Culture & Structure

Change is Hard: Here are 5 ways to Accomplish It

At the beginning of each year, many of us resolve to make changes to make the new  year better. For instance, we may resolve to lose weight – by exercising and eating more healthy food , and/or increasing sales and profits  – by increasing price/value and reducing costs through more effective use of staff. The problem is we start out with good intentions and then, if we’re not getting immediate reinforcement that our methods are working, we stop. The fitness industry sees this every year: it starts with lots of new clients, and many start dropping out by the end of the first month.

Daniel Lock wrote a blog for Innovation Excellence that identified 5 behaviors that enable us to execute more effectively:

  • Share a compelling story with a clear purpose to create a sense of urgency. Whether you’re supported at home by a network of friends and family, or you’re changing the company in which case you need to engage other leaders/managers, this is a powerful technique. John Kotter first identified the need to create a sense of purpose and urgency in order to make the change the purpose of the story is to clearly state objectives and processes, and engage your supportive players so they can visualize the future state, understand the risks and obstacles, and commit to doing their part to help effective change.
  • Paint a picture of opportunity. You need to spark people’s growth-mindset so they see how they, too, can grow by doing their part. Their support means giving up current daily practices in order to make time to implement the changes they must make in their routines. They need to visualize themselves in their new roles.
  • Discover what is not working. Leaders must fully understand what behaviors he/she, and the support group are engaged in which are counterproductive to the new change. Sleeping late or buying unhealthy food for the household, or  holding long, unproductive meetings which don’t focus on accountability and individuals committing to make changes, are counterproductive activities
  • Determine why it’s not working. Everyone must understand why the current behaviors are causing the problem that you want to change. Awareness by your supportive players is critical, if they are going to change the counterproductive behaviors.
  • Encourage a Participative and collaborative approach. The point is that you are more likely to succeed if you create a culture which encourages people to make all the changes they have to make to help you make your change. Create a culture that recognizes the risks, and encourages people to accept initial failures in making changes, and rewards ongoing learn for what else can be done to develop new personal habits and/or work processes so every player is a part of the success.

Use these insights to effect the changes you want this year. Then learn from the successes to apply the system to effect more changes throughout the year and in the future.

Share with us what your “change” goals are for 2019 are, how you’re creating a sense of purpose and urgency for yourself and your support group, and then let us know in future months how you are succeeding. If things aren’t working out, share the situation with us, so we can be part of your support group committed to helping you win in the battle for change.

Engaged Employees Make Recruitment and Retention Easier

When I interview candidate CEOs about their three most significant challenges for future growth, one of the answers usually is “finding and keeping top talent”.  Studies show that recruitment is easiest for companies with engaged employees, especially since they often identify talent and make referrals. That’s why Vistage has several experts who share their insights and strategies with our members on:

  • How to hire the best people and then keeping them and
  • How to develop effective cultures that keep employees engaged.

Our Interview discussion then turns to how well the CEO’s organization is doing.

The Gallup Organization recently surveyed a number of organizations with six questions which asked employees about conditions at their companies.  Here are the questions. Ask yourself what the results may be for your organization    Then check that against what Gallup found in its survey.

What percentage of your employees strongly agree that:

  1. Their leaders have a clear direction for their organization?
  2. Their organization always delivers on its promises to customers?
  3. Their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees?
  4. The performance reviews they receive inspire them to perform?
  5. They are sometimes, very often or always burned out at work?
  6. They are searching for new jobs or watching for new opportunities?

Got your numbers?  Good.  Now compare to what Gallup found:

  1. 22% agree that the leader s have a clear direction
  2. 26% believe the organization always delivers onb its promise to customers
  3. 12% believe their organizations do a great job of onboarding
  4. 14% believe performance reviews inspire them to improve
  5. 67% report they are sometimes, very often or always burned out at work
  6. 51% say they are searching or watching for new opportunities (and 47% say now is a good time to find a new quality job!)

What are you going to do about it? Share with us what you’re doing in 2019!

Note: If you’re a CEO of a committed to growth and live in the NY region, we offer you the opportunity to experience Vistage’s 4-part service ecosystem (which enables members to grow 2-3X faster than competitors (D&B studies)). If you live elsewhere, let us know you want an introduction to a local Vistage Chair, so you, too, can explore the opportunities. Contact Jerry.Cahn@vistage.com.

Solve Your Hiring Problems by Keeping Employees Engaged and Happy!

In today’s talent-scarcity labor market, smart CEOs set talent management as a top priority.  Are you?

I was reading a Business Insider article on ways employees can be happier at work and I thought I’d share with you the top ways:

  • Enable staff to advance professional development. Knowing you can grow and learn in your company (through classes or projects done in the company) leads to happiness.
  • Facilitate staff’s ability to identify what truly motivates them. As we grow, our purpose/life priorities may shift. Indeed the reason the person took the job in the first place may not be for central, intrinsic values which are central for her/him. Working with mentors is one way a person can discuss these issues – and find new ways to stay motivated by taking on new assignments, moving to different departments, etc.
  • Remind staff how they are benefiting by working in the company. Many times people get lost in their day-to-day work, and forget about all the extras the company is offering (e.g., profit sharing, extra 401K match, benefit packages, community involvement opportunities). I know of a case where the company bought for each employee a life insurance policy, and after several years discovered that almost none of the employees knew.

The list also reminded me about the Gallup Q-12 which I previously discussed. Don Clifton, Ph.D. studied 24 companies in 12 industries with 2500 business units, and interviewed 105,000 employees and found that 12 items differentiated highly productive, engaged employees from all the others.

The top six statements which highly engaged employees strongly agreed with were:

  • I know what is expected of me at work.
  • I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right
  • At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day
  • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work
  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development

If you’re a CEO in NY who wants more success in the volatile new year, you can learn more about how Vistage members learn about these strategies, help each other tailor implementation and then hold each other accountable for execution. The Vistage community of 22,000 CEOs, 1400 experts, and 800 Chairs, gives members a Competitive Advantage over others; Dun & Bradstreet reports that they grow 2-3 X faster than competitors.

In January, we’re sponsoring a no-obligation breakfast for qualified candidates to attend a mini-CEO Advisory meeting. See details at: http://vi-ny.com/Jan-2019CEOBreakfast.pdf

Employee Jobs Should Address Strategy and Culture

Tom Peters, in his new book, The Excellence Dividend,  which is a follow-up to the classic,  In Search of Excellence, he shares two quotes which make an important point which leadders should heed: we all need to address culture!

In 1990, Lou Gerstner, took the helm of IBM, which was failing to adapt to the changing computer landscape. Many people thought it could only survive if major changes took place. Mr. Gerstner previously was CEO of RJR Nabisco – a consumer products company – with little expertise in technology. He was a “strategist’s strategist; he believed that if you “get the strategy right and you’re three quarters of the way down the road.” Yet, he took the time to truly understand the company and do what was needed to turn it around.”

In his book, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance: Inside IBM’s Hstoric Turnaround, he shares an important perspective:  “ If I could have chosen not to tackle the IBM culture head-on, I probably wouldn’t have. My bias coming in was toward strategy, analysis and measurement. In comparsion, changing the attitude and behavior of hundreds of thousands of people is very, very hard. Yet, I came to see in my time at IBM that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game – it IS the game”

Similarly, Parick Lencioni, in his book, The Advantage: why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, recounts a story consistent with this issue. “As I sat at the conference listening to one presentation after another highlighting the remarkable and unorthodox activities (people-first dogman, leadership stule, communal culture etc.) that have made this organization so healthy, I leaned over and asked the CEO a semi-rhetorical question: Why in the world don’t your competitors do any of this? After a few seconds, he whispered, almost sadly, ‘You know, I honestly believe they think it’s beneath them.”

Leaders heed the advice: address culture and strategy if you truly want a more successful company. As our  Eval2Win system advocates, in a Continuous Improvement Learning Organization (CILO) each person is accountable for specific job responsibilites that fulfill the company’s cultural values and his/her component of its strategic mission. This allows you to hire, develop and promote people to new positions over time while always maintaining an aligned situation in which as employees win, the company also wins.

What’s Your Corporate Policy Concerning GROWTHH Time?

You and your children may live to 100+. How will you have a fulfilling work-life balance?

Companies are learning that, in the longevity economy, people prefer not to stop working at the “traditional retirement age”; they want to stay productive for a number of reasons, only one of which is economic. In a world with tight labor markets, how do these companies avoid losing people with expertise and experience?

The answer to both questions involves the effective use of “time-off”.  We call it GROWTHH time: Goal Re-Orientation with Time for Health & Happiness.

Just as constructing a brick building requires the proper cement between the bricks, so too does the need for time between careers/jobs for proper work-life balance. People often take a “break” after concentrating time in one “job” in order to re-calibrate for the next.

Students take a “break” after finishing school.  In Israel, people completing their army service take time to explore the world and themselves, before starting their job. Bill Gates, realizing that Microsoft had not developed an effective plan to harness the power of the internet, took time off to gain a fresh perspective and develop a plan. Like many other corporate leaders, he continued to take time off periodically to explore and think things out. Teachers are granted “sabbaticals”, time off after several years, to refresh and reinvigorate. Forrest Gump took time to run across the country to make sense of his world. People take “gap years” to stop doing what they’ve been doing and think through what should come next.

Another way in which we recognize the need for workers to get in touch with their new roles and appreciate them is to give them time off for work-life balance shifts. If you’re having a baby, you get maternity/paternity leave; some companies give time off to take care of family members, to grieve losses, etc.

The world has changed and we all need more time to reflect on our elongated lives and the longevity economy. Fewer and fewer people have one lifetime career and retire from it and/or in some cases continue working in one “encore career”.  Today, people have more jobs/careers than every before and do so for longer periods of time. Indeed, Roberta Golinkoff & Kathy Hirst-Pasek, the authors of Becoming Brilliant, predict that children today will probably have 10 careers during their lifetimes.

Now is the time for companies to develop policies which give workers of all ages sufficient GROWTH time both to ensure they can lead a fullfilling life and maximize their contribute to the company’s future. This means enabling workers to think of their futures and plan appropriately. Fundamental to all is an open line of communication between the worker, supervisor, HR and leadership.

Older workers, who were raised  believing that they’re “supposed” to retire around 65, need to know that there are many options. The traditional practice of ”cold-turkey” retirement – today you’re working here and tomorrow you’re not – is just one. Many companies are experimenting with “phased retirement”models  that benefit both worker and company. For instance, in a phased retirement process where someone reduces the number of weekly workhours over a few years, the extra time can be used as GROWTHH time to explore next steps: travel, relocation, entrepeneurship, etc. Further, during this period of time, they can explore other ways the worker can contributing in the company: training younger workers, serving as mentor, contributing on innovation committes, providing advisory conulting services, serve as back-up workers, etc. Clearly this is preferable to losing a worker to “leisure retirement” who gets bored and chooses to rejoin the workforce later, including working for your competitor. Phased retirement is a win-win policy.

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