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Give up control to Shake Up IT

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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.

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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+10:00August 4th, 2016|Leadership, Service Management 2016|

Communication breakdowns in dispersed teams, and how to overcome them

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Korrine Jones is our guest blogger today. Korrine will offer a workshop at Service Management 2016 on ‘Leading an invisible IT team’. Korrine is Director and Principal Consultant of OD Consulting, and author of Virtual Team Reality: The Secrets to Leading Successful Virtual Teams and Remote Workers. This blog looks at why communication breakdowns occur in dispersed teams and provides tips on using communication tools and processes differently to increase the quality of communication.

A 2014 study undertaken by Software Advice (Radley) found that communication was the top-cited challenge to managing projects with dispersed teams.  In fact, 38% of the almost 300 professionals surveyed for the study said that communication was difficult for dispersed project teams.

With a wide range of communication tools available these days, including instant messaging, project management tools, wikis, blogs and virtual conferencing via telephone or video, it is interesting to note that the survey found the most preferred communication tool for 41% of the respondents was still email. Delving into the data further, phone is seen as the next most preferred communication channel (36%), 12% selected virtual conferencing as the preferred collaboration option, and only 10% of respondents favoured discussion forums and chat rooms.

However, the survey also found that emails, particularly long email threads, are seen as the top obstacle to effective project communication by 23% of respondents.  In line with these findings, my personal experience has been that dispersed teams often overuse email as their most regular form of communication, with the result of deteriorating rather than building communication, rapport and trust across the team.

The survey results also found that 16% of dispersed team members experienced confusion about which communication channel – phone, chat or email – to turn to for which tasks. It is important to remember when we read these results that the tools are merely the communication channels. While teams I have worked with have found it useful to use a range of tools, to be effective in communication your team needs to agree on how they will communicate and then select the appropriate tool/s for their specific communication needs. Which channel will you agree to use for each type of team communication?

The survey also found generational differences in communication preferences. Specifically, it found that preference for digital mediums (such as email) decreased with age, while preference for analogue communications (phone) increased with age. The study also found that these trends change when looking at videoconferencing, discussion forums and chat, with 35-44 year olds less likely to prefer virtual conferencing and more likely to prefer chats and discussion groups than both younger and older age groups.  This confirms my experience that people have very different preferences when it comes to communication modes and channels. Therefore, a multi-pronged approach is best, particularly in teams with diverse preferences. In this regard, the survey report recommends that a comprehensive communication strategy involving a variety of tools and techniques can help to solidify team connections and improve project visibility.

The richness of each communication channel and its appropriateness to specific conversations is also important for us to consider. For example, communication channels with low levels of richness, such as text-based documents and email, are appropriate for information sharing and one-way communication. As the complexity and sensitivity of the communication need increases, so should the richness of the channel. For example, feedback should be provided by telephone as a minimum and, for complex and constructive feedback, this should be undertaken via videoconference or face-to-face. A recent example of inappropriately delivered telephone feedback occurred within a dispersed learning and development team in a national consulting firm. During one feedback discussion and one performance review, a team member received some constructive feedback that she was not expecting. On both occasions she was taken aback by the feedback and became quite upset. She was quiet on the end of the telephone line for a few moments while she collected her thoughts and got her emotions under control. Each time, her manager responded uncomfortably to the silence on the line, promptly wound up the conversation and hung up on her. This left her feeling even more taken aback and upset. She felt that these situations impacted adversely on her relationship with her manager and eroded the trust they had worked to create.

If these conversations had been held via videoconference or face-to-face, the team leader and team member would have been able to read the body language of the other party and therefore respond more effectively. Therefore, sensitive feedback, as well as conflict and tension should, wherever possible, be addressed face-to-face. If this is not possible, then videoconference is the next most appropriate option.

It is also important to remember that you don’t necessarily need to have highly sophisticated tools to be able to communicate and collaborate effectively. However, you do need to have taken the time to build rapport and trust with team members to make it work. One example that illustrates the value of simplicity comes from United Nations Volunteers. I recently interviewed Michael Kolmet, team leader of United Nations Volunteers working in Africa, for my book Virtual Team Reality. Michael finds that communication can be effective even if the only tools available are email, Skype and telephone, and for them, the video for Skype can be very patchy. So, his team members will always begin a Skype call with the video, but will continue with voice if the video drops out. They find the initial video is sufficient to build the rapport they need to continue the conversation openly.  However, to make this work, Michael and his team members had previously spent time agreeing on shared values and taking the time to build trust and rapport.

The dispersed teams I have worked with, who communicate particularly well, opt for the communication tools that provide greater interactivity. For example, telephone is more interactive than email or texting and Skype or videoconferencing is more interactive than telephone. As the report findings illustrate, we are often guilty of defaulting to email, even with those we do see regularly, but we need to ensure that the more sensitive, complex and substantial discussions are made via phone, videoconference and, if possible, face-to-face.

As a final note, it is also important to choose a form of technology that everyone can use, and to ensure that every team member has access to the technology and has been trained to use it correctly. I have worked with many team members who have a range of interactive communication tools available, but either don’t know that they have access to them, don’t know their full capabilities or don’t know how to use them. It is essential for team members to be familiar with how to use the tools properly so that the team can maximise their capability.

Find out more about Service Management 2016 or register for Korrine’s workshop!

By |2018-03-19T16:23:19+10:00June 9th, 2016|guest blogger, problem management, Workshop|

Workshops for Service Management 2016 announced!

Service Management 2016 has announced workshops for 2016!

This year, a range of half-day and full-day workshops are on offer to supplement your Conference experience.

The workshops will take place in Brisbane on Tuesday 16 August 2016 – so you can dive in and get a head start on ways to Shake I.T. Up before the Conference kicks off on Wednesday 17 – Thursday 18 August.

Get practical career advice, develop your leadership skills, improve relationship building, ensure smooth delivery from project intention to outcome, discover new methods or rediscover new approaches to familiar topics, including Service Integration and Management (SIAM), Agile, Lean, DevOps, and the Operational Readiness Review (ORR)!

Workshops include:

  • Agile, Lean IT and DevOps – a survival guide for the mid-career professional with Charles Betz
  • Extreme Leadership Workshop: taking the radical leap with Em Campbell Pretty
  • Behave Yourself: Building IT Relationships with Simone Jo Moore and Mark Smalley
  • SIAM: revolution or evolution? with Simon Dorst and Michelle Major-Goldsmith
  • Leading an invisible IT team with Korrine Jones
  • “Are you being served?” An Operational Readiness Review
  • From BID strategy to Operational delivery – where does it all go wrong? with Lana Yakimoff

Register for workshops and the Service Management Conference with the Earlybird rate before 27 June 2016.

And remember, you can still submit to be a speaker this year!

By |2016-04-29T16:26:22+10:00April 29th, 2016|Service Management 2016, Workshop|

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

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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+10:00April 12th, 2016|guest blogger, Leadership, Service Management 2016|
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