Are you a resilient leader?

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity.  We need it in our personal  lives and we certainly need it at work! It means we can “bounce back” from difficult experiences.

Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. People usually show resilience but that doesn’t  mean they don’t experience difficulty.

Resilience isn’t necessarily something you are born with it – you learn how to show it.  Relationships that create warmth and trust, that provide role models, and offer encouragement and reassurance help bolster a person’s resilience.

Several additional factors are associated with resilience, including:

  • The ability to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out
  • A positive approach and confidence in yourself
  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving abilities
  • The ability to handle your own emotions

Not everyone reacts the same way to challenges.  An approach to building resilience that works for one person might not work for another.  A person’s culture probably has an impact on how he or she communicates feelings and deals with adversity

But here are some strategies for building your own resilience and encouraging it in those you lead.

  1. Develop strong connections with others!  Good relationships with other people mean that you can support each other.  This is particularly important in organizations going through difficulties – sometimes it is only team work that can pull you through!
  2. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You may not be able to change what has happened but you can change how you respond.  As the leader, this will affect how others respond. Keep your eye on the bigger picture and look beyond the present to how future circumstances will be better.
  3. Accept that change happens. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
  4. Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic and short term goals and start to move towards them.  That will inspire confidence in your ability to move towards your bigger goals and towards a time beyond the present problems.
  5. Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can and take decisive actions.  Don’t let people detach completely from problems and just wish they would just go away.
  6. Encourage people to look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves in difficult circumstances and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of the challenge.  Many people who have experienced difficulties have reported better relationships, a greater sense of strength (even while feeling vulnerable) and an  increased sense of self-worth.
  7. Encourage people to nurture a positive view of themselves. Developing confidence in their ability to solve problems and trusting their instincts helps build resilience.
  8. As the leader keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you and them to expect that the good times will come back.  In turn that probably will speed the time it takes to resolve the problem.

I am Wendy Mason and I work as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger.  I have worked with many different kinds of people going through personal  and career change. If you would like my help, please email me at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439.  I will be very pleased to hear from you.

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Alice down the rabbit hole – or customer service and schizophrenia in the downturn!

I’m reading ‘Surviving Change – A Manager’s Guide’ from Harvard Business Press. It advises on managing in the downturn and opens with a discussion of different survival strategies – hard and soft!  In fact, most change is a mixture of the two and the strategy chosen usually reflects the underlying culture of the organisation!   How the mix works is critical because if it is not well managed it can become fraught with conflict and demoralising for people in the organisation; it can lead to a schizophrenic approach to customers.

The ‘hard’ approach to change is usually short-term and about economics  – cut costs and increase cash flow! If a unit, or an employee, cannot demonstrate how they add financial value, out they go with very little ceremony or concern for personal well-being. The change is usually hard driven from the top with little wider engagement.  Often consultants advise the magic inner circle and HR consultants deal with casualties that might cost the organisation.

Soft change focuses on developing the organisation to meet new conditions with high engagement across the piece from the leaders. Employees trust in the informal contract they have with the organisation and work towards its well being.

Sadly experience shows that neither soft or hard approaches work in isolation.  The hard approach works in the short term but with that alone you are usually left with a demoralised and disloyal workforce – your best employees probably left at a rate of knots when you started the change.  The soft approach can take years to embed and the market doesn’t stand still!

Most successful change is a combination of hard (rationalisation well managed) and soft (employee engagement and encouragement to learn new skills).  But if change is a reflection of underlying culture and that has conflicts within it, a change can put the whole organisation out of kilter.  What I’m thinking of here is an organisation that pays lip service to soft but is really hard.  I believe in the downturn this is likely to be an increasing problem, particularly in the service sector.

Clients of service companies, particularly in the UK public sector, like to hear how well the company manages its employees.  A tender panel may take great interest in training and development approaches but, of course, the final decision is usually made on the keenest price.  In the present climate the client is likely to continue to seek cost reductions, which mean lots of change to be managed.  This can lead a company into a kind of schizophrenia.  It flags up all the good things its HR team would like to do but finds itself increasingly having to make hard, and very short-term, decisions.  As a consequence, its own employees and its middle managers in particular, become confused and a little cynical!  In turn this impacts on the service delivered to the client – so the client pushes harder!

What is the answer.? Well maybe it starts with a little more honesty on both sides!   Perhaps clients should start being more realistic about how they expect their service companies to manage for the price they are prepared to pay.  Perhaps the companies should be a little more honest with clients, and  with themselves, about the real costs of delivering ‘cuts’  At the end of the day, a client gets what they pay for and it they want to see services well managed with employees committed to the services they deliver, they need to recognise there will always be a cost even in the downturn!

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FIVE TIPS FOR YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY FOR HARD TIMES

We are all going through change all the time.  But at the moment many of us are going through changes we would not have chosen as a result of the poor state of the Economy.

All change requires some form of communications/media management.  It’s vital that you have a strategy in place especially if you’re hoping that social media will play a role in your career advancement or your business survival business.

Here are 5 tip for your social media strategy

1. Integrate Online and Offline
Your communication’s strategy needs to cover both your off line and and online activities (see our recent post about managing your brand)  – you want to maximise both forms of interactions.  You are going to make every effort, campaign, and initiative count.

2. Start with a plan
Before you jump in, make sure you have a plan – think about who you are trying to influence.  Who has an interest in you or your business and what you want to provide.  List them and then decide – how important they are  – how much influence they have over your future – you can score them out of five under each heading!  Those with the highest score are the people to concentrate on. For social media you are usually looking at communities – what communities are you going to engage in?  Now what will  engagement will look like? What is the message and where are you going to communicate it – blogs, social network sites, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook etc.?  How much time have you got and how many resources do you have available?  Now we are going to concentrate on social media

3. Engage in Conversations
When you use social media, it’s important to engage in conversations and get to know people just like in the off-line world.  Don’t just get in there and start pitching – it will just put people off!  Don’t be anxious to promote yourself or business at first,!  Add value and expertise and win respect in your conversations.  When you have done that opportunities will open up to talk about you and your business.  You need to win the right to pitch!

4. Monitor your Brand
Use tools like Google Alerts, Scoutlab, and Radian6 to monitor what’s being said about you, your company, your competitors and the market you are targeting. Knowing what’s being said about you and/or your brand can make you aware of your brand evangelists as well as your brand assassins. Knowing what’s being said about your competitors and the market can also make you more competitive. Simply putting your name and the name of your company into a search engine regularly will tell you a lot about your web presence!

5. Focus and Ignore the Noise
There are so many conversations taking place and so much interesting content that it easy to be distracted.  This is where your plan comes in – remind yourself what you are trying to say and the communities you want to address.  Stick to the plan – but review it at regular intervals as you get to understand more about social media.  You can streamline your plan to better target individuals and the communities that you need to be a part of. It also saves time – social media is so enjoyable to use it can be the greatest time waster in the world!

Above all remember -  “If content is king, then conversationion is queen.” – John Munsell, CEO of Bizzuka

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10 WAYS TO BE A GREAT BOSS IN A RECESSION

Being a good boss is always the way to get the best out of your team.  This becomes more, not less, important during a recession when every resource available to you counts.  Even if you have to let people go, there is a right and wrong way to do it.  Here are 10 ways in which you can be a great boss

Priorities

Do align your priorities with the needs of the business, but then, if you can, find a way to reconcile them with the needs of your staff.  Explain your priorities clearly to your team – make sure they understand.  If things have changed make sure they understand why! More at link

Idealism

Have ideals but stop being idealistic – do not be a perfectionist but do expect good quality – there is a difference.  Recognize that your staff are human and human being do make mistakes.  When it happens find out why and try to make sure conditions or systems change so that it does not happen again – it’s not your place to punish.  If there is a disciplinary issue then deal with it quickly, fairly, and by the rules – see Integrity below! More at link

Praise and Recognition

Don’t look for excuses to be disappointed – start looking for excuses to say well done!  Say thank you to your staff!  Even when you can’t give bonuses, personal recognition goes a long way in making people feel valued and motivated. More at link

Staying Calm

Try being more relaxed and appearing more positive even in these challenging times.  If necessary use a relaxation technique to help you control your own anxiety – don’t spook your staff!   Be realistic but don’t panic – it just frightens people!  Remember Type B personalities succeed just as often as Type A in this day and age and they live longer to enjoy it! More at link

Listening

Listen to what your people have to say even when you don’t actually want to – make the time. Don’t but in with the “buts” – hear them out.  Listening is part of recognizing them and their contribution.  Surprise! surprise!, they may just come up with the idea that saves the business.  More at link

Team Work

Learn to be part of the team – join in the jokes (so long as no one else is excluded) – they will still respect you.  If they really feel part of the crew they are more likely to stick with the boat even when it is leaking a bit.  Be part of the conversation – It will help you understand what they are thinking. Useful resources on team work at this link

Delegation

Check your delegation.  Are you still delegating all that you can?  In times of pressure don’t lose confidence in the team and start pulling things back .  It’s de-motivating for them and they might just feel like leaving you to it.  Show you have confidence in their ability to help pull the organization through! More at link

Patience

Don’t rush into panic decision making because you feel anxious.  Its a natural reaction but it really will not help – a panic reaction is not likely to be the best one.    Take time to make decisions properly.  Gather the facts, seek the views of your staff.  The when you have made the decision take time to explain it to them ,if you can. More at the link

Integrity

Be as honest as you can and above all be fair.  Tell them the real position if you can, but also tell them what you are doing about it.  If they have a role explain that to them.  Be as hones as you can about the risks but don’t threaten the business with your honesty – its a fine judgment call.  When you can, help your staff prepare for bad news.  But combine all of this with being scrupulously fair.  They will know if you play the favorites game or take the opportunity to pay off old scores when you are laying people off or reducing hours.  You will lose good will and that extra contribution you need from those who stay.

Training

If you can keep on training your staff.  Encourage them to train themselves.  If there are training opportunities locally encourage them to take them.  Learning new skills could be good for your business and it will help them cope if you have to lose them.  That will help the people who stay to keep their morale up and so your productivity.  Don’t stop thinking about your own professional development needs – you too need to prepared for an uncertain future!

There are 10 ideas here but there must be lots more out there.  If you have views on the ideas above and more ideas to contribute then please make a comment.  This is an important time and organizations need to make the best use of all their resources.  People are the most important resource of all.  There will be more resources here to help you cope with the times a head – so do come back!

Here is a link to what someone else thinks makes a good boss in hard times


http://www.usnews.com/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2009/3/25/how-to-be-a-good-boss-in-bad-times.html?msg=1

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GETTING READY FOR THE UPTURN

One thing is for certain, the recession will end and there will be an upturn in the economy!

What can we do?

  • For years in the “good times” we’ hoped for an island of calm – a period of consolidation to shore up the foundations. A chance to get those IT systems “sorted”, a chance to really look at costs and get even better deals with suppliers, exploit the the systems we have rather than add more systems, a chance to exploit Knowledge Management and show the value it can really deliver.  As an individual, a chance to get some training done or at least to read the latest business books and research on the internet.
  • It’s a time to review our approach to technology and where it is going.  How can we future proof our organisation and be ready to exploit what is available when the upturn appears. And not be chasing the pack trying to implement these systems when they are the norm and our firms are growing. Remember some of the new technologies now will be the next equivalent of corporate email (and email will probably be dead!). As an individual now is the time to educate ourselves about these new developments – social networking is an obvious example
  • Time to be wary and look after your remaining staff. Growth will bring churn into your departments, there will be opportunities galore for people as other firms grow and need to move beyond the skeleton staff they’ve had to operate with under current times. Your best people will be out the door first if they haven’t been “looked after”.  As an individual again begin to look out for the signs and prepare to be wanted again – what choices will you make for yourself?
  • Maybe now it’s time to use any downsizing to re-organise and refresh your teams, mould them for what’s to come. Not for what is now but for the future! How can you and your employees work more flexibly and be ready for future changes – how can you become more resilient?

But basically get out of the bunker, be creative and get ready! The upturn is coming!

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VALUING AND APPRECIATING STAFF IN A RECESSION

In an earlier post on being a great boss in a recession we wrote about the need to give praise and recognition to staff.  Here is the quote.

“Don’t look for excuses to be disappointed – start looking for excuses to say well done!  Say thank you to your staff!  Even when you can’t give bonuses, personal recognition goes a long way in making people feel valued and motivated.”

York University (Ca) produce a super little toolkit which is at the link below. Its full of simple and imaginative ideas and almost entirely free ways to demonstrate how much you value your team.

Its even more worthwhile in a recession. A Gallup survey found those who received regular recognition and praise – increased their productivity, increased engagement, were more likely to stay, gained higher customer loyalty and had better safety records!

Here is just a sample from the toolkit on PRAISE

Personal

Who are you giving this too?

What are their interests?

Relevant

What are you recognizing/rewarding?

Is there some unique recognition opportunity?

Appreciated

What kind of recognition/reward does the individual (or group) value?  Ask them, how they are best motivated.  Some will prefer public praise and others in private.  Praise them for doing things they value – for using their strengths.

Go out of your way.

Informed

Know what happened and who should be recognized

Be timely! Reward staff as soon as possible after the desired behavior or achievement

Sincere

Only say what you mean

Communicate specifically the attitudes and behaviors that are being recognized

Nurture the relationship you have with others so that you genuinely care

Don’t fake it

Expressed

Be sure to express your appreciation even if it may appear obvious to you.

Here is the link

A_Guide_to_Appreciating_Recognizing_Staff.pdf (application/pdf Object).

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BEING A GREAT BOSS IN A RECESSION – OVERCOMING PERFECTIONISM

In an earlier post on being a great boss in a recession we spoke about having ideals but not being idealistic – not being a perfectionist but expecting good quality!  Here is a useful article from About.Com which should help!

Overcoming Perfectionism: How To Develop a Healthier Outlook

Learn to Be Perfectly Imperfect!

By Elizabeth Scott, M.S., About.com

About.com Health’s Disease and Condition content is reviewed by the Medical Review Board

Are You A Perfectionist? Perfectionism can rob you of your peace of mind, enjoyment of life, and self esteem. Though it’s a process that may take a little time, shedding the burden of perfectionism can greatly decrease the level of stress you feel on a daily basis. Here are some important steps you can take to maintain a healthier attitude:
Make a Cost-Benefit Analysis:

Take a closer look at your perfectionistic traits. You may think you’re more effective because of them (although according to research, this probably isn’t true), but at what cost? Perfectionism has many negative consequences, and you may be experiencing several of them right now. Make a list of all the ways perfectionism is hurting you (and those around you), and you’ll be more motivated to shed these tendencies.

Become Aware of Your Tendencies:

You may not realize how pervasive perfectionism can be. By becoming more aware of your patterns, you’re in a better position to alter them. If you’re able, it’s a great idea to record your perfectionistic thoughts as they pop into your head. If it’s impractical for you to jot thoughts down as they come, it’s a great idea to go over your day each night and remember the times when you felt you’d failed, or hadn’t done well enough, and write down what you thought at the time. This will help you become more aware of perfectionistic thoughts as they come to you in the future. (You can even journal about your feelings about these thoughts, but don’t feel you’ve ‘failed’ if you don’t have time to do this!)

See the Positive:

If you’re struggling with perfectionism, you probably have honed the skill of spotting mistakes in even the best works of others and of yourself. You may just naturally look for it, and notice it above all other things. While this habit may be difficult to just stop, you can soften your tendency to notice the bad by making a conscious effort to notice all that is good with your work and the achievements of others. If you notice something you don’t like about yourself or your work, for example, look for five other qualities that you do like. This will balance out your critical focus and become a positive new habit.

Alter Your Self-Talk:

Those who wrestle with perfectionism tend to have a critical voice in their head telling them their work isn’t good enough, they’re not trying hard enough, and they’re not good enough. If you’re going to overcome perfectionism, you need to work on changing this little voice! Negative self talk can perpetuate unhealthy behaviors and wreak havoc on your self esteem; by altering your self talk, you can go a long way toward enjoying life more and gaining an increased appreciation for yourself and your work. These tips can help.

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