Category Archives: Uncategorized

What, you’re leaving!

charlie-brown-waving-goodbye“I have a new job.” Often the worst words you can hear when a valued team member tells you they are moving to a different department, school or institution.  Suddenly you, and your team, are facing a transition that impacts on-going work and the on-going culture of your team.  Managing departures is as important as managing arrivals.

William Bridges, author of Managing Transitions, reminds leaders to start with the endings. When a colleague leaves you need to help your team understand what is changing, acknowledge what they are losing and take time to recognize the past and the future. Doing this successfully can build trust and a stronger team.

Teammates may be happy for their colleague and their new opportunity but personally they will be losing a relationship and a part of their day-to-day routine or structure. You can help by:

  • accepting their feelings and acknowledging that you also will miss the relationship
  • identifying what routines will and will not be changing after their colleague leaves
  • clarifying how they will have an opportunity to redefine or reinvent work processes

Another overlooked, and often avoided, topic for leaders is the importance of a ceremony or symbolic event to both recognize the past work and relationships and to “officially” gain closure so people can move forward. I just attended a small going away ceremony for a co-worker and it was clear that her teammates were getting as much from the celebration as she was. It was their opportunity to talk about successful projects, past challenges and what they will carry forward even after she departs. I counsel leaders to plan events when people leave, even if they say “I don’t want any attention.” It is actually a milestone for the rest of the team and will help your team move through transition.

While it is not easy to replace a team member it is an opportunity to reinforce the culture of your work group and highlight your commitment to their success.

Todd Thorsgaard

 

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

 

 

 

 

Barriers for innovation

whitewaterWhen building organizational capacity, our Minnesota State leadership competencies include these two behaviors:

  • Engages and supports appropriate risk-taking
  • Identifies and removes barriers to innovation

According to a white paper from IBM, these two are closely linked. In fact, the paper describes risk avoidance as one of the top five barriers to innovation. Since higher ed is not known for its capacity for risks, this is important to us as leaders. Just like the team in the photo above, sometimes we need to navigate into rough waters in order to get where we want to go.

Here are some tips for creating an environment that encourages appropriate risk-taking:

  • Use appropriate techniques to measure the risks of an activity, and also look at the risks of not taking action
  • Anticipate objections and prepare logical responses, as well as stories that provide a compelling context
  • Pilot test activities and take small-scale steps before large-scale implementation
  • Take others’ concerns seriously by identifying and mitigating risks

The authors say that “a clear-eyed view of risks balanced against benefits can create an environment where innovation is nurtured rather than killed.” What strategies do you use to support the risks needed to navigate rough waters?

Dee Anne Bonebright