Leadership Communication During Crisis Is Vital
Keeping people informed during a crisis is one of the most visible and important roles of a leader.  In difficult times, it is natural for people to look toward Senior Leadership for answers and comfort.  As ambiguity increases, fear and doubt can spread across organizations and grind productivity and employee engagement to a halt.

The Impact of Ineffective Communication During Crisis
No company or leader is immune to crises.  If leaders and organizations do not adequately prepare for and effectively respond to crisis, they risk incurring and creating more harm. Ineffective communication during crisis most often leads to:

Tips for Leadership Communication During Crisis
The higher up you are in an organization, the more you are expected to stay on top of the situation, understand and manage ambiguity, communicate facts, and discuss implications.  Follow these tips for communicating effectively as a leader during crisis:

  1. Put Yourself in Your People’s Shoes
    Your first task is to start with a clear view of who your audience is and what you want to accomplish with them.  Especially during a crisis, the better you understand what your audience cares most about and why, the more likely you are to achieve your desired outcomes.

    For example, no one is interested in talking about the company’s strategic vision if they are worried about losing their jobs or running out of toilet paper. Once individual core concerns are adequately addressed, you can focus on getting aligned around common goals and an immediate plan of attack.

  2. Tell People What You Know So Far
    Your next step as a leader during crisis is to meet people where they are by understanding and clearly communicating the context of the immediate situation, the key complications that you and your people face, and the major implications.

    The immediate situation sets the stage and is the starting point for your message.  The complications demonstrate your understanding of the issues, challenges, and pressures that you, your team, and your organization face.  And the implications highlight the consequences of failing to act properly.

    Too many leaders wait until they have all the facts and have made all the key decisions before letting their teams know what is going on.  That is a mistake; leaders need to lead.  Silence from Senior Leaders rarely gets filled in with positive, accurate, or helpful information.

  3. Tell People What You Do Not Know
    In times of a rapidly evolving crisis especially, leaders rarely have all the information or answers.  Do not be afraid to share what you do not know so far.  Acknowledging what is still unknown builds credibility.

    Not admitting that you still need to learn more and share more information at a later date undermines trust in leadership.

  4. Tell People When You Can Fill In the Gaps
    Lastly, be honest about when and how you will be able to fill in the important gaps and address key problems that you are still working on solving.  Communicate progress frequently, even if not much has changed, so that people know you are actively trying to make progress.  In sharing your next steps, be as specific and tangible as possible.

The Bottom Line
In times of crisis, it is imperative that leaders listen to, empathize with, and motivate their teams to come out stronger on the other side.  That takes courage, clarity, communication, and compassion.  Are your leaders equipped to communicate effectively during a crisis?

To learn more about communicating during a crisis, download Winning Communication Strategies for Virtual and Remote Teams

Learning and Development Mistakes
Corporate Learning and Development has come a long way but still has far to go.  We’ve learned that there is such a thing as the “forgetting curve” that tells us that if new information isn’t applied, 75% of it will be forgotten in only six days.  And despite spending almost $360 billion (yes, with a “b”) globally on corporate training, most learning and development functions struggle to change on-the-job behavior and performance.

According to Gartner, 24×7 Learning, and McKinsey:

Where’s the Training Disconnect?
For organizations and employees to realize the full value of corporate training, they must connect two common “disconnects” related to the transfer of skills and knowledge that occur between learning and results.  The first disconnect is related to a lack of business relevance and occurs when the training has little applicability to key business priorities that your target audience, their bosses, and the company’s leaders care about.  The second disconnect occurs when participants are unable to consistently apply the new skills and knowledge on-the-job while receiving performance coaching.

Top Learning and Development Mistakes to Avoid
To make your investment in training and development worthwhile, avoid delivering training that is:

The Bottom Line
If you want to get the most out of your Learning and Development investments, ensure that training has direct relevancy to employees’ jobs and to the priorities of the business.  Then make sure that you do not fall into any of the above traps that hinder effective behavior change and limit performance improvement.

To learn more about how to avoid L&D mistakes, download Top 10 Training Function Warning Signs You May Be in Trouble

 

Win at all Costs Culture
Winning matters.  Everybody loves a winner.  Whether competing at sports or at the “game” of business, the goal is to win.  But at what cost?  How much are you willing to sacrifice to win?  Your integrity, your reputation, your livelihood, your freedom?

The Influence of Culture
Culture in sports or culture in business can be a strong influence either for good or for evil.  Think of culture as how things truly get done in an organization. It shows in the way people think, behave, and work.  Corporate culture includes both the known and unspoken values and assumptions that drive key business practices and behaviors.

Healthy workplace cultures strive to treat their employees and their customers well.  When a culture slips into negative values, it becomes toxic and a toxic culture is rarely sustainable or fulfilling.

Culture in Sports
Remember the doping scandal in international cycling?  Of the cyclists who finished on the podium during the time Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005, there was only one rider who was not implicated in the scandal.  Doping had become part of the cycling culture.  In fact, according to a recent New York Times article, “this sport was nearly consumed by doping. In the 1980s and 1990s and deep into this century, one champion after another fell away.”  Eventually Lance Armstrong faced the consequences:  he was barred for life from competing and stripped of his seven titles.

Culture in Business
Recent news about Boeing raises serious questions about the workplace culture that predominated there.  We know of the tragic loss of 346 people in two separate accidents involving Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft.  Subsequent investigations have uncovered some very disturbing internal documents.  They show how far Boeing was willing to go in order to evade scrutiny by regulators and flight crews despite the alarms sounded by their own employees.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said the documents detail “some of the earliest and most fundamental errors in the decisions that went into the fatally flawed aircraft.” He and others have accused the company of putting profit over safety.

Culture for Good or for Evil
Strong, healthy corporate cultures help companies outperform their peers by guiding decisions according to principles of trust, fairness, and integrity.  Strong, unhealthy cultures with a win at all costs culture inevitably hurt performance by allowing decisions that can have devastating consequences – products and practices that are below standard and can even be harmful to users.

As a leader you need to ask whether the workplace culture you have defined and shaped at your organization is helping or hindering the company’s ability to succeed.  A healthy corporate culture will help you to execute your business strategy and your ability to attract, engage and retain the talent you need in order to thrive.

The Bottom Line
A win at all costs culture at work is rarely sustainable.  Are your leaders promoting the behaviors that drive your strategy and your people forward in a way that makes sense?  The choice is up to you.

To learn more about how to create a high performing culture, download the Must Know Levels of a High Performance Culture – The 3 C’s

More Achievable Goals
Some leaders claim that big, hairy, and audacious goals are motivating.  Yes, big ambitions may be exciting and inspiring at first, but, as goals become more and more difficult to reach, employees begin to disengage.  And, if goals are perceived to be truly unrealistic, many teams do not even take the first steps.

Learn from the Experts
Let’s step out of the business world for a moment to look at the successful strategies of some experts in the goal-setting business.  Ranked #1 Best Diet for Weight Loss 10 Years in a Row by U.S. News & World Report, Weightwatchers is a prime example of a business founded on setting more achievable goals. The customized plan supports healthy eating habits learned over time by setting small goals (loss of 1-2 lbs. per week), tracking progress, and encouraging success toward a realistic and healthy weight.

Or consider language learning apps.  Duolingo, for instance, has been rated the Best for learning multiple languages.  Short, daily lessons build on one another as you increase vocabulary and verbal ability.  Lesson-by-lesson, stage-by-stage, point-by-point, improvement is earned and rewarded.

The lesson?  Big goals – significant weight loss or fluency in a foreign language – can be reached but they are often best achieved incrementally, one small and meaningful step at a time.

Back to Business
Good leaders create clear strategic goals that outline unambiguous and compelling choices about where to play and what actions to take.  Done right, a successful strategic plan sets up a team (and company) to perform beyond the sum of its parts.  When it comes to performance however, strategy is only the beginning.

For a strategy to make a true difference, the proof is in the coordinated execution.  To be properly executed, goals must be perceived to be understood, believable and implementable enough by all key stakeholders.  To be believable and implementable, you need to set more achievable goals to drive your team in the right direction.

How to Define More Achievable Goals
Here are some tips that can help you apply this lesson to the strategic goals you have set for your business:

The Bottom Line
To set your team up for success, set more achievable goals that inspire your team to give their all.  Then work with each team to create the first steps required to move toward your vision of success.

To learn more about how to define more achievable goals, download 7 Immediate Management Actions to Create Alignment with Goals

A Common Challenge for New Managers
One of the challenges for new managers and one that is often not practically covered in training is how to deal with a lone wolf on your team – an employee who contributes only marginally to the team goals.

The Definition of a Lone Wolf
Lone wolves are not team players.  They focus on their own work, neglect team responsibilities, do not collaborate well with colleagues, rarely contribute at team meetings, and do not join the effort when the team is under a deadline and needs extra help.

The Problem with Lone Wolves
Whatever negative behavior a non-team player is guilty of, you can’t let it continue if being a team player is an essential part of your culture and strategy for success.  Why?  Because it’s catching.

How to Handle a Lone Wolf on Your Team – Step by Step
New manager training teaches new people supervisors that their success is measured by the effectiveness and performance of their team.  One bad player in the bunch can undermine the morale of the rest of the team and decrease their overall productivity.  If you have a lone wolf on your team, take these steps.

  1. Keep an Open Mind
    Until you’ve had a chance to explore the situation, beware of jumping to conclusions.  There are any number of explanations for the lone wolf behavior.
  1. Set Up a One-on-One
    You owe your employee a chance to explain what’s going on in a one-on-one meeting. Begin the conversation with a tone of friendly, supportive, and genuine concern.  You may uncover a distracting problem in their personal life, confusion over their role, a lack of confidence in their ability, a mismatch for their talents, or even a sense of isolation from the rest of the team.

    Your goal is to gain some insight into your employee’s behavior.  Try to learn more about them – their interests, their strengths, their career goals, and their motivators.

  2. Clarify the Team’s Goal and Roles
    Review what the team is trying to accomplish and why it exists. Is this a goal they can identify with, commit to, and actively support?  Do they feel the team is committed to the goal?   Do they have a clear idea of what they are expected to contribute to the goal?

    The purpose of this discussion is to make sure the employee is crystal clear on their goals, role, how they are expected to contribute, and the path the team is taking.

  3. Uncover a Possible Mismatch
    You may well discover that the employee is poorly assigned and that they (and the company) would be better served if they had a different role. When you understand their skill set, what they like to do, and where they could enthusiastically contribute, you can begin to explore better opportunities.

The Bottom Line
New managers are generally loath to work with an uncooperative member of their team.  But beware – you do so at your peril.  Take the steps now to address the situation.  You, your employee, and your team will be all the better for it.

To learn more about how to build a high performance team as a new manager, download 3 Must-Have Ingredients of High Performing Teams for New Managers

Value People as Your Most Important Resource – It Matters
Over the last sixteen years, we have surveyed over seven million people across over one-hundred thousand organizations with our Best Places to Work Employee Engagement Survey.  When it comes to creating greater levels of employee engagement and retention, two types of questions matter most across all industries, geographies, and company sizes:

In fact, these employee engagement questions have a 76% correlation to higher levels of discretionary effort, employee advocacy, and intent to stay.  For perspective, questions related to employee benefits have a 49% correlation and questions related to fair pay have a 60% correlation to greater levels of employee engagement – both significantly lower than feeling valued and trusting leadership.

And companies with higher levels of Feeling Valued and Leadership Trust report 18% greater productivity, 12% higher client satisfaction, and 51% less voluntary turnover.

Do Your Leaders Value People as Their Most Important Resource?
Because people costs significantly outweigh capital costs in most industries today, more companies are touting the claim that they consider their employees as their most valuable asset.  But do they really put their people before clients?  Before profits?  Before products?

Some Examples of Different Approaches

Every company must make money.  Every company must satisfy clients.  Every company must have viable offerings.  And every company needs people.

But how many leaders consistently put employees first and translate that claim into visible, tangible, and meaningful actions when push comes to shove?  Regardless of your intentions, employees tell us that most managers don’t know how to effectively demonstrate to their team members that they are valued.

Four Employee Engagement Questions that You Need to Get Right
First, all employees must believe that they are making progress on meaningful work and feel that their contribution is being fairly compensated.  It is incumbent upon managers to see that their employees find their work to be worthwhile and challenging.  And a fair paycheck is certainly the baseline signal of how much a company values an employee’s contribution.

Once you get the basics of pay and work right, here are four questions to focus on if you want to truly value people as your most important resource:

  1. The leaders of this organization are committed to making it a great place to work.
  2. I trust the leaders of this organization to set the right course.
  3. I believe this organization will be successful in the future.
  4. The leaders of the organization value people as their most important resource.

The Bottom Line
Companies who truly see their people as their most important resource make sure that people feel valued and that trust in leadership is high.  If you could change one thing to show that you value people as your most important resource, what would it be?

To learn more about how to value people as your most important resource, download Research Report – Relationship Between Employee Engagement and Manager Effectiveness

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