Being Part Of The Solution: Part Two

August 21, 2018

We left off with throughout an organization, from the CEO to the front line staff, typically identification of what the problems are is similar.  The question becomes how do you get everyone within an organization to be part of the solution?

For employees, when it comes to speaking up about problems and then feeling empowered to make key changes, we discussed they usually go through three stages when a company “Creates an Entrepreneurial Workplace™.   As a reminder they are:

  • Why should I bother saying anything? Nobody ever listens.
  • The Leadership team is actually willing to listen so this is my opportunity to tell them about all of the problems and maybe they’ll fix them.
  • We, the employees are empowered and have the ability to be an intimate part of the solution and creating positive change in our organization.

One of the key pieces of my workshop series is the attendees form cross functional teams to work on critical company Initiatives.   The attendees identify the initiatives and self-select the teams.

Then, roles reverse.  Instead of the Senior Leadership Team standing in front of the room presenting to the employees about key initiatives and telling their team what they need them to do, the Senior Leadership team becomes the audience.  To me, this is critical for high impact Change Management.  If you want change, your front line Managers, Supervisors and Individual Contributors need to lead that change.

In our new employee empowered environment, the Initiative Teams present their Initiatives and Action Plans to the Senior Leadership team.  The role of the Senior Leadership Team is to provide guidance, support, mentorship, funding as needed and to help eliminate roadblocks.

This is still very difficult change.  Prior to the Initiative Meetings, I like to do dry runs with the team.  As their Sponsor and Mentor, it’s my role to help guide them as these presentations are high stakes.  In many cases, Senior Leaders have flown in from around the country for these presentations.  The Managers Supervisors and Individual Contributors on the Initiative Teams may never have presented to them in the past and may rarely present period.

Typically in the dry runs, some teams are on the mark.  They recap the problem and then discuss their action plan to solve the problem.  They share what progress they’ve made so far, what their desired outcome is and where they’re going next and ask for the support they need.

Some teams can still be stuck.  A truly empowered workplace and teaching all your people to be Leaders is a paradigm shift.  Those teams will still focus on the problem and expect Senior Leadership to fix things.

This is where the Mentors and Sponsors need to intervene.  What can be counterintuitive to your employees is, to get the support they need to solve the problem, it’s not about them complaining about the problem.  It’s about them providing the solution.  Then the Senior Leadership team typically readily and willingly gives the Initiative Teams everything they need to be successful to complete their action plans.

Some of the roles and responsibilities of the mentor and sponsor for these initiatives are:

  • Provide guidance. Help the team understand how to be successful
  • Give them a chance to both succeed and fail. Also help ensure that if they do fail, it will not cause a major problem for the company or for them personally.
  • If they trip, help them get back up. This involves direct honest feedback and also ensuring you are kind and supportive.
  • The mentor(s) shouldn’t have hiring or firing capabilities ideally. That way they can be direct and the employees don’t feel it’s a performance issue.  They recognize it’s a coaching opportunity.

I will share more in my next blog to ensure both the Leadership Team and the rest of the staff understand more of their roles and responsibilities to create this solution based and employee empowered environment so critical change management occurs at the front line level.