What are the two most important and sought after leadership skills in Asia? Based on the research of GloCoach, they identified the two following skills:
From our practice at Hive17 we can only underline the value of these two leadership skills in order to bring positive change within your organisation. And we observe that many leaders struggle to apply these skills on a consistent basis.
How fragile are your leadership skills? How well do you understand the qualities to successfully lead a team? And, how confident are you to implement these leadership skills in your daily work?
Here is the solution: Hive17's Antifragility Score is assessing your teams leadership qualities with a unique focus on teams and how to enable them to give their best. This assessment includes:
Accelerate the engagement in your team which leads to improved innovation, productivity and retention. Your individual antifragility score is for free!
Every year, my Alma Mater brings about 70 students from St.Gallen to Singapore for an exchange semester - undoubtedly an unforgettable and important experience. As part of their program, they conduct a consulting project with their peers at SMU. Over the years, we observed one key ingredient for successful projects: effective collaboration within the teams.
This year I had the honour again to introduce how to form effective teams in a short period of time. I feel it is always so insightful and a great learning experience for me to work together with students. Absorbing their curiosity and insightful point of view. Here are the key steps we covered in the 90 minutes session.
Start with a win-win attitude. When we are entering a meeting, negotiating or selling our products, how often do you observe that one party wants the opponent to lose out? We can only achieve maximum synergy if we consider the win of the other party and have the courage to stand for our win as well.
Effective teamwork happens when we enable all team members to give their best. This requires clear, common goals, shared leadership, a desire to deliver high quality, quick decision-making, and a high level of energy. And let's not forget that the work environment strengthens the mutual trust.
Shared values are the basis of team principles. These will provide guidance on how the team wants to work together and also establishes boundaries. The team principles also include ways how we get to know each other better and build social connections.
Conflict will arise and effective teams are not good at avoiding conflict - they are good at conflict management. First step: deflate emotions. When we are super excited or very angry - in any case, we won't be able to think rationally and create solutions that resolve the conflict.
What are your key ingredients for effective teams?
This might be one of my rare posts about AI. Yesterday, I was invited by our partner GloCoach to an event to talk about "AI and Organisational Success". Here were some of the proposed questions: Will AI replace our workforce? Or rather, when will AI replace our workforce? And the questions then continued: how will AI replace people? With whom will they be collaborating?
The discussion elaborated that, as any other tech tool, AI will support us humans. The algorithms will fulfil tasks which we are struggling with, for example big data analysis. The automation will allow us to offload mundane and repetitive tasks and to focus on the more value-creating tasks. We humans will (should) always be in control and make the decisions.
Automation - as it has been shown in the past with the agricultural, industrial revolutions and photography - will allow us to scale and to provide solutions to 10'000 times more people than we were able before automation. As was discussed during the event, this means that high-level coaching solutions can be provided to a much much wider audience, while the current coachees might still prefer (and able to afford) to be coached by a human (augmented by AI).
Here is another idea that came up during the conversations I want to share here. How can we improve business processes with AI? Here we are often in a dilemma... On the one hand, we want to have consistent processes because this will allow efficiency. On the other hand, we are faced with exceptions that don't follow the norm and we need to 'bend' these rules. I am a proponent to switch from 'rules' to 'principles', because principles allow you to understand the underlying reason why we do things and provide us with flexibility which enables us to focus on effectiveness. AI can help here to combine on the one hand the underlying rules of a process with on the other hand specific data about the individual person or item that goes through that process. As a result, we are able to scale individualised iterations of the business process that are more accurate and are at the same time efficient and effective. Examples are individual leave application procedures, 3-D printed items, last-mile package delivery, etc.
Where do you see the future of artificial intelligence in your life?
The purpose of any organisation is to successfully deliver value to their customers. The range of customers might be wide and the definition of value and success might greatly vary. Though, in essence that is it. And rightfully, companies are focusing their efforts on selling, producing and delivering their products and solutions.
Recently, there have been new questions and barriers appearing in leadership circles. "I need all my employees to focus in one direction."; "It feels like that internal silos are preventing us from delivering to our clients."; "We need values and a culture that is exciting to work in." All these statements point to a need for increased focus on the delivery of that customer value. We need an effective foundation for our way of working. That is basically the infrastructure to run our operations; or the Human Operating System.
The goal of the human operating system is to create an environment that enables teams to give their best. It is about alignment, transparency, change management, motivation, psychological safety and fun. Imagine a flotilla of small boats that independently sail towards a common direction. How these are operated and are connected describes this operating system.
Here are some of the key components for this human operating system:
Let's arrange a meeting to find out how Hive17 Consulting can further improve your way of working!
Hands up who struggles with people that just do the minimum work? Yes, you are not alone. And it is frustrating to see the potential in people not being used to bring success for the company, for the team and for the individual. Your organisation might have great team bonding and a lot of fun. How well does this translate that everyone is giving their best? In my experience, being a nice and kind leader has its strong limitations. We need to go beyond this and be inspirational and supportive - I'd like to call this positive leadership.
In this context, I came across this Harvard Business Review article that highlights the challenge that we can't push and force people to feel accountable. Fear is a very bad motivator. The alternative, which leads to long-term and a deeply rooted ownership, is creating accountability using compassion. How can we go about this? It is about creating a fertile environment that cultivates that feeling of ownership. Here are some of the key elements for this.
One elemental ingredient is a shared purpose - a clear goal that is collectively defined. All team members can identify themselves with this purpose and it provides meaning. This shared purpose is the Why, the direction that enables our daily decision-making.
Setting clear goals is one thing; reviewing that we are walking in the right direction is another. No point in setting targets if we don't follow up. Effective teams develop routines to frequently, transparently review their achievements - this means identifying what is needed to further advance towards the defined key results, and sometimes have the courage to adjust them when circumstances have changed.
One of the biggest blockers for accountability is the lack of a psychological safe environment - in simple terms: group trust. An environment where people can share their thoughts, are feeling respected, and are having fun, this will bring the people closer to their team members and to the organisation as such - a starting point for accountability. And it provides a lot of energy and drive to give their best.
Everyone in the organisation has valuable expertise. When people are able to contribute their knowledge and experience to the advancement of the team, then they will feel proud - about themselves and about the team. So, it is important to be a coach and allow people to unfold their potential. As an experienced manager you might know the solution. Though, it is fundamentally more important to lead your people to find the solution themselves (with your support). Allow your team members to identify and define the How themselves - this allows you to avoid micromanagement.
One important question here: if we are such a leader, are there any consequences? Yes, for sure; and they are not your typical: if you don't achieve your targets, you will be fired. There are always real consequences, typically from the ecosystem we are in: our customers are not able to sell their products based on our delays; we will not be able to be profitable; we will struggle to build confidence with our stakeholders; etc. This means we are appealing to their compassion and creating intrinsic motivation.
Let's start the change and focus on enabling teams to give their best. Based on structure, routines and mindsets.
Source: Hold Your Team Accountable with Compassion, Not Fear; Harvard Business Review, February 2023
We just finished a team retreat and during the closing, the client shared "this was amazing, we never got the people to share so much. The sessions were fun, insightful and engaging. Thank you so much!". How did we get there?
One of the thing we can observe with many companies, friends, clients, and teams we are working with: we are overwhelmed, we are stuck in a rat race. Looking at the "Second Quadrant Model", this means we are stuck in the first quadrant: our important and urgent tasks. We don't have the bandwidth to allocate time for the important and non-urgent tasks, which allow us to build an effective work-environment and reflect on our strategy and priorities. How can we facilitate this change?
This is where team retreats come in. While an investment in time and money, they allow us to create the necessary brain space to build a solid foundation for team effectiveness. This is the exemplification of Slowdown to Speedup!
So, how shall we go about team retreats? There are some principles for successful team retreats; here is my take: a) enable the participants to switch off from their daily grind; b) lots of time for quality, social interactions; c) the managers are participants on the same level as everyone else (an independent, external facilitator helps); d) focus the sessions on topics in the second quadrant. What did I miss here?
Ok, great principles... What shall we discuss concretely? First of all, start with an overall theme for the retreat which provides the context for the conversations. Often we come across the broad opportunity around 'improving collaboration' and 'building ownership'. Though it can also have themes like 'shaping our desired culture', 'discovering new market opportunities', etc.
As a next steps, it is important to provide a structure and path for constructive and effective discussion. Here is an approach:
Great - as a team, we had 2-3 days off from our daily work and enjoyed a fantastic time with our family at work. And then we come back to the office and we will be very quickly overwhelmed. We want that the great stuff we discussed during the retreat is continued back at work; we want that we keep the momentum. For that, it is vital that we immediately build routines that carve out space for our second quadrant tasks and actions. And for sure, the foundation for this should be defined at the retreat.
How do you experience successful team retreats?
In my role as co-chairs of the SwissCham Climate Tech subcommittee, I had the honour to host a CSO Roundtable. We brought together industry leaders in Singapore to share their experience about how we can accelerate our sustainability journeys based on mindset shifts and organisational structures. With a new format that brought the panel very close to a small audience, all people in the room engaged in an open interaction on how organisations can work towards net zero targets.
Three major topics emerged:
Sustainability is admittedly a complex and multi-faceted topic; from small technical solutions to an ecosystem approach, on all levels the drive for sustainability adds complexity. The topic might be less daunting if we understand ESG as one single topic, instead of having separate approaches for E, S and G. And the major driving force is looking at it with a problem-solving lens. Looking at sustainability as the long-term business opportunity as in operational efficiency, market growth, and talent attraction.
When we look at the broad population in most organisation, the majority of front-line and middle management employees are full of ideas how we can do good; they have the insight, understand the barriers, and have the passion to find a solution. Unleashing this potential means that we need to create platforms that enable these people to become ambassadors, gather like-minded people around them, and develop autonomy in identifying solutions. It is as simple as removing the barriers of creating internal movements.
In this context, it has been mentioned that the senior- and top-management levels are often hindering these efforts, killing the energy by demanding short-term financial results. Here, efforts are necessary to convince our leaders to understand sustainability as a business opportunity. Focus on that future business reward and the money will flow automatically.
All three topics are major transformations - we are embarking on journeys that change people's minds, develop new cultures and aspire to bring more humanity in our ecosystem. The result can only be good!
What is your first step to action?
Many of you know that I am a self-declared 'positivist' - a person with a strong belief that when we look at things from the bright side, we will deliver better results, be more creative, and have more energy - enabling teams to give their best! And while following another passion of mine - sailing - I found another proof that I am on the right path
"Does it ever go too far, where you said, we had a bit too much fun there?" - "No, never too much fun!"
Team Malizia of the Ocean Race has been recognised as The Team that is always in a good mood and seems to having a blast in their boat in the middle of the ocean. Here is one of their team mates sharing her experience:
In a nutshell:
Hive17 Consulting is running change facilitation programs that enable teams and organisations to create a work environment that enables everyone to give their best.
More about Team Malizia - Ocean Race
Yes, in the last months we have achieved a lot. The majority of companies have defined sustainability targets and they are concerned about creating their ESG report. Though, we also need to be honest with ourselves: this is only talk and we need action - a lot of action - to reach global success in turning around climate change!
“57% of CEOs identify unclear ROI and economic benefits as a leading challenge.”
Many companies have set ambitions net-zero targets which they want to reach in the next decades. And yes, many companies have scrambled together a team that is identifying opportunities to create impact. Is this enough? In my experience, if you want to reach ambitious energy saving targets, you need to mobilise the masses. And in the context of sustainability, your own employees are not enough; you need to engage your customers, suppliers, your community and a wide range of other stakeholders in your ecosystem. A daunting task.
One principle in change management: let's break down that overwhelming initiative in small, first steps - at the start, we want to create momentum. How can we achieve this? In our practice, we call this Vision-to-Action and the objective is to propagate the high-level, strategic targets into actions for everyone in the organisation. We are using the concept of objectives and key results (OKRs) in this process and ensure that on each level, we encourage a bottom-up approach to translate the higher level OKRs to their own specific scope. Building ownership and excitement.
For example on a regional management level, we can achieve alignment on the concrete results we want to achieve in the next three months while keeping an eye on the long-term vision and targets. And in parallel, we have organised large-scale workshops to enable the front-line employees to identify their contribution to the creating impact. This also creates a fabulous energy and drive.
How are you creating real, large-scale impact in your organisation?
Source: CEO Study: Own your impact, IBM, May 2022
A long long time ago, I heard this term in the business world - "on a need to know basis". Yes, still today people think that is a sensible approach to working together and doing business. On my side, from the start of my career, I felt it was wrong. As a recipient of this statement you simply feel stupid and marginalised. In a way, a very disrespectful expression.
In today's world, leaders are expected to be humble, truthful and vulnerable. To a great extent, we need to be honest. Hontest with the people around us and honest with ourselves.
In recent news we hear about companies making wrong claims, hiding realities, green-washing, etc. While in the past, it might have been a competitive advantage based on information asymmetries. In today's open world, these are quickly eliminated. The successful company is innovative and works closely together with their partners; up-stream, down-stream, left and right. It is ok to make mistakes, it is ok to not be the leader in carbon emissions, it is ok to not know the future. The most important thing is, we are trying our best to create a better environment for our next generations.
Let's be honest.
How am I becoming a better leader? This is a question that I encounter a lot during my engagements. And the question is not: what is good leadership? Most people know. The question is, how am I practising good leadership on a daily basis? This is so hard!
One of the key focuses as a good leader is developing your people; creating a learning organisation. In whatever we do, we want to learn. We want to become better. This is where the core of growth is hidden.
For this 'learning first' focus, there is a base mindset which is important. I am not here to teach others. As a leader, I need to create the environment for learning. Here is a ladder of this mindset.
This means, as a leader, I need to focus on my own learning; learning from the people around you. And with this, you can stimulate the desire to learn; and create the foundation of a learning organisation.
When will you start to question what you really know?
There are many reasons why companies are embarking on their sustainability journey. Some of you might know that I advocate focusing on the business opportunity of climate change actions - instead of the compliance perspective. Let's look at one part of that story: Attracting & Retaining Talents.
Recently I have encountered a set of companies that are primarily motivated to engage in Sustainability because they are able to cultivate a company culture that is motivating the employees to work at their best. They find meaning and fulfilment in working in an environment that goes beyond financial targets and cares about the ecosystem we are embedded in: our planet, our community, our peers, our families.
This in itself is convincing many leaders to put a strong focus on employee engagement - and on becoming an impact-focused company - because they know that this will lead to a strong positive impact on the company's performance. Though, not everyone has that conviction - allow me to give a more quantitative perspective. For this, I will base my calculations on a group of 100 people with an average salary of 5'000 USD.
"Two-thirds of people are more likely to work for a company which demonstrates strong and meaningful environmental policies", Wired UK | 02 2023
When people feel, their current company does not provide them the right environment anymore, they will leave and the company needs to hire a replacement. This has in fact a huge cost starting from cash-outs like recruitment, to productivity & training related losses, and to negative impacts due to knowledge and cultural losses. Different studies share different numbers though a number I like to work with is that the total cost of re-hiring amounts to about 86% of an annual salary. Let's assume an attrition rate of 10% and due to our Sustainability journey we can convince half of them to stay. This will amount to a rough benefit of 250'000 USD per year.
Get the best out of People
I have mentioned above that a meaningful work environment will spark motivation and as an end result lead to higher productivity. How does that translate into numbers? Let's assume that we can motivate about a third of our workforce; and these people will be able to spend 25 minutes a day more focused and productive - I think a very conservative improvement. This will amount to a rough benefit of 99'000 USD per year.
Adding these two numbers together means that starting a meaningful sustainability journey can create a benefit of 350'000 USD per year for a group of 100 people; this is about 2% of the salary costs. I agree that most of these benefits will not directly appear in your profit & loss sheet - still this might convince you to start focusing on attracting and retaining your talents in your organisation.
This was only one of the three buckets how we can turn sustainability into a business opportunity. Next time we will look at operational efficiency and market opportunities.
During the Sustainability Week Asia in Singapore, on stage and in the hallways, there was one strong agreement among speakers and participants. Most companies are still in the game because of compliance - in order to keep their 'license to operate'. They are pushed by regulators, clients and the markets to provide their sustainability reports and commit to token targets.
If we want to turn the tide on climate change, we all need to go beyond that and understand one important thing:
Sustainability is one huge business opportunity!
The opportunities fall typically into three buckets: attracting & retaining talents, operational cost efficiency and exploring new markets. And all of them have a strong impact on profit. Once we realise this, the sustainability movement will be unstoppable!
How can we create this awareness? As a change management practitioner, there are a few simple insights:
Today was Day one of the Sustainability Week Asia here in Singapore. The first session, Tony Fernandes. And he mentioned something which is close to my heart:
"In sustainability, companies need to push first their internal marketing!"
This, in my experience, means that we need to make the new vision tangible for employees, so that they can relate. And it also means that we need to translate strategic KPIs into targets for the people in the front-line. Translating the vision into action.
I have been glad I was able to be involved in large-scale programs where we have achieved that wide-spread engagement. It takes some effort to create this momentum. And then, the movement is building up and delivering excitement, motivation and then strong business results.
Don't keep your initiatives in a closet; let's create these movements.
I hear that with many of my clients: I feel like they are only ticking the box and they are waiting to be told what to do. It feels like we have a blame culture which is slowing things down. How can we change them and stop this complacency? How can I enable my people to be more proactive?
And why bother, I can simply do the job myself and delegate the important stuff to 'my guy'. The answer is productivity - productivity based on more action & results, and based on a more energetic & focused culture. Once we bring the people out of their inertia, then they will also be able to grow personally, master new skills and feel more confident and excited. Which impacts the productivity of the entire team and the people around them.
What does it take to enable this change? Ownership! We want to create an environment which allows the people to identify themselves with the overall objective and feel engaged to reach that with their best effort. They own their part of the business.
From my experience, here are the key ingredients to develop ownership:
The underlying topic is: becoming a High-performing Team! This is when a team can deliver excellence effortlessly. Everything falls in place and as a team we flow towards success.
Image credit: ©Eloi Stichelbaut - polaRYSE / Holcim-PRB
As a change management practitioner, I believe a core to success are the leadership qualities of people - the people side of doing business. When talking about these leadership qualities, I often experience that the leaders know the concepts and tools to become a great leader. Though, they often admit that they are not able to apply these on a consistent, daily basis. Why is this an issue? Because if you are not consistent with your messages and behaviour, people around you loose trust.
Let me share an example which is quite typical. I recently talked to a CEO who mentioned that their coaching background and wider experience show them, what the right leadership style is: a strong focus on engagement, encouragement, letting go of control and be more the guiding hand than the directive boss. Then, the CEO shared, they often land in situations where they need to be more firm and switch to the more directive behaviour. It feels wrong though they don't see another way.
There are two things which are important here in order to change the concepts into practice. First, a deep conviction of the end goal: creating ownership and motivation to drive excellence among peers. This comes with a good understanding of what are the barriers to achieving this goal?
The second is practice practice practice. Find the cue that pulls you to fall back to the wrong leadership behaviours. Draw a few simple steps illustrating the right behaviour. Find an agreement among the leadership team on these right behaviours. And then, practice them together by peer coaching, creating awareness and encouraging each other.
What are some of these simple steps? Imagine a situation where you might get high blood pressure and pulse when you hear bad news. The first important step is to calm emotions and then ask the person open questions: what was the situation and the intention? What actions did you take and which results did you expect? And finally, what can we learn out of this?
At Hive17 Consulting, we work with leadership teams to identify these barriers and develop the right routines. And then provide an environment - daily work - where these routines can become a second nature.
A new year often comes with new goals and new dreams - yes, we do have that habit of creating new year's resolutions; who is following a healthy January? From a change management perspective, the problem with these resolutions is that they are often forgotten by February. Why is that? They aim at a change that is too big and doesn't fit into our daily routines.
Let's look at creating new habits that last, make you happy, and have a positive impact on our planet!
Reduce Meat - Establish a veggie day, for example Tuesdays. This means one day enjoying the meat-free options on the menu; for the entire day! That is yummy, healthy and has a huge impact on our carbon emissions.
Public Transport - Commute to work with metro and bus. With a bit of planning you can easily ditch the traffic jams, reduce the stress of driving and stop the hassle with taxi-ing. As a result, you connect more and are able to slow-down a bit.
Ditch Fast Fashion - buy clothes of higher quality and wear them longer. This will also allow you to save money on clothing; plus, you can give your clothes a second chance on second-hand clothes markets. Quality clothing simply feels better and we can avoid huge rubbish piles.
No Single-Use Plastic - bring your own water bottle and stop visiting restaurants that serve single-use plates and cutlery. And yes, that probably also includes your take-away and food delivery. Having a meal at the restaurant and cooking are great ways to connect and energise.
Reduce shipping - switch to options that reduce transporting things around unnecessarily. Do we need strawberries from France? Do we need to order that dress in 3 sizes and send two of them back? One surprising suggestion is canned fish; they don't require a cool-chain for transport, plus it is more nutritious - I didn't know that.
Ask for green energy and electrification - ask wherever you can for an option that doesn't rely on burning fossil fuels. This can be your electricity at home, the transport options (push your local community to invest in electric buses), your stove and heating systems, etc.
These small steps are easy to embed in your daily life. Explore the links below for more ideas and details. And in my experience, you will soon see that you will go beyond these initial changes, you will feel more energetic and content. And you will become an ambassador for sustainability in larger contexts.
This is indeed a fantastic journey ahead - enjoy!
16 Ideas for Greener Living, Bloomberg, Dec 2022
Forget New Year’s Resolutions, Here Are 5 Green Resolutions for Anytime of the Year, Green is the New Black, Jan 2023
Single-use plastic cutlery and plates to be banned in England, BBC, Jan 2023
The end of the year is a time for reflection and in many ways, 2022 was an extraordinary year. In the first quarter we started to see in Singapore and in many other regions a rapid easing of pandemic restrictions and a new dynamic accelerated across many elements of life. In the summer period, travel has resumed for almost everyone. Then, in the second half of the year the business activities seemed to never stop! Indeed, a year full of change!
When I reflect back especially to the last six months, I was surprised that the same topics popped up across my clients at the same time. This gave me a feeling that these are critical concerns for business owners and leaders in the region. Let me briefly describe three themes.
Target Setting - in a number of engagements we started to look at how we can become better at setting goals. The exercise of defining objectives often felt unsatisfactory because the goals were vague and no process in place to regularly review them. One key question to ask: what is the purpose of setting targets?! We need this clarity so we can create a journey that adds value and is effective. In my interactions the biggest benefit is when teams have frequent reminders and conversations about their objectives and key results.
Toxic People - the second theme arose in many conversations and this seems to be an experience in many organisations: a tiny group of people that are creating a negative atmosphere. Two interesting observations: sometimes people are not aware that this is happening in their organisation; and, even seasoned leaders feel overwhelmed by toxic people. Why is this important? The negative vibes are creating stress, blocking creativity, and are dragging down the performance of the entire team. What can we do? In my eyes, three things: a) highlight what are toxic behaviours; b) agree that we don't tolerate this; c) jointly work towards a high-performing team.
From Inertia to Ownership - a last - almost evergreen - theme is that business owners struggle with people that are very comfortable with where they are, happy to follow instructions, hide their ideas and opinions, and don't feel excited about the company's ambitions. And often this is not a small group within an organisation. I like to call this inertia and address it with the concept of impermanence; the world is continuously changing and if we don't follow the change, we will eventually become irrelevant. What is the antidote to this? Develop ownership! Create small spaces (job scope, physical areas, etc.) and give teams the responsibility to improve them with their own ideas and efforts. This is a great way to develop leaders on all levels in your organisation.
Could we solve these themes this year? How will they appear again in 2023? As with any change, it is important to take the first steps and continuously move forward on this journey. Let's increase our focus on the right leadership qualities and strengthen our focus on people.
Wish all my friends, clients, partners, community members and
everyone on this beautiful planet
a joyful holiday season and a strong start into 2023!
We all heard that we need to celebrate success in order to motivate our people. And companies are getting creative: employee of the month, best idea of the month, people awards in endless categories; or they are sticking to the established tools like bonus and commission. And yes, celebrating is great and it gives all of us a short kick. The big question: what happens if we stop with these stimuli? Performance might very well dwindle away. That's the nature of "if-this-then-that" rewards, of extrinsic motivation.
How can we celebrate to strengthen lasting success? Great business outcomes are typically the result of hard work. Let's focus on that! This hard work is in my experience always the result of how well people work together; within teams, across teams and beyond organisational borders. Lasting success comes from high-performing teams which will be able to bring solid and sustainable change to your organisation.
What are the typical barriers to high-performing teams? These can be summarised as dependency on the leader, lack of structure, risk aversion, and lack of safety & inclusion. This means, when we want to increase the collaborative performance in and across teams, then we need to look at building a solid structure and principles for the way of working. We need to find ways to manage risk by experimentation. We need to provide a work environment where we leverage diversity and people feel safe. And most importantly, all team members need to become leaders and contribute to the direction of the crew.
So, let's celebrate the collaborative success! And this means we focus on the why and what - we celebrate permission and direction. The permission and ownership we are delegating in order to enable leaders across the board; the direction that we build together and provides us with a meaningful team glue. This will be the foundation to manage great change and transform your company forward.
How are you strengthening your team to thrive in a volatile and chaotic environment?
In the last five weeks, a team of 10 people of AMKFSC Community Services went through the certification program to become Certified Associates in Change Management. In five highly interactive sessions, the participants discussed and applied the concepts of the CPC Change Management methodology.
"I learned a lot because we spend a lot of time in our groups applying the concepts and tools on our real-work project" - Certification program participant of AMKFSC.
During the workshops the teams were able to create exciting change stories, pondered how to staff the change team, and elaborated how to define and plan the various activities to bring the adopters to the desired future state.
The group of 10 people, who work in different departments and with a diverse background, had a lot of fun during the sessions and feel confident now to bring their projects towards success.
When are you joining our certification programs?
Last week I had the great opportunity to hold a lecture at SMU with the Asia Terms students of the University of St.Gallen. A group of 60 exchange students are joining 60 students from SMU and working together on consulting projects from a wide range of corporate partners. This is an excellent opportunity for the students to get exposed to the work environment and to collaborate with their peers in cross-cultural teams.
In my experience, a critical leadership skill to deliver successful projects is to facilitate great collaboration. A group of highly skilled people do not guarantee success; especially if they focus on their own benefits and are not supporting the overall team. When teamwork is smooth and 'oiled', then the team can be high-performing and deliver any change they are set out to.
Where to start with collaborative success? There are four simple areas.
First, my favourite, is creating win-win situations. Starting with considering the other party's situation and win before having the courage to share our own win. In a small team it is important to keep this balance right. It is a mindset to stay curious about the diverse thoughts and experiences each team member can bring to the team. With the students we had a great discussion about how they can leverage the diversity in their teams and stay open and courageous when working together with their corporate partners.
The teams then worked on their team principles. What do we value in how we are working together? What are the killers for collaboration? The initial conversation in the team about their principles is so important to get to know each other and set some ground rules. When in conflict, the principles help to bring the conversation back on track. And for sure, the team principles are continuously improved and polished.
Lastly, it is important to regularly reflect not only on what the team is delivering; it is equally important to review the way of working. What are the things we need to stop doing, doing more of, or start doing? This contributes to a better understanding within the team and hence it is better to create win-win situations. In this context, teams should also connect on a social level - leave work behind for a while and simply enjoy time together.
Thanks to Stefan Morkoetter and his team for making this possible! More information about the HSG Asia Term in Singapore.
Last week, we engaged with a client in an inspiration workshop. The company is starting a digitalisation and automation transformation in a highly conservative environment. Before we start with the design of the concrete steps we wanted to inspire the team for the journey ahead. The objective was to create excitement for a better future and get them involved from the very start.
The end result was great. The senior leadership members expressed that the entire team was extremely open and engaged during the two days - something they have rarely seen before. The workshop indeed created a stepping stone for change where we will be able to achieve significant improvements to the way the team is operating today. How did we do that?
During the workshop we were focusing on four elements that made this event successful:
For sure, the teams also expressed a number of worries: will we get enough resources; how can I deal with the additional workload; after the automation, will I still have my job; how will this initiative benefit my own career? A lot of great questions which are important to address. Therefore it is vital that these concerns are expressed early in the project. Only thanks to the openness and safety the team felt during the workshop, these topics could surface.
And as you can see, the entire event was embedded in a cosy, relaxing place; away from the regular work environment. Plus with excellent food that kept the energy high.
For a few months I observed a certain notion; a change that is forming and starting to emerge. And last week, a friend of mine shared a story that greatly describes my notion. Here is the story.
My friend is regularly working in two different sites which are not far from each other and yet are very distinct. One day he met a colleague at the northern site, which has recently moved jobs from the southern site to here. My friend asked her, how is she experiencing her new job? She replied that she has only been here for 2-3 weeks and has observed one big difference: the people are much more open, the people are collaborating with a closer knit, and as a result, decisions are made much faster. When asked, what she thinks makes the difference, the answer was astonishingly simple. She expressed that she also observed that the lunch routine is different. At the southern site, most people organise their individual lunch from home or delivery, because there is no cantine that everyone can use. At the northern site, the company is providing a nice canteen and everyone is having their lunch there together. The managing director of the site is a regular visitor. As a result, the MD and everyone else is easier to approach and the people simply feel closer to each other.
I love this story! A great example of how culture is defined and influenced. Hofstede has defined four elements: values, stories, routines and artefacts. And here we clearly have the latter two present: routines as in going to have lunch with your colleagues on a regular basis; and artefacts in form of the canteen itself, a place to gather as a community.
I can feel that we are starting a period where people are longing for a community feel.
Why is that? In my observation, over the last 2-3 decades many companies and manager have created the routine to talk about individual performance, paying out individual bonuses, developing talents in their individual careers, defining individual role descriptions, etc. All this has fostered a strong individual thinking. We went away from achieving results in teams, focusing on the success of the company, and caring for all people in our different communities.
The recent pandemic then created a stronger awareness of this situation - hey, it is actually not so fun to do everything by ourselves; it makes us insecure. Let's come together again! In a community, we feel more protected, we have more fun, we can leverage more skills and experiences - we can be strong.
How can we bring this community feel back into our organisations? Here some ideas:
How do you think we can bring the community feel back?
We all make mistakes - they simply happen. One apparent place are our text messages - we make numerous typos, right? Although, these errors happen everywhere - big and small. And most of the time, our intention was doing the right thing. It is important to keep in mind that these errors are part of being human. Don't blame others.
In this context, I often like to mention that errors depend on the perspective. Switching to a mindset to take mistakes as a learning opportunity is highly useful. Today, I want to talk about how we can minimise these errors that happen despite our good intentions. I want to share a tactic, a routine that will help you to reduce these mistakes from happening.
David Marquet in his book Turn the Ship Around mentions this in several chapters: Deliberate Actions. This tactic is helping to break the flow between intention and action. So, we have the intention to send good morning wishes to our friend. We take our phone and type the message and often the word 'mooring' appears - a small error. Hit send, and your friend is puzzled. Deliberate Action suggests to install a small pause: before hitting send, read your message again. A successful tactic and routine I have created for myself to avoid misunderstandings and embarrassments. And this only takes a few seconds!
This can also be implemented with our peers, friends and colleagues at work. Before you hit action, pause and re-state your intention. Here a verbal example: "Hey, let's send out this invite for Friday, 12 July" - "Oh, do you mean Tuesday, 12 July or Friday, 15 July?" - "Thanks! Yes, I mean Friday 15 July". These small actions help to make work more efficient, effective and improve collaboration in the team. On top of that, the practice of deliberate actions will help to cultivate transparency - a fantastic way to change your team's collaborative success!
How do you intend to implement deliberate actions?
Source: Turn the Ship Around, David Marquet
Since a decade or so, it has been a good measure to involve people, ask for their opinion, and get them engaged in most company decisions and initiatives. This is intended to cultivate intrinsic motivation and a more enjoyable workplace. Now, we look back and think: what went wrong?
The employees don't see how their contributions have been considered in the decision making process, coordination efforts are getting bigger and complex, and managers are fighting with inertia and resistance. On top of that, everything seems to be a crisis today and we are involved in daily firefighting. As a result, we fall back to micromanagement, forget about being transparent, and all previous good intentions are thrown out of the window.
It appears that we are schlepping a huge rock behind us. Who feels like this today?
Is there a different, alternative way? Instead of being a truck driver with an ever increasing load, imagine you are a conductor of an orchestra. The load is distributed to the musicians in your ecosystem; you are providing a platform for the group of people to collaborate together on the output and the manage the change in their environment independently. This will create motivation in your team and it will make your job easier. How does that look like?
What are the key ingredients to transform into a director's kind of leader? In my experience, it takes a few, simple steps:
I know it is so easy to fall back to the old way of doing things in times of stress. It is important to practice this leadership style and establish routines. Lasting change will come very soon.
How does it feel to make this switch to an orchestra conductor?
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Tim is a change practitioner in the area of innovation and excellence. He is working with teams to accelerate innovation, collaboration and agility.