Leading Change

Cast Vision for Change

Help your team members envision a brighter future, with the change in action. While being transparent, consider what positive outcome we can all focus on as a result of the change.

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Anticipate Conflict

High performing teams, and teams of individuals who are just getting to know each other may have different ideas, visions, and opinions. As the team leader, be prepared to manage all voices and conflicts that may occur as teams are beginning to build trust and execute together.

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Model the Culture You Want

“You create the culture in your environment.” – Dr. Natalie Harder.

If you want a positive culture in your organization, as the leader realize you set the tone for the culture of your organization. Hold up the mirror and reflect on how you can model the culture you want for your organization. Culture change happens one interaction at a time and causes a ripple through an organization from person to person.

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A Journey

It’s easy to think that an organization can “arrive” at excellence and then take a breather. In reality, organizational excellence requires a constant effort and process of reflecting on where you are and where you need to be. Having a framework and set of principles to guide this effort keeps teams moving forward and aligned.

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Conduct an Initiative Audit

It’s hard for teams to innovate when they are pulled in competing directions. Before expecting innovation from your team, figure out if unnecessary initiatives are taking up time and energy. Conduct an initiative audit by asking your team to simply list all of the initiatives or projects they are working on. Align those initiatives to your strategic priorities and annual goals. If an initiative or project doesn’t align, consider getting rid of it. Why cloud valuable brain space with something that isn’t aligned?

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Lead by Example

Passively deal with a difficult employee by choosing to lead by example. You can’t expect others to act in ways you aren’t willing to yourself, and a positive role model just may be the push the difficult employee needs to change their behavior. Start role modeling by:

  • Using clear, consistent communication at all times.
  • Follow-up while working on projects.
  • Follow-through to meet your deadlines and commitments.
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Remember Why You Started

Don’t forget why you started on the path of continuous improvement. Regularly remind yourself and your team why changes are occurring, particularly during the tougher phases.

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Win Vs. Loss

When we’re trying to accomplish really important goals, it’s easy to forget to celebrate progress. For one week, keep a tally of the number of times you point out a set-back and a tally of the number of times you celebrate a win. Do the wins win? If you proclaimed the negative more often, try again next week. Build a habit of celebrating wins that matter.

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Align Your Team One Step at a Time

Identify one thing at a time you can do, or stop doing, to make sure your leadership team is on board and then commit to taking action. It’s the senior leader’s ultimate responsibility to align the executive leadership team.

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Recognize the Good

Confronting organizational issues gives the leader the opportunity to teach important lessons about behavioral norms and living the values of the organization. Use positive examples of colleagues leading by example especially through a conflict or challenge. By recognizing and rewarding colleagues for living the mission of the organization, this clarifies the expectation for all employees in the organization by demonstrating what right looks like.

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Round with Middle Leaders

Are your middle leaders confident in their abilities to execute your most recent goals? Could they use a hand? Take the time to find out what they need to feel confident in their ability to achieve their goals.

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Change Can Be Uncomfortable

The initial reaction is to slow down and back off because leaders tend to be uncomfortable with discomfort. This is the most important time to keep the throttle down.

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Lead by Example

Be aware of your actions as a leader but also be aware of the actions of the leadership team. All eyes in the organization are looking to you to commit to excellence and lead by example.

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To Be Great, Innovate

Nothing new or great is achieved by doing things the way they have always been done. Leaders that apply a results-focused approach are not afraid to experiment and take risks while understanding the importance of celebrating small steps of success.

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Conquer Big Goals

Leaders make change happen, and they do so by challenging their team to tackle Big Hairy Audacious Goals. To encourage and inspire a team to change and grow, leaders must break big goals into small, achievable action steps and celebrate the small wins along the way. The most effective change comes in incremental steps and the small wins create a cadence that keeps the synergy alive within the team. Small steps produce results that build confidence and increase the natural desire to increase momentum.

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Paint a Picture with Your Team

Fully activating a strategic plan and engaging all employees includes setting the stage and helping your team visualize the destination. How can you paint a picture of what the future will look like once the vision is accomplished? How will you inspire your team to enthusiastically embrace the vision and the strategic plan? Create a story to help your employees visualize your organization in 5 years and use your employees in the starring roles. Include in the storyline, what right looks like, and ask each employee how they see themselves supporting these goals. What actions will they take?

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Break the We/They Habit

We/They is easy to do and often undetected. Bringing the practice to light and learning how to spot statements that paint others in a negative light is the first step to eliminating We/They from your organization. Model the expectation of eradication by admitting when you We/They throughout the week. The team will respect this open reflection and be more willing to hold themselves accountable.

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Data is a Force that Drives Change

More than a force, it is a powerful tool for aligning both the goals and values of an organization. How? Data provides evidence. When employees see the evidence behind the work they do, they feel a sense of ownership and hold themselves accountable for achieving results. Thus, they continuously strive to achieve the organization’s overall goals and values. Do you present data at your organization in an intentional, meaningful way?

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Initiating Change

When communicating any organization goals or changes start with explaining the reason why it is necessary. Make changes only after you fully understand the process, you can’t fix what you don’t understand, and you risk alienating staff.

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Role Model Ownership

Leaders lead by always owning the organization in good times and in challenging times. State the mission/vision of the organization early and often to employees and invite discussion about what it means to bring the organization’s mission and vision to life daily. Model owner behavior daily and particularly in times of challenge. Maintain emotional control and maintain the focus on reaching goals and achieving the mission.

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From Results to Action Plan

After you’ve completed the results rollout process, review the additional data you collected. Then, develop an action plan:

  • List the team’s prioritized actions.
  • Determine a timeline for implementation for each action.
  • Identify the person responsible for successful implementation of each action.
  • Provide the team with the draft 90 Day Action Plan for one last review and opportunity for feedback before implementation.
  • Implement the action plan.
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Use Data to Action Plan

Collecting data is meaningless if we aren’t analyzing the data for opportunities and improvements. After data has been collected, analyzed, and shared, develop an action plan using information from these discussions. Set a challenging but achievable goal. Resist the temptation to set too many goals and stick to 1-3 to focus on.

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Sharing Data

After we have gathered data, it’s important to close the feedback loop and share the results with our organization’s stakeholders, such as employees and the community. Conversations with stakeholders around the data provide opportunities to gain additional information and identify wins, gaps, and possible strategies for reducing gaps.

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Drowning in Data?

The quality of the data is much more important than the quantity. Are you collecting the data that is most important for the organization? Are you using the data that’s being collected? Align the data to the organization’s goals to focus on what matters most and eliminate unnecessary data collection.

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Meet with Leaders First

Ask the leadership team to participate in a Leadership Forum prior to the organization-wide employee forum. Explain what the employee forum will look like and gather feedback to ensure it’s successful. Include the information needed for leaders to continue to reinforce the message with their teams over the next 90 days.

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Anticipate Questions

In preparation for an employee forum, consider sending out a request for questions from employees beforehand.  Doing so will give some employees more time to think about what they would like to ask the senior executive, as well as prepare the leader by reviewing what information employees are curious about.

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Plan for Fun

When planning for the executive leader to host an employee forum, consider developing a theme and include costumes, role-plays, decorations, food, door prizes, and music. For example, if the organization’s focus is on overcoming obstacles, the theme could be ‘the Olympics.’ Senior leaders who present can dress up as athletes, and medals can be awarded to activity participants or those with outstanding results last quarter.

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Clarify with the Team

As we reflect on what’s working well, identify areas with opportunities for improvement, and develop the needed adjustments to actions for execution. It’s the leader’s responsibility to clarify those actions with the team. Communicate clearly about which initiatives and priorities are no longer the focus and which 1-3 areas are more important. Align the team’s actions to the desired goals, and establish the next steps and who will own those steps.

 

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Illustrate Goals Visually

Use a scorecard, stoplight report, or another tool to visually present yearly goals. This tool can be used in meetings to show the progress toward goals and make necessary adjustments if progress isn’t being made. Achieving goals becomes more likely if we have a constant focus on the actions being taken to attain success.

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The Right Data

Collecting data has a specific purpose. The type of data collected and the tool used for collection is determined by the issue, problem, or challenge to be addressed. Start by identifying one goal that the team or organization wants to achieve. What data is needed to understand the current state, set a challenging goal, and measure the progress? Collecting the right data and using it for improvement is essential to increasing performance.

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Communicate Progress

The stoplight colors are an easy and quick way to communicate progress toward achieving a goal. The green, yellow, and red colors are used to show the status in relation to achieving the goals. There is at least one measure (data set) for each goal. If there is no progress towards the goal, red is used. If the goal has been reached, we used green. A stoplight chart is a simple way to monitor progress and is a great visual communication tool.

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From Feedback to Actions

Identify 1-2 specific, high-leverage next steps from stakeholder feedback that will make the biggest difference to those you serve and drive the results you aim to achieve.

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Discussion for Improvements

Strategy sessions provide a forum for open and honest conversation about challenges and resources. The more we involve the entire team in the discussion, the richer the options for improvement.

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Identify the Actions

Which actions will produce 80% of the quarterly goal results? Identifying which actions produces the majority of the results will align individual behavior to organizational goals.

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Use Strategy to Inspire

Celebrating success maintains the focus for improvement and provides others with stories of success. Listening to the “why” of success during a strategy meeting may provide others with strategy or process improvement ideas.

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Plan for the Future

Reflect on where you see the organization going in the next five years. Is that where you want it to go? What actions can you take to align the organization with your five year vision?

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Analyze The Process

Today, examine one process you or your team uses most frequently to eliminate extra steps and identify ways to improve. The most effective processes are simple, rather than complex, and are revisited regularly for efficiency.

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Be Prepared

Research what’s trending in your industry and anticipate what problems you will encounter for the projects you’re currently working on and brainstorm 3 potential solutions for each scenario.

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Question for Better Answers

Instead of asking, “Do you have any questions?,” ask, “What can I explain better?” You can probe further by asking, “Can you be more specific?,” “What makes you say that?,” “Can you give me an example?,” and “Why do you think that’s working?”

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Improve Yourself First

Identify one thing you will learn this week, and set aside the time needed in your schedule. Improve yourself before you attempt to improve those you lead.

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Connect by Relating

Relate, don’t compare. During every meeting and interaction this week, identify how you can transfer and implement an idea or best practice to your team.

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Respond Proactively

Identify changes that could occur in your organization’s near future and create a plan for how you’d quickly respond to those changes to sustain excellence. This plan should consider different stakeholder groups such as employees, the community, and possibly news media. Include key words to use when communicating with each group.

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Tough Talks

When you are faced with a tough conversation, first consider your goals. The first is to solve the problem. The second is to do so without damaging the relationship.

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Leadership is a Choice

Being a leader is a choice you make each day you come to work. Choose to listen better, set and role model higher standards, and provide more clarity to your team.

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Thrive in the Face of Adversity

Pause for 2 to 5 seconds to think today before you respond. Your response is always a choice, even in the most difficult situations, and sets an example for others to follow.

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Develop Yourself to Develop Others

Choose a skill you need to develop further as a leader and set aside 30 minutes each day to practice. We can only take someone as far as we’ve taken ourselves.

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Support Your Colleagues

Add time in your meetings today to give the opportunity for others to share their ideas. This will encourage diverse thinking and problem solving.

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Transparency Changes Results

Make your stakeholders aware of the current status and the future target of your organization. Be honest and transparent to change your results. After meeting, ask stakeholders to fill out a survey or other form of written feedback.

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What Gets Recognized Gets Repeated

Set clear expectations by immediately recognizing individuals who are doing the right things in the right way.

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Observe and Learn

To improve the performance of your team, observe and review behaviors of low performing teams as well as those of high performing teams. By observing low performing teams you learn what not to do.

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Live Your Values

Identify what it looks like to model one of your organization’s values for all of your employees. Values shouldn’t live on paper. They live in your actions. Your core values set the expectations for behavior for everyone to model.

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Give Trust to Get Trust

How do you get people to trust? Start with trusting first. Share a vulnerable experience with a colleague today that will begin building your relationship.

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Leading Change

Do one thing today outside of your comfort zone. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw

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Authenticity Creates Followers

Make pausing a practice in your communication. By taking time to consider what we are communicating, we become more authentic and those we lead are more likely to trust us.

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Create a Vision

People follow leaders that can see beyond today’s problems and visualize a brighter future. Show your team the connection between today, the future of the organization, and how they fit in.

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