Chris Croft's Personal Blog

April 19, 2013

Practical actions to increase employee engagement

Filed under: Customer Care, Lists, Managing People — Tags: , , , , — chriscroft @ 12:15 pm

You can’t get great customer service, excellent quality of work, or creativity, without employee engagement. The people in the organisation have to care, otherwise you’re just going through the motions and you won’t survive.
There are lots of ways to STOP people caring – ignore them, reorganise them, freeze their pay, b*ll*ck them, etc. But a more difficult question is how to get them to engage with their work. Paying them a bonus isn’t the answer – that just makes them think about the money rather than the work, and there’s maybe also an implication that the work is so awful that you have to bribe them to do it.
So, how do we get people to care?

After 80,000 in-depth interviews with managers in over 400 companies, the Gallup Organization says that measuring the strength of a workplace can be simplified to these questions.

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

from First, Break All the Rules, What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman, Simon & Schuster, 1999.

So we know how to measure where we’re at. I think the question then is, how do we get the scores on the 12 questions to be better? How do we improve in these areas, and if we’re already doing the right things, how do we keep them in people’s awareness day in day out, year in year out?

Here are some thoughts (it’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a start and a work in progress)

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?



Clear job description, clear statement of how each person can help the organisation to achieve its strategic goals. Regular meetings where joint plans are agreed – probably weekly, so that people know what is expected of them in terms of actions and objectives.

Clear feedback on what’s good about their performance and what needs to improve, so that people know what is expected of them in terms of quality of work and level of performance. This could be done as an annual appraisal and regular reviews of progress against appraisal goals.

2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?



Apart from getting this right, it would help to ask people if they have the materials and equipment and then to listen to and act upon what they say. Also involve them in planning availability of materials and selecting which equipment to get.

3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?



Again this is part of the appraisal process – discuss with each person what they feel they do best, and compare this with what YOU their manager think they do best. They can’t do this all the time, but you might be able to plan a certain amount of it into each day, and to evolve their job towards doing more and more of their agreed area of excellence. Make sure they know you are doing this, and discuss with them the longer term plans for how you will get them to be doing more and more of it.

4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?



This one is easy – thank everyone once a week! Find something they have done that’s good, and tell them. This requires knowing what they are doing, which probably involves Management By Walking About every day, but you can do that. Even plodders do good things every now and then, and need recognition for sticking at their task. Even people you don’t like need to be thanked. Even people you think are lazy need it, because that’s the way to encourage them to gradually become motivated. In fact, if they are lazy, maybe it’s your fault! Maybe you have failed to hook their enthusiasm?

5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?



Management by walking about, talking to everyone ideally every day but certainly every week, and ask questions and listen, really listen to what they are saying. Take some time with them if they need it. Your time is something that you can give away, that people really do value. Maybe sit and have a cup of tea with them. And act on what they are saying. Remember (maybe even put a note in your diary) and ask later if their cat is OK again now. Send flowers to the cat’s funeral.

6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?



Again a good appraisal system will help with this. How important appraisals are! Discuss the person’s future goals and plans with them, and what the organisation wants for them, how these two can overlap, and what skills and knowledge they will need, and how these will be developed. Development doesn’t have to be expensive; apart from training, face to face or on-line, they could be assigned to work alongside someone to learn from them, you or someone else could coach them in something to do with their work, and they could have a mentor (you or someone else), to help them think about their future more generally.

7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?



Everyone should be involved in decisions wherever possible. Suppose you are going to repaint the office, and you don’t really care about the colour (or even if you do) then instead of just picking a colour like the decisive person you are, it would be better to ask the people in the office what they think, have a discussion as a group, or even delegate the decision to them. How often is a machine bought without the person who is going to use it even being asked? At the very least have a vote occasionally and let everyone put in their opinion.

8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?



This one overlaps a little with Question 1, and the answer is to have a clear statement of how each person can help the organisation to achieve its strategic goals. And regular meetings where joint plans are agreed – probably weekly, so that people know how they can contribute to the overall plan.

For projects a Gantt chart could show the whole project and how and when each person contributes to it.

For processes each person should have ownership of part of the process, and maybe KPIs for their part of the process. Ideally their performance would be shown in financial terms – your section has made 20 tonnes of widgets this week and that has contributed £30,000 to the profit of the company. You have booked in 400 customers this week and those customers were worth a total of £40,000.

9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?



Quality should ideally be measured and publicized, with any problems examined and put right for the future by bringing in better systems and improved skills. Quality would be owned, so that each person has ownership of something, for some aspect of quality. But to get a higher score for this question it’s probably also necessary to hold regular meetings, perhaps quality circles (a team solves one big problem) or quality improvement teams (a team works on improving processes slightly, across the board).

10. Do I have a best friend at work?



How can management make this more likely to happen? Probably by encouraging team work (where teams solve problems together or deliver tasks and projects together), setting up a work environment where people meet as many others as possible (job rotation etc), where they get some time to talk with each other as they work, or during breaks, and where there is a physical environment that encourages socializing – maybe a coffee area, with free coffee. Also perhaps some social activities or even team building events outside of work. There could also be notice boards and intranet sites where spare time activities are encouraged and shared – the company chess club, the company dog training club, the company walking or foreign travel club – so that people with common interests can find each other and get together.

11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?



Clearly this is an appraisal question – what are your plans for the future, and how are you getting on at the moment in your work, etc. You can’t score on this list without a well designed and fully implemented appraisal system. So there should be both informal chats about progress and a more formal appraisal based one. And remember that appraisals aren’t a one a year shock immersion, they should be a drip feed of reviewing progress against the agreed plans.

12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?



Again a good appraisal system will help with this. How important appraisals are! Discuss the person’s future goals and plans with them, and what the organisation wants for them, how these two can overlap, and what skills and knowledge they will need, and how these will be developed. Development doesn’t have to be expensive; apart from training, face to face or on-line, they could be assigned to work alongside someone to learn from them, you or someone else could coach them in something to do with their work, and they could have a mentor (you or someone else), to help them think about their future more generally. You could even have a chart on the wall of everyone’s names, and what they are planning to learn this year, and a bar showing their progress so far.

It’s all standard good management processes, but how easy it is to forget all this stuff when you’ve got the usual every day pressures of jobs to go out, people off sick, emails coming in, and a boss wanting things done right away. But in the end the above list is vitally important – it’s the difference between the team doing everything for you, and you having to push it all along yourself.

Ways to use e-learning in conjunction with management training

100% e-course: Replace the whole course with an on-line version that people can do at their own pace, in chunks of any size, repeating and parts they want, with tests to check learning. Requires no extra time or cost to run; it is self contained.

Interactive e-course: Could involve boss (send answers to boss) and could involve interactive sessions with external trainer (send answers to trainer for marking, or “if stuck email external trainer”, or could include a skype session with external trainer. Could be a discussion forum with other learners.

Blended course: parts of the course are taught and parts are on-line. Maybe some parts can’t be done in e-format, like role plays, but the rest can. Reduces cost and increases flexibility but you still get the interaction and sharing of ideas. Could have a sequence on-line preparation, taught session with group, on-line revision. Or the reverse: face to face introduction and explanation, e-learning section, meet again as group to review and discuss (and ensure the e-part was done!).

Follow-up: after a traditional training course e-learning can be used as a follow up ~ “How much can you remember?” If stuck, here it is again. (A refresher after six weeks will double long term retention). “How are you getting on with applying the ideas? Please share your thoughts with the tutor and the other delegates”. So everyone learns from each other’s progress.

Trickle: rather than a lump of follow up, a series of small interactions can be designed, maybe a small tip or question or exercise of competition every week or month (or at random!), to keep the subject in the learners’ minds. This extends the training over a period of years and makes it really become embedded in working practice.

Add-on: “Here is more information on the subject”. An optional (or compulsory) advanced part 2 to the original course. This one, and the follow up, can be bolted on to any existing course, even if the course was done before e-learning was considered. With the blended course it needs to be planned in from the start, but not with this and the follow-up.

 

(It goes without saying that any of the above can be obtained from http://www.chriscrofttraining.co.uk)

April 16, 2013

Managing Upwards

I would divide this into two parts: general good practice when dealing with bosses, and dealing with problem bosses.

First there’s communication style
– Ideally you would tailor your communication style so that they find you easy to deal with, perhaps even like you! Are they in a hurry and wanting a quick summary or are they a thoughtful, detail person?
– Make sure you don’t become high maintenance. Don’t take up too much of their time, don’t check everything with them before you do it (unless they want that!), don’t send them big long reports or emails to read, don’t phone them at times when they are busy or tired or thinking about something else.
– Don’t always come with bad news and problems

Then there’s influencing
a) what’s in it for them, what do they want or need? They have weaknesses too, if you think about it – they need to you help them and do things that aren’t totally in your job description, maybe do longer hours every now and then, they need you to stay motivated in order for you to be creative and work hard, they need to look good to their peers and superiors, they don’t know all the answers so they need your help, etc), and…
b) what style of influencing is best for them? This depends on the type of person they are – are they influenced by facts and logic or by emotions and excitement? Are they risk-averse or are they impulsive and brave?

As bosses become more difficult then the main principles of assertiveness also apply to bosses as well as anyone else – use the 4 step process which is to

1) Understand their situation and say that you do,
2) Say how you feel (worried about letting the side down, feeling demotivated because you don’t have enough effect on performance of the job, etc, so not whingeing or negative but still concerned and not completely happy – this is a powerful second step since they can’t ignore it), then
3) what you want to happen – this makes it easier for them since you are giving them a solution, and makes you look positive, and
4) asking them if they agree, can they see your point of view, is the request reasonable – this commits them to a solution, and enables you to find out if there is any resistance in order to be able to handle it if necessary.

But if your boss is really bad, (as in psychotic / psychopathic / damaged / sadistic / useless, etc, and there are lots of these about), then there are only three options:

train your boss to behave better, using the four step process described above (may take repetition and persistence!)
leave (there’s always another job out there, you have to believe you’re worth of it, and there’s no harm in looking. The times I’ve been pushed I’ve looked back and thought I should have jumped ages earlier! If I had just had the courage!
cease to care … and they should be done in that order – doing a job you don’t care about is the worst outcome! If this happens they’ve won and you’ve lost.

April 14, 2013

The question of what to do next – finally solved?

I’m working on the Ultimate Jobs To Do list, which will be on your phone and syncs with your computer. Working with a computer genius friend of me we’ve really had to think hard about how we think, how we live our lives, how we should organise ourselves and how we actually tend to organise ourselves. If the list is to work in practice it has to cope with the fact that humans tend to be lazy, weak, cowardly and short term in their thinking (or is that only me??). This list app must be a servant rather than a slave driver, it’s got to help with planning, and be so quick and simple and intuitive that it doesn’t get in the way of the planning process.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Tasks can be listed by category, sometimes known as Context, so you can have Home, Work, House, Band, When I See Dave, etc. and you can filter by those.

But more importantly they will have levels of Importance, Urgency, Size, and Fun. All of these influence, or should influence, the order we do things.

For example, it’s easy to do the most fun things first, but if you do that you will probably under-achieve, but also your list will gradually become full of things that aren’t fun, to the point where you hate your list. So the system needs to give you a mix of fun and less fun tasks to do.

Similarly, if you always do the most urgent job, it’ll be a very short-term way of living your life, and the things that really matter will never get done, or at least not until it’s too late. Spending time with your parents or your children is important but not often urgent. The system needs to give important things some weight above the urgent ones.

But importance alone isn’t a reliable guide either. You still have to get the urgent (but unimportant) hassle-type stuff done in order to keep the rest of the world at bay.

I’ve added size as well, because you might only have a short window of time so you could pick something small, and also, doing quick wins is good but you also need, occasionally, to tackle the big ones. It’s important – because of how humans are – to have some variety between large and small, fun and not fun, important and urgent.
I’ve not added “Time on the list” because that’s also not a sensible way to prioritise. The date when things get added is fairly arbitrary in the first place. And then, after a while, the things that have been on the list a long time are still not necessarily the things you should do next, because they have been neglected thus far for a reason – maybe they’re just not important, or fun. Time on the list is really a result of the other four factors.

So many ways to get it wrong! – To do all the small ones or all the urgent ones or all the important ones or only the fun ones. Or none of the important ones or no urgent ones or none of the big ones.

So – no single factor is enough to prioritise your life, but a combination of them might be!

For example, (Importance/Size) is a measure of leverage, and jobs with greater leverage should be higher up your list. And the classic (Importance x Urgency) gives you a measure of what just can’t be ignored (if it’s not important you can leave it for a bit, and if it’s not urgent you can leave it for a bit, but if it’s both important and urgent then you really can’t). Then there’s (fun/size) – if something is fun and small (ie low effort) then that’s a quick win, especially if it’s important. But those large jobs, even if they aren’t very fun, do need to be done since they are the most prone to procrastination.

So I have a formula, a secret algorithm, that calculates all of the above and produces a list of what you should do, in order. Amazing! Ideally you would promise yourself that you’ll do whatever job, from your list of jobs, the formula tells you, and then press the button…

The formula / magic button is available on my free iphone app called JobsToDo – download it today!

Video of it here:  http://youtu.be/pcbQNs-nOvQ

 

Chris

 

PS – Worn out after reading that?  Then have a look at this to cheer yourself up…..   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SleYHOcLjOg

April 10, 2013

Daily steps to increased happiness – every day for a year

Filed under: Books and Culture, Happiness, Lists — Tags: , , , , , — chriscroft @ 5:03 pm

I love my daily happiness book – every date of the year has something you can do to increase you happiness, that’s 366 practical ideas, and you can use it year after year as a fun challenge.
It is available from here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/chris-croft/perpetual-happiness-calendar/paperback/product-20961931.html

Here is a random sample from it:
August 20
Organise a picnic with family or friends, either a fun one with kids or maybe a romantic one with a wicker basket and some alcohol, and a nice view, maybe for sunset.
Memories are made of things like picnics… Apart from the food, it’s free as well!

August 21
Go through all your jobs to do lists and move some of the items, especially some of the ones that have been there a while, onto a new list called “I’m never going to do these things, but never mind!”
After all, who says you’ve got to do everything?? Given that when you die there will still be things on your list, and it won’t matter, you might as well start choosing now, and consign the crappy stuff to this new list!

August 22
Walk around your home filming every object in every room.
As well as fun, making you realise how much you have, and being an interesting historical record to view in a few years’ time, this will also help if there is a fire or a burglary and you need to replace things and claim on insurance.

August 23
Spend some time with your parents, ideally face to face but on the phone would do. If you don’t have your parents any more then other older relatives.
It’s so easy to put off visiting older people, but when they’re gone we regret it. They may not be the easiest people sometimes, but they are also an amazing reservoir of experience and information about our common pasts.

August 24
Find a way to meet some new people today.
Your future best friend might be out there, passing you at the bus stop or playing in the tennis match that you haven’t managed to get to. And everyone we meet adds something to our experience.

August 25
Think of something big that you’re putting off, and take the first small step towards it today. No matter how small, this first step will feel great – the process has begun!
This method works because it fools your subconscious. Instead of “No I can’t face that” you think “Well that (first step) seems easy enough, yes I could do that” and before you know it you’re thinking “A bit longer and I could get this finished”.

August 26
Be a tourist in your own city.
Maybe go on an official guided tour, by bus or walking. Visit some touristy attractions that you’ve never been to, and try to learn a bit about the city. If you just discover one new thing about your home town it will have been worth it.

August 27
Thinking about your goals for your future: is at least one them a challenge? A little bit scary? Because it needs to be.
The feeling of writing down something as a goal that makes you feel uncomfortable is the feeling of your subconscious being expanded a little, and this allows you to achieve more than you would otherwise. And achieving challenging goals is one important source of happiness.

August 28
Today your task is to savour the sense of touch – the feel of wood, or leaves, or wool, or whatever. Maybe even a kitten! How wonderful the world is…
It’s so difficult to live in the present, and focussing on one of the senses is a way to do this – it kind of reinvents your world, making it new and more noticeable.

August 29
Write a list of everything that you are worrying about, and then against each one put what the possible actions are.
And begin them.

August 30
Say yes to something today that you probably wouldn’t normally say yes to, perhaps because it’s a bit scary or you don’t have the time – maybe it’ll be the best thing you’ve done for a while!
You might enjoy the film The Yes Man where Jim Carrey agrees to say yes to everything – and what a lot flows from that! This is a small version of that, where you just say yes to one or two things that you wouldn’t normally. Go to that party! Help that person! Do that activity that you don’t really fancy!

August 31
Find a body of water – the ocean, a lake, a river or a pond – and spend time looking at it, contemplating it, Ideally on your own.
Water is both restful and stimulating – mysterious and beautiful. The surface which you can see is quite boring, but what’s under there?

September 1
Make a list of past successes (on your own terms, whatever you feel is a success is fine) and put it somewhere where you can read them often. You deserve it!
Happiness comes from celebrating our successes – being proud of them, and revisiting them. But remember that as well as the past there’s the future, so don’t get TOO bound up in nostalgia. Ideally you’d have a great past AND a great future – and of course a fun present!

September 2
Are you worrying about anything that you can’t affect? Let it go. Say to yourself “All I can do is my best, I’ve prepared for it as much as I can, and what will be will be”
Worry can be a huge source of unhappiness for some people, and if you can’t do anything about it then you really are wasting energy. And even if you can, one you’ve done what you can, there is no more than you can do. What will be will be!

September 3
The Radish of Regret always tastes bitter – and we regret things we didn’t do much more than the things we did do. So – if you’re currently in doubt about whether to do something difficult or risky, decide today to do it!
Of course it’s still a good idea to assess risk, but if you feel 50/50 about something then the chances are it’s not TOO risky. And what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger….

September 4
Today’s happiness challenge is not for children – it’s to talk to strangers! Just briefly, just a friendly word.
See if you can make the effort to start a brief conversation with someone in the bus queue or lift or lunch queue or supermarket queue (hmm, maybe queues aren’t so bad after all!), someone walking their dog (just go up to them and admire the dog – it’s easy!). Happiness is increased for both of you.

September 5
How we spend our days is how we spend our lives: savour all the “ordinary” parts of your life today.
Take time to smell the roses. Make a constant effort to enjoy all the little things that you usually take for granted – your clothes, your car, your friends, your house, your food the view, your health, music, etc.

September 6
Create a Haiku (Google it, it’s a three line poem with 5 then 7 then 5 syllables. Very minimalist. For example, Crow has flown away: swaying in the evening sun, a leafless black tree.) You can do it!
But don’t write a Desk Haiku – where you imagine something and write about it. The best ones involve seeing something and then writing about it.

September 7
Compile a play list of music that makes you feel good.
Music is an instant hit of happiness, one of the easiest ways to influence your mood. I personally love depressing music like Stars by Janis Ian, or 10cc’s I’m Not In Love, and everything by Del Amitri, but today’s plan is to get some uplifting music like Walking on Sunshine, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Paolo Nutini’s New Shoes, almost anything by Pink, quite a bit of Disco, etc

September 8
Start a happiness graph – a piece of paper on the wall with dates along the bottom and a scale of 1-10 going up the left hand side. Put a blob each day and see what the pattern is like.
Maybe put some comments next to the blob saying why it’s high or low. What is it that brings you up or down? Can you do more of the good stuff and less of the bad?

September 9
At the end of today, make a list of the good things that you have experienced or had today – reasons to appreciate your life and the world. And consider making this a habit every day…
This could build into a great body of work after a while! If you live with someone it can be fun to do it as a joint activity at the end of each day.

September 10
Do three sets of press-ups, as many as you can in each set, then a break of a minute or two. You’ll feel better tomorrow for doing this. Don’t feel bad if you can only manage one or two, everyone has to start somewhere.
Pressups are one of the best all-purpose exercises, but they do require a bit of practice at first. If you can’t even do one (fairly common!) then you can rest on your knees rather than feet as you press the floor with your hands.

September 11
Today your task is to honour those who have suffered or even died to make your world as good as it is. In your mind, appreciate what you have. If possible, visit a memorial or military cemetery, or at least read a bit about what they did for you in the past.  This might bring you down at the time, but in the longer term it’ll make you more grateful and appreciative of everything you have.

September 12
Your challenge today is to go and see a football or rugby match (at any level) – Get really absorbed! Shout for your team!
This is an example of an activity that takes you away from your everyday cares – complete absorption in anything is a good source of happiness. And even if you don’t particularly like rugby or football you’ll find it absorbing, and that’s the key. Extra tip – wear comfortable shoes and a warm coat.

September 13
Finish work on time today, whatever it takes (but don’t get fired!!).
There, it wasn’t that bad was it? You can’t do it every day, but maybe from now on, at least once a week, you could maybe finish on time? All you have to do it leave some stuff until tomorrow, and maybe say “I can’t stay on late today I’m afraid, I’m…. (playing football / visiting my mum / looking after the kids / going for a cycle ride with some friends).

September 14
Treat yourself to some nice chocolate today. You deserve it!
Gosh it’s taken nearly a year to get around to chocolate! Not really a sustainable source of happiness, but as an occasional treat, why not? As long as you savour it you can get the maximum happiness from every piece….

September 15
Gift of appreciation – find someone you work with or socialise with who deserves some recognition, or a boost in confidence, and leave them an anonymous gift of flowers or chocolates – with a note saying “A gift of appreciation, for all you do”.
It doesn’t have to be anonymous, although that is rather fun, and makes the point that you aren’t doing it for any gain on your part, just purely to make them happy.

Imagine how much is in the full book – a bargain at £10 I reckon!
http://www.lulu.com/shop/chris-croft/perpetual-happiness-calendar/paperback/product-20961931.html

Add to basket!

April 9, 2013

The first six months

Filed under: Managing People — Tags: , , , , , , — chriscroft @ 5:49 pm

What should you do in your first six months as a manager in a new job?

I would say there are three steps: Sponge, Vision, and Action

1. Sponge

Soak up as much information as you can, both formal and informal. The formal side is to get all the numbers and understand your market, your costs, who are your best customers, what are the projections, which departments or products are profitable and which aren’t, etc. The informal side is to work out who are the key players, how the communication networks work, who is effective and who isn’t, etc. This is just as important as the formal side, and takes longer to get a handle on.

Part of being a good sponge is to do plenty of Management by Wandering About, seeing what really goes on, talking to the ‘real’ people at the front line (they’ll tell you the truth when they get to know you and when they see that you are a genuine listener with their future at heart).

You should also do a few days of Back To The Floor where you do the real front line jobs – choose the worst ones, the dirtiest or smelliest, so you get everyone’s maximum respect and also discover what things are really like. This will be SUCH a good use of your time!

If you can fix a couple of small obvious “quick wins” while in the sponge phase that would be great – otherwise it might look as if you are doing nothing.

One other good thing to do is visit a couple of your most important customers (internal and external) and find out what they think of the department, what they would like changed etc.  After all, their views are the ones that really matter.

2. Vision

Leaders are expected to come with a vision, but it’s hard to have an effective one without really understanding the business, so this is one thing you need to evolve during your first few months. It will be based on your previous experience combined with really understanding the issues of the business right now. It needs to be exciting, and simple enough to communicate, and later it needs to have a plan of how you’ll get there, so that everyone can see what their part can be to help us all to get there.

My personal opinion is that you should consult and involve your managers in the creation and clarification of this vision, but in the end it’s your call to declare it and then make it happen. Anyone who doesn’t buy into it 100% is out.

3. Action

If you don’t take some decisive actions towards the end of your first six months then you are finished. Observers (and that’s everyone!) will conclude that you are weak, or have no vision, and that nothing is going to change. Forces will start to strengthen against you. The honeymoon is over and problems are beginning to be your fault now, and yet you have done nothing to put them right. Tinkering is not enough, you have to get in there and create, and cut! Face up to some scary choices and make them. Kill some sacred cows and big beasts.

Don’t do step 3 before several months of step 1, however tempting it may be, because you’ll probably get it wrong. Make sure your actions are based on both the formal and the informal information you have gathered.

Maximum communication while you’re making the changes, both on a chair talking to the whole workforce, videos on the intranet, while MBWA-ing, through the chain of command, endlessly communicating.

Changes might be to people and/or systems, and should be targeted, so not just a big reorganisation for the sake of it (expensive and only the good people leave, getting other jobs easily) but targeting the bad areas and the bad people. Sometimes this is harder, but it must be done like this.

I hope this helps both those who are asked this at an interview, and those who are actually doing it. Good luck!

 

 

PS   thanks to Jeremy-Hamilton.co.uk for the ideas of the quick wins and consulting your customers during the Sponge phase.  Check out his blog too!

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