Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Motivational Power of Confident Problem Management

Executives that take on big initiatives have big expectations for results.  Big initiatives are typically cross-functional with a lot of different perspectives and mindsets in play, not to mention the many different personalities that are certain to be involved.
When an experienced change leader accepts responsibility for guiding this kind of journey to a safe and successful conclusion, the leader knows there are going to be bumps in the road. Fortunately when the change leader has the support of an organization with the capability for skillfully solving the types of problems likely to arise, the leader enjoys the advantage of positive employee behaviors needed to make he big change initiative into a success.   To  manage the focus of the organization and keep it squarely on the path to success, expert leaders jump into action when an problem arises.  The following summary explains how the leader pitches-in to maintain a proper focus:

Make a fast appraisal of potential for harmMC900231833
  • Investigate: conduct an objective inquiry to collect  the facts and various perspectives on the problem.
  • Measure: ascertain the immediate scope and scale of the issue.  
  • Futurize*: analyze the forward risk and determine the potential damage and the speed at which it could spread.
Act with appropriate energy and authority
  • Respond: produce a plan for intervention to make the right things happen within the timeframe that minimizes risk and maximizes success  
  • Communicate: list the groups that need to be involved and decide what information needs to be provided to each group, then manage the delivery of information to minimize unnecessary communications that may waste time or cause a distraction what groups need to know about the issue and who needs to be involved to get it solved.  selecting what each group needs to know in order to feel as confident as possible that the right people are applying the right approach to the problem.
Show that as the leader, you are ready to answer for the quality of response and the result
  • Solve: take personal responsibility for knowing that the right people are on each aspect of the problem.  Stay vigilant to spot difficulty and shepherd additional expertise to where it is needed.  Apply an accountability mindset form the first mention of the problem and be confident that the capability is onboard or within reach to squash the problem quickly, even if the worst case scenario is realized.
  • Update: scan and collect information to keep those closest to the problem, and those who have the biggest stake in the outcome, fully informed. Selectively manage any additional communications to limit visibility of the problem in areas where visibility is not warranted.  Do this to minimize wasteful “fretting” behaviors – worrying, speculating, gossiping, spinning.  
  • Validate: verify the success of the problem resolution from the perspectives of all the groups involved in solving the issue or with a stake in the outcome. 
Understand that during times of change, the organizations eyes are on the change leader.  The organization observes the change leader's behavior to continuously calibrate its confidence against the quality of leader's response to the problems that arise.  With this in mind, it’s not easy to do all of the above in a way that truly inspires continuous confidence throughout the organization.  At the same time, experienced change leaders know its worth the time and energy to develop the right people for the job. These leaders know that where organizations are confident in their ability to successfully manage through the difficulties of major undertakings the leader is sure to find a fresh supply of willingness to take on accountability for making each new change initiative into a story of success.   
* “Yes, of course I made that word up. That’s what I love about the English language; people just make up words as they go along.”

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