Work, for many is drudgery and has little meaning. They go to work with a heavy heart because they receive little satisfaction from it, However, there is one exception - they get paid. Perhaps you have heard these statements:
"I work here because the money is good."
"I put in my time so the company owes me."
"I work from paycheque to paycheque."
"I don’t like what I do but the pay is good."
Money becomes the end, not the means to the end. There doesn't appears to be a higher purpose. Work becomes hard for them, not in a physical sense, but in an emotional sense. It becomes an emotional energy drain and plays havoc on one's mind, body and spirit. It becomes sheer drudgery.
It needn't be like this. Not that work isn't difficult or emotionally draining. Work still can be that way. It can be physically draining. Lifting heavy objects day in and day out is physically draining; helping people solve their problems on a daily basis is emotionally draining.
So how do we move the dial so that work has meaning and personal purpose? So that work goes beyond drudgery?
Two intertwined dynamics are required. One is organizational leadership and the other is personal fit. Organizational leadership clarifies vision, mission and values; personal fit brings a meshing of personal purpose and values with the organization. Let's take an example.
A former associate of mine once worked with a fertilizer company. The fertilizer was of the smelly manure kind, not the clean-cut potash kind. Employees were not enamoured with their work, in fact they expressed a heartfelt dislike for it. My colleague brought the company through a re-visioning process. He engaged the leadership team in developing a meaningful vision for the company and in turn engaged everyone in finding deeper meaning in their work - other than shovelling "sh*t" day in and day out.
The leadership team and employees came to realize that what they were about was important for the growth of food. They were providing fertilizer "to feed the hungry." They discovered "why" they were in the fertilizer business – to feed the hungry.
This awakening from what was apparently drudgery to a renewed purpose initiated greater opportunities. New values began to emerge that called upon personal and corporate compassion and outreach which were expressed in behaviour and action: employees began volunteering to the local food bank, the company promoted and employees became engaged in developing community gardens (using their fertilizer, of course) and contributing to improved farming practices within developing countries.
Everyone within the organization found a renewed sense of purpose. It did not take away the "smell" and the shovelling of manure but it gave a new meaning to "why" they were doing it. The process required leadership, personal fit and commitment. Leadership spurred the visioning process, personal fit meshed personal values with company values and commitment drove behavioural change.
This example summarizes the issue and results pertaining to part of the process. It doesn't give the full picture. Certainly, a shift in thinking (a renewed vision and values) initiates the behavioural change, but the transformation doesn't occur over night.
The process takes time, energy, resilience and perseverance. Leaders require patience as cultural change occurs over time and not in an instant flash. They need to continually talk and walk the vision, mission and values and become role models for others. As one CEO said, it is often a two-step dance - "two steps forward and one step back, resilience is the name of the game." It's a nudge to the future, not a giant step.
The process also requires ownership, responsibility and accountability among employees. A sense of ownership for their actions and a shift in thinking towards possibilities. Ownership for the fit they have with their work - that their work is more than a paycheque; that they need to go deep within themselves to find their sense of purpose and connect it with the vision and values of the organization; and, if the fit isn't there, to seek employment elsewhere.
Work doesn’t become "drudgery" when you enjoy what you do and it fits with your sense of purpose and values. For many in that fertilizer plant, knowing that what they did – shoveling manure - helped feed the hungry, gave them a renewed sense of purpose. From this beginning, they went on to do greater things for themselves and their community through compassionate outreach.
Is your work, "drudgery"? Or do you find higher meaning in what you do? If not, what can you do about it? If you are in a leadership position, what can you do to open new horizons and help your colleagues find new meaning in what they do?
Integrity is often identified as one of the core values of many businesses and organizations. The challenge for those in the organization is "what do we mean by integrity?" It is often easily identified and glibly said, but do people in the organization understand what it means.
Integrity has a multi-dimensional aspect to it. We often attach the word integrity to many functions within the workplace and life: moral integrity, data integrity, personal integrity, market integrity, corporate integrity, philosophical integrity, mathematical integrity, medical integrity and so on.
When we use integrity as a corporate value, we usually mean that the word applies to everyone and all functions within the organization. Hence, the organization deems it appropriate that people deal with each other and customers with integrity, that the data is collected and screened with integrity, and that it markets itself to its various stakeholders with integrity.
Values however, are acted out through behaviors. We know that people have integrity if they exhibit the qualities of integrity. When we think of behavior and use the word integrity we expect the person to : act consistently, exhibit moral character, adhere to ethical principles, and project the qualities of honesty, truthfulness, accuracy and authenticity.
Let's lift two key phrases from this list of behaviors.
Consistency of Action: Consistency is about sameness. That one acts the same regardless of the situation. We often hear the phrase: "He says what he means and means what he says." This person consistently shows that his behavior reflects what he means, and people recognize it to be so. Think about John, however, who shifts and changes to accommodate his different mood swings. How do we relate to John because he "runs hot and cold" and we don't know from one situation to another how he will react? John becomes a relational stumbling block and his colleagues are constantly on guard. John is acting consistently but in a way that weakens his relationships with others. John tarnishes his integrity by the way he acts with others.
Consistency of action is a choice we make. We can choose to be obstructionist or not. We can choose to leave one situation where we may be frustrated or angry and enter another where we put our frustration and angst aside and deal with the new situation without negativism or rancour. We can choose to act positively or negatively.
Soundness of moral character and ethical principles. Moral character relates to a sense of doing things right for self and others. It is based on the natural principles of "treating others as one would want to be treated," and as such relate to the positive virtues by which we live such as: honesty, empathy, patience, kindness, gratitude, justice and courage.
Ethical principles are based on moral behavior or principles of morality and usually pertain to right and wrong behavior. Professions often have ethical principles by which those in the profession must abide. A workplace may have a Code of Conduct which outlines employee and employer expectations and responsibilities. Many of the expectations within a workplace code of conduct are based on moral and ethical considerations. Both professional code of ethics and a workplace code of conduct identify the consequences of a breach of the code.
We begin to press the edges of integrity when we start to stretch and test the lines of a professional or workplace code. Certainly, one acts without integrity when the lines are clearly crossed such as committing acts of fraud, stealing large amounts of money or lying about a grossly negligent act. But what about the little things that gradually erode integrity in the workplace such as:
Once again, our integrity is determined by the choices we make. This time it is about how we want to live our life within the bounds of moral character and ethical principles.
Integrity comes from the Latin word 'integer' which means whole and complete. To act with integrity then reflects a sense of 'wholeness' and consistency of character. Therefore, to be a person of integrity our behaviors, words, actions and outcomes should positively reflect who we are.
Others will know if we are acting with integrity because they will see the connection between what we say, do and act as one with us in all situations. There is only one 'me' and that 'me' if I am to act with integrity must be the same 'me' whether at work, home or at play. We become authentic when we consistently reflect our wholeness to others through what we call integrity.
Does this mean we must act with integrity ALL the time? The short answer is 'yes but not necessarily' because we do mess up from time to time. The key here lies in our intention. When we mess up the integral thing to do is recognize and correct the mess-up as quickly as possible. We take responsibility and become accountable for what we say and do and how we act. Clearly it is not our intention to act without integrity; our intention is to act with integrity but sometimes because of emotion, lack of sleep, or caught in a 'frazzled state' we let our guard down and may say, do or act inappropriately. When this happens, we should immediately take corrective action. We may eat a little ‘humble pie’ in the process, but it is the 'right' thing to do if we want to keep our integrity intact.
Here are seven considerations for you.
Author: Richard P. Fontanie. MSW, FCMC
For a five-minute take on integrity, listen to So-Young Kang here.
All the organizations I worked with grouped work around teams. Some of those teams had two members, others had six or more. Many teams worked well, some of them operated at peak performance. Others didn't fare well at all.
For many years I had a print hanging in my office that depicts a jazz combo with the caption "Synergy". Good jazz has synergy so too has good teamwork. Jazz players know when to take the lead and when to recede. They don't overwhelm each other, they complement each other. When team members work together like jazz musicians weaving in and out of the movements and swinging back and forth in syncopation and synergy then we have good teamwork.
In addition, jazz music also has structure and form. The structure is made up of the repeating forms that make up the music, such as notes, phrases and bars. This structure along with form brings life to jazz and allows it to have its beautiful elasticity, movement and swing.
Like cool jazz, a successful team also requires structure and form. Over the years I have found that a team's structure is made up of eight building blocks (in music terms the forms that make up the structure), each propelling it to higher levels of team performance. They are:
Are these the only building blocks that lead to highly successful teamwork? Not necessarily. Jazz composers write several excellent jazz pieces, each one with different sounds and movements, but the overall structure remains the same - it's what allows us to call the music jazz. So too, we can add another movement or building block to our piece, or we can substitute one building block for another, for example we could add "Clarifying Team Processes" instead of "Systematizing Processes;" or, "Managing Meetings" instead of "Making effective team decisions." The eight blocks I have chosen as foundational to successful teamwork is not a definitive number. However, if team leaders engage team members in cementing these eight blocks together, they will find that the members of the team will work with greater focus, synergy, collaboration and trust.
What to do: Are your team members working together like a jazz combo? Is it time to revitalize your team? Review the eight building blocks with your team members and ask them which one requires more work. Put swing and a bit of renewed life, symbolized by the renewal of Spring, back into your team.
Richard P. Fontanie MSW, FCMC, From the Fontanie Learning Solutions Archives
Image: ambro at Freedigitalphoto.net
In today's fast paced workplace teamwork is often essential in getting things done. Teamwork is nothing other than a group of people coming together to achieve a common goal. This seems simple enough. So why are so many teams dysfunctional? The answer lies in a number of interrelated factors from how the team was initially set up to how the team's performance is ultimately measured. Here is my formula for assessing teamwork: Sp4(KSAE'VA) + C. It looks complicated but it really isn't. Here's how it works.
S = Strategy: Does the team know how it fits within the organization? Is it aligned with the organization`s vision, mission, values and goals? It is amazing to me how management can set working teams in motion without defining the vision, mission, values and goals for the organization. No wonder team members frequently struggle with the questions: "Why are we doing this?" and "How do we fit within the overall direction of the organization?"
p1= Purpose: Does the team have a clear sense of purpose? Are the goals of the team and expected results well defined and measurable? Are team members involved in the process? Often sufficient time isn't spent in clarifying the team's purpose with team member involvement. Collaboratively defining purpose, goals and expected results encourages member ownership, commitment and is the first step to assessing team performance.
p2= Process and Procedures: Are the team processes and procedures for making decisions, solving problems, resolving conflicts, managing team meetings and team projects understood by the team members? Teams run amok when these processes are murky and ambiguous. When decisions need to be made or problems need to be solved clarify the "how" by identifying the specific steps in the process. This gets everyone working from the same page. The same goes for resolving conflicts and managing meetings.
p3 = People: Do team members know what they are suppose to do? Are the roles, responsibilities clear? Are the delegated powers clear to all the members? Do members know who owns the decisions that were made? Do team members bring the "We" and not the "I" to the team? Are they cultivating respect, encouraging communication, making contributions, being cooperative, working collaboratively and understanding individual differences. p3 relates to all the people skills needed to manage team member relationships and how individual members relate to each other. This is where we apply the "grease" to the inner workings of the team so that it can run smoothly. And the grease in this instance is made up of positive influencing, negotiating and leadership skills.
p4= Performance: Does the team leader measure performance of the team as a whole as well as individual members? Does the team continually improve the way it functions? And does it learn from both achievements and mistakes? Here I suggest we learn from team sports. Measurements in team sport are transparent. As the game is played we know what the score is, who is performing and scoring, how those on offence and defence are playing, and at the end of the game we know who won or lost or whether the game ended in a tie. I often hear that it's not the same with organizational teams -"we're different you know, it's not so cut and dried." Frankly I don't buy that because what it tells me is that p1 has not been fully explored - purpose, goals and expected results are not clearly defined - so the team leader and team members don't know what to measure.
KSAE`VA How well does the team leader know the strengths and weaknesses of each team member? Team leaders need to assess individual (K) knowledge, (S) skills, (A) abilities, (E) experience, (V) values and (A) attitudes appropriately. How well we know individual team members and what they contribute to the team is a vital ingredient to team functioning. To use the sports analogy again team coaches spend a lot of time assessing how individual strengths and weaknesses contribute to team effort. So too organizational team leaders need to continually assess whether they have the right people with the right KSAE'VAs within their teams.
C = Celebrate: Finally does the team take time to Celebrate? Or does it wait for special occasions or until the team breaks up or people leave? Celebrate throughout the life of the team - after all if it's not fun - its work. If a team is having fun while successfully getting things done then usually the Sp4(KSAE'VA) + C are in play.
Questions to ponder: How do you assess your team? What do you use to measure success? How do you know the measurement works? What do you do to celebrated both your team's successes and shortcomings? Do you operate from a strategic framework? Are your team's systems and processes clear? How well do you know each team members strengths and weaknesses? What can you do to improve how your team works together and how they deliver goods and services?
Up-dated from the archives of Fontanie Learning Solutions
The most pressing issue concerning organizational change is how to take into account all the dynamics that affect employees, customers and stakeholders. In a previous post I discussed why organizational change is so difficult. My experience as an external consultant working with organizations in transition include: mergers of government departments; a merger of two oil companies - one based on a hierarchical structure and the other on self-directed teams; colleges in transition; governments downloading mandated services to councils and non-profit agencies; and several small to medium sized companies adjusting to new marketplace realities. I found that an eight point process based on an Identify, Design, Deliver, Stabilize and Evaluate Platform worked well for me.
1. Identify and Design - Focus on Need, Mandate and Transition Team
Clarify the need. Unfortunately, there are business owners and corporate boards, both in the private and non-profit sector, who initiate change without due process. I know of organizations that have replaced their CEO and members of the Leadership Team based on limited information. I'm not referring to those situations where the organization is in dire straights and require immediate triage and surgery, but where there is a vague felt need based on little evidence, misinformation, lack of understanding about the culture of the organization, or political bias.
When action is taken with limited information it puts the new CEO in a bind. Some CEOs push back and work toward a more developmental approach and follow a process similar to one outlined in this post; others, take a directive approach and make the changes as presented to him. In the latter instance I have witnessed CEOs who modified the Leadership Team without due consideration regarding roles, responsibilities, history, culture, or the real value individuals had made to the organization. They reorganized the boxes within the organizational chart, replaced members on the leadership team and marked others as redundant. The Board and Shareholders then expressed their satisfaction that their new CEO acted so quickly on their behalf. However, I found that when an unwarranted directive approach was taken, problems occurred within a very short time: morale faltered, confusion reigned, valued personnel left, and the CEO was replaced within two to three years.
The first order of business in any change process is to take the time to clearly understand the change requirements and their implications. Often times an outside consultant is contracted to work with the Board, CEO or Owner to clarify the change requirements and to recommend an appropriate process.
Set the mandate. Once there is a sound understanding of the change requirements the board/owner/leadership team need to set a clear statement of purpose and goals. The length and depth of these statements are contingent upon the extent of change under consideration. I ascribe to a short, crisp and exciting purpose statement which can be easily articulated to employees and stakeholders; and, a set of broad objectives with milestones to measure progress.
Establish a Transition Team To Plan. The next step is for the CEO/Leadership Team to establish a Transition Team to plan the strategy, set specific SMART objectives and guide the implementation of the change process. In large organizations the Transition Team is drawn from a cross section of team leaders and employees who exhibit leadership qualities. In small businesses the Leadership Team and Transition Team may be one and the same.
2. Deliver and Manage the Process
Engage Those Affected. As the Transition Team works through the planning stages it needs to find ways to engage all employees within the organization. One way the Transition Team can do this is to keep the various team leaders abreast of its progress, issues and actions. The team leaders can then place "Change Reporting" on their team meeting agendas and solicit feedback to the Transition Team. Another way is for the Transition Team to regularly meet with employees in small groups to solicit their input and feedback. In small businesses the process is the same but the feedback loop is shorter and more direct.
A key factor in any organizational change is to spend considerable time in clarifying how the change will affect individuals. I found that whenever change is introduced in an organization people respond primarily in three ways. There are those who embrace the change with great expectations - I refer to these people as climbing the 'Mountain of Hope'; there are those who view it as the "sky is falling" and descend into the 'Valley of Despair''; and there are those who are uncertain and they become the 'Wait and See Gang.' In most instances the third group make up the majority of the people in the organization.
In order to meet the needs of these three groups the Transition Team should consider a number of coaching and training strategies, for example: those who are on top of the mountain may require mitigating strategies to lower high expectations; those who are despairing may need coaching strategies to deal with anxiety and fear; and those who are waiting to see what happens may require regular updates and encouragement. Remember the outcome of any change process is to ensure that people function at a higher level on the other side of the 'Mountain of Hope' and the 'Valley of Despair' than they did at the beginning of the process.
If the change affects stakeholders, and in most cases it does, then the Transition Team should find ways to solicit input and feedback from them. For instance, they could consider focus group sessions with customers, strategic partners or aligned business associates. The Transition Team may find that the stakeholders may not always agree with the purpose, design or process but their input will be invaluable to help it clarify messaging and make adjustments to meet specific stakeholder requirements.
Communicate Regularly. The importance of communicating and communicating often cannot be stressed enough during times of change. Here are seven strategies I have used or recommended to keep employees current:
Continuously Learn and Improve. Organizational change provides a tremendous opportunity to promote learning as a continuous process. I found that my daily encounter with individuals provided invaluable teaching and learning moments. They happened when individuals were testing out new methods, brainstorming in meetings, taking on new work patterns and habits, or adjusting to revised roles, responsibilities and reporting relationships.
During the change process people will make mistakes. This is healthy as long as people learn from them and take corrective action. In essence learning and taking positive action is another way of understanding the process of continuous improvement.
3. Stabilize But Recognize Continuous Change
Calm the Organization. The issues the Transition Team first encountered will begin to settle once the changes begin to take effect . This reflects the movement towards a new level of functioning. The speed by which the organization calms is dependent upon the strategies the Transition Team employs. The deeper or the more complex the change the longer it takes to stabilize the organization.
When I refer to organizational stabilization, I'm not thinking about the absence of change. These days, as in the past, change is constant and even relentless. Everyday our marketplace is affected by technological advances, global and national conflicts, climate change, the introduction of new products and the renewal of old ones, or by mergers and acquisitions of companies. These provide both risks and opportunities and we need to proactively plan and respond to them.
I view organizational stabilization with the realization that change is constant and that organizations need to continually adapt with renewed vigor and vision. And, each time an organization successfully meets new challenges it reaches a new plateau and that plateau stabilizes a bit before the next wave of change hits.
The point here is that although there will continue to be change, the change that the Transition Team was tasked with has come to an end; and when new transitions are on the horizon than a new mandate and transition process is initiated.
4 Evaluate and Measure Continuously
Evaluate Results. If we take the approach that we need to measure progress along the way, then evaluation is also ongoing. In part this is alluded to in 7 above - continuous learning and improvement. However, sound practice suggests that when the final milestone is reached, the Transition Team should take a formal look back to: measure results against the strategic intention identified in the mandate and goals; review all the strengths, learning and challenges it encountered; and celebrate the end of the journey.
Questions to Ponder: How do you approach organizational change? What do you think the differences are regarding a developmental or directive approach to change? How do you identify your requirements, purpose and goals? Do you establish a Transition Team with authority to plan and manage the process? How do you engage your employees and stakeholders in the process? What type of communication channels do you use? Do you learn from mistakes and move on, or do you attempt to find fault and punish? Looking back at a transition that occurred in your organization what was the take-away learning? What do you think about the approach described in this post?
Author: Richard P. Fontanie MSW, FCMC Up-dated from Fontanie Learning Solutions
You may have heard the saying: "We are only as good as our people." When business owners and managers utter these words they recognize that the value of their organization comes from those who work within it. They know this propels growth and prosperity for them, their employees and the community at large.
A business is like a container. Take a can of paint for instance. What makes a can of paint a real can of paint? It's the paint within the can. The can is the container that holds the paint. The paint within the container is only as good as the mix of chemicals and manufacturing process that made the paint. Poor chemical mix and manufacturing process results in poor paint. The opposite is also true. The right chemical mix combined with the right manufacturing process results in good paint.
Like the can of paint the mix of people combined with the strategies, processes and behaviors fill up the container. In this case, however, the container is called the business, hence the saying: "We are only as good as our people."
Owners and managers who recognize that business growth comes from "good people," encourage them to be even better by:
Unfortunately there are those who say, "we are only as good as our people," but their behavior works against creating an environment where skilled and dedicated individuals cannot be as good as they would like to be. Here are some of the behaviors owners and managers exhibit in this case:
What to do: Take the time to hire the right people then rejoice because your container is full. It is filled with individuals who want to actively participate in creating a successful organization. Let them shine. Draw upon the special talents they bring to the workplace - their knowledge, skills, values and attitudes - and fully engage them in your business. Join the ranks of those who say,"we are only as good as our people," and then, work hard to give them opportunities to become even better. In the end you will have a more productive and happier workplace.
Author: Richard P. Fontanie MSW, FCMC Up-dated from the archives of FontanieLearningSolutions.
We don't often hear these three words in the workplace: forgive, love, and compassion. Yet when we meaningfully express them and use them as a call to action they can have a huge impact on the culture of our organizations.
Forgive: The Encarta Dictionary defines forgive this way: “(to) stop being angry about or resenting somebody or somebody’s behaviour; or, to excuse somebody for a mistake, misunderstanding, wrongdoing or inappropriate behaviour.” I haven’t heard the words “forgive” or “forgiveness” used much in the workplace. When they are used with meaning they have a powerful impact. Mostly I have heard words that beg forgiveness like "sorry" and "apologize." Often with little meaning behind them. They were more polite words, then meaningful words. I have also heard expressions that can easily be interpreted as discriminatory, blaming or name calling.
Everyday someone in the workplace, including the boss, makes mistakes. Mistakes are made because we are not perfect. The thing about mistakes is that they can be corrected, and they do need to be corrected. However, there is no room for the blame game, name calling and discriminatory language. To get caught up in the latter is a sure sign we are still harbouring anger or resentment. Correct the behavior and when appropriate say, “I forgive you, and mean it.” Think of the positive effect it would have on the culture of an organization if people forgave each other for past wrong doing or misunderstanding.
Seeking forgiveness and forgiving are not easy. Read the definition again: “stop being angry about or resenting somebody or somebody’s behaviour.” It’s easy for someone to say "I'm sorry" and “I forgive you.” It’s harder to remove the resentment or anger one feels. This takes time, but until we come to grips with these feelings we will become consumed by them and the anger and resentment will tear us up from the inside out and our relationships and overall effectiveness will be diminished. So, the first thing we need to consider is the forgiveness of oneself, because it is the self, who holds the resentment, anger and grudge. It is a reciprocal process binding both forgiveness and forgiving. And once the healing is experienced through forgiveness and forgiving we can go on and forgive others.
Forgiving and asking for forgiveness also takes courage. Asking for forgiveness shows our vulnerability. Something we don't do easily as we see vulnerability as a weakness. When we understand the power of forgiveness we turn that weakness into a strength. Seeking forgiveness lessens our burden and actually shows the strength of our character, and when accepted, the character of those we work with. When the reciprocal activity of forgiveness happens in the workplace it is a powerful statement of the trust, openness and compassion found in the relationships we have with each other, our team or our organization as a whole..
Forgiveness in the workplace pales against the seeking and giving of forgiveness we read about regarding the "Truth and Reconciliation" process people experienced in South Africa, or about our own process regarding our First Nation's people. The stories that were told, the deep forgiveness that was extended during those hearings should be an inspiration for all of us. If you get a chance, read some of those stories and be inspired about forgiveness, and ask, "why is it so hard to do this in our places of work?"
Love: Love is a loaded word in our society and perhaps it has always been that way. Love is almost always associated with emotion and synonymous with passion, attraction, desire, and sexual feelings. We certainly don’t condone sexual behaviour in the work place and many businesses have rightly developed policies about “romantic relationships.” However, we do use the words “passion” and “love” to express how we feel about what we do, for example: “I love what I do,” or, “ I’m really passionate about my work.”
Another meaning for love is expressed through the acts of patience, kindness, respect, selflessness or gratitude towards one another no matter how hard that may be. This is a different kind of love. It is the love of volition, or the love of choice. It means our willingness to pay attention to the needs, best interest and the well-being of others, regardless of how we feel in any given day. It's the persistent positive action of what one does. It is consistent, fair and foundational. This is the type of love we can show in the workplace. As someone once said: “Love is, is what love does.”
This is also the love that strong leaders share with their organizations and people they serve. Consider for a moment the impact great leaders have had who were not afraid to use and express love through their actions, such as: Jesus, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Mandela, and Mother Teresa; or leaders in the business and sports world such as Jack Welsh, Herb Kelleher, John Hunter, Kevin Roberts and Vince Lombardi.
One well respected Executive Director, I know, had no difficulty pointing out mistakes or correcting poor behaviour. When he was done with the correcting he would always say, “We still love you,” and did so in the kindliest of ways.
Compassion: There are several ways in which we can develop a culture of compassion in the workplace. Take for instance we can in a compassionate way:
Yet the word “compassion” is seldom used. How often have you heard, “let’s show some compassion to our fellow workers?” or, “we need to be compassionate about those less fortunate than us?" Compassion is all about understanding or empathy for the suffering of others. Here’s what I have heard too frequently: “tough it out,” "don’t cry,” “stop your whimpering,” and “I don’t want to hear excuses.” If we hear things like that perhaps we should ask, “Is there room for some compassion here?”
There are real ways we can bring compassion to the workplace - we just need to commit ourselves to act. What are the rewards? Not much - just a healthy, committed and dedicated workforce. Who can ask for more? Try a little compassion next time you're faced with a difficult problem - it just may surprise you.
What to do: Try something different in your workplace. Consider forgiveness, love and compassion as cornerstones for positive interaction; it may just change your organizational culture for the better. We would be hard pressed to deal with “forgiveness” and “compassion” without the “love choice. That is why I have placed love between the two – we can’t have the two without the one. Can we really express these words in action independently of each other?
Want to learn more?
Books that may help: James C. Hunter, “The World’s Most Powerful Leadership Principle,” Greg Baer M.D. "Real Love in the Workplace," Karen Armstrong, "Compassionate Life," and a very light read by various authors “ Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work.”
Richard P. Fontanie MSW, FCMC, Up-dated from Fontanie Learning Solutions
Image from: Royaltyfree/corbis
The traditional organization is hierarchical in structure and culture. It is based on top-down power and control. The new organization is flatter, flexible and collaborative. It incorporates a number of cultural and structural dynamics including those that impact leadership, management, customers, stakeholders, resources, processes and learning. In bullet form here are a few of the dynamics to look for in today's organization.
Leadership & Management
Customers and Stakeholders
Does your organization approach some of these dynamics? Have you moved from the traditional hierarchical structure to the more engaged, flexible and collaborative one?
Something I discovered while working with business owners and leadership teams suggested that many of them viewed organizational change as a theoretical construct. They talked change, discussed change models, and at times, were frustrated and paralyzed by it. It became mind boggeling. Yet, the most crucial element regarding change is not at the intellectual level; it's at the emotional level. It hits people in the heart and gut.
Perhaps you can relate to these statements:
"We're reinventing the organization but change is too slow."
"Why don't my employees get it."
"We've had meeting after meeting about the new vision for the company, but so little has changed."
"My Board is getting impatient it wants to see people acting differently now."
"We're in a process of changing our culture but it isn't happening fast enough."
What's going on here? What's going on is that the leadership team doesn't fully understand, or is reluctant to accept that organizational change is a slow process, and could take up to seven years to come to fruition.
No matter what the change is some aspect of the organizational culture will change as a result of the process. The fact remains, however, that organizational culture only changes when people decide that the change has value for them. That's the rub. People need to "feel" that the change will benefit them in some way. If they don't, the change will be long and fraught with difficulty. At its core, the leadership team want individuals to let go of something that defines them and replace it with something new and different.
Imagine a large organization with all its systems and processes predicated on a hierarchical structure and the leadership team now deems that a vision-value driven organization with interconnected teams' delivering services and products within a flat structure is the way for the future. This is a tsunami change for almost everyone in the organization and becomes a huge challenge for them. Here the "what" and "how" of work is literally turned upside down. What was "valued and rewarded" in the past is now slipping away.
Now imagine a small or medium sized business that's going through rapid change as it comes to grips with a fast paced evolving marketplace. New people are hired while others are let go. New products are brought on stream, and others are dropped. People are confused about the direction of the company, how to relate to each other and what they are supposed to do. Again, people are challenged about the "what" and "how" of their work.
Most people define themselves not by who they are (which is the subject of another post) but by what they do; and, what they do is wrapped up in their self-image and ego. When people define themselves in this way, letting go of what they do means they need to redefine themselves in some way. This poses both an intellectual and an emotional challenge for them. Letting go, however, is precisely what has to happen if any change is to occur.
The process of redefinition takes time and many will try to protect their ego, their self-image and their job (what they do) by initially denying that the change is real. They say such things as:
“I don't think anything will really change."
“Let's wait it out – this too shall pass,”
“I’ll make some surface changes to show I’m willing, but I'm not going to really change what I do," and,
"This new approach is too much for me, I can't go along with it."
Leadership teams need to fully appreciate that organizations are made up of individuals who have different personalities, attitudes, habits and behaviors. When change is introduced they are asking each one of these individuals to accept a level of personal change. Some will want to hang on to their comfortable past, others will “get it" and will want to move ahead, while others won't be sure which action to take and will vacillate back and forth from one position to the next.
Let's consider just one aspect of what we are asking people to change, their habits.
Ask any leader two simple questions: 1) Did you have a well wired habit that you tried to change? and, 2) How hard was it to change that habit? If they are honest they will tell you that it wasn't easy and it took some time to feel comfortable with the new habit.
When a leadership team embarks on changing an organization it is asking not one individual but many individuals to change their habits and behaviors. If those individuals have been working the same way and using the same processes within the same structures, they have developed a habitual way of completing their work. They now must break away from what they have interpreted as acceptable to something different and new. They are being asked to change their habitual pattern which over time has become part of their identity; and, taking on new habits is not necessarily easy and usually time consuming.
At the root of all this is that the leadership team wants individuals to take a leap of faith - to trust them that the new is better than the old. Individuals need to be convinced that it is better to let go than to hang on. This requires the leadership team to constantly communicate and reiterate the positive aspects of the new direction with patience, practical learning opportunities, engagement, and the willingness to adjust when required.
Lasting organizational change only happens when people are ready. They are ready when they intellectually recognize the benefits for the change and integrate them emotionally. That's when it becomes a new way for them. Some will grasp, celebrate, and incorporate the change quickly; others will recognize the benefits but will still be reluctant to change, When they do they may slip back to past behaviors and require continual encouragement and support. Eventually the organizational culture will change and those who have accepted the change will evidence a new habitual pattern.
It is also my experience that there are those individuals who are unwilling to change. People around them have embraced or a least have adjusted to their new reality, but they haven't. In these cases the leadership team has three options, they can:
Questions to Ponder: Do you consider the mired of people issues when you embark on a change process within your organization? Do you think organizational change takes too long? Do you say: "Change, or else!" Do you believe that individuals have to integrate the change both intellectually and emotionally? Are there times when the leadership team can't wait - they need to move quickly and accept the fall out? What process do you follow when introducing change within your company or organization?
You may also be interested in the series found under LeaderManager on the Front Page: "The Middle Muddle"
Updated from the archives of Fontanie Learning Solutions.
There are several common organizational strategies that result in a more effective use of human, capital and financial resources which result in a greater committed and satisfied workforce. When the strategies are applied in the private sector there is improved cohesion among management and employees and profits grow. When applied to the public and non-profit sector the same organizational cohesion occurs resulting in improved service and greater efficiency of resources. I found the following four integrated strategies consistently improved organizational outcomes.
Rally around strategic intent. Every organization I have worked with gained when they developed or renewed a clear statement of its vision, mission, goals, values and SMART objectives. These are the hallmarks for improved motivation and productivity. Keeping the strategic intent of an organization alive is work for leaders and all those entrusted with enterprise outcomes. Maintaining its vitality is much easier when all key players from first line employees to the executive team are involved in the clarification process.
Nurture a positive organizational culture. Organizational culture consists of behavioral norms and the underlying shared values that keep the norms in place. Shared values such as respect, honesty, integrity, reinforce how people within the organization treat each other. Studies have consistently shown that positive behaviour begets positive results and negative behaviour blocks positive achievement. Negative behaviour often occurs when positive values are allowed to languish or when they are not championed and lived by the leadership team of the organization. A positive organizational culture generates individual and team energy that drives positive internal and external customer relationships, self-satisfaction and productivity.
Encourage collaborative team effort. Successful organizations are made up of independent and inter-dependent teams where the collaborative effort among the teams achieve the outcomes of the whole. Each team works synergistically within itself and cooperatively with other teams. The functions and role of each team is understood by other teams and day to day work flows seamlessly from within each team and outwardly to the others. One team is not better than the other and all teams search for ways to support each other for the betterment of the enterprise. They work like parts in a clock and in the end the clock goes tick-talk in a timely fashion; and, if the parts don’t work together the clock stops. So too in organizations, if teams don’t work effectively within and together productivity wanes, relations become strained and the organization falters.
Engage employees in those things that affect them. There is sufficient hard evidence to show that engaged employees are productive employees which in turn translates into an improved bottom line. This substantiates my own experience in working with organizations. Engaged employees are those that both know what the organization is about and have an emotional attachment to it. An organization where people are engaged has clearly stated values which are authentically lived in a state of mutual trust, respect and fairness. Everyone fulfills the commitments and promises they make. Organizations with engaged employees reap the benefits of improved productivity, higher morale, reduced sick leave, and fewer accidents. Employees experience a “blend of job satisfaction, organizational commitment, job involvement and feelings of empowerment” (Engage for Success), as well as improved motivation, and a greater sense of self-worth and improved life style. Yet, even though we know all the benefits of an engaged organization, a report by Gallup Poll indicated that only 29% of Canadian and United States firms have an engaged workforce.
Questions to ponder: Does your organization rally around a common purpose and direction? Are individuals and teams positively energized by the organizational culture? Do the teams work together like clockwork? Are the individuals and teams fully engaged so that they and the organization fully benefit? Need help acting around these questions, call a qualified consultant or business coach or consider training for your leadership team - Priority Management is an excellent training resource for this.
Author: Richard P. Fontanie MSW, FCMC Up-dated from the files of Fontanie Learning Solutions.
Note: Image Creative Commons