TAG Consulting

Culture Change Starts With…..Me


August 15, 2017


Leaders who are committed to crafting thriving organizational culture deal in change. It’s just part of the gig. And it’s one of the more challenging parts of leadership.

This makes it all the more important to get it right from the beginning. And the beginning is ME!

In the video below, which focuses on leadership coaching, TAG’s Shane Roberson, an experienced executive coach and Culture Architect, makes the point that “If you’re not looking for change in yourself, you’re not going to see it in others”.

All change begins with the leader being willing to change. So, that’s where the work of culture-crafting begins as well.

How TAG’s Leadership Coaching Can Help Your Team Win from TAG Consulting on Vimeo.

Crafting A Culture To Handle Change


July 30, 2017

 

The work of crafting thriving organizational culture involves change – a lot of it. At the same time you are creating a culture of change you have to insure that your current culture can handle the change your are bringing! It’s a lot to think about. But you can lead in such a way that the needed change has its very best shot.

Transitions are almost always wrenching for an organization or a team within an organization, even when the result of the transition will be beneficial to all concerned. Leaders can make transitions worse by insensitivity or tone-deafness to the effect the music of the transition has on the ears of the team.

Organizational transitions of all kinds are navigated well when you work to shape your culture by these three practices:

  1. Gain credibility – leaders are even-handed and fair, and so make deposits of trust, which can be borrowed against when tough changes have to be instituted.
  2. Practice transparency – unless trade secrets which would compromise competitive advantage are at stake, default to sharing details about the conditions that shape transition decisions, the rationale for unpopular decisions, and the long-term effects on those in the organization.
  3. Demonstrate honor – in the case of terminations and layoffs, unless an employee was dismissed for ethical or legal reasons make every effort to honor those leaving, thank them for their contributions and point out their positive characteristics. This is the right thing to do for the one leaving and it engenders trust and loyalty among those staying!

Crafting A Culture Of Change? Start Here


June 5, 2017

You’ve committed to crafting a thriving culture in your team or organization and you know it’s going to require a concerted effort at change leadership. And you know things are going to need to move fast!

You’re also realized this. Leading change is not a one-off occurrence. The ability to adapt and change has to be built into your culture. It’s more than an activity you engage in when you are forced to.

You need a starting place. Try these two actions first:

1. Distinguish between what needs to be preserved and what needs to change.
As you work through changes in your organization, always be mindful of what must NOT change – your values, code, and macro-strategy. These things should not change with every shift in the wind. When external realities do dictate that you must change, you will want to make sure that those changes are in keeping with your organization’s code and deeply held values – holding fast to the permanent things while allowing your strategy to evolve.

2. When you come into an existing situation to make changes, be very careful not to condemn the past.
Always frame your vision in a positive, upbeat way. Your job is not to erase the past but to help people envision a brighter future.  These people were part of the past – they lived it and shaped it to some degree. Dwell on everything good and worthy in the organization’s past, even if it is clear that many things must change.

Leadership, particularly change leadership, is not about being popular. There will be moments of decided unpopularity for you as you craft a new culture. But don’t borrow trouble – preserve what needs to be preserved and honor what can be honored from prior cultures.

You can actually lead change – perhaps profitable change – without these two actions. But you won’t succeed in building a culture of change without them.

TAG’s Discovery process helps you to discern what needs to change now and where you’ll see the maximum benefit from change leadership. Building on that understanding then helps you craft a thriving culture that seeks out change, rather than simply responding to your external environment. Find out more about Discovery here.

How To Handle Organizational Transitions


May 23, 2017

 

Part of crafting a thriving organizational culture is building in resiliency – the ability to navigate change and transition with strength and wisdom.

Transitions are almost always wrenching for an organization or a team within an organization, even when the result of the transition will be beneficial to all concerned. Leaders can make transitions worse by insensitivity or tone-deafness to the effect the music of the transition has on the ears of the team.

Organizational transitions of all kinds are navigated well when you use these three practices:

  1. Gain credibility – leaders are even-handed and fair, and so make deposits of trust, which can be borrowed against when tough changes have to be instituted.
  2. Practice transparency – unless trade secrets which would compromise competitive advantage are at stake, default to sharing details about the conditions that shape transition decisions, the rationale for unpopular decisions, and the long-term effects on those in the organization.
  3. Demonstrate honor – in the case of terminations and layoffs, unless an employee was dismissed for ethical or legal reasons make every effort to honor those leaving, thank them for their contributions and point out their positive characteristics. This is the right thing to do for the one leaving and it engenders trust and loyalty among those staying!

Three Keys To Change When Change Is Tough


March 5, 2017

 

Change leadership is not for the faint of heart. Resistance is expected and inevitable and can feel like a slammed, locked door.  To keep your momentum going, here are three keys to unlock common change barriers.

1. Let Ideas Percolate
Your culture did not get to where it is overnight. And you won’t be able to change it overnight. Your job as a leader is to “stand on the balcony”, looking down on the dance floor, viewing the big picture. When you do this you are able to get out of the moment and its tyranny of the urgent and into a broader view, where moving parts mesh into a whole. Do not let up on your efforts at cultural change but do not be discouraged if there are times when the pace feels too slow for you.

2. Raise The Temperature
Expose competing values. Encourage conflict (for more on this, see here). The work of a leader is not to squelch but rather to spotlight competing values, especially when they relate to the core mission of the organization. Real change cannot happen unless people are allowed to see where their values compete and where they differ and when this is done in a climate of encouragement and acceptance. This hurts, it’s risky, and it can feel scary. But culture doesn’t start to shift until someone raises the tough questions and hence the temperature.

3. Give Grief Room
When people lose something, they grieve. And there are “losers” in cultural transformation. People lose the familiar, they lose perks, they may lose titles, positions, or power. When things change – even for the better – there is loss. This is OK. It’s necessary. People can’t heal until they do grieve and you can’t change an organizational culture without healing.

Situations and teams differ. But chances are one of these keys will unlock the door barring you from the change and progress you need.

 

The Change Resistance Avalanche


February 28, 2017

Here’s how it works…

If people do not feel like they can contribute, change will be impossible…
If they do not feel like they belong they won’t embrace change.
If they do not feel like they are making a difference they
will not support necessary changes.
So the organization becomes static.
And a static organization is headed for extinction.

 

Quick, Change Something – Now!


January 2, 2017

 

There’s no better time to disrupt the status quo than at the dawn of a New Year. Calendars are clicked over, resolutions are made, there is a general sense that it’s time for a fresh start. But the time to make disruptive changes is a short one – the status quo tends to fight its way to the top of the heap in short order.

This is simply the normal course of things – all organizations tend to maintain the status quo.

This is true whether the organization is a business, a family, a government agency, or a not-for-profit.

We’re comfortable with the status quo, even if we know it could be better, and often we will work vigorously to protect it. It’s just the way systems work.

One of the main tasks of a leader is to disrupt the status quo, to bring change. The problem is that often we don’t know how to do it.

So, we rely on what has worked before. If we’re in a leadership position, something we have done in the past has worked and so we keep trying that again and again…until it doesn’t work anymore.

You know the adage – if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you have a go-to approach for problem-solving, you will be tempted to use it over and over again.

Until yesterday’s solution becomes today’s problem.

In our book, The Leadership Triangle, co-authored by Kevin Graham Ford and Ken Tucker, we make the case that there are three different types of leadership challenges, each of which require a different kind of leadership solution (what we call an Option).

The Strategic Option is the first type of response. A strategic challenge arises when something in the environment external to your organization has changed in a way that impacts the organization. Maybe your customers’ preferences or values have shifted. Maybe a technological advance has disrupted your industry. Maybe a competitor has innovated in a way that threatens your market share. Maybe something has shifted in the regulatory environment and your rules of engagement are now different.

Whatever the case, your internal status quo has been disrupted by a change in the external status quo and you must change in order to remain relevant.

How do you do that, as a leader?

We suggest that you gather your team (after you have gathered your wits!) and run through this series of questions designed to grapple with your strategic challenge and move toward a wise and timely use of the Strategic Option:

  • What do we say yes to, that we should say no to?
  • What does our customer really value?
  • How are our competitors doing things differently than they used to?
  • What new competitors have emerged?
  • Who is our target audience, really?
  • What workarounds have our frontline employees adopted that could teach us something?
  • If we could create a niche for ourselves where we would be #1, what would that niche be?
  • What legacy will future leaders say we left behind for them?

If you wrestle with these questions and their answers, you will be much better equipped to deal with external disruptions, disrupt the status quo, and make wise and winning strategic decisions.

To read much more about the Strategic Option, check out The Leadership Triangle  on this page.

To learn more about how TAG’s team of experienced change leaders and status quo-disruptors can help your organization Discover its next best moves, click here.

To Win, Help People Count Their Losses


December 19, 2016

Every change initiative – even the best, most helpful ones – will result in some loss for individuals or groups.

As a leader, you are asking people to participate in changes which will cost them something. Inevitably, they will perceive the change as a threat to something that represents a core value of theirs, and they will see you as embodying that threat.

That sounds grim, doesn’t it? And it can be tough. Distributing loss is one of the functions of leadership.

But if you can stay in the game, stay connected both to people and to your values, you can help them move through the losses of change and onward to a new reality which will be more fruitful and energizing for them and more healthy for your organization.

First, we assume that you won’t downplay the losses with “happy talk” or denial. Loss is loss and change brings loss. Much better is an honest, yet hopeful acknowledgement that you understand that loss will be experienced and in some cases will be all too real but that at the end that which will be gained will outweigh the losses, for the common good.

Even before you do your public work, as a leader you will need to do personal reflection work around loss. Here is a way to start:

  1. Assume that every person affected by the change will experience loss in some way. It might be loss of routine or loss of power or loss of position or loss of influence – but even those who will benefit – who will clearly benefit – will lose something. Don’t forget the importance of self-awareness here – YOU will lose something too. Note it well!
  2. Identify the losses your key people will experience and note them well. The best way to get at this is to determine the things that each individual or group affected value the most and consider where loss or perceived loss may strike relative to those things.
  3. Give voice to these losses, with compassion and honesty. Helpful categories for speaking of loss include: security, identity, money and resources, influence, and independence. Try to speak for people, not to them.
  4. Reframe the losses into a vision of a brighter future, rooted in your shared core values and realistic about the impact. This step is the one that gives hope and energizes your team. But you can’t start here. You have to assume, identify, and give voice before you can reframe.

Change is where leaders “earn their money” because change involves the hard work of helping others navigate the losses associated with change. Lead well and thoroughly at this point and your team has a much better chance of emerging from the change with strength and resiliency. You can successfully lead change and keep your team engaged, unified, and confident!