Friday, July 1, 2016

Creating Development Opportunities During Change

During my change in careers - I had the chance to co-lead a NYC SHRM event on creating development opportunities during change. And then they asked me to write about it! Check out my guest blog post: 


Change can be scary, intimidating and frustrating to employees.   But it can also be exciting, rewarding and full of opportunity.  Recently, the Talent Development and Org Dev & Change SIG’s came together to share several case studies where companies found opportunities to develop employees during change initiatives. Below are some of the key learnings from the event.

            1) Know People's Career Goals - Whether it is because there is a change in leadership, an M&A event or a reorganization of a department, there will be opportunities for your strong performers.  It is extremely helpful to know ahead of time the career goals of those individuals so you can proactively work with them to help them find opportunities during the change.  Finding the right role or learning opportunity for an employee internally will boost engagement, performance and overall morale for the broader population.  It shows the company wants to invest in their people and not lose them to an external opportunity.  The best way to do this is through talent planning.  A program like talent planning will help avoid only listening to the loudest voice or being too reactive to a request before you know the full picture.  

             2) Be Willing to Think Outside the Box - The perfect answer is not going to be there during significant change.  One must be willing to take a risk both organizationally and with individuals.  If you have several hiring gaps, you may have to create an interim structure.  As long as everyone knows this is just a temporary solution, people will be less likely to think something is "being taken away from them" if the new responsibilities are reassigned once the environment settles.  Often you may find that something you didn't think would work long term, does, and you have added new value to the business.  Additionally, you may want to consider a stretch opportunity for an individual.  Especially during change, a team will look to people they trust and respect for leadership.  You may have someone who has never managed, but is interested in leading a team.  This is the time to give them that opportunity to spread their wings and take on more sooner than you would have normally planned.  It will either work out, and they are able to stay in the larger role, or if it doesn’t, it was only a temporary solution so it will feel like less of a failure.

              3) Watch for Burn Out...and Recognize Employees Who Thrived - Hopefully you have a team of people that are willing to do whatever it takes to make it through the change.  However, often people will lose sight of their own limitations and burn out.   Make sure their manager, or a trusted mentor, is keeping an eye on their stress levels.  The team may need to reprioritize projects or bring in temp support so you don't burn people out, and create more change through turnover.  And then don’t forget to recognize the people who stepped up once you have made it through the change!  It may be a promotion, a bonus or just a public form of recognition.  When you know what motivates your employees, you will know the most impactful way to reward them.

              4) Align Training and Opportunities with Strategic and Cultural Change - During change, a company's culture and/or values is even more important to people.  They see it as the foundation of the organization they love, so change will be less intimidating or less foreign if you can root it in some current values or cultural elements.  

If culture change itself is the goal (think less bureaucracy or silo thinking to become more customer focused and results driven), then training and development opportunities should reflect the new culture. In other words, it’s ok if that feels somewhat uncomfortable for employees and management to reinforce other behavior, especially if it is aligned with business needs.

Whether in a sales transformation, acquisition, departmental disruption, it’s important to relate the changing culture to the business strategy.  Most of us work in a for profit business and need to think about the needs of the business, strategy, markets, and shareholders first.  The rest will follow in providing development opportunities that match the culture.  

Lastly, focus on the positive and acknowledge that there are things that went well in the past that will remain important. If it is an M&A situation, find common language that ties the two companies together.  When changing a process, tie it to a successful change in the past.  In training on a new product or process, align the delivery of the training with your culture (live, webinar, follow up group work, etc).  
 
Additional take aways for this workshop can be found in a post by Ray Vollmer in the Organization Development and Change Management section of the blog.

If you would like to hear more about the cases or any of the specific take aways, please feel free to reach out to Karen Weeks, Jen White, Anita van Burken or Ray Vollmer.

Original Post Can Be Found Here: http://www.nycshrm.org/blogpost/1434708/TALENT-DEVELOPMENT

Sunday, January 10, 2016

New Year, New Goals, No Disappointment

Like most people, I have been reflecting on the last year and thinking about my goals for 2016.  But as I looked through my notes from 2015, I found myself getting frustrated and disappointed.  Instead of celebrating the things I did accomplish, I only saw all the unchecked to do's.  All I did was obsess about how I was not as close as I hoped to be to my career goal.

But then I took a breath and realized...life happens.  It happens every year.  Family situations come up that you can't anticipate.  Work throws you another curveball.  But the rollercoaster of life shouldn't distract from what I was able to get accomplished this year.  Those unexpected work obstacles actually gave me the chance to breakthrough and really show my strengths.  Though the unexpected loss of the family member was extremely sad, it reminded me of the importance to enjoy every moment of life and not take anything for granted.  Plus, to top it off, I am actually ahead of one of my career goals.  I got to teach my first semester as an adjunct faculty member, something I wasn't expecting to happen for a few years.  Plus, I was asked to be the chair of a special interest group with the local HR organization, which comes with the opportunity to be on their board.   That was something that wasn't even on the road map!

So when I started to think about 2016, I realized I needed to broaden my goals.  They still need to be SMART goals (scroll to the bottom of this post if you aren't familiar with that acronym).  They still need to challenge and push me to keep me on the path towards the future.  But they also don't have to be so detailed that it doesn't me up for disappointment when I can't check every box.  

With that in mind, and the promise to always share with my audience, below are my 2016 goals!  As always, thank you for taking the time to read my posts.  I hope they help you in some form or another.  Feel free to comment below or reach out to me directly.  If you don't follow me on other forms of social media, check out my "About" section.   And stay tuned for upcoming announcements in the coming year :)

Weeks' 2016 Goals

1. Always be Present.  This is applicable in all areas of life.   I want to be present in every interaction, moment, adventure, conversation, breath.  I promise to put down the phone when walking the dog.  I will close the computer during a meeting and take notes in a notebook.  I want to turn off the tv during dinner.  Whatever it takes to make sure I am living in the moment.

2.  Make Time to Write.  Last year I focused too much on goals that might have been too lofty considering I am not a full time writer!  So instead of saying that I am going to get published in a magazine or finish my book in 2016, I am just going to make sure that I carve out more time to write.  If I have more blog posts in 2016 than 2015, that is a win.  If I have more chapters written at the end of 2016 than I do now, that's a win.  Maybe I can find a way to contribute to an article instead of spending the time doing blind submissions.  Either way, I need to make sure I am finding the time to write more.

3.  Build my Network.  As I work towards my longer term goal, I need to get out of my comfort zone and meet people in the speaking circuit, attend more events (especially events where I could present one day), meet potential clients at conferences, etc.  Again, last year this was too detailed (speak here, present there).  This can be accomplished by volunteering, my new board position, or through people I meet while teaching.  It can even come through commenting on LinkedIn conversations, Twitter chats, or blog posts where people can see my name.  I need to focus on increasing my footprint in the areas where my future clients can be found.  

4.  Remember that I am the Expert.  My husband always jokes when we go to a fancy store or a high class restaurant, "Act like you belong here."  I need to do that with my HR expertise as well.  I sometimes act like I did when I first started out, "There are people here with way more experience.  Or they are an executive, they know better."  I forget that I am now that person I was referring to years ago.  Many people turn to me every day and ask for my advice and counsel and I don't bat an eye.  I need to remember that when I step out of my comfort zone and do more writing or build my network, I belong there!


SMART Goals
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Actionable
R - Relevant
T - Timely

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Developing Your Employees On the Job (aka For Zero or Little Money)

One of the most popular posts I have had was about low cost team building ideas (Team Building That Is Fun, Easy & Cheap...No Really, It's True). So I thought I would do a similar topic again, but this time around developing people on your team.  Development doesn't have to mean a promotion.  It doesn't have to mean sending them out for big and expensive training.  There are plenty of internal opportunities or free events you can help them find that are just, if not more impactful, to their development.  

Below are five ways you can help your employees start to achieve their development goals on the job!


  • Shadow other employees - If you know an employee has an interest in another area of the business, speak to a manager in that function/department and see if it is possible for your employee to shadow someone on the team.  This way they can be exposed to that area of the business and see what a job there is really like and start to learn those key skills and knowledge.  Maybe you can even ask them to then lead a team lunch and learn about what they took away from their experience.  They can also shadow you!  Are you leading a big project, can you take time to speak to them more in-depth about the project so they can learn from your experience and you can walk them through your thinking and approach.
  • Mentor or train new team members - If one of your employees wants to be a future leader or manager, give them a chance to help on-board new team members.  Whether they train them in their roles or just act as a mentor or formal buddy, it will give them an opportunity to stretch their leadership skills and help develop someone on the team (as they develop themselves!).  
  • Rotate to a short term assignment - Is there another team in the department that needs some additional help short term (maybe to cover an absent team member or during a spike in work)?  Consider how you can loan your employee to this team to give them an opportunity to work on something different that is in-line with their career goals.  It can be on a part time or full time basis depending on the needs of your team.  Just make sure you have  way to have them rotate back to your team (this should be rewarding, not worrisome that they will lose their job after the rotation!).  Or, thinking back to if you are leading a large project, are there responsibilities you can delegate to them during the project?  This will not only leverage your time better, but also give the employee a chance to be a leader on the team.
  • Join a task force or pilot launch - Is the company looking for representatives from different departments to join a task force or help give feedback on an upcoming possible product or change in service?  This might be an opportunity for your employee to represent your department.  Not only will it recognize them as a subject matter expert, but also expose them to different people in the company and put them in the spotlight.  They will also have the chance to see the importance of cross-department collaboration or how leaders think strategically about key business decisions.  
  • Bring them to a professional group as a guest - Most likely you belong to a professional networking group (national association, a meet-up, etc).  This could be a great opportunity to expand your employee's network and learn about industry trends and hot topics outside of their daily responsibilities.  Often these groups let members bring a guest for free, or for a very low fee.  And if your company can pay for them to attend, or even for their own membership, that is even better!  

No matter what you end up doing, the main point is that you can find ways to develop your top employees without having to spend lots of money sending them to a conference, a training or promoting them (if the business can't support it or they aren't quite ready yet).  Of course, you need to balance the opportunity with the needs of your team/department.  But it's rare that there is literally nothing you can do to help develop your employee without hurting your team or the business.

What ways have you developed your team on the job?  Share your experiences below!  And as always, if there is anything I can do to help you think of ideas for your employees, feel free to message me!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Leadership Self-Reflection, Do I Embody My Vision of Leadership

Last year, I moved into a role that focused more on functional leadership and people management (versus solely being a coach and business partner, though I am lucky enough that those are still a big part of my day).  With that change, I have done a lot of self-reflection on what it means to be a leader.  What kind of leader do I want to be?  What style is authentic but also effective?  What are my natural strengths?  What does it mean to be a good leader, what qualities do great leaders possess?
  
I realized quickly that I wanted to be a visionary leader.  I wanted to be innovative, creative, supportive of my team's development, supportive during change and forward looking.  It was around this time that I saw a blog post from "The Leadership Freak" that caught my attention and spoke to me.  In the post, Dan lays out "The Seven Qualities of Visionary Leaders", which is based on a chapter of Brad Lomenick's "The Catalyst Leader".   I have copied those below with my thoughts on how I have applied this to myself.  I encourage you to read the blog post and think about how you may be a visionary leader for your team and organization!  Is there one that is a strength of yours?  Will one be a stretch?  How can you tie this to any other development goals?
  1. Optimistic about the future.  I see myself as the person that has to stay positive and encouraging; the "it's going to be ok" voice in the room.  I do not dismiss when things are hard.  I do not sugar coat tough news.  But I truly do believe we are going to be ok, even during the tough times.  So I always make sure my team knows that and it comes across at genuine.  We have recently gone through a lot of change in our department and I am upfront with them, but I figure if I put on a brave face, it helps them through it!
  2. Focused on the best in their people.  They focus on the unique strengths of every employee.  I always try to take a moment to recognize each person on my team for something they accomplish each week and why I am thankful for them.  Sometimes it is a small thing, sometimes it is a big thing.  Sometimes it is multiple things!  Sometimes I do this in our team meetings, sometimes I do it 1:1 or in my status updates to my boss.  But even someone struggling in role made some sort of contribution that week...even if it was coming in to the office and trying.  And if they truly didn't, they know that it is representative of the size of the disconnect between them, the company and my expectations of them.  I expect everyone to be a good citizen, even if they are struggling with their performance. 
  3. Never satisfied but always content.  They seem happy where they are but refuse to stay there.  This one can be hard sometimes just because of the amount of work we have.  It's not that I don't want to be looking ahead and thinking about the next big impact we can have or the next way we can add value.  But it's making the time and prioritizing those initiatives and finding the appropriate way and time to launch them.  At the end of the day, we cannot do those big sexy projects if we aren't successfully doing the day to day.  But it's those innovative projects that keep us motivated and excited.  Ah the conundrum!  It's also important to know what our company is ready to tackle.  I may want to do a complete overall of a process or create a new program from scratch.  But we may only be ready for phase one or a simplified version of something I ready about in SHRM.  That's not a bash on the company, but a realistic (and therefore important) realization.  
  4. Consumed with making tomorrow better than today.  Hopeful leaders never settle.  Each day we are presented with new challenges.  These are what make us great and make every day interesting (in my mind!).  The great things about these 7 qualities is that they are all interconnected.  You will never be optimistic about the future if you are working on making tomorrow better than today.  I always tell my team, its ok to make mistakes and ask questions, as long as you learn from them.  We should learn something new everyday.  Look for a challenge that will develop us and make us stronger.  I believe that for myself as a leader and I try to instill that in my team.  I try to ask myself each week as I do my status update, "What did I learn this week and I will I apply it next week?"
  5. Accepting of change.  The good news is that we literally would not work at my company if we could not accept (and adapt to change).  So much so that when I started as an adjunct faculty member at a local college, I didn't bat an eye when my first class assignment was Change Management!  But I do think it is important to recognize change fatigue as well.  It is possible to change too much or too often.  So I always try to ask myself, "Is this something that we need to change today?"  If it something that can be pushed off, or phased in more slowly, I will consider it so I don't wear the team out.  We can all adapt to change, but if we are constantly changing, we never take the time to reflect on the recent changes and if they were successful (or have even taken hold).
  6. Inclusive, but not exclusive.  Hopeful leaders invite others into their vision.  This is one that has been hard for me as I moved from senior individual contributor to leader/manager.  Even when I was an L&D Manager, everything fell on my plate since I was an island of one.  I had peers that I worked closely with, but often they were stakeholders, they weren't expected to do the work.  So now, as a manger and leader of a function, I have to be comfortable letting go and let others lead a project that I may have helped create (or let them own completely).  Because I am ultimately accountable for anything my team does, I want to understand how decisions are made.  And I usually love the project or am passionate about the topic myself, so I want to be involved.  But I have to remember to let go; help them succeed, but also let them fall (softly) at times so they learn.  My desire to be involved is not a reflection of my trust in them, it's truly because I love what we do, so I just want to be a part of it!
  7. Personally bought in.  Vision is inside them.  This is another place where I feel this quality is directly tied to others.  As I just mentioned above, I truly love what I do.  I am very passionate about organization and people development...obviously, I blog about it in my spare time!  But not only do I think it is personally important that I love what I do, that I am bought in to the work the team does and I can create and communicate that vision, but it's important that the team is (and can) as well.  I make sure they know what is going on in the business and how that directly connects to our work.   That will also help them be bought in and be able to speak to how we are making a direct impact on the business.  And hopefully enjoy the work every day, even when it's frustrating or repetitive or the non-sexy work we have to do!
So that's my self-assessment of myself as a visionary leader.  Whatever kind of leader you want to be, make sure you take time to do a pulse check and see how you are demonstrating the values that are important to you as a leader.  Ask your team for feedback!  They can speak best to if you are truly living the type of leader you aim to be.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Making Time for What is Truly Important to You

It feels like in today's world, everyone is trying to do everything. Maybe it is our overly ambitious culture.  We over-schedule our kids and as adults, we think we are supposed to be able to do it all. Maybe it's the immediateness and inter-connectivity of our world now.  With smart phones, tablets, laptops, video chats, social media and now even watches, we have the ability to always be connected with anyone in the world at any time.  It's ironic, we are living longer, but we think we need to be at a certain place career-wise earlier and earlier, but we wait later and later to get married and have a family (if that is the path we take at all).  

It's not that any of this is wrong nor am I judging people for their high ambitions, I am one of those people.  I am constantly trying to think about how I can be doing more, making a bigger impact, finding steps to take now to get me closer to my future goals.  But I do wonder if people are truly making time for what is important to them, versus what they think they are supposed to be doing.  Sometimes, I feel like I am making decisions about things because I am still trying to have the most well-rounded college application.  Except I am 20 years out of school and really just trying to make sure I have a fulfilling and meaningful life :) 

Recently, I have had several reasons to stop and reflect on what is really important to ME; what makes ME feel fulfilled.  Not what I think I should be doing or what a book tells me I should be doing or what I think society tells me I should be doing.  But what I WANT to be doing.  And that too takes discipline.  To me, there are two big things that are important to consider when figuring out how to prioritize what is truly important to ME!

The first thing is relatively straight forward, but needs to be said:  You have to find time to do the things you NEED to do, even if they are not what you want to do.  You have to pay your bills.  You have to do what is required at work (so you stay employed and get a paycheck to pay those bills).  Your house and clothes have to be clean.  You have to eat :)  You see where I am going with this.

For me, I find ways to multitask or allow myself a splurge to get all this done.  For example, the one thing we do that is very "New York" is that we drop off our laundry at the laundromat to have them do it for us.  This keeps me from having to sit in the laudromat for hours.  But a friend of mine uses her time at the laundromat to catch up on her favorite shows or Netflix because it's a time no one else is around her! Another friend meets her girlfriends and they do laundry together with their coffees in hand and use that time to socialize and catch up.  I know a mom who does laundry during a specific playtime event with her kids (craft time, homework time, etc) since it's something she can step away from for 5-10 minutes here and there to switch the loads but her kids are heavily engaged so they are ok on their own for that short time.  Or maybe the "have to" you hate is grocery shopping, meal planning, or cooking.  Try Blue Apron or Plated and have a couple of meals planned out for you.  They will deliver a box of ingredients for one meal each week.  It will also will introduce you to new things (if you like that kind of change and spontaneity).  Another thing my husband and I will do, is cook and do dishes together.  Even if it's a simple meal, the other person will just sit in the kitchen to keep the cook/cleaner company and talk about our day.  As for bills, we have finally joined the 21st century and do more of our bills online to make it easier and save us from not having to sit and write checks during the month.  It's about finding anything you can to spice up the chores, multitask the boring stuff with the fun stuff or just make those "need to do's" less painful!  

The second thing I have learned is to make sure the "extra" stuff fits into the life I want to lead.  I tend to be very busy during the week.  My workload is often overwhelming (and at best just flat out a lot) and I have long days during the week.   So my weekends with my family are precious to me.  I want to be able to relax, go out and do fun stuff, have adventures and enjoy my amazing and fortunate life.  But there are a couple of things that were important to me that I wanted to make sure were part of my well-balanced life.

One example is to find a way to clear my head on the weekends.  I read about meditation and how to clear the clutter out of my brain by disconnecting from screens.  I loved the concept so I tried that on my weekends.  But I was getting more stressed making sure I was meditating right...did I have the right location in my one bedroom apartment, did I have the right thing to focus on, could I do it at a time when the house was quiet and the dog and cats wouldn't try to help!  So then I was getting up early to do it, and I just found myself tired later in the day.  And while I was "offline", I was wondering what I was missing by not checking Facebook, that it cluttered my brain more than helped.  So then I tried Yoga.  There was a class right down the street on Sunday mornings.  In general, I really liked it.  It was a small enough class that the teacher was able to give individual attention  so I knew I was getting the most out of it physically.  It also included a cool down meditation in the end which gave me a chance to clear my brain for my final day of the weekend.  But then the class-time shifted to later in the morning.  And since the class always ran long, now I wasn't able to start my Sunday, my final day of the weekend, until almost 1:30.  Now my quiet healthy, time for me, was again only causing stress.  

It was then that I realized that it wasn't about the event or action that would help me disconnect on the weekends, and give me a chance to breathe, but just that I found something.  And wouldn't you know it ended up being the simplest thing.  Anytime I go out on the weekends, whether it's to walk the dog, go to the grocery store, drop off laundry, or head into the city for an event, I make a point to look up to the sky, breathe in the fresh air, close my eyes and just smile.  And then just pay attention to the beauty around me.  Kami (my dog) and I will literally stop and smell the flowers (thanks Aunt Donna!) or I will point out an intersting building to my husband, or I will take a different route to experience something different.  Or just hum something in my head as I walk with the other million New Yorkers and notice the people that walk past me.  I realized  MY way to clear my head, was just to enjoy my surroundings and be in the moment!  It's not taking time away from anything else, it's building it into something that I am already doing.  For me, this works.  I have plenty of friends who prefer to schedule the time to meditate or go to that yoga class.  And that works for them.  But again, the lesson here is to find what is important to me (clearing my head) and finding a way to do it in a way that works for me!

Another thing that is important to me is finding a way to give back to my community.  As I mentioned above, my weekends are precious to me.  Especially as my husband and I consider having children in the future, I am focusing on putting into practice good behaviors now to make sure I am presentand engaged when at home and setting boundaries and priorities with my job (and my writing and speaking and everything else I am trying to do outside of that job).  Side note, my husband deserves that attention as well, and so do my friends and family, so I should have been doing this for years :)  But I need to know that I am making a difference in this world.  The biggest influences in my life growing up all made an impact in our community.  My mom was a teacher and always volunteered at our schools, brownie troops, etc.  My dad volunteered with Lions Club, did community theatre and coached all my brother's sports teams.  And my maternal grandmother was a proud AA member for 30+ years and sponsored many new people in the program.  I want to know that throughout my life, I am able to make similar contributions.  So a few years ago, we signed up with NY Cares to be a volunteer, but each weekend, we would look at the open opportunities and nothing really inspired us to give up those precious 4 hours on a weekend.  But then I felt guilty that I wasn't doing anything.  So instead, we found one cause very close to our hearts (NAMI, which is a group that works to end the stigma around mental illness and provides support and education to individuals and their families) and we do their annual walk to raise awareness.  We also make financial contributions to other organizations that align with our beliefs and causes that are important to us.  And I give blood on a regular schedule.  I am a universal blood type so I know my donations can really go a long way.  Right now, these things work for us and I believe I am making a difference.  Other friends find ways to volunteer at a local organization on their lunch breaks or during down times in their schedules at work.  And that works for them!

I don't have it all figured out.  For example, I have not found the right balance for my physical self.  I need to change my eating habits again and find ways to burn some calories and get in better shape. Right now, that is not going to be going to a gym or an exercise class and I'm ok with that.  So, I actually just scheduled an appointment with a nutritionist to help weed through all the internet advice about taking in more calcium since I'm a woman, but not too much because that may not be good for my skin. Or how I get enough fruits and grains without overloading on sugar and carbs.  I just need someone else to tell me the right answer :)  And we bought a rowing machine that we can use in our living room while watching tv or while the other one is working on something else (writing, gaming, editing pictures, recording music).

But I can say that I have found some tricks that work for me and I encourage you to do the same.  Figure out what is truly important to you and then how you can realistically find ways to include that in your life without hindering or hurting other areas.  There is a realistic approach and balance to having it all based on your definition.  How you go about it will look different for you than someone else and that's ok :)  What things do you do that allows you to prioritize what is truly important to you?

Monday, March 23, 2015

7 Stages of Change

I was recently reading an article about the seven stages of grief (based on the model created by Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross) and I realized they correlated directly with change management in an organization.  Because at the end of the day, when people are hearing about change, often they are mourning the loss of "how things used to be".  

If your team has recently gone through a change (which let's face it, I'm sure we all have had some sort of change, it's the way of the world today), see if anything on the list below feels familiar!  


  1. Shock or Disbelief - "Wait, what?! I had no idea we were considering something different.  I thought what we were doing was working.  Where is this coming from?  Are you sure?"  People's immediate response will come across as confusion or a lack of understanding.  It's important that you take time to help them really hear what you are saying.  It's important that leader's stay on point and reiterate the original messaging.  If you stray from your approved or original message, you potentially create more confusion or give them something to hold on to that is not realty.  The message may be hard, you should build in empathy into your messaging, but you will also need to be comfortable with them taking the time to work through these stages, and not rush them or ignore it.  Let them keep asking questions as they work through this stage of disbelief.
  2. Denial  - "This is a joke.  There is no way we are actually going to start doing (stop doing) this.  It's our foundational core."  When people hear about change, they often take it personally and tie it to something bigger than it potentially is (or rightfully tie it to something bigger).  They will start poking holes into the new plan or way of doing things.  This is their way of showing the news just doesn't make sense or won't work and therefore not actually happening.  Just like with stage #1, you have to empathize and listen, without going too far.  Don't say you are sorry (this can show that you don't agree with the decision) and don't say that you can understand what they are going through or that you know this is hard.  Unless you have literally been in the same situation and in their shoes, you don't know.  You can assume, but you don't know the full affect this will have on them so it will come across as patronizing and will make the third step worse!
  3. Anger - "You didn't think this through.  You don't care how this affects people.  You only care about money.  This is BS.  This was your plan all along.  Forget this, I'm outa here."  This is the step where you need to start stepping in more and direct the conversation as best you can, versus just listening.  Think about some of the possible things they can throw back at you and be ready with some responses.  As always, be ready to listen but then help them see how what they are saying is not the truth.  If they seem to be stuck in this stage, let them know there will be a time when they will have to continue to move to acceptance or decide that they can't and move on.  You can't let someone who is negative or not able to accept the change stay as they will poison others or just stopped the team from being productive and successful.  But hopefully once they have time to work through their anger, they will start asking questions again and move to the next step. 
  4. Bargaining - "But what if we try this instead or first?  Who can I talk to about this, maybe they didn't consider X or maybe they didn't even know about Y?  What if I work on this idea on the side before we implement throughout?"  People will often try to find a different solution so this new reality doesn't have to exist.  There will try to think of something you must not have thought of since you don't do the actual work (you are too removed as a leader).  They may even find some piece of data that will support their new saving solution.  Make sure you understand all the possibilities the leadership team considered in order not to   be pulled into the bargaining.  It's also important to let them know that the decision is final, that nothing they can come up with will change that.  Otherwise they will continue to try and not move on to acceptance.  One thing you can offer, if appropriate, is to provide feedback on the new processes or program (again knowing that it won't change what is happening today).  Or maybe they can be part of the first group to be trained on the new thing so they can help train others.  Sometimes ownership of the new thing will help people continue to move through the stages.
  5. Guilt - "I feel bad that I am still here, or I still get to work on this project when my friends and peers aren't/don't."  I have found this stage is most common during layoffs or job eliminations.  Sometimes it comes up with reorganizations where some of the department will work on one project and another will work elsewhere (and people feel like one project is better than the other).  It's important that you are prepared to explain how the decision was made (why one role stays and another doesn't or how it was decided who or the many would be let go).  And through that, you can encourage and praise the person who remains (or appears to be working on the better project).  But be careful not to speak ill of the people directly effected or provide false praise to the person in front of you.   Like every stage, help them move through this stage as much as possible since it will lead to the depression stage, which other than anger, can be the place people get stuck.
  6. Depression - "I don't know if I can come in every day if this is where we are going as a team/company.  What if I can't do the new thing they are asking of me?  What if I don't like it?"  This stage will be a combination of doubt about themselves and some final remnants of concern about the company.  A part of them won't know if they want to stay and be part of this new version of the team, department, role, etc.  But another part of them will start to wonder if they can do the new thing that is being asked of them.  Ask them to at least give the new thing a chance.  Start with a short window, maybe two weeks.  You can encourage them to continue to come to you with questions and feedback.  Hopefully during that time they will continue to accept the new world.  If not, it gives you a chance to stay close enough to it to make sure they don't go backwards in the steps and help them come to the right answer for them.  But you also want to help them understand how you and the rest of the leadership team is committed to making sure this is a successful transition for them.  Set milestones and check points to make sure they feel supported and committed to this new way.
  7. Acceptance and Hope - "Let's see what happens.  Maybe there is some good with this new approach.  I may not like it today, but I'm willing to try".  After they have worked through all the stages, and you have listened and coached them, they have gotten to the point of acceptance.  Continue to check in to make sure they are still committed and engaged and watch for any slips backwards.  Continue to listen and support and they will continue to be great members of your team!

Each person on your team may not go through each stage, just like each mourner deals with grief differently.  But it's important to look for the signs of the above within your team and use some of the tips above to help each person on your team work through their grief as they say good-bye to the old way and come to accept the change.  

PS  You also have to recognize that you will go through these stages.  Make sure you allow yourself time to grieve, process and accept the change.  And don't hesitate to reach out to someone who can help you!

What are some things you have done to help yourself or your team members through change?  Share your tips below or feel free to reach out with questions or for specific advice!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Training Support for Small Businesses & Non-Profit Organizations

I recently read a great (and super short) article in the latest ATD Magazine.  It talked about training grants that small businesses in Hawaii can get from the state government.  What a great idea!  Just because you are small (or non-profit) doesn't mean you shouldn't have access to the same great training opportunities big companies can create internally or buy externally.  And to be honest, small businesses and non-profit orgs might need some of the basics even more since they don't have the day to day coaching other companies might have.  The training can be developmental for leaders or employees (presentation skills, how to give feedback, etc), basic skills (excel, QuickBooks) or business skills (online marketing optimization).  They are all out there, ready for your application!

So I did some quick research and I found some other grants or volunteer training offerings for small businesses and non-profits across the country.  I don't endorse any of these, it's just based on a Google search that anyone can do (but may not have the time).  But hopefully it's a good starting point for you if you are looking to bring some new or enhanced skills to your organization.  Let me know if you are looking for something specific and you can't find an affordable solution.  Or comment below if you know, are from or have used an organization for affordable training solutions!


Article from Wall Street Journal about how to find grants




Taproot Organization (for non-profits only)