There comes a moment in every person’s career when you know it’s time to begin crafting the next chapter of your life. My time has come, mostly because I knew I would be hitting a milestone birthday that many, myself included, equate with retirement.
(Note to readers: We received a lot of valuable feedback on this post! People requested more detail on how to observe remote workers, so we expanded our previous post. Thank you for reading, and we hope the additions are helpful! — Ken)
How do I know people are doing the right things in the right way when they are working remotely?
I’m hearing this question a lot as remote and hybrid working have become the “new normal.” Operating virtually creates a genuine barrier, and we all know it. But it’s a barrier that skillful leaders can leap over.
“Leaders don’t force people to follow, they invite them on a journey” – Charles S. Lauer
This article is co-authored by Dee Conway and Bridget Russell, Ed.D.
There’s been a great deal of dialogue on the return to office (or RTO). From business need, to timing, to individual impacts, the discussion has been… robust, to put it lightly.
But what if you as a leader are considering whether it’s time for your team to return. There are a ton of angles to this issue, so before you make a decision and present your people with a potentially shocking ultimatum, take some time to consider the individual factors, and then TIE it all together into a more presentable package.
Part 1: Tie down your reasoning—Challenge your mindset and leader behaviors
The first question to ask is “why now?” Take a pause and reflect on why you are asking your people to return to the office. The reasons may seem obvious to you—perhaps even to your team—but those feelings aren’t always so easily communicated to all levels of the organization.
Perhaps it isn’t obvious. If that’s the case, then it’s time to start asking some more serious questions about RTO or Hybrid:
- Why now? What is happening that makes the proposed timing ideal?
- Who benefits from having everyone back in the office? Are these benefits tangible, business-critical, and backed by data… or are they more anecdotal?
There are no right or wrong answers to the questions above. They simply help leaders in examining the business case for RTO, then challenging old ways of thinking that may interfere with an unbiased view of what is business-critical.
Part 2: Tie your teams together to create one unified culture.
A great many businesses tout “culture” as one of their highest values, yet don’t stop to consider some of the most critical aspects in shaping a culture. A company’s culture isn’t defined by holiday get-togethers or annual ice cream socials; it’s defined by the daily behavior of its people.
Additionally, a company’s culture absolutely cannot be split between remote workers and those returning to the office. That kind of duality only breeds resentment and will not last long-term. Leaders can’t properly inspire others or make lasting change without tying remote and hybrid working cultures together as one. Start with a T.I.E.: Trust, Inclusion, and Empowerment.
Establish and role model trust with your team by
Challenge yourself as a leader to engage in daily acts of inclusion. Whether your team is remote, in the office, or hybrid, what can you do to get to know them better?
Meet with your team and align on where they are empowered to complete a series of tasks or make decisions
Bringing people back into the office, continuing to work from anywhere, or any combination of the two requires behaviors to be shaped over a long period of time. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to make every employee happy with the RTO or hybrid circumstances, but fostering an environment of trust, inclusion, and empowerment can spark Discretionary PerformanceSM.
Discretionary Performance occurs when people don’t just have to do work, they want to. Striving for that kind of employee engagement is understandable, but getting there is difficult, and may require some assistance… Tying together any amount of people and forming a unified, engaged culture is no easy task. Who will TIE your organization together as one team?
Are you ready to take your employees on the journey back to the office?
Co-authors Anh Vo, M.A. and Brian Cole, Ph.D.
Through all the changes that the pandemic has imposed on the corporate world, critical aspects of the business can fall by the wayside. Performance evaluations are one such aspect, and in these uncertain times, keeping those evaluations fair and equitable is of utmost importance.
In our series on preparing for return to office (RTO) and hybrid work arrangements, we have focused primarily on what organizations and leaders need to consider in making these arrangements successful. However, at the end of the day, the success of these transitions ultimately depends on how all employees—regardless of title or position—are able to be engaged, safe, productive, and successful.
While it’s clear how expectations, processes, and support structures—put in place by organizations and leaders—have a huge impact on how the change to a hybrid work environment happens, there is actually a lot each employee can do to prepare for the transition and own some of that success.
As we start thinking about a sustainable hybrid workforce model, it’s important to also consider how we’ll know that hybrid models get the benefits we need in terms of employee engagement and business results. That means leaders can’t forget to measure progress and impact.
“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw
I’m sure we’ve all heard this quote before. But at no time did it ring truer to me than now. Before the pandemic, communication was routinely one of the biggest challenges of any transformation—or rather, the inconsistency, ineffectiveness, or complete absence of any given communication. But now we live in a time where ensuring timely, effective communication is concurrently easier (through technology) and more difficult (through remote work) than ever before.
On that backdrop we are now tasked with one of the trickiest transformations yet: the Return to Office (RTO). Whatever your model will look like—all virtual, hybrid, a mix depending on role—the transition will be difficult. What’s making it even more difficult is the fact that right now we can’t say for sure if the new ways of working will stick, or if once we’ve made the move, we’ll just have to return to virtual work in the near future.
In an ever-shifting hybrid workplace, diversity and inclusion may be even more relevant as new biases develop. One that we’ve already seen manifest is Proximity Bias, when leaders unintentionally favor those working in the office compared to those working remotely. But where does this show up, how does it affect business, and how can you put a stop to such biases?
If you’re a people leader, the past year hasn’t been easy. While the pandemic strained supply chains, changed consumer and customer needs, and put into question strategic growth plans, it also put a spotlight onto new employee needs around wellbeing and engagement. All of these topics have one thing in common: You, as a leader, are tasked with adapting to all these challenges and making the most of these changes. While many initially thought these shifts might be temporary, the reality has set in that they may be here to stay—and that more changes are on the horizon.
“Trust has to be earned and should only come after the passage of time.” –Arthur Ashe
Trust is fundamental in our daily interactions, but we don’t talk about it enough. We’re social animals, and the very foundations of society are built on trust. So it should be obvious why trust is critical to success in everything—including business.
According to The Trust Outlook, about 85% of people believe that a high-trust work environment helps them perform at their very best. Virtually all metrics improve when employees trust their employers and vice versa, and that is especially true in a hybrid working world.
When the pandemic forced us all to move into virtual work environments, there was one topic that immediately worried leaders and employees alike: How do we keep our company culture going strong? How can we ensure that we don’t lose the culture that keeps us all connected? While a valid question, for many it never truly was resolved. The demands of focusing on emergency response plans, moving the entire company to a virtual model, and dealing with supply chain issues—among many others—caused a focus on firefighting and surviving.
According to the 2021 Annual Report from the World Trend Index, 73% of employees want flexible remote work options to be maintained, even after the pandemic has passed us by. Furthermore, 66% of leaders have considered redesigning office spaces for hybrid work.
It’s approaching two years since the pandemic forcefully transformed our lives. For most of us, it was an abrupt transition from customary ways of working to a virtual work environment. There was no alternative – we had to figure it out and make it work.
Ultimately, we realized that working remotely fit many people pretty well, driving higher-than-expected engagement numbers and keeping productivity high after the initial shock.
Fast forward to today. We’re still dealing with the pandemic, but businesses are realizing that it’s time to redirect their organizations for positive growth. There is renewed hope that we will overcome this virus – or at least get better at living with it. The show must go on, and we can’t be in “emergency mode” forever.
Here at ALULA, love of pets is something of an unspoken job requirement. That might sound odd when our focus is on the people part of achieving business results, but affection for four-legged friends is a strong cultural thread. It pulls at our heartstrings and weaves them together, shaping us into one ALULA team. August is National Dog Month, and we take that celebration seriously! After all, there are a lot of synergies between what we do as a business and our love of dogs.
As we push through the second half of 2021, many unknowns remain from a tumultuous 2020. We’re in uncharted territory, so it’s important to consider what leadership skills will be critical as teams sail this new course.
Your company’s culture: strategic asset and competitive advantage
Your company culture is what employees say and do every day, how they work together (or don’t), what leaders reinforce (or don’t), and all the habits, practices, processes, and customs of the workplace.
The practice of spreading positive gossip is a sure way for leaders and teams to equally engage team members who are located at the office or worksite as well as those working remotely.
Ken Wagner, Ph.D., Senior Principal at ALULA, shares important insights that can help leaders and teams thrive in a hybrid work environment.
Author — Tim Overcash with contributions from Brian Cole, Ph.D. and Evan Smith
June is National Men’s Health Month. This month is all about raising awareness and encouraging men to employ healthy behaviors that positively impact their mental and physical wellbeing.
Your health is your foundation. Your success as a leader, your daily business performance, and every aspect of your public and private life—all depend on your robust health.
Of course, you already know that. But let’s get specific and present some useful advice.
It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark. — Howard Ruff
When’s the right time to change the oil in your car? When’s the right time to buy insurance, or to improve your diet? The “right” time is before there is a need. Timing really is everything.
For organizations, when’s the right time to begin developing tomorrow’s leaders? In time-starved organizations, leadership is constantly faced with tradeoff and prioritization issues, but one thing that should be at the top of their priority list is developing tomorrow’s leaders, today.
Coauthored by: Karen Gorman and Jessica Miller
Kitchen tables, make-shift computer trays on car consoles, scribbling notes on the back of napkins… Working arrangements in 2020 looked a lot different due to the pandemic’s impact. We toughed it out one video call at a time, but all the while our mindset of what was “normal” was shifting and evolving, and so was the mindset of the global workforce. We truly are in a work-from-anywhere world now and like many of you, ALULA was curious about the impacts of that dramatic shift.
By: Martin Scott
In the US alone, 6.8 percent of the total population identify as AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander), a number that’s been growing rapidly over the past decade. (Picture that: in any group of 100 Americans, about 7 are AAPI.) As this important segment of the American people grows, it’s important to highlight work done by members of the AAPI population across organizations, industries and segments—government, corporate, agriculture, not-for-profit, and many more.
Recently I moderated the virtual Women in Leadership panel at the American Biomanufacturing Summit. This was my second time moderating this panel virtually, and I continue to be amazed by the richness of the conversation—despite being unable to meet face-to-face. The panel included senior female leaders of Acceleron, Genentech, Novartis, Roche, and Sobi, each having rich experiences to share.
Coauthored by: Ken Wagner, Ph.D. and J.P. Martinez
The flames are mesmerizing, the noise overwhelming, and the sheer power is remarkable. These words do not come close to illustrating the brilliance of a rocket launched on its way into space. And while truly incredible, the awe-inspiring physical representation of achieving escape velocity in some ways distracts from the true accomplishment; consider what is necessary for a successful launch. All the people, all the parts, and all the conditions must line up together, in just the right way, at the right time.
As I was reading the quote on the wall, I felt a sense of pride; it resonated deeply with me. I went to the museum café, grabbed a napkin, and copied the quote. Later, I typed it, printed it on fancy paper, put it in a frame, and it’s been on a shelf in my office for nearly 30 years. It’s a quote from Albert Einstein, posted on a wall in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
To be an effective leader of others, it's important to first take care of yourself. Teams will always look to the leaders and model behaviors they see in action. Part of leadership is setting the tone during times of high stress and otherwise. Showing that you place importance on your own personal care, allows others the grace to do the same.
When leaders practice self-care it reduces stress, improves listening skills and allows you to perform at your peak. All important characteristics for both a leader and their teams.
In this video ALULA's Anh Vo, M.A., ACC, provides suggestions leaders can utilize to help them focus on their own self-care during times of Uncertainty Fatigue.
With businesses continuing to work from anywhere, companies are more focused on efforts to ensure their people are engaged, no matter where they may be working. These days, many people seek employment with organizations that have environments and cultures that support their personal values. In the US, April is National Volunteer Month, so there’s no time like the present to start thinking about how and why you should support volunteering efforts in your company.
Why is it that most organizational change initiatives tend to fall into one of the following categories:
- It is slow to launch
- Are recycled from previous efforts that did not achieve intended outcomes
- Never realize their full potential
Before you can drive positive engagement behaviors, it's critical to understand what those look like for your teams. As companies forge ahead with new work environments, new communication tools and new technologies, it's more important than ever for everyone in the organization to have clarity.
What 'good' looks like may be different depending on what part of the organization you are engaging. So if working with accounting the desired behavior may look different than working with customer service.
Having clear definition, consistency and reinforcement is an important step for leaders to further positive engagement in an organization.
In this video ALULA's Danielle Geissler, Ph.D., provides steps leaders can take to help drive positive engagement behaviors throughout the organization.
Being successful in complex and chaotic times takes a leader who understands it's the environment created that is the driving force. One of the most challenging parts of this crisis is that there is no perfect plan to help guide and reenergize an organization.
However, leaders who remain focused on their teams and finding the right balance between engagement and results will be best positioned to be successful.
In the following video, ALULA's Danielle Geissler, Ph.D., suggests important steps for leaders to take in order to engage their teams, while still driving success for the organization.
Lately it feels like every time you ask someone "how are you doing?" we are all waiting for the perfunctory answer of "I'm fine" or "I'm doing ok". In reality we all know that the last year has had a negative impact on many of our work experiences and our daily lives.
When the pandemic started, many organizations and teams quickly pivoted to new work environments, new ways of engaging, embraced new technology and dealt with a whole new set of challenges. While these changes were quick to be embraced, the uncertainty of how or when they may or may not change are taking a toll.
As leaders it's important for you to identify symptoms of Uncertainty Fatigue and bring about ways to help employees manage through it.
ALULA's Danielle Geissler, Ph.D., provides insights for leaders to assist employees in combating Uncertainty Fatigue while encouraging critical engagement behaviors.
With all of the changes that occurred in the past year, many leaders have missed some of the indicators that clearly identify Uncertainty Fatigue. While these indicators may seem small when looked at individually, when taken as a whole they can be significant. Specific emotions, feelings and observed behaviors evident in your team, when not addressed, can greatly impact productivity, creativity and critical thought.
Everyone is vulnerable to Uncertainty Fatigue. Our brains are hardwired to feel safe in a predictable environment. And this year has been anything but predictable.
In this video, ALULA's Anh Vo, M.A., ACC, identifies what leaders should look for in their teams to assist in identifying Uncertainty Fatigue.
Over the last 14 months, organizations have endured a global pandemic, an economic crisis and social unrest. Though much progress has been made, there still remains many unanswered questions. Living and working in a constant state of high-alert and uncertainty can be exhausting. Not only does it affect your personal interactions, it also has a significant impact on employees and employee engagement.
Having an understanding of what causes uncertainty fatigue in staff and co-workers can be just as important as knowing how to handle it.
In the first of several videos from ALULA specifically addressing Uncertainty Fatigue and Driving Engagement, Anh Vo, M.A., ACC, identifies the root causes of uncertainty fatigue faced by many individuals in organizations today.
When I was a young girl, my mother would throw a strand of cooked spaghetti at the wall to see if it would stick. If it stuck, then the spaghetti was done.
Unfortunately, that’s how some leaders approach change! They initiate a change effort, sponsor it, sanction change teams, and may bring in consultants to help design the change. Then, they throw the change against the wall. . . and hope it sticks . . . and, in their minds, the change is “done.”
ALULA interviewed four women leaders who provided their unique perspectives into the past, present, and future of women in the workplace and some positive outcomes the pandemic has provided.
While we all see light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, one thing that will not end anytime soon is managing and engaging a remote work force.
We’ve come a long way, ladies! We haven’t quite reached the end of our journey to close the gender gap or achieve broader inclusivity overall, but we have made—and are still making—progress.
The phrase transition plans, change in control, new leaders at the top, assimilation, and onboarding have dominated the media since January, as changes in governments’, corporations’ and other organizations’ leadership occurred.
Co-authored by: Dee Conway and Alycia Diggs-Chavis
African culture and history offer much wisdom for the world to live by, whether at work, at home, or in society at large . . . and what’s one of the key lessons?
Good behavior must start from the top. — South African Proverb
With the rapid transitions that COVID-19 forced upon all of us, and the evolving needs of today’s workforce, there’s been a great deal of discussion around maintaining the health and wellness of employees. As leaders, we have a responsibility for maintaining workforce wellbeing. In such an unprecedented time, it’s crucially important to look out for the mental health of your employees—but I feel that there’s another vital part of employee wellbeing: cardiovascular health.
Despite our best intentions at the start of the January, it’s widely known that over 75% of resolutions fail by the second week of February.
Most articles on the topic endlessly rehash “how to really make it stick this time” or “why we should stop making resolutions in the first place.” But we’re overlooking a valuable lesson these failures teach us about how little we understand about humans and change in general.
“Most coaches study the films when they lose. I study them when we win—to see if I can figure out what I did right.”
—Paul “Bear” Bryant, University of Alabama Head Football Coach
In 2020, Carmen Klein, VP Organizational Effectiveness and Systems (HR) at Cadillac Fairview graciously shared her thoughts and experiences using ALULA's Performance Coaching and Feedback as an enabler for their OneCF Culture.
Cadillac Fairview is one of the largest owners, operators, and developers of best-in-class office, retail, and mixed-use properties in North America, valued at over $32B. Their real estate portfolio also includes investments in retail, mixed-use, and industrial real estate in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.
Cadillac Fairview’s employee engagement ranks in the Global Top 25% Most Engaged Companies. The firm has received accolades for their OneCF Culture, including Waterstone Canada’s Most Admired Cultures and Achievers Most Engaged Workplaces in North America.
The company’s journey to make its people and culture a competitive advantage began years ago, when company CEO John Sullivan made this observation: “Cadillac Fairview’s success is partly defined by the results we achieve (EBIT, returns, growth). But our success also is defined by how employees achieve those results, and the mindset and behavior of every employee. Behavioral leadership is key.”
A new year brings the opportunity to apply learnings from the previous year and plan for areas where you want to improve. One thing I’ve seen over my years of coaching are leaders who go through their days bouncing from place-to-place and task-to-task, at the end of the day, feel as though they’ve not accomplished any of the work they planned.
Leaders have long been encouraged to empower and engage the people around them. But usually it’s talked about as a one-way approach – the leader as the provider and the employee as the recipient. What if there was a reciprocal strategy on the part of the employee to further capitalize on the empowering approach the leader provides? In other words, what’s the analogous work-smarter-not-harder response for the employee in this situation?
ALULA is conducting a survey of business leaders across many industries to analyze and understand the impact of the various changes in work environments on employee performance. And we are asking for your participation.
Tamika was recently promoted into a role where she became responsible for multiple teams. She had been working with her team leaders to create a vision and plan aligned with the organization’s strategy and plan. It was time to share it with the employees in her department.
Leadership is all about helping others to excel. As a leader, how do you achieve that?
In 1982, W. Edwards Deming published his 14 Points of Management and described what he called the System of Profound Knowledge. His ideas and writings continue to revolutionize manufacturing and organizational excellence by influencing innovators, thought leaders, and organizational teams throughout the world.
Recently I had the pleasure of co-chairing the 5th Annual Advancing Women’s Leadership Skills and Opportunities in Pharma and Healthcare - East. The three-day event was filled to the brim with great speakers, learning opportunities, and activities—like dancing! I loved the energy of the event, and the passion of both the speakers and the very engaged audience, despite it being a virtual event.
“How do I know my remote team is just as productive as when I was able to see them in the office?”
“How do I know they are doing the right things in the right way? Are there metrics I can use?”
“How can I be sure my remote employees are fully engaged, even though I’m not around?”
I’m hearing these questions a lot as remote work has become the “new way of work.” As a leader, what can you do? Do you use keystroke counters and always-on cameras to see them—because you can’t fully trust them? Or, maybe you should “trust but verify?” Or, “trust and hope for the best?”
Virtual conferences, in some form, are here to stay. And they come with unique challenges and benefits. With that in mind, ALULA developed a checklist of how best to prepare for—and engage in—virtual conference activities. These will ensure you get the most out of the experience—and hopefully you avoid some common pitfalls that may occur with this new way of engaging in virtual events.
Culture can make or break your digital strategy. At ALULA, we define culture as patterns of behavior that have been either reinforced or discouraged by people, systems, and processes over time. No two cultures are the same, and an organization’s digital culture can be best defined by the people within it.
Successful organizations have a few things in common. They strive to do great work, delight customers, and provide a positive return for employees and shareholders.
In this two-minute video, Ken Wagner, Ph.D., identifies the one foundational truth that must be present; a cultural set up to help people be successful in their mission.
Join Ken Wagner, Ph.D. as he highlights traits and actions prevalent in Q4 LeadershipSM. These are leaders who achieve results by bringing out the best in others.
In this two-minute video, Ken will identify traits of Q4 Leadership, which can in turn help you identify Q4 leaders within your organization.
The cost of a failed transformation to a company can be astronomical. Not just in invested resources, but in man hours and opportunities lost. Why then do so many company transformations fail?
Danielle Geissler, Ph.D., shares two of the most important things that can make or break your transformation.
In this two-minute video learn what can most often get in your way, as well as why leaders are in the best position to create and sustain an environment for successful transformation.
The advent and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting need for many people to work remotely has accelerated the use of new, fast and frequently changing digital technology to solve business problems. Whether it has been the use of ever advancing technology like ZOOMSM or Microsoft® TEAMS or the fast-tracking of more complex technological processes like Telehealth, businesses are radically re-thinking how they are using technology, people and processes to survive and thrive in the current economy.
Recently I had the pleasure of moderating the first-ever virtual Women in Leadership panel at the American Biomanufacturing Summit. The panel consisted of senior female leaders of Allakos Inc, Amgen, bluebird bio, Roche, and Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc. Each of them brought a different and rich set of experiences and knowledge to the virtual table.
When I coach leaders, I often discuss how to keep people motivated. But COVID-19 has added a twist: “How can I motivate my teams—both in-office and remotely?” How do you keep people motivated when you’re not in the same building?
Much has been written about life during COVID, including the endless Zoom conferences, challenges with work/life balance and homeschooling, and the unusual work-from-home situation that forced family members to spend more time than usual together. On the work front, people describe how working from home has muddied the waters on roles and responsibilities. Communication and decision-making have become much more complicated.
A client recently asked: How do I lead my team effectively when we’re never in the same space, and many things can’t be done the way we used to do them? How do I consider each team member’s personal challenges, while still creating an environment for high performance? What does high performance even mean right now?
Join ALULA's Martin Scott, Principal Consultant as he guides you through seven important steps to creating and delivering engaging and informative presentations.
With COVID-19 restrictions and work-from-home orders lifting, executives are working toward shared workplace reentry. Some organizations are planning a phased return to the workplace, starting with senior leadership. Others are focused on critical functions, like R&D. Still others feel it’s a bad idea to shift people who can work from home back to the office before a vaccine is in place.
While organizations are diligently addressing systemic and process requirements, leaders are thinking about how they will lead to achieve a smooth transition.
There is a time-tested military leadership best practice that is known by the mantra; “Officers eat last.” It is reflected in what Simon Sinek described as a “circle of safety” that exists in high performing organizations so that all members will feel safe and secure and able to focus on battling external challenges and “seizing big opportunities” as a team, rather than worrying about internal conflicts and threats. That safety net is established by supportive leaders; those who put their people first and who will make personal sacrifices for the good of their teams.
Leaders planning the return to workplaces for employees who have been required to work from home (WFH) because of the COVID-19 pandemic, are finding they will need multiple working arrangements to keep their businesses thriving.
Whether returning to the office all at once, in staggered shifts, using split schedules, or maintaining WFH for some or all, leaders will need to be flexible and adapt their behaviors and management skills to deal with the fusion of the unique cultures attributed to each of these ways of working. Complicating the situation further are the still-to-be-determined cultural norms for how to behave in a socially distanced work-world.
Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living and working with a mental health issue. More and more, companies realize that it is time to fight stigma, provide support, educate and advocate for policies that support people with mental health issues.
Whether intended or not, teams working remote feel the need to be virtually present all the time. This desire to be visibly productive to their leaders and colleagues is creating longer than necessary work days and a lack of attention to personal priorities.
You athletes will probably laugh at this but humor me – there is a point – and it’s a true story!
When I was in basic training I was not much of a runner. We were doing our final test - a seven-mile run, and I was struggling at about the 5-mile mark when my instructor came up beside me and said something to me that I have never forgotten. He said; “I can see that you are getting tired and you have quite a ways to go” Then he said, “Don’t think about the end; instead just keep putting one foot in front of the other one.”
Personal Reflection: Staying engaged while being new and virtual.
Anh Vo joined ALULA at the beginning of 2020 and was progressing through her onboarding when the whole world changed. Onboarding to a new company is challenging in itself. But onboarding during a pandemic is especially challenging. These are Anh's thoughts on making virtual onboarding work.
January ended on an immense high note: I was joining a new company and a new team! I was really looking forward to getting to know everyone and learn about the organization, as well as my place in it. Things were progressing as planned. I got to attend the annual company meeting (in beautiful San Diego!) and meet everyone from all over the country. I traveled to the company headquarters for an onboarding session and met with colleagues. The usual onboarding activities, as expected.
In this time of pandemic, we are intensely caring for our families, our clients, our company, and our careers—and in some cases even schooling our children at home, or caring for loved ones and neighbors. We are giving 110% to everything at once. Many of us have become adept at this, working virtually, leading meetings remotely, hurtling forward day-after-day.
But too often we are not caring for ourselves. Though we are strong, leading the way daily, our minds and bodies need breaks too.
ALULA has worked as a virtual company for years, so we’ve learned a lot about staying healthy in “the virtual life”—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Here’s some advice, especially for those who may not be accustomed to working from home.
When a crisis hits, many companies turn their attention outwards. Understandably, business leaders spend time crafting external messages and planning for ongoing communication to clients, partners, and other external stakeholders. Equally important, business leaders need to craft plans for nurturing and strengthening internal relationships through ongoing communications.
As we practice social distancing, we are also practicing new ways of working together. But even as we are keeping our distance, we still need the social part! I don’t know about you, but I miss the chats during coffee breaks, going to lunch with my colleagues, or just stopping by their desk for a quick check-in. All those small interactions that we took for granted are now sorely missed.
We know that high-performing teams have two strengths: productivity (alignment, accountability, efficient decision-making), and positivity (trust, camaraderie, clear communication). Unfortunately, when we are in a virtual environment, all we can see or measure is productivity—what we accomplish by day’s end. It is easy to overlook the positivity part—the human connection—which is what really drives employee engagement. Our daily human connections are as vital to productivity as doing the task itself.
In these uncertain times, your team members will have deep-seated concerns about their health, their families, and job security. It is critical that you recognize the value they bring to the continuity of your operations and to your organization’s culture. How you relate to your team during this worldwide pandemic will have lasting consequences.
It is critical to maintain solid relationships that demonstrate trust and respect, inspire, show empathy, and create positive accountability. Your primary role as a leader in these times is to ensure that people continue to feel valued, heard, and connected.
We are facing times of true uncertainty, and that means leaders, their organizations, and the people within them are faced with enormous challenges. Most people have a hard time dealing with unknowns, and this can be exacerbated by a relative lack of information, or, as is the case in the current situation, an abundance of information that causes fear and concern. People have questions, and leaders find they don’t have all the answers. As more information becomes available, leaders must realize that their decisions are now much more than just business decisions. What leaders say and do next can ultimately have significant implications for their people and affect individual lives and careers.
Personal Reflection: Caring for Family and Colleagues
These personal reflections are from Danielle Geissler, Ph.D. A trusted advisor and coach to many senior executives in the U.S. and abroad, Danielle boards planes, trains, and secures ride services on a daily basis to better help executives create positive, productive, and engaged workplaces. She resides at—what is today—the epicenter of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak. These are a few of her insights.
When it comes to bettering ourselves and our lives, we’re likely to get inundated with a range of different resources. Over the years, publishers have continued to release hundreds of books devoted to growth and self-improvement. More recently though, consumer trends find readers gravitating towards material that focuses on how we can develop new habits that are genuinely positive and radically sustainable.
Here you are: tasked to design and implement a foolproof strategy that will elevate your organization to the next level. It’s likely that you’ll build your strategy around some variation of the following goals:
Have you ever been on a team that feels like it is stuck in a loop? Trapped in a cycle of ineffectiveness or mistrust? Have you ever wondered, “How did we end up here?”
There’s a lot of discussion about Gen Z and the impact they will have on the workforce. The Wall Street Journal reports that they seek financial stability and are industrious. Inc. Magazine tells us they are culturally diverse and risk averse. Forbes says that they want to be judged on their own merit and they want to work with autonomy.
In every work environment you’ll hear talk of teams. Teams are formed deliberately and carefully to achieve the objectives and goals of an organization.
Many of us are part of multiple teams—a core team, plus at least one cross-functional team. In our work with many Fortune 100 companies, we know that the best teams all possess the same secret for success: a leader who knows how to create and lead a high-performing team.
My colleague, Kim Huggins, presented on “creating and leading high-performing teams,” and joined a panel on inclusivity and relationship-building as a leader. As I listened to the speakers, I thought: these topics are relevant for any leader, regardless of gender or seniority.
Audits tell us whether employees are following safety procedures, right? Not necessarily.
Audits don’t always tell the whole story. I’ve seen cases where well-trained employees looked good on the audit yet had a troubling number of incidents on the job.
I’ve seen situations where companies have an admirable history of safety practice yet still experience fatalities—and in one case, two-thirds of the deaths occurred in high-risk areas.
How is this happening when their audits looked so good?
It’s not easy getting the most from your sales teams. Organizations are getting better at developing and supporting sales reps to drive sales results. But they still often struggle with the fact that each project, each team and each sales process is different, and therefore requires a fresh look at how to shape the environment to best support the sales reps.
Having a laser focus on patient needs is table stakes in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector. Organizations must continually measure and improve their processes for keeping a patient and their community of family and friends informed regarding the patient’s well being. Equally important is giving the patient a voice in their care, including choices about medical options and sharing in decision-making about recovery.
We at ALULA were recently speaking about patient centricity with a Senior Executive of Patient Advocacy at a major biotechnology company. Here is what we learned.
Companies are eager and ready to invest in digital transformation strategies, but are they achieving results? The numbers so far indicate that the answer may be a resounding “no.”
Several studies report that up to 80% of transformation efforts fail to achieve their intended goals. Another study polled senior executives and found that 50% feel their company is not successfully executing digital strategies. What’s causing this?
ALULA recently had the opportunity to participate at The POWER of Professional Women conference in Philadelphia, PA. During the conference we had the opportunity to engage with Millennial panelists, active in the workforce, to find out why they change jobs and what companies can do to retain them. Research shows that 21% of Millennials changed jobs in the past year, and 60% say they are open to new job opportunities.
By 2022, worldwide investments in the digital transformation of business practices, products, and services are expected to reach nearly $2 trillion (Source: International Data Corporation (IDC)). However, research by Forrester indicates only 27% of businesses have a coherent digital transformation strategy in place for creating customer value. Furthermore, in a recent survey conducted by Wipro Digital, out of 400 US companies with an articulated digital transformation strategy, 50% of their executives felt their company was not successfully implementing those strategies.
How to love. How to live. How to fix anything. How to lose weight. How to stop worrying. How to train your dog, bird, cat or dragon. How to manage projects. How to manage time. How to set goals. How to influence people. How to negotiate anything with anybody. How to survive the zombie apocalypse.
We live in a "how-to” world. A quick search of “how to” in Amazon.com yields over 800,000 books and videos with the phrase in the title. The popular For Dummies series has over 2,500 titles and the Idiot’s Guide series has nearly as many. And take a look at your local newsstand and you’ll see covers littered with articles telling you the 5 things you must know, the 3 insider secrets that will guarantee success, or the 7 steps to improved performance.
A marketing exec friend of mine gave me a call the other day to catch up. After swapping stories about families and our current work, he finally asked after years of knowing me, “What exactly is change management anyway?”
The other day I was explaining the results of a change readiness assessment to an executive and shared a piece of news he found disturbing. He believed that everyone wanted the change that he was leading because when he spoke with others in the organization about it, they all told him it was a great idea.
Emperor . . . you have no clothes, I explained.
Pharmaceutical companies have been talking about patient-centricity for years.
Yet, many pharma companies find it challenging to make patient-first thinking a pervasive trait throughout their organization.
In its simplest terms, creating a patient-centric culture is about being authentic and open in communicating to patients, taking care to understand their needs, and giving them a voice in the management of their care. Patient-centricity simply requires putting the patient first or being empathetic to their story.
Are you searching for ways to get better results from your sales team? Here’s a chance to look back at some of the top articles and tips from 2018. As we shift into the new year, you’ll have a valuable perspective on how to get the most out of your sales team.
The health care industry has made strides to involve the patient across the entire value chain, from research and development to differentiating the needs of patients, to ensuring efficient ways for access to medication.
There is a movement towards patient-centricity, typically defined as more than just feeling empathy and a connection to patients. More and more, patient-centricity is about creating the intersection between a positive patient outcome and a business benefit.
Pharma sales teams can leverage and form this value-based intersection of patient outcome and business benefit by creating a patient-centric approach in their daily work. If you can increase the pharma sales team effectiveness in creating a patient-centric culture, it likely equates to more sales, more lives saved, and a greater impact on the community.
Digital transformation is top of mind for many organizations, large and small, these days. However, knowing exactly what digital transformation means to a company and its leaders can be fuzzy at times. The complexity of the needed transformation can be daunting, and the path to realization of a digital transformation strategy can be filled with false starts and resistance.
Coaching is an investment and should be a positive experience for your pharma reps, where they learn what they do well and discover where they can improve.
Below are three proven coaching actions used by effective pharma sales managers to help their teams reach business goals.
Behavior change isn’t easy. Changing habits isn’t easy, either. Especially when life happens and derails the best laid plans, a common reason for failed behavioral change.
So, what can you actually do to change behavior?
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are at the core of pharmaceutical sales. They are simultaneously the output and driver of sales representative behaviors.
Sales representatives use performance indicators to evaluate their relationship management and district sales strategies, ensuring they get the best results. Regional directors use them to identify training and development opportunities in sales reps, revise targets, clarify their own vision and direction, or find new or different ways to motivate performance. National directors use them to make strategic hiring and market development decisions, coach regional directors, and remove barriers.
But while pharma sales KPIs are valuable to all members of your organization, many companies fail to use these metrics to their full potential. Learn how the following three steps can ensure you’re aligning with KPI best practices and maximizing performance improvement.
Is your pharmaceutical sales team motivated? If you are like most sales leaders, you look to KPIs to find out. And that’s a good start – after all, making your sales targets at least indicates that you are putting in the work to be successful. Or, a nice bonus might be the motivator to continue hitting sales targets.
However, we tend to overlook the fact that sales environments are high-pressure, punishing environments to work in, especially when it comes to pharmaceutical sales. Salespeople often face barriers that are out of their control, and failures can stack up quickly.
So, how do you get your sales teams to deliver consistently, stay motivated, and think outside of the box to generate new opportunities?
In Part 1, we showed how your current leaders are an essential asset in filling your leadership pipeline. We also introduced the Five Critical Capabilities needed by current leaders to develop upcoming leaders. In Part 2, using a real case study, we took a deeper dive into those Five Critical Capabilities: strategic talent mindset, talent identification skill, creating development opportunities, coaching skills, and interpersonal awareness.
Here, in Part 3, we discuss how to ensure the health and strength of your pipeline, by answering three questions:
- What is the status of your leadership pipeline?
- Is senior leadership aligned and bought in?
- Are key organizational levers aligned to create a culture that accelerates leadership development?
From our quarter-century experience in consulting with HR executives to help their leaders, here are the important things to consider in each question.
In Part 1 of our series, we explained that your company’s long-term strategic advantage relies on current leaders to develop future leadership talent. We identified Five Critical Capabilities that leaders must demonstrate: strategic talent mindset, talent identification skills, creating development opportunities, coaching skills, and interpersonal awareness.
Here, in Part 2, we present the remarkable story of how one HR executive leveraged those five talent-development capabilities with leaders to expand their severely restricted leadership pipeline.
Your company’s long-term strategic advantage relies on strong leadership to align people, execute strategy, clearly define the culture, and engage all employees. But as Baby Boomer leaders rapidly retire, most of their collective leadership experience — often 30 to 40 years’ worth — is out the door.
It’s not easy being a Regional Director in a pharmaceutical sales organization. There is a lot of pressure that comes along with the role.
After all, regional directors (RDs) are frequently being pulled in different directions, trying to satisfy corporate initiatives while also catering to the unique demands of their own districts. They are initiators as well as implementers, expected to translate strategy into its most tangible form in the field. Often this leads to an unfortunate series of misalignments, miscommunications, and misdirection.
So what then can be done to ensure strong and consistent regional director performance in pharmaceutical sales?
Pharmaceutical sales organizations are extremely diverse and have multiple generations represented in them – from baby boomers (born 1946-1964) to Generation X (born 1965-1980) to millennials (born 1981-2000). There are big differences between the generations, including different expectations and preferences when it comes to how they communicate, how they want to be managed, what they are looking for in a job, and how they approach their work. There are also things that the generations have in common.
As a leader, it’s important to be able to flex your style to meet the needs and expectations of all of your employees.
One of the questions you should ask is: How can I tailor my approach according to generational preferences and help meet individuals’ expectations to ensure an aligned, engaged and productive pharmaceutical sales team.
Try the following four strategies to harness the power of a multigenerational workforce.
The start of a new quarter and a new year typically generates a search for innovative ideas that can increase pharmaceutical sales growth and performance, especially if numbers have been lagging.
So, where do you look for the best ideas? Behavioral science may not be on your radar just yet, but it should be. Managing pharmaceutical sales performance by recognizing the science behind the behaviors visible in your organization can be just the differentiator that improves performance and creates lasting change.
Instead of following trends this quarter, why not implement these proven, evidence-based principles from applied behavioral science?
Change leadership is critical to your pharmaceutical sales results because of the acceleration of change in today’s pharmaceutical sales organizations. Change has evolved over the years from leaders just managing the change to leaders needing a full set of change skills and capabilities.
Change is no longer an event; it is a constant for organizations, and pharmaceutical sales representatives are looking to their leaders to help them navigate the flurry of change and to understand how to harness it to produce profitable performance.
In today’s environment, companies are heavily engaged with multiple, constant, concurrent and rapid changes impacting their pharmaceutical sales force.
When we think about achieving lasting behavior change in pharmaceutical sales organizations, we tend to mean change in the behavior of the consumers.
For example, how can we get consumers to develop sustainable habits around taking medication? How do we make interacting with web portals easier and more user-friendly
What many companies have not yet realized is that there is a different group that warrants the same kind of purposeful attention around behavior change – your pharmaceutical sales team.
While some pharma sales organizations are already taking advantage of behavioral levers today, there is still plenty of opportunity for growth in leveraging behavioral science to drive pharmaceutical sales team performance.
Pharma organizations can take a cue from other industries, which have realized the power of the behavioral science for their own sales forces.
Pharmaceutical sales leaders who are known to get results know there are critical leadership behaviors that¬¬ improve their ability to excel in their role. These leaders understand that strong sales performance is correlated with sales leaders engaging with their organization and the teams they lead in the right way at the right time.
Here are five critical leadership behaviors exhibited by successful pharmaceutical sales leaders.
Your goal is to be on the same page – to achieve and sustain true business alignment. However, it’s common for pharmaceutical sales organizations to roll out strategic and thoughtful initiatives that get off course soon after they are launched. Without team alignment, you’ll immediately start to see frustration and conflict between sales teams that need each other, and flatlined results for your organization.
Establishing high-performing pharmaceutical sales organizations takes time.
But, there are several things you can do today to ensure change does happen reliably and sustainably. It all starts with an open mind towards new ideas and the willingness to consistently apply best practices across your pharmaceutical sales organization.
Many companies boast about their cultures of innovation. They incorporate creativity and openness into their mission or values statements. They reward employees for new insights and ideas. They hire and promote for innovation. Yet despite such measures, they find that their teams remain stubbornly locked in place, struggling to generate new ideas and to execute even minor change initiatives.
Is your company stormproof?
The storm I’m talking about isn’t a tornado or hurricane, but rather a “perfect storm” in the battle for talent. A tightening labor market combined with baby boomer retirements is adding up to significant talent gaps at many companies. Younger workers are often not ready to take over in leadership positions. Meanwhile, they are becoming frustrated with perceived shortfalls in the leadership development opportunities available at many companies.
Have you heard about Adobe’s Kickbox? It’s a little red box filled with materials that take employees through a six-step, self-guided innovation process. Employees who have a new idea they want to pursue take a workshop and then proceed through the stages of innovation on their own. Each box contains a credit card with $1000 in seed money.
A high-performing Turnaround Steering Team is your key to better planning and execution.
Turnarounds are a complex, challenging, and expensive part of capital intensive industries (e.g., refining, mining, power generation). Successful turnarounds require significant collaboration and alignment between operations, maintenance, and engineering to ensure best-in-class performance.
You’ve heard it a thousand times. How athletes use positive self-talk to eliminate pre-game jitters and improve their performance on the field.
What if we told you that self-talk is a powerful tool in business too? By modifying one simple habit you can flip a switch in your brain and improve the quality of your decision-making and subsequent on-the-job performance.
Skeptical? Stay with us on this one. Researchers across disciplines are discovering new insights on what many consider conventional wisdom: how we talk to ourselves can truly make a difference in how we behave.
Late scope jeopardizes turnaround schedules, adds additional costs, and increases safety risks. Here's what you can do about it.
Even the best-planned turnarounds experience some late scope; discovery work, compliance work, and last minute process optimization opportunities are par for the course. In highly disciplines companies it’s common to anticipate late-scope of up to 7%, which is often seen as a best in class industry benchmark.
The effective, efficient, and safe performance of contractors is critical to superior turnaround performance; their performance can often make or break the cost and duration of your turnaround. Like most of our clients, you probably train and orient your contractors—before a turnaround begins—in your company’s policies, safety procedures, work rules, quality standards, and culture. While this initial training is vital for getting off to a good start, our experience has been that the oversight and monitoring during the turnaround is even more important for ensuring top performance.
Nationally known voice on generational differences in the workplace Kim Huggins, was recently interviewed by Generis (an organizer of business summits including the American Manufacturing Summit) on the topic of Leading A Multi Generational Workforce in Manufacturing.
For each turnaround, you probably form a “turnaround team” for planning, scheduling, execution, and look-back. This team typically includes various organizational functions, meets often, and is responsible for the turnaround’s success.
Most turnaround work occurs during the execution phase—but key activities performed during the shutdown, cleanup, and startup phases (SCS) can make or break a turnaround’s success.
These portions of the turnaround should require a fraction of the time to complete, compared to total turnaround time. But poor planning and execution of blind lists, procedures, permits, or chemical cleaning work scope quickly lead to longer durations and higher cost.
We’re all too familiar with the shift in buzzwords and industry jargon over time. Words such as “customer-centric” “big data,” and “innovative” are sure to grab our attention today, whereas “paradigm shift,” “synergy,” and “bandwidth” were hot terms in the past.
“Behavior” and its derivatives—such as “behavior change” and “behavior-based solution”—could be joining the race for buzzword status. If you’ve been looking for a behavior-based solution for your organization, or even on a personal level, you may already be familiar with the plethora of popular behavior-change books and articles, all of which include models from the various “experts.” More likely, you’re probably familiar with the inherent difficulty involved in actually creating sustainable behavior change.
Companies pay millions each year to researchers and consultants to help them understand employees in various generational cohorts. Yet some observers have begun to ask whether companies are going too far, and whether generational divisions are overblown, if they exist at all (see New York Times article Oh, to Be Young, Millennial, and So Wanted by Marketers)