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The Concept of Change Means Leaders Must Communicate

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Leaders are the facilitators of change within their organization. As such, in implementing an initiative or new direction, they must employ proven techniques and strategies to ensure good communication with their employees. This is true of the entire process of change—from beginning to end. Without open and effective communication, leaders can create problems and issues that hinder their efforts to make the needed changes.

Leaders should understand that change is uncomfortable, and adapting to change can be confusing and messy until the “kinks” are worked out. There is no way to communicate change to employees that makes it an enjoyable process. While planning for change can list tasks and responsibilities, it doesn’t lessen the discomfort of altering long-held behaviors and habits that comprise individual employee comfort zones.

Because change is in fact an ongoing, difficult process that pulls people out of their comfort zones, the importance of good communication is magnified. It becomes crucial for managers and leaders to gather outside sources of information, solicit employee feedback and perspectives, and use this information to create specific “plans of attack.” Every group is unique and a cookie cutter approach to communicating and managing change will not work.

Within the realm of a leader’s main responsibilities is the role of effectively conveying the need for change to his or her employees. The concept of change means that leaders must communicate during the planning, announcing, implementation and completion of the process of change within their organization.

Proven techniques for facilitating smooth and effective communication include:

Identify and Communicate the Results to Be Achieved

The communication of change means that leaders must clearly articulate the results they want and the specific means required to achieve them. Often leaders must communicate two messages simultaneously: the macro, or “big picture” of how the changes in their unit plays a role in the overall changes within the organization, and the micro, or detailed picture of the specific changes to be made.

When leaders communicate both the macro and micro views of change, they give their employees a balanced picture of how their contributions to facilitating change benefit the organization. Surveys have shown that employees are markedly more effective when they understand how their efforts contribute to the overall goals of the organization.

Simplify Jargon and Buzzwords

Many organizations and industries have developed their own jargon and buzzwords. Often managers, leaders and employees rely heavily on these specialized terms. However, many of these words lack real substance or meaning in their daily use. Words and phrases such as “responsive,” “employee friendly,” “customer focused,” “empowered” and others should have specific meanings. For instance, if an organization is responsive, what exactly does that mean to leaders and employees? What are the parameters defining this word’s use and application? The same is true for any other buzzword: tts definition should be plain to employees so they are clear on what the term means and how it applies in the workplace.

Share Information Early and Often

Managers and leaders should share as much information as possible with their employees.

In many large publicly owned organizations, the emphasis is placed on good communication with investors, not employees. While obviously the importance of the former cannot be argued, it is the latter that does the work of moving the organization forward.

Consequently, when employees learn of organizational changes and developments through the media or the rumor mill, they become more apprehensive and less productive until put at ease. Rather than lose time and revenue to this anxiety and uncertainty, managers and leaders communicate as much information as they can up front.

Maintain Quality and Consistency

Managers and leaders should maintain a consistent, quality flow of information to their employees. Due to the ease with which communication channels can get bogged down with meaningless information, leaders should filter their communications to ensure significant and substantial information is imparted to their employees.

Don’t Underestimate the Duration of Change

Many leaders fail to appreciate the length of time required to develop, nurture and maintain change within their organization. Effective change goes beyond its announcement or the introduction of new programs to implement it.

Leaders must understand that organizational change means altering ingrained personal habits. This takes time, and open and active communication is required throughout the process. Leaders should not shortchange it with ineffective communication at critical, often later stages of change.

Use a Variety of Communication Pathways

Effective communication of change is as varied as each individual involved in the process. Many managers and leaders limit their communications during change to a single medium such as email or the intranet.

If managers and leaders wish to develop an effective communication program during the process of change, they should transmit their message through a variety of means, such as unit/company meetings, email/intranet updates and daily interactions.

Don’t Confuse Process with Communication

Managers and leaders should not confuse the process of change with communication. The process of change can include creating vision, developing teams, planning and countless meetings. Properly designed, these can be effective communication vehicles, but not sufficient to meet the communication requirements of organizational change.
Provide Ample Opportunity for Feedback and Concerns

Managers and leaders should provide their employees ample opportunities to share their fears and concerns, ask questions and share insights. Managers and leaders should make addressing employee concerns and following up with answers and informational updates a primary concern. This empowers employees and gives them ownership in ideas and concepts. It keeps key people from leaving, and often prevents those who remain from sabotaging the process of change.

Excerpt: Improving Communication in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD

Related:

Dealing With the Challenges of Change

Anticipating and Handling Employee Fears of Change

Use These Seven Strategies to Respond to Change

Communication Has to Start With Telling the Truth

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Facilitating Change: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Impact of Change on Individuals: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Dealing with the Challenges of Leadership: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Strengthening Leadership Performance: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

 

The Concept of Change Means Leaders Must Communicate

with 4 comments

womancrowd

Leaders are the facilitators of change within their organization. As such, in implementing an initiative or new direction, they must employ proven techniques and strategies to ensure good communication with their employees. This is true of the entire process of change—from beginning to end. Without open and effective communication, leaders can create problems and issues that hinder their efforts to make the needed changes.

Leaders should understand that change is uncomfortable, and adapting to change can be confusing and messy until the “kinks” are worked out. There is no way to communicate change to employees that makes it an enjoyable process. While planning for change can list tasks and responsibilities, it doesn’t lessen the discomfort of altering long-held behaviors and habits that comprise individual employee comfort zones.

Because change is in fact an ongoing, difficult process that pulls people out of their comfort zones, the importance of good communication is magnified. It becomes crucial for managers and leaders to gather outside sources of information, solicit employee feedback and perspectives, and use this information to create specific “plans of attack.” Every group is unique and a cookie cutter approach to communicating and managing change will not work.

Within the realm of a leader’s main responsibilities is the role of effectively conveying the need for change to his or her employees. The concept of change means that leaders must communicate during the planning, announcing, implementation and completion of the process of change within their organization.

Proven techniques for facilitating smooth and effective communication include:

Identify and Communicate the Results to Be Achieved

The communication of change means that leaders must clearly articulate the results they want and the specific means required to achieve them. Often leaders must communicate two messages simultaneously: the macro, or “big picture” of how the changes in their unit plays a role in the overall changes within the organization, and the micro, or detailed picture of the specific changes to be made.

When leaders communicate both the macro and micro views of change, they give their employees a balanced picture of how their contributions to facilitating change benefit the organization. Surveys have shown that employees are markedly more effective when they understand how their efforts contribute to the overall goals of the organization.

Simplify Jargon and Buzzwords

Many organizations and industries have developed their own jargon and buzzwords. Often managers, leaders and employees rely heavily on these specialized terms. However, many of these words lack real substance or meaning in their daily use. Words and phrases such as “responsive,” “employee friendly,” “customer focused,” “empowered” and others should have specific meanings. For instance, if an organization is responsive, what exactly does that mean to leaders and employees? What are the parameters defining this word’s use and application? The same is true for any other buzzword: tts definition should be plain to employees so they are clear on what the term means and how it applies in the workplace.

Share Information Early and Often

Managers and leaders should share as much information as possible with their employees.

In many large publicly owned organizations, the emphasis is placed on good communication with investors, not employees. While obviously the importance of the former cannot be argued, it is the latter that does the work of moving the organization forward.

Consequently, when employees learn of organizational changes and developments through the media or the rumor mill, they become more apprehensive and less productive until put at ease. Rather than lose time and revenue to this anxiety and uncertainty, managers and leaders communicate as much information as they can up front.

Maintain Quality and Consistency

Managers and leaders should maintain a consistent, quality flow of information to their employees. Due to the ease with which communication channels can get bogged down with meaningless information, leaders should filter their communications to ensure significant and substantial information is imparted to their employees.

Don’t Underestimate the Duration of Change

Many leaders fail to appreciate the length of time required to develop, nurture and maintain change within their organization. Effective change goes beyond its announcement or the introduction of new programs to implement it.

Leaders must understand that organizational change means altering ingrained personal habits. This takes time, and open and active communication is required throughout the process. Leaders should not shortchange it with ineffective communication at critical, often later stages of change.

Use a Variety of Communication Pathways

Effective communication of change is as varied as each individual involved in the process. Many managers and leaders limit their communications during change to a single medium such as email or the intranet.

If managers and leaders wish to develop an effective communication program during the process of change, they should transmit their message through a variety of means, such as unit/company meetings, email/intranet updates and daily interactions.

Don’t Confuse Process with Communication

Managers and leaders should not confuse the process of change with communication. The process of change can include creating vision, developing teams, planning and countless meetings. Properly designed, these can be effective communication vehicles, but not sufficient to meet the communication requirements of organizational change.

Provide Ample Opportunity for Feedback and Concerns

Managers and leaders should provide their employees ample opportunities to share their fears and concerns, ask questions and share insights. Managers and leaders should make addressing employee concerns and following up with answers and informational updates a primary concern. This empowers employees and gives them ownership in ideas and concepts. It keeps key people from leaving, and often prevents those who remain from sabotaging the process of change.

Excerpt: Improving Communication in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD

Related:

Dealing With the Challenges of Change

Anticipating and Handling Employee Fears of Change

Use These Seven Strategies to Respond to Change

Communication Has to Start With Telling the Truth

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Facilitating Change: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Impact of Change on Individuals: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Dealing with the Challenges of Leadership: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Strengthening Leadership Performance: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Leaders Succeed When Their Employees Are Successful

with 5 comments

Aiding employees in achieving their personal goals and feeling important and successful within the organization requires good interactive leadership practices. Effective leaders consider helping their employees to be successful an exciting, worthwhile pursuit. When employees are successful, so are leaders.

Helping employees succeed is essential to keeping work units, projects and the entire organization running smoothly and on course. It is not unlike an environment where employees are novice pioneers, dependent upon leaders to guide the wagon train through the chaotic and ever-changing organizational wilderness into “the promised land.”

Achieving and attaining the “unordinary” is the major force behind moving individuals ahead, as it instills a sense of organizational worth and the attainment of incremental successes. In moving employees forward leaders must continually build and instill a desire and commitment to persevere, while continually looking toward the horizon rather than backward.

If leaders fail in their responsibility to harness the best they and their employees can give, all actions get caught up in trivial, daily routines and procedures, problems and issues. Concentrating on the “ordinary” militates against successful achievement and accomplishment.

Individual and cooperative encouragement is the means to goal attainment that is “beyond the ordinary.” An interactive leader’s experience, insight and carefully applied strategies avoid many of the overwhelming barriers and frustrations that wait in hiding. These are vital to eliminate because they can automatically dampen an employee’s spirit and the desire to continue onward toward the achievement of success.

In order to help their employees succeed, leaders employ specific strategies to reinforce motivation, determination and perseverance. These include:

Use New Assignments to Test Individual and Cooperative Limits

It is a leader’s responsibility to remain alert for ways to improve their work unit’s productivity and the organization itself. This depends on giving full support to their employees; they are the ones possessing the skills and manpower required to make improvements a reality.

There is no better way to achieve success than by openly testing individual and workgroup limits. Isolating a difficult job situation and placing employees or groups directly into it provides leaders a revealing gauge of their capabilities. It is also an effective way to overcome a negative problem or situation plaguing the unit or organization.

Once accomplished, it instills a feeling of success, self-worth, and the desire to tackle other challenging projects and assignments. The group/individuals begin to realize they can “accomplish the nearly impossible” by merely challenging, pushing and extending their limits. Consistent encouragement is given during the entire interactive process to see the challenge through.

A leader’s active support during this process is used to encourage his or her people and instill a sense of adventure into the assignment. This is key to making any challenge more enjoyable and successful. Without developing a pioneer spirit of determination and fortitude to surmount the challenges new assignments present, existing fears and uncertainty become an overwhelming obstacle. “Going where no one has gone before” and getting there with whatever it takes is a stimulating way for leaders and their employees to approach each new assignment.

Related: Six Steps to Educate Employees About Delegated Tasks and Assignments

Consistently Question the Status Quo

Facilitating their employees’ success requires that a leader continually urge them to challenge certain processes and offer suggestions on how unproductive efforts or inefficiencies can be improved upon. In order to accomplish this, they list all current work practices within their unit or organization. These must be firmly established and in the category of “the way it’s always been done.” Once the list is compiled they turn it over to their employees and ask, “How useful is each practice for doing the best we can?”

This interactive technique generates creativity and innovation among employees because they are empowered to determine whether or not a particular process or way of performing tasks or assignments is efficient or essential. The critical part of the procedure is to carefully analyze and evaluate the impact of each process and form or structure of task assignment to determine whether any should be kept in place, altered or eliminated.

If certain procedures are selected for modification or possible elimination, the challenge is to find a way to change it. (Policies critical to productivity and quality assurance cannot be challenged and are out of bounds for analyzing and assessing.) Success comes when employees are able to eliminate generally useless rules and needless routines that only hinder their abilities, performance and jobs.

Related: Focusing Your Employees on Future Performance

Break Free of the Routine

Nothing stymies success more than becoming robots of routine. Comfort zones are the greatest inhibitors of thinking, creativity and innovation, which are indispensable to success.

To help free employees of their comfort zones leaders can use the following exercise. Have employees make a complete list of their daily habits, activities and routines. Ask them to respond to the question, “Which of these improve my feeling of self-worth and my efforts in the unit and organization, and which do not?”

Have them circle the “helping” activities and place a check mark next to those that are “hindering.” If they have a difficult time determining whether they actually want to eliminate some of the hindrances they should be told to ask themselves, “If I keep on with this particular habit, activity or routine, what is the worst that can happen?” After responding, employees should ask the question positively, “What is the best thing that can happen to me if I eliminate this particular hindrance?”

Finally, employees ask, “How successful will I feel knowing that I can overcome something that hinders me? How will it improve my outlook to know I have control over things that prevent me from moving ahead?”

In supporting employees in their efforts to overcome hindering practices and habits, success can be brought about in incremental steps with minimal amounts of effort. The goal is to displace useless habits deeply entrenched in comfort zones with more productive ones. Leaders and employees will both find that the growth pains are clearly worth the gain in creativity, innovation, overall personal productivity and job satisfaction.

Related: Formulating Questions as a Source of Continuous Improvement

Excerpt: Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series by Timothy Bednarz (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

November 1, 2012 at 10:56 am

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