Change – It’s All About the People

Adopting a change culture is no longer an option for organisations, it’s a necessity for businesses looking to remain competitive, retain talent, support growth and ultimately survive. But when planning, implementing and managing a change initiative what steps can we take to adopt a sustainable solution?

We look at how motivation is used in change management and offer useful tips to support individuals and organisations through change initiatives.

There are a whole range of theories and models around change management. Each theory offers its own solution to sustainable change and many adopt a logical and sequential approach, which in many instances leads projects to fail or to only be partially successful.

Change isn’t logical and no one solution will suit every organisation. Change is complex, full of contradiction and paradox because it includes the “business ecosystem”. This is the organisational environment, people’s vision and values and their beliefs about themselves, their organisation and the world in general. Organisations need to create clear, realistic vision about what can be achieved through change and be honest about where support is required.

Ultimately organisations need to use creative approaches to change management and understand the conditions necessary for change. Building on the research by Don Beck and Chris Cowan we can identify six conditions necessary for change; key “musts” in change processes:

  1. People will not change unless they appreciate a pressing need to do so.
  2. People need to have the will, ability and potential to make whatever changes are necessary.
  3. People need to have some idea about why there is a problem and what alternatives exist to do things differently.
  4. People need to know how current problems can be resolved so they can move onto new challenges with confidence.
  5. People need to know how to deal with resistance to change: resistance may be internal, such as personal fear of the unknown, or external, such as a lack of promotional opportunities.
  6. People need to be given support and consolidation so they can learn new skills in a relatively safe environment with plenty of encouragement.

Change Management is all about people, valuing individuality, positively managing people through the change process, communicating and providing the right leadership.

Michelle McArthur said: “Appreciating the value of individuality within the workplace is crucial to successful change. Managers need to understand how change affects different types of people, the roles each type will play and the support that each individual requires during the change process.

“From having the ability to identify stress indicators, through to anticipating behaviours and reactions, Managers need to improve their skills and have the ability to influence and guide team members during the change process in a positive manner.”

So with people at the heart of our change initiatives, does motivation hold the key to sustainable change?

I hear a lot of talk about motivating people at work but the truth is people motivate themselves. Clearly motivation to change is an essential part of change management but some more common approaches, such as relying on the “Carrot and Stick”, can be very risky.

The carrot or the stick relies on change in response to pleasure and/or pain. This view of change believes that we move towards things that attract us (carrots) that we associate with pleasure and move away from those that we associate with pain (sticks).

We see this situation in organisations every day. Some individuals will be motivated by certain things because they want to achieve a particular outcome, so we find the right ‘carrots’. Others are motivated to do something in order to avoid a particular thing or situation, so we find the right sticks.

This approach should be adopted with caution; ultimately we need to know what constitutes a reward for each individual.

We need to know when and in what contexts people are ‘moving towards’ or ‘moving away’. We also need to consider that if people are trying to move away from a factor that is perceived as a huge threat  they can simply shutdown, overwhelmed by the size of the perceived threat.

So when it comes to motivation what do leaders need to know?

  1. Know the values and the motivations of each of your team
  2. Create an atmosphere of trust
  3. Be creative – work out if and how each individual’s motives can be satisfied in a work setting
  4. Create an environment for positive beliefs and support the confidence of each member of your team
  5. Provide appropriate support networks and coaching to help motivation, learning and change
  6. Celebrate short term success quickly

Overall no one theory or model will offer the right solution to sustainable change. People should be at the heart of all change initiatives and an individual’s needs must be considered at every stage of the change process.

David Taylor, Senior Learning Consultant

See our Tools and Tips on Change, Change, Change.

*Article originally published in 2010 within our Newsletter, Bits and Pieces.

Share

Change – Just Not What It Used To Be

We may be ‘out’ of the recession but its aftermath rages on as UK businesses in both the public and private sector continue to battle for survival, to address change and overcome the challenges that we face.

The strength to survive and indeed thrive comes only from our ability to be flexible and adaptable, a process we can accelerate through adopting an innovative approach to learning and development (L&D).

Learning Lessons

We need to take valuable lessons from the last recession where so many organisations stopped investing in their teams and as a result lost their best talent. These organisations then suffered the impact when markets picked up and their expertise and best people were no longer there; they were working for the competition.

“Now is the time to invest our training budgets wisely, to help organisations see a clear return on investment and to look at new ways of working; not by doing more of the same but by being more innovative and creative with L&D intervention so that staff are engaged, enthused and motivated; leaders are given the autonomy to lead; and managers are equipped with the skills and knowledge to manage.”

Important and Urgent

One of our biggest challenges is therefore to convince those who are looking to reduce costs that there is now an important and urgent need to use L&D to survive and thrive. We need them to realise that now is not the time to cut training budgets; now is the time to invest in L&D.

Where’s the return

Demonstrating a return on investment (ROI) is crucial to any L&D programme and should be a key part of any plan to secure investment. But whilst many speak about it, few follow up and evaluate training, leaving L&D wide open to budget cuts. Within the public sector the need to justify investment in L&D is only going to intensify as every degree of training spend is scrutinised as budgets are slashed further and should the ‘right to data’ be implemented through plans for the Big Society.

Measuring the return on any investment should be our first step to securing sign off on L&D budgets. We should ask “What difference is required?”, “What will participants do differently?” and “How will we know?” Once we have these answers we can then support the overall development needs of the organisation and individual team members.

ROI does not necessarily need to follow a strict formula that takes too much effort, time and money. We also need to remember that ROI is not just about money, bottom line profit or cost savings; demonstrating value to the business can be shown in many other ways.

One of the most effective ways of evaluating the ROI of a L&D initiative is by monitoring the change in, and the impact that the training has had on the individual. If learning is aligned to business goals and strategies then it should produce a measurable return, such as increased customer service levels or shorter delivery times.”

Time Constraints

Once we have demonstrated a suitable return, finding time availability is the next critical factor when it comes to designing L&D intervention, but accommodating training schedules becomes increasingly difficult especially as our teams shrink but tasks and outputs stay the same.

With this in mind traditional training methods may not always offer the best solutions and organisations should look to integrate or adopt alternative blended learning methods.

David Taylor, Coach and Training Partner at Jigsaw@work, comments: “We need to make the most of our time, so adopting focused, integrated and versatile development programmes is crucial. This can be done by combining traditional training and delivery methods with interactive approaches such as open space activities, mentoring and web-based learning.

Coaching, for example, is a very powerful tool. Research proves that coaching is one od the most effective forms of learning and also one of the most flexible, whether you look to deliver coaching on a one-to-one basis, over the telephone, through video telephony or using internet technology such as Skype.”

Make It About The People

The effects of the recession are placing increasing pressure on our leaders, managers and front-line teams, whether this is having to deliver the same high quality products and services with fewer team members or dealing with the effects of merging teams and clashing cultures.

As budget cuts take effect, uncertainty prevails and brings with it scrutiny and low morale as everything is monitored and justified, from how much Sellotape is used through to whether replacing paid staff with volunteers is feasible or simply the only option.

Leaders and managers need emotional intelligence, the confidence and the skills to help their organisation to survive; they need the ability to deal with the effects that this uncertainty has on individuals throughout the organisation.

Those adopting a survival strategy will find little room for dealing with the emotional effects that this will have on colleagues and in turn how this will impact upon their performance. Under pressure care and empathy is often suppressed as those in senior positions prepare to be ‘tough’.

David Taylor offers the following as a definition of Emotional Intelligence “The intelligence of feeling: our ability to understand and express our emotional aspects effectively and creatively so we can use them to take positive actions and make positive communications.”

This is emphasised in recent research by the CIPD and detailed in the ‘Employee Outlook, emerging from the downturn’, Winter 2010, which states that “..’employees’ attitudes to senior managers should ring the alarm bells for employers. Only about a third of employees say they trust or have confidence in their senior managers and just a quarter agree their organisation’s directors consult them about important decisions.”

Frozen in Our Roles       

Albert Einstein once said: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

This too can be said about our systems and processes. Our teams need to look at and adopt new ways of working; this requires support and often the need to adopt new skill sets.

Adopting new ways of working often requires a shift in mindset towards changes in working practices; managers need the knowledge and skills to support individuals through this and individual team members need to feel equipped to manage and cope with the proposed change.

The library sector is a prime example of how change is impacting on systems and processes as RFID technology is embraced and a more proactive approach to customer care is adopted.

We have worked with a number of libraries to devise L&D programmes that lead and support teams through the change process and equip individuals with the skills needed to deliver a modern, personalised, customer centred library service. For frontline teams it was about addressing fears, helping them adapt to the new ways of working and the culture of a modern library service.

The Right Support

Getting the right return from L&D often depends on choosing the right training provider. With few barriers to entry, those choosing external support should start by identifying prospects who are members of institutions such as the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) or the British Institute for Learning and Development (BILD); taking these routes can save valuable time and offer a degree of assurance that the said practitioner has the right skills, attitude and experience to deliver.

*Article originally published in 2010 within our Newsletter, Bits and Pieces.

Share

Happiness is more important than wealth

87% of UK adults say that wellbeing and happiness is more important than wealth.

According to a survey published last week 87% of UK adults said that wellbeing and happiness is more important than wealth. So why are UK businesses not taking it more seriously? I just wish that organisations would stop paying lip service to wellbeing at work and start introducing sustainable working practices which promote both mental and physical wellbeing. If employees are the only real differentiator between a business and their competitors than surely it makes good business sense to encourage and support people to develop behaviours and working practices which supports their wellbeing.

On too many occasions, I have witnessed organisations where the senior managers and directors recognise the need for changes in the working practices. They have supported and invested in the introduction of quiet spaces and informal break out areas where employees can go when they start to feel overwhelmed by the busyness of the 24/7/365 constantly switched on world in which we live and work. Yet all too often these spaces do not get used as they were intended. Why? Because whilst the senior managers may have recognised the need and can see the financial sense of encouraging employees to take regular purposeful breaks, to enable their minds to pause for a few minutes. Line managers do not want to take the risk of one of their team being “caught” doing nothing.

The latest neuroscience research provides evidence that by taking regular short breaks where the mind is allowed to just “be” as it presents itself in that moment, not forcing or suppressing thoughts, enable the mind to refresh itself, which means that the individual can return to their work with a renewed sense of clarity and focus.

The introduction of mindful working practices and leadership is starting to take hold in the UK, with organisations such as Transport for London (TfL), Google, GlaxoSmithKline, SAS, the Home Office, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the Cabinet Office, introducing programmes to support staff in developing their personal practice and embedding mindful practices into the workplace. But more organisations need to take action, if they want to make the most of the growing economy, they will need their people to be at the top of their game.

Mindfulness is not about sitting crossed legged on a cushion and chanting, it is about providing space for our minds, to enable clarity, awareness, focus, creativity and compassion, all vital ingredients for a happy and healthy life. The fantastic news about Mindfulness is that you don’t need to invest in lots of equipment, or take hours out of your week. All it takes is just a few minutes a day and a little discipline and within a few weeks you will be reaping the benefits. 

Share

Coaching

Coaching may historically have been considered an executive perk but today it plays a successful and crucial role in effective organisational change and personal development.

Long gone are the days when senior executives used personal coaches just for obtaining a work life balance. Coaching is now an accepted mainstream tool for individuals at all levels of the organisation, in small-to-medium enterprises through to large multi-nationals in the private, public and voluntary sectors.

This is reinforced by the Chartered Institute of Personal Development’s (CIPD) Learning and Development Survey 2008, which showed that “just over seven out of ten respondents reported that they now use coaching in their organisation, 44% offer coaching to all employees whilst just under two fifths offer it to directors and senior management.”

David Taylor, Coach and Training Partner tells us why adopting a coaching culture has a positive impact on organisations and individuals. He examines what evidence exists to support the effectiveness of coaching and identifies why coaching is being used to support training programmes.

A Coaching Culture

Coaching is often called upon to support staff development, focusing on individuals and teams. Equally organisations are reaping the rewards of adopting a coaching culture that supports organisational change, learning and development.

At the heart of a successful business is the ability to link individual need to organisational vision. This is done by finding the connection between the individual’s values and those of the organisation and then taking action that is an expression of both. A coaching culture is built on this dynamic.

Coaching is about getting people to perform at their best, bringing out their creativity, acknowledging their experience, enabling them to learn as they progress through their career and helping individuals to engage a sense of responsibility – all crucial to successful change and growth.

The biggest driver of culture change is changing the behaviours in an organisation in a conscious way. Coaching provides an effective framework, allowing this to happen in practice and delivering measurable results, which can be tracked through each stage of a training programme.

Benefits to an Organisation and Individual

Coaching has many uses, according to the CIPD Learning and Development Survey 2008. They recorded the purpose of coaching, stating that “just over three fifths of those surveyed saw its main purpose as general personal development, just over half use the technique for transition support and 35% use it both as a culture change tool and to support organisational objectives.”

Coaching presents many benefits to the organisation from supporting strategic objectives, contributing to the effectiveness of teams through to creating high employee engagement, retention and productivity. Other key benefits include:

  • improves relationships
  • improves confidence and communication skills, enabling managers to lead by example
  • challenges perceptions and practices to enable cultural change
  • enables people to learn through doing
  • provides a structured process
  • is based on continuous, measureable improvement
  • means expertise is often transferred in the coaching process
  • promotes a ‘learning organisation’
  • improves quality, customer service and shareholder value.

Coaching can also have a profound effect on an individuals working and personal life. It’s often used to help individuals create the results they want in their life and business, whether they are ‘stuck’ with a specific problem or starting out on new initiatives.

Key benefits to individuals within the organisation include:

  • know where they stand
  • know what is expected of them
  • know they are valued and recognised
  • know they are supported
  • know where they are going
  • are given objective feedback on progress.

The Effectiveness of Coaching

There is more and more research being carried out into the effectiveness of coaching as a development strategy for people and business.

The Manchester Review (2001 – Volume 6) claims that the return on investment (ROI) from coaching senior executives can be a least 5.7 times the original outlay. In a recent study by the International Coach Federation, quoted by the CIPD, individuals reported a range of benefits from those who use coaches in the world of work:

  • increased self awareness 68%
  • improved quality of life 43%
  • better goal setting 62%
  • enhanced communication skills 40%
  • more balanced life 61%
  • lower stress levels 57%
  • enhanced self discovery 53%
  • increased confidence 52%

In 2001 MetrixGlobal also carried out a survey of executives who had completed a coaching programme. This survey found that coaching produced a 529% ROI and that the financial benefits from employee retention boosted the ROI to 788%.

Coaching to Support Training

Coaching can be used in isolation but evidence shows that it can also accelerate the take-up of skills learned in training – helping individuals to develop the effectiveness of training programmes.

Joyce and Flowers (2003) have shown some interesting data regarding the various approaches to take-up and application of skills from training:

  • Presentation 5% success and application
  • Demonstration 10%
  • Initial Practice 20%
  • Participation & Feedback 25%
  • Coaching 90%

According to this research, after a training programme, a coached participant:

  • will practice new strategies with greater skill
  • will adapt the strategies more appropriately to their own goals and contexts
  • retain and increase skills over time

Getting the Best Coach

There are plenty of people within the business environment who call themselves ‘coaches’, very often with little or no training. Training or coaching purchasers need to be sure that they are working with coaches who can provide the ‘Coaching Essentials’ – delivering measurable results taht create a successful coaching culture within an organisation.

Coaching Essentials’

The foundation of successful coaching:

  • the skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience of the coach
  • the structure of the coaching (including clarity, discipline and challenge)
  • the coaching environment (time, space, safety and confidentiality)
  • the levels of trust in the relationship
  • the levels of confidence built in the relationship

Overall Coaching is an accepted learning and development tool that offers bespoke and personalised training. Research indicates that Coaching is having a profound impact on individuals, as well as supporting business growth and organisational culture change.

However, getting the right coach in a sector that has no entry barriers and few standards and accreditations is crucial to the success of any coaching programme.

How is Coaching measured?

The value of coaching can be measured through impact analysis, which looks at both tangible and intangible results. Tangible results focus around measurable targets such as increasing productivity or improving a products performance. Intangible measures include better relationships, being more self aware, improving employee engagement or improving teamwork.

As with any measure, a clear purpose and specific objectives need to be established. The coach should be able to understand what a client requires and how they will know when it has been achieved.

*Article originally published in 2010 within our Newsletter, Bits and Pieces.

Share

Passion Killers or Thrillers?

At the start of a new year many teams may be having discussions around how they want the rest of the year to go.  Not necessarily with regards to financial targets, although this is still important, for many the end of the financial year is imminent.  Rather about the more difficult to define qualities.  Very often the first 30 days of the year can determine the tone for the rest of the year, it can bring a sort of ‘start as we mean to go on’ element to the proceedings.  Teams might discuss what atmosphere they would like to work in, how to bring their values to life, how to achieve personal goals that conveniently align to the organisations own goals.  All these discussion points are valid and worthwhile.  We have also done the same here at Jigsaw@work.  That’s when the discussion started about Andre Rieu.

Andre Rieu

Andre Rieu

Andre Rieu you might recognise as being an individual that appears on adverts with a violin, a slightly 80’s haircut and a certain amount of Waltzing glitz and glamour.  Apparently he chose to concentrate on the Waltz because early on in his career he enjoyed the audience’s reaction to this music.  And it appears in our midst we have a fan.  I wanted to understand why.

Now I am a convert.  Not necessarily to his music, but his working philosophy.  Perhaps for those not familiar with Rieu it might be useful to introduce him.  André Léon Marie Nicolas Rieu is a Dutch (I thought he was Austrian) violinist, starting to play at the age of five.  Soon after, he started to develop a fascination with the orchestra.  He certainly has credentials, studying at a number of music colleges and finally receiving his degree “Premier Prix” from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels.

Rieu is also the conductor of the Johann Strauss Orchestra.  Together they have turned classical and waltz music into a worldwide concert touring music act, as successful as some of the biggest global pop and rock music acts.  And this is where he becomes interesting.

The Orchestra began in 1987 with 12 Waltz members.   It now performs with between 80 and 150 musicians. At the time the Orchestra first toured Europe, a renewed interest in waltz music emerged in the continent, and they have since performed around the world.  During the first half of 2009, he was the world’s most successful male touring artist, according to Billboard magazine.  Despite this success, there is controversy that surrounds Rieu because he does things differently.  Especially, for the world of classical music.  However as one critic has noticed, ‘Few in his audiences are regular classical music attendees and it could be seen as promising that, via Rieu, they are listening to standards of the classical canon.’  He is not necessarily better or worse than the traditional orchestras, but it is not what he does, rather how he does it.

So how does he do it?  He seems to be completely passionate about bringing classical music to the masses, so much so that everyone enjoys it.  He has fun.  He allows his orchestra to have fun.  Indeed, he encourages his orchestra to have fun.  He has high standards and encourages everyone around him to fulfil their potential.  He treats everyone the same.  From the solo artist to the individual who plays an instrument for a few moments, they are all treated equally.  It is his attention to how important these things are that is interesting.  He brings his own catering service along, as well as all his decorative elements, such as runners, carpets and even chandeliers to change an old drab building into a romantic oasis for his orchestra and fans.  Rieu says ‘I wanted to make music in a different way.  I wanted to make ‘real’ music, and that entails everything; having fun, laughing, crying.   It is not only the technical and superficial presentation, which is mostly the norm and very prevalent in the classical music world. People want to be entertained. Entertainment is not a dirty word. It belongs’.

This is the ‘how’.  He realized when he was young and playing in the traditional orchestras he was not enjoying it, not having fun.  This is his differentiating factor.  There does actually seem to be many lessons we can draw from this philosophy.   The difference between the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ is the difference between operational focus and a focus on behaviours.  It is the difference between management and leadership.  It is the difference between short term success and long term success.  It is the difference between focusing on what we do as opposed to the people who do it.  It is where we as a leadership and learning consultancy help organisations to grow.

The ‘how’ is worth its weight in gold.  It is not a ‘nice to have’ but a necessity to ensure financial success too.  Indeed Rieu has demonstrated this.  In 2009 he conducted 112 concerts and the revenue earned was more than £95 million.  More recently in 2013, he conducted 70 concerts and made £50m.  It seems passion, and fun, not only make customers feel great, but also the people working hard in the team.  And also, incidentally, the bank manager.

Share

What’s it all about?

There are many facets of leadership and individuals within the world of leadership and development will spend many hours of their time cascading key theories and principles in order that people can become better managers, increase their emotional intelligence if needed and empower their teams through the use of coaching, in order that teams can all perform at their level best, or even at a level above.

Many principles that can be applied to an individual can also be true of the organisation.  For example, if an individual has quite a directing style then so too can an organisation feel as though their culture also has a ‘directing feel’ to it.  In other words by its nature the culture is more transactional, which maintains current performance, rather than transformational, which enhances current performance.

One area that can be used in reverse, that applies to the organisation but should also be applied to the individual teams is the idea of a ‘Vision’.  All organisations should have a vision, to give directional clarity around direction, a sense of purpose to all employees.  Often the team ‘vision’ will align directly to the vision of the organisation but just on a more local level.  It can also be slightly personalised with an emphasis on the department in question.

During organisational cascades the vision is talked about significantly by the board or the executive team, which at least means the organisation has one! As we know many organisations still do not provide absolutely clarity about what their purpose or vision is and we all need to know that what we do matters, that it fits somehow into a bigger picture.  However, presuming there is an organisational vision how many individual teams actively talk about it, so it does not remain remote, some lofty concept that seems irrelevant to them.  Everyone should know how the Vision relates to them.

So, if a team wants to address this issue how they should do it?  Many leaders take up almost an individual journey when leading a team, they focus on what they do or don’t know in order to be the best leader possible.  This is admirable but sometimes misguided in the sense that this journey should be shared.  The leaders do not ‘own’ the vision; everyone does.   This journey should be shared, should not be personal but focus on all moving in the same direction together.  Having open and honest discussions at the very beginning about the stuff that matters is important.  It is not just about ‘what’ we do but most importantly ‘how’ we do it.  Sometimes, the ‘how’ is seen as a nice to have, rather than a necessity.   However, it is the ‘how’ that will make the difference in the long-term; that will ensure strategic success.  It also takes the weight from the shoulder of the leader.

One approach can be to start the conversation by relating the vision to the team and what it means for them.  What can be so powerful here is that this conversation can start to examine the ‘way we work together’, the agreed ‘contract’ between each other that identifies the best way to achieve the strategic goal.  This invariably leads to the ‘how’ being discussed at length and then we can get into the great conversation of culture, values and behaviours.

Some questions to consider are:

What does the strategic objectives mean for us?

How will we get there?

What challenges do we face?

How do we get in our way?

What do we need to happen?

If we do not agree amongst ourselves how will we overcome that?

What is the ‘culture’ of our team now?

What is it now?

Where does it need to be?

How will we get there?

How do we specifically live our values?

What is unacceptable behaviour for us?

What needs to be addressed?

Very often their might be an ‘issue’ between one and more of the team.  If this is the case, this needs to be addressed.  It is always a judgement call by the leader when this might take place.  Unlikely if they have just taken over and only when the atmosphere is right to do so, but avoidance will only allow issues to escalate and build over time.  It can be false economy.  To leave it for later will only make the challenge more difficult to overcome.  What this can do, however, is also inform the ‘contract’ agreed between people.  If this should happen again how can we nip it in the bud? What should we do first? How will we approach each other to make sure we maintain our relationships?  A positive can emerge from conflict.

It can also provide a framework.  The leaders will now doubt have talked about the benefits of working well together, what can be achieved and how the team can be perceived in a positive way by the rest of the organisation as a high performing team.  But it is also worth having a discussion around what happens when things do not go well.  Particularly if the poor behaviour is as a result of a ‘won’t’ do rather than a ‘can’t’ do issue.  The team needs a framework and rewards, as well as clearly defined consequences are a part of that.  Acceptable attitudes and behaviours should be discussed as early as possible, addressed and adhered to.  Often it is not what people say that will be the issue, but how it is said.  This can also reassure the many who have noticed that the one who is a troublemaker seems to get away with their poor behaviour, which can be demotivating for the majority.  They feel reassured this will no longer continue and whilst poor performance will be faced into, ultimately the focus of the attention will predominantly look at positive behaviour so creating a reward culture.

Sometimes the leader can set the goal, derived from the organisational vision,  but involve the team deciding how to get there.  They can be the decision makers; they can decide the ways of working.  More often than not they will come up with the same thoughts the leader had but because they came up with the solutions means they own them to.   The ‘buy-in’ will increase significantly, as will the accountability.  The role of a Leader is to set direction, with full clarity.  But the rest can be a combined effort where everyone can come to the party and join in.

Share

Short term needs v. Long term goals?

As an international, award winning consultancy, that is passionate about developing our clients’ people to grow the success of their business, it is important for us to know we always provide the right solution for our clients.

Whilst doing this we are naturally aware of immediate needs and budgetary constraints of most organisations.  So, it is not always about providing the cheapest option, in fact as most clients agree as they face the same challenges themselves for their customers, it is about providing the best value for money.

In order to determine what exactly their best value for money proposition is, it is important to discuss with the clients what it is exactly they are looking for, and why.  What are they hoping to achieve?  By when are they hoping to achieve it? What outcomes are they looking for? How will they be able to measure the success of the interventions? And how long do they want the success to last?  This last question is actually an important one because it will certainly determine the level of intervention.

Support that just isn’t worth it.

The worst outcome for the client is for the intervention to be a ‘launch and leave’.  No consultancy worth their salt would want this outcome; where support has been provided in the form of development days or a programme but, when the intervention has finished, the results are felt for a while, only to be soon forgotten.  This is also not helpful for the future, when any follow up training is required because the gap remains, and you can hear the cries of ‘here we go again’ or ‘we tried this two years ago but it didn’t make any difference’.  Resistance abounds before the support has even started.  As a consultancy genuinely wanting to make a difference, this is the worst scenario and it might mean advising a client to put the support on hold until the company is really ready to commit to what is needed, rather than go ahead and not provide the all important return on investment.  The reputation is at stake of the organisation, and also of the consultancy.

Options that work.

So, sometimes there is a dilemma but one that could be worth considering in more detail.  As long as the intervention is not a ‘launch and leave’, the development provided can be, in summary, a ‘short term solution’ or a ‘long term solution’.  Both are valid, and purely depend on the needs and wants of the clients.

Being realistic.

When we discuss options and solution with clients we do have to consider the realities of the situation.  Sometimes there is a tick box scenario, where conventional training is needed and is literally a tick box exercise to ensure a significant amount of people have gone through required training.  This is particularly prevalent when the training is a legal requirement or might have legal implications.  For example, health and safety training or manual handling.  The ultimate aim, from a cynical point of view, is to ensure the organisation is covered from a legal standpoint should an accident arise, but also hopefully from a more ethical perspective, to protect the well being of the employee. The reasons to go ahead are probably a mix of the two.

However, as a consultancy that focus’ on the behavioural development of people within an organisation to achieve results, there are two separate discussions, both determined by the client. Do you want a short term result or a long term result? Most clients naturally want to invest in training that will make a difference, to the people, the culture and the long term success of the business, usually the most powerful measure being the bottom line result.  Of course, there are other measures, such as employee engagement, length of service, customer service satisfaction surveys which are all equally important and will contribute to the financial health of the business, but the client is always, and understandably, very concerned with the bottom line performance.  How much money can be made, generally for the private sector, or how much can be saved, generally noted in the public sector.

This is the ideal scenario, to invest and commit enough in developmental support that will attend to all these difficult areas; the culture, the relationships between the most senior leaders that will have an undeniable impact on the rest of the organisation as their role modelling behaviours cascade throughout the business, the personalities, the strategic direction, the leadership capability and the legacy, to name but a few.  This is by far a transformational intervention that will make a difference and will provide a return on investment.  See our Jigsaw Transformation Model for an example of what Jigsaw@work provide that aligns to this school of thought.

But we also have to be able to understand their challenges.  Sometimes organisations cannot afford to make such a lengthy financial or timely investment, albeit it one that will bear richer fruits.  And that’s ok.  Sometimes a less substantial intervention will at least make some difference.  It will provide a short term result or provide clarity to what else might be needed in the future.  It may at least provide a small stepping stone along the road to greater success, for now.

Understanding the pressures and pitfalls faced by organisations is key. There may be an ideal solution.  In an ideal world, if we wanted to be healthier we may not only invest in a gym membership, but also a dietician, medical preventative tests, coaching to achieve our life goals, with yearly reviews to keep us on track.  This is the ideal, and will certainly be worth it, but for now we just might have to make just one small step in the right direction.

 

Katherine Farnworth – Senior Consultant

Share

Is the culture of your organisation a help or hindrance?

Workplace culture can make the difference between organisations thriving and being financially successful businesses or struggling to survive and keep their heads above water.

In today’s workplaces where expectations on employees are high, time is of a premium, and targets are high, building a culture of trust is vital. This is easy to say but not always as easy to develop especially when so many organisations have had to make big cutbacks and downsize over the last few years, often leaving staff feeling insecure and not valued.

One vital tool, which in my 30 years of working in businesses large and small that is not used enough, is listening. Organisations serious about building a Trust Culture continually ask questions and listen mindfully to the answers.

The starting point for any cultural change programme should be with the senior / executive leaders understanding how they are perceived as leaders, and making sense of the things which really matter to them both personally and professionally. This is important as it is these things which will influence the behaviours they display and how they are perceived as leaders.

The next step is to cascade down to involve line managers and functional teams, by continuing to have conversations around the values of the organisation, what the business is calling for and what the needs of the employees are. These sessions are important to ensure everyone is involved and a common language can be developed which everyone can relate to and use.

By continually asking the questions “What is the business calling for now” and “what are the needs of the people”, means that if something isn’t working it can be challenged and brought back. Developing a Trust Culture is an on-going journey, and not a destination, it should not be easy, tough conversations and holding the mirror up to oneself although uncomfortable are a necessity.

A critical success factor for developing a Trust Culture is to start at the top of the organisation. If the senior leaders have not bought into the culture, it will very quickly be picked up on, as their behaviours will not be aligned with the words and messages they give out. A “Do as I say and not as I do” culture will result.

Gaining buy in from the top of an organisation although vital is not always easy. One way of creating buy in, is by understanding what is important to the senior leaders and helping them to understand the importance of culture. In my experience finding relevant data and presenting facts and research about the impact of culture on performance is a good influencer. According to Stephen Covey “The most trusted businesses outperform other by up to 10%” Having presented the facts, I often find that asking the senior leaders “What a lack of trust is costing the organisation?” can be a very powerful question as they start to identify the real cost for themselves.

According to David Rock’s SCARF model which is based upon neuroscience research, certainty is one of our basic social needs and when taken away will be perceived as a threat. If uncertainty persists stress could be result.

By developing a Trust Culture, people are more willing to accept a certain amount of uncertainty, because they feel confident in the knowledge that the leaders and the organisation will do the best by them. Is this true of your people?

If you would like further information about transforming the culture of your organisation, please contact one of our consultants for an informal conversation.

Share

Zero Hours Zero Motivation?

CIPD research suggests there could be one million zero hours workers in the UK.  Actually only a minority, just 14% seem to report their employer fails to provide sufficient hours each week.  The Office for National Statistics suggest that approximately 250,000 people, less than 1% of those in employment, consider themselves to be on a zero hour contract.  However, the new CIPD research suggests this may be an underestimate.  The CIPD’s imminent 2013 Labour Market Outlook, based on a nationally representative survey of over 1,000 employers, reveal some interesting points.  Voluntary and Public Sector are more likely to use zero hours contracts, as are the hospitality and leisure sectors.  Based on the full data collected, a best estimate suggests ‘approximately 3.5% of all the workers covered in the survey were on zero hours contracts, equating to about one million workers across the UK labour force’.  Most people employed on zero hour contracts are twice as likely to be young (18 to 24) or older (55 plus) than other age groups.

CIPD CEO Peter Cheese said, ‘The assumption that all zero hours contracts are ‘bad’ and the suggestion from some quarters that they should be banned should be questioned’.  There is great debate around the zero hours contract.  Maybe it is another ‘change’ we have to adapt to respond to the current economic climate and it is a bid for organisations to succeed. There will be convincing arguments on both sides, and all contribute to healthy debate in order to achieve a situation that is beneficial for the business and the individual.

One of the arguments voiced was that zero hours contracts ‘cannot be used to avoid an employer’s responsibilities to its employees’.  It might be feasible to sometimes wonder if the employer that would use a zero hours contract to avoid responsibility to their employee, would indeed avoid that responsibility even if the contract were different?

Until it is truly recognised that the focus on people will bring a return on investment, whatever the contract, a neglect of employer responsibility might persist.  How can we demonstrate to employers that the time taken for people development will be worth it?  There are measures that can be put in place such as employee turnover, survey results, performance indicators and the financial results that over time, would provide worthwhile and valid evidence.  There may also be a more subtle shift that is required, that can provide slightly quicker results; and that is to provide a consequence for poor behaviour.

It is important to provide a balance when dealing with people.

To reward for good behaviour,

  • use motivational models, such as David Rock’s SCARF, to understand what drives different people and align those drivers to strategic objectives,
  • use behavioural profiles to truly understand people so the employer can then work out the best way to communicate to everyone in the team.

These are all important and effective steps to take.  What is also important is to focus on what to do when good behavioural performance doesn’t happen.

A good employer will;

  • assume positive intent in the first instant,
  • presume a ‘can’t do’ rather than a ‘won’t do attitude,
  • look at themselves first to question if they have provided the right support from the start before loading the responsibility of poor performance on the individual.

However a good employer will also provide consequences when behavioural performance isn’t up to scratch, but the requisite support has been given.

The main point here is to differentiate between operational performance and behavioural performance.  Both need to occur well for success.  Employers will provide absolute clarity around what is expected behaviourally, as well as operationally/technically, and be clear on the consequences if that behaviour is not achieved.  Those consequences might be an informal chat to ‘nip problems in the bud’ or the adoption of a more formal process if the evidence requires this.  What is key is that, employers face up to these behaviours’ otherwise the rest of the team, who are striving, will become disillusioned.  The impression of organisations that do not face up to poor performance, particularly behaviourally, is toxic.  It has such an undermining effect on the performance of the organisation.  Very often the ‘what‘ can be solved quickly, but it is the ’how’ we do things that informs culture and, in the long term, a reputation.  And a very definite impact on the bottom line.

Behavioural competencies do admittedly exist.  Good discussion is taking place around this subject.   What can happen, however, is that behavioural performance is perceived as a ‘negotiable’ while operational/technical performance can be perceived as a ‘non-negotiable’.  They have specific objectives with clear KPI’s and often the individual knows about it when operational objectives are not achieved.  Organisations would not dream of not hitting financial targets when possible; would not allow health and safety standards to fall, because the consequences are so destructive.  However behaviours, which can be equally impactful, seem to be perceived as less important, even as a choice.  When someone is thought to be having a ‘good day’ they will be demonstrating the preferred and sought after skills, but if someone is displaying poor and sometimes unacceptable behaviour this may well be accommodated and passed off as they are just having a ‘bad day’.  This attitude of it being acceptable to overlook poor behaviour must change in order to ensure not just short term success but the long term viability of an organisation which has a passionate workforce that feels they have a purpose and play a very important part.

It is also a two sided coin.  Facing up to what might be perceived to be a difficult conversation as result of poor behaviour, can be daunting and support is often given to allow managers to be able to deal with this appropriately.  However, the rewards can also be very empowering for employees.  If the celebration of success was more commonplace, when the specific behaviours that have been clarified, are achieved, employees can also feel extremely proud of themselves as a person, and not just for what they ‘technically’ know.  This would be recognition of not what you know, but who you are.  A reward for being you.  Interpersonal and Social Intelligence are such important skills; how to interact with people , to show respect, to navigate difficult waters whilst at the same time maintain excellent relationships.  They are also skills that can be transferred from employer to employer, where technical skills sometimes cannot, and also used outside of the workplace to the benefit of the personal relationships of the individual.

Behavioural competencies are just as, if not more, important that technical competencies and until they are seen as a ‘non negotiable, given with clarity and direction, with robust measures and clear consequences and rewards, then organisations might just be missing a trick.  Then, it will matter less what the contract is, the outcome will hopefully be a successful organisation that will continue to survive and thrive, and provide jobs.

Figures from CIPD, YouGov Plc, Labour Market Outlook and Employee Outlook surveys.

Katherine Farnworth, Senior Consultant

Share

Did Jung win us the Ashes?

On July 26th 2013, the Daily Telegraph wrote an article entitled ‘Will Jung win us the Ashes?’.  It was an interesting article from the perspective of the world of learning and development because it discussed how the Myers Briggs Type Indicator had been used within the England cricket team and what the results of that analysis could be for the potential of the team performance.

It was an objective article discussing the advantages of a personality profiling tool, but also the pitfalls.  Although these types of tools are commonly used within the corporate world it is seemingly rarely used within the world of sport.  However, it certainly seems to have made a difference.  Firstly, we won.  Plenty of variables I am sure contribute to an international sporting trophy, but it is a start.  Secondly, the team seems to have worked together better than they have done for a long time and this seems to have been down to the self awareness developed through the use of the instrument, which is said ‘to have helped 11 vastly different individuals fit together into an effective unit’.  It is also believed to be used on most ‘pathways leading to selection for the England team and the county circuit’.

Interestingly, the article considers the tools’ uses elsewhere.  Of the 100 US Fortune 100 index, 89 companies have used the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.  It is used in a significant number of UK high profile organisations and some even claim it can help ‘broken marriages’.  So, the statistics certainly back up the success of personality profiles but there is anecdotal feedback contained it the article referring to both sides of the discussion.

It is possibly a discussion worth having.  What are the benefits of profiling tools?  Some say they don’t help, that they might be interesting but do they really add value?  There are many different views and some refer to the fact that human beings are too complicated to just be referred to as a type, that ‘results’ can change depending on when you complete the tools so consistency can be difficult and the results ambiguous.  Also that, the knowledge can contribute to stereotyping.

There is possibly a certain element of truth on the more disparaging observations however it might be worth considering the tools alongside the subject of emotional intelligence.   Emotional Intelligence seems to have gained a much stronger following with robust anecdotal feedback and a certain amount of ‘it just makes sense’ approach.  When we look at self awareness there seems to be no doubt that, discovery tools, do provide useful insights and open up opportunities for self reflection, 360 feedback and team conversations around the value of diversity.

Profiling tools also allows us to decode that very difficult and complex, but incredibly important subject, of human relationships.  Relationships that, when work well together, can contribute to the success of organisations, the achievement of sporting greatness and a community spirit that can be formidable and inspiring.   Surely anything that can help us to understand when a relationship does not work and know that there is possibly something that can be done about it, must be worth considering.  There is a famous quote that suggests ‘knowledge is power’ and that certainly seems to be along the right lines here.  But what might be more appropriate is to use the quote by Robert Staughton Lynd who said ‘Knowledge is power, but only if man knows what facts not to bother with’.  Maybe profiling tools are not the entire solution, but they are certainly part of it.

Katherine Farnworth, Senior Consultant

Share