The behavior of leaders is a very powerful indicator of how a company truly operates from a people perspective. Which aspects of the business are mostly focused on by leaders? How are decisions made and communicated? Most change initiatives include specific behaviors which leaders need to role model in order to ensure a successful outcome for the initiative.
The typical approach to measure how leaders are behaving is to obtain input from those around each leader – those who interact with the leader on a regular basis. The groups of people asked to provide ratings for each leader could be:
People who report to the leader
People who are colleagues of the leader
People who are more senior than the leader
If appropriate – external parties who interact with the leader on a regular basis.
Process of assessing leaders
The process of assessing leadership behavior typically follows these basic steps: Collecting ratings, consolidating the ratings, providing feedback to leaders and using the results to plan further actions as needed.
The mechanism needed for this exercise needs to be developed, reviewed and agreed and then introduced before the process starts. Once the key behavioral elements are defined, create a way to capture feedback from others about leadership behaviors.
The resource above can be downloaded. It is a set of behavioral statements which can be shared with those who need to provide ratings and comments. The scores or ratings relate to actual behavior observed against desired behaviors for each leader that they interact with on a regular basis. Some people automate their chosen feedback gathering using a free tool like http://www.surveymonkey.com
Behaviors used for ratings have to be very well defined so that they can be observed and does not require someone to guess at the intentions or motivations of the leader. A behavior must be observable or produce visible results.
Ask raters to add comments to help you interpret the scores. This understanding enables the creation of realistic follow-up actions after the results are available.
Ratings should not be requested too often – raters get “survey-fatigue” and your results become less meaningful.
The objective is for the tool to support the leaders by providing helpful and actionable feedback. The tool also helps to understand how the change initiative is progressing towards desired milestones.
You will notice in the shared resource (tool) example that leadership behaviors were defined in 4 categories: Commitment Behaviors, Communication Behaviors, Teamwork/Collaboration Behaviors, and Safety Behaviors. Your categories will be determined by your own change initiative and you will need to also define the specific behaviors that are desirable for leaders given your project. Simply use the downloaded excel sheet and type over the category names and behavior definitions to create your own Leadership Behavior Scorecard.
Be careful when you consolidate the results from various raters. If you had agreed to keep rater identities confidential, summarize the results by subgroup. Provide an average per subgroup for each of the behavioral elements. Do not provide a subgroup score if there were less than 3 raters.
Follow-up actions should also include recognition/appreciation for those leaders who are role modeling the desired behaviors in the organization.
Consider using some examples from the higher ratings to create case studies to the organization. It is easier for leaders and employees to understand how to apply desired behaviors when they receive actual examples that illustrate how decisions were made or implemented using the desired behaviors. An example makes it easier for others to follow.
The tool is relatively simple to use, but it is vital that it is designed well and introduced correctly into the organization. Assessment tools can be seen as a negative element if the objectives and the way results will be used are not communicated appropriately.
Before any organizational change is launched there has to be meetings with executives and senior leaders to ensure alignment around the reason(s) and main principles of the change initiative. Meeting objectives would also typically include getting their support for executing change activities and to help them understand expectations of them as executives and senior leaders during the change period and beyond.
The downloadable slide deck (above) can be used as a basis for creating your messages to senior leaders and executives. The slides helps to explain how change will likely impact the organization and the people plus explaining how leaders can help by being role models and also by actively addressing resistance and other signs of low engagement in those around them.
Use this resource as optional examples to help communicate the specific messages that makes sense for the change management initiative that you may be leading and the meeting participants/audience that you will be facing.
Here are the steps I would suggest you follow:
Be clear on the reasons that your change initiative need to be implemented and how the changes will improve on status quo. (Business case or burning platform)
Did you get executive buy-in from one or more sponsors before your presentation? (Highly recommended – in fact, do not proceed until you have it!)
Consider the presentation you will be doing – who will be there? What do they know and what do you need them to know, understand and do once they leave the presentation?
What impact will the planned changes likely have on the employees at your company and how do you think your targeted audience can help and should act/behave given the change process and desired outcomes?
Review the slides in the resource I am sharing and determine if any of them could help you and support the messages that you would like to communicate to the audience that you will be facing.
Of course these slides are not going to substitute the preparation work you need to do before starting a change initiative, but they may be helpful to use as background or to explain some of the specific change management aspects that may be of particular importance to your audience.
Staff reduction, mass employee lay-offs or a reduction in force, is a critical process. Consequences for not complying with labor laws or not acting and communicating correctly can be far-reaching.
Declining workloads or under-performing groups are some of the reasons that lead to the decision to reduce staff. Not executing staff reductions correctly can expose the company to many liabilities and potentially law suits.
There are several steps to take in this process and in most countries there are specific requirements which may include employee and/or union consultation and involvement and some steps could also be subject to approvals by governmental organizations. In many countries there are very specific justifications that a company has to be able to provide to show that the process of selecting who to lay off was fair and equitable and that no discrimination took place.
It is important that managers understand the correct process to follow for staff reductions and that they are able to for example conduct employee notification meetings in the right manner.
The resource you can download above contains a few slides which may be useful at a manager orientation meeting to ensure the principles and approach to follow with this staff reduction is well understood by the managers. There are also slides highlighting the human impact of staff reductions and the need to ensure that those who remain with the company are supported through the emotions when they see other trusted and well-liked colleagues leave.
Without proper preparation of the managers/supervisors before the notification meetings take place you risk them making incorrect statements or forgetting to make important statements. Sometimes unprepared managers act in ways that could be interpreted as discriminatory. The slides will help you minimize that risk as you first orient managers/supervisors in a group and then have each manager/supervisor work with his/her HR Representative to practice how to conduct the notification meeting correctly during the staff reduction process.
It is not only the impacted employees who are going to have an emotional reaction to the staff reduction, employees intended to remain at the company may be losing valued friendly connections with peers – even friendships. Be sure to reassure those whom you intend to stay with the company to stop them from looking around for other jobs during the uncertainty that is created in the workforce when a reduction in staff is planned or in progress.
It is very important to plan the notification meetings to take place very fast. The shorter the time of uncertainty and people waiting to be called in for a meeting, the better your chances of restoring the morale of the remaining employees and avoid retention risks.
During times like these is when your company’s values should drive decision-making and how you talk to employees. Your branding messages can claim honorable conduct and make promises of fair treatment, but it is during staff reductions that you get to prove that you meant it. Employees will remember how you conducted the staff reduction more than they will remember what is written on your posters about company values.
(HR/Office Manager) Remember also to check in with the managers and supervisors who conducted the notification meetings. It is tough to tell a number of people that their jobs will go away and watch their emotional reactions to that.
The staff reduction process is tough on everyone and it is vital that you plan it and conduct it exactly according to the rules and laws of the country where the people are employed. Internally you also need to make sure your planning includes an orientation process for those managers and supervisors who have a role in the notification meetings. And most importantly, check in with those who will remain after the notification meetings are complete to ensure that your business activities can resume soon after.