Archive for March, 2012
Posted on March 9th, 2012 by admin Comments Off
Internal reorganization, downsizing and succession planning can be times of high employee anxiety. The uncertainty of the future brings about various kinds of stressful environments. Even if an employee’s job is not directly affected, the transitions and changes in the lives of fellow employees have an emotional impact on all.
Five steps can be taken to lessen the stress brought about by transitions in the work force:
First, it is important for the leader or leadership team, whether it be CEOs, pastors, principals, bishops or others in leadership positions to create and exhibit an attitude of caring. Acknowledging the pain and suffering the new situation is generating is a first step. Being available to employees and recognizing their concerns goes a long way in letting people know you care.
Second, listen deeply and demonstrate that you have heard the distresses, the hurts, the perplexities. Deep listening means standing in the shoes of the other as he or she struggles with the necessities such as health insurance, paying mortgages, tuitions, etc., or in the case of restructuring of jobs, the need to learn new skills or work in new departments and augment relationships.
Third, engage in dialogue about needs and concerns. Some of the dialogue needs to focus on internal issues such as timelines, ideas for next steps, reducing stress, building a positive momentum. If jobs are being eliminated, some dialogue needs to be concentrated on external needs such job transitions and practical items such as severance pay and health insurance, etc.
Fourth, secure transition resources. It is important to transition well, even when resources are limited. Providing for sessions dealing with loss and letting go for all employees is important. Offering inservices for those involved in the new structure makes fresh beginnings possible for veteran as well as new employees. Recognizing feelings as well as being clear about the purpose and direction of the new entity is important. For instance, if parishes are to merge, or departments be reconfigured, or hospitals are to be consolidated, it is important for the employees to have some input into the future realities. This increases ownership and decreases resistance.
Fifth Max DePree in Leadership is an Art, states the first job of the leader is to define reality and the last is to express gratitude. Genuine expressions of gratitude, made as specific as possible, are extraordinarily valuable during times of transition. It is one thing to lose one’s job due to economic conditions, personnel decisions or advanced technology. It is another to lose it with no sense that one has made significant contributions to the organization. Genuine expressions of gratitude are extremely significant in helping both individuals and organizations move forward.
The pain of transitions can never be eliminated. However, by considering the steps outlined above, a leader can truly make a difference in how people and companies move forward.
Posted on March 1st, 2012 by admin Comments Off
Ken Cloke, founder of Mediators Beyond Borders and author of several books including Resolving Conflicts at Work: 10 Strategies for Everyone on the Job, recently presented a workshop at Antioch University in Seattle entitled, Rethinking the Way We Work.
At the workshop, he shared 14 values or guiding principles of conduct to improve the way we work together. I found these principles to be practical and something each of us can use to improve our lives at work.
Inclusion, Collaboration, Teams and Networks, Vision
These four principles illustrate that the most effective workplaces are those where everyone feels included and has a role in contributing to the mission of the organization. The principles of inclusion, collaboration and teams remind me of how much more we achieve when we work together than if we try to go it alone. Vision is a critical element–with a shared vision, people have more energy and higher morale because they are working for something beyond just their own self-interest.
Celebration of diversity, Process-awareness, Open and honest communication, Risk-taking
When trust and respect are high, diversity–or “all the ways we are different”–leads to a richer work environment where differences add to the group’s success rather than distract from it. The values of process-awareness and open & honest communication illustrate that how we work with each other is just as important as the results we achieve. When people can converse respectfully and address conflicts in good faith, the bottom-line results are greater. Risk-taking is important–we need to be willing to ask the “what-if” questions and even be the one lonely dissenter when everyone else in the group is thinking alike.
Individual and team ownership of results, Paradoxical problem-solving, Everyone is a leader
Individual and team ownership of results means that it is important for those we work with to feel individual success as well as the team’s success–the outcome is fewer “silos” at work and more examples of thinking together. Paradoxical problem-solving indicates that one size doesn’t fit all–every situation needs fresh consideration of alternatives to find effective solutions. Everyone on the team has the gifts to contribute to the success of the whole, and therefore everyone needs the opportunity to exercise effective leadership.
Personal growth and satisfaction, Seeing conflict as an opportunity, Embracing change
The workplace is most enjoyable when people are continually learning and growing, and the more that people enjoy their work the more they contribute to a positive, productive workplace. To see conflict as an opportunity requires “super-vision” where differences are not a roadblock but a stepping stone to transform the challenge of conflict into opportunities for learning, insight, and growth. Workers that embrace change are able to move beyond the status quo into the possibility of discovering something that can better promote the mission of the organization.
I encourage you all to read Ken Cloke’s work. He combines a wealth of organization experience with hard-earned wisdom that can help us all improve our workplaces.
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