Author Archives: cindyschneider2013

Take the High Road

Last week we talked about ways to show your support for an organizational decision, beyond just talking abouhigh-roadt it.  But what happens if it soon becomes apparent that it was the wrong decision?

A Google search of “incorrect decisions”, which is how I began brainstorming for this post, brings up multiple links: “America’s Biggest Foreign Policy Fiascos”, “Stupidest Business Decisions Ever Made”, and the more generic “10 of the Worst Decisions Ever Made”.  Poor decisions are everywhere, but it’s how they’re handled that often gets noticed the most.

Leaders who successfully weather these storms have some things in common:

Take responsibility:  Nobody likes to hear excuses.  Own up to the mistake, then describe how it will be fixed.

Don’t play the blame game: Throwing your employees under the bus by publicly blaming them, either indirectly or directly, isn’t generally well received.

Learn from it:  In retrospect, what could have been done to avoid this, and how can you keep it from happening again?

Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone handles them the same.  Taking the high road when things go wrong is almost always the correct route.

Cindy Schneider

Words AND Actions

walk-the-talk“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong….To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

You’ve done it: Shown courage, followed through, and made a decision that will impact your entire organization.  The next step is just as important: demonstrating to employees and stakeholders that you really meant it.

This is where Actions Speak Louder Than Words comes in handy.  It’s easy to tell people that a big change is coming.  And it’s often just as easy for those you’re telling to ignore it, hoping it will just go away.  That’s human nature – change is scary!  But actions aren’t quite as easy to ignore.

“I pay ZERO attention to what you say. But your actions have my undivided attention.”
― Sotero M. Lopez II

Are you launching a new process?  Give public kudos to a team which used it well.

Bringing in a new technology? Ask the early adopters in your organization to try it and share with others what they’ve learned.

Introducing new collaborations?  Find some early successes and brag about them.

Letting it be known by your actions that you support a decision creates powerful connections in people’s minds.

Cindy Schneider

Who is the Decider?

One of this month’s competencies is: Prepares stakeholders for and involves them in decisions that affect them.
This statement seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but is high on the list of frustrations among staff who suddenly find themselves carrying out changes they had no input into, even thought it directly affects them and their work.
I recently heard a story from an friend who works as a hospital nurse.  The batteries used in their bedside machines lasted a long time and came in packs of four, the amount that the machines hold.  With no warning, they were switched to a different brand, with the batteries now in packs of three.  Not only do the new ones not last as long, there are now partially used packages of batteries to be stored and organized. Nobody asked the staff nurses, the people who would be most affected by this change – it just happened.
Even though this may sound like a pretty minor issue, it certainly wasn’t to the nurses directly impacted by it.  And when these types of “minor” situations become the norm in an organization, morale can take a downward plunge.
Inviting staff that will be directly impacted by a change into the planning process, well before it’s reached the decision making stage, shows them that you value them, their contributions, and what they bring to the organization.  It’s a simple, but often overlooked, morale booster.
Cindy Schneider

Networking Made Simple

Last week we reviewed why different types of networking are important for leaders. And as a leader, you know it’s important for your staff to start building these solid networks of relationships.  Howenetworkingver, there can be challenges to finding your personal network, especially if you’re just starting.

I recently became Communications Coordinator for CUPA-HR’s Minnesota chapter, and have made some terrific connections in a short period of time.  I was asked to take on this responsibility by a co-worker who knew my skills and interests (another important aspect of networking.)  I’m enjoying this new opportunity, while learning and growing my skills in my current position – a win-win for all.

The document below was originally created as part of an Employee Onboarding Toolkit, to be shared with new employees; particularly those new to Minnesota.  It has a wide variety of valuable networking resources, across broad categories.  Take a look through it, share it with your employees or organization, and see what connections can be found.

Career and Professional Resources Guide: professional_assn (downloadable PDF)
Cindy Schneider

 

Networking for Change

Your organization needs to change a process, but you and your team are having trouble making it happen.  You’ve tried brainstorming, process mapping, collaborating and other good change methods, but keep hitting a dead end, with no solid plan to move forward.  What else can you do?

Networking is an important tool that can be overlooked when working through challenging organizational changes.  When staff are too close to a process they may have been using for multiple years, it can be difficult to think about it differently.

Effective networking could help bridge this gap.

This article from Harvard Business Review showcases how three different types of networking can help your and your organization succeed.

Operational: These are the people in your organization; both within and outside of your work unit, at different levels.  This is the networking that most people default to, whether they realize it or not.
“But as a manager moves into a leadership role, his or her network must reorient itself externally and toward the future.”

Personal:  It’s often thought of as “Who You Know”, but it can be more valuable to think of it as “What Do They Know?”  Information and advice can arise from unexpected places, especially when you purposefully get out of your comfort zone.
“According to the famous six degrees of separation principle, our personal contacts are valuable to the extent that they help us reach, in as few connections as possible, the far-off person who has the information we need.”

Strategic: Sometimes dismissed as simply “playing politics”, if it’s done honestly and transparently, it can lead to great things.
“Hearing about their problems and techniques allowed him to view his own from a different perspective and helped him define principles that he could test in his work.”

After reading the article, please share how networking has helped you lead a change or come up with a new idea!

Cindy Schneider

 

 

 

 

Fourth and Inches

Fourth and inches: the point in a football game where they’re almost over the goal…but just need that final push to get there.  And the crowd goes wild when it works as planned, but just as often the punter is brought in, after the goal isn’t attained.

Many things need to happen on the field to get to this point:

  • Knowing each player’s, and the other team’s players, strengths and weaknesses
  • Calling the correct plays
  • Having the right people where they need to be
  • Consistently moving forward, with everyone’s eye on the same goal.

The Long-Term Financial Sustainability Workgroup at Minnesota State has been moving towards the goal of making our system sustainable for the future.

They’ve kept going by strategically identifying, then listening to and involving, all stakeholders, right from the start; communicating with everyone, clearly and consistently; figuring out who needs to be where and when, and moving steadily forward toward their goal.

The workgroup’s next move is a study session presentation to the Minnesota State Board of Trustees on Tuesday, November 15, at 3:15 p.m.  You can listen to streaming audio here.

Cindy Schneider

Mind the Gap

HardMind the Gap sign in subwayly anyone claims that building capacity is simple or easy – because it’s not!  Building capacity often means big changes to an organization.  You’ll encounter moving targets, shifting priorities, and trouble spots you may not notice right away.

The chart below can help you think things through, and “mind the gap” (or pay close attention to where you’re going, as it’s said in England).  If your plan to build capacity is Missing one or more of the gaps as shown below, it may not end well.

For instance, creating an Action Plan without full input from all your stakeholders (or not having an Action Plan at all) could delay the launch, and likely result in follow-up communications to correct prior communications.

change_model

The links below give an introduction to this model, and offer tips for using it.  Are you able to spot any gaps in your plan that you may need to mind?

More Information on the Knoster Model

Tips for Implementation

Cindy Schneider