What’s the Difference?

I often find myself talking to team managers about the differences between “Change” and “Transition”.
The reason for the discussion is that so many people assume that they are the same.

In my experience nothing could be further from the truth and very simply:
Change: Is a physical move to a new place. (This includes move of office, new way of working, dieting, learning and so on).
Transition: Are the mental stages that people move through to arrive at the new place

The definition illustrates why some team leaders find it difficult to implement change when they have other people to lead along a pathway to change. One of the major problems that contributes to change failure is that the leader works through the transition before those being led are given time to do so.

More information on transition management HERE

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That Goldman Sachs Letter, Revenge or public service?

Greg Smith isn’t the first person to write an article about their past employer that is less than flattering and he won’t be the last. As a Goldman Sachs executive director
and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in
Europe, the Middle East and Africa he’s bound to be listened to and will cause more than a few intakes of breath in Goldman Sachs offices.

What Greg said in New York Times
The firm changed the way it thought about
leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and
doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and
are not currently an axe murderer) you will be promoted into a position
of influence.

What are three quick ways to become a leader?
a) Execute on the firm’s
“axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in
the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because
they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit.
b) “Hunt
Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are
sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring
the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like
selling my clients a product that is wrong for them.
c) Find yourself
sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque
product with a three-letter acronym.

Disgruntled or upset
It’s obvious that Greg is leaving Goldman Sachs a very disgruntled individual. Upset at how he’s been treated or genuinely upset at how customers are treated. Whatever the reason some will support him and others will be “appalled”.

Badly managed exit
Whatever you think of Greg and whether you agree with his point of view or not one can only assume that Goldman Sachs have mishandled his exit from the business. Here you have a senior executive that has potential to harm the business.

In my experience there will have been warning signs and these should have been picked up at an early stage.
Generally these include internal conflict, poor management of the individual, inappropriate blame, confusion over change programme, change in leadership that results in the individual being sidelined, change in corporate direction or values.


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Customer bites back!

Over the past week I’ve been amazed at the response of companies to negative comments on Twitter. In the “getting complaints resolved fast” it seems to scare companies far more than threats to complain through official channels!

It takes 50 days to post a form
At this point I’m not going to mention the companies concerned (look through my previous blogs and tweets if you want to know the who) but to say that one complaint was after I was informed that to post me a form that needed completing could take up to fifty days to post…yes that’s right fifty (50) days to post out a form!

Brand protection
Within an hour of the negative tweets complaining of the poor customer service I was being contacted by teams of people wanting to resolve my complaint to prevent further negative tweets being made. Now, one has to admire the protection of the brand image and how effectively the complaint was handled but my main question is why let the situation where a customer is frustrated or angered occur in the first place?

So, perhaps the advice if you have a complaint about a company should be “Tweet first, blog next, mention it on facebook and if that brings no satisfactory result then complain officially”.

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Queen’s Jubilee…better in 1952 or at the end?

As the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee approaches we are likely to be bombarded with comparisons of the “then and now”. Commentators will be lecturing us saying how much better off we all are than in 1952!

People worked harder
Doubtless they will mention that people worked harder in 1952. Yet in reality communication and technology mean that we work faster and more effectively now than sixty years ago.

There will be statistics showing that more women are employed than ever before and regrets that “company loyalty” has disappeared. Forced redundancies, company closures and so on have meant that people are prepared, often out of necessity, to change jobs and careers more often than sixty years ago.

Is comparison pointless?
Yet comparisons are rather pointless. During the past sixty years the world has changed beyond recognition for most in the UK and the USA and it’s undeniable that the general standard of living of Briton’s has improved.

The real issue
The real issue for discussion with commentators, politicians, business leaders and bankers should be not whether things are better now than in 1952 but instead if things will be better at the end of the reign than they are now?



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The not so delicate art of firing people

Lucy Kellaway’s brilliant article in yesterday’s Financial Times on “The not so delicate art of firing people” where she analysed two emails giving staff bad news. Her conclusion that “using an upbeat tone is a cowardly attempt to hoodwink staff into thinking something good will happen”, was spot on!

It reminded me of an email that was given to me by a friend that was designed to be motivational, and I guess was in a funny sort of way as it had the effect of binding the team even harder against their team leader. This is what the IT team found in their email inbox when the team leader had just departed for a weeks holiday.

“I am sending you this email because whilst I’m away I don’t want you to feel leaderless. I view my job like being the leader of a flock of geese. I have the responsibility to guide the flock to new feeding pastures.

Sometimes I don’t know where the best feeding grounds might be and will fly round in circles until I can locate them. Then I must fly to it in the shortest possible route. Now and again I might have to make adjustments in our flight path to ensure that the flock finds the best feeding ground.

Generally I will take the lead so that weaker geese can fly in my slipstream but sometimes I will allow another goose to take the lead to provide experience of leading the flock. Whilst I’m away I hope that some of you will take the opportunity to take the lead until I return to guide you once more

On receipt an email was sent to the rest of the team by someone who said ” I hadn’t realised that for the last six months I’ve been flying round in circles to God knows where whilst looking up a Ducks arse”

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“Quick wins” in a new job don’t always deliver results

I have watched with some amusement the mess that the UK’s coalition Government have found themselves in over their announcements to “Housing benefit” changes. We’ve been told that this will be capped at £400 per week. It reminds me of the situation that many business leaders and executives in a new job find themselves when introducing a “Quick win”. The reason is that to often “Quick wins” fail to deliver the expected results.

Let’s consider the UK’s proposal to cap housing benefit to reflect average earnings. On the surface it would seem sensible and would certainly reduce costs. But the (hopefully exaggerated) image of hundreds of thousands of families and children, particularly in London, being made homeless and trudging up the the road with their belongings as they are forced out of their homes to find cheaper accommodation has generated claims of “Social cleansing” from Mayor Boris Johnson and concern from many MPs.

Too often  a new team leader or senior executive in a business will introduce a “quick win” because they understand that they have little time to prove themselves and want to demonstrate that they are “hitting the ground running”. It’s also seen as a useful tool to create a positive reputation for being a forward thinker or innovator.

The change that’s generally selected has often worked for the individual in the past. However, what the new leader fails to consider is the new team, new culture and new management style. In communicating the “quick win” great emphasis will be placed on instant results (saving money) without analysis of the long-term consequences in other departments of areas of the business.

This often causes a storm of protest, the executive is wrong footed and either has to revise their plans with the consequence of “loss of face” and reputation or stick to their guns and be accused of being unfeeling, autocratic or worse. The problem is that a “Reputation” has been made and it’s a negative one and that reputation is often difficult to change.

I judge that we can expect some “Good news” from the coalition Government within the next few days

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How to avoid team failure

In this current economic situation a huge number of teams are being restructured. This either means that the team will take on additional work, team membership will be changed or there may even be new leadership.

Each of these brings with it a risk of failure and after speaking to so many senior executives this last month I thought I would share some of the advice that I’ve been giving them.

How to avoid team failure

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