SUPPORT FROM WISEWOLF

Wendy Mason has spent many years, both as a line manager and as a consultant, delivering change and support to individuals and organisation going through change   She is happy now to offer this support to you and your organization.   If you would like to talk to Wendy about how she can help email her directly at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439 

MANAGING CHANGE – SIX STEPS TO IMPROVING QUALITY – SETTING UP A QUALITY STANDARD

In managing change as well as projects and programmes, we all talk a lot about quality and quality standards but how to you establish a standard.  Here are some tips

  1. Do you already have quality standards in your organization. Do you work in a large organization.  If so, someone has probably done the job for you.  If you have a central programme or portfolio office or Centre of Excellence they should be able to guide and advise you. If you have a central unit the chances are, you are required to use their standards anyway.   Even if you don’t have a central unit ask other managers what they use and consider using their’s as a starting point from which to develop your own ideas!
  2. Set up a quality group. Assemble a team from those with an interest in your work or your  project .  Start out by asking them what they think acceptable standards would be for the area they are interested in.  Then use them to monitor as you go to make sure you achieve the standard.    You’d be surprised how willing people are to help with this kind of activity!
  3. Understand how others perceive quality. You can conduct interviews with interested people and your stakeholders to ensure you understand the expectations for what you are trying to deliver.  For example, for an IT project, you could discuss expectations with managers about  usability and support. Ask them what they think is needed to deliver a successful project. You may think this is an obvious question, but some responses may give you a very different perspective on your stakeholders’ values, and also what isn’t important to them. Don’t underestimate the power of these interviews: they can help to align your perceptions of quality with those who have the major interest in what you do!
  4. Start with a template. There are lots of standard quality plans and templates out there – trying searching on the internet!  So you shouldn’t have to start with a blank sheet of paper. Use a good, robust template with options to pick and choose what might apply to your organization and project.
  5. Develop a consequence for each quality standard. For each standard you should identify what will happen if you don’t achieve it!  If the answer is not much, then it isn’t a real quality standard .  Don’t throw everything in – focus on what really counts.
  6. Review. Putting standards in place is a great way to ensure the quality of what you are delivering.  But you need to make sure they continue to be right!  Include a regular review.   Find whether or not they were used and what happened as a  result.  Revise and up date them as necessary to ensure they continue to  meet your organization’s needs.

MANAGING CHANGE – WHAT TO DO ABOUT ENERGY DRAINERS

If you are involved with any kind of change you will find it drains your energy as you come to terms with new situations, deal with confusion and your own, and other people’s, anxieties.  You will find yourself giving out lots of your energy in support of others.  But some people seem to take just a little too much – more than you can afford to give if you are going to stay fit for the task ahead.

We all feel insecure in the middle of change but energy drainers are usually people who are insecure and negative in their everyday life – quite often they find it difficult to tolerate their own company. You may find people like this start to depend upon you to help them make all kinds of relatively simple life decisions.  They may phone or text you several times a day on any pretext – they can eat you as well as your time and sap your life force!

Very often these sad people are stuck in “Survival Mode.”  They don’t know how to tap into their personal energy reserves to survive and like children, they haven’t accepted responsibility for their own lives. But they find a variety of ways, including emotional blackmail,  to persuade you to provide them with the emotional support  and the reassurance they need.  Life is frightening and they are very scared indeed!

We all know people like this – they can be old friends, family and work colleagues.  You want to help but their needs are overwhelming.

So, what do you do?  Keep in mind that you may need to conserve your energy to manage a complex change.   If they are part of the change, you are certainly not going to be in a position to cut them out of your ife.  Anyway, at the end of the day, most of us would actually like to be in a position to help.

The stance you take depends upon what your relationship with the person is, and upon the level of your energy reserves. However, your first responsibility is to yourself. You, too, may have to adopt a “Survival Mode” attitude.

It is certainly much easier to deal with someone who is an acquaintance or a work colleague. You have no personal commitment to them and you have every right to say goodbye when you finish work.

When you are dealing with them try to stay in a neutral space – give neutral responses and try not to get drawn into their or your emotions.  When you dealing with them, imagine you are wearing a breastplate to defend your energy – withhold your energy behind your breastplate – deliver a neutral, and deliberately, low energy response. Offer no more and no less than is necessary to accomplish the transaction.

As a personal survival technique, this approach is also applicable for family and old friends. However, you may choose to take a more compassionate and supportive stance,- demonstrate your love but it may be “tough love.” Your goal here is to move them from negative to positive and to move them back into using their own energy resources. In this way, you can help them to become self-sufficient.  Get them to think through their own options – to make choices and plan.  When they do so give them lots of quiet praise – move them on from whining to thinking about concrete ways they can help themselves!

Be aware, though, that Energy Drainers will resort to many forms of subtle emotional blackmail to get access to your energy. Don’t let them! Let them know, through your actions, that your energy is no longer accessible to them. Encourage them to make decisions on their own and to enjoy their own company by simply not being available: physically or emotionally.

It will not be easy for you or them.  You are breaking established patterns of behavior and setting a brand new precedent. But eventually a new dynamic should be established.  They should take responsibility for their own life and their own decisions.  You may have to support them through a change as part of your role but do so in a managed way! With friends and family, if they will not take action, success will be impossible. So recognize when you have banged your head once too often against that proverbial brick wall and when the wisest step is simply to “let go.”

Managing transition; moving from unfreeze to freeze

Managing transition; moving from unfreeze to freeze

Managing transition takes time and needs leadership and support! The three stages of change identified by psychologist Kurt Lewin are the basis of most managing transitionchange management approaches today. They are very easy to understand – unfreeze, transition, re-freeze! Recently I wrote here about how to unfreeze. This post deals with managing transition. Sometimes transition can be a pleasant trap – it may feel better to travel hopefully than arrive – particularly for the team leading the change. It is very easy to get caught up in this middle stage.

Here are some techniques to help you in managing transition

Give them a challenge

Stimulate people into change by challenging them to achieve something remarkable. So, show confidence in their ability to get out of their comfort zone and do what has not been done before. This can work particularly well with small groups, as well as individuals. And, once the group has bought the challenge, with some support from you, they will bounce off each other to make it happen.

It is most effective when the people create their own stretch goals. So rather than telling them to do something, challenge them to achieve greatly. Then, when they are fired up, ask them how far they can go.

Coach them

Are people are having difficulty in managing to adapt to change? Do you, or your colleagues, have coaching skills? Plus, have you enough time? If so, working with people one to one can be particularly effective. But you do need to know what you are doing. So it really is worth carefully identifying those who have been trained in coaching. If you can afford it, hire a qualified, experienced, coach to help people through this time.

In a change situation, coaches need time and skills to understand the individual person. This is so they can uncover internal problems which might be creating barriers. The approach seems expensive and it is often reserved for senior executives. But it can be a good investment further down the management chain. And, it is certainly helpful for any senior manager who has to go through change themselves, while leading their team through change

Use Facilitators

Use skilled facilitators to support change activities. If you don’t have any, either hire them in or train your own. Facilitators can be used to guide various group events. For example, this could be brainstorming or planning the change. Facilitators can also act as team coaches, helping people to improve within themselves and work together in better ways. Often in change people know what needs doing. But they do not know how to change or work together in the new context.

Facilitators literally ‘make things easier’. They do this in meetings and group sessions. This is by owning the process whereby decisions and other activities are done. Although facilitators never own the content. Thus, they will help you make a decision, but they will not make the decision for you. Facilitators are particularly useful for leaders who want to engage in a meeting without worrying about its process.

Education and Training

Teach people about the need for change. Show them that embracing change is a far more effective life strategy than staying where they are or resisting. Teach them about the models and methods of change. This is about how to be logical and creative in improving processes and organisations. The approach can include presentations, communications and full-on training sessions. Education, done well, draws out understanding from the other person rather than talking at them.

Leading in change is itself often a process of education. An issue in change is that people often feel powerless. Education gives them the power to change. On the training front, remember usually it’s going to be much cheaper to re-train than to recruit. So, help your people gain the skills they are going to need in the new organisation.

The next post, on Lewin’s third stage – re-freezing, follows shortly.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link