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Building Sustainability into your Business Culture

Have you been implementing green policies or instituting sustainability practices into your organization?  How much resistance have you faced internally?  If you’re like most businesses, you’ve probably struggled with a lack of buy-in for the changes or frustration when employees can’t see the full benefit!  The Barrie Business Sustainability Symposium will show you how to build sustainability into your business culture.

First, a recognition that all behaviour is driven by values and beliefs is paramount.  When employees follow direction that is not consistent with their values or beliefs, they will do so half heartedly and effectiveness of the implementation will be compromised.  The opportunity is to measure the culture of your organization and the culture of your employee body in order to create a road map for culture change that deliberately shifts the values system more fully toward sustainability, while maintaining the business priorities of profit and customer service, for example.

I’m excited to be presenting at the Barrie Business Sustainability Symposium on April 7, 2011 and will be making the case for building a sustainability culture.  You will learn the benefits of deliberately shifting your culture toward sustainability and some of the pitfalls that business leaders face in this area. Bob Willard, of the Sustainability Advantage will also be presenting. I am looking forward to his presentation!

What challenges have you found when implementing green or sustainability practices in your business?

I’d love to get your feedback. Here on this blog, you’ll get commentluv. This is a plug-in that will allow you to leave a link back to your own site when you leave a comment.

Until next time,

Sue

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5 Communication Mistakes New Managers Make

Frustrated in New Job? Part 3 – Communication


Communication skills are not usually  taught, much less monitored for impact on employees. Most new leaders are a little insecure within their new leadership position and this can lead to behaviors that are perceived as either over-assertive or under-assertive. Both impact employees negatively. Lack of experience in certain areas such as engaging in  “difficult conversations” leads to poor execution of standardized procedures such as employee reviews etc.  In our previous posts in the series “Growth Opportunities for New Leaders”,   we discussed  Self-Management and Time Management as two of the  key growth opportunities for new managers.  In this post we’ll discuss communication skills.  Here are 5 communication mistakes that new supervisors make.

  1. Lack of focus on the team.  New managers often have not yet found their comfort level and they tend to revert back to their default communication style. They might retreat to an introverted position, not showing up enough on the floor, or they might micro manage to the point of annoying experienced staff.  Distancing themselves from those they supervise leads to misunderstandings at best,  increased uncertainty and poor leadership in the worst case. Siding with team members and an “us against them” attitude also proves divisive and leads to conflict.  Antidote:  frequent team meetings where the manager invites discussion, invites questions and comments develops open lines of communication.
  2. Failing to offer and solicit feedback.  Employees need to know where they stand with their manager. Hidden agendas and unclear expectations have never motivated anyone to work harder or smarter. As uncomfortable as it is to hear about one’s shortcomings, better to be clear about where individual improvement is expected and will be rewarded. This is true for both manager and employee.
  3. Delegating without authorizing.  Since time management is always an issue, delegation is important and often appreciated by employees. Problems occur when the delegated task does not come with sufficient authority to follow through to successful completion. Empowering the employee appropriately, combined with follow-up and feedback assures that the employee is set up for success and the task gets done.
  4. Reprimanding employees in the presence of others.  Most of us have early childhood memories of humiliation when teachers or parents failed to honor the old rule “Praise in public, criticize in private”. Everyone wants to keep face and feel respected. Honoring the old rule will keep relationships smooth, while still communicating any important information effectively.
  5. Supervising everyone the same way.  Most teams are a mix of experienced, inexperienced, motivated and less motivated employees. Different management styles are available for these different groups. Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model differentiates 4 different leadership styles: Telling, Selling, Participating and Delegating. Being intentional about which leader should use what style with which employee is an art and a science. Experimenting with these skills is what makes the life of a supervisor interesting and in the end, the proof is always in the pudding: how well your team interacts, performs and stays with you is feedback any manager can learn from.

Certain industries such as fast-food franchises expect employee turnover to be as high as 50 to 145 percent – much higher than in the manufacturing sector for example. While in a low paying entry level job, turnover is always expected to be higher.  Most contributors to turnover can be directly related back to management practices. Turnover tends to be higher in environments where employees feel undervalued or ignored or where they feel helpless or unimportant. Clearly, if managers come across as  impersonal, arbitrary, or demanding, there is greater turnover risk. Fortunately, management behavior and communication skills can be trained and improved so that turnover can be kept to a minimum.

How is communication with your employees going for you?  What are some of the barriers? We are looking forward to hearing from you – comments or questions are always welcome.  Here on this blog, you will get commentluv. This is a plugin that allows you to leave a link back to your own site when you leave a comment.

Until next time,

Sabine

 

 

 

 

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Time Management #2 Growth Opportunity for New Managers

Frustrated in New Job? Part 2 – 6 Time Management Strategies

Time Control

When I started this series of blog posts about growth opportunities for new managers, I mentioned time management as the #2 biggest opportunity.  Managers working in a business that is already fast paced and somewhat frantic, like fast food franchises for example, find that once they have taken on a new position, their time schedule has become almost unmanageable. The stress level rises, the work/life balance suffers, tempers run short -  there is only one goal: daily survival.

This of course is no way to succeed, even in the short term. Here are 6 time management strategies that I know have worked for some of my clients in the past.

1. Fully step into the new role.

Stop doing your old job. I know – it is comforting to know you can do these tasks well. Fact is, you no longer get paid to do them. Get used to all aspects and expectations of the new job and use your advanced skills from the previous job to help your staff do their work better.

2. Stop procrastinating.

Get honest.  Identify the areas in your new position that you are not yet comfortable with. Decide what/who it takes to support you in mastering these tasks.

3. Step up delegation.

Start moving your staff towards independence by empowering them according to competency.  People will continually draw on you if they are not sure where you stand on allowing them to make decisions. What does it take for you to trust them with this? Training your staff towards self-sufficiency frees you up from time consuming ” hand-holding”.

4. Get your team on the same page.

Allow them to get to know you:  what do they need to know about you that helps them do their job confidently and effectively? What are your expectations? What can they count on from you? What do you want to count on from this team? What are the goals for this team? How do they best support you? Clear expectations reduce time investment, as you don’t need to regurgitate every issue with each team member. More to come on this in one of the next blogs in this series.

5. Prioritize.

What do you want to accomplish in this position for the next month, 6 months, 1 year? What do you have to put in place to achieve these goals? What will you not tolerate? Who needs to know? What boundaries need to be set? What conversations must be had? What habits will you change?

6. Schedule clear time slots.

If you over plan your day, you inevitably will run behind, and eventually run yourself ragged. Classic time management theory advises that no more than 60% of the day should get scheduled. This practice allows for unforeseen events, running overtime and having time available for special projects.

The day of a busy manager has many kinds of  “time eaters” – many times we no longer feel  in control of our time. This is the first indication that attention to time management ought to be on your agenda.

Time Eaters can be our own ineffective habits, and some of the questions above may help you.  Other time eaters can be employees, peers, even your own manager - boundaries need to be discussed.

So when look at your day now – who is in control? You or your defaulting schedule? What will it take to get under control? Do you remember the last time you had that feeling of being on top of things?

Tell us how time management works for you, or what your challenges are – we know the solutions are often not easy to implement. Here on this blog, you will get commentluv. This is a plugin that allows you to leave a link back to your own site when you leave a comment.

Until next time,

Sabine

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Self-Management #1 Growth Opportunity for New Managers

Frustrated in New Job? Part 2 – Self Management

Leadership Self-Management

In my previous blog post on the new series Frustrated in New Job? 4 Growth Opportunities for New Managers, -  I named self-management as the #1 growth opportunity for new managers. Demonstrating professionalism and the corresponding behaviors are critical to success for young or inexperienced managers – so it helps to train how to self-manage.  Supporting leaders here will show strong impact on performance of the individual and their team.

The areas involved  can range from setting boundaries,  execution of appropriate professional behavior, managing moods and tempers, engaging in gossip,  and time management – amongst others.

Picture this: Susan and Jenn have been working in the same store for several months. They are peers – frequently working similar shifts in a fast food franchise. They have developed a friendship, and they often take their breaks together and chat. Naturally, the topic of issues in the store comes up, and they also talk about fellow employees. Sometimes they laugh, other times they vent their frustrations about other staff in the store. Since Susan has been in the job for a while and has proven herself to be a capable and talented employee, she applies for and is promoted to the position of assistant store manager.

Where are the professional boundaries? Susan has stepped into a new position and needs to step into completely new behaviors – no one has prepared her for it. How will existing relationships with peers or her boss change? How will this new position and the new responsibilities change their behaviors and their accountabilities? Is everyone clear? What new actions and routines are expected of Susan in her new position?

Then Susan’s stress increases. Her husband gets into an accident and  Susan has a hard time managing the stress of worrying, caring for him plus performing in her new position. She feels she needs to offload some of the stress by confiding in Jenn and a couple of the other staff members she has known for a while. Pretty soon the gossip mill is active and word is getting around that Susan is being very moody and emotional.  Her boss tells her that several employees feel she is becoming ineffective in her role and not able to maintain professional behavior under stress. Susan is furious, not to mention extremely hurt. How is it that could no one could understand her situation?

Several pointers and perspectives are helpful in self-management skills:

  • New positions need new role understanding and new behavior. Discussions what this new role demands from Susan should be arranged with the boss as well as, to a lesser degree with her former peers. Transparency around her new duties and accountabilities will make it easier for everyone to adapt to the change in the management team.
  • Susan needs to get clear on her professional boundaries. What does it look like/sound like/feel like to be a professional in her position? Her manager and/or a coach can help to sort this out. A good start is this question: Whom does Susan consider to be professional? What does the ideal role model look like? Managing tempers and not sharing every emotion may also have another silver lining: not indulging in our most desperate feelings and concentrating on certain everyday tasks at hand can help distracting us a little from the home stresses for a few hours – which can serve as a relief of sorts.
  • New managers frequently revert back to performing some of their old responsibilities, rationalizing that they can do it so much better. This may be true, but it is not what they are paid for. Effective time management is a function of planning plus effective delegation – the art of saying  “no” to tasks that should be done by someone else, and “yes” to new responsibilities, even if there the learning curve is still tough, the tasks feel uncomfortable and the execution is initially clumsy. The “muscle” will only get stronger with exercise!

There is much more to self-management work, but I’d love to hear from you.   What are you experiencing? We welcome your comments and insights,  as always! Here on this blog, you will get commentluv. This is a plugin that allows you to leave a link back to your own site when you leave a comment.

Until next time,

Sabine

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Frustrated in New Job? 4 Growth Opportunities for New Managers

Especially in fast paced and high turn-over businesses, such as fast food restaurants, new managers are expected to hit the ground running. The industry does well in the area of systems and processes training, but often falls short in training for leadership development skills. Experience in the industry is seen as the most important prerequisite to advancement. The truth is that understanding and stepping into new role competencies is a challenge for most leaders, and smart franchise owners support their new leaders early in the game.

Did you know that the most common reason food franchises fail is poor management? Bad management is like a virus – it spreads…quickly. Disgruntled employees can affect customer satisfaction, employee turn-over, staff morale and reduce productivity.

Thankfully it is not all that difficult to identify patterns in the leadership development needs of leaders in new positions. I have dealt with numerous leaders at different levels, and I see similar issues emerge as recurring challenges for these managers. Here are four of the most common ones:

1.       Self-management – Young managers in particular need to learn to demonstrate appropriate professional behavior. This could include gossip,  keeping boundaries, and managing moods and tempers, amongst others.

2.       Time-management – A new position usually comes with new duties and new time parameters. The new learning curve demands an additional time investment. Effective delegation also often does not come easily, at least until the individual is secure in their role execution.

3.       Communication – These skills are usually not taught, much less monitored for impact on employees. Insecurities within the new leadership position can lead to behavior that is either over assertive or under-assertive – both impact employees negatively. Procrastination of “difficult conversations” leads to poor execution of standardized procedures such as employee reviews etc.

4.       Team development – It’s tough to show up strongly as a new team leader when you are still insecure in the new role, yet strong team-ability skills will increase productivity levels quickly. Thankfully these skills are teachable and results can be achieved fairly fast.

There is so much more to say on each of those four subjects, so watch for my next blogs – I will get into more detail on each of them.

It is easy to promote someone who does their job well  - but how often do we monitor how well they do with all their new responsibilities, and more importantly, how effective are we at supporting them? What happens in your organization? How do you support your new leaders in their transition? I’d love to hear back – please leave a comment here on the blog or drop us a note at Integra Leadership and tell us what works for you! On this blog, you’ll get commentluv. This is a plug in that allows you to leave a link back to your own site when you leave a comment!

Sabine

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Snow Days and Life Tune-ups

Snow days provide a wonderful opportunity to pause and reflect in life.  Whether you’re held up in a hotel or hunkered down at home with family while the world outside is brought to its knees by Mother Nature, the best thing to do is to utilize it!  So on this fine Ontario Snow Day, I’d like to suggest that you take some time now to reflect, re-assess and re-align your direction.  I call it a life tune-up!

Here are some ways to do that:

  • What course correction is needed in my life right now?  Based on all the new information and experiences and learning since you took a pause and reflected on things last, what needs to change to make sure you are tracking on target once again?  A full review of all areas of your life is in order once in a while to identify adjustments that might be needed on the plan.
  • Where have I stopped honouring my boundaries (that is, my values and beliefs)?  As time goes on, sometimes we let our boundaries slide, and then we find ourselves in a situation that is uncomfortable, frustrating or downright ugly.  Often this is a direct result of not honouring our own boundaries.  Now is a great time to ask, “where did I say ‘yes’ when I should have said ‘no’?” and, “what truth of mine do I need to communicate in order to honour my self?”.  And example might be, “I am not willing to be around people who
  • What do I want?  So often we forget how to allow our ‘wanter’ to be activated, by believing something unattainable, too much work, or a pipe dream.  But every now and then it’s good to let those lost dreams bubble up, to play with them and adjust them until we gain some new clarity about that positive future outcome that we’d just love to create.  So pause and ask yourself, “what do I really want? really?”
  • What’s the first step I need to take? Backtracking from that exciting dream or goal, what are the milestones that need to occur back to now?  It’s far easier to figure out the immediate next step if we work backwards from the final outcome and identify the milestones needed to be achieved back to the present.
  • What’s holding me back?  Really, what’s getting in the way?  What gets me stuck?  And what support do I need to get through or around the obstacle to get back on track? Sometimes the thing that’s in the way is removed simply in the process of identifying it.  Other times, some work is required to uncover the root cause and to devise a solution.

So I hope you enjoy this break from the routine, even if it only afforded you a remote work situation for the day.  And I wish you all the best as you re-align your life towards more of what matters most and more enjoyment and success.

How do you keep you life on track?  Please share!

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What to Look for When Hiring a Coach


There are many reasons why people hire a coach, and we covered several in our blog post titled Why work with a coach?.

If you have never worked with a coach before, it’s worthwhile to give some thought as to what you want your selection criteria to be. The quality of the relationship between coach and client is a key success component – the level of trust between both, and how “safe” the conversation feels to both is crucial in

Here are a few questions you should ask when searching for a coach:

1.      How much experience does your coach have in their work? What relevant or interesting pre-coaching career experience that the coach have that may interest you?

2.      What training have they taken? Are they certified and/or credentialed by a reputable training organization?

3.      Are they a member or the International Coach Federation (ICF)? The ICF is the governing body of professional coaches, so members of the ICF are governed by professional practice and ethics guidelines. This is an important point.

4.      Are they a full time coach? These day many people “borrow” the name coach, but they might actually work in other areas, or are trainers or facilitators.

5.      Do they meet with you in person or by telephone/email? Find out the price difference in case they offer both options.

6.      If your prospective coach offers a free practise session, take them up on it. Look for level of ease in the conversation flow, professionalism, rapport between you, and listening skills (who talks more, the coach or you? It should be you!|). Also: A real professional does not need to do a hard sell!

7.      What is your budget? More experienced coaches typically charge more than junior coaches – but there are a number of trade-off’s to offset the price differential that come with more experience and training.

Finally, you need to know that working with a coach is most often an enjoyable, rewarding, enriching and often life changing growth experience. Who else focuses entirely on you in any of your conversations, with no other agenda other than to have YOU be successful – however YOU define success for yourself? Listen to your gut when you are ready to make the final decision – it is almost never wrong. Integra Leadership keeps in touch with numerous coaches with various skill sets and background experience, so there is always a choice for you. You will know when you have found the right person.

For those of you who have searched a coach before, what did you find?

Do you have additional selection criteria to add? Let us know – let’s add to the list!

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Why Work with a Coach?

The coaching profession has grown tremendously in the last few years – worldwide revenue produced by coaching was $1.5 billion (USD) per year in 2009.  According to a 2009 ICF research study, the top areas where clients felt the “overall positive impacts of coaching” were:

  • Self-esteem/self-confidence
  • Relationships
  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skill
  • Work performance
  • Work/life balance

So when does it make sense to hire a coach?

Here are the top 10 reasons we see people retaining coaching services:

1.      You feel stuck and want help finding direction to move forward purposefully. A coach will help you get clear on your goals, identify your obstacles and help you overcome them.

2.      You have leveled out in your career, or you are put into a new position demanding different competencies from you, and you want to prepare yourself for the next level of success. Retaining coaching services, sometimes with involvement of your supervisor, is an effective way to advance professionally.

3.      You have learned something new and want help implementing it effectively. A coach will support you by designing strategies for application to deepen the learning.

4.      You are unhappy with certain interactions with people at work or at home, and you are stressed by the conflict you need to manage. A coach helps you identify underlying issues, develop helpful perspectives, and helps you find and execute options to deal with the issues at hand.

5.      You are so busy and stressed that you cannot see the forest for the trees. A coach helps you identify priorities, and supports you in planning for more effective time management.

6.      You are bored and uninspired, maybe even resentful of certain areas in your life. A coach can help you find your areas of passion so you can return to living with positivity and purpose.

7.      Your family or relationship is in a state of change or crisis, causing stress and anxiety. Hiring a coach for you, the family or a couple, will alleviate the stress by involving a neutral third person to take the heat out of the discussions. Your coach helps to identify the key issues as well as core goals for everyone, and then helps everyone reach their goals.

8.      You have a goal but want help getting there. A coach focuses you, acts as a cheerleader and a sounding board and reality check, holds you accountable and celebrates interim results with you until you reach your destination.

9.      You are successful in your career but your personal style often leads to negative interactions or results. You feel you have blind spots you want to explore and manage. Your coach will act as a confidential critic, helping you understand what behaviors, conscious or unconscious, are preventing you from reaching your objectives. You will practice new more effective behaviors and approaches.

10.  You are new in your position, and you feel lack of confidence, confusion and overwhelm. Your coach helps you transition into the new role by identifying patterns to adopt and those to leave behind. You will also work on designing effective new relationships to support your new role.

If you find yourself anywhere in those 10 scenarios, get in touch with us and we will discuss how we can help. Or forward this blog to someone who might be looking for some support.

So – have you worked with a coach before? What was it like? What worked for you, and what didn’t?

If you are thinking of retaining a coach,and you want tips on how to look for a coach that suits your style and needs, read our blog post on What to look for when you hire a Coach.

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” Albert Einstein

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A New Kind of Leader

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

For some reason this quote has been ringing in my ears as I look at the world we’re living in with birds dropping dead out of the sky, extreme weather patterns wreaking havoc around the globe, economic volatility unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes, and soaring fuel and food prices.  More than ever before, a new kind of leadership is being called for to get us through or we’re surely not going to make it… succumbing to the ironic fate of our own species’ making.

It will be the unconventional and unofficial leaders that will need to emerge to make a difference, challenge the status quo, dare to share a new dream.  Because so many of the designated leaders are blinded and bound by the system in which they operate that they can’t remove themselves sufficiently to get a realistic view of the situation.

These challenging times call for full spectrum leaders, according to Richard Barrett, world renowned for his cultural transformation tools and levels of consciousness model. Solving today’s problems requires a higher level of consciousness than that which created the problems to begin with.

So as you go about your day or week, as you make choices and decisions, try making them not from your past experiences or from your beliefs (which are often limiting in possibilities) but rather make your decisions from your personal values.  What choice is most in alignment with my values and therefore my aspirations and vision for the future?

I highly recommend Richard Barrett’s latest project – more than a book; a learning system – called The New Leadership Paradigm: http://tnlp.valuescentre.com/

What do you notice is different when you make values-based decisions, rather than business-as-usual decisions?

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Our Crystal Ball for Planning & Risk Management

Business leaders and risk managers take note!  This report, released last month by Lloyd’s, provides the most comprehensive outlook of the most significant challenge facing business in the past century: Energy Security.

http://www.lloyds.com/News-and-Insight/360-Risk-Insight/Research-and-Reports/Energy-Security/Energy-Security

In these uncertain and volatile times, we’re given a clear picture of the road ahead with regard to one of our most important resources: energy.  As business leaders we must plan now for a 20-year transformation in business energy usage, within the next 10 years.  Due to the dual threats of Climate Change and Fossil Fuel Scarcity and Volatility, a dramatic re-engineering of business is required if we want our organization to continue to trade beyond 2025.  Lloyd’s concludes that “Energy scarcity is now inseparable from the transition to a low-carbon economy and businesses plans should prepare for this new reality”.

“A supply crunch appears likely around 2013…given recent price experience, a spike in excess of $200 per barrel is no infeasible”.  Professor Paul Stevens, Chatham House

One example of the implications of carbon-based fuel scarcity is the need to reassess supply chains and just-in-time models in order to increase resilience against energy supply disruptions (in the short term) and prohibitively-rising energy prices (in the long term).

From our vantage point, there are a number of steps that businesses can take in order to increase resilience and the capacity to bounce back from the inevitable sudden shocks in the market:

1. Conduct an energy assessment and develop a 20-yr energy transition plan, including emissions reductions, renewable energy sourcing and/or investing, and new technologies  (Integra offers consulting on funding available for CO2 emissions reductions and renewable energy investment)
2. Form a new role (Chief Energy Officer) and if possible a new team, responsible for leading this major change management initiative for the long term
3. Invest in your other important resource: your people.  Transitioning to a low-carbon economy requires a completely new mindset for business strategy and risk management, and building a resilient culture is crucial to navigate the turbulent road ahead (Give us a call to find out how you can deliberately manage your organization’s cultural values to prepare for the future and enhance performance today)

“Businesses which prepare for and take advantage of the new energy reality will prosper – failure to do so could be catastrophic”.  Lloyd’s Sustainable Energy Security Report

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