Talent Development 34 Encourage Dialog

April 19, 2021

Section 3.3 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Organization and Culture. Skill Statement D has “Skill in creating a culture which encourages and/or creates opportunities for dialog and feedback between individuals and groups, for example designing collaborative work practices and/or spaces, and role modeling effective feedback techniques.”

This article will highlight some techniques that can lead to excellent dialog in organizations and allow the free flow of information. Recognize that communication methods and patterns are significantly different in the post COVID-19 world, so new challenges and opportunities will unfold for some time.

Clarify Your Intentions

The first order of business is to ensure all groups are aligned behind a solid Strategy with Common Values and Expected Behaviors. It is vital for there to be a common understanding of how people will interact and be respectful of each other. Leaders need to create a culture of support in which all people feel included.

When these critical components are missing or weak, it allows silos of power to emerge. These silos work against open communication and create inter-organizational stress and loss of trust.

Look at the Physical Plant

Often organizations with conventional cubicle or office structures suffer from poor communication that is encouraged by the layout. Consider open architecture where people can see each other and interface easily. Many organizations are moving toward these open environments, but there are downsides. It is harder to focus in an open environment, and some people experience a lack of privacy.

In a hybrid world, where some people are working remotely, it is necessary to increase communication so that people do not become disconnected from the flow of information.

It is particularly important that everyone receives the same information so that you do not foster an environment of “haves” and “have-nots.” People working from home have the additional burden of being required to focus on work issues while there may be chaos even within the same room.

Trying to focus on the flood of emails is equally daunting. Get creative with ways to keep things going without having distractions at home. Sometimes additional help is useful.

Build a Culture of Trust

The concept of trust is extremely powerful in terms of having people work well together. I believe the most important aspect of building trust between people and groups is to ensure psychological safety, where people know they will not be punished for voicing their opinions.

In some cultures, people feel stifled and not able to share their opinions without negative consequences. The thrust to improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in most organizations is one way to help all people feel invited to share their thoughts, yet in these same cultures people can still feel stifled.

Work to build respect and a fondness between people that will enhance the trust and move quickly to repair any damaged trust regardless of the source.

Try for a Variety of Work Experiences

When people feel locked into a single working configuration over extended periods of time, they become calcified and rigid. Work to liven up the culture where the work flow has some spice and fluidity. This practice not only lowers the tendency for boredom, it also lowers the potential for cliques or silos to emerge.

Take the time to have some fun along the way; it really helps the culture blossom.

Recognize People and Teams doing Good Work

Recognition goes a long way toward creating an open culture. The only caveat here is to be sure the reinforcement is proportional to the effort and results. If one group feels slighted by lack of recognition, it can do a lot of damage quickly.

Rotate People

One organization I have read about has people work in pairs, and they rotate the pairs often to keep people from becoming overly associated with a specific other person. I think the practice is smart, but you would need to experiment with the group size and rotation pattern to ensure it is working as expected.

One caveat is to ensure people have the skill set for the work they currently are asked to do. There also could be a downside, as some people would be forced to work with some others who they dislike or who have annoying habits.

These are just a few of the methods you can try to keep things fresh and lively at work. The most important aspect is to always move toward higher trust within the group.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.


Talent Development 33 Identify Relationships

April 12, 2021
Organization Chart

Section 3.3 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Organization and Culture. Skill Statement C has “Skill in identifying formal and informal relationships and hierarchies and power dynamics in an organization.”  

The Formal Structure

The formal power structure in most organizations is easy to identify. Simply start with the organization chart, and pay attention to any dotted line relationships that are identified.  A dotted line indicates an influence but not a direct reporting relationship.

It is important to recognize that any organization chart represents a point in time.  The actual organization is always in a state of flux, whereby some people are in the process of moving up the organization while others may be leaving or even moving down.  The issue of succession planning needs to be handled with great care, because it not only defines the future state of the organization but impacts the morale of people currently working in it.

It is common to have the issue of impending succession be the root cause of all kinds of political infighting within an organization. Most people perform today’s tasks with one eye on their future potential and the other eye on what other people might be planning.

The power will be distributed in a way that reflects the solid line relationships between managers and subordinates, but there is a caveat.

The chart will tell you who reports to whom and what the basic structure looks like. Some organizations have very loose or vague organization charts, and there are some groups that prefer to have no chart at all.  For these situations, you need to identify the informal relationships and power dynamics. You need to stay alert for the signals of people operating in ways that are not consistent with the formal organization.

Modifications for a Virtual or Hybrid Situation

When some or all of the people are working remotely, the formal structure is still in place, but the inter-office dynamics can be very different from the conventional patterns. In a virtual world, interfaces are usually planned in advance without the opportunity for chance encounters that are so important for interpersonal dialog. Meetings usually involve groups of people, so individual coaching is less prevalent than in a conventional office environment. Supervisors should be encouraged to have frequent one-on-one time with each of their direct reports.

Informal Power Structures

In parallel to the official formal structure is a kind of web of influence that permeates every organization.  These paths of authority often go around the official or intended layout and frequently operate in a clandestine manner.

The best way to describe the informal paths of influence is to give some examples. This is not a complete list, but is a series of things that might come up in a typical arrangement.

Outside influence

You might find a situation where Mary is reporting to Alice directly, yet she is being given “advice” from another manager who is at Alice’s level or above.  Alice may or may not be aware of this parallel path, and it may lead to significant friction at times when Mary does not do the bidding of her official supervisor.

Friendships

Often, people who are fond of each other will seek to influence decisions about placements or decisions based on history rather than potential. The basis of politics is that people do things for people they like.  You need to keep alert to this type of potential disruption.

Nepotism

Family ties can be the basis for power struggles in any organization. An employee may have a relative who is in a position to influence him or her outside the normal chain of command.  This pattern often becomes a stumbling block when succession planning is happening.  Sometimes the illogical advance of a relative usurps the normal progression of functions and upsets people or causes loss of motivation.

Favoritism

Favoritism is similar to nepotism. It occurs when one person singles out a specific person for special attention.  The perception of favoritism usually leads to a loss of trust within an organization.  When trust is lost, people do all kinds of crazy things to hang onto power. It can get very messy.

Diversity

The stated goals of an organization may include Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  Unfortunately, in many organizations, managers prefer to advance people who look and think like they do. The perception is that people who think and act differently will upset the normal chain of command and cause decision making to be more cumbersome. 

This habit is a dangerous one because it works against diversity, which is a highly effective means to keep “groupthink” in check.  Having people with differing points of view is a significant advantage in any organization because it leads to more robust solutions.  It is sad that many organizations find themselves operating with a “monoculture” when it comes to specific functions.

There is a delicate balance here.  You want to achieve a state where diverse opinions are heard and respected, but you also want to avoid having disruptive conversations that cause people to become polarized. The key defense here is to keep working on a culture of high trust where all voices are included and mutual respect is the expectation.

The Antidote

When assessing the relationships and power structure of a group, it is important to be highly vigilant and constantly look for potential abuses.  Try to build a culture of high trust where diversity is valued and succession is an open discussion. Shut down the back channels of influence and be as transparent as possible with all decisions regarding the placement of people.

Be willing to confront abuses directly and expose people who abuse power for their own advancement. Check your own choices and make sure you are doing succession decisions with the highest level of integrity and always with an eye toward Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. 


Talent Development 32 Organizational Data

April 5, 2021

Section 3.7 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Data and Analysis. Section D reads, “Skill in gathering and organizing data from internal and/or external sources in logical and/or practical ways to support retrieval and manipulation.”

My prior article addressed performance analysis for the purpose of designing a development program. This article will deal with where you find the data and how you organize it for maximum use over time.

I will use an example of a manufacturing operation in this article. A similar approach could be used by any kind of entity, but it would contain different items depending on the industry involved.

Where to find the data

Sometimes it is obvious what the relevant data are for an operation. For example, in a manufacturing unit, the output per day and machine efficiency along with yield information would be important to track. 

While some information is obvious, there are secondary sources of data that may be even more powerful at monitoring performance.  For example, for the manufacturing unit above, there may be numerous indirect measures that are critical to track.  The delivery performance of the material supplier is vital to know and track. 

Any disruption in the supply chain can shut down an operation. These things include invoice accuracy, shipping delays, weather related downtime, strikes, and numerous other disruptions that can shut down an operation. 

Likewise, the distribution function is important to keep things flowing once product has been produced. 

Internally, the inventory accuracy is critical, so that the right materials are delivered to the line in time. 

Central Database

In most cases, it is a good idea to track all of these variables in a central database. In this way, spot shortages or outages can be identified in time to deploy work-around measures so that the main operation is not impacted. 

The supply chain manager usually is responsible for tracking all of the vital measures and sounding the alarm if something is off standard. 

Lean Thinking

In most industries, the concepts of lean thinking allow managers to understand how things are supposed to work and what things to track.  It becomes like a giant puzzle where hundreds of things can go wrong. It is the role of the supply chain manager to monitor the key factors and take preventive measures to avoid a stock out.

Lean thinking attempts to reduce the levels of inventory required to keep an operation in production without sacrificing overall unit performance.  Things like “just in time” delivery of supplies will keep the cost down without undue risk. These processes must be designed carefully by known experts in order to be robust.

Trying to implement a lean manufacturing process without the specific content knowledge can lead to a disastrous outcome. It is best to relay on experts in the design and testing of any system.

Once a system is in operation and proven, then you can reduce the expert support to lower the overall costs, but there needs to be warning flares that go off if one of the variables is about to go out of spec.

Every variable needs to have an alarm level that prevents an upset from jeopardizing the main operation.  The job is not complete until the alarm and work-around measures are in place.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. 


Talent Development 31 Performance Analysis

March 29, 2021

Section 3.5 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Performance Improvement. Section C reads, “Skill in conducting performance analysis to identify goals, gaps, or opportunities.”

In this brief article, I will share my thoughts on the important aspect of performance improvement.

Understanding the Gaps

There is no way to identify gaps without a clear picture of two things. First, we need to know exactly what the current performance level is, and second, we need to know what it needs to be in the future.

Step 1 Measure Current Performance

Current performance means different things for every organization.  Start by identifying the critical few descriptors of performance relevant to your operation. 

If you are in a manufacturing plant, the measures would likely revolve around productivity, quality, reliability, and other tangible factors that describe ideal conditions.

If you are a service organization, customer satisfaction would be high on the list of relevant measures.  Cost performance would be another important factor. 

If you were in health care, then patient outcomes would dominate the discussions along with unit efficiency.

If you were running a law firm, then the percentage of successful outcomes would be vital information along with the time devoted to each type of case. 

Look for extant data that already exists and is relevant to the key measures for your situation.  Usually there is plenty of information about how the operation is currently running.

Get creative so you look beyond the direct measures and try to uncover some things that are indicative of problems that may be causing the primary measure to suffer.  These might be things like turnover rates, grievance documentation, attendance records, or supervisor counseling reports.

If you find key measures where the data is not readily available, then the first order of business is to create ways to identify what the current performance level actually is.

Step 2 Identify a Vision of the future

To identify gaps, you also need to have an accurate statement of the future state.  This information should be available by studying the vision statement for the organization. 

Break the vision statement into areas that conform to the measures you identified in step one.  What you need to generate is a concrete set of goals for every relevant performance measure for that specific unit. 

By comparing the current performance level to the desired one on a case-by-case basis, you begin to identify the specific gaps that need to be addressed in your development program.

Step 3 Brainstorm Opportunities

Opportunities become the creative ways you go about resolving the gaps. Sometimes you will use a direct approach that is obvious from the analysis.  For example, in a manufacturing plant, if the yield is below the desired level, the opportunity may be to work with the raw materials supplier to have more consistent supplies.

Often you will identify opportunities for indirect development, such as improved leadership skills, as being the most powerful way to change the system.

Step 4 Create Engagement

Keep in mind that the attitude and engagement of the people doing the work is always a key factor to investigate. In most cases only a small portion of the existing workforce is fully engaged in the work.  The Gallup Organization consistently estimates that the average organization routinely achieves only about 30% of fully engaged workers. Changing that level to over 50% by improving the quality of leadership would have a major impact on performance.

To improve the level of engagement, focus on creating a culture of higher trust.  Raising the trust level just a few points will translate into major improvements in morale, motivation, and productivity in any organization.

Step 5 Keep Track of Your Progress

Regardless of the specific measures you have uncovered, keep track of the performance and design development efforts to close the gaps as quickly as possible.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. 


Talent Development 30 Lifelong Learning

March 22, 2021

Section 3.4 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Talent Strategy and Management. Section H reads, “Skill in communicating the value of lifelong learning and professional development.”

In this brief article, I will share my thoughts on the importance of lifelong learning.

The Role of Learning

From the moment of our birth, and perhaps even before, we are learning how to obtain more of the things that are important to us and how to avoid the things that would hurt us. The same logic holds when we are at work.

Role of Learning at Work

The more we know about how to do our work and how to deal well with people of all types, the more successful we will be at work.

Learning is a journey that never ends. Just as we continue to learn in our personal lives up until we take our last breath, so we need to learn every day at work.

Learning from our Mistakes

An excellent way to learn how to be better is to reflect on the times where things did not go as we had hoped. We learn far more from our mistakes than we do when things are going well. Do not consider a negative situation as a failure; rather think of it as an opportunity to learn something.

After-Action Reviews

In the military, they use the technique of the “After-Action Review.” This method focuses on what happened and how they reacted to it for the purpose of learning how to do better in the future.

The system relies on an objective non-judgmental description of what happened along with a constructive brainstorm of possible alternatives for the future.

We should all do an after-action review whenever something did not work out the way we wanted it to. These reviews can be done in private or in a group setting.

Simply write down what happened and what we did. Then brainstorm ideas for possible different action in the future that would have the potential for a better outcome.

This method does not take a lot of time, but it does allow for continuous learning to occur. Of course, there is a more formal approach to learning that should go on in parallel with the after-action reviews.

Development Plan

Each person needs to have a personal plan for developing his or her skills over time. One’s supervisor generally reviews the plan, since the opportunity to learn something new usually involves some resources. As you pick up new skills, your performance improves, and you become a more valuable employee to your organization.

Cross Training

Sometimes the learning will take the form of cross training. I have written on the benefits of cross training in another article. I call it the Miracle Cure. Cross training is less expensive and less disruptive than classroom training. There are also many side benefits to cross training, such as improved teamwork.

Avoid a Narrow Definition of Learning

Many people view learning as the ability to take formal courses. That is learning, for sure, but we must recognize that learning is a continuous process that goes on as long as we are awake and breathing.

Keep your focus on the things you are doing to improve yourself at all times. Also, help other people see how they grow, even when things are not going well at the moment.


Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.


Talent Development 29 Strategic Planning

March 15, 2021

Section 3.4 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Talent Strategy and Management. Section C reads, “Skill in designing and implementing strategic plans for talent development projects, programs, and/or functions.”

In this brief article, I will share my favorite strategic planning tools and how to use them wisely.

Start with the basics

Strategic planning has common elements that, if followed well, will result in robust plans that drive the organization forward toward its goals. As Stephen R. Covey wrote: “Begin with the end in mind.”

Create a Vision

The first action is to create a vision of the desired future state. Understand the broad developmental needs of the specific group and craft a statement of what it will look and feel like when the desired state is achieved. It is a statement of where we are going. This uplifting view of the future will add energy for the remainder of the program.

Clarify the Purpose and Mission

We are going to do a lot of work to accomplish the vision. The purpose statement clarifies why we are doing the work. Many people confuse the purpose statement with the mission. They are different concepts. Mission is what we are doing currently.

Let me share an example of the difference between mission and purpose. If we were operating a quarry, we might have a mission to cut large rocks into manageable slabs. Our purpose might be to build a cathedral.

Identify the Values

The values become the underlying assumptions upon which we design the work. Values are extremely important to get right, because they tell us the rightness of our direction and actions. We hold everyone accountable for modeling all of the values, all of the time. For leaders, the values help you the most when it is inconvenient, expensive, or difficult to follow them.

Develop a List of Agreed-Upon Behaviors

This step is often omitted, and it is a mistake to do so. Behaviors tell us how we are going to treat each other. We hold each other accountable for following the agreed-upon behaviors daily.

Do a SWOT Analysis

Before diving into the actual strategy creation, it is always important to do an environmental scan of ourselves and our environment. We do this by assessing ourselves (strengths and weaknesses), like looking through a microscope at our own capabilities. Then we examine the environment in which our organization works (opportunities and threats), like looking through a telescope at the rest of the world.

With the above steps in place, you are now in a position to brainstorm the critical few strategies that can take you from your current state and get to the vision.

Develop the Strategies

As you contemplate the drivers to move you in the direction of the vision it is important to keep things focused. I recommend that four to six strategies is a good number to keep things focused. More than six strategies at one time will actually start to diffuse the effort and reduce your chances of success. The genius behind developing a strategy is to focus effort on the critical few things that must be done well.

Identify Tactics

The tactics become the specific actions required to accomplish the strategies. You identify who will be doing what by when. You think about the resources needed to accomplish your development strategies as you think through the tactics.

Document Measures and Goals

In order to track progress against the strategic plan, it is important to figure out how you are going to measure progress and what the team wants to present for the goals of the effort.

Obtain Buy-In

This critical step must be emphasized by leaders. It is a leadership function to ensure that everyone on the team not only understands the wisdom of the strategy, but is also inspired and committed to make sure the goals are reached.

Conclusion

For any developmental effort, it is necessary to do some serious planning to be sure the effort has a pathway to success. If a plan is missing some of the elements described above, there is a probably that the program will not reach the goals.




Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.


Talent Development 28 Data and Analytics

March 8, 2021

Section 3.7 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Data and Analytics. Section C reads, “Skill in analyzing and interpreting results of data analysis to identify patterns, trends, and relationships among variables.”

In this brief article, I will share the tools I use to help leaders understand their performance in terms of where additional development work would produce the most significant forward momentum.

Leadergrow Advanced Leadership Assessment

Before designing a leadership development program for an organization, it is essential to do some research on where the current capabilities strong or weak. I will describe a typical process to obtain and analyze these data. Recognize that each situation is unique, so various other methods could be used in specific circumstances.

Let’s suppose we have a large organization comprised of ten departments. The senior leader wants to upgrade the performance of the entire company, so she calls me in to provide some training. The first order of business is to obtain some data by area relative to how effective each leader is.

There may be some extant data, such as quality of work life surveys or blockage surveys. Turnover or other HR data such as grievance reports may be available. All these should be reviewed as part of the data set.

I often use a 360-degree leadership effectiveness survey to assess the quality of each leader on 20 different dimensions.

Dimensions of Leadership Measured

1. Builds an environment of trust
2. Builds an equitable and inclusive culture that produces excellent results
3. Ability to be genuine and connect well with people at all levels
4. Is firm but fair; does not play favorites
5. Publicly admits mistakes; demonstrates humility
6. Leads by example
7. Demonstrates consistent integrity
8. Listens deeply
9. Allows people to give their input without fear
10. Negotiates and advocates well
11. Operates as a level five leader; passionate but humble
12. Makes good decisions and demonstrates business acumen
13. Builds a reinforcing culture
14. Communicates well with people and groups
15. Calms stressful conditions and diffuses explosive situations
16. Manages personnel development
17. Generates passion within people
18. Develops others
19. Reduces the credibility gap between workers and management
20. Builds a “safe” environment: both physical and psychological safety

Analysis of the data

My survey asks five questions in each of the 20 dimensions, giving me 100 data points for each person who does the survey. Each person rates the 100 questions on a scale of 1 (does not display) to 5 (is a champion on this dimension).

I analyze each leader looking at four demographic levels; self, superiors, subordinates, and peers. I provide a tabulated form for each leader using a color-coded format that allows each person the ability to spot areas of particularly strong or weak performance. I do this by calculating the mean and standard deviation for each of the 100 questions. I also look at the covariation by level to see if there is a bias there.

Each leader, and the overall leader, has a quick way to determine the level of development that is required by the individual leader or perhaps, as is often the case, for the whole population of leaders.

Then I design development programs to address the areas that need improvement and further refine areas of strength.

Path forward

I often repeat the survey two or three years later to see if the development programs have had the desired impact. Also, sometimes a particular leader will call me back in to measure progress in his or her area.

Conclusion

It is important to use robust processes when evaluating the effectiveness of leaders prior to conducting an improvement program.

.


Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.



Talent Development 27 Change Management

February 27, 2021

Section 3.6 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Change Management. Section A reads, “A knowledge of change management theories and models, for example Lewin, Kotter, Bridges’ transition model, Kubler-Ross change curve, and appreciative inquiry.”

In this brief article, I will share three change models that I have found to be particularly useful in helping people accept and implement change at work.

Adaptation of Kotter’s Model

I found Dr. John Kotter’s theories of change to be most helpful. His eight-step change process was first described in his 1996 book, “Leading Change,” and he followed it up with a neat fable in 2006 entitled’ “Our Iceberg is Melting.” He also described change in his 2014 book “Accelerate.”

The eight steps proposed by Kotter were as follows:

1. Create a sense of urgency
2. Build a guiding coalition
3. Form strategic vision and initiatives
4. Enlist a volunteer army
5. Enable action by removing barriers
6. Generate short term wins
7. Sustain Acceleration
8. Institute change

In my own work in a manufacturing unit of a large company, I ended up adapting and adding to his steps so people would understand the concepts easier and adopt them in our specific environment.

I used the following nine-point list of steps to change:

1. Create the right environment
2. Demonstrate an urgent need
3. Carve out sufficient time
4. Create a compelling vision
5. Reinforce the small wins
6. Integrate the new methods in the culture
7. Develop a tolerance for risk
8. Demonstrate constancy of purpose
9. Understand the psychology of change

I found the final item to be particularly helpful for guiding groups through the change cycles much faster by using the grief-counseling model of change.

Grief Counseling Change Model

In 1969 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross proposed the five stages of grief. These were as follows:

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

Her observation is that human beings go through the five stages whenever faced with extreme grief. Using the model as a pathway to a better future is one method of coping with loss and shortening the time to a return to a normal life.

Transition Model

William and Susan Bridges suggested a four-stage model for dealing with transitions at work. They included:

1. Anticipation
2. Ending
3. Transition
4. Beginning

I found this model to be particularly helpful at accelerating the time from an impending disruption to full acceptance of a change.

For example, I once was involved in shutting down an operation of nearly 300 people and moving it to a new location with much improved processes. The move had been anticipated by the production workers for a few months.

When the decision was announced, it represented the “Ending” stage, and the workers were dead set against the change, even though it meant a better existence on the other end. They described it as a “death.”

We used the transition model to help workers through the various transition stages of anger and bargaining and included them in visualizing the physical set up in the new plant. Their energy shifted from trying to preserve the old way to helping invent the new way.

We had expected the entire process to take over a year to accomplish, but by involving the employees in this way, we were able to accomplish the change in less than two months. The result was a huge cash savings, and people were happier all the way through the process.

Conclusion

Using a formal change model, like the ones mentioned in this article, to help people cope with difficult changes in life is an excellent way to mitigate the pain and return life to a good quality once again.


Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.


Talent Development 26 Communication

February 17, 2021

Section 1.1 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Communication. Section C reads, “Skill in conceiving, developing, and delivering information in various formats and media.”

I will share my process for injecting a great variety of communication tools in my leadership development work.

In a world where increasingly we do training and development remotely, it is imperative to spice up the content using a variety of communication methods to keep people from zoning out. Let’s apply this idea to several areas of leadership training.


Starting up

Have some kind of ice breaker or informal discussion to get people feeling comfortable with communicating openly. This activity is especially important if the group is just meeting for the first time.

Do not belabor this start-up ritual, but do provide some informal way to get things going. I like to go around the room and have all participants introduce themselves and state what they hope to get out of the training. Then I can make a comment.

For example, if one person says she wants to know how to build higher trust within her group, I might say “I’m glad you brought that subject up, Kathy. We will be covering the concept of building higher trust extensively in session two of this course.”

Brainstorms

You can get people involved by asking them to come up with a lot of ideas on a specific topic. You can work as a large group or put people into breakout rooms for more intimate discussions. If you do the latter, make sure to have each room appoint a spokes person who can report ideas generated to the larger group once people return.

Slides

The use of PowerPoint or some other form of content delivery is essential to keep things on track, but you must avoid the “death by PowerPoint” syndrome. Here are some rules I use to keep the PPT from taking over and putting everyone to sleep.

1, Less than 5 bullets on each slide and less than 8 words per bullet
2. Use a plain white background
3. Include a photograph (not clip art) to illustrate the concept being discussed. Be sure to obtain a license for each photograph used. If you can find something humorous or provocative to illustrate your point, that helps.
4. Never read your slides. Talk about the concepts and ask questions. Engage the group.
5. Move quickly unless you are embellishing the content with a story or some kind of gag.
6. Switch in and out of the screen share frequently to add variety.

Stories

Work to add stories (humorous or serious) to help illustrate your points. Keep the stories brief and always ask if anyone in the group has a story they wish to add.

Demonstrations

It helps to have some demonstrations with actual props. That practice engages the brain in a different way and keeps the mind fresh. I have several quirky demonstrations to enhance my training. For example, here is a brief video of a demonstration I call my “Trust Barometer.”

Illusions

I use magic illusions to break up the presentation and to keep people fresh. The illusions need to be very well done and professional, and they must bear some relationship to the topic being discussed. For example, in a module on managing change, I might do a coin trick to help illustrate it.

Videos

I have a collection of over 200 videos I can draw on to liven the discussion and give participants a break from listening to me. Some of these are humorous and others are inspirational. The feedback from participants is always that the videos provide excellent inspirational content in a different format. I generally try to work in a video during every couple hours of classroom time. The videos range in time from 5 minutes to 25 minutes.

Role Playing

I have frequent role play exercises where I send people off in pairs or triplets to act out a scene. This technique gets tricky, because I need to arrange different scripts for each participant. It takes advanced planning to pull this off, and I need to pay attention to who is in which room. For example, if the role play is between a supervisor and a problem employee, each person will have instructions that look at the situation from just their point of view. They are blind to the point of view of the other person until the role play begins.

Polling

I insert polls on occasion so participants get physically involved in the presentation. It is important to debrief each poll stating the conclusion that can be drawn.

Annotating

I use the various annotation tools to help provide emphasis on certain slides. I am careful to not overuse the technique frequently enough to annoy people. Perhaps one in 20 slides will be suitable for annotation in some form.

Chat

The chat room is an excellent way to get people involved or allow them to ask questions on the fly. The challenge here is to be able to monitor the chat while you are still facilitating the entire class. I find it difficult to keep up, so I normally appoint someone to monitor the chat and rotate the chore for each class to share the load.

Debrief

Always allow time at the end of a session to debrief. Ask the group what went well for them and what things I might have done differently. Listen carefully to the input and make the appropriate adjustments for future sessions.

Conclusion

Delivering the content in this variety of ways makes the class time go quickly and helps the group retain the material longer. Participants report having a “great time” while learning some important new skills.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.








Talent Development 25 Organizational Development Strategy

February 8, 2021

Section 3.3 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Organization Development and Culture. Section A reads, “Skill in designing and implementing organizational development strategy.”

I will share my process for helping organizations establish a constructive pathway for organizational development. The process always starts with knowledge of the organization.

Research

You must be intimately familiar with the needs, desires, purpose, vision, mission, and values of the organization before starting to craft a successful OD effort.

Going in with a standardized or cookie-cutter approach may allow you to make some progress, but the end result will be far off the mark from one that is totally customized for this particular application.

Start by talking with people in the organization. For sure, you want to interview the top leaders and managers to get their ideas. You also want to interview several people at different levels in the organization, because the view at lower levels may be significantly different from that at the top.

Obtain any extant data that is available, such as employee quality of work-life surveys, grievance data, turnover stats by area, blockage surveys, and other data. These data are usually collected by the Human Resources Staff.

Collect Additional Data

You need more specific data before starting to design an OD program. There are many commercially available surveys you can use for this purpose. I prefer some instruments that I have developed over the years that allow me to assess what topics have the greatest need in this particular group.

The one I use most often is what I call the “Analysis of Leadership Training Needs.” This instrument is a broad look at what specific training modules would be most helpful for this particular population. A total of 56 different skill areas are on the survey, and each individual gives all of the skills a score of 0-3. Zero means there is no need for training on that skill. Three means there is an urgent need for training on that skill.

I have a suite of ten different surveys that I use depending on the data generated in the interviews. For example, if there is an issue with ethics in this organization, I have an instrument that will measure what types of skills need work.
If the group might be considering a merger or acquisition, I have an instrument that measures readiness for that. These assessments can be accessed on my home page www.leadergrow.com under “Services.”

Design Phase

Once the data phase is complete, it is time to start the design phase. You will need to select not only the topics to cover, but also the OD methods to use. In general OD activities fall into four categories. (There are others, but they are usually combinations of these four.)

1. Action Search
2. Appreciative Inquiry
3. Future Search
4. Whole System Intervention

Although the objective of each of these methods is the same, the viewpoint and methodology for each is different. I will give my personal views of the strengths and problems with each method from my experience. All of these can work. The trick is to match the leadership style and organization culture so that the one selected has the best chance of success in a particular case.

Action Search

Most organizations contemplating an OD initiative, do so because they are not satisfied with how things are going. If the current trajectory of business is meeting or exceeding goals, there is little impetus for change. The Action Search approach takes on a somewhat negative spin from the outset. The idea is to determine what is wrong and fix it quickly.

Appreciative Inquiry

This approach is the mirror image of the “action research” technique. The process starts by asking what is working well. Groups focus on what is going right rather than what is going wrong. The idea is to find ways of doing more of the right things, thus providing less reinforcement for doing the wrong things.

Future Search

In this process, the focus is on the vision rather than the current state. The idea is to get groups engaged in defining a compelling view of the future. When compared to the present, this allows clarification of the gaps between current practices and organizational goals. Outstanding vision is the most powerful force for all individuals and organizations.

Whole System Intervention

This is a kind of zero-based approach to OD. In this case, the activities of the organization are viewed through a “systems” approach. The emphasis is on getting a critical mass within the organization to redefine the business. Processes become the focal point for redesign efforts. This approach is less threatening than the action research technique because of focuses on the “what” and “how” rather than the “who.”

It is always best to work with a skilled facilitator whenever doing any form of Organization Development. Groups that try to navigate these choppy waters without the help of an experienced sea captain often end up in a bigger mess than when they started.


Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.