Change doesn’t come easily…or cheaply. Here’s a scenario: The Board or Executive Team, meet and hammer out their strategic plan and go back to work at their desks and begin putting the building blocks in place to reach the goals they’ve set. A few months, or a year into the plan, they suddenly discover that not only is change expensive, but it’s costly in ways and areas the strategic plan, well had no plan for. Every type of change comes with a price tag.
Employee Costs: Regardless of whether the change is small, drastic, incremental, sudden, planned, or unplanned, people will pay a price in terms of emotion and productivity. People handle change differently. Some will create havoc and slow the change process down through change resistance. Others experience stress as they may fear losing their jobs, or they may struggle learning a new process or technology, or they may express anger over the merge with a bitter business rival. These reactions cost your teams and business heavily in lost productivity.
Complexity and how it affects productivity seems to be the new boogie man haunting organiztions. The reality is that research by Margaret Wheatly in 1994 and Olson and Eoyang in 2001 brought this Ghoul out of its closet. Needless to say, different factors from different business issues such as technology and the world economic and political stages have added their own unique twists to the complexity of doing business. One factor that has remained constant is people. Zimmerman (1998), as quoted in a study by Peter M. Dickens states, “In every interaction, people mutually adjust their behaviors in ways needed to cope with changing internal and external environmental demands.”
I don’t know so much about the “mutually” part, but yes, as humans we either adapt or die. That’s what we do. Unfortunately, not all of us have the capability of adapting to certain situations, or we don’t adapt as rapidly as some of our teammates, or we fail to see the reason to adapt. Others fail to anticipate a change is in the works and get broadsided by the change. Then there are those who simply don’t want to adapt. Ahhhh, I can see you are already reading between the lines…human behavior can add to the complexity of business.
Behavior at the individual level plays a major role in business complexity. The factor that adds to the complexity at the individual level is that many CEOs fail to see this blind spot, fail to understand it, and therefore, fail to manage it. Where does complexity on an individual level manifest? A case study by McKinsey and a “heat map” generated from their research, indicates both the intensity of complexity as well as ferreting out individual causes. Some of these are
You solve problems every day. You feel a sense of accomplishment, self-satisfaction, and maybe even relief. But the very next week, the same problem, a similar problem, or a related problem rears its ugly head. You get Déjà vu and wonder what went wrong. You hear yourself saying, “Didn’t I tell them….” “I explained ….” “I thought they heard me say …” Maybe yes and maybe no. If this is happening to you, you may be engaging in event problem solving.
Event problem solving is solving what is happening at the moment with no further investigation. Event problem solving merely applies a band aid to what can be a manifestation of a larger, more deeply rooted issue. These issues can sometimes be the foundation of the culture of an organization. Unfortunately, more likely than not, these are more negative than positive. So how can leadership “see it coming?” When coaching leaders, I will often explain that if you see a problem once, you may take a brief notice of it. If you see the same problem twice, your ears should perk up. If you see that same problem a third time, now you have a trend or pattern. This is how a reoccurring problem formulates and infests an organization. By the time this pattern develops, it is no doubt affecting many aspects of your organization and business. So what is the plan for deeper problem solving?
Managing time is a constant challenge for my coaching clients, and yes for me too! We all know better. We all know that if we manage our time well, we’ll accomplish more, reduce stress, and still have time for things we enjoy the most. Procrastination is one of the biggest concerns and often seems the most difficult to conquer. Yes, I know, we want to put that off until later as well.
A tool to help us conquer this defeating habit is understanding what causes us to procrastinate. First we’ll look at the causes of procrastination and then ways to tame this shrew.
- Failure to set priorities – If you don’t know where to begin – you won’t. Further, not setting priorities leaves the door open to making everything a priority. This confuses the brain and leads to procrastination.
- Each day put together a to-do list. The night before is even better as you can hit the ground running the next morning. Be sure to prioritize the items on your list. When your boss or client piles more items on your already stretched out list, consult with them and let them help you establish what is really important. Everything is not a four alarm fire. In addition, you can break projects into smaller pieces and that helps keep you both focused and motivated.
At times, getting a root canal seems a better way to spend your precious time than to sit through another dull, boring, and worse, unproductive meeting. Think:
1 Meeting = 1 Hour
People in Meeting = 6
Total Time: 1 Hour WRONG!!
1 Hour Meeting + 6 people = 6 hours!
Can any of us afford such waste? The answer is, of course, no. The bigger questions is why are meetings such a waste of time? Some complaints clients express are:
- Some people talk too much
- Some people don’t talk at all
- Lack of structure
- Poor assignment of action steps or no action steps
- No follow-up or follow-through
- Meetings lack leadership
- Behaviors such as bullying, know-it-alls, side-conversations, getting off topic/rambling; negativity, griping, and ego battles run amok
It doesn’t have to be like this. While I am not of the mindset that there should be no meetings, in order to have effective meetings, you need to know the following five important steps to help prevent meeting mayhem: