Leadership

/Leadership

Gender Diversity – Mentoring Women in IT

kathryn

 

Kathryn Howard  is the Deputy Chair of itSMF Australia, the Twitterchat facilitator and the Ignites wrangler.

 

In an era where innovation and differentiation of product and service are key to remaining viable and relevant, women can, and do, bring unique perspectives to the workplace. Developing the potential of women is imperative for our organisations, communities and society as a whole to grow. In short, we need to focus on gender diversification.

I have mentored for FITT (Females in Information Technology & Telecommunications) for several years. Initially I viewed it as a way to give back to the community at a time when I found a little space in my life. As my life got busy again I made sure I found time for FITT as I became profoundly aware of the benefits being realised by the program, plus the benefit to myself.

What does gender diversity look like and how do we blend women into the fabric of our corporate world? We need to pursue the removal of boundaries and continue to encourage by providing ongoing support and access to role models.

Boundaries

What are the boundaries of which I speak? It’s within living memory that women were required to resign from the public service when they married.  And what about women’s access to education?  My mother never went to high school. The only children in my family to go to university were boys. Due to limited education and gender bias my initial career options were few and could be best described as having been shaped by serendipity. I am, however, very fortunate due to a little thing called the “technology revolution”. I found myself in a field I liked and had some aptitude for.

But others were not so lucky and it is incumbent on every one of us, male or female, to remain vigilant to defend the continuance of boundary removal to gender diversity.  

In Australia, our fortunate country, no one can argue against the right of today’s girls and young women to an education. But we still have some way to go to enable those same girls and women to develop to their best potential. Why are rewards and recognition different for men on the journey to a fulfilling career?  Where is the affordable childcare and equal pay (the gender pay gap was 17.2% in 2015)?  Plus where is the flexibility in the workplace in working hours and parental leave? Some organisations get it and reap rewards – but not yet all.

Encouragement

Everyone needs encouragement but young people particularly need encouragement to optimise their educational opportunities.

IT roles have long been considered the domain of the geeky male.  Of course girls can achieve in technology just as well as their male counterparts. And we are finally seeing a generation of strong young women identifying with these roles – pioneers if you like.  They now have a landing position, but where is their career map to achieve their potential?  Where are the female role models?

Support

It’s very difficult to shape a career in a vacuum.  Mentoring is a proven mechanism to aid people in their professional development journey.  The FITT Mentoring program focuses on young women in IT to nurture self-worth, personal development, and supports the non-acceptance of boundaries based on gender.

I’m not a young person anymore and never had a formal mentor.  Such programs never used to exist.  Being a mentor for FITT, however, has helped me to hone my skills in communication and leadership.  It has also provided me with a mechanism to remain connected to young people and to engage with them in a world of ever-evolving attitudes and culture.

Different careers will continue to disappear and appear over the coming years in increasing velocity.  The new emergent careers are in fields we can only dream of and many will be in technology.   Empowering women to be ready when the opportunity presents itself is key and I’m proud to say I’ve helped some young women on this journey.

My mother would be proud to see me speaking on behalf of gender diversity.  It is a term she would not recognise, although she would recognise the impact of its absence.  

My late mother rejected the role she was allotted over 70 years ago – the role of “stay at home daughter-housekeeper”.  She demanded of her father: “I want a job”.  Her father held control of her destiny so there was no alternate avenue for such a request.

The future workforce of blended diversity will enable us all to fulfil our individual and collective potential.  The good work of organisations such as FITT empowers our young women to the next step of self development and to demand of our working communities ……“I want a career”.  

Come along to Service Management 2016 to see Kathryn Howard’s ‘Ignites’ session.

By |2018-03-19T16:23:18+00:00August 9th, 2016|guest blogger, Leadership, Service Management 2016|

Give up control to Shake Up IT

corrinne

 

Guest blogger Corrinne Armour will be speaking at Service Management 2016 on ‘Fearless Leadership: 12 ways to derail your project fast‘. Waging a war on wasted potential, Corrinne’s mission is to empower leaders and teams to step up to Fearless Leadership. Recognised as a provoker of change and growth, Corrinne is a highly regarded leadership speaker, author, mentor and coach. She shows leaders how to release the human potential in their careers, teams and organisations. For more see http://corrinnearmour.com.

I have never met anyone who likes to work with a leader who can’t—or won’t—delegate. And yet I work with many leaders struggling to give up control!

Andrew Carnegie said, ‘No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it’.

A paradox of leadership is balancing being in control with releasing control. A leader who holds tightly onto control risks increasing their own anxiety while disempowering their people. A leader with an excessive need to be in charge could be viewed by others as demanding, dominating and/or directive.

A high need for control will foster micromanagement and thwart the ability to delegate due to the belief that no one can do the job as well as them. This often translates to high workloads and a struggle to achieve a work-life balance. This leader may be seen as self-focused, controlling or not motivated to collaborate, and will be critical of colleagues whom they regard as not taking sufficient responsibility for the quality/timeliness of the work.

Might this be you? While your positive intention—the inner motivation driving your behaviour—is probably about producing a quality outcome, that’s not what others will be experiencing.

Here are four ideas to support you in releasing control:

    • Reflect on the personal cost for holding on to so much work. What is the cost to your professional reputation as someone who won’t delegate?
    • Ask yourself: Who is ready to be developed into my role? How am I supporting their growth? Use your responses to guide your delegation.
    • Focus on the outcome you need. What is the minimum amount of involvement you need to delegate this task?
    • Delegate responsibility and authority—not just the task.  

Don’t let being a ‘Doer’–an inability to delegate–derail your leadership. Loosen up on control to become a better leader.

Go fearlessly.

corr

 

 

This blog is based on Corrinne’s latest book, Developing Direct Reports: Taking the guesswork out of leading leaders. This book explains 12 leadership derailers, including ‘Doer – Inability to Delegate’. Curious about the other 11 derailers and how they could impact on your career, your project’s success and your organisation’s future?  Find out at Service Management 2016.

 

By |2018-03-19T16:23:18+00:00August 4th, 2016|Leadership, Service Management 2016|

Five ways to create a culture of innovation

amantha_imber-280

 

Today’s guest blogger is Service Management 2016 keynote Dr Amantha Imber. Amantha is the Founder of  innovation consultancy Inventium, and her latest book, The Innovation Formula, tackles the topic of how organisations can create a culture where innovation thrives.

 

Does your business have a culture in which innovation thrives? Are people challenging the status quo and being encouraged by leaders to take risks in pursuit of innovation? Or is the opposite true, whereby people don’t take time to listen to new ideas and suggestions?

Building a culture of innovation is hard work. However, the scientific research into how to create a culture where innovation thrives is both plentiful and precise. The following are five of the most impactful drivers of an innovation culture.

1. Challenge – and finding the right level of it

Research has shown that feeling a strong sense of challenge in one’s work is a critical driver of innovation. Challenge refers to people working on tasks that are complex and interesting — yet at the same time not overly taxing or unduly overwhelming.

It is important that you don’t simply think about how to give people the biggest possible challenge. Instead you should ensure that the level of challenge you set is one that is achievable. On the flip side, setting tasks that people are able to complete with their eyes closed will not breed a culture where innovation thrives.

Matching the level of challenge to an individual’s skill level is key to finding the optimal level of challenge. 
As a manager, take time to thoughtfully consider how you allocate tasks and projects to people. Ensure that you are matching these elements so that people feel a significant sense of challenge.

2. Risk-taking – and failure not being seen as a dirty word

The notion of failure being unacceptable is one I have found resonates with many organisations. Failure is generally thought of as a dirty word, and something that gets swept under the carpet when it does rear its ugly head. But being able to acknowledge and learn from failure is a huge part of building a culture where risk-taking is tolerated and where innovation can thrive.

As a leader, think about ways you can signal that risk-taking is an acceptable part of business. Talk openly about failures and what can be learnt from them with your team.

3. Experimentation before implementation

When thinking about how your company approaches innovation, ensure that experimentation is a mandatory step. Rather than just going straight from idea to implementation, you should first run experiments. This involves setting hypotheses as to why you believe an idea will add value to the customer and creating a minimum viable product (MVP) – the most basic version of the idea that will still allow for learnings. You can then set up an experiment to test your hypotheses using the MVP and based on the results, iterate or change course accordingly. Experimentation is a very effective way to help reduce the risk of new innovations.

4. Autonomy – loosening the reigns

Many researchers have found that creativity is dramatically enhanced when people are given the freedom to decide how they do their jobs. When people feel as if they have a choice in how things can be done they are significantly more likely to engage in trial and error and, through this, find more effective ways of doing things.
 Just be sure to set clear goals, as the autonomy effect is strongest when people are clear on what you want them to achieve.

5. Debate – and welcoming all views

One of the factors that has been identified as critical for creating a culture where innovation thrives is ensuring that different points of view are encouraged and that ideas are regularly debated. Lead by example and encourage others to debate and discuss ideas that you bring to the table – actively encouraging different view points will strengthen your innovations significantly.

In addition, avoid the temptation to recruit people who are just like you—doing so will only discourage debate and encourage homogeneity of thinking.

 

Dr Amantha Imber will give a keynote address at the Service Management Conference from 17-18 August 2016.  Amantha can be contacted at amantha@inventium.com.au.

By |2018-03-19T16:23:21+00:00May 19th, 2016|guest blogger, innovation, Leadership|

Delivering the Message – Things to Consider When Announcing an Organisational Change

kareen-ferries-280

 

We are delighted to welcome Service Management 2016 invited speaker Karen Ferris as this week’s guest blogger. Karen was awarded the inaugural Service Management Champion accolade by the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF) Australia in 2007 and awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to the ITSM industry in 2014.

Every ITSM improvement initiative is an organisational change. Whether it affects one person or a hundred people, it is an organisational change that requires people to change the way in which they do things. It could be a change in process, technology, roles or responsibilities.

Whatever the nature of the organisational change may be, there are important things to consider when announcing and communicating it.

Honesty

Firstly – be honest. Employees need to know the whole story – warts and all. Too often the CxO and senior managers are concerned that staff will be upset by the forthcoming change and therefore avoid telling the whole truth. If it is perceived that employees are going to be upset by the change announcement, the chances are they certainly will be when the change comes about.

So, it is important to tell them about the change as soon as possible so that they have time to prepare – and you have time to prepare them.

Don’t underestimate the time it will take to identify where the resistance to change may come from, put in place a plan to overcome it, execute the plan, continually assess its effectiveness and make changes as required.

Therefore the sooner you understand the reaction of employees to the change, the sooner you can respond accordingly.

You will only know the ‘real’ response if you are open and honest and provide employees with the whole picture.

Managers need to put themselves in the firing line – be prepared to answer the hard questions and to be transparent.

Transparency and consistency will be key if you want to stop the rumour mill. If employees feel that they are only being told half a story they will make the other half up themselves, making your job even harder.

You don’t want to have to spend the majority of your time trying to dispel rumours that only came about because you did not communicate openly.

Everyone Needs to Be on the Same Page

It is imperative that time is taken to prepare the message and to make sure that everyone who is required to deliver the message is able to tell the same story. Everyone needs to be on the same page. Inconsistency will fuel a fire that is waiting to happen.

Time needs to be taken to prepare the executive, managers, and sponsors who will be required to deliver the message. They need to understand the reason for the change and be champions of the change.

They may need coaching and mentoring to (a) help them overcome any resistance to the change they may have and (b) equip them with the skills and capability to deliver the message effectively.

All communication channels need to carry the same story – where are we going? – why are we doing this? – how does this align with our organisational strategy? – when are we doing it? – how are we doing it? – and most importantly – what’s in it for me (WIIFM)?

Test It

It is a good idea to test the message with a sample group of the target audience to determine if the message is clear, concise and complete. Things you may assume obvious may not be so to all employees so you need to remove the assumptions.

The sample group should help identify the questions that employees will be asking. What you assume people need to know may not be the case.

I remember working in an organisation, some years ago, that was undertaking a relocation of a department to another part of the city. Management assumed that staff wanted to know about recompense for additional travel, whether there would be parking available, how accessible the new location was by public transport etc.

But this wasn’t what was causing concern. It turned out that the biggest question staff wanted to know was whether the kitchen would be equipped with a microwave oven! This was because another department, relocated earlier, had not initially been provisioned with a microwave oven which they had previously had access to.

Don’t assume employees won’t sweat the small stuff. They will! Your sample group can help identify what this may be.

Check It

Throughout the period of communications you need to be checking its effectiveness. You need to regularly check understanding of the message. Don’t assume that because no-one has asked a question that the message has been understood. Silence does not mean that all is good!

There are various ways to check the effectiveness of the communications and it will be the change agent’s job to determine which are the most appropriate for the organisation.

Employees can be surveyed to determine if they understand the change.

At a recent client engagement I created and distributed the communications regarding a forthcoming change. Customers using a particular application were required to change the way in which they submitted service and support requests. The customers were distributed across the country so I followed up the communication by randomly picking names from the email distribution list and telephoning them to determine if they had read the communications and whether they had any concerns, questions etc.

This helped me understand whether the communications were having the desired result and to make any changes as required.

Other methods to determine communication effectiveness include focus groups, observation, monitoring collaboration channels, monitoring traffic on web pages where information about the change resides, monitoring feedback channels etc. It is more likely that if you are not getting feedback or questions, the change has not been understood or is being resisted.

Organisation change management models such as ADKAR can be used to determine if communications are having the desired results during organisational change. ADKAR can tell you whether employees are Aware of the need to change; have a Desire to participate and support; have Knowledge of the change and what it looks like; feel they have the Ability to implement the change on a day-to-day basis; and have the Reinforcement to keep the change in place.

ADKAR is used for much more than just checking communication effectiveness so is an ideal tool to have in your organisational change management toolbox.

Answer the Questions

It is important to answer all the questions received from employees. In the client engagement I mentioned earlier, any questions I received about the change were collated and the answers were distributed in future communications. Each communication had a FAQ section. The chances are that if one person asks a question about the change, there are myriad others wondering the same thing but not prepared to ask.

Collect all questions asked and provide a FAQ either in distributed communications, via collaboration tools and/or on the intranet.

Strike a Balance

Communications should be balanced. They need to be frequent enough to help employees with their transition and addressing their concerns and questions but not overly frequent to the point that people stop paying attention.

Also give due consideration to the communications channels. If employees hate SharePoint, don’t use that to deliver your message despite it being the corporate collaboration tool!

Note: I have nothing against SharePoint!

Use a variety of channels but ensure they are ones that employees will access. Just like communication content effectiveness should be checked, so should the effectiveness of the communication channels.

Monitor the number of emails that are opened. Monitor the number of click-throughs to the web site. Monitor the number of downloads regarding the change from the intranet. Monitor the number of impacted employees attending information sessions.

All of these, and more, can help you determine which communication channels are having the greatest impact so you can give them more focus. There may be communication channels that you stop using as they are having the least impact. But you won’t know unless you monitor it. As with anything else, the adage ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure’ also applies to change communications.

Summary

Your organisational change communications need to be honest and transparent. The message, and the deliverers of the message, need to be carefully prepared. There needs to be one story and only one story.

Test the message and regularly check the effectiveness of the communications. Answer all the questions being asked and make the questions and answers accessible by all impacted employees. Ensure that your communication channels are appropriate for the change in hand and will be accessed by impacted employees.

Finally, be prepared to change course. If it’s not working, stop and make the required adjustments to get back on track.

This blog post was written by guest blogger and Service Management 2016 invited speaker, Karen Ferris. You can register to hear from Karen and a host of other exciting speakers at Service Management 2016.

Do you have a Service Management story to share? There is still time to submit to be a speaker at Service Management 2016. 

 

By |2018-03-19T16:23:21+00:00April 12th, 2016|guest blogger, Leadership, Service Management 2016|