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Staying on Track in Times of Change

Staying on Track in Times of Change

Staying on Track in Times of Change

Change is never easy and leading a team through course corrections like staff restructuring or system revamps can certainly present challenges. Typically, when confronted with change, our natural reaction is to worry and stress about what we don’t know or understand.

However, when global events impact our lives (such as today’s Covid19 health crisis), worry and stress become unprecedented. How do leaders keep teams calm? How do they keep them on track?  

To our retail clients and business associates, we know that operational issues to protect customers, communities and colleagues are at the forefront of your daily life. We’d like to offer management tips as you move forward in this time of great change. 

First and foremost, two-way conversations are important. People are dealing with three, wide-ranging emotional reactions to the pandemic: worry, stress, anxiety.  Worry happens in your mind. Stress happens in your body. Anxiety happens in your mind and your body. In small doses, worry and stress can be positive forces in our lives. But, it’s likely you and those around you are experiencing more than small doses at this time. 

Here are some conversation starters to engage others in two-way conversation and help to mitigate stress:

  • What are you feeling with respect to the actions that have been taken to protect you (and our customers)?
  • What makes these feelings an unproductive response? (results in worry)
  • How does resistance impede your ability to adapt? (worry helps people solve problems; resistance means the person is “stressed.”)
  • Why does acceptance of changes in our social lives feel like a compromise to you? 
  • What are the benefits of collective engagement (we’re all in this together) in adapting to change?

Center for Practical Management offers some activities to help navigate the coming weeks:

  • Write the worries down. Research shows that just 8-10 minutes of writing can help calm obsessive thoughts. Sharing worries in a team setting allows people to know that are not alone; it gives voice to their concerns. 
  • Encourage each other to come up with at least one “next step” or action to take. This can be done in collaboration if working with/on a team.
  • Allow people in your life an amount of time each day for their worry. Once the time is up (say 10 minutes), consciously redirect thoughts. 
  • Stay in the present. Understand that right now most worries are health concerns. However, some people have already moved forward to “what’s next?” This may be worries about layoffs, loss of wages, and investment portfolios. Stay focused on the now. Think forward in two-week increments. 
  • Recognize the uncontrollable. Identify which worries on your list are within your control, not in your control. Again, seeing this on paper can often help you manage stress—turning it to productive action.
  • Resist comparing your stress with others’. Each of us will experience stress differently, including the stress of working from home; not working at all; not meeting goals because customers are staying home, etc. Above all, be realistic with expectations of each other in this time of change. For example, working from home has implications. Is their space at home for this? Childcare options? Ability to limit distractions. 

Leadership decisions now can positively and productively create a very unexpected outcome in the weeks ahead: higher levels of employee engagement through different, perhaps better ways to work collaboratively. 

Stay well and be healthy.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavioral change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

COVID-19 Message

COVID-19 Message

COVID-19 Message

Center for Practical Management  I Sandusky, Ohio

To our clients and partners,

As each of you are taking responsive measures to understand and react to the impacts of COVID-19, we wanted to reach out with a message of support for your commitment to employees, customers, and partners.

Managing your employees’ response is key to your success right now. We’d like to offer a training tip for clients to consider distributing to leaders throughout your organization. From our curriculum for Performance Management Workshop, this is a reminder of effectively leading others through change.

During this trying time, we hope you and your families stay safe and healthy. We thank you for your continued partnership with Center for Practical Management. We stand ready to help you in any way that we can.

Very best regards
Rebecca Oeltjenbruns
Owner/President
Center for Practical Management

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavioral change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

The C-Suite & Newton

The C-Suite & Newton

The C-Suite & Newton

Creating alignment between culture and strategy isn’t easy. Outside threats and unforeseen forces often disrupt organization effectiveness. When this happens, the C-Suite typically begins to vet consultants, hires new employees who have the desired skillset, and schedules employees for training. This course of action will result in visible changes, but generally, at disappointingly low levels.

Why does this happen?

We underestimate the pervasiveness or sheer mass of organizational culture; it’s only when we add up the components that we can start to understand its true size. It can be found in how we communicate with each other and customers, how we reward or penalize performance, how we measure success, view breaks or vacations, and spend our out-of-work time, etc.

How do Newton’s Laws of Motion apply?

1st Law (Objects in motion stays in motion until acted on by an outside force) The C-Suite identifies an outside force and pushes for changed strategy and new goals in response
2nd Law (Acceleration depends on mass of the object and the amount of force applied) Senior leaders implement strategy designed to limits friction and has the energy required to begin moving culture in a positive direction
3rd Law (Every action has an equal and opposite reaction) The old strategy may limit friction and build momentum; the new strategy could cause the culture to push back with equal force
What actions can the C-Suite take to ensure that their strategy is enough to create sustained change?

  • Engage in the cultivation of curriculum and intentionally find ways to align goals with content
    Consider tracking more than just result goals; track activities and behaviors as well.
  • Reward positive behaviors and minimize negative ones. C-Suite leaders must be overt about this. Share what you see/hear and why you love it. Use key words that match your strategy and align with your goals.
  • Build skill practice into meetings. Just 10 minutes of practice led by a senior leader is enough to reinforce behaviors taught in the classroom.
  • Be an active participant in training
  • Demonstrate to your team the importance of training; if you are willing to prioritize training, your direct reports will do the same.
  • Reduce the intimidation factor by sharing your wisdom and hearing their concerns.

A Center for Practical Management consultant can help guide you in these areas, ensuring that you have the information you need to build sustainable momentum and culture change.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavioral change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavioral change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

The Balancing Act – Meaningful Performance Appraisals

The Balancing Act – Meaningful Performance Appraisals

The Balancing Act – Meaningful Performance Appraisals

It’s that time of year again. Time for performance appraisals. Managers, as well as employees, often wonder why organizations do performance appraisals at all. Many of us probably even think they are a complete waste of time. If the performance appraisal was going to be valuable at the end of 2019, what might be different?

Here’s a few ideas for making the performance appraisal experience a more rewarding one:

  • The appraisal would identify strengths that the employee has developed over the course of the year. Of course, this means that the manager and the employee meet routinely throughout the year (at least once a month) and work to leverage these strengths, finding new ways to apply them.
  • The employee and the manager would collaboratively create the appraisal together. Employees should know exactly what they have done well and where their performance needs to improve. Seeking their input first encourages self-awareness and ownership.
  • The appraisal would allow for the opportunity to set goals for the coming year. These goals, if clearly aligned with specific activities on which the employee should focus, allow for the performance appraisal to serve as motivation for continuously improving performance.
  • The appraisal would outline next steps for development using balanced feedback.

Balanced feedback is the crucial component of effective and meaningful performance appraisals. Balanced feedback happens when the following simple steps occur:

Step 1: The employee self assesses first, beginning with his/her strengths.
Step 2: The manager shares additional insights and perspectives, beginning with strengths and then moving to opportunities.
Step 3: Opportunities are framed not as judgment for the past, but as a focus for the future: “Next year, consider trying . . . “ and “In the future, when you . . . you might . . . “
Step 4: The manager offers his/her help and assistance to support the employee throughout the year.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavioral change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

Open or Closed? A Leadership Debate

Open or Closed? A Leadership Debate

Open or Closed? A Leadership Debate

Management best practices over the years have encouraged a wide range of approaches for manager-employee interaction. Years ago, managers used a closed-door approach to focus on important projects and priorities. And, God knows, in this world of distractions and multi-tasking mania, we could use a bit more focus these days!

In more recent years, managers have used an open-door approach to encourage employees to share insights and ask questions. The thought, of course, was that an open door would foster better communication. But, at what price?

Research tells us that every time you stop what you’re doing, it takes three times the length of the interruption to return to the level of productivity you were at when interrupted. If managers minimize interruptions, they can complete important projects and priorities—on time and on budget.

What if managers used a screen door approach? The screen door presents an initial barrier that you can see through, but not necessarily walk through. When the screen door approach is used in organizations, it is done in connection with the use of other management activities.

What can the screen door approach do for workplace productivity? 

  1. Prompt a clarification of what is urgent and what is not. Have your team develop the list of what constitutes “urgent.” When something is urgent it means they open your screen door; what is not urgent means they save it (or better yet, solve it on their own).
  2. Encourage employees to save non-urgent topics for a touchbase meeting. Managers should schedule time each week to meet face to face with each direct report, a minimum of 15 minutes.
  3. Demonstrate prioritization and focus, without competing interests.You want to give team members your undivided attention and this can best be done during touchbases. Trusted employees can solve problems and handle situations without your involvement.

 Is your door open or closed? Would you trust employees with a screen door approach? If you’d like more information on skills development for your management team, we’d like to introduce you to the principles of practical management.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavioral change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com. Center for Practical Management is a strategic business partner with Raddon, a Fiserv Company