Saturday, July 31, 2021

Leadership Role Needs

Leadership is always a hot discussion topic in spite of having a lot of theories and material available on it. There are different views, different opinions, and different theories, still organizations are struggling having the right leadership in place.. Every research, every survey done internally and externally has some views on the leadership. On the other hand, if you search “thought leaders” on LinkedIn, you will get millions of profiles which list leadership and thought leaders as a strength of those individuals. This is a contradiction.

Leadership is a behaviour. Leadership has to be proved in the organization, then only it gets the recognition. However, one of the flaws one can say is that leadership is subjective, it totally depends upon the organizational context. That’s why employees and managers working in MNCs are not interested in working in Indian companies and vice versa. In both organizations leadership behaviour expectations are different. The great leader in one company may be a failure in another company. However, a true leader is someone who is flexible, resilient, adaptable and adjusts his/her wavelength with any type of culture and atmosphere.

I would like to make the leadership simple for you if you are managing a team directly or indirectly.

In any organization, there are three overlapping needs that have to be focused by the leader. Fulfilling these needs is the right recipe of leadership. 

Task Needs: These needs are mainly related to the results leader and his/her function needs to achieve. This is a typical management function where you are expected to set up targets, define workflow, define the task, planning, briefing, controlling, etc. but moreover aligning the team with a larger purpose.

Team Needs: to achieve the task, you have to build and maintain the team. You need to identify the right talent which is diverse in your team. Your team needs to be cohesive but still diverse and should be able to work together.

Individual Needs: Here you have to understand the individual needs, their aspirations, motivation. It is good to understand what are the driving forces that are motivating employees to come to the job every day, what are their development plans and how they can contribute to achieve the tasks.  

Leadership is not a rocket science, you have to prepare your right recipe which can be cooked whenever required, but sometimes you also need to change it as per the context and create new one. You have to add other dimensions in the recipe as and when required. Your leadership behaviours are spices that make the recipe best to consume. 

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Change Management – Futuristic View

During the pandemic, organizations started to realize the value of their People Capital. Employees supported full heartedly to continue the business, took risk of the infection, few employees were working from home, however majority of the workmen were serving the people, working in factories, delivering food and groceries to the society. People become innovative and creative in designing their business models, creating support systems, and also helping their organizations. Of course, there was another black side where employees were laid off, their salaries were cut, and benefits were withdrawn. Unfortunately, In India, we have a huge unemployment rate, people will forget their actions and they will still get employees in normal course.   

But it is clear that professional organizations have to take the people centric approach. The pandemic is also bringing a lot of change management initiatives, digitalisation projects etc, but employees are also expected to demonstrate new behaviours.

So, what should be the approach of leaders and HR professionals during and after the pandemic in change management?  

In any change, we have two aspects, emotional and rational.

Rational aspects are easy to manage, emotional aspects are difficult. Project failures are more when emotional aspects are not managed properly. Hence during any change initiative, one of the pillars in change management should be dedicated to the people. Generally, it is done, but most of the time, the importance is not given much. You will find 3 types of people anywhere, in society, community, or organizations.

Optimistic: in spite of having setbacks and their bad experience in earlier changes, these people are optimistic about the future. They give another chance and are instrumental in creating the positive atmosphere around them. Be with them and make them allies. They may be your opinion makers in the organization.

Pessimist: of course, these people are negative and always see the worst part of everything. They believe that the worst will happen from any change. These people are troublemakers.

Sitting on Fence: Majority people will sit on the fence without any positive or negative opinion. They watch, observe, and then decide what to do or to whom to support. If you ask them to do something during the process, they will do it depending upon their interest or they will do it half-heartedly.  Most of the time, these people will not communicate what they feel or how they see the change. Few people choose to sit on the fence because of insecurity or fear. You need to take these people along and ensure that they are communicated and heard properly. They need a strong story to change.

While working on different change projects or initiatives I have learnt a few things. During the change process, people have some expectations as under:

Alignment: Generally, most of the employees have a desire to understand the context for the work they do and understand how they make a difference. 

Involvement: Majority of employees who have a good attitude want to be part of the game and the bigger picture. They want to be involved where their work is affected, and they go beyond their routine tasks and responsibilities.

Attachment: Most of the employees have emotional attachment to the organisation and the work it does. They want to be consulted and respected. They want their emotional attachment to be recognised.

What is said is done: They expect to walk the talk. They expect that there is an alignment of what is said and what is done.

To fulfill those expectations, we need a powerful gear-set.

We need to change the gear at the appropriate time based on the culture and psyche of the organization. Psyche is a collective spirit of the organization. I have used the following gears while implanting any change in the organization.

Organizational gears 

Organization has to do some homework while designing the gear-set. The lever has three gears, i.e., awareness, purpose, and values.  

If you see the following gear diagram, first gear is always bigger as if awareness is created properly, shifting to the next gear is not that difficult.
Organizational gear-set
Once we do it, we need to communicate to employees what is expected from them during any change initiative or while implementing any project. We have to design those gears, assemble, and create another gear set. This gear set has to be handed over to employees through workshops and constant communication sessions.

Gear-set for employees:  
Gear-set for employees
These two gear-set are the part of the whole organizational change management project. Those go hand in hand. You have to handover those gears to the right people in the organization. Most of the strategies, projects failed because those gears are not designed properly, and the right people are not deployed for designing and changing those levers. The crucial thing is how you use the lever and shift the gears at the right time.

The problem is that the speed of the project is not dependent on the sequential shift of gears. You have to switch the gear back if required.

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Control or influence

Sometimes, some situations disturb us a lot. Those situations make us unhappy. Some situations have an impact on our life. Few years back, I had to face the labour unrest in one of the plants. There was a deadlock on the charter of demand and wage increase, which they were expecting. The organization was fair, and these all workmen were treated like family members. They were given all benefits from the day they joined. They were treated the same as white collar employees. However, they still approached the political party and formed the union. The political leader who was guiding them was expecting the favour from the company. It was not possible to entertain those union leaders. However, the management team was unhappy with the situation. Finally the organization decided not to budge on their demands which were unrealistic. This situation created unnecessary pressure on managers and their supervisors. They never experienced such a hostile situation in the past.

Once we realised that the hostile situation was because of certain reasons, I started to interact with workmen and supervisors informally. Further we established a cross functional team specially to manage this situation. It was necessary to build the trust and courage within the employees. Most of them were not interested in creating the issue to the organization and were expecting to resolve the issues asap.

When approaching a problem or any situation, it is important to break down the aspects of each situation so you can better understand how to approach the situation or event. Breaking it down can help you better understand your potential approach instead of engaging in unproductive issues and unnecessary disappointments.    

We started training and educating people on the following aspects.

  • Response of both parties to a situation
  • What aspects we both can control
  • And how can we engage, educate and empower them to deal with  

First part was more complex as we were dealing with human reactions.  We engaged everybody including internal union office bearers. During the situation we started discussing what is in control of local management and what is not, further we also discussed what is in control of workmen and union office bearers. This started breaking the ice. We also listed all the good points and benefits the organization was offering and how nicely workmen and union is cooperating. It took time, but workmen started reflecting. Finally, we agreed that we can control the situation and we don’t need to go for coercive actions. Workmen realised that the intentions of the management are good. This built the trust. 

We agreed the model with the union as per the following,

Situation >> Influence or Control >> Response >> Accept

During discussions, we always had an empathetic approach while dealing with the office bearers and workmen. We were aware that they were misled. Every point of the charter was discussed on this ground. During the process, we also discussed that if we don’t agree what will be the consequence on the organization and relationship. If they want to take it to the next level or escalate things like disciplinary actions, agitations, going for conciliation, going slow etc. what will be the long impact on both. Of course this was presented with facts, figures and examples. 

Within a month we signed the MOU and within 15 days all clauses from both sides were implemented.  After that we signed the CLA happily.         

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga 

Friday, July 09, 2021

Influencing without authority

(Source of image: https://arbre.je/2017/08/21/the-power-of-positive-influence/)

Being a team leader or manager doesn’t mean that you get the authority to do what you wish or what you think. After taking a role, within a few days, managers realise that nothing is in their control, especially when they are working with a networked and large organization. In a knowledge economy where your knowledge has value, you need to influence them with mindfulness. It is not an easy job nowadays. There are a lot of high-level individual contributor roles where you have to work cross functionally with different people where the team comes together for common purpose. In both cases, you have to influence others to get the job done. As organizations are becoming more matrix and web, there is no other option but to work in the ecosystem where you are successful only when you coordinate, collaborate, and consolidate.

You can make it by:

Coordinating: You have to invest your energy to coordinate with different stakeholders for informing, interacting, and educating them on your initiatives. Once you create a situation where coordination is smooth, it is easy for you to collaborate.

Collaborating: Once you are successful in coordinating, you can expect some reciprocation from others. In the collaborating stage, you set up a context, agenda, and expectations. In this stage, you need to create a common purpose. Your compelling story will create a more appealing purpose.

Consolidating: In consolidation, you work on common strength, complement each other’s strength, and support each other in case of development areas. Here you take actions of combining a number of things into a single more effective or coherent way.        

Once you consolidate your relationship with others your influencing journey starts. To become a truly effective influencer you must be able to choose the best ‘influencing mode’ for any situation and use that mode skillfully. You can choose your influencing mode based on your relationship and where you are, i.e., in coordination, collaboration or consolidation stage.

You can use your “influencing mode” in three ways,

Driver mode: If you set up your purpose and both are aligned, then you can use this mode. It’s about what you, the influencer, think and feel, and what you want. It’s about expressing that to another person in a way that shapes their subsequent behaviour.

When used well, people may refer to you as dynamic, someone who drives things forward. However, use your driving style properly. If you are too pushy in driving mode, people may not feel comfortable, and they may feel that you are trying too hard, and they may be defensive.   

Peacemaker mode: You can use this mode when you want to influence the person towards a common goal but in an amiable way. It’s about focusing on other people and what they need, want, or expect of you. Whilst you may not agree with them, you genuinely want to understand what they are thinking and feeling. However, be careful while using this. People may perceive you as a manipulator if you overuse this.  

Withdrawer mode: In this mode, you don’t think that interacting with another person is going to be productive for time being and hence you give the space to others. You withdraw from the conversations. However, if you decide to do it tactically and temporarily, your style may be considered constructive, but if you use this mode to abandon your influence purpose, it is unproductive. Use this wisely.    

You have to influence every day and every time when you are interacting with your team, with your manager or peers. However, when you don’t have direct control or authority you need to be more agile while dealing with different types of people. Emotional intelligence still remains an important skill while influencing when you don’t have any official position. Along with your skills, competences, and knowledge, you also need to think about your behavioural style while influencing others.    

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga 

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