Så dåligt mår din chef

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on February 12th, 2020 by admin

Chefer mår allt sämre. Långtidssjukskrivningarna för psykisk ohälsa har ökat dramatiskt senaste sex åren.

– En chef ska ständigt vara tillgänglig och sedan sitter de och skyfflar mejl på kvällstid, säger Lena-Karin Allinger, organisationskonsult på Previa.

Trenden är tydlig, chefsrollen blir mer pressad, åtminstone om man ska tro frekvensen av sjukskrivningar. Mellan 2014 och 2019 har antalet sjukdagar på grund av psykisk ohälsa nästan tredubblats, enligt företagshälsovårdsföretaget Previas studie bland 12.300 chefer.

– Ökningen som vi ser är ganska dramatisk, säger Lennart Sohlberg, analytiker på Previa.

Och den har ändrat karaktär. Korttidsfrånvaron har snarast minskat medan långtidsfrånvaron skjutit i höjden, ofta till följd av psykosociala orsaker. Allra värst är det för kvinnliga chefer, vilket enligt Lena-Karin Allinger hänger ihop med att de oftare chefar i den offentliga sektorn där personalgrupperna är större. Problemet med att chefernas korttidsfrånvaro är relativt låg, är att varningsflaggorna då inte syns. Att en medarbetare borta många kortare perioder fungerar ofta som en varningsklocka.

En typisk chefsdag är fylld av möten.
– Sedan får man hantera de andra uppgifterna på kvällstid, säger Lena-Karin Allinger.

I takt med att många företag bantar den administrativa personalen, så landar de uppgifterna hos cheferna, vilket skapar stress och en känsla av att tappa kontrollen.

Fortfarande är chefer mindre långtidssjukskrivna än medarbetarna. Fokus i sjukskrivningsdebatten har därför mest kommit att handla om ickecheferna. Men vem tar hand om chefen?

Chefer som mår dåligt riskerar dessutom ge en spiraleffekt. Underlydande som har en chef som inte är närvarande kan spilla över på personalen i stort, i form av ökad ohälsa.

Källa: DN.se, 12 februari 2020
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Proffsen tipsar: Tre steg för att lyckas i löneförhandlingen

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Coaching on February 3rd, 2020 by admin

Är det dags att prata lön med din chef? Många drömmer om mer pengar i lönekuvertet, men hur ska du övertyga chefen att du är värd det? Vad är ens giltigt att begära?

Här är bästa tipsen från fyra personalchefer och fackliga förhandlingsproffs om hur du lyckas med ditt lönesamtal.

Vad du bör tänka på – och klassiska misstaget du absolut ska undvika.

Ett nytt år har börjat och för många betyder det att det återigen är dags för lönesamtal. Motsvarar dina prestationer en lönepåökning? Tycker du att det är svårt att diskutera lönen med chefen?

Lönen ska bland annat spegla din erfarenhet, prestation och resultatet av ditt arbete. Men hur ska du bevisa för chefen att ditt arbete motsvarar en högre lön? Så här gör du för att gå nöjd ut ur lönesamtalet.

1. Före mötet: Förbered dig
Det självklara, första, steget är att du förbereder dig ordentligt. Men vad gör du om chefen knackar dig på axeln och vill ha lönesamtalet om tio minuter?

– Då är det bättre att förklara för chefen att du vill kunna förbereda dig. Be om att få några dagar på dig, säger Camilla Frankelius, förhandlingschef på fackförbundet Sveriges ingenjörer.

Sätt dig ned och fundera på det gångna året. Blicka bakåt och skriv ner vad du har gjort på jobbet. Har du varit extra skicklig inom något område? Har du fått fler arbetsuppgifter som förtjänar en högre lön?

Viktigt att komma i håg är att sätta igång i tid. Nästa steg är att skriva ned dina prestationer i punktform. Men du behöver göra mer än att knåpa ihop listan.

Du måste kunna lyfta dina argument muntligt också. För att lyckas med det ska du lämna känslorna hemma. Det räcker sällan med att påstå att du gör ett bra jobb. I själva verket behöver du bygga upp argumenten med fakta.

– Om du är oförberedd och saknar fakta i dina argument riskerar du att börja använda dig av känslor. Det är bättre att ha förberett sig, säger Anna Wenner, som är personalchef på byggkoncernen Skanska Sverige.

Att prata lön kan kännas jobbigt och nervöst. Om du är en av de som känner så är dagarna före lönesamtalet ett bra tillfälle för att öva. Till din hjälp kan du ha din sambo, en vän – eller till och med hunden.

– Prata med dem och berätta om vilken bra medarbetare du är. Förhoppningsvis känns det lite lättare att framhäva dig själv efteråt, tipsar Camilla Frankelius

Nästa steg är att ta reda på löneläget. Vad är en rimlig lön på din arbetsplats? Ta hjälp av lönestatistiken. Oftast har facket koll på siffrorna. Till exempel kan du ta fram statistik över personer med samma utbildning och examensår. Därefter kan du kolla på hur löneläget ser ut för kollegor i branschen.

– Lämna inte lönesamtalet förrän du har fått prata siffror med chefen. Det gäller att vara saklig och ha ett underbyggt löneanspråk. Annars tycker chefen att du är uppe i det blå, säger Camilla Frankelius.

2. Under mötet: Var saklig
Nu är det dags att lägga alla korten på bordet. En bra start på samtalet är om ni kan enas om det mest grundläggande. Börja med att bocka av frågan: Har jag förbättrat mitt arbete under året?

Vi utgår ifrån att chefen håller med om att du har gjort framsteg. I så fall är det enklare att fortsätta prata om lönen. Men vad händer om chefen inte tycker att du har förbättrat ditt arbete?

– Då är det upp till chefen att förklara varför. Med det menas att chefen ska ge exempel och råd på hur då går vidare, säger Göran Arrius, ordförande på den fackliga centralorganisationen Sveriges akademiker, även förkortat Saco.

Kom i håg att vara saklig. Det gäller även att vara lyhörd på chefens synpunkter. Trots allt ska ni komma fram till en gemensam lösning. Därför är det även viktigt att chefen tar sitt ansvar. Det gör chefen genom att komma förberedd till lönesamtalet.

– Det är chefens ansvar att se till att mötet blir bra. Det gör chefen genom att lägga tillräckligt med tid på ert möte, och vara tydlig och rak i sin kommunikation, säger Anna Wenner.

I värsta fall kanske du inte får den löneökningen du hade förväntat dig. Då gäller det att försöka förstå varför. Sedan får du ta ställning. Viktigt är att inte heller stirra dig blind på lönen. Trots allt kanske du trivs på jobbet.

Vissa gånger pekar arbetsgivaren på att det finns alldeles för lite pengar. Till exempel kan ett argument vara att potten måste räcka för alla medarbetare.

– Om du tycker att du är värd en större del av potten gäller det att verkligen kunna bevisa det. Vässa på argumenten och förklara varför du är värd det. Även om en verksamhet behöver spara pengar kan det vara så att du har ansträngt dig extra mycket, säger Anna Wenner.

Dock kan det vara svårt för chefen att spräcka budgeten. I så fall kan det vara en fråga som borde tas med chefens chef.

– Chefen kan ju gå till sin chef och försöka att begära en större pott för sin avdelning, säger Anna Wenner.

Ett alternativ kan vara att hitta en kompromiss. Chefen kanske tycker att du förtjänar en högre lön, men inte lika hög som ditt förslag.

– Det är mänskligt att agera i affekt, men försök att undvika det. Ge dig själv tiden att fundera på vad du behöver hjälp med för att förbättras i ditt arbete, säger Helena Sjöberg, personalchef på Microsoft Sverige.

Vissa gånger kan det finnas skäl att stå på sig. Det gäller till exempel om din lön är betydligt lägre än genomsnittet i branschen. Likaså kan du ha fastnat på en låg ingångslön, som borde justeras.

– Om det är omöjligt att enas är det bättre att ni avbryter lönesamtalet. Försök att hitta nya argument och boka in ett nytt möte med chefen, säger Anna Wenner.

Dock finns det ett klassiskt misstag att undvika:

– Vissa går in i samtalet och säger att kollegorna X och Y tjänar mer. Det är omöjligt som chef att besvara. Det kan handla om skillnader i både prestationer och erfarenheter. Fokusera i stället på den överblickande nivån, såsom branschen i stort, säger Anna Wenner.

3. Efter mötet
Förhoppningsvis lämnade du lönesamtalet med lätta fotsteg. Om mötet känns osäkert eller förvirrande kan du behöva stanna upp. Fråga dig själv om du förstod chefens argument. Annars är det upp till denne att utveckla dem för dig.

Som chef kan du också visa att du bryr dig. Framför allt om medarbetaren blev tydligt besviken av lönesamtalet. Till exempel kan personen ha haft väldigt höga förväntningar, som inte uppfylldes.

– I så fall är det läge att boka in ett uppföljningsmöte. Som chef kan du fråga medarbetaren vad den behöver för att fortsätta att utvecklas, säger Helena Sjöberg.

Hur går du vidare efter lönesamtalet? Om du fortfarande önskar få en högre lön? Om lönen är viktig för dig har du två alternativ.

Det ena är att stanna kvar i tjänsten.

Under den kommande tiden får du ge järnet och försöka att utvecklas. Det utifrån målen som du och chefen bestämde under lönesamtalet. Nästa gång du har ett lönesamtal kan du peka på målen. Om du har uppnått dem kan det vara dags för ett lönepåslag.

Det andra alternativet är att testa dina vingar.

Antigen byter du tjänst inom företaget eller så byter du jobb helt och hållet. I genomsnitt byter svenskar jobb var femte år, enligt siffror från Statistiska centralbyrån (SCB).

– Det absolut bästa sättet att höja lönen på är att byta jobb. Det ger störst effekt. Dock är det långt ifrån alla som värderar lönen högst. Arbetstider, kollegor eller pensionsförmåner är också viktiga, säger Camilla Frankelius.

Källa: DN.se, 3 februari 2020
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Ny forskningsrapport: Så fattar VD:ar mer lönsamma beslut

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on January 15th, 2020 by admin

Schablonbilden av en bolags-vd som en beräknande, egoistisk och känslokall person har visst stöd i nationalekonomin, där vinstmaximering och strikt rationellt agerande ofta framhålls som nödvändiga egenskaper för framgång.

Men hur sann är vd-bilden av Gordon Gekko, Bobby Axelrod och J.R. Ewing egentligen?

Inte särskilt, enligt en ny SNS-rapport baserad på en studie i Kina.

Jerker Holm, professor i nationalekonomi vid Lunds universitet, konstaterar att företagsledares strategiska beslut är ett svårstuderat ämne. Vd:ar är upptagna personer som har lite tid över för ekonomiska experiment, och det är heller inte oproblematiskt att i efterhand analysera beslut där inte vem som helst tillåts ta del av känslig bakgrundsinformation. Ofta är också fonden bakom ett strategiskt viktigt beslut en så komplicerad bild av omständigheter och förutsättningar att den helt enkelt är omöjlig att koka ner till jämförbar materia.

För att få en bild av hur vd:ar tänker har Jerker Holm och två forskarkollegor genomfört en studie i Shanghai och Wenzhou i Kina, där 200 vd:ar från konkurrensutsatta privatägda företag rekryterades. Vd:arna ställdes inför tre klassiska spelteorietiska situationer eller spel, där de fick ta ställning till att samarbeta eller exploatera, eller att välja en aggressiv eller defensiv linje för att lösa de hypotetiska problemen.

Vd:arnas resultat jämfördes sedan med en kontrollgrupp med 200 personer, som till sin sammansättning liknade vd-gruppen med avseende på kön, ålder, utbildning och bostad. Grupperna ombads dessutom att att gissa hur andra inom samma grupp skulle välja, det vill säga att man mätte förväntningarna på hur den i allt väsentligt liknande motparten skulle agera i samma situation.

Till bilden hör dessutom att såväl vd:arna som kontrollpersonerna hade möjlighet att tjäna ganska mycket pengar på spelen. De ersattes för i snitt 20 minuters jobb med en summa som motsvarade en timlön på 1.000 kronor – men totalsummen var helt beroende på vilka strategiska val de gjorde och hur framgångsrika de blev. Detta som ett sätt att mäta effektiviteten. Vissa gick således därifrån med en rejäl slant samtidigt som andra lämnade tomhänta.

Resultaten förbluffade forskarna.

”I samtliga formuleringar av spelen ser man att vd:arna genomgående valde att samarbeta mer och exploatera mindre än kontrollgruppen. De var mindre aggressiva i sina val jämfört med kontrollgruppen,” säger Jerker Holm.

Skillnaderna i vart och ett av de tre spelen var statistiskt signifikanta.

När det gäller vd:arnas förväntningar på motparten så var företagsledaren dessutom mer benägen än kontrollgruppen att förvänta sig ett icke-aggressivt beteende från motspelaren. Resultaten visar alltså ett beteende och ett beslutsfattande som går rakt på tvärs med stereotypen av den offensive och hänsynslöse företagsledaren.

Det var, intressant nog, också signifikanta skillnader mellan hur mycket pengar de olika grupperna tjänade på spelen:

”Om man matchar grupperna mot varandra så tjänade vd:arna genomgående väldigt mycket mer på att samarbeta och på att välja icke-aggressiva strategier. Faktiskt tjänade vd:arna betydligt mer i samtliga tre spel”, säger Jerker Holm som tillstår att han förvånades över resultaten av studien.

”Det intressantaste tycker jag är just effektiviteten och att den i någon bemärkelse kommer sig av det vi kallar för icke-rationaliteten. Det är så genomgående. Det förvånade oss att det var så tydliga resultat.”

Att studien genomfördes just i Kina beror på flera skäl och Jerker Holm medger att det kan finnas kulturellt betingade skillnader som kan tänkas påverka försökspersonernas val. Samtidigt finns det också stora likheter. Alla företagsledare ställs inför samma utmaningar när det kommer till att organisera resurser, samordna beslut, samarbeta under olika slags osäkerhet och konkurrera, framhåller han.

Lars G Nordström, näringslivsnestor med en lång bankbakgrund och nuvarande styrelseordförande i Vattenfall, uppskattar att studien bidrar till att motverka vrångbilden av den verkställande direktören.

”Men jag kan inte säga att jag är särskilt förvånad att företagsledare har den här lite mer sammansatta bilden som studien visar”, säger han och poängterar att den vd som tror att det är att köra på som Gordon Gekko snart blir nertagen på jorden.

”Väldigt snart inser man i vd-rollen att det finns kunder, anställda, politik och samhället i stort som man måste lära sig att hantera. Då förstår man att man inte kan köra enligt mediebilden utan det är en helt annan verklighet man har att hantera.”

Ofta är det också så att de personliga egenskaperna är en parameter som sorterar bort de vd:ar som inte kan hantera intressenthantering och samspel och så vidare, tillägger han.

Som styrelseordförande är en av dina viktigaste uppgifter att tillsätta vd. Vad letar du efter där?
”Det beror rätt mycket vilken situation bolaget är i. Jag tycker att man kan lära sig mycket från lagsporternas värld. Det fel man gör i näringslivet i för stor utsträckning är att man tillsätter vd:ar utifrån CV och vad personen har presterat, och för lite i förhållande till vad de faktiskt kan förväntas att komma att prestera. Det skulle aldrig falla en tränare in att sätta ihop laget baserat på matchen man spelade i söndags, utan man försöker sätta ihop ett lag inför den kommande matchen och det kommande motståndet”, säger Lars G Nordström.

Källa: DI.se, januari 2020
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Så blir du mer effektiv på jobbet

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Coaching on December 9th, 2019 by admin

Sex tips. Lycka till!

1. Fokusera!
Välj ett område som du vill förbättra. Det allra viktigaste är att området är avgränsat. Tänk litet och konkret. På så sätt blir det enklare att identifiera vad som är kärnan av problemet. Till exempel varför du lägger ner mycket tid på något som sällan tar dig framåt.

2. Identifiera!
Undersök vilka faktorer som påverkar flödet och utmaningarna som följer med det. Till exempel: vilka personer påverkar dig och din förmåga att styra området? Dessutom är det bra om området existerar på en specifik plats, såsom i hemmet eller på arbetsplatsen.


3. Eliminera!
Vid det här laget är det dags att stryka saker som tar upp din tid utan att det ger resultat. Kan du uppnå ett bra resultat på ett annat sätt än hur du gör nu?

Ett exempel: Ett varuhus säljer möbler. Företaget har väldigt många skruvar för varje möbel. Då kan de minska variationen på olika skruvar till sina möbler. Det gör det enklare att ha reservdelar i alla varuhusen – utan att det tar upp mycket plats.

4. Separera!
I bland kan det vara bäst att dela upp och organisera olika flöden. Ett sådant exempel är gatukorsningar med trafikljus. Bilar, cyklister och fotgängare går över gatan vid olika tillfällen. Alternativet hade varit att bara bilarna fick köra, vilket är mindre effektivt. Syftet med att separera flöden är att styra resurserna på ett sätt som gör att de kan användas så smidigt som möjligt.

5. Titta på andra!
Hitta inspiration bland personer i din omgivning. Du kan även studera hur framgångsrika personer på ditt område arbetar. Dock finns det en risk att du blir besviken om du inte når samma resultat som ”de bästa”.

6. Addera!
Känns det omöjligt att genomföra alla stegen? I vissa fall kan det vara svårt att hitta inspiration eller kunna separera flöden. En lösning är att öppna plånboken och kalendern. För att uppnå resultatet du hoppas på kan det behövas fler resurser. Om du arbetar i en fabrik kan det innebära att du behöver köpa en ny maskin.

Källa: Civilingenjören Nina Modig.

Conflict, lack of clarity, and decision making: The 3 biggest derailers of work teams

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on December 3rd, 2019 by admin

Conflict—and the inability to deal with it effectively—is one of the three biggest derailers of work teams, says Lael Good, director of consulting services for The Ken Blanchard Companies and coauthor of the company’s new Team Leadership program.

“In the absence of training, people won’t naturally seek out conflict solutions where others can be seen and heard. Instead, they will resort to their own strategies for dealing with conflict,” says Good. “One of the things we teach in the Team Leadership program is how to understand if you have a fight or flight approach to conflict—because neither of those options is necessarily the best way for a team to work together. Our goal is to create an environment within a team where people share their opinions and discuss conflict openly—because that’s the only way it is going to become a high performance team.”

Good explains that team members may have different personality styles that need to be considered. For example, some may be battlers—very open about announcing their opinions to the team, and some may be avoiders—careful about bringing up their concerns or even trying to avoid talking about them.

“Each person’s approach to conflict has a lot to do with their personality preferences. Diversity within teams is important because it creates more opportunities to find solutions. It also opens the possibility of discrepancies between people who see things differently and act differently. But if conflicting viewpoints are not brought out in the open and discussed, the team could fall apart.”

The team leader plays an important role, says Good. “Some leaders run for the woods when conflict arises. Others say ‘Knock it off and get back to work.’ It’s difficult for a team to progress with either of those approaches. Leaders need to embrace conflict in a way that opens a door rather than closes it.”

Lack of Clarity is number 2
A lack of clarity is the second big derailer of a high performance team, says Good. “Lack of clarity causes problems at many levels. Clarity and alignment must exist between goals of the team and those of the organization. There must also be clarity among team members about what they are doing and how they are doing it. And finally, it is necessary to have clarity around decisions that are made and the impact the team will have on other teams and individuals in the organization.

“Unless all of these areas of clarity are sorted out, we often find that teams step into other territories without meaning to. Questions may come from others regarding the purpose of the team and how the team’s actions link to what the organization is trying to achieve.”

Decision Making is number 3
The third big derailer of successful teams is decision making. “Most teams strive to make key decisions by consensus. But in the midst of the challenges and pressures brought on by conflict, the leader or subject matter expert makes the decision or it is reached through a majority vote. If the decision making process isn’t defined at the outset, these and other difficulties can result in no decisions being reached.”

To fix these three major derailers of teams, Good recommends using a common language and process to launch and accelerate the growth of a team through the four stages of development: Orientation, when a team is just starting out; Dissatisfaction, when conflict inevitably arises; Integration, as the team begins to learn how to work with each other; and Production, when the fine-tuned team is achieving its purpose and goals.

“At the Orientation stage, a team needs clarity and alignment. Team members are excited but they also have a lot of questions. The team leader’s role is to not only ensure the team is aligned on its purpose, goals, and roles, but also provide clear objectives and norms around communication, accountability, and decision making.

“At the Dissatisfaction stage, the team begins to experience conflict as team members present different ideas about how the team should work together. Many teams never progress to a level of high performance because they can’t manage or communicate through that conflict.

“At the Integration stage, things are beginning to improve, but the team needs to keep talking. We teach team members to voice their concerns and share their thoughts and observations with the team. This is where having clear agreements about objectives and norms at the front end helps. Now people can ask “How are we doing with our norms?” This check-in process gives the team a way to openly discuss what’s happening and what might be getting in the way of the team’s ability to deliver results on time.

“At the Production stage, the challenge is how to sustain high performance. This is about keeping the team nourished and growing. Don’t take the team for granted. The team leader needs to ask ‘Are we demonstrating our team’s contribution to overall organizational goals? Have we recognized and appreciated each team member’s efforts? What’s next for our team?’”

Good offers some encouragement. “If leaders are meeting the team’s needs at each stage, the team is going to accelerate through all four stages of development. The more broadly this is understood by both team members and team leaders in the organization, the more likely the organization will be a high performance organization. And if that means going a little bit slower in the beginning, rest assured it will pay off with additional speed and better results in the long run.

“The speed of change in organizations today is such that no one person can go it alone. We simply can’t accomplish everything that needs to be done, or gain enough skill or expertise to do it, by ourselves. Well-structured teams with a common language and process allow organizations to leverage diverse skill sets and approaches when they bring together a group of people to address common goals.”

Source: KenBlanchard.com, September 2019
Link

Varför alla företagare borde ha en mentor

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on November 26th, 2019 by admin

En mentor bidrar till att du får tillgång till mer kunskaper och mer information som kan hjälpa dig med ditt företagande

Är du helt ny som företagare? Då borde du ha en mentor. Har du drivit företag ett tag eller rent utav flera år? Ja, då borde du också ha en mentor. Vill du exempelvis utöka till nya marknader? Skapa nya produkter eller tjänster? Digitalisera din verksamhet? Växa eller tjäna mer? Oavsett vilket läge du befinner dig i kan en mentor hjälpa dig på traven. Mentorskap är ett fenomen som lär ha funnits sedan antikens Grekland och innebär att du har en personlig rådgivare som du kan tala förtroendefullt med om din affärsverksamhet och få hjälp med tips och råd. Idag är det minst lika aktuellt och anledningarna till att alla egenföretagare borde ha en mentor är flera, här är några av dem!

Ensam är inte starkast
Ensam kan absolut vara stark men tillsammans blir vi starkare. Som egenföretagare har du bara dig själv och det blir lätt både ensamt och sårbart i längden om du inte omger dig med personer som stöttar dig på din resa. Ensam är inte starkast utan det är tillsammans som vi blir verkligt starka.
Det sociala nätverkets kraft
Ungefär 70 procent av alla arbeten tillsätts idag genom nätverkskontakter. Hur den statistiken ser ut för egenföretagare förtäljer inte denna svenska studie men rekommendationer och kontakter är A och O för alla företagare. Oavsett om det gäller att få in nya affärer, leverantörer, medarbetare eller något annat du kan tänkas behöva. Genom en mentor kommer du att nå ut till ännu fler personer via hens nätverk och bara det kan vara ovärderligt för din framtida verksamhet.

Lär av andras misstag
Alla gör vi misstag, det är knappast något nytt. Det är inte heller nytt att det en lär sig bäst genom sina egna misstag. Men varför nöja sig med det om du också kan lära dig av andras misstag och därmed undvika att trampa i fler företagarfällor än de du redan har upptäckt? Ju tidigare du kan få hjälp med att upptäcka vilka risker du står inför desto bättre kan du förhindra dem.

Möjligheten till att kunna fråga allt du undrar över
Alla har vi saker som vi undrar över. Stora som små. Så, varför gå och undra när det finns erfarna människor som antingen har svaren eller kan hjälpa dig finna dem? En bra mentor fungerar som din mentala PT och hen kommer att kunna hjälpa dig och ditt företag att må bättre och bli starkare.

Du kommer kunna lyckas snabbare
Goda råd sägs vara dyra men är det verkligen dyrt om de goda råden kan få din företagsverksamhet att växa både mer, tidigare och snabbare jämfört med om du skulle ha kommit på allting själv? Njä. Det tar mellan ett och fem år att etablera en affärsverksamhet beroende på vad det är för typ av företag, förutsättningar och marknader som det gäller. Att ha en mentor som kan hjälpa dig att navigera både inför och under tiden som du startar upp eller implementerar något nytt kommer att hjälpa dig spara både tid, kraft och därmed hjälpa dig att lyckas snabbare.

Källa:Mynewsdesk.com, september 2019
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De vanligaste anledningarna till att inte ha en mentor och varför de är fel

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on September 18th, 2019 by admin

Missförstånd nummer 1: Är mitt lilla problem något denna erfarna mentor verkligen bryr sig om?
En sak är säker, som företagare har du problem. Nästan jämt. Vissa är stora och vissa är små. Och inget av dem kommer att vara för litet eller för stort för din mentor eftersom hen bryr sig om dig och din verksamhet och vill att du ska lyckas. Inte nog med det – din mentor kommer också veta hur du kan lösa några av dem och stötta dig med problemlösningen så att den går snabbare och enklare än om du skulle behöva komma på allting själv.

Missförstånd nummer 2: Kan jag verkligen lita på att det stannar mellan oss två?
En annan vanlig fråga vi möter är om man vågar anförtro sig åt en helt främmande människa? Och om man kan lita på att det som sägs stannar mellan dig och din mentor? Ja, det kan du självklart göra. Som mentor är det vår skyldighet att skydda och hjälpa dig och din affärsverksamhet och vår relation bygger på att vi litar på varandra och respekterar att det vi berättar för varandra inte förs vidare. En mentor har inget egenintresse av er relation mer än att hjälpa dig lyckas med det du gör.

Missförstånd nummer 3: Jag vet inte vad jag kan förvänta mig av en mentor?
Vi vet, om du köper en pryl kan du känna på den innan du köper den. Gällande tjänster ser du i stället priset men vet inte vad du får. Men vet du vad den vanligaste feedbacken är som vi får från våra kunder? Ett citat i stil med: ”Varför jag har inte gjort detta tidigare?”. Det behöver inte vara svårt att hitta en mentor och 98 procent av våra kunder är jättenöjda med att deras mentorer lyssnar, ställer frågor och delar med sig av sina erfarenheter och hjälper dig med tips och råd.

Missförstånd nummer 4: Det för tidigt att skaffa en mentor
Sist men inte minst så är det ett vanligt missförstånd att det är för tidigt att skaffa en mentor. Att man måste ha drivit företag i X antal år för att ha nytta av att ha en mentor. Men det är fel. Ju tidigare du får en mentor, desto enklare och bättre kommer ditt företagande att bli eftersom du kommer att få rådgivning och stöd i hur du ska arbeta vilket kommer att leda till att ditt företag lyckas ännu snabbare än om du ensam ska komma på och utföra allting. Utnyttja i stället chansen att få lyssna på, ställa frågor och bolla dina idéer med en person som gjort en liknande resa förut och som kan ge dig tips och stöd på din företagsresa.

Källa:Mentorerna.se
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Making time management the organization’s priority

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on September 16th, 2019 by admin

To stop wasting a finite resource, companies should tackle time problems systematically rather than leave them to individuals.

When a critical strategic initiative at a major multinational stalled recently, company leaders targeted a talented, up-and-coming executive to take over the project. There was just one problem: she was already working 18-hour days, five days a week. When the leaders put this to the CEO, he matter-of-factly remarked that by his count she still had “30 more hours Monday to Friday, plus 48 more on the weekend.”
Extreme as this case may seem, the perennial time-scarcity problem that underlies it has become more acute in recent years. The impact of always-on communications, the growing complexity of global organizations,1 and the pressures imposed by profound economic uncertainty have all added to a feeling among executives that there are simply not enough hours in the day to get things done.

Our research and experience suggest that leaders who are serious about addressing this challenge must stop thinking about time management as primarily an individual problem and start addressing it institutionally. Time management isn’t just a personal-productivity issue over which companies have no control; it has increasingly become an organizational issue whose root causes are deeply embedded in corporate structures and cultures.
Fortunately, this also means that the problem can be tackled systematically. Senior teams can create time budgets and formal processes for allocating their time. Leaders can pay more attention to time when they address organizational-design matters such as spans of control, roles, and decision rights. Companies can ensure that individual leaders have the tools and incentives to manage their time effectively. And they can provide institutional support, including best-in-class administrative assistance—a frequent casualty of recent cost-cutting efforts.
Approaches like these aren’t just valuable in their own right. They also represent powerful levers for executives faced with talent shortages, particularly if companies find their most skilled people so overloaded that they lack the capacity to lead crucial new programs. In this article, we’ll explore institutional solutions—after first reviewing in more detail the nature of today’s time-management challenge, including the results of a recent survey.

Time: The ‘infinite’ resource
When we asked nearly 1,500 executives across the globe2 to tell us how they spent their time, we found that only 9 percent of the respondents deemed themselves “very satisfied” with their current allocation. Less than half were “somewhat satisfied,” and about one-third were “actively dissatisfied.” What’s more, only 52 percent said that the way they spent their time largely matched their organizations’ strategic priorities. Nearly half admitted that they were not concentrating sufficiently on guiding the strategic direction of the business. These last two data points suggest that time challenges are influencing the well-being of companies, not just individuals.
The survey results, while disquieting, are arguably a natural consequence of the fact that few organizations treat executive time as the finite and measurable resource it is. Consider the contrast with capital. Say that a company has $2 billion of good capital-investment opportunities, all with positive net present value and reasonably quick payback, but just $1 billion of capital readily available for investment. The only options are either to prioritize the most important possibilities and figure out which should be deferred or to find ways of raising more capital.
Leadership time, by contrast, too often gets treated as though it were limitless, with all good opportunities receiving high priority regardless of the leadership capacity to drive them forward. No wonder that so few leaders feel they are using their time well or that a segmentation analysis of the survey data revealed the existence not only of dissatisfied executives but of four distinct groups of dissatisfied executives—“online junkies,” “schmoozers,” “cheerleaders,” and “firefighters”—whose pain points, as we’ll see, reflect the ways organizations ignore time (for a full description of each group, see the narrated slideshow, “Time management: Four flavors of frustration”).

Initiative overload
The myth of infinite time is most painfully experienced through the proliferation of big strategic initiatives and special projects common to so many modern organizations. The result is initiative overload: projects get heaped on top of “day jobs,” with a variety of unintended consequences, including failed initiatives, missed opportunities, and leaders who don’t have time to engage the people whose cooperation and commitment they need. Organizations often get “change fatigue” and eventually lack energy for even the most basic and rewarding initiatives.
Many dissatisfied executives, particularly firefighters and online junkies, struggle to devote time and energy to the personal conversations and team interactions that drive successful initiatives. The online junkies spend the least time motivating employees or being with their direct reports, either one on one or in a group; face-to-face encounters take up less than 20 percent of their working day. The communication channels they most favor are e-mail, other forms of asynchronous messaging, and the telephone—all useful tools, but often inadequate substitutes for real conversations.

Muddling through
Another unintended consequence of our cavalier attitude toward this supposedly infinite resource is a lack of organizational time-management guidance for individual managers.
Imagine someone on day one of a new job: she’s been through the training and onboarding, arrives at the office, sits down at her desk, and then . . . ? What determines the things she does, her schedule, the decisions she gets involved with, where she goes, whom she talks with, the information she reviews (and for how long), and the meetings she attends? Nine out of ten times, we find, the top two drivers are e-mails that appear in the inbox and meeting invites, albeit sometimes in reverse order.
Diary analyses of how different people spend their time in the same role—sales rep, trader, store manager, regional vice president—often provoke astonishment at the sharply contrasting ways different individuals perform the same job. The not-so-good performers are often highly fragmented, spending time on the wrong things in the wrong places while ignoring tasks core to their strategic objectives.
Our survey suggests that a laissez-faire approach to time management is a challenge for all four types of dissatisfied executives, but particularly for the schmoozers (CEOs are well represented) and cheerleaders (often C-suite executives one level down). These individuals seem to be doing valuable things: schmoozers spend most of their time meeting face to face with important (often external) stakeholders, while cheerleaders spend over 20 percent of theirs (more than any other dissatisfied group) interacting with, encouraging, and motivating employees.
But consider the things these people are not doing. Cheerleaders spend less time than other executives with a company’s external stakeholders. For schmoozers, more than 80 percent of interaction time takes place face to face or on the phone. They say they have difficulty connecting with a broad cross-section of the workforce or spending enough time thinking and strategizing. The same challenge confronts cheerleaders, who spend less than 10 percent of their time focused on long-term strategy. The bottom line: muddling through and devoting time to activities that seem important doesn’t always cut it, even for a company’s most senior leaders.

Troublesome trade-offs
When new initiatives proliferate without explicit attention to the allocation of time and roles, organizations inadvertently make trade-offs that render their leaders less effective (see sidebar, “Drowning in managerial minutiae”).
Companies often exacerbate time problems through the blunt application of “delayering” principles. One organization we know applied “the rule of seven” (no more than seven direct reports for managers) to all parts of the organization. It forgot that different types of managerial work require varying amounts of time to oversee, manage, and apprentice people. In some cases (such as jobs involving highly complicated international tax work in finance organizations), a leader has the bandwidth for only two or three direct reports. In others (such as very simple call-center operations, where employees are well trained and largely self-managing), it is fine to have 20 or more.
While the average span of control might still work out at seven, applying simple rules in an overly simplistic way can be costly: managers with too few direct reports often micromanage them or initiate unnecessary meetings, reports, or projects that make the organization more complex. Conversely, when managers don’t have enough time to supervise their people, they tend to manage by exception (acting only where there’s a significant deviation from what’s planned) and often end up constantly firefighting.
We saw these dynamics most at work among our survey’s firefighters. General managers accounted for the largest number of people in this category, which is characterized by the amount of time those in it spend alone in their offices, micromanaging and responding to supposed emergencies via e-mail and telephone (40 percent, as opposed to 13 percent for the schmoozers). Such executives also complained about focusing largely on short-term issues and near-term operational decisions and having little time to set strategy and organizational direction.

Respecting time
The deep organizational roots of these time challenges help explain their persistence despite several decades of research, training, and popular self-help books, all building on Peter Drucker’s famous dictum: “Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.”
So where should leaders hoping to make real progress for their organizations—and themselves—start the journey? We don’t believe there’s one particular breakdown of time that works for all executives. But the responses of the relatively small group of satisfied executives in our survey (fewer than one in ten) provide some useful clues to what works.
Overall, the key seems to be balance (exhibit). On average, executives in the satisfied group spend 34 percent of their time interacting with external stakeholders (including boards, customers, and investors), 39 percent in internal meetings (evenly split between one on ones with direct reports, leadership-team gatherings, and other meetings with employees), and 24 percent working alone.

Of the time executives in the satisfied group spend interacting with others (externally and internally), 40 percent involves face-to-face meetings, 25 percent video- or teleconferences, and around 10 percent some other form of real-time communication. Less than a third involves e-mail or other asynchronous communications, such as voice mail.
The satisfied executives identified four key activities that take up (in roughly equal proportions) two-thirds of their time: making key business or operational decisions, managing and motivating people, setting direction and strategy, and managing external stakeholders. None of these, interestingly, is the sort of transactional and administrative activity their dissatisfied counterparts cited as a major time sink.
In our experience, all of those dissatisfied leaders stand to benefit from the remedies described below. That said, just as the principles of a good diet plan are suitable for all unhealthy eaters but the application of those principles may vary, depending on individual vices (desserts for some, between-meal snacks for others), so too these remedies will play out differently, depending on which time problems are most prevalent in a given organization.

1. Have a ‘time leadership’ budget—and a proper process for allocating it
Rather than add haphazardly to projects and initiatives, companies should routinely analyze how much leadership attention, guidance, and intervention each of them will need. What is the oversight required? What level of focus should the top team or the steering committee provide? In other words, how much leadership capacity does the company really have to “finance” its great ideas?

Establishing a time budget for priority initiatives might sound radical, but it’s the best way to move toward the goal of treating leadership capacity as companies treat financial capital and to stop financing new initiatives when the human capital runs out. One large health system we know has established a formal governance committee, with a remit to oversee the time budget, for enterprise-wide initiatives. The committee approves and monitors all of them, including demands on the system’s leadership capacity. Initial proposals must include time commitments required from the leadership and an explicit demonstration that each leader has the required capacity. If not, the system takes deliberate steps to lighten that leader’s other responsibilities.

2. Think about time when you introduce organizational change
Companies typically look at managerial spans of control from a structural point of view: the broader they are, the fewer managers and the lower the overhead they need. Augmenting that structural frame of reference with the time required to achieve goals is critical to the long-term success of any organizational change. The hours needed to manage, lead, or supervise an employee represent a real constraint that, if unmanaged, can make structures unstable or ineffective.
Getting this right is a delicate balancing act. Excessively lean organizations leave managers overwhelmed with more direct reports than they can manage productively. Yet delayering can be a time saver because it strips out redundant managerial roles that add complexity and unnecessary tasks. One major health-products company we know recently made dramatic progress toward eliminating unnecessary work and taming a notorious “meeting culture” just by restructuring its finance organization, which had twice as many managers as its peers did.
Likewise, when another company—this one in the technology sector—reset its internal governance structures, it saved more than 4,000 person-hours of executive time annually while enhancing its strategic focus, increasing its accountability, and speeding up decision making. In particular, the company revamped complex decision-making structures involving multiple boards and committees that typically included the same people and had similar agendas and unnecessarily detailed discussions.

3. Ensure that individuals routinely measure and manage their time
At one leading professional-services firm, a recent analysis revealed that the senior partners were spending a disproportionate amount of time on current engagements, to the exclusion of equally important strategic priorities, such as external networking, internal coaching, and building expertise. Today individual partners have a data-backed baseline as a starting point to measure how well their time allocation meets their individual strategic objectives.
Executives are usually surprised to see the output from time-analysis exercises, for it generally reveals how little of their activity is aligned with the company’s stated priorities. If intimacy with customers is a goal, for example, how much time are the organization’s leaders devoting to activities that encourage it? Most can’t answer this question: they can tell you the portion of the budget that’s dedicated to the organization’s priorities but usually not how much time the leadership devotes to them. Once leaders start tracking the hours, even informally, they often find that they devote a shockingly low percentage of their overall time to these priorities.
Of course, if you measure and manage something, it becomes a priority regardless of its importance. At one industrial company, a frontline supervisor spent almost all his time firefighting and doing unproductive administrative work, though his real value was managing, coaching, and developing people on the shop floor. The reason for the misallocation was that shop-floor time was neither structured nor measured—no one minded if he didn’t show up—but he got into trouble by not attending meetings and producing reports. The same issue exists for senior executives: if their formal and informal incentives don’t map closely to strategic priorities, their time will naturally be misallocated.
The inclusion in performance reviews of explicit, time-related metrics or targets, such as time spent with frontline employees (for a plant manager) or networking (for senior partners at a professional-services firm), is a powerful means of changing behavior. So is friendly competition among team members and verbal recognition of people who spend their time wisely. And consider borrowing a page from lean manufacturing, which emphasizes “standard work” as a way to reduce variability. We’ve seen companies define, measure, and reward leader-standard work, including easy-to-overlook priorities from “walking the halls” to spending time with critical stakeholders.

4. Refine the master calendar
To create time and space for critical priorities, business leaders must first of all be clear about what they and their teams will stop doing. Organizationally, that might mean reviewing calendars and meeting schedules to make an honest assessment of which meetings support strategic goals, as opposed to update meetings slotted into the agenda out of habit or in deference to corporate tradition.
While many large companies create a master calendar for key meetings involving members of the senior team, few take the next step and use that calendar as a tool to root out corporate time wasting. There are exceptions, though: one global manufacturer, for example, avoids the duplication of travel time by always arranging key visits with foreign customers to coincide with quarterly business meetings held overseas.
In our experience, companies can make even more progress by identifying which meetings are for information only (reporting), for cross-unit collaboration (problem solving and coordination at the interfaces), for managing performance (course-correcting actions must be adopted at such meetings, or they are really just for reporting), or for making decisions (meetings where everything is approved 99 percent of the time don’t count, since they too are really for reporting). Executives at the highest-performing organizations we’ve seen typically spend at least 50 percent of their time in decision meetings and less than 10 percent in reporting or information meetings. But most companies allocate their leadership time in exactly the reverse order, often without knowing it: the way people spend their time can be taken for granted, like furniture that nobody notices anymore.

5. Provide high-quality administrative support
One of the biggest differences we saw in the survey involved the quality of support. Of those who deemed themselves effective time managers, 85 percent reported that they received strong support in scheduling and allocating time. Only 7 percent of ineffective time allocators said the same.
The most effective support we’ve seen is provided by a global chemical company, where the CEO’s administrative assistant takes it upon herself to ensure that the organization’s strategic objectives are reflected in the way she allocates the time of the CEO and the top team to specific issues and stakeholders. She regularly checks to ensure that calendared time matches the stated priorities. If it doesn’t, during priority-setting meetings (every two weeks) she’ll highlight gaps by asking questions such as, “We haven’t been to Latin America yet this year—is that an issue? Do you need to schedule a visit before the end of the year?” Or, “Are these the right things to focus on? Since you’re already going to Eastern Europe, what else should we schedule while you’re out there? Do we need to clear the decks to make more time for strategic priorities?”
In addition, the CEO’s administrative assistant “owns” the master calendar for corporate officers and uses it to ensure that the executive team meets on important topics, avoids redundant meetings, and capitalizes on occasions when key leaders are in the same place. Finally, to give senior leaders time to reflect on the big picture, she creates “quiet zones” of minimal activity two or three days ahead of significant events, such as quarterly earnings reports, strategy reviews with business units, and board meetings. Such approaches, which make the executives’ allocation of time dramatically more effective, underscore the importance of not being “penny-wise and pound-foolish” in providing administrative support.

The time pressures on senior leaders are intensifying, and the vast majority of them are frustrated by the difficulty of responding effectively. While executives cannot easily combat the external forces at work, they can treat time as a precious and increasingly scarce resource and tackle the institutional barriers to managing it well. The starting point is to get clear on organizational priorities—and to approach the challenge of aligning them with the way executives spend their time as a systemic organizational problem, not merely a personal one.

Source: McKinsey.com
Authors: Frankki Bevins is a consultant in McKinsey’s Washington, DC, office, and Aaron De Smet is a principal in the Houston office.
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Making a culture transformation stick with symbolic actions

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap, Strategy implementation / Strategiimplementering on August 15th, 2019 by admin

Elephant in the room: making a culture transformation stick with symbolic actions

Leaders are familiar with the challenge of making a cultural transformation. To signal changing expectations, execute carefully considered symbolic actions.

Why did a leading global agriculture player order small rubber elephants adorned with the company’s logo for its meeting rooms? Far from being mere props, these elephants were symbols to facilitate desired behavior shifts in employees.

The organization was undergoing a cultural transformation to become a higher-performing, more innovative company. Leadership realized that to achieve this goal, employees needed to become more open and comfortable having the candid conversations required to move ideas forward—they needed to be able to put the elephant on the table. To encourage this change, leadership sought a way to signal the beginning of the transformation and role model the new behaviors.

Leaders across industries are familiar with the challenge of making—and sustaining—a cultural transformation. To signal that cultural expectations are changing, leadership should execute one or two carefully considered symbolic actions.

Make expectations clear through role modeling
“Beyond Performance 2.0” discusses the importance of senior leaders employing symbolic actions—highly visible acts or decisions that indicate change in the organization—to demonstrate their commitment to the transformation. Symbolic actions can augment critical, but often less visible, day-to-day behavior shifts among leaders, addressing a common frustration: “I’m doing things differently but no one is noticing.”

Our research shows that transformations are 5.3 times more likely to succeed when leaders model the behavior they want employees to adopt. We also found that nearly 50 percent of employees cite the CEO’s visible engagement and commitment to transformation as the most effective action for engaging frontline employees.

Symbolic actions are most successful when employees connect the dots between the act and the broader change message, facilitating both a mindset and behavioral shift. For example, employees at the agriculture company were initially confused when they discovered the rubber elephants. But their confusion subsided when they saw leaders pick them up and put them on the table as they raised difficult topics others might have felt uncomfortable surfacing. The practice was eventually adopted by other employees when they too needed to call out the elephant in the room.

Develop a portfolio of symbolic actions
Leaders can identify the right symbolic actions for their organization and evolve their approaches by undertaking three key activities:

1. Define the purpose of and audience for potential symbolic actions.
Leaders should identify what specific changes they want to facilitate and which group should be part of the symbolic action. Being clear on what is being symbolized and for what purpose will focus energy on the ideas that will have the greatest impact.

2. Brainstorm symbolic actions.
Go for quantity over quality when generating ideas. Use external examples for inspiration and adopt design-thinking tactics, such as empathy mapping, to better understand the audience. Categorizing the ideas according to design dimensions such as who will execute the action and the frequency of the action (one-time, periodic or ongoing) helps the group iterate.

3. Review and prioritize ideas.
Evaluate the list as a team and identify options that you feel will be the most effective, shifting the focus to quality over quantity. Prioritized actions should be consistent with broader transformation messaging and should be designed to appeal to the different sources of meaning that motivate and inspire employees, such as doing good for society, supporting their working team, or enabling personal gain.

The behavior change and the broader culture change transformation catalyzed by the elephant on the table ultimately paid off for the agriculture company. Its employees now have more open, candid conversations, enabling improved performance and health of the organization. The company climbed to the top decile of organizational health in McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index database—an achievement that our analysis indicates correlates with clear improvements in financial performance. For shareholders, there is nothing symbolic about those returns.

For more on leading successful large-scale change programs, see our book, “Beyond Performance 2.0.”

Source: McKinsey.com, July 2019
Authors: By Jessica Cohen, Matt Schrimper and Emily Taylor
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How leaders kill meaning at work

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on July 8th, 2019 by admin

Senior executives routinely undermine creativity, productivity, and commitment by damaging the inner work lives of their employees in four avoidable ways.

As a senior executive, you may think you know what Job Number 1 is: developing a killer strategy. In fact, this is only Job 1a. You have a second, equally important task. Call it Job 1b: enabling the ongoing engagement and everyday progress of the people in the trenches of your organization who strive to execute that strategy. A multiyear research project whose results we described in our recent book, The Progress Principle, found that of all the events that can deeply engage people in their jobs, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.

Even incremental steps forward—small wins—boost what we call “inner work life”: the constant flow of emotions, motivations, and perceptions that constitute a person’s reactions to the events of the work day. Beyond affecting the well-being of employees, inner work life affects the bottom line. People are more creative, productive, committed, and collegial in their jobs when they have positive inner work lives. But it’s not just any sort of progress in work that matters. The first, and fundamental, requirement is that the work be meaningful to the people doing it.

In our book and a recent Harvard Business Review article, we argue that managers at all levels routinely—and unwittingly—undermine the meaningfulness of work for their direct subordinates through everyday words and actions. These include dismissing the importance of subordinates’ work or ideas, destroying a sense of ownership by switching people off project teams before work is finalized, shifting goals so frequently that people despair that their work will ever see the light of day, and neglecting to keep subordinates up to date on changing priorities for customers.

But what about a company’s most senior leaders? What is their role in making—or killing—meaning at work? To be sure, as a high-level leader, you have fewer opportunities to directly affect the inner work lives of employees than do frontline supervisors. Yet your smallest actions pack a wallop because what you say and do is intensely observed by people down the line. A sense of purpose in the work, and consistent action to reinforce it, has to come from the top.

Four traps

To better understand the role of upper-level managers, we recently dug back into our data: nearly 12,000 daily electronic diaries from dozens of professionals working on important innovation projects at seven North American companies. We selected those entries in which diarists mentioned upper- or top-level managers—868 narratives in all.

Qualitative analysis of the narratives highlighted four traps that lie in wait for senior executives. Most of these pitfalls showed up in several companies. Six of the seven suffered from one or more of the traps, and in only a single company did leaders avoid them. The existence of this outlier suggests that it is possible for senior executives to sustain meaning consistently, but that’s difficult and requires vigilance.

This article should help you determine whether you risk falling into some of these traps yourself—and unknowingly dragging your organization into the abyss with you. We also offer a few thoughts on avoiding the problems, advice inspired by the actions and words of a senior leader at the one company that did so.

We don’t claim to have all the answers. But we are convinced that executives who sidestep these traps reduce their risk of inadvertently draining meaning from the work of the people in their organizations. Those leaders also will boost the odds of tapping into the motivational power of progress—something surprisingly few do.

We surveyed 669 managers at all levels of management, from dozens of companies and various industries around the world. We asked them to rank the importance of five employee motivators: incentives, recognition, clear goals, interpersonal support, and progress in the work. Only 8 percent of senior executives ranked progress as the most important motivator. Had they chosen randomly, 20 percent would have done so. In short, our survey showed that most executives don’t understand the power of progress in meaningful work.4 And the traps revealed by the diaries suggest that most executives don’t act as though progress matters. You can do better.

Trap 1: Mediocrity signals

Most likely, your company aspires to greatness, articulating a high purpose for the organization in its corporate mission statement. But are you inadvertently signaling the opposite through your words and actions?

We saw this dynamic repeatedly at a well-known consumer products company we’ll call Karpenter Corporation, which was experiencing a rapid deterioration in the inner work lives of its employees as a result of the actions of a new top-management team. Within three years of our studying Karpenter, it had become unprofitable and was acquired by a smaller rival.

Karpenter’s top-management team espoused a vision of entrepreneurial cross-functional business teams. In theory, each team would operate autonomously, managing its share of the company’s resources to back its own new-product innovations. During the year we collected data from Karpenter teams, the annual report was full of references to the company’s innovation focus; in the first five sentences, “innovation” appeared three times.

In practice, however, those top managers were so focused on cost savings that they repeatedly negated the teams’ autonomy, dictated cost reduction goals that had to be met before any other priorities were, and—as a result—drove new-product innovation into the ground. This unintended, de facto hypocrisy took its toll, as a diary excerpt from a longtime Karpenter product engineer emphasizes:

Today I found out that our team will be concentrating on [cost savings] for the next several months instead of any new products. . . . It is getting very difficult to concentrate on removing pennies from the standard cost of an item. That is the only place that we have control over. Most of the time, quality suffers. It seems that our competition is putting out new products at a faster rate. . . . We are no longer the leader in innovation. We are the followers.

This employee’s work had begun to lose its meaning, and he wasn’t alone. Many of the other 65 Karpenter professionals in our study felt that they were doing mediocre work for a mediocre company—one for which they had previously felt fierce pride. By the end of our time collecting data at Karpenter, many of these employees were completely disengaged. Some of the very best had left.

The mediocrity trap was not unique to Karpenter. We saw it revealed in different guises in several of the companies we studied. At a chemicals firm, it stemmed from the top managers’ risk aversion. Consider these words from one researcher there:

A proposal for liquid/medical filtration using our new technology was tabled for the second time by the Gate 1 committee (five directors that screen new ideas). Although we had plenty of info for this stage of the game, the committee is uncomfortable with the risk and liability. The team, and myself, are frustrated about hurdles that we don’t know how to answer.

This company’s leaders also inadvertently signaled that, despite their rhetoric about being innovative and cutting edge, they were really more comfortable being ordinary.

Trap 2: Strategic ‘attention deficit disorder’

As an experienced leader, you probably scan your company’s external environment constantly for guidance in making your next strategic moves. What are competitors planning? Where are new ones popping up? What’s happening in the global economy, and what might the implications be for financing or future market priorities? You are probably brimming with ideas on where you’d like to take the company next. All of that is good, in theory.

In practice, we see too many top managers start and abandon initiatives so frequently that they appear to display a kind of attention deficit disorder (ADD) when it comes to strategy and tactics. They don’t allow sufficient time to discover whether initiatives are working, and they communicate insufficient rationales to their employees when they make strategic shifts.

Karpenter’s strategic ADD seemed to stem from its leaders’ short attention span, perhaps fueled by the CEO’s desire to embrace the latest management trends. The problem was evident in decisions at the level of product lines and extended all the way up to corporate strategy. If you blinked, you could miss the next strategic shift. In one employee’s words:

A quarterly product review was held with members of the [top team] and the general manager and president. Primary outcome from the meeting was a change in direction away from spray jet mops to revitalization of existing window squeegees. Four priorities were defined for product development, none of which were identified as priorities at our last quarterly update. The needle still points north, but we’ve turned the compass again.

At another company we studied, strategic ADD appeared to stem from a top team warring with itself. Corporate executives spent many months trying to nail down a new market strategy. Meanwhile, different vice presidents were pushing in different directions, rendering each of the leaders incapable of giving consistent direction to their people. This wreaked havoc in the trenches. One diarist, a project manager, felt that rather than committing herself to doing something great for particular customers, she needed to hedge her bets:

The VP gave us his opinion of which target candidates [for new products] may fit with overall company strategy—but, in reality, neither he nor anyone in our management structure knows what the strategy is. It makes this project a real balancing act—we need to go forward, but need to weigh commitments very carefully.

If high-level leaders don’t appear to have their act together on exactly where the organization should be heading, it’s awfully difficult for the troops to maintain a strong sense of purpose.

Trap 3: Corporate Keystone Kops

In the early decades of cinema, a popular series of silent-film comedies featured the Keystone Kops—fictional policemen so incompetent that they ran around in circles, mistakenly bashed each other on the head, and fumbled one case after another. The title of that series became synonymous with miscoordination. Our research found that many executives who think everything is going smoothly in the everyday workings of their organizations are blithely unaware that they preside over their own corporate version of the Keystone Kops. Some contribute to the farce through their actions, others by failing to act. At Karpenter, for example, top managers set up overly complex matrix reporting structures, repeatedly failed to hold support functions (such as purchasing and sales) accountable for coordinated action, and displayed a chronic indecisiveness that bred rushed analyses. In the words of one diarist:

Last-minute changes continue on [an important customer’s] assortments. Rather than think through the whole process and logically decide which assortments we want to show [the customer], we are instead using a shotgun approach of trying multiple assortments until we find one that works. In the meantime, we are expending a lot of time and effort on potential assortments only to find out later that an assortment has been dropped.

Although Karpenter’s example was egregious, the company was far from alone in creating chaotic situations for its workers. In one high-tech company we studied, for example, Keystone Kop–like scenarios played out around the actions of a rogue marketing function. As described in one engineer’s diary, the attempts of many teams to move forward with their projects were continually thwarted by signals from marketing that conflicted with those coming from R&D and other key functions. Marketers even failed to show up for many key meetings:

At a meeting with Pierce, Clay, and Joseph, I was told that someone from marketing would be attending our team meetings (finally). The meeting also gave me a chance to demonstrate to Joseph that we were getting mixed signals from marketing.

When coordination and support are absent within an organization, people stop believing that they can produce something of high quality. This makes it extremely difficult to maintain a sense of purpose.

Trap 4: Misbegotten ‘big, hairy, audacious goals’

Management gurus Jim Collins and Jerry Porras encourage organizations to develop a “big, hairy, audacious goal” (BHAG, pronounced bee-hag)—a bold strategic vision statement that has powerful emotional appeal.5 BHAGs help infuse work with meaning by articulating the goals of the organization in a way that connects emotionally with peoples’ values. (Think of Google’s stated mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”)

At some companies, however, such statements are grandiose, containing little relevance or meaning for people in the trenches. They can be so extreme as to seem unattainable and so vague as to seem empty. The result is a meaning vacuum. Cynicism rises and drive plummets. Although we saw this trap clearly in only one of the seven companies we studied, we think it is sufficiently seductive and dangerous to warrant consideration.

That company, a chemicals firm, set a BHAG that all projects had to be innovative blockbusters that would yield a minimum of $100 million in revenue annually, within five years of a project’s initiation. This goal did not infuse the work with meaning, because it had little to do with the day-to-day activities of people in the organization. It did not articulate milestones toward the goal; it did not provide for a range of experiments and outcomes to meet it; worst of all, it did not connect with anything the employees valued. Most of them wanted to provide something of value to their customers; an aggressive revenue target told them only about the value to the organization, not to the customer. Far from what Collins and Porras intended, this misbegotten BHAG was helping to destroy the employees’ sense of purpose.

Avoiding the traps

Spotting the traps from the executive suite is difficult enough; sidestepping them is harder still—and wasn’t the focus of our research. Nonetheless, it’s instructive to look at the one company in our study that avoided the traps, a creator of coated fabrics for weatherproof clothing and other applications. We recently interviewed its head, whom we’ll call Mark Hamilton. That conversation generated a few ideas that we hope will spark a lively discussion in your own C-suite. For example:

When you communicate with employees, do you provide strategic clarity that’s consistent with your organization’s capabilities and an understanding of where it can add the most value? Hamilton and his top team believed that innovating in processes, rather than products, was the key to creating the right combination of quality and value for customers. So he talked about process innovation at every all-company meeting, and he steadfastly supported it throughout the organization. This consistency helped everyone understand the strategy and even become jazzed about it.

Can you keep sight of the individual employee’s perspective? The best executives we studied internalize their early experiences and use them as reference points for gauging the signals that their own behavior will send to the troops. “Try hard to remember when you were working in the trenches,” Hamilton says. “If somebody asked you to do a bunch of work on something they hadn’t thought through, how meaningful could it be for you? How committed could you be?”

Do you have any early-warning systems that indicate when your view from the top doesn’t match the reality on the ground? Regular audits to gauge the effectiveness of coordination and support processes in areas such as marketing, sales, and purchasing can highlight pain points that demand senior management’s attention because they are starting to sap meaning from your people’s work. In Hamilton’s view, senior executives bear the responsibility for identifying and clearing away systemic impediments that prevent quality work from getting done.

Hamilton’s company was doing very well. But we believe that senior executives can provide a sense of purpose and progress even in bad economic times. Consider the situation that then–newly appointed Xerox head Anne Mulcahy faced in 2000, when the company verged on bankruptcy. Mulcahy refused her advisers’ recommendation to file for bankruptcy (unless all other options were exhausted) because of the demoralizing signal it would send to frontline employees. “What we have going for us,” she said, “is that our people believe we are in a war that we can win.”6 She was right, and her conviction helped carry Xerox through four years of arduous struggle to later success.


As an executive, you are in a better position than anyone to identify and articulate the higher purpose of what people do within your organization. Make that purpose real, support its achievement through consistent everyday actions, and you will create the meaning that motivates people toward greatness. Along the way, you may find greater meaning in your own work as a leader.

Source: McKinsey.com
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About the authors: Teresa Amabile is the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Steven Kramer is an independent researcher and writer.