Entries by gmader

How To Cultivate Strategic Thinking In Your Company

It’s very easy today for people to become paralyzed by fear and uncertainty. This places a greater demand on leaders to keep staff focused on the prospect of a brighter, yet plausible, future. This week’s post examines how managers can do this by helping their staff learn to think strategically about the company and their own careers. We have found that encouraging strategic thinking from the top of the organization to the shop floor is largely a matter of executive action and intention. In our experience, when executives make strategy development an activity exclusive to the top members of the organization, they discourage strategic thinking. Specifically, executives and managers stifle strategic thinking by not actively […]

Collaboration In A Matrix Environment

Most organizations today have some kind of matrix structure in place, rather than the traditional hard silos of the past. The challenge in a matrix environment is getting people to be accountable and work effectively outside of their function or division. The problem fundamentally is one of ownership. Not knowing who owns what, whom one really reports to and what authority one really has often becomes an excuse for not taking responsibility for producing results. People avoid accountability for the end goal of improving bottom-line profits by claiming conflicting priorities or lack of cooperation as the cause. “They” (meaning the other departments) “won’t come to our meetings to help us,” is the chronic complaint often […]

Different Behavior Means Better Meetings

In our last blog post on this topic, we talked about the difference between a meeting that is organized around an agenda and one that is oriented around outcomes. In today’s post, we further explore this topic by looking at the impact each type of meeting has on team behavior. The fundamental difference between an agenda-driven vs. a results-driven meeting is that they elicit two very distinct types of behaviors from team members. When a meeting is oriented around topics and an agenda, it brings about a greater degree of opinion swapping. For example: Someone expresses his or her point of view on a new product, provoking someone else to state his or hers. That […]

Micro-management Is The Enemy of Strategic Thinking

In last week’s blog post, we discussed the way that leaders’ actions impact the cultivation of strategic thinking within their companies. This week, we continue the theme by examining the role that micromanaging plays in the process. Heed the warning. Leaders who micromanage create an environment of compliance where people won’t think strategically and don’t act as partners. Micromanaging suffocates strategic thinking because it forces people to interact at a tactical level only. It requires people to protect their world, and a huge amount of their energy just goes into how to survive and keep their boss off their back. One research study on micromanagement by Dr. Robert Hurley PhD at Fordham University found that […]

Is Your Company Strategy Bold and Compelling?

Often senior executives define strategy in a limited and narrow way. They focus on a vision or a direction, or sometimes even clear, measurable objectives. But to be effective, a strategy needs to encompass all of these. A solid strategy has to answer the questions: Where are we headed? What are we building? How will we know when we get there? What are we going to focus on to drive our success? What are the key steps to take to address those areas of focus? Many of the strategies we see in our consulting practice are vague rather than clear.  For example: ‘We want to be world-class’ vs. ‘We want to be leaders in our […]

Talking About What You Are Not Talking About

What do you consider to be the key drivers of your group’s effectiveness? Is it their ability to raise and address difficult issues? Is it their skill at being able to come to alignment on common goals or objectives? Perhaps it’s their ability to subordinate their personal agendas for the common good? Regardless, the prerequisite for all of these is the ability to have open, honest and straight conversations. It’s not what you can talk about that makes a difference at work, it’s what you can’t. It’s always what you are not dealing with that’s controlling and shaping your team. If you want things to be different in your organization, then you have to develop […]

4 Steps To Creating Total Strategic Alignment

Most leaders believe that it takes between six and 12 months, or longer, to develop a strategy. They mistakenly think that the criteria for a meaningful strategy are the amount of research and market analysis that goes into it, and the time spent vetting it with experts. But our observation is that how well communicated a strategy is, is far more important than how logical or well researched it is. The effectiveness of any strategy is directly proportional to the level of ownership, commitment and accountability among the executive team. A strategy is only as good as the levels of commitment the people who are accountable to fulfilling it, possess. Here are the essential fours steps […]

4 Ways You May be Undermining Employee Engagement

This looks at the four most common ways leaders undermine employee engagement. 1. Not saying thank you: Managers who only criticize and find fault with their employees’ performance run the risk of creating an unhappy – and less productive – workforce. Rarely saying something as simple as “good work” or “thank you” creates an environment where staff feel unappreciated and taken advantage of. 2. Recognizing the same people all the time: Some leaders single out the same staff over and over again for recognition and praise. No matter how deserving these employees may be, repeatedly acknowledging one small group of individuals can create an environment of exclusion, which leads to a negative backlash within the […]

Appreciation and Employee Engagement

Managers often think that the source of employee engagement is providing staff with material rewards and privileges such as more money, bonuses, stock incentives, promotions, titles, etc… While these things are important, their impact tends to be overestimated. A huge dimension in employee engagement is the quality of relationship that exists between management and staff. Employees feeling they are known, accepted, appreciated, valued and trusted goes a long way toward getting employees on board with a company’s vision and strategy. Many of the leaders we encounter seem either blind to this point — or worse —simply don’t care. By not listening to and recognizing employees which is a critical part of their job, managers are […]

From Human Resource Manager to Chief Commitment Officer

In our work, we often hear HR executives lament about not having a seat at the table when it comes to being part of the strategic decision-making process. They frequently speak of the desire to be true strategic partners with their peers, rather than merely comp and benefits administrators or purveyors of training programs that may or may not contribute to the bottom line of the business. The good news is that the time has never been better for HR execs to reconstitute their role — by shifting from Human Resource Managers to Chief Commitment Officers. What CEOs and business leaders want and need more than ever is employees who are 100% engaged and committed […]

Six Steps To Make Your Meetings More Effective

In this week’s post, I offer six approaches you should consider in making your meetings more commitment driven. 1. Before planning an agenda, ask yourself the key questions that will allow you to make your meeting meaningful. What do we want to accomplish? Who should attend the meeting in order to accomplish what we intend? What do we want people to leave the meeting with? What could we do during the meeting to achieve the desired objectives? How much time do we need in order to achieve the objectives? 2. If appropriate, include a cross-section of individuals who will be attending the meeting in the agenda-planning phase. Getting these folks involved from the start will […]

Why Agenda Driven Meetings Don’t Work

A key principle of generating total alignment and engagement is ensuring that you are always working backward from a deliberate, desired future — rather than merely extrapolating or perpetrating business as usual. When it comes to meetings — which consume enormous amounts of most managers’ time — this principle can make the difference between meetings that make a big impact, and those that waste valuable time. To begin with, most meetings are designed backwards. The agenda planning starts with the questions: How much time do we have? and What do people think we should talk about? The reason we say these meetings are designed backwards is because the time allocated for the meeting should be […]