The Web Changes (nearly) Everything…and what to do about it…

The web has changed (nearly) everything.

BloggersTweetersPatient OpinionFill That Hole and so on…the web is full of people’s opinions, experiences, ideas and beliefs about you, your organisation and your products and services.

It is far more likely that we will read about what you do in a piece written on the web by our peers than a piece written by your Press Office or PR agent on your website.

We have learned to recognise and respond to authentic voices that want to converse.  We are increasingly immune to your sales pitches….

In this one day workshop we will explore exactly what has changed because of the web and how.

This will not be a day for technologists and web geeks, but for communications professionals, service managers, business developers, strategists and others who are wondering how to manage perceptions on the web and use them to build a better business.

We will not be looking in any detail at the specifics of particular social media platforms or web sites but we will be examining how the new information that it surfaces can either kill or cure an organisation.

We will then look at practical actions and strategies that will help to re-position you effectively in the web enabled world.

Remember:  your customers and service users know more about your products and services right now than you do.

And whether their experience is good or bad, increasingly they will use the web to tell people about it.  The only question is, once you accept and understand this, how do you respond?

Who Should Attend?

This workshop will be useful to anyone who is coming to terms with how the web is shaping their business and how they need to re-think strategy and communications as a consequence.

Whether you work on the delivery and management of a public service or in the private or ‘third sector’ our promise is that  this workshop will provide yo with practical ideas about how to make the most of the new web2 world.

What we will cover:

  • Why people listen to the web, and how you can too…
  • When a story breaks – how should we respond?
  • Why SHOUTING on the web won’t work – how to engage in polite yet powerful conversation
  • Finding your voice and speaking your truth
  • Moving from online to offline – what to do when you actually meet the online community
  • Dozens of ways in which the web changes everything and how you might respond as a result

Workshop Leaders

The sessions will by led by some of Leeds most influential and experienced bloggers, tweeters and social marketers.  By people who care passionately about the web, good business and civic society.

So far the list includes Mike Chitty and Phil Kirby – but is likely to grow!

If you fancy lending a hand in the design and delivery of the workshop rather than coming along as  participant, or if you have any questions then please do get in touch.

Workshop Costs

£200 per person plus VAT and booking fee.

Just 10 early bird tickets are available at £150 per person plus VAT and booking fee.  Early bird ticket sales end when all 10 have gone or on 31st September.

Grab an early bird ticket while you still can: http://webchangeseverything.eventbrite.com/

If you would love to attend but can’t afford to then drop me a comment and I will see what we can do….

Some thoughts on the Front Line

  • Front liners are capable of taking on far more responsibility than the boxes the system puts them in.
  • Front liners are very modest about their own abilities and skills.
  • Front liners want to do a great job for patients.
  • Managers must learn to let go of more of the power they have thus allowing front liners to get on with the job.
  • Managers must be there for support when front liners need it – they are well capable of judging when they need help.

Sensible reflections from Trevor Gay’s Simplicity blog

I am sure that you will agree with much of it.
But do you ACT on it?
Or do you let ‘the system’ get in the way?

People Are Our Greatest Cost – Honest Banker Shock!

You know when you hear a Chief Exec say,

“People are our greatest…”

and you are thinking yeah, yeah I know – ‘ASSET’.

Except on the Today programme I heard the CEO of RBS (rumoured to be looking at 20000 redundancies) say,

‘People are our greatest cost’.

Cognitive Dissonance or what!

Life is complicated though.  Most of us are BOTH great assets and great costs in weird and dynamic combinations.

Outstanding managers have systematic and effective processes (121s, feedback, coaching, delegation etc) for developing both the asset part of the equation AND the cost.  Yes, outstanding managers do want good people to cost more, and more, and more – because they recognise that what matters is the value that they create – not how much they cost.

How are you doing with your systematic and effective processes for asset development?

Ten Steps to Better Management

Step 1: Clarify, negotiate, and commit to your role as manager.

  • Many management jobs will have changed priorities in response to the current economy.
  • Check with your manager that you are doing what is best for the organisation.
  • Check with your conscience that you are doing what is best for you and your team.
  • Check that you are prepared to do the work that will help others to be outstanding.

Step 2: Understand the results you are expected to produce.

  • If you are to be recognised as an outstanding manager you need to know what excellence looks like.
  • At the moment you might be expected to drive costs down while producing more value.
  • Watch out for mediocrity. Expect excellence. Don’t let the current climate be an excuse to cut corners.

Step 3: Know your business.

  • Know what excellence looks like. Recognise the behaviours and habits that lead to it.
  • Recognise behaviours and habits that undermine it.
  • Understand the metrics that are relevant to your part of the business. Use them to get better.
  • Understand what your organisation needs from you – now.

Step 4: Build a great team.

  • Recruit, develop and retain people who will take responsibility and work independently – within parameters agreed with you!
  • To make sure you retain your best staff in difficult times talk to them – give them control – give them the chance to shape the organisation and their future in it.
  • Build a team that you can lead – not a flock that you have to herd.

Step 5: Ensure your team knows what excellence looks like.

  • Feedback, feedback, feedback.
  • Coach, coach, coach
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate
  • If you are not sure what constitutes excellence in your business – FIND OUT QUICKLY!

Step 6: Plan – with flexibility.

  • Review and revise plans on a weekly basis.
  • Expect progress on a weekly basis.
  • 121s are ideal for this.

Step 7: Get out of their way.

  • Help them to do great work.
  • Listen to them.
  • Understand what stops them from being great.
  • Get barriers out of their way.

Step 8: Be engaging.

  • Be positive and constructive.
  • Smile a lot.
  • Be energetic and hopeful.

Step 9: Proactively manage progress.

  • While change IS inevitable – progress is not.
  • Make sure that everyone knows what constitutes progress and has their own plan to make it.

Step 10: Leave a legacy: develop people and the organisation’s capacity to produce results.

  • better meetings
  • more focus
  • more knowledge and skills
  • more professionalism
  • better execution
  • higher standards

This post was inspired by Lisa Haneberg over at Management Craft.

Make Sure You Chop the Dead Wood

This was the title of piece written by Geoff Colvin – and it has always been both important and relevant – even more so at the moment.

Here is the nub of Geoff’s piece:

Let’s be clear about the corrosive effects of avoiding this problem (underperforming employees). A recent survey from McKinsey is fairly chilling: Keeping poor performers means that development opportunities for promising employees get blocked, so those subordinates don’t get developed, productivity and morale fall, good performers leave the company, the company attracts fewer A players, and the whole miserable cycle keeps turning.

It gets worse. Employees know who the underperformers are. They know that the top executives know who they are. So every day the top team fails to address the problem, it’s sending a message: We’re not up to managing this outfit. Refusing to deal with underperformers not only makes your best employees unhappy, but it also makes them think the company is run by bozos.

Why don’t companies act? Some fear it would lower morale, which is nonsense. Mckinsey asked thousands of employees whether they’d be “delighted” if their company got rid of underperformers, and 59% strongly agreed – yet only 7% believed their companies were actually doing it. Executives often say they leave poor performers in place because they want the company to be seen as humane. That’s just more evasion of reality, of course. As Ed Michaels of McKinsey says, “The attitude is, “Let’s be fair to Charlie. He’s been here 21 years.” But we say, “What about the eight people who work for Charlie? You’re not being fair to them”.

A senior executive at Hewlett-Packard, put it like this: “I feel there is no greater disrespect you can do to a person than to let them hang out in a job where they are not respected by their peers, not viewed as successful, and probably losing their self-esteem. To do that under the guise of respect for people is, to me, ridiculous.”

Managing underperformers is a critical management function.  Having the courage to use feedback and coaching to improve performance to meet organisational standards (rather than turning a blind eye) and if necessary coaching staff as part of capability procedures is difficult work but it must be done – if mediocrity is to be kept at bay.

So consider this as a possible New Year’s Resolution for 2009.  Resolve to fire your greatest under performer.

Making this resolution will force you to address the under performance issues – because I know that you will not want to fire anyone.  It will force you to make 121s more powerful and honest, to give more feedback, to coach more, to praise more – to do everything in your power to make them such a great employee that you can’t fire them.

You might have another resolution that you didn’t see through – but you will have achieved something much more valuable – to have developed an underperformer into an over whelmer.

Are you up to it?

Conscripts, mercenaries, and volunteers

Willing volunteers outperform conscripts and mercenaries every time. They are more innovative and creative as well more diligent and disciplined.

Volunteers have bought into a mission and a purpose rather then been bought into it.

Much of the private sector is struggling with how to turn salaried staff from conscripts and mercenaries into volunteers. Finding ways to engage them in the work of the organisation. To provide them with fulfilling and rewarding work.

Much of the public and third sector seems to be taking almost exactly the opposite path. It finds ways to turn passionate and caring volunteers (people who have bought into the mission) into conscripts and mercenaries. This is achieved by:

  • making them servants of the system rather than servants of their customers
  • imposing performance management systems that often fail to recognise quality service delivery
  • entering into inflexible and output related contracts for service delivery that shrink opportunities for innovation and improvement
  • managing them as if they are units of production rather than as caring and compassionate people full of insights into how to improve performance.

It is a strange paradox that many private sector clients are making genuine efforts at developing employee engagement in pursuit of profits while so many third sector and public sector organisations are developing processes and systems that alienate employees and volunteers in pursuit of efficiency.

Get rid of managers and we’ll all be happier

This is the title of a provocative post over at Management Issues.

Rather than adding value to their organisations, two thirds of British managers actually create negative working climates that leave employees feeling resentful and frustrated.

Research by Hay Consultancy has shown that a fifth of UK workers are frustrated in their jobs, with rigid bureaucracy and poor management structures and systems hampering innovation and productivity.

Half of workers believed they did not have the authority to make decisions crucial to their jobs, with the same proportion complaining of being discouraged from participating in decisions that directly affected their work.

Managers were failing to design jobs in such a way as to capitalise on the talents of their workers, Hay also argued.

More than a third of the workers polled believed their job did not make best use of their skills and abilities.

The study of more than 3,100 leaders across 12 industries found that close to half of the managers were creating demotivating climates for employees, while a further 15 per cent generated only a neutral environment.

Good managers who really add value (in the eyes of their employers and their team members) are few and far between.  Just a quarter of managers were able to create a high-performance climate, according to employees, and only an additional fifth managed to generate a ‘moderately energising’ working atmosphere.

But while the findings do not surprise me the headline (Get rid of managers and we’ll all be happier) does.

Getting rid of managers is not the answer.  Managing their failure to perform is.  In my experience if we manage managers well – tackle management under performance – and make sure that they manage effectively using feedback, coaching and delegation it is possible to quickly build a management culture that promotes high performance.

Wally on Leadership

I regularly read Wally Bock’s blog.  He is always coming up with great insights and ideas.

In a recent post he reminded us that:

  1. Leadership is behaviour.
  2. Theory doesn’t count unless it turns into behaviour.
  3. Principles don’t matter until you incarnate them.
  4. If it doesn’t find its way into what you say or what you do, it can’t be leadership.
  5. Leadership is situational.
  6. One size doesn’t fit all.
  7. What works in one situation may not work in another.
  8. Your choices of what you say and do depend on the situation.
  9. If you aspire to leadership, understand that leadership is about actions measured by results in a specific situation.

Much the same can be said of management. I even agree with the situational nature of leadership – although I also believe that a single, simple management system can provide the basics of good organisational practice in the vast majority of situations.  A system where you:

Thanks Wally.  You can read the full post here.

How to Manage Whelmers

A whelmer is someone who we manage at work who neither overwhelms us with their professional expertise. enthusiasm and commitment, nor underwhelms us with their lack of talent and commitment.

They inhabit the middle ground of mediocrity.

Whelmers are a problem because they act as cultural magnets, performance benchmarks in the organisation.  They are the experts in knowing just what has to be done to be seen by the organisation as ‘acceptable’.

So what should we do when we recognise that we have a whelmer on the team.  The first thing to do is to look in the mirror.  The person you see is the one who has allowed a human being with energy, enthusiasm, talent and passion (you did check for those things when you recruited them didn’t you) into a whelmer.  In order to change their response to your management style, you need to change the way you manage.  Keep on doing what you have always done….

The first thing to do is to invest time in building a relationship with the whelmer.  Let them know that you know they are capable of giving more and ask what you need to do (or stop doing) if they are to give of their best.  Don’t just do this once.  Keep doing it.  Regularly. Not just at annual reviews but at least monthly, preferably weekly.  Let them know that you value them and that you want to see them doing well.  Make it clear that you EXPECT MORE.

Secondly focus on the behaviours that they exhibit that make you think ‘whelmer’.

  • Is it that they never accept delegation?
  • Never volunteer to work on projects?
  • Hardly contribute to meetings?
  • Rarely smile or express a positive reaction?

Get specific about the behaviours and then use feedback to make sure that the whelmer knows exactly what they are doing that causes you, and no doubt others, to be ‘whelmed’ by their contribution to the workplace.  Give the feedback freely and consistently and make it clear that yo expect them change.  Feedback must be given properly for it to e effective though – so come along to one of our training events to learn how to do it well!

Thirdly spend some time understanding what they are looking for from the organisation.  Most whelmers join with high hopes and every intention to be an overwhelmer.  But as ambition is thwarted they slip into the ranks of the whelmers.

Maslow is relevant here.

Most whelmers wanted to achieve something of importance.  They not only wanted a salary and a sense of belonging but they also wanted to make the world a better place when they chose to work for you.  But you have failed them.  They have recognised that they are unable to achieve this higher purpose in the organisation (no doubt due to resource restrictions or politics) and so have given up on this higher purpose and settled for the monthly salary and a quiet and unspectacular working life.  Often the whelmers will do their self actualising outside of work where they will show incredible passion, skills and enthusiasm for anything from stamp collecting to binge drinking.

So re-visit their hopes and aspirations for working for you.  Talk to them.  Re-kindle their belief that they can achieve something worthwhile at work and then re-double your efforts through feedback, coaching and delegation to give them the opportunities that they need to be a real force for progress in the organisation.

By helping a whelmer step up to being an overwhelmer not only will you and they have a much better time at work but also productivity is likely to increase by 25-40%.

More Returns on Investment from 121s

Tom Peters encourages managers to obsess on R.O.I.R – the Return on Investment in Relationships.

ROIR through 121s comes in many forms:

  1. increased staff retention
  2. improved productivity
  3. recognition and acknowledgement of progress
  4. appreciation of those who are performing well
  5. identification of under performance and early resolution
  6. promotion of behaviours that reinforce strategic goals and values
  7. increased tempo of coaching to develop potential and performance
  8. deeper professional relationships
  9. increased trust
  10. increased influence
  11. increased responsiveness
  12. better support of team members in their work
  13. conduit for ideas from the front line to be heard and acted upon
  14. management support for every member of the team – every week
  15. improved communication and focus on what matters
  16. progress made and recognised on a weekly basis
  17. increased sense of urgency in the team
  18. encourage individuals to think through their contribution to team or organisational objectives
  19. increased initiative and enterprise
  20. planning remains flexible and dynamic
  21. documentation makes performance reviews simpler and less contentious
  22. barriers to high performance are removed
  23. factors contributing to poor performance are identified and resolved
  24. formal opportunities for delegation
  25. feedback – both given and received
  26. increased employee engagement
  27. improved knowledge management and knowledge sharing
  28. better talent management and development
  29. increased creativity
  30. more responsibility taken voluntarily by more people
  31. reduced absenteeism
  32. more diversity as 121s recognise that ‘one size fits one’
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