executives and team leaders have the skill sets to make the proper adjustments on the fly? Have you identified the leading indicators that will help you focus on future trends? Are your projects managed in a silo or are they directed with an enterprise-wide view? What initiatives are you implementing if there are multiple cultures in your business or you have an international presence?

At what level of your organization does your head of IT sit? For that matter, ask the same question about HR, Design, R&D, Safety and Security. Are your leaders capable of managing and even accelerating change with agility, and how are you including your younger staff members in the process? Are you creating a cadre of line staff, managers and executives that can support different functions either executing initiatives or performing training and coaching?

Is your organization capable of extracting creativity from folks other than those whose job is to design products and services? How are you gauging, measuring or tracking your leaders’ contribution to creating value for your customers and your stockholders?

Each of the 10 trends mentioned in the SlideShare piece broadly addresses issues that are clearly compelling to nearly every organization. Which one or ones compel you to make them a priority and how will you gather support in skill development and coaching to accelerate the effectiveness of implementing your initiatives?

I invite you contact me if you wish to explore how we might be able to assist you.

Leadership: Cheerleader, Coach, Dictator & holding people accountable

By Eric Denniston, Managing Director, Denner Group International  November 16. 2014

Takeaways: Compare three common leadership styles. Coaching as a leadership skill for business leaders. Eight “Be Attitudes” to help you maximize your ability to hold your team accountable.

Sometimes leaders display confusion about some very basic ways to be a leader. One we often encounter is an individual who consistently focuses on cheerleading-type activities, often ignoring other types of reinforcement, both positive and negative. They praise their team for their hard work and mention how much they appreciate them, but the leader is not working off any sort of plan with measurable results. How do you think the team members really feel about how they are being treated? Truly valued, or perhaps just being snowed? Granted, cheerleading is important since it ensures both the leader and the team members are reminded that celebrating successes is very important. But imagine a sports team that consistently has a losing record and is constantly being told what good job they did when the results say differently. At least in sports there is a scoreboard clearly identifying measurable results. What measurable results and programs for celebrating success do you have for your team?

Coaching skills are valuable

Coaching skills in business leaders have become one of the most valuable traits we can employ in leading teams. Coaches facilitate the team’s individual and collective success by first understanding very deeply what drives the team and ensuring the team is extremely clear about the desired outcomes of their work. Coaches also facilitate the maintenance of a shared set of values. There have been many very visible sports team coaches over the years whose success is legendary, as has their toughness with their team members. When we look closely at their styles in leading their teams, it’s clear they leaned much more toward facilitating their teams’ success instead of commanding or demanding it. Their toughness comes through more as having an uncompromising commitment to a system of values that helps keep the team members focused on their outcomes. This also distinguishes successful business and government leaders.

A dictatorial style of leadership has historically ended both abruptly and badly, for the dictator and the team being led. Regardless of whether a leader was leading a government, a non-profit, a commercial enterprise or a sports team, we consistently see a pattern of the team coalescing in support of the leader, high levels of energy toward the objective set by the leader and uncompromising pressure toward objectives set primarily by the singular leader. This is later followed by some thoughtful sub-leaders naturally questioning their direction, then external pressures rapidly growing against the leader and finally a relatively complete destruction of the organization and often the leader. Consider short lived sports teams, athletic teams and whole leagues involved in unsportsmanlike activities, many leaders of nations and yes, many leaders of large and visible businesses. Companies like Enron and Lehman Brothers, Arthur Andersen and Washington Mutual all displayed many of the characteristics of dictatorial leadership, straying from best practices in management and pursuing unrealistic and massively exaggerated objectives. They also knowingly violated generally broadly accepted tenets of law and human behavior holding team members accountable to very narrowly defined results and little accountability to a shared set of values.

Holding people accountable and leading them to achieve mutually desired and measurable objectives may just be one brief way to describe a successful leader. Of course, it’s not necessary that simple. I am reminded by the eight “Be Attitudes” of holding people accountable put forth by Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, a respected Fortune 500 senior executive, author and CEO of Leadergrow, Inc.

He lists those attitudes as:
•    Be clear about your expectations
•    Be sure of your facts
•    Be timely
•    Be Kind
•    Be Consistent
•    Be Discrete
•    Be Gracious
•    Be Balanced

Bob Whipple of LeadergrowIf you would like to gain more insight on these attitudes you can do so at the Leadergrow, Inc. website.

Developing and applying successful leadership skills are keys to succeeding in any type of managerial endeavor, but in leading strategy and change these are even more critical. How good are you at practicing the eight “Be Attitudes”?

Change is difficult

By Jeri Denniston, Denner Group International November 12,2014

A World Gone SocialI’m reading A World Gone Social by Ted Coiné and Michael Babbit, and it grabs you in the first few pages. Right at the start the authors give several examples of how social media is creating a sea change in how companies operate. It has caused major challenges for many companies, including two well-known companies, Abercrombie & Fitch and Barilla (known for their pasta). Both situations were the result of comments by the CEOs which before social media would have gone largely unnoticed by most people.

The A&F CEO candidly commented in a 2006 interview that “In every school there are the cool kids and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids…..we go after the cool kids.” By 2013, the company had experienced seven consecutive quarters of declining sales and declining stock value, and angry consumers were buying used A&F clothing and donating it to the homeless in support of a hashtag campaign, #FitchtheHomeless. This year, the CEO was asked to step down and the company is looking for a buyer.

On the other extreme, the generosity of a New Hampshire Panera restaurant manager has resulted in a 34 percent increase in same store sales, more than 800,000 likes on their Facebook page, and nearly 35,000 comments. This, because of a Facebook post by the mother of Brandon Cook, who contacted the Panera  manager to see if he could buy a bowl of clam chowder for his grandmother who was dying of cancer.

Here is the Facebook post Brandon’s mother shared on Panera’s Facebook page copied from the book, A World Gone Social:

My grandmother is passing soon with cancer. I visited her the other day and she was telling me about how she really wanted soup, but not hospital soup because she said it tasted “awful”; she went on about how she really would like some clam chowder from Panera. Unfortunately, Panera only sells clam chowder on Friday. I called the manager, Sue, and told them the situation. I wasn’t looking for anything special just a bowl of clam chowder. Without hesitation she said absolutely she would maker her some clam chowder. When I went to pick it up they wound up giving me a box of cookies as well. It’s not that big of a deal to most, but to my grandma it meant a lot. I really want to thank Sue and the rest of the staff from Panera in Nashua, NH just for making my grandmother happy.  Thank you so much!

It makes you all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it? All because the Panera manager did something nice that was not part of store policy or on the menu for that day and it was shared on Facebook.

Social media has had and continues to have major impacts on how people communicate. The consumer now has the power and the voice, thanks to social media. It brings in the human side of business and enables the average consumer to influence their peers and talk directly to executives. without the traditional political barriers of old.

This change is difficult for CEOs and executives who are stuck in the days of how we always did it before.  Top-down command and control is not longer effective nor efficient.  Thanks to our digital world, knowledge (and the power that goes with it) is available to anyone willing to do a Google search – it is no longer limited to the few at the top of the corporation. According to Coiné who participated in one of the World Strategy Week panels last week, companies that fail to embrace social will be gone in three years. The old ways just don’t work anymore and resisting the change is just stubborn arrogance, something that was beautifully displayed off the Irish coast in 1998. Many of us have heard this story before, but it’s worth repeating:

Irish: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the south, to avoid a collision
British: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision.
Irish: Negative. Divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
British: This is the captain of a British navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

Irish: Negative. I say again, you will have to divert YOUR course.
British: This is the aircraft carrier HMS Britannia! We are the second largest ship in the British Atlantic fleet.  We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers, and numerous support vessels. I demand that you change your course 15 degrees north. I say again, that is 15 degrees north, or countermeasures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship and her crew.
Irish: We are a lighthouse. Your call.

 

Social Media a Productivity Killer

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International

A friend shared a link to a survey about workplace productivity killers, posted on The Employer Handbook, published by Eric B. Meyer, Esquire. The survey pointed out that web surfing and social media were considered two of the top culprits after cell phones and texting and gossip.

This kind of snapshot view is limiting in my estimation and can be misinterpreted. Social media isn’t the root cause of lack of employee productivity. Yes, some employees do dumb things that waste time. I would say those that do probably work in an environment or a job where they have few personal freedoms or little flexibility. Or they’re under-utilized or simply in the wrong job and bored.

So much of it depends on the company culture and the company size. Early in my career, when I joined a target marketing technology company, they had 70+ employees and were housed in a 2 story building in an Encinitas, CA office park. The downstairs was mostly empty and the employees used it to toss basketballs and footballs back and forth to relax. Many rode their bikes to work and into the building. That was just outside my office. Upper management was fine with that because the company was growing at 30% a year and there was plenty of work for everyone. That changed as the company continued to grow, and the empty spaces became offices and cubicles. Then, as the company was being sold to a large credit bureau over a 3-year period, the culture changed from a fun,  flexible work environment with a shared vision, to a strict, highly structured, and back-stabbing climate. The workplace culture changed from trust and collaboration to suspicion and fear of job-loss. Revenues decreased and layoffs started as the company spiraled downward, eventually to be sold off and folded into what is today Nielsen Claritas.

Infusionsoft – a good example of positive company culture

Infusionsoft’s offices in Chandler have an indoor football field (check out the pics on Google), basketball hoops, a weight room, a cereal bar (over 100 brands), and a special coffee room. They encourage employees to work off stress playing football and other games. Instead of a cafeteria, the lunch area includes a cereal bar (over 100 brands) and a coffee room.  It’s a very cool workspace which now houses nearly 450 employees. The culture is inclusive and built on trust. So, are the employees unproductive when they play football? Are they unproductive when they tweet and post on Facebook and LinkedIn? I don’t think so, since the company continues to grow, improve its product line, and deliver excellent customer service.

So when I see surveys like the one my friend shared, I view them as superficial. There’s a larger story behind them. I would be interested to learn your thoughts on this.

Strategic Planning Career Takes Focus

Eric A. Denniston, Denner Group International   January 30, 2014

Takeaways: A strategic planning career defined. A possible career path to plan for. What size organizations to seek work in. Valuable certifications to obtain and keep.

Are you already planning to have a career, or switch your career in the direction of Strategic Planning? Make sure you ask yourself what long term outcomes you are looking for and once you are in that career, what becomes possible for you. If you are just beginning to pursue a professional career, ask yourself, what is it about Strategic Planning that spins your jets and what will cause you to pursue such a career with focus, vigor and tenacity. In either case, also make sure you talk to people who are in this career, either as internal practitioners or as consultants and executives who hire these people.

Having an undergraduate degree is a basic place to start if you are planning such a career after or soon after finishing high school. A business degree is more likely to lead to work that is best suited to gaining experience you will need; however, social and engineering sciences can also be very beneficial. This is true because strategic planning in fact requires multi-disciplinary skills.

Large Organizations Provide Platforms for Skill Building

Becoming effective as a planner involving strategy requires significant experience in tactical activities, and getting to know at least one organization of a few hundred employees or more extremely well. This can be accomplished by working in a number of different areas of a company, or a similar company in the same industry, say banking, manufacturing or insurance. Understanding how all those departments interact will lead to good insight for leading planning activities later on. Typical roles that will enhance your career include being a project leader or a department manager, and getting involved in process improvement.

Along the way, skill building will come through practice; and finding mentors, both inside and outside your company, will help immeasurably as well. You should also pursue general and specific education opportunities. A master’s degree in management is a good choice, if possible focused on strategic management, which is a growing area of discipline. You should also become certified in one or more of the following: Strategic Planning and Management (ASP), Project Management (PMI), Business Analysis (IIBA) and Enterprise Architecture (TOGAF). Each of these certifications leads their respective areas of discipline. Going through the training provided for each one will expose you to materials, knowledge and thought leaders that will give your career opportunities a substantial boost. Obtaining and keeping these certifications requires an ongoing commitment. Staying certified demonstrates to others your level of commitment to being among the best in the business.

Larger organizations provide amazingly rich platforms for working at and practicing the different disciplines that lead to being an effective strategic planner. The variety of challenges and problems that occur produce a rich environment for considering how tactical and strategic solutions can be applied to overcome them, and when to use both. Understanding how these complex living systems function and how their various parts interact is key to developing the insights necessary to succeed.

As your career progresses, seek more and more involvement in planning, whether it is department budgets, or planning and leading projects. Understanding the roles different levels of management have in planning will lead to deeper involvement as you prove your skills. Seeking leadership roles in higher and higher level strategic planning initiatives will help as well. Eventually, you may lead the strategic planning or strategic management team, or move on to Change Architecture, which is a natural extension of Strategic Planning and Management.

What’s exciting about work in strategic planning is seeing the broad view of a business while helping to create and execute successful long term plans, and the sense of value that comes from assisting large numbers of people to jointly reach shared goals. This occurs in organizations of all sizes. Job titles include Strategic Planning Manager, Chief Strategy Officer, Program Manager, Portfolio Director and Change Architect. These are all valuable and growing areas of management in organizations worldwide. Global firms present even more challenges generally rooted in the cultural aspects of managing strategy. If you wish to pursue a global career, mastering a second language and spending time in a culture to know it well is a sure way to both enhance your career and your life in general. Gaining a masters’ degree in Global Management is also a plus.

WD-40 Tribal Culture Creates Lasting Change

By Jeri Denniston, Denner Group International   January 28, 2014

Takeaways: How WD-40 created a tribal culture that focuses on SMART goals, living the company values, and sharing knowledge and expertise.

Book Review
Helping People Win at Work
by GaRry Ridge and Ken Blanchard,
2009 Polvera Publishing and Garry Ridge

Buy-Helping People Win at WorkThis book is a partnership between Blanchard and Ridge about leadership and management. It looks at business as a partnership between managers and staff to ensure everyone in the organization is doing their best to strive, learn, and be the best they can, all while living and acting the company’s core values. How a company gets there is the story Ridge tells of the processes he implemented at WD-40 around the philosophy of “Don’t Mark My Paper; Help Me Get an A”. The book is divided into four parts.

In Part One, Ridge describes the fundamentals of the performance review system he implemented at WD-40, which is organized around Planning and Execution and Review and Learning. Planning involves setting SMART goals and executing them according to company values. SMART stands for Specific, Motivational, Attainable, Relevant, and Trackable.

In Part Two, Ridge describes the culture changes that had to occur before the performance review system could be revamped. A big part of that was to ask his people to view themselves as members of a Tribe rather than a Team. Tribal members share their knowledge and folklore with younger, newer members. That’s an important value at WD-40.

In Part Three, Ridge shares his viewpoints on leadership and motivating people and how those developed. In this area he describes his expectations of others and what they can expect of him. Servant leadership is a big part of his personal value system.

In Part Four, Blanchard shares the 12 “Simple Truths” he and his colleagues have learned over the years that are crucial to helping people succeed at their work. These include day-to-day coaching, reprimanding with candor, building trust, and accentuating the positive rather than the negative in both coaching and performance reviews.

The book is filled with great nuggets of wisdom and includes samples of the WD-40 Goal Review Form and how it is used. The company’s success is a testament to how well this system works. Headquartered in San Diego, they employ just under 400 people, market their products in 188 countries, and recorded sales of $368.5 million in fiscal year 2013. WD-40 projects to generate $383 million to $398 million for fiscal year 2014. Learn more about their values and culture here.
Buy the book.

Managing Change for Every Type of Organization

By Eric A Denniston, Managing Director, Denner Group International   November 2013

Takeaways: An overview of managing change. What small organizations can do to leverage related skills. Three tips for applying some best practices for any size organization.\

How has your business changed recently, or how do you expect it to change in the near future? All businesses, large and small eventually undergo a major change and this is much more common and sometimes seemingly constant. They are also often undergoing small changes on a regular basis. Employee turnover, rapid adjustments in local market conditions, disasters, new market players disrupting the playing field and shifts in leadership are all common causes of organizations undergoing change.

Managing any organization has always involved managing change, large or tiny, whether it is a manufacturing or professional services enterprise, a non-profit, a school or a government entity. What has occurred over the past 50 years, particularly influenced by the continually increasing sharing of all types of information, is not necessarily that things are changing more or faster. It is really that we are able to predict and create or control change more effectively. We now have more timely information within our reach.

Paradigm Shift in management techniques

This paradigm shift has produced new techniques in management which are now generally referred to as Change Management. A number of individuals, mostly executives at large companies, are credited with leading the development of these techniques. They in turn, have generously credited various other people, employees, consultants and academics, who have greatly contributed to those development efforts. Significantly, those techniques are being widely shared as the thought leaders in management write books and give speeches, and consultants take those “best practices” to their clients.

Perhaps the most common issue I encounter is that small businesses, non-profits and even medium-size companies feel it is beyond them to even consider learning about and using these techniques. I also find that some very forward-thinking small enterprises, eagerly adopt many of these techniques and their level of success is exponentially greater than that of the ones that say “we are too small for that”.

What can an organization of any size do to acquire some of that knowledge or expertise and effectively apply it in their organization? A great first step is to accept that managing change must become a proactive behavior in leading an organization or a team of people. Learning to think about the organization in the context of the whole environment in which it exists is the next most valuable step a manager can take. This is part of what is called Systems or Strategic Thinking.

Additionally, following are some key concepts that, again, any organization, can use to help manage change more effectively:

  • Continually scan the FUTURE environment of your organization by considering how each of your stakeholders will be affecting the organization at a defined point in time in the future. Document what you come up with when discussing this with your colleagues and use the results to define the changes you feel will be needed. Be sure to also document the outcomes that you desire from those changes and make sure you have agreement among those of you responsible for implementing the change.
  • Create a clear plan for the change. Think of it as a discreet project but one that will affect other parties. Then list the parties that will be affected and decide how you will inform or involve them in making sure the change occurs and sticks. Also have a plan for how you will coach your direct reports about how they can assist in making the change happen.
  • Make sure you link your desired outcomes to measures that will help you track your progress toward those outcomes and document your quick successes, as these will help to maintain excitement about the change and its positive effects.

Essentially, stay focused on the fact that you will be moving from your current state to a future state. You need to manage the transition between the two and if you don’t make sure the people affected by the change are involved from the beginning and coached through the process, you are not likely to create a successful, lasting change and achieve the outcomes you desire.

Compassionate Management a New Trend

By Jeri Denniston, Denner Group International  September 2013

Takeaways: Compassionate management is a new trend flowing into many organizations globally. More recognition is being given to the softer skills of management, frequently considered “female” traits.  

Harvard Business ReviewIn the September 18 Harvard Business Review blog article by Bronwyn Fryer, The Rise of Compassionate Management (Finally), the author discusses the new trend of compassion that is making its way into organizations. 

Despite the fact that compassion has been touted by many management gurus like Peter Senge and Ken Blanchard, nasty managers are still prevalent among high level positions in US organizations. I’m sure we can all think of at least one “boss” we’ve had who fits this to a tee. And perhaps that’s because business has been a cut-throat environment largely ruled and run by men who see compassion as a weaker “female” trait.

But the winds of change are blowing in the direction of compassion at work. According to the article, “More evidence of this trend comes from the Conscious Capitalism movement, whose membership includes companies like Southwest Airlines, Google, the Container Store, Whole Foods Market, and Nordstrom. One of the cornerstones of the movement is to try to take care not just of your shareholders, but all stakeholders (investors, workers, customers, and so on).”

This skill isn’t natural for many managers, and I would venture to say, especially for men. Men have been raised to be competitive, to fight for what they want. Anger and loud voices, even rudeness, have been considered strengths. As a female manager, I recall being told many times by male bosses that I was too nice. I cared too much about my people and their feelings. I have always believed that if you give your staff and other stakeholders in the organization the tools and support they need to succeed, to achieve what they personally want to accomplish in their careers and their personal lives, they will excel and overall performance will go up. I’ve seen it happen. Now, that characteristic is being appreciated – finally!

According to Fryer, “Over and over, it’s been shown that compassion concretely benefits the corporate bottom line. Marcus Buckingham’s work on employee engagement has shown that engagement is critical to organizational success. Plenty of others have shown that practicing compassion is good  for your business.”  Matthew Kelly’s book, The Dream Manager, is all about how compassionate management creates happier employees and a better bottom line.

Which way is the wind blowing at your company?
Click here to read the full article.