Archive for November, 2009

7 Tips for Setting Priorities Successfully

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

One set of skills that is critical in any organization is that of setting, aligning, and implementing priorities. These skills are particularly important today, as organizations struggle to “re-group” in the aftermath of radical changes caused by the economic downturn.

To gain some insight into these skills, I conducted a series of interviews with experts in this area, both first responders (e.g., from law enforcement, the fire service, an emergency aid agency) and non-first responders (e.g., business turnaround expert, professional organizer, fighter pilot turned entrepreneur). While each individual shared some unique perspectives, there were common themes as well. Here are seven elements based on those themes that you might find helpful in informing the process by which you set, align, and implement priorities.

  1. Identify and communicate a clear vision.
  2. Engage in advance planning.
  3. Build flexibility into your plans and processes.
  4. Develop trusting work relationships.
  5. Require leaders to set the example they want others to follow.
  6. Ensure the commitment of every person involved.
  7. Communicate clearly and frequently.

For in-depth explanations of these seven elements, please see the related article From Chaos to Calm: The Experts’ Guide to Setting Priorities on the Business Alignment Strategies web site.

© 2009 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Organizational Renaissance

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

“Business as usual” is a thing of the past. In the aftermath of budget cuts, furloughs, and layoffs that changed the way most organizations conduct business, the urgent questions facing executives, business owners, and managers are, “How do we effectively position ourselves for sustainable success? And how do we do so in an environment of tight budgets?”

The economic downturn has provided a unique opportunity for organizations to (1) take a close look at what they are doing, how they are doing it, and why they are doing it, and then (2) either re-affirm the path they are on or choose a new one. Most individuals understand that because the way we do business has been altered drastically, workplaces necessarily have undergone substantial changes. While they don’t like many or most of the adjustments that have occurred as a result of economic uncertainties, employees are less resistant to workplace changes than they have been in the past. However, the current window of opportunity is closing quickly: by the time the economy turns around, it will have slammed shut. That is, as conditions begin to improve, many employees are likely to conclude – incorrectly – that “business as usual” has been restored, and that previous practices will return as well. Thus the flexibility and understanding they exhibited will disappear, past positions again will become entrenched, and employees will be very resistant to change.

What this scenario means is that right now you truly have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to purposefully examine who you are as an organization and how you want to operate. I call the process of making a purposeful choice and embarking on the journey to achieve this vision Organizational Renaissance™. Renaissance may be defined as a renewal of life or interest, a re-birth. It aptly describes the choice facing organizations today: will they take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence to examine their purpose and act on their findings, or will they allow it to pass them by? Will they choose to thrive in the coming years, or will they settle for mere survival?

If you are serious about seizing the current short-term opportunity to focus on elements that will enable you to engage in your own Organizational Renaissance™, you may want to consider six critical success factors that will help your organization thrive. While these factors do require changes in behavior, they can be implemented with little or no financial cost.

1. Fully successful employees
2. Courageous leaders
3. Building community
4. Empowering choices
5. An appreciative culture
6. Tools and practices that engage and retain employees

I will be covering these critical success factors in more detail in future posts. Until then, I invite you to let us know what your organization is doing to re-create or re-energize itself!

© 2009 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Need Some Ideas about How to Engage and Retain Employees?

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

We’re hearing stories and seeing scenarios played out in organizations across the country that have common themes. For example, organizational leaders find themselves adrift in unknown territory without a compass to guide them, yet they are expected to demonstrate the leadership employees are counting on. Leaders and employees alike feel overwhelmed by the huge amount of effort required to meet basic survival needs, never mind plan for the future. Challenging economic conditions during 2009 have given rise to two important questions for business owners and leaders:

    1. How do we keep employees engaged in the aftermath of
    massive budget cuts, decimated workforces, and
    on-going furloughs?
      2. How do we create a work environment that will allow us
      to retain key employees when the economy turns around
      and they have alternative job opportunities?

    I recently addressed these questions in a free teleseminar titled How to Engage Your Employees NOW and Retain Them Later – No Matter What Industry You’re In. I provided multiple low- or no-cost suggestions for creating work environments that would allow employers to engage and retain their employees. Sample topics include how to boost productivity dramatically by making employees a high priority; how to align employees’ interests with organizational goals; and practical and proven tools that increase employee engagement and retention. I invite you to listen to these suggestions and let me know what you think.

    And I would be interested in your answer to this question: What is your organization doing to engage employees and retain key performers? Let us know!

    © 2009 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.