Why Does An Incentive Structure Work in Corporations?

 

Why Does An Incentive Structure Work in Corporations?

Incentives for employees are a little- understood phenomenon, but greatly-needed in today's competitive organizations.

 

 

The CFO's New Role

 

The CFO's New Role

 by Dr. Billie G. Blair
Published in: HOSPITALS & HEALTH NETWORKS
Over the past few years role of C level executives have been evolving. No longer simply accountants, chief financial officers (CFO's) are taking on some of the chief executive officer's (CEO's) responsibilities.

Corporations financial difficulties have ushered in a new era of financial scrutiny, along with the now-familiar Sarbanes-Oxley legislation. Greater regulation of financial conduct and oversight has precipitated new requirements for CFOs across the country, including those in the health care industry.We have heard much about these regulations, but little about an even more important side effect: The regulations have paved the way for critical management changes in health care. They have been more subtle, yet are more far-reaching in their impact.

Not Just a Number Cruncher
One of the most interesting of those changes is the realignment of the CEO's and the CFO's positions. The CFO is participating more fully in planning for the future and helping develop strategies to meet future needs. The CEO has, in turn, given over some leadership responsibility to the CFO.
Previously, a board meeting or leadership team meeting might have unfolded as follows: The group around the conference table has been discussing plans and strategies for the future. The CFO has just presented "the numbers" (the current budget picture plus the projected costs of the strategies under discussion). Then someone asks, What do those numbers actually mean in relation to the tactics we'll need to employ to reach our goals? And the CFO replies, "I couldn't say; my office does the projections, and I provide the numbers for the rest of you to use in your processes."
I personally have witnessed this scenario numerous times in different settings. But the modern-day CFO is expected to respond with insight and forethought to questions that seek recommendations for the future and that call for attaching meaning to the numbers. In current health care management practices, the CFO is expected to assist the other leaders (and the public and/or board of directors) in deriving meaning from the numbers and, as a result, in gaining direction for the future.

The CEO-to-CFO Shift
The most interesting recent change that I have observed is that of sliding some of the CEO's responsibilities over to the CFO. These are as follows:
Partnering. A new form of 'leadership partnership' is necessary between the CFO and the CEO. It is now imperative that the CFO assist the CEO in shaping corporate strategy.
Empathizing. The CFO must now be able to listen to others, offer a responsive ear and generate his or her own sound and well-developed ideas about strategy. The CFO must also be prepared to make these ideas public.
Communicating.A new skill needed from the CFO is the ability to speak well and credibly. Organizations now expect their CFOs to enunciate their views and analyses clearly and meaningfully.
Embodying/modeling integrity. The CFO, in all presentations of numbers and other data, must be displaying his or her knowledge of and responsibility for the organization's careful managing of its finances.
Leading change. It is now necessary for the CFO not only to understand the need for change in the future, but also to be a leader in these change efforts.

A New Profession
What I find so very interesting about this particular set of changes is that health care CFOs are being asked to develop a set of skills completely different from those expected of them when they entered the profession.
CFOs of the past were asked to perform excellently in the field of accounting and finance, to prepare or oversee the appropriate budgetary representations, and to present information without ascribing meaning to an audience of peers within the company. If other, more public, events were scheduled where finances were discussed, the CEO took the lead.
CFOs are now expected to (1) be a strong team player; (2) interact widely with others and display empathy in response to hearing differing points of view; (3) communicate complicated messages; (4) prepare reports both quickly and accurately; (5) convey absolute integrity, both personally and in the representation of all processes; and (6) precipitate and lead change efforts within the organization.

Different Skills
These are dramatic differences, representing a 180-degree turn in the role of the CFO. Individuals just beginning their financial careers can choose the field according to their talents. But for those already in CFO positions or in jobs leading to CFO, they'll need to seriously rethink their contributions as well as acquire or refine new talents.
This is the biggest challenge and the most dramatic shift to be seen in health care management in the past 100 years. For health care CFOs, the 21st century will be very different from the 20th century. There will be many new demands for excellent professional and personal leadership skills and many opportunities that have not existed in the past. What will be needed, therefore, is a realignment of skills and talents commensurate with the new role requirements.

 

The Four Myths of Crisis Management

 

The Four Myths of Crisis Management

Crisis management might not be the negative that you think . . .

 

 

Team Building - The Indispensible Process of the 21st Century

 

Team Building - The Indispensible Process of the 21st Century

TEAM BUILDING  THE INDISPENSABLE PROCESS OF THE 21ST CENTURY
by Billie G. Blair, PhD
Dr. Billie Blair is the President/CEO of Leading and Learning, Inc., a management consulting firm.

When teams and team building are mentioned, the typical response is:
"Oh, sure, that forming, storming, norming, forming stuff"  an indication that the buzz words are remembered but not the meaning of the terms. Team building for business projects is initiated by the processes represented by these terms. Their meaning provides a good grounding in the beginning stages of teaming:

Forming is the first stage on a project and indicates that the team designees gather to begin their processes. Because most team members have been assigned to a project team by their bosses this gathering together is a critical step. What is said and done at the first team meetings, therefore, will serve to mold the team and will be indicative of how well the team functions in the long term.
Important Steps at the Forming Stage

1) Select a skilled team leader;
2) Develop relevant materials so that the project can be comprehensible to team members;
3) Generate a strong sense of membership and affiliation from the onset.

Storming is meant to imply that the group moves into a stage of developing solutions to the designated problem. For example, if a group is presented with the task of determining how to conduct a project to build a new semiconductor, a first requirement is a complete understanding of the problem and the project's challenges. The project overview, guidelines, and other specifications are reviewed and discussed during this stage. The challenges to be overcome and the opportunity to do something important are good motivators of discussion and activity. Successful team storming requires good information on what is to be done and good structure and guidance during the discussion processes.
Important Steps at the Storming Stage

1) Generate common group understanding of the project expectations;
2) Set behavioral guidelines for group performance standards as well as outcomes and objectives of the discussion process;
3) Maintain group performance standards at all times during team discussion.

Norming  Group norming processes are used to bring the group together so that members begin to apply combined efforts. There are many ways to normalize a group to appropriate team functioning, but operational guidelines are a sound part of the process as are consistent and measured actions that promote good group interactions.
Important Steps at the Norming Stage

1) Establish guidelines for normatively functioning behavior of the team;
2) Develop the processes to be used for correcting and redirecting tangential and dysfunctional efforts of the group's members;
3) Maintain oversight and monitoring of the group during this stage with continuing guidance, direction, interaction and intervention.

Performing  Good group performance is a necessity for the appropriate completion of work projects. It is not enough for one or two members to conduct their jobs well; all group members must perform at appropriate levels and complement each other's contributions and behavioral tendencies.
Important Steps at the Performing Stage

1) Establish project goals and group member performance guidelines so that each member is aware of the tasks that each must complete in order to achieve project success;
2) Develop measuring and tracking protocols that all understand and can use to establish major and minor milestones of the project's progress;
3) Continue to promote good working relationships that support achievement of project goals.

Change Strategists, Inc. has developed a FastPocket on the topic of Team Building and Team Relationships, available at the Change Strategists website Book Store: www.changestrategists.com

 

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

 

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE -- One of the Most Critical Talents for Managers

Good technicians do not necessarily make good managers. Management is a science of its own. An individual's ability to manage depends on expertise that includes Emotional Intelligence.

 

 

Deal With Bad Employees- IBD

 

Deal With Bad Employees- IBD

Published in:
IBD, Deal With Bad Employees, Feb, 2007.
with Steve Watkins


It can be tough to deal with bad employees ... it must be done. Find out what is wrong, Get a grip, TALK.

Request the entire article, Deal With Bad Employees , below. Or link directly at Deal With Bad Employees.

Dr. Billie G. Blair is president and CEO of the LA-based management consulting firm Leading and Learning Inc. and author of "All the Moving Parts: Organizational Change Management." She can be reached at 951-699-2381. For more information, visit http://www.changestrategists.com/.

 

Organizational Development and Team Building

 

Organizational Development and Team Building

Provides step-by-step processes for team building and development of the organization.

 

 

Accountability in an Environment of Organizational Change

 

Accountability in an Environment of Organizational Change
Published in:
THE SOURCE December 2007

ACCOUNTABILITY IN AN ENVIRONMENT OF ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE.

Accountability practices have taken on a variety of meanings over the past decade. None has approached the modern challenges of establishing and maintaining accountability in an era of rapid change. At a time when organizations move at an increasing pace to keep abreast of changes necessary to maintain business control and to establish a market advantage, accountability comes into play in very different ways. Establishing accountability in this environment holds high importance for sustained viability of the organization.

Accountability once meant that every formal organization prepared a financial document each year. This report responded to the public's interest in the management of the organization as well as the outlook for the future. In the case of public companies, the profitability of the company during the past year was a strong focus of annual documentation. Healthcare organizations traditionally featured information on services rendered along with financial viability.

In the current environment of business operations  from healthcare systems to manufacturing operations  there is now a continuing need to demonstrate accountable business operations (or, ABOs) in the arenas of: 1) customer satisfaction; 2) global interface; 3) environmental responsiveness; 4) innovative practices; as well as 5) financial exigency. As can readily be observed, where the financial picture was once the primary method of establishing continuing success of the organization, there now are four additional ways in which viability and participation must also be demonstrated. Accomplishments in these areas need to be contained in regular reports to the marketplace as well as on websites, in presentations by the organization's leader, and in newsletter and marketing representations.

ABO #1  Customer Satisfaction
High on the list of accountability practices that allow organizations to be acknowledged as 'paying attention to business' is that of customer service satisfaction. For today's market operations, this is one of the most important measures of comparability that is assessed.

In the healthcare arena, this is a particularly perplexing accountability metric to establish, because very few other business ventures have customers who are profoundly unwell when they show up on the doorstep. In some ways, this fact of preexisting and presenting illness sets up a negative predisposition to the customer's view of the services provided. If there are spectacular advances made in the treating of the customer's condition, those tend to be acknowledged through reflections of high customer service ratings. On the other hand, if it's simply a matter of restoring a degree of health to the customer, there is great variation in the way in which the responsiveness and the service of the healthcare organization will be reflected in ratings of customer satisfaction.

The best approach in gaining acknowledgement of providing credible customer service, and, thus, of obtaining higher rankings of customer satisfaction requires a multi-phased focus for successful outcomes.

The first, is to demarcate the customer's healthcare experience by ensuring that the hospital setting does not detract from care procedures. That is, that there are no infections, injuries or other extra-invasive practices that occur during hospitalization. While these areas currently receive vigilant focus by healthcare facilities, their reported presence is still robust and continues to require serious efforts at reversal.

Secondly, is the need to ensure medicinal efficacy so that medications are precisely aligned to treatment protocol and that margins of error are largely reduced.

A third focus of the customer service equation requires that a strong organizational effort be given to seeking the customer's counsel during hospitalization. The customer's feedback (or that of an advocate, in cases of greater illness) needs to be sought so that these personal views and observations are central to the treatment process.

To establish and achieve a successful customer service environment requires arranging for strong efforts of teamwork between the treatment facility, its personnel, and the customer. The teamwork approach, when adhered to in its purest form, has been shown to work unfailingly in all instances of practice.

ABO # 2  Global Interface
Every one of today's organizations will be held accountable in the global arena. Even though the organization's services are not offered in countries outside the U.S., each business enterprise will, nonetheless, be affected by the global environment in which all modern organizations operate. Spanning from the receipt of materials manufactured in other countries to the outsourcing of services such as record-keeping and accounting services, each organization will be involved in global interactions and will need to be able to understand these for their overall impact on the organization and the reportability/accountability factors that are sought by their customers and constituents.

Because each organization will have global performance interactions to acknowledge, it is important to be able to reflect these clearly. The ways in which the organization is interacting in the global arena should be able to be described to the constituency in terms of the contributions made to the overall viability of the business operations.

ABO # 3 - Environmental Responsiveness
The public will be expecting to see each business define what is entailed in their contributions to the 'green' initiatives. This new focus on the environment needs to be given special attention and emphasis by each corporation. The list of green contributions can be extensive  from the design of environmentally-approved (LEED) buildings, to the self-generation of power, to sounder practices of energy efficiency and conservation, to the use of environmentally-sensitive materials and supplies, to the environmentally-appropriate disposal of waste materials.

Healthcare institutions have good contributions to make to the science of the environment, as well as a need to accountable to their constituents. Strong depictions of the deliberative steps the organization has taken in becoming environmentally sensitive and the responsiveness of the organization should be described in great detail, from the original planning to the action steps that have been taken to ensure a continuing environmental responsibility.

ABO # 4 -- Innovative Practices
In the modern age, every organization is expected to develop innovative practices. These can be original experiments that precipitate new inventions and other developments or simply actions aimed at serious attention being paid to operating the business with greater originality and creativity. A short time ago, the healthcare field relied upon those outside the formal healthcare operations to develop the processes of change and innovation and, thus, waited for practices to be explored and tested in Research and Development facilities before being adopted at field sites. It is now acknowledged that each organization runs in specific and independent ways and, thus, each is expected to develop more fully-independent business operations to support efficient and innovative functioning and to bring individual business delivery into competitive positioning for innovative practices.

It is this responsibility for innovation that is important in the modern age - both in new, creative ways of combating the age-old conundrums that provide risk to healthcare operations as well as in the smaller innovations that, taken as a whole throughout the system, add up to much better ways of organizing and running individual healthcare systems. Providing information on innovations is another of those mandatory accountability efforts that needs to be included in the regular reporting of all healthcare systems. The customer has the right to know if a creative environment has been formed and if effort is being put into making things measurably different. Because it is a well-known fact that an environment that is fully-innovative will precipitate ever-increasing instances of creativity, the consumer will be reassured by the efforts and advances that are being made.

ABO # 5  Financial Exigency
The financial health of the organization and its reporting is the one feature of earlier accountability reporting that remains. However, there are changes to be made in this area, as well. Business operations are now viewed from the perspective of financial solutions that provide viability in the present age. Financial reporting should respond to the accountability aspects of Sarbanes-Oxley as well as to the urgency of the financial needs of the organization. Credible material should be presented that is easily absorbed by interested members of the public.

Changes in CFO responsibilities have added additional benefit in this respect by redesigning these positions to be accountable not only for the short-term but also for organizational long-term planning. As CFOs are able to tie the present financial circumstance to that of the future, consumers will see evidence of functioning viability.

On-Going Business Operations and Re-Planning Cycles
Accountability has been discussed in terms of formal reporting processes to the public, as those are the times when a failure to mention responsibilities in each one of these new reporting areas can be readily noticed. However, accountability is also an on-going, real-time process that requires constant attention to each of these five areas by healthcare managers and administrators who oversee management functions.

In annual and long-range planning, the five ABO areas must receive appropriate focus in order to ensure that the organization's operations will be creating demonstrable results in each area. If strategic plans do not already contain elements that relate to each of the ABO areas, the first step will be that of establishing a re-planning focus so that a new, revised planning cycle can ensure that each receives due attention and organizational energy.

On-Going Business Operations and a Relationship to Merged Organizational Cultures
Processes that demonstrate accountability are also essential for organizational cultures where there have been recent mergers and acquisitions. The culture of the organization is central to its ability to generate appropriate and useful accountability practices that engender consumer confidence. When cultures are merged, there is a series of steps to be undertaken in re-establishing a viable culture for the purpose of developing responsive practices. These include:
1) setting the values for the new culture;
2) promoting wide-spread adoption of the new values, as translated into organizational practice; and
3) forming the organization into an accountable and functional unit responsive to a sound set of operational guidelines.

Each of these steps relies upon a comprehensive and inclusive organizational planning process. The use of an intensive planning process is particularly important in instances where cultures have been merged. Before long-term accountability can be fully-formulated in a merged organization, a single organizational culture must be re-built and become established in its functioning. This, then, becomes the first necessary step for the new organization. Accountability processes will be central to the planning stages of the new culture. By responding to the goals and objectives of the re-formed organization, responsiveness and attention to accountability will become a comprehensive process.

Summary

The successful business operations of an organization in modern times require a very different approach form that of only a few years ago. There are many new practices to adhere to and new ways in which organizational cultures must be formed in order to be responsible to the organization's consumers. In all instances, there must now be solid elements of accountability that derive from the inside of the organization and that move outside, to the organization's constituents. Evidences of accountability begin with the way in which the organization's leaders are accountable and credible to the employees and the way in which initial organizational planning is undertaken and implemented. Where internal organizational accountability has been established, there is consistently good evidence that the organization extends courtesies of accountability to customers.

Accountability in the modern age requires attention to the ways in which customers have come to expect action by organizations. A sound demonstration of these specific actions, in the accumulative, creates a stronger and more caring organizational business environment and ensures greater viability for the future.


Dr. Billie G. Blair is President/CEO of the organizational change management consulting firm, Change Strategists, Inc, www.changestrategists.com. Her latest books are: ALL THE MOVING PARTS: ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE MANAGEMENT and VALUE+ EMPLOYEES AS VALUERS

 

The Seven Key Steps to Align Employees Behind Strategic Goals

 

The Seven Key Steps to Align Employees Behind Strategic Goals

This article deals with the most cricital stage of the strategic planning process. When you, as the CEO, have led your company through the careful process of crafting a strategic plan, the most important step in implementing the plan is to make sure that your employees will be moving in tandem with the intent of the plan and with its strategic goals. There are seven key steps to follow to get this accomplished. 
 

 

 

Managing the March Towards Change

 

Managing the March Towards Change

Published in:
E-Zine ArticlesOctober 2008

Managing the March Towards Change.

My firm works with national and international corporations to assist in identifying the need for change, establishing its direction, and managing the difficult work involved in instituting cultural change processes and keeping change aspects aligned within the total organization*. Initial advice to clients is to step back from the day-to-day demands of the organization's operations and to take a serious look at what will be required of the march toward change. Our experience has taught us that if change processes are viewed in terms of marching toward a set of desired goals, then specific pathways can be established, timelines for the journey set, and measurements kept relating to cost and its change effectiveness.
Every modern corporation is currently working on various forms of organizational change. Most of these will be dramatic changes that result in reforming the companies. There are five basic precepts of change that we have described for our clients benefit in providing guidance as their organizations are reformed. We advise that their management teams review and assess these precepts at the beginning of the process and use them to guide all efforts of the march through to process completion.
One: Understand the Direction We spend up-front time with our clients in determining what the change demands actually mean. Most companies have daily challenges to their current operations - in the form of complaints by customers or through evidence that market placement is not optimal. There is the temptation to institute changes as these demands are felt. However, the concerted approach is superior because it allows the company's managers to understand what the changes mean when taken as a whole and viewed from the standpoint of the organization's complexity and its relationship to its market environment. An important first step in instituting effective change is to take both the long view and the short view of change - that is, scan the operating environment and compare the data gathered to the short-term specifics of the organization. It is only when the two are juxtaposed that the organization and its cultural meaning for the future will come into focus.
Two: Find the Forward Path If changes are attempted before the full impact of the direction is understood, tangential and unproductive paths are frequently the result. Our work is focused on assisting clients in discovering what stands out as the big steps necessary to set the organization on a different and more productive path for the future. The best decisions for change are made by analyzing the value of each change potential in order to look at change in the amalgamate - that is, how things can best be instituted to allow all the moving parts to act in concert - the best decisions for change are made. Corporate change valuation is assessed at this stage in order to carefully define the benefits and cautions of each change opportunity and to select the pathways best aligned for forward movement. The forward path must be the one that embraces the very best advantages and opportunities for the organization when all possibilities are scrutinized together.
Three: Select the Best Actions Once the strategic directions for the organization have been established, good attention must be paid to selection of the best actions for implementing the plan. It is critical at this point to take the time to select appropriate tactical approaches that will be able to fulfill the organizational mission. If the companys tactics are aligned specifically with mission and if these tactics resonate with those who will carry them out, the chances of instituting successful changes are greatly enhanced. Actions must be sought that will be integral to the overall functioning of the organization and that will bring greater organizational solidity as the change process develops. Tactics that hold good potential for being executed well also have high potential for contributing to a successful change completion.
Four: Select the Best Actors Planning for effective change requires that a premier team of actors will be available to carry out the designated actions. This is perhaps the most over-looked factor of change processes. Companies often make the assumption that change will easily be possible once a good plan has been developed. For years, my firms professionals have been following corporations repeated failure to implement change processes. Form these experiences there is good evidence that trying to overlay a new plan onto an employee workforce simply will not work. Rather, to implement a new plan for change requires that there be a sound practice of employee cultural orientation and development, and that these include processes of assessing employees for their strengths and abilities to contribute to the change opportunities. Once the employee force has been re-formed, with the best complement of good actors selected for appropriate placement within the company, change institution can proceed as planned.
Five: Select the Best Metrics The last step that must be taken before a concerted change effort is undertaken is to select the metrics that will be embedded with the process to track the changes and to measure progress. Reliable processes for measurement and analysis will be needed to determine if changes are following prescribed courses and achieving desired outcomes. For our clients we suggest selection of highly effective metrics such as Earned Value Management Systems and Critical Path Management to assure change achievement. Once these processes are established, the data that are generated will be critical to assessing the change processes and making revisions where necessary to keep the change moving down the preferred path.

These five precepts require sound action by the organizations leaders and its members before the change process, itself, is instituted. Considering the analogy of a march toward change, a leader will need to take seriously the organizations need for marching together to engage in change efforts. In addition, before the hand is raised to signal the start of the march, each of the five digits - representing the five precepts of change - must be ticked off as having been fully engaged. If you are considering change in your organization, and you can say that all five stages have been accomplished, by all means, signal the start of the march. Dramatic changes will then be realized by the time you reach your destination.


Dr. Billie G. Blair is President/CEO of the organizational change management consulting firm, Change Strategists, Inc, http://www.changestrategists.com . Her latest books are: ALL THE MOVING PARTS: ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE MANAGEMENT and VALUE+ EMPLOYSEES AS VALUERS.

 

What Does Good Look Like in an Organization?

 

What Does Good Look Like in an Organization?

Check out this article and its accompanying GO Questionnaire to help you identify the good company.

Read the article at: What Does Good Look Like in an Organization?

 

Power Monitoring

 

Power Monitoring
  Published in:
Utility Products October 2008

Power Monitoring.

It's a well-established fact that the ways we have approached energy conservation, to date, simply haven't worked. Even though millions of dollars have been spent on educating the public about the need to conserve, energy use has actually increased in recent years. In response to these limited results, there are now newer and more promising ways of achieving over-all energy conservation.

Better methods of energy conservation seem to be possible through a combination of increasing the tendency toward conservation, or the active steps that individuals take to reduce energy use, in conjunction with approaches of energy efficiency, or utilizing built-in devices that can act passively to save energy. There are two 'smart' terms that make these new ways of saving possible: the 'smart grid' and the 'smart meter.' Both ideas will contribute to energy savings in the future, but each is guided by slightly differing philosophies and constructs. One drives the savings from a combination of external arrangements to integrate them on the external power grid; and, the other relies on internal, customer-based devices and agreements to initiate energy conservation and individual change at the reception points of offices and houses. The two approaches are complimentary and the actions related to both are intended to merge to form a full circle of energy conservation.

Interacting With the Power Grid
The Smart Grid strives to move us away from a transmission system of simply providing energy to one where there will be individual choice and greater competition that allows for the achievement of a true energy market. The idea is to redirect our energy output from that of solely a transmission system to that of a more amorphous system where energy producers and customers work in conjunction. In the current transmission system, power is generated and flows in one direction? toward the customer. The new system proposes a two-way approach to the electricity grid, where homes or businesses can sell their surplus power back to the grid or, alternatively, sell power that they, themselves, have generated. The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 set the foundation for completion and promotion of the Smart Grid. What remains for this far-reaching energy conservation practice to become fully functioning is that states must now set rates in favor of its deployment as well as decouple utility profits from power generation. As well, it must be understood by all involved? consumers and producers of energy, alike? that this new form of energy interchange initiates a practice that will need to be combined with other efforts such as smart, green buildings and smart metering of current electrical usage.

Monitoring Single Units of Power Usage
Smart Meters are being instituted to provide technology to measure real-time power usage, provide power outage notification, and quality monitoring of power delivery. These Smart Meters are being supplied to both residential and commercial customers and link to, among other things, a billing notification that informs the power user of the time and date when the power was used as well as the charge differentials for each of the specific time periods. Because some times of day carry higher use charges, this is the latest attempt at educating the public and promoting their becoming power-wise in their usage.

This form of monitoring power usage provides an opportunity to match consumption with generation. Traditional electrical meters measure total power consumption and, thus, provide no information to either the power generator or the power user as to when the power was used. The advent of Smart Meters has provided an economical means of measuring this information and has provided opportunity for power agencies to set different prices for consumption based on time of day and season.

Peak power usage is predictable both by day and by season. When this information is tied to power generation constraints, prices can be set higher for the more expensive times of power acquisition, such as when power must be acquired from other sources or when more costly generation is brought online. The idea behind the use of Smart Meters is that devices can be placed inside the home or business to provide input to the power consumer. Conservation is then brought about in one of two ways. The first way is to anticipate that the customer will observe different billing structures and adjust power usage to conform to lower power rate periods. A second way is to secure the approval of the customer so that power usage is automatically deferred or drastically reduced during times when the system is signaling high power usage or high chance of power transmission failures (brown-outs or black outs). It is anticipated that these usage and price signals will achieve the conservation necessary to be able to avoid additional power generation, or that they can at least result in more effective use of power supplies currently available.

Smart Meters are described as capable of:
Giving both an incentive to save energy as well as helping achieve this reduction without interrupting the ongoing processes in the home or office;
Communicating with appliances to achieve energy and money savings;
Linking individual electric meters with the power grid to allow overall efficiencies in power usage and reduce chance of power emergencies; and
Providing sound budgeting and planning information through printed materials reflecting power usage, time-of-usage, and cost-of-usage.

Toward an Integrated Monitoring System This new system of power monitoring and pricing was formally acknowledged in the spring of 2007 when six Smart Grid leaders were recognized by the Department of Energy. Through their use of the small, powerful computers and communication systems (Smart Meters), major energy suppliers have begun to provide the means to provide the ability to charge for real-time pricing of electricity and thereby create powerful incentives for customers to save money by shifting power usage to off-peak hours.

A number of countries now participate in similar programs. For example, Italy has enrolled all 27 million customers in a program that uses the Smart Meters to transmit bi-directional communications and generate advanced power measurement and management capabilities that provide, among other things, the ability to remotely turn power on or off to a customer, read usage information from a meter, detect outages or the unauthorized use of electricity, alter the maximum amount of electricity that a customer can demand, and change the meter billing plans (for example, from credit to pre-pay and flat-rate to multi-tariff).
New Zealand, Turkey, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and the United States are at various stages of instituting wide-spread use of Smart Meters. In California, following on the July 2006 energy regulators' agreement, all major energy suppliers have begun programs to retrofit conventional meters with the Smart Meters' communications co-processor electronics, to allow reporting of energy usage on an hourly basis. Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Sempra all have plans in progress to begin full-implementation of the Smart Meter concept. All power generators agree that this approach allows customers to receive the information needed to reduce monthly power consumption, as well as to achieve a reduction in monthly bills, while at the same time participate in a program that can contribute to global energy conservation.
Orchestrated monitoring of power usage and the active, collaborative interaction of power providers and consumers offers a new, promising view of the future of power use and promotes high expectations that efficiencies achieved in this way can negate the need for expanded levels of power generation.

About the Author: Dr. Billie Blair is a licensed organizational psychologist and President/CEO of the LA-based management consulting firm, Change Strategists, Inc. The firm provides strategy and change management services to large corporations around the world. Dr. Blair's latest books are entitled: All the Moving Parts: Organizational Change Management and Value+ Employees as Valuers

 

In Defense of the "BlackBerry Effect"

 

In Defense of the "BlackBerry Effect"

We hear a lot these days about how PDAs are ruining our lives and those of friends and family. Its time you heard the other side of the story.

Request the entire article, In Defense of the Blackberry Effect, below. Or link directly at In Defense of the Blackberry .

 

 

Change Management

 

Change Management

Published in: Valley Business Journal, March 2008

By Billie G. Blair, Ph.D.

When Peter Drucker, who was a professor of mine during doctoral study, talked about change management processes in corporations he would caution that starting new change processes required that the organization must, first, be acting in concert. The analogy used was that of the CEO as orchestra leader with orchestra members playing from the same sheet of music  the advent of the term, "on the same page." A more recent analogy is the CEO as architect of change, drawing and executing new plans for the organization's change actions. Both ideas have the same intent of focusing an organization and its employees on the necessity for change and on the formal steps that are required to bring about successful change actions for competitive positioning.

Change management requires that the company's CEO and employees work together to take several orchestrated steps to ensure both timely and reasoned change. The steps that we recommend for organizational change processes are these:

  • Assess change requirements  Look at the organization critically for a clear determination of current market positioning and competitive change needs.
  • Understand change directions and actions  Formal assessment allows the CEO to discover how the company compares to the competition as well as what will be needed for competitive growth in the marketplace.
  •  Prepare for organizational change  The CEO and leadership staff serve as the architects for careful planning of change and acquire change management skills.
  • Develop organizational processes to support change  The organization's employees learn the dynamics of change and develop job function changes.
  •  Implement change action processes  The change architecture is implemented based upon development of the plan's strategies.
  • Monitor change actions  Actions undertaken to promote organizational changes are monitored for clear direction and demonstrated results.
  • As corporate leaders face rapid marketplace shifts through global competition, technological advances and governance requirements, it will be the keen attention to organizational change decisions and a smooth and successful execution of the change processes that will secure a firm's critical competitive advantage.

Billie G. Blair, Ph.D. is President/CEO of Change Strategists, Inc., an insouring organizational change management consulting firm and can be reached at (951) 699-2381 or www.changestrategists.com.

 

Provide Social, Education Opportunities Through Lunchtime Seminars

 

Provide Social, Education Opportunities Through Lunchtime Seminars

Lunchtime learning opportunities fit well with the culture of many-member organizations or companies. Many people are willing to use a lunch once a month, or even more often, to learn about things that can enrich their jobs. Read the article at: Provide Social, Education Opportunities Through Lunchtime Seminars.

 

 

An Agent's Guide to Pitching to Executives

 

An Agent's Guide to Pitching to Executives
Published in:
AGENTS sales Journal, March 2008

An Agent's Guide to Pitching to Executives.

When you approach an executive with your provider plans and other services, four simple rules can help you sell more effectively and successfully:

1) Know everything you can, in advance, about the decision-maker, the company, and its needs; 2) Know how your services fit into those needs; 3) Know how your services compare with those of others; and 4) Determine, before your first meeting, what your "best bet" for making a successful approach will be.

#1: The preparation You often hear it: Preparation is everything. Advanced planning is particularly useful because, in addition to providing much-needed information for your first contact with a company executive, it also arms you with an important aura of confidence. Carefully prepare for your visits with decision-makers by finding out absolutely everything you can about the company and the individual who leads it. This doesn't mean simply going on the company's Web site, because almost nothing provided there is useful. Effective planning instead means calling friends, acquaintances, and other contacts in the target company's industry, those who can provide you with useful insights about the company's structure, its recent challenges, and its goals.

#2: The fit To successfully pitch to high-level executives, you'll want to have something intriguing to offer them. That is, you'll need to determine what plans would work best for their businesses and why. And you'll need to be able to present these ideas succinctly (because CEOs don't have time to spare) and interestingly. On the latter point, if you're thinking of giving a flat, factual presentation, don't bother. The first visit is the time for the relationship-building stage of the sales process. So, set aside your burning desire to simply pitch your products and make the sale. Instead, take this time to get to know the person you're talking with on their level. For this to be a complete and successful sales process, the encounter must be a meeting of equals. Thus, a relationship must be formed that is based on a collegial bonding and an understanding that you're both after the same thing  they are interested in getting the best services for their company, and so are you. You will need to walk away from this conversation with their being secure in that knowledge.

#3: The comparison Uppermost in the executive's mind is the question of how your products and services can be distinguished from those of others. Why is your health plan the best one available? What about your group long term care sets it apart from all the other policies? You will want to have a ready answer and even volunteer the information before they request it. It's better to be seen as proactive when responding to an executive's questions; try to avoid falling into the trap of simply responding to questions as they are fired at you. By providing answers and solutions that demonstrate you've done your homework and that anticipate the firm's needs, you will have a better chance of gaining the executive's confidence and being seen as being on the same wavelength.

#4: The best bet Your earlier research on the CEO and their firm will already have guided you in determining what products will be your best bets. These determinations form your operating hypothesis as you enter the meeting. Test the hypothesis throughout the meeting as you continue your discussion with the executive. And be ready on a moment's notice to bring out other products or offerings that, once the conversation has expanded, appear to be more suited to the company's needs. Regardless of what path the conversation takes, make sure you leave the meeting with a sound understanding between you and the decision-maker regarding what their needs are and what products can satisfy those needs. As you are wrapping up the conversation, mention to the executive that you will send additional information on the areas they're interested in both via email and by post or messenger.

Making a good impression sets you apart from other agents who will be talking to your employer client. It helps ensure that the executive will take your call  either for a phone conversation to clarify points, or for a second meeting to wrap up the deal. Following these four steps can help sway the outcome of a meeting with the decision-maker in a positive direction and help you close the sale in the end.

Dr. Billie G. Blair is president and CEO of the LA-based management consulting firm Change Strategists, Inc. and author of "All the Moving Parts: Organizational Change Management" and "Value+ Employees as Valuers". She can be reached at 951-699-2381. For more information, visit http://www.changestrategists.com/.

 

PITCHING EXECUTIVES: AN AGENT'S GUIDE TO THROWING THE BALL SUCCESSFULLY

 

PITCHING EXECUTIVES: AN AGENT'S GUIDE TO THROWING THE BALL SUCCESSFULLY

When you approach an executive with provider plans and other services, four simple rules can help you sell more effectivetly and successfully .... Approaching an executive with your provider plans and other services should be guided by four simple rules. These are: 1) know everything you can, in advance, about the executive, his company, and its needs; 2) know how your services fit into those needs; 3) know how your services compare to those of others; and 4) determine, before your first meeting, what your "best bet" for making a successful approach will be. Read the article at: PITCHING EXECUTIVES: AN AGENT'S GUIDE TO THROWING THE BALL SUCCESSFULLY.

 

 

Organizational Creativity: What I s and What It Isn't

 

Organizational Creativity: What I s and What It Isn't

Published in:
Business Development Crossing

Creativity is often cited as the most critical element in organizations expecting to thrive in the 21st century environment of fast-paced change. To be able to look at business challenges as opportunities to leap ahead of the competition by creating innovative products and services is, at base, a creative talent. Transforming an organization's employees into an innovative force of talent will require thoughtful processes that give careful attention to the basics of creativity.

The process known as creativity is often viewed as comprising magical and chimerical powers that a creative individual pulls out of thin air and transforms into artistic or commercial ideas. While talented creators must certainly know something about the process of transformation, standard beliefs about creativity mischaracterize the process. A thorough examination of the elements of creativity can be useful in deciding how to construct and develop a creative organization.

There are six aspects of creativity: knowledge, ability, insight, determination, situation, and invitation. Because each element must be present in modern organizations to foster good demonstrations of creative activity, these six elements provide a powerful repertoire for foresighted businesses.

Knowledge. The first step to establish creative procedures in an organization is to ensure that those challenged to be corporate innovators have had the advantage of gaining a thorough knowledge in the specific areas where they operate. If, for example, an innovator is to create a new car design, that individual must first know about the aerodynamics and other technical engineering aspects of automobiles. The same is true, of course, for creative artists; they must be skillful in all technical aspects of art, from drawing, sketching, and painting, to understanding the human form and other natural occurrences. They must also have extensive knowledge about the history of art. Consequently, the first step to ensure that an organization's workforce has creative capacity is to complete a capacity-building step that allows acquisition of knowledge about the goods and services of the company. From this base of knowledge, other steps toward creativity are possible.

Ability. Individuals participating in a creative process must carry an array of abilities. No matter how much technical knowledge an individual employee might possess, an individual must possess an additional ability to see the connection between the knowledge base and a potential for the future, to draw on this ability in order to meld the two into a characterization of new products and ideas. Thus, an ability to demonstrate how knowledge is to be transformed into larger ideas is an aspect of creativity that must be present. When individual ability promotes an expansion of the current knowledge, it serves to form the nexus between what is known and what can be envisioned for the future.

Insight. In order for an ability of transformation to be demonstrated, an individual must experience conditions that foster insight into the problem or of the challenge of a given circumstance. Any creative enterprise will require numerous instances where the creative individual experiences insight into one part of the problem's solution. During the creative process, one insight and experimentation in an area can lead to yet another insight that sheds light on the problem and results in major advances toward solutions. These insights of discovery are repeated until there is an occurrence of what is blandly termed as having "all the pieces fall into place." Insight is the creative element that conditions full creative discovery.

Determination. Neither knowledge, ability, nor insight, however, are good enough on their own merits to bring about the creation of new discoveries. Innovation happens through a strong application of unvarying determination to any given problem. All of the great breakthroughs " in science as well as in the fine arts " were accomplished through a determined effort by the individuals seeking to make break-through discoveries. These innovations required the hard work of repeated efforts in the face of temporary failures, set-backs, and misdirection. In selecting those who will carry company innovation forward, it is important to ensure that these individuals have a predisposition toward determined and concentrated effort.

Situation. The situations supportive of creative endeavors have varied through time. In all cases, however, the creative situation is a physical and environmental circumstance in which the creator/inventor feels comfortable undertaking creative endeavors. It is also typical of the creative situation that it fosters creativity by allowing alignments that contribute to creative processes. Organizations will want to look carefully at how they are structured for creative problem solving. One strong indicators are the creative products themselves thatare currently being developed. If there are none, an organization's leaders will want to examine why this is so. Typically, non-creative workplaces are those where the elements of situation and invitation are lacking.

Invitation. The creative element, 'invitation,' is closely linked but distinctly different from that of the situation. There can be excellent physical environments where creativity can take place but the invitation to create is not issued. Innovation can be thwarted by uninformed managers who understand little about the creative benefits of the organization. Open-space physical configurations, for example, hold potential for the free exchange of ideas. If a manager unwittingly creates an atmosphere where employees are restricted from free interaction, the creative enterprise is thwarted. The organizations that do not clearly invite creative activity are those that are found to be most deficient in innovative employee involvements.

Creative and innovative acts are comprised of complex and interactive elements that must be well-understood and purposefully inserted into the organizational structure before creativity can be experienced in significant and meaningful ways. If an organization wants to understand its creative capabilities, a first step is to question the presence of creative elements in the organizational structure and to assess the creative contributions that the organization makes, both to its employees and to its future expansion.

About the Author

Billie G. Blair, Ph.D is an organizational psychologist and president of the management consulting firm, Change Strategists, Inc. The company is an LA-based firm of 40 professionals who work with CEOs and executives, across the US and Canada, on issues of organizational change management, leadership, and personal and professional effectiveness. Their clients are a mixture of Fortune 500/1,000 companies and their departments/divisions, organizations, non-profits, government entities, and entrepreneurial start-ups.

Dr. Blair is author of "All the Moving Parts: Organizational Change Management" and "Value+ Employees as Valuers", as well as many articles, FastPockets and a contributor to many periodicals. She can be reached at 951-699-2381. For more information, visit http://www.changestrategists.com/.

 

ORGANIZATIONALLY DEFICIENT COMPANIES IN THE 21ST CENTURY

 

ORGANIZATIONALLY DEFICIENT COMPANIES IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Read about Organizationally Deficient Companies in the 21st Century ... and What To Do About It.

Request the entire article, Improve Business Productivity With UC , below. Or link directly at Organizationally Deficient Companies in the 21st Century ... and What To Do About It.

 

Organizational Change Management II

 

Organizational Change Management

Published in:
Organizational Change Management by Dr. Billie G. Blair.

A colleague of mine says that people don't mind change and they don't necessarily fear it  but that they do fear what is required to make a change. So, in effect, when organizational change is proposed and employees begin to have "fear conversations" ("I wonder what job moves are going to come about as a result of this. . .?" "Where is all this heading. . .?" "What kind of shake-ups will there be at the top?") what they're actually expressing is a fear of how the change is to be instituted. Organizational psychologists are highly attuned to change constructs, to the organizational purposes that they serve, and the opportunities and advantages that they provide for organizations.

Request the entire article, Organizational Change Management , below.

Dr. Billie G. Blair is president and CEO of the LA-based management consulting firm Change Strategists Inc. and author of "All the Moving Parts: Organizational Change Management." She can be reached at 951-699-2381. For more information, visit http://www.changestrategists.com/.

 

What is Chaos Theory and How Does it Apply to Your Organization

 

What is Chaos Theory and How Does it Apply to Your Organization?

Have you ever made a seemingly innocuous statement, or executed a "normal" business action and, in return, experienced surprisingly angry or retaliatory reactions? Reactions that were far out of proportion to your original intentions Intentions that were likely benign and, definitely, "inconsequential" acts. If so, you were experiencing, first hand, the results of Chaos Theory at work.
Check out this article and its accompanying GO Questionnaire to help you identify the good company.

Request the entire article, What is Chaos Theory and How Does it Apply to Your Organization? , below. Read article at What is Chaos Theory and How Does it Apply to Your Organization? .

 

Recruitment Roulette - How Managers Can Improve Hiring Odds

 

Recruitment Roulette - How Managers Can Improve Hiring Odds

How Managers can improve hiring odds - This article provides guidance on recruiting successfuly.
"Having the potential worker interact with other members of the team during the hiring process allows a good perspective on the team fit," says Billie Blair,PhD, president and CEO of Los Angeles-based Change Strategists, Inc. an organizational consulting firm. "Also, by making it clear that teamwork is a necessity, then getting their response, you'll be able to make a determination about their working out in this role." Read the article at: Recruitment Roulette - How Managers Can Improve Hiring Odds

 

 

Organizational Change Management

 

Organizational Change Management

People - your staff - do not mind change so much as they fear it! Because change in organizations is pervasive change initiation and change management are key leadership/management priorities.
Read the article at: Organizational Change Management.

 

 

A Health Focus for WOMEN

 

A Health Focus for WOMEN

Published in:
THE SOURCE, Strategies and Solutions for Supply Chain Success, Spring 2009, V4, N2.

Women have long been attentive to issues of health. Recent advances in online health information and support services have served to enhance this natural inclination, which combines innate curiosity with the determination to do things that work satisfactorily for one's health. As a woman, I can attest to similar life-long interests. In the course of these pursuits, I have experienced a wide range of health care services that worked variously - either the services worked well for me as a woman, or they worked dreadfully. Very few have been mid-range experiences. One of the very worst experiences was during a consultation with a male gynecologist who, a few years ago when I was aged 40, told me that I "really should have a hysterectomy because I certainly wouldn't [meaning shouldn't] be thinking of having children at your age." I well-understood the risks of having children after the age of forty - after all, I trained as a clinical psychologist and served as the director of a mental health agency where Down Syndrome patients as well as those with other mental incapacities were treated. But birth risk was not the issue that was on this medical practitioner's mind. He was revealing his view of a 4O-year-old woman. Without going into the discriminatory details, I can say that his posture, tone-of-voice and facial expression were unequivocally insulting. Moreover, his actual goal was to talk me into having the surgery - and as no medical reason presented itself, his hope was to cause me to feel that age was a reason to do so. Many women can recount these kinds of experiences.

SUMMARY: Health care managers are often faced with some of the most challenging management scenarios - from meeting modern-day budgetary demands to translating personnel interests into viable management terms to ensure appropriate and effective treatments for patients. I realize that I have issued yet another challenge to the already congested tasks of management. If the issues of gender are identified faced, and handled well, a substantial part of daily challenges will be addressed in the process and the result will be of lasting benefit to the institution.

Request the entire article below. Or link directly at A Health Focus for WOMEN.

Dr. Billie G. Blair is president and CEO of the LA-based management consulting firm Leading and Learning Inc. and author of "All the Moving Parts: Organizational Change Management." She can be reached at 951-699-2381. For more information, visit http://www.changestrategists.com/.

 

Change Strategies for the 21st Century

 

Change Strategies for the 21st Century - Diversity of Customer Base

Customer bases in the future will be highly diverse - from generational to global, racial, ethnic, and demographic. Businesses must adapt marketing and service strategies that are comprehensive and focused to these bases.

Request the entire article, WChange Strategies for the 21st Century - Diversity of Customer Base , below. Or link directly at Change Strategies for the 21st Century - Diversity of Customer Base .

 

The New Leadership, Taking Into Account Chaotic Conditions

 

 

The New Leadership, Taking Into Account Chaotic Conditions

Published in:
THE SOURCE, The New Leadership, Taking Into Account Chaotic Conditions, Summer 2009.

In today's economic environment, healthcare leaders face a stronger need to be managers of chaos. This statement might seem like a contradiction. After all, we have been told chaos cannot be managed. However, the opposite is true! In chaotic times the well trained and practiced leader will engage effectively when faced with extremely difficult circumstances and use chaos to the best advantage.

Request the entire article, The New Leadership, Taking Into Account Chaotic Conditions, below. Or link directly at The_New_Leadership.

Dr. Billie G. Blair is president and CEO of the LA-based management consulting firm Leading and Learning Inc. and author of "All the Moving Parts: Organizational Change Management." She can be reached at 951-699-2381. For more information, visit http://www.changestrategists.com/.

 

 

ACCOUNTABILITY CAN WORK

 

ACCOUNTABILITY CAN WORK: Be Honest and Dependable; Take Responsibility

With change hitting every organization everyone must be accountable, it is crucial to keeping a grip on the business. Considerations: goals; fears; employees; middle manageres; and life links.

Read the article at: Accounttability Can Work: Be Honest and Dependable; Take Responsibility.

 

 

Managing in the Next Decade and Beyond: Challenges and Strategies of Chaos Management

Managing in the Next Decade and Beyond: Challenges and Strategies of Chaos Management

Published in:
California Healthcare news, June 2010.

It is now 2010. From this decade, forward, management practice will take a completely new direction. For those in health care management this will mean greater focus on strategy as well as the recognition of management's new realities. For starters, management in this decade will be directed and informed by the dictates of chaos management principles. These principles include: steady state chaos; chaotic direction; and managed focus implementation.

Request the entire article, Managing in the Next Decade and Beyond: Challenges and Strategies of Chaos Management , below. Or link directly at Managing in the Next Decade and Beyond: Challenges and Strategies of Chaos Management.

Dr. Billie G. Blair is president and CEO of the LA-based management consulting firm Leading and Learning Inc. and author of "All the Moving Parts: Organizational Change Management." She can be reached at 951-699-2381. For more information, visit http://www.changestrategists.com/.

 

Nothing Succeeds Like Succession Planning

 

Nothing Succeeds Like Succession Planning
  First Published in: Security Management
Author: Billie G. Blair, PhD

DECIDING WHO WILL OCCUPY vacant leadership positions in an organization is one of the most important functions of a company's senior leadership team. Yet, it's not unusual for companies to give succession planning little thought or attention until a post is vacated. That's a dangerous approach. Instead, companies should institute an ongoing plan of succession as a part of their strategic planning.

My company calls this process selecting for leadership. It can be a useful exercise not only for top executives but also for department heads, such as security directors, who can use it to set career paths for their most capable staff members. The process consists of the following steps: define roles, identify leadership qualities, assess interest and potential, mentor, train, and promote.

ARTICLE SYNOPSIS

Planning for succession is not an easy task, but it is a critical one because it ensures that the company will have strong leaders ready to fill important roles as vacancies occur in successive years.

The process begins by defining the company's vision and the individual job objectives that support that vision. Management must determine which positions need succession planning and define those roles.

The second step in the process is for employees to go through an assessment process that identifies their strengths and weaknesses. Assessment methods include psychological analysis tests and supervisor observation. Management should search specifically for leadership qualities.

After the employee has been assessed, management can select a pool of potential leadership candidates. Those selected can then be trained and mentored in preparation for advancement.

Once an employee's skills have been evaluated and he or she has been recommended by a supervisor, the employee can be approached and asked to train for a high-level position. After the individual has been selected, experienced managers should mentor the candidate to groom him or her for potential promotion.

The level of training needed to prepare a candidate for higher positions varies for each employee and should focus on weaknesses uncovered during the assessment period. In most cases, the education will consist of college courses, conferences, workshops, and other experiences applicable to the next-level job.

DEFINING ROLES  

The process begins by determining and defining the positions that will be part of the success planning program. Executives should outline job descriptions for themselves and their leadership team. That would include department managers and group supervisors. The job descriptions should be forward-looking and take into account the strategic plan of the organization. If the company does not have a strategic plan detailing its vision for the future, executives should work to identify companywide goals before they begin writing the job descriptions.

For example, at Leading and Learning, Inc. (my company), one client had grown in five years from 300 employees to 5,000. When the company was just 300 people, building and maintaining a company culture and strategic philosophy was easy because management had daily interaction with employees at all levels of the company. Once the organization grew, however, the company found it more difficult to maintain its culture and to keep everyone focused on its vision.

To help regain the company's momentum, the CEO and the leadership team had a series of discussions about the company's future. As a result, the executives were able to identify a concise plan for the future. After the goals for the company were identified, job descriptions supporting those goals were developed.

Defining positions in this way is an important step in succession planning, because it gives potential candidates the opportunity to train and prepare for those future role requirements. It also helps management understand what qualifications and qualities the company should seek in candidates it might want to groom for those higher-level positions.

IDENTIFYING LEADERSHIP

In addition to defining specific skills needed for each position, the company must define what leadership qualities it seeks generally. The company can then select employees within the organization who appear to have those leadership qualities.

One way to find promising future leaders is to conduct an informal poll of front-line managers, asking them to identify all employees who have demonstrated the sound leadership skills that the company seeks.

ASSESSING POTENTIAL

Management's next step is to assess how many of the candidates identified as having leadership qualities are truly worthy of mentoring. That can only be determined through a full-blown assessment process that includes psychological tests and interviews.

Tyson Corporation, for example, has adopted a procedure for regularly assessing its staff's leadership potential. Candidates first take a battery of tests that are designed to determine skills and abilities on various measures related to their job duties. The company then interviews the most promising candidates and tracks their current job performance. The workers who stand out are given training for future career growth. This process is designed to aggressively recruit for new leaders by evaluating talent in current employees and grooming them for advancement.

Assessment tools can also be used to ensure that individuals are placed in positions that complement their skill sets. For example, at another client company, a new CEO had been hired and had made some adjustments to the existing leadership team, adding some employees from his prior company.

Because he was new to the company, the CEO wanted to make sure that he had placed individuals correctly. He asked Leading and Learning to conduct an assessment of all the team members using psychological tests and individual interviews.

Through this assessment, the CEO was able to understand his leadership team members and the various skill sets they brought to the table. He was also able to see various personality and leadership traits that he would not have been able to know based simply on resume materials.

Management should talk with employees who stand out as having leadership potential, telling them that they have the opportunity to be groomed for a career path with the company. The individual must understand, however, that any promotion is contingent on successful completion of a mentoring, education, and internship phase.

MENTORING

Each potential future leader needs to be mentored by more experienced personnel. The mentoring process should be a formal one with specified benchmarks, educational components, and milestones. It should last between six months and one year.

The mentor takes personal responsibility for nurturing each new leadership candidate. In the process, mentors assume the role of both plotting out and monitoring their charges' progress. Mentors should meet individually with trainees to discuss issues, set career-directed plans, and explain organizational issues. Mentors with more than one employee to oversee should hold either weekly or biweekly meetings with the entire group to discuss the process and address any concerns.

Mentors should also look for ways to expose the trainees to new experiences that will help develop their knowledge base and skills. For example, as a member of upper management, the mentor typically has the ability to influence other managers to include the trainee in events, such as conferences, to which they would typically not be invited.

TRAINING

The level of training needed to prepare a candidate for higher positions varies. One common objective, however, is to focus on weaknesses uncovered during the assessment period. For example, if a person is seen as lacking knowledge of business finance issues that he or she will need to progress up the ladder, those types of courses should be suggested.

In most cases, the education will consist of college courses, conferences, workshops, and other experiences applicable to the next level job. In many cases, the training will consist of one or two university courses (rather than a full degree). Regardless of the level of training needed, the mentor should be actively involved to ensure that the educational objectives are being met.

This stage represents a critical make or break moment for these potential future leaders. If they can't gain the necessary skills to carry out higher-level work, they won't be promotable.

During the educational phase, the company will also want to tailor the current jobs of the management trainees to further prepare them for higher-level roles. For example, each management trainee's job can be expanded to include one or more of the tasks critical to the next level job that he or she may occupy. In this way, the on-the-job training will support and enhance the formal educational preparation.

PROMOTION

It's important to be able to successfully gauge the right moment when a member of the management trainee team is ready to take on higher-level responsibilities. The employee should complete all formal education and the results should be analyzed before the promotion is made.

Management should make the decision objectively, using the education and training results, rather than relying on personal loyalties and relationships that may have been formed during the mentoring stage. If an employee did not perform well during training, it should be assumed that he or she would not perform well on the job.

At this point, managers should make final decisions about who will proceed to higher positions. Assuming, for example, that the company has a cadre of 10 people in its management trainee program each year, it is unlikely that all 10 will perform well in the educational and mentoring phase. It is not unusual for two or three of the original 10 to be deemed unqualified to proceed to higher levels. Depending on why they did not make the cut, some candidates may be given advice on how to address their shortcomings and encouraged to apply to reenter the management trainee program in the future.

Once the final pool of candidates is selected, the company should arrange for a trial period, or internship, where the employee will be given many of the duties associated with the new job.

INTERNSHIP

More often than not, new managers are put into positions without proper preparation for the role. The internship period is an important part of the careful process of selecting the best managers to carry forward the leadership process for the organization. This period gives the future leaders an opportunity to put their acquired knowledge and skills into play.

This step in the new managers' preparation should not be left to chance, and must have structured, measurable learning and performance components. The trial period should last between six months and one year, depending on the company's need and the pressure for the employees to move into the full leadership role.

Because companies are typically eager to place employees as quickly as possible, this stage is sometimes skipped. That can cause problems later.

Executives should understand that while an employee may have performed well in assessments and in educational preparation, he or she may perform differently when placed in the job. In one of our client companies, an employee had performed very well in all assessments prior to being promoted. When that person was placed in the management position, however, it was quickly discovered that he did not work well with other employees and more training would be necessary before the employee could continue in the higher-level job.

During the internship phase, it is important to encourage seasoned managers to continue to mentor the neophytes. In addition, for the first year the new managers should be subject to a formal performance assessment every three months. These reviews and subsequent discussions provide an opportunity to correct behaviors before they become chronic or serious problems.

Assessment of managers should be an ongoing process even after the management interns have performed satisfactorily and have ascended to their new positions. That will help the company to ensure that its fledgling leaders continue to develop along the right leadership path.

Training tomorrow's leaders today is the best way for a company or a department to ensure long-term success.

BY BILLIE G. BLAIR, PH.D.
Dr. Blair is an organizational psychologist
and owner of the management consulting firm
Change Strategists, Inc.,
www.changestrategists.com

RELATED ARTICLE: Defining Leadership Characteristics

Change Strategists Inc. asked professionals to identify the best qualities of their favorite leaders. The following nine traits were commonly cited.

Personable/Empathetic - Good with people in all manner of positions
Highly Skilled - Knows the job and understands the business
Organized - Can be depended on to have critical information available
Straight Shooter - Honest and keeps staff informed
Dedicated - Works hard to complete all tasks and responsibilities
Loyal - Supports other employees and subordinates when merited
Good Communicator - Conveys the message successfully
Visionary - Envisions where the organization should be going and why
Motivator - Can convince employees to accomplish goals

 

From Society of Psychologists in Management

From Society of Psychologists in Management (SPIM) Newsletter, Summer 2008 edition: An interview with Management Consultant and local author, Dr. Billie G. Blair.
Dr. Blair, author of All the Moving Parts: Organizational Change Management, and CEO of the Management Consultant firm Change Strategists, Inc. is interviewed for SPIM Summer 2008 Newsletter. Dr. Blair states, "All organizations are undergoing constant and necessary change - some planned and controlled, some not. Some not even recognized until it is well underway or over! Regardless the change category you find yourself and your organization in Dr. Blair offers sage advice.
For the full interview: SPIM Interview