Category Archives: Team Development
Change is hard.
No one likes change. Especially leaders who know change is needed in order to be more successful.
Change is not just a new set of goals, processes, workflow or behaviors. It’s a turn in culture that starts with reassessing what’s needed to make progress.
Redefining vision, mission, goals, KPIs and behaviors are necessary, but if the mindset and thinking of the organization aren’t addressed, even the best planned strategies will fall short of lasting change.
It can be an overwhelming feeling when you realize change needs to happen. As with everything else, leadership must not only change it’s processes but thinking as well to lead change.
It’s essential to to start the path to real change with a renewed clarity on vision, goals and processes,
but change only starts when the organization as a whole starts to think and see differently.
So here are 9 steps to start the process of real culture change, starting with you as a leader.
First and foremost:
Admit you as a leader need to change the culture. If your organization is not where it needs to be, take responsibility. Your leadership has allowed certain behaviors to manifest and take root that has led you to where you are currently. Don’t blame, but admit your faults and determine to be accountable for the change going forward.
The Road to Culture Change Starts with You.
Reveal and/or remind the vision. Sometime your people need to be reminded of the vision. You may also find out some where never quite aware of the mission at all (again take ownership for this shortcoming). The key is to talk up the vision so everyone can start calibrating their thinking on what the objective is.
Set the expectation. Let everyone know that they as individuals need to be on board with the vision. There should be essential (non-negotiable) behaviors that align with the culture, and flexible (negotiable) behaviors that allow people to be themselves while still operating with the cultural framework. Set the non-negotiables firmly but encouragingly.
Individually coach. Let your people know that you’ll be their biggest cheerleader and give them what they need to succeed or further grasp the renewed vision. Let them know immediately when they fall short, and show them how to get there. Ignoring behavioral shortcomings will only dilute the progress you’re trying to make, which is most likely why you ended up needing to change culture in the first place.
Hold accountable the cultural behaviors and performance. When an individual won’t engage or align themselves with change, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to correct. If they are still unwilling, then separate; you cannot risk drag factors that hold culture change hostage.
Yourself as a leader:
Be open and admit that you are changing as well. It’s easy to tell others what to do. It’s an entirely different leadership that shows it to your people. Let others know that you’ll be changing the culture within yourself, and that it starts with you. It sets them off of the defensive and sets you up to be the standard bearer for change.
Have others keep you just as accountable. The next necessary step after admitting you are changing as well is to allow others – everyone – from all around the organization to keep you accountable to stay the course and manifest the change within and without. When people know that there is mutual standard and they are allowed to hold everyone on the team to it, there will be more openness to allow change to occur. This prevents leaders from making the change all about others and only partially committing to it themselves.
Daily preach culture behaviors and the larger vision. Unless you are willing to start over with an entirely new team, you need to dilute and over time replace the old culture. This can only occur by focusing on the new mindset not just everyday, but at every interaction throughout the day. Conversations, emails, texts and even external communications are essential means in which to let the new culture grow roots. The more you focus on talking about change, the deeper it grows into everyone’s mind and the DNA of the organization.
Look for willing mindsets to be culture champions. No leader can effect culture change by themselves, so you need to identify those who adopt the new mindset – the renewed vision – and allow them to positively infect the organization. Leverage their enthusiasm and the shared vision to stimulate faster, more committed change and engagement.
Once these underlying steps are in place, then the culture, goals and strategies you’ve identified can start to take hold.
When a group of people have a common vision and commitment to make change happen, the results speak for themselves. Many books on business and history will attest to the incredible changes made when a group of people had the same vision and mindset to effect progress and make their company, their country, or their communities better.
Leadership is about shaping mindsets that change behaviors that eventually transform a culture.
Imagine if you will a hospital that spent more time and money training their C-suite than their direct-care staff of doctors and nurses. Or a large airlines spending most of their training budget on the executive staff and very little on the pilots, flight crew, or mechanics.
The resulting scenraiors wold prove to be short-sighted and troublesome. And yet it seems that the average company spends more on training for upper level versus line-level or front-line employees.
A survey of average company training budgets will reveal that a typical company will spend from 2-5% of annual revenues on training.
The Association for Talent Development in their annual state of the industry report from last year revealed that the average company spent $1273 per employee in 2017.
Couple that with Training Mag’s study of “per-learner training” from the same period and you’ll see that most of the $1000-plus spending per-learner was done on the C-suite level, then less for mid-level management and the least individual employees. The exception seemed to be for “high potential” employees.
If you take these statistics and see the ongoing (10 + years) trend in worsening customer service experiences, one can draw a conclusion that more training needs to be invested on the front line staff in order to reverse this trend. And while some of this is related to the rapid education of the customer and the tight labor market, there is still one thing any company can do to provide a better customer experience.
Spend more time training your front line staff than you do anyone else.
About 15 years ago a restaurant chain claimed to spend more money than the industry on training was found to have actually shortchanged their line staff and spent more resources on opening more and more units. This eventually led to their bankruptcy just a few years later.
A couple of independent and different healthcare organizations were both afflicted with the same fate in the last few years. Instead of managing resources to the employees in the way of training, they diverted those monies to the top of the organization. As a result, patient care and satisfaction tanked, employees left, and both are facing various regulatory issues as they struggle to be in compliance.
While training and development of all levels of staff are essential, the expenses of major conferences at higher levels can tend to be very expensive without much ROI and direct customer impact. But a more focused training on front-line staff will reap higher returns and boost your levels of customer satisfaction. It’s a model that Chick-Fil-A uses to their advantage in their huge growth over the least decade. Same for Bonobos, whose goal is to help their workers become better employees and equip them with skills needed to do their jobs. CyberCoders and Paychex also have made committed goals to go all in on training their employees and their cultures and recruiting efforts reflect this quite positively.
What is being advocated here is the mindset to pour better and more focused resources – proportionately – into those employees who face your customers and have the most touchpoints with them. In a shifting economy and sliding landscape of digital and analaog business, being able to spend your resources on front-line training is essential for a company to stand out. In order to combat evolving business models, tight staffing, and increasing customer expectations, you need to up your game to invest in more training for your employees who most come in contact with your customers.
Determine today to build a better company and go all in on employee training.
The best companies know that the reasons to spend more on training are worth every cent.
(per-learner image: brandonhallgroup; main image: pixabay)
Over the weekend I came across a series of content by a leadership author who heavily discounted what they would proclaim as so-called leadership experts.
As I mulled over their claims, I realized how many people in higher levels of leadership discredit others because their credentials don’t seem to be to their standards.
Let’s calibrate our understanding of what experts are:
- a person having a high level of knowledge or skill in a particular subject (Cambridge Dictionary)
- having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
We should also review the definition of a leader:
- a person who manages or controls other people, esp. because of his or her ability or position (Cambridge)
- a person who leads (Merriam-Webster)
It is essential here to point out that in none of these definitions (or others) is there a criteria for PhD’s, MBA’s, being on a board of directors, authoring books, teaching at universities or needing any other qualifying experience or education.
Unfortunately people who look down on others in this fashion tend to do so from an aura of superiority, resting on their own laurels. Experientially these people tend to be the least teachable and most difficult to create an engaged team that will trust and rally around them. They place themselves in a position of higher criticism and use their sole judgement to assess who is worthy of credibility.
And what these folks do is exhibit the same poor leadership behaviors that they denounce in their content. They place roadblocks into building another person up or giving them a platform for voice and value in what they know.
Here are some real-life situations in which someone has discounted another’s opinion because it didn’t meet the person’s prejudices:
- Engineering experts who told Henry Ford his V8 engine idea was impossible
- A restaurant executive who discounts others input because no one who is not a chef can talk about food at their knowledge level
- Critics of Gary Vaynerchuck simply because he struggled in school and just rants about social media
- Tenured university professors who discount the education and real-life experience of adjunct faculty
- Football leaders and experts discounting Tom Brady in their scouting report
- Leaders of all kinds of levels and organizations who devalue the input of front line managers
Leaders and experts don’t need to have letters behind their name or have high-level positions.
As I have mentioned before, teenagers and the person you meet in everyday life can be effective leaders. All someone needs to be an expert is experience and the application through study and practice of their daily sphere.
The greatest experts in the field of leadership will tell you lifting others up, giving them value and a voice, and offering them a platform to showcase their talents is what true leadership is about.
Being an expert and leader is more than just letters after a name. It’s about the application of real-life principles to teach, lead and positively influence your sphere.