Time gets away from us. The calendar is overflowing with meetings. How can we find time for others when we struggle to find a moment for ourselves? We fear that if we get connected, we will get pulled into too many issues.
We convince ourselves that the townhalls, meetings, and email blasts are enough to convey our messages. But we’re not sure that the messages are appropriately cascaded, and that people are actively executing on the key initiatives.
When leaders are not available, it is easy to become isolated and distanced from the real issues. Without those valuable conversations, we do not have the data to make accurate decisions and without out input, people are left to figure it out for themselves. Often this is where project implementation goes off track.
Here are ways to get connected using what I call the Visibility Matrix:
Free Up Time – Make effective use of your time by finding five, ten or even 15-minutes in your day. Shorten appointments, focus conversations to one topic, arrive at meetings early and end meetings early with the focus on using these precious minutes to increase your face time with others.
If you are like me and tend to sit at my desk all day, ask a colleague to take a 10-minute walking break which is a terrific way to stretch your legs and walk and talk with a colleague.
Instead of bolting out the door at the end of the day with cellphone plugged into your ear, bock the last 10-15 minutes of the day as personal wrap-up time. Reflect on the day and lay out the next. Then make a smooth transition from the workday into your evening activities.
Pay attention to the transitions in your day – It’s easy to blow by the transitions from meeting to meeting, and one activity to another until it all feels like the day is one big blur. Use the time between activities to regroup, and reconnect. Stop by a colleague’s desk on the way to or from the restroom, or getting a glass of water.
You can access more tips and ideas in the attached YouTube segment.
By being visible and connected with others, you get a two-way dialogue going. You find out what’s going on. You can ask questions, make comments, remove obstacles, provide insights and coaching, and give feedback to others. Through your visibility you show the work is valued, it’s important, and you can be involved in the right way to help.
Hilary Potts is a leadership strategist who advises senior leaders to navigate today’s intensively competitive business world with success. She is the author of leadership books; The Executive Transition Playbook and The Truth About Change, available on Amazon.com. Additional leadership tips, tools, blogs, podcasts, and videos are available on www.hapgrp.com.
In these transformative times, the status quo can be a death sentence to a business. Change is essential for any leader looking to advance and deliver top performance.
I have personally led and experienced both successful and failed initiatives. I have been honored to work with top leaders of global companies and iconic brands, each trying to create a “secret sauce” to bring products and services to market. Through my own experiences and significant strategic engagements, I have learned some consistent truths about change, regardless of the type of company, the industry, or location. I want to share these truths with you.
Truth: Leaders who know how to navigate and lead change have a competitive advantage that enables them to reap the rewards in increased revenue and profits. Unfortunately, most leaders, while constantly initiating change, admit they are not very good at actually leading change.
Truth: If you want a different outcome, you must change what you and your people do. Everyone – from the C-Suite to the person in the field – has a role to play. But often people want the benefits of the change, without being changed. People rarely agree, accept, or adopt a new way merely by being told to “do it.”
Truth: Change requires people who are ready, willing, and able to make the change. If you want the business to achieve its full potential, you need to find ways to engage your people and your organization quickly in working in the new way. You can spend millions on a business solution, but if you can’t get people to use the system or deploy the strategy, you will not achieve the results you want.
Truth: Change initiatives are people intensive, and learning a new set of behaviors takes time. You can accelerate the change with the right reinforcement systems and behavioral engagement plans. Regrettably, too many leaders shy away from the human side of change; they find it easier to focus on the business plan tactics.
Truth: Leaders talk about what others need to do differently, but often don’t realize that change starts with themselves. It’s easy for you to forget you’ve been working on the strategic initiative for weeks and months, familiarizing yourself with the design and business plan. Once the initiative is announced, you expect people to jump into action. Too frequently, the people don’t understand the change or know what they should do. They feel overwhelmed and undersupported; they may do the wrong things, or not act at all.
At a loss of where to start?
Change starts with you. Knowing what needs to be accomplished, why it’s important beyond just the dollars and cents and how you plan to engage the hearts, hands, and heads of your fellow colleagues to want to change versus merely complying with your request.
For more insights about leading change, pick up a copy of my book “The Truth About Change” on Amazon and visit my website at www.HilaryPotts.com.
Are you so focused on the end result that you are charging ahead, assuming everyone is with you?
Before you find yourself all alone, here are simple steps to lead through even the trickiest situations:
- Help others see “why” the change is important to make
- Set clear direction and get buy-in for what needs to be accomplished
- Prepare yourself for the change and know what it will take to enroll others
- Map out an implementation plan so others can own the solution
- Be consistent in your own actions
- Keep people in the know with open lines of communication
- Provide frequent feedback and remove obstacles in the way of progress
- Celebrate even the smallest of advancements and people will begin to move in the right direction
When leaders enable others by gaining agreement and buy-in, the momentum of the change begins to shift from the actions of one to the actions of many.
Change requires leaders to be at the top of their game. It means completing the current work while shifting or adding something new.
The numerous acquisitions, mergers, and general business changes occurring in the marketplace today create an opportunity for new and interesting assignments. Leaders can forget to prepare themselves for the change while putting all their attention into the business strategies and logistics.
Use these five questions to determine how best to serve the organization and prepare for the challenges that will surely lie ahead.
1. Do I understand what’s at stake?
What’s the situation and am I committed to leading myself and others through this change? What are my pre-conceived notions about how the change will impact myself, the business, organization, culture, process, or people?
2. Am I willing to do what it takes to make this a success?
What does success look like? Am I willing to make the commitment to lead the change, even if it means standing alone? If so, what are the three to five specific goals I wish to accomplish during this transition?
3. How will I get others committed and engaged to make the change?
Who is important to implementing the change? How will people react to the change? What will it take create a sense of urgency to get others engaged? What’s my plan to build the relationships and trust to execute the change?
4. What do I need to do to lead this change?
What are my leadership strengths and vulnerabilities in leading this change? What leadership skills and behaviors will be necessary to perform at my best? How will I approach this change while juggling the other aspects of my role?
5. When the going gets tough, how will I motivate myself and others?
How will small victories be celebrated? How will I provide feedback and inspire others as they work in a new way? How will I remove obstacles and impediments when they get in the way?
These questions can help you assess the situation and determine where you are headed. Then develop your change goals, and engage others who can help you make it happen. Be sure to pay attention to the impact your leadership has on others and make the appropriate adjustments that lead to successful outcomes.
What’s more important — demonstrating business results early on or getting acquainted in the first 90 days so you don’t make bigger mistakes later?
As the incoming leader, demonstrating results is critical to you and your company’s success.
Chances are there are urgent things that need your attention. Too often leaders jump in without all the facts and start making decisions.
“Surround yourself with the strongest, most knowledgeable people, and give them room to express themselves.” – Phil Jackson
However, hold off on the temptation to jump in too soon without knowing the landscape and the facts. Instead, find ways to keep these initiatives moving by engaging others. While you may think you can make decisions, chances are the only thing you will do well early on is make a BIG mistake.
At the same time, you will need a plan to keep the business running. The CLEAR Model outlines a way to keep the business on track while you get up-to-speed in your new role.
Clarity – Develop as a complete picture of the situation. What really needs to be solved in the next two to three months and what can be handled by someone else? Identify the two or three business items that need your immediate attention. Then get clear about what you will do and how you will stay on top of the situation. My best advice: Unless it is mission-critical to make a decision right this second, use your transition into a new role to listen and learn. There will be ample time to jump into the many opportunities that present themselves.
Leadership — Rather than stepping in and making a mess of things, delegate and empower others closer to the problem to craft a solution. Chances are they’re already involved. While you may think you are being helpful, you may actually be doing what someone else should be doing.
Some people will be afraid to warn you that your early decisions are off track. Best to keep an open door that allows people to share their thoughts and concerns. This will allow you to be consulted on the key issues and leave you room to get up-to-speed.
Expectations — Define how you wish to work in the transition period. Get clear on your expectations and establish roles and responsibilities including; levels of authorities and decision making. You can always make adjustments later on.
You really don’t want to become the bottle-neck; while at the same time, you will want to stay abreast of the issue. When people know what is expected of them, they have leeway to perform at their best.
Actions – Map out a plan so everyone knows what’s to be accomplished. Save some time on your calendar to be available for periodic check-ins. This is the time to remove obstacles and roadblocks and provide ample feedback so others can keep things moving.
Remember that people deploying new solutions can feel uncomfortable and awkward as they work in a new way. People may need more information not less to know they are on track. Be prepared to increase both your communication and feedback as the plans get deployed.
Results – Know what success looks like. This includes both the desired result and those key indicators that help you see people are beginning to work in a new way. This is a perfect time to provide feedback and even celebrate those small wins along the way.
Focus on what matters most to keep the business running without getting tripped up in the process. The CLEAR Model is an easy way to keep things moving forward and on track.
Meetings are so prevalent these days that it’s easy to get caught up moving from meeting to meeting only to find basic participation principles get cast aside and replaced with meeting survival techniques. Good meeting manners are simple, right? So why are basic meeting participation principles often ignored?
No excuse but people are on meeting overload and find it difficult to adequately prepare for all the interactions. Poor group dynamics and diverging opinions when not properly addressed silence and wear people down. Worse yet, participants sit watching the clock waiting for the meeting to be over only to move on to another meeting. Inconsistent participation contributes to lost productivity ultimately impacting things like customer satisfaction, engagement, revenues, and profits.
It’s in vogue today to reduce the number of meetings in the spirit of being more productive. To do that, the meetings that are left need to be run effectively and efficiently. As a meeting participant you might not have control over the agenda; however, you are accountable for your meeting behaviors.
If you were to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest, how would you rate your meeting participation? Instead of waiting for meetings to “entertain” you, it’s time to play your part.
Successful meetings have a cadence and a flow. Not only does there need to be solid planning and presentation of the topics, it requires participants to contribute in the preparation, meeting discussions and follow through.
Learn more about how you can get more out of the meetings you attend.