Monday, January 18, 2016

New Year = New Perspective For Managers

A new year conjures images of a fresh start in almost every aspect of our lives. While it’s no secret that I’m not into the whole idea of New Year’s resolutions, I do believe that the beginning of a new year offers huge opportunity. It’s a chance to look at things with a fresh set of eyes. And that includes professionally.

With 2016 just underway, as managers we have the ability to hone in on new perspectives that will benefit our teams and our organizations as a whole.

Here are some tips to get your wheels spinning and provide a running start into the year.

1)   Start the day on a positive note. We know the whole notion that everything trickles down a corporate chain. And that includes the tone you set when you walk into the office each day. So even if you sat in unbearable traffic for an hour after dumping your coffee on your shirt because your bent down to pick up the keys you dropped…when you open the door to your workplace, see it as a fresh beginning to the day. Say something nice to your employees. Positivity is contagious so spread that stuff around!
2)   Lead by example. It’s not enough to rattle off a laundry list of things you want your employees to do. Move beyond talk and let your actions help emphasize your expectations. This works with big and small items. For example…don’t want your employees eating lunch at their desk everyday because you think it’s good to have a change of scenery? Then you should follow your own advice. Your team takes cues from you even when you think they’re not watching.
3)   Focus on employee development. When we hire someone, it’s because we see potential in them. We see them as a fit for our team and recognize skills that will make them an asset to our organization. But after we hire them and onboard, that’s where the real work begins. As managers we should strive to develop our employees throughout their career. Look for tools, workshops and activities – internal and external – that will make your team even better in 2016!
4)   Communicate. While your employees may be all kinds of awesome, they cannot read your mind or each other’s. So, this year make sure you facilitate open communication at every turn. The more feedback loops, the better. Nobody ever suffered negative consequences from over-communicating!
5)   Recognize successes. Big AND small. Positive reinforcement is not just for kids. We all love it. Who doesn’t like a little pat on the back for a job well done…especially a public one!?

There is an underlying theme to all of these tips, and that is to have a positive perspective. So let’s use 2016 to ooze positivity throughout our teams and companies. And if you have additional tips that fit the bill, please tweet them to me @GMagenta using #newyearnewperspective

Monday, January 4, 2016

Sustainable Change - A Great Solution to the Failed New Year’s Resolution.

I am NOT a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. With the best of intentions they are made to kick off the year with a set of goals or aspirations. But…they rarely have a plan that supports their long term success. What if this year, instead of drafting a list of promises you intend to fulfill, you focus on sustainable change.

Let’s look at a common New Year’s resolution and its path. You start with vowing to workout regularly and get in better shape. You decide what you will focus on your fitness in the coming year. You stare at the January 1st date on your calendar anticipating said resolution. You dive in headfirst and are at the gym on day 1 at 6am. Dry chicken breast for dinner with a side of steamed kale is your choice for dinner, you’re all in! Around day 5 you stumble upon a cupcake in the conference room and it’s all over. The cupcake turns into a food crawl and you hit the snooze button 5 times the next morning and never make it to the gym.

What if you took that resolution a little further? What if you REALLY thought about the big picture of WHY you want to eat better and work out (your appearance, health, endurance, etc.)? What if you developed a strategy for HOW you were going to create change over time, in stages, in other words sustainable change? Perhaps it would have ended differently.

It’s not such a different exercise for businesses. Everyone comes back from the holidays with a renewed sense of purpose. A fresh slate. And maybe leadership throws some goals (resolutions) on a white board. Maybe there’s even a lunch and learn to get everyone excited and rally around them. That’s a strong start, but we need to make sure these goals become part of our day-to-day.

That’s what I mean about sustainable change. We don’t want our organizations to go from Cross Fit to cupcake in a week, right?

The biggest difference between resolutions and sustainable change is longevity. So the best thing you can do for your organization is to take those resolutions and tie them back to the big picture. Help your employees connect the dots of  “why change” followed by “how to change”. Make sure they understand their individual roles as they relate to these resolutions and feel accountable and invested.

I recently came across an article from SimplicityHR about sustainable change. In addition to the framework they propose using to drive sustainable change, I loved this statement: “On the other hand, sustainable change is an intervention that truly takes root in an organization. When achieved, sustainable change helps an organization move from making conscious "efforts to change" to establishing a new, accepted "way of doing business."

And that’s what it’s about. It’s more than a quick fix. It’s a way of doing business. So let’s kick off the New Year by helping our people achieve that and put down roots (pun intended) instead of just resolutions. Cheers to sustainable change!