Injecting Humanity into the Workplace

In December, 2018 the Drucker Forum centered its theme on the Human Dimension. Why? Why is the contemporary world so interested now in Humanity in the Workplace? We’re in the Digital Age, right? The world is waking up to the fact that People matter most as we are transforming from Industrial Age thinking fueled by Everything Digital. Why? Machines cannot innovate. Machines cannot create. Only People can. So how do you create a work environment that unleashes this potential? Inject Humanity into the Workplace, that’s How. Injecting Humanity into the Workplace is the secret sauce to unleash exponential levels of Human Productivity at Work. Individually. And Collectively. Easier said than done as we have to let go of management practices in the past that proved successful. We have to let go of fear-based practices that demean and threaten People at work. This is where injecting Humanity into the Workplace needs to start – creating an environment where People feel safe to offer up ideas and solutions without experiencing any form of retribution. And when you do that People feel a sense of achievement, a sense of importance that fuels their engagement and loyalty. This manifests in higher levels of People Productivity at work. Think about your work environment. Does it do that? I mean, really do that? Does your work environment have an open-door policy that no one walks through? Do you feel a sense of fear approaching others with your ideas? Creating a safe environment is the foundation. Next it’s all about [...]

By | 2019-02-21T17:30:51+00:00 February 21st, 2019|

How to Facilitate Productive Project Planning Meetings

The Chief Information Officer at a company for whom I consulted asked me to audit some of her company meetings. Her concern was that there were too many meetings facilitated by too many people and that they were largely ineffective. In this capacity I attended not only status and lessons learned sessions but also multi-day project planning meetings. But let’s first talk about what a facilitator does. Facilitation is the “ability to effectively guide a group to a successful decision, solution, or conclusion.” A facilitator ensures that: There is effective participation Participants achieve a mutual understanding All contributions are considered Conclusions or results have buy-in from attendees In our book, “How to Facilitate Project Planning Meetings,” my co-author and I address these necessary (if unloved) everyday business events. In that tome, our primary focus is on large multi-functional planning meetings. But many of the precepts are just as applicable to status or lessons learned sessions. Have an agenda and publish it in advance. People want to understand what’s going to be discussed and why it matters to them. Have an objective (or objectives) for the meeting. If you have that in mind, it will keep you from getting distracted. Know your stakeholders and make sure they are invited. As the name suggests, these are people who have a stake in the project. They need to “in the room where it happens.” Set expectations in advance. “I thought we were here to discuss the size and shape of the new product” is not what [...]

By | 2019-02-21T17:08:27+00:00 February 21st, 2019|

14 Influence Techniques that Drive Organizational Change

Every interpersonal endeavor includes an aspect of influence. In negotiation, you’re influencing someone to move closer to your point of view. In conflict resolution, you’re influencing two people or organizations to solve their issues and get along. In organizational change, the topic of this blog post, you’re influencing a person or organization to do something in a different way. This blog combines influence-based and change-based concepts into a single activity. It begins by giving a high-level overview of our ERICA Change Management Framework, then provides examples of how each framework components can be assisted via the use of influence-based techniques and concepts. When reading this blog, please consider it from two perspectives, first, as this blog suggests, on how you can use influence-based concepts to enhance your organizational change activities, second, how you can use these 15 influence techniques in other ways to your professional advantage. Figure #1 displays the five components of the ERICA organizational change framework. E: Environment: Organizational change is framed within its “Environment”, the reasons and circumstances for the change R: Resources: The people, funding, organizational support and other company assets that are available to help facilitate the change. I: Individuals: The people who being asked to change their job roles, skills, tasks or other personally felt items C: Culture: The culture or micro-cultures of the organization in which the change will occur A: Actions: The change management plan, execution of the plan and measurement of expected and unexpected result With the ERICA framework explained, let’s discuss how ERICA’s [...]

By | 2019-01-04T14:43:25+00:00 January 4th, 2019|

Survey on Office Influence

I'm in the process of writing a new book titled: "Office Influence: Get What You Want, From the Mailroom to the Boardroom" ™ To this end, I'm trying to understand how influence is achieved within the workplace via the below survey. As a thank for completing the survey, when the book is published in the spring, I'll give you a free copy of the book and access to various online tools related to the book's content! The survey asks your opinion on how important various personal and professional attributes are to influencing others within the workplace. It also asks a small amount of optional demographic data to assist in the research. Please click here to take our survey on office influence!

By | 2018-12-22T18:09:44+00:00 December 22nd, 2018|

15 Ways to Maximize Your Office Influence

Enhancing your workplace influence has many professional advantages. It helps you gain approval for your business initiatives, acquire needed resources, survive organizational realignments, and position you for short-term promotions and long-term professional success. Please click here to take our survey on office influence! Here are 15 techniques that are easy to describe, but very difficult to implement, that will help you maximize your person workplace power and influence. You can't do them all at once. My suggestion to you is to pick the one that most resonates with you personally and work to achieve it. Then, once you have internalized it as part of your professional repertoire, go back to this list a select other items, one at a time, with the goal of continually adding arrows to your professional influence quiver. 1. Provide Execution Excellence Job #1 in any business role is to be a top performer in regard to your: Quality of work Level of effort Enthusiasm for the organization These attributes will simultaneously enhance your job performance and increase you workplace influence. 2. Be Proactive Being reactive is performing tasks upon request. While this is of great importance, it's not enough. Being proactive is: * Showing initiative * Seeking client opinions on how service quality can be enhanced * Discovering new services that need to be implementation * Discontinuing services that are no longer needed * Providing technical thought leadership These proactive type activities position you as an internal agent of change, an asset to the organization and force to be [...]

By | 2018-12-22T18:10:32+00:00 December 22nd, 2018|

Confessions of a Waterfall project manager turned (sort of) Agilist

I've been a project manager for about 25 years and an independent consultant (and instructor) in same for about 15 years. For the great preponderance of that time I've been a waterfall guy, largely because that was pretty much the only option I had. (For the uninitiated, it's called waterfall because it's a sequential, linear process with phases that cascade forward like a waterfall.) In 2001, the Agile manifesto was created providing the world with a different approach to managing projects. So now instead of planning, planning, planning and then (hopefully) delivering what stakeholders expected, it defined an approach that worked in shorter bursts with much more day-to-day stakeholder involvement and (revolutionary!) self-organizing teams. I was slow to jump on this particular train. Oh, I read about it and got familiar with it. But while that train started rolling out of the station, I was still pretty much involved in waterfall, largely because my clients were familiar with it and, frankly, so was I. In early 2013, I decided I'd better see what all the fuss was about and got certified as a Scrum Master. I liked it, liked what I saw about the approach and wanted to use it as soon as feasible. Given that I had a heavy teaching and consulting schedule, it wasn't possible to adopt any of those techniques right away. Gradually I got involved in Scrum and I found that in the organizations I was consulting to, there were varying levels of adoption from zero to, well, not [...]

By | 2018-10-31T13:11:54+00:00 October 31st, 2018|

Unleashing the Power of People at Work

I've been fortunate to focus my attention on helping organizations shape intentional thriving culture at this point in my life and career. It boils down to the emotional experience People have at work that promotes (human) #Engagement, engenders #Trust, fosters frictionless #Collaboration, makes “space” for #Innovation (many organizations are 2BZ2 Think), and speeds time to #Value. This is true for any organizational endeavor be it operations or change programs, the latter of which has suffered greatly with failure rates still pegged in the 70-75% range, a sad state-of-affairs that organizations simply cannot afford anymore. More and more, organizations are realizing that People matter most in the digital age as the true source of organizational agility and prosperity. It's a paradox isn't it? In the digital age People (Humans) matter most. Machines cannot replicate human creativity and collaboration bringing new ideas and capabilities to life and speeding them to market. Shaping a culture where People thrive unleashing their productive capacity individually and collectively (as a Community) is the key. Do you want to increase your organization's speed, agility, productivity, innovation, and resilience? Look to your People and unlock their potential by getting and staying culturally fit. The great tension - Investors | Customers | Employees. Where does Leadership place the accent? In the past, Investor interest ruled and People were mere resources, treated as necessary cogs in the Machine. This was true since all that was needed were hands, not minds. Engineer the Machine that produces the financial return. People executed finely defined tasks [...]

By | 2018-10-31T12:39:09+00:00 October 31st, 2018|

Value of 360 degree analysis

Imagine your boss coming into your office and saying that you will soon be involved in an analysis that will survey your peers, your staff, and your boss to find out what people really think of you. Then, all this information will be compiled in a report and presented to you as a type of career development. Would you look forward to it? Would you run for the door? Would you run to the restroom to throw up? Hopefully you will look forward to it. It's called a 360 review and it can be a great learning and growing experience. Before discussing the numerous potential benefits of being involved in a 360 review, I'd like to share my experience with this type of review. I have done two 360 reviews in my past. Both were part of a company-wide initiative that gave 360s to all manager-level employees. The first time, the person being analyzed was the only one who received the results. The second time, which was at a different company, the person's manager also got the results. This simple difference, namely who receives (or doesn't receive) the results made a huge difference. In the first one, the people who filled out the surveys (for their boss, peer or subordinate) tended to give honest and helpful feedback. I learned a lot, both good and bad, from that analysis. The second analysis was very political, deals were made between peers, and very little was learned by the participants. The moral of the story is [...]

By | 2018-10-26T02:25:57+00:00 October 26th, 2018|

Digital Transformation: Completing the Picture with IT Leadership Soft Skills

Digital Transformation (DX), by its very name, refers to how digital technologies can be used to generate new revenue streams, create new markets, increase internal organizational productivity and more. While the use of established and leading-edge technologies is, of course, paramount to Digital Transformation related endeavors, soft skills, such as interpersonal communication, change management, influence and others, are the unsung heroes of successful Digital Transformation implementations. The reason being, unless you’re using bleeding-edge technologies, the technology is often the easy part. From a CIO perspective, the biggest non-technical DX challenges are: • How IT is positioning within your overall corporate entity to drive DX • Your ability, as CIO, to drive business vision, not only technical vision • You team’s ability to be viewed as equal business partners with their non-IT counterparts IT’s DX positioning within your overall corporate entity IT’s ability to be the driving force behind the organization’s DX endeavors is based on two key factors: • IT’s Organizational Clout • IT’s innovative business and technical nature IT’s organizational clout (vertical axis in Figure 1) refers to how IT is viewed within the organization regarding its competency, importance in driving profitability, the C-Suites philosophy of technology and other related factors. The more IT is respected and trusted by their business counterparts, the easier it will be for the CIO and his/her senior team to lead the organization’s DX endeavors. IT’s innovative nature (horizontal axis in Figure 1) refers to its willingness and ability to innovate on behalf of the company, not [...]

By | 2018-10-26T02:21:27+00:00 October 7th, 2018|

7 Interpersonal Communication Skills that Drive IT Manager Success

I’m often asked by technologists why they should spend their precious training time and dollars studying soft skills. After all, they know how to ask questions, listen to others and so on, they have been doing it their whole lives. My answer is “Rather than using gut feel when negotiating, influencing, resolving conflict and/or just talking with others, if you learn and use structured interpersonal communication processes and techniques, you can improve your effectiveness through continual process improvement.” That is to say, just like any other defined process, experience using defined soft skill techniques, allows you improve them over time. These soft skills techniques can enhance your job performance, position you for promotion and/or simply help get you the best projects and technologies to work on. This first blog post is an overview of how IT Managers and IT Executives can improve their craft and accelerate their careers using this non-technical side of their skill set. Future posts will dig into each of these topics more deeply. In the IT Management ranks, being a successful IT manager requires four primary types abilities, unrelated to the technology being overseen. These abilities are: • Interpersonal communication skills • Leadership skills • Management skills • Business-of-IT skills Today, I’d like to discuss the seven skills that fall within the “Interpersonal communication” category. When reviewing this list, it may surprise you to see that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is not among them. The reason is that every successful human interaction requires a certain degree of EQ. Therefore, EQ [...]

By | 2018-10-16T19:35:41+00:00 September 7th, 2018|
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