Last week a Company Director phoned Assimilating-Talent and was talking to me about his frustration with communicating change to his employees. He told me that “People don’t read stuff”.
Actually his frustration was that his employees seemed not to remember information.
I pointed out that this shouldn’t be a surprise when you look at how information is available and the way people retrieve it. Wikipedia doubling each year, over 200 million searches on “Tax advice” from Google, staff handbooks that run to 100 pages or more, 200 emails a day into their inbox and so on. People don’t need to remember information any more, they just need to know how to retrieve it.
Another result of all this information is that people are reading information differently. They scan for keywords as they hunt for specific topics, they read horizontally dipping in and out of text and store information, without reading it, for later reading.
This has huge implications for how organisations communicate with their people. The frequency of that communication and what people are being asked to look at. Possibly, instead of large memos, a shorter one line asking people to read: ‘“Section 2.4” of the change programme as this has changed‘.
Someone who I follow and talks huge sense on the topic of communication with people and businesses is Chris Street, The Bristol Editor and I would recommend a discussion with him if you want to improve your internal communication
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
I’ve had a number of meeting where team managers have suggested an “away day” as part of a team building strategy.
When asked “What’s the objective” I’ve sometimes been told “So that they’ll be motivated”
Further discussion around the outcomes can sometimes generate a confused response from the manager.
On one occasion I was told “I don’t know what outcomes but I want them motivated”
I was tempted to ask “Motivated to leave?” but persevered to a conclusion which resulted in the team’s manager attending one of my 1:1 strategy planning seminars. The result was even more positive than the team attending an awayday.
The lesson is to focus on the who as well as the outcome when planning team development.
I had a facinating discussion yesterday with a business friend on my observation that “Business teams are working hard at staying still”.
Teams standing still to survive
I suggested to him that, in the current economic climate, a majority of business teams had stopped evolving and developing new ideas. It seems that many businesses are afraid of the future and of spending money that may be needed for some unsepecified reason. The result is that teams have stopped evolving new ideas, improvements in process and new projects. They are standing still in the hope of surviving.
The problem is that doing nothing is NOT a survival strategy. Let me give the example that I gave my friend. The fewest number of business bankruptcies within the EU seems to be in Greece, Portugal and Spain. Countries where innovation and development and new business is at an all time low. The reason is that few businesses are being opened, fewer initiatives being created and a stagnation in entrepreneurial activity.
In Sweden and Norway, on the other hand, business failure is as high as ever…but then the number of businesses being opened and business success is also high. The proportion of success, however, vastly outsrips the failures. In the Uk the business teams that I’m working with have an energy that is developing new ideas, bringing in greater results and profits.
Formula for acceleration
It strikes me that the formula for mass and acceleration is applicable here: That being F=mA (F=Mass X acceleartion called a newton).
Replace F(Mass) For T (Team) and multiply it with ideas, innovation and experimentation and you can only end up with acceleration
I was talking to a friend and business owner over the weekend about his team productivity and the process that allows team productivity to fall when times are uncertain.
It’s most often observed during the early stages of change or during an M&A when rules are about to change and become unclear. It’s made more noticeable when management reduce communication because there’s “nothing to say”. The problem is that everyone else, team members that is, ate having their say. Around the coffee machine, in corridor meetings and outside of work. The result is that productivity falls, sales reduce and projects are put on hold until the uncertainty is removed.
It’s NOT an option
I told my friend that to “Say nothing because there wasn’t anything to say” is NOT an option. This increases the sense of uncertainty at a time when people are looking for direction. It is possible to point out to team members that the way ahead is unclear EXCEPT for the fact that sales are still required, increased efficiency needed and that meeting targets will still be expected.
This afternoon he telephoned to say that after briefing his team, corridor meetings had significantly reduces and one team member said “Even though things aren’t clear thanks for reminding us what’s important”No comments
So much is being written it seems redundant to add more.
Seven years ago I watched a preview of a film that was top be paert of the bid. It inspired me then and inspires me still.
Enjoy the day and the Games
You would have thought that over 120,000 people couldn’t keep a secret, wouldn’t you.
“Keep the secret”
Well almost every one of those attending a reherasal of the Opening Ceremony of London’s Olympic Games have done just that. A fact that seems to have blown the minds of the organisers, media and everyone else. The “Keep the secret” message has been observed and what’s more I’m enjoying being able to do so. (I saw it on Monday evening).
For years mentors and business advisors like myself have been saying that no matter how big the audience, if you can enthuse your team, excite them and provide an understandable message then people will follow. Now we HAVE THE PROOF even when it involves 120,000 complete strangers!
Enjoy tomorrow when the “secret” will be revealed and enjoy. It’s a fantastic spectacle with thousands in the cast.
Last night I attended the Opening Ceremony rehearsal. I guess you’ll be expecting a full lowdown on the show and I promise to tell you all about it in this blog when I’ve come down from cloud nine on Saturday morning. Except to say that it is a FANTASTIC show and you won’t want to miss it!
Chaos behind scenes
Half an hour before the rehearsal started my neighbour received a text from someone in the cast of thousands to say that they were all “very nervous and that there was chaos behind the scenes”. When it began, you wouldn’t have known. All the team’s rehearsals over the last few weeks came together and produced an end result that I will never forget for it’s brilliance.
Hundreds of mistakes
Dountless there were some mistakes, probably hundreds, but the end result was stunning and that’s what was important. The message for business teams and managers is that when delivering a complex result there will be mistakes along the way, individual teams may view the thing as being chaotic, lacking in management leadership and full of errors but what matters is that the result looks superb to those watching.
It’s made the start of my Olympics come sooner and if the sport lives up to the opening ceremony then wer’re in for two weeks of real fun.
Last week I was talking to a team manager who described to me a team descision and them ended up by saying:
“Everyone seemed to agree with the decision but when people came to act on it each person had a different idea on the action we agreed upon or reserved the right not to implement it”
Implementing team decisions can be difficult. Particularly when the members of the team are senior in status or are members on the basis of voluntary membership (they can leave and take their ball with them without any reprimand). I know this as “False consensus”. The problem for the team manager is that to try to play amateur Psychologist to solve the situation is likely to make the situation worse NOT better.
Consensus in team decisions is a powerful goal in decision making and often the reason for team meetings in the first place. Where the team members know each other well, share the same values and spend considerable time discussing issues with each other then it’s often easy and preferable. But where these factors are absent the team leader often has to develop them.
Over the past two weeks I’ve really enjoyed working with some great professionals and it prompted me to think what it was that did that made contact with them so pleasurable.
The first was John Cassidy who I asked to take some new photos. John specialises in headshots and had photographed David Beckam, most of the English football squad as well as Royalty. Not only did John create some great results but he was a joy to meet, very engaging and took time to find out what I wanted. “It’s what you would expect” I hear you say and I would reply “True, but I have been photographed by people who didn’t light me up and consequently got poor results”.
With John I relaxed, enjoyed working with him and the results were better than I expected. He explained how to get the most from his time with him and how to prepare for the session. What to wear, grooming, and what to do the week, day and evening before the shoot. That was certainly new for me and a three hour photoshoot seemed like twenty minutes!
Then there was a twenty-one year old graduate who once swam for Team GB Youth team called James Hosrfall who’s set up his own fitness suppliment company. I will be talking about him in greater detail in another blog. Then there was the builder, the lawyer and ….
We may, often, complain about the standard of work in the UK and I know I do so regularly, but there’s an awful lot of great and knowledgable professionals about. Thanks guys for lighting me up!No comments