Making Changes – First, Admit A Change is Needed

Making Changes – Admit A Change is Needed

Making Changes – part 1 of the series. First, admit you need a change.Making Changes

Making Changes is series of posts about how to make positive changes in your personal or professional life that really work . So, I hope it helps you. Perhaps, you have comments, or would like further help? If so, my email address is at the bottom of the article.

Change happens

Making changes – yes, change is inevitable. And, you can’t avoid it, but sometimes we do our best to try!  At the end of the day, though, we all get caught up in it.  If you look back at your own life, and your career, you will know that this is true.

Some change is positive and some negative. But change is inevitable. So how do you make the most of it for you, your family and your career?

Facing reality

The secret is to recognize and truly acknowledge when a change is needed. Often it is hardest to admit to yourself when that change needs to be made within you.  Start to watch  and listen to the world around you and how those about you are responding. How do they respond to you? How have things changed? If they have changed, how are you going to respond? The world is changing constantly. So make scanning your horizons a regular part of your routine.

At home and at work

At home make sure you take time to really listen to those about you including close friends. It is all too easy to get into a busy routine that leaves no time to really talk to others outside of work. So, when you ask questions about how they are feeling, be ready to listen fully to an honest answer. And, give them time and space to fully express themselves while you take time to work out how best to respond.  Staying tuned-in is an important part of maintaining healthy relationships. If a relationship isn’t healthy, be ready to take the steps necessary to put things right

At work, ask your boss for feedback about your performance if it isn’t volunteered. Begin to see how others are working now. Listen to what your boss and your colleagues are saying about the future. Read the professional and trade journals for your sector and take part in your professional organization. Keep in touch on the internet with others in your market place through organisations like LinkedIn.

Making changes – admit you need a change.

Before you make a change, you need to truly acknowledge and accept you need one. Sometimes, it will be about something within yourself or the way you act.  Are you doing all you can to keep your relationships healthy?Are you fully meeting the needs of your job as it is now,  It is all too easy to assume everything has stayed the same. The reality is that probably it hasn’t. But of  course many of the changes may be for the better. How best to respond is really up to you.

Admitting you have a weakness is painful.  It is far more comfortable to blame your partner, the boss, your colleagues or your friends. It is easier to make excuses and rationalize the situation, than admit to things as they are really and begin making changes.

Making Changes – taking the first steps

Facing reality,  admitting there is a problem and taking responsibility for action set up the conditions needed for a successful change.  They are your first steps in making changes.

Look out for the next post in this series. It will be about being clear about the change required.

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach
Wendy Smith, Principal Coach, WiseWolf Life and Career Coaching

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, 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 all her books on Amazon at this link

         

 

High performance culture

High performance culture – how do you generate one?

High performance culture

Improving business performance

High performance culture – performance is key to your organisation’s survival.  You cannot afford to under perform.  But how do you generate a high performance culture? 

Here are some tips!

1. Show leadership from the top

Those at the top of the organisation must be committed to a high performance culture. If necessary, they must be prepared to change to ensure this. The performance management framework  must operate throughout the organization from top to bottom. Those at the top need to model the desired behaviour.

2. Develop business plans

Business planning should be positive. But it must also must be realistic if a high performance culture is going to exist . Be clear about what can be delivered with the resources available.  How will those available resources change over time?  Take into account the people management implications. If you invest in training, how will that effect your business plan? Once plans and priorities have been established, they need pervade the organisation. Your plans need to be translated into department, team and individual performance plans. These need to be throughout the organisation. Can you see the the organisation’s objectives reflected in the most junior employee’s performance plan?

3. Establish what good performance looks like and how it can be measured

All performance indicators and other criteria used to measure performance must be clearly communicated. This should be to all staff and contractors supporting the organisation. Think about what really matters. And focus on measuring the essentials. Keep the number of measures to a minimum.  Want to know more about performance measures? Follow this link

4. Monitor and evaluate

Systems need to be set up to ensure that performance can be monitored and evaluated throughout the year.  You need to understand the effect of changes in levels of performance on the services delivered to your customers or users.

5. Agree specific performance objectives

The organisation’s plans and priorities must be translated into department, team and individual performance objectives. This will usually be by using your existing performance appraisal and staff development processes. Individual plans are most effective when both manager and employee agree them.  Objectives should be SMART. That means;

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Agreed
  • Realistic
  • Time bound.

Is the existing performance management system for your staff  up to the job? If not, take some advice and change it. See Paragraph 7 below.

6. Develop an internal communications’ approach

Effective messages should target your intended audience in the whole range of ways available to you. So, develop a plan for how you will use different media to target various communities within the organisation using for example:

  • Email
  • Intranet (inside the organisation)
  • Internet
  • Newsletter/house magazine
  • Notice board
  • Team briefs
  • Video and in-house TV (you can even use YouTube.)

In addition, regular surveys and suggestion schemes are important ways of ensuring that employees have the opportunity to tell you what they think. This can be on a wide range of issues that impact on  performance.

7. Ensure that performance framework systems are truly in place

A performance review/appraisal system is traditionally used to

  • Set objectives,
  • Identify support needs and
  • Measure progress against objectives.

For it to work effectively, the system must be clearly understood by both managers and employees. This requires:

  • Managers have access to guidance. And the training needed to ensure they manage performance effectively throughout the year
  • All employees have the necessary support, guidance and training to help them engage fully in the performance appraisal process.

If you don’t have these in place it is unlikely that you can become a high performing organisation

8. Support employees to succeed

Effective induction and probation processes for new employees are extremely important. They set the right expectations of performance for both the employee and the manager. Personal development plans (PDPs) should explain how development needs will be met.

9. Encourage performance improvement

Sometimes performance will not meet the required standard. You will need to identify what is getting in the way. Don’t assume anyone chooses to perform poorly. Put in place a plan to deliver improvement and give support. The principle is the same at both the team and individual level. So you need to have clear procedures for dealing with poor performance.

10. Recognise and reward good performance

Good performance needs to be recognised and rewarded. Recognising performance should include sharing success stories. And share the knowledge gained across the organisation. Highlight how good performance helps the organisation as a whole.

Working with an executive coach really can help you get your organisation to perform well. Why not take advantage of my offer of a free half hour coaching session to find out how I can help

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organizational development, 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

         

Performance Management

Performance Management

Performance Management

Managing People – Is Your Performance Review Really Necessary?

Performance management – lots of organisations carry out “performance appraisals.” Most people consider them a “good thing!” And there is lots of information around to help you do them well.

But there is more to encouraging good performance than carrying out the annual performance review. Some people question whether carrying out annual performance reviews actually impacts on the quality of performance.

Let us think a little about the person being assessed. What do they usually think about when a review is due.  Here’s what it likely to be.

What your employee thinks about before their performance management review

  • How is this review going to affect my bonus/performance related pay?
  • How am I being assessed and is it fair?
  • Is my contribution really going to be recognised and acknowledged?
  • How does this review affect my chance of promotion?
  • How well am I doing compared to my peers?

But if you think about it.  These questions don’t reflect why, as a manager, you carry out a performance review.

What you are concerned about is;

  • How will you help the person understand what you think of their performance?
  • What evidence is needed to support your view?
  • If they are not meeting the standard, what advice should you give?
  • What action should follow on from the review?

You are looking to do an assessment that helps your member of staff become more committed to your objectives. How do they become more motivated, accountable, reliable, creative, dedicated, and, yes, happy in the job?

Given the difference in perspectives, holding one annual performance review doesn’t really seem to meet your purpose or theirs. Surely what you need instead is a relationship and structures that support an ongoing dialogue?

No you don’t want spend every day discussing performance.

There is much to be said, though, for commenting very quickly on exceptions in performance – be they good or bad. Giving praise is as important as giving criticism.

Having a performance stock take once a month works for many! Certainly, having a more formal review quarterly, where the question of the bonus isn’t part of the mix, has worked for me. And then, at the end of the year, it is an agreed summary of those quarterly reviews that feeds into the financial reward system.

Developing an effective relationship, and  having an open discussion about the quality of performance is works. It is much more likely to help you and your staff member achieve your goals, both corporate and personal.

Remember, performance management is the process of creating a work environment in which people are enabled to perform to the best of their abilities. Performance management is a whole work system that begins when a job is defined. It ends when an employee leaves your organization.

With a performance management system that works (and a well developed relationship), it becomes much easier to discuss career development. You can consider together opportunities for career progression. Threats to good performance can be seen off before they become real issues. Everyone benefits.

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

         

Managing People – Contracts of employment take a great deal of thought

Managing People – Contracts of employment take a great deal of thought

Following on from yesterday’s post about the Psychological Contract, Annabel Kaye,  Irenicon – employment law in a mad world, thought you would find this video useful. It is about how employers make life so much tougher for themselves than it needs to be by using another organization’s contracts. And Annabel is right, many employers do not understand how important the right contract is  in setting up good performance management and employee relations for the future. One size really does not fit all, better to reflect the spirit of that organization’s particular psychological contract.

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach
Wendy Smith, Principal Coach, WiseWolf Life and Career Coaching

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, 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 all her books on Amazon at this link

         

Leading Change – excuse me while I quietly burn-out

不幸だ

Change teams can be intense and exhausting places to work.  If it is large and complex change, it may put huge demands on everyone.

Everyone feels stressed! 

The Team Leader needs to recognize this and manage the team so that no undue stress is put on any particular individual.

Judging this, and then getting the resources you need to prevent harm to your team, can be difficult.

But stress and burnout are different.  And in a long standing change team, you may well see symptoms of impending burnout.

You need to know what to look for and you need to act.

If having been through a period of  constant stress, someone begins to feel disillusioned, helpless, and completely worn out, they may be suffering from burnout.

If you know your team well, you will notice the difference in attitude and approach.  Suddenly that person you relied on to be enthusiastic, just isn’t anymore!

When you’re burned out, problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak and it’s difficult to muster up the energy to care, let alone do something about what is happening to you.

The unhappiness and detachment burnout causes can threaten jobs, relationships, and health.

But burnout can be helped.

If you recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout in its early stages, simple stress management strategies may be enough to solve the problem.

In the later stages of burnout, recovery may take more time and effort, but you can still regain your balance by reassessing your priorities, making time for yourself and seeking support.

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

Burnout reduces your productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life – including your home and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to deal with burnout right away.

As team leader watch for burnout in both your team and yourself!

  • Make sure stress gets managed and that people seek support
  • Encourage your team to take care of their physical and emotional health.
  • Encourage people to eat properly and to go for a walk at lunch time.  Working through lunch can look like macho dedication but as a long-term habit it puts people at risk!
  • Make sure things are kept in balance.

You can recognize burout and deal with it.  Make sure it doesn’t become a full scale break down.

Personal Burnout Prevention Tips   

  • Start the day with a short quiet space for relaxation or meditation before you go to work.
  • Adopt healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping habits.
  • Set boundarieslearn how to say “no” at work and at home – remember  “no” means you can say “yes” to the things that truly matter.
  • Take a daily break from technology.   Put away your laptop, turn off your phone and stop checking email.  Go out for a walk.
  • Nourish your creative side.  What do you really like doing?
  • Learn how to manage stress. At this link is a simple breathing technique that may help when you feel overwhelmed by stress .
  • 10 Tips for Healthy Living (psychcentral.com)
  • Burnout: What is it? Do I Have it? (centralfloridac12.com)
  • Burnout checklist [Eddington Pindura] (ecademy.com)


Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439  

Out-sourcing – how to be good at it!

In the present climate the pressure to seek value for money through out-sourcing is stronger than ever.

Yes, you can save money but getting the full value from your outsourced service and making sure that it supports your business in the way you intended is complicated.

The financial benefits alone are often not properly understood.  The results of research by Warwick Business School working with IT group Cognizant showed that less than half (43 per cent) of all CIOs and CFOs have attempted to calculate the financial impact of outsourcing to their bottom line let alone determined the real value to their organisations. They don’t know the real value and it is doubtful that they are getting the outcomes they expected!

Here are some steps you can take to ensure you achieve real value from your out-sourcing activity.

1. Know why you are doing it

Don’t out-source just because the competition does it!

What do you expect from the service and what resource will be available to support it?

Can you specify what you need and will you be able to measure and monitor it when it is delivered?

Have you got experience of managing outsourced services or can you afford to buy that expertise?

How essential is this service to your business operations?

Can you afford to take the risk?

2. Be systematic but keep it simple

Work out a strategy for out-sourcing that your organisation can cope with!

If you are new to out-sourcing don’t go for a complicated strategy that involves many suppliers.

If you go for a complex supply chain, you will need to know how to manage it

If you go for multiple suppliers, you will need to know how to coordinate them

Start with a single and relatively simple business function and a single supplier and build from there.

Gain experience as you develop the approach

3. Know how you are going to measure and monitor

Many companies rely on service level agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are crucial to outsourcing arrangements but you will need more than a traditional SLA if you are interested in business improvement!

Measuring against an SLA will tell you about delivering the status quo

Most SLAs will not tell you if the service is really delivering benefits and the right outcomes to your operation!

You need to focus on business improvement rather than just service improvement processes!

Determine what evidence of success and the right outcomes really looks like and use it!

Use industry benchmarks IF they are useful to your business

4. Invest in the relationship for long-term value

Demands and expectations change over time!

This can lead to disagreements with your supplier which can erode the relationship

Agree at the start how you will recognize and respond to changes together

Share information honestly between you

6. Be an intelligent client

Don’t hand all your talent across to the supplier with the service

Keep enough expertise available so you can talk intelligently to your supplier about performance

Keep enough expertise to cope with changing your contractor if necessary in response to supplier failure or market changes

Keep enough expertise available to cope with business innovation.

Be honest with your supplier about your expectations and your customer base

But be prepared to learn from your supplier

You can find this as a slide presentation on LinkedIn at the following link  http://slidesha.re/hc0HyK

Achieving that high performance – excellence and why I don’t play the piano!

Aristotle, the philosopher, had it exactly right 2000 years ago: “We are what we repeatedly do.”  Experience shows that by relying on highly specific practices, we can dramatically improve skills ranging from empathy, to focus, to creativity, to summoning positive emotions, to deeply relaxing.

Anders Ericsson is one of the world’s leading researchers into high performance. For more than two decades, Ericsson has been making the case that it’s not inherited talent which determines how good we become at something, but rather how hard we’re willing to work — something he calls “deliberate practice That notion can be wonderfully empowering. It shows we can be in control of at least part of our own fate.   But it is also daunting. One of Ericsson’s central findings is that practice is not only the most important ingredient  in success, but also the most difficult and probably the least enjoyable. Excellence requires dedication and focus.  But it worries me on other fronts!  Do I want to be excellent at one thing or good enough at a range of tasks that help me lead a rounded and satisfying life?  I suppose I want to be more than good at something so that I can make a real contribution to the world! Call that egotistical but there it is!  But I want to be pretty good at a range of things and I want to be broad enough to take to take the helicopter view over the world that makes for a good leader!

Anyway if you want to be pretty good at something and still keep your wider perspective here are some pointers!

  1. Lead with what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance. Choose as your key skill something you really enjoy and love doing
  2. Do the hardest part first. Learning anything is part grind and grunt! We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice first, before they do anything else. Dedicate the time in the day when you have most energy to the part you like least.  Do it well and get it out of the way!
  3. Practice, practice,practice without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. But don’t spend all day! The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day. And you need the rest of the time for wider pursuits and other interests
  4. Seek feedback, but not too much. The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too often, overwhelms and erodes confidence.  Find people you trust, who like you, to give honest feedback in the right doses!
  5. Take regular breaks. Just like in the gym, relaxing after intense effort provides an opportunity to rejuvenate. But it also allows you to metabolize and embed learning. It’s also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, so you could so something creative during your break and find a whole new world of interests.
  6. Build you practice into a ritual . Researcher Roy Baumeister has found, that very few of us of us have huge amounts of will and resolutiont. The best way to insure you’ll take on difficult tasks is to build rituals — specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.
  7. Review, review, review Be prepared to take a step back sometimes and review your progress.  How does the skill you are acquiring fit in with your rounded life?  How is it going to contribute your future success and happiness?  Be prepared to change your plans in the light of your learning.

As for that piano, my aunt was a pianist at concert performance level!  When I was a small child she attempted to teach me to play.  She became incredibly frustrated because I would find every excuse not to practice.  I never did learn to play!  But her lesson that the hard work gets done first has stayed with me throughout life!  I regret not being able to play but I value my creative childhood!  I spent my time exploring and that is a valuable skill that has stayed with me throughout life!

Outwitting the lovely Ondine, or making the right choices in hard times!

I watched a piece on breakfast television about a small child with something that sounded sinister, Ondine’s Curse.  This is a respiratory disorder that is fatal if untreated as sufferers stop breathing during sleep. It is very rare and the name is a reference to the myth of Ondine, a water nymph who had an unfaithful mortal lover. He swore to her that his every waking breath would be a testimony of his love. He was unfaithful so she cursed him; if he should fall asleep, he would forget to breathe. Eventually, he fell asleep and his breathing stopped. Anyway the story this morning was really about the child being able to be at home for Christmas because someone had invented a ventilator that was small enough for a child’s room!

Ventilators are usually large, cumbersome and difficult to accommodate! So this invention, not only adds to the happiness of a small child and her family, it also reduces the cost of her care to the NHS. No longer will she need expensive hospital resources, even with back up at home from community nursing staff, there will be a saving!

What struck me most was the need to take a long view when reducing costs. Inventing new equipment to reduce costs (and hopefully improve quality) long-term takes time and investment. Also, it requires creativity and teamwork! None of these qualities thrive in hard and uncaring environments. To achieve a climate that can deliver long-term ‘efficiency’ improvements while maintaining (or even improving) quality takes great leadership.

Exam question for December 2010 – do you think your leadership abilities would be up to the challenge? How are you going to maintain/improve them next year?

I would like to wish all readers a very Happy Christmas and a very creative New Year in this time of challenge! I hope you will come back because there will be lots more here next year to help you manage the changes you face!

Alice down the rabbit hole – or customer service and schizophrenia in the downturn!

I’m reading ‘Surviving Change – A Manager’s Guide’ from Harvard Business Press. It advises on managing in the downturn and opens with a discussion of different survival strategies – hard and soft!  In fact, most change is a mixture of the two and the strategy chosen usually reflects the underlying culture of the organisation!   How the mix works is critical because if it is not well managed it can become fraught with conflict and demoralising for people in the organisation; it can lead to a schizophrenic approach to customers.

The ‘hard’ approach to change is usually short-term and about economics  – cut costs and increase cash flow! If a unit, or an employee, cannot demonstrate how they add financial value, out they go with very little ceremony or concern for personal well-being. The change is usually hard driven from the top with little wider engagement.  Often consultants advise the magic inner circle and HR consultants deal with casualties that might cost the organisation.

Soft change focuses on developing the organisation to meet new conditions with high engagement across the piece from the leaders. Employees trust in the informal contract they have with the organisation and work towards its well being.

Sadly experience shows that neither soft or hard approaches work in isolation.  The hard approach works in the short term but with that alone you are usually left with a demoralised and disloyal workforce – your best employees probably left at a rate of knots when you started the change.  The soft approach can take years to embed and the market doesn’t stand still!

Most successful change is a combination of hard (rationalisation well managed) and soft (employee engagement and encouragement to learn new skills).  But if change is a reflection of underlying culture and that has conflicts within it, a change can put the whole organisation out of kilter.  What I’m thinking of here is an organisation that pays lip service to soft but is really hard.  I believe in the downturn this is likely to be an increasing problem, particularly in the service sector.

Clients of service companies, particularly in the UK public sector, like to hear how well the company manages its employees.  A tender panel may take great interest in training and development approaches but, of course, the final decision is usually made on the keenest price.  In the present climate the client is likely to continue to seek cost reductions, which mean lots of change to be managed.  This can lead a company into a kind of schizophrenia.  It flags up all the good things its HR team would like to do but finds itself increasingly having to make hard, and very short-term, decisions.  As a consequence, its own employees and its middle managers in particular, become confused and a little cynical!  In turn this impacts on the service delivered to the client – so the client pushes harder!

What is the answer.? Well maybe it starts with a little more honesty on both sides!   Perhaps clients should start being more realistic about how they expect their service companies to manage for the price they are prepared to pay.  Perhaps the companies should be a little more honest with clients, and  with themselves, about the real costs of delivering ‘cuts’  At the end of the day, a client gets what they pay for and it they want to see services well managed with employees committed to the services they deliver, they need to recognise there will always be a cost even in the downturn!

TIME ONCE AGAIN FOR YOUR DECEMBER LIFE STOCKTAKE?

Last year I suggested we should take regular stock of our lives, just as we go to see the dentist for a regular check up! We all know we should do it!  But many of us don’t!   Most of us would gain from a simple check up once a year!  December is a superb time to take stock both on a professional and a personal level.  We can then begin to  think through our plans for next year and how we are going to make it brilliant! So come with me –  get your pad and pen and follow this link to my guidance on making a start.