How to Align Change Strategy With Organizational Personality

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Countless change agents and other organizational interventionists fail to achieve desired results because they ignore or are unaware of the need to closely align change strategy with organizational personality. Durk I. Jager, former CEO of Procter & Gamble Co., was clear about his goals when he took office in 1999: shore up overseas operation and grow top brands. These measures would remedy sagging sales and redeem P&G’s image as the leading global marketer of consumer products. However, Jager’s strategy for achieving these goals was perceived as being so abrasive, so discordant with P&G’s personality, that his management team rebelled against him. He was forced to resign in less than two years. Alan G. Lafley, a longtime executive who understood and respected the company’s culture, took office in 2000. Through a combination of wisdom, humility, personal engagement, and a careful alignment of change strategy to corporate personality, Lafley has turned P&G into one of the great corporate success stories of the twenty-first century.

Lauded as the most innovative change agent for corporate culture, Carly Fiorina could not achieve her desired result at Hewlett-Packard. Fiorina had the right idea-turn HP into a more nimble market driver. By many accounts, she did just about everything right except for one thing: she underestimated the power of the HP Way. Even as criticism mounted about her imperial style, intolerance for dissent, finger pointing, swift and harsh measures, and alienation of rank-and-file employees, she proceeded seemingly contumeliously. Consequently, HP’s bottom line worsened under her leadership. Ironically, Mark Hurd, a relatively obscure figure, who replaced Fiorina after she was sacked in 2005, managed to accomplish much of what Fiorina dreamed of-delayer the organization, replace some of the old guard, increase response time to the market, improve financial performance-without encountering the same level of resistance and backlash. Like Lafley, Hurd demonstrates that any degree of change can be achieved by working through existing culture even if the ultimate goal is to replace that culture.

The above high-profile examples illustrate what can happen when there is misalignment at the highest level of an organization. The focus here, however, is on how to address this issue at all levels of the organization, with emphasis on the role of human resource, organization development, and training leaders.

What is organizational personality?

Personality is composed of a person’s innate tendencies, such as left-handedness or introversion, and external influence such as upbringing and experiences. Both influences, natural and learned, shape assumptions, beliefs, interests, and behavior.

Just as every person has a unique personality, the vision, mission, values, beliefs, assumptions, experiences, and attitude of every organization constitute its distinct personality.

Additional information on how organizations learn, act, grow, and ultimately die like living organisms is well documented in the works of such respected business scholars as Arie de Geus, Peter Senge, and William Bridges.

Why is knowing your organization’s personality important?

Strategy and organizational personality alignment has implications for every aspect of business. No culture change, strategic shift, growth plan, or marketing or brand campaign will be optimally successful without it. Leaders at Disney, Southwest Airlines, and Nordstrom, to name a few remarkably successful entities, have a distinct record of being able to leverage their cultures to achieve desired results. They understand that culture enables their success. They therefore spend as much time improving culture as they do ensuring that business strategy remains in sync with it. They know it is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve and sustain results that their culture cannot support.

What is your organization’s personality?

One of the mistakes that change leaders make is to assume they understand their organization’s culture. Fekete and Company, an Ohio-based marketing firm, profiled fifty-five companies over a two-year period to determine their personalities. As part of the study, each CEO and his or her management team were asked to individually describe the personality of their organization. In 78 percent of the cases, the CEO saw the organization differently than did his or her management team. The study goes on to show significant differences between perceptions by senior management and the rest of the employees (Discovering and Living a Company’s True Personality, 16types.com).

Hopefully, the gaps in perceptions are not as wide in your organization. The more removed you are from the social milieu of frontline employees and from where tactical assignments are executed, the less you should assume about your organization’s culture.

Change agents will do well to gain a thorough understanding of their organization’s personality. They should invest in a proven approach for gathering this information. Although there are many off-the-shelf corporate personality assessment tools, working with an organization that specializes in collecting and analyzing this information is recommended. These organizations include the aforementioned Fekete & Company, PersonalityTM, Parker LePla, Gartner Consulting, and The Pacific Institute.

Other common mistakes change agents make:

One size fits all. Smart organizations learn from the experimentations and errors of other companies. If another company develops an idea that drastically improves employee or customer satisfaction, why reinvent the wheel?

Change leaders routinely borrow a process or an idea that has been validated elsewhere. They implement it in their organization hook, line, and sinker. The inherent danger in this approach is that it neglects, suppresses, or upsets elements of their culture that are incongruent with the new scheme.

Scantily dressed waitresses are icons of the Hooters brand. They are key to customer satisfaction and have resulted in significant growth for the company. Borrowing this idea, a hospital could serve up scantily dressed nurses. They could have their male counterparts rip off their coats like Chippendale dancers before delivering care. If the suggestions gave you pause, consider the various ideas you might have adamantly pursued in your organization. How many of them caused your employees to recoil? Could you have adapted the idea to your culture?

Strait and narrow. Every trade has its bag of tricks, and the field of organization development is not an exception. Most OD professionals favor experiential learning or learning through action. This promotes self-discovery, enabling learners to acquire skills that will help them elicit from themselves and others solutions to problems. Some HR and OD professionals favor this approach to the exclusion of didactic teaching. On the flip side, traditional trainers might prefer a structured, often lecturesque, method.

Learning is the lifeline of change, and your organization will not change if the learning process is inhibited. If the only way medical students learned about anatomy was to sit in circles and exchange ideas about body parts, they would probably have major limitations as physicians.

Depending on an organization’s personality, one approach or a hybrid of approaches might be the effective way to learn. Change agents must be flexible enough to create or adopt the style necessary to facilitate organizational learning. The catch is that they have to understand their culture well enough to come up with the right style.

Improper tenor. While it might be acceptable to have employees gyrate to some of Aerosmith’s hardest-hitting songs at the beginning of corporate learning sessions at Google, and while most learning activities at the company might end with Zen-like adventures, the same delivery strategy might attract dire consequences at Cerberus Capital.

Google takes great pride in its friendly and egalitarian culture. Influential subcultures-pop, nerd, geek cultures-share the convivial atmosphere. Dress code is as casual as can be, and some employees’ offices are as eccentric and personalized as their former college dorm rooms. Yet the company is remarkably innovative and continues to enjoy high investor, employee, and customer satisfaction. Google’s distinct personality enables it to attract and retain the kind of employee who shares its vision.

On the other hand, Cerberus, a private equity firm, is feared and revered on Wall Street. The company, which recently purchased Chrysler, buys ailing businesses, strips them of excess fat, and turns them into profitable ventures. It currently owns a group of companies that employ more than 250,000 people.

CEO and founder Stephen Feinberg is an intense, hard-driving, but elusive and self-effacing person. Directly employing about three hundred people, his intensity and conservative disposition extend throughout his organization. Some of his senior executives have quit as a result of his labor-intensive do-it-yourself approach. “If anyone at Cerberus has his picture in the paper,” Feinberg joked at a recent business meeting, “we will do more than fire that person. We will kill him. The jail sentence will be worth it” (Conde Nast Portfolio, September 2007). Never mind that the name Cerberus was borrowed from the mythologic three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades. Unlike Google, dress code is formal and office décor is unusually bare bones. Yet many of Cerberus’s employees thrive in this environment and the company has consistently outperformed the competition.

For all the organizations in between, an overly eccentric or radical activity can be a distraction. It can erode the integrity of the leader as it smacks of personal knowledge deficit or a lack of understanding of or disregard for the culture.

Aggressiveness. In the movie The Mask of Zorro, a drunk and angry Antonio Banderas charged toward his archenemy, a trained and heartless soldier, to avenge his brother’s death. His mentor, Anthony Hopkins, managed to restrain him. In the intervening conversation, Hopkins gave him these words of wisdom: “You would have fought very bravely and died very quickly.”

Unrelenting resolve, energy, passion, patience, and focus are critical strengths for change leaders. However, when combined with an aggressive, abrasive, or dismissive attitude, particularly in the pursuit of an initiative that clashes with existing culture, spectacular failure often results. Even when behavior is not abrasive, “irrational exuberance” (apologies to Alan Greenspan) or ungrounded optimism will produce a similar outcome.

Change does not always have to produce alienation, and massive change does not have to equal massive alienation.

Asphyxiation. This refers to a change strategy that lacks input from the employee population that will be impacted. Typically, an individual or a small group of leaders, sort of an oligarchy, initiates change, determines the critical aspects, and plans the execution. Throughout the implementation phase, they stay true to their original plan, making adjustments usually only when there are adverse financial implications. Such cocooned leaders breathe their own air and, if the change process lasts long enough, will run out of oxygen.

Maintaining the alignment between change strategy and corporate personality is a dynamic process. Change leaders who wish to succeed will seek input from the appropriate constituents before decisions about change are finalized. They will constantly monitor feedback and results from ongoing change and adjust strategy accordingly.

Babel. This is what happens when organizational interventionists try a series of approaches in quick succession or blitz an organization with multiple interventions without achieving the desired culture change. This creates a state of perpetual, confusing motion that inhibits deep commitment and fosters adaptations that detract from strategy.

Often, Babel is evidence of poor planning in the initial phase of a change process. Instead of fishing for solutions to salvage a failed strategy, acknowledge your reality and return to the drawing board.

A dreadful consequence

Perhaps the most insidious and, ironically, oft-ignored consequence of a misaligned change strategy is the feeling of disrespect it creates among rank-and-file employees.

When employees who have firsthand information are not asked for input, or when their input is neglected, when their past efforts are abruptly discarded, when new imperatives contradict existing norms without adequate preparatory explanation, when implementation methods violate common practice without warning, when change leaders exhibit a lack of understanding of existing culture, when they display insensitivity in the amount of change being demanded of workers, and when calls for reevaluation are rejected and dissenters are chastised, an organization sets itself up to experience the consequences of disrespecting its workforce.

Disrespect for workers engenders apathy, resistance, burnout, low productivity, and high turnover. A study conducted by Sigal Barsade, Wharton management professor, concluded that “organizational respect influences burn out above and beyond the effects of job demands and negative affectivity.” Stated differently, when employees feel disrespected, they tend to experience higher levels of burnout. The study also found that productivity decreased and turnover increased when employees felt their complaints about “negative” change were met with inertia. (More Than Job Demands or Personality, Lack of Organizational Respect Fuels Employee Burnout, Wharton School Publishing, December 8, 2006.) These findings are consistent with the experiences at P&G and HP under the reigns of Jager and Fiorina respectively.

How do you create alignment?

Before you create a change strategy, first understand your organization’s personality. Instead of going with your hunch, assumption, personal experience, or aspirations for your company, conduct an objective culture assessment. This information is worth its weight in gold.

Relentless innovation and improvement are indispensable prerequisites for success in today’s business climate. This translates into rapid and continuous change. Thus, organizations must find ways to accelerate corporate metabolism. To achieve this goal, locate and tackle aspects of your culture that inhibit the desired pace and magnitude of change.

With the exception of situations posing immediate or significant risks, change, no matter how massive, does not have to occur in a draconian or disrespectful manner. Even when they cannot alter the outcome, speak with impacted employees about your idea for change and the rationale behind it. This dialogue should occur before the decision for change is finalized. This action demonstrates that you care for your workers as human beings, respect their intelligence, and value their membership in your organization. A patient who is diagnosed with a malignancy might not have a choice about removing the tumor if he wants to live. However, he should have the opportunity to consider several options-surgical and non-surgical-for eliminating the disease. If the patient settled for a non-surgical option, he could evaluate a range of drugs for side effects and choose the most suitable one. By rubbing minds with your workers, you stand a better chance of picking the most effective approach for achieving your goal.

Even when you are confident you understand your organization’s tolerance level, keep your hand on its pulse throughout the change process. Just as you would observe emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness in a person, look for similar signs in the organization’s climate once the change process begins. Addressing these symptoms early can prevent them from degenerating into more pernicious maladies such as distrust, apathy, and disloyalty.

Properly timing the introduction of your initiatives or interventions demonstrates your attentiveness to the stress level of your workforce. No matter how industrious and committed your employees might be, you will be doing your organization a disservice by pushing them beyond their breaking point.

Conclusion

As a physician friend once remarked, all blood is red, but not all blood is good for everyone. Not every change strategy, design, delivery method, or activity is right for your organization. Your ability to partner with your coworkers to discern the best approach is the essence of your role as a change agent.

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Source by Peter Adebi

The Power of Surprise – How New Leaders Can Connect Their Team With the Need For Change

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New leaders have a special opportunity to engage their team during their first months in a new role. Psychologist Kurt Lewin wrote that “unfreezing” someone’s thought processes could lead to new behaviors, and new leaders can improve their effectiveness by applying this insight through the “Power of Surprise”.

The following are four examples of this principle and questions to stimulate your about next steps.

“Connect the Dots”

I vividly recall my first day of employment at American Express, which was also was my first job after college. The branch manager came to my office within my first thirty minutes. He expressed confidence in me, (although we had never met),told me that my job was to help build the best office in the company by hiring talented people, and that he would stop by from time to time to give me feedback on how I was doing. He “connected the dots” from my entry-level role to his personal mission and belief that I had a critical and accountable role to make it a reality. He only invested ten minutes of time, but his return was a positive effect on my performance and that of hundreds of colleagues as I modeled his behavior during my career.

“Show the Gloves”

John Kotter, noted Harvard professor and author of such books as The Heart of Change and What Managers Really Do, writes that there are eight steps to leading organizational change: increase urgency, build Guiding Teams, getting the vision right, communicating for buy-In, enabling action, creating short-term wins, don’t let up, and make it stick.

The principle that best applies to the “Power or Surprise” is “Increase Urgency” Kotter believes that there is a greater acceptance of the need to change when people see, touch, or feel the problem.

He illustrates this principle with an example of a manager who researched a large company’s use of gloves in their manufacturing process. He found that each plant ordered 200 varieties of gloves from multiple vendors for prices that ranged from $3 to $20. Rather than prepare a long report, he gathered samples from each plant with the price tags in place, and brought 200 pairs of gloves to his next staff meeting and placed them on the table. The team’s response was, “this is crazy! We need to change it!” And the manager had a solution in mind, needless to say.

“Aim for the Heart”

I worked with a senior manager in the early 80’s that thought fanny patting was a sign of team spirit. Needless to say, eventually an employee filed in internal grievance.

I was ready to quote company policy, legal liability, societal norms, and disciplinary consequences to him, which probably would have brought a reluctant apology and begrudging compliance. My associate, though, took the path of surprise by asking, “Would you approve of someone patting your daughter’s fanny at her office?? The first response was anger, but after a long moment he said, “I never looked at it that way and I’ll never tolerate it being done again.”

“Your Greatest Strength May Be Your Greatest Weakness”

A person’s greatest blind spot may be relying on an overdeveloped strength when they enter a new role. For example, a person with strong knowledge of employee relations law may view the answer to rising employee complaints as retaining more lawyers. I met Anne, who had exactly this background, at a large global company. She prepared a business case to retain more lawyers based on the ratio of second stage grievances and lawsuits to existing staff. However, her expertise in handling complaints blinded her to need to uncover the root causes of the complaints and reduce their number.

Finally, the power of surprise is only another tool in your toolbox. Here are a few questions to ponder as you think of applying the “Power of Surprise” as a new leader:

o How can you connect the dots for individuals and teams in your own workplace?

o Where are the gloves in your organization? What can you show, illustrate, monitor your version of the “gloves” to build the case for change?

o How will you creatively use language to aim for the heart?

o How will you know if your greatest strength is your greatest weakness?

The first months in a new role are an opportunity for leaders to create learning opportunities for their team. The “Power of Surprise” offers a unique way to influence people and accelerate organizational change.

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Source by Mark Walztoni

Are You Resistant To Change? You Should Try New Things!

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In life, there is one constant: change. Around us the world is constantly changing. Everything is in a constant state of flux: fashion, architecture, technology, and most of all – business. While some people have been successful by sticking with the same old thing, it’s a pretty short list.

If you look at yourself and what you know and do, and compare it to all the knowledge and opportunity available in the world, it’s probably a pretty small chunk. There are so many new avenues in business that are open to you; you just have to be open to them as well. While most people resist change, you may find that a lot of these avenues will not only make you more successful, you may just like them more than what you do now.

Willingness to change makes you a better investment to customers and clients.

If they only see you as a one-trick pony, they may come to you for that one thing, but that’s about it. But if people see you as adaptable, they’ll have more faith in your ability to keep up with the changing world and be more likely to take a chance on you, or come to you with new business opportunities that might be something you haven’t tried before.

In today’s business market, technology is one of the best resources you can have.

And the technology available is changing at a remarkable rate. It used to be that if you were out your business for ten or twenty years, you’d get behind and probably couldn’t go back without learning a lot of new stuff. Now, if you’re gone for just six months, you could be totally out of date. While you don’t need to get the latest or most expensive gadget, you do need to make regular changes and upgrades to the equipment you’re using.

Some of us are just more resistant to change than others; it’s just en-grained in our DNA.

But just because you don’t like change doesn’t mean you need to be left behind. Small changes can make big differences too.

Instead of turning your life upside down, just start by looking in different directions. Attend a seminar about new ideas or technologies, subscribe to a new newsletter that you didn’t before. By themselves, these are pretty small changes, but when you do them, you might find options of bigger changes that won’t be too hard either.

Don’t change too much.

Warren Buffet is one of the world’s richest men. He got there by being fairly resistant to technological change. He invests mostly in stable businesses like insurance and food, rather than more unstable things like dot-coms. The reason? Just because something is new, doesn’t mean it’s good.

It’s always a good idea to research anything before getting involved with it, and to never put all your eggs in one basket – no matter how big an opportunity it is. If you change smart, then you’ll likely find yourself in a better situation.

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Source by Eric D Cooper

Affinity Diagrams

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The affinity diagram is a management and planning tool. Use of this tool is based on the understanding that time invested in planning will produce remarkable dividends as the generated ideas and plans are acted upon and implemented. Unlike the basic tools for improvement that deal primarily with collecting and analyzing hard data, this tool focuses on issues and ideas, soft data.

An affinity diagram is the result of a creative process focused on finding the major themes affecting a problem by generating a number of ideas, issues or opinions. The process identifies these ideas, groups naturally related items and identifies the one concept that ties each grouping together. The team working on a problem reaches consensus by the cumulative effect of individual sorting decisions rather than through discussion.

What can it do for you?

Affinity diagrams can help you organize random data to show the underlying organization of a problem or issue. They are especially useful if the situation seems chaotic because there is an excess of ideas, influences, objectives or requirements, or if breakthrough thinking rather than incremental improvement is required. An affinity diagram can help clarify the broad themes and issues acting on any situation. The affinity process lets you sift through large volumes of information efficiently and allows truly new patterns or approaches to emerge for consideration. Affinity diagrams are especially useful in the measure and analyze phases of Lean Six Sigma methodology.

How do you do it?

1. The first step is to assemble the right team.

The team should consist of five or six people who have knowledge about the situation to be considered. They should be relatively familiar with each other and accustomed to working together and should “speak the same language,” but care should be taken not to bring together the same old people to work on the same old problem. Include people with valuable input who may not have been included in the past. If the team needs specific information beyond the scope of the members’ knowledge, the team should draw in resource people as temporary team members.

2. Phrase the issue to be considered.

The affinity process seems to be most effective if the issue is loosely or vaguely stated. The more explanation or limitation in the issue statement, the more likely the thought process will be constrained. The statement should be neutral to avoid limiting or directing responding ideas.

For example, “How are we going to fix our quality problems?” might produce a fuller and more valuable collection of responses if rephrased “What are the issues affecting product quality?”

When you have decided the phrasing of the statement, write it on the top of a flipchart or board so that it is visible to the group.

3. Generate and record ideas.

This step of the process uses the traditional guidelines for brainstorming:

o No criticism or discussion of ideas

o Generate many ideas in a short time

o Everyone participates

o Record the ideas exactly as spoken and not as interpreted by the recorder.

One technique is to have team members silently record their ideas on 3×5 cards or Post-it(TM) notes for some amount of time. Members can then take turns offering ideas one-at-a-time for the recorder to write on a flip-chart or board. As the ideas are recorded, other team members can use those ideas to help generate additional ideas and additional cards.

To be most useful, idea statements should be:

o Concise, about five to seven words

o Unambiguous, at least one noun and one verb

o Legible, printed neatly, one idea to a card

Another technique is to generate ideas and have the recorder write them directly on a flip-chart or board (without having team members first write them on cards). After all the ideas have been recorded, the team would then transfer them to cards.

4. Display the completed idea cards.

Randomly lay out the cards so that all the team members can see them.

5. Arrange the cards in natural groupings.

The purpose of this step is to collect ideas that go with each other. In silence, all team members should simultaneously begin moving idea cards, collecting and arranging in columns the cards that each person believes belong together. All the cards should remain visible during this process so that everyone can consider and reconsider the arrangement as it emerges.

If cards are redundant, overlap them but in such a way that both can be read. Team members should freely change cards between groupings or create new groupings as they feel appropriate. Team members are allowed to disagree with a placement by making a new placement or returning to a previous one. Back and forth moves may occur for some time until the team settles on an arrangement that is acceptable to everyone.

Some cards may be loners that do not seem to fit in any grouping. They should be left that way rather than try to force-fit them into a grouping.

6. Create headers.

Look for a card in each grouping that describes the central idea that ties the whole group together. In many cases that central idea will not exist yet on a card. If it does not, the team should decide on the central idea and create a concise, usually three to five words, header card for that grouping. While silence is important for sorting, discussion should be used for selecting or creating headers.

If one or more groupings are unusually large, look for sub-groupings within the larger groups. Sub-groupings should also have headers. Resist the temptation to create endless groupings and sub-groupings. Keep the number of headers between five and ten, if at all possible.

7. Draw the finished diagram.

Your finished diagram could simply be Post-it(TM) notes stuck to flip-chart paper with lines containing and connecting the groupings or 3×5 cards pinned or taped to the wall. It is a good idea, however, to make an actual drawing of the finished diagram and to share it outside the team for comments and modification. The team should continue to change the diagram until it reflects the actual situation.

Now what?

If your time is limited or you don’t know whether applying a whole cycle of tools will be valuable, try making an affinity diagram and see what happens. In general, an affinity diagram will help add clarity and understanding whenever:

1. There appears to be chaos in the facts or ideas relating to the situation

2. Old solutions do not seem to be working and breakthrough thinking seems in order

3. Support for any proposed solution is critically essential to its success.

Creating an affinity diagram may not be very valuable if:

1. The solution to the problem is simple

2. The situation demands quick, decisive action.

Making an affinity diagram will allow you to sift through large volumes of information and ideas with efficiency, however. It will also let truly new ways of looking at a problem or situation emerge for your consideration.

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Source by Steven Bonacorsi

Changing Face of the New Hotel General Manager

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In the olden days, the General Manager was the friendliest face you saw when checking into a hotel. The host supreme, he was entrusted with the task of interfacing with the guests and making them feel at home. He accommodated your wishes, catered to your demands, and made troubles vanish into thin air. A competent General Manager was worth his weight in gold, and made all the difference between a good and great stay at a hotel!

Today, however, the genial General Manager is fast transforming into a power tool that takes care of various responsibilities, sometimes simultaneously. Gone are the days when he would stand in deference in the hotel lobby. This Jack-of-all-trades now has his fingers deeply and firmly embedded in not one but many pies and is adept at juggling his many roles with a quiet exterior and charming panache.

So what exactly does the new age General Manager do?

The short answer to that is ‘Almost everything!’

It’s true. From tasting food and ensuring top-notch room service to assuming a leadership role and guiding the team towards the company’s goal, the General Manager’s responsibilities are varied in nature and not restricted to any one division of the hotel.

Here’s a more detailed description of what is expected of a General Manager. In addition to overseeing day-to-day options, he’s in charge of…

  1. Building a vibrant organization
  2. Creating a distinctive work environment
  3. Establishing priorities and setting the goals of the company
  4. Spearheading innovative and strategic thinking
  5. Managing human resources and mapping their productivity
  6. Driving the team towards success by setting a personal example
  7. Maintaining the highest standards across all operations

There’s no denying that a General Manager has a lot on his plate. Each responsibility has to be executed with perfection and mistakes are not tolerated kindly in the hospitality industry. Accustomed to fighting fires every day, the General Manager goes around troubleshooting a wide range of problems without batting an eyelid. Safe to say, this job is not everyone’s cup of tea.

What characteristics are desirable in a General Manager?

The General Manager is one of the most respectable, demanding, and exacting positions in the industry. Not everybody can do justice to this role. It takes a person with considerable ingenuity to step into those shoes. Here are some of the traits you should look for in a prospective General Manager.

The Ability to Multi-task

This one makes it to the top of my list for obvious reasons. The typical workday of a General Manager is extremely complex since they are required to oversee so many things and. With equal alertness and perspicacity, they have to supervise guest relations, housekeeping, front desk, finances, F&B set up, compliance, employee evaluation, and any events that may be happening in the hotel. Unless he has excellent time management skills and organizational talents, a General Manager will never be able to rise up to the occasion and keep things together.

Professional Troubleshooting

Most people who land up at a hotel for a lazy getaway are completely oblivious of the chaos playing out behind the scenes. All they see is a haven of peace, luxury, and indulgence functioning like well-oiled machinery, while attends rush to fulfill any wish or demand they may have.

All this is possible, in large part, to the General Manager and his common sense, quick thinking, and the creative and practical solutions he comes up with for every day problems that crop up. Anything that can go wrong does go wrong, and it’s the General Manager’s decisiveness that allows him to avert disasters and keep things working like clockwork in the hotel.

Adaptability & the Desire to Learn

The hospitality sector is one of the fastest evolving sectors in the world. Technology, policies, government legislation, and local politics all contribute towards the changing of times, and it falls upon the General Manager to foresee these changes and prepare for them.

In my experience, the best General Managers are those who welcome the new. Instead of being frightened, they’re curious about the developments taking place in the industry. They’re well-informed and, despite their hectic schedule, they find a way to stay abreast of industry news and trends. By doing so, they ensure that no latest innovation gets by them. They apply their knowledge to work so that their hotel moves with the times and adapts continually.

Teaching & Mentoring

We’ve already established that a General Manager should constantly be amassing knowledge related to the industry and his position. But it’s also important that he passes on what he’s learned to his team, so that they’re equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to work efficiently and independently. Few things are more frustrating and draining for him than to micromanage all the tasks that fall in his lap. For the hotel to function optimally, the staff has to display initiative. This can only happen if they’ve been mentored properly and taught how to be resourceful and quick-witted.

Like I mentioned earlier, a good General Manager is a valuable asset to any hotel and selecting the right one is no mean task. Given the complex nature of the position, I would always recommend that you ‘grow’ your own executives. This allows you to select from within the ranks and prepare somebody who’s familiar with the working of your hotel for the managerial role.

However, that may not always be possible, and you may have to fall back on traditional ways of searching for someone competent to take over the role of a General Manager.

When doing so, keep the following best practices in mind:

  • Always bring in someone who knows the business, the industry, and the people involved. Unless you’ve got a very small establishment, the General Manager will not be able to learn everything fast enough to carry out his responsibilities competently.
  • Look beyond the management training courses, seminars, or workshops the candidate may mention on his resume. In my experience, these programs tend to emphasize too much on the importance of formal quantitative tools, which, though relevant, are hardly integral to the job at hand.
  • Scan the potential candidate for the qualities we talked about earlier. They’re just as important as the qualifications and experience the prospect brings to the table.

Finally, when you find the right candidate and welcome him onboard, allow him /her at least three to six months to collect information, build a network, establish relationships, and set the direction for the team. Do not assign pet projects or specific tasks in this duration. It will be counterproductive and divert attention from his main goals of driving the team to success.

A good General Manager is integral to the smooth functioning of a hotel. He works behind the scene to offer a pleasant and hassle-free experience to guests and patrons. On his discretion stands the reputation of the hotel and on his efficiency depends all other divisions. So make sure you invest time and effort in selecting the right candidate for the job, for he’s the one who will lead the establishment to its ultimate vision.

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Source by Ram Gupta

Stop Whining About "Change"!

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As I look out my office window, I see the leaves on the trees are starting to change color. Believe it or not, I’m not shocked by this. Nor am I wailing about the fact that the temperature is dropping and that dusk is coming earlier than it did a month ago.

Am I superhuman? Perhaps, but not because of this. The simple truth is that, if you’ve been alive on the planet (Earth) for more than a few years, you start to recognize the patterns. You start to realize that summer ends and fall begins. Every. Single. Year.

In short, you start to realize that change is the natural order of things.

Why then, do we become apoplectic when change comes to our business?

By the way, I realize that I’m using one of the most clichéd and hackneyed metaphors possible. (Look, the leaves are changing! Change happens! Change is good!) But I’m doing this for two reasons: 1) it’s happening right outside my window, so I can’t help but notice it, and, 2) sometimes we need to be hit over the head with the obvious.

Change is the natural order of things. The Big Bang was a big change. I don’t hear anyone complaining about it, though. Human life evolving, over millions of years, from single-celled organisms represents a change that I think we can all get behind. For that matter, I’m not at all unhappy that T-Rexes are no longer around to stomp on my tomato vines* and eat my pets (or me).

*Full disclosure: I don’t have any tomato vines.

Things change. That’s natural. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. What’s unnatural is the status quo.

And yet that’s where so many of us want to stay. And we’re shocked when it doesn’t happen.

We’re shocked when automation changes the nature of our industry. We’re shocked when the marketing campaign that worked so well last year underperforms this year. We’re shocked when the competition comes up with a product or service that changes the game.

We want things to stay the same.

Haven’t we learned anything? Haven’t we looked at the leaves? Haven’t we read any history book, ever? Haven’t we noticed that the baby clothes we wore as a toddler no longer fit? (And, even if it did, it might not be the best fashion choice.)

Look, I don’t know what business you’re in. But I can make a prediction about it, with 100% certainty:

Things are going to change.

Accept this. Anticipate this. And yes, even embrace this. Because it’s going to happen.

Part of your job as a leader is to be constantly asking yourself this question:

What might change in my business, and what will I do if that happens?

As a leader, what would you do if:

  • a major supplier goes out of business?
  • a major client changes leadership and drops your account?
  • a catastrophe (earthquake, terrorist attack, celebrity divorce) devastates your industry or the economy in general?
  • one of your key employees leaves?

I don’t want you to become paranoid. But I do want you to become realistic. Thinking, hoping, wishing that things will stay the same is not realistic.

The leaves change. The seasons change. And so will your business. Will you be ready for it?

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Source by Bill Stainton

Applying Cognitive Diversity to Problem-Solving Processes

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Andrew Parkin, former Director General of the Council of Ministers of Education of Canada, states that problem-solving skills are increasingly important for success in this dynamic, chaotic technological-based economy of the 21st century. As we move to more complex workplace problem-solving roles, we must learn to think outside the box and not jump to the first answer to any problem. One of the greatest challenges in problem-solving is resisting the temptation to accept the first answer to a problem. Once you have an answer, you stop searching for more possibilities. Complex situations call for deeper analysis. Given the complexity of workplace problems, teams find better solutions when they draw on different perspectives and standard problem-solving tools.

Cognitive diversity is the understanding of different perspectives, techniques and methods individuals use to categorize, predict and find solutions to problems. Applying cognitive diversity problem-solving tools, teams and individuals have a better chance of finding creative outcomes that help them to visualize, mobilize, and actualize effective change results.

Since the 1980’s, change is not an event any longer; it is a way of life as our technologies, communications processes, multiculturalism, along with our economic and highly competitive marketplace requires that we tap into diverse cognitive perceptions to increase our approaches for dealing with change. By making more connections, identifying more nuances and possibilities, teams and companies stand a better chance at responding to the complex and highly ambiguous challenges of the 21st century.

At the heart of change lies the change problem; that is, some future state is to be realized, some current state is to be left behind, and some structured, organized process for getting from the one to the other is to be identified. Change can be made easier with the following insights, strategies and tools:

Change Leadership – Work has become more cognitive and less physical while at the same time requiring employees to adapt to change constantly, which can cause stress and anxiety. When organizations must change the way they do things due to external forces in the market place, changes in regulations, or consumer demands, leaders will have to recognize and confront their staffs’ resistance to change. Leaders can minimize the resistance and stress by speaking of the change and how it aligns to the organization’s vision and mission; by presenting the benefits of the change to each employee; and by engaging and informing employees of the change in advance.

Creative Problem-Solving Tools – Since change is a constant and leaders have to create new beginnings, visions, directions or goals, it is important to use creative thinking tools such as: creating a problem statement, brainstorming outcomes, flushing out obstacles, using force-field analysis methods to weigh the pros and cons, creating action items, as well as producing a specific plan that can be monitored, evaluated and revised.

While walking the professional tightrope, stay empowered during change processes by drawing on diverse perspectives and creative problem-solving tools. Successful change processes include: Visualization, Mobilization, and Actualization.

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Source by Danielle R. Gault

Leaders Avoiding Disaster With Your Company’s Complexity

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Every Disaster Is an Opportunity You Must Seize

“There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.” -Brene Brown

With the inability to solve the ongoing projects due to not having enough time and running into obstacles at every turn, how can you as the leader help reduce these difficulties? Both managing or leading people and making sure complex and complicated situations don’t interfere with the daily operations of your business needs you to constantly observe your business daily.

Leaders need to show more composure than ever before in the workplace. Knowing the difference between complex and complicated impacts your business differently. Most people use these words interchangeably. If you’re a leader and you treat a complex problem like a complicated problem, you are setting up yourself and your company for failure.

Learn From Failure

“Learn to listen. Opportunity could be knocking at your door very softly.” -Anonymous

Too many leaders fail at change management efforts because you either don’t follow through completely or when you begin to fail you give up. Don’t give up as failing is part of the learning curve. Trying to experiment with rules, processes and procedures works best takes some time see what works and what does not. This takes place with everything you do in order to get the right things in place.

Preventing

-Demosthenes

Look carefully at what you have in place. Some are self-imposed that you and your employees put in place. Some are assumptions and beliefs. You need to separate them out before you start looking at what works and what you can eliminate or change. Updating your processes and procedures allows you to work better.

Start allowing your employees to “break the rules” when generating ideas for innovative breakthroughs. This means they cannot get rid of specific regulations that are required.

Move Beyond Same Old Approaches = Same Old Results

“Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.” -Elon Musk

Breaking away from the traditional ways you’ve been conducting business sometimes happens when a crisis occurs. The problem for many organizations is that you’ve been working the same way for years- the same rules, processes and procedures and have not changed with the times. O.K., you believe that what’s happening is a fad and everything will get back to the way things were. Sorry, in today’s business world creativity, innovation and technology are the way to go. On top of this is using simplification for getting things done is the extra your company needs to be productive.

Shift Your Mindset

“Picture your brain forming new connections as you meet the challenge and learn. Keep on going.”

? Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

In today’s business world your mindset needs to change for what you need right now. Yesterday’s mindset was for yesterday as business change in the blink of an eye. Looking at your business you need to change more often than before. Instead of having one product to work with, today’s business cycles are faster requiring your company to have at least 2-3 other ideas generating in the pipeline ready for the next cycle before the current one begins.

You need to use your creative thinking to generate greater ideas as your competition is already doing this. Don’t be left behind to think that everyone wants you product or service and that a slow period will eventually bring people back for more of the same. The world has been changing and it is getting faster with newer products and service. You need to think this way too.

Start Taking Risks

“Spend eighty percent of your time focusing on the opportunities of tomorrow rather than the problems of yesterday.” -Brian Tracy

Besides asking thought-provoking questions, you and your employees need to look at what is possible from the complexity you have in front of you. Yes, you do need to take some time to look at what you have and try small changes that will make a greater impact on what you currently do.

Taking a risk requires leaders and employees to go both inside and outside the box in search for other ways to find ideas as well as how to get things done more efficiently.

Leadership is not rocket science and in reality some people think it is especially when it comes to avoiding the problems, challenges and difficulties complexity brings. As the saying goes “Don’t take your eyes off the ball” this is what many do to let complexity into the workplace. You do need to work hard to make simplification work. It is better than the alternative- bankruptcy and fading away.

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Source by Neal Burgis, Ph.D.

5 Factors to Consider When Implementing Change

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Change is constant in life, yet it can still cause apprehension, friction, and negative emotions to rear their ugly heads. When something changes in the workplace, it can elicit these same feelings in employees and lead to the experience of stress. Resilience is the ability to handle stress and deal with change effectively, which can be developed through resilience training as well as courses in change management.

Change management courses can help employees deal with change in a more effective way, decreasing the amount of stress experienced when changes are implemented in the workplace. However, even with change management training, Melbourne business owners should be aware of these 5 factors that can impact the response your employees have to change.

Control

Your employees take pride in the control they have over their tasks and operations in the workplace. Changes that can be perceived as negative by employees include diminishing the amount of control they have, such as hiring a supervisor that micro-manages them constantly. The more control an employee feels they have, the more challenges they will be able to handle without excessive stress.

Predictability

Simply knowing what is to come next can decrease stress and allow employees to take changes in stride. This is known as ‘perceived control’ and can be a much more effective way of implementing change. By letting your employees know what is going to happen, they can feel more in control than they would if they remain unaware of what changes are taking place.

Understanding

Making changes without explaining the reason behind the change can negatively impact employees and alter their response. Explaining why the change is occurring allows professionals to make sense of the situation and therefore understand it better – another example of perceived control. With no explanation, employees can feel helpless and experience anxiety or stress.

Time Frame

Sudden changes may seem like a good idea at first, but they can have a lot of drawbacks when it comes to the response to these changes that employees have. The time frame between announcing a change and implementing the change is crucial, as employees should have adequate time to prepare for the change to come in order to avoid increasing the stress they experience.

Relationships

The relationship that employees have with co-workers and supervisors also plays a role in enforcing change in the workplace. Employees that feel as though they are heard, respected, and valued are more comfortable asking for information and voicing any concerns they have about the company. Having a good relationship with supervisors as well as other employees reduces stress and fosters resilience.

With these factors in mind, you can make changes that are seen in a more positive light by employees and decrease the stress that employees may experience. Change management courses can also improve response to changes, leading to a better work environment and increased focus when completing tasks. Change management training for Melbourne businesses enhances employees’ resilience and increases satisfaction in their workplace.

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Source by Edmund Brunetti

Change Management – Top 10 Critical Success Factors For a Successful Change Programme

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There is a truism that the only thing that is permanent in life is change itself. Whoever is not moving forward is most likely on the reverse gear. Wisdom suggests that whatever cannot be avoided is better confronted with determination to turn it to advantage. It is important to know factors that are critical for the success of change programmes.

1) Active and Committed leadership. Change is a challenging exercise, hope of success will be dim commitment on the part of leaders. There is always the fear of leaving one’s comfort zone for the unknown, leadership has a big role to play to sustain faith and calm nerves. No matter how daunting a task may be the moment one is committed and begins to take steps, providence also moves too.

2) A clear and compelling business case for the change. As part of the initial steps, a bridge of idea should be constructed that clearly links what is already known and accepted to what is contemplated and unknown. If stakeholders are unable to see the relevance of the proposed change for the furtherance of common goals and objectives, carrying them along may be difficult.

3) Full and active stakeholders participation.

4) Focus on long-term benefits. Most change programmes will bring teething problems which may result in disruption of operation, rise in costs etc which will result in short-term losses. The long-term benefits should be the driving force and focus to ensure the pprogramme is not derailed.

5) Effective and robust communication to avoid miss-information and aggravation of fear.

6) Monitoring and Evaluation. A programme that is not closely monitored will most likely go off course. There should be continuous monitoring and periodic evaluation to gauge relevance of the programme for the achievement of desired outcomes. This involves setting benchmarks, establishing milestones, establishing key performance indicators and a good feedback system.

7) Organization culture and values. Where the culture and values are negative towards change, it is likely to be resisted. Most of the time change heralds opportunities for no one changes from good to bad, so It is best if change is always seen in a positive light: anticipate, accept and capitalize on it for progress and long-term survival. The force of change is usually beyond what any organization can resist; it is like a moving train you either jump in and go with it or be left behind. The danger of being left behind is this: those that matter to you most (your customers) are on board so you can only stay behind to rust.

8) Sensitivity to corporate and diversity issues. The interests, feelings and concerns of all must be respected and taken care of to make the change sustainable.

9) Supportiveness. It is important to identify and support the weak and ensure they are not left behind.

10) Preparedness. Organization must be ready for change before change can succeed otherwise there may be road blocks, apathy or even deliberate attempts to sabotage the programme.

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Source by Adeola Adedayo