Archive for category Buy-in

3 Good Things L&D Professionals Can Learn from Presidential Candidates

Training Magazine March -April 2016 CoverIn the cover story for this month’s Training magazine, author Gail Dutton takes a look at the ongoing presidential primary races from a unique perspective: what learning and development professionals can learn from each candidate’s approach.

Just like a presidential candidate, Dutton says, L&D professionals have to remain relevant, stay in the race, and advance their agendas.

By taking a closer look at presidential campaign positioning and maneuverings, Dutton believes that executives charged with leading the learning and development of others can “identify tactics that work, determine why others failed, and apply those insights to ensure their message is heard above the chatter.”

Here are a few of her key points:

Be Aspirational—Express a Great Purpose

Whether it is Donald Trump’s “Let’s Make America Great Again” slogan or Bernie Sanders ’ anti-corporate, anti-establishment, anti-money stance, it’s important that L&D leaders achieve that same clarity by refining their message down to its key elements, says Dutton.

Dutton quotes Lawrence Polsky, cofounder of teambuilding and coaching firm Teams of Distinction.  In politics, Polsky says, “Sanders talks in terms of revolution, appealing to his followers to act. Trump outlines his specific steps to make America great.”

Sanders’s and Trump’s statements in their respective debates have catalyzed discussions. That happens in business, too, writes Dutton. “When L&D leaders can articulate an aspirational goal and connect it to specific steps employees can take to reach it, they inspire action.”

Tailor Your Message—Cautiously

Leaders must understand their audience but they also must consider the consequences. Dutton writes, “During primary elections, candidates appeal to their bases. But statements that appeal to core supporters may backfire during the general election. As a case in point, when Hillary Clinton was asked of which enemy she was most proud, she said, ‘The Republicans.’”

Dutton points out that William Senft, coauthor of the book Being Rational, writes, “That pitch appealed to the self-interests of one group but alienated much of the electorate.”

Dutton says the message for L&D leaders is to consider the big picture. Focusing strictly on one element of a program may resonate with leaders from that discipline—but when pitching to the C-suite, concerns such as expenses, returns, capital usage, and opportunity costs must be considered.

Be Authentic and Show Your Human Side

Dutton shares that a Bell Leadership Institute survey of 2,700 employees found that a sense of humor was one of the two most mentioned attributes of good leaders. In the first Republican debate, Carly Fiorina apparently forgot that fact and appeared painfully severe. Soon afterward, she released an old family photo of herself and her young daughters posing in a bubble bath to highlight her whimsical side. Business leaders needn’t go that far, but the ability to laugh does make them more approachable.

Dutton quotes author William Senft again: “Hillary, on the other hand, has issues with authenticity. She’s tried over the years to present herself as easygoing and likeable. In reality, she’s intense and ambitious. People sense that and have a difficult time accepting her [when she tries to be something she isn’t].”

“That’s true for organizations, too,” writes Dutton. “Be who and what you are.”

To see more comparisons (and 9 quick tips for L&D professionals), check out Dutton’s complete article What Can L&D Learn from the Presidential Race? in the March/April issue of Training magazine.

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3 Steps to Discover and Retain the Intrapreneur at Your Organization

intrapreneur, change, innovationChange is a constant. Like it or not, it is inevitable that at some point throughout your career, you will experience a change that forces you to rethink everything; your goals, your strategy, your outlook, maybe even your job. Nobody is exempt from change. Despite whatever GS level you currently hold or where you reside on the corporate ladder, change will find a way to squeeze onto your to-do list. When most people think of change, they think of current events that unenthusiastically impact an agency from the outside in, much like the shutdown or sequestration. The change that I’m referring to is change that comes from the inside and, if leaders are paying attention, has the opportunity to transform the way an agency, even the government, does business.  The change agents that initiate these transformations are called intrapreneurs.

Intrapreneur is not a new marketing buzzword. Most people have heard of these idea generating, passionate, radical thinkers. Many companies, like Google and Apple, encourage their employees to spend time thinking outside the box to come up with the next innovative idea. The challenge, when you’ve been lucky enough to uncover a forward thinker within your organization, is preventing leadership from the unbearable internal resistance that can cause intrapreneurs to take their ideas and run. This is the last thing that government agencies need to happen while they try to obtain and retain the talent they already possess. If you are lucky enough to have an intrapreneur working at your agency, there are steps you can take to make sure they don’t jump ship at the first opportunity.

Allow Employees Time to Think – There may be an intrapreneur right under your nose and you may not even realize it. Heck, they may not even realize it! A good leader encourages and coaches individuals to instill forward thinking. Inspire your staff. Build confidence. Empower their originality. Lead change.

Nurture New Ideas – A new idea doesn’t have to derail the overall strategy of the agency. Often times, leaders dismiss what could have been a more efficient and innovative concept, that contributed to the accomplishment of the agency’s mission, simply because it’s outside the routine way the organization does business. As a leader, recognize that your ideas are not the only good ideas that come out of your department. Work with your staff, don’t dictate, about how their ideas could or couldn’t work for your agency.

Incorporate Innovative Ideas into Daily Tasks – Not all ideas will work for your agency but when a thought-out concept is brought to the table, don’t immediately dismiss it unless you’ve given it a test run. Try incorporating innovative ideas into the daily tasks that are already working for your agency. By changing the routine up just a bit, you might uncover a more efficient way of performing a task or accomplishing a goal. Taking small steps to test out a new idea can set a leader’s mind at ease by avoiding a significant set-back that could occur by taking the idea full throttle too soon. It can also make the intrapreneur feel valued, trusted, and supported knowing that their idea spurred a positive change within the agency.

People often resist change when they’re not a part of the change process. Create a culture where intrapreneurship thrives and ground-breaking ideas are encouraged and the idea generators will want to support the mission.

Are you an intrapreneur? How does your agency allow for intrapreneurship at your agency?

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Motivating Your Employees When Change is Looming Around the Corner

Fiscal cliff, political objections, merging agencies, and pay decrease discussions around the water cooler have many government employees concerned.   Many of us are wondering what exactly 2013 is going to look like for ourselves and for our country.  Now is the time for agency leaders to take action and encourage their teams.

Culture can be a powerful change agent.  If you think about high performing agencies, most of them have a clear culture that is actually implemented within the organization.  An agency’s culture generally dictates the values, vision, and missions.  It is an indicator of how the agency gets things done on a daily basis.  When leaders adhere to the culture when integrating change, it will support and encourage employee’s reaction to the change.

Can you explain your agency’s culture?  Are your goals and the goals of your team members aligned with the organizations culture?  If not, this could be a great discussion to have in your next one-on-one meeting with your employees.  Employees that know their performance and success is contributing to the success of the organization are more motivated, confident, and passionate about what they do.

Involving your employees with the agency’s mission can lead to confident, engaged, and high performing individuals.  Studies reveal that the more employees are involved in the decisions of a change that will impact them, the more committed they are to the agency.  In turn, the more committed they are, the better their performance.  The better their performance, the more effective the agency will be at accomplishing their mission.

Would you be more accepting of a decision that was made by others and dictated to you or would you rather have an opportunity to provide your contribution and feedback to that decision?  An effective way to implement any change is to allow those who have to endure the change to be involved in the change process.

Our immediate reaction to change tends to be objection.  This is where leaders can really use their skills and influence a direct report’s perception of the impending change.  An employee’s supervisor is the first line of defense against a closed-minded approach to change.  Scheduling regular one-on-one meetings, building trust, and providing the tools the employee needs to successfully overcome the negative mind-set that can occur during change can be the difference in an employee staying with the agency versus leaving for another job.

Do you have a strategy to resolve people’s concern and negative mind-set on change?  Ken Blanchard, author and co-founder of The Ken Blanchard Companies, reveals that “none of us is as smart as all of us.”  Shifting your employee’s outlook can often lead to a change of heart and commitment to the agency.

Want to hear more about how you can motivate yourself and your employees?  Join Dr. David Facer, author of Optimal Motivation, today at 12:00pm EST today as he shares a fresh approach to motivation that can increase employee engagement, productivity, and employee well-being.  Now who doesn’t want that during these hard times?

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A Leader’s Fear of Taking a Stand

So often, individuals shy away from making a major decision or taking on a major initiative because of the potential risk involved. Making a decision to pursue a campaign for public office carries a lot of uncertainty. Studies in motivation indicate that autonomy and competence are key contributions to personal fulfillment. These two attributes alone would benefit an individual when running for office. However, there is a third element to this motivational tri-pod that may be the leg that is keeping capable individuals from becoming a government leader…relationships. People are motivated when building and continually enriching a strong, caring, and supportive organizational community and culture. In the public sector, some may just be biding their time for when one leader leaves and another comes in and implements new strategies and a new way of leading their employees. The leader never obtains the “buy-in” from their employees.

In the book, The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do, authors Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller use the word SERVE as an acronym for the five fundamental ways in which every great leader serves. SERVE stands for:

S – See the Future

E – Engage and Develop People

R – Reinvent Continuously

V – Value Results and Relationships

E – Embody the Values

Great leaders – those who lead at a higher level – value both results and relationships. Most leaders believe that they must choose between one or the other. A leader must reflect on whether they are getting the performance and results from those they lead and if their direct reports follow and believe in their mission and strategy for the agency. If a leader can honestly reply yes to both of these questions, they are on the right path for building and maintaining successful relationships.

There are many reasons why fear could creep into a leader’s mind and prevent them from moving forward in accomplishing their mission. Here are a few hurdles that could prevent a manager from moving forward when considering running for public office.

  • They reflect on how others who are running are being treated.
  • They understand not all their decisions will be able to reflect core beliefs.
  • They are concerned they will be tarred when making counter decisions.
  • They realize they will be shunned when declaring unpopular positions.
  • They look at the risks and decide not to take a stand.

I realize that taking a stand could come with negative results. The risk may end up damaging or it may be the best decision you make. We all know that there is a risk in taking a risk, but you’re also taking a huge risk in not taking a risk at all.

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Nine Strategies for Implementing Change

The first amendment allows Americans the right to free speech, an establishment of religion, to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government. In the past, petitioning the government was somewhat of a daunting task. In order for more Americans to be heard on topics that are near and dear to them, the Obama administration created We the People, a platform that allows Americans to create and sign petitions that, if enough signatures are collected, has the chance to be reviewed by the White House staff and receive an official response. The overall purpose of the platform is for government to address important topics the American people would like to see changed.

Lately, the platform has been getting unfavorable reviews regarding the lack of response to the petitions that have been accumulating on the site since its inception in September 2011. Originally, the Obama Administration promised that any posted petition to receive 5,000 signatures would be reviewed and an official response would be issued. After an overwhelming response, the signature requirement was increased to 25,000 back in October 2011. There are currently approximately one-third of the petitions that date back to the first two weeks of the site launch that are still waiting for a promised response from the White House.

Many companies have open forums or launch surveys to gain feedback from their employees about the state of their business or impending changes. Implementing a way for employees to make their voice heard gets individuals involved in shaping the organization and any changes that may incur. This involvement helps raise morale and motivation for employees to adopt those changes. Subject matter experts on leading change, Pat Zigarmi and Judd Hoekstra, developed a change model to help leaders successfully overcome a typically complicated process. This change model promotes nine strategies and outcomes when dealing with change:

  1. Expand Involvement and Influence
  2. Select and Align the Leadership Team
  3. Explain the Business Case for Change
  4. Envision the Future
  5. Experiment to Ensure Alignment
  6. Enable and Encourage
  7. Execute and Endorse
  8. Embed and Extend
  9. Explore Possibilities

As I was learning about these strategies, I felt that the Obama Administration hit a bump in the road when it came to Stage 7, Execute and Encourage. This stage is for impact and collaboration concerns. One reason change initiatives fail is because those leading the change are not credible, they under-communicate, and give mixed messages. Execution on what the Administration promised back in September last year is critical. Without it, the petitions that Americans are posting on We the People just falls on deaf ears.

Learn more about the nine change strategies and the reasons why change efforts typically fail.

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Sink or Swim: Challenging Times for New Executive Leaders

Agency support of career executives is critical.

You’ve finally made it! It’s your first day on the job as an executive leader and you may not realize it yet, but you are about to fail. This is the unfortunate outcome for 16 percent of Senior Executive Service members that were unsuccessful in completing their 1-year probationary period. Surprisingly, their failure is not due to a lack of expertise, motivation, or engagement; most were not offered an effective onboarding program. The Corporate Leadership Council found that there are five typical reasons that executives don’t succeed:

  • They fail to establish a cultural fit
  • They fail to build teamwork with staff and peers
  • They are unclear about the performance expected of them
  • They lack political savvy
  • Their organizations do not have a strategic, formal process to assimilate executives into the organization

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) realizes the importance of effectively onboarding senior executives so they are set-up for success rather than failure. The OPM collaborated with the Senior Executives Association (SEA) and the Partnership for Public Service (PPS) to talk about what a productive executive onboarding program looks like. As a result of their efforts, OPM published a manual for agencies to reference when designing a program personalized for their new executives. The manual addresses the current problems with onboarding Federal leaders, why they fail, and how they should adjust their existing program.

Leaders that are not prepared for what challenges they are faced with in their new role have an effect on more than whether they stay in their role or not. Ill-prepared leaders cost companies millions of dollars each year by negatively impacting employee retention, customer satisfaction, and employee productivity. However, many change initiators fail to realize this impact and choose to do nothing to remedy the problem. The Ken Blanchard Companies has come up with a free online calculator that measures the cost of doing nothing. This tool has helped companies realize that the longer they wait to make these important changes, the more ineffective their agency becomes.

Learn more about common challenges that today’s leaders face.

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Government Rountable Issues #3

At The Ken Blanchard Companies Government Roundtable in Washington DC, attendees were asked to participate in a table discussion on an issue of importance. Below is the third set of consolidated notes from each table discussion.

Issue 3—Managing Change

What are the top 3 to 5 ways that your table team identified Managing Change (planned or unplanned) impacts productivity and/or morale, in a negative or positive way?

• Positive attitude—understanding of how each person can contribute towards the change–empower people to participate (once in a lifetime opportunity to contribute to health care change)

• Slows production/action on tasks to understand new direction/mission (negative impact on employee engagement)
• Lower morale
• Decisions on change were made at the top, pushed out and people quit–change has yet to be implemented
• Change will flounder without a sense of urgency
• Creation of silos due to change, may negatively impact productivity/morale
• Staff spend non-productive energy gnashing their teeth around change without appropriate communication
• Can have a devastating impact on morale
• Churn disrupts productivity

What are the top 3 to 5 strategies and/or activities your table team identified that can be employed to Manage Change in order to minimize negative impacts or emphasize positive impacts of change?
• Ensure your communication plan includes specificity
• Be mindful of how much change you are asking for in a specific period of time
• Need to build relationships and engage stake holders to effect change
• Accept that there are many ways to effect change
• Need to be careful about timing–too fast doesn’t allow full engagement; too slow could delay implementation
• Transparent communication about nature of change
• Communicate greater goal + get buy-in
• Touch clients – get real sense of what situation is + how it changes
• Feedback loop about results of change

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