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Q&A
Two departments were put together – how can we make sure, that everybody supports the new strategy?

COMMITMENT TO A SHARED STRATEGY AFTER REORGANIZATIONS

The combination of departments and other interventions in the structural and process organization – as self-evident, reasonable and logical as they may be – represent an immediate break in the working environment of those affected.
To overcome this break, it is recommended to apply consistent and planned procedures from the very beginning.

Using a proven structured approach for this purpose, for example the 8-Step Process for Leading Change by J.P. Kotter, supports managers in proactively exercising their role as leaders in this situation. Supporting the new strategy, is not only an important element to ensure that success can be realized through the restructuring, but also a link for the integration of the new team.

These are the 4 appeals to Change Leaders:

1. Prepare the team!
The necessity of change must generally be noticeable and plausible, long before a decision is made as to what will be changed. Letting an appropriate and trustworthy team work out the status quo together will later facilitate the acceptance of the decisions made as a consequence.

2. Decide what needs to be done!
This team develops a target for issues/departments affected by restructuring and works out the strategic path to get there in accordance with the overarching strategy. New general processes are defined and only afterwards the structures, for example merging departments, are decided accordingly.

3. Make it possible!
Targeted communication of the current necessity and the future mission conveys the reason of the change, thus creating the framework; strategic measures show the possible path leading to this future. In order to create commitment, it is important to establish an immediate reference to the situation of the individual, both in terms of the expectations placed on them and in terms of their ideas and creative leeway as part of the strategic orientation and the benefit they draw from it. Encouraging the persons involved to help shape the definition of the new roles and tasks, turns them into participants right from the beginning. Support during the first implementation steps ensures change and provides the change leaders with information about necessary corrections in due time. As eliminated obstacles and first successes of the new procedures are made visible, the necessary implementation role models are created. Personnel decisions that need to be made are transparently based on the new requirements.

4. Make sure it keeps working!
Giving up a controlling glance at the change process too early often means declaring victory too early. Sustainability is ensured by consistent adaptations of all necessary framework conditions and targeted and visible reactions to blockages.

ARGO has long-standing experience in consulting and the implementation of change processes in different industries, on different occasions and in different dimensions of change.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for details: b.thoma@argo.at

Q&A
All of them are Top Sellers - but will they be good Leaders in Sales too?

SALES MANAGER

Years of experience in working with sales organizations indicate that very few top sales people succeed in making the transition to become a good sales leader. The intentions of recruiting them are always comprehensible: the allocation with specific understanding in Sales, the opportuntity for the team to learn from the best, rewarding the enhanced person and to bind him/her and of course to allocate someone who has earned the respect of the team due to his/her proven sales competences.
Nevertheless, after a few months the results and motivation had decreased instead of increased – let’s get to the point:

A great seller is lost and at the best – an average manager has been won!

Let’s point out the three main reasons:

1. Focus on the role:
Newly appointed sales managers fail to make the transition from focusing on themselves to focusing on others. They still focusing on themselves, their results, and on their own customers – act like lone warriors – they exactly do what has led them to be successful till now. It is not unusual, that these managers sometimes bring more than 70% of the overall result of the team. Developing people and then being successful if it is the team, an thus only indirectly having more influence on results, is a comprehensive change in the understanding of the own role.

2. From operational tasks to strategic thinking:
Young sales managers often fail to make the transition from operational tasks (sales calls, writing offers, negotiating…) to more abstract strategic tasks (sales strategy, organization, planning, developing others, coaching, Key Account Management, territory management, …). That is why many sales managers usually use a combination of a pacesetting and directive Leadership Style. This gets obvious when you ask them to explain the process of how they achieve success: The will answer: “I don’t know. I’m just successful. Watch me doing it, and try to follow!” Team members who whether can learn through observation, nor can approach tasks with the same personal strengths, obviously will not be led to success.

3. Personal motives:
The tasks that come with being a manager – even if they are clear and feasible for the new manager – are not the ones that he or she really likes to do. So after being proud and motivated by the promotion and its benefits, reality is less tempting: Dealing with problems of employees, encouraging, challenging and controlling them and working on conceptional issues might not be the preferred line of action.

If you want to find the right candidate for a new sales manager position, we suggest that you don’t concentrate on the sales figures of candidates. Search for a person with a good combination of organizational skills and people development skills. Who is good at organizing their territory and sales activities? Who is optimizing their sales process and everyday activities? Who is able to think and plan ahead more than one quarter?
When you find such a person, no matter if he or she is the best sales person or not, give them the opportunity to mentor and develop a team member. If he/she shows that they are able to develop other people to become more successful in sales, you’ve got your candidate for the sales management position!

You may offer him/her a “Transition Coaching” to support your ideal candidate that he/she is able to grow into the new role – and nothing holds you back from your common success.

ARGO has a long-standing experience in the development of sales managers and provides assistance in the whole selection- and the transition process, as well as in team- and leadership development programs!

Please do not hesitate to contact me for details: b.thoma@argo.at

Q&A
In our company every department does its own thing, different rules apply everywhere - does that make sense?

CORPORATE CULTURE AND TEAMBUILDING

Yes – and no:
Team-specific rules shape identity and are therefore important for cohesion and the sense of belonging to the team. But like any identity, it is defines deferral of the environment.

So YES, team-specific rules make sense as description of the quality of cooperation. “How shall we deal with eache another? How do we solve conflicts? What do we decide together, what is a management issue? What do internal communication paths look like? What is e-mail and what is personal communication? What are the response times?” etc. If these rules have been expressed and all team members are familiar with them, they can be conveyed to those who join as new members or, as the case may be, revised together in their integration process, revived or even adapted.
They can also be communicated to interfaces or adjusted to differing rules of the community, for example, an internal team response time may differ from one applicable throughout the company.

And NO, different rules make little sense and often cause conflict if they are not explicit and agreed, and therefore only turn out to be different when the situation arises: a colleague from a different department automatically approaches topics with a different understanding; a new colleague needs time and learns from mistakes in order to find the relevant “correct” rules. The Team Members themselves have a vague understanding of these rules and their interpretation, rules are made unconsciously, and therefore they are often not necessarily based on factual requirements, etc.

Teambuilding always works on creating a shared identity, an identity which is understood as a healthy part of a greater organism. The triggering event may be “being curious to get to know” a new group, addressing the “dealing with known differences more consciously” or promoting the “working on nonverbal conflicts” in a motley group.

ARGO has a long-standing experience with different methods – from cognitive to experience-oriented approaches – to support Teambuilding processes from various starting positions!

Please do not hesitate to contact me for details: b.thoma@argo.at

Q&A
Employee surveys make sense – but will I be any wiser afterwards?

VALIDATION OF EMPLOYEE SURVEYS

Asking employees for their opinion is a valuable and at the same time highly sensitive management intervention: being asked raises expectations that the answer will be taken into consideration. In addition, attention is drawn to the topic addressed. This can be utilized and should be taken into account when choosing the corresponding methods, processes and focus topics.

Focus on Topics

The question what exactly I would like to have an answer to and what I want to use it for is often more difficult to answer than it is naturally asked. A good consultation dialogue in the run-up is indispensable in order to clarify again whether a survey at a given time makes sense, which method is ideal and what needs to be considered in the process.

Method

1. Personal vs. Anonymous:
There are several different types of surveys which are based on personal conversation (individual interviews, focus groups, etc.). The advantage here is the maximum flexibility, which can be used to address the topics that come up. Furthermore, the interactive aspect is another source of information in all group settings, thus also creating a topic-related network of employees. This benefit stands in contrast to an increased need for the confidence that the results are not carried on in a personalized way. Using these methods, you cannot claim representativeness, even though this issue can be addressed with a well-chosen quota scheme of those invited.

2. Qualitative vs. Quantitative:
Even if an anonymous survey is chosen, this question is essential. In extensive status enquiries the qualitative question asking “Why?” may not be relevant. However, if you don’t want to do without it, it must be clarified whether open, qualitative questions may be asked and especially how they can be evaluated. Quite often the original text of the responses is taken over unchanged as a list. In addition to an unsorted plethora of responses, the traceability back to the respondent based on style of writing, expression etc. may overturn anonymity, which may lead to a loss of trust and disputes.

3. Survey Process
The way in which highly sensitive issues (i.e. opinion polls) have been carried out and how the results are further treated, signalize the style of communication and culture of the organization. To take every opportunity to communicate the positive aspects, will increase the use of the survey beyong their findings.

ARGO has long-standing experience and different methods – from setting, developing, conducting and completing surveys, especially on basis of the core competencies in the field of personnel- and organizational development.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for further information: b.thoma@argo.at

Q&A
We want a new appearance in the market - how can that work with our people?

STRATEGY-COMPLIANT MARKET APPEARANCE

A new market appearance, making new brand values visible, also means to make the desired qualities visible in the people’s behavior. To turn all employees of a company from affected parties into involved parties – this can be achieved in two steps:

1. People want to know, what is expected of them!
Kick-Off workshops will give clarification and at the same time, significant barriers at the beginning can be overcome. Besides the central question of how the new brand strategy can be converted into visible behavior from the perspetive of each group, primarily with objections and retentions will have to be dealt with.

The 6 levels of change, based on the model of: R. Dilts, G. Bateson, provide an overview of how to deal with this. The objective is to anchor the desired change at all levels:

a) Environment:
Clarify why environmental conditions, i.e. market conditions, make the planned change necessary.

b) Behavior:
Work out exactly which behavior, in context to each team is necessary and coherent.

c) Capabilities & framework conditions:
Support and initiate, that this behavior can also be shown, concerning both the competency of the individuals and the resources and capability, which are procured by the organization.

d) Values & beliefs:
Differentiate opposing generalizing beliefs.

e) Identity & identification:
Link individual identities with the new role.

f) Purpose:
As the innermost, personal level, employees who cannot agree with the new code of conduct can only half-heartedly support the change. However, if all other levels are edited correctly, only few persons will stay behind here!

2. People do what they just do!

Social Norm-building is one of the most powerful group dynamic phenomena, recorded in the Asch Experiment in 1950 and has since been repeated unlimited numbers of times.
The positive impact:
The more it is made visible, how members of an organization follow the new forms of behavior, the more self-evident this gets for one’s own behavior.

ARGO has long-standing experience in turning adopted changes into visible behavior of employees!

Please do not hesitate to contact me for details: b.thoma@argo.at

Q&A
Our development programs are good, but their implementation is not really taken seriously. How can we strengthen commitment and output?

IMPROVING OUTPUT

It takes people’s personal motivation, their commitment, to show certain behaviors. However, to ensure that action is actually taken and output is generated, suitable framework conditions and the corresponding capabilities are required as a complement and basis.

Strengthening output addresses exactly those two factors, which you can influence. Each of these points are essential, the more they are achieved, the better the performance:

1. Make sure that the training programs point out specific behavior and train skills. This step is rarely taken back in everyday life.

2. Offer follow-up events which do not deal with any new content, but rather case supervisions based on what has been learned. Repetition is neurophysiological prerequisite for anchoring of new behavioral automatism.

3. Check whether the behavior learned fits in with the framework of the organization and whether the participants of the event are aware of it:

a. Linking the content taught with strategically relevant competencies in order to clearly signal benefits.

b. Communication of the anticipated results linked to the development investments on basis of the strategic background.

c. Briefing managers of the participants about their role during the program.

d. Conveying the core concepts taught to these managers in order to create the same understanding and language, and top achieve model behavior (see also point g.!).

e. Assessments prior to the program in order to give feedback to the candidates on their current performance in these competencies.

f. Placing individual focus during the program regarding the results of these assessments.

g. Evaluations assessment or audit in order to show participants their progress and to make them comprehensible for their managers.

h. Honor participants, who exemplary implement the new behavior, in order to support social norm building.

ARGO has long-standing experience in many different industries and company cultures, both in developing and realizing implementation-oriented training concepts and to providing advice regarding the related framework conditions!

Please do not hesitate to contact me for details: b.thoma@argo.at