Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How to Get Others to Embrace New Ideas

For leaders who want to persuade teams to accept new processes, the answer may be in the kitchen.
In a study last year of 200 kitchens, Cornell University researchers found that those who left snack food and soft drinks out in the open were an average of 20 pounds heavier than their neighbors who kept only fresh food openly available.
This what-you-see-is-what-you-eat diet shows that by changing circumstances, you can change behavior, which is key for getting teams to accept changes such as process improvement, says James C. Crimmins, author of “7 Secrets of Persuasion: Leading-Edge Neuromarketing Techniques to Influence Anyone.
“The lesson to executives is to think about the ways they can change the circumstances so that any new process for a team is the most natural – the easiest – thing to do,” he says.
Crimmins says it’s often easier to get people to change what they do rather than what they feel. So, if a team balks at new processes, don’t think, “How can I get them to change their minds?” but rather, “How can I get them to act differently?” he says.
“If you look at the kitchen experiment, these people probably all had the same attitude toward soft drinks – but they managed to change the behavior simply by changing the circumstances,” he says.
Adele Sweetwood is senior vice president of global marketing and shared services at SAS and author of “The Analytical Marketer: How to Transform Your Marketing Organization.”
As someone who is well acquainted with change initiatives and trying to get employees to embrace new ideas and processes, she says that such efforts require a “guiding coalition” to be successful.
“If you bring those impacted into the conversation, identify what they will need to be successful, and empower them with the tools and training, they will be more likely to engage,” she says. “As leaders, we spend a lot of time identifying areas for improvement, defining the details and then devising the solution. By the time we share the solution or change, we (read more here)

Monday, December 5, 2016

How to Stop a Mooching Co-Worker

As the holiday season approaches, it can be much more fun around the office. People are wearing goofy sweaters and goodies are being brought to share.

It seems everyone is in a much more giving mood.

But then you think of Brad.

Brad is the guy in the office who never seems to have even a dollar on him to contribute to a colleague's birthday gift. So he asks if you can contribute a dollar for him, and he'll pay you back tomorrow.

Only he doesn't. He also has not paid you back for the lunch you paid for because he didn't have his credit card with him at the time. Now that you think of it, you've probably paid for 10 coffees at Starbucks for him, and he hasn't offered to buy you one -- ever.

What's the deal here? Is Brad broke? Is he gambling away all his money? Or, is he just one of those people who gets a free ride by asking everyone else to pay for him?

You may never really know why Brad does what he does unless he chooses to share the reason with you. In the meantime, you have to figure out a way to stop him from borrowing money from you even if it is the giving season.

Here are some ideas to break the habit of Brad using you as his personal ATM:

  •  Let go of your resentment. No one forced you to give Brad the money or forced you to buy him 10 cups of coffee. That was your decision, so stop blaming Brad. At the same time, stop being mad at yourself. That's water under the bridge.
  • Always ask for separate checks. If you go out with Brad for drinks or lunch, always ask the wait staff for separate checks. Do it with a smile and then simply continue your conversation. If the group is too big for separate checks, announce that you'll be dividing up the check to determine what everyone owes. (Most people will be extremely grateful you take on the task -- no one wants to pay more than their fair share.)
  • Refuse with sincerity. When Brad asks you to float him a loan, tell him you're sorry, but you're on a budget now. Don't elaborate. Once Brad sees your piggy bank is closed, he'll turn to someone else or learn to start a budget of his own.
While it can be difficult to stand up for yourself in such situations, remember that Brad's behavior shows a real disregard for you. You can maintain a professional and cordial relationship with him, just without the open wallet. At the same time, you may find that your resolve garners more respect from colleagues who may have wondered why you put up with Brad's mooching for so long.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What Submariners Can Teach You About Doing the Job Right

A major flaw in our system of government, and even in industry, is the latitude allowed to do less than is necessary. – Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, father of the nuclear U.S. Navy
Most of us realize it takes a special kind of person to be a submariner, confined for months at a time deep beneath the ocean with about 140 other people. The up-close-and personal nature of living and working in such tight quarters is not the only challenge: every person’s life depends on the other crew members.
If work isn’t done right every single time, it could lead to dangers that someone in a cubicle might never face. That’s why the submarine environment provides such a good example of how to get things right, says Matthew Digeronimo, co-author of “Extreme Operational Excellence: Applying the U.S. Nuclear Submarine Culture to Your Organization.
Digeronimo and co-author Bob Koonce are both former submariners who now use their talents to help private industries succeed.
In their book, they quote Hyman G. Rickover in a 1981 speech at Columbia University. In that address, Rickover provided some insight into the “seeds” of the nuclear U.S. Navy’s “journey toward operational excellence,” they write.
Some insights from Rickover:
  • “Human experience shows that people, not organizations or management systems, get things done. For this reason, subordinates must be given authority and responsibility early in their careers.”
  • “Too often officials are willing to accept and adapt to situations they know to be wrong.”
  • “Unless the individual truly responsible can be identified when something goes wrong, no one has really been responsible.”
  • “When details are ignored, the project fails. No infusion of policy or lofty ideals can then correct the situation.”
  • Digeronimo says Rickover’s words need to be heeded by more companies, especially as businesses race to make changes they hope will make them more competitive.
    “I do think some unsuccessful businesses are changing just to change, and they really make things worse than before,” he says.  “The plan may look good on PowerPoint or in the boardroom, but it doesn’t translate well.”
    The authors say there are several ways that companies can adopt a submarine culture on dry land that will lead to operational excellence. Among their suggestions:
    Continuous learning
    The nuclear submarine community is comprised of those who volunteer for the duty. They have to meet tough academic standards, survive boot camp and then go through months and months of intense training. Even after graduating from Nuclear Power School, academic training continues and everyone on board a submarine is actively working on a qualification to prepare for the next level of responsibility.
    While civilian operations are not likely to need as robust of a training and education program, it does point to the need for knowledge to be the underpinning of operational excellence, the authors say. Training programs should prevent “knowledge decay” and “push the bounds of each member’s (read more here)

Monday, November 28, 2016

3 Ways to Nudge a Procrastinating Boss

It can be very frustrating when you work hard on a report or project, and then submit it to the boss where it will then languish until the next presidential election.

When the boss is the clog in the drain, the knot in the rope, the fence in the pasture (okay, I'm out of examples) it can be frustrating. The entire organization can get stuck when you have a boss that procrastinates. Maybe he or she comes up with multiple excuses as to why the project isn't moving forward, or why no decision can be made at this time.

If you're looking for a way to get a boss to get it in gear so you can also continue to make progress in your work and your career, here are some ideas:

1. Calm down. The more you think about the bottleneck, the angrier or more frustrated you may become. Instead of storming into the boss's office or firing off a snotty email demanding action, let the boss know you're open to suggestions. "Is there a concern you have about this project -- or some ways I can improve it before sending to the entire committee?" you can ask. It could be that there are factors you don't understand about the delay, and it would be a smart idea to learn about them before you jump to conclusions.

2. Listen.  Don't be confrontational, but ask questions that can help you understand specifically what the holdup might be. Listen carefully and look for signs about what may be concerning the boss and causing delays. For example, he may repeatedly mention delivery problems with another project. That may be a good time to say that you could research alternative delivery partners for your project, just to make sure all the bases are covered.

3. Discuss advantages. Of course it's clear to you why this project needs to move forward: You want to get it off your plate, you don't want the delay to make even more work for you in the future and you think it could garner you some real notice in the industry. But while it's clear what this project can do for you, have you made it clear what it can do for the boss? She is much more likely to give it the green light if it's going to help her solve a problem, make less work or attract more new customers.

Procrastination often is the result of fear or stress. Your job is to figure out what you can do to help alleviate that fear or stress by the boss so that your project can move forward.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Yes, Introverts Can Be Great Leaders

While research shows that more extraverts reach the C-suite, there is growing evidence that introverts can make effective leaders. How introverts can gain the confidence they need to lead their teams effectively and benefit any organization.
Techies are often used to laboring alone, and that suits them just fine. Their introverted personalities are geared toward communicating via email or texts and they don’t stress about presentations in front of big groups because they simply think they will never be in that position.
Until, of course, they’re tapped to fill a leadership role.
More engineering, science and technology employees are finding that their growing experience and skills have brought them to the notice of high-ups. With the increasing focus on using technology and data to meet strategic goals, it’s clear more of these introverts are going to find themselves thrust into the leadership arena.
If you’re one of those people, don’t worry. There are many ways you can thrive as a leader, even if you are an introvert. That’s why it’s time to gain some confidence in what you bring to the table, and help you see that while you may do things differently as an introvert, your leadership can be valuable.
For example, in her book, “Communication Toolkit for Introverts,” author Patricia Weber explains that the brains of introverts are hard-wired to be better at planning and more likely to identify potential problems. Introverts, she says, will always take steps to minimize risk, which can help teams become more trusting of such a leader.
The focus on planning by introverts also can lead to meetings that are more focused and relevant;  conflict resolution that is well thought-out and not based on not a knee-jerk reaction;  and well-prepared negotiation plans that lead to better outcomes, she says.
“With many parts of planning being mostly in the head, and being (read more here)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Are You Ignoring a Toxic Worker?

As we approach the holiday season, it's time to think about the Scrooge in your office.

Not just the person who is stingy, but the one who is grumpy. Unkind. Unwilling to help others. Flouts rules and regulations.


Why do these people keep their jobs? One reason may be because bosses don't like to deal with them, so they ignore them. Instead, they focus on superstar workers, telling themselves that the toxic worker is balanced out by all the great employees. Another reason is that toxic employees can often appear very productive, and no boss wants to mess with someone who appears to be churning out work and meeting deadlines. A study finds, however, that these workers aren't doing quality work and their bad behavior and its impact on the organization negates any gains.

The research shows that that it can actually pay off more for a company to get rid of a toxic worker -- it's even better for the bottom line than hiring a superstar.

That's because toxic employees impact not just the job they're supposed to be doing, but everyone around them. They demoralize coworkers, hurt customer relationships and impact stakeholder attitudes.

The study finds that toxic workers are like a bad case of office flu -- their bad attitudes and habits can infect others in the workplace, even those who previously have been good workers.

"Since we found some evidence that a toxic worker can have more impact on performance than a 'superstar' it may be that spending more time limiting negative impacts on an organization might improve everyone's outcome to a greater extent than only focusing on increasing positive impacts," researchers say.

In other words, bosses who ignore the problem with the belief that just hiring more superstars will make up for the toxic workers are in for a very unpleasant surprise. With that  mind, here are some things to consider when dealing with a toxic worker:

  • Take action. Once you get an inkling that a worker is behaving badly, immediately set up a session with the worker to analyze what's happening. Provide coaching or mentoring for the worker, and schedule regular check-ins to see how the worker is progressing. 
  • Document. It's best to have a written plan in place that both the worker and the boss agree to follow. This helps give the worker a clear plan of improvement.
  • Make ethics known. Many organizations think that employees should just know that they're not supposed to steal office supplies, gossip or write nasty tweets about customers. But unless an organization makes itself clear on where it stands, it can be difficult to enforce standards of behavior. Putting organizational ethics in writing -- and periodically reviewing them with all employees -- is a good chance to make clear the kind of behavior that is expected.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How to Negotiate Successfully With Anyone

There are often complaints that technology isolates people, but anyone working in IT may have a different opinion.
If anything, IT is being asked to work more and more with other departments, rather it’s marketing, customer experience or business strategy.
While all that interaction is necessary if businesses are going to fulfill their goals of digitally transforming their organizations, it’s not always a process that goes smoothly.
Namely, teams and individuals who have different backgrounds, skills – even nationalities and genders – can find it difficult to work together. Any attempts at finding common ground can be quickly defeated as those involved become more emotionally entrenched in their positions.
Is there a solution beyond a leader simply ordering people from IT to work with other teams and hoping for the best?
Yes, but it’s not always easy and organizations have to commit to a consistent strategy, says Daniel Shapiro, founder and director the Harvard International Negotiation Program.
Shapiro, who has spent 20 years studying the causes of human conflict, says that many times collaboration and cooperation fail because individuals and leaders don’t understand what’s coming into play when there is a conflict.
For example, in his new book, “Negotiating the Nonnegotiable,” Shapiro explains that the “tribes effect,” is when emotion and identity arise in a conflict, forcing individuals to consider who they are, what they deem important and the meaning of their life. Once they feel threatened, they can become so attached to their “tribe” that they’ll do anything to defend it.
So, IT may feel threatened by those outside the department if someone says technology is unhelpful or off base – or techies aren’t good at communications or understanding the customer experience. That causes IT workers to become less cooperative with the colleagues who are critical of them, no matter what idea is expressed.
The tribes effect spurs you to make a blanket devaluation of the other’s perspective simply because it is theirs,” he says.
While the tribes effect tries to protect your “identity” from harm, it usually backfires. You pull in psychologically and become more focused on your own short-term interest over any long-term (read more here