Here are some ideas to help ensure your change is successful.
None of this is rocket science, but it takes discipline, confidence and vision to do it well.
Contact Adam for more information.
Create a clear and concise vision
This is something that appeals to all staff. Created from their ideas. Shared with staff, customers, stakeholders and managers. Just about anyone we can tell. We focus on where we want to get to, not how to get there – that comes next.
Become open and visible
We are face to face with customers and staff as often as possible. We listen and respond to comments and requests in a positive way. (This is not the same as always saying yes to requests. There are other more subtle ways to say no.)
Acknowledge and forgive mistakes
When something goes wrong, we admit the mistake before the organisation notices or reacts, this diffuses anger and pre-empts difficult questions. It gets us all to the point where we can discuss what will happen next instead of dwelling on the error and the past.
Always put the past behind us
We refuse to focus on past mistakes and projects that did not succeed. We talk about what will happen now and in the immediate future. We allocate all praise to the staff. We always translate general customer praise into specific feedback and then share it publicly with the team, the customer and occasionally to all other staff.
Establish management team values
We have found that values are the fastest way to transform culture, because they put in place a set of ideas and behaviours for people to live and work by. As managers we define our culture. We make sure that we allow fellow managers to decide the values too. Finally, we make sure that the team lives by them.
We have to earn their trust. The best way to do that is to give them ours immediately and 100%. This is a game of “tit for tat”. If any party breaks the others trust they need to be told and also need to know how they can earn it back.
Become one of the team
As a leader I have power over others. When I am at work I take care to become close to the team to ensure that they are able to tell me when I misuse that power in any way. I always listen to the staff who are really not afraid to let me know what they think, then I act on their comments. (Big Tip...If I have one, I usually convert my office to a meeting room that the staff can book and then, where possible, I hot desk throughout the building, amongst the staff and customers. Once staff get used to seeing me they will usually open up and start to trust me more.)
Hold regular, formal open forums
We do this at least monthly, at a time to suit the staff. We let them choose the venue and the agenda. We always attend and answer all questions put to us. If we do not know the answers then we find out and circulate the answer next day. In the middle of the session, (and any other meetings) we spend five minutes, and only five, talking about the vision.
Consult with a few people with crazy and fresh ideas
We like people who think differently from ourselves, and who do not so much think outside the box, as leave the box behind. The teams we work with generally know who these people are, so we ask them for nominations. These radical thinkers often catalyse new ideas and refresh old ones.
We tell people to leave work early and work odd hours. We do the same ourselves. The flexibility benefits are self evident soon after.
Create flexible structures
Where possible we create areas of responsibility where several managers are leading a group of staff. The we can allocate staff to projects and/or peaks and troughs of workload. Team managers have to communicate better with each other to make this type of structure work.
Hold regular one to one meetings
We always avoid loads of questions about tasks during a face to face meeting, its how people feel that matters. Occasionally we ask them to rank their morale or happiness. Then we ask what, as a leaders, we can do to improve the situation. When we succeed, then we have a happier and harder working member of staff.
Praise all (especially junior) staff
When a project is delivered, we go and thank the responsible person. We never do this by e-mail. We do this for any member of staff, even those that are not in our own team. The effect is catching, pretty soon all staff start to realise that their team can deliver and that their negative focus is a result of over focussing on past failures.
Invent Specialist Staff Grades
Create specialist roles for some staff who do not want to be managers. Often, reward systems only allow promotion above a certain salary level if the staff member becomes a manager. Some people will choose to never be a manager, but their contribution is invaluable in other ways. Do not let a rigid organisation hierarchy suppress their contribution.
Finally and possibly most important,
Make sure staff and managers know what decisions they can take without reference to a senior manager.
Generally this means that staff take any decision that they are confident to take. They need to communicate their decisions, particularly if they are stretching their boundaries or where the organisation’s rules insist that a manager authorises the decision. We know that if staff are fully trusted within their own personal boundaries will always deliver better results in the long run.