Join motivation expert David Facer for a complimentary webinar and online chat beginning today at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time (12:00 noon Eastern).
In a special presentation on Motivation as a skill: Strategies for managers and employees, Facer will be sharing some of the research underlying Blanchard’s new Optimal Motivation program and workshops. Participants will explore real-world examples and learn pragmatic strategies that can help managers and individual employees make progress in important areas such as engagement, innovation, and employee well-being. The webinar is free and seats are still available if you would like to join over 1,000 people expected to participate.
Immediately after the webinar, David will be answering follow-up questions here at LeaderChat for about 30 minutes. To participate in the follow-up discussion, use these simple instructions.
Instructions for Participating in the Online Chat
- Click on the LEAVE A COMMENT link above
- Type in your question
- Push SUBMIT COMMENT
It’s as easy as that! David will answer as many questions as possible in the order they are received. Be sure to press F5 to refresh your screen occasionally to see the latest responses.
We hope you can join us later today for this special complimentary event courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies. Click here for more information on participating.
Innovation also requires collaboration. Very few ideas can be successfully implemented without the cooperation and buy-in of others. Unfortunately, innovators often struggle in this area–especially if they fall in love with their idea and become defensive about feedback.
In an upcoming Leadership Livecast on Un-Leaderlike Moments I share a story about the way this sneaks up on unsuspecting innovators. See if this has ever happened to you.
The birth of an idea
You come up with an idea—it’s one of your best ideas—and you can’t wait to share it with the other people on your team. So you do. And you know what? They’re just as excited about it as you are. You decide to go in together and make this idea a reality.
But soon after, something you didn’t plan on starts to occur. Your teammates like your original concept, but they have some thoughts for making it better. They begin to share their thinking and give you some feedback. How do you react?
Dealing with feedback–two typical paths
If you are an experienced innovator, you take some time to really listen to what your team is sharing with you. You explore what they are saying, you ask for details, and you draw out the essence of their ideas. You realize that no matter how good your original idea may be, it’s always smart to treat feedback as a gift and to listen closely with the intention of being influenced.
If you are a relatively new innovator—and you are really attached to your idea—you may see feedback from your team in a completely different light. Ego can often get in the way and now you become defensive when others suggest changes. You dismiss their feedback as uninformed, uninspired, or just plain limiting. Instead of listening with the intent of being influenced, you listen just long enough to respond and remind everyone why the team should stay on course with your original concept. You become so focused on leading change that you don’t notice the energy, enthusiasm and participation of team members falling off as you march to the finish line.
It’s not until you get there and turn around for a group high-five that you see their weary exasperation with your leadership style. They congratulate you on your project.
A better way
Don’t let that happen to your next idea. Here are three ways to innovate and collaborate more effectively:
- Create space for other people to contribute. Take advantage of everything that people bring to a team. Utilize their head and heart as well as their hands.
- Listen to feedback. Explore and acknowledge what people are suggesting. Listen in a special way—with the intent of being influenced.
- Recognize that no matter how good your idea is, it can always be made better through the input of others. As Ken Blanchard likes to say, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”
True innovation requires passion and collaboration. Create some space for others. It will make your ideas stronger, give you a better chance for success, and create needed buy-in along the way.
PS: You can learn more about the 40 different thought leaders presenting in the October 10 Un-Leaderlike Moments Livecast here. It’s a free online event hosted by Ken Blanchard.
The way an organization responds to mistakes tells you a lot about its corporate culture. In an article on innovation for Fast Company, Scott and Ken Blanchard look at the different responses they’ve seen in working with organizations.
Some organizations see mistakes as opportunities to learn. These are the organizations that create innovative environments where people grow, develop, and improve.
Other organizations respond to mistakes by finding fault and assigning blame. As the Blanchard’s explain, “It’s a negative approach that assumes neglect or malfeasance that requires punishment. This type of attitude produces a risk-averse organization where people play it safe instead of stepping out and trying new ideas.
“Now your organization takes on a culture similar to the classic arcade game, Whac-A-Mole, where most employees keep their head down except for the unsuspecting novice who pops his head up only to have the oversized mallet pound him or her back down if their initiative fails. Once an organization develops that type of culture, it is very difficult for innovation to take hold.”
What type of culture do you have?
For organizations looking to improve, the Blanchard’s recommend a three-step process:
1. Examine your current attitude toward mistakes. As a company, what’s your typical reaction to mistakes and failures? Are they seen as an opportunity to learn or to assign blame?
2. Consider your impact as a leader. What you are personally doing to encourage people to take risks and try something truly innovative? Keeping new ideas alive is hard work. Are you recognizing the efforts of people who take risks in spite of the threat of failure?
3. Find ways to engage in positive practices as a discipline. It’s so easy for things to turn negative—both internally, inside your own head—and externally as a corporate culture. As a leader, it’s important to shift from a backwards looking attitude of fault and blame to a more forward-focused approach of identifying cause and responsibility.
Give your people the benefit of the doubt. Assume the best intentions. Instead of assigning blame, look to assign responsibility for moving the organization forward given what was just learned. Leaders who take this more constructive approach can begin eliminating the fear and negative inertia that plagues many organizations. With practice, you’ll see the difference you can make in the creation and adoption of new ideas.
To read the complete article, check out To Encourage Innovation, Eradicate Blame at Fast Company
As Scott and Ken Blanchard identify in a new post for Fast Company online, “When you run an idea up the chain of command, you almost never get the permission or the resources to innovate well.
“It’s very hard for people who are invested in the current business to truly embrace disruptive new ideas.
“People at the top of the organizational pyramid are usually running the business using lagging indicators. In general, their focus is on defending present revenue streams. More often than not they are nervous about anything that might cannibalize, compete with, or distract from the company’s core business.”
It’s understandable, say the Blanchards. In many ways, this is exactly what top executives should be concerned about. But that’s also why true innovation usually happens in the corners of the business and works its way up.
How to proceed with your next new idea
Instead of trying to sell an idea to top leadership before it’s ready, the two Blanchards suggest starting off with just enough permission to experiment. This gives the idea a chance to develop and gain momentum. It also gives the innovation a chance to generate tangible results that can be used later in making the business case to senior leaders.
They also recommend identifying the different levels of readiness and capacity to understand change that might be present among members of an executive team.
Highlighting the work of Robert Marshak, the senior scholar in residence at American University, they share Marshak’s descriptions of four different mindsets, represented by different metaphors, which affect how people view innovation.
- Fix and maintain
- Build and develop
What is your relationship to innovation?
Finally, the Blanchards remind readers that an “organization is only as innovative as the people who work within it—which brings up a good question. What is your organization’s mindset when it comes to innovation?
To read the complete post, see The Number One Killer of Corporate Innovation.
PS: Scott and Ken Blanchard will be featured speakers—along with best-selling author Jackie Freiberg and innovation expert Jim Carroll, at this year’s 2012 Blanchard Summit. This year’s theme is Fast Forward: Lead, Innovate and Cultivate. Use this link to learn more about this event (and request an invitation).
People are stuck in place, not particularly happy with the way things are, but staying put because they don’t have any better options. It’s a “quit and stay” mentality that has been hard for leaders to address. The tools they’ve used in the past to motivate performance—pay raises, promotions, etc.—are no longer available. Instead of the usual extrinsic motivators, leaders and managers have been forced to try and find new ways of creating an engaging work environment.
But most leaders don’t know how to create that environment, explains Bob Glaser, a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies. “Many leaders would prefer to deal with what they know instead of taking a risk with what they don’t know. As a result, leaders don’t think outside the box to look at other options. They know things are not where they need to be, but they are not able or willing to deal with it, or move in a new direction.”
The result is sub-optimized performance, says Glaser. “If you don’t have engaged employees, then they are not really going to take care of customers….they just do what they need to do, day to day, and not much more.”
“It’s normal behavior during economic downturns,” shares Glaser. “But it causes people to focus more on protecting their turf as opposed to looking for innovative new ways to contribute to the organization. It’s a self-serving, ‘circle the wagons’ type of attitude that is counterproductive to the organization.”
Breaking the cycle
While you may not be able to influence the organization as a whole at first, most managers have a sphere of influence where they can make decisions and where they can impact results and outcomes. Inside of this team, group, or department, managers can change the environment that will allow employees to be more engaged. For leaders up to that challenge, Glaser recommends a three-step approach.
1. Create a micro-vision. Leaders need to have a vision of what they want their team, their department, or their group to look like when they are performing at a high level of excellence. Focus on both results and the behaviors that will drive the results.
2. Get everyone involved. Next, involve people in shaping that vision for the department, group, or team. When it’s done right, it’s not just the leader’s vision, but it is the collective vision of where the group wants to go. Work together to create solutions where everyone feels that they can contribute, that they can make a difference, and that they are owners of at least that part of the organization.
3. Reward and recognize desired behaviors. Everyone is operating under a huge scarcity mentality. That takes its toll. People are stressed, working hard, and they’re trying to do the right thing, but their efforts just seem to maintain the status quo. Without explicit rewards and recognition to move in a new direction, it’s not going to happen. Be sure that you explicitly define expected behaviors and then measure alignment with the expectations.
Are your people growing—or just trying to survive and get by?
Ready to start growing again? Begin by putting fear on the back burner and focus instead on moving in a positive direction encourages Glaser. ”Rally people around an organizational vision and show them how they contribute to the vital work the company is involved in.
“When everyone understands how they contribute and how their work makes the organization better, when leaders can put their own self-interest aside and focus on the needs of others, it can have great impact on morale, engagement, and results.”
You can read more of Glaser’s thoughts in this month’s main article of The Blanchard Companies’ Ignite newsletter. Also check out a free webinar that Glaser is conducting on May 23, Leading from Any Chair in the Organization, courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies
Only 20% of people say that they are truly passionate about their work according to a recent survey from Deloitte. The vast majority of workers are disengaged, with an estimated 23 million “actively disengaged” in the U.S. alone according to Gallup.
The lingering economic slowdown has created a real motivational problem for today’s leaders. A shortage of resources has limited the ability of organizations to provide raises, promotions, and other perks. It’s been just as bad for employees as the widespread scope of the problem has left them with few alternatives beyond their present organization.
The result has been a perfect storm where millions of workers have resigned themselves to their jobs and effectively “quit and stayed.” These workers show up and do their job at a basic level, but they are sullen and unmotivated in a quiet way that is hard to get at.
It’s not so much what these workers do, as much as it is what they don’t do.
Here are the five intentions that passionate employees embrace. Wondering if your people have “quit and stayed?” Ask yourself to what degree your people:
- Actively endorse the organization as a good place to work?
- Go above and beyond the basic requirements of the job in terms of performance?
- Think beyond themselves and strive for win/win solutions?
- Go the extra mile when it is necessary to get the job done?
- Intend to stay with the organization long term?
If you can’t answer YES confidently to these five questions, here are a couple of additional questions to ask yourself to get at the cause of the problem. A lack of passion is usually caused by negative perceptions at a job, organizational, or relationship level. Probe a little bit in each of these areas and you will likely find the problem area.
- Job Factors: Do your employees see the importance of their work? Are people empowered to make decisions about their work and tasks? Are workloads reasonably proportioned for the time people have to accomplish them?
- Organizational Factors: Does the organization still seem committed to growth? Have clear goals been set? Are decisions about resources being made fairly?
- Relationship Factors: Do people feel connected? Do employees have a supportive professional relationship with their leader? Are leaders checking in and providing feedback regarding employee performance?
No one wants to be the type of person who quits and stays, but sometimes people fall into that trap. Help people up. Open up a dialogue around these issues. Just taking the time and asking how things are going in each of these areas will show people that you’re noticing, that you’re willing to help, and that you care.
PS: Do you have a “quit and stay” solution to share?
On January 25, The Ken Blanchard Companies will be hosting a Leadership Livecast on the problem of Quitting and Staying. Have you successfully addressed quitting and staying in your organization? Can you share it in five minutes or less? Videotape yourself and send it to us. You could be a featured speaker! Click here for details.
What keeps companies from acting on what they know? Seven culture issues according to Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton. In their classic business book, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action, Pfeffer and Sutton point out that the problem in most organizations isn’t knowing what to do—but actually doing it.
See if any of these bad habits are present in your organization:
- Mimicking best practices instead of underlying values. Organizations looking to learn from best-in-class companies often move immediately to copy the best practices of a leading company instead of taking a moment to understand the concept behind the practice. Don’t substitute copying for thinking. It’s not the foosball table that makes it a great place to work—it’s the corporate value that makes buying a foosball table a good idea that is the real best practice.
- Staying conceptual instead of getting practical. Theories and models have their place for understanding and organizing content, but they are no substitute for working on real business issues. It isn’t until people put concepts into practice, with real consequences, that learning takes place.
- Planning and deciding instead of doing. A slightly more sophisticated version of staying conceptual that only seems more action-oriented. Remember the question, “If five frogs are sitting on a log, and one decides to jump, how many frogs are left on the log?” (The answer is five until the frog actually jumps.) Never mistake planning and decision-making with doing. They are two different activities.
- Punishing failure instead of encouraging initiative. When people stretch and take action, it often ends up in failure—even under the best of circumstances. How does your company react to failure? Is it seen as a chance to learn and adjust, or is it time to punish and reprimand? If you want your organization to have a bias for action, people need to have the freedom to fail occasionally.
- Setting a poor example at the top. People know to watch for actions instead of announcements when it comes to trying to figure out where senior leadership really stands on an issue. Don’t announce an open-door policy: simply leave your door open. Demonstrate desired behaviors through your own actions. Nothing speaks louder.
- Creating a competitive internal environment. People need and want to collaborate but organizations often set up structures, policies, and incentives that create internal competition. Encourage teamwork by designing policies that promote collaboration instead of competition.
- Poor measurement and tracking. What gets measured is what gets managed. Be picky in deciding which key metrics to focus on. Some organizations measure everything, or leave it to individual departments to decide what is measured. This can lead to “siloed” thinking and a focus on departmental goals instead of the big picture. Think overall and organization-wide when it comes to measurement.
Develop an attitude of action. Understanding, planning, and deciding are just the first step. Doing is what counts. Take action today!
Organizations around the world have been forced to change the way they do business. The worldwide recession, downsized workforces, and value-conscious customers have created a new set of expectations. A just-released white paper from The Ken Blanchard Companies identifies key strategies for leaders. Here are four of my favorites to get you started on positioning your company for success.
- Change the organizational mindset. In many companies people have been hunkered down and focused on the short term for almost two years. The emphasis has been on cutting costs, holding down expenses, and weathering the storm. Now that the worst is over, how do you let people know that it’s okay to lift your head, look around a little bit, and cautiously make new plans for the future? One thing that leaders can do is share a vision for the road ahead, indicate that growth is a goal again, and let people know that they can try new things that have some risk involved. You want people to start thinking about stepping out again, but they have to feel safe in order to make that leap.
- Give people behavioral examples. What does “try new things that have some risk involved” really mean? The best organizations define the values, attitudes, and practices they desire in clear behavioral terms. People have gotten pretty clear about what they shouldn’t be doing over the past 18 months; make sure they are just as clear about what they should be doing now. The more specific and granular the examples are the better.
- Stay open to change. Constant adaptation is a key for thriving in the new business reality. Pay attention to customers’ expectations and competitors’ innovations. Especially after an extended time of downsizing it’s important for organizations to embrace new ways of thinking to breathe new life into old practices and generate innovative new ideas.
- Involve everyone. Smart leaders look for good ideas everywhere. This means checking in with people who are informal leaders in the organization as well as the people who are in formal positions. By listening to everyone—including people with divergent points of view, you increase the odds that the organization will be more responsive, adaptive, and successful in the face of change.
By sharing power and expanding influence, leaders can create an organization with a strong overall capacity to change and succeed. The new business reality demands that organizations find new ways to address old problems. To learn more ways to increase your organization’s ability to succeed, be sure to check out the complete white paper, Thriving in the New Business Reality from the Blanchard website.
Has there ever been a time when we’ve had more access to good information about leading and managing people? Probably not. Has it changed the way the majority of managers are leading their people? The jury is still out on that one.
What gets in the way of managers making the shift from knowing to doing? In their book Know Can Do! authors Ken Blanchard, Dick Ruhe, and the late Paul Meyer, identify three big reasons why people don’t put more of their good ideas into practice. See if any of these rings true for you.
- Too much knowledge
- Too much negativity
- Bad habits
To overcome these roadblocks, the authors recommend three strategies—a “less is more” approach, positive—instead of negative filtering, and spaced repetition with active coaching.
- Less is More. Before you can take a step, you have to decide on a direction. Don’t become paralyzed wondering if there might be a slightly better idea out there. The key is to move from analysis to action. Which diet works best for you? The one you stick to!
- Avoid Negative Filtering. While it is important to evaluate an idea from different perspectives, make sure that you are not letting a “why that won’t work” mentality keep you from moving forward. What’s easier for you? Seeing the reasons why something will work, or the reasons why something won’t work? If you tend to see the negative first, practice seeing the positive side as well. It will help you get started with taking action.
- Repetition, Repetition, Repetition. There is no substitute for just doing it. Take action—evaluate the outcome—adjust accordingly—repeat. You’ll be surprised how much you will accomplish once you set yourself in motion.
At its core, behavior change is a personal process. Any real change has to start by addressing the beliefs, limitations, and thought processes going on inside of a person.
Today, the gap between knowing and doing is probably wider than the gap between ignorance and knowledge. Close that gap in yourself and your organization by identifying and resolving the three challenges. Make the shift from knowing to doing.
Laura Birk is the Director of HR at Barilla America, a part of Italy’s Barilla Group, the #1 provider of premium pasta products in the world. In this One Minute Interview, Birk talks about the challenges of innovation in a global company.
Q. What is your top business or management challenge as you look forward into the year ahead?
A. For us, the top challenge is managing a couple of questions that all center on innovation in a global world. Specifically—
- How can you influence innovation?
- Who has the technical competencies within the organization?
- Who owns the process?
- And finally, who knows the most about the consumer?
What we are finding–probably not surprisingly–is that different people have different parts of the puzzle—some have the competencies, others own the process, and still others are the ones who know the consumer best. Yet, when we are trying to push innovation globally, that creates some challenges that we are keeping our eye on.
For example, one of our goals is to create innovative and authentic Italian pasta products. Here in the US, our local marketing research and development group knows the US consumer best. Yet our people in Italy are the ones who have the competencies about what true authentic Italian is. The question then is who should own that innovation pipeline?
Q. What are some of the potential challenges associated with this?
A. The challenges on the business side are primarily the complexity of the manufacturing environment and the capacity and the technology needed to implement whatever the innovation is.
We have an innovation business team here for our local geography, but we are also playing on a bigger team in terms of global innovation. While we don’t necessarily need, or want, to be first to market, when we do lead we want to lead well, but that means coordinating locally and globally.
Another challenge from an HR or OD perspective is being able to know the business well enough as an HR OD person that you are invited to the strategic discussion. It doesn’t matter if you have HR-speak, what senior leadership wants to know is if you have business speak. The reality is that you have to be a business leader first, and an HR leader second.
Senior leadership is interested in how a new strategic direction is going to impact people, but they don’t really ask it from an HR perspective. Instead they ask, “What are the risks of us being able to execute this in our business from the people side?” As an HR professional, you need to be in on that conversation early. But if you don’t have the necessary business acumen, then you are not going to be at the table, or be able to chime in or ask the question.
Q. Any advice you might give to peers if they want to get a head start on this challenge in their organization?
A. For me, personally, I’d recommend volunteering to facilitate strategic planning meetings. I’ve found it helps me to anticipate and think about some of those risks we should consider. People always appreciate good facilitation and while you are serving as facilitator, you are also getting great insight about the direction and strategy the company is considering.
Second, I’d recommend spending more time with business people. Actually go and be with them in their work. If they are salespeople, go on sales calls, go to their meetings, be a fly on the wall.
Finally, ask people, “How are we doing?” Sincerely ask them. And I think that when you spend time with them, and sincerely ask them, they are going to be very open to giving you feedback about how you are doing on helping them solve their issues. And if they ask you to come to the table, it is a pretty good signal on how you are doing!
___________________________________________________________________________________________The One Minute Interview is LeaderChat’s new monthly series featuring interviews with some of today’s most intriguing HR-focused thought leaders and practitioners. Laura Birk is a featured speaker at this year’s Blanchard Summit 2010. To learn more about Birk and how Barilla successfully navigated change to win an ASTD BEST Award, be sure to read, Implementing SAP Change at Barilla America