At Forward Thinking Workplaces, we discover the people, insights, and strategies that lead to Forward Thinking minds, leaders, and workplaces of the future — today.
13 Forward-Thinking Insights
- SIMPLY ASK PEOPLE IF THEY HAVE TOPICS TO DISCUSS
- COACHING CAN HELP CHANGE OCCUR MORE NATURALLY
- REFRAME CHALLENGES AS OPPORTUNITIES IN DISGUISE
- LEARN NEW THINGS EVEN IF THEY AREN’T RELATED TO WORK
- CONSTANTLY STRETCH YOURSELF & REALIZE MISTAKES WILL BE MADE
- MAKE IT OK TO TRY SOMETHING NEW
- DON’T CONFUSE MANAGEMENT WITH LEADERSHIP
- HOW AM I GOING TO RESPOND WHEN I HEAR THE EMPLOYEES’ ANSWERS?
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT
- MANAGEMENT MUST BE READY WHEN ASKED
- CLEAR UNDERSTANDING & OWNERSHIP OF RESPONSIBILITIES
- COMPETENCY TO OBSERVE EACH DAY ON THE JOB
- REALIZE WHAT WORKED YESTERDAY MAY NOT WORK TODAY
Read the full interview at Is Upside Down Thinking the Key to Moving Forward?
Question 1: How can we create workplaces where every voice matters, everyone thrives & finds meaning, and change & innovation happen naturally?
FORWARD-THINKING INSIGHT #1
SIMPLY ASK PEOPLE IF THEY HAVE TOPICS TO DISCUSS
“As a simple example, if leaders started each team meeting by asking the team members if they had topics or issues they would like to discuss at this meeting, this simple technique could send an important message to everyone that the voice of every team member counts.”
FORWARD-THINKING INSIGHT #2
COACHING CAN HELP CHANGE OCCUR MORE NATURALLY
“When it comes to the kinds of changes that really improve performance, often they don’t just happen naturally. I view classroom training as just a first step because the kind of changes that are needed to gain real performance improvement are rarely learned in a classroom. This is where on-the-job coaching after classroom activities is critical to help point out situations where what was discussed in the classroom needs to be converted to a behavior change."
Question 2: What does it take to get an employee’s full attention and best performance?
FORWARD-THINKING INSIGHT #3
REFRAME CHALLENGES AS OPPORTUNITIES IN DISGUISE
"In other words, the approach I took was to show the team how the problem they were letting get them down, was really a great opportunity in disguise. It wasn’t long before the low morale turned around and the hung heads started popping up as one team member after the next started chiming in with different possible creative approaches to solving the challenge. I also told them that if they came up with an innovative solution they could potentially publish it and become famous.”
FORWARD-THINKING INSIGHT #4
LEARN NEW THINGS EVEN IF THEY AREN’T RELATED TO WORK
“This is a great way to gain their full attention and best performance. It may seem backward—or upside down—because we are suggesting they do other things to get their full attention and best performance. But it can be an effective technique. Show your worker that you are willing to support them in learning things they want to learn even if those things do not appear to be directly related to the current job you want them to do, and you might be surprised at how it helps to gain that employees full attention and best performance.”
Question 3: What do people really lack and long for at work?
FORWARD-THINKING INSIGHT #5
CONSTANTLY STRETCH YOURSELF & REALIZE MISTAKES WILL BE MADE
“I believe all companies should strive to create a culture where it is encouraged and safe for all employees to stretch themselves. That is, we all should be life-long learners and all workplaces should support that goal for every one of its employees. This is one way organizations can create workplaces where everyone thrives and finds meaning. When you are constantly stretching yourself you need to accept that mistakes will be made. And yes, I know, this sounds “upside down” from the culture of many organizations today.”
FORWARD-THINKING INSIGHT #6
MAKE IT OK TO TRY SOMETHING NEW
"I believe it is an environment where the employee feels it is ok to try something new, and an environment where it is even ok to fail. Now you might be thinking, “Sure, but do such companies really exist?” The answer is absolutely YES.
Question 4: What is the most important question management should be asking employees?
FORWARD-THINKING INSIGHT #7
DON’T CONFUSE MANAGEMENT WITH LEADERSHIP
“When I first heard this question, it caused me to ask a different question: “Who is management?” I think most of us have a good idea of what is meant by “management”. It’s the people way above our pay grade who are running the company and telling everyone what to do. Right? But is that really the best way to think about management—especially in today’s fast-paced rapidly changing high technology world?“
FORWARD-THINKING INSIGHT #8
HOW AM I GOING TO RESPOND WHEN I HEAR THE EMPLOYEES’ ANSWERS?
"I would say that the most important question management should be asking employees is, “What’s getting in your way keeping you from getting your “stuff” done?” However, I would add that asking this question isn’t enough. Management needs to also ask another question and that is: “How am I going to respond when I hear the employees’ answer?” And at least part of the response should take into consideration the power of leading by example. Management is not the same as leadership, but one of the best ways to achieve effective management is to lead by example."
Question 5: What is the most important question employees should be asking management?
FORWARD-THINKING INSIGHT #9
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT
“I learned the answer I am going to give you to this question the hard way when I was an employee and I didn’t know enough to ask this question. This goes back to when I was a young programmer just a few years out of college. I came into work one weekend to rewrite a large part of my code on my current assignment because I realized I had made a large mistake with my design. I was afraid to tell my manager because I didn’t want him to know I made that mistake. So I never let him know."
FORWARD-THINKING INSIGHT #10
MANAGEMENT MUST BE READY WHEN ASKED
“From my experience, the most important question employees should be asking management is any question related to getting help when they feel they need it. But it is equally important for management to be ready for that question—and to recognize it in whatever form it comes—so they can ensure the right kind of help is available when needed. And I would add that this doesn’t mean just “assigning a mentor”—which I often hear as the response—unless that mentor accepts the role of mentor, wants to be a mentor, and—most important—has been given the time to be a mentor."
Question 6: What’s the most important question we can ask ourselves?
FORWARD-THINKING INSIGHT #11
CLEAR UNDERSTANDING & OWNERSHIP OF RESPONSIBILITIES
“What are my responsibilities and how do those responsibilities align with my competencies, and what I am actually doing each day? When I go into client organizations to coach them with respect to some problem they have, and when we dig deep trying to uncover the root cause, I all too frequently find that the root of the problem can be traced to the lack of clear understanding and ownership of responsibilities and competency to carry out those responsibilities.”
FORWARD-THINKING INSIGHT #12
COMPETENCY TO OBSERVE EACH DAY ON THE JOB
"Interestingly, one of the key competencies we all need that people don’t think about is the competency to observe each day on the job where one’s responsibilities come into play. We can be given a list of responsibilities, read them on a piece of paper, and think we know what the words mean, but then completely miss common situations that occur on the job where those responsibilities come into play.”
Question 7: You have just written a new book that was recently released, titled, “It’s All Upside Down”. Why did you pick that title?
FORWARD-THINKING INSIGHT #13
REALIZE WHAT WORKED YESTERDAY MAY NOT WORK TODAY
"The reason I picked that title for my book is that so much of what I recommend to my clients today seems completely opposite to what I was taught. The reason I wrote the book is that too many people continue to believe these upside-down ideas today, and I wanted to set the record straight.”
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