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Leadership, Personal Development, The Leader

The 5 Leadership Phases of COVID

I’m sure few of us imagined that by this time, we’d still be in this COVID pandemic!  But here we are.

At High Performance Leaders as we’ve continued to engage with our partner leaders, we have identified five phases that most, if not all, leaders have experienced to one extent or another throughout this situation.

Phase 1 was the “Crisis” phase where leaders were faced with a rapidly changing situation.  They struggled to keep up with a developing situation and had to quickly and creatively develop new policies and standards to protect the health and safety of their employees while also trying to maintain their operations.  They were experiencing the change curve at almost exactly the same time as the teams they were leading.  This was uncharted territory for most leaders!

In Phase 2 leaders were thrown into “Establishing the new work environment”.  Setting up the infrastructure, technology and processes for them and their teams to work remotely.  Some leaders also had to lead through a hybrid situation where some of their team worked remotely while other parts were still required to be at the workplace.  Some had to revise the work week or working hours and establish new working standards and processes.

“Staying engaged” was Phase 3 where leaders time and attention was spent on figuring out how to keep their teams busy, productive, and focused.  They and their teams were still learning how to work remotely and stay in contact with each other.  New forms, media, and initiatives of mass and individual communication was needed to be established.  Many leaders struggled getting and keeping their teams aligned and focused beyond the normal day to day of what seemed like basic survival tasks.  Short term team goals needed to be established to motivate, inspire, and frankly become a distraction from what was now becoming a longer-term situation than people originally thought. 

Jim Collins

Important by Phase 3 and remaining relevant today was a reminder about the Stockdale Paradox.  As Jim Collins said “You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.  Watch Jim’s Collin’s explain the Stockdale Paradox here.  (full video 6:41).

Phase 4 showed the impact the first few months of COVID had on leaders as the reality of the “New normal, new reality” had sunk in.  Many leaders were extremely frustrated by the on-going situation, were depressed and many were burning or were burned out.  Longer days, blurred lines between work and personal time, and not having any vacations to speak of had taken their toll.  Of course, continued governmental restrictions and protocols impacted the traditional social and personal escape routines.  The long-term reality of the situation had set in.

“Cultural tensions” define Phase 5 that I believe we are currently still in.  This is where opposing thoughts, expectations, and beliefs such as the need to wear masks or not wear masks are creating polarized views within society but also within our teams and businesses.  Some team members are more disciplined than others toward COVID standards and protocols than others.  We are all longing for the ‘old’ ways and want everything to be ‘open’.  Economic fallout is now obvious as layoffs, permanent closures, higher costs, and budget constraints are rearing their heads and must be dealt with.

It’s been a tough road and experts say, tougher roads lay ahead.  However, don’t despair, this too will end and we will get through it!  Here’s a few reasons why I really believe this.

I was blown away with the quick actions that most business leaders, companies, political leaders, and society overall took in the initial stages of COVID.  Many people and organizations stepped up and acted with integrity to do the right thing, to innovate and implement creative ways to keep people safe and employed, to make funds available to subsidize lost wages, protect against financial impacts.  Although some will feel it hasn’t been enough, it’s incredible though just what has been done in the time it has been.  It’s easy to be critical, but I encourage you to consider just what has been done!

Humans throughout all of time, have persevered, survived and prospered.  We will do it again.  We will change, adopt and discover.  Some of the best advancements, innovations, creativity throughout history have resulted from some of the worst and biggest challenges humans have faced.

There are many good and great leaders and people out there.  This is their time and they will step up!

Through CEO Global Network, I recently had the opportunity to hear Randy Garfield, President (retired) of Walt Disney Travel Company speak on the topic of “A Legacy of Determination”.  He had some great and inspiring things to say about the current situation.  Here are a few that really resonated with me:

  • Times are tough, but times have been tough in every generation.  Our parents or grandparents lived through the dark tunnel of WWII
  • We need to maintain the long-term view
  • Don’t underestimate the power of creative solutions
  • Out of adversity can come incredible success
  • Don’t overlook survival guilt as many of our employees have never experienced a challenge like we are all facing. 
  • Crisis doesn’t make a great leader, but it can bring out the best in a good one

I’m not sure what Phase 6 will be, but there will be a Phase 6.  It may very likely get worse before it gets better, but we will get through this, together!  You can sit back and ride it out, or, help lead those around you out of this.  You don’t have to have all the answers, just lead the next best step.  What do you choose?

Lean and Continuous Improvement

Continuous Improvement Is Not About The Tools, It’s A Mindset!

There are plenty of tools out there to help us with continuous improvement projects or for problem solving, but it’s not about the tools!  It’s about the mindset.  The mindset to simplify, make things better, reduce errors or defects, and reduce waste.

IMG_20190407_0959273It’s that time of year, at least where I live, that we anticipate warmer weather soon.  We hope!  That means the sap will start running for the annual maple syrup season.  A friend, that owns a farming business, asked me to help him tap some trees and hook up the sap lines in preparation for the sap to start running.  Sure beats the old days when I helped empty the buckets!  Man that was hard work!

Snyder Heritage Farms has various products, one of which is maple syrup.  Although not considered a large farm, they tap 2,500 trees with 3,800 taps pulling approximately 250,000 litres of sap through 24,000 feet of small lines. The small lines converge with 10,000 feet of larger main lines leading to the evaporator which boils the sap down to produce about 5,500 litres of pure Canadian maple syrup in an average season.

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Even though I had helped in previous years, I was given a brief training course by the owner, Kevin Snyder, on the standard work to install the taps and connect the sap lines.  Kevin gave me some key quality points to ensure the hole was drilled properly, the tap installed correctly, and the line secured tightly.   What impressed me most though was his continuous improvement mindset.  He had determined the most efficient paths to walk through the bush to minimize walking, placement of the tractor in proximity to where we would need to reload with taps while minimizing the walking distance to/from the tractor to do so.  He established working zones for each helper to maximize coverage while eliminating any duplication or cross over.  He had nail pouches to hold the taps, harnesses for the drills so they were easy to carry and to set aside when not drilling, while eliminating the risk of setting them down in the snow and then leaving them behind.  All these things make sense, but what struck me most was his mindset.  He was very focused on making the process as efficient as he could to both reduce the burden on the tappers and make them more efficient, while also improving the process to reduce defective tap holes, taps, and hose line connections that could impact vacuum pressure and reduce sap yield.  At one point I complimented him on all the improvements he had made and for his mindset.  Kevin’s response as he trekked off into the snow covered bush to put in more taps was,

“When you’re the little guy, you have to be efficient!

It is true smaller companies need to be efficient, but so do larger companies!  Unfortunately, sometimes larger companies lose focus and forget the importance of the team’s mindset by hammering out new tools while insisting the team find a “problem” to apply them.  Tools are important, but it’s the black-claw-hammer-on-brown-wooden-plank-209235mindset that is most important because mindset is what creates the drive for continuous improvement.  After all, not everything needs a tool to improve.  Sometimes, just pure observation, common sense, and know how is all that is needed.  Mindset coupled with tools can be powerful, but when you have a bunch of tools without mindset, everything looks like a nail waiting to be hammered!

Maple Weekend – 4th & 5th April 2020

IMG_20190407_1037409If you are near the Kitchener-Waterloo area, Snyder Heritage Farms hosts “Maple Weekend” on 4th & 5th April from 10:00am – 4:00pm where you can bring your family out to their farm for an instructional tour of the sugar shack and how maple syrup is made, take a tractor ride to visit the maple bush, and enjoy freshly made pancakes and sausages.  It’s a fun couple of hours for the family on a nice spring day, and of course, there’s lots of fresh maple syrup!

Snyder Heritage FarmIMG_20190407_1006115

1213 Maple Bend Rd.
Bloomingdale, Ontario

 

 

 

Contact me:

For additional information on High Performance Leaders Inc., click here.  Or follow on LinkedIn or on Twitter at @hp_leaders.

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com

Personal Development, The Leader

Tips To Reduce Spring Break Vacation Stress!

Does the thought of ‘spring break’ approaching cause you grief?  Sure we all love our vacations, but unfortunately taking vacation and returning afterwards can be stressful.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Here’s some things you can do to help!  If you’ve seen them before, it might still be worth a skim through as a reminder.

Just recently having the opportunity to take vacation with my family, it reminded me how stressful vacation can be, unfortunately.  In today’s world of always being connected and the on-going expectations and demands placed on us in our work lives, it can be very difficult for many to get away on vacation easily.   Then there is the mess when we return!  The result too often is the week before we leave is high stress and the week we return is brutal!  Then there is the time we are actually off on vacation.  Regardless whether we are able to disconnect while away, the first few days can be tough as we de-stress from the week before, and then a few days before the end of the vacation we begin to think of what awaits our return and the stress and anxiety ramps up.

To help out just a little, I’ve re-posted some information from previous posts that may help.

Before you go:

  • TIP:  When you book your vacation, block off in your calendar the last day before you go and the first day you return, then be very selective as to what meetings you book on those days, if any.  Give yourself the opportunity to clear your inbox, ensure delegation is set-up, take care of any priorities that need to be looked after when you are gone, and give yourself sometime to deal with the inevitable last minute before vacation “crisis” that surely will pop up.
  • Appoint a delegate to look after things for you. Advise your team who this is and how to contact them.  Turn on your out of office notification and put this contact information in the notification so that when others beyond your team try to contact you, they will realize you are out of the office and will know who to contact should they need to do so, rather than wait for your return.
  • Depending on your level of responsibility, provide someone you trust with your contact information should there be a urgent matter or emergency in which you need to be reached. This maybe your cell phone number or contact information as to where you will be staying.  This may or may not be your assigned delegate.  Let your team know you are not checking or responding to emails or texts while you are gone.  Be sure to leave clear instructions as to what constitutes an urgent matter or emergency.
  • TIP:  Leave instructions with your team to summarize key issues or problems you need to be aware of or where they need your help immediately upon your return.  If you have an assistant they can consolidate all these items in one email and send to you upon your return.  If you don’t have an assistant, then you can assign this to your delegate.  The intent here is that this short list will allow you to quickly focus on the most important items immediately upon your return rather than trying to sort through all your emails or reacting as things come to your attention somewhat randomly throughout the day.

Upon Return:

  • Review the consolidated list from your team of the urgent matters they need your immediate assistance with. Use this list to set your priorities for your first day back.  Schedule urgent meetings or phone calls as necessary to address these issues.
  • Check-in with your delegate to see how things went and if there is anything you need to know about or follow-up on.
  • TIP: Create a “Vacation holding” file within your email and move all the emails received while you were gone, other than the last 1-2 days, to this file.  Then sort through and process the remaining emails from the past 1-2 days.  If something comes up that you need to search through the emails in the vacation holding file, you have them available.  After a week or so, if you haven’t found you need any emails from this folder you can go ahead and delete them.
  • Reflect on what worked well and what didn’t before, during, and after your vacation so you can tweak your vacation routine accordingly.
  • TIP: Book your next vacation!

Work-life Balance:

Whether you are on vacation or not, everyone must have the proper balance between work and life.  Finding it is a real challenge that so many people struggle with.  So what is this work-life balance thing anyway?  Is it real, or just a myth?  This article discusses two analogies to describe work-life balance.  Having the right mindset and expectation helps you find a sweet spot to get you through the twists and turns that life will surely send your way.  With these 10 steps to improve your work-life balance you can get closer to a healthier and happier place in life!

Personal Planning:

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During the summer months when your co-workers are taking time off, or you are taking time off, it is very easy to get out of your routines.  This is likely when you need these routines the most!  This post on personal planning discusses 6 key steps to getting and staying organized on your priorities.  Even if you are familiar with them, review them again and do an inventory to ensure you haven’t mistakenly dropped some!  When you are picking up the slack for others that are away, or playing catch up when you return, managing your time effectively is key to treading water.

Email:

angry-annoyed-coffee-52608Is email easier in the summer months?  Maybe, but not very likely!  There are some very helpful built in tools within Outlook and several email apps that can assist you with staying on top of your email.  It is surprising how few people use them and often enough aren’t even aware of them.  You may be a quick and easy mouse click away from some much needed help!  After it was first published, this second post on the @5 Essential email folders. received positive feedback from several who tried these tips.   If you aren’t aware of what the @5 are, check it out!

Other Related Posts:

Here’s some additional posts related to this topic written by others.

How to Beat ‘Vacation Guilt’ and Make Sure No One Bothers You on Your Day Off –

12 Key Strategies to Achieving a Work-Life Balance – Tim Kehl

Most of these ideas are pretty common and nothing special perhaps, but hopefully you picked up a couple of new tips or at least were reminded of them.

Please leave a comment and let us know any tips you may have to help others reduce their vacation stress!

Contact me:

For additional information on High Performance Leaders Inc., click here.  Or follow on LinkedIn.

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com

Visual Controls

A Benchmarking Gemba To Demystify Visual Control Boards

Visual control boards may not look overly complex, but establishing an effective board and establishing a robust review cadence can be more challenging than initially anticipated.  The benefits, however, can be phenomenal!  We learned first hand what some of these benefits are during a recent visual control benchmarking gemba.

On 12 and 13 February, High Performance Leaders Inc. (HPL) facilitated a visual control board workshop for the Technology Team lead by Travis Vokey, VP and Head of Technology at Dream Unlimited.  The first day was a workshop focused on the key attributes of visual control boards, and a working session to begin defining the team’s value proposition and key performance metrics.  On the second day, there was a benchmarking gemba to Crystal Fountains, Baylis Medical, and Bell Mobility to see and learn first hand from their experiences and existing visual control boards.

Our focus during the benchmarking gemba was to see non-manufacturing areas.  Since there can be a stigma that visual control boards are only for manufacturing, we wanted IMG_20200213_1232410to see how different businesses, industries, and non-manufacturing teams set-up their boards and use them.  We saw boards used by Sales & Marketing, Product Design, Process Engineering, Equipment Engineering, Project Management, and yes one from Manufacturing.  We reviewed boards at the tier 1, 2, 3, and 4 levels, with tier 1 being at the working staff level and level 4 the organizational level.  Each host company had a representative appropriate for each level of board explain how their boards work and how they are used.

Dream---Control-board-BMThe Dream team was able to participate in a regular daily huddle in action while at Crystal Fountains.  It was fantastic to see and hear the enthusiasm and see the high level of engagement from each of the host company staff members.  They were all believers in visual boards.  However, that was not always the case.  When we asked an engineering team who was the biggest skeptic when they first introduced the boards, an engineer stepped forward and boldly said “Oh, that would have been me!”  He went on to explain that he first thought it would just be more work and a waste of time.  However, now he admits, the board and the daily huddle has improved communication and work distribution.  He’s now a believer!

IMG_20200213_1236595It was motivational to listen to each of the host company staff members talk about what they like about the boards and how they have made their jobs easier, improved team work, and driven solid improvements.  Here’s some of benefits and results they shared with the Dream team:

The boards and huddle have improved our cross-functional communications

We have much better visibility to unplanned work

Saves so much time and there’s less stress

Made us care about each others work, and we want to help each other

I know what’s going on now

It’s not about not being successful (when a target is missed), but rather what do you need to be successful

People feel empowered to get things done

IMG_20200213_1220457

When properly established, visual control boards add value to both the teams and the leaders.  Laura Conquergood, VP of Operations at Baylis Medical said, “when I want an update on a project, we just go to the board.  We don’t schedule a meeting.”  Jongmu Lee, Director Creative Operations at Crystal Fountains said, “whether I’m in the building or not, I know the team is coming together and discussing important topics.”  Many of the team members and leaders at all 3 host companies similarly stated, that communications had improved and wasteful meetings had been dramatically reduced.

At Bell Mobility, the Regional Operations team is involved in over 2,000 projects across the country.  Approximately 8 years ago they started tracking key aspects of their projects using typical white board style visual control boards.  Then about 3 years ago they implemented digital boards (D-boards) to track and coordinate these massive projects between all stakeholders across the company.

According to Nitin Gautam, Network Access Manager and Robert Dillenbeck, Senior Manager, Territory Operations at Bell Mobility, the D-boards provided certain advantages over the traditional visual control boards including:

  • Reduced cycle times to update the boards and get information
  • Staff working remotely can keep informed through the D-boards and have better engagement and participation in meetings
  • Quicker access to graphs and all data
  • Easier to roll up information and data from tier 1 to tier 4 levels
  • Executives can retrieve updates and information without requiring meetings to obtain project status

In my opinion, D-boards should be implemented with extreme caution.  As discussed in a previous article Should Smart Screens Replace Pen & Paper on the Shop Floor?, D-boards can be problematic with potentially lowering visibility if they are not frequently and routinely interacted with becoming nothing more than a information board that over time can become virtually invisible.  The most concerning problem though, is that changes to what is tracked and displayed can be slow and costly to revise and continuously improve.  So, if D-boards are going to be implemented, be sure to anticipate these problems had have a solid plan to address and overcome them.  No doubt they can be powerful and do offer some great benefits, but do watch out for the pitfalls.

The Dream team learned a lot and received some good advice from the 3 host companies.  A few of the key points they were advised on included:

  • Just start, don’t wait for perfection
  • Encourage rapid cycles of improvement to the boards as you go
  • Make the boards easy to change quickly and easily
  • Use habit changing challenges to motivate and create new disciplines around the board cadence and routines
  • The staff or team members own the tier 1 boards meaning they update them and report out on status, not the managers

IMG_20200213_1612559The two day workshop concluded with a Dream debrief where each of the Dream leaders identified the biggest thing that they had learned, and each making a commitment as to what they were going to do when they returned to their office.  With the mystery of visual control boards revealed, they are excited to embark on this exciting journey.

Contact me:

For additional information on High Performance Leaders Inc., click here.  Or follow on LinkedIn.

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com

 

Leadership, Personal Development, The Leader

Want To Get Organized In 2020? Free Personal Planner & Leader Standardized Work Templates

Do you want to get yourself better organized this year so you are ready to lead more effectively?  Then these two tools will help you!  Yes you!

At High Performance Leaders Inc., we help develop leaders to be more effective, everyday!  Although there are many important aspects to being an effective leader included in our program, one straight forward but critical way is to get and stay organized.

Unfortunately, too many leaders say they want to spend more quality time with their teams, have more focus on their top priorities, and feel less overwhelmed.  Sound somewhat familiar?  Two vital tools that can dramatically assist with these far too common issues is Leader Standard Work (LSW) and a personal planning sheet and routine.

To assist in these areas, download these free basic LSW and personal planning templates and start off the year more organized!

Download tool here

Leader Standard Work

If you think LSW doesn’t apply to you or your position, you are missing out on a very helpful tool.  LSW is not only for first line manufacturing supervisors.  It’s a powerful tool for any leader in any business at all levels.  Another myth is that a leader’s job is not standard, so therefore LSW will not work.  Absolutely there are aspects of a leader’s responsibilities that are not standard, however, there are likely many responsibilities and actions that are standard when you step back and evaluate what needs to be accomplished.

LSW is simply an organized list of the most important responsibilities, actions, or tasks that a leader needs or wants to accomplish, and the frequency with which they need to be completed.  This list then is used to remind the leader what they need to get done.  When integrated into a robust scheduling and personal planning routine, it will result in improved results, accomplishments, and feeling of accomplishment.  It will also avoid important things from falling off the radar over time or when things get hectic.

Read more here on developing leader standardized work

Download template here

Personal Planning

Surprisingly many leaders also only use their calendar and maybe a note book for personal planning purposes.  This can lead to losing control of your time and schedule, and not having time to get to those things that are most important to get completed.  Important tasks or follow-up items may get buried within the notebook and get overlooked or forgotten.

A regular personal planning routine of reviewing your LSW, scheduled and new meetings, your priorities, outstanding actions and follow-up, is critical to being an effective leader.  Coupling the routine with a single page weekly planner can have a dramatic impact on a leader’s effectiveness.

Update and revise your personal planner once per week, print it out and then keep it up-to-date throughout the week using the old pen and pencil method, or maintain it live on  your computer.  Your choice.  Add tabs to keep a log of actions or tasks that need to be completed at some point in the future, but that you don’t need on the current week’s planner.  Categorize the tabs based on key areas of your life such as, “Follow-up”, “Actions”, “@Computer”, “Errands” etc.

If this sounds basic to you, great!  You should be all set and maybe already effective in this regard.  However, indications are that many leaders lack a robust planning and organizing routine.  A 20 minute weekly planning routine is all that is required to get organized and stay on top of the important things.

Read more here on personal planning

To assist in these areas, download these free LSW and personal planning templates and start off the year more organized!

Download template here

 

Contact me:

 

For additional information on High Performance Leaders Inc., click here.  Or follow on LinkedIn.

 

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com