BUZZ! e-Newsletter: July 2015
We are pleased to present the July 2015 edition of TLD Group Buzz, a free e-newsletter for our clients and consultants, distributed to subscribers quarterly. This edition includes TLD Group News, a Partner Spotlight, as well as brief summaries of cutting-edge issues and trends impacting executive assessment, development and organizational transformation.
As organization development consultants, seasoned executive coaches and academicians, TLD Group’s team strives to weave the latest trends in OD and HR into our customized client solutions.
Leading change is, by definition, what good leaders and their leadership teams are expected to provide at all times. Resources and goodwill naturally flow to leaders who are skilled at leading change, why, because change is the place where risk meets return.
This question relating to the ‘how to effectively lead change’ confronts every leader and their team equally, regardless of the challenge.
The Challenge Is Leading Change Effectively
Leading change is not easy by any measure. Research shows about 30% of change initiatives fail outright, while only 20% achieve their intended performance goals.
And between those success and failure rates there is the Big Mediocre Middle that struggling teams play in. I call it the ‘sloppy middle.’
Some of the following reasons are why leaders and their teams struggle to effectively lead change:
- A lack of a clear team operational purpose
- Unclear roles or poor team collaboration
- Underestimating their cultures resistance to change
- Missing talent or not having the right people on the bus
- Missing (or weak) strategies
- Inability to navigate and break down silos
- Poor implementation or project management skills
I am sure you could add to the list!
If you notice each one of these constraints can be tied to what I call a ‘critical conversation,’ one that has usually either gone unaddressed, or never brought to real closure, or to an aligned outcome.
What I have learned is that there is real sequence to critical conversations that must be addressed and brought to closure is systematic way. This sequence is what I call ‘The Journey.’
The Change Leadership Journey
You can unleash the potential of any business or leadership team to effectively lead change by focusing on the right critical conversations.
The trick, of course, is knowing what these conversations are and how to get everyone on your team to focus on them.
The Journey, as I call it, is a universal framework for teams driving and leading change, based on a cycle of seven critical conversations:
- Purpose - Are we a strong team with a clear operational purpose?
- Focus - Do we have aligned priorities, driven by data on our current state, and are those priorities aligned to achieve our future state?
- Mindset - Do we think and act with accountability and demonstrate inspiring leadership for others?
- Roles - Does every key strategy, decision and activity have a single owner who is accountable for execution and owns driving key issues to resolution?
- Interdependencies - Are we clear where shared work exists; are we collaborating effectively? Do we have clear and effective rules for engagement and protocols?
- Strategies - Are all team leaders advocating and then aligning ways forward, each from the perspective of their role, in service of business results?
- Implementation - Are we communicating a compelling way-forward, taking actions, course correcting, and delivering tangible results in a way that creates confidence and trust?
Higher performing teams use this framework continuously, cycling through the seven critical conversations to lead each change initiative.
The Goal Is Transformational Change
In my experience, the Journey, injects an accelerant into team performance which serves to break through to higher levels of sustainable performance.
Why Do Change Leaders and Teams Need A Universal Framework Like This One?
In a word: precision.
I use the seven critical conversations with teams to get them to focused on the highest return investments. This approach helps teams to:
- Align around a focused and systematic process.
- Develop individual leaders and their team to be more effective at leading change.
- Reveals the personal leaders and their team’s competency gaps so that they can focus the right training and development there.
Keep in mind, each critical conversation in the Journey builds on and is limited by the maturity of previous ones. In other words, it’s a developmental model: purpose precedes focus, which precedes mindset, and so on.
The most common way change initiatives falter is that steps are skipped.
Let me share a case study
I worked with a senior executive leadership team that led a well-known Pharma company based in New Jersey. The top leader possessed a strong directive style, which often evoked rebellion. The senior team rarely met to discuss either performance or solutions to their pain points. Actually, they operated more like individual contributors than team members fully in it together. And as a result of siloed behaviors, their decision-making was slow and politically motivated by wanting to protect turf. In each of their siloes delegation was poor. Additionally, the people below the senior leadership level were showing little initiative and wanted be told what to do. What made matters worse? Their strategies were intuition-based and not specific enough to win in the segments they chose to compete in. Whew!!!
So let me ask, what steps would you take to turn this business team around? Here is a peek as to what happened before I re-engaged with the senior leader.
The senior leader’s first misstep
The top leader thought that the Journey was a nice framework, but wasn’t sure it really applied to him or his team. He eventually declared, “We don’t have time for soft conversations. We need to execute.” So with this tactical mindset, the leader wanted to skip the first five critical conversations and jump straight to strategies and implementation (f – g).
As a result, the team became mired in old conflicts and stories, which they could not easily resolve because they were constrained by vague purpose, blurry focus, unaligned and conflictive mindsets, unclear roles, unaligned strategies, etc.
So what went wrong?
They joined the sloppy middle.
They skipped the most critical conversations that would lay the groundwork for them to reach higher levels of performance. More precisely, they did not establish the conditions that help to make successful strategies possible.
How did they get back on track?
I invited them to start again, and moving stepwise through the seven critical conversations. They began…
- Working more intentionally and collaboratively as a team with a clear and aligned purpose.
- They drastically improved their business team culture and began to systematically meet and address issues openly and collaboratively.
- They became better at resolving conflicts and aligning towards shared strategic priorities.
- They began to focus on resolving primary constraints and created a series of significant performance breakthroughs.
Once they got into the habit of repeating the Journey every four to six months, leadership and business growth accelerated significantly.
Lessons learned and some watch-outs
- Leaders and their teams will often need to slow down before they speed up! And unless the top leader is prepared to shift their own behavior and make that personal change first, all change efforts will be even more challenging than expected.
- Most teams feel or think they are having the critical conversations needed to win. However, if their conclusions are not producing the results towards the desired future state, then it was just another team conversation. – Remember well done is always better than well said!
- Be sure the team fully buys-in to the change process. At the moment you detect resistance, that’s the next critical conversation to surface and resolve. There needs to be room for dissent so the next possibility can be revealed.
Leadership Will Always Be A Journey
It has taken me many years, working with many teams to realize and see the Journey as a universal framework for unleashing the potential of any business, team or organization. It is founded on seven powerful and critical conversations and is designed to be applied as part of regular team planning cycles. It has addressed both business culture and business model issues at the same time quite effectively. And it can be customized to flexibly incorporate pretty much any kind of methodology or solution required. Good luck in leading your teams to lead change more effectively!
TLD GROUP UPDATES
TLD Group’s article entitled, "Innovative Strategies for Physician Partnerships; One Health System Shares The Steps It Took To Strengthen Physician Engagement," written in collaboration with Bob Hemker, President and CEO and Leslie Solomon, Director of Organizational Development at Palomar Health, was featured in the May/June 2015 issue of ACHE's Healthcare Executive Magazine. The article details how Palomar Health partnered with TLD Group to customize our Applied Physician Leadership Academy (APLA) to enable the transition from the traditional model of healthcare delivery to one that is more collaborative, proactive and receptive. Click here to read the article.
TLD Group’s article entitled, “Leading Authentically,” featured in Strategic HR Review underscores the importance of being an authentic leader and the value of authenticity in leading to concrete business results. The article demonstrates how authenticity improves the quality of interpersonal relationships and leadership performance and offers practical tips on how leaders can build authenticity and emotional intelligence. Click here to read the article.
Tracy Duberman and Lisa Bloom will be presenting with TLD Group's APLA advisory board member, Kent Bottles, MD, at the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Center for Healthcare Governance's Fall 2015 Symposium, “The New Landscape for Health Care Governance: Consumer-Centric, Outcomes-Focused, Value-Driven,” which will take place in Chicago, IL September 20-22, 2015. Our presentation will focus on “The Board’s Role in Holding C-Suite and Physicians Accountable in a Transformed Health Care Environment.” This session will describe how boards have stepped up to play a new role in increasing accountability and provide strategies and tools to inculcate accountability across the organization. Please click here for more information.
On September 30, TLD Group will lead a panel discussion at the ACHE annual Chapter Meeting in Atlantic City, NJ. The panel, comprised of senior-level HR and learning executives will discuss best practices in staff retention, address how the management field has changed in the past 5 years, and demonstrate what new skills are essential for strong managers to develop in order to engage frontline staff members. The session will also address the importance of coaching and mentoring in the model of good management. Click here for more information about the annual meeting.
Tracy Duberman and TLD Group senior consultant, Kathy F. Bernhard, MBA, will be presenting a session on succession planning at The American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association’s (AMRPA) 13th Annual Educational Conference and Expo, to be held in Nashville, TN on October 14-16th. This session will discuss the future of succession planning and offer tools for successful talent management practices. Click here for more information about the conference.
TLD Group delivered a webinar for The New Jersey Hospital Association on "How to Succeed in Succession Planning for Leadership in Healthcare Organizations" which was led by TLD Senior Consultant, Kathy Bernhard, MBA. The session offered key insights about today’s best practices for succession planning as well as hands-on succession planning tools for healthcare organizations. Click here for a link to the webinar.
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT TRENDS
In her Talent Management article entitled “Planning Ahead,” Sarah Sipek interviews business professor Noel Tichy about the state of CEO succession planning, a much needed process which tends to be a poorly executed task for 80% of companies. When companies are faced with the pressing need to replace their top executives, they too often search for an “ideal” successor outside of the company as a result of poor succession planning. However, more than 40% of externally-hired CEO candidates fail due in part to their inability to establish rapport with employees and enlist support as a new leader. Outsiders are unfamiliar with the culture of the organization, and are likely to be met with resistance when they suggest changes that fit their idea of how the organization should be run. Hiring internally demonstrates the company’s dedication to its employees, which in turn builds engagement. Tichy asserts that companies should be constantly identifying and developing internal talent so a suitable candidate is always at-the-ready through a succession planning process.
A successful succession planning initiative should be led by the CEO and Head of HR and start with determining future talent requirements so a talent pipeline can be built accordingly. The company should then determine which internal candidates have potential to be groomed to fill executive positions. Developing potential into leadership is much like learning any other skill, according to Tichy. On-the-job experiences help internal candidates learn the ropes to being a leader, and “the level of difficulty increases over time.”
When personnel changes occur, the organization is vulnerable to negative consequences for failure to develop a robust succession planning process. Rather than hiring from outside, a successful succession plan develops a continuous pool of strong internal talent that is engaged and committed to the organization. This ensures a smooth transition from the former executive to the successor and a drive towards maximum performance.
Please contact us for more information about how TLD Group incorporates these strategies in our strategic succession planning solution.
In the article, “Questions to Answer in the Age of Optimized Hiring” in TIME Magazine, Eliza Gray demonstrates how employers utilize personality tests as part of the hiring process. These tests allow employers to gain insights into the unique personalities of job seekers, which help make selection decisions based on the likelihood that the candidate will be a good fit for the organization and the position. Personality tests, such as Catell’s 16 personality factors, the Hogan Personality Inventory’s seven scales, and others, are being used as a foundation for hiring decisions by correlating candidates’ scores with those of the organization’s most successful workers. The use of these tests has become popular for many large companies. For example, Hertz, Boston Market, and Tenet Healthcare are developing algorithms to generate job applicants’ “Behavioral DNA” which measures behavioral, cognitive and cultural traits.
Submitting to personality tests as part of a job application may seem daunting to job candidates, and are stressful even for the most qualified job candidates. The most common complaints from job applicants regarding these tests is that they are time-consuming, the questions are seemingly irrelevant to the job, and that it is an impersonal screening process.
Despite these complaints, these tests have demonstrated benefit for job candidates and companies alike. When looking to fill a job opening, innovative companies create success profiles which include the work of the role itself, as well as the personal attributes which would be most valuable for on-the-job success. These specifications help candidates determine whether the job is right for them, and helps companies narrow down the strongest applicants for the position.
Not only do personality tests help employers find the right people for the job, they are also beneficial once candidates have been hired. For example, each employee at Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, has a “digital ‘baseball card’ – a summary that lists key personality stats” and is a great way for people to “get a sense of what their colleagues are like.” Knowledge of others’ personality helps colleagues understand and cooperate better with each other.
Though job candidates may find completion of personality tests to be a frustrating and laborious process, it allows for more objectivity in hiring through an evidence-based and data-driven system of decision-making. The testing also helps to “reduce discrimination based on gender and race, which can be overt or can stem from subconscious bias on the part of the fallible humans doing the hiring.” The use of personality tests has proven a robust method for predicting job candidates’ abilities and fit within an organization, and are beneficial for matching individuals with jobs that are right for them. Of course, it is important not to rely entirely on these tests, but rather to use them as one of the methods to inform hiring decisions.
Please contact us for more information about how TLD Group creates success profiles for use in our customized assessment and selection process and succession planning programs.
Today’s digital economy requires a different leadership approach. The market has become more diverse and customers are given an array of options and are better informed to make decisions. According Michael Lurie, author of “The Age of Agile Leadership” in Chief Learning Officer, agile leaders will be the most successful in today’s marketplace. Agile leaders are equipped with the ability to adapt to a changing business climate and shape themselves and the company to that change. Agile companies are aware that human capital is the most critical factor for the survival and success of the company. Talent is a company's greatest assets because people comprise the unique collection or knowledge, creativity, passion, and culture that serves as its differentiator.
Lurie asserts that in order to foster an agile business environment, executives must become catalysts, architects, and coaches as described below:
- The Leader as Catalyst. The most effective leaders do not lead by decree – rather, they rally voluntary participation and commitment by instilling the drive towards a shared purpose and vision. They facilitate collaboration through open and welcoming dialogue allowing all to contribute to the mission of the company.
- The Leader as Architect. Agile leaders understand that today’s business environment is ever-changing, and thus the company’s business model must leave room for flexibility to shift and adapt. The agility will allow the company to remain afloat in a competitive market. The leader’s role as architect is also to build and monitor innovative teams capable of quickly and effectively providing and executing creative problem-solving solutions.
- The Leader as Coach. A big part of being an agile leader is gaining a “profound understanding of people – their individual strengths, preferences, and personal values.” Furthermore, the leader’s job is to develop and support their team members so that each individual can realize their maximum potential and enhance performance.
Agile leadership is crucial to the success of the organization as the present-day marketplace has shifted from a focus on capital to a new reality – adapting to change. As a catalyst, architect, and coach, agile leaders are the driving force behind change and play a large role in developing necessary skills that are fundamental to the company’s flexibility.
Please contact us for more information about how TLD Group incorporates these strategies in our assessment and coaching process.
In the June 2015 issue of Chief Learning Officer, author Cushing Anderson summarizes the findings of the CLO’s 2015 Learning Delivery survey in his article, “Finding the Right Learning Mix.” This survey sought to determine the prevailing opinion amongst CLOs regarding the best methods for delivery learning.
Historically, classroom-based instruction was used most widely and believed to be most effective. However, CLOs have begun to shift their learning deliver methods in order to achieve maximum effectiveness and convenience in a cost-effective way. Technology-based e-learning has gained popularity as the preferred learning delivery method as classroom learning has declined in use since 2010. E-learning is a convenient delivery method because it offers greater flexibility by allowing individuals to complete training on their own time and at their own pace, and can be delivered to a larger population.
While technology has found its place in learning delivery, it is important that CLOs pick “the most appropriate method for the content and the learner.” The specific training needs must be considered when deciding on which learning modality is best. For example, CLOs generally prefer classroom-based instruction for training of business skills or for new-hire training. Although, the preference for classroom-based learning is declining.
Besides classroom-based instruction and e-learning, Anderson notes that other types of informal learning methods are equally important, such as on-the-job experiences and mentoring. However, no single learning modality should be used in any given situation. The combination of the several available learning delivery tools utilizes appropriately will ensure the greatest ROI of learning. The bottom line is to deliver “the right content to the right learners using the right tools efficiently and cost effectively.”
Please contact us for more information about how TLD Group incorporates these, and other innovative strategies, in our leadership development programs.