Middle Management: The Secret Agents for Culture Change

How many times have you heard people in an organization say, we can’t change until Senior Management makes the change? And, of course, this means everyone is paralyzed with a good excuse for inaction.

The most common belief about culture change is that executives must lead and model the change in order for the rest of the organization to follow. Senior management needed to define the culture change and values, demonstrate those new behaviors, and then implement it down the organization in descending order. It makes perfect sense, since they are the leaders and they must lead the organization to its new culture. But, this way of thinking leaves everyone else “victim” to senior management and powerless to create change.

Senior management has a clear role in culture change. They are to define the organization’s strategy for business success in the near future and determine some of the essential attributes of leadership competencies necessary for achieving those business outcomes. They must not only be aligned, but they must Read more

Starting the New Year with Gratitude

For more than a year now, people in all levels of the organization have been involved in continuous change efforts. Many have been concerned with losing their jobs or changing positions in the organization. Others have been working hard to keep up with increasing demands while their resources have been cut. In other words, people are tired of pushing.

While we can’t stop the fast pace and changing environment and still stay competitive, we can acknowledge people for their effort, courage and dedication Read more

Making Empowered Delegation Work: Creating Successful Culture Change

By David Rodgers

At some time or another, each of us has been in the position where we have decided that delegating to a team, sub-team, or individual is the best way to approach a particular decision. We begin by chartering the group or individual to create a proposal for the rest of the organization. We do all the right things to get them started; we determine the outcomes, communicate the boundaries and provide the resources. We establish the project milestones, the team rolls up their sleeves and takes their best shot at the task. So far, so good. Right? Read more

Catalyst for Change: Transforming Middle Managers into Change Agents

By Mark Samuel

Driven by global competition and the pursuit of customer satisfaction, total quality programs have flourished during the past 20 years. In the 1970’s, quality circles initiated the quality movement. It was an elementary approach to quality which focused on analysis tools and processes, but it failed to provide the continuity which was necessary for creating a quality culture. In the 1980’s, the quality movement advanced by integrating total quality with the organization’s strategic business plan, assuring that total quality had a clear direction supported by top management who were committed to a philosophy of customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. Unfortunately, current total quality practices also have limitations. Read more

Organizing Change: Preparing Managers to Create a Culture of Accountability and Support

by Mark Samuel

This article looks at what changes need to be made to achieve a total quality environment in an organization, and the role and skills required by management to make those changes.

Although implementation of total quality has had varying degrees of success, it has maintained momentum as the process for involving employees at all levels in the improvement of customer service and quality. Leaders in industry have acknowledged the measurable improvements attained though total quality efforts as a major contributing factor in the success of their organizations. Yet in many organizations, total quality is still a separate program not to be confused with daily operations.

Two issues which contribute to this segregation are: Read more

What is Facilitation?

By Mark Samuel

Some define it as leading a meeting, while others define it as assisting others in resolving their own problem. There is even an improvement process that defines a facilitator as someone who observes a meeting and gives feedback to the leader in a coaching role.

Regardless of which definition is used, the word facilitation comes from the word “facile,” meaning “to make easy,” and this is the purpose of facilitation. In this case, it’s to make a process easy for those involved. Unfortunately, I have seen facilitators who create more problems and frustration by adding confusion to a group. Sometimes they create or amplify conflict by trying to be the perfect facilitator, one who is more concerned with getting good marks and being accommodating than assisting the group to their next level of excellence.

Facilitation can mean many things, and for most situations the traditional guidelines for being an effective facilitator applies. However, Accountability-Based facilitation is different; it is a strategy and technique used by change agents who are transforming an organization’s culture, a team’s environment, or an individual’s self-image and their work environment. This model of facilitation requires a different set of skills and guidelines to be successful.

The primary function of the Accountability-Based facilitator is to provide clarity, guidance, acceptance, and accountability choices. As an Accountability-Based Facilitator you will play many roles: organizer, devil’s advocate, advisor, cheerleader, recorder, clarifier, negotiator, problem solver, business strategist, and director. It follows that the main criteria for success include flexibility and the ability to assume several roles at once.

The Accountability-Based facilitator is one who challenges mediocrity or denial, and allows a group or person to experience the pain of their dysfunction as a means for resolving their dysfunctional patterns. This facilitator rarely saves a group or person, even though they will not be doing anything to add pain to anyone and will protect people when attacked by others. Finally, the Accountability-Based facilitator must focus on the practical, not the perfect or the ideal.