The digital transformation is more than just new technologies. It creates new possibilities in the way organizations function and create value. Information circulate much more easily than ever before and we are living into a mind shifting. We saw employees as machines (human resource) that we manageable and numbers that could be replaced and fired as we wished. The fact that we now use machines to do some of the most boring jobs is making us slowly refocus our attention on the living part of organizations. Humans that can learn, be creative and thrive.  Another tendency is the consumers expecting for more and more transparency from companies. Many scandals about hidden information that negatively impacted customers, the planet, and employees made the headlines of newspapers. This awareness about organizational management flaws is getting unacceptable. Most of us are or were employees in companies where we could observe some insane management.

Dark management

Some companies use the vision, mission and values written on their website as marketing tool. They just say what one wants to hear because a good image is primordial. Saying that you foster diversity, equity and empowerment makes you look very good in the mirror and your ego loves it. This is just music to your ears. Yes there are some actions taken in the company to promote those values but they are not meant to change the system.
Beautiful workshops, presentation from the CEO, many discussions are organized but on the daily basis nothing is done to make those values, mission and vision a reality. It is left to destiny. 
Companies are fighting with the idea of transparency. For marketing purpose they will say they are working on becoming more transparent but as soon as you take a look at it you can see people, departments fight to keep things as they were.

Consequences of dark management

Managing from an a ego centered perspective has created many problems and reinforced dark management practices. Those are few examples:
  • there are no clear roles and tasks: some people just spend their time getting busy not getting work done
  • results are less important than appearing busy
  • power games, politics, competition hurt the company development
  • incentives encourage egoistic behavior 
  • resources are wasted
  • information are hidden
  • processes are unclear if not nonexistent
  • software are changed so often that employees cannot keep up
  • software are used as a solution when the problem is structural
  • employees expectations, needs and rights are ignored
  • ...
Does this sound familiar to you? 
It does resonate to almost every person I could speak with. People are very pessimist and do not think it can be changed. I am here to challenge you on that. 

Transforming to survive

The internet changed the way we look at the world because now we can access information almost instantaneously and connect with anybody online.  Our belief systems are evolving and so are our expectation when it comes to business. We should be more aware and taken into account when changes are coming. 
The business world is facing a paradigm shift from the machine oriented management to a management of the living. Companies are living creature made of unique individuals which aspiration, development and implication create value to the world. 

Transparency issues: 

The companies who try to transform need to learn how to become more transparent. It is a complex task because some of them emerged during a very different era of thinking. The companies' culture is sometimes in opposition with the new paradigm.

How can a company become transparent and follow the values, vision and mission that were thoughtfully written on their website?  
  • A diagnoses of the company situation must be made
  • Leadership must accept to share information
  • The company's issues must be acknowledge 
  • Organization structure must be revisited
  • Incentive must encourage transparency
  • Good behavior must be rewarded
  • Bad behavior must be punished
The bigger the company the harder the change and the most dedication is required. After the transformation the company will not look like as it was before. It is like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly.
On the 22nd of March 2017, at #Cebit2017 , I moderated a panel discussion for the #Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung on the chances and risks that the digital transformation creates for businesses of all size. The panelists represented organizations such as Startup, Research Institut, Medium Sized companies and a world wide known company:



  • Johann Jungwirth, Chief Digital Officer at Volkswagen AG
  • Daniel Schnitzler, Prozess Manager at Tesyo. Tesyo technologies GmbH (Startup)
  • Kevin Füchsel, Leader of Strategie, Marketing und Communication at Fraunhofer IOF (Research Institut)
  • Herr Gerschewski, Geschäftsführer at IndiKar (Medium Size company) 

We discussed about the implication of the digital transformation on IT-Security, Process optimization,  innovation and the connection of companies to people thanks to the internet presence.

Here are my top 10 nuggets of knowledge that I want to share with you:
  1. Companies recognize the importance of IT-Security but a lack of standardization makes cooperation between companies difficult
  2. IT-Security standards should not be enforced by companies but by the government
  3. The politic should develop a stronger framework for IT-Security
  4. Computers are giving us more innovation power and won't replace all workers. 
  5. The education system should adapt to bring the new required skills to future workers and simplify long life learning 
  6. Process optimization is complex because one must take into account the human resistance to change
  7. The real challenge is to support people during change
  8. Big companies are learning how to work with agile methodologies by creating center of competences
  9. Startup and medium companies are now more visible. Client now look for information in the internet in order to evaluate the company. This mean that companies must manage their presence. 
  10. An online presence is not only having a website. It is also offering information about your company on social media such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter

Earlier in Europe the digital transformation was only seen as a danger for companies.I could sense a change in perspective during this panel discussion. Organizations of all size are trying to take advantage of the digital transformation. Now companies experiment new ways of working in order to remain competitive in a world where the internet as blurred the frontier between 80's science fiction and reality.

It is your turn to tell us what you think. Comment this post and tell us what the digital transformation is bringing from your perspective.

Erstes Workshop in Stuttgart am 8.03.2017 um 13:30

mehr Infos hier:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1866492930271637/?ti=as

How could you improve feedback sessions? We all received and gave feedback but it can be puzzling as it may end up into a blaming or a congratulation session. As a manager you want to give constructive feedback in order to improve your team effectiveness. You may also be reluctant to give feedback because it is personal and can create discomfort. As an employee you may be looking for a way to get the feedback you need when your manager is not taking the lead.

Finding an approach that represents you and does not feel useless is sometimes complex . On one side, there is the feedback giver who wants the feedback to encourage the person to deliver a specific outcome or a new behavior. On the other side, there is the feedback receiver who may feel attacked because the comments may mean that he is not "good enough" or the feedback do not support him to improve his work. Feedback sessions can be an highly emotional moment when both participants come with some kind of angst. Giving and receiving feedback is hard when we focus on the "potential negative reactions". One key to success is to always focus on facts that can be observed from both sides.

Let's concentrate on how to give "negative" feedback in this article. You should always give positive and negative feedback in order to balance the discussion. I cannot believe this person is doing it all wrong!

A good feedback to see a change is a Fact feedback.

Can you remember a time when someone told you something sounding like "You are stupid! You should not have done that!" and your immediate reaction was "fight / flight or freeze". This did not help change anything. You should focus on facts and explain why the result of action "A" was not what you expected. For example, one employee may deliver bad oral presentations. You will not start saying that the person is a bad speaker. In stead you will mention facts like: I realized that you'r saying to many "hum", you do not look at the people.... Then you will give the person a detailed description of what you expect from them in the future. Help them to focus on those areas of improvement.  

Do not give feedback, give feed-forwards.  

Feedback are focused on a past that you cannot change. Focusing on the future actions that the person should take is empowering. It is your role as a feedback giver to frame the desired behavior the person should show. You have some homework to do before the feed-forward meeting. Observe and take notes about the feedback receiver's actions and list what you really expect from them. Be clear about what you expect from the person!

Steps to prepare for a feed-forward session

This method should be used to prepare for each individual session. The Feedback preparation starts way before the meeting itself. For each person, you should keep the following list up to date. 

Observe behavior: 

A leader that I know writes his observation on post-it and keep them all in a personal folder. He opens it few weeks before the meeting in order to clarify what the employee will need during the feed-forward session. 
  1. List positive behavior you observed. Use examples to back up your list.
  2. List new behavior that the person should start showing up. Use examples to back up your list.
  3. List undesired behavior that the person should stop. Use facts and example to back up your list.
Yes, there is a lot of repetition but please back up every observed / desired behavior with an example.

Prepare for the meeting: 

Are you sure that your suggestions as backed up with facts? Avoid being judgmental because it will not help the person grow. We grow when we believe we can learn more not when we think we are going to fail.
  1. Prioritize the list of behavior and create a list of things you want to discuss with the employee. Everything you observed may not need to be discussed. 
  2. Make sure you are talking about specific facts and please, not alternative facts ;)
  3. Do not make it personal. Do not attack the person.

Lead the meeting using facts to support your argumentation

  1. Explain that the aim of the meeting is to help the person develop itself and become better at what they do 
  2. Describe the positive behavior that you appreciate.
  3. Describe the new behavior that will help improve his / her work and give examples of how the person could implement it in the daily business. 
  4. Describe the behavior that you think the person should not have anymore and explain why. 

After the meeting: FOLLOW UP!

As a feedback receiver there is nothing less discouraging than not hearing from our manager after taking the decision to work on yourself. Plan follow up meetings with the person on a weekly or monthly rhythm. It is important that you follow up on the new behavior that the person should show and remind kindly that some behavior are not acceptable.

I hope you enjoyed this article and please share it with people who may need it or find it interesting.

I have worked in different companies and always wondered why change never happened. I studied Organizational Sciences in an attempt to understand why change strategies fail 70% of the time. I have read, discussed and observed bad communication, ineffective leadership, self´sabotage and many other factors that influence negatively change. I also found reinforcing information on how to create a functional change process. I decided to become a consultant in order to accompany companies. I am sure we can increase the change success rate by taking into account the human side of change. As individuals change is difficult even if we aim for a better work-life balance or to become a better employee / leader. Putting our ideas into action is difficult as we have to change our habits. At the organizational level it becomes even more difficult. It is not only one person trying to change it is a team, a department, a whole company... This group dynamic is difficult to apprehend. In this post I want to warn you about a trap in which I have seen too many companies fall.  

The consultant point of view: Managing everything but change

As a consultant. I faced disappointment. I was called in to analyse a company process and realized that the thing expected from me was to confirm that something went wrong. The decision to do something about the "problematic" process belonged to a higher level of management which I was not in contact with. I had little to no influence on the change process itself. It made me think and think again about how I could improve my intervention in the future. I realized how important it was for me to not only look at problematic processes but also do something about it. When I asked people involved in the process few months later. I heard the same complains from employees. Unfortunately, I am not the only consultant facing: Resistance to change. It is for sure a 2-ways dynamic where both the consultant and the client could better work together. 

Pain is the only reason why people and organization change but we are like frogs in boiling waters. We wait until it is too late...

Now, why do some companies change while others just cannot do it? It is all about feeling pain. If the current situation is not painful or unpleasant enough then companies stay where they are. Think of those frogs that are put alive in a pot of water. The cook increases the temperature until the water boils. The frog remains in the water because it does not feel the temperature increase, the pain. It will only react at the last moment but it is too late. The frog has no more energy to escape. This frog syndrome takes place in companies too. They are boiling in their own water. Some consultants outside the pot see it coming and try to alert the company. It does not listen because it is so comfortable. They know their pot very well and do not care about finding another one. They do not suffer. In companies, you need very alert and sensitive employees that cannot stand the increase in temperature. You need pessimist frogs. The one that jump out as soon as something is wrong. The one that see the danger coming and alert you. First of all you need to listen to them. If you are not ready to listen. Do not come later and complain about a failure.

Metrics as an alarm system to avoid the frog syndrome...

Let's get out of the frog comparison for a moment. How do you know that the situation you are in, is one that endangers your company? Let's look at some metrics because decisions without data is like Bungee jumping without a rope, deadly. You can ask your employees through interviews or questionnaire about their repetitive difficulties. You can use the rich picture methodology to help you visual processes. You can also analyse the employee turnover rate, the satisfaction level or the employee engagement. If those numbers are going in the wrong direction, you must think about the frog.

Alarm system & intervention crew

Putting an alarm system in place is a first step. The next one is to create a change intervention crew because why have an alarm system if it is not linked with a police station? The crew can be made of current employees at different level of the company or organizational development professionals. They will help recognize critical signs while understanding your company and how it ticks. This group should be responsible for the problem analysis and change implementation. The most important is to listen to your employees and develop a solution with them. Communicate about the planned change. Reuse the same metrics to evaluate the evolution. It should help you decide if you have still something to improve.

Learn to listen to your company

if you liked this post or find it useful share it!

I would love to hear from you and learn more about your experiences and thoughts, just comment this post and I will get in touch with you. 

Es ist manchmal seltsam, wie wir Unternehmensprobleme lösen vor allem, wenn es darum geht Anderen zu helfen. Wir geben Leuten die Lösung, in der Annahme, dass sie es nicht allein schaffen können, oder wir geben den Mitarbeitern die Werkzeuge und das Wissen, die sie dafür brauchen. Wir sehen es täglich in Firmen. Auf einer Seite kontrollieren einige Chefs  jede Bewegung Ihrer Mitarbeiter. Auf der anderen Seite geben Führungspersönlichkeiten ihnen die Kraft, ihre Ziele zu erreichen. Ich habe schon den Unterschied zwischen Chef und Führungspersönlichkeit in einem anderen Beitrag erklärt (auf Englisch). Die Chefs sind nicht bereit, ihr Wissen zu übertragen. Führungspersönlichkeiten im Gegenteil unterstützen das Lernen und geben Hinweise, wenn Mitarbeiter sie benötigen. Manchmal wiederholen wir einfach, was wir gelernt haben, ohne wirklich zu verstehen, was es bedeutet. Wir wissen, dass 1 + 1 = 2, aber wissen wir warum? In ganz bestimmten Situationen kann 1 + 1 gleich 1 oder 3 sein. Es hängt davon ab, was diese Zahlen und Zeichen repräsentieren.

Wir haben gemeinsam Wissensstrukturen erschaffen, die eine schnelle Erweiterung von Ideen ermöglichen. Leider vergessen wir manchmal, dass die Person vor uns nicht das gleiche Verständnis oder Wissen hat. Es ist der Fall, wenn wir versuchen, ihnen zu helfen oder wenn wir denken, dass sie wissen müssen, was 1 + 1 macht. Wir gehen davon aus, dass wir es besser wissen, obwohl wir in der Tat nur unseren Weg kennen und nicht ihren. Wie viele Konflikte entstehen, wenn eine Person oder eine Abteilung einer anderer helfen will? Sie bekommen eine gebrauchsfertige Lösung vorgeschlagen aber nehmen diese nicht ernst oder lehnen sie ab. Das kommt Ihnen bekannt vor?

Ja, Sie waren in einer Situation, wo jemand versucht hat Ihnen zu helfen, obwohl Sie das nicht wollten. Als Führungspersönlichkeit sollten Sie herausfinden, ob Ihre Mitarbeiter Hilfe oder Befähigung brauchen. Mitarbeiter brauchen Hilfe, wenn das Problem nur einmal auftritt oder die Lösung ein ganz spezifisches Wissen benötigt (z.B. Softwareproblem). In diesen Fällen macht es nicht unbedingt Sinn, eine neue Fähigkeit beizubringen. Ich würde Sie ermutigen, neue Fähigkeiten beizubringen, wenn die Probleme häufiger auftreten.

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Es gibt 6 Hauptunterschiede zwischen  Befähigung und Hilfe. Hier sind sie:

Befähigung:

  1. Sie verstehen den Hintergrund von einer Person / Gruppe
  2. Sie beurteilen Kompetenzen
  3. 2-Wege Kommunikation
  4. Sie schlagen mögliche Wege vor, um das Problem zu lösen
  5. Sie stellen Werkzeuge zur Verfügung und entwickeln die Kenntnisse Ihrer Mitarbeiter
  6. Sie begleiten und geben Hinweise

Hilfe:

  1. Sie kommen als Retter
  2. Sie beachten nicht die Hintergründe der Menschen
  3. Sie unterschätzen die Fähigkeit der Mitarbeiter zu lernen
  4. 1-Weg Kommunikation
  5. Sie verwenden technische Sprache, die nur Sie versteht
  6. Sie geben Richtlinien vor, ohne ihre Konsequenzen zu erläutern
Mitarbeiter ermächtigen, bedeutet die Verantwortung an Mitarbeiter zu übertragen. Wenn man Mitarbeiter hilft, entsteht eine Abhängigkeit zum Helfer. Es ist wahr, dass wir alle voneinander abhängig sind und dass jede Abteilung eine Spezialisierung hat. Leider herrscht die Überzeugung, dass IT-Leute die HR nicht verstehen oder nicht davon lernen können oder dass die Finanzabteilung nicht Hand in Hand mit R&D arbeiten kann. Das lähmt jedoch die Firmen. In solchen Firmen zu arbeiten, erlaubt nicht das Grundproblem zu verstehen und zu lösen. Dies kann dazu führen, dass die Probleme wieder auftreten und den Teufelskreis füttern, wo der Helfer immer wieder helfen muss.

Ich sage nicht, dass es leicht ist, von der Hilfe der Menschen zur Befähigung zu wechseln. Ich sage es ist ein Muss, wenn wir in Unternehmen arbeiten wollen, in denen nachhaltige Lösungen gefunden werden sollen. Menschen sind kreativer, Fragen sind Chancen und Lernen ist eine gemeinsame Sache. Es ist auch lohnender zu sehen, dass Menschen über ihre Schatten springen und Lösungen für Probleme finden, die sie sehr gut kennen.

Wer ist der kompetenteste ein Problem zu lösen, wenn nicht der der das Problem hat?

Menschen brauchen Ihre Hilfe nicht, sie müssen in der Lage sein, ihre eigene Probleme zu lösen.

Hier ist, wie Sie von "Hilfe" zu Ermächtigung gehen können.
  1. Stellen Sie Fragen, um den Hintergrund zu verstehen
  2. Beurteilen Sie die Kompetenzen und das Wissen
  3. Entwickeln Sie eine 2-Wege-Kommunikation mit Feedback von beiden Seiten
  4. Definieren Sie gemeinsam Lernbedürfnisse und Wege, um Probleme zu lösen
  5. Bringen Sie Fähigkeiten und Kenntnisse bei
  6. Begleiten Sie Ihre Mitarbeiter zur Lösung

Ermächtigen Ihrer Mitarbeiter hilft, deren Engagement zu fördern. Wir müssen auch berücksichtigen, dass nicht jeder Mitarbeiter den Wunsch hat, befähigt zu werden. Sie wollen nur geholfen werden. Es ist Ihre Rolle, diese Notwendigkeit zu bewerten und sicherzustellen, dass Ihre Mitarbeiter engagiert sind.

Ich schätze wirklich, wenn Sie meine Posts teilen und sie kommentieren.  Schreiben Sie einen Kommentar unten. Ich freue mich darauf !

Original in Englisch hier: Empower vs. Assist your employees

2017 is here and like every year leaders as almost every one else want to benefit from this momentum to change work processes, organizational habits or culture, location, change, change, change... but are we really capable of change?

If you look into your own work experience. You will realize that this desire for change comes from a discrepancy between "what is" and "what you think should be" or "what you wanted to achieve". This discrepancy makes leaders think about all that could be improved. They start listing all the things (processes, Talent management, strategy, communication...) that they want to change. Let's be honest, this happens more often than once in a year at new years Eve.

Most of the time as a leader you can feel overwhelmed by all your responsibilities. In some ways you accuse circumstances, workers, the political game, or what ever kind of alibi there is for the current situation. "If the new vision did not bring the desired outcomes, it is because of the company team leaders, lazy workers, the lack of communication" but where are you as a leader in the equation? When you accuse others of the situation you are giving up your power to decide, to act, to influence. You probably had a plan but it did not work out. Why? Do you have an overview of your company communication, change management, performance...? Are you listening to your company inner voice?

Stop complaining and become an actor "a leader" of your organizational life. First, you have to be clear about your current situation. Then about what you want for your company or team and to finish create a personalized plan to achieve your goals. 

Here is a self-administered questionnaire to help you create a lasting change: 

If you want a printable version of this questionnaire just Email Me

Change is hard, change is challenging, change is scary but when people see your behavioral change they will change too. You should lead by example because as social beings we repeat behavior that we see in those we consider leaders or our hierarchical supervisors. This is how companies' cultures are changed. One person at a time. If you can change they can change too. You can then empower your employees to lead the change themselves.  

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