Organisational culture

Organisational culture

Organisational culture – an organisation’s culture is a complex system with a organisational culturemultitude of interrelated processes and mechanisms that keep it humming along.  Sometimes it is hard for the leadership team to really understand the culture of the organisation they lead.

This is true particularly if they follow the traditional pattern and don’t move much from the leadership floor!

The leading team may think they determine the culture when they agree a vision and define the values that go with it.

“Oh yes, we are on a mission and we have a mission statement too! It is all in the hands of our Comm’s Director, so I’m sure people understand what it means and reflect it in our culture!”

Really? Unless those vision and mission statements are truly reinforced throughout the organization, they can be meaningless in terms of the culture.

So, do you understand your organisational culture. How do you know what is happening where you are? Here are a few questions for you to think about;

  • Are your organisation’s vision and values reflected in performance reviews and training programmes?
  • What about you financial reward systems? Do they reinforce them?
  • How about memos and communications? Do they highlight what the leadership team thinks are important.
  • What about management actions? For example, are more junior promotions for people who toe the line? Or are they for people who go out on a limb to pursue your vision?

In reality, in most organisations, the culture develops unconsciously and organically. It creates a system that, while not always ideal, does work.

Changing an organisational culture is a real challenge!

It is hard to do without losing the good things you have now. Of course, that assumes that as a leadership team, you are clear about what good things you do have now!

If you are serious about your vision. And you really want to see your values in practice. Then you may have some hard work ahead!

But, of course, until you understand the culture you have now, you won’t know what you need to do. Will you?

Time to start asking some questions, I think!

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

         

Handling Resistance

Handling Resistance

Leading Change the Kotter Way

Handling resistance and fear is the fifth step in the Kotter model. This is handling resistanceabout empowering action, over coming resistance and getting rid of obstacles to change. This post is  part of a series on the Kotter approach to leading change. I am in process of revamping my original Kotter model series. Links to all the earlier Kotter posts are in the next paragraph.

The Kotter model is based on research which showed that there are eight critical steps an organisation or service needs to go through to ensure that change happens and sticks. This series of posts will consider these steps in greater detail. We have already reissued; Step One: Creating Urgency Step Two: Forming a Powerful CoalitionStep Three Creating a Vision for Change and Step Four: Communicate Your Vision

Now we are reaching the point 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 organisation. 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 organisations 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.

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

Handling resistance! To remove obstacles you should;

  • Identify, or hire, change leaders whose main roles are to deliver the change.
  • Look at your organisational structure, job descriptions and performance and compensation systems to ensure they’re in line with your vision.
  • Recognise 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).

When people are resistant;

  • 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 organisation, you may need to use authority to get people to accept the change or move them sideways and, sometimes, even out of the organisation. Do it with as much respect for their dignity as possible – those remaining will be marked by how your respond .

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!

Meanwhile …

Here is a Kotter Reading List for you;

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

         

Communicate Your Vision

Communicate Your Vision

Leading Change the Kotter Way

Communicate your vision is the fourth step in the Kotter model.  This is part of a series on the Kotter approach to leading shining light 2change. I am in process of revamping my original Kotter model series. This post is about communicating the vision that you created in the last stage. Links to all the earlier Kotter posts are in the next paragraph.  You should be working with a vision that people will be able to understand, get on board with and remember.

The Kotter model is based on research which showed that there are eight critical steps an organisation or service needs to go through to ensure that change happens and sticks. This series of posts will consider these steps in greater detail. We have already reissued; Step One: Creating Urgency and Step Two: Forming a Powerful Coalition  and Step Three Creating a Vision for Change.

Step Four: Communicate Your Vision

So you believe you have an overall vision that people will be able to grasp easily and remember. Now you need to get your vision out there to the people who need to understand it. Believe me, how you communicate it, will determine whether your change works, or not.

Your message is likely to have lots of competition. It will have to stand out from all the day-to-day communications within the company. As well as that, if your change is really significant, you can expect the rumour mill to be at work already. It is more likely to be spreading bad news than good. So you need to communicate your vision frequently and powerfully.

But, communicating your vision is not all about words. You and your guiding team need to walk the talk. You need to show that you believe 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. Challenge those who do not. Keep the message fresh and on everyone’s minds.  Then they will begin to remember your vision 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 you want from others.

  1. Talk often about your vision to make it real.
  2. Be authentic – openly and honestly address peoples’ concerns and anxieties.
  3. Be prepared to answer questions but when doing so keep your vision in mind.
  4. Apply your vision to all aspects of operations – from training to performance reviews.
  5. Tie everything back to the vision.
  6. Lead and manage by example.

If you would like some help thinking about how you are going to communicate your change and how you reflect your vision in what you do, please get in touch. I’ve been there myself.

Meanwhile …

Here is a Kotter Reading List for you;

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

         

Creating Vision for Change

Creating Vision for Change

Leading Change the Kotter Way

Creating vision for change is the third step in the Kotter model.  I’ve written quite creating visiona bit here about the Kotter approach to leading change and I am in process of revamping my original Kotter model series.  This post deals with creating a vision that people can understand, get on board with and remember. Links to my posts on the earlier stages are in the next paragraph.

The model is based on research which showed that there are eight critical steps an organisation or service needs to go through to ensure that change happens and sticks. This series of posts will consider these steps in greater detail. we have already dealt with; Step One: Create Urgency, Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition and Step Four: Communicate Your Vision.

Step Three: Create a Vision for Change

When you first start thinking about change, there will probably be many great ideas and solutions floating around.  You need to link these concepts together into an overall vision so that people can grasp them easily and remember.

A clear vision can help everyone understand why you’re asking them to do something – even when it is uncomfortable. When people see for themselves what you’re trying to achieve, then the directives they’re given tend to make more better sense and they can commit to them.

They will expect you as the leader to have a sense of the direction of travel. Something about the vision needs to catch their imagination and help them to stay headed in the same direction.

Here are some steps to help you create your vision:

  • Determine the values that are central to the change. What are the values of your organisation and how do you want to reflect them in the future and in creating vision.
  • Develop a short summary (one or two sentences) that captures what you “see” as the future of your organisation. Make it colourful. How will it have meaning for others?
  • Try your vision out on a colleague – can they see the big picture?
  • Create your strategy so that it executes your vision. What are the big steps on the way?
  • Ensure that your change/guiding coalition (see the links below) can describe the vision in five minutes or less.
  • Practice your “vision speech” often. Make you can feel as well as see your vision when you practice
  • Listen carefully to the responses as you share your vision and consider making adjustments

Next in this series I am going to write more about sharing your vision. Stage 4 in the Kotter model is  about communicating the vision.

Meanwhile…

Here is a Kotter Reading List for you;

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

         

What Kind Of Leader Are You?

What Kind Of Leader Are You?

What kind of leader are you? So, if you had a choice, what kind of person would you want to follow? It is a good question to ask yourself if you are leader in any capacity – from a hobby group, a small work team to a major corporation.

Well, there are some obvious characteristics, aren’t there? For example, we would all want a leader who acted with integrity. Integrity is the very bedrock of trust and we all hope that we can trust the person who is showing us the way ahead.  As for me, I want to follow someone I can believe when they tell me it is safe to take a risk. I’m not going to walk across that rope bridge to a what you tell me is a bright future unless I believe that it really is strong enough to keep me out of the river. Now, sometimes of course you won’t know any more than I do – but you will certainly know how to find out as much as possible. And you’ll tell me clearly what the facts are and why I should take the risk anyway, if I should.

Then, of course, we want a leader who has a clear vision of where we are trying to go and can paint it in a way that we can see the destination too. We want someone who can paint the future in colours that lead us to have enough faith to step out with them. We need a message that gets us all turning in the same direction and marching a long together. That vision needs to be bright enough to illuminate the way.

Most of all we would like to follow a leader who wasn’t working for their own ends but for ours; a servant leader who is prepared to act with compassion. John Maxwell put it this way: “Servant-leaders never pursue a mission at the expense of their people. Rather, servant-leaders earn the loyalty and best efforts of their people by serving the interests and investing in the development of those they lead. A servant-leader wants to see others succeed.” Good leaders know that they’re only as good as the people who support them and so they invest time and energy in ensuring the well-being and success of their team.

What Kind Of Leader Are You?

So, what kind of leader are you? Are you demonstrating integrity, vision and compassion? If not, what changes do you plan to make? You will need to change something won’t you, if you are serious about your career and expect others to follow you.

If you would like some help in developing your leadership skills please get in touch. Good leaders are modest enough to know that working with a coach really can make a difference.

Wendy Mason is the The Career Coach – helping you to find fresh perspectives on your Job Search and Career. She helps you work towards your goals and aspirations, in a way that fits in with both work and home life. Email her at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com,  find her on Skype at wendymason14, or call +44 (0) 2081239146 (02081239146 for UK callers) or +1 262 317 9016 if you are in the US.

A free trial/consultation allows you to try phone coaching from the comfort of your own home and without risk. Don’t forget to ask about the Summer Special Offer 

 

 

Create a Shared Vision!

Create a Shared Vision!

Create a Shared Vision – What do followers want? A leader with a compelling vision of the future – which is not usually that leader’s personal view. New research shows that followers respond to a leader who can articulate a vision.  I hope you enjoy this post from Harvard Business Review.

To Lead, Create a Shared Vision

Being forward-looking—envisioning exciting possibilities and enlisting others in a shared view of the future—is the attribute that most distinguishes leaders from nonleaders. We know this because we asked followers.

In an ongoing project surveying tens of thousands of working people around the world, we asked, “What do you look for and admire in a leader (defined as someone whose direction you would willingly follow)?” Then we asked, “What do you look for and admire in a colleague (defined as someone you’d like to have on your team)?” The number one requirement of a leader—honesty—was also the top-ranking attribute of a good colleague. But the second-highest requirement of a leader, that he or she be forward-looking, applied only to the leader role. Just 27% of respondents selected it as something they want in a colleague, whereas 72% wanted it in a leader. (Among respondents holding more-senior roles in organizations, the percentage was even greater, at 88%.) No other quality showed such a dramatic difference between leader and colleague.

This points to a huge challenge for the rising executive: The trait that most separates the leaders from individual contributors is something that they haven’t had to demonstrate in prior, nonleadership roles. Perhaps that’s why so few leaders seem to have made a habit of looking ahead; researchers who study executives’ work activities estimate that only 3% of the typical business leader’s time is spent envisioning and enlisting. The challenge, as we know, only escalates with managerial level: Leaders on the front line must anticipate merely what comes after current projects wrap up. People at the next level of leadership should be looking several years into the future. And those in the C-suite must focus on a horizon some 10 years distant.

So how do new leaders develop this forward-looking capacity?

You can read the rest of this post at this link

 

John Kotter – Communicating a Vision for Change

John Kotter – Communicating a Vision for Change

Dr. Kotter give you important tips about how to communicate a new vision.

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

         

Top Cat is Away – Will the Mice Play?

Our place
Image by gomveron via Flickr
 “I always find going on holiday an incredibly stressful experience. Not the trip itself, but finding the right time to go. There’s always something going on at work that you feel like you ought to be there for, or you worry about someone else being away at the same time, or… Well, ok, some of them are probably just feeble excuses for the fact that you just don’t want to leave your baby all on its own. But it is hard to find a good time.”

Do you recognise these words? Spoken or unspoken is this how you feel each year?

Most families take a holiday of some kind during the summer. But I’ve known leaders who don’t really join in.

Yes, the body is there but where is the mind? Oh yes, they leave the office for a week or so. They may even visit their villa abroad or a nice five star hotel somewhere. But access to a phone service and good wifi are a priority and, back at base, they know to expect a call from the boss at least twice a day.

I wonder if these “supermen” (it does tend to be men) know how silly the blackberry and the laptop look when used on a sun bed. But, of course, they are much too senior for anyone to tell them. Do you know the fable of the emperor’s new clothes?

I’m not talking here about the poor middle manager whose boss only agreed to a break, if they agreed to stay in touch. I’m taking about senior people who don’t feel they have a place in the world unless their work needs them.

In this day and age, it is a dangerous way to think, even if you are at the top of the tree. It is dangerous for you in an age of uncertainty and it throws up questions about your leadership style.

Flexible organisations that can cope with a changing economic climate require distributed leadership. If a change happens locally, you need your local managers to feel empowered to lead a response from where they are without reference to you; you need them to take quick, clever action!

Have you have established a meaningful vision and a broad strategy to achieve it? Do your people feel empowered to make good decisions?   Have you treated them decently? So, shouldn’t you be able to trust them to make good decisions on your behalf?

If you have pointed the ship in the right direction, shouldn’t they know how to keep it going?  Certainly over a one or two week break. Of course you need to be available for a real emergency.

That just leaves you with the problem of how to impress your fellow holiday makers round the pool, of course. But I’ll leave you to meditate on that one.

I am Wendy Mason. I work as a Personal Development Coach,

 Consultant and Writer.I have worked with many different kinds of people going through all kinds of personal and career change, particularly those

  • looking for promotion or newly promoted,
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • moving into retirement.

I am very good at helping you sort out what you want, overcome obstacles and handle change. I offer face to face, telephone and on-line coaching by email or Skype

Email me at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 to find out more. 

  • Five Myths of Leadership (thinkup.waldenu.edu)
  • What kind of boss do you have? (techwag.com)

Vision Statement

Bushman's Paradise at Spitzkoppe
Image via Wikipedia

Your   vision;

  1. Articulates your dreams and hopes for your business.
  2. Reminds you of what you are trying to build.
  3. Captures your passion.
  4. Defines your purpose and values.
  5. Should be your inspiration.
  6. Determines your priorities.
  7. Is a long-term view.
  8. Defines the way the  organization will look in the future.
  9. Sets the direction for your business planning
  10. Influences decision making and the way you allocate resources.
  11. Is for you and the other members of your organization.

Your vision is not

  1. A map to tell you how you’re going to get to the promised land
  2. For just for one year or two
  3. For your customers or clients although it can be shared with them
  4. Owned by you alone.

Visions only work if you share them with others – spread the Power, spread the Purpose, spread the Passion.

Formal Definition – A vision statement is an aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action. See also mission statement. Courtesy of http://www.businessdictionary.com/
  • Leading Change – do you have a great vision? (wisewolftalking.com)

Leading Change – are we there yet?

We’ve all endured it, haven’t we!  The trip to see Granny seemed such a good idea.  But now the two kids in the back are really bored and all they want to know is – are we there yet?

Well sometimes, quite often in fact, when you are responsible for leading a change, you will hear the same refrain.  And sometimes, it will be from your Chief Executive.  Chief Executives usually like things done fast – they want their results and they want them now!  Well, of course they do. Usually that is what they get paid for!

But John Kotter, who we have been revisiting here recently, thinks that is why many change programmes fail.  They fail because the change is judged to be complete too early.

Real change, particularly whole organization change, takes a long time to complete properly.  Step Seven of Kotter’s eight stage process is about building on the changes you made with your quick wins, to make sure the whole vision is achieved.

You need to make sure that quick wins are recognised as only the beginning of what needs to be done.  This can be much easier if you have actually fleshed out your vision into a blueprint for the organization you wish to create.  Did you think through what the new business and operating models would look like?  Do you understand what information and support systems will be required? Is that blue print, that you so carefully produced, still appropriate.  In an ever changing world, does it need to be refreshed?

Even with the success you have achieved so far, you need to keep looking for improvements! Each success you achieve with your change programme provides an opportunity to build on what went right and to identify what you can improve. And you need to keep your audience, and particularly your Chief Executive, on board for the long haul with lots of good quality information.

What other things can you do now?

  • Build on the credibility you have established to win confidence in your long term solutions – make sure people see the links between what has been achieved so far and what is to come.
  • After every win, analyze what went right and what still needs improving. Be honest about the results and, if something didn’t go particularly well, show you own the problem and how you will make sure it doesn’t happen again.
  • Refresh your goals to make sure they build on the momentum you’ve achieved.
  • Learn about the idea of continuous improvement.
  • Keep ideas fresh by bringing in new change agents and leaders for your change coalition.
  • Refresh the team, if you need to – those good at start-up may not be who you need now.
  • While maintaining focus on the vision, re-invigorate your programme with some new projects and some new themes.

So it really is a bit like the journey to see Granny!  It helps if you have some new games, so that you can keep people engaged.  But of course at the end of the day you are still paying very close attention to the map to ensure you do get to your final destination.

I would love to hear about your experiences of change.  And if you think I can help you, please get in touch!

A 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