Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for November, 2009

Too many initiatives may hinder success.

Both locally and globally, organizations are currently being called upon to compete and survive during economic uncertainty and risk. Organizations are launching multiple new “raising the bar” initiatives to upgrade products and services—all designed to differentiate a company’s or agency’s ability to compete and survive now, in order to thrive in the future.

But here’s the rub. Employees only have a finite amount of energy and strategies that they can offer their organizations, above the day-to-day demands of their jobs. It’s not uncommon to see stress levels high, and morale low, due to additional job responsibilities put upon employees who have survived a downsizing. For leaders, the ability to effectively activate accountability and sustainability around multiple initiatives becomes a challenge as—like their employees—they find themselves stretched to the limit.

So if you’re a leader, my recommendation is to consider the feasibility of slowing down just long enough to assess the number and complexity of the new “raising the bar” initiatives in progress in your organization. More importantly, assess the progress to date on each initiative. If you find that one or more of the assigned projects are significantly lagging, you may want to establish a top priority and offer the vision, the plan, and incentive to succeed at one initiative at a time.

When feasible, realigning your organization’s goals based on realistic timeframes and a regard for your employees’ bandwidth will create a more motivating and engaging environment. Motivated and engaged employees are what’s really going to help an organization survive now and thrive in the future.

Reassure vs. convince

When someone asks you for clarity about a new initiative, your level of confidence is projected through your credibility, physical posture, preparedness to respond succinctly to inquiries, and ability to reassure, rather than convince.

Let’s say you’re a leader preparing for an initial presentation relating to organizational changes or new initiatives, which will include a Q&A session. If you’re not completely confident, or you’re not yet ready to share details, then ask yourself these questions as you prepare for the presentation: What are you confident about? Are you confident that regardless of what the final solution may be, you absolutely trust your team to recommend the solution that will best impact your employees and the business? Are you confident that you’ll be holding meetings over the next couple of weeks to keep yourself well-informed of the status of the initiative? Can you guarantee that you’ll keep people well-informed as you solidify strategies moving forward?

Whether you have every “i” dotted, or you’re still in the midst of creating strategies, be sure, when asked, that you’re prepared to genuinely reassure—versus convince—others of pending successes.