A RECOMMENDED READING
I highly recommend the essay by PNODN Member Kim Arellano “The Generational Shift in the Workplace, Are We Ready?” that appears in the latest issue of the Integral Leadership Review (integralleadershipreview.com). It reviews the current data vis-a-vis Generation X and the Millenium Generation, and then proceeds to provide a careful analysis and thought provoking questions. It is well worth reading.
David C. Wigglesworth
Savvy Slips, Learning on the Run
by Philip Heller
Learnings from Practice 6: Management Alignment
How to help management become aligned in a non-defensive way to focus on growing employee conflict in the workplace?
The Request. The Director of a Local Health Department for a multi-site agency, wanted help with resolving a workplace conflict that was growing out control. Two employees, working in a court mandated residential treatment program, were refusing to talk to each other. The animosity had grown to the point that they could no longer work cooperatively together and other team members were taking sides. The expectations were that everyone should be able to articulate concerns professionally; issues should be resolved outside of any disciplinary process and in accordance promoting a respectful work environment.
Larger Context. The management chain (Director, Manager, Supervisor, and Leads) was not accountable for what was happening in the workplace as the issues were building over time. Filing claims and counter claims of harassment or retaliation was the “go to” method for resolving differences. Subsequent investigations found no basis for the harassment complaints. There was no agreement among managers (Director, Manager, Supervisor, and Leads) on expectations of each other and staff nor a coherent plan for moving forward.
Consulting Intervention. Leadership decided on a multi-pronged approach to improve performance: Management strategy workshops; Re-setting expectations with staff; Resolving or verifying all claims; Managers Bi-weeklies with Leads; Individual coaching; Dialogue session between staff; Human Resources workshops for Supervisors and Leads; Team briefings on workshops
As an initial step, two half-day workshops were conducted with the management team and the Human Resource manager. The purpose was to have the team think jointly and strategically to improve the situation by an open conversation of their contributions, patterns and learnings up to this point. Part of the workshop involved clarifying management’s expectations and roles and considering both preventative measures and ideas for moving forward. Leads were added participants in the second workshop. Notes were taken during the workshops and summaries presented to management as a reference. The following questions were used to focus the discussion. (1)
Why are we here?
What does the Director expect at this point?
What decisions, outcomes we are working towards?
Where do we stand currently? How important is it? Why?
What has led up to this current situation? (The history as we know it.)
What have we learned about management strategy from this situation?
In the best of all circumstances, what do we want to happen here? Thinking about the staff, their colleagues and management, what would a professional, accountable and respectful work environment look like in this situation, at it’s best?
What can we do to promote that?
What in your/their daily behaviors would need to be different?
What other measures, or signals would tell us (daily, weekly, monthly), things were improving?
What, specifically, is your responsibility in ensuring these expectations are met? A role you might adopt?
What are the possible scenarios that may follow?
What support or resources might ensure success?
What might sabotage this plan? What might we do then?
Last Line. When managers have become stuck in an ineffective approach to a conflict, a professional development workshop focused on what they are learning from the situation is one way to help them become more aligned for a coordinated effort.
(1) For a copy of the handouts used, go to: http://learningdesigna.com/resourcescategory/staff-development/ and select Management Alignment Workshop.
Philip Heller is the senior associate of Learning Design Associates. For 35 years he has helped plan systems change and develop leaders in government, community agencies, and health care centers. Philip received his Ph.D. in Education focusing on learning and problem solving. As part of the originating group, he has been a PNODN member since 1982.
15 LEADERSHIP LESSONS learned from my El Camino Crucible* by Shannon Wallis
PART TWO -
Lesson 9: Communicate, communicate, and communicate again.
We had a ritual of a morning coffee—a time when we would check in with how each other was doing, offer each other encouragement, and stay connected. Third, we followed yellow arrows, the markers along the Camino. If we missed a marker, we’d backtrack.
Lesson 10: Find the yellow arrows and move forward.
Set small, achievable goals. Baby steps become journeys. Ask, “What will I do today to move in the right direction?” Tell everyone about the milestones to maintain focus and motivation. Look for the signs or markers that you’re moving in the right direction and follow them. Know when it is time to move to your next destination. I woke up every morning at five and took an ibuprofen to prepare my feet for pain from 16 blisters. After coffee, I walked until I arrived at the agreed refugio and found the bed that Susan had reserved for me. After about 12 days on the Camino, I called Joe and asked him to meet me in Burgos. Seeking sympathy, I told him about my trials and pain. He replied, “It wouldn’t be a pilgrimage if it weren’t challenging.” I thought, “You don’t understand!” But he did! This became our mantra.
Lesson 11: It wouldn’t be a pilgrimage if it weren’t challenging.
If you think getting to the destination will be easy, think again. You can pick the destination and follow the markers, but it won’t be easy to keep on the path and not give up. Leaving Burgos we entered the most challenging stretch of the Camino. The long distance between Burgos and Leon was flat, hot, and covered with wheat fields, which drew me back to my difficult childhood. I contemplated that if the Camino was a metaphor for life, my life was about pain and being alone. I was in terrible pain—and I saw nobody in front of me or behind me. I felt hurt and angry. I cried, “Why is my life so filled with pain? I just can’t do this, if I am going to be alone through all of this pain.” At this moment, I heard, “¡Buen Camino!” I turned and saw an older woman. I said to her, “I am ready to die.” She said, “It’s not your day to die. I am here to walk with you.” I believe that God worked through her.
Lesson 12: Support comes when you least expect it and from the most unlikely places.
All journeys have moments of despair. The level of despair varies by how difficult the journey is. In moments when you think you can’t go one step further and you are ready to give up, you must have faith that the support you need will materialize. Since the Camino, I’ve seen such assistance show up for many people. From that moment, I decided that my Camino was no longer going to be one focused on pain. When someone asked how my feet were doing, I simply answered that they were fine. I decided not to share my pain with everyone but to enjoy what was going on around me and walk to the next town. In the next refugio, the hospitalera told me that something was wrong with my feet. A cobbler looked at my boots and said that the insoles were the wrong size. He created new ones for me. Next, a pharmacist told me that I was allergic to the tape that held the gauze patches in place. She gave me cream and a hypoallergenic tape. Then, I was told that my feet needed more air, and so I was told to cushion my sandals with sanitary napkins.
Lesson 13: To get to the destination, you need to innovate.
Look for ideas that are outside of your comfort zone. I felt silly when I put sanitary napkins in my sandals, but it felt so good that I didn’t care what anybody else thought. Again, you can’t always count on the things that got you to your current destination to get you to the next. You may have to talk with different people, try unusual things, and read something new to get the idea that will move you one step closer to goal. After we had walked 400 miles, busloads of teenagers started showing up to walk the last 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) just to pick up a certificate. Annoyingly, they’d sprint ahead to reserve the beds. We wished that they’d go away, but they didn’t—so we adapted by learning where they’d stop and walking to a different location.
Lesson 14: All journeys involve nuisances along the road.
By accepting them, you can get to the destination, regardless of differing intentions. The
road needs to be wide enough for all people to reach the destination, and wider still so that you can give way to those who might upset you. After all, the Camino is different for everybody. When we arrived in Santiago, we went to the cathedral. I fell down and started to cry. Along the path, I’d carried the ultrasounds of the two children that I had miscarried. I wrote a letter to St. James, put their pictures with the letter, and turned their souls over to his care. I then had an incredible feeling of hope and knew that I would have children. Although your Santiago is different, getting to the destination is possible if you heed the Camino’s lessons. Today, I have a husband who supports me in every journey I take. And, I have two beautiful daughters, Savannah and Fiona.
Ultimately, I learned
Lesson 15: Count your blessings—not your blisters.
Shannon Wallis is Director of Worldwide Leadership Programs
for Microsoft’s Sales Marketing and Services Group. She is an
executive coach, consultant in leadership development and change.
Visit www.theyellowarrow.com to read the complete story.
*reprinted with permission from Warren Bennis Leadership Excellence 02/2010