Alignment Solutions Newsletter: Do You Want to Espouse Excellence or Settle for Mediocrity?

January 27th, 2016


Do You Want to Espouse Excellence
or Settle for Mediocrity?

Alignment solution: Organizations that aspire to excellence yet fail to set themselves up for success are letting their customers and their employees down.

The mission or vision statements of many organizations make a commitment to service and/or product excellence. Ensuring excellence requires leaders to set their organizations and employees up for success rather than for mediocrity. Yet often the infrastructure required to meet this level of commitment is missing or woefully inadequate.

One way to achieve excellence is to develop and implement a viable succession process that ensures a pool of qualified individuals who are ready, able, and willing to fill critical vacancies throughout the organization. The alternatives tend to be either no process or a replacement approach that’s inconsistent, costly, and often mis-matches people and jobs, to the detriment of both customers and employees.

A viable succession process sets up individuals and agencies for success by providing a systematic framework within which people are able to get the training and development needed for them to be fully successful in their current and future jobs. It focuses on critical jobs and skills throughout the organization, not just at the top. It enables organizations to deliver on their promise of excellence.

Here’s why implementing a viable succession process enables excellence rather than mediocrity:

  • When the right people are in the right jobs, positive outcomes result – e.g., employee morale and productivity are high, customers are delighted, and profitability increases.
  • The establishment of a process to share and maintain an institutional memory ensures valuable information and expertise are preserved.
  • Providing a process for promotion from within is a powerful tool for attracting and retaining the best performers.
  • Organizations that rely heavily on customer relationships can provide the consistency their customers demand.
  • By continuously monitoring employees’ competencies against customers’ or technology’s needs, leaders are able to adapt more quickly to change.
  • Employees are set up to succeed because they are prepared for the jobs they are called upon to perform.
  • Espousing and delivering excellence increases customers’ and employees’ trust.

Leaders who truly aspire to excellence would be well served to develop and implement a viable succession process throughout their organizations. An effective succession process is scalable to the situation and the available resources, so there’s no excuse for failing to establish one. Leaders who are unwilling to do so need to move aside in favor of those willing to make good on their organizaton’s commitment to excellence.


If you’d like some ideas about how to educate yourself and others about the critical need for establishing a viable succession process in your organization, take a look at my articles How to Make a Compelling Case for Implementing a Succession Process and Succession Planning Myths and Realities. To find other articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com.


Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

Click here to Join Our Mailing List!


SM Icons
Line

© 2016 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: 3 Techniques for Enabling Personal and Professional Growth

December 30th, 2015


3 Techniques for Enabling Personal
and Professional Growth

Alignment solution: De-cluttering your life creates the space necessary for personal and professional growth. 

Personal and professional growth requires us to go outside our comfort zones. Yet many people can’t begin to test their boundaries because their lives are filled with time-consuming “stuff.” Here are three techniques that can help create the space necessary for your growth by de-cluttering your life.

Technique #1: Reflect on this statement: “Sometimes we need to let go of the good things in life to make room for the great things.”

Though I don’t know who originally made this statement, a colleague shared it with me years ago when I was considering a career change. Hesitant to move forward into the uncertainty of starting my own business, I was clinging to the security of my tenured university professor position because I truly enjoyed teaching, even though I knew it was time for me to move on. This advice helped me to make that transition, and since then, to make positive changes in other aspects of my life.

Try it: Imagine what great things might be in store for you once you make the space for them! Even when you’re not sure what they are, release one “good thing” and see what happens.

Technique #2: Ask yourself this question: “Does this [person, belief, activity, assumption, thing] still serve me well?” If the answer is “No,” release it.
           
Consciously or not, most human beings are collectors – of people, beliefs, assumptions, material goods. We tend to accumulate more and more “stuff” without periodically questioning whether we still want or need it. Our lives become unnecessarily cluttered. No wonder we feel overburdened!

Try it: Ask yourself the above question, inserting one word or name at a time. Answe truthfully. Repeat often. When the answer is “No,” release whatever or whomever nolonger serves you well.

Technique #3: Ask yourself this question: “Am I the only person in the world who can do this [task at hand]?” If the answer is “No,” delegate it!
           
There are many reasons why we tend to do things ourselves rather than delegate them. Sometimes it’s force of habit, or a means of procrastination. Sometimes we believe (falsely) that no one could do the task better or faster than we can. The list of excuses stretches on while we wonder why we don’t have any time to do the things we care about.

Try it: If you have trouble delegating tasks, change your mindset. Think of delegating as an opportunity to let others shine. For every task you don’t like, or aren’t that good at, or aren’t interested in, there are people who would jump at the chance to do it. Why not let them engage their interests, skills, talents, or abilities? You would be doing yourself and them a huge favor.

When we choose to stick with what we know, take on more than is necessary, and/or hold onto people or things that no longer serve us well, our growth is stunted and our quality of life suffers. Try any one of these three techniques today. You will discover that de-cluttering your life enhances its quality tremendously by enabling your personal and professional growth.

Best wishes for a year filled with great things!


To find articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com.


Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

Click here to Join Our Mailing List!


SM Icons
Line

© 2015 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: How to Re-set Unrealistic Workplace Expectations

December 9th, 2015


How to Re-set Unrealistic
Workplace Expectations

Alignment solution: You can set yourself and others up for success by re-setting unrealistic workplace expectations.

Unrealistic expectations have widespread negative repercussions in the workplace. They establish impossible standards that even high achievers who are consummate problem-solvers cannot meet. Yet people try anyway, often to their own and others’ detriment.

Employees trying to meet impossible standards may take short-cuts or give up altogether. As a result, morale drops, self-confidence plummets, resentment grows, trust (in oneself and each other) is eroded, and people begin to question their own competency. Stress increases when employees perceive that even heroic efforts are not good enough.

To re-set unrealistic expectations, there are two audiences you must address: yourself and your employees. Some actions to counter unrealistic expectations are common to both groups:

  1. Set reasonable expectations and standards up front.
  2. Quickly re-set impracticable expectations as they arise.
  3. De-bunk “facts” that reflect an altered reality.

Here are some audience-specific actions you can take to re-set unrealistic expectations:

Self:

  1. Develop a realistic mindset. Recognize and own the fact that you cannot do everything. Model that mindset through your language and your decisions.
  2. Distinguish clearly between what you can control and what you can’t. Focus on the former and release the latter. Teach others to do the same.
  3. Set reasonable goals for yourself – i.e., those that are attainable even though they may cause you to stretch.
  4. Resist the temptation to maintain a dual standard: an unrealistic one for yourself and another, realistic one for everyone else. People believe what you DO, not what you say. If you set yourself up for failure, you’re also doing so for others.

Employees:

  1. Establish a culture of resiliency that allows for “failure” and embraces mistakes as learning opportunities. Define “failure” as something other than an imperfect outcome.
  2. De-bunk the notion that 100% success is possible. Convey the message that not all projects or customer interactions will go perfectly despite everyone’s best efforts Replace this fallacy with the expectation that everyone will do everything possible within reason.
  3. When mistakes are made, have employees identify what they learned and how they can apply that knowledge in the future.
  4. When employees beat themselves up over a project or customer interaction that went badly, help them re-set their perceptions so they can remember what they did well, and the lessons they learned.

You can set yourself and others up for success by establishing realistic expectations and by consistently challenging those that are not. The workplace can be a stressful environment. Don’t make your and others’ jobs harder than necessary by setting, or allowing to others to create, impossible standards.


To find other articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com.


Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

Click here to Join Our Mailing List!


SM Icons
Line

© 2015 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: The Paradox of Compassion

November 11th, 2015


The Paradox of Compassion

Alignment solution: You cannot be truly compassionate toward others unless you first are kind to yourself.

Compassion has two components: a feeling of deep sympathy for others who have undergone misfortune, and a desire to alleviate their suffering. It is compassion that leads many people to join “helping” professions or volunteer for charitable causes. Some organizations that identify core values identify compassion as a quality that defines who they are, as an organization and as individuals. People feel proud that they serve others selflessly and with humility.

Yet most are fooling themselves: they are not fully compassionate.

The paradox of compassion is that you cannot be truly compassionate toward others unless you first are kind to yourself. There’s a reason why flight attendants tell passengers to put their own oxygen masks on first before helping others during an emergency: you can’t be part of the solution if you become part of the problem. Yet too many people fail to make regular self-care a priority. The problem: if donned consistently, the armor of selflessness masks the seeds of self-destruction. You don’t expect that a phone whose battery has run down will work, so why do you expect that you will be able to perform at full capacity and be fully present for, aware of, and caring toward others when you don’t take care of yourself?

The holidays highlight the conflict inherent in the paradox of compassion. During this time of heightened awareness of others’ plights and the sincere desire to mitigate their misfortune, people are particularly likely to put their own needs aside. At the same time that work and family demands may increase, they try to reach out to others in a special way to ease their lives. Their generosity stretches them to their limits and beyond. When something has to give – as it will – they generally cut back on their self-care, leaving themselves feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and perhaps guilty due to their lack of family time.

Here are twelve ways that you can be kind to yourself starting right now:

  1. When you begin to experience signs of stress, take a few minutes to engage in deep breathing or relaxation techniques.
  2. When you mess up, treat yourself the way you would a similarly situated family member or close friend.
  3. Embrace setbacks as learning opportunities, not as occasions to beat yourself up.
  4. Consistently engage in positive self-talk.
  5. Ask yourself what you did WELL in a given situation. Build on those actions or qualities to improve in the future.
  6. Listen to your body and act on its needs in a timely manner.
  7. Take a few minutes out of your day to notice and enjoy the simple things in life.
  8. Write a 60-minute appointment with yourself this week on your calendar. Make that time sacrosanct. Do whatever YOU want to do during that time. Then book another appointment for the following week. Over time, increase the number of self-appointments each week.
  9. Throw yourself a “pity party” as needed to honor negative emotions and release    them. Set a timer for 10 minutes. During that time, feel as sorry for yourself as you possibly can. When the timer goes off, the party is over and it’s time to move on. This technique is effective for releasing any negative emotion.
  10. Laugh often.
  11. Do something fun every day.
  12. Get an accountability partner. Ask each other one question every day: “How were you kind to yourself yesterday?” Answer the question without comments, excuses, or feedback.

What will YOU do to be kind to yourself today?


If you would like more ideas about how to take care of yourself, take a look at our article 31 No-cost Ways to Take Care of Yourself. To find other articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com.


Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

Click here to Join Our Mailing List!


SM Icons
Line

© 2015 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: Let’s Stop Excusing Bad Behavior and Harmful Outcomes

October 14th, 2015


Let’s Stop Excusing Bad Behavior
and Harmful Outcomes

Alignment solution: “Politically correct” language is a toxin that results in dysfunctional behaviors and outcomes. It’s time to replace it with candid conversations.

In today’s world, “politically correct” language has run amok, leaving dysfunction in its wake. Instead of engaging in candid conversations, people tiptoe around issues or situations for any number of reasons: they don’t want to upset others, they’re uncomfortable dealing with emotions, or they don’t want to jeopardize their personal interests. As a result, we allow poor performance and even “unacceptable” outcomes to flourish.

Examples of the toxicity of politically correct language and its dysfunctional outcomes abound in the news. Here are a few of the most recent:

The language The reality
   
A college football coach’s erratic public behavior was blamed on his having been “over-served” alcohol The coach drank too much and behaved in ways that hurt his team’s performance and the school’s reputation
Victims of violent crimes routinely are described as being “in the wrong place at the wrong time” A teenager shot and killed a student as she left her high school’s football game
City council members say, “The money to restore the closed engine companies isn’t available” City council members choose not to allocate sufficient resources to public safety
The Dodgers player whose controversial “hard slide” broke the leg of the Mets’ shortstop said, “That’s winning baseball” The player’s slide – acknowledged as late and high as well as “borderline dirty” – bolstered  the legitimacy of the damaging “win at all costs” mentality

Here’s the problem: politically correct language provides cover for those whose bad or illegal choices harm others because it excuses or rationalizes their actions. Failing to hold people accountable due to fear of being labeled politically incorrect creates a toxic work environment and opens the door to victimhood and feelings of helplessness and despair. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We have a choice: to continue to enable bad behavior and harmful outcomes by tolerating “political correctness” or to say “no” to victimhood by insisting on accountability. We start by using candid language that clearly reflects reality and refuses to excuse or rationalize bad choices and harmful outcomes.

Here are four steps you can take to enable candid conversations in your organization:

  1. Teach people the skills needed to have direct, honest, constructive conversations.
  2. Reinforce and reward those who engage in candid conversations.
  3. Hold everyone, including yourself, accountable for their decisions and behaviors.
  4. Let people know the benefits of candid conversations as well as the negative consequences of indirect or politically correct language.

If you would like to learn more about how a lack of candor can hurt your organization, and how you can realize the benefits of an environment in which candid conversations are the norm, take a look at our article Why and How to Drive the Political Correctness “Elephant” Out of Your Workplace. To find other articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com.


Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

Click here to Join Our Mailing List!


SM Icons
Line

© 2015 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: Communicator: A Critical Leadership Role

September 16th, 2015


Communicator: A Critical Leadership Role

Alignment solution: Becoming proficient in the skills required to be an effective communicator pays personal and professional dividends.

One of my workshops at a recent international conference, “Adaptive Leadership Roles for a Dynamic Environment,” identified and described four roles that leaders must fill if they are to be personally and professionally successful in today’s fast-paced world. The communicator role was first on the list, as its requirements are the foundation for leadership effectiveness.

Though the communicator role is not a new one for leaders, the realities of the dynamic environment in which we now operate have altered its required functions and skills. The topics, the communication media, and the need to educate stakeholders all have changed. For example, leaders must fulfill functions such as educator, marketer/brander, influencer, facilitator, relationship builder, cheerleader, story teller, consensus-builder, context changer, attentive listener, diversity embracer. They must work with stakeholders who are more diverse than ever, customers whose expectations about service are higher than before, and employees whose work-life priorities and choices may be at odds with organizational policies and procedures. They must rely on personal power much more than on position power.

At the same time that the demands of the communicator role are changing, the need for leaders who are proficient in these new functions and skills has never been greater. Unfortunately many leaders are poor communicators. They lose their audiences by focusing on activities rather than on results, by speaking in technical terms or jargon, by using contexts that are foreign to others, and by failing to tell a compelling story or present an irresistible offer. As a result, people are confused about what leaders want or need them to do, they aren’t inspired to take action, employees become disengaged, customer loyalty wanes, and personal relationships crumble. NONE of these outcomes is inevitable.

Here are seven steps you can take to improve your communication skills:

  1. Learn what skills the role of communicator requires.
  2. Assess your proficiency – not just your knowledge – in performing each skill.
  3. Prioritize the skills that you must improve.
  4. Take the steps necessary to increase your proficiency – e.g., through workshops, mentoring, coaching.
  5. Practice the skills at every opportunity.
  6. Ask for constructive feedback from those who are in a position to assess your performance and who will be honest with you.
  7. Teach the skills to others. 

Leaders who become proficient in the functions and skills required of today’s communicator role will find their lives become much easier – e.g., others are more likely to do what they want, they experience less conflict and more collaboration, their problem-solving efforts are more likely to be successful, and their work and personal relationship are more satisfying.


If you would like to learn more about the behaviors associated with the communicator role, and/or to determine your proficiency in them, take our self-assessment. To find leadership-related articles and other resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com.


Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

Click here to Join Our Mailing List!


SM Icons
Line

© 2015 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: Ingredients for Success: Characteristics of Effective Leaders

September 2nd, 2015


Ingredients for Success: Characteristics
of Effective Leaders

Alignment solution: Speakers at two fire and rescue leadership conferences identified a myriad of noteworthy characteristics of successful leaders that apply to those in any industry.

Although the topics at the annual conferences of the International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services and the International Association of Fire Chiefs in Atlanta were wide-ranging, they all had a common theme: helping their members lead effectively at the individual, team, agency, and community levels. Below are nineteen ingredients for leadership success that I took away from these two events. They are applicable to leaders in any industry.

Successful leaders are those who:

  • serve with humility, purpose, and compassion, and lead from the heart.
  • pro-actively set and guide the conversation and agenda in their field or industry.
  • enlist everyone in the organization in the “work” of leadership.
  • are proficient in navigating the internal and/or external political environment(s) in which they operate.
  • build capacity throughout the organization.
  • are “authentic chameleons” – i.e., adapt effectively to the environment while remaining true to themselves.
  • educate employees and customers about the value they provide, not just the products or services they offer.
  • have the courage to take action and stand up for what’s right.
  • engage in difficult conversations, and teach others how to do so.
  • develop long-term, trusting relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
  • make professional development a life-long priority.
  • support others’ commitment to continuous learning.
  • are able to influence others ethically.
  • become proficient in using versatility skills – i.e., role-shifting, personal style-shifting, skill-shifting, and perspective-shifting.
  • grow by regularly stepping outside their comfort zones.
  • are adept at changing the conversation by changing the questions.
  • choose to view the proverbial glass as half full because they understand that their mindset profoundly affects the way they live their lives.
  • discover and adopt best practices and research results that benefit their customers and organizations.
  • have the courage to step down when they no longer are willing or able to be the effective leaders their agencies and communities need.

How many of these characteristics describe you as a leader? Where are your opportunities for growth?


To find leadership-related articles and other resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com.


Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

Click here to Join Our Mailing List!


SM Icons
Line

© 2015 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: Lessons from the Special Olympics World Games

August 5th, 2015


Lessons from the Special Olympics World Games

Alignment solution: The Special Olympics World Games that just ended in Los Angeles offered valuable life lessons.

Held in the U.S. for the first time since 1999, the Summer Special Olympics World Games brought 6,500 athletes and over 2,000 coaches from 165 countries to Los Angeles for nine days of celebration and competition. More than 30,000 volunteers and 500,000 spectators cheered the athletes, who competed in 25 sports. Media reports say that 27 new world records were set during the Games.

Though the event was billed as the world’s largest sporting event in 2015, much more than athleticism was on display. The Special Olympics athletes’ oath sets the context: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Though the athletes love to win, the real test for them is whether they do their best.

In addition to enabling individuals with intellectual disabilities to compete in athletics, Special Olympics fosters acceptance by educating the public, offering support for athletes’ families, and providing training and medical care for its athletes free of charge. Those who attend Special Olympics events never forget the joy and inspiration they experience by watching the athletes compete.

Below are some of the attributes displayed by Special Olympics athletes. You may recognize them as being just as applicable to the workplace as they are to athletics. The athletes:

  • train hard.
  • are competitive when tested.
  • prioritize the team over the individual.
  • support and encourage their team members.
  • take pride in doing and being their best.

Here are some lessons that Special Olympics athletes can teach us:

Take the time to experience the joy in a job well done.

  • Celebrate the efforts as well as the victories.
  • Don’t allow others to define you because of perceived limitations.
  • Accept that doing your best, whatever the outcome, is good enough.
  • Don’t allow disappointments to overshadow or diminish the pride in the effort.
  • Have the courage to be yourself, and allow others to do the same.

Many businesses, non-profits, government agencies, and individuals are long-time supporters of their local Special Olympics organizations. Why not join them? Experiencing the camaraderie and joy expressed by Special Olympics athletes during their competitions is inspirational. I invite you to attend an event in your area. Take your kids or your grandkids. The experience will change your lives.

If you would like to read about what Special Olympics athletes can teach you about diversity, inclusion, and acceptance, take a look at our article Lessons in Inclusion from Special Olympics Athletes.


To find articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com.


Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

Click here to Join Our Mailing List!


SM Icons
Line

© 2015 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: Start Your Succession Process TODAY

July 15th, 2015


Start Your Succession Process TODAY

Alignment solution: Like the weather, everyone talks about succession but no one (or very few) does anything about it. For the good of your organization, it’s time to dump the excuses and start focusing on what you CAN do rather than on what you think you can’t do.

Recently I facilitated a workshop called “How to Develop and Implement an Effective Succession Process” for a group of executives. All of the participants, who represented a wide range of organization sizes and types, committed to taking action to implement a succession process. Why? Because they learned that there really are no excuses for failing to staff the critical jobs, provide the critical functions, and perform the critical skills that enable their organizations to achieve their mission and remain viable.

I define “effective succession process” as a long-term, systematic process for ensuring a pool of qualified applicants who can hit the ground running when vacancies arise in critical jobs, critical functions, and critical skills throughout an organization. Below are some common excuses for failing to implement an effective succession process, and reasons why they are not credible.

“I don’t have the resources.” A succession process is scalable. That means that whatever the situation in which you find yourself, you use the resources you have at hand while waiting for others to arrive (if and when they do).

“I can’t do everything an effective process requires.” There are elements of a succession process that EVERY organization can implement, regardless of its size or type (e.g., non-profit, public, private). Identify what you can do right now, and what elements can be done in the medium- and long-term. Succession is a process, not an event or task.

“It’s tough to justify resources for things people can’t see.” Educating decision-makers is a key leadership responsibility. Teach them that an organization without an effective succession process is unable to be fully successful in serving its customers and/or achieving its mission.

“I don’t have the time; I’m too busy putting out fires.” EVERY employee has a vested interest in succession, and each one has a role to play. Delegate tasks while retaining overall accountability and responsibility. Your organization’s viability and competitiveness depend on the extent to which it is able to staff critical jobs, provide critical functions, and perform critical skills.

“I’m working on a succession plan.” This is the deadliest excuse. Planning and implementation are two different concepts. Until you put the plan into action, your organization remains vulnerable.

It’s time to stop the excuses and start the implementation. Here are some steps you can begin to take TODAY:

  1. Identify the critical jobs, functions, and skills throughout your organization.
  2. Establish a formal or informal mentoring program.
  3. Create an expansive “big picture” or vision, and work backwards from there to identify what you can do to achieve it. Make that big picture the touchstone for everything you do.
  4. Put in place mechanisms to capture and share institutional knowledge so you’re not constantly re-inventing the wheel.
  5. Focus on what you CAN do instead of what you think you cannot.

To see what an ideal succession process might include, take our Succession Process Self-assessment. If you’d like to learn how to identify the critical jobs, functions, and skills in your organization, take a look at our article Organizational Effectiveness Triage.


To find articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com.


Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

Click here to Join Our Mailing List!


SM Icons
Line

© 2015 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: How to Preserve Institutional Knowledge

June 24th, 2015



How to Preserve Institutional Knowledge

Alignment solution: The loss of institutional knowledge can be a major threat to organizational success. Leaders can mitigate this vulnerability by developing and implementing a process to capture and share that knowledge effectively.

The elements of a perfect storm that threatens organizational success are in place. Since the recession, organizational downsizing has resulted in the loss of subject matter experts, whose years of institutional knowledge walked out the door with them. Many organizations lack effective succession processes that could help mitigate this vulnerability. And with so many demands on scarce resources, leaders often find it easier to allocate them to needs that are most visible, leaving even key behind-the-scenes processes for another day. 

One way to thrive despite this storm is to develop a process that reduces your organization’s vulnerability by retaining, sharing, and using its institutional knowledge. Ideally this process would exist within the context of a robust succession process. However, it also may be developed and implemented on its own. Here are eight steps for creating an effective knowledge management process:

  1. Specify a champion who has accountability for implementing this process
    This person must be an active advocate who has the authority to match the responsibility for capturing, sharing, and using institutional knowledge.
  2. Identify the desired information
    Ask questions such as, “What do the people in each job need to know, and how do they obtain that knowledge?” and “What problems have arisen? How have we resolved them successfully?”
  3. Prioritize the information
    List the information in order of importance and/or urgency. For example, if the only subject matter expert is retiring next month, obtaining the knowledge in his/her head goes to the top of the list. If a recurring problem results in a negative impact on the business, sharing and using the information needed to
    address it becomes a high priority.
  4. Determine where, and in what form, the information is located
    Who are the subject matter experts? Does the information currently exist – e.g., in a report tossed in someone’s drawer, in an old training manual?
  5. Identify various methods to obtain and preserve the information
    For example, interview your experts, document their relevant stories, have them demonstrate skills, allow employees to shadow them, and provide formal and informal mentoring opportunities.

    Train student interns or employees how to extract the information (e.g., conduct interviews) and have them transcribe the taped interviews. Provide them with a script that covers the what, how, and why.

  6. Share the information
    Create desk manuals, searchable knowledge briefs, process visuals, and YouTube videos. Discuss the information during staff meetings. Identify the learning points in stories. Specify what’s in it for people to learn and use the information. 

  7. Use the information
    Provide opportunities to practice the skills and apply the information, such as through job shadow programs and special projects.

  8. Evaluate the results and tweak the process as necessary
    Design evaluation into the knowledge management process so you are able to assess its success in reaching its stated goals.

Organizations that thrive use their resources effectively and efficiently. A viable knowledge management process will enable you to obtain and capture information on a regular basis, and to disseminate it through a variety of media. Don’t wait until people are walking out the door: start today.

To learn about how to create effective knowledge briefs, take a look at our article Knowledge Briefs: The Succession Planning Tool with Benefits.


To find articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com.


Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

Click here to Join Our Mailing List!


SM Icons
Line

© 2015 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.