I spoke to Mike Morrison, who is an established interim manager, coach, business adviser, mentor instructional designer and trainer, on occasions he writes, blogs, and twitters. Morrison has over 20 years experience in HR/OD and a proven track record of providing pragmatic business solutions. In the last 10 years, Mike has been designing and delivering training programs for clients, as a consultant, interim and employee providing third party services. Before founding RapidBI, he worked as a Management Development Adviser with Business Link for London and prior to that as a Training Manager for a large private hospital where he developed training for a wide range of staff, managers and coaches. In the following brief interview, Morrison talks about how he handles change management, training employees, teamwork and selecting the right people for the job.
Dan Schawbel: How do you handle change management and what are some of the issues as you transition projects from one state to the next?
Mike Morrison: Change management is rarely the same twice. Even in a global training project such as the current one I am involved in, each of the 50+ countries has different issues and challenges. There are 3 principles that my team and I work to… communicate, communicate…communicate. This in conjunction with sharing responsibility for implementation, and creating as much local involvement is critical. If people feel their view has been listened to and some of that taken on-board, then change resistance is reduced.
The change initially needs to be managed differently from the change or transition to “business as usual” after the training team have departed.
Schawbel: How does change management impact individuals, their projects and forming a successful team?
Morrison: Quite simply if you don’t recognize the need for some form of “change management,” then everything is an uphill battle. Every change to what a person is doing has an impact. That impact may be productivity, social or emotional. Of course not all change is negative and resisted, and in my experience, it is about using these positive changes as tools when a change is perceived as negative. Change management needs to cover both the processes you want/need changing, and to realise the psychological changes and adjustments required for success. Sometimes you need to operate with flexible timelines to allow for this. Let your team set the deadlines where practical.
Then when you really need something in a certain time frame, tell them and they will usually back you up and deliver.
I believe that it is about working with the individual, in order to build the team. This can often mean not communicating to one, but all. Keeping communications as transparent as possible. If one person appears to have a passion or interest in a factor, then let them lead, even if the direction changes slightly. If they own it and you show them trust, then it reinforces the team spirit.
What is fundamental (IMHO) is that your team respect you. They may not like you, but respect and trust is critical. As a leader you need people to follow you, not blindly, but because they believe in the “vision” or direction in which you are guiding them.
Schawbel: How do you go about training other people so they are confident that they can deliver on various projects? What issues tend to arise when you’re training others?
Morrison: By building on successes. Sounds simple, but most “train the trainer” approaches focus on weaknesses. We focused on strengths. It was important for people to know their weaknesses, but not to focus on them, or to let these become distractions. In my case I was training trainers, to train super users to train others. Focusing on success was critical. The added challenge of working across languages and cultures was an additional complication.
Our goal was to show people that they could do things… not to highlight that they could not. For success breeds success. Of course no-one is perfect, so its about celebrating success, and recognizing development opportunities.
Schawbel: How do you go about getting a team to work most effectively together? When do teams usually not work out well?
Morrison: Teams do not “work out well” when there is lack of clarity or conflicting objectives. My team consisted of 15 people, each based in different countries, often in very different time zones. I re-ignited a social collaboration platform that was available internally but not really used. Rather than email, we used this for communications, and kept 95% of all communications open between the whole team. The team either volunteered or nominated each other as champions for various projects or changes we needed to apply, and that champion became the lead interface to the specialists in the business. Active collaboration was encouraged at every step, and this helped people build relationships whilst in different countries. When the team changed, I was able to bring the new and existing team members together for a “train the trainer” workshop lasting 3 weeks. Team building and team working was the prime focus of that intervention. This accelerated the collaboration effort that has so far lasted over 12 months.
Most teams are not teams at all, just a group of people working on loosely related tasks. A team really shows its value, when they drop their own individual priorities and deliver on behalf of the team. I have been fortunate to have that happen many times over the last 12 months
Schawbel: What is your process for selecting the right people to work on the right projects and then ensuring that everything gets done on time?
Morrison: In my most recent assignment, we seconded people from around the business. Generally speaking, we agreed to take resources from certain regions, and those regions proposed a number of people. I interviewed them, but for this project I asked but a few short questions:
1) Working in a global context, with people from different countries, how will you approach a person who says “they don’t understand?”
2) What factors might be taking place when a person:
a. Will not ask a question?
b. Asks very challenging questions at every stage
3) What problems do you anticipate not being home much for the next 12 months?
The biggest problem we had with previous people was their lack of cultural awareness, being flexible and open minded meant they were open to development, and were less likely to be stressed by the challenges they faced.
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