Stuck Between Gears – Vision matters.

Stuck Between Gears – Vision matters.

A couple of weeks ago, I pulled my bike off the garage wall, checked the tires, and started for a leisurely ride without a chartered destination. My goal was to spin and explore. My neighborhood is relatively flat, so shifting gears was not necessary. The ride was perfect, the weather clear, and the wind on my face exhilarating. Everything was going great, so why not keep going further, longer!

As I ventured out of my neighborhood, the trail gradually increased its incline. Within a few feet of navigating around a bend, a long hill caught me by surprise. My shift into lower gears in the lower-middle part of the steep hill was way too late, and the ride became a struggle. Making my way to the top of the hill took much more energy and stamina than it would have if I had shifted earlier.

Vision matters. Looking further ahead, planning, and shifting in advance would have made an enormous difference. You can guess what happened next. Keeping my eye on the road ahead, anticipating inclines and declines, engaging the chainring effectively, using my momentum on the incline’s approach, and dropping through the gears quickly and smoothly was the plan of action to ensure an enjoyable ride through the hills. Each hill was more easily navigable with a mindset of looking ahead, strategizing, and improving my shifting.

Looking forward, envisioning, and navigating obstacles is part of leadership. These days, we need to challenge and question whether the approaches we used before and during 2020 will serve us well in unknown future situations. Systematic, systemic, and rigorously creative and dynamic coaching and development programs add enormous value to organizations.  The past few months had heightened opportunities to interact with leaders who seek to enhance awareness and commitment. Their aim is for skilled workforces to envision possibilities, navigate uncertainty and challenges, effectively shift through change, appropriately pivot, and lead others to maximize their potential and continuously learn.

Coaching with a continuous improvement mindset results in engaged and empowered employees, enhanced critical and strategic thinking, and the ability to solve the problem of how to improve their work effectively. Process improvement tools and techniques are incomplete without continuous improvement coaching that harnesses our workforce’s untapped and unused potential. I believe leaders need masterful coaching skills. Coaching competencies that enable one to ask powerful questions in a logical sequence and the pragmatism to create a safe space for one’s team to uncover, explore, and evolve new options and solutions are learnable skills. Developing these coaching skills takes commitment, volition, and a willingness to learn from a highly certified coach who has walked this path before and possesses mastery and skill.

Many organizations strive to be more efficient, do more with less, and fully leverage their workforce’s competencies and skills. A Lean Coaching program using a continuous improvement mindset nurtures, empowers, and harnesses your workforce in innovative ways, encouraging an entrepreneurial mindset. As a result, workers’ initiatives have longer sustainability, individuals and teams are more creative, and higher quality conversations result in new insights, actions, and outcomes.

Board renewal and recruitment: A profound need to modernize the process

Board renewal and recruitment: A profound need to modernize the process

The COVID-19 environmental disruption, the call to enhance and expand member digital services, #blacklivesmatter, and the retirement of board members comprise a profound confluence of opportunities. These opportunities should not become issues with the right actions. Two years ago, a significant percentage of board members (30-40%) declared they would retire in three to five years. In addition, many tenured board members assert that younger generations are not committed to volunteering their time.

These simultaneous transformative disruptions beg questions of each board: What resources are needed now? How does our board’s governance structure take care of our membership in this disruptive and transformative situation? What conversations are needed to understand the board’s obligation to add more strategic value? 

Board members should also self-reflect: Am I the best resource for this board? How will I know? What is my unique value? How do I impede success? Am I willing to step aside? Do I live as a legend in my own mind?

Transformative Opportunity

The global situation and its impact on the industry create a transformative opportunity for the future of credit unions. The call to action involves assessing and updating your board recruitment mindset and process to add dynamically engaged and relevant board members who add strategic value to the organization. The historical source for board member recruitment is no longer viable. This new reality offers an opportunity to move away from the unseen, unspoken, and unheard biases that result in homogeneity when selecting board members.

Diversity

Boards can move beyond talking about diversity and on to effective action in these ways:

  • Make an explicit commitment to search for diverse competencies, perspectives, and thought. 
  • Challenge boardroom language of bias.
  • Move from episodic recruiting to ongoing strategic and intentional recruitment.
  • Embrace constant readiness to recruit versus waiting until three months before the need.

Professional Board Searches

Boards can boldly professionalize their search processes to captivate the best candidates in these ways:

  • Determine the skill gap.
  • Seek multiple perspectives.
  • Professionalize interview skills. 
  • Ask the right questions.
  • Advertise to compel responses from diverse and qualified candidates.

Common gaps in board skill assessments include strategic insight regarding the following:

  • ERM
  • Big data 
  • Strategic growth 
  • Cybersecurity 
  • Entrepreneurialism 
  • Human capital 
  • Balance sheet and investment strategies

Attracting the Best

Attracting the most qualified candidates happens through social media with geographical targeting, upbeat language, and automated friendly responses via an applicant tracking system. Assume you will receive dozens of interested candidates, necessitating a system to effectively curate them.

Be ready to share information about your organization and board. Initially, introductory-level information is appropriate; expect to share more at the final selection stage. 

The missing link in a successful board search is eliminating entrenched practices. Be futuristic in your vision of what members need, and commit to diversity, equity, and inclusion in your actions. Step up practices to professionalize the search and be surprised and delighted at the quality of choices.

Preventing Day-to-Day Disasters In the Boardroom and Executive Suite

Preventing Day-to-Day Disasters In the Boardroom and Executive Suite

Disasters are more preventable when the right questions are asked by the right people at the right time. Most of us have heard stories about boards dismissed due to mismanagement and CEOs being asked to leave because of mistakes that were made that should have been better managed.

Yet, overplayed diplomacy, social loafing, silent disagreement, and groupthink impedes curiosity, rigorous dialogue, and futuristic and strategic thinking in any room, including the boardroom and executive suite.

CEOs might cringe when I suggest that board members ask more questions, articulate powerful statements, and be inquisitive. A high-performing board member knows when and how to ask the right questions at the right time. Most often, the right questions are strategic in nature, clarifying, or sense making. For example, “If we continue with double-digit loan growth year after year, what does this mean to our risk position in three years?” That question produces a different quality of conversation in the boardroom than this question: “Should we contribute $500 or $750 to the Urban League?” Or, “What services will our members need in the next three years that we currently do not offer, and how will we be positioned to make those offers?” versus “Why is this budget item over by $3,000?”

Here are recommended questions to ask regularly in the boardroom and executive suite. The more frequently we ask these questions, rather than once a year for a one-day strategic planning session, the greater the success will be for the membership.

  • How certain are we of our conviction about the organizational values and vision?
  • What gives us resilience and courage in the face of uncertainty and adversity?
  • What talent do we need to ensure our membership thrives in the future?
  • What are we doing well that aligns with our competitive advantage?
  • What do we need to improve our abilities to move the organization forward?
  • How do we keep ourselves motivated and encouraged?
  • What questions should we ask to uncover our blind spots?
  • How prepared are we to handle unanticipated complex problems that confront our organization?
  • What are our beliefs about how the board should govern?
  • What are our beliefs about how the CEO should lead?
  • Where do we think the organization should be headed over the next ten years?

Mood Matters

A great conversation happens with the right questions, exchange of ideas, and productive moods. Check your intention and mood before diving deep into a tough question. Moods that are expansive, vulnerable, and curious make it easier to ask the right questions at the right time and will produce rich conversations and outstanding results.

Deedee Myers, Ph.D.
Founder/CEO
DDJ Myers

Bullying or Be Humble and Kind

Bullying or Be Humble and Kind

Last Tuesday I was driving to the airport to have lunch with two of my sons when this Tim McGraw song called Humble and Kind came on the radio. Normally I play music in the background, but I was compelled to listen to McGraw’s lyrics, and they were timely.

Early that same morning I had an executive coaching call, and the client was in tears. She said her manager and peers were bullying her about her perspective on diversity. We worked through the challenge, and she left the call recentered with a declaration on how to move forward with dignity in interactions with her manager and coworkers.

After I completed the call, my heart was troubled because there is bullying in my children’s’ schools, the workplace, in the news, and even on airplanes. It is important to me to guide and support children so they are kind; likewise it is equally important to me to help leaders create engaged, supportive, and equitable work cultures. In my deeply reflective space, I had questions: Where do we unintentionally bully? When are we so resolute in our perspective that we come across as a bully in the boardroom, team meeting, or performance review? Do we come across as a bully when we don’t get our way at work? How are we creating dignity for ourselves and others?

There is a fine line between being a bully and being kind. McGraw says:

“Hold the door say please say thank you

Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie

I know you got mountains to climb but

Always stay humble and kind

When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you

When the work you put in is realized

Let yourself feel the pride but

Always stay humble and kind…

Bitterness keeps you from flying

Always stay humble and kind”

The Workplace Bullying Institute reports that 72% of workplace bullies are bosses. Bullying in the workplace creates a hostile work environment, which is not helpful for a sustainable organization. I borrowed this list of workplace examples of bullying from The Balance.*

● Denying an employee access to resources, assignments, projects, or opportunities

● Little or no feedback on performance

● Withholding information essential to performing one’s job

● Failing to invite someone to an essential meeting

● Threatening job loss

● Excessive monitoring or micromanagement

● Assigning tasks that cannot be completed by deadline and setting unrealistic and impossible goals

● Interference or sabotage

● Treating a worker differently than peers and coworkers are treated

● Excessive, impossible, conflicting work expectations or demands

● Inequitable and harsh treatment

● Invalid or baseless criticism, faultfinding, and unwarranted blame

● Accusatory or threatening statements

● Humiliation, public reprimands, or obscene language

*https://www.thebalance.com/types-of-bullying-2164322

I hope this blog helps each of us increase our sensitivity to workplace bullying, support corrective action, and be humble and kind.

 

Deedee Myers

Founder/CEO
DDJ Myers

 

Culture of Engagement: Beyond Employee Satisfaction

Culture of Engagement: Beyond Employee Satisfaction

This blog post is part of the 2015 Next Top Credit Union Executive competition originally posted November 05 2015.

By: 

A few years ago I wrote a scholarly paper on culture. The intent of the research was to define culture as how people live inside an organization.  My research produced 149 definitions of culture.  I imagine there are more than 149 definitions. The definition of culture was not what I was learning; my learning was deeper. I’ll come back to that later.

First, let’s turn to the term “engagement.”  Many of my clients conduct employee satisfaction surveys or culture assessments. Satisfaction and happiness do not necessarily mean the employee is engaged.

Employees can be happy at work because of the social network or a decent paycheck. Game rooms, ping pong, or pool tables may contribute to employee happiness. Happiness is different than employee engagement and yet can be connected to employee engagement if other organization practices are relevant and meaningful.

Employee satisfaction surveys can be misleading and often the bar is set too low. Employees may be satisfied with a 9 to 5 work schedule and not complain. Satisfaction does not necessarily mean the employee will put in extra effort, creatively problem solve, or think outside of the box.  Think about it – two people in a personal or professional relationship can say they are “satisfied” and yet, over time, miss opportunities to be deeply connected and committed.

Engagement raises the bar to an employee’s emotional commitment demonstrated by words and actions on behalf of the organization. Engaged employees adopt an organizing principle to do what is right at any time. They readily put in the effort to move a product or service out to the members and do so without complaint. Engaged branch personnel behave in a way that demonstrates care and commitment to the members’ financial health. Engaged executives have open conversations with direct reports about what is important to them and related to the organization. Engaged employees proactively explore more productive and efficient ways to serve and keep margins intact. Bottom line, engaged employees put their heart into their commitment to the organization.

Culture – that word again – is directly related to employee engagement. Culture is in every organization. Culture formation needs intentionality and purpose, or it creates an unexpected and unwanted culture. It is clear to me that the culture of an organization starts with the board of directors and the executive team being in alignment about performance metrics and employee engagement.

Departments and functional areas each have a culture. Those in roles of leadership have the responsibility to demonstrate values through their behaviors to create and sustain an open culture of inclusivity and accountability. Departments with a culture of engagement produce high standards of service, which leads to member satisfaction and organization sustainability.

What would be different if each department or function manager performance rating included a narrative on how they create a culture of engagement? What would be different if others described you as the best person to work for because of your inclusivity, openness, and observable commitment to the success of each employee?

My recommendation is to reflect on how you create a culture of engagement and ask others for their feedback. Plan a series of department or organization meetings with your team, openly discuss the culture, intentionally define the desired culture, and adopt the practice to make that culture a reality.

Deedee Myers, Ph.D., MSC, PCC

Culture of Engagement: Beyond Employee Satisfaction

Pros and Cons of Remote Work

This blog post is part of the 2015 Next Top Credit Union Executive competition originally posted November 2, 2015.

By: 

Remote working is an ideal way to be sure you are hiring the best possible talent, recruiting talent from competitors, reducing relocation expenses, and minimizing the impact of a job change on an employee’s family. Mergers, acquisitions, merging up, or takeovers require the industry to rethink the office as the standard corporate meeting place.

Work without Walls is a Microsoft white paper that states, “62 percent of employees believe their productivity increases when they work remotely . . .” Conversely, only 15 percent say their company’s support remote working.  There is a definite gap to discuss.

Remote employees have many opportunities to increase productivity. These same employees worry that bosses lose confidence in the employee’s ability to effectively perform as a fully engaged employee if not physically present in the office space.

Following are some pros and cons to remote working. Then I discuss one of the biggest challenges I have seen in the industry regarding the C-Suite and remote working.

PROS

  1. Increased focus: Employees experience minimal in-office distractions and can devote required attention to projects and initiatives.
  2. More productive time: No commute, or transitioning between environments.  The hour to get ready and commute is directed toward project management or team conversations.
  3. Flexibility for working parents: More family and work time increases the quality of life for employees and their families.
  4. Increased diversity of talent recruitment: The organization has increased access to high-quality employees when the requirement to work within the organization’s walls is removed or minimized.
  5. Circadian rhythm in alignment with productive time: Some people are more productive at 4:30 in the morning and others at 9:00 a.m. Do the work when your circadian rhythm is at its peak.
  6. Ease and Agility: The remote worker reports more ease in their day that enhances their agility and flexibility in delivering on work commitments.
  7. Office space reallocated: Organizations with tight office space may not need to expand, thereby reducing facility expenses. One client set up hoteling offices for visiting remote workers.  The hoteling office has Internet access, desk, lamp, and often four walls for privacy.  They are intended for temporary short-term use, two to four hours, typically, and less than a day.

CONS

  1. Ideas suffer from lack of feedback and brainstorming. Innovation is not time-bound to a clock, and when employees only have an hour here or there scheduled for brainstorming, the process can lose its energetic excitement.  People who aren’t around each other long enough don’t collaborate on ideas naturally.
  2. Relationship building suffers: Positive relationships come about in different ways. Some need to be in the same space for long periods of time to build a particular quality of rapport. Others can get there over the phone or through video chat.
  3. Cyber security: The IT department needs to make sure this is well managed and monitored.
  4. Workaholics have no respite: Those with work as the priority in life need to set boundaries to ensure their nutrition, exercise, and family relationships are strong.
  5. Impact on the family: Be in conversation with your family to set appropriate boundaries for your time and workspace. My home workspace has an outside entrance; my conversations are private, and I am not distracted by home noise and activities during my work hours.
  6. Feeling of isolation – not being in the casual and spur of the moment conversations: You and your employer need to be clear on practices of inclusivity, sharing successes, and a social network at work.
  7. Decrease in the monitoring of others: If you work remotely more than in the office, be clear on how you monitor your team and what support is needed to ensure success.

Remote Work Challenge
Organizations with a high performing C-Suite* team have more success with working remotely. If your C-Suite operates more in functional units rather than as an executive team, remote working is problematic.

Too often I have seen breakdowns in organizations in which the C-Suite is in conflict and there is a noticeable lack of coordination, collaboration, and communication. Executive teams with high trust and mutual respect and commitment don’t happen by accident.  A high-caliber team that operates as one did the work, often with an external facilitator, to create a positive sense of value as a team.

Remote working needs to be secondary to the C-Suite operating in trust. I believe both are doable with the right conditions of success and practices.

*C-Suite:  Denotes executives with a chief title, or highest functional level of responsibility, such as chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief operations officer, chief marketing officer, etc.

Deedee Myers, Ph.D., MSC, PCC

 

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