Emotional Intelligence

How Emotional Intelligence Speeds Transformation

Organizational health is crucial to success. One element of this is the emotional intelligence of employees. In short, emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to accurately assess body language or other cues, non-verbal and verbal, and  and act accordingly.

When an organization has enough EQ, it will execute change faster and with fewer missteps since employees and leaders alike are able to swiftly and accurately communicate with each other. They consider body language, tone or other non-verbal cues during their exchanges. Prerequisites include a certain level of organizational trust and the ability to engage in productive dissent.

Here are a few examples of indirect cues and how to handle them:

 

Example Non-EQ Response EQ response
Sarcasm They meant what they said. Clarify, “I can’t tell if you are serious.”
Arms crossed over chest They don’t agree. Acknowledge or ask, “Is this hitting the mark? Is there something else about this you would like to hear about?”
Fiddling with phone or other items They are not interested. Ask, “Are we using this time most effectively, or is there another course of action we need to follow?” Or it could be as simple as, “Do we need a break?”
Constantly challenging details They are completely resistant, or the idea is all wrong. Reframe the discussion to ask “We are here to discuss a specific topic.” You might also ask, “Is this going in the right direction? Are we addressing the opportunity as you see it?”
Happy, smiling It’s in the bag! It’s good to close more broadly with asking “Have we addressed your major objectives?” or “is there anything else you’d like to see?”

 

You can see how the EQ response acknowledges behavior that might otherwise be misinterpreted. The EQ response will contextualize observed behavior and should lead to further open dialog. Beware, though, you may have several iterations of this before you reach alignment.

The EQ response speeds results. It reduces the guess work in communications.

Assessing your culture and doing something about it doesn’t have to be difficult. There is a free assessment on my website that you can use to assess your culture. Let me know if I can help you with the assessment at steve@stevesalisburyconsulting.com or call me 269-326-1576.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

Learn Vs Execute

 

How Too Much Focus on Results Hurts a Transformation

We’ve all heard it, and certainly the Wall Street Analysts pound the drum. “Focus on Results.”

While this is crucial to short term, bottom line performance, I believe it creates a barrier to an organization’s ability to drive long-term transformational change.

From a cultural perspective, I look at this as a continuum between learning versus accomplishment. Worst-case scenarios are at either end of the spectrum. If your culture values only learning,  you may never accomplish anything. On the other hand, if your organization only values accomplishment, or results, you may repeat similar mistakes over and over without knowing what is happening.

There must be a balance. Effective cross-functional teams take the opportunity to pause  key-points in their process to step back and assess lessons learned and how to adjust the plans accordingly.

Focusing purely on accomplishment can create a scenario where you might miss important changes in the environment. Worse yet, if you have a high-risk culture, it hinders your evaluation of lessons learned.

How do strike this important balance between learning and accomplishment?

  1. First, make your own assessment about your culture. Do we take time to learn? Do we have mechanisms in our transformation projects to pause to evaluate? These can be as simple as occasional project reviews where you ask questions about how the team has applied learnings from challenges along the way.
  2. Implement post project lessons-learned activities where the team shares both positive and constructive feedback. Ensure positives are reinforced and constructive items are folded into upcoming initiatives.
  3. Reward your leaders and teams for striking the appropriate balance. Again, accomplishment is important, but not at the expense of learning how to improve.

I’ve worked with organizations that fell too far on both sides of this spectrum. Organizations that were more focused on learning spent a little too much time philosophizing, creating challenges in meeting deadlines. Organizations more focused on accomplishment stumbled more than it needed to in executing large projects.

Assessing your culture and doing something about it doesn’t have to be difficult. There is a free assessment on my website that you can use to assess your culture.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

How Culture Impacts Transformation

See this month’s video to learn about cultural factors that impact your transformation success. Then use the assessment on my website to assess your culture.

Over the next two weeks we’ll dive into a couple of these factors.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this video. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

 

 

Boeing, the 737 Max, and Cross-Functional Dysfunction

Boeing, the 737 Max, and Cross-Functional Dysfunction

Cross functional dysfunction is the root cause of the issues Boeing is facing with the 737 Max.

A brief history.

In 1997, Boeing with its engineering culture purchased McDonald Douglas. The latter had a bean-counter culture. Over time, market and investor pressure won out and the newly formed company became more focused on financials than it did on engineering. Soon, all ideas were scrutinized for financial viability. The 737 Max was designed to hold more people without a major change to the base design – rather than start from scratch. An attempt was made to resolve some design issues with software, but these failed. As problems started to surface, employees faced great pressure to keep costs down. A few who tried to express concerns were squelched. Passenger safety was sacrificed.

Since last year, Boeing has lost over $60 billion in market value. That’s a lot of beans.

Volumes have been written about this, and undoubtedly many more volumes are yet to come. My perspective? Boeing’s culture needs to change to focus more on listening. Sounds easy. No. This leadership team now needs to begin to  build a culture where people trust one another to speak up and offer their ideas. A culture where they can challenge each other, regardless of hierarchy, to make better – and safer – decisions. This takes work. It means people put aside their egos. It means having a willingness to accept and act on difficult feedback. It means listening. Not listening to judge, or listening to speak, but listening to hear..

What’s the lesson for all of us? Stop. Be quiet. Listen. Do what’s best for the customer.

Especially if their lives are in your hands.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

 

Be Kind

Be Kind

One of my heroes has died.

Clayton Christensen died last Friday, January 23, 2020. He was one of my personal and business heroes. Never mind about his groundbreaking work about disruptive innovation, it was his approach to life, and teaching leaders that stood out most to me.

I met him in-person once perhaps 20 years ago. Our visit was short. He was warm, genuine, and made me feel like I was the only other person in the room.

He saw his role as teaching people how to think, not what to do.

He said of business leaders, “It’s more important to develop people than it is to chase profit margins.”

He believed it was important to help others become better people.

His brand was to “Be Kind.”

Steve Salisbury

An Interview with Richard Allred, President and CEO ATS, LLC

An Interview with Richard Allred, President and CEO ATS, LLC

I recently had the opportunity to interview Richard Allred, who is the President and CEO ATS, LLC (ATSSmartSolutions.com). ATS has a four-fold mission focused on clean drinking water, providing sustainable waste-water treatment, developing green, organic chemicals that protect crops from disease and providing safety showers to cleanse employees from potentially harmful contact with chemicals. ATS performs this mission in for profit, not for profit and philanthropic sectors.

Steve: What does it mean to you to be a transformational leader?

Richard: I have learned that people want to give their best to the job. They generally want guidelines to help them focus their efforts and it’s my role to provide those guidelines.

Steve: Tell me about a time when this was particularly challenging or rewarding for you. What was the situation, and what did you do?

Richard: I purchased this company in 2012. At the time, the firm’s leadership was not very focused. I determined that we needed to bring in stronger talent and transform the way work was completed. My vision was to serve those who are underprivileged, and provide opportunities for smart and great people who haven’t been as lucky as I have been. I also wanted to scale the organization from regional to become global.

Steve: How did you clarify the purpose of your transformation?

Richard: I make the message as clear as possible and put it out in front of your people in many ways. We have an annual meeting to discuss our work and how it impacts employees, then we engage them in feedback sessions to help us to prepare for more focused, purposeful communication. I also ask employees many questions to clarify their understanding and help me improve my messaging.

Steve: In what ways did you experience cross-functional dysfunction, and how did you address this?

Richard: I have two examples. The first is that we offices in Brazil as well as the United States. The differences in management styles, language and cultural create a communication gap. I have found that by clarifying the messaging between my office in the States and in Brazil I am able to close the gap most of the time. It takes focused effort though, and discipline to ensure this happens every week.

The other example is that sometimes employees may not understand why sales team members who travel have bigger expense accounts. Often, they may treat themselves to expensive steak dinners when they are on the road. This can feel unfair to some employees. I have found that when I take the time to explain the trade-off, that those sales folks enjoying a steak dinner are not always home to watch their child’s football game or school play, I can narrow that gap of understanding.

A couple of other things I look for when hiring someone in an executive position is I try to find people who have experience managing the weighty responsibility of covering payroll. The stress related to making payroll provides a perspective that I want on my leadership team and it’s one we can easily rally around. I also look for individuals who choose to continually educate themselves, whether by reading or taking classes.

Steve: Here in the United States, were there cultural attributes that made the transformation easier or more difficult?

Richard: When I first purchased the company, employees were a tight-knit family and extremely loyal to the mission of the firm. Growth requires you to make changes which we did by increasing the geography from where I recruit. I try to hire people who are smarter than me in whatever their specific strength. We’ve been successful in maintaining that loyalty while expanding our diversity and knowledge base. It requires more focus more on coaching employees to effectively work together, but the payoff is big.

Steve: How did you enroll others in the transformation?

Richard: Plain and simple – we engaged front- line employees in the planning process. Afterall, these are the folks that live with and operate in the new environment and no one understands their work better than they do.

Steve: How did you become more of a coach?

Richard: First, I must be comfortable with a great deal of ambiguity. I find it most effective to sit with my leaders and their teams and have a conversation about how I can help, focusing on their requirements to be successful. I have also hired and work with a mentor that helps me improve my coaching effectiveness.

Steve: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?

Richard: To create a transformation, you must connect with the team and their hearts. You must understand individually who they are. For example, to help connect with one of my employees, I sponsor a sports team and ask the coach to waive their fees. This is an easy thing for any leader to do.

Steve: Richard, thank you for sharing your insight on successful transformational leadership. Good luck to you and your firm.

Note: Richard recently published his book, Purify. This is a business book about the metaphor of how water treatment teaches us to make better business decisions. Find it here.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

How to Recognize and Fix the Choke Point

How to Recognize and Fix the Choke Point

An Advanced Shipment Notice (ASN) is a document, usually electronic, that is sent from a supplier to a customer to advise the customer of an in-process product shipment. The ASN gives the customer the capability to plan their manufacturing or distribution even though they do not yet have the product in their inventory. It’s quite a useful tool, allowing customers to optimize their inventory and reduce working capital, while improving on-time delivery to their customers – the customer’s customer as it were.

While the ASN sounds like a gift from heaven above, it does not come without significant effort. It is, perhaps, one of the most likely victims of cross-functional dysfunction. Multiple supplier departments must contribute to the information required of an ASN including but not limited to order management, warehousing, inventory control, accounts receivable, and transportation. In fact, the transportation department must also rely on the supplier’s carrier to provide information such as truck details, route information and estimated times of arrival (ETA).

Remember the old saying, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link?” This certainly applies in the case of an ASN. That weakest link is also known as the choke point – that point in the process that is most likely to cause the process to fail. Identifying and mitigating the impact of the choke point is crucial to the success of the ASN.

It all comes down to process. In the case of the ASN, there is one master process, and each of the functions contribute their portion to it. When all the functions contribute to the process accurately and timely, everything works well. When one function fails, this becomes the choke point.

When a supplier develops an ASN, it’s important to bring all of the representative functions together to collaborate on the master process, designing in detail how this will work, and contingencies when something goes haywire, such as an electrical outage at a warehouse, or weather- related transportation delays.

The ASN is a great metaphor for leaders optimizing their organizations, whether it be process related, technology, culture, and regardless of the drivers of that optimization – company strategy, mergers, acquisitions, divestures, or new leadership. Leaders at the appropriate level must come together and collaborate openly on expected outcomes. They also need to  design a path forward to address these requirements, ensuring that any choke points are identified ahead of time, and steps are taken beforehand to mitigate any issues that chokepoint might present.

The bottom line is this: the company must come together to openly collaborate. This means putting aside pre-conceived notions of good or bad within each function and challenging each other to think through the ramifications of their work. This requires open discussion of how changes in one area will impact the ability of other areas to work successfully.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

How to Quell Detractors

How to Quell Detractors

Are you in the middle of a big change, or thinking about starting one? If so, watch this video to learn my five-step process to learn about and leverage those who might resist your change.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this video. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

My Predictions – #3 – Greater Focus on Integrity

My Predictions – #3 – Greater Focus on Integrity

McDonald’s terminates their CEO. Under Armour is under review for its financial practices. Boeing is under scrutiny for how it handled the 737 Max. Their CEO resigned last week as a result. How do we even begin to talk about our American political system?

Every day we read about integrity failures in organizational leadership. Everyday. People lose faith in organizations when their leaders misbehave – or worst yet cover up their misbehavior. I’ve labeled this the Integrity Deficit Syndrome, and it plagues transformational change.

Yet society is demanding more and more transparency and authenticity. Employees engage in more activism to promote better behavior. Reputation for integrity is a top employee engagement driver.

John Maxwell said people buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. When leaders misbehave, their credibility crumbles, and their ability to be successful disintegrates.

My prediction: The Integrity Deficit Syndrome will continue to spread for the next 3-5 years before leaders as a whole take this more seriously and work to reduce it. Ultimately, smart leaders will see that their success hinges on their ability to face questions of integrity and do the right thing. One mitigating factor is the media which historically prefers the negative over reporting leaders who lead with integrity. I know hundreds of the latter. Don’t despair.

There is hope, and it comes at a price. The hope is that our organizations will continue to successfully drive positive transformational change and do so at higher rates of speed. The price is that we must learn to close the strategy execution gap, and to do so we must always take the higher road. Always.

I think it’s worth the price.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

How a Leader Drove Process Improvement in a Not-for-Profit

Matthew, Robert and George Giddens

How a Leader Drove Process Improvement in a Not-for-Profit

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a colleague, Robert Giddens. Rob is Director of Information Technology at The Benida Group of Buffalo Grove, Illinois. He also serves on the board of the not-for-profit Maot Chitim (pronounce, “my oat ha team”). Maot Chitim provides an honorable holiday meal twice a year to Jews that cannot afford this expense. It is headquartered in Northbrook, IL, and serves the broader metropolitan Chicago area.

The board of directors of Maot Chitim essentially ran the organization the same way for nearly 80 years. They had used and perfected a manual way of doing things. This traditional plan was successful and there was a history of “Why mess with success?”  However, times were changing. The charity no longer served a population that was concentrated in one city area. With the move of recipients across Chicagoland, needs changed quickly. They were fortunate to gain more volunteers – again from all over the metropolitan area. This meant that the plan HAD to change. In addition, since it was changing so quickly, they saw the automation of logistics as a necessity.

Steve: Tell me about your role on the board and your goals for transformational change.

Rob: The board is made up of about 40 retired and active executives who are dedicated to the purpose of Maot Chitim. As I come from the information technology field, I quickly saw the opportunity to improve processes. Process improvements would clearly improve our efficiency in delivering meals. I saw the opportunity to improve both the cycle time in meal delivery, as well as backend processes to identify and use volunteer attributes to better optimize delivery routing.

Historically, they used spreadsheets and many dedicated people were doing manual work. We introduced database technology which allowed us to work faster, smarter and more accurately – reducing a great deal of the former labor-intensive approach.

Steve: In what ways were you a transformational leader?

Rob: Being transformational means that you can look at an opportunity through a different lens. You bring a level of excitement to the opportunity. You recognize that you are a catalyst for change.

Steve: How did you clarify the purpose of your transformation?

Rob: This was an iterative process. As we implemented small process improvements, we began to show people that there was indeed a better way to perform our work. Over time, we demonstrated that we were better able to respect our volunteers’ time and show how we can fill our mission faster and more effectively. The Chicago community is quite generous with their time, and they are wonderful in volunteering for worthwhile causes. We found our 1,000+ volunteers very appreciative of the process improvements as it made their experience of volunteer registration and volunteer engagement a smooth process.

Steve: Tell me about any resistance you might have faced.

Rob: Volunteers are an interesting breed of people. Most want to volunteer on their own terms. We had to carefully introduce new ways of working so they saw it as a benefit, and not a way to put more control on their hours.

Steve: In what ways did you experience cross-functional dysfunction, and how did you address this?

Rob: The board was accustomed to the old way. They did not see the change as a good thing – it was just different. Proving success beforehand is challenging and I needed them to make a leap of faith. We started seeing small wins – efficiency enhancements to demonstrate success and demonstrate we could do more value-added work.

We have one paid staff member – an executive director. The previous director did not appreciate the benefits of automation as she perceived it to it mean she would lose control. She did not see the benefit of giving her more time to perform community outreach and other more productive work

Steve: Were there cultural attributes that made the transformation easier or more difficult?

Rob: The challenge with this group, candidly, is that this board was made up of more senior folks who were comfortable with the why it had been done for the past 80+ years and they did not want to mess with success. The upside was that there were a few people who saw the opportunity for significant efficiency gains and improved volunteer retention.

I was able to build a coalition of a few board members who saw the potential. This allowed me to bring the rest of the board along. To this day their remains some resistance, but now this resistance is more positive. They challenge our work to bring more clarity.

Steve: Please share the results you experienced.

Rob: We replaced the former Executive Director with someone who was more progressive and willing to consider alternative approaches. This enabled the organization to aggressively transform and demonstrate stronger financials while providing additional services to the recipients. We are able to feed more people better meals, less expensive, improving cost per volunteer hour, and did all this faster.

At the volunteer level – it used to take us eight+ hours to organize volunteers to deliver food to over 15,000 recipients. Now it takes us about four hours. This is one way we demonstrate that we care about our volunteers.

Steve: In the process of all of this, how did you become more of a coach?

Rob: Since this is a volunteer organization, power and respect had to grow slowly and organically. Other than the Executive Director, there are no named leaders. On the board, authority is given, and respect is earned.  It takes a great deal of influence, and it takes many small wins.

Steve: What advice to you have for aspiring transformational leaders?

Rob: Two things. First, do not take feedback personally. Especially with a volunteer organization, understand that everyone has talents to share, and their feedback may simply suggest a different way to approach the opportunity. The other advice is to go for small wins early. Do not feel like you must have some huge process improvement. Call out the small wins and articulate the advantages gained.

Steve: Rob, thank you for sharing your perspectives today regarding transformational leadership. I wish you great success as you continue this journey and good luck with your extremely worthwhile mission.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

If you would like to learn more about Maot Chitim, or make a donation, please see their website: www.maotchitim.org.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.