Why Should Leaders Look After an Employee’s Financial Health?

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This blog is provided by Ashley Johnson, a business blogger, as a companion to the interview with Jack Modzelewski and his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leadership, Communication and Credibility in a High-Stakes World that aired on April 14, 2020.

 

Your responsibilities to your staff go beyond simply signing their paychecks, granting their leave requests, and assigning work. It is also your duty to look after their financial health, especially in light of recent developments that have pushed America into an economic crisis. In these times, 15% or more of any given workforce is struggling financially. Part of this is due to flat-lining income levels that, when adjusted for inflation, are a mere $50,000 annually per household. In other words, there is a good chance that many of your employees are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and are possibly deep in debt. The question for today’s business leaders is what should they do about this?

Financial hardship equals poor performance

The above scenarios can lead to financial stress, which can be very debilitating for employees. In a Marcus feature on the link between physical and financial health, money coach Elisabeth Donati explains how money-related stress is almost as bad as health stress as it is directly tied to a person’s drive to survive. Failure to attain this drive, in turn, worsens stress, and can result in some serious health problems like depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and psychosomatic symptoms such as headache, fatigue, and even pain. In other words, financial stress can take not only a mental and emotional toll on your staff, but also a physical one that can affect how they work.

Indeed, a Reuters article on financial health by journalist Beth Pinsker describes money stress as being “as bad for workplace productivity as back pain.” In a 2018 survey of 1,600 working adults, some 15% admitted to missing work due to health problems caused and exacerbated by financial stress. Around 40%, on the other hand, admitted to being distracted due to thinking about their finances, leading to a reduction in workplace productivity. The situation today is likely the same as that of 2 years ago, if not worse, given the unsettling events of 2020 and their adverse impact on the American economy.

The physical, mental, and emotional toll of financial hardship underscores why you, as a leader, need to look after your employees’ financial health. Put simply, doing so is good for business, as financially healthy staff will be more productive, especially since they won’t be distracted by thinking about their financial issues. Crucially, making sure your employees have sound finances will help them avoid the health-related pitfalls of financial stress, and will cut down on missed work days due to health concerns involving money anxiety.

Ensuring employees’ financial health

So, the question is: How can business leaders ensure the financial wellbeing of their employees? Amway chief HR Shantanu Das recommends three financial wellness strategies you can implement, beginning with giving competitive compensation, which should ideally be above market standards. Staff must be compensated based on merit, so as to encourage a high standard of work and to keep them motivated. You can also offer a variety of financial assistance programs, like emergency loans, educational sponsorships, and even car payment subsidies. Make sure that you also give everyone all the benefits — 401(K), medical insurance, etc. — they are entitled to, and more if possible.

Finally, it would be a good idea to connect your team with financial planners, who can give them expert advice on how to attain financial independence. These can range from one-on-one meetings to group seminars on everything from retirement savings to cultivating healthy money habits. While a business cannot be directly responsible for how an employee spends their money, having these services in place shows them that you are prepared to go beyond the usual parameters of most companies. Such advice, along with your financial programs and support, will help ensure your staff’s financial wellbeing, and keep them productive and happy at work in the process.

Leaders Lead

Your job as a leader isn’t just about running the business and counting the numbers. It is all about stepping up and being someone who your employees can count on for a wide range of issues. Marie Miguel notes in ‘Why Mental Health Awareness is Important for Leadership’ that good leaders lead, and that means taking care of your people so you can motivate them to be productive and efficient. In this context, taking care of your employees means keeping them happy, which you can do by looking after their financial health as well as their physical and mental health. This is what it means to create a healthy work culture that will inspire those who work for you and encourage future top talent to seek out your company. We hope the above points will help you have a better understanding of how and why you should look after your employees’ financial health.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ashley Johnson is a business blogger who specializes in following the latest leadership trends. She hopes her articles will inspire new and veteran business leaders alike, and help them establish a better company culture. In her free time she loves to hike with her family.

Revive Your Business — Shed Overhead, Thrill Your Clients and Boost Productivity

To start or to continue receiving the weekly blogs via email, please sign-up using this link: subscribe to Innovative Leadership Institute weekly blog.

This blog is provided by Mitch Russo. It is the first half of Chapter 1 from his book Invisible Organization: How Ingenious CEOs Are Creating Thriving Virtual Companies ©2015 and used with permission. In his book, Mitch shares how leaders can begin the process and enjoy the benefits of a successful Invisible Organization, which is one that embraces the work from home atmosphere. If you would like to find out more, you can purchase his book here. This blog is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, Building a Community Around Products and Services which aired on May 5th, 2020.

 

The whole world is moving in this direction. Your competitors may already be working virtually at some level. Some companies have tried and failed, others are succeeding and winning. You may already have a few people who work from home. That’s great, but it’s just a start. Transitioning to an Invisible Organization requires much more, and the rewards are much greater than you are aware of.

Why is it worth the effort to build an Invisible Organization? You can create more free time, higher profits, greater business success, and probably best of all, greater fulfillment for you and your staff. You might not realize it, yet the future of your very business may depend on it.

It’s not hard, but it does take determination and the willingness to rethink the way your company operates. The steps I provide are simple and direct regardless of what type of company you have or what industry you are in. I’ve done it myself, and I’ve helped others do it—with tremendous results. Now it’s your turn.

The goal of this book:

To get you into action quickly so that you can begin the process and enjoy the benefits of a successful Invisible Organization sooner rather than later.

The process will require you to master several new skills and strategies which will be the keys to unlimited business success. You’ll be challenged to find ways to become “invisible” in all areas of your company.

You’re going to evaluate every department, each staff member and every system you’re using now from a different perspective. You’ll discover ways to work more efficiently, and as a direct result, expand your business.

This process will take some time, but the cumulative results will be undeniable. You will create maximum results with minimum effort and cost.

Inevitably, this will enable you to increase your income.

When asked how they run their sales organization, some business owners might say, “We just pick up the phone, call a prospect and ask for the order.” That answer is no longer good enough. You need to break down exactly what it is you do into a series of steps that you follow with every single client or customer.

When you know exactly what it is your company is doing, you can tell a person exactly what it is you do with confidence. This leads to more business because people like systems. If they’re looking for someone to help them with a specific problem or service, they feel comfortable knowing that there’s a tried-and-tested series of techniques in place to get that job done.

Besides selling with confidence, good systems will make expansion easier and training more precise. They will let you build in and repeat successful processes. You can set up the training for your staff and track their results and improve them. You’ll know how long it takes to accomplish each action.

Once clearly defined systems are in place, you’ll then be able to easily discover ways to maximize your exposure with more effective marketing.

Your marketing system is a crucial piece of your business that will ultimately be generating income for you on its own. It will become a major component of your Invisible Organization.

The following chapters will share marketing techniques that go beyond the now-common Facebook and Google ads. These techniques will become huge profit generation systems when used in an Invisible Organization. If you already have great marketing systems in place and want to expand sales while cutting expenses, you are in the right place, too. I’ll show you how you can increase productivity and profits while improving the lifestyle of the CEO, the management team, and your staff.

How do I know this for sure? I did it myself. Now I want to help you do it as well.

As the CEO of Business Breakthroughs International, I built a multi-hundred-person organization spanning seven countries and with over 10,000 clients. We doubled our business three years in a row and managed twelve divisions, seven of which had their own Profit and Loss Statement and were profitable. At its peak we generated over $25 million in revenue per year with over five hundred clients every month. On average we had more than fifty working coaches and nearly 100 salespeople, all of them working from the comfort of their own homes. We didn’t own a single copy machine, and yet anyone who dealt with us thought we occupied a huge facility with a lot of parking spaces.

The company started as Chet Holmes International and evolved into Business Breakthroughs when Tony Robbins became our joint venture partner.

We collectively assisted thousands of companies with high-level consulting services, coaching and education. I created several new divisions, all profitable almost from day one.

I ran the entire organization as President and CEO from a home office, my spare bedroom converted to a workspace. It was comfortable, easy to work from, and it saved me countless hours and dollars I would have spent maintaining a professional, outside facility. Even though my personal assistant was 2,000 miles away, we functioned as a great team.

Before that, I was a CEO consultant and a venture investor. In that role, I saw hundreds of business models and directly participated in several as an operating executive.

Back in 1985, I built, ran, and sold the most popular time accounting software company ever built called Timeslips Corporation. At one point, Timeslips Corp had over 250,000 clients. We sold that business for over $10M.

With an Invisible Organization you won’t need the physical infrastructure you are currently using. Just imagine how much money you could save if you no longer had to pay for rent and utilities. Your first response may be, “That won’t work for our company.” But think about it. Wouldn’t it be a great way to boost profits and create leverage for your business if it were possible?

How much money could you really save? Let’s take a look.

A small architect’s office in Ashland Massachusetts has 12 employees. One is the CEO, another the bookkeeper, another is receptionist, and there is one tech to support the infrastructure. The remaining eight are engineers and draftsman. They have a 4,000-square-foot office space with a conference room, a reception area, and ten individual offices. After understanding their concerns about maintaining their “presence” in the area, I recommended the following, as their lease was up for renewal:

Current Monthly Costs:

Rent at $32/SqFt:                                 $10,666

Electricity                                               $816

Gas for Heat                                           $437

Leased Servers Onsite                          $2,850

Custodial                                                 $300

Coffee Service                                         $195

Snacks                                                      $150

Phone System Lease                             $532

Internet                                                    $450

Phone Service                                         $295

Property and Facilities Insurance       $310

 

Total:                                                        $17,001 per month

 

After the CEO decided it was time to become “invisible,” most of these costs were eliminated. The company downsized to an 850-sqare-foot office, which allowed the CEO to maintain his presence with the receptionist. This included a full conference room and two guest workstations with the equipment the company already owned.

The CEO returned his leased server to the leasing company and signed a contract for a cloud-based server, eliminating 3/4 of the company’s monthly expenses (and that included new equipment at his hosting company every two years with 24/7 tech support and backup). He sent his entire engineering staff home and gave them each $75 a month to pay for their Internet fees. They were delighted to save money on fuel and lunches, plus they were happy that they didn’t have to commute an average of 80 minutes anymore.

After going invisible, the company’s monthly costs were:

Rent at $36/SqFt                            $2,550

Electricity                                          $327

Gas for Heat                                      $196

Coffee Service                                   $48

Snacks                                                $54

Internet                                             $250

Phone Service                                   $96

Property Insurance                         $144

Remote Server Lease                      $650

Added Internet for Staff                 $750

Total:                                                 $5,065 per month

That’s an $11,936-per-month savings—about $143,232 per year— because they converted from a physical location to a virtual organization. Besides the savings, everyone loved working from home, except one engineer who didn’t have the self-discipline and had to be let go. As a result productivity soared, the quality of work increased dramatically, and people were logged into their servers from home at all hours of the day and night, willing to work extra if needed without complaint.

Just imagine how much you would save on office furniture, partitions, phone sets, phone systems, and in most cases, even the cost of computers. Since you won’t maintain any of your own hardware anymore, you will no longer need a tech support person. Instead you’ll rely on your cloud system’s provider for help.

In the above example, profits soared and staff became more productive even before we started implementing the really cool stuff: interconnecting all their systems, building their document vault, and creating their automated training environment. That’s the next step, and that’s where your world will change when it comes to scalability.

Today’s cutting-edge systems will open doors you didn’t even know existed. Even if you own a manufacturing plant, or operate a medical center, or need manual labor, there are still certain departments that could operate virtually. When you have the proper training systems in place with clear policies and procedures, you can send your sales and administrative team home while watching their productivity increase. They will be happier and will keep more of their net pay.

It’s best to transition gradually. Start with just a few people to get used to how it works. Then begin to migrate, and watch the magic happen. Everything I’ve discussed in this book can be done without physical infrastructure.

The Invisible Organization by Mitch Russo © 2015

 

To purchase The Invisible Organization, click here.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Mitch is the author of the bestseller The Invisible Organization: How Ingenious CEOs are Creating Thriving, Virtual Companies, which is the CEOs guide to transitioning a traditional brick and mortar company into a fully virtual organization. It became an instant bestseller on Amazon across several categories. He cofounded Timeslips Corp, which grew to become the largest time tracking software company in the world before it was sold in 1998. Then, Mitch went on to join longtime friend Chet Holmes as President, later to join forces with Tony Robbins and together created Business Breakthroughs, International with nearly 300 people and about 25 million in sales. Mitch says, Make it Happen and he’s doing that with yet another great company he founded, called PowerTribes. His websites are MitchRusso.com and PowerTribes.net.

To connect with Mitch Russo, email: mitch@mitchrusso.com

 

 

Using Language to Create a Generative Culture In a Dynamic Business Environment – Huntington and Sophisticated Systems

To start or to continue receiving the weekly blogs via email, please sign-up using this link: subscribe to Innovative Leadership Institute weekly blog.

This is a companion blog to the interview Words Drive Actions -Changing Culture With Value Based Words with Dwight Smith and Stephen D. Steinour that aired on December 17, 2019.

 

Words can be powerful. For anyone who has spoken a harsh word to a child, a loved one, or even a colleague, we can often feel the impact in our gut when we see their faces look back at us filled with hurt or sadness. We, as busy leaders, employees, and family members, often allow our stress to seep through in our language. “My Special Word,” corporate purpose statements and guiding principles can serve as an aspirational reminder setting the tone for the environment we are committed to creating.

Does this type of statement help? Is it just window dressing that sounds good in our recruiting videos?

I believe having an aspirational statement about who we want to be as individuals and organizations AND creating an environment of accountability to encourage us to act in alignment with our aspirations creates the conditions where we are more likely to act according to our aspirations. This doesn’t mean we hit the mark every day in every action. Aspirational means that is the standard we set, we measure ourselves against it, and we measure our colleagues and organization against it. Another key is we put structures in place to help one another hit that aspirational goal. We discuss our success stories and our challenges. This aspirational culture is created by both giving deep thought to the qualities we care about and creating systems and processes that underpin the culture.

In our leadership development programs at the Innovative Leadership Institute, we take participants through a process where they explore their purpose and values. For many busy leaders, while they are highly principled, they have not taken time to write down their deepest held values and evaluate their behavior against those values. The process can be instructive and an invitation to remember the values they were raised with or aspire to in their quiet moments. One of the challenges is how do we create the conditions to “operationalize” these deeper values in business?

In a conversation with Steve Steinour, Huntington Bank CEO and Dwight Smith, Founder, My Special Word, and CEO/Founder Sophisticated Systems, they explore approaches they have used to be explicit with their values personally and organizationally. This transparency is particularly important during a time when we, as citizens, are continually disappointed by the behaviors we see from those we were raised to trust. This behavior could emanate from our business leaders, civic leaders, and, occasionally, our religious leaders. In my view, we as leaders can’t completely stop the negative behavior, but we can be visible as the positive leaders that fill our communities. There are a few bad apples that get lots of press, and there are thousands or hundreds of thousands of good people who want to be great parents, employees, leaders, and family members. Steve and Dwight are highly visible and successful men in their community who are modeling their values through their words and their actions!

In this blog and the interview series, we have been talking about the trend that successful companies are focused on both profit AND being companies that serve the broader community. Huntington’s Purpose statement and Values model that trend. Huntington’s purpose is “to look out for people,” their Purpose statement is: “We make people’s lives better, help businesses thrive, and strengthen the communities we serve.” Huntington is committed to doing the right thing for its customers, colleagues, shareholders, and communities by seeking to “Do the right thing” with the following three Values…

  • Can-Do Attitude
    “Enthusiastically work and succeed together.”
  • Service Heart
    “Inclusive spirit to put yourself in each other’s shoes—then help.”
  • Forward Thinking
    “Always look ahead for ways to be the very best.”

These values help guide Huntington in all the company does in running an effective and successful enterprise where people are treated well, and where they treat their clients and communities well. Treating people well includes civility, which means looking out for people. One way Huntington looks out for colleagues it through its business resource groups. These groups come together with common interest to share their views, which then help guide and inform others around the company. These groups drive actions in the company such as the military Business Resource Group driving benefit change for Military employees and clients. To me, a major point is Huntington sets an aspirational vision and behaviors, then it acts and measures how effectively they meet that aspiration.

Dwight talks about kindness, respect, and the ability to listen to others. These words become the foundation of a culture where values show up on how people talk and interact with others. People’s diverse values are respected. People are encouraged to share their values and aspirations – creating a safe place to succeed and also a safe place to experiment and learn and make mistakes.

Moving culture from unconscious action to deliberate choice is a complicated process and unique to every organization. Here are a few steps to consider as you look at your own culture and words to see if you are saying and acting the way that aligns with your aspirations.

  • Define/refine/revisit your purpose
  • Clarify the words that most resonate with and enable your purpose
  • Identify the processes and people (like business resource groups) that turn aspiration into action
  • Measure and refine

In an environment that is changing quickly, leaders must create positive cultures that reinforce the aspirations we have as people and as organizations. This positive culture includes qualities such as respect, civility, and supporting others in accomplishing their goals and dreams.

What are your organization’s aspirational words?

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

This online course contains the companion tools and assessments for people getting to develop become Innovative Leaders. The course is based on a proven six-step process in an interactive format that includes audio interviews with top leaders and thought leaders, videos, worksheets, articles, and reflection questions designed to support you in enhancing your practical effectiveness as an Innovative Leader.

It contains links to the online measurement platform and leadership assessments you and your coach will use.

Follow the process, and you will become more effective as a leader!

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf – Founder, CEO, and Board Chair of the Innovative Leadership Institute  is a highly sought-after expert in anticipating and leveraging future business trends to transform organizations.

4 Industries That Need Strong Leaders to Guide Them Through the 4th Industrial Revolution

To start or to continue receiving the weekly blogs via email, please sign-up using this link: subscribe to Innovative Leadership Institute weekly blog.

This guest blog is provided by Ashley Wilson as a companion to the Mark Sims interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. This interview Delivering for the End to End Customer as a Strategic Leader aired on 6/4/2019.

The impending 4th Industrial Revolution promises to bring radical technological transformations to enable faster, more flexible, and more efficient business processes.

source: pixabay.com

Technology is already part and parcel of many industries, but Industry 4.0 takes the meaning of digital transformation to a whole new level by completely changing how suppliers, producers, and customers interact with each other.

What are its impacts on industries and how do leaders play a role in enabling its success?

What Is the 4th Industrial Revolution?

The 4th Industrial Revolution (also known as Industry 4.0) boosts business performance by linking the best of physical and digital worlds.

This is achieved through a mix of innovative technologies such as AI, robotics, cloud computing, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Industry 4.0 is sometimes deemed as the age of the smart factory, where digital systems monitor and make automated decisions for businesses with the help of the technologies mentioned earlier.

Industry 4.0 is paving the way for transformative changes at breakneck speed in every industry, from changing the face of manufacturing to revamping construction works, to enabling fintech services in needy areas all over the world.

How Will the 4th Industrial Revolution Affect Industries?

The question is, what are the industries most impacted by the 4th Industrial Revolution—and what can business leaders do to ease this change?

Manufacturing

Many manufacturing companies are behind the tech curve as their operations remain the same as how they were 30, 40 years ago.

Machine operators come into work, attend routine daily meetings with their superiors, then proceed to operate machines manually for the rest of the workday. This is nowhere near efficient for enterprises that want to embrace digital transformation.

With Industry 4.0, many of the repetitive, inefficient processes in manufacturing are automated by smart machines.

This allows employees to focus more on higher-level work which gives organizations leeway in pursuing valuable organizational, operational and digital transformation efforts.

For example, instead of relying on daily meetings to distribute tasks, manufacturers can utilize smart whiteboards to automatically display work metrics in real-time and assign tasks.

Questions like “what are the important tasks to complete today?” and “who should work on them?” are managed automatically without the need for human interference.

Smart monitoring is another avenue manufacturing companies are pursuing to improve work efficiency. In smart monitoring, digital tools assess the conditions of machines in real-time which allows factories to predict potential machine failures with the data at hand.

With this technology, factory owners can identify machine errors before they happen, increasing the long-term quality of their inventory while improving output immensely.

Some smart machines even have the ability to automatically fix itself and optimize processes, further reducing the burden of human workers.

All these advancements will see a shift in the manufacturing field from favoring labor-heavy companies to those who can adapt to Industry 4.0 the fastest—a shift that is already taking effect today.

Logistics and Supply Chains

Modern supply chains do benefit from technology by leveraging big data to coordinate processes within the supply chain.

For example, logistics companies use data analytics to help them make informed business decisions like predicting traffic, improving global collaboration, and manage container risks.

Physical platforms (e.g. logistics) also utilize technology in smoothing the flow of physical products, bringing inventory handling performance to an all-time high while keeping costs low.

Despite these improvements, supply chains still lack the capabilities needed to keep up with the unpredictable expectations placed on companies. Simply put, traditional supply chains are too slow for today’s fast-moving markets.

Industry 4.0 aims to put an end to this obstacle by enabling automation with digitized and robotic supply chain processes.

As a result, more and more logistics processes will be handled by AI and robots, leaving behind the time and cost-intensive human labor of old.

Logistics companies that have the resources to implement these technologies in their supply chains will benefit massively, as wide-scale automation saves a lot of time and effort that can be funneled towards more valuable and strategic work.

Construction

Same as the logistics and manufacturing fields, the construction industry is far behind in terms of technology adoption. Many construction companies still use manual labor, outdated machines, and outdated operating and business models.

The 4th Industrial Revolution, however, changes how construction companies are going about in designing, constructing, operating and maintaining assets.

Innovative technologies like 3D printing, robotic machinery, and prefabrication are impacting the construction field positively by reducing excess budgets and inefficient work.

Experts believe that within 10 years, Industry 4.0 could help the industry overcome its growth issues by cutting down on $1.7 trillion of wasted spending, a figure equivalent to 20% in annual cost savings.

The 4th Industrial Revolution will also help companies attract new talent which is vital considering the “boring” nature of the field.

Construction jobs are typically associated with hard work and labor, but that is set to change as future scenarios require a different set of modern skills to navigate.

Finance

Technology is crucial to financial institutions as they catalyze the innovation of solutions that help fuel economic growth, mainly through enabling global financial access in less developed areas.

Technology in finance also promotes the greater knowledge of financial tools to the needy, while also increasing transparency—a much-needed solution considering the discrete nature of financial institutions.

The biggest benefit of the 4th Industrial Revolution to the finance industry is its role in simplifying customer-facing technology (e.g. mobile banking), which promotes user engagements, eventually leading to the growth of financial markets.

Most of today’s banking operations will be automated in Industry 4.0. Thus, financial institutions would shift their business model towards offering business insights and higher-level services (e.g. consulting) with the use of data analytics, bringing an end to basic bank teller services.

New financial service models are also expected to appear for operational, business, and specialized finance, with tasks being done by a combination of humans, robots, and AI.

This forces banks and other financial institutions to rethink their business strategy to pull through the 4th Industrial revolution.

Why These Industries Need Strong Leaders to Navigate Through the 4th Industrial Revolution

The ever-changing environment of the 4th Industrial Revolution creates a level of uncertainty and expectation that requires businesses to be agile and flexible—a task that falls on the shoulders of business leaders.

source: pixabay.com

In a Deloitte study, 86% of business leaders said they were “business-ready” in terms of embracing Industry 4.0 and were doing “all they could” to make the transition as seamless as possible.

The same study was repeated six months later and surprisingly, only 47% said they were prepared for Industry 4.0—less than half the previous figure in just under a year.

While this figure may seem worrying at first sight, it represents a welcome change in the attitude of leaders towards the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Instead, this mindset shift suggests that key executives are now more aware of the effort it takes to overcome Industry 4.0’s biggest challenges.

 

The Skills Every Top Leader Needs to Embrace Industry 4.0

Leaders play an important role as they’re the ones responsible for easing digital transformation in the workspace.

That role begins by putting people first and empowering them with the tools and skills needed to adapt to change.

Agile and Flexible

The rapid speed of change in the 4th Industrial Revolution means that leaders need to be agile and flexible in embracing change.

More importantly, strong leaders see change as an opening for organizations to innovate, not as a liability.

This skill, along with the flexibility to cater to the changing demands of employees, working environments, and business tools, is crucial as strategies that work today may not work in the future.

Hence, leaders need to be on their toes in keeping up with change and making the best out of it.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Emotional intelligence is an important skill to have in the future as leaders are expected to manage employee sentiment well as well as their own emotions.

As machines and smart systems enter the workforce, leaders will need to be even more empathetic to maintain their team members’ wellbeing.

A good leader in the 4th Industrial Revolution is someone who is willing to have honest, open conversations with their team not only about work but also on personal topics outside of work.

Responsibility

Leaders can only earn the respect of their team if they’re responsible and accountable.

Industry 4.0 preaches a transparent workplace, leaving no room for irresponsible employees including leaders themselves.

It’s crucial for leaders to take responsibility for the outcomes of business decisions while ensuring that team members are protected from criticism should any unwanted events occur.

Tech Literate

Industry 4.0 is driven mainly by advanced technology.

As a result of this change, future leaders must be tech-savvy to understand rapidly changing tech landscapes.

This allows them to identify the right technology for their organization rather than blindly following what’s in trend.

Teamwork and Collaboration

In contrast to today’s offices, future leaders won’t have their own exclusive workspace—they’ll be working with the team instead.

Leaders will still have executive powers but collaboration will be the number one factor that separates strong leaders from mediocre ones.

The importance of collaboration is further amplified by the diversity of future workspaces.

With employees coming from different backgrounds and parts of the world, they need strong leaders to appreciate and leverage the differences of every individual to benefit the team and the organization.

 

Industry 4.0 Needs Equally Transformative Leaders

As the 4th Industrial Revolution changes how we work in the future, business leaders must prepare their teams by leading by example.

No matter how much AI and smart machines impact the workforce, excellent leadership will—and always will be—the driver of organizational success.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

Ashley Wilson is writing about business and tech, and the intersection of the two. Personally, she has been known to reference movies in casual conversation and she enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. If you need a new writer, get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.

People, People Everywhere And Not A Person To Hire… Part 2

 

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This is the second of a two-part blog is provided by Dave DuBose and Will O’Brien from True North Growth Partners, as a companion to their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. This interview Lasting Solutions for Distribution Center Labor Shortages aired on 9/10/19.

For manufacturing and warehouse operators the shortage of workers, particularly during peak periods, is a major struggle. In the first blog of this two-part series we discussed the historically low unemployment and the pressure this creates as the demand for DC labor continues to escalate. Ecommerce further amplifies this dynamic as this channel requires 4X the labor compared to retail and wholesale fulfillment.

Three strategies underpin a winning playbook to deal with labor shortages:

  1. Reduce the Work Content
  2. Be a “Sticky Employer” – Barriers to Employee Turnover
  3. Get the Most Out of Your Workforce

Previously we addressed how to reduce the work content of a facility. In this blog we reveal what it means to be a “sticky employer” and how to get the most out of your workforce.

STRATEGY 2: BE A “STICKY EMPLOYER” – BARRIERS TO EMPLOYEE TURNOVER

How would you design an experience for your workforce that would make it insane for them to leave you? Offer retention bonuses? These have their place but are easily overcome by a healthy sign-on bonus. Offer benefits like healthcare, 401K, training and tuition reimbursement? A menu of these types of benefits can address some of the things that are important to your workforce. They are necessary but not sufficient in this battle for labor.

A more compelling way to be a Sticky Employer is to provide amenities that are highly valued AND not easily replicated. Under Armour, consistent with its brand and mission, provides state-of-the-art gyms in its facilities, including aerobic equipment, weight rooms and basketball courts. Other retailers, like Ascena Retail Group, whose brands include Justice, Lane Bryant and Ann Taylor, provides a very high-quality foodservice program. Patagonia makes childcare available to its workers. Those who use the childcare have a 25% lower turnover rate than workers who do not. Employers that offer a safe and convenient place to care for your children and some of the best meals (which may be subsidized) that you eat each week make it a difficult choice to leave for an additional 25 cents/hour. These are expensive benefits; they require commitment and physical space, but that is why they are difficult to overcome.

STRATEGY 3: GET THE MOST OUT OF THE WORKFORCE

Flexible Workforce: Innovative partners like Upshift enable operators to access a high-quality, flexible labor pool. This allows employers to meet flex labor needs without resorting to temp agencies or Craigslist postings which tend to yield inconsistent labor quality. Upshift connects workers and employers through a simple app. The commitment can be as short as just one shift or much longer. Like Uber, Upshift taps into a new labor pool which includes small business owners, students, homemakers and fully employed workers who simply want to earn extra money during their available time. The schedules of this cohort make it challenging to maintain a conventional part-time job, so working one shift at a time is good for them.

High-performance standards and prescreening ensure high-quality workers. The employer establishes a pay rate that attracts “Upshifters” and it can vary the pay rate at any time. The balancing of supply and demand is fully at play for both parties on this platform. When a worker does not fit the employer’s performance expectations, he or she can be screened out of future work opportunities.

Labor Standards: Labor Management Systems (LMS) and engineered labor standards have proven to be very effective – potentially reducing labor by roughly 10%. With an LMS, the specific drive distances and equipment that is used can be factored into the standard and the worker’s performance. Setting labor standards and implementing LMS systems can be costly and take several weeks. Pay-for-Performance involves providing workers with incentives for greater productivity. The benefits are shared between the employer and the worker, creating a win-win situation.

Cloud technology and innovation in labor analytics have driven advancements in this field. EasyMetrics’ labor analytics solution drives benefits in a fraction of the time that it takes to create a full set of labor standards. It uses big data technology to analyze information from several systems (WMS, time clocks, RF scanners, etc.) to provide insights on the performance of people, processes, equipment, etc., identifying the best opportunities to leverage with the workforce. Its use of a cloud platform eliminates the installation and support of yet another application. Benefits are captured within 2 weeks, providing a very fast ROI. Labor management systems, in general, provide one of the highest investment returns of any warehouse software.

Be a great place to work: Providing strong leadership and maintaining high expectations will always make the difference between great organizations and all the rest. It is important to show your workers that you value them and offer them opportunities for growth. In doing so, it is important to understand that the general manager of the facility is not the most important leader- far from it. The most important leader in this organization is the front-line supervisor who spends every day with his/her people. The care that these critical leaders demonstrate to each worker and their families is very powerful. The front-line leader is far better able to deliver key messages and consequences and is the most effective in driving daily performance and creating high levels of employee engagement. Engagement is driven by how each employee views his/her direct supervisor, his/her fellow workers and the actual work that he/she does. Great places to work bake these things into their culture, actions and decisions. High employee engagement delivers high productivity, improved customer service, low employee turnover and increased profitability.

Conclusion: We will always have labor availability challenges. Operators have options in these labor strategies and the best operators will consider each one carefully and execute intentionally and appropriately. For some, capital will limit their use of automation and robotics. For others, culture will dictate the viability of options. The key is to work from a portfolio of options that will create long-term stability and success.

If available labor is a challenge in your facility and you are tired of just throwing money at the problem, then we are glad to offer you a free consultation. The first step is to contact Will O’Brien or Dave DuBose. We can be reached at www.truenorthgrowthpartners.com.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO.

Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Authors

Dave DuBose is a senior supply chain professional with strong cross-industry experience including retail, consumer products, resources and high-tech in the North American and global theaters. Dave has held executive positions in logistics and supply chain in industry as well as consulting and has more than 30 years of professional experience. DuBose delivers innovative results and can translate business strategy into operating strategy and tactics. He has deep expertise in end-to-end business operations and in deploying business solutions from strategy through implementation. Dave is currently serving as the Columbus Roundtable board president the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. He is active in speaking and writing about contemporary supply chain issues.

Will O’Brien is a partner at True North Growth Partners where he works with organizations on the supply chain and operations sides of their business. He helps his clients overcome the things that hold back their growth and profitability. He has over 30 years of experience in supply chain and operations. He has held executive positions in both industry and consulting. As an executive at Lowe’s Home Improvement he helped to lead the development of the supply chain for that big box retailer during a period of rapid growth, from $35 billion to $50 billion in revenue. He also helped pioneer Lowe’s omni-channel fulfillment when its online sales were growing significantly. He successfully grew a mid-sized family owned supply chain consulting firm by over 50%, expanded its markets, improved its pricing, reengineered its sales and business development organization and created career paths and professional growth for its associates.

3 Customer Experience Equations – Math You’ll Actually Use

This blog is provided by Dave Cherry, as a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. This interview Boring Retail is Dead. Long Live the Customer Experience Industry aired on 10/15/19.

Like many of us, I took Algebra in school. My daughters, now in high school and middle school, are now doing the same. And they’ve asked me the same question that I asked many years before: “When will I ever need to solve a linear equation or calculate the slope of a line in real life?” The answer, for many of us, (with apologies to Mrs. Curry – my 9th grade math teacher), is never.

But today I’ll share 3 simple equations that are critical to success in the customer experience industry.

 

First, let me define this new industry, which actually isn’t new at all. It is a singular composition of all B2C and B2B companies that have customers. The hard lines between different segments (e.g. retail, banking, insurance, energy, etc.) have become blurred as customers (that includes all of us) engage with providers across this spectrum. As we do so, we use both the excellent and poor experiences that we have with each provider to influence our future expectations from the next one. So, companies like Starbucks, Uber, Target, Marriott, Southwest Airlines, Nordstrom, Walmart, Nationwide Insurance, Chase and more are all competing against one another in delivering customer experiences that are meaningful and memorable.

Amid constantly rising customer expectations, companies must develop a Customer Experience Strategy that is Enabled by Innovation and Informed by Analytics to stay competitive in today’s customer experience industry. Below I’ll discuss the critical equation for each element:

The Customer Experience Equation: Content + Context = Connection

A great customer experience starts with a relevant product or service that you offer. This is Content. Content comes in many forms, both tangible (e.g. a reliable, stylish watch) and intangible (e.g. insurance coverage that provides confidence and security). It also comes with a minimum level of quality as a baseline. Using the watch example, if it is not accurate, then the content of that product becomes irrelevant – it does not serve it’s intended purpose.

But content is not enough. It requires the addition of Context. You must provide the product or service to the customer in the right setting at the right time. The richest, most delicious cup of hand-crafted artisan hot chocolate isn’t that appealing on a 100-degree day in the summer. Even though the content in this example is exceptional, offering it in the wrong context diminishes the customer experience.

But when Content and Context combine in a relevant and meaningful way, you create a Connection with your customer that delivers on their experience expectation. When Uber delivers a comfortable and clean ride, combined with the convenience of a frictionless checkout when you are in a rush to get to the airport on time for your flight, the combination of Content + Context delivers a Connection between company and customer. It generates affinity, loyalty and ultimately profitability.

The Innovation Equation: Ideation x Execution = Value

Once you understand the goal state customer experience, there are bound to be gaps for two reasons. First, no company is perfect. So, whether due to legacy systems, suboptimal prior decisions or tactics, or some other reason, most have some gaps in capabilities. Second, even if you by chance have no gaps today, customer expectations are constantly rising and gaps will appear soon enough.

To close these gaps, we start with the relatively easy and fun task of Ideation. Brainstorming, thinking, riffing and imagining the future are fun activities. And more often than not, result in large numbers of possibilities (usually depicted by 100s of post-it notes covering conference room walls). Following ideation comes some sort of prioritization (e.g. dot voting) that results in a roadmap.

Now comes that hard part…Execution. Delivering on the promise of the future is a challenge because it requires changing the present while at the same time operating in the present. And when obstacles arise (which they will), many lack the resilience and confidence in their convictions to keep pressing forward. It is only through successful Execution on top of Ideation that significant Value (hence the multiplication) can be delivered.

Back in 1993, AT&T delivered some amazing Ideation. In their “You Will…” campaign, they asked these questions:

  • “Have you ever borrowed a book from 100 miles away from the library?”
  • “Have you ever crossed the country without stopping to ask for directions?”
  • “Have you ever sent someone a fax…from the beach?”
  • “Have you ever paid a toll without slowing down? “
  • “Have you ever tucked your baby in from a phone booth?”
  • “Have you ever opened doors with the sound of your voice?”
  • “Have you ever carried your medical history in your wallet?”
  • “Have you ever attended a meeting in your bare feet?”
  • “Have you ever watched the movie you wanted to the minute you wanted to?”

Each of these items have two things in common. First, we all utilize and enjoy all of them almost daily. Second, none of them were delivered by AT&T. They had great Ideation, but their Execution was flawed, incomplete or too slow. Hence the Value that we all derive from these experiences were ultimately delivered by others.

The Analytics Equation: Insight + Intuition = Improved Decisions

The primary purpose of analytics is to deliver Improved Decisions by increasing the decision makers confidence. This is achieved through identifying patterns in data to uncover anomalies or Insights that were previously unknown.

Insights must be both timely and relevant to the decision at hand. Yet even when this is achieved, we don’t yet get to optimal decision-making confidence. We must add Intuition, or as it is also known, experience or gut. There is value in experience. There is also value in gut, which brings elements of context, risk and strategy into the analytical equation. Given identical data, a more aggressive or conservative risk posture could lead you to different decisions – take the blackjack player who “feels lucky” and takes a hit on 16 when the dealer shows a 5 as an example. The player may have confidence in pulling a 5, though most analytical models would recommend staying. And regardless if the player wins the hand, they made a better decision by knowing the odds (data) and incorporating their feeling (gut) and risk posture (context).

So, when will we actually use these equations? Potentially daily, and often, multiple times each day. Consider the “Decision Modeling” approach below, that can be leveraged for both large scale strategic decisions as well as daily important operational decisions.

                                                                        “Decision Modeling”, ©Cherry Advisory, LLC

 

Start by identifying an Action (or Decision) that may help improve the customer experience, creating a Connection. Then acquire the data/information to uncover the Insights that will improve your decision-making confidence. Combine those with your Intuition to make a decision and set the course of action. Finally execute well, and you’ll realize the Value desired by your organization and required by your Customer.

So, in the end, there’s a fourth and final equation:

(Content + Context = Connection) +

(Ideation x Execution = Value) +

(Insight + Intuition = Improved Decisions)

——————————————————————–

= Customer Experience Success.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

About the Author

Dave brings over 20 years of strategic consulting experience focused on strategy (digital, customer experience, innovation) and advanced analytics. He has worked with and for leading organizations such as LBrands, Polo Ralph Lauren, ascena Retail Group, Journeys, DSW, Disney, Alliance Data, Nationwide Insurance, AEP, Huntington Bank, Cardinal Health, OhioHealth, Deloitte Consulting and Price Waterhouse. He holds a BS in Economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, serves on the International Institute of Analytics Expert Panel and also as an Advisory Board member for the Women in Analytics Conference and CbusRetail.

Contact Dave on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cherrydave/ , Twitter @davecherry or check out his website: www.cherryadvisory.com.

Check out this and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

Is Your Organization Building Innovation Into Its DNA?

The following blog is a republish of an article appearing in Forbes written by Maureen Metcalf. It is a companion to an interview conducted with Tony Saldanha, author of Why Digital Transformations Fail, Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future on Tuesday, August 20th titled Why Digital Transformations Fail.

Change is accelerating on all fronts across all industries. Each organization will be faced with different types of change and at different rates. The commonality is that everyone is facing opportunities and strains because of the current business ecosystem. Companies are regularly facing a broad range of risks, such as cybersecurity attacks, where the question has changed from “Will we be hacked?” to “When will we be hacked?” On the positive side, robotic processes automation, machine learning/artificial intelligence and a wide range of applications are making the tight labor market more productive.

With rapid change as the backdrop for the foreseeable future, it has now become imperative for leaders to build innovation into their personal leadership “operating system” as well as into the DNA of their organizations. Innovation is imperative for long-term survival and success.

While many people associate innovation with special people who come up with creative ideas, it is more accurately nurtured by building a company that embraces innovation as part of its core DNA. The real question is what does that look like, and how do you make it happen?

  1. Leaders’ beliefs set the tone for the organization, whether these beliefs are conscious or just habitual. They need to ensure they value innovation. To act with integrity, our thoughts and deeds need to be aligned. As a leader, this starts with evaluating what you prioritize. Do you value both delivering on current commitments and concurrently innovating to take advantage of new opportunities and approaches? Do you have a growth mindset? Do you value curiosity and appropriately paced change over stability?

Many leaders don’t take the time to look within and evaluate their values. When we are busy, we often run on autopilot. Now, it is time to schedule time to reexamine your views and see if the thoughts and beliefs that made you successful will support your future success.

  1. Leaders’ actions set an example for all employees to follow. As a leader, are you creating a culture and systems that support successful innovation as a way of doing business, or is it a one-off activity during times of challenge? Leaders who create an ecosystem where innovation is part of the organization’s DNA model behaviors such as participating in innovation projects with their time and budgets. They talk about the importance of innovation as a core competency of the organization, just like they talk about delivering products and services on time and making a profit. Leaders must be engaged in innovation! Lip service and delegating innovation to special people or an innovation department is no longer sufficient. Having worked in quality improvement programs for several years, I have learned that everyone can have innovative ideas. The value is only realized when the leaders and the organization align around supporting innovation as a key to business success.
  2. The culture must promote and support innovation as everyone’s responsibility. If we think of culture as our agreements within the organization, we can make deliberate agreements that explicitly indicate that innovation is key to our strategic success. It is a key part of everyone’s jobs. Additionally, the organization needs to define the specific qualities of an innovative culture that match your industry. For some companies, this can include ideas such as:
    • We continually test new ideas and learn quickly from these experiments.
    • Everyone is expected to contribute to innovation.
    • We share ideas transparently and openly and collaborate to enhance innovative approaches.
  1. Goals, systems and processes should all promote innovation as a key strategic objective and value. As mentioned, to truly build an innovative organization, it needs to be part of everyone’s jobs. People need to have time to invest. This can be a charge code for organizations that track chargeable hours; it can be a set time of the week, like Friday mornings; or it can be a periodic hackathon. The main point is it needs to be integrated into part of the job responsibilities. It needs to be measured and rewarded. Lack of attention to innovation must also be acknowledged. We understand that some people are more creative than others. That said, innovation also includes a very disciplined process of thinking and evaluation. I worked as part of an innovation team to design new stud welders. As a management consultant, my contribution was evaluating the business impact of the changes. I also got to use the welding tools, but my main role was not designing new circuits; it was contributing my expertise to the projects.

Organizations need to innovate. Some large organizations have budgets and staffing to dedicate to this. Others need to find ways to build innovation into their DNA and still meet ongoing business requirements. Being part of the DNA means addressing leader values and behaviors, culture and systems and processes and ensuring they are all aligned around the company’s key strategic differentiators and values, including innovation.

Without taking a systematic approach, innovation will be sporadic and the probability of remaining healthy long-term declines. These elements are interconnected. What can you do to make a small change in each area that will move you toward building an innovative DNA into your organization?

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out this and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the ILI LinkedIn.

About the author

Ms. Metcalf – Founder, CEO, and Board Chair of the Innovative Leadership Institute (formerly Metcalf & Associates) is a highly sought-after expert in anticipating and leveraging future business trends to transform organizations.

 

 

Managing Organizational Headwinds in Digital Transformation

Managing Organizational Headwinds in Digital Transformation

August 19th, 2019 by Maureen Metcalf

This blog is provided by Tony Saldanha, extracted and exclusively adapted from his book “Why Digital Transformations Fail,” as a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. This interview aired on 8/20/19.

Organizational change management is treated as an afterthought for digital transformation as opposed to being proactively planned for. That’s troubling because based on my research, more digital transformations fail due to organizational change related reasons than technology. Most reliable process systems, such as say aircraft flights, plan for headwinds. Digital transformation can learn from them. Unfortunately, organizational headwinds are often dismissed in simplistic terms like change resistance or the frozen middle. That’s a mistake when planning for success in digital transformation.

The Science of Immune System Management

A corporate immune system is not necessarily a bad thing. Like its counterpart in the human body, it plays a vital role. In our bodies, the immune system protects us from disease and keeps us healthy. It is true that immune system disorders can be problematic (i.e., an immune system deficiency leaves the body susceptible to constant infections, while an overactive immune system will fight healthy tissues). However, on balance, a healthy immune system is desirable.

If that’s true, then why do so many change leaders blame the corporate immune system when things go south? Shouldn’t disciplined change leaders understand the strength of the immune system within their own organizations and prepare for appropriate handling?

At Procter & Gamble, when leading the industry disruption ecosystem, which included the biggest five IT companies and startups from the top ten venture capitalist firms, we took a different approach. For each of the twenty-five experiments (projects) that the ecosystem, called Next Generation Services (NGS) executed during my three years, there was always a proactive immune system conversation and plan. It made a huge difference versus historical trends on disruptive change acceptance.

There were three key truths that drove our approach:

–        The immune system is not necessarily a bad thing. Anticipate and prepare for immune system responses.

–        Immune system responses can originate at all levels in the organization, but the toughest ones occur at middle management.

–        The bigger the change, the harder the immune system response (i.e., digital transformation will be tough).

Having covered the first item, let’s zero in on the issue of middle management reaction. In most organizations, it is easy to get senior executive leadership excited about change. Similarly, the younger generation gets quickly on board. It is the middle management layer that’s on the critical path and has the potential to slow down or even block change. The term “frozen middle” has been associated with this phenomenon. This concept was published in a Harvard Business Review article in 2005 by Jonathan Bynes.[i] Bynes’s point was that the most important thing a CEO could do to boost company performance was to build the capabilities of middle management.

For corporate immune system disorders at the middle management level, the term “frozen middle” is accurate, but it comes with the risk of being pejorative for seeming to blame middle management for recalcitrance and inertia. In reality, the responsibility to bring middle management along on the journey resides with the change leaders and their sponsors. Consider this—the so-called frozen middle protects the enterprise from unnecessary distractions and change, just like the human immune system protects the body from harmful change. Middle managers are rewarded mostly for running stable operations. Is it fair to criticize them as a whole for doing what their reward system dictates? We must separate immune system disorders from normal immune system responses.

At NGS, we paid special attention to identifying, by name, the middle management leader for each affected project. We identified the middle management leaders affected by each project, involved them in the initial “fun” of designing the disruption, and jointly designed the risky roll-out of disruptive projects that could destabilize ongoing operations.

In the worst case, where despite the enrolling of the leadership the change resistance continued to be high, the project was quickly killed. That idea of selectively killing a few projects worked well because of the portfolio effect of having several other projects available in the pipeline.

Though the concept of a frozen middle is applicable broadly, overcoming it has never been as critical as it is with digital disruption. The amount of change necessitated by a systemic and sustainable digital transformation is massive. This isn’t just a technology or product or process change but also an organizational culture change. The middle management will need to lead the rest of the organization in learning new capabilities (i.e., digital) as well as new ways of working in the digital era, including encouraging agility, taking risk, and re-creating entire new business models and internal processes. Retraining middle management on digital possibilities is not sufficient. Entirely new reward systems and organizational processes will be called for.

Planning for headwinds during digital transformation isn’t just prudent, it’s a necessity given the high stakes of digital disruption. Emphasizing on “transformation”, more than on “digital” is a strategic imperative for success. For this, understanding and acting on the three truths of immune system management is critical i.e. it isn’t willful bad behavior but a rewards issue, it can happen at all levels in the organization but is toughest in the middle layers, and digital transformation by nature needs solving the toughest immune system challenges.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Author

Tony Saldanha is a globally recognized expert in Global Business Services (GBS) and Information Technology. He ran Procter & Gamble’s famed multi-billion dollar GBS and IT operations in every region across the world during a 27 year career there. Tony has over three decades of international business expertise in the US, Europe, and Asia. He was named on Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Professionals list in 2013. Tony’s experiences include GBS design and operations, CIO positions, acquisitions and divestitures, outsourcing, disruptive innovation, and creation of new business models. Tony is currently President of Transformant, a consulting organization that advises top companies around the world in digital transformation and global business services. He is also a founder of two blockchain and AI companies, and an adviser to venture capital companies.

[i] Jonathan L. S. Byrnes, “Middle Management Excellence,” jlbyrnes.com, December 5, 2005, http://jlbyrnes.com/uploads/Main/Middle Management Excellence HBSWK 12-05.pdf [accessed December 19, 2018].

Relax. It’s Not a Problem with Your Virtual Team

This blog is provided by Jean Brittain Leslie as a companion to her interview for Voice America. This interview, Improving Virtual Team Success by Focusing on Paradox airs on 4/30/19.

A lot goes unresolved in virtual teamwork: issues that would take a few minutes to address in person end up wasting hours of time due to miscommunications; individuals hammer away at their tasks, while team bonding stagnates; you struggle with continued technological glitches and wonder if connectivity issues are really a sign team members lack engagement.

The bad news is that there are no solutions to these problems.

The good news is that these aren’t problems. These are polarities.

Unlike a problem, a polarity is ongoing, unsolvable, and contains a pair that need each other—neither is sufficient alone. In the example above, virtual teams need to be both task-focused and relationship-oriented. It’s easy to say these alternatives are in opposition to each other, but in truth, they’re complementary and interdependent. The trick isn’t solving a polarity (that’s problem-speak sneaking back in); the trick is recognizing the polarity for what it is and leveraging it effectively.

Recent research by the Center for Creative Leadership with 140 virtual teams from 56 organizations showed leveraged polarities are positively associated with virtual team effectiveness. What this means (back to our example) is that teams that were able to have sufficient focus on the tasks of the team and focus on building relationships to facilitate working together as a team have higher levels of performance, commitment, satisfaction and informal learning.

Here are a few common examples of virtual team polarities:

  • Verify & Trust
  • Advocacy & Inquiry
  • Formal Communication & Informal Communication
  • Unified Team & Diverse Individuals
  • Create New Processes & Use Existing Processes

Again, you might feel the urge to replace the ampersand with “versus,” but resist. Each of these pairs are needed in order to thrive. The goal isn’t for each pair to battle until the winner emerges. However, the pair may not always be in balance. There will be times when a given pair must take priority over its counterpart.

Central to effective virtual team leadership is the ability to leverage polarities, and the first step is to identify them. Here are a few questions to ask when trying to determine if you’re facing a problem or a polarity:

  • Is it ongoing?
  • Are there two alternatives? Does your success depend on the alternatives?
  • Can you only focus on one alternative for so long before needing to focus on the other?

If you answer “yes” to all of these questions, you’ve identified a polarity. If you answer “no” to any of the above, you probably have a good old-fashioned problem on your hands. If the latter, don’t worry, it’s solvable.  If the former, just keep telling yourself, “this is not a problem.”

To learn more about polarities, please visit the blog and radio show posted by Barry Johnson Balancing Competing Perspectives: Some Challenges Require Solutions and Others Balance.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Author

Jean Brittain Leslie is senior fellow and director of Strategic Initiatives in Research, Innovation, and Product Development at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®). With 26 years of experience working at CCL, Jean has made numerous contributions in the areas of research, publication, product development, and training. She has published more than 90 pieces on leadership, assessment, and feedback—in the form of peer-reviewed and popular-press articles, book chapters, and books. Jean also has presented over 50 papers at professional conferences such as the Academy of Management and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologists.

Organizational Complexity is a Rapidly Spreading Virus that Needs to be Eradicated

This blog is a guest post provided by Jesse Newton is the author of Simplify Work; Crushing Complexity to Liberate Innovation, Productivity and Engagement. It is the companion to the Voice America Interview with Jesse Newton focusing on his book.

The Situation: An epidemic is affecting businesses large and small. This epidemic is debilitating complexity. The disease restricts innovation, limits productivity, disengages the workforce, and eventually leads to organizational failure. Debilitating complexity takes the form of unnecessary and complicated structures, processes, systems, rules, metrics, checks and balances, and so on. Businesses traditionally add more and more of these things as they grow. There seems to be an acceptance that as a business grows, complexity and complicatedness are natural by-products. And while complexity certainly does increase as businesses mature, it does not mean that it needs to stifle innovation and entrepreneurship. The same story plays out over and over again once a company gets to a certain size: the entrepreneurial leaders decide that their juvenile business is becoming an adolescent and want to be taken seriously, so they bring in an experienced “big company” professional. The big company person then sets about installing all of the “discipline” that a serious organization requires—defined roles and responsibilities, performance metrics, committees, strict common processes, and so on, and so on. Then, all of a sudden, people begin adhering to their newfound role expectations, they start to get lost in all the processes and paperwork, they become scared to step outside of their defined role, and spontaneous rich innovation becomes a distant memory.

The Data: In a recent study 74% of respondents rated their organization as complex. In this digital age, when technology is fueling rapid changes in consumer preferences and reshaping industries, it is critical that companies innovate well and fast. Companies that are bogged down in slow decision making, risk intolerance, and siloed protectionism are destined to fail.

The Cause: The current complexity crisis is largely due to many organizations holding on to outdated and obsolete methods of organizing how work gets done. These 20th-century approaches to organizational structure and management are strangling our productive and innovative potential. They are limiting the thinking power of our people and not effectively using the resources at organizations’ disposal.

The Imperative: From an individual perspective, how we protect and allocate our time and energy is becoming increasingly paramount. The most important resource people have is their time, and we are spending far too much of it on the wrong things. We are pulled in so many directions and have to spend so much time and energy navigating through a labyrinth of processes and structures that we have lost touch with what really matters. We simply do not have the time and energy to do our best work on the most important activities.

As we are working longer and longer on increasingly low-value work, we often don’t even realize it. We have become accustomed to the four approvals we require to do anything and accustomed to going through a leader to talk to someone in a different function. We’re accustomed to navigating through three separate systems to find the information we need, and we’re accustomed to dedicating a quarter of the year to complete the budgeting process. Let’s not forget about that report one of your leaders within the matrix needs; that clearly should take precedence over everything else.

Deep down we know something is not quite right. We are not spending quality time doing the work we were hired to do. We find that it is getting harder to stay on top of everything and enjoy a good balance or even a balance at all. This results in us simply checking out. Engagement scores across companies over the past 30 years have consistently decreased. According to Gallup, only 28% of the US workforce is engaged at work, the rest are either actively disengaged or merely not engaged.

The implication: for business is that things move too slow, people think and act in silos, it’s hard to get anything done, decision making is poor, innovation is missing, risk-taking is low, and it all leads to increasing costs and being left behind by more nimble competitors. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Companies that are mired in debilitating complexity can break free of its hold. With strong leadership support and a clear approach for attacking complexity companies can re-energize their people by bringing back the laser focus, reducing the clutter and releasing the reins on innovation. The epidemic of complexity is spreading throughout the world of business and if it is not reined in, those that have managed to keep it at bay will leap ahead and those that don’t will fall by the wayside.

The Opportunity: What if we could take a fresh look at our businesses, reconsider what is really important, and start to focus our time and energy on those things that matter. Imagine the positive effect it would have on your people if you told them they now have permission to do more of the work they were hired for. Imagine their sense of liberation if you removed a big chunk of the activities that soak up their time: low-value training, compliance, meetings that should be emails, expense processing, report building, budget setting, clunky performance management, and so on.
The time is right to simplify work

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

Jesse Newton is the author of Simplify Work; Crushing Complexity to Liberate Innovation, Productivity and Engagement. He is the founder and CEO of Simplify Work; a global management consulting firm that helps organizations throw off the shackles of debilitating complexity and reignite top performance.

jnewton@simplifywork.com

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