Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
Creating and maintaining organizational cultures which can deal well with and even thrive on change is becoming critical t...
Engagement, change, empowerment to harness opportunity & creatively manage change
Engagement, change, empowerment to harness opportunity & creatively manage change
Engagement, change, empowerment to harness opportunity & creatively manage change
Engagement, change, empowerment to harness opportunity & creatively manage change
Engagement, change, empowerment to harness opportunity & creatively manage change
Engagement, change, empowerment to harness opportunity & creatively manage change
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Engagement, change, empowerment to harness opportunity & creatively manage change

444 views

Published on

Engagement & empowerment are key to fostering cultures which THRIVE on change and unleash human & profit potential--in the corporation, classroom or community

Published in: Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Engagement, change, empowerment to harness opportunity & creatively manage change

  1. 1. Creating and maintaining organizational cultures which can deal well with and even thrive on change is becoming critical to success in today’s global economy. Employee engagement and empowerment are becoming important tools to achieving this goal.<br />“The time for a management reset has come, one that’s not simply a matter of making leaders more effective…it must be a seismic change, a complete rethinking of what an organization’s objectives are and the way it can achieve them…Today’s management approaches must highlight agility, emphasize adaptability, and focus on human capital as a source of competitive advantage.” (Businessweek, 4)<br />“In the current competitive environment, if a given organization is not pursuing a customer-oriented vision, competing organizations probably are…” (Evans, 384)<br />Implied in this premise is that change and agility are not choices for companies which want to survive and thrive in the future. If you do not respond to your more informed and selective customers as well as your competitors do, you will not survive. In the recent half century, belief in the stability of the traditional top-down hierarchical company as the successful and untouchable status quo has been shaken to the core. The challenge today is: defining how to foster a proactive culture within organizations which can respond to (preferably anticipate/relish) this necessary change.<br />“While the business press stresses the need to be innovative in achieving financial goals, customer demands, and market expectations, managing the process of innovation proves a significant challenge. Large corporations, in particular, struggle with the challenge of maintaining an organizational culture and a set of processes that unleash the creativity of the organization. Large corporations tend to stifle innovation due to insufficient senior management support and encouragement and uncertain processes for navigating ideas through the organization.” (Corporate Executive Board, 9).<br />But the genie is out of the bottle. There is simply no way to control customers and maintain former market share under the old paradigm. The title of a recent IBM Innovation Webcast posed the question: “Can companies transform fast enough, and far enough, to keep pace with the growing power of their connected customers?” (IBM, April 27)<br />There are several very powerful ways today to foster proactive, engaged cultures which are prepared to innovate and implement change in rapidly changing organizational, business and societal climates. This paper will focus on three important levers of change—levers which will help move command and control cultures to flatter, more empowered and engaged ones; cultures able to respond to the increasingly competitive product quality and service delivery demands in the global market. They are: <br />1)strong, effective, open transformational leadership; especially senior leaders conversant with the real challenges and levers for effective change management 2)organizational policies and tone focused on a shared vision/mission (typically quality focused),and respect for all contributors 3) social technologies which can inform, empower and engage a workforce.<br />As the pace of change continues, corporate structures and processes will need to adapt to the rate of change. The older hierarchical organization structures and workflows will simply become less effective in responding to new challenges. Leadership will need to be more visionary and transformative; and more decoupled from the process management function. The process management function will need to be shared more deeply and widely across the organization. <br />Although Organizational Theory focuses more on culture change and Total Quality principles have been associated more with continuous improvement or process redesign, there is great deal of overlap when new or rapid change must occur. The overlap continues as that change becomes a continuous process of improvement in order for a company to stay competitive.<br />In all cases however, effective change management will be the order of the day, month and year…as real change takes commitment, time and perseverance. <br />STRONG, EFFECTIVE, OPEN, TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP <br />Change needed today is not like change needed in recent years. According to Robbins and Judge, in times of change, learning processes benefit more from transformational leadership. Transformational leaders, unlike the very competent transactional business leaders of the past, “change [their] followers’ awareness of issues by helping them to look at old problems in new ways, and they are able to excite, arouse and inspire followers to put out extra effort to achieve group goals.” (Robbins & Judge, 419). <br /> “…with greater information sharing and distributed decision making, the leader’s role in the organization changes …The open leader needs to be a catalyst, the inspiration for people to pull together and accomplish things together.” (Li, 197) <br /> “Visionary leaders create mental and verbal pictures of desirable future states, and share these visions…Establishing a vision implies both the intellectual and emotional work of conceiving the vision and the interpersonal and managerial work of communicating the vision…and leading employees to embrace it.” (Evans, 383)<br />So clearly the tone for becoming an agile entity—one capable of accommodating change positively, productively, and energetically must be set from the top. But it but must also filter down through a series of articulated vision events, settings, and daily patterns of behavior. Of course the catalyst of urgency (due to loss of market share, layoffs, entry of strong competitors or lower cost products into the market) helps make the “why” case powerfully enough that the workforce may be by definition more receptive to “how” the culture must change.<br />According to technology and marketing author, blogger and speaker, David Meerman-Scott, in his recent May 2011 webcast presentation to the Social Media Success Summit 11 audience, the ROI of Engagement is quite compelling (a very powerful “why” case). Over an 8 month period in 2010, Fortune 100 companies which actively engaged customers saw a 5.5% differential in stock price gain over those who did not.<br />Once these external business results/metrics are trusted by the top execs as a powerful reason “why” their own corporate culture must change, there is, of course, the “how” work still to be done. “Top management commitment is essential for success of a culture change.” (Corporate Executive Board, 1)<br />The transformational leaders must walk the talk and be genuine about the behavior they want to foster; then the organizational “follow through” must align the follow-on policy and group-level goals with the shared vision at the top. Of course, in older businesses, entrenched management will be more of the “command and control” school, less comfortable with collaborative sharing of power and success.<br />In the case of newer companies, or those with younger workers, “…a new generation of workers needed a different type of leadership style … greater transparency would lead to greater trust, empowerment, and thus higher performance.” (Li, 194)<br />The strong, effective leaders of this new age will be able to admit failure and move on to opportunity, with the help and input of an engaged workforce. The best will have a culture with a motto similar to Google’s: “Fail fast, fail smart.” Google, for example, supports employees who “fail smart” by encouraging them to take smart risks with new directions and initiatives for the company…and move on when some do not pan out. By building a culture of trust, the human capital of the workforce is unleashed to do their best, and take smart risks which may turn out to be fabulous opportunities for the company. <br />ORGANIZATIONAL POLICIES AND TONE FOCUSED ON SHARED VISION & RESPECT<br />Many aspects of the old functional structures in organizations stand in the way of quality customer service and agile market response. In a larger company with a functional structure, employees are often isolated from real customers. One way to finesse this isolation is to focus all employees on internal customers—fellow employees in adjoining functions who are impacted by the quality of work they do. <br /> Creating teams to work on improved processes together (i.e. provide better ‘internal customer’ products and services) is another way of sharing the service mission and respecting all internal contributors. In fact, the use of teams takes advantage of the following characteristics: it breaks down departmental barriers, it decentralizes decision making to the team level, it requires employees to be generalists as well as specialists, and creates a “flexible bureaucracy,” (Robbins & Judge, ch#17). <br />Organizations can institute policies of recognizing internal customers by doing “process mapping” exercises to identify inter-relationships between groups. Once identified, cross functional groups can be focused upon ‘best practices’ for improving communication and processes for and between all groups.<br />“…companies utilize a variety of tactics to encourage behavior changes. Some examples include: Alleviate anxiety and encourage participation in change by employing a thorough communication plan; identify change resisters through careful performance monitoring; and facilitate behavior change by aligning compensation systems with the strategic vision.” (Corporate Executive Board, 1) <br />“Everyone has to be aligned for the performance to come off successfully…The more that you can align the open activities with clear benefits, the more successful you will be in reducing the fears of the manager.” (Li, 197- 208)<br />Some examples of effective planning for steps to mitigate resistance are: <br />1) Employees feel they will suffer from the change, so…use communication strategy that solicits employee input 2) Organization does not communicate expectations clearly, so… do not send mixed signals regarding the change; this will increase employee distrust 3) Employees perceive more work with fewer opportunities, so…communicate clear vision of the change, and provide timely education <br />4) Change requires altering a long-standing habit, so…identify employee concerns and unresolved implementation issues and provide employees with a timeline and a defined approach and outcome<br />5) Employees lack feelings of job security, change alters existing social interactions, so…communicate how employees will benefit from the change, and develop procedures to address employees who will be negatively affected by the change (Corporate Executive Board, 5) <br />As noted earlier, transformational leaders must walk the talk and be genuine about the behavior they want to foster; then the organizational “follow through” must align follow-on policy and group-level goals with the shared vision at the top. “When dramatic organizational changes are taking place, people in organizations are very sensitive to any sign of hypocrisy.” (Evans, 384)<br /> Reinforcement for the improved processes to be implemented and embraced can take on many forms, but the most powerful ones include recognition and reward for contributions to the shared vision and goals (not just for length of service, or adherence to a static job description).<br />Shared Vision becomes the new “currency” in the organization. Power accrues to all who ‘get’ it and further the vision objectives. It becomes a ‘race to the top’ where a larger pie is shared, vs. a ‘race to the bottom’ in a zero sum game. Agendas are not hidden or political, but transparent and shared by all to the best of their ability. For example, one successful company brought about transparency very explicitly: “To enable…transparency… [they used] a business execution software program …could visually depict every person’s goal, to make visible what every single person in the company was responsible for…but also…involved a commitment on the part of …leadership to encourage greater sharing and support of each person’s initiatives and achievements.” (Li, 194)<br />In the end, it all seems to boil down to respect, and the ability to let go of the command and control culture; to empower individuals to become creative and innovate for the good of the group. I have personally seen that in several organizations I’ve worked for in the past. From IBM (‘respect for the individual’) to LaSalle Partners (‘quality tenant service’), I’ve seen and actively used the power of a shared vision and regular communication to get amazing things done through goal clarity, passion, teamwork and sharing the credit. <br /> “I have learned that relationships, both personal and professional, work only within the context of respect,” says Paul Marciano, noted leadership author who developed his RESPECT Model to “help organizations create cultures of respect and workforces of highly engaged employees…It works because all human beings desire one thing: respect.” (Marciano, 10)<br />3) SOCIAL TECHNOLOGIES WHICH CAN INFORM, EMPOWER AND ENGAGE <br />This paper is focusing primarily on the “how” vs. the “why” of empowering a workforce. However, the “why” analysis can provide some powerful ideas as to how effective the “how” proposals will prove to be within an organization. For example, many companies today have put initiatives in place to listen and respond to their customers. The measurements of results for those efforts are compelling in terms or customer retention, share price value growth, lowered cost of acquiring new customers (with the use of automated lead capturing, digital body language analysis, and smart ‘just in time’ lead nurturing). <br /> “…with greater information sharing and distributed decision making, the leader’s role in the organization changes …The open leader needs to be a catalyst, the inspiration for people to pull together and accomplish things together.” (Li, 197)<br />Once the executive’s commitment is in place, the leverage is in empowering him or her as corporate “Catalyst in Chief” to iteratively facilitate necessary change. Today the power of social technologies can be huge in accomplishing this leveraged empowerment. Personal technologies such as executive blogs, internal webcasts, electronic interactive” town hall” meetings and chats, and even tweets can reinforce the stated commitment of the senior team on a daily or even hourly basis—all “within the corporate firewall.”<br />Earlier I quoted Evans as stating that “Visionary leaders create mental and verbal pictures of desirable future states, and share these visions…” The new social tools such as webcasting, blogging, shared Power Point presentations, e-mailed links to personal YouTube videos-- all help leaders further this objective. Evans also stated that “Establishing a vision implies both the intellectual and emotional work of conceiving the vision and the interpersonal and managerial work of communicating the vision…and leading employees to embrace it.” (Evans, 383). Well, the intellectual and emotional work can be shared by those closest to the firm’s customers (workers within the firm) by using engagement technology features such as on-the-fly surveys, interactive chats, and town hall meetings with employees. Even tweets and blog postings can facilitate the process of communicating the vision and leading employees to embrace it. <br /> But it (the vision) but must also filter down through a series of articulated vision events, settings, and daily patterns of behavior. (Evans, 383) This filter down process cannot be done by executives alone. That is where the power of empowerment and collaboration come in—as does the leverage effect of social media.<br />“Enterprise adoption of social tools requires culture change before anything else, followed by process and policy, and then technology. Although it’s important to have an executive sponsor, the most successful corporate initiatives are collaborative across multiple departments, including IT.” ( Shih, 331)<br />Bay area leadership consultant Julia Sullivan cites employee engagement gains for one of her leadership engagement initiatives as nothing short of ‘excellent’ when employing audience engagement techniques such as: using pre-webcast log-in “wait time” to engage (or pre-engage) participants in an inclusive, chat and audio conversation which had personal and universal appeal (a “warm-up act” so to speak prior to the start of the executive webcast). <br />One high-tech firm utilizes the firm’s e-mail system to publicize problems experienced across the organization. Individuals are invited to form creative solutions, and incentives are provided to encourage these individuals to pass their thought to management. (Corporate Executive Board, 8)<br />Leading technology analyst and thought leader Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group uses his Twitter account for many purposes, one of which is “as a chat room. We collectively work out problems, issues, and I gain insight to other people’s viewpoints.” (Owyang, 1) <br />There can be powerful motivation for the younger, more junior workers to jump on the ‘social media as leverage for corporate improvement’ bandwagon. “The new tools …mean individual contributors …experience leverage, collaboration, and influence earlier in their careers…A John Chambers or a Bill Marriott can speak for the corporation as the CEO, but with the power of social technologies on the rise, anyone, any employee or customer, could be just as powerful a voice.” ( Li, 200-201)<br />Top companies are informing their employees regularly, and inviting comment along the way. Technologies such as webcasting platforms from On24 now allow interactive “Town Hall” meetings which can inform employees, build relationships between the management team and employees, and immediately factor in (engage) employee opinions and voice. According to Sullivan, one of the most engaging techniques in her recent highly successful corporate program deployment was the ability for a listening executive presenter to interactively change a slide (on the fly) in response to an employee real-time question. With a clear demonstration to all that an employee is “heard” by the top brass, the trust and buy-in grew very quickly. <br />Last, but perhaps not least, the use of gaming techniques and fun is on the rise in well run groups. I personally have been using this technique for years in work settings. Once I helped recover hundreds of thousands of accounts receivable funds for a consulting firm—with the help of some spreadsheets and by incorporating the game of Jeopardy with our team into my recovery efforts! Today, achieving levels of status or recognition badges can elevate an employee’s status, motivation and loyalty—even if awarded purely digitally. When rewards can be achieved and granted “just in time,” to motivate a workforce quickly, systematically and publicly for achieving aligned goals, the process is bound to repeat itself and spread (dare I say ‘go viral’?). <br />Just thinking of the potential for these social technologies to facilitate agile responsiveness in the marketplace as the future unfolds makes me think that our collective future is tweet indeed! <br />Works cited list<br />Businessweek The Debate Room. “Bring on the Egalitarian Workplace Networked Organizations—in Which all Employees Share Responsibilities and Work as a Group of Equals—Have a Better Chance of Success Than Those With Traditional Hierarchies. Pro or Con?” Businessweek.com, Debate Room Archives. April 2011. Web site. http://www.businessweek.com/debateroom/archives/2011/04 <br />Corporate Executive Board, Corporate Leadership Council. Managing Corporate Cultural Change. 2008. On-line White Paper. http://hosteddocs.toolbox.com/managing_corporate_cultural_change.pdf<br />Evans, James R.. Quality & Performance Excellence Management, Organization, and Strategy. Mason, OH: Cengage, 2011. Print. <br /> IBM, Institue for Business Value, Strategy & Transformation. Transformation.biz webcast. April 27, 2011. http://www.vivu.tv/portal/join?flow=915-544-0109&mode=262144&noTitle=true <br />Li, Charlene. Open Leadership How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Imprint, 2010. Print.<br />Marciano, Paul L.. Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT. New York: McGraw Hill, 2010. E-book.<br />Owyang, Jeremiah. Web Strategy How I Use Twitter, and You?. Nov. 29, 2007. Blog post. http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2007/11/29/how-i-use-twitter <br />Shih, Clara. The Facebook Era Tapping Online Social Networks to Market, Sell and Innovate, Second Edition. Prentice Hall, 2011. Print.<br />Robbins, Stephen and Judge, Timothy. Organizational Behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. Print.<br />

×