Monday, December 28, 2009

What Really Matters! Volume 1, No 2, 2009 ebook


This ebook is all about Personal and Professional Development. It has been derived from articles published on The Organisations That Matter Learning Network from July 1st to September 30th 2009.

This ebook is the second in a series of three for 2009.



Download the ebook here

Feedback and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What Really Matters! Volume 1, No 1, 2009 ebook


This ebook is all about Personal and Professional Development. It has been derived from articles published on The Organisations That Matter Learning Network up until June 30th 2009.

This ebook is the first in a series of three for 2009.



Download the ebook here

Feedback and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What Matters Now - Free ebook by Seth Godin


In less than three hours after it was released in the USA this ebook has been made available to members of The Organisations That Matter Learning Network. Seth Godin is one of the world's marketing Guru's. No wonder when he is able to attract the calibre of people like Tom Peters to contribute to a free book! Enjoy!

what-matters-now-1_Page_01.jpg

what-matters-now-1.pdf

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How to show respect when in the role of a manager

Recently a participant in a leadership development program for managers asked, "I've discovered that 'respect' is a core value of mine. What are some practical ways that I can ensure that this value is present in the way that I behave as a manager?".

The following is the list of suggestions that emerged from the conversation that was conducted with this participant and another four people at their table. It is important to note that the following behaviours can be conducted irrespective of the culture that exists within the organisation.

  • Take the time to get to know each member of your team individually. This means that you would know the names of their partner, their children (if they have any). You would remember their hobbies and passions and genuinely inquire about how they are going with those pursuits. If you had a poor memory you would create a structure to ensure that you could remember these things. An example of such a structure is creating notes for each of the members in your team.
  • You would have a clear understanding of the career path that each of your team members is travelling and raise their awareness of any opportunities that would enhance their development in that direction.
  • You would let people do their jobs and trust them with appropriate authority for their roles. As much as possible you would stay out of their way but you would be explicit with them about why you would do that.
  • When bad information about your company was required to be shared with your team, you would share it. You would not ‘sugar coat’ the news.
  • You would provide performance feedback to your team members and make it as easy as possible for them to provide you with feedback. You would not ‘sugar coat’ feedback.
  • You would be proactive about ensuring that the remuneration of your team members was ‘fair’ in the context of your organisation and industry. This means that if you discovered that someone’s package was not ‘fair’, you would do whatever your system would allow you to do to rectify that situation.
  • You would recognise and reward your team members for their contributions.
  • You would be proactive with letting your team members know about opportunities that might take them out of your team if your view was that the opportunity aligned with their career aspirations as you understood them.

This list of examples is just a start. Once again it is important to note that these behaviours can be adopted irrespective of the overall culture within the organisation.

What are your examples of how, as a formal leader you have practiced the value of ‘respect’ in your role? How have you catalysed Conversations That Matter®? Or, if you would like more information about how to practice the examples provided above, please let me know.

Again, please add your comments to this article as I would like to learn from your experiences in putting the value of 'respect' into action.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Discover Three Steps To Bring Your Organisation's Values Alive Through Storytelling

Organisational values are too often left to gather dust on office walls. If you are a leader and your organisation has values, how regularly do you bring those values alive in conversations with your team members? The usual response is, "Not very often." Yet when we ask leaders if they believe in their organisation's values they reply with a resounding, "Yes!".

So what is the problem? Why is it that so many leaders struggle to host conversations with their team members about their organisation's values?

The answer often lies in two issues. Firstly leaders simply forget to take responsibility for keeping their organisational values alive by talking about them with their team members. Such behaviour is simply not on their radar.

Secondly, many leaders aren't taught how to tell effective stories. It is assumed that leaders know how to tell stories. In part this is true. People DO know how to tell stories. However, telling effective stories is different. Telling effective stories requires some structure.

Thankfully most storytelling structures are quite simple. Here's one that most of you will remember from your childhood. The structure was effective then, and it is still effective now.

Step 1 - Start the story.
This usually involves setting the scene and context of the story. For stories regarding the organisations values you would explain a situation and set the scene that you are going to explain how the organisation’s values can be used in real situations.

Step 2 - Explain the middle section of the story
This usually involves the details about what happened and who did what. It is where the rationale behind how the values were used would be explained.

Step 3 - Finish the story
This section provide the "So what!" part of the story. What was the result? In this case, what was the impact of using the organisation's values to guide decision making and actions.

These three steps effectively catalyse Conversations That Matter®.

An example

Start
When I was on the executive team of a medium sized business some legislation was passed that affected $14million of our revenue. In 12 months time it would be gone. This revenue directly paid the salaries of over 200 people.

Middle
Having already performed some scenario planning on this outcome, the executive team met to confirm what would be done for the staff to ensure that the values of integrity, teamwork, service and community were upheld throughout a difficult period. A decision was made to use the organisation’s training and development budget to up skill the staff in resume writing, interview skills and outplacement programs to ensure that as many staff as possible could find new jobs.

End
All staff who wished to access the support were provided with the training and outplacement support that they required. While it was a difficult period for everyone involved staff consistently reported that while they wished that the situation had not occurred, they were delighted with the support that the organisation had provided them throughout their transition. The vast majority of staff found new jobs and opportunities that fitted with their career aspirations.

A significant benefit of storytelling is that it helps people to makes sense of situations. After you have told a story it is worth asking people if the story has triggered any similar examples that also might show the organisation’s values in use. When listening to their stories listen for the start, middle and end. Not everyone tells stories correctly so they might miss out some important parts of the story. If you are listening you can help them out. For example, if someone shares a story but leaves out the end, ask, "What happened? What difference did your actions make?". You'll be amazed at the difference asking such questions can make to the quality of your team members storytelling.

Using this technique can create highly engaged and flowing workplace conversations. Without even knowing it your team members will start to deepen their understanding of what your organisation's values really mean in action. So, set aside 15 minutes once a month in your team meetings and see if you can bring your organisation’s values alive through storytelling. Follow the simple start, middle and end structure and you'll be surprised just how effective it can be. Please leave a comment or let me know how you go using the three steps for organisational storytelling.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Learn How Structures Support Development - an example from karate

One of our close friends had invited our family to watch their 10 year old son Joshua complete his grading for his Black Belt in karate. Having been training in karate since he was six years old this was a 'Big Occasion' for him.

A crowd of over 200 people had assembled in the local karate club's hall to support children from the age of nine through to 14 complete the requirements for their various Black Belt or First Dan assessments. The formworks and kata were performed to perfection to the delight of everyone. This was followed by various fighting stick assessments, jumping and tumbling kicks & strikes, a nun-chuka formwork and finally wood breaking strikes. Considering the ages of the children their performances were very, very impressive!

Finally, six of the boys and girls who were also being assessed for a special leadership award (which is specific to this club) took it in turns to perform a speech about leadership. As each child gave their speech on their own in the middle of the gymnasium floor, no notes in hand, a structure for their speeches became apparent. The structure was:
1) Introduce yourself and your age
2) Identify your favourite karate activity
3) Name a high profile leader of your choice
4) Provide a 'key-point' history of your leader
5) Share a quote created by the leader
6) Explain how the quote relates to your own personal circumstances
7) Thank your parents for their support
8) Thank the audience

While I had been highly impressed by the various karate demonstrations, I was astounded by the performances of these six children. It was clear that they all had different personalities yet each of them was able to stand up in front of a crowd of predominantly adults and provide their speeches. One of the children spoke about Ghandi and provided great detail as he shared an accurate account (including dates) of Ghandi's life. This boy was nine years old!

It was also interesting to watch each of the children stumble at some point in their speeches. When this happened, each of them drew a long slow breath, gathered their thoughts and then continued with their speech. Imagine the pressure that could have been mounting and the ‘self-talk’ that could have been going on in their heads. Yet they remained focussed and completed the task at hand. It seemed to me that the children had been well taught with regard to the structure that they should follow in providing their speeches, including what to do when they lost their train of thought. It really was a delight to watch.

To me the high level of performance that the children were able to achieve was due to a clear structure that they had been provided in preparing for their speeches. No doubt each of the children had also practiced and practiced this structure, much like they had practiced their kata and formworks. Imagine the confidence that these children will have in their lives going forward. Many adults would run away as fast as possible rather than provide a speech in front of 200 hundred people. Yet these children did it and did it well. They will have that experience to draw on for the rest of their lives. As each child finished their speech the applause sounded like it was coming from 1,000 people and not just 200. It really was extraordinary to witness!

This experience once again highlights the power of having structures to support the outcomes that you desire. While the structures that the children used for their speeches may appear simple on the surface, their importance is no less valuable. What similar examples do you have where a clear structure has supported your own or someone else's development? What stories are you willing to share with our community? What key lesson stood out for you from your experience?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Reverse mentoring" reframes traditional views - or does it?

"Reverse mentoring" is meant to reframe traditional views of mentoring. According to Gill South's article in the New Zealand Herald reverse mentoring is a process where senior leaders deliberately seek out young staff or aspiring female staff to access their views of the world.

While reading the article I found myself thinking, "This isn't new, this is what mentoring already does." As a facilitator of mentor training programs I'm yet to experience mentors (who are volunteers in the programs that I facilitate) who do not expect to learn a great deal from their mentee. In fact, most of the mentors with whom I have worked have explicitly stated that they want to be mentors to access a different perspective on their company.

To enable you to make up your own mind the full article can be viewed here.

While I might not agree with the term "Reverse mentoring" I do agree with the benefits of forming true mentoring relationships that Gill lists. From a senior staff perspective accessing views from people within the organisation that you might not have direct contact with provides a smart and strategic reason to become a mentor. Fortunately there is a resurgence in company mentoring programs and Gill's article will contribute to that trend. If you are a senior staff member and not involved in a mentor program I encourage you to become involved now. The relationship you form will benefit both your mentee and yourself, possibly more than you realise.