My website contains further resources that may be of interest …

A Manager’s Guide to Dealing with Change

All people and organizations have to deal with change. Change in markets, technology, competition, relationships, life styles, divorce to name but a few. We all have to accept change and learn to manage it effectively. Organizational change tests leadership qualities to the full.

Once the need for change has been identified, we will be faced with the prospect of implementing the change either personally or within our businesses. Sticking to the following three steps will ensure that the implementation is as trouble free as possible.

Step 1 – Analyze the gap

It is all very well identifying the right changes, but implementing them can appear to be a formidable task. List the main differences between where you are now and where you intend to be. This list is essential in the effective management of change. Without this information there will be two potential challenges that may hijack your intentions and efforts.

The first challenge is likely to come from staff who may feel their needs are not being taken into account. If they feel no one cares about the differences the change will make to their world they will not care much about the organization’s attempts to move forward.

The second challenge is operational. You alone cannot be expected to identify each single difference that change will make to your function, department or organization, but a co-operative effort could. Those closest to the job will be able to view the changes from a different angle, and perhaps spot unforeseen difficulties or opportunities which you may have missed.

Step 2 – Plan the route

The quickest and most effective way of getting anywhere is to work out the best route beforehand. Plan a route which breaks the journey up into manageable chunks. This helps to make the process seem far less formidable. When planning the route local knowledge is very valuable. That knowledge is usually locked up in the head of your staff, so consultation is not only vital in terms of their involvement but essential if you wish to avoid difficulties.

Step 3 – Manage the process

Unless you manage the journey the grand design may fail. What may scupper it is the human factor. Follow the Change Cycle below, a simple model of how people experience change and then consider how individuals and groups can cope with pressures created by it. Understanding this can help managers and coaches provide practical support to people undergoing change.

The Change Cycle

We can identify five stages in this process of adjustment to new circumstances. At each stage the relationship between levels of performance and self-esteem alters. By self-esteem we mean both self-confidence and satisfaction with life and work.

Stage 1: Denial

“We’ve always done things this way” “Why change – we’re making a profit, aren’t we?” “Don’t change a winning team” “my life isn’t so bad really, I can cope with it staying the same” These are some of the ways denial can find expression. Faced with the possibility of change, people will often find value in their present circumstances, often in situations that they have complained of previously.

Stage 2: Defence

Now the situation becomes clearer. People must begin to face up to new tasks, working for a new boss or with a different group of people, perhaps in a different department or at a new location. Thus they become aware that they must come to terms with changes in the way they work. People may attempt to defend their own job or their existing circumstances and often both performance and self-esteem plummet.

Stage 3: Discarding

At this stage people begin to let go of the past and look forward to the future. People begin to identify with the changes; they talk openly and constructively about the new way. When this point is reached, self-esteem begins to flow back.

Stage 4: Adapting

Just as people must adapt to new ways, so the new ways will have to adapt – procedures, structure and machines rarely work effectively first time and new relationships need time and effort to work too. People begin to try out the new situation for themselves. They test new behaviours, try working to different standards and ways of coping with changes. This way people learn new skills.

Stage 5: Normalizing

Now the people involved have created a new life, system, process or organization. New relationships between people and processes have been tried, modified and accepted. These now become incorporated into understandings of the new way of working and the ‘new’ becomes part of ‘normal’ behaviour.

Supporting people through change

It seems that people experience change in these ways – initially as disturbance, perhaps even as a shock then coming to accept its reality, testing it out and engaging in a process of mutual adaptation. Finally, they come to terms with it. Self-esteem and performance vary, initially declining and then growing again. The ‘engine’ for rebuilding performance is the self-esteem of the people involved.

Finally, we do not suggest that people go through these stages neatly or that everyone goes through them at the same time or rate. The important point is that people do seem to experience significant changes in these ways and that this leads on to a number of practical ways in which the problem of coping can be handled.

Coping with the process of change places great demands on the individuals involved, whatever their circumstances or level in the organization. As a leader or a coach you will be required not only to deal with your own reactions but also to assist others in rebuilding their self-confidence and self-esteem as a preliminary to lifting performance.

My website contains further resources that may be of interest …

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Emotional Intelligence – Suggestion for a Self-assessment Exercise

Here’s an exercise I sometimes use in workshops, or as part of a coaching intervention.  I think that,  if completed candidly, it forms a good basis for some self-directed self-development!

Category Positive Behavioural Indicators Negative Behavioural Indicators Self-assessment
Empathy Share similar experiences

Acknowledge and respect feelings

Discuss possible solutions

Being constructive

Agreement of the situation

Dismissive of problems


Ignoring the issue

‘Pull yourself together’ approach

Positivity Flexible




‘Can do’ approach

Willing to do new things


Willing to challenge when appropriate


‘Can’t do, won’t do’



Unaware of limitations

Over assertive

Openness Approachable

Willing to listen



Willing to give people time

Receptive to new ideas

Acceptance of constructive criticism

Consistent and fair

Too direct

Risk of being taken advantage of

Taken for granted

Erosion of authority

Time management issues

Personal Self-Awareness Manage own stress levels

Home/work balance

Recognise own weaknesses and take action

Recognise strengths and use them to the full

Recognise own needs

Realistic assessment of own abilities

Recognise own influence on others

Too concerned with own needs

Unrealistic assessment of own abilities

Too self-focused

Inability to see own influence on others

Social Self-Awareness Being able to respond to others

Using own status appropriately


Sensitive to individuals’/ team workload

Overstepping the mark

Oversensitive to individuals and personal influence on them

Over-friendly and personal

Too status-focused

Confidence Accept challenge


Willingness to speak up

Accept criticism

Challenge appropriately

Too big for boots

Too overpowering

Unrealistic assessment of own abilities

Motivation Maintains focus on tasks

Engages others

‘Can do’ approach

Overcomes obstacles

Achieves targets

Little energy

Sits on fence

‘Can’t do’ approach

Puts up obstacles

Achieves little

Emotional Expression Friendly behaviour

Open to others

Good eye-contact

Appropriate body language

Puts people at ease

Appropriate expression of feelings


Closed to others

Too open to others

Wears heart on sleeve

Bottles up feelings

Temper tantrums



Inappropriate laughter


Putting people on the spot

Social Awareness Dressing appropriately

Encouraging others to have a view

Language matches the occasion

Showing consideration for others

Showing an interest in others

Dressing inappropriately

Hogging centre of attention

Using wrong language for the occasion

Lack of consideration

Bull in a china shop

Being self-absorbed

Not reading body language

Emotional Balance Acknowledging feelings appropriately

Identify appropriate outlet for emotion

Retaining control

Expressing reaction to a situation …

Constructive and positive

Overly controlled

Displaying emotion innapropriately

Assertiveness Create opportunities to put point across

Retain control where appropriate

Ability to assess right time to put point across

Ability to stand ground


Stifling debate

Not contributing on behalf of self or organization

Too assertive – may equal arrogance

Self-Reliance Sees the wider picture

Get on with the job

Being resourceful

Self organization

Manage own time

Exclude others

Don’t accept help when required

Insular – can be perceived as inapproachable

Put self in danger

Pressure Performance Responds well to deadlines

Maintains enthusiasm for the task



Maintains perspective

Thinking on feet

Lack of attention to quality

Inability to think clearly – flustered

Makes mistakes

Blames others

‘Brick wall’

My website contains further resources that may be of interest …

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The 25 Most Influential Management Books

According to Time Magazine, here are the 25 books that most significantly changed the way we think about management, leadership and organizations.

1.  The Age of Unreason (1989), by Charles Handy.

Handy’s 1989 book made a powerful case for what might then have been called, without irony, outside-the-box business thinking. Handy, then a visiting professor at the London Business School, described dramatic social changes going on in everyday life and in the workplace. New technologies and the decrease of full-time positions, among other transformations, requires abandoning the established rules and experimenting with new ways of working with one another. Handy’s book only grew in stature in the decades after its publication as the rise of the Internet, ubiquitous communication, increased outsourcing, and the explosion of social media proved his vision to be amazingly prescient.

2.  Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (1994), by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.

This landmark survey of 18 “visionary” companies attempts to suss out what made successful behemoths like Disney, 3M, and Sony stand out. Stanford business professor Jerry Porras and Good to Great author Jim Collins found that, contrary to popular belief, the companies that blow competitors out of the water aren’t so much driven by sexy leaders or staunch focus. Instead, what they have in common is strong corporate culture. In other words, hire bright people and allow them to thrive. Seems like common sense, but in the late 90s the book raised eyebrows.

3.  Competing for the Future (1996), by Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad.

Stating that their book “provides would-be revolutionaries with the tools and concepts they need to challenge the protectors of the past,” Hamel and Prahalad argued for a much broader conception of business strategy — a redefinition that has since solidified into a received truth. They show that strategic planning must happen all the time, not just during discreet breaks from a company’s regular business; that it must be emotional, meaningful, and purpose-driven, not just analytical; and that this impulse must be nurtured throughout an organization, not just among strategists and consultants. Among the key teachings is that executives need to actively nurture their company’s “core competencies” to anticipate — and not merely adapt to — industry changes.

4.  Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors (1980), by Michael E. Porter.

For three decades, Michael Porter’s Competitive Strategy has been the starting point for managers wanting to maximize profitability within a competitive marketplace. The Harvard Business School professor’s five basic competitive forces, which condense and simplify the complexity of industry competition, are as relevant today as they were in 1980. With step-by-step tools to help managers select new industries to enter, forecast how industries evolve, and recognize “market signals” from competitors, Porter breaks down the three generic competitive factors — cost, differentiation and focus — that are vital for helping managers conduct industry and competitor analysis.

5.  Emotional Intelligence (1995), by Daniel Goleman.

What factors are at play, asks the author, “when people of high IQ flounder and those of modest IQ do surprisingly well?” Those qualities, such as self-control, persistence and motivation, are known as emotional intelligence or EQ. Without them, writes Goleman, careers are often unnecessarily dashed on the rocks. There is hope, though: “Temperament is not destiny,” he writes. The author explains how a higher EQ can be developed through psychological education. The compelling ideas the author introduces have since become a means of assessing and nurturing an employee’s behavior and management skills.

6.  The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What to Do about It (1985), by Michael E. Gerber

Gerber’s small business management guide is often called an underground success, but its passionate following has grown far beyond the usual definition of a cult. The “E-Myth,” or entrepreneurial myth, of the title refers to the common — and usually disastrous — assumption that a person who excels at the technical or operational work of a business will naturally succeed at running such a business. Gerber dispels the myth by showing that, in addition to being a technician, a successful business owner must be an effective manager (who excels at systematizing the company’s profitable work) and entrepreneur (who has a vision for the company’s future).

7.  The Essential Drucker (2001), by Peter Drucker.

Over a career that spanned nearly 60 years before he died in 2005 at age 95, Peter Drucker single-handedly invented the field of management theory. For most of the last half of the 20th century, he was the superstar CEO’s go-to guru, counseling everyone from Alfred Sloan to Andy Grove. And not in the fuzzy-headed, inspirational, bromide-spouting guru sense you see today. Drucker had no time for discussing who moved your cheese, and his insights were distinctive for being simultaneously crystalline yet deeply contrarian — and, frequently, a generation ahead of their time. Just one example: He was talking about the rise and importance of “knowledge workers” in the 1970s, when the phrase was a good two decades from common parlance. With 30 books to choose from, it’s probably best to start with The Essential Drucker, a potent 26-piece collection selected by Drucker himself in 2001 as a comprehensive representation of his life’s work.

8.  The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (1990), by Peter Senge

Many a management manual is built around case studies and data analysis. But the epiphany that grew into this book came to Peter Senge one morning while meditating. Senge, who founded the Center for Organizational Learning at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, developed five essential disciplines of a true “learning organization,” which is one that continually improves (and stays competitive) by helping its members learn. The first four disciplines focus on developing individual focus, building a shared vision, and communicating as a team. But the heart of the book is the Fifth Discipline, called “systems thinking,” which involves analyzing the organization’s complex system of relationships and removing obstacles to true learning.

9.  First, Break All the Rules (1999), by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

First, Break All the Rules encourages managers to personalize and break away from traditional, one-size-fits-all leadership techniques. Gallup consultants Buckingham and Coffman pull responses from more than 80,000 interviews to determine that the best managers are “revolutionaries” who cast the right people for the right roles — and leave them to do their best work. Among the tome’s other takeaways: Treat employees like individuals, set specific outcomes, but not the process, and focus on employee strengths instead of calling out weaknesses.

10.  The Goal (1984), by Eliyahu Goldratt.

The Goal is unusual among business management books for at least two reasons. First, Goldratt wasn’t a titan of industry, a b-school professor, or even a consultant, but rather a physicist. Second, The Goal is a novel. Centered on a production manager named Alex Rogo who has three months to turn around a deficient, unprofitable manufacturing plant, The Goal explains the “Theory of Constraints,” which among other points incorporates the idiom, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link;” and focuses on bottlenecks, the great hindrances to productivity. Rogo uses the Socratic method to help fix his marriage, then applies it to his plant crew, coming up with steps to solve the plant’s problems. The Goal has been in print since 1984, and a revised third edition was released on the book’s 20th anniversary. So does Rogo achieve his goal? You’ll have to read it to find out.

11.  Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t (2001), by Jim Collins.

How does a company go from being merely successful to sustaining profits over long periods? That’s the central question of Jim Collins’ book, a deeply-researched analysis that starts with all 1,400 companies on the Fortune 500 since 1965 and narrows the list to 11 companies that sustained excellence over time — often by going against accepted industry wisdom. Companies like Fannie Mae (ahem), Gillette, Kroger and Wells Fargo have what Collins discovered to be seven characteristics that contributed to their success, including a culture of discipline, finding the right employees and harnessing technology in the most efficient ways possible.

12.  Guerilla Marketing (1984), by Jay Conrad Levinson.

In the same way that guerilla warfare changed how people thought about war and conflict, Jay Conrad Levinson’s concept of guerrilla marketing reshaped how small companies think about promoting themselves. Before Levinson coined the term in the 1980s, companies often relied upon huge, expensive marketing endeavors. Smaller companies struggled to compete on those terms, so Levinson argued for using brains over brawn. Don’t hang a banner to advertise a sale; give away products on the street. Don’t place expensive ads; pull a PR stunt for free publicity. Twenty-five years later, empires have been built using these ideas.

13.  How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), by Dale Carnegie.

The author described himself as a “simple country boy” from Missouri, and to be sure, some of the advice in his blockbuster best seller is pure cornpone (“If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive”). But Dale Carnegie was a wizard when it came to making the public like him. Besides buying more than 30 million copies worldwide of his Depression-era book, they broke down the doors of his educational programs, which also promised professional success and happiness. Carnegie’s plain-spoken wisdom about how to advance career-wise still resonates with a sophisticated urban workforce. Perhaps that is because he was no hick when it came to understanding business behavior: “About 15 percent of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due…to personality and the ability to lead people.”

14.  The Human Side of Enterprise (1960), by Douglas McGregor.

Before Douglas McGregor’s seminal work on management, employees were often presumed to be lazy and unmotivated. As a result, conventional wisdom held, management must goad workers into becoming productive cogs in the machine. McGregor revolutionized human resources thinking by positing two ways managers could view employees: Theory X assumes workers are inherently lazy; Theory Y assumes they are self-motivated. While not clearly on the side of Theory Y, McGregor seems to lean toward the idea that management should ultimately set the workplace conditions to allow people to not only do well at work, but to want to do well

15. The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997), by Clayton Christensen.

Unlike most business books, The Innovator’s Dilemma is about failure. Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen takes a look at why large, once successful companies with seemingly talented CEOs regularly falter or, worse, go bust. Christensen’s take is that in business success does not breed success. In fact, it’s the opposite. Large dominant companies often are blind to emerging technologies or changing market trends that will make their once-innovative products obsolete. The lesson: Adapt early and often, even if it costs you profits today.

16.  Leading Change (1996), by John P Kotter.

In business, change is perpetual and necessary. Companies that fail to adapt fail, period. So driving transformation is arguably the business leader’s primary objective — and yet woefully few succeed. Kotter’s 1996 book details an intuitive, eight-stage process, each illustrated with examples drawn from his extensive consulting experience, for implementing real and lasting organizational change. As important as the practical tips, however, is the powerful distinction Kotter draws between managing change and leading change. As Kotter vividly demonstrates, only the latter can keep a company a step ahead.

17.  On Becoming a Leader (1989), by Warren Bennis.

Leadership guru Warren Bennis’s guide to honing your inner leader tends to read more like a self-help book than a business tutorial. Bennis’s now classic take on the leadership conundrum calls the dearth of effective leaders a “societal disease” characterized by shortsighted thinking and a lack of self-awareness. The proposed solution? Pointers include honing your “inner voice,” cultivating a passion for what you do, and building trust among followers.

18.  Out of the Crisis (1982), by W. Edwards Deming.

This is the book that first articulated (without using the term) Total Quality Management, the now-ubiquitous idea that the quality of products and services, and their continuous improvement, is the responsibility of a broad range of corporate stakeholders, from managers and workers to suppliers and even customers. Deming is widely credited (along with Taiichi Ohno) with introducing systematic quality measurement and improvement techniques to Japanese manufacturing in the 1960s, and Out of the Crisis brought his revolutionary ideas to U.S. businesses. The 14 key management principles enumerated in the book directly contradicted many standard practices of the era — including production quotas, “zero defect” slogans, and management by inspection — and became a template for modern management techniques.

19.  My Years with General Motors (1964), by Alfred P. Sloan Jr.

The author, the CEO of GM from 1923-1946, was an industry titan who led the Detroit carmaker to become the largest corporation in the world. Publication of this forthright book was blocked for years by GM’s lawyers, who feared its revelations about the inside-workings of the company would be used against it in litigation. Sloan’s shrewd lessons about managing the automotive behemoth, from corporate structure to product development to finance, are still considered a business-school must-read. “A car for every purse and purpose,” indeed.

20.  The One Minute Manager (1982), by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.

This slim volume, with its simple (critics argued, simple-minded) business homilies, immediately became a worldwide publishing phenomenon, and spent more than two years on the New York Times best sellers list. In it, would-be effective managers are advised to “catch an employee doing something right,” and to reinforce that good behaviour with a One Minute Praising. Bad deeds are similarly to be pointed out and punished with a One Minute Reprimand. The authors themselves were accused of a bad deed by the Wall Street Journal — plagiarism, to be exact — which they denied. But by that time, the tiny tome was ubiquitous, having been distributed by FORTUNE 500 companies everywhere.

21.  Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution (1993), by James Champy and Michael Hammer.

Adam Smith’s business dictums from the 1800s no longer apply. That’s the thinking behind management consultants James Champy and Michael Hammer’s 1994 best seller. Rigid divisions of labor — which once sped up productivity in fledgling corporate America — was now driving the sluggishness and lack of creativity holding firms back, the authors contend. They advocate for a radical redesign of the way companies process and organize their business, including regrouping multiple jobs into one. No wonder the book is credited with inspiring corporate downsizing in the 1990s. In the digital age, its insights still ring true.

22.  The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People (1989), by Stephen R. Covey.

Stephen Covey’s leadership training book is widely recognized as one of the best-selling business books of all time. That’s funny, because there is very little in it about business or management. Instead, the book is a tour de force on confidence building packaged into seven easily digestible maxims. There is good advice throughout that could help you in your professional life, but that wasn’t among Covey’s obvious intentions. The fact that the seven “habits” overlap and aren’t all that revelatory — No. 2 boils down to focusing on your goals — hasn’t seemed to blunt the book’s continuing popularity.

23.  The Six Sigma Way: How GE, Motorola and other Top Companies are Honing Their Performance (2000), by Peter S. Pande, Robert P. Neuman and Roland R. Cavanagh.

Before Six Sigma became a cultural punch line — 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy is a green belt master — it was the gold standard in management philosophy. Developed in the 1970s and 1980s at Motorola and GE, Six Sigma-ites believe that the path to success is paved by near constant measurement of the performance of your company and workers. Instant feedback is the key. The Six Sigma Way, published in 2000 and co-written by Six Sigma guru Peter Pande, brought the management technique to the masses. The book draws heavily on the experiences of GE and other companies that successfully implemented the technique.

24.  Toyota Production System (1988), by Taiichi Ohno.

After World War II, Taiichi Ohno, an engineer at Toyota, began experimenting with the assembly lines at the Japanese firm’s automobile factories. His goal was to improve efficiency and catch up with America’s Big Three. The result of Ohno’s tinkering changed the manufacturing industry forever. Ohno and his managers devised the Toyota Production System, more broadly known as “lean manufacturing,” which gave Toyota a huge edge in productivity and quality control. The new system ensured Toyota’s position as an industry leader, and its principles were adopted within factories across sectors and countries. This little gem of a book outlines Ohno’s quest and provides insights into the crucial process of innovation that are valuable for managers of all types.

25.  Who Moved My Cheese? (1998), by Spencer Johnson.

This slender work, a parable of mice and (little) men in a maze, can be read in 30 minutes, max. Its message is simple: Embrace change because it is inevitable. Nonetheless, there is a cult of Cheese, composed of readers (some of them CEOs) who extol the virtues of this book and say that it has changed their lives and workplaces. Truckloads of books have been handed out by top executives who hope to make their employees more flexible than Hem, the intransigent character who bellows the title line when faced with changed circumstances. The book also has its share of detractors, in the form of parodies with names like “Who Cut the Cheese?” But Johnson, also the co-author of The One Minute Manager, is undoubtedly laughing all the way to the bank; Cheese is the best selling business book of all time, with more than 20 million copies sold.

My website contains further resources that may be of interest …

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Innovation is About Adopting Something New!

As public services managers struggle to maintain service standards while dealing with the double whammy of government cuts and heightened customer expectations, innovation is often presented as the panacea.  For example, the recent open public services white paper places innovation at its core, mentioning innovation 26 times.  But although the emphasis on innovation isn’t new, the context in which public services operate is changing rapidly.  There is energy, like there has never been energy before, towards reaching a consensus that the public sector must improve significantly and quickly.  So maybe now is the time to move ‘innovation’ beyond rhetoric and towards action.  Just because we hold creative workshops involving flipcharts and post-it notes, this doesn’t mean we’re being innovative.  Innovation requires the adoption of something new.

I don’t wish to be disloyal to the many public services colleagues with whom I work, but generally the public sector isn’t known for its dynamic innovative culture. The recent ‘Catching The Wave’ report on local authority innovation, funded by Nesta and the Local Government Group, found that although there was significant will among local authorities to innovate, there were serious questions about their ability to turn this will into action.

Indications that an organization is innovative, such as adaptation and step changes in process reform, have not traditionally been commonplace within the public sector.  So is it realistic to expect the public sector to invest in these areas now, in times of scarcity?

So what’s the answer … or at least a contribution to the answer?

On a practical level, the following five indicators form an acid test of your organization’s current approach to innovation.  You might find it useful to mark each on a scale of 1 to 10:

  1. Leadership and investment: Are senior directors demonstrating their commitment to innovate with ring-fenced money as well as modelling innovation in their own behaviours?
  2. Learning and reflection: Are resources being made available to both build new skills and pay for time to reflect on what is and isn’t working?
  3. Networks: Is there a coordinated effort being directed towards creating internal networks to build organizational and individual capacity, along with external networks to share best practice?
  4. Flexibility and reactivity: Are projects aimed at embracing challenges to current approaches effectively scheduled and followed through?
  5. Risk taking: Is a climate of appropriate and intelligent risk management an essential part of learning and improvement?  Is there an authentic and visible acceptance that some failure is inevitable – In other words, is progress being made in the spirit of ‘informed experiment’?

I think we are all familiar with the rhetoric of transformation, but some of us have yet to engage with the reality of the disruption such transformation inevitably entails.  For example, announcing a service closure or a transformation to a new commissioning model will create disruption, but the key is to be responsive and flexible in helping people invent and create high quality alternatives.  Central to the success of transformation is to expect, plan for, and make the most out of disruption.

These reflections were inspired by an article by Richard Wilson, published by Guardian Professional.  See   if you are interested in the primary source.

My website contains further resources that may be of interest …

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Leadership Styles Explored

In this video clip, Itay Talgam explores leadership styles with illustrations from great conductors.  I believe his message is deep and subtle.  You’ll see here ‘leadership’ in many guises and I think it’s truly worth taking the time to reflect on how Itay’s illustrations can translate to our experiences of leadership, both as provider and recipient.  Enjoy ….

My website contains further resources that may be of interest …

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Turning around negative attitudes – the line manager’s perspective

Turning around negative attitudes – the line manager’s perspective

People demonstrate their negative attitudes in many different ways, but here are some general coping strategies.

  • Recognize that an attitude problem exists.
    The first step is to recognize that someone is expressing negativity in the workplace. Do not ignore it if it is affecting that person’s performance, your performance, the performance of others or relationships with your clients or customers.
  • Acknowledge any underlying causes for the negative attitude.
    As we know, negativity has many causes. The factors could include personal problems, work-related stress, a difficult boss, job insecurity, loss of loyalty, lack of growth or advancement opportunities and so forth. It helps to get the person to see the causes for their negativity. Ask honest but non-threatening questions of colleagues like, “You look stressed. Is there anything I can do?” It is also important to recognize that what is causing the negativity is often justified and that the person showing the negativity has the right to feel that way.
  • Help the person take responsibility.

It is ultimately the responsibility of the person expressing negativity to change their negative attitude and behaviours at work. Even though the person may have every right to feel the way they do, it is still not appropriate for the workplace. As a line manager, you need to help your colleague recognize this and to have them take ownership. Address the problem privately with them in a way that demonstrates concern for both their problems and the well-being of the team.

  • Replace negative, inappropriate reactions with different, more acceptable ones.
    Even though I just said that it is the job of the person expressing negativity to change their actions, you may need to help. They may not know what to do differently to come across as more positive. It will often be up to you to specify exactly what that is. You can suggest that other people aren’t aware of the person’s other (positive) qualities or that their contributions are being eclipsed by the negative behaviour.
  • Instill positive attitudes in others.
    Be the role model for the person expressing negativity through your actions and behaviours. You can prevent their negativity by instilling in them a positive attitude. If you do that, they may never catch the negative bug again.

Most of all, it’s important to start a dialogue with colleagues that are behaving in a difficult way so that issues can be addressed.

My website contains further resources that may be of interest …

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Turning around negative attitudes – the organizational perspective

Turning around negative attitudes – the organizational perspective

At one time or another, organizations develop an over-abundance of “negative energy”.  Sometimes this can be linked to organizational trauma such as down-sizing, budget restraints or workload increases, but sometimes it evolves over time with no apparent triggering event.  The ‘negative organization’ is characterized by increased complaining, a focus on the reasons why things can’t be done, and what seems to be a lack of hope that things will get better.  It feels like the organization in stuck in mud!  And, it’s contagious.  Negativity will affect even the most positive employees.  But here are some actions that can help.

  • Ensure the management team models positive behaviour

It is obvious that if management is adopting a negative stance and using negative language, staff will follow.  Don’t allow the management team to do it!  Ensure it takes an explicitly positive approach with staff by showing confidence in their abilities.   Expect a lot, support staff, hold them accountable, confront them and be clear and honest.  Have the management team set standards for their work and relations with employees and ensure they set an example of positive behaviour.

  • Acknowledge negativity

An organization can’t ignore negativity and expect it to go away.  If it does not acknowledge it, then staff will feel that the managers are out of touch, and will not be confident in their abilities.  Managers should acknowledge frustration and negative feelings, and not try to convince people that they  shouldn’t have their negative feelings.  However, when acknowledging employees’ negative feelings, there needs to be a mechanism for asking for suggestions regarding what to do about them.

  • Identify the ‘positives’ in all situations

Sometimes we forget to find positives.  When an employee makes an impractical solution, we are quick to dismiss the idea. Managers should be identifying efforts while positively discussing people’s ideas.  Small victories should be sought and talked about.  Turning a negative organization into a positive one is a result of multitude of small actions.

  • Provide positive recognition – often

The management team should provide positive recognition as soon as, and whenever, good performance is identified.  And positive strokes recognition should not be coupled with suggestions for improvement.  Separate them.  Combining them devalues the recognition for many people.

  • Refrain from collusion on negativity

It is easy for managers to get caught in the general complaining and bitching, particularly in informal discussions.  When faced with negative conversations, managers might consider changing the subject, commenting directly on the negative content or ask plainly what can be done about the situation (move from negative to positive slant).

It is not uncommon for organizations to go through periods of negativity.   Management teams play important roles in determining if that negativity will increase, or whether the trough is relatively short.  Above all, it is important to remember that it is the little things that are done, day in and day out, that make the difference.

My website contains further resources that may be of interest …

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