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Posts Tagged ‘communication’

The Rise of the Remote Workforce

remote-workforce-360x260We live in an emerging globalized mobile world of dispersed cloud workers. More than ever we see individuals and organizations trading in their traditional offices to work from home, coffee houses and just about anywhere in the world in which they can connect to the Internet. Leading the 21st century dispersed workforce brings its own challenges and requires new attitudes, approaches, and technologies. It requires leadership that is willing to step out of the comfort of the corner office and explore rich new possibilities of workforce engagement. It requires a higher degree of understanding communication, culture, collaboration, and empowerment.

“We live in a time of unprecedented globalism. Businesses, people, and economies are tied together in ways we could not have imagined 40 years ago. Organizations must now compete within a global landscape where clients and even the workforce are culturally diverse and geographically dispersed. Organizations are networked and interlaced around the globe through the Internet and mobile technologies. Crossing and operating within cultural boundaries must­­­ become a skill of the leaders and followers of the future. Organizations of the future must become culturally literate if they are to successfully compete under these emerging paradigms.” – Philip A Foster, The Open Organization, 2014

As we witness the emergence of a globalized mobile world of dispersed cloud workers, more than ever we see individuals and organizations trading in the traditional offices for the coffee house office or what I like to call the Coffice. A cloud based workforce is nothing more than a distributed or remote employee who is not bound by geography, time zone, or national boundaries. These employees are connected to colleagues via technology and therefore are able to work more flexibly via the internet.

Leader flexibility is the key to creating an atmosphere where each employee can become more excited about where they work and more importantly what they are working on. As the world becomes more globalized, the need for a flexible cloud optimized workforce is more evident. With a remote workforce comes the need to re-imagine and retool leadership for the remote worker. What is certain is that the way we approach and engage leaders and followers is quickly changing. There are challenges ahead as we assimilate into the new realities of a distributed cloud based workforce. Leading the charge for change is and will continue to be our Millennials. By the year 2025, it is estimated that nearly 75% of all work will be held by this generation. What is certain – change will happen whether we embrace it or not. As the 21st century organization continues to seek greater flexibility, organizational leadership must also evolve to the pressures and realities of a globalized economy.

While traditional leadership relies on formality, power, and proximity to followers; the Organization of the 21st century is emerging as a nontraditional structure in which authority is not vested in positions and human capital is dispersed geographically. Organizations will begin to abandon traditional leadership pedagogue for leaderless, self-led, and an empowered autonomous workforce. As hierarchies begin to collapse, leaders must learn to adapt to new realities and what it means to lead a more culturally diverse dispersed workforce from a distance.

As our reality shifts, leaders must learn how to communicate more effectively; engage human capital differently; embrace cultural nuances with diplomatic precision; and empower employees. The shift toward a dispersed workforce requires confidence and an abandonment of old models of employee engagement. The new way of working is not for everyone.  These changes will require discernment in the on-boarding process. Because Communication is so different in the dispersed setting, employees must leave ego behind and walk with assurance that they questions are important enough to ask.

Things are shifting – organizations are changing. Engagement of employees will change. We can either prepare for the inevitable or bury our heads in the depths of a 19th century hierarchical structure. In the end, you can change or you can become irrelevant. The choice is up to you.

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 Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available through Ashgate Publishing. Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He holds a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia.

Twitter: @maximumchange, E-mail: philip@maximumchange.com.

4 Steps to Success in 2014

4 Steps to Organizational Success in 2014 | http://www.maximumchange.com

4_Steps_to_Org_Success

3 Reasons Your Org Chart is Worthless

AA008821I know it’s your sacred cow. You spent hundreds of hours perfecting your org chart. It is a visual flexing of your organizational design prowess. It explains in detail the channels of decision making and communication in your organization. I am here to tell you that your org chart is worthless. It isn’t worth the paper it is printed on. While some may wax eloquent of the virtues of your creation – I say it’s a waste of time. Most all org charts are nothing more than idols we pay homage. Org charts represent a 19th century ideal of command-control with focus mainly on the leader(s) at the pinnacle of the chart. Even in a matrix org chart there is a top and bottom. No matter how flashy. No matter how descriptive your chart is – it is worthless.

First – org charts represent a structure that bottle-necks decision making and limits agility. If you want to see where the problems are in your organization, you need not look any further than your org chart (if you can find it). If you were to take an earnest survey of your organization you might find that your structure slows down decisions making and impacts the overall agility of your organization. The truth of the matter is that the 21st century organization will seek greater flexibility as its access to full time human capital diminishes. Your organization can’t be any better IF your organizational structure is cumbersome. Your org chart is a safety blanket that gives you absolutely no real coverage. Ask yourself this… how long does it take for a decision to be made. Does your front line have to ask their manager for approval for everything? Are you hiring based on an outdated slot on your org chart or are you hiring the best and empowering them to do their jobs?

Second – This is not how systems work in the natural world. Organizations are flattening and embracing self-leadership and a more open approach to the process of business. Organizations must find organic approaches to dealing with change and innovation. One such emerging concept is that of a decentralized organization, otherwise defined as the Open Organization. The end result is not to abolish organizational structures but to create a more flexible flow of ideas and processes that meets the needs of each individual within the organization as they pursue the goals of the organization and its stakeholders. Because of the complexity of business today, it is difficult to visually chart an Open Organization or organic forming structure.

Third – we don’t use them. The sad reality is this. Few organizations spend countless hours to actually USE their org chart. That’s right, we design them and then we stick them in a notebook somewhere and will rarely engage them again. I would argue that by the time the proverbial ink dries, your market silo has shifted and your org chart is now out of date. In our globalized economy, your org chart has the shelf life of milk at room temperature.

Here is a simple test. If you feel that you will lose control of your employees and your organization, then you’re running your organization based on command-and-control. This is a strong hierarchical approach where your organization is very much a top-down approach to leading where the bottom of the org chart is focused on completing the commands of the upper tier of the organization. The problem with this approach is that the bottom tier should be focused on the client and their needs rather than the objectives of the leadership. Like it or not, organizations are forced to become more competitive. If you don’t hire the best, empower them, and then get out of their way so that they can do their job – your organization is in trouble.

While I believe that org charts will be with us for some time. I believe that there will be a day when the only org charts we encounter will be in highly regulated industry, government institutions, and the military.  I challenge you… don’t waste one more moment on an org chart. Spend that time exploring how you can create agility and openness in your organization. It’s a new era… it’s the 21st century. It is time we starting acting like a 21st century organization.

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PIC3Dr. Philip A Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent e-book “Organization 3.0 – The Evolution of Leadership and Organizational Theories Toward an Open System for the 21st Century” is available exclusively on Amazon.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com.

When Not Knowing Can Hurt Your Organization

busConsultantIt is one thing to know that you don’t know and entirely different when you don’t know that you don’t know.  When I first engage with a new client I assess the organizations strategic team and their internal culture among followers. These assessments allow me to examine the alignment between the c-suite executives and lower level managers as well as the way followers perceive how things are in a company matched against their preference in the future. These assessments allow me to build a values framework to better interpret a variety of organizational phenomena such as core values, assumptions, interpretations and so forth. These assessments allow me the first insight into what is happening underneath the flashy exterior of the organizations first impressions. In fact, these assessments have exposed indicators of problems. Case in point, a client engaged us to conduct a corporate culture assessment. The assumption was that all of the followers within the organization were happy and that the assessments would prove that they were on the right track. In fact, the assessment exposed a glaring problem within a division of the organization. There appeared a respondent that was unhappy and seemed to indicate that the management was not interested in the follower’s well-being. This came as an utter surprise to the stakeholders. In fact, it bothered them so much that they asked me to please expose who the respondent was because they wanted to fix the problem. As it turned out, the individual in question was considered the company’s best employee and was up for a promotion. The assessment process showed that sometimes we don’t know that we don’t know. In other words, the organization didn’t realize that they had a perceived problem with this individual. The individual felt overlooked and left out of the process and rightly so. The leaders didn’t realize that their star employee was in fact disillusioned. This permitted leadership within the organization to re-evaluate how they communicate internally and they were able to turn this problem around.

We, as leaders, must understand that focusing on what is in front of us is only half the process of leading. We must be aware of the hidden things within our organizations. There are many assumptions people make about what is happening around them. Sometimes we think we know, but in fact we don’t know what we don’t know.

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PIC3Philip A Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent e-book “Organization 3.0 – The Evolution of Leadership and Organizational Theories Toward an Open System for the 21st Century” is available exclusively on Amazon.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership candidate with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com.

Connecting with Culture | What leaders need to know.

As cross-cultural matters become calibrated to a deeper understanding of how important communication and conflict resolution are to a global leader. Each step along the path I unpack my own worldviews and assumptions of how things area rather than how they should be (Sire, 1997, p 16). Our understanding of geography, language, customs, values, traditions, laws, ethics, and national psychology are all considerations to whether someone is a global leader (Foster, 2012). It then becomes imperative that global leaders understand the impact their approach to relationships has on differing cultures (Prichard, 2012). Culture is composed of individual interpretations of the world and the activities and artifacts that reflect these interpretations (Mintzberg, Ahlstrand and Lampel, 2005, p 265). When we embrace these interpretations rather than extinguish them, we connect deeply to the intrinsic needs of those within the culture we wish to operate (Foster, 2012). In my estimate, the secret to becoming a global leader is rooted in our ability to not only understand the complexities of the culture but also the art of connecting with those who reside within the culture as well.

References:

Sire, James W. (1997). The Universe Next Door. Third Edition. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press

 

 

Foster, Philip (2012). Retrieved from his posting: Blackboard Dialogues for Doctorate in Strategic Leadership, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA.

 

 

Prichard, Skip CEO of Ingram Content Group. Personal Interaction on February 2, 2012, LaVergne, TN.

 

Mintzberg, H., Ahlstrand, B., Lampel, J. (1998). Strategy Safari. New York, NY: First Free Press.

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Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/CEO of Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667

Developing a Cultural Hermeneutic to Conflict Resolution

In dealing with conflict, leaders should develop a cultural hermeneutics that assist the leader and organization to function successfully within a given culture (Branch, 2012). The essence of the hermeneutic should be to develop processes whereby the source of conflict is understood and where possible avoided. To develop a cultural hermeneutic we must first understand the nature of conflict in what Eisenberg and Goodall (2004) define “as the interaction of interdependent people who perceive opposition of goals, aims, and values, and who see the other parties as potentially interfering with the realization of these goals” (p 288).

Literature argues that conflicts should be understood as a portion of a broader network of interdependencies that produce wider and wider impact within the culture (Eisenberg and Goodall, 2004, p 169). Language is used to frame and work through the context of conflict is often invaluable in assisting individuals understanding of dealing with disputes (Eisenberg and Goodall, 2004, p 169).

While conflict avoidance is typically preferred, some recognize the benefits of conflict and its role in generating different ideas and perspectives as well as facilitating the sharing of information (Eisenberg and Goodall, 2004, p 288). Therefore, some degree of conflict is essential to achieving higher levels of productivity and effective communication (Eisenberg and Goodall, 2004, p 288).

It can be argued that developing a cultural hermeneutic should include an understanding of cultural context and language as well as the impact of conflict within the culture and its use as a lubricant to information sharing and productivity.

References:

Branch, Chester (2012). Retrieved from his posting: Blackboard Dialogues for Doctorate in Strategic Leadership, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA.

Eisenberg, Eric M. and Goodall, Jr., H.L. (2004). Organizational Communication. Fourth Edition. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin.

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Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/CEO of Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667

Cross-Cultural Conflict Avoidance

While avoiding allows conflict to go unresolved or projects responsibility on to others for solving the problem (Fletcher, 2012), it does not allow these individuals to preserve important goals, values and ideas – nor does it allow them to preserve relationships (Elmer, 1993, p 36). From a Westerner point of view, the ideal that avoiding conflict somehow causes it to go away most often creates the dynamic in which the individual ends up with weak or superficial relationships and little to no influence on important decisions (Elmer, 1993, p 36). However, Elmer (1993) does argue that strategic withdrawal can be a wise choice when emotions are running high and if the confrontation may cause someone to act unwisely or lose control (p 39). Conflict avoidance is also wise when the potential consequences of confrontation are too serious (Elmer, 1993, p 39). As Elmer (1993) puts it, avoiding conflict can be a sign of wisdom and maturity in some cases and in others it may signal an unwillingness to discuss important issues or a refusal to take a stand on a given decision (p 39).

Compromising within conflict resolution in fact seeks to set a middle ground between two parties (Fletcher, 2012). However, Elmer (1993) argues many simply give in to accommodate or smooth over the differences (p 39). Some may see most issues as negotiable and differences not worth fighting about (Elmer, 1993, p 39). Those who are more apt to accommodate are most often willing to forfeit personal goals and values and can be taken advantage of since they are most likely unable to say no (Elmer, 1993,  p39). Contrary to the Western view of conflict resolution, our Asian counterparts are more likely to work to prevent conflicts or avoid them altogether (Fletcher, 2012).

References:

Fletcher, Juanita (2012).  Retrieved from her posting: Blackboard Dialogues for Doctorate in Strategic Leadership, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA.

Elmer, Duane (1993). Cross-Cultural Conflict. Building Relationships for Effective Ministry. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/CEO of Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667