Free Essay

Transferable Skills Development

In: Business and Management

Submitted By adeelshahzad
Words 13058
Pages 53
Transferable Skills Development
MGT 495

Instructor: Prof. Dr. Mohammad Majid Mahmood Bagram


Course Description: • This course on Transferable Skills Development uses a unique three-pronged approach - theory, application, and skill development - to make key concepts relevant to today's students. • The course combines traditional theory with cutting-edge today`s Transferable Skills Development issues & Challenges that focuses on key elements. • Packed with real-world examples, the course illustrates how successful managers deal with challenges, as well as provides students with step-by-step guidelines for effectively handling skills development functions. • Experiential exercises, action learning, individual and group work, role plays, reflective exercises, and self assessment included in this course would help students to immediately apply to their personal and professional lives.

Course Objectives:
Upon completion of this course, students should be able to: • Develop skills in managing oneself, other people, groups, and ultimately organizations. • Develop rich set of softer interpersonal, influencing, team-building, conflict management, and communications skills. • Understand organizational performance, and career success in modern, dynamic and complex organizations.

Transferable Skills Development:
Transferable Skills Development is more than getting work done through people. It is developing people through work. If you want to improve your workforce management, then you need to improve the way you lead people via transferring skills.


A conflict arises when individuals have varied interests, opinions and thought processes and are just not willing to compromise with each other. It is always wise to adjust to some extent and try to find a solution to the problem rather than cribbing and fighting. Conflicts and disagreements only lead to negativity and things never reach a conclusion. It only adds on to the tensions and makes life hell. It actually leaves you drained and spoils your reputation. Every individual should try his level best to avoid conflict at the first place rather than resolving it later. Precautions must be taken at the right time to avoid a conflict.
No organization runs for charity, it has to make money to survive well. Employees must give their hundred percent at work to ensure the maximum productivity. Nothing productive will ever come out if the employees are constantly engaged in fighting and criticizing others. Conflict management plays a very important role at workplaces to prevent conflicts and for the employees to concentrate on their work. The team leaders must ensure that the roles and responsibilities of each and every employee are clearly passed on to them. Employees should be demotivated to interfere in each other’s work. Employees waste half of their time and energy in fighting with others and find it very difficult to work which they are actually supposed to do. An individual must enjoy his work; otherwise he would never be able to give his best.
Conflict management goes a long way in strengthening the bond among the employees and half of the problems automatically disappear. Individuals must feel motivated at work and find every single day exciting and challenging. Before implementing any idea, it must be discussed with everyone and no one should ever feel ignored or left out. This way, every employee feels indispensable for the office and he strives hard to live up to the expectations of his fellow workers and in a way contributing to the organization in his best possible way. Conflict management avoids conflicts to a great extent and thus also reduces the stress and tensions of the employees. No one likes to carry his tensions back home and if you fight with your colleagues and other people, you are bound to feel uncomfortable and restless even at home.
Conflict management also plays an important role in our personal lives. Tussles and fights spoil relationships and only increase our list of enemies. Everyone needs friends who will stand by us when we need them. Conflict must be avoided at homes as it spoils the ambience and spreads negativity. Individuals tend to disrespect others as a result of conflicts. Conflict management prevents fall out between family members, friends, relatives and makes life peaceful and stress free. Blame game never helps anyone, instead it makes life miserable. No idea can ever be implemented if the individuals fight among themselves.
Conflict management helps to find a middle way, an alternative to any problem and successful implementation of the idea. Problems must be addressed at the right time to prevent conflict and its adverse effects at a later stage. Through conflict management skills, an individual explores all the possible reasons to worry which might later lead to a big problem and tries to resolve it as soon as possible.
Conflict Management is very important because it is always wise to prevent a fight at the first place rather than facing its negative consequences. Stress disappears, people feel motivated, happy and the world definitely becomes a much better place to stay as a result of conflict management
Team conflict occurs inevitably, but preparing to deal with it in a rational, positive manner can save you from further disruption. Conflict occurs when people have different opinions, lack respect for each other or simply misunderstand intentions. Resolving conflict involves communicating effectively and reaching a compromise. Ignoring dissension eventually takes its toll both mentally and physically. Positive conflict resolution in a team results in better long-term team dynamics.
The first step in resolving conflict in a positive manner is getting agreement that a problem needs to be solved. Using active listening skills, each team member should restate what he’s heard, paraphrase key points and summarize his understanding. Positive conflict resolution is characterized by assertive behavior and not submissive or aggressive action. This approach ensures that people can deal with the situation calmly. For example, if two of your employees argue constantly, get them to agree that they have a problem and need to resolve it because it impacts your business operations.
Positive conflict resolution involves gathering information about interests, needs, viewpoints and concerns. Understanding these things enables you to examine the impact to team productivity in an objective manner. When team members acknowledge that other people see things differently, they can attempt to find a solution. For example, if a conflict over the way to approach status reporting arises on your project, gather opinions about frequency, format and distribution from all team members before scheduling


Following a positive conflict resolution process requires participants to be open to all ideas. Brainstorming allows the team to generate new ideas and triggers creative thinking. Don’t dwell on complaints and accusations. Consider options you’ve never thought about before. In a small business, people typically need to work closely with the same personnel every day. Continuing conflict erodes morale and distracts people from focusing on work. Keep things positive and you’ll find an innovative solution to your conflicts without provoking further confrontation.


Both parties benefit from positive conflict resolution techniques. Discussion may even reveal that what you thought was the cause of the problem is inaccurate, incorrect or misleading. By remaining calm, showing patience and demonstrating respect, you can help resolve problems in a constructive manner. This results in effective long-term relationships and increased productivity. Conflict that results in punishment for one party may result in continued tension, stress and disruption. Focus on positive outcomes and you’ll get better results.


Conflict drives change. Organizations that manage conflict will achieve change faster and with better results, so argues Gary Furlong, an associate with Agree Dispute Resolution, a consulting company that specializes in teaching individuals and organizations how to resolve conflicts.
He adds, "If you cannot manage conflict, you are not effectively managing change. So often, while individuals in an organization are fighting over proposed changes, the market runs away from them. The organization becomes yesterday's model because it does not recognize that keeping up or leading the market requires a lot of change."
Before we explore the importance of conflict management, let's define the term. Typically, we define conflict as fighting or struggling with someone, or as a dispute about a concrete issue. Furlong states:" a better definition of conflict is that we have competing interests with another party. In a sense, conflict is a continuum that begins with competing interest and escalates to a full blown dispute. The better people are at working with each other's competing interests and resolving differences, the fewer instances of conflict will escalate to full blown disputes"
Why are conflict management skills so important to organizational effectiveness? "Organizations are rights and power-based structures and hierarchical in nature," explains Furlong. "Then, managers turn around and say that they want people to be empowered, which are an interest-based idea.
"When we empower someone, we say that we want you to do what you think is right or best. Yet when people try to do what they think is right, they run into rights-based, hierarchical structure that says, "You can't operate outside of these boxes." These are contradictory ideas - empowerment versus structures."
There has been a considerable body of research identifying empowerment and employee involvement as important contributors to organizational effectiveness. The challenge is to foster an interest-based approach in a rights and power-based organization. To do this, we have to determine whether we will be working with each other's rights or interest in any situation.
Within a hierarchical organization there is a set of rights that an employee has within his/her authority level. A manager has the right to make decisions that affect direct reports without their input. However, it may be in the manager's interest to consult employees, to address their interest and thereby gain commitment.
Often, the only question mangers consider is: " Do I have the right to make this decision?" The question of the employee's interests is not addressed. For an effective organization, this is an inadequate response.
Furlong explains: "For so long, we have defined leadership as making tough decisions, as winning or as coming out on top. Our paradigm for leadership is adversarial.
"But often, winning simply doesn't meet our interests. For example, within an organizational context relationships are like a marriage. How many people ask the question, How do I win in my marriage? It is an absurd concept. You only win when it is win/win. That means both parties get their interests met. It is the same in an organization.
"A core skill we teach managers is that, in any conflict situation, start the meeting with a ten minute dialogue focused on common interests. Once these are established, they can turn to identifying competing interests. This approach completely changes the tone, and they get better results.
It is rightly said that organizations are individual’s first home as one spends the maximum time here. Employees must treat their fellow workers as a part of one big family and must work together to achieve the goals of the organization. Conflicts must be avoided at the workplace to ensure that the employees give their best for maximum productivity.
Let us understand the strategies to avoid conflicts at the workplace.
Every individual has his own style of working and reacting to any particular situation. Problems are bound to come when individuals work together. Never leave any problem unattended as a small problem can eventually become a major reason to worry later on. The problems must be addressed on an open platform and all related employees must be invited. Never discuss any problem separately with individuals as the other person might feel neglected. Prefer a conference room or the board room to discuss the problems and find a solution to it. Never always depend on verbal communications. Official communications must be preferably through emails marking a CC to all the participants as it is more reliable and transparent.
Transparency must be maintained at all levels and superiors must be easily available to the subordinates to avoid confusions. Gossips and back biting must be avoided at workplace as it is considered seriously unprofessional and lead to conflicts among individuals. Be straight forward and learn to express your views in a convincing way. Never be partial at workplaces. Do not support anyone just because he is a friend. Support him if he is right and do correct him if he is wrong. Understand the other individual as well. Don’t just impose your ideas on others, instead consider their views also. The superior must know the strengths of his team members and should assign the responsibilities keeping in mind their interests and specialties.
Communication also plays a very important role in avoiding conflicts at work places. Be very clear and precise in your communication. Never adopt a casual attitude at work as it would strictly go against you. Never deliver any speech or presentation at a noisy place as no one will be able to understand what the other person intends to communicate resulting in misunderstandings.
Develop the habit of using planners to avoid forgetting important dates and tasks. Do not criticize or make fun of your colleagues. If he is not wearing the tie in the desired way, let him know the correct way. He will feel happy and look up to you in the future. Never ever rely on politics in the office as it spoils the environment completely. Blame game must be avoided strictly as it just adds on to the problems and doesn’t provide any solution. You will not become unimportant if you accept your faults. Don’t always expect the other person to come to you and discuss things. Be the first one to take the initiative. Learn to own your responsibilities and never pass on the blame to your colleagues. An individual must keep his personal and professional life separate.
Never carry your problems to work as it never allows you to concentrate in your work. For an employee, office must come first and he must keep his personal interests on the backburner. Learn to trust your colleagues. Always approach the right person and don’t spread rumors unnecessarily. One should not be too adamant at workplaces. Be a little more adjusting and flexible. Every employee must try to compromise to the best possible extent and try to find out an alternative. Create a healthy and a professional environment at office.
Differences, problems are bound to arise at workplaces, but steps must be taken at the right time to avoid unnecessary fights and disagreements. Conflict not only spoils the ambience but also reduces the productivity of the employees. They feel highly demotivated and don’t feel like going to offices. Employees waste all their time and energy and nothing productive can be expected out of them and ultimately the organization is at loss.


Organizational learning is an area of knowledge within organizational theory that studies models and theories about the way an organization learns and adapts (Vasenska, 2013:615).
In Organizational development (OD), learning is a characteristic of an adaptive organization, i.e., an organization that is able to sense changes in signals from its environment (both internal and external) and adapt accordingly. OD specialists endeavor to assist their clients to learn from experience and incorporate the learning as feedback into the planning process.
Note a profound ambiguity in how the term adaptive system is used. The earliest system theorists studied self-regulating organic and mechanical systems in which a system "adapts" to environmental changes, acting so as to maintain its organization in a steady (viable) state. System theory was taken up in the humanities by those who use the term "adaptation" to mean how an organization evolves so as to produce desired outcomes (or even different outcomes chosen by the participants). When adaptation is used in the second sense, while the organization may continue under the same name, the nature of the system - its structure and behavior - changes. Successive incremental changes can lead to a radically different system.
Argyris and Schön were the first to propose models that facilitate organizational learning; others have followed in the tradition of their work: a) Argyris & Schön (1978) distinguished between single-loop and double-loop learning, related to Gregory Bateson's concepts of first and second order learning. In single-loop learning, individuals, groups, or organizations modify their actions according to the difference between expected and obtained outcomes. In double-loop learning, the entities (individuals, groups or organization) question the values, assumptions and policies that led to the actions in the first place; if they are able to view and modify those, then second-order or double-loop learning has taken place. Double loop learning is the learning about single-loop learning. b) Kim (1993), integrates Argyris, March and Olsen and another model by Kofman into a single comprehensive model; further, he analyzes all the possible breakdowns in the information flows in the model, leading to failures in organizational learning; for instance, what happens if an individual action is rejected by the organization for political or other reasons and therefore no organizational action takes place? c) Nonaka & Takeuchi (1995) developed a four stage spiral model of organizational learning. They started by differentiating Polanyi's concept of "tacit knowledge" from "explicit knowledge" and describe a process of alternating between the two. Tacit knowledge is personal, context specific, subjective knowledge, whereas explicit knowledge is codified, systematic, formal, and easy to communicate. The tacit knowledge of key personnel within the organization can be made explicit, codified in manuals, and incorporated into new products and processes. This process they called "externalization". The reverse process (from explicit to tacit) they call "internalization" because it involves employees internalizing an organization's formal rules, procedures, and other forms of explicit knowledge. They also use the term "socialization" to denote the sharing of tacit knowledge, and the term "combination" to denote the dissemination of codified knowledge. According to this model, knowledge creation and organizational learning take a path of socialization, externalization, combination, internalization, socialization, externalization, combination . . . etc. in an infinite spiral. Recently Nonaka returned to this theme in an attempt to move this model of knowledge conversion forwards (Nonaka & von Krogh 2009) d) Bontis, Crossan & Hulland (2002) empirically tested a model of organizational learning that encompassed both stocks and flows of knowledge across three levels of analysis: individual, team and organization. Results showed a negative and statistically significant relationship between the misalignment of stocks and flows and organizational performance. e) Flood (1999) discusses the concept of organizational learning from Peter Senge and the origins of the theory from Argyris and Schön. The author aims to "re-think" Senge's TheFifth Discipline (Senge 1990) through systems theory. The author develops the concepts by integrating them with key theorists such as Bertalanffy, Churchman, Beer,Checkland and Ackoff. Conceptualizing organizational learning in terms of structure, process, meaning, ideology and knowledge, the author provides insights into Senge within the context of the philosophy of science and the way in which systems theorists were influenced by twentieth-century advances from the classical assumptions of science. f) Watson, Bruce D.[1] argues that organizational learning has proven to be a somewhat elusive concept to grasp and therefore its practical implementation has also been difficult. There are various positions on what "learning" is understood to be and there is a lack of synthesis of theoretical and empirical investigations. He argues that the conception of "learning" in the organizational learning literature has received insufficient attention and that this has largely contributed to the lack of clarity in the concept of organizational learning. It is proposed that cognitive science, especially connectionism, provides a model of individual learning that is capable of incorporating implicit and explicit elements of learning and knowledge. Connectionist models of learning mimic the physiological neural processes of the brain and connectionism demonstrates the capacity to combine cognitivist and constructivist theories of learning. To accomplish the transition to an explanation of collective cognitive processes as occur in organizations, and while continuing to recognize the individual neural processes that must be involved, it is proposed that the theory of situated action is united with connectionism. On the basis of such, a reconceptualisation of organizational learning and a new framework to guide management practice is proposed. g) Imants (2003) provides theory development for organizational learning in schools within the context of teachers' professional communities as learning communities, which is compared and contrasted to teaching communities of practice. Detailed with an analysis of the paradoxes for organizational learning in schools, two mechanisms for professional development and organizational learning, (1) steering information about teaching and learning and (2) encouraging interaction among teachers and workers, are defined as critical for effective organizational learning. h) Common (2004) discusses the concept of organizational learning in a political environment to improve public policy-making. The author details the initial uncontroversial reception of organizational learning in the public sector and the development of the concept with the learning organization. Definitional problems in applying the concept to public policy are addressed, noting research in UK local government that concludes on the obstacles for organizational learning in the public sector: (1) overemphasis of the individual, (2) resistance to change and politics, (3) social learning is self-limiting, i.e. individualism, and (4) political "blame culture." The concepts of policy learning and policy transfer are then defined with detail on the conditions for realizing organizational learning in the public sector. i) Bontis & Serenko (2009a), and Bontis & Serenko (2009b) proposed and validated a causal model explicating organizational learning processes to identify antecedents and consequences of effective human capital management practices in both for-profit and non-profit sectors. The results demonstrate that managerial leadership is a key antecedent of organizational learning, highlight the importance of employee sentiment, and emphasize the significance of knowledge management. j) Van Niekerk & Von Solms (2004) Compares and discusses organizational learning models for information security learning within organizations. Double-loop learning, as presented by Argyris & Schön (1978) is compared to outcome-based education, and information security specific standards published by the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), to determine its suitability for the fostering of an information security culture. k) Bushe [2] [3] defines organizational learning as an inquiry into the patterns of organizing among two or more people that leads to new knowledge and a change in those patterns of organizing. Arguing that since everyone creates their own experience, in every interaction everyone is having a different experience, and so learning from collective experience is a lot more difficult than simply discussing what happened in the past to decide what people want to do in the future. Bushe argues that many of dysfunctional patterns of organizing are sustained by sense-making processes that lead people to make up stories about each other that are more negative than the reality. Through an "organizational learning conversation" people come to understand their own experience and the experience of others which often allow them to revise their patterns of organizing in positive ways. l) Some of this knowledge can be termed technical – knowing the meaning of technical words and phrases, being able to read and make sense of data and being able to act on the basis of generalizations. Scientific knowledge is ‘propositional’; it takes the form of causal generalizations – whenever A, then B. For example, whenever water reaches the temperature of 100 degrees, it boils; whenever it boils, it turns into steam; steam generates pressure when in an enclosed space; pressure drives engines. m) A large part of the knowledge used by managers, however, does not assume this form. The complexities of a manager’s task are such that applying A may result in B, C, or Z. A recipe or an idea that solved very well a particular problem, may, in slightly different circumstances backfire and lead to ever more problems. More important than knowing a whole lot of theories, recipes and solutions for a manager is to know which theory, recipe or solution to apply in a specific situation. Sometimes a manager may combine two different recipes or adapt an existing recipe with some important modification to meet a situation at hand. n) Managers often use knowledge in the way that a handyman will use his or her skills, the materials and tools that are at hand to meet the demands of a particular situation. Unlike an engineer who will plan carefully and scientifically his or her every action to deliver the desired outcome, such as a steam engine, a handyman is flexible and opportunistic, often using materials in unorthodox or unusual ways, and relies a lot on trial and error. This is what the French call ‘bricolage’, the resourceful and creative deployment of skills and materials to meet each challenge in an original way. Rule of thumb, far from being the enemy of management, is what managers throughout the world have relied upon to inform their action. o) In contrast to the scientific knowledge that guides the engineer, the physician or the chemist, managers are often informed by a different type of know-how. This is sometimes referred to a ‘narrative knowledge’ or ‘experiential knowledge’, the kind of knowledge that comes from experience and resides in stories and narratives of how real people in the real world dealt with real life problems, successfully or unsuccessfully. Narrative knowledge is what we use in everyday life to deal with awkward situations, as parents, as consumers, as patients and so forth. We seek the stories of people in the same situation as ourselves and try to learn from them. As the Chinese proverb says "A wise man learns from experience; a wiser man learns from the experience of others". p) Narrative knowledge usually takes the form of organization stories (see organization story and organizational storytelling). These stories enable participants to make sense of the difficulties and challenges they face; by listening to stories, members of organizations learn from each other's experiences, adapt the recipes used by others to address their own difficulties and problems. Narrative knowledge is not only the preserve of managers. Most professionals (including doctors, accountants, lawyers, business consultants and academics) rely on narrative knowledge, in addition to their specialist technical knowledge, when dealing with concrete situations as part of their work. More generally, narrative knowledge represents an endlessly mutating reservoir of ideas, recipes and stories that are traded mostly by word or mouth on the internet. They are often apocryphal and may be inaccurate or untrue - yet, they have the power to influence people's sense making and actions

Learning by individuals in an organizational context is the traditional domain of human resources, including activities such as: training, increasing skills, work experience, and formal education. Given that the success of any organization is founded on the knowledge of the people who work for it, these activities will and, indeed, must continue. However, individual learning is only a prerequisite to organizational learning.
Others take it farther with continuous learning. The world is orders of magnitude more dynamic than that of our parents, or even when we were young. Waves of change are crashing on us virtually one on top of another. Change has become the norm rather than the exception. Continuous learning throughout one’s career has become essential to remain relevant in the workplace. Again, necessary but not sufficient to describe organizational learning.
What does it mean to say that an organization learns? Simply summing individual learning is inadequate to model organizational learning. The following definition outlines the essential difference between the two: A learning organization actively creates, captures, transfers, and mobilizes knowledge to enable it to adapt to a changing environment. Thus, the key aspect of organizational learning is the interaction that takes place among individuals.
A learning organization does not rely on passive or ad hoc process in the hope that organizational learning will take place through serendipity or as a by-product of normal work. Alearning organization actively promotes, facilitates, and rewards collective learning.
Creating (or acquiring) knowledge can be an individual or group activity. However, this is normally a small-scale, isolated activity steeped in the jargon and methods of knowledge workers. As first stated by Lucilius in the 1st century BC, “Knowledge is not knowledge until someone else knows that one knows.”
Capturing individual learning is the first step to making it useful to an organization. There are many methods for capturing knowledge and experience, such as publications, activity reports, lessons learned, interviews, and presentations. Capturing includes organizing knowledge in ways that people can find it; multiple structures facilitate searches regardless of the user’s perspective (e.g., who, what, when, where, why, and how). Capturing also includes storage in repositories, databases, or libraries to ensure that the knowledge will be available when and as needed.
Transferring knowledge requires that it be accessible to as needed. In a digital world, this involves browser-activated search engines to find what one is looking for. A way to retrieve content is also needed, which requires a communication and network infrastructure. Tacit knowledge may be shared through communities of practice or consulting experts. Knowledge needs to be presented in a way that users can understand it, and it must suit the needs of the user to be accepted and internalized.
Mobilizing knowledge involves integrating and using relevant knowledge from many, often diverse, sources to solve a problem or address an issue. Integration requires interoperability standards among various repositories. Using knowledge may be through simple reuse of existing solutions that have worked previously. It may also come through adapting old solutions to new problems. Conversely, a learning organization learns from mistakes or recognizes when old solutions no longer apply. Use may also be through synthesis; that is creating a broader meaning or a deeper level of understanding. Clearly, the more rapidly knowledge can be mobilized and used, the more competitive an organization.
An organization must learn so that it can adapt to a changing environment. Historically, the life-cycle of organizations typically spanned stable environments between major socioeconomic changes. Blacksmiths who didn’t become mechanics simply fell by the wayside. More recently, many Fortune 500 companies of two decades ago no longer exist. Given the ever-accelerating rate of global-scale change, the more critical learning and adaptation become to organization relevance, success, and ultimate survival.
Organizational learning is a social process, involving interactions among many individuals leading to well-informed decision making. Thus, a culture that learns and adapts as part of everyday working practices is essential. Reuse must equal or exceed reinvent as a desirable behavior. Adapting an idea must be rewarded along with its initial creation. Sharing to empower the organization must supersede controlling to empower an individual.
Clearly, shifting from individual to organizational learning involves a non-linear transformation. Once someone learns something, it is available for their immediate use. In contrast, organizations need to create, capture, transfer, and mobilize knowledge before it can be used. Although technology supports the latter, these are primarily social processes within a cultural environment, and cultural change, however necessary, is a particularly challenging undertaking.

Organizational performance comprises the actual output or results of an organization as measured against its intended outputs (or goals and objectives).
According to Richard et al. (2009) organizational performance encompasses three specific areas of firm outcomes: (a) financial performance (profits, return on assets, return on investment, etc.); (b) product market performance (sales, market share, etc.); and (c) shareholder return (total shareholder return, economic value added, etc.). The term Organizational effectiveness is broader.
Specialists in many fields are concerned with organizational performance including strategic planners, operations, finance, legal, and organizational development.
In recent years, many organizations have attempted to manage organizational performance using the balanced scorecard methodology where performance is tracked and measured in multiple dimensions such as: • financial performance (e.g. shareholder return) • customer service • social responsibility (e.g. corporate citizenship, community outreach) • employee stewardship

Effective communication helps us better understand a person or situation and enables us to resolve differences, build trust and respect, and create environments where creative ideas, problem solving, affection, and caring can flourish. As simple as communication seems, much of what we try to communicate to others—and what others try to communicate to us—gets misunderstood, which can cause conflict and frustration in personal and professional relationships. By learning these effective communication skills, you can better connect with your spouse, kids, friends, and coworkers.
In the information age, we have to send, receive, and process huge numbers of messages every day. But effective communication is about more than just exchanging information; it also about understands the emotion behind the information. Effective communication can improve relationships at home, work, and in social situations by deepening your connections to others and improving teamwork, decision-making, and problem solving. It enables you to communicate even negative or difficult messages without creating conflict or destroying trust. Effective communication combines a set of skills including nonverbal communication, attentive listening, the ability to manage stress in the moment, and the capacity to recognize and understand your own emotions and those of the person you’re communicating with.
While effective communication is a learned skill, it is more effective when it’s spontaneous rather than formulaic. A speech that is read, for example, rarely has the same impact as a speech that’s delivered (or appears to be delivered) spontaneously. Of course, it takes time and effort to develop these skills and become an effective communicator. The more effort and practice you put in, the more instinctive and spontaneous your communication skills will become.
Listening is one of the most important aspects of effective communication. Successful listening means not just understanding the words or the information being communicated, but also understanding how the speaker feels about what they’re communicating.
Effective listening can: a) Make the speaker feel heard and understood which can help build a stronger, deeper connection between you. b) Create an environment where everyone feels safe to express ideas, opinions, and feelings, or plan and problem solve in creative ways. c) Save time by helping clarify information, avoid conflicts and misunderstandings. d) Relieve negative emotions. When emotions are running high, if the speaker feels that he or she has been truly heard, it can help to calm them down, relieve negative feelings, and allow for real understanding or problem solving to begin. e) If your goal is to fully understand and connect with the other person, listening effectively will often come naturally. If it doesn’t, you can remember the following tips. The more you practice them, the more satisfying and rewarding your interactions with others will become. f) Focus fully on the speaker, his or her body language, and other nonverbal cues. If you’re daydreaming, checking text messages, or doodling, you’re almost certain to miss nonverbal cues in the conversation. If you find it hard to concentrate on some speakers, try repeating their words over in your head—it’ll reinforce their message and help you stay focused. g) Avoid interrupting or trying to redirect the conversation to your concerns, by saying something like, “If you think that’s bad, let me tell you what happened to me.” Listening is not the same as waiting for your turn to talk. You can’t concentrate on what someone’s saying if you’re forming what you’re going to say next. Often, the speaker can read your facial expressions and know that your mind’s elsewhere. h) Avoid seeming judgmental. In order to communicate effectively with someone, you don’t have to like them or agree with their ideas, values, or opinions. However, you do need to set aside your judgment and withhold blame and criticism in order to fully understand a person. The most difficult communication, when successfully executed, can lead to the most unlikely and profound connection with someone. i) Show your interest in what’s being said. Nod occasionally, smile at the person, and make sure your posture is open and inviting. Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like “yes” or “uh huh.”
When we communicate things that we care about, we do so mainly using nonverbal signals. Wordless communication, or body language, includes facial expressions, body movement and gestures, eye contact, posture, the tone of your voice, and even your muscle tension and breathing. The way you look, listen, move, and react to another person tells them more about how you’re feeling than words alone ever can.
Developing the ability to understand and use nonverbal communication can help you connect with others, express what you really mean, navigate challenging situations, and build better relationships at home and work. a) You can enhance effective communication by using open body language—arms uncrossed, standing with an open stance or sitting on the edge of your seat, and maintaining eye contact with the person you’re talking to. b) You can also use body language to emphasize or enhance your verbal message—patting a friend on the back while complimenting him on his success, for example, or pounding your fists to underline your message. c) Use nonverbal signals that match up with your words. Nonverbal communication should reinforce what is being said, not contradict it. If you say one thing, but your body language says something else, your listener will likely feel you’re being dishonest. For example, you can’t say “yes” while shaking your head no. d) Adjust your nonverbal signals according to the context. The tone of your voice, for example, should be different when you’re addressing a child than when you’re addressing a group of adults. Similarly, take into account the emotional state and cultural background of the person you’re interacting with. e) Use body language to convey positive feelings even when you're not actually experiencing them. If you’re nervous about a situation—a job interview, important presentation, or first date, for example—you can use positive body language to signal confidence, even though you’re not feeling it. Instead of tentatively entering a room with your head down, eyes averted, and sliding into a chair, try standing tall with your shoulders back, smiling and maintaining eye contact, and delivering a firm handshake. It will make you feel more self-confident and help to put the other person at ease.

To deal with stress during communication: a) Recognize when you’re becoming stressed. Your body will let you know if you’re stressed as you communicate. Are your muscles or your stomach tight and/or sore? Are your hands clenched? Is your breath shallow? Are you "forgetting" to breathe? b) Take a moment to calm down before deciding to continue a conversation or postpone it. c) Bring your senses to the rescue and quickly manage stress by taking a few deep breaths, clenching and relaxing muscles, or recalling a soothing, sensory-rich image, for example. The best way to rapidly and reliably relieve stress is through the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. But each person responds differently to sensory input, so you need to find things that are soothing to you. d) Look for humor in the situation. When used appropriately, humor is a great way to relieve stress when communicating. When you or those around you start taking things too seriously, find a way to lighten the mood by sharing a joke or amusing story. e) Be willing to compromise. Sometimes, if you can both bend a little, you’ll be able to find a happy middle ground that reduces the stress levels for everyone concerned. If you realize that the other person cares much more about something than you do, compromise may be easier for you and a good investment in the future of the relationship. f) Agree to disagree, if necessary, and take time away from the situation so everyone can calm down. Take a quick break and move away from the situation. Go for a stroll outside if possible, or spend a few minutes meditating. Physical movement or finding a quiet place to regain your balance can quickly reduce stress.


You can improve your ability to communicate. You can get better at it. Oftentimes, you don’t even have to learn something new. By simply unlearning false assumptions and common misconceptions, you will notice that your communication style becomes more effective.
At some point, each of us has probably thought that one of the following 10 myths would make us a better communicator.

1. We thought that we could take someone else’s message and simply pass it on.

This is like learning to paint by numbers. The true artist paints from an inborn passion about what s/he sees. When we paint by numbers, we attempt to copy someone else’s passion. If we want people to truly hear our message, it must be communicated with passion and belief. We must own it. We must communicate the importance of our message. This happens when we’re are able to communicate with conviction. If we are not gripped by our message, our hearers won’t be either.

2. We thought the message was more important than the people we were talking to.

There’s a difference between talking to a wall and talking to a person. Yet, if we don’t communicate properly we may get the same response from both. Our message must communicate a belief in people. Our communication must show respect and what kind of expectations we have in our hearers. If those who receive our message feel like they are being talked down to or belittled, they will turn us off quickly.

3. We thought that how we lived didn’t have an effect on what we said.

Many times we try to communicate from the perspective of the person we’d like to be instead of the person we are. Authenticity is a powerful communication tool. We must communicate with words consistent with our actions. If we talk the talk, but it doesn’t match the way we walk the walk, then we will face a credibility issue. Sometimes the way we live our lifves speaks so loudly people can’t hear what we’re saying – unless the two match up.

4. We thought that leaders should always say something.

A leader may be passionate, knowledgeable, and have something very worthwhile to say. But if the message is delivered at the wrong time, it won’t have a chance to connect with the hearer. There are times we must know when to communicate and when to be silent.Leaders understand that the right message given at the wrong time can have negative consequences. Consider the timing of every communication. Ask yourself – Is this the right time to say this?

5. We thought that our own style of communication would work in every situation.

While we may have a certain way of communicating that is most comfortable to us, our hearers have a variety of ways that they process information. Use variety. Mix it up.Within the first 15 seconds of our communication, people are making decisions as to whether they will keep listening or reading. What will we do to make our message stand out from the rest? The key is to be creative while remaining consistent and understandable.

6. We thought that people would know how to respond to our message.

When I was in the third grade, the popular way to ask a girl if she liked you was to write her a note expressing your affection and then give her three options to proclaim her answer (yes, no, and my personal favorite…maybe). Of course, my preferred (but often rejected) response was a “yes, but at the very least, I had let her know her options.
When we communicate, we must clarify the appropriate response. We should help our hearer to know how they should respond to our communication. Clearly spell out what kind of action steps they need to know. Give appropriate deadlines and guidelines if necessary.

7. We thought that we only had to say it once.

The truth is, we need to say the important things often. Dr. Phillip E. Bozek in his book,50 One-Minute Tips to Better Communication says, “Busy readers tend to notice the beginning and endings of documents. Place must see information in strategic first and last locations on the page, and place the less important details in middle paragraphs.”In whatever mode of your communication, if it’s important, it’s worth repeating.

8. We thought that all we had to use was words.

With all of the options available to us through technology and the internet, there is no reason for us not to use visuals and media to enhance our message. Many times it is not enough to say something in order for our hearers to get it, a message must be demonstrated and visualized as well. It is true that a picture can sometimes say it better than we can.

9. We thought if we had something important to say, that people would naturally connect with us.

One of the first questions your hearer asks themselves is, “Who are you?” They won’t believe your message unless they find you believable. It is our responsibility to connect with our audience. People need to develop some kind of relationship with us if they are going to hear what we’re saying. The definition of rapport is “Relationship, especially one of mutual trust or emotional affinity.” The rule of thumb is: No rapport – No response.

10. We thought that people wanted to hear every detail.

The best communicators have the ability to take something complex and to make it simple, understandable. Because there is so much information to sort through out there, we must keep our communication brief. A shorter, concise, focused statement communicates much louder than pages of detailed information.
Most of the time, brevity will be our best friend. Remember, our job as a communicator is to express, not impress. We shouldn’t try to wow our audience with our expansive wisdom. Just say what needs to be said in a way that people will hear it.


Critical thinking is the art of using reason to analyze ideas and dig deeper to get to our true potential. Critical thinking isn't about thinking more or thinking harder; it's about thinking better. Honing your critical thinking skills can open up a lifetime of intellectual curiosity. But the journey isn't all rosy. Critical thinking requires a lot of discipline. Staying on track takes a combination of steady growth, motivation, and the ability to take an honest look at yourself, even in the face of some uncomfortable facts.
Question your assumptions. We make a lot of assumptions about almost everything. It's how our brain processes certain pieces of information, and how we get along in everyday life. You could say they are the foundation of our critical framework. But what if those assumptions turned out to be wrong, or at least not entirely truthful? Then the whole foundation needs to be re-built, from the bottom up.
a) What does it mean to question assumptions? Einstein questioned the assumption that Newtonian laws of motion could accurately describe the world.[1] He developed an entirely new framework for looking at the world byre describing what he thought happened, starting from scratch.
b) We can question assumptions in a similar way. Why do we feel the need to eat in the morning, even when we're not hungry? Why do we assume that we'll fail when we haven't even tried?
c) What other assumptions are we taking for granted that might crumble upon further examination?

Don't take information on authority until you've investigated it yourself. Like assumptions, taking information on authority can be useful. Instead of double-checking everything anyone says, we tend to label information as either coming from a trustworthy or not trustworthy source. This keeps us from double-checking every piece of information that comes our way, saving time and energy. But it also keeps us from getting to the bottom of things we perceive as coming from a trustworthy source, even when they don't. Just because it was published in a magazine or broadcast over TV doesn't mean it's necessarily true. ▪ Get in the habit of using your instinct to investigate questionable pieces of information. If your gut isn't satisfied with an explanation, ask the person to elaborate. If you don't question a fact, read about it or test it yourself. Soon enough, you'll build up a pretty good sense of what deserves more research and what you've determined to be true in your own judgment.

Understand your own biases. Human judgment can be subjective, frail, and spiteful. One recent study found that parents who were given corrected information about the safety of vaccines were less likely to have their children vaccinated.[3] Why? The hypothesis is that parents given this information accept that the information is true, but push back people it damages their self-esteem — something that is very important to most people. Understanding what your biases are and where they may affect how you deal with information.
Think several moves ahead. Don't just think one or two steps ahead. Think several. Imagine you're a chess grandmaster who's dueling with someone with the capacity to think dozens of moves ahead, with hundreds of permutations. You have to match wits with him. Try to imagine the possible futures the problem you're working on may take on. ▪ Jeff Bezos, CEO of, famously understood the benefits of thinking several steps ahead. He tired Wired Magazine in 2011: "If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that."[4] When the Kindle first hit stores in 2007 it was more than three years in development, at a time when e-readers were on nobody's radar.

Read great books. Nothing beats the transformation of a great book. Whether it'sMoby Dick or Philip K. Dick, great writing has the power to frame debate (literature), enlighten (nonfiction), or unleash emotion (poetry). And reading isn't only for bookworms. Elon Musk, the tech giant, said he mastered rocket science by pretty much "reading and asking questions."

Read great books. Nothing beats the transformation of a great book. Whether it'sMoby Dick or Philip K. Dick, great writing has the power to frame debate (literature), enlighten (nonfiction), or unleash emotion (poetry). And reading isn't only for bookworms. Elon Musk, the tech giant, said he mastered rocket science by pretty much "reading and asking questions."

Understand all your options. When you want to use your critical thinking skills to act — because armchair philosophy can get old after too long — it helps to know what your options are. Lay them all out there, and then weigh the options. We often pigeonhole ourselves into believing that we're stuck with only one option, when other options

Surround yourself with people smarter than you. You want to be the big fish in the little pond, because it makes your ego feel good. Well, throw away your ego. If you really want to learn, get better at something, and develop critical thinking skills, hobnob with people smarter than yourself. Not only can you bet that the smart peoplethemselves rub shoulders with people smarter than they are, you can also bet that some of that intelligence is going to permeate your perspective.


Our thinking can only be effective if it is based on reality. Reality is objective it exists independently of your desires, wishes, whims, and objectives. Your thinking will be productive to the extent that you are able to accurately perceive and interpret this reality. This requires objectivity–the ability to separate "what is" from what you might want to believe or what might be more comforting to believe.

Keep an open mind. A closed mind is cut off from reality. The closed mind thinker can easily be recognized; he or she has a rigid set of opinions and attitudes that are not open to discussion. Such a thinker cannot be reasoned with, since this process involves processing new input. If you feel as if you are talking to a brick wall, you are probably dealing with a closed mind thinker. However, being open minded does not mean that you should not stand by the truth as you know it, or that you must accept every point of view. Truth will withstand questioning; only illusion is threatened by the exchange of thought.

Do not tolerate ongoing and unproductive ambiguity. Most decisions that you face involve a degree of ambiguity, a gray area between the obvious black-or-white alternatives. This is not an argument for the tolerance of uncertainty; it is a recommendation to exercise the power of thought to establish clarity. Ambiguity is often a symptom of sloppy, incomplete, or irrational thinking. When you experience such a state, it is time carefully to examine your premises, your principles, your knowledge, and the efficacy of your thinking process. Knowledge is the progressive retrieval of clarity from uncertainty and confusion.

Withhold judgment until you are sure you have adequate information. It may be tempting to jump to conclusions, but you may end up in a hole you didn't see. On the other hand, once you have adequate information, do not hesitate to make judgments based upon it. Judgment is part of the process of thinking, the application of your ability to come to conclusions about reality.

Maintain a sense of humor. You can't think straight if everything seems like a matter of life and death to you. The ability to laugh at yourself and to see the humor in situations can often help you maintain clarity of thought and perspective. However, beware of laughter used as a weapon to denigrate what you value or as a psychological defense; such uses require a serious response.

Cultivate intellectual curiosity. The world is full of things you don't yet know about. Curiosity is the sign of a mind that is free and open to the wonders of reality, unafraid to face the unknown in order to grasp new knowledge. A curious thinker will explore new manners of looking at things and doing things. Learning can be an adventure of constant and exciting discovery if you cultivate a curious mind.

Don't take things at face value. At an early age, most of us learn not to believe everything we hear. Imagine how disappointed you would be if you believed all the claims you hear in television advertising! This same principle should be applied to the other information that comes through the media, even what is presented as "news." It is meant to be chewed (and sometimes spit out), not swallowed whole! Beware of packaging that hides the truth. Sometimes a big box with a fancy picture on the front bears little relationship to what is hidden inside. Open it up and take a look for yourself.

Do not automatically accept authority. The appeal to authority is a favorite advertising gimmick: Hollywood stars, sports figures, and popular culture heroes are used to promote everything from breakfast cereal to underwear and underarm deodorant. We are encouraged to think that if he (or she) says this is great stuff, it must be! The fact that such an authority is getting paid millions of dollars for his or her endorsement might be enough to make you question him as an objective authority.

Be aware of your own ego enhancing behavior. Decisions can often be influenced by how you want to appear to yourself or to others. If you are overly concerned about maintaining a given image, you may be doing and saying things that are not really in your own best interest. As you achieve authentic self esteem, behavior based on appearances often loses its appeal.
Maintain a sense of perspective. When you are in the midst of an important matter, it is easy to lose a balanced view of the situation. It can often be a good practice to "zoom out" and view the matter in a larger context. One method to establish perspective: On a scale of one to ten, with one being the death of a blade of grass and ten being worldwide nuclear annihilation, what does your situation rate? Is it truly as critical as it seems at the moment?

Be aware of nonverbal behavior clues. The impact of verbal communication is less than half of the message you receive from others. The rest of the message is communicated by nonverbal behavior. You will be influenced by both. If someone is acting friendly while painfully squeezing your hand in a handshake, you may have reason to question what he or she are saying! The same would apply if someone is stretched back in his chair and yawning while telling you how interested he is in your ideas. The clearer your perception of the facts of the situation, the clearer your thinking will be.

When under pressure, stop and think. Impulsive decision making often results in poor decisions. As the pressure for a decision increases, the temptation to make an impulsive decision also increases. You may rationalize this by thinking that any decision is better than indecision; this is rarely true. Indecision is often the result of poor decision making skills. Impulsiveness only assures that you'll reap the consequences of poor decisions that much sooner!

See beyond labels and stereotypes. Labels and stereotypes are a type of mental shorthand that can facilitate thinking and communication. If you are in need of a four legged piece of furniture designed for sitting, it is easier to ask for a chair and to ignore the many possible variations of design and materials. However, if you are investigating a possible career choice, you should not be satisfied with a stereotypical description of the occupations involved you want to know exactly what it really means to be a police officer, brain surgeon, or financial analyst. Likewise, dealing with people from different backgrounds or cultures is seriously hampered by prejudicial stereotypes that obscure the truth.

Weed out negative self talk. Much of what passes for thinking is really self-talk–subvocal conversations you constantly hold with yourself. This self-talk often takes the form of critical judgments and attitudes about you. Your thinking skills may be undermined by self talk that conveys negative messages over and over again, reinforcing a negative self image ("I can't do anything right," "I'm just not as smart as everyone else") or attitudes ("I better not trust anyone," "School is a waste of time"). Unless this kind of negative thinking is challenged and replaced by more positive self talk, it will tend to influence your decisions in an undesirable manner. The fundamental element in such change is the cultivation of self esteem. Counseling is a good solution to this kind of problem.

Look for consistency. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: "foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." A thoughtful consistency, however, is the hallmark of careful and thorough thinking. Consistency and logic are criteria that should be applied to whatever you consider. Inconsistency is often used to obscure the truth.


Culture is defined as the attitudes and behavior that characterize a particular social group or organization. Cultures worldwide shape societies and offer opportunities for different groups of people to find a common association. Business cultures are just as significant as societal cultures. The way people within an organization think and act has a tremendous impact on employee productivity in that organization.
The culture of an organization is what differentiates it from its competitors and other businesses. Cultural values form the founding principles of the company. That foundation affects every attitude and behavior built thereafter, and should be a reflective base for what the company stands for.
A culture can promote negative or positive behaviors that will affect employees at each level of the company. And although a strong organizational culture is generally considered to be a positive attribute, it is not adequate enough to enhance productivity on its own.
In order for an organization to maximize its employee productivity, leaders need to strive to promote a performance-driven culture. Creating an environment that promotes performance sounds easy enough, but most cultures are cultivated over time. How can an organization ensure that their culture promotes performance and efficiency?
The first step in creating a performance-driven culture is to create an understanding within the organization that the results of people's efforts matter. The entire workforce should strive to achieve the results most important to the organization.
The leaders of America's Most Productive Companies tend to have a consistent, shared understanding of both the company's current culture and its future culture. These leaders tend to promote individual initiative and high levels of teamwork, both of which are essential ingredients for achieving results.
How can you achieve the employee productivity performance standards reached by the AMPC? Here are five ways they distinguish themselves from their peers: 1) Get crystal clear about the activities and the amount of each activity necessary for the organization to achieve its overall objectives. 2) Translate these activities into job and performance requirements for your managers and their people, being sure to get their input and buy-in along the way. 3) Create tools to help your managers communicate these requirements and track their team’s and individual team members’ progress toward these goals. 4) Seek direct input from front-line employees in the form of employee surveys and 360-degree management assessments to determine if the message is getting through. 5) Encourage open communication between employees and their managers to clarify job requirements and to stop low-value work.

Creating performance-motivated business customs can take time if the organization has never before focused on this aspect. Managers should keep in mind that their actions serve as an example for their employees. The way a manager leads his team inevitably affects the overall office culture. If a manager prioritizes results and productivity, then employees will begin to adapt their habits to match their manager's expectations.
The best business leaders, such as those among America’s Most Productive Companies, strive to create and sustain companies that are productive, effective, and efficient. The only way to ensure that your company is going to exceed its own expectations is to instill a performance-driven culture. Create a workforce that matches the culture the organization admires in order to avoid productivity gaps. Organizations should be mindful that a culture is a foundation, and that each portion of the business is built upon and around it.

Employees like rewards. Some managers think its fun to play Santa Claus by delivering goodies to employees. If the rewards are high enough, turnover will decrease because employees will not want to lose the rewards. Contrary to the belief of many managers, however, performance will not increase just because engagement scores are higher.
The problem is that engagement too often is seen as the goal of human capital efforts. That leads to programs that have no impact on the ultimate business-based goal — namely performance.
Here’s a prime example: work-life benefits, which have vastly increased based on the rationale that they increase employee engagement. Fitness centers, yoga sessions, financial counseling, child care, and time management classes add significant costs and greatly increase administrative complexity in the benefits offering. They typically are available to all – high performers and terrible performers equally – in good times and bad, and are not contingent on anything other than membership in the organization.
Even if engagement increases as a result of such programs, the gains usually are not sustainable. Costly engagement programs that do not provide a meaningful return on investment eventually whither when hard times hit.
Better to keep the business goal of increasing performance front and center. The key to Performance-Driven Engagement is to help employees be more successful in their jobs and to reward them for higher performance. Engagement follows, but as a secondary effect – it is the result of higher performance and the rewards that come with it. These rewards are intrinsic – a such as a feeling of accomplishment – as well as extrinsic – such as the higher pay and job security that come with greater success.

Hard work is required

Developing a Performance-Driven Engagement (PDE) strategy is hard work. If the goal is increased performance rather than simply increased engagement, it is not good enough to copy the practices of other companies, such as those on Best Places to Work lists.
PDE requires a careful analysis of the needs of the organization as reflected in its business strategy, organization design, technology, and desired culture. PDE also requires an understanding of the many levers that can drive performance and engagement, including compensation, benefits, work design, development opportunities, selection, performance management, and a sense of affiliation with the organization (leaders, supervisors, and peers).
A good strategy involves selecting a few things to do very well, not trying to make changes using all of the levers at once. Blindly copying the practices of competitors is lazy and likely to fail as a competitive strategy. A good strategy also seeks competitive advantage by doing a few things superbly that competitors are not doing or are not doing well.
Too many HR leaders misunderstand the ways in which engagement and performance are connected and disconnected.
Disconnects are common. Organizations can increase employee engagement without improving performance simply by increasing employee rewards across the board. Similarly, organizations can increase performance in ways that reduce engagement, such as cost cutting via layoffs.
HR’s primary contribution to the business should be in helping business leaders understand how to increase performance using human capital levers. If human capital interventions are designed and implemented well, they also will enhance employee well-being as a secondary consequence. This formulation avoids putting the cart (engagement) before the horse (performance).
Managers could once decide if they should make profits and principles compatible. But today, there is no choice. It is imperative that managers develop strategies that deliver a return for investors and society at large. These coauthors, who have written a valuable and insightful book on the subject, distill their research into seven strategies that business leaders can use to build profits with principles.
Companies today are under intense pressure to rebuild public trust and be competitive in a global economy. To do this, they must act with greater accountability, transparency and integrity, while remaining profitable and innovative. They must engage with activists as well as analysts, cooperate as well as compete, manage social and environmental risks as well as market risks, and leverage their intangible assets as well as their financial and physical assets. Today, CEOs, directors and managers alike are faced with a complex, unprecedented challenge: How can they continue to deliver shareholder value while delivering societal value?
Some companies are making sincere, concerted efforts to fundamentally reshape markets and governance structures. They are trying to make a profit and contribute to the public good. In every way, they are committed to creating value and upholding certain values. In the process, they are changing the rules of the game. However, mastering these new rules and constantly changing expectations of society requires the articulation and adoption of clear business principles, and the design and successful use of new tools and management competencies.
We have studied 60 multinational companies that are taking a lead in responding to these challenges. Drawing on their experiences, we have developed seven strategies that move the concept of corporate responsibility beyond the boundaries of compliance, public relations and philanthropy, to become a more integral part of corporate governance, strategy, risk management and reputation. Applied broadly, this values-driven approach offers companies new opportunities for value creation, benefiting not only shareholders, but employees, customers, communities, and society at large.
Seven strategies for combining profits with principles Our research and experience have lead us to identify seven operating disciplines that values-driven companies are employing to meet and master the new rules of the game. They are: 1) Harness innovation for the public good. 2) Put people at the centre. 3) Spread economic opportunity. 4) Engage in new alliances. 5) Be performance-driven in everything. 6) Practice superior governance. 7) Pursue purpose beyond profit


1. Get them on board with the change

The first step in engaging managers and supervisors as leaders of change is getting them on board with the change. A manager must be supportive of a change before he or she can successfully lead direct reports through the change process. From an ADKAR® perspective, this means that managers and supervisors have sufficient Awareness and Desire around the change itself before they begin engaging their direct reports. To achieve this, the change management plan must have specific elements aimed at building support with managers and supervisors.
The communication plan should have a portion focused on managers and supervisors – explaining why the change is happening, the benefits of the change and the nature of the change from the manager’s perspective. These communications should start very early in the project life cycle to ensure adequate time before the managers and supervisors are asked to communicate with their reports. In addition to general change messages, specific messages about the role of managers and supervisors and how to lead direct reports should be communicated. Communications should come from preferred senders, in this case the manager’s supervisor and leadership. Two-way communications are critical with this group to allow for exchanges and feedback.
Specific sponsorship activities in the overall change management plan should also be focused at the manager and supervisor group. Their leaders, and in some cases the managers themselves, are part of the coalition of leaders needed to drive the change forward.
Finally, resistance management planning should focus on the manager and supervisor group. In Prosci’s previous benchmarking studies, the manager and supervisor group was identified as the most resistant to change. Proactive resistance management plans that address the key concerns of managers and supervisors – such as loss of control and workload issues – are required to anticipate and mitigate resistance from managers and supervisors.
From a change management perspective, managers and supervisors should first be treated as a group of employees impacted by the change. The first step to engage this group in their role of leading change is to ensure that they are supportive of the change and that resistance from the group has been managed.

2. Share the role you expect

Sharing what you expect from managers and supervisors occurs at two levels – a high-level expectation about general involvement in times of change and a more detailed set of expectations about the specific roles of managers and supervisors in times of change.
It may seem obvious, but it is important to tell managers and supervisors how important their role is in driving successful change. Participants in the 2009 benchmarking study indicated the importance of manager and supervisor involvement in successful change – with 84% indicating “Extremely important” or “Very important”.

3. Build competencies

“Leading change” is a personal competency that managers and supervisors can build. And, the competency is not necessarily natural. It takes a particular set of skills to lead a group of employees through a change process. Many times, there are great managers who struggle in times of change. Appreciating “leading change” as a unique personal competency and working to build that competency in managers and supervisors is a critical step, and one that is often overlooked.
Participants in the 2009 benchmarking study identified “coaching employees through the change process” and “identifying and managing resistance” as the two roles that managers struggle with the most. This is because these two roles typically represent new tasks and challenges, falling beyond the general skill set of many managers and supervisors.

4. Provide tools

Managers and supervisors not only need competencies in leading change, they need tools to help them help their people in times of change. Many times, the tools needed to manage change are different than the normal tools managers are familiar with using.
One of the most important tools you can provide to managers and supervisors is a model for understanding the human reaction to change. ADKAR is Prosci's individual change model and is a very powerful tool to put in the hands of managers and supervisors. By breaking down the change process into a simple and easy-to-use sequence - Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement - ADKAR gives managers and supervisors an approach to understand how their people experience change. The tool is equally powerful for identifying where a change is breaking down. Supervisors who can put ADKAR into action will have more productive discussions, be able to isolate issues and problems, and ultimately be in a better position to support their people though the change process. And, when changes are better managed at the employee-supervisor level, morale and productivity are improved. Read more about the ADKAR model and how it can be used to drive successful change in the book ADKAR: A model for change in business, government and our community.
There are a number of additional tools that should be provided to managers and supervisors as they are engaged as leaders of change, including: a) Communication packets - Communicator was one of the five roles of managers and supervisors in times of change identified in the research. But what messages need to be communicated? Managers and supervisors should be provided with simple but comprehensive communications packets that contain the project information they are expected to convey to their direct reports. b) Resistance management tools and tips - Resistance manager was another of the five roles of managers and supervisors, and the one that research participants identified as needing the most improvement. Tools that help managers and supervisor know what resistance might look like, where it is likely to show up and how to identify root causes of resistance are beneficial. Tips and suggestions for addressing resistance when it does occur in a proactive and effective manner can help managers to engage front-line employees. c) Guidelines on how to measure performance - Changes are only successful when employees do their work in a different way, as prescribed by the project or change initiative. Managers and supervisors are in the best location to identify if changes are taking hold, and you can provide them with additional tools for understanding if a change is taking hold and if employees are "complying" with the new way of doing their jobs.

5. Provide support

Managers and supervisors will need support when taking on their new "leader of change" role. Some of the tasks and responsibilities that come with being a good coach of employees through change are difficult. In many instances, this is a completely new undertaking for a manager or supervisor. You need to provide outlets and opportunities for support when managers are leading change.

One area of support necessary will be helping them implement the processes and tools you have provided for leading change. Opportunities to try out new approaches for identifying resistance in a safe setting can go a long way in helping managers and supervisors to be successful. Chances to practices "Question and Answer" sessions or delivery of key communication messages will help managers and supervisors to be more comfortable in their role as communicator. Support on these new roles goes beyond classroom learning, and practice is a great form of support.

You also need to tell this group where they can go for support. Resources could include peers who have already used the tools and processes or Subject Matter Experts who can provide guidance. Give managers and supervisors access to others in the organization who can provide suggestions and give feedback on how to coach employees through change.
Becoming a great leader of change is not easy - it involves learning new skills and using new tools to engage direct reports. With effective reinforcement and support available, managers and supervisors can become the ally that project teams need in an ever-changing environment.


1) Richard et al. (2009): Measuring Organizational Performance: Towards Methodological Best Practice. Journal of Management.
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