Jim Rose
EQ Consulting Services
611 Bear Den Road
Townsend, TN  37882
865-207-4480

jrose@eq-consultingservices.com

Budget Consideration for 2016

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image13135871

How pleased are you with the effectiveness of your organization’s Strategic Planning Process?

-Have you reviewed your vision lately and is it still appropriate?

-Was there good awareness and buy in from employees?

-Were initiatives successfully implemented?

-Did you achieve the bottom line impact desired?

If not what are you going to do differently next year.  Remember that if you continue to do what you have been doing and expect different results, that is called insanity.  Consider using a consultant that can provide excellent references  Be sure to put some money in your budget for 2016 and start looking for the right professional for assistance.

How Teamwork and Accountability Improve Business Results

Teamwork Accountability Improve Business Results

From a management perspective, teamwork may seem like extra work — and it can be, at first. For leadership structures accustomed to a top-down approach, the change in mindset can be one of the greatest challenges.

However, when you implement a plan to foster and manage teams, you’re investing in the long-term success and stability of your company. The payoff comes in the form of better results, higher productivity, and the synergy made possible through collaboration, empowerment, and trust.

When teamwork fails, it’s often because organizations have skipped critical steps that ensure performance and accountability. To understand the process, let’s talk about the six critical steps for teamwork I’ve identified during decades of working with a range of businesses.

6 Keys to Building Teamwork

1. Buy-In at the Leadership Level

A teamwork-driven approach must be implemented from the top down. The organization’s leadership must be the first to embrace a fresh understanding of how teamwork functions and the value it brings.

One of the most effective ways to drive top-level commitment is to bring in an experienced resource to work with leadership. To build an understanding of the methods and benefits of teamwork, he or she can facilitate a pilot activity to demonstrate the approach, or even bring in leaders from businesses that have successfully implemented teamwork for Q&A sessions.

2. Engage an Experienced Resource

It’s not only the leadership who needs to buy in to the process. All team members benefit from the mentorship of someone who can share success stories and real-life examples of the process and end results, particularly as they play out in different parts of the company structure.

In order to be effective, this resource must be able to have an effective working relationship with the company leadership and all employees.

3. Establish Teams

Experiencing teamwork is the only way to really understand teamwork, so leadership should form the first team and undertake a pilot activity to evaluate the process.

With the success of the leadership team and pilot activity, progressively expand the model until everyone within the organization is a part of a work group. Not only will each group work on activities together, but they will be led in exercises that help the various teams work together within the larger company structure.

4. Train the Teams

Before the journey really begins, team members need to undergo training in teamwork skills like trust, communication, and synergy. The training process also teaches the necessary skills to improve the team’s processes:

  • Mission: what they are striving to achieve
  • Measurement: KPIs and goals for measuring success
  • Initiatives: the most important changes needed
  • Implementation: plans for successfully making each change
  • Monitoring: monthly meetings to continuously implement and improve

5. Identify the Facilitators

Whether internal or external, all teams need a trained facilitator. Not everyone is equally equipped to lead work groups during team-building activities, and a facilitator helps keep everyone on the right path.

When I worked with the Ponderay Newsprint Company, I served as the facilitator for the leadership team, while staff members I trained served as facilitators for the other work groups.

6. Monitor Effectiveness

As with any strategic planning process, it’s important to periodically evaluate each team’s effectiveness and the performance of the program as a whole. In teamwork-driven programs, this role should fall to the facilitator.

He or she should be continuously monitoring team progress, routinely attending meetings, and periodically reporting the results to the team and the leadership. Each team should also make quarterly presentations to leadership regarding the team’s progress on KPI goals and mission-critical outcomes.

Plenty of effort goes into the team building process, but it results in an environment in which all team members are working effectively toward the same overarching goal, which benefits everyone.

I have led teamwork initiatives for 30 years as a part of various corporate leadership structures, and for 17 years as a change consultant. If you have any questions about implementing a teamwork-driven approach or need an expert to facilitate your teamwork program, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Would you like to see this approach in action? Simply download the Ponderay Case Study here!

Ponderay Case Study

Your Strategic Planning Checklist for 2015


2015 Strategic Planning Checklist

What’s the difference between strategic planning and simply working hard to make your business succeed? After all, every company has objectives and some sort of game plan for getting work done.

So what goes into a successful strategic initiative? A lot of thought and care: company leadership must examine, explore, focus, and measure each initiative, all while keeping eyes on the company’s vision and goals.

The True Value of a Strategic Planning Checklist

Strategic planning can help you improve your business immediately, as well as affect your long-term success. A top-level strategic planning checklist is an excellent way to make sure you’re starting down the right path, even before you craft a specific action plan.

When you take a strategic approach to business planning, you’re simply more likely to succeed. Initiatives often go astray when you fail to follow through on the necessary steps, both in planning and execution – and that’s where a master checklist comes in handy.

If you don’t examine your organization’s vision when inventing new strategies, you risk missing your goals and alienating stakeholders. If you don’t monitor and evaluate throughout the process, you miss opportunities to make improvements and capitalize on the elements that work well.

Developing Your Own Strategic Plan

When you use my strategic planning checklist, you should be able to translate each item into actionable steps that are specific to your organization.

Strategic planning looks a little different for any given business. As you craft your own plans, be prepared to think creatively about how each step in the checklist should be applied to your business.

Leadership teams, for example, can vary in size. However, different initiatives may warrant the inclusion of different leaders. The right people and positions need to be represented.

The process starts by developing documents that describe a vision of the future and then steps for achieving it.

This strategic planning checklist is designed to help you prioritize and maintain your overall vision at each stage of the process. Consider it a starting point and a continuing guide — all part of a process that can bring you the change you’re looking for.

Get started now by downloading my free strategic planning checklist!

Strategic Planning Checklist

Mid-Year Status Report

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image13135871

Yes believe it or not the year is half over!  A very important question to ask at this time would be are you satisfied with your accomplishments regarding the plans you had changed for this year?  If not what will you be doing differently during the second half of the year?  Remember the old saying that if you keep doing what you have been doing you will keep getting what you have been getting?  Well that saying is no longer true!  The world is changing so rapidly that if you simply keep doing what you have been doing you will be going backwards!

You can prevent this by utilizing a process that I have designed for managing change or as some call it an ongoing Strategic Planning process.  It has been proven successful by many businesses…IF IT IS USED.  It can be found and described in detail in a series of Blog articles on my web site at http://www.eq-consultingservices.com/category/general/.  Look on the right side for Categories and click on Strategic Planning.  I hope you will be more pleased with your progress in the second half of the year!

Remember if you are not pleased with your current rate of change for achieving your strategic plan….do something different!

Have a Union? Are you satisfied with the working relationship and effectiveness of your employees?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image20837021

Is it possible to improve working relationships with employees that are unionized?

  • All organizations should always be striving to improve their working relationships with their employees whether or not they are unionized. Yes, it is frequently more difficult when a union is involved but it can be done. My experience is that the majority of the objectives of both management and the unionized employees are typically very similar. However, sometimes there are differences and both sides tend to focus on those differences rather than work on what that they have in common.
  • Similar objectives would frequently include: more business, good quality, high morale, safe working conditions, having good communication process in place, satisfied customers, teamwork and that the business is successful long range. So does it not make sense to work together to strive for improvements on the goals management and the union have in common?
  • So, how would you go about improving your working relationship with unionized employees? The first step is to see if top management is together and committed to the task. If not do not start the journey! Keep working with the top leadership group until they can agree to truly support the endeavor even if they are not optimistic that a major improvement is likely.
  • Then the very top representatives of management should meet with the very top union leaders to determine if there would be agreement with working to improve the working relationships. If not at the initial session then continue to work the topic through time. Assuming agreement, my next suggestion is to find an outside resource with experience doing this type of work that both sides could trust. Let this person facilitate developing a plan but I would hope that it included a very high level team with representatives from both side with the outside resource facilitating the process. What the plan would consist of would vary depending on the situation that exists within the organization.
  • The plan would include identifying those common goals and determine how they can work together to accomplish those rather that improving in areas where there are differences. It could also be a combination.
  • What you need to understand is that if you have a dissatisfied workforce, low morale, etc. it is costing you money! You might want to make an estimate of the potential savings. This could motivate you to make the investment required. I suggest that you make an estimate of this number and use that as a part of a discussion with your leadership team. I also suggest doing it sooner rather than later.

Are you satisfied with the working relationship with your employees?  If not what are you going to do about it?

 

 

Interested in Preventing Unions from Forming in Your Organization?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image20837021

  • Having a union develop within an organization is usually not good for long range business success.  It is usually a sign of real problems that exist that leadership has not addresses.  Leadership may or not be aware of the problems.  Whether or not they are known something needs to be done or a union could possibly be formed.  Eliminating a union is much more difficult than preventing one from forming. 
  • Dealing with this threat starts by identifying a clear definition of the problem.  This can be accomplished by having interviews conducted with a cross section of employees.  Selecting the proper person to conduct the interviews is critical.  It needs to be someone that employees are most likely to being truthful and will not appear to be biased regarding the problems.  Most often this is someone from outside the organization.  The purpose of the interviews should be stated in advance as part of a communications program with all employees.  It could be that the interviews are to determine why morale is low, etc.  It should be stated that specific comments of specific individuals will never be revealed but a summary of issues identified by multiple employees will be presented to leadership. 
  • After the key problem or problems have been identified a summary needs to be developed and presented to leadership.  Then a plan needs to be developed to address the issues.  Developing the plan could best be accomplished by the leadership team and through facilitation by the person that conducted the surveys.  Leadership now needs to follow through with the plan.  A series of facilitated follow up sessions with leadership should be scheduled to increase the likelihood of follow through.  Lastly, follow up interviews should be conducted to see if the employees are in agreement that things are better. 

 

How good are you with providing performance feedback to your employees?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image4232679

  • It is very important for employees to receive regular feedback regarding their performance.  This should come in a variety of ways.  Something most people do not do enough of is to give their people positive feedback when they do good work.  Just letting them know when you see them do good work is very rewarding to them and has a positive impact on their performance.  Also, when you see unsatisfactory work you should also let them know that you are not pleased.  If you find that the majority of your feedback is negative this could be a sign of a bigger issue that needs to be addressed.  Examples could be that they are not in the right job, they have not been properly trained or expectations are not clear.  It is important to identify and address whatever the issue is because continuously complaining to an employee lowers their morale and reduces productivity with them and others.

 

  • Besides giving ongoing performance feedback to employees they also need to be given a formal performance review.  This is typically an annual event but should be more frequent for new employees and employees with significant performance problems.  Two things are required to do this properly.  The first is a need for a job description which describes expectations at a high level.  The second is to have specific goals that the person is to accomplish.  I have previously written blog articles describing both of these.  There are different phases to a performance review.  These are listed below with comments regarding each:

 

  1. Planning:
    • Feedback needs to be obtained from others that work with the person
    • A form needs to be filled out and a template that can be used is attached
  2. Conducting:
    • The actual review with the employee
    • Discuss performance in each area
    • Provide an overall rating
    • Discuss strengths and weaknesses
  3. Development plans
    • Develop a specific plan for addressing the areas where improved performance is needed.
    • Schedule and have follow-up sessions to ensure that the plan is being implemented.

I suggest trying this with one employee to evaluate its effectiveness.  If that is a positive experience then utilize it with others.

Do your employees have appropriate goals?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image12544176

I wrote in a recent blog article about the importance of having a job description.  That is the first step with ensuring clarification of expectations but it is at a high level and more details are needed.  A good means for doing that is to establish goals to accomplish.  Frequently the time period is for the coming year but they could be for any time period.

 The process for doing this is not complex.  Take each area of their responsibility and decide specifically what you want them to accomplish.  It is good to have as many as possible identified in a measurable way but it is not always possible to do so.  Below are some examples:

  • Marketing
    • Develop a new website by 11/15
    • Develop a plan for better utilizing Social Media by 2/1
  • Sales
    • Establish three new customers each month
    • Increase sales for the year by 25%
  • Personnel
    • Conduct performance reviews for each of your people by 1/15
    • Establish goals for all of your people by 2/1
  • Quality
    • Reduce returns by 20% by 3/1
  • Personal development
    • Propose a plan for development by 1/5
  • Facilities
    • Remodel and upgrade the offices by 7/1
  • Health and Safety
    • No major violations on any OSHA inspections
    • Reduce serious injury frequency by 20% in the coming year

There needs to be an agreement between the supervisor and the employee regarding the goals

Could your organization benefit from all employees identifying and focusing on the appropriate goals?

 

Do you have job descriptions for all employees?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image25782559

  • Almost all large organizations have job descriptions for their employees because they see the value.  However, most small organizations do not.  This is probably because they have never experienced using it and thus do not know how or see the potential benefit.  It is critical for everyone to have a clear understanding of expectations of them and a job description is one of those ways.  Employers cannot hold employees accountable if expectations are not clear.  I have talked with supervisors and listen to them complain about employee performance but when I ask to see documents describing expectations they frequently do not have them.  All organizations should have job descriptions for all employees.

 

  • Attached is a very simple model that can be used.  Other things could be in the template but I am trying to keep it simple to increase the likelihood that smaller organizations will use it.  I am sure that this template will not be of benefit to large businesses as they already have one that is as good or even more complete.

 

I suggest that you evaluate the tool and determine if it can be of value.  I suggest that you find one position and develop a job description for it.  Then discuss it with the person in the position.  I predict that what you identified as roles and responsibilities will not be exactly the same as what the employee thought.  Resolving these differences can be a very valuable activity.

Is it clear in your organization who is responsible for what and their level of authority?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image16489380

  • I have found that in many organizations it is not really clear who has responsibility for certain activities and exactly how much authority they have.  This is a barrier to becoming a high performance organization.  I use a methodology that can bring clarity in this area.  It can best be explained by using an example of its use along with a document developed and it is attached.  I suggest printing it and referring to it as you read the rest of this article. 

 

  • The leadership team of a manufacturing plant agreed that clarity was needed regarding roles, responsibilities and levels of authority.  I facilitated a meeting of this group to bring clarity in these areas.  The first thing we did was to identify the areas where clarity was needed.  This was done during a brainstorming session and the roles were identified and can be seen in the first column.  The actual list was much longer but I have shortened it for the purpose of just explaining the methodology.  I will explain the process using the first role which is handing an employee that refuses to do a job.  Facilitating the discussion the group agreed that the production supervisor (PS) had the primary responsibility for handling that situation. The next question was clarifying his level of authority.  You can see that it was a 4 and what that means is identified below the table.  The person that is ultimately responsible is identified in the next column and in this case is the plant manager (PM).  The last column indicates who should be communicated with regarding the situation and in this case it was the HR Manage (HR).

 

  • It is important to reach consensus on each decision made.  A goal should be to downward delegate as much as possible.  Decisions could be impacted by the experience and capability of the individual in the position.  Changes could be made through time as for example when a person has more experience.

 

Are you sure that roles responsibilities and levels of authority are clear in your organization?  How can you determine the answer to that?

Could you have employees that have issues inhibiting productivity?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image4232679

It is important to have a means for understanding issues employees have that are preventing high performance.  When employees have unaddressed issues this frequently results in low morale and lower performance.  Thus knowing what their major issues are and addressing them should be a high priority. 

Possible issues could include:

-no one listens

-not appreciated

-priorities change too rapidly

-issues with a particular supervisor

-issues with a fellow employee

-working environment

-working hours

-fear of company success

-lack of teamwork

-lack of trust

-fear of reprisal

-lack of important information

-no means for providing suggestions

 

  • Identifying the issues your employees might have is the first step in the process.  I believe that appropriately designed employee interviews can be an effective technique for understanding their issues as I have seen this work.   The employees should be told why the interviews are being conducted.  This could be that “top leadership wants to know of any barriers that might be interfering with employees being able to do their jobs in a highly productive way”.   They should also be told that no one will know what any specific individual said.  All input would simply be summarized and presented to top management and they will be responsible for addressing their issues. 

 

  • A key question is determining who should conduct the interviews.  There are two basic options with one being a person or persons in the organization or an outside resource.   This person must be someone the employees can trust and often it is best to have someone like a consultant that is not a part of the organization.

 

  • The issues identified should be summarized and presented to top management.  They would be responsible for developing and implementing a plan for addressing the important issues.

 

Can you afford not have a means for not understanding issues preventing your employees from doing their jobs in a highly productive way?

Are you frustrated with employees that do not perform up to your standards?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image2257940

Unsatisfactory employee performance is not an employee problem.  This is a management problem.  Yes, I realize that is probably hard to swallow but consider the following before you draw final conclusions.

I contend that there are five key factors to obtain high levels of employee performance and management is responsible for each.

  1. Hiring the right people
  2. Ensuring expectations are clear
  3. Training
  4. Supervising the employee appropriately
  5. Properly monitoring performance and either improving it or dismissing them

 

Think of an employee that is performing below your level of expectation.  Let’s examine the problem in each of these five areas.

  1. Hiring process:  You have probably already hired the person so do you believe that your hiring process was effective?  If not you might need to determine how to improve that process. 
  2. Ensuring clear expectations: Do you have good documentation of expectations including: job description, procedures, policies, goals and objectives?  Having these is critical.
  3. Training: Do you have a good training process? Improve that process if it is not meeting your needs.  Do you have a means (written tests or demonstration of proficiencies) for determining if the employee actually learned what they needed to learn?  If not you should develop a means for doing so.  Do you have written documents for the employee to refer to after training?
  4. Supervising: Does the employee’s supervisor observe them doing the work to see if they are doing it the way they were trained and take corrective action if they are not?  Has the supervisor been trained to do this?
  5. Monitoring performance: Formal reviews should take place periodically for discussing satisfaction regarding their performance.  This should include both complements for the areas where performance is good.  Areas needing improvement should be identified and a game plan developed for improvements.  Follow up sessions should be scheduled to ensure satisfactory improvements.  Should performance not improve then the process for dismissing the person should be followed.

Which of these is your major contributor to unsatisfactory employee performance?  Are you willing to be honest with yourself?  Most employers simply blame the employee. 

Are you going to continue blaming your employees or are you going to address your management shortcomings?  What is your action plan?

Do you have employees that are empowered but are not held accountable for delivering satisfactory results?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image12544176

Do you have employees that are empowered but are not held accountable for delivering satisfactory results?

Employees not delivering satisfactory results can be very frustrating to management.  I contend that the reason is likely problems in one of the following four areas.

  •  Ensure that expectations are clear
    • Job Descriptions
    • Goals
    • Objectives
    • Procedures
  • Provide training and assistance needed
    • Coaching
    • Classroom
    • Formal education
  • Monitor performance
    • Informal: daily observations
    • Formal: regular performance reviews
  • Improve performance
    • Develop a plan for improving performance
    • Ensure that consequences are clear for lack of improved performance
    • Follow through with the plan

 Which of these can assist you with holding your employees more accountable?

Do you have an internal change agent?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image17554899

What is an internal change agent?  It is a person working for an organization that has had training with a wide variety of tools techniques and methodologies that can assist with many aspects of improving performance.  It could be described as an internal consultant. 

Why should you consider having a change agent?  They can assist in a wide variety of ways with examples including:

  • meeting facilitation
  • problem solving
  • managing change
  • mediation
  • improving working relationships
  • project management
  • process improvement
  • improving communications
  • conflict resolution
  • and others

A larger organization should consider having this as one or more full time positions.  Smaller businesses could have it be a part of someone’s job.  You can hire someone with the skills or they can be developed.  One requirement is that the person must have good people skills.

What are the advantages of having:

Internal resource: ease of availability, less costly and it is a great means for developing future leaders.

External resource: typically more expertise will have the eyes of an outsider and ease of disposal if they do not more than earn their money.

If you have not experienced using a change agent it is difficult to comprehend the value.  You could consider finding a business associate that has used the concept and asking them for their advice.  Should their advice cause you to want to have one then develop and implement a plan for obtaining one.

Does your decision making style provide the best results?

 http://www.dreamstime.com/-image9985583

Importance

Obviously leaders must make many decisions.  A key for providing effective leadership is providing for the best decisions possible.  I would offer that major decisions should be made in the leadership team of the organization.  The key is for the team to use the decision making style that provides the best results.  There are multiple styles that can be used. 

Guidelines for Making

Click here to see a Power Point slide presentation which explains basic styles.  Each of four styles has a time and place when it is the best for making specific decisions.  Each team needs to determine the means by which they will make decisions.  The slides were developed to be a part of a presentation and so by themselves might not answer all of your questions. 

 

Should you make changes with how your team makes decisions?