Category Archives: resources

Welcome aboard!

Welcome to Uncertainty

Congratulations! You just hired a new leader. Helping them succeed is a crucial, and often overlooked, transition. The new leader is ready to show their stuff, you are excited about the grand ideas you shared during the search process, your colleagues are expecting results, and their new team is full of experienced workers. What could go wrong?

Actually quite a bit. As leadership transition expert Michael Watkins says in his book, Your Next Move “Transitions into significant new roles are the most challenging times in the professional lives of managers.”

The book does a great job describing the different types of transitions the new leader will experience. Regardless of their specific transition you can take the following five actions to give them the best chance of succeeding in their new role.

  1. Deliver transition support just-in-time – Strategically identify what information and resources are needed immediately and what can wait. No one can digest everything on the first day! Your new leader needs time to assimilate information.
  2. Leverage the time before they start – Provide access to meetings, people, information, budgets, and yourself before their first official day. Check in and answer questions they have before they are swamped with first-day paperwork and work demands.
  3. Create action-forcing events to guide the transition – Don’t rely on random circumstances during the first few weeks. Instead use your influence and experience to create a learning environment for your new leader. Set up meetings, invite him or her to your meetings, delegate certain tasks to them, add them to different groups, and actively debrief with them to strengthen their understanding and competence.
  4. Provide focused resources that support their transition – A new leader needs a different type of support than an experienced leader. Resources, information and contacts must address culture, basic information, unstated rules, “land mines” to avoid, and other topics above and beyond project or work issues.
  5. Clarify roles – Take the time to clearly identify who is responsible for what. Start with your role, their role, and the roles of other leaders on your team. Then move on to the roles and responsibilities of leaders in other departments and divisions.

You can’t guarantee the success of a new leader but you can give them the best possibility to succeed with your actions.

Todd Thorsgaard

 

Hit the ground running – maybe not!

Bull in a china shop photoYou nailed the interview, you got the job and now it’s time to prove your value – full speed ahead! Peter Daly and Michael Watson, authors of The First 90 Days in Government: Critical Success Strategies for New Public Managers at all Levelsencourage leaders to take a different approach to successfully navigate one of the most treacherous transitions you will face – starting a new job.

The pressure to deliver results – fast – can backfire and end up looking like the proverbial bull in the china shop. Making a lot of noise, causing a lot of action but not demonstrating your ability to lead and succeed.

To avoid a crash, Daly and Watson describe five crucial subjects or themes that  new leaders need to understand before they charge forward. This will require structured on-going dialogue with your boss that they call “the five conversations:”

  1. The Situation Conversation – discover how your boss perceives the current standing or status of the overall organization and your unit. Your goal is to ensure a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities you face.
  2. The Expectations Conversation – define, clarify, and perhaps, negotiate what success looks like for you in your new job.
  3. The Style Conversation – discuss and determine how the relationship with your new boss will work. How do you each prefer to communicate, what boundaries exist, how are decisions made, and how frequent do you need to interact to ensure trust and success.
  4. The Resources Conversation – determine what resources are available, what you believe you need, confirm how resources are allocated and begin negotiating to ensure access to critical resources.
  5. The Personal Development Conversation – mutually identify opportunities and expectations for continual development to ensure success in your current and future roles in the organization.

In reality these will not be distinct one-time conversations but they are a framework to help new leaders strategically approach the transition to a new role. This is a time that it is “all about you!”

Todd Thorsgaard

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

 

So What Exactly ARE Mission and Vision Statements?

We have been discussing Mission and Vision Statements over the past few weeks: How to communicate them, why they are important for your organization, and loftier aspects, such as finding your purpose and demonstrating the vision.

But you still may have some more basic questions…

  • Are there really sobuilding-blocksme big differences between two, or are they sort of interchangeable?
  • Are they really THAT important to my organization?
  • How do I even get started?

There are indeed important differences between the two; they’re unique in ways you may not realize.  And there are lots of tools and resources containing the building blocks you need to create them from the ground up.

As Stephen Covey noted: A mission statement is not something you write overnight… But fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the solid expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life. (www.brainyquote.com)

This article has some great tips on writing a Vision Statement.

And this article explains how to create your Mission Statement.

Stay tuned for next week, when I’ll introduce you to a local organization where employees live and breathe its mission and values, which are woven in to every aspect of their work.

Cindy Schneider

No money? No worries!

no moneyAs it happens, we are in a budget crunch and so the budget for my team’s professional development has been cut by 75%. I’ve often heard leaders bemoan this circumstance, saying that there is nothing they can do to build organizational talent, if they don’t have funds to invest in conferences, courses, or certifications for their staff.

While having few professional development funds can be limiting, there are other strategies that leaders can employ to ensure that their staff are continuing to build their knowledge, skills, and abilities and grow in their careers. In fact, research conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership in the 1980s demonstrated that 70% of learning by successful managers comes from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others, and only 10% from formal educational events. It’s called the 70:20:10 model for learning and development.

Think about it. When did you learn the most in your career? Was it by taking a course? Or was it by tackling a new job or assignment that had a steep learning curve? I know my most challenging assignments have produced the greatest learning for me. The times I learned from my own mistakes, while humbling, also were the most valuable. And the times when I had caring mentors who were willing to give me good feedback increased my learning.

Using the 70:20:10 model as a guide, leaders can mine opportunities to develop their staff by making sure that they have stretch assignments or goals that help them expand or refine their job-related skills, make decisions, and address tough challenges. Giving staff increased opportunities to interact with influential people, cross-functional teams, and mentors can also build their skill and confidence. And giving staff  immediate performance feedback and encouraging them to learn from their mistakes provides invaluable growth opportunities that can’t be replicated in a conference or a course.

Anita Rios

 

Are you losing air?

Best of 2015, first published on January, 2015
The holiday season can be exhilarating and fulfilling as we take time to connect with family and friends. On the other hand we can also end up feeling drained and overextended. This post reminds me of the importance of assessing where I am and where I want to be as we wrap up 2015. –Todd Thorsgaard

It is one of the most depressing feelings while biking. I can be riding along; happy, outdoors, feeling strong and having fun. Everything is in synch and flowing until I feel myself slowing down and I can tell I am riding on a flat tire. I may hear a loud pop and a fast “whoosh” as all the air escapes at once or a soft, almost evil, hiss as my tire gradually goes flat. Or I may hear nothing at all and just have a soft tire. Either way it means I need to stop what I am doing, assess the situation, and take the appropriate action to refill my tire so I can get back to riding.

Bike flat largeSometimes I have just gone too long without pumping up my tires and I  need to use my CO2 cartridge and add air, other times I have hit an unexpected bump in the road or run over a small sharp object and need to patch a hole before adding air. Occasionally my inner-tube has been neglected and ruptured in multiple places and I need to completely replace it with a new one before I can add air.

We go flat in our lives when we lose our work and life balance. How you refill yourself depends on the type of leak you are experiencing. Paul Blatz, founder and president of Good Leadership Enterprises, encourages leaders to utilize his 7Fs Wheel to understand where they may be leaking energy or if they have a major rupture to repair! The seven Fs that help us stay positive and moving forward as leaders are:

  • Future
  • Fun
  • Friends
  • Fitness
  • Finances
  • Family
  • Faith (spiritual)

Over time we can get distracted by the regular demands at work and lose track of our daily choices that keep us fulfilled in all seven areas. Then we may just need to take some small actions that “refill” all seven. Other times we hit a major bump and need to focus on one area that is losing air fast. When I travel for work I tend to ignore my extended family relationships and I need to remind myself to take the time to call my mom and check-in with her.

The Seven Fs Wheel (Seven Fs Tool) is an easy tool to carry with you and use to keep yourself “pumped up” and rolling along as a leader. TT and Ellie bike

Todd Thorsgaard

Leading with shrinking resources

shrinking resourcesby guest blogger Kathy Hanon

In higher education, “shrinking resources” has become a topic of conversation in the board room, the break room, and the classroom. While there are many ideas about what to do and what not to do, here are four elements to consider that are central to any management strategy.

Think about the students. What impact will shrinking resources have on your students? Will it mean that their costs rise which could reduce their ability to complete their education in the time they’ve planned? What about advisors, counselors and other services students rely on to succeed? Will these services be reduced so as to lose meaning? How will this play out in the classroom? Will students become stressed and overwhelmed? Will they disappear or disconnect? Being mindful of these possibilities and making choices to mitigate the negative impact on students should be the first thing a leader in higher education considers.

Think about the staff and faculty. What about the employees? What about those advisors and counselors; the staff that provide secretarial, janitorial, and food services; the instructors in the classroom? Even if their job is ‘safe’, they could be asked to serve more students, spending less time and effort on each engagement in order to increase their ‘productivity.’  Being mindful of the impact that shrinking resources has on employee morale and making choices that provide some measure of emotional support is critical to being a successful higher education leader.

Think about the college/university. We must not forget the ‘organism’ in which our students and our faculty and staff co-exist: the college/university campus. What happens to our campus when our resources shrink? Facilities grow stale, tired and less safe. We are unable to provide the cutting edge classrooms our students need and desire; our infrastructure weakens and we become vulnerable to risks. Being mindful that maintaining and growing the quality of our facilities while reducing financial and physical risk elements is critical to the long-term health of our colleges and universities.

Think about the community. What role does your campus play in the community? Are you a core jobs provider and the primary source of higher education options for your youth? What is your role within the business community? Being mindful of your role as a community partner will have an impact on the kinds of decisions you must make as a leader in higher education.

As leaders in higher education, we must be prepared to work hard to balance the interests we serve when making the difficult decisions required by our reality of shrinking resources.

Kathy Hanon,  System Office Budget Director, Financial Planning and Analysis, MnSCU; Luoma Leadership Academy graduate (2011-2012 cohort)

Kathy works with Minnesota State College and Universities system office leadership and staff to provide information, advice and assistance about managing fiscal resources efficiently, with a focus on students, staff/faculty, campuses and community.