The paradox of process

2020-07-27_improvement_cycleProcess is good. Process is important. Process keeps you from reinventing the wheel every time you complete a recurring task.

Without process, you run the risk (or, more accurately, the certainty!) of confusion. One client’s employer had no process for anything – proposals, contracts, customer interactions, project kick-off and closing – everything was ad-hoc, unnecessarily unclear, and fraught with misunderstandings. (Yes, she fixed it!)

BUT – and this is important – process should not be a straitjacket. 

When process becomes “this is how we’ve always done it,” you’ve got a different problem: inability to improve.

And when you confuse process and outcomes, you start sliding into failure.  “We followed the process! We did it the way we’ve always done it!” But what about the results?

Are you meeting goals? Are you achieving what you want to achieve? Could things be better? Should things be better?

It looks like a paradox, a contradiction in terms, but it’s not.

Stick to a process – and keep improving.

Follow the process – and evaluate it.

Add missing steps. Remove redundant or unnecessary steps. Explore efficiencies. Rearrange to streamline flow.

Observe. Tweak. Test.

Improvement seldom comes from a “big bang” change. Instead, improvement evolves incrementally.

Just don’t forget to communicate what you tweak, so everyone knows what’s happening.

Because in the end, that’s what process is for: consistency and efficiency for everyone involved.

gljudson Strategic thinking

Do the verb!

White neon sign reads DO SOMETHING on a black backgroundWant to be a leader?

Lead.

Want to be good at communication?

Communicate.

Want to be an author?

Write.

Want to get better at negotiating?

Negotiate.

It’s that simple.

DO THE VERB instead of wishing to be.

Is it easy? Probably not.

But you can’t get to being without doing what you want to be.

And wishing you could be only keeps you stuck in someday-land.

gljudson Career development

Helping First-Line Managers with Stress

Your first-line managers are an incredibly valuable – and vulnerable – asset. They have the most direct impact on your individual employees, and therefore on productivity, engagement, and results.

And right now they’re squashed between their own stress, their team’s stress, and their boss’s stress.

What are you doing to help them not burn out?

In this video, I offer several easy AND unusual ideas for ways to ease the stress your first-line managers are experiencing – that also might help you feel better too!

Resources

How to brainstorm effectively with a remote team: https://youtu.be/xSFvoF57DP0

This is a fabulous book from which I learned some of these tools: Never Split the Difference, by Christopher Voss. Highly recommended.

gljudson Management & Leadership, Professional empathy, Video

Identifying Emerging Leaders

Silhouettes of male and female businesspeople walking awayWhen you leave it up to managers to select employees for professional development programs, there’s a lot of uncertainty involved.

It depends on the quality of those managers. Are they good managers, alert to their employees’ accomplishments, skills, and career ambitions? Or are they overwhelmed, frustrated, and perhaps with their own political ax to grind?

What inherent – or, let’s face it, overt – bias is involved? With the recent protests against police violence and the resurgence of Black Lives Matter, I think all white people, myself included, have (hopefully) had to take a harder, longer look at how employees are hired, managed, and promoted.

Meanwhile, the individual employee has little control in the process, since it’s based on whether their manager recognizes and acknowledges their hard work, “likes” them, and wants to reward them… and how careful they are to educate themselves about overcoming bias.

And this means your so-called Emerging Leaders and Hi-Po Employees are maybe not the best in the company. Maybe there are excellent candidates for management and leadership that just aren’t being noticed, recognized, acknowledged, or sponsored.

How do you fix this?

Ask for applications. Create an open process where anyone who wants to qualify for a leadership program submits a formal application.

I suggest these criteria:

  • Compile a set of questions requiring knowledge and understanding of your industry and your company. The answers should be essays, not multiple choice, in order to demonstrate the applicant’s written communication, critical thinking, and logic skills. Be careful not to expect manager-level thinking; remember, the whole point here is to qualify them for management and leadership training!
  • Ask them why they want to be a manager and leader. What does it mean to them personally? This is not the tired old question “where do you want to be in five years?” It’s about their values and desires, beyond the increase in pay, to advance and be a true leader.
  • Require a memo of recommendation from their immediate supervisor, at least one peer, and one other manager within the company.
  • Consider blind submissions, if at all possible. We know, sadly, that certain identifying characteristics – name, gender, race, and so on – trigger bias, whether unconscious or overt.
  • Convene a panel to review and rank the applications. Make sure they have clear guidelines for accuracy and readability. Ask the panel to review each application individually, and then meet as a group to go over the top candidates. How many they ultimately accept is, obviously, dependent on how you design the training-and-support program – in-house, outsourced, time span, budget, and so on.

By conducting the selection process in this way, the candidates are more involved, more engaged, and more likely to fully participate in the training program.

And you’ll discover hidden gems in your employee population that might otherwise have gone unnoticed – and perhaps have simply gone, off to a company where their qualities and talents are appreciated and rewarded.

Obviously, this takes some time and effort.

But given the risks involved, and the potential reward, isn’t it worth it?


Yes, I can help with any aspect of this (of course). Curious? Think this might help? Let’s talk about how it works and explore whether it could be a fit. No worries if not; this is just an exploration. Contact me, or jump right to my calendar.

gljudson Career development

What is your failure saying about success?

Sad-faced emoji holding a sign that reads OOPS!We get so hyperfocused on omg, FAILURE

Ugh.

Finger-pointing, excuses, project post-mortems, who screwed up, how could I be so dumb.

Wait.

Stop.

Failure in one area is success in another.

Flip the failure over. What succeeded?

No, I don’t mean in some sort of Pollyanna-ish, unicorns-rainbows-fairy-dust approach. (You really should know by now that I’m not a unicorns-rainbows-fairy-dust person.) This isn’t false positivity.

But in order for something to fail, something else must succeed. And when you understand the flip side of the failure, you can see what you need to do differently.

Did you succeed at flying by the seat of your pants?

Did you succeed at tuning out other people’s opinions?

Did you succeed at catching up with a friend from high school?

Maybe, then, you need to …

Plan better.

Listen more.

Restrict social media browsing.

These skills – flexible responses, ignoring nay-sayers, and maintaining relationships (see what I did there?) are valuable.

In the right place.

For instance, I’m great at group facilitation, responding to questions, managing discussion. And if I bury myself in the Facebook groups I belong to, my fellow group members may appreciate me, but … I’m not getting other, more-important work done.

So I can succeed very well at group engagement and support. But then I fail in other areas of my business that need tending if I’m actually going to have a business.

What are you succeeding at that may be leading to failure where it really matters?

gljudson Career development

Leading through Uncertainty: a call to action

What does it mean to be a manager and leader in a time when everything seems to be turned upside down?

Are you ready to take on the challenge?

This isn’t an easy time for anyone, especially the first-line manager. I offer three key questions to help you decide what you’ll do.

The choice is yours. Are you ready?

Resources

Check out this post on my Facebook page for more resources: https://bit.ly/glj-anti-racist-resources It’s only a few, but a solid and informative few.

Also see this article on what “defunding the police” really means: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/defund-the-police-1007254

And this from an ex-policeman: https://medium.com/@OfcrACab/confessions-of-a-former-bastard-cop-bb14d17bc759

gljudson Management & Leadership, Video

But I don’t know what to say!

Black circle with white letters reading "Black lives matter"I was gently taken to task last week by a Black friend who said she “would have welcomed a message” from me when the Black Lives Matter protests started after the police murder of George Floyd.

I won’t deny it: that stung, and it should have stung. I deserved it.

The challenge for so many of us white people is both simple and complex. We don’t know what to say.

Speaking for myself, but suspecting I’m not alone: I’m feeling a mixture of uncertainty, guilt, denial, anger, frustration, sadness, and confusion.

What should we say?

How do we express our uncertainty, regret, shame, embarrassment, confusion, and desire to help in a way that

  • Doesn’t ask our Black colleagues to – yet again – take on the burden of educating us?
  • Respects the trauma of systemic racism?
  • Doesn’t sound defensive?
  • Doesn’t add insult to injury or hurt people we care about?
  • … and so much more.

I don’t know.

But here’s what I do know: saying nothing is worse.

And? I get it. You’re not racist. Except – you are. I am. White people are racist because the culture and society are racist. It’s the fish-doesn’t-know-it’s-wet problem. Culturally inherent privilege is invisible to the privileged. And – and this is important – white privilege doesn’t mean life hasn’t been hard. It means the color of your skin hasn’t made it harder.

In any event, it’s not enough to believe and claim that we’re not racist.

If things are to change, we must become anti-racist.

How do we become anti-racist? 

I don’t know. Yet.

I’m trying to learn. And I’m going to make mistakes. As Ericka Hines (diversity and leadership consultant, coach, and trainer) puts it, “be humble and ready to fumble.” I’m trying!

And here are the resources I’m starting with:

White Fragility: why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism, by Robin J. DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson

So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo

How to Be An Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi

There are plenty of others. I don’t know about you, but I’m overwhelmed by all the resources, and I don’t want to add more to the pile that you’re probably also dealing with. These are books because I’m a reader. If you prefer video or audio:

Robin DiAngelo has videos on her website (https://robindiangelo.com/media/)

Ijeomo Oluo appears on many podcasts and video interviews; Google her

Ibram X. Kendi has also appeared on podcasts and video interviews, some of which are listed on his Media page (https://www.ibramxkendi.com/media)

Three business leaders (Ericka Hines, Susan Hyatt, Rachel Rodgers) organized an almost-two-hour live-streamed Small Business Town Hall on June 10th, with speakers Robert Hartwell, Sonya Renee Taylor, and Nathan Barry. Fabulous stuff, available now on YouTube.

Again, there are many others. Start somewhere. Where is less important than starting.

As a leader, are you ready to bring resources into your workplace?

More resources:

Desiree Lynn Adaway is a consultant, trainer, coach, and speaker at The Adaway Group.

Ericka Hines is a consultant, strategist, trainer, curriculum designer, and Principal at Every Level Leads.

And understand this, too: it’s okay if you feel overwhelmed and exhausted by it all. It’s probably a good thing, because it means you’re paying attention.

Just remember two things.

  1. Black people have been feeling overwhelmed and exhausted for centuries. (As have other marginalized groups, too.)
  2. Don’t let those feelings keep you from understanding, learning, and taking action.

gljudson Better conversations

Interview: Uplevel your leadership skills

As a feminist from my youth, I was delighted to be invited to the Petite2Queen podcast to talk about leadership, imposter syndrome, the importance of recognizing the impact that you, as a leader, have on your team, why you should make sure you own your leadership journey – and important questions about women and leadership.

At 25 minutes, I’m amazed how much we packed in!

https://petite2queen.com/propel-leadership-skills-next-level/

gljudson Management & Leadership, Podcast interviews

Time management tips for managers

Time management is a tricky thing!

And I’ll tell you a secret: I don’t actually believe in time management.

But I DO believe in a host of tools that I’ll talk about in this video that will help you get a lot more out of your time each day. Tune in and see what you think!

Resources

Morningness-Eveningness quiz: http://www.cet-surveys.com/index.php?sid=61524

Delegation tips video: https://youtu.be/62IHR_ki-wA

Delegation article – with dog! https://www.gracejudson.com/the-dangers-of-delegation-a-true-story-with-dog/

gljudson Career development, Video

Are you going *around* problems?

“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”
~ Henry Ford

Photo of a yellow-and-black DETOUR sign on a chain-link fenceDoes that sound familiar?

It’s not unusual.

There’s something about the human psyche that prefers to stay stuck in a familiar pattern – going around a problem – instead of evaluating the situation and creating change.

We don’t like change, even when the current experience is painful. As the saying goes, better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t.

And figuring out the root cause of a problem can seem daunting.

Easier to just go around.

Or is it?

What problem are you avoiding looking at?

What are you going around that you could – with a little critical thinking, a little effort, a little tweaking – solve?

How much time, energy, frustration, irritation, annoyance, and struggle would that save in the long run?

Pick a problem you’ve been going around. Any size. Define it. Figure out the next step to solve it. Go.

gljudson Strategic thinking