Archive for April, 2014

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: The Key to Successful Workplace Change Efforts

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

The Key to Successful Workplace Change Efforts

Alignment solution: The key to successful workplace change efforts is building and maintaining quality relationships with your employees.  

There are all kinds of changes occurring in the workplace today – e.g., adapting to new economic realities, consolidating functions, and aligning resources with revised organizational priorities. Though they take a variety of forms, change efforts share one key element: people are involved. Add to that fact the reality that human beings tend to resist change, and you have a potential recipe for disaster. The key ingredient that enables success, yet too often is missing, is the quality of your employee relationships. The return on your investment in making your employees a high priority – i.e., devoting the time and energy necessary to nurture those connections – is an exponentially greater likelihood that your change effort will succeed.

Can the desired change be accomplished if you ignore the quality of your employee relationships? Perhaps. Will it be effective? Most likely no. The best case scenario when relationships are poor: the change effort will cost more (in dollars, time, energy diverted from productive activities) than it would otherwise. The worst case scenario: the organization is much worse off than it was before, with long-lasting negative effects. Why? When you effect change by ignoring its human elements, you end up with employees who may be compliant, but they aren’t committed. Negative effects include high levels of distrust and cynicism, decreased productivity, low morale, increased resistance, unwillingness to follow your lead, a climate of “us vs. them,” and lack of ownership of the desired result. The time you “gain” by failing to make employee relationships a high priority on the front end will be miniscule compared to the time you will have to spend later dealing with the negative repercussions of ignoring or downplaying the importance of the human element in change management.

Here are seven ways to create and maintain quality employee relationships that will make your workplace change efforts proceed more smoothly:

  1. Be open and honest. Share the bad news as well as the good.
  2. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. If you find you cannot keep a promise, immediately let employees know why.
  3. Ensure the change process and decisions are procedurally fair – i.e., transparent, free of bias, and with meaningful opportunities for input by employees at every step, not just at the end.
  4. Utilize a variety of media to communicate your message consistently and frequently.
  5. Listen to what’s on employees’ minds. Show that you truly have heard them. Seriously consider their concerns/suggestions/feedback.
  6. Paint employees into the picture as soon as possible – before the picture is fully or largely formed – so they feel a sense of ownership.
  7. Explain the decision process at each step. Opt for more inclusion vs. less.

To read about additional steps you can take to create and sustain excellent relationships with your employees, take a look at my recently published article Relationship Excellence: 9 Steps for Providing Relationship Leadership. Although the article was written for leaders in the fire and rescue service, its lessons are universal. There also are links to two previous articles in that relationship excellence series.

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

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.

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© 2014 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: How to Demonstrate Your Workgroup’s Value

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

How to Demonstrate Your Workgroup’s Value

Alignment solution: Successfully navigating your organization’s political environment does not require bragging or begging.

The workplace is a competitive environment. How can you ensure your team, function, or department obtains the resources it needs to achieve its goals? By demonstrating the value you provide in ways that catch the attention of your stakeholders.

Regardless of the size of your work group, the following process will help you identify and communicate in a compelling way the impact you have on your organization. For example, let’s consider how workgroups at a large public university might make a persuasive case for the value they provide. Like other public institutions, those in higher education have come under the microscope and suffered massive budget cutbacks. Thus demonstrating value has become more important than ever.

  1. Identify clearly the desired end result.
    For our example, the university’s vision is to prepare students for success in a changing world.

  2. List the ways that your workgroup affects that end result.
    This step is especially important for staff positions, as employees in those jobs don’t always see a direct connection between their work and the organization’s desired outcome. For example, custodial staff ensure the classrooms and offices are clean and safe so students can learn and faculty can teach. Trades workers maintain the classroom and office buildings where people learn and work. Human resource professionals ensure staff get the training they need to perform their jobs supporting student learning. Administrative assistants perform tasks that enable faculty to focus on teaching, students to focus on learning, and administrators to focus on supporting students’ success.

  3. Frame information so it provides a context that is meaningful for your specific stakeholders.
    Educating your members and stakeholders is key. Focus relentlessly on outcomes. Make sure your workgroup is able to show students how it enables their success. Demonstrate how you are using taxpayers’ money effectively to educate tomorrow’s leaders. Provide evidence of the quality of education students receive and how it will enable their success in life. Couch the information in ways that answer the implicit question that all stakeholders ask about the services you provide: “What’s in it for me?”

  4. Communicate the above information widely using a variety of media.
    Use words, pictures, charts, and graphs appropriately to get your stakeholders’ attention. Disseminate the information through an intranet, the university’s web site, social media outlets, newsletters, and interactions with students, staff, administrators, faculty, community members, and alumni.

  5. Assess the results and adjust as necessary.
    Monitor the results of your relentless focus on value. Tweak your efforts as necessary. Educating your own members about how they contribute to the vision will enable you to be effective in demonstrating the contributions your workgroup makes to the organization.

Any size workgroup may use the above process to demonstrate its value. For the most part, the resources required are minimal. Simply frame the information you currently present so it focuses on the outcomes important to your stakeholders. Convey it in language and terms your stakeholders can understand and relate to easily.

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!

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© 2014 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.