Case History: Active-ware Company Untanglement

Case History: Active-ware Company Untanglement

Objective:
Dr. Pastor worked closely with the managing partners of a major U.S. sportswear company to develop and implement a team-based organizational culture throughout many departments in their organization.

Dr. Pastor was originally contacted to provide training for the customer service department, with the goal of resolving conflicts within this group. She led a two-day training program focused on developing a process for building high-performing, collaborative teams. It was quickly noted that there were also some visible internal tensions between Human Resources and other departments. Consequently, the training was initially focused on the development of a structure and process to transform one group, but was quickly expanded to include half of the organization.

Extensive training, strategic planning, executive coaching, competencies development and other key consulting services were provided to assist the company in their organizational change efforts. Dr. Pastor coordinated her efforts with an associated company-wide upgrade in technology, including all computer and telephone systems.

Process:

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As a first step, Dr. Pastor worked with the executive team to determine their vision and define the strategic objectives of organization as a whole, as well as the expected contributions of specific teams.

Next, she tasked each department to develop their own specific vision, in alignment with the larger organizational objectives. This vision included their anticipated contributions and metrics for measurement. Departments were asked to determine how they would communicate and interact with each other as well as how they would develop essential skills. Popular Team Support Agreements were developed, outlining how teams would interact with each other. The Agreements included standards for behavior and processes to make certain communications are heard and colleagues demonstrate respect for each other. As a result, the Agreements helped to resolve conflicts and establish new guidelines for future interactions.

The departments were also directed to generate their own critical success factors and to determine how to most effectively implement their vision. They identified standards of operation and they prioritized the areas of team focus, all leading to the accomplishment of their goals and the attainment of their vision.

Most business functions chose to supplement their evolutionary process with additional skills training, including stress management and personal development.

 

Challenges:

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Politics was one key challenge to overcome in moving forward with a comprehensive strategy that involved the entire organization. The CEO was monitored by the family owners in China and he acted as essentially a figurehead. There were two sides to the organization and differing leadership perspectives on each side. The creative side, which included all functions related to clients, was led by the CEO. The side which included all internal, support functions was led by the COO. Dr. Pastor worked with both sides to develop new operational strategies and business processes. However, the CEO and the COO did not get along very well and did not have the same vision for the organization. The goal of the COO was to grow the company and change the culture, while the CEO was not entirely supportive of this effort. It was difficult to achieve a cultural shift, as the idea for change was not generated by the leadership. Unfortunately, the process did not ultimately achieve the buy-in and support of the leadership, as they were reluctant to relinquish control of the company culture and strategies. This type of change was not intuitive to the Chinese family as they wanted to retain the ultimate decision-making and leadership position, so they would not endorse the efforts of the COO to widely implement change. As a result of pressure from the Chinese family, the CEO was not supportive of implementing the process on his merchandising side of the organization.

Although Dr. Pastor engaged the leadership in the re-engineering of a business process, it became very apparent that cross-cultural differences were creating obstacles to progress. The Chinese family of owners placed a representative in the executive training group as essentially a “babysitter”. The inclusion of this family representative created a formal and intimidating training atmosphere. When the process was implemented, it also became clear that some employees did not feel comfortable in a collaborative environment, as they previously worked for decades in a competitive structure and they continued to embrace inter-company competition and preferred to work in a political environment.

In the conduct of the training sessions and employee interviews, Dr. Pastor detected another problem. Employees were not keeping up with advances in technology. Some functions were struggling – including Human Resources and Information Technology. It became very difficult to introduce and implement new IT systems, with a high turnover in IT Directors.

 

Results:

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Members of the executive team as well as teams in the individual departments were taught a step-by-step process to help them perform collaboratively to achieve department and organizational goals. Dr. Pastor also trained them to resolve conflicts – so that the conflicts do not become challenges, and impede progress. In the end, everyone was operating with the same rules.

The communication and implementation of organizational changes prompted employees to make a decision – they recognized the need to either “get on board or jump ship”. After fully understanding the new directions and goals of their leaders, many remained but some chose to leave or were asked to leave. It was important to share the same team objectives of embracing collaboration, adding value to the organization and working to drive performance. “Without judgement or blame” – some employees simply maintained a reluctance to change or learn new skills for their jobs.

Simultaneously working with the IT department to assist with their transformation, Dr. Pastor led them in the establishment of performance goals, including the financial goal of controlling costs. Noting that, “if there is conflict, there will not be accomplishments,” she also trained the IT department to overcome conflict and taught them valuable negotiation skills.

Dr. Pastor also provided additional training for the Customer Service function. Conflict management training was a valuable skill in the customer service representative’s role, particularly in their interactions with dissatisfied and complaining customers. She identified key measurable factors for the performance of customer service representatives- the ability to satisfy the customer complaints and the retention of customers with complaints. She also incorporated customer satisfaction surveys into their service function, providing ongoing feedback to fuel continuous improvements. In addition, Dr. Pastor strengthened the partnership between the Customer Service and Sales Departments, making the interaction between each sales person and their” partner” in Customer Service very critical. The departments learned specific partnership skills that were related to high performing team training (HPT). The goal was to develop a strong triangle or family relationship between customer, sales agent and customer service representative. The sales representative pursued business objectives by obtaining the client. When concerns, problems or questions arose and the sales agent was not available, the client could regularly rely upon the same Customer Service representative to assist them.

Working with the Human Resources department, Dr. Pastor developed measures to solve their problems. A key measurable was to limit HR’s role in management and evaluation of employees by comprehensively training managers to effectively provide their own constructive or negative feedback. The role of HR was limited to support in the room of the feedback only in severe cases that required a witness. Previously, the managers did not like to provide constructive feedback and they relied upon the HR department to take on this role. Unfortunately, the Human Resources department developed a reputation as an extension and puppet of the management, elevating them in the estimation of management, but creating tension with other departments. Since this was a significant change, several members of the HR team were resistant to the new roles – some departed the company and some were asked to leave. Eventually, a supportive team developed in HR and the director became very involved in managing the change and organizational development initiatives. She became an asset to the COO in his efforts to promote the changes.

Measurable results were achieved by the individual teams. One example is the Accounting Team. The Controller, worked for the COO on the internal support function side of the organization. This team embraced the training and appreciated the opportunity to improve.

They created charts to demonstrate their personalities and discussed how they might work better together. The team discussed the dynamics of relationships and motivations, they enthusiastically posted their key department visions and they also engaged in quarterly meetings to determine their progress and revisit the agreements they made with each other. The team diligently used the comprehensive binders, filled with materials that Dr. Pastor developed, to guide their implementation of the change strategies.

· As a result of the organizational change process the internal support function side implemented performance metrics with all teams that went through training. This was extremely useful in measuring their progress.

· The internal support function side began to operate at a higher level and regularly used performance to identify new opportunities and advancements in the organization.

· This team was operating at much higher levels, measuring retention and defining career paths.

· The Accounting Team used the process to define how they could improve and become more engaged.

· As the Controller implemented the changes, her team became more goal and results-oriented.

· One revelation was that the COO demonstrated to the internal support function side of the organization that he was protecting them and had their best interests in mind. He changed his management style and learned to work effectively with his own executive team.

Unfortunately, after the organizational change process was completed and implemented, there was a demonstrated imbalance in the company performance. Significant change had been implemented successfully within one side of the organization. Consequently, the two sides of the organization were not operating on the same level. One embraced the new process, while one did not – one was improving, while one remained stagnant. One side was healthy – one was not.

Become A “Sales Consultant”

Become A Sales “Consultant”  and Take the Hard Sell out of Selling.

 

Sales force unite! It’s time to put to rest all the ugly sales stereotypes we have heard for years. Labels like “con artist,” “pushy,” and “one-sided” simply don’t hold true for the majority of individuals whose common traits are quite redeeming. Assertive, creating and caring are much more fitting descriptions of salespeople.

 

The stereotypical hard seller is becoming a thing of the past. It’s time we thought of ourselves as consultants, advisors who prosper and derive personal  satisfaction as well as financial success by meeting the needs of our clients. In the words of a very successful colleague, “The hard sell  turns me off, to say nothing of how my clients feel. I think people are smart enough to know what they need and want.”

A Different Approach

A sales consultant answers the question, “How can I apply my strengths to satisfy customers’ needs?” In the words of Debra Turner, a top marketing executive for DHL Courier Co., a sales consultant “asks questions, they listen, they see, understand, and move their products, services and ideas into place to meet the goals of their clients.” Ultimately, discovering ways to serve people becomes the main concern. If the job is done right, you don’t have to “sell.”

 

Consulting leads you to assess and resolve the problems of your clients. Therefore, you  must know your market. A sales consultant capitalizes on every opportunity to learn the product, market trends, clients’ industries and other pertinent information. Education in the form of trade magazines and seminars is a continuous investment.

 

According to Tim Hardy, account manager for XL Datacomp, Los Angeles, CA, “A lot of people in sales make the mistake of knowing just a little bit more than their clients do about the product.” This is short sighted. Assume that your clients have knowledgeable friends!  The more you know, the easier time you will have making sales because people will have faith in your words. “Knowledge is power!”

 

Consider your education a dual- purpose venture. You must study to be competitive but also to become passionate about your field of endeavor. Passion comes from knowing something so well that it becomes yours. Without passion, you can’t be consultative. In her book Selling on the Fast Track, Kathy Arronson, executive director of Sales Athlete, Beverly Hills, CA, expresses passion in finding educated solutions for her clients.

 

“The ability to solve problems creatively comes first from preparing yourself thoroughly by gathering all the information available to help you reach your goal, then by sorting or editing that information and using it to develop a fresh idea that best fits the needs of your clients’ prospects. If you do this, you’ll find that the fun of work is solving problems.

 

At JPA International, Inc. we feel that the consultative orientation sheds positive light on the seller throughout the entire selling process. Buyers don’t want to be intimidated or pressured into spending money on something they don’t need. They want to be listened to and advised on how to come out ahead. The best way to show you care is to listen—a consultant never forgets this.

 

In the final analysis, a sales consultant meets with success for being the kind of seller who knows his or her business passionately, knows the virtue of his or her product, knows his or her customer and, most importantly, knows how to put all these together so that everybody wins!

 

Ask about our presentation of a five-part plan uses to sell services as an executive and leadership development consultant and coach. This is a step-by-step program. One step follows directly after the one before it.

Improving Employee Engagement and Loyalty

Do you work in employee management? How do you motivate employees to work harder? These three simple rules will help increase employee engagement.

1. First, you must be absolutely clear on the values and goals of your company.

If you don’t know these, then your first assignment is cut out for you. Until company heads know implicitly what they seek to accomplish, they cannot expect loyalty from their subordinates. No one follows an indecisive leader into battle, or on the job front. It is essential then that both employer and employee know and appreciate the company philosophy and goals. After your company objectives are securely in place, recruiting supportive employees and educating old ones becomes your next priority. You may find that you will need to let go of people who aren’t aligned with your newfound objectives.

“Bill,” a colleague of mine and president of a small brokerage firm, hired a man who was an extremely talented broker. Problems began to arise, however, when Bill noticed that “Glen” was not a team player. Glen didn’t support the direction Bill was taking the company and, as a result, Glen became apathetic to company matters. The other employees began taking sides, and eventually company morale diminished. Glen’s inability to follow Bill’s lead split the company in two and destroyed what Bill had worked hard to accomplish. The firm went under.

To avoid hiring someone who wouldn’t be my definition of a high-quality employee, I place a lot of weight on first impressions. When I am in the hiring process, I take note of whether a prospective employee is on time to our appointment. I want someone who displays responsible behavior right from the start. I also pay close attention to loose indications of loyalty: involvement in the interview, knowledge of the company for which they are interviewing, manner in which they talk about past employers, and reliability in keeping promises like “I will send you a copy of my resume today” or “I will call to set up a second interview for Tuesday.”

Company heads should diligently look for people who have strong work ethics and share enthusiasm about the company direction. This practice prevents excessive employee turnover and misplacement of people in jobs. It is important to continually clarify and reiterate company values and goals to employees. Executives of The Ford Motor Company utilized this knowledge a few years back to speed the company’s recovery process. Ford developed the motivational acronym MVGP that stands for “Mission, Values, and Guiding Principles.” MVGP spells out what Ford stands for, what it expects from its employees, and the level of quality to which it aspires. A copy of the MVGP plan was mailed to all Ford employees. The letters MVGP are plastered all over the walls of the corporate offices and over the walls of the automotive plants.

2. Apply specific feedback right after a task is accomplished.

Judy Komaki of Perdue University undertook a study touting the importance of feedback. According to Komaki, feedback specifically applied to activities right after they are done gives subordinates a feeling of purpose and as such, has a performance-enhancing effect. In contrast to Komaki’s findings, if communication only takes the form of instructions from the supervisor, subordinates often do the minimum to get by. When a job is well done, positive feedback from management encourages employees to “keep up the good work.” Years ago I worked as a consultant for a company that provided financial planning for middle-income families. Planners weren’t building clientele as quickly as market research indicated was possible. I identified the problem as one of low manager involvement. Managers weren’t giving planners specific feedback on their work and consequently, clear sales strategies and motivation were lacking. I instructed managers to first select particular skills for planners to develop and then monitor the results of the practiced skills. Monitoring resulted in an immediate increase in sales for the organization.

Employee involvement techniques such as participative decision-making, selfmanaging work teams, and suggestion systems raise morale and feelings of responsibility and involvement. Studies show that the larger a person’s stake in a company, the greater his level of loyalty. Communication encourages loyalty.

3. In order to increase employee engagement, all individuals, everyone in the organization, must work to achieve objectivity.

This applies to everyone, from the executive suite to the mail room. Objectivity is the gift of power bestowed upon employees by employers, enabling them to step outside the system for the purpose of accessing what’s wrong. If people are given the tools for attaining objectivity, they will seldom feel a loss of control over themselves and situations. An investment in seminars and literature to this effect will prove highly worthwhile.

Generally, employees in large companies are responsible for a fraction of the whole picture. Objectivity reminds them of the company goal, allowing these workers the insight to move forward. The dreaded disease of apathy often accompanies the feeling of ineffectiveness. If employees feel they can contribute, loyalty will be enhanced.


In summary:

• Employers can inspire loyalty in employees if three important factors are in place as discussed above. Loyalty hinges on the alignment of values between employee and employer. If an employee finds value in the company cause, he or she will naturally support it.

• Objectivity fosters feelings of effectiveness because it allows one to positively influence a situation. If an employee feels like a non-contributor, he or she has no perception of her worth in the company, no feeling of influence or purpose. He or she will atrophy, and the company will eventually lose this employee’s strength.

• Open communication is an extremely important ingredient for instilling loyalty. Constructive feedback keeps an employee posted on his or her relationship to the company works and as a result, he or she is likelier to take pride and responsibility in his or her actions and contributions.

Delegation: Why You Can’t Just Say “Go Do It”

Delegation:  Why You Can’t Just Say “Go Do It”

There is a common belief when it comes to managing people—especially at the senior VP and executive levels—that the higher you are in your position, the less you actually need to provide any sort of hands-on management to your direct reports. The thinking goes something like this: You had to be bright and smart to get to this executive level. Similarly, the people who report to you directly must also be very smart, or they wouldn’t have gotten to their positions. Therefore, they should know their jobs, and you should rarely or never need to tell them what to do in very specific terms.

 

 

That’s the myth. Here’s the reality.

The level of involvement you need to provide when you assign a task does not depend on your job title or your ranking in your company. Rather, it depends on these three factors:

  • To what degree does this person have the skills and expertise needed to do the task? 
  • To what degree are you confident that your perception of the person’s abilities is actually true? 
  • To what degree does the person you have in mind agree with your own assessment?

Each time you delegate a task, you need to weigh these three factors and determine how involved you need to be. There is no one-size-fits-all.

 

The Five Levels of Delegation

Now, let’s clarify what it means to delegate, and then talk about why most managers are doing it wrong.

Researchers have delineated what I have come to call the five levels of delegation. Here they are:


The common perception is that as a top-level executive, you are supposed to primarily operate at levels 4 and 5. In fact, you may feel that it’s actually insulting to simply tell your people what to do—especially with detailed instructions—and expect them to do it.  Well-intentioned consultants would say you are “micromanaging” and that is bad.

Furthermore, you may believe that the people who report to you want to take charge and be at level 5 as much as possible, even in the absence of sufficient information. (And often, this is true; some team members will be looking to make a good impression on you, while others will sincerely want to take a load off your shoulders.)

Unfortunately, delegating directly to level 4 or 5 often leads to breakdowns. This is especially true in today’s organizational culture, in which change and disruption are the norm. In an environment like this, it’s illogical to expect direct reports—no matter how competent they are—to become knights who go forth on their own, find the holy grail (without a map and maybe without even understanding what a grail is), and report back when they’re done.   It never worked like that in the past, and it definitely does not work like that today.

Very often, people who get knighted go forth and do their best based on what they think the boss expected. Then, when they bring the results back to their boss, the boss says, “No—that’s not what I wanted.” They look bad, the boss is frustrated, and the blame game begins.

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To avoid this scenario, you need to ask yourself: How badly do I really need this task that I’m delegating to be carried out perfectly? The more important the task is, the more you need to ensure that your direct reports truly have the skills, experience, and information they need to carry it out.

If the task is crucial, this means having a conversation with each person involved, asking lots of questions, and making sure that the person is capable of doing the job. Do NOT simply accept “Don’t worry, boss, I can do this.” This is what people think you want to hear, but it’s not what you need to hear.

Frequently, people won’t admit up front that they’re unprepared for a task because they’re afraid that they’ll get fired or they want to save face. Other times, people aren’t even aware that they’re lacking key skills or data (which is a dangerous—and these days, common—situation). This is why you can’t accept “I can do this” at face value.

 

It’s important for you to understand that every human being has blind spots, and the most dangerous ones are:

  1. They think they know and they don’t
  2. They don’t know what they don’t know.

Part of your job is to help the people under you identify and address their blind spots, without making them feel stupid.  And part of their job is to be open to your masterfully helping them gain awareness of their own blind spots. Your ability to do this, and their ability to accept and learn, will increase tenfold the expertise that each of you have to offer.

 

Remember: Most people in the job market who get promoted fast have a narrow band of expertise in one area, but may have little or no knowledge outside of that area. Others are great generalists but have never actually gotten their hands dirty doing things that are relevant to today—not three years ago. When skills and experience are lacking, or your direct reports don’t know how to make good decisions (another skill that needs to be taught), you can delegate at level 5 until the cows come home, and it will keep coming back to bite you in you-know-where.

What’s more, your team, who only want to succeed and to help you succeed (assuming that you hired well, treat people with respect, and demonstrate your own competence) will become very demotivated when you keep saying “Jump,” they keep saying, “How high? We can and will do this!”, and then you’re disappointed in their results.

So don’t just say, “Do it.” If necessary, be ready to roll up your sleeves, get dirty, and really find out the details of what’s needed. How do you know when to delegate and levels 4 and 5?  The answer is powerful: you and the team or other individual both agree with candor, and the results that you and the other(s) want show up.

Also, make it clear to your team that it’s their responsibility to be open with you—for instance, to say, “I’m not exactly sure what you want me to do,” or “This is what I plan to do step by step—is that what you want?” or “I have expertise in this and this, but THAT will be new to me—can we meet weekly and update?” Then reward their openness by giving them the support they need.

 

Delegating wisely + communicating well = success

Now, let’s circle back to my model of management, and look at it in relationship to another model by Michael Hyatt. Hyatt outlines these five levels of delegation on his blog:

 

  • Do exactly what I have asked you to do: Don’t deviate from my instructions, since I have researched the options and determined my preference.
  • Research the topic and report back: After we discuss it, I’ll tell you what I want you to do.
  • Research the topic: Outline the options with the pros and cons for each, and make a recommendation. If I agree, you can move forward with that approach.
  • Make a decision and then tell me what you did. I trust you to do the research, make the best decision you can, and then keep me in the loop.
  • Make whatever decision you think is best. No need to report back. I trust you.

 

While my model looks at the five different ways to delegate a task, Hyatt’s model looks at the issue from a different angle: It tells you how to communicate your expectations at each level so that your direct reports are absolutely clear on what you want.

 

When we put the two models together, here is what we get:

All stages of this model are empowering.  When people don’t know what to do and you tell them, they’ll be grateful—and they’ll also be more likely to give you the results you want. When people know exactly how much and what type of input you need from them, they’ll be more efficient. When collaboration is indicated, a good dialogue will enable your team to make the best decisions possible. And when you conclude that a person or team truly is capable of handling a task without your input, you’ll avoid over-managing.

Delegating—and communicating your expectations clearly and smartly when you delegate—takes work. However, the payoff is huge. It will make your team respect you more, and vice versa. It will maximize your performance and minimize your costs. And it will ensure that despite change, disruption, and sometimes utter chaos, you will get the job done as efficiently and effectively as possible.