“Tips on encouraging complainers to become part of the solution”

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I wonder how many in leadership cringe on the inside, (during meetings) when employees complain of a breakdown in communication and systems, but fail to offer a solution?

I mention this with empathy for leadership who are “expected” to lead and provide a resolution to all systemic issues.

Having experienced my share of working with disgruntled employees (those who are quick to speak out on injustices), I see the need for ideas or resolutions after the feedback is provided.

I am sure a great deal of employees are waiting for their employer or upper management to offer resolution, after all they are the ones in a leadership position, right?, However a company culture that seeks resolution from the frontline employee is in my eyes, wisdom.

Frontline employees speak directly with customers, and since they are the ones that are more likely to discover a trend that is hurting the organization, they should also receive the opportunity to work on a resolution.

Therefore there should be an ongoing and spoken rule that states “if you speak up in meetings to state a problem, you must in the same breath offer a solution”.

In no way is this designed to punish those who present problems, but it sets the tone for problem solving or resolution without creating an atmosphere that lends itself to constant criticism.

Team Work in the making

irysec.vic.edu-- problem solving

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Management and frontline workers receive the opportunity to work together as a team to bring about resolution as opposed to waiting for leaders who are often stopping other organizational wide problems to provide all of the answers.

This also allows for upper management to remain in tune with the feelings and thoughts of its employees and customers (as they will hear firsthand from frontline workers what the organization is up against, while at the same time learning of frequent consumer complaints).

Application in the making

You may wonder, “What is the most efficient way to endorse this sort of change?”

  1. Speak with the employees in meetings and set the expectation – if a problem is mentioned, it must be closely followed by a solution (from that particular employee).
  2. After the problem at hand is mentioned (with a possible resolution), if indeed that resolution is manageable and cost effective, place the employee on a team that is designed to conquer that problem.
  3. The employee is now expected to collect data to confirm that indeed the problem is a new or reoccurring trend.
  4. Once the employee collects the data, that particular employee will now be expected to relay this information back to the team and management for further plans to rectify the issue.

It may not be the answer to solve all organization wide problems but it’s a damn good way to get the conversation started.

The next step will be for management to trust the expertise of frontline employees to activate resolution.  This has the opportunity to provide more fulfillment for the front-line employee, while retaining satisfied customers.

What tips do you have to offer to bridge the gap between frontline employees and management?

‘Unfreeze, Move, Freeze ‘ – Using Kurt Lewin’s model to identify the need for change in your organization

Unfreeze, Move, Freeze

How many times have you or other disgruntled employees complained that your place of employment just did not get it? Complaints have surely reached upper management but you have yet to see the sort of change necessary to produce sustainable change.

Many have fought this organizational “beast” and continue to suffer or leave for the next “imperfect” organization.

What needs to change and how deep does this change effort need to swim to clean up all the griminess left at the bottom of the ocean?

Well there are many answers to those questions but, the simplest way to start this change effort is by first identifying, organizational wide the need for change.

Change Models

One way that I have mentioned in a previous blog can include the benefits of using the OCAI assessment tool.  Results taken from assessments from employees identify the current state of their organization and what all employees desire it to.

No doubt, this tool has the ability to open Pandora box. However if your organization is not currently in the position to present and deliver the time necessary to work through these assessments, why not try Kurt Lewins, three phase for organizational change “Unfreeze, Move, Freeze”?

Introduced in the early 1900’s this tool is considered by some to be “too simplistic”, yet sometimes it is my belief that some things do not require in depth analysis to determine the need for change.

Once it is unfrozen, any unacceptable policies and procedures can be altered or “moved”, and then taken back to its original frozen state. Business professionals lament that this theory fails to identify the various elements and variables that need change, however it is great to get the conversation going.

Lewins’ theory (that helped cement others more in depth theory) illustrates that organizations move from being stagnate or in their current state, to new changes (implemented), and back to its original state.

This theory identifies those who are for change and those who want to maintain the “status quo”.  But it also has the opposite effect.  Employees against change, push back.  A force field, where you have employees for organizational change, and those who are against change are easily reflected. Change is not foreseeable when those for it and against are opposing one another. Therefore you have what Lewin calls a Force Field AnalysisKurtLewinForceField

Opinion’s to refrain from new trainings (lack of resources, time, or implementation for training) represents arguments for status quo (Anderson, 2015). Request such as new customer demands, market demands, organizational growth can represent the need for change.  The force for change and the argument to sustain creates the force field effect. Although there are different interest represented in force field analysis, it is an eye opener for organizations no matter what side of the fence you stand.

Representation of the battle that lies ahead allows for employees and stockholders to understand why change takes time and effort to embrace.

The conversation is ignited, presenting the steps for organization development. Yes, practitioners agree that it is not the most complex models, but at least it has the ability to get the conversation moving in the right direction.

Although change may be a feat, at least your organization will have a brilliant painting of those for change and those who oppose it.

When management ponders why change is not sustainable, this illustrations will help paint the picture why.

Reference

Anderson, D.L. (2015). Organization Development: The Process of Leading Organizational Change. (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Connelly, M. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.change-management-coach.com/force-field-analysis.html

 

Has Survey’s lost their appeal?

Image Source: onepointglobal.com

Do you have the feeling that the “survey” no longer carry the weight that they once had?

In the year of 2017, it is almost impossible to avoid surveys.  Surveys are everywhere, from fast food restaurants, banks, schools, medical offices, and the list goes on and on. With the market being so overcrowded by this craze, one cannot help but wonder, if surveys are this common place, just how serious are organizations and customers taking them?

Inside organizations, employees avoid surveys because just about everyone knows, that they are not always confidential.

Yet more reject them after having submitted survey’s themselves in hopes for change only to see time and time again, the thoughts shared for a better organization fell upon deaf ears.

At this stage (of organizations seeking how to please all customers, internal and external), how can organizations revamp the survey to produce sustainable change?

Use the Feedback provided to your Organization through Survey’s

One of the easiest and clear cut ways of revamping surveys is for organizations to actually use the feedback that they receive.

To go through the lengths to imply that you are a customer service friendly organization that cares about the opinions and service provided to customers is not the same as actually ‘being’ that organization that takes all opinions and thoughts into consideration.  You cannot fake what is not there.  Either your organization cares and will make changes as needed, or you will lose customers like a rushing wind or a slow dripping faucet.  Why ruin the hard work that went into establishing such an organization just to see it falter because of a lack of concern for customers?

Hiring Quality People

Survey-Source iStock

Source:  iStock

To my statement that “you cannot fake what is not there”, it behooves organization to really take the time to vet during the hiring process.  Many have no problem with lying on their applications, or faking and taking on a false persona that does not exist within that individual.

Therefore whoever is in charge of hiring should have the ability to read people and not just there resume’.   Embellishment on resumes and job applications are not unheard of. So knowing how to read people during the hiring process is the key to ensuring your organization has nothing but the best.

Create Trustworthy Survey’s

In today’s digital age, just about anyone within an organization can use a free website or applications like Google to create surveys.  As a result, the responses to these surveys are not always confidential.  In the event that organizations must present a survey to employees, please ensure that the surveys are confidential.  It is not confidential if you or upper management receives the responses back from the email address of the employee’s (some companies have their employees name as part of the email address). Thus if a survey is completed by that particular employee, it is not difficult for the individual who is collecting the survey to know exactly who completed it.

Employees that are interested in keeping their jobs more than pleasing upper management with a survey, will either not answer truthfully or may avoid the survey all together.

Therefore if you are really interested in real genuine authentic results, make sure it really is anonymous or confidential. And in the event that being anonymous cannot be avoided, it may prove useful to use a third party to collect the results (someone who does not have a ‘dog in the fight’ and who can remain objective).

The use of “Unconscious Bias” Training to counteract diversity in the workplace

“Unconscious bias training” are launched by organizations to conquer the “unconscious” workplace bias and stereotypes that take place more often than not.

Indian employees have complained of being mistaken as the “tech guy” instead of the owner of the business, or an African American woman categorized as an “angry black woman” because she was passionate about her viewpoints.

Fears such as these need not enter the workplace, but hey, they are seen and experienced in everyday life, so why would the workplace stand the chance of anything different?

As organizations grow and become larger, it becomes difficult to remedy such biases.  Therefore on the ground level, no matter how small the organization, these safe guards deserve consideration.

Communication

Keeping the lines of communication open and going, is one major way of battling workplace bias.  To begin the conversation, one suggested tool are assessments. The utilization of assessments are used to measure the state of the organization.

By introducing tools such as assessments, organizations can tailor make the sort of information that is to be imparted to employees as well as quickly gauge the temperature on diversity and cultural differences.

Pre-survey assessments & Training

A pre-survey assessment (provided to the employees before the training sessions) identify the baseline or starting point, as well as the sort of content necessary to implement into the training sessions.

Various training sessions instituted and illustrated through webinars, workshops, and e-learning can introduce topics where any deficits lie. The administering of post surveys (taken directly after trainings) can determine how effective training was to the learners.

Moving forward assessments administered to employees over a 30, 60, 90 day period, can provide valuable information about growth.  Assessments evaluate what was learned and if it is being practiced and integrated into the everyday culture or thread of the organization.

Evaluating Change

If change is not substantial enough, the pre-assessment, training, and post-assessments (provided yet again), will be administered until diversity and cultural awareness is eminent and sustainable.

Another way to fight bias and stereotypes is to ensure that the Human Resource department is truly interviewing and reviewing applications without discrimination.  The more diverse the workplace, the more likely bias and stereotypes are eliminated.  Nothing can deteriorate or build an organization reputation more than being culturally sound.

Can you think of more ways to create a culturally sound organization?

Retrieved from https://finance.yahoo.com/news/what-it-s-like-to-be-a-minority-in-the-workplace-today-222855417.html

Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/gaudianohunt/2017/02/27/workplace-diversity-tips-for-leaders-part1/#588541ea33db

Using baby steps to implement Cultural Change Efforts

Have you been involved in an organizational culture change, only to see your organization pick up the bad habits just as quickly as they vowed to destroy them?

In large organizations, cultural change is not something as easily undertaken as the conversation about it unveils.

Frustration faces many of us as we encounter how things are done versus how things should play out.

“Culture defines core values, assumptions, interpretations, and approaches that characterize an organization” (Cameron and Quinn, 2011, p. 35).

According to an article on OCAI’s website, Conditions-for-Successful-Organizational-Change many organization consultants are faced with the challenge of developing a cultural change model for an organization, just to see it quickly buried.  Why? Because of the hard work that revolves around getting people on the same page for one, getting them committed (for two), and three, keeping them committed.  Since we do not have control over another person’s will, this can be a daunting task. That, in a nutshell, is enough to rattle any involved in the change efforts, nerves.  Therefore before you say that you want a change in your company culture, beware that not only does it not come easy, it can come at the price, of stress and frustration.

Small Victories go a long way

One of the main things that can be adopted, according to “Diagnosing and changing organizational culture” (Cameron and Quinn, 2011), is “celebrating small” victories, no matter how small that victory may be. In fact setting certain benchmarks for those small victories can help maintain the change model instituted. Building and keeping momentum, are critical to the success of change efforts.

Employees have the opportunity to see that “yes, this cultural change can actually happen”, or “there is progress being made!”  Nothing excites an employee more than seeing that in which upper management has instituted come to pass.  Trust and reliability is established as they begin to see the change effort is not just another fad, you’re your CEO may have read about and decided to implement.  Therefore I urge you to implement celebrating small victories.  The moment doubt enters and spreads through your organization is the very moment your change efforts has just tanked.

Cameron, K.S., & Quinn, R.E. (2011). Diagnosing and changing organizational culture: Based on the competing values framework (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 

“Don’t Fall into the Capability Trap: Does your organization work harder or smarter?” -The Imperfect Org

We have reposted this upon our Google plus page recently, however the article “Don’t Fall into the Capability Trap: Does your organization work harder or smarter?” makes one think about the current state of their organization.

As one comment states: “I have been in multiple organizations that have worked harder, instead of working smarter and adjusting or even creating ways to shrink performance gaps within the organization. The organizations I have been a part of would rather layoff first, and then divide (if possible) those tasks left by departing individuals to anyone that is left, in a supervisory role. Most of the time, the supervisors are ill-equipped or ill trained to complete these tasks and then the tasks are given to an outside third party. Once that fails the organization tries to hire additional staff to bring those tasks back to individuals from outside the organization who although are well trained are now being paid less than those who were previously laid off. The refusal of these organizations to work smarter and in turn, do the exact opposite of the five principles listed in the article, is evident and not lost on employees, even to those who do not have a background in Organization Development. This lack of investment creates its a cycle of high employee turnover among the new staff because these new well-trained individuals realize that there are better opportunities elsewhere.”

When developing employees an organization must be careful to not “burnout” or overuse the highly productive employees while trying to balance organizational expectations for a team or department. As the article states the organization must invest in downtimes in all their employees so that employees are not forced to “work harder but smarter”, if this happens you have a probability of a high turnover rate occurring. Of course, no one wants that, but organizations are more likely or prone to implement this type action or process than the strategies listed in this article.

Of course, no one wants that, but organizations are more likely or prone to implement this type action or process than the strategies listed in this article. Although understanding how organizations realistically approach such issues we can use the strategies in the article, to circumvent and come up with effective solutions to these type of problems.

“Meditation for healing the workplace ill’s” -The Imperfect Org

I read this enlightening article on the OCAI website that carefully detailed “Practical tips for positive leaders” (Bremer, 2016, para. 13). One of the statements that was made was,

“Practice openness of mind with a method such as mindfulness: train your brain to notice details but not judge. Simply mindfully notice what you observe” (Bremer, 2016, para. 13).

This is great advice when wanting to warrant a positive atmosphere inside the workplace, (as appreciative inquiry and positive psychologist promote).

However you should know that “will power” alone will not always conquer such “mindfulness”.  Some of us, like myself, need a little extra help.  Trust me, oh judgmental me has tried it in the past (without meditation) and came back unsuccessful.

Once you have made mindful observations in meetings or with co-workers think of how you can use this to build strength to your team. For me I have begun using positive attributes and meditating as a way of nourishing relationships.

When my work day is done and I am home relaxed, I practice focused meditation. By “meditating” and replacing any ill willed thoughts I’ve had towards leadership or employees, and refocusing my thoughts to something positive, I found myself more eager to go to work.

Instead of being judgmental, I take those details that I have mindfully noticed, and use them to generate positive thoughts that helps me better understand my coworkers (instead of being so ready to ridicule and point the finger).

Over time I began to notice I softened towards my coworker’s. And that major issue I had previously focused on, that made me sick to think about, was replaced with a healthy working relationship.

I am learning that in life there are many disappointments. As a result sometimes you just have to grieve an issue and keep it moving. Meditation helps to place a lot of that in perspective so you know when to utilitze what you have mindfully noticed, and what to simply let go.

Check out this great article from Marcella Bremer.  She has many, many more wonderful tips that can be utilized in the workplace.

Reference

Bremer, M. (2016). Positive Leadership: How to open up to Positive Possibilities?Retrieved from https://www.ocai-online.com/blog/2016/11/Positive-Leadership-How-to-Open-up-to-Positive-Possibilities?utm_source=ws20170312&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ows