Leading Change: High Levels Of Engagement Could Actually Put Your Change At Risk

Leading change: high levels of engagement could actually put your change at risk

New research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Kingston University Business School’s Centre for Research in Employment, Skills and Society (CRESS) has emphasized the distinction between people whose man engagement at work is with doing their immediate job to earn a living and others whose emotional attachment is much wider and extends to the organization itself – colleagues, line managers and customers.

Those engaged primarily with their jobs might enjoy and take pride in their individual work but they just want to do it and get on with rest of their lives. It is interesting that the study found that these people who are transactionally engaged (their interest is mainly in the technicalities of own work) report higher levels of stress and difficulties in achieving a work-life balance than those who are emotionally engaged with the organization.

It can become more complicated when, for example. someone is emotionally engaged mainly with their profession and perhaps even their clients, but only transactionally engaged with their current role and the current organisation.

Now ,this presents some interesting challenges for those leading change, particularly in how they communicate about the change.

A change that is being made for the perceivable good of the organization is more likely to be supported by someone emotionally engaged with that organization. That is, if the well being of colleagues is seen to be a priority and there is a clear commitment to managing the change well.

However, a change that threatens the work of an individual who is transactionally engaged may present a much greater risk. Most change managers have encountered the committed and brilliant technical specialist who decides they have no alternative but to subvert a change for the good of their work.

So how can you respond?

Well, for a start you need to understand your group and have a care with the results of engagement surveys which may not distinguish between different kinds of engagement.

What kind of people are in your group and what kind of work do they do? Walk the talk – get out there and meet them. Have conversations and be prepared to listen and to deal with feelings and anxiety.

When you communicate the change be aware that the impact will be different for different kinds of people. Take those different needs into account when you are planning the message. Then recognize the risk that different kinds of engagement might present. If your change threatens the organization itself then you need to manage the risk that presents for those committed to it. But handled the right way they will come with you on the journey.

Those committed mainly just to the job may well simply remove themselves, together with their precious technical skills if they can see nothing in the change for them. If their skills are critical to the organization you may need to consider incentives to stay – these could range from money to opportunities for professional development or even enhanced technical facilities.

As with all change programs, success lies with inspiring people to follow the vision but that inspiration may come with different strokes for very different kinds of folks

If you need the support of a coach in developing your career as change leader or change manager, then get in touch – I’ve been there before you.

Wendy Mason is a Career Coach with Life Coaching skills and expertise in helping people have the confidence they need to be successful at work while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason
@wisewolfcoaching.com

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Taking Your First Steps in Leadership

English: Children playing in snow

So when do you start to be a leader?

Well, we start leading as soon as someone starts to follow!

You’ve seen them haven’t you – a group of children playing together and then one of them starts to assume command?  They decide the games that will be played and usually the roles that others will take!  “We are going to play….” and off they trot – one of the group has become the leader.

In the workplace, as soon as there are two of you, someone has to lead.  Someone has to decide what you are there for and how you will work together! It is this act of making sense of things that is the core element of leadership.

Some people can’t wait to take the responsibility for leadership and they thrive on it.

Others are more diffident.  The prospect can be frightening and they think they won’t know what to do.  They hope someone else will be the leader, or that leadership can be avoided.

But organizations without any leadership founder!

To be successful leadership needs recognition, so that the direction people need can be given.

People need to know who the leader is! They will want, and need, someone to check-in with to make sure that they, and the organization, are on the ‘right’ course!

Clear and cohesive leadership can give a sense of direction and security even in these troubled times.

But remember as Warren Bennis has said “Leaders are made rather than born.”   So even if you start out nervous or unwilling to lead, you can learn to meet the challenge for your organization.

You too can learn to develop a vision and to empower and support your people in turning that vision into reality.

As you step into leadership, ask yourself what do I bring to the role and how will I prepare?  Then you will find there are lots of resources out there to help you on your leadership journey.

With commitment and good will, you have your feet on the first steps of the ladder to giving your organization the leadership it needs.

 
Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those wanting to increase their confidence

If you would like to work on developing your own confidence, Wendy offers the Wisewolf Learn to Be Confident Program at this link

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

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Corporate Panic and lessons from the Wolf Pack!

Eleven-member wolf pack in winter, Yellowstone...

I left the UK public sector five years ago.  At that time people management skills appeared to be in the decline.  I noticed this particularly in how restructuring exercises were being handled.  It was the main reason I chose to go!

I had always been very proud to be part of the UK Civil Service! Sadly that ceased when I saw how some of my colleagues were being treated. No, not because we were being downsized – it was how we were being downsized.

Well, the UK public sector has changed a lot since I left and I do not mean in terms of the colour of the government.  In terms of managing change, few lessons seem to have been learned and a good number seem to have been forgotten.

There have always been good and bad employers – bosses with more and less finesse when dealing with their employees.  My encounters with large private sector corporates, has led me to think they are not better or worse at handling people than those in the public sector.  Good practice in small and medium-sized bodies varies widely in both sectors.

Recently I have heard some very strange and rather sad tales from those in both the public and private sectors. I have heard about organizations going through their third and fourth restructuring in a few months.

On top of that, I am being told of people who have had to reapply for their own roles three and four times in those exercises. As you will understand the effect on staff morale is devastating.

Running large corporate change programmes – even when well handled – costs a lot of money.

Right now, not only is there a lot of change but it is very clear that it is not being handled well.

As one former colleague with vast experience of managing public sector change successfully said to me;

“They try to manage a restructure themselves and can’t. So then they bring in one of the large consultancy firms to help and they just seem to make it worse. They are being told to finish the change quickly, so they don’t try to find out what we do really but they get well paid.”

What is going wrong?  Well yes, I do know about the economy and the need to make “cuts”.  And yes I do know we live in a world of constant change.

But there seems to be a kind of corporate panic/frenzy around and that is the worst way to respond.  Now more than ever we need real leadership and we need leadership confident enough to be serene when all about are running round like headless chickens.

Think about a wolf pack!  Wolves have to flex and change all the time as they hunt.  The constants are that they are quite clear why they are there, the strengths and weaknesses they possess and their roles. The leader sniffs the wind and off they go in very good order.

The weather may change about them and the quarry may lead them into new and difficult terrain.  But because they are well led, have a strong commitment to the pack and are clear about their roles they succeed often enough to thrive even in the most challenging times.

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. 

She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

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Successful Leaders Need Mental Toughness And This Is Something Anyone Can Learn

Unit cell of the diamond cubic crystal structureImage via Wikipedia


My last post said that with practice you can learn to think positively and confidently about making changes.  You   can develop a resilient mindset.  This post takes this further and offers help!

People with inborn talent may be good at what they do—but experience shows that only the mentally tough reach the highest plateaus in their field.

Mental toughness is something anyone can learn.

Director of mental training for the St. Louis Cardinals and a top-tier executive coach, Dr. Jason Selk knows everything there is to know about developing mental toughness!

Inspired on the vision of legendary basketball coach John Wooden, Dr Selk has developed a program that is as simple as it is effective.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

You will have to put effort in if you are serious about being successful.  
But this is a great way to build up your mental “muscles.” 

Dr Selk provides hands-on daily exercises for breaking old, self-defeating patterns of behaviour.  You can replace them with the can-do attitude and positive behavior that would make Coach Wooden proud.

ExecutiveToughness outlines the three fundamentals for attaining high-level success:

  • ACCOUNTABILITY—admit to mistakes, correct them, and, most important, learn from them
  • FOCUS—on your strengths, on winning, on reaching your goal . . . for only 100 seconds per day
  • OPTIMISM—don’t just believe you can succeed, know you can succeed

Executive Toughness takes you through the steps of making these critical behaviours part of your everyday routine.

Practice your accountability, focus, and optimism!

Then,you’ll be on the path to attaining your goals!

Make them part of your mental “DNA” and there will be no turning back—ever.

ExecutiveToughness could be your workout for success in your career and in your life.
US Link

UK Link

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Writer. 


She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114


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The Resilient Mindset – don’t let a fixed mindset defeat you.

Don’t change – stay right where you are”!

Nobody said change was easy.  Personal change is hard, so is changing an organization.  It is uncomfortable and risky.

That is why most of us don’t change until change is forced on us.

We don’t change; even when making a change could make a huge and positive difference for us and those about us.

Most of us have a mindset that favours staying put right where we are – a “fixed” mindset. And fixed mindsets lack resilience.

Standing still and staying where we are, can present far more danger and risk in the long term than making a change.

Changing that mindset

So how do you develop a resilient mindset?

You need to learn to challenge your own thinking.

Your fixed mindset will chatter away in your head, if you let it.  It will fill your head with negativity and erode your confidence.

The nasty fixed mindset will tell you that even if you wanted to change, you can’t do it!  You’re not bright enough! Your team isn’t strong enough!  You don’t have the brains or the talent!

This time you are going to answer back. 

“Well I’m certainly bright enough – if I see the need for change, I’m bright enough to do it.  I can learn and I can find people who can advise me.  I can learn and my team can learn!”

You fixed mindset will probably answer – “But what happens if and when you fail?

So here is your defence.  “Everyone fails sometimes.  But I’ll do it well and I’ll manage the risks – so I’ve got every chance of success”

“But” says your fixed mindset, “if you don’t make the change, you can’t fail.”

“No, but, if I don’t try, I’ve failed already!

Now your fixed mindset sneers and becomes cunning.  “Oh so it is going to be easy for you then!”

You smile wryly.  “No it isn’t going to be easy.  Nothing worth having comes easy. I’m going to do it”

Back into the shadows!

If you keep beating it back, at some point your fixed mindset will slink away into the shadows.  It won’t be dead.

It may emerge occasionally when you are feeling tired or frustrated.

But you have the upper hand now.  You know you have to find the energy to take up your sword and beat it back into the shadows again.

With practice you can learn to think positively and confidently about your change.  You will develop a resilient mindset

You can do it! You can make the change you desire – it is time to start believing. Reach for your sword and begin practicing.


Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Writer. 

She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

Share

  • Becoming A Leader Today – What to give up! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Are you a resilient leader? (wisewolftalking.com)
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Leading Change – lessons from the NHS – making sure your change is properly embedded!

The Department of Health headquarters in Whitehall
The Department of Health headquarters in Whitehall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve worked on a lot of business change programs.  But when I first started working on them that was not what they were called; around the NHS, we had lots of “reorganizations”!

The longest period of my career was spent with the UK Department of Health.  Not long after I started, the Government initiated a major re-organization of the NHS – the one that led to the first appearance of “Area Health Authorities”, if I remember it correctly.  Not long after the start of the program, victory was declared and the change was regarded as complete.

But, of course, it wasn’t complete – the change was not embedded; things started to go wrong!

Guess what? We had a further reorganization to put things right.  And, of course, victory was acclaimed again.  And again, things went wrong.

So, it became a repetitive cycle, as governments of different political colors learned the hard way that changing the NHS just ain’t easy!  It really doesn’t do a great deal for your political career and, hard as you try to, you can’t de-politicize it and give all the risk to someone else.  But that doesn’t stop the brave cavaliers in each government trying again, does it?

I spent too long as a Civil Servant to now indulge in Party Politics.  Enough to say, that it was watching those repeated failures that got me interested in large scale change in the first place.

What seemed rather grotesquely obvious to me (ex-nurse and, oh, too many years in the Department), was that none of these changes was allowed time to truly embed!

Politicians live within the election cycle – democracy in action.  Their Political survival requires quick results to convince voters.

Unfortunately, large and complex and very organizations (like the NHS), can’t be turned round quickly.  Behavior takes time to change and culture usually lags long behind behavior.

Most of us don’t have anything as complex as the NHS to change.

But we do need to make our own changes stick/embed (Kotter Stage Eight).  We need to make the change become part of the core of the organization!

What can you do to help this along?

Well you need to make efforts continuously to ensure that the change is seen in every aspect of your organization. This will help give that change a solid place in your organization’s culture.

It’s also important that your company’s leaders continue to support the change. This includes existing staff and any new leaders who are brought in. If you lose the support of these people, you could end up back where you started.

What else can you do?

  • Continue to talk about progress every chance you get. Tell success stories about the change process, and repeat other stories that you hear. Give everyone a clear picture! But DON’T talk about the change being “over”.  If you do that, some people will just sigh a sigh of relief and revert to the previous state.
  • Include the ideals and values of the change in every new corporate event.
  • Remember those ideals and values when hiring and training new staff or making deals with new contractors.
  • Publicly recognize the achievement so far.  Make much of those who have worked so hard to get you this far!
  • Recognize and reward publicly those who truly demonstrate the change in their behavior – even if that recognition has to be quite modest in the present climate
  • Don’t throw up your hands and declare a failure just because the outcome isn’t perfect – no change is perfect – good enough is what it needs to be..
  • Create plans to replace key leaders of change as they move on. This will help ensure that their legacy is not lost or forgotten.

I would love to hear about your own experience of large scale change. As for the NHS, well it belongs to all of us in the UK and everyone of us has a view – talk about Soccer Mums!

Kotter Reading List for you;

Related articles

  • Leading Change and the virtue of patience (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – dealing with fears and facing up to resistance(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – get your vision into people’s minds and keep it there!(wisewolftalking.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 or

Leading Change and the virtue of patience

Image of the glassharmonica, invented by Benja...
The glassharmonica invented by Benjamin Franklin
 “He that can have patience can have what he will.” Benjamin Franklin courtesy of Wally Bock  (who liked the earlier version of this). 
 

As some will know, I’ve been working my way through Kotter’s eight steps in change leadership again recently. Step Six is to create short-term wins.

Most of the post below was written a little time ago.  It was so well received that is doesn’t make sense to change it entirely but I have added a couple of further thoughts. 

Nothing motivates and gives people confidence more than success. Give your company and your team a taste of victory early in the change process. Within a short time frame (this could be a month or a year, depending on the type of change), you’ll want to have results that your top team and staff can see. Without this, critics, negative thinkers and cynics might hurt your progress.

Big bang changes are fraught with risk and danger; so it makes sense, if you can, to break your change down into manageable modules.  This gives you the opportunity to create short-term targets.  These then build up to your overall long-term goal rather than having just one long-term event. It means you get early benefits.

You want each smaller target to be achievable, with little room for failure, particularly the early ones. Your change team may have to work very hard to come up with these targets, but each “win” that you produce can further motivate and inspire the entire organization. Your early wins inpire confidence so that people are prepared to stay with you for the rest of the journey.

What you can do:

  • Look for sure-fire projects that you can implement relatively quickly and without help from any strong critics of the change.
  • Don’t choose early targets that are expensive. You want to be able to justify the investment in each project.
  • Choose achievements with tangible results that are easily understood and, if possible, bring benefits to many
  • Thoroughly analyze the potential pros and cons of your targets and make sure you really understand what is required. If you don’t succeed with an early goal, it can hurt your entire change initiative.
  • Reward the people who help you meet the targets.
  • Publicize what you have done – get out there and wave your flags

I’d welcome your thoughts on this and if you would like help in leading or managing your change, please get in touch.

A Kotter Reading List for you;

  • Leading Change – dealing with fears and facing up to resistance (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – get your vision into people’s minds and keep it there! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – deciding who leads! (wisewolftalking.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 or 

Leading Change – dealing with fears and facing up to resistance

Recently I’ve been writing about John Kotter’s eight stage process for leading and managing change.  Stage 5 is about empowering action, over coming resistance and getting rid of obstacles to change.

This is where your investment in Stages 1 to 4, begins to pay dividends.

Kotter himself states that when Stages 1 to 4 are skipped, resistance is inevitable and this can destroy your change.

People resist change because they fear loss.  They believe they are defending something they value which feels threatened.   This can include loss of security, power, resources and overall loss of control.  Most of us fear the unknown.

If you have followed the earlier Kotter steps when you reach this point, you will have been talking about your vision and building up buy-in from all levels of the organization. Hopefully, your group will want to get busy and be out there achieving the benefits that you’ve been promoting.

But there may still be some resisting the change!  There may be people (individuals or groups), processes, structures and even organizations that are getting in the way?

You not only need to put in place the structure for change, but check continually for barriers and blockers to it.

Removing obstacles can empower the people you need to execute your vision and it certainly helps them move the change move forward.

To remove obstacles you should

  • Identify, or hire, change leaders whose main roles are to deliver the change.
  • Look at your organizational structure, job descriptions and performance and compensation systems to ensure they’re in line with your vision.
  • Recognize and reward people for making change happen.
  • Identify people who are resisting the change and help them see what’s needed.
  • Take action quickly to remove barriers (human or otherwise).

To remove barriers of the human kind

  • Help them understand the logic behind the change.
  • Give them an opportunity to contribute – to help design and implement the change (e.g., ideas, task forces, committees).
  • Provide facilitation & coaching to help them adjust to the change.
  • Offer incentives to those who continue to resist change.

If all else fails, and this change is critical to the organization, use authority to get people to accept the change or to move sideways and, possibly, out.

This can be one of the most challenging stages for the Change Leader but – as I’ve written here many times before – no one told you change was going to be easy!

A Kotter Reading List for you;

  • Leading Change – deciding who leads! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – get your vision into people’s minds and keep it there! (wisewolftalking.com)


Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you.  Email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Leading Change – get your vision into people’s minds and keep it there!

shining light 2

I’ve written a lot here about the Kotter Model for leading change.  Recently I’ve been working my way through his various stages yet again because they always provide something new to think about. I’ve also written a lot about communication. Stage four of the Kotter process is about communicating your vision.

What you do with your vision after you create it and how you communicate it, will determine whether your change works, or not.

Your message is likely to have a lot of competition. It will probably have strong competition from other day-to-day communications within the company. As well as that, if your change is really significant you can expect the rumour mill to go to work spreading bad news. So you need to communicate your vision frequently and powerfully. You and your guiding team need to walk the talk and embed message in everything that you do.

Don’t just call special meetings to communicate your vision. Instead, talk about it every chance you get. The guiding team need to be visible and let people see you as the embodiment of the change you intend to make.

The top team should be using the vision daily to make decisions and solve problems. And so should all those who are actively engaged. Keep it fresh and on everyone’s minds,  then they will begin to remember it and respond to it.

What you do is far more important – and believable – than what you say.

Make sure the whole guiding team demonstrates the kind of behaviour that you want from others.

Make sure you

  1. Talk often about your vision to make it real.
  2. Be authentic – openly and honestly address peoples’ concerns and anxieties.
  3. Apply your vision to all aspects of operations – from training to performance reviews.
  4. Tie everything back to the vision. Lead and manage by example.

A Kotter Reading List for you;

  • Leading Change – deciding who leads! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – Your Vision in an Uncertain Future – Scenario Planning (wisewolftalking.com)

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you.  Email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Leading Change – do you have a great vision?

A great vision needs to be about the future but it will fail if it is not firmly rooted in the present. You may wish to change a group but you can’t ignore its history, culture and organization.  Most of all you need to make sure there is a connection to its values.

This is where those who are new to the organization sometimes come adrift when leading and managing change.  Even if you are trying to move existing values on, you cannot totally ignore them in your vision for the future.  Somehow in your change, those in the existing organization need to feel that their present values are being honoured.

Your vision needs to have roots but it needs to be future focussed and challenging – it needs to reflect and set high standards, and high ideals.  Make your vision something that people will want to live up to.  That means it will keep chins high when you hit the difficult patches!

Your vision should inspire – you want it to raise enthusiasm and commitment. It is much more likely to do that if it touches the needs and aspirations of all those who have a stake in it.  This includes not only those inside the organization but also clients, customers, users and, if possible, your suppliers.

Make sure your vision can be understood – communicate it well.  Make it clear and unambiguous! Paint pictures when you talk about it that people can take away and imagine for themselves.  Make this a future they can see in their minds and want to be a part of.

Make your vision unique and distinctive – not to be confused with where we said we were going five years ago.  This must be special.

Above all make your vision ambitious!  Make sure that people can see that real progress will have been made when your vision is achieved.  This should be a vision that expands everyone’s horizons.

So to sum up your vision needs to be

  1. Appropriate to your history, culture and values
  2. Challenging with high standards and high ideals
  3. Inspirational
  4. Aspirational – reflecting the aspirations of all those with an interest
  5. Understandable
  6. Distinctive
  7. Ambitious

I’d love to hear you experience of working with visions – what has worked for you and what has not worked?

  • Leading Change – Your Vision in an Uncertain Future – Scenario Planning (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – deciding who leads! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition (wisewolftalking.com)


Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you.  Email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439