You Can Lead An Employee To Water But You Can’t Make Them Think

One of the many, many differences between management and leadership is this:

Management is about telling people what’s what.

It’s intellectual and factual.

Here’s the process for this and the expected standards for that.

Leadership is about inspiring people and motivating them.

It’s emotional, maybe even – if you’re inclined to think this way – spiritual. Why not, right? Because, in many ways, the best leaders are like priests, prophets and gurus.

Leaders share their vision and inspire their people to see it too.

To crave it like a drowning person craves air.

This is why you can’t achieve leadership through ordering people around. Even the military – the very symbol of “ordering people around” – knows this. The leaders who lean on their rank don’t have soldiers willing to fight and die for them.

There’s only one way to get that:

By earning their trust.

Trust, like everything else that occurs in someone else’s head, isn’t something you can directly influence. Your employees see the world through their own filters, distortions, biases, omissions and confusions.

You are, ultimately, just another signal in a universe buzzing with noise.

So you can’t reprogram people to make them act differently.

You can’t order change.

All you can do is influence someone to make the change themselves.

(I say “all”, as if that isn’t the most powerful thing in the world… )

If you want your change initiative to succeed, then you can’t think of the plan first, people second. That’s backwards. No matter how good the plan, it won’t run without your people.

If you start with your people, though, something interesting happens.

As any psychologist can tell you, questions are powerful. A question is not something that calls for an answer – it’s something that calls for thinking. Asking the right question can inspire entire new lines of thought.

In my work as a coach and hypnotist, I see this all the time. You’d be amazed at how effective a question like, “what do you need to do differently in order to solve this problem?” can be.

And so that brings us to the questions you ask your people.

What needs to change?

In an ideal organisation, what does a typical day look like?

How can we get from where we are to where we need to be?

What do you need from me?

All such powerful questions. Even as a simple thought experiment, this can inspire the change all on its own.

But when you take the answers to those questions, feed them into a plan and chase their implementation?

My goodness, you have a potent cocktail in your hands.

The best way to enhance your organisation is with the ultimate advantage: trust.

But how do you measure something like that, let alone improve it?

Especially if your workforce is stretched thin, cynical and burned out on change?

There are simple, effective and proven strategies you can begin implementing today. I know you can unlock the creativity, productivity and joy of your employees.

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Employees Don’t Want Money, Perks Or Fun Retreats

Every workplace has a culture.

Google is famous for its innovative, campus style vibe… that has a slightly cultish flavour to it.

Small businesses vary from fun and relaxed, to a family atmosphere, to petty dictatorships.

Large organisations tend to become bureaucratic nightmares. No organisation wants to become like this, but size can become unwieldy. The temptation is to create and impose rules to keep everything humming along.

Even though every rule to reduce unwanted behaviour also strangles your innovators. The art is in strangling the superstars less than you keep the slackers in line.

It’s tempting to say “whatever’s best for your employees is best for the organisation”. I want that to be true, but then I remember Derek Sivers talking about his first business, CD Baby.

He was incredibly laid back – not a style of leadership many folk adopt.

His approach to things like employee pay and conditions?

“Talk it over, tell me what you decide and I’ll make it happen.”

Which led to him handing over all his company’s revenue to them.

Whoops. Maybe focusing on employee happiness, to the exclusion of everything else, isn’t the best approach.

Having said that…

A lot of folk thing long and hard about their organisation’s culture.

I certainly do.

I like hearing stories from folk in other organisations, noting how they treat their employees and how their leaders treat them.

Organisational cultures are like foreign cultures – each one seems sensible if you “grew up” in it and alien if you didn’t.

However, there’s still a pattern amongst the noise:

Happiness and satisfaction.

Sure, you might not want to surrender all your power to your employees, Sivers-style…

But you still want to invest in their happiness.

Satisfied employees work hard, stick around, stay healthy and attract their brightest friends. They become walking billboards of how great your organisation is.

If you had a machine that created all your most valuable products, you’d want to keep it in good condition. You’d go to great lengths to maintain it.

And yet, what do you do to cultivate a great community in your organisation?

Well, it starts by paying them enough so they feel valued.

And offering enough perks to attract talent.

But every organisation plays that game – and only one can offer the best package.

How do you create the best community, if bribing them won’t cut it?

A community isn’t just a group of people. Put humans in a room together and it sometimes turns violent.

It isn’t bloodlines or familiarity.

It isn’t even a shared purpose or set of beliefs. Think of any religious schism – what Catholics and Protestants agree on vastly outweighs what they disagree on. That doesn’t stop them turning on each other, sometimes in devastating ways.

A strong, rich community can be made of strangers who don’t agree on the big issues. Anyone who’s been to festivals like Burning Man knows what I mean. You can love a guy as a brother and not even know his name.

A community comes from safety, respect and trust.

Are your employees safe to speak up?

Do they respect their leaders and are respected in return?

Do your people trust each other?

If so, you’re leagues ahead of everyone else.

The best way to enhance your organisation is with the ultimate advantage: trust.

But how do you measure something like that, let alone improve it?

Especially if your workforce is stretched thin, cynical and burned out on change?

There are simple, effective and proven strategies you can begin implementing today. I know you can unlock the creativity, productivity and joy of your employees.

Peer Learning Groups and the Adult Learner

Discovering how adults learn is more than just an academic obsession of researchers and university professors. Instead, it is an important endeavor in today’s environment when learning is essential for organizations to remain competitive and forward-thinking.

Sir Malcolm Knowles, the “father” of adult learning, suggested 4 principles:

Adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate relevance and impact to their job or personal life.
Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction.
Experience (including mistakes) provides the basis for the learning activities.
Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented.

To be effective, every learning and training initiative must incorporate these principles. Peer learning groups, as designed by The Peer Learning Institute for management development, are based on and satisfy these four principles.

Principle #1: Effective learning has immediate relevance and impact. Adults want to learn how to solve an immediate problem they have in their job. The managers who come together create their peer learning group around a selected topical module that will provide just-in-time knowledge and skill-building to help them better handle a current workplace challenge.

Principle #2: Effective learning is self-directed. Adults like to take responsibility for their learning decisions. Peer learning groups are self-directed. The managers themselves identify their learning need as a result of a workplace challenge that has stumped them. They direct the structured discussion of the issue. They select the knowledge and skills they choose to adopt and use.

Principle #3: Effective learning builds from experience. Adults have abundant knowledge from experience. They need to share what they know so they can build upon that knowledge. Given the right environment, adults can also learn from each other. The first peer learning group session begins by having the members identify, analyze and discuss where they have mishandled or poorly addressed a workplace challenge. This forms the basis for subsequent discussion of the root causes of the issue and alternative strategies to resolve it.

After experimentation between sessions one and two, the managers reflect on their experience and plan how they will alter their approach in the future to manage the specific challenge under consideration.

Principle #4: Effective learning is problem-centered. Adults prefer to target a specific topic or skill. A peer learning group, as described above, focuses on active problem solving through: the identification and analysis of alternative strategies in session one; the experimentation with a different strategy to address the problem during the time between sessions one and two; and the reflection and behavioral adjustment decision that occurs in session two.

A peer learning group that is built on these adult learning principles is an excellent laboratory for solving problems and trying new techniques to manage critical workplace challenges.

In summary, if you want your managers to learn effectively and develop professionally, it is wise to implement peer learning groups that embody the four principles of adult learning as advocated by Sir Malcolm Knowles

A Simple Method To Plan & Control A Project!

1. A WBS Is First Created For The project –

As always this is the first & a very important step. A proper WBS should meet the minimum criteria such as:
a) the 100% rule – every level should have 100% scope(or breakdown) of the level above it.
b) you stop the breakdown(or decomposition) at a level where you can estimate for time & cost; no need to break down to smaller & smaller elements.
c) you should be able to estimate easily at this level

2. Arrange For Drawings, Materials, Manpower Etc.-

Next arrange for Drawings, Specifications & Approvals from concerned authorities as a precursor to begin the planning process. You also need to estimate & be prepared with money, material & manpower requirements.
All these will be outcomes of the WBS essentially

3. Prepare The Master Schedule –

The Master Schedule or the Master Plan consists of the WBS, the Milestone Chart & the Project Budget. The Milestone chart shows the timeline for main events that will be completed in the project. A milestone is an event & not a completed task(Eg. in construction completion of foundation or completion of superstructure are milestones)
The Budget can be arrived at by rolling up costs of elements from the lowest level of the WBS, level by level & aggregating all of them to reach the final project cost at the top.

4. Prepare A Monthly Schedule For 1 To 3 Months –

The monthly schedule can begin from the period between Project Start & the First Milestone & progressively, further monthly plans can cover stretches between milestones.The Monthly Schedule should show the months broken into weeks.
It should also identify the detailed activities & find duration & Sequence the activities
Use Collaborative Planning techniques such as planning workshops with all stakeholders to plan.
Perform the Constraints & Risks Analysis every month

5. Now Go For The Weekly Plan or Schedule –

Perform 2 to 4 weeks micro-planning depending on the size of the project.
Put all efforts to remove constraints, & closely monitor issues with an Issue List.
Revisit every week removing constraints & resolving issues.
List out activities in the plan in terms of quantity or cost or nos.

6. Daily Planning –

This is now about monitoring & controlling the project with daily activities determined from the micro-planning done at the weekly planning stage.
Perform 15 min stand-up meeting every day where the person from each trade comes & presents his/her activities to be done on the day.
Ensure make ready(or preparatory) activity is performed for each activity.
Make sure the days plan is complementing the Weekly plan.
End of the day record the completion or reason for non-completion.
Lessons learned should be implemented in next day’s activities.

These are some essential things to be done in this HLPM model. Obviously it requires further hand-holding with a person experienced in such a model.

This method requires only traditional tools used for scheduling or for the WBS & is not sophisticated. Tools such as Root Cause analysis, 5 Whys method & Value Stream mapping are very useful to sort out issues. All activities are done collaboratively. The emphasis is not on “who” but on “how” things can be done without assigning blame. The Project Manager picks up “Coach” skills to be more effective We can help you to implement this model in you projects & also improve teamwork through Workshops conducted physically or through online Webinars.