After a failed first attempt, #Starbucks #CEO Howard Schultz’s second departure announcement went much smoother. In a post for The CEO Magazine blog, I share why effective communication during a transition means more confidence from your stakeholders.
Here’s a preview of the post. (Visit the full blog post here.)
The steps necessary to mount a successful transition depend on whether the new leader comes from inside or outside of the organization. In both cases, investing time to understand and build on the relationships of the business is crucial.
Here are five keys to success for any new CEO:
- Carefully respond to and set expectations.
- Connect with employees.
- Identify and exploit quick wins.
- Get to know the influencers.
- In dire situations where market share is evaporating or where a company is losing money, a new CEO especially must act quickly.
Reorganizations? Transformations? Is your company planning change in 2017? In the latest issue of AMA Quarterly, I share tips on how to make change easier and more successful for all parties involved.
Here’s a preview. (You can read the full article here on pages six and seven.)
As companies work their way through change initiatives, reorganizations, and more, employees and leaders are reporting increased levels of change fatigue. How can we make change easier? A plethora of research exists to tell us what makes change initiatives successful—and certainly success is one way to alleviate the stress that comes with change.
So whether your organization plans to revamp processes or people roles or launch a large-scale transformation, it will help to keep the proven lessons and practices of successful change initiatives in mind. Here’s what some of the research shows:
Understand that openness and honesty about all aspects of the change build trust in leaders and organizations.
Walk the talk by role modeling desired behaviors.
Prepare for the many emotions and reactions expressed during layoffs.
At On the Same Page, we help clients explore and deliver improved performance through employee engagement and communication. Never is this process more crucial than when an organization is in the midst of change.
For many U.S. voters, today (Inauguration Day) is a day of reckoning. Depending on your perspective, it’s the day you’ve been longing for or the day you’ve been dreading. If there is one thing to be learned from this past U.S. Presidential election, it is this: As a society, we haven’t been listening. And, as a result, we also haven’t been heard.
Business leaders have noted that election results have fragmented their companies. PepsiCo’s CEO Indra Nooyi said that her employees were “crying.” Some CEOs have even encouraged such division; GrubHub CEO Matt Maloney said Trump supporters weren’t welcome in his company. Now that the outcome is a done deal, what can CEOs and other business leaders do to heal such divisions and move their companies forward?
When people are denied a voice, for whatever reason, they begin to feel marginalized. That feeling of being unseen and taken for irrelevant, can build in intensity, and over time, lead to hostility or worse. PepsiCo’s Nooyi said that the real issues that face us as a country “such as technological unemployment, global trade, immigration” were not addressed in the lead-up to the election. Instead, the focus was personal and emotional.
Lacking dialogue about meaningful, substantive topics that affect us all has created a deep divisiveness that is not surprisingly finding its way into companies and other organizations. Unmitigated, leaders risk this deeply personal and vindictive energy overtaking the corporate narrative. In that kind of environment, divisions run even deeper and lead to employees becoming disengaged with their company’s purpose, strategy and outcomes. That’s not good for their customers, their shareholders, or our economy.
The most important lesson we can take from the surprising outcome of this election is that open, civil and thoughtful consideration of divergent perspectives is the glue that binds any society – be it a country or a company. And that presents a spectacular and critical opportunity for today’s business leaders.
Strategy #1: Dust off some fundamental communication skills
The road to healing requires leaders to practice four skills as part of their everyday interactions with colleagues:
- Active listening: Make a choice to listen for understanding rather than simply listening to hear. This means clearing your mind of your own thoughts, preconceived ideas and agendas in order to thoroughly consider what is being shared.
- Model constructive dialogue: Repeat key ideas that you are hearing in your own words to confirm alignment and ask probing questions to dig for deeper understanding. Adopt the mindset that you are studying for an exam rather than ramping up for a debate.
- Provide context: When sharing your thoughts, decisions or direction for the business, frame the issue thoughtfully. Many leaders forget that employees have not been immersed in analyzing an issue as thoroughly or for as long as they have and jump straight to the punchline. This robs the workforce of the opportunity to make the mental journey with you, arriving comfortably (or at least rationally) where you have.
- Create forums for open, hierarchy-free dialogue: Activate a mix of contemporary, digital platforms and traditional, in-person ones so that employees across the demographic and preference spectrum have opportunities to participate. Participate regularly in these forums, and clearly share with direct reports your expectation that they do so as well.
Strategy #2: Check your ego
Participating in the respectful exchange of views and ideas is one of the most humbling activities a leader will undertake. To be genuine, you must relieve yourself of the notion that you have all the answers. Isn’t that how we got here in the first place?
Forty percent of executives say they spend between half a day and one full day every week managing communication that has no value.
The reduction in workforce productivity caused by email and information overload has become a well-documented fact at many organizations. When it comes to the sheer number and quality of emails sent and received, the cost to employee productivity and engagement can be staggering, including an inability to make decisions, process information and prioritize tasks.
In 2017, tame your inbox, so you can spend more time being productive and building the relationships that really matter. Here are six tips to help you: