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The CHANGE…. as can be seen…..@ April,2012 edition of Leadership Development Carnival, hosted by Shri Tanmay Vora

April, 2012 edition of Leadership Development Carnival, hosted by Shri Tanmay Vora  has also not missed the perennial feature of any major discussions on leadership development – CHANGE.

We begin our sojourn of Change by first looking at “The Adaptability Paradox” – the difficulty we have as leaders staying current and ‘learning through’ the change.

The author, Linda Fisher Thornton, talks to us “about how difficult it can be to change when we have been successfully doing something the same way for a long time.

The well worn path that we have followed for years is easy to follow. We know the rules, the processes, the tools, the pitfalls and all other aspects of that path.

Our comfort with that path makes it harder for us to see that even though the ‘way we have always done things’ has led us to success in the past, it may not in the future.

Sometimes the familiarity of the well worn path makes it harder for us to see what’s changing around us. And even if we do see changes, we have to choose to adapt to them. One element that makes it difficult for us to easily embrace change is the time involved in learning new ways of doing things.

The paradox is this – When I adapt to change, it will be MORE DIFFICULT short term and also EASIER long term.”  She calls this as “The Adaptability Paradox”.

“Initially, we must accept that it will be more difficult as we learn new tools, skills and approaches. Long-term, our productivity will increase and it will be easier for us to get work done. When we learn through the changes, our lives and work become EASIER because we are approaching them in new successful ways – with new thinking, new tools, new information and new skills.

Here are some of the warning signs that our skills are becoming outdated:

  • People are routinely using terminology we don’t know
  • It is becoming more difficult to get things done the way we’ve always done them
  • People are not seeking out our input the way they used to
  • Coworkers are adapting to new approaches and are more productive than we are
  • There are new studies, books and articles being mentioned that we haven’t read
  • There is free technology for improving efficiency in our line of business that we aren’t using
  • We feel out of the loop somehow but can’t quite figure out why

If we miss the signs of change (or if we see the signs but do not adapt), our skills become outdated fast – just as fast as the speed of change.

When a change in the world, our world, becomes a change we’ve ignored, then by doing nothing, we are actively choosing the more difficult path in the long run.”

This leads us to the next logical step, and also the article of the Carnival: Are You Ready for Change? In this article Guy Farmer first indentifies “signs that you or your organization may not be quite ready for change:

  • Leaders and employees emphasize how things have always been done.
  • It takes a long time for any new idea to be considered.
  • Leadership doesn’t listen to suggestions or a variety of perspectives.
  • Decisions have always been made by the same individuals or group.
  • Leaders view change as admitting failure or as a threat to their authority.
  • Leadership is happy with the culture of the company but nobody else is.
  • The prevailing leadership style is reactive and focused on the past.
  • Change is only discussed as a negative or something to be avoided.”

He then lists “Signs that you’re ready for change:

  • Leaders and employees are open to doing things differently.
  • New ideas are entertained and considered promptly.
  • Leadership is open to suggestions and varying perspectives.
  • Independent decision-making is encouraged at every level.
  • Leaders see change as an opportunity to grow and lead more effectively.
  • People work together to build a culture that benefits everyone.
  • The preferred leadership style is proactive and forward-looking.
  • Change is openly talked about and used as a tool for progress.”

So “Is your approach to change more like the first list or the second? … When you resist change, you’ll likely find yourself dreading anything that’s different and scrambling to put out fires and stifling progress. If you invite change, you’ll enjoy dealing with the challenges that come your way and building workplaces that’s flexible and agile.”

We thus proceed to Blanchard’s culture guru S. Chris Edmonds’ article “Leaders, Change What You Pay Attention To”, where he shares a ‘best practice’ recommendation: “leaders must change what they notice. Every day.” while taking up the required culture change.

The “culture change model requires that companies be very disciplined in setting expectations on two fronts: performance and values.” He notes that in most organizations, the leadership does work hard enough to enhance the performance clarityHowever, the importance of value clarity seems to be overlooked.

“Most leaders in organizations have been trained to look at performance metrics. Organizational systems have been designed and refined to present up-to-the-moment data about performance metrics. Those metrics typically include:

  • Widgets out the door
  • Quality of products and services
  • Financials, including revenue, expenses, and net profits
  • Waste, scrap, and/or recovery
  • Labor costs
  • Raw materials costs
  • Market share
  • Customer satisfaction

“These are important metrics to track as they all contribute to or erode financial success and the long-term viability of the enterprise.

“However, they are not the ONLY metrics leaders must observe closely. And, suggesting that leaders spend 50% of their time and attention on things OTHER than performance metrics causes consternation (and worse).

“Why? Most leaders have not experienced an organizational culture that requires values alignment as well as high performance. Without relevant role models or “on the job” training for managing values AND performance, organizational leaders don’t know what to “do differently” to do those things effectively.

“The leaders need to Pay Attention to Value Metrics, Too. These values metrics provide insights into how well the employee population believes that their company trusts, respects, and honors them, day in and day out.

  • Employee morale
    Do employees believe the company is a good place to work? Do they recommend that others work there (or stay away)? Do employees apply discretionary energy to their work tasks and opportunities?
  • Employee perceptions of the company’s culture
    Do employees believe that the organization has their best interests at heart? Does the corporate culture enable staff to share hopes and dreams about the future? Are they happy about working in the company?
  • Employee perceptions of the company’s leaders
    Do employees believe leaders are credible, behave with integrity? Do employees believe what leaders tell them? Do employees rally around leaders during times of stress or do they disconnect?

“How do you measure traction in these metrics? Wander around your workplace. Ask questions. Listen. Conduct regular employee surveys. Hold leaders and staff for values expectations.

“To free up time, energy, and space to observe these values metrics, leaders must delegate some of what they’ve been doing to stay on top of performance metrics to trusted, talented staff. Very capable staff are ready to provide data that enables leaders to keep track of performance standards and accountability.

“Great bosses create safe and positive workplace that inspires high performance and values alignment.”

The secret to creating a sustainable business that creates passionate employees who exceed performance standards and consistently wow your customers is embedded in the graphic the “Performance Values Matrix”, at left, in the Blanchard’s culture change model.

This model comes from Jack Welch, who, while President/CEO of General Electric, was the first corporate senior leader to formally hold leaders and managers in his organization accountable for both performance and values.

“To make your company values measurable and actionable, follow these steps to define your values in behavioral terms.

  1. For each value, brainstorm potential behaviors that you’d be PROUD to see all staff demonstrate when they’re modeling this value.
  2. Cull through the behaviors to reduce the list to three to five behaviors per value.
  3. For each behavior, define three key measures: “exceeds standard,” “meets standard,” and “needs improvement.”
  4. Test these measurements with key players throughout the organization.

5.    Survey entire organization using your custom values assessment, twice each year. Publish results throughout the organization in as many ways as necessary to ensure all staff know how the organization is doing with the goal of “modeling our values.””

We, thus, had great pleasure at looking in great, verbatim details, each of the articles on the subject of CHANGE in the present April 2012 edition of Leadership Development Carnival. The adaptability [to the Change]has in-built inherent paradox, understanding which gives a clear perspective to our readiness for the Change. All, and any, change, in the ultimate analysis call for building up safe and positive workplace that inspires high performance and values alignment.