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Why I Write in Pencil

Why I Write in Pencil

Why I Write in Pencil

Recently, while on an airplane traveling to a client, a seatmate (before the times of social distancing) asked about the #2 pencil in my hand. Why don’t I use a pen? What about a mechanical pencil? What’s the deal – are you just a “kid at heart?” 

I pondered these questions for several days. The truth is I write with a pencil because of the following: 

  • I make mistakes. I often do.
  • I can be wrong. I sometimes am.
  • I change my mind. I get to do that.

In the year of 2020, using a pencil was certainly an advantage. None of us could have anticipated how our organization’s strategies and tactics would have to adapt and shift, and how rapidly.

A nimble company can be defined as one that reacts and responds appropriately to a changing environment and remains viable and successful. Consider the following three aspects for your leadership and agility: 

  1. Technology and Tools – Are you able to adapt your use of technology and tools to deliver customer value quickly and incrementally when the current delivery models change? An agile leader invests when and where it’s appropriate to meet the needs of customers and colleagues.
  2. Systems and Processes – Are you continuously evolving and improving the work group, even when nothing is changing? A nimble leader makes quick decisions (even if he/she needs a pencil later) to support the prioritization of projects that continuously improve systems and processes.
  3. Culture and Leadership – Are you leading your work group in ways that are consistent with your values and that of the organization? Does your team know what you stand for? And, most importantly, do you trust the team’s ability to do the work based on the understanding of vision and values? You won’t know if you’ve made a mistake and you won’t know if you’re wrong, unless you make it safe for team members to speak their mind. 

Writing with a pencil allows you to live out truths about your leadership. The pencil allows you to correct mistakes and to shift your course when changes occur. 

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

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