Archive for June, 2016

Change Ahead? What You can Learn From OD Experts

The biggest reactions I see in clients facing change are fear and eroded confidence. We could debate that the notion that lack of confidence fuels the fear, but really, what does it matter? The fact is that change brings out two emotions we’d all rather keep under wraps.

When a major shift is staring you in the face, you can either run for the hills, face it head on or take a step back and assess what it’ll take for you to understand it, know it, accept it and embrace it?

Tons has been written, researched and TedTalk’ed about change. So, bear with me as I give you a slightly different way to approach it.

We can learn a lot from corporate change management practices. These are designed to mitigate the discomfort and maximize success of large transformation initiatives. There are variations in change management models, but what they share is a structured and intentional approach. It starts with knowing the “why” of the change and turning that into a compelling story. It ends with measuring the success of and sustaining the new reality.

  1. Make the case for change
  2. Identify resources
  3. Build champion coalitions
  4. Scope the change
  5. Communicate the message
  6. Assess the cultural landscape
  7. Listen
  8. Prepare for the unexpected
  9. Face resistance
  10. Sustain the change

Knowing this planned approach is used for wholesale corporate shifts, what if I say, “In order to manage what’s coming ahead, what if you take this structured and intentional approach to your impending change?” It’s likely you’d say “huh?”

And you’d be right to be quizzical. After all, we so often wait until things happen and then react. Think about the last time major change happened to you and the amount of energy you gave away by facing it without a game plan? And let me guess – the resulting experience brought up fear and a strip off your confidence?

So let’s tackle this by applying what the OD (Organizational Development) experts do for wholesale change in companies. Let’s say you switch positions within the same company. You know it’s coming. Your not convinced it’ll be successful even though senior management is behind your transfer.

Let’s follow the change management best practices above to set you up for change success:

  • Making the case for change – get clear on why you’ve been chosen for a new position. What expertise or attitude makes you the choice? Does it make sense? Do you even want the position? If not, ask senior management for more information. At the end of the day, you have to own the why.
  • Identifying resources – what do you need to make the shift and be a success? This can be anything from bringing your administrative support along with you, to a closer parking spot (no harm in asking)
  • Building champion coalitions – Figure out who in senior management is gunning for this change. Think of them as your new mentor(s) and keep them close for support down the line.
  • Scoping the change – Is this a long-term assignment? Does it come with specific deliverables etc.?
  • Communicating the message – What is your self-talk telling you? Is it giving you red flags? Do you need to ask for more information? Pay attention and keep asking questions to get to the bottom of any hesitation.
  • Assessing the cultural landscape – Does this opportunity align with your vision, values, ethics and beliefs? Will the position be a “good fit”?
  • Listening – Avoid making assumptions by paying attention to how this change will play out for others (family, co-workers, executive etc.).
  • Preparing for the unexpected – How will you protect yourself against what you don’t know yet?
  • Facing resistance – Listen to your own intuition and let it guide you safely forward – even if it means turning the position down.
  • Sustaining the change – How will you know when this has been a successful transition? What will that look like?

You’re on the path toward change. You’ve prepared, anticipated and asked the right questions. You’ve turned the unknowns into concrete information. Little is being left to chance. So how is your fear level now? Do you feel ready to step up? If not, go back to the best practices list and look for gaps or niggly bits that still don’t make sense.

For most of us, change isn’t a picnic. But it is part of life and sometimes we don’t have a lot of choice but to move with it. The point here is not to reach 100% buy-in; it’s to do the best preparation possible to set yourself up for success.

And if you need help, reach out to me at eveofchange.

Is this the year for my Promotion?

My question is why do you need to ask such a question? Glib perhaps and we could end the blog right there, but let’s talk about this.

I heard this question from a friend in a large corporate company. Apparently it’s stuck with me.

The way this question is posed makes it seem like the asker is looking to someone else (or the universe) for the answer. If that’s the case, then I’d say you probably have less than 10% chance it is this year, or any year.

A while ago I wrote a blog, Your Career, Your Responsibility. If there’s one thing I learned as a senior manager, it’s that no one is going to hand you a promotion or dream job, nor does the company owe you a thing.

So let’s pretend I’m coaching a client and we’ll call her Clare. She asks, “Is this the year for my promotion?” I let the silence hang for a moment and I repeat the question back to her. Only this time I phrase it, “Is this the year of your promotion?” – with an emphasis on “is”.

Taken aback, she spews a laundry list of why it’s her turn, how she deserves this and that so-and-so got promoted last year. I let her rant for a moment. Silence again.

“What will it take YOU to be promoted?”

It was so quiet I heard the light bulb go on in Clare’s head. In that moment she realized if anyone was going to boost her on the career ladder, it could only be her.

Okay, by now you’re likely wondering where is this all going? We’re into the new fiscal by several months and chances are if you work in government or corporate, this is when the yearly planning happens. Performance plans are laid, budgets set and re-organizations planned.

This is also the time for the Clares of the business world to reset their career path. If a promotion is the desired objective, then here are the key things Clare and others must do for themselves:

  1. Take an environmental scan of the business and industry. Is it growing or stagnant? What are the corporate priorities? Where are the job growth opportunities? Understand the current and five year context.
  2. Ask for informal chat sessions with a senior leader and/or HR Director within your organization. Take an interviewing approach to mine their perspectives on current needs and culture of the organization. Focus on them, not you. It will give you good insights, and let them know you are committed and invested in the organization.
  3. Pull out your past performance reviews and any psychometric personality assessments you’ve done. Start doing research on yourself. Take a dispassionate look and ask: What are this person’s strengths? Do these and their skills match their current position? What would they need to do to develop gaps in their leadership? Are there potential new areas of work they could evolve into?
  4. Mind map all the information gathered so far. Grab an empty sheet of paper and get scribbling. See what comes up – a straight path upward, a lateral detour to get new insights and experience, or a run for the elevator?
  5. Decision time. Is there likely to be openings in your current organization that match your path? If so, then stay close to home and jump on job postings when they’re published. If opportunities are stagnant, the decision to look farther afield is obvious. So get networking and suss out where the lights in the cracks are. This means reaching out to friends, former colleagues and even cold calling people in organizations that just may be expanding.
  6. Don’t just dust off the old resume – re-craft it! Nothing smells like an old running shoe than a resume written for your current job. Let’s face it, with the onset of social media, how we write about who we are and what special talents we have has changed. Google resume writing and click only on blogs written since 2016. Follow the recipe.
  7. Like the running shoe says – just do it! The bottom line is (in case you haven’t figured this out yet) you are responsible for your next career move. Promotions don’t come to those who wait; promotions come to those who go after them. So what’s stopping you?

There you have my seven steps to getting your promotion. But wait, there’s one more. Be really honest with yourself; do you have what it takes for the next step? Not sure? Then go back to step two for feedback from those who see your current performance, and ask for what you need to develop to move ahead. Listen carefully and act upon what they tell you.

The paradox is that just because you want the promotion, doesn’t mean you’re ready for it. But if you know you are, it’s up to you to make it happen!

Must Ask Questions Before Hiring a Coach

I remember the first time I hired a coach. I had no idea what to expect, nor did I know what coaching was really about. Our first meeting was like getting to know a friend. Sure there was trust building through our conversation, and he was super nice. But when I left I didn’t feel challenged.

I returned to our next meeting and again it was more of the same – great listening on his part, but I still wasn’t sure where we were going. Eventually I realized that I had entered into this arrangement without enough information to give me the greatest impact. Was the coaching helpful? Yes, but I believe it would have been way more powerful if I’d asked the right questions at the beginning to make the most of the experience and to really get the “right fit” with my coach.

It’s common practice to interview a coach before signing on. Here are 7 critical questions to ask to make sure you get the most out of your experience – after all, you or your company are paying good money for the service so why not get the absolute best for you?

 

 

  1. What are her credentials and work history?

I don’t know about you, but knowing my coach is trained and credentialed is really important for me. It tells me she isn’t a flash in the pan or someone who’s just decided to hang out a shingle. Knowing my coach’s background is key. I want to know there are common milestones we can both relate to. After all, you wouldn’t hire a CEO who doesn’t have the requisite credentials.

  1. Does she give advice?

If I’m going to work with a coach on my vision and goals, I don’t want advice. I want the focus to be on my story. I’m looking for clarity and direction that works for me. I don’t know about you, but I have plenty of friends waiting to give me advice. For my coach, I want them to listen and ask me the powerful questions so I can figure things out.

  1. Is she available in between sessions if something important comes up?

Life doesn’t just happen in a one-hour time slot every few weeks. It happens   constantly and sometimes we find our self in a sticky situation. If that occurs in between our sessions, I want to know I can email or call her to talk about the issue. That’s what I’m paying my coach to do; be my thinking partner when the going gets tough.

  1. Is she willing to challenge me?

I’m looking for change. I want to shift my perspective and find out what I don’t know. I know this will be tough work, but I’m committed so I want to make sure my coach is comfortable challenging me with tough questions. It’s like peeling an onion and if I’m not challenged we’ll be sitting with a smelly vegetable rather than getting to the essence of the issues.

  1. Will she be my champion?

This is especially critical if my company is paying for my coaching. I want to know that she’s in my corner, and even though there may be common goals with my organization that we work on, the sessions are about my success and me. Having a champion thinking partner will enable me to be open and know that even when the going gets rough, I have her in my corner.

  1. What is the process of coaching and what can I expect will happen?

Would you leap off a cliff edge into a cold river without asking what to expect? Not likely. So why enter into a coaching relationship without knowing what the process will be. I use the Essential C process that clearly describes how the client and I move toward sustained change (check out my Essential C blog). I want to know my clients are in expert hands and that we aren’t just meeting for tea.

  1. Will the coaching sessions be confidential?

This is the most important question of all. Like question five, if my company is paying for the coaching, I need to know that anything we discuss is completely confidential. Confidentiality creates trust and safety, and believe me, coaching can bring out deep ideas and emotions that most of us would prefer not be made public.

Let’s face it, coaching costs money and getting the most from it requires entering into the relationship with eyes wide open. Not every coach will be the right coach for you. So before you hire a coach, take in your list and don’t be afraid to ask your tough questions.

You deserve the “right fit”!

 

 

Business Made Easy? The Differentiator is YOU!

Its no secret that social media has given birth to a new breed of entrepreneurs – the online, work anywhere, small team types. While I think this is a great thing (full disclosure: I’m one of them), I also have some serious hesitations about recommending it to my friends.

Don’t get me wrong; I love going from my bedroom to kitchen to office down the hall with latte in hand. And I answer only to my clients and me. But if you were wondering if it’s easy you would be completely wrong.

Let me explain by telling you how this type of business really works. Over the past couple of years since I began my business I have listened to everyone and their dog on the perfect formula for success, bought “courses” from other on-line entrepreneurs and learned lots I don’t need, and “hung out” with people via social media groups whom I actually have nothing in common with.

Before you click delete, this isn’t a rant. In fact I’m one of the most positive people you’ll ever meet. So stay with me on this.

The truth is, there’s no easy path to being an entrepreneur. It takes time, commitment to your clients/customers, ingenuity, trials and failures, guts (of the intuitive kind), and sheer grit. Kind of fun really.

What I’ve found to be the toughest part though, is figuring out the great differentiator. Cause let’s face it, coaches, wellness gurus, candle makers etc. are a dime a dozen. What do I mean by differentiator?

Having a differentiator means knowing who I am and exactly who and why I attract certain people to work with me – and then capitalizing on it.

I know you know we can’t be everything to everybody. And yet for some reason, the majority of us end up unconsciously trying to do exactly that. Impossible!

So who are YOU? And why do you attract certain people? What are you doing that is so unique and special that others want in on your community?

No worries, you don’t have to answer that right away. Let me tell you how I’m doing it. I’ve ditched the formulas, stopped looking for the magic genie (think Marie F) and scrapped the launch of an e-course that’s ready to roll. Back to the drawing board cause the process just didn’t feel right for me.

Instead, I’m spending my energy to thoughtfully – eyes wide open – look at exactly what I show up with and how that is attractive to others. As a coach, people are buying me, my time and my expertise. So the question I’m faced with is what makes me different? What is that special something extra I bring to my clients?

The weekend before my webinar I had this queasy feeling that a piece of the puzzle wasn’t fitting. With the help of my Angel Amy, we’d spent hours on marketing, sales funnel and webinar in prep for the big launch. Of course it didn’t help I was heading into knee surgery in ten days.

As often happens, my good friend and fellow executive coach Diane called me on the phone Monday morning. After she asked about my launch I fessed up to having second thoughts and a hunch it related to the audience I was marketing to. Without skipping a beat, Diane piped up, “When I think of you, Eve, I think of women executives. Those are your peeps!”

Eureka!

Not only was Diane right, the truth is that I’ve always been a mentor to corporate women. I speak their language. I know what it’s like to climb, fall, dust off and keep going through the glass ceiling.

Even the majority of my current roster of 1×1 clients is new senior managers and executives. So why didn’t I make the connection? The answer is, I’ve been looking at what everyone else is doing and trying out their formulas and connecting with their communities. Guess what? It doesn’t work! It can’t work because I’m not them and they aren’t me.

So now, post-surgery, I’m switching things up to spend more time where it counts. My social media time has dropped significantly. Sure I’m still posting on FB and active in a few FB groups (love the professional Nathalie Lussier, beautiful Jennifer-Dawn Gabiola and super-smart Dr. Kelly Edmonds), but I know that isn’t where my people spend their days. They’re linking up on LinkedIn.

I’m getting back in touch with Eve, the professional, polished, caring, direct, insightful coach with dynamic presence and credibility that makes people feel like they just want to open up (actual clients’ words). This is my differentiator!

I plan to re-launch my course in early fall to my people and continue creating value and offerings based on what they want and need. This time it will be way easier, just like the rest of my business. Because when you know your differentiator and your audience, everything flows.

I’d love to know what your differentiator is. Go ahead and share in the comments below. Not sure? Drop me a line and let’s figure it out!