Change Doesn’t Care If You’re Too Busy, It Carries On Anyway

Too busy to change? That is me. I would like to improve lots of things but I have to choose. The things I am not doing come at a cost. I hope I am choosing my priorities wisely. My job is to support the choices of others and the processes that will enable them to act. This is not easy because they are busy, too. bees

Being a consultant is a privilege. Clients trust us with their business, their careers and with supporting them through some difficult decisions. Each decision will require someone to change. They call us in because a problem exists. That problem is creating immediate needs and those need attention. Their capacity is stretched and without addressing the fundamental issues they will continue to experience dysfunction and have a reduced ability to lead.

So what is the solution? First, as a consultant I need to empathize with the demands leadership places on our clients. The result is to ask only what can be given and to make it easy for them to receive our support. For the client, it is to match their expectations to where they are in the process of change. Together we need to create shared responsibility for solving the root of the issue. The purpose is defined by what matters when their leadership is successful.

When the goal is met, not only have we all changed but they have also achieved a collective goal. This can mean safer conditions for employees, more housing for the vulnerable or a transportation system that carries people to work faster and cheaper. A commitment to tackling change consciously and head-on has a great reward. Our role as consultants should be to see clients achieve this success.

Empathy and Helpfulness are Required

  • Most of the time for desirable outcomes to be achieved the first people that need to do something differently are executives. The expectation is that they model the new way of doing things. They are willing most of the time. We need to make sure they are also able.
  • To accomplish organizational change we call them into steering groups and ask for their sponsorship. We require them to create the space to do the work of change. They brought us in for support and we ask them to do more. This is the challenge of leadership and with our role as consultants.

Our role as consultants should be to add to their capacity and yet we need their time and attention to be helpful.

  • Immediately the consultant should do some heavy lifting for them, connect the dots, do the research, review documents and get up to speed. Then we should summarize what we learn so they can make decisions. We should lead by leaving them with the decision but not all the work.

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Managing Change – Lesson from 80 ft of rope

I feel like there has been a tsunami of change in the last few months and the second wave is coming. The good news is that I study leadership and change so I should be prepared. Then reality sets in and having the knowledge does not reduce the physiological reality of change. As a change agent in organizations, I have a tool kit of professional techniques to create clarity, communicate a desired future, and involve people in the process. Yet change is still difficult. We mitigate the reality of change but we still have to generate the energy to achieve it. That has a consequence.

A story that mirrors organizational change

So imagine that you have never been on a wake board and your cousin says “I will teach you, it is fun”. He promised support; he had done this before and he promised the result will be rewarding. So you agree.  You say to yourself,  “I am going to do this.”

Just as you enter the water he gives you an out, “Just let go if you fall forward!”

No problem, I have seen how this is done. I have done similar things and I have a coach. Now I am in the water  80 ft behind the boat. I feel alone.

He yells back to me, “are you ready”.  I say “yes”. The boat accelerates.  I hold on and I put my nose over my toes and drink a large amount of lake. That is okay, I didn’t think I would get it the first time.

Two minutes later, I am ready to try again. I repeat going nose over my toes and drink some more lake. I now question “Maybe I can’t do this”.

Third time is the charm. I am up; I can hear Lady Ga Ga coming from the boat; I am wake-boarding! After a minute, I thinking “I am working a little harder than I need to “.  I experiment a little bit but this style of ride in not very familiar.

After two minutes, my right leg is burning; after three minutes I go over the wake knowing I will wipe out. It was fun but my energy is done. I get back in the boat.

Change takes energy. It takes practice and it may take failure before we feel success. When we learn new behaviours,  we must practice and exercise those new muscles. Days later my back muscles were still sore. At the time of change we may not even realize the new muscles we are using.

Tips in change – do the right things and use all the tools you have to mitigate the negative impacts but also set clear expectations that this will take effort and energy. To learn something new takes energy, it takes practice and it may take failure before you reap the reward. Last tip, build in rest pauses around your change process to enable your best effort.

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Leading a team of volunteers

My Dad was sharing his volunteer leadership experience of over 40 years with me. I asked his advice while we were together at IABC’s World Conference in San Diego this month.  I am entering a new leadership role and welcomed his guidance.

I welcome your experience on creating a great volunteer team. Please share your comments and links at the end of this post.

By Tudor Williams, ABC, MC, IABC Fellow

Some years ago, the leader of a political advance team said to me “How do you fire a volunteer?” As the public affairs and media relations guy on the team, my response is you don’t – especially in the rough and tumble of politics. The key to success is to critically select the team you need from the volunteers available at the outset and recruit from your personal and professional network if talent is not available. If you develop your team with care, you will never need to fire a volunteer.

Recently I was the leader of a team of volunteer business professionals. As I served my apprenticeship on the board of directors and then as a junior member of the executive, I decided that, if I was to successfully lead this organization, I needed to have the right talent in the right places.

Learn the various motivations, skills and talents of your volunteers as you get to know and work with each person. In the year prior to assuming the chief executive role, I self examined my personal vision for the organization and what I felt I could contribute. Then I defined the type of support I would need to accomplish a succession plan for future years and long term success.

First, I recruited my vice chair – the person who best complemented my leadership skills and vision. Together we examined what talents and skills we needed on the executive team. If we were going to achieve our goals and make a significant contribution to the business community, we need the right team. Then we aligned existing talent on the board with what we needed. The search was out for what we did not have.

I sat down with every board member, new and old, individually before we assumed our term of office. We defined aspirations and expectations of each other. I took that feedback and outlined my expectations for each member. It was equally important for me to ask what they would need from me to succeed.

The board entered its term of office sharing the vision, knowing our objectives, and knowing their individual role in determining the outcomes of the year. You want a team of volunteers that enjoys what it does, procures results and delivers high levels of volunteer satisfaction, do you homework early.

You can follow Tudor on Twitter @tudorwilliams

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IABC World Conference San Diego – A view from father and son

I had a great time at IABC’s World Conference in San Diego last week. I have fully engaged myself this year with roles on the IABC board, the Research Foundation and speaking at the Conference. The more I serve with IABC, the more I have received.

I had the opportunity to meet interesting, fun and smart people. Each of their stories and points of view enriched my experience. I live in a multi-cultural city but at conference I was working with people from South Africa, Australia, India, England and even a few Americans. Each person brought a valuable uniqueness to our conversations but also a universal value for people and relationships. Thank you IABC staff and volunteers for another great year.

A copy of my session handout.

Take always:
1.    Think about how you are thinking – Jonah Lehrer
2.    Have a passion for what you do – Deborah Tabart
3.    It is easier to grow a familiar behaviour than start a new one – Dr. BJ Fogg
4.    You can choose to be happy – Dr. Marshall Goldsmith

I asked my Dad to share his very different view of the conference.

The IABC Veteran View – What 30 years will teach you
By Tudor Williams, ABC, MC, Fellow

In the past few years, I have been adjusting my balance of work and networking at conference. I now focus 90% on networking and my working role is diminished to just 10%. I win on all counts here. I get to reconnect with some very old friends and outstanding colleagues. I never fail to come away from every encounter with fresh insights into the evolution of our professional world.

1.    I try to do this while enjoying the delights of the city I am in and San Diego has to rate amongst the best.
2.    I make a point of making new friends and getting to know rising stars in the profession.
3.    I appreciate what is changing in the communicators’ world.

One of the benefits of 30 years in the conference trenches is that I can pretty well accomplish my objectives without my conference badge around my neck. I would describe my experience as a recharge of my creative and professional energy. It is pleasure to be part of the IABC family.

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Community, transformation and relationships

When you found your last job, did you think you were entering into a relationship and what that meant? I am entering into the consulting community at Tekara Organizational Effectiveness. Their aspiration is to be a community. This has me reflecting on what we call ‘community’.

You may have had a discussion that looked like this, “Is it a group or a team?.” Teams have attributes we desire. Even if it is actually a ‘group’, we label it a ‘team’. This is similar to being a community member. Community is much deeper than a label and it requires us to be in relationship.

It is easy to ascribe attributes of proximity to community when we need attributes of relationships. Proximity will ensure we see each other, have common experiences and spend time together. In relationship, we invest into each other and fundamentally change as part of the process.

At Tekara, we ascribe to a transformational leadership paradigm. As Macgregor Burns states in his book Leadership, to transform something it cuts profoundly, “It is to cause a metamorphosis in form or structure.”  To be in a transformational community it requires being open to deep relationships that will fundamentally change who we are, what we do and how we do it.

Painting can be a metaphor for combining the concepts of transformation, community and relationship. Paints can be bright and distinct; they can have similar features and in combination bring the best out of each other. Paint on a canvas is in proximity. Take yellow and mix it with blue and you get green. The new mixture cannot be returned to the original colour and will continue to be changed with new additions. It has been transformed and can continue to transform.

This observation is both an opportunity and a caution. We can and do transform. Relationships leave us in a new form.

Pick those colours that build into your life carefully and then be open to the new mixture.

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IABC Gold Quill 2011 Lessons Learned – Change that didn’t hurt

In this past month’s issue of Communication World the focus was on change and the role of the professional communicator. The issue contained sage advice and examples of how to support and/or create change. In the light of judging at IABC’s Blue Ribbon Panel this weekend it was re-enforced to me that effective communication involves change. We seek to change attitudes and behaviours. Outcomes sought by Gold Quill entries this year included more votes, sales, saved lives, and ensuring human dignity.

The best and the brightest in the communication profession shared their work to be evaluated by peers. The entries were insightful, well measured and at times inspirational. Some took change resistant environments and effectively matched communication tactics with a process that ushered in new opportunities and achievements.

Our Leader

Other entries helped me think big and dream about what could be. Some campaigns really did change the world. When the winners are released these entries will inspire us all.

Providing communication platforms and being change agents with good research and hutzpah entrants charted new courses but they did not operate alone. Many of the successful communication campaigns were in partnerships with larger movements and other change agents. By listening to the needs of our audiences and our businesses many participated in movements. Communicators enhanced the positive sentiments while minimizing the barriers to success. Communicators were crucial leaders and implementers that led to great outcomes.

A memorable conversation
Blue Ribbon brings together communicators from around the globe. I find my colleagues challenges and insights invaluable. This weekend, I learned from an American adjusting his style to operate effectively in Hong Kong. His story unearthed some vital principles that will help me be successful in Canada. The conversation left me with some questions to contemplate.

  1. How and when should we adjust our approach to meet the culture we are operating in?
  2. Does the culture we are operating in need to be challenged so we can achieve our goals?
  3. Are we evaluating the positive and negative aspects of our own culture?
  4. How is our culture impacting our communications?
  5. Do we have overarching principles as professional communications that apply across cultures?
  6. Am I, North American centric and believe others should conform to my cultural beliefs?

Asking these questions will enable me to understand the needs of those I interact with and adjust or advocate depending on the situation.

Linking Communications to Leadership
Great conversations and great communication entries reminded me that transformational leadership is not asymmetrical. As communicators we have espoused two-way communication for decades as necessary for positive change. Recently, the topic has moved to three-way communication, where the audience communicates with the change agent and with others in the audience. Steve Crescenzo in this month’s Communication World stated this as a new responsibility for communicators to foster.
Interactive communication acknowledges that for leadership to be sustainable the leader and the led both need to change. With the increased emphasis on dynamic feedback and interaction this becomes more likely. Effective communication and leadership both seek to deepen relationships – relationships impact both parties.
My challenge for professional communicators and myself is to be willing to change as part of the communication process. When my audience shapes me, I am able journey into a deeper relationship. The relationship should grow the influence of all parties involved.

Thank you – IABC
To all the wonderful people and minds that make the Gold Quill experience possible, thank you for engaging in the profession and enabling our community of professionals to learn, grow and transform. This weekend many fun stories were told, collectively we encouraged passion and the food in San Francisco fed my growth.

I hope to see many of you in San Diego in June for IABC`s world conference.

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What is your message?

Tudor Williams, TWI Surveys Inc Associate was interviewed by the Globe and Mail for a business article on February 28, 2011.
They talked about the effective use of social media. Tudor had some great points:

  1. How you communicate builds or takes away from you message
  2. Your business operations have to match your messages
  3. You need to be able to respond where your customers are
  4. Social media is a dialogue – you will pose questions, make statements and respond to what you are hearing
  5. You have to be authentic in your communications

    Tudor and Ryan at a Delta Chamber Event

Globe and Mail article

TUDOR WILLIAMS, ABC, MC, FELLOW
ASSOCIATE, TWI SURVEYS INC.

  • Management consultant, Tudor Williams, ABC, is recognized internationally for his communication research and modeling, change management strategies and strategic communication planning. He has over 30 years of professional wisdom earned in research and communication management.
  • His communication career began with eight years in corporate public affairs management in the energy industry. He has led the Canadian communication practices for two international consulting firms, Towers Perrin and The Alexander Consulting Group (now AON). Tudor has led his own consultancy in Vancouver for the past 15 years.
  • He conducted his first audit as manager of internal communications for Syncrude Canada in 1981. Since then he has become a recognized world leader in communication measurement and the translation of audit data into the development and execution of communication strategy and tactics.
  • In 2004, he and business partner Ryan were recognized by the International Public Relations Institute in New York City with the Golden Ruler Award of Excellence for Measurement in Communication for the research conducted for the Alberta Medical Association.
  • Tudor is an IABC Fellow, the highest honor IABC bestows upon a member. He received the award at IABC’s International Conference in Los Angeles in June 2004.
  • Tudor is the recipient of many national and international awards including six IABC Gold Quills for communication planning and research. He is an Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) and was named a Master Communicator by IABC Canada in 1989.
  • He is a frequent speaker at international conferences including the Conference Board of America and the June 2008 IABC World Conference in New York City.

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