Thursday 24 September 2020

How to Communicate Effectively

The podcast episode of this post is available at Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts and Spotify.


Always be the best source of information.


–         Communicate early and often.

 –        Speak from the audience’s perspective.

–         Share everything you can, honestly (don’t spin).

Communication is the most important form of support people receive when going through a work transition. It’s also one of the biggest enablers of successful change because it aligns everyone on their understanding of what’s changing, why it’s necessary, how it will affect them and what they must do to adopt it. 

Setting up a frequent and consistent communication schedule creates the expectation that people will receive regular updates from leaders and the project team. Communicating honestly in ways that your audience can relate to creates the perception that these messages are the best sources of information. You must regularly communicate even when there is nothing new to share. If you don’t, rumors and speculation fill the void, and such counter-narratives will seem credible, distract people and increase anxiety.



AUDIENCE PROFILE TOOL: What are my audience's communication preferences?


Test your messages with a few members of your audience to avoid (or at least be prepared for) adverse reactions.

How to Not Take Things Personally

The podcast episode of this post is available on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts and Spotify.


Step back and look at the big picture.


–         Put yourself in other people’s shoes.

–         Consider why the person acted the way they did.

–         Meet with them to get their perspective.

After a tense and explosive meeting, I asked a leader how she felt. “Fine; it’s not personal,” she said. By separating content from emotions, this leader didn’t respond emotionally to the theatrics of others and remained focused on the facts, objectives and decisions required.

Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes helps neutralize the incident. What’s going on in their heads? What pressures are they under? Mood, limited information and past experiences could be triggering their behaviour.

Checking in with the person after an incident to ask why they behaved the way they did will discourage future outbursts, show your maturity and improve your relationship.
To avoid emotional responses and regrettable behaviour, hold back from impulsively reacting to a tense situation. With practice, this will become habit.



SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS TOOL: How will I keep things in perspective?


Asking the person why they did what they did in a non-judgmental way will avoid making incorrect assumptions about motives.


Wednesday 9 September 2020

How to Set Your Personal Goals


 The podcast episode of this post is available at Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts and Spotify.


So, what is the one thing I recommend you do to set your personal goals for a change initiative when you are short of time?



Pick three goals: one skill goal, one behaviour goal and one relationship goal.



  • Select your three goals.
  • Define what success looks like for each one.
  • Track your progress.

An institutional change project provides real opportunities for personal growth because it’s dynamic, complex and involves people at all levels and areas of an organization. Without personal goals, you’re more likely to focus on completing tasks with little thought to increasing your abilities.

One of the first things you should do after joining a project is to decide how you want the experience to benefit you: how will you grow? The three areas of development I have listed are the ones that will give you the highest return: skills (what you do well), behaviours (how you act toward others) and relationships (a connection you share with someone). Knowledge (what you know) is the fourth, but I recommend you focus on the first three for now.

Skills, behaviours and the ability to connect with others are types of leadership capability. Telling the story about how you achieved all three is part of your career leadership narrative. To create that narrative, write down a goal for each category and what success looks like for each. Then track your progress over the project. Your notes will give you the depth you need to make your story detailed, fact-based and compelling.




GOAL TRACKER TOOL: What are my personal goals for this change initiative?



Post your goals where they’re visible (e.g., screen, calendar, journal) so they stay top-of-mind.

Monday 7 September 2020

How would you describe your personal brand story?

A former colleague, Alejandro Colindres, asked to interview me about my personal brand story for a book he is writing. Fortunately, I update my personal brand regularly because it doubles as my company’s value proposition—my company is an extension of me.

Alejandro said he would ask three questions. Here are my answers:

What would you say your professional brand is?

“I help leaders and their teams achieve their personal and business goals by providing change expertise and skill building.”

Alejandro’s personal brand definition includes three elements: experience, strengths and values.

Experience: change expertise from leading and managing 32 large change initiatives over 30 years across 60 countries.

Strengths: Providing advice and building skills are the core strengths that I deliver through writing, training, coaching, and mentoring.

Values: One of my values is “to serve.” It is referenced through the word “help” and the inclusion of both personal and business goals. Often my work expands beyond the scope of my assignments to give individuals extra support so they can be their best during change.

Walk me through your journey of how you built your brand.

I built my brand through the roles I applied for and held. My first business role was helping small and medium-sized businesses build their skills and capabilities. Each subsequent position had learning or change elements to it, from process reengineering to culture development to mergers and acquisitions. Coaching and mentoring opportunities followed that allowed me to better individualized my support.

How has your brand evolved over time?

My brand is far more focused on outcomes now. Without clear and measurable goals, you can provide the support that might not be useful or of value to people. I learned to be laser-focused on objectives.
Over time, I have realized that everyone goes through a personal transition when their organization does. People must be whole and grounded before they can achieve their best. Change is always personal, and that is where my support begins.

Alejandro and I had a good conversation. What would you say if he asked you his three questions?

Sunday 6 September 2020

How to Stop Drama (In It's Tracks)

The podcast episode of this post is available on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts and Spotify.

So, what is the one thing I recommend you do to stop drama if you were short of time?


Bring together contributors to discuss negative impacts and agree on a solution.


  • Call a meeting immediately to resolve behaviour issues
  • Ask each person involved to share their perspective
  • Co-create a solution that will eliminate bad behaviours

Working to an aggressive plan and timeline can cause tension, anger and animosity among team members that leads to drama among team members. If these emotions go unchecked, they will intensify and trigger combative behaviours – verbal attacks, not sharing information and not honouring commitments, etc. – that derail teams and their performance. It’s important to immediately annihilate bad behaviours because they quickly become new norms. You must get the involved parties into a room (physical or virtual) quickly to resolve the situation. Before the meeting, listen to each party’s perspective, so you know what you’re dealing with.

At the meeting, let everyone share their perspectives on the situation, including the impacts of the behaviours exhibited. Ask the group how they could have acted differently to avoid the issue and similar ones in the future. Monitoring post-meeting behaviours is necessary to ensure people honour their commitments. If they don’t, leaders must deal with at least one performance issue.



Resolution Plan Tool: How will I resolve a personal conflict affecting the project's success?


Follow up by sending the list of agreements for the resolution to all parties. It’s a subtle reminder that you’re monitoring progress.

Saturday 5 September 2020

How to Respond to Criticism


 The podcast episode of this post is available at Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts and Spotify.


So, what is the one thing I recommend to respond to criticism when you are managing change and short of time?



Compare facts.



  • Listen patiently and attentively, searching for evidence that supports their criticism.
  • If you disagree, share the facts—not opinions—that support your point of view.
  • If you have the best information, move on; if not, adjust your presentation accordingly.


It makes sense that people have different views on what needs to be done, because major change initiatives are generally built on assumptions and incomplete knowledge. Expect criticism.

Try to make sure that your plans and recommendations are better researched than the ones from those who challenge them. The best response to critics is to ask for facts that support their view. Responding with “Tell me more” or “That’s interesting, based on what evidence?” will invite the person to share his or her rationale. If the rationale is not strong, you can present your justification and move on. If their idea is right, acknowledge the new information and say you’ll incorporate it into your work. In the long run, they’ve done you a favour.

Sometimes people make up information to support their concerns. Viewpoints can appear factual when said with authority and confidence. Asking critics to support their contentions with empirical evidence generally separates truth from fiction.




PRESENTATION PREPARATION TOOL: What criticisms might someone raise about my work (presentation, progress made, etc.)?



Anticipating criticisms and rehearsing your responses to them will avoid emotional responses when you are asked to defend your views.

Friday 4 September 2020

How to Measure Readiness for Change


 The podcast episode of this post is available at Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts and Spotify.

So, what is the one thing I recommend you do to measure readiness for change when you are short of time?


Require leaders to confirm that their teams are prepared to take on the change.


– Define what people must know and be able to do at each checkpoint in the change plan

– Ask leaders to confirm that their teams have met these requirements

– Get leaders to sign off that their team members are ready to progress to the next phase

of preparation

The biggest question to answer before people take on a change is, “Are they prepared to do so?” You must confirm they have the required knowledge and skills for each phase of preparation because learning is cumulative: the preparation for one phase is a necessary foundation for the next.

The first step of measuring employees’ readiness for change is to define what people must know and do at each checkpoint in the project plan. Provide leaders with a list of questions that measures the criteria for each checkpoint. A simple traffic light rating system – green for “ready,” yellow for “needs some support” and red for “needs extensive support” – works well. Finally, requesting leaders’ sign off on their team’s readiness, either in writing or verbally at a checkpoint review meeting, lends credibility to the assessment and gives leaders ownership of the change and “skin-in-the-game.”




READINESS ASSESSMENT TOOL: Do people have the knowledge and skills required to pass the checkpoint?



Yes or no” assessment questions are the best because they remove the middling answers, e.g. Do employees know how to get help at go-live?


Thursday 3 September 2020

How to Influence Decisions


The podcast episode of this post is available on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts and Spotify.


So, what is the one thing I recommend you do to influence decisions when you are short of time?


Link your preferred option to solve a particular problem to agreed business objectives.


–         Outline your option

–         Demonstrate how it will achieve the objectives of the change

–         State how other companies have achieved similar objectives from this option

The decisions that leaders make (in addition to their behaviour) often seal the fate of the project. Influencing these decisions is perhaps the biggest impact you can have on your project’s success.

Most leaders need solid rationales and hard data to support their decisions. Your best approach to influencing their decisions is to demonstrate how your preferred option contributes to achieving the objectives outlined in the business case for change (e.g. increased sales, decreased costs, higher customer satisfaction).

Clearly state your preferred option and how it will contribute to the desired results. Backing up your recommendation with examples of how other organizations, ideally similar to yours, have benefited from the approach will add credibility to your pitch.



DECISION-MAKING ASSESSMENT TOOL: How will I present my recommendation to leaders?



Approaching leaders early in the decision-making process will position your option as the default choice that all others will be compared to.