5 Ways 'Change' is Something to be Grateful For

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Winter is taking over where fall left off, and the Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner. This time of year we are compelled to give thanks, to look at life from a place of gratitude. 2018 has been a year of change for me, and I suspect I am not alone. Change can be wanted or necessary, but that doesn't make it less hard or stressful. Change is a process that requires us to evolve, to allow more of ourselves to emerge. Whatever the change you've experienced this year, here are 5 ways change is something to be grateful...
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Generations of Change

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“Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went 
before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” — George Orwell With the recent mid-term election, the generations and their differences are back in the headlines. The 'make America great again' sentiment is an invitation to those who long for simpler times of days past. Rhetoric calls for a return to an old set of values, as if those values have somehow disappeared. An underlying claim that the American Dream, as defined by the Traditionalist generation, no longer exists drives a need to place...
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Change: Resistance or Readiness?

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Change resistance is a human condition. We all experience it to some extent. Resistance is based on the level of disruption of change -- which is different for each individual. A change that creates a high disruption for one person may seem insignificant to another. Change resistance shows up in a variety of different ways. Push-back is one way. Other examples are avoidance, delay and outright sabotage. While resistance can be logical -- based on a lack of information or understanding, resistance is primarily emotional -- rooted in feelings of fear, anxiety, or loss. One manager I know did not...
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Change and a 4-Letter Word: Help!

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My friend, Mike, toured a Toyota plant a 5-6 years ago. He remembers the group came upon a group of workers addressing a problem. The workers assigned to that task had a problem and had flipped on their "andon" light -- a signal they needed help. Other workers had come to help. When the problem was resolved, the helpful workers returned to their stations, the andon was set to its original "go" position, and work continued. Watching the scene, another man on the tour blurted, "That would never happen at my plant." Startled and curious, Mike asked, "What do you...
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Leadership, Character, and the "Man in the Mirror"

I was promoted into my first supervisory role 18 years ago. I was the training supervisor for our ERP project team and had 3-4 people reporting to me. About nine months in, Alice, one of my direct reports, set a meeting with my supervisor to tell her how horrible I was as a supervisor. To her credit, my manager asked Alice if she would be willing to tell me directly how she felt. Alice and I met for 90 minutes. For 90 minutes Alice described everything I had done to undermine her success and to ruin her self-esteem. I listened,...
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Leading Change: Brownies, Boulevard Trees and an Old Office Chair

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I sat with the others, waiting for the meeting to start. Our leader was checking people in, each taking their turn on the scale after removing belts and accessories -- anything that might help that result look better. When we were all settled in, she began the meeting, asking if anyone had questions or concerns we needed to discuss right away. Someone behind me raised their hand. "I don't think I can do this," she said. "On this program I can't eat a pan of brownies anymore." We were in a weight loss group. Eating a pan of brownies in...
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Change and the Troublesome Employee, part 3

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In part 1, we met Jerry, a production employee who seemed like a troublesome employee, but with compassion, conversation and time, was able to engage, catch up, and contribute positively to the continuous improvement (CI) movement at his company. In part 2, we met Nancy, a woman who struggled to accept change because she lacked self-esteem. That brings us to Part 3. (Side note: Somehow I skipped part 3 and already published part 4... my mistake!) Meet Brian. Brian is a sales rep. He has been mildly successful as a sales person. Out of the dozen sales reps at the...
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Change and the Troublesome Employee, part 4

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What if that troublesome employee -- the one that pushes back, or wants to slow down, or needs every detail ironed out before moving ahead -- what if that employee was doing you a favor ? What if that employee wasn't an obstacle, but instead, a blessing? We can be quick to label the people who don't come on board with our vision right away. I say "we" because I've been there. Back when I was part of my company's lean team, we had strategy meetings about how to deal with specific individuals -- whether we should force them to...
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Structure, Discipline & Change

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Structure is a necessary tool for change. It has taken me a long time (longer than I care to admit) to accept this truth. I've understood it as a concept, but resisted taking it to heart. But where I have struggled to make change in my work and life, I have also resisted or rejected structure. I can point to situations when I have achieved temporary results by following structure. But then I threw out the structure -- and lost the discipline it helped create. It's not a coincidence that where I have resisted or rejected structure, I have had...
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Change and the Troublesome Employee, part 2

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Ten years ago I was sitting in a business lobby, waiting for a client, when flowers were delivered to the front desk. It was a large, colorful and fragrant bouquet in a clear glass vase with a red ribbon. The delivery person told the receptionist who they were for and headed back out to his truck. The receptionist smiled and paged the recipient to the front desk. Minutes later, a woman hesitantly approached the desk. I assumed, based on her apparel, she worked on the shop floor. She looked concerned, even confused about why she was being paged. The receptionist...
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Coaching is a Structure for Change

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Why does anyone need a coach? The one characteristic common to all high performing individuals, from executives to athletes, is the fact that they all have a coach. Why? Coaching is a structure for change. Structure is essential if you want to make change stick. Without the right structure to support it, change won't happen or be sustainable. Structure helps us to focus; it also serves as a trigger for new behavior patterns. Structure provides a guide for desired behavior, but also a way of getting feedback. As the old saying goes, "you get what you inspect, not what you...
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Change and the Troublesome Employee (part 1)

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Change requires focus, commitment, and a willingness to be uncomfortable. As leaders, it's our job to clear away obstacles to change. As much as we want people to trust us and go along with us, that isn't realistic for everyone. Some of us need more information, others want direct involvement in decisions. Others want to be heard , to know that their input is valued by their leader and their company. In my experience, most companies have at least one employee who they can count on to disagree with and be upset by any change that is introduced. I remember...
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Arguing for Your Excuse? Use This Tool for Change

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All success starts with change. To make something better, you have to look at the present situation, decide to make a change, then improve and grow. Success comes as a result of improvement and growth, but the process starts with change. If you want to improve business results, you first must accept that your present situation is not cutting it and you need to change to improve. Embracing change goes beyond the "decision" to change. You must experience a change in yourself -- a shift in your thinking, in your wants, and in your willingness to be uncomfortable as you...
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3 Human Obstacles to Meaningful Strategy

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Most organizations have a strategy that includes a vision of what they are working to become, a shorter term mission supported by initiatives and goals, and a set of values that guides how they work and behave in the world. The strategy provides structure to promote desired change. When unwanted or unexpected changes happen, organizations look to their strategy for guidance and support to work through the adversity. People can do this, too. Having a strategy & defined core values can help keep you stable and more resilient when change doesn’t go your way. Three basic reasons people shy away...
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When Change Doesn't Go Your Way

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Sometimes things change in a way you don’t like, want, or expect. I refer to this as getting “lifed” — life just throws a major curve ball and you find yourself suddenly having to deal. This can happen at work — a big announcement, a favorite leader leaving the company, a horrible new boss, or being given the opportunity to go be successful somewhere else. It definitely happens outside of work — and, well, that list of possibilities is pretty endless. These are the kinds of changes that rock your world , the kind that make you ask the big...
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Buying-in to Change: An Affair of the Heart

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Read any sales or marketing book and somewhere in there the author will remind you that selling is a logical process, but buying is an emotional process . To buy, your prospect must “feel” that what you offer is not only able to help solve his problem, but also that yours is the right and best solution. When it comes to selling change within an organization, you may also need to demonstrate and sell that there is a problem to solve in the first place before you move on to providing a solution. It is pretty common to hear supervisors,...
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Change and the F-Word: Feelings

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There is a subject people often find uncomfortable to talk about, especially in business, despite being a universal human experience: feelings.   I often say “Feelings” is the F-word of business.   You might be surprised to hear how many different feelings come up when we discuss the topic of feelings in leadership workshops. Just the mere mention of the subject can bring out feelings of anger, frustration and irritation in participants. But though we don’t like to talk about it, we all have feelings. In fact, we even have feelings about our feelings — and about everyone else’s feelings....
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Building Change Agility with "Time Under Tension"

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Time Under Tension (TUT) is a concept used in personal physical training. The basic concept is that you increase muscle transformation with increased time under tension. For example, rather than just lift and lower a weight, which takes about 3 seconds, you could use a 6-count to double the muscle’s "time under tension," lifting for 1 count, holding the weight for 2 counts, and lowering the weight for 3 counts. Exercise bands can be used this way as well, keeping tension in the bands the entire time while performing an exercise. Using time under tension methods for weight lifting builds...
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Five Steps to Reduce Noise & Get Focused

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Do you and your team get bogged down with “noise” that you are compelled to respond to but results in missed targets or opportunities? It’s one thing to be distracted from time to time, but another to continuously struggle to maintain focus on the most important, highest priority strategies, goals and metrics. We already know that structure is required for change ( The Essential Role of Structure — and Why We Hate It ), and that if you want to change something you have to change something. But where to start? With what kind of structure? What does that even...
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Money on the Table: Why You're Not Getting Full ROI on Your SMART Goals

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Last week’s blog, The Essential Role of Structure -- and Why We Hate It, focused on structure as a necessary tool for meaningful, sustainable change. A common structure used in business to drive change is the SMART (Specific, Measurable Attainable, Realistically-high, Time-bound) Goal , though most leaders don’t think of goal-setting in that way. Instead, goal setting is an event and a means to a very specific end. People are actually very natural goal setters. We learn the behavior as kids, doing everything from learning to use the toilet, to riding a bike, to learning to read. Schools are founded...
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