Author Archives: Femflection

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 78. The field of Organizational Alignment

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

I’m on a hard detox diet. It felt as if I was fasting for the first few days, and with that came an amazing kind of kick start to my brain. I could think faster and more creatively.  I could speak more articulately and more eloquently.

During those days I reflected on how Mirror Mirror fits within the field of organizational alignment – as I believe it indeed has become a field in its own right – and how that field has evolved.

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Lindsay’s In Business: PART 77 It’s basically about TRUST

d46e4803-6844-40fd-bc36-d25b3a92f915What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

Business has stalled for a month.  It’s mid-summer and there’s no activity.  My pipeline , everything is frozen in time while outside it’s a heatwave.

We went on a European road trip for 3 weeks covering 10 countries – it was amazing, hectic and hard work.  Sounds like business!

While I was away, I read Stephen MR Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust.  It inspired me to share. A summary of what he says is this…

There are 4 core aspects of trust that build credibility: Integrity and Intent (character), Capability and Results (competence).   All of these are needed to establish trust. For example, you can trust your friend but wouldn’t to go to them to get your teeth fixed unless they were a qualified dentist.

Building trust starts with inspiring trust in self through behaviours, such as: talk straight, demonstrate respect, clarify expectations, show loyalty, and confront reality.  Through reciprocation of these behaviours, trust can be created between people.

Organizations need another dimension to build trust, which centres around the ‘principle of alignment’ at the design level: “Just as the tax created by low trust is real, measurable, and extremely high, so the dividends of high trust are also real, quantifiable, and incredibly high.”

The stories that Covey tells about how these behaviours work in practice orientate around congruent communications and systems that lead to rich, expedient, productive actions.

These tables say it all…

What does it look like in an organization when there is no trust?

Organization level Interpersonal level
Micromanagement Hostile behaviours and confrontations
Sabotage, grievances, lawsuits Labelling of others as enemies or allies
Punishing systems and hierarchy Communications coloured by fear, uncertainty, doubt and worry
Unhappy employees and stakeholders Real issues not surfaced or dealt with effectively
Time wasted defending positions and decisions Energy draining, joyless interactions
Bureaucracy, redundancy and misalignment in systems and structures Evidence-gathering of other party’s weaknesses and mistakes
Hidden agendas Guarded / grudging dispensing of information
Slow approvals / lack of overall agility Regular misunderstandings

 

What does it look like in an organization when there is trust?

Organization level Interpersonal level
Aligned systems and structures Positive energy
Good communication Inspiring work characterised by purpose, creativity and excitement
A focus on work and results Open, transparent relationships
Positive partnership relationships Cooperative, close, vibrant relationships
Helpful systems and structures Cordial, healthy communications
Strong creativity and innovation Focus on smooth and efficient collaboration
Engagement, confidence, loyalty Mutual tolerance and acceptance
Healthy workplace Mistakes seen as learning opportunities

Mirror MirrorWe identify and close alignment gaps between people in organizations to improve engagement and performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 76. Mindfulness

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

I just read a book by Deborah Rowland called ‘Still Moving’.  In essence, she advises leaders on how to use mindfulness to optimise their impact.  By being still on the inside, having that calm, that distance, you can better listen to others, tune in to ‘what is’ more objectively, understand how you are reacting to that, and see ways to guide others forward more clearly.

Mindfulness is edging into mainstream thinking in the workplace and it resonates strongly with Mirror Mirror because we help people align on ‘what is’.  I was introduced to Deborah by a mutual contact and found that we some connections in common.

Mindfulness speaks about a universal energy.  About connecting more strongly with that.  In trying to understand this, I can see that we are all acting and reacting to each other and to the environment around us in the physical world. Signals from ourselves, from other people, from the weather, from plants and animals: everything is indeed connected in a whole system.

Deborah Rowland talks about the intentionality of that energy.  I’m trying to appreciate that.  By intentionality, she could mean direction.  And here we go DEEP…

Ultimately, if you believe that the universe, over billions and trillions of years, is in a cycle of exploding and imploding, then everything is in a state of ongoing change and renewal.  This is a direction of the wider system we live in.  There’s a life energy that we are moving within our own ways.  This energy is the meta-level, driving our motivations and our own connected energy.  It’s just happening all the time around us.  This could be what she means by wider intentionality.

Back to us individuals: if we can be still inside, if we can better sense what is happening around us, then we can align with that energy.

Your influence starts with the impact you can have on your own experience, then the impact you have on experiences of those you are in contact with, and then you can impact physical things like materials, items, buildings, terrain, as well as emotional, maybe spiritual things around that energy.  Your influence can extend to the impact you have on the world and the universe in a tiny, tiny way.

When you align with this wider energy, you find more synergy, more possibilities, more traction.  Even if you can’t see it or feel it, you’re going with a bigger flow and tapping into the way that travels, rather than battling it out on your own.

I think that’s how I would explain it.  At least it makes sense to me like this.

I managed to get on to a call with Deborah and we had a wonderful conversation about the inevitability of empowering leadership (or enabling / servant leadership as it’s otherwise known).  I’m sure we can refer clients to each other in the future.

Still moving.  Learning how to live with 2 perspectives: having distance and being ‘in it’ at the same time. I personally find myself operating in my own energy and would like to sense the around me better.  My days now start with a 10 minute meditation.

Mirror MirrorWe identify and close alignment gaps between people in organizations to improve engagement and performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 75: Plugging In

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

People say that when you’re pioneering a new business idea, the first years are dominated by trying to figure out how what you’ve got fits into the market.  Enquiring, adjusting, repositioning, reconfiguring, testing…

What I find most difficult about that process is that all you’ve got to go on is insights from people with different perspectives and your own experience.  Then having gathered several points of insight, a logic forms and you are convinced that finally, you’ve hit upon THE RIGHT way to plug-in to the market. Your gut tells you that the way you have shaped that logic around what people want MUST be right; that what you have WILL fit the customer need x for reason a, b, c…

After that, you get closer to execution and find MORE insights that contradict / refine / show how what you previous thought wasn’t quite right, after all. Although with these new insights, you are getting closer to the real plug in, circling around like this is confusing.  A question sits staring at me:  how can you trust your gut instinct when you keep being proven wrong?

The answer surely is that you need data.  But no-one’s done any research to answer my specific questions.  I’m not about to embark on a 4-year academic study either.

The little quiet voice in the back of my head that is wisdom tells me that impatience is ruling over my gut and my brain.  I’m so eager to get this out there (I thought it would take 6 months – we’re now 3 years into the process) that my motives – to get this done quickly – are influencing my interpretations and my judgement.

What would it look like if I approached this as if I were a clean sheet of paper?  No expectations, no pre-conceived notions about the process, no desires to have whatever emerges fit my personal timescales?

I would simply let it happen. God I’d like to learn how to do that. I have an inkling on how to go about that….

Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying this journey a lot, I feel safe – like I know if I stick to this path success will happen – in whatever form – but god-damnit I FEEL INESCAPABLY RUSHED!! Why?!

Anyway, here’s how the plugging in process has unfolded over the past months, step by step:

Mirror Mirror is a methodology that helps people in teams get more cognitive and behavioural alignment so they can deliver better together.

Which teams?In companies (in Europe) where there are market innovators with budgets.

In what kind of situations?In complex situations where there is more need for people in teams to align.  Specifically, emergency response teams / safety teams / IT Security teams / teams in post-merger and acquisition environments / teams in need of strategic clarity / teams in need of agile ways of working.

Several weeks of talking to people to test these hypotheses go by

What priorities are you working to – where will you target?Teams in need of agile ways of working.  There’s such a philosophical crossover and there are many agile consultants looking for new tools to support teams outside of IT.  There’s a huge opportunity there.  Feels right!

Many weeks of presenting at agile conferences and events to gauge reactions go by

What was the market reaction?  They’re all interested and say it’s great, but none seem to want to go further or ask about how they can get hold of this.  I don’t know why that is.

More weeks go by enquiring about what’s behind that response.

Did you find out more?  Apparently because Mirror Mirror asks questions about context and behaviour, agile consultants don’t have experience in that space and see it fitting more into HR.   They probably perceive it as being outside of their territory.

What now?I’ll move on to another market area.

Which one?   Teams in the post post-merger and acquisition (M&A) environments because the benefits would have such high value in this context.

Wait.   News in from helpful contact deep into the agile space.  Apparently Agile COACHES have a broader role than consultants and may well want this.  Don’t rule it out.  I chase up a contact from the conference who is running training courses to see what she thinks.  Meantime…

Where will you start with the M&A area?  I’ll contact anyone I know to get advice and do some research.

Several weeks go by as I get appointments and referrals and write to people speculatively.  One of my contacts goes sour as I explain why I think traditional communications promote disengagement, which was a driver to develop Mirror Mirror.  I realise afterwards I effectively told her that her work was meaningless.  Oopsie.

Apart from that, what happened?  Most people said it sounded great. I got a few hours of research done by a freelancer on Upwork who found white papers to say that 23% of M&A failures come down to poor team integration.  I then discovered that the word ‘integration’ isn’t just about people, it’s also about processes etc.  We need to use the phrase ‘cultural integration’.  And overall, talking to people in general, the general feedback is positive.  There’s a lot to gain, there are budgets.  We decide to proactively target this area. Feels right!

So how are you going forward now?  The work we’ve got coming up after the summer will give us a great case study in this area so we can use that to attract attention.

So that’s it? Well, 2 weeks ago I met with a new contact via LinkedIn who manages M&A transactions. He put me in touch with a guy he knows who is very experienced in the integration phase and I had a long call with him the next day (so nice to get accessible advice!).  The news is that while cultural integration is seen as important, it doesn’t tie into the bottom line and practically no meaningful team cultural integration activities take place.  There are no budgets allocated and plenty of HR people with their own tools, ready to swoop. It’s a no-go area.

What do you think about that?To me, it’s no go but it doesn’t mean there’s no opportunity. If deal makers can be convinced of the ROI (return on investment) and see how quick and effective Mirror Mirror is, there would be fertile ground because like I say, we deliver great results and are unique in that. This is about creating the market. I bounced that off against an ex-colleague of mine who I remembered also works in that space. He agreed but said the whole field is laden with political issues as people lose jobs and as others get pay-outs. It’s not top of mind for that reason.

What did you decide?Better to leave this whole area until we can evidence the business benefits with great case studies and come back with clients telling fantastic stories about us as a pull rather than a push.  Back to the drawing board on getting more evidence-based case studies : (

OK – what next?  I just trained up 15 potential delivery agents in 5 countries having developed a free 2.5 hour training.  WOW. Amazing insights. The small consultancies want to buy licenses and our reports service – and would need help with delivery for multiple teams; while there are TONS of experienced freelancers looking for work within our framework (because they’re sick of corporate life). They’re keen to get innovative, effective offerings and be subcontracted to existing projects.   They’ve got what we don’t have – credibility, existing networks and if they use Mirror Mirror, they’re not selling it as their own product. CERTIFICATION IS OUR THE ROUTE TO MARKET!!!!

Now I’m convinced – this feels spot on.  As I look at other HR licensed tools of course they’re doing the same thing.  I can’t be wrong –can I?

Mirror MirrorWe identify and close alignment gaps between people in organizations to improve engagement and performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Dancing With Anxiety: How To Stay On Course When The Fear Comes

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The past few weeks we have been exploring the power of vision and purpose, as well as the resistance that kicks in when we begin to take steps towards achieving what’s truly important to us. This resistance is often underpinned by fear (fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of success…), the physical manifestation of which is usually felt as anxiety. Physiologically, the stress response is necessary and healthy – our body and mind began to step up a gear in preparation for a new challenge. This is what Mel Schwartz callsthe stress of engagement, but when this moves into distress, then we begin to feel the symptoms exhibited by the 40 million Americans who experience anxiety every year. By anxiety we are not referring to nervousness or excitement, we are referring to the matrix of negative thoughts, emotions and physical responses that impede our ability to think clearly, feel authentically, and react positively.

Mild and occasional anxiety is a normal part of life; chronic or acute anxiety are extreme manifestations of this state and can severely limit our ability to attain, or even envision, our goals. Yet, this is not a war. As with all forces, the harder you push against anxiety the harder it pushes back. Paradoxically, the way to work with this fear-based reaction is to think of it as a dance: bring it close and work with it, don’t try to push it away. The best way to do this varies from person to person, but here are five steps to help get you there:

1- Get to know your body’s response to anxiety
Everyone has a different experience of anxiety, but it almost always has a somatic element to it. For some people it feels like snakes in the belly, for others like a heavy weight on the chest. Some people suddenly have light, empty limbs. Whatever your body’s response is to anxiety get to know it and learn to spot it. Your body will often tell you more accurately than your mind how you are feeling.

2- Learn your triggers
Use your growing ability to spot when you’re feeling anxious and make a note of what was happening just before you noticed the anxiety. What was the trigger for this feeling? Was it something in your environment? Was it another person? Was it a thought? Whatever it was, learn these triggers and identify what you can do to minimize them in your life.

3- Catch your thoughts
The most regular triggers of anxiety – yet the most difficult to spot – are in your mind. Thoughts are subtle and, unless you’re intentionally trying to witness them, usually go unnoticed. Becoming aware of your thoughts in the present moment gives you greater insight into the thoughts that trigger anxiety. It also gives you the opportunity to change how you respond to those thoughts. Nothing builds this ability more effectively than mindfulness practice.

4- Breathe it all in
Breathing is a direct way to manage anxiety as it is happening. By altering the way you breathe you are able to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, eventually bringing yourself back to a sense of calm. Two simple but impactful breathing practices for anxiety are:

The balloon breath:Take a deep breath into your solar plexus. As you inhale, stretch the diaphragm open like a big rubber band. Instead of releasing the exhalation, hold it back against your gently pursed lips and let it out slowly (like holding the end of a balloon). Try to relax your chest and diaphragm while you exhale. The exhalation should be 4 to 5 times longer than the inhalation. You can slowly count if that is helpful (by Peter O’Hanrahan).

Square breathing (also called box breathing): As the name suggests, this breathing exercise can be visualized as a square in which the inhalation, hold, exhalation and hold are all of equal lengths. To begin with, make each four counts:
Inhale to the count of 4
Hold to the count of 4
Exhale to the count of 4
Hold to the count of 4
Repeat until feeling relaxed

5- Change how you think about stress and anxiety
We have become so conditioned to think of stress and anxiety in a negative way. This makes intuitive sense – when our system is on high alert and chronically flooded with cortisol and adrenaline we have an adverse physical response. We burn out or, at the very least, begin to operate at less than our best. Anxiety about stress generates more stress but research suggeststhat if we change our mindset to think about stress as something positive, it reduces our anxiety and improves our performance. This isn’t self-deception – stress is a natural response with many positive benefits. Regarding it as such – a tool to use in taking effective action in the world – allows space for greater acceptance and even gratitude, rather than aversion and avoidance.

 

Visit Koach.net to discover how our coaches can help you find clarity at work and at home, and can lead you to a more successful and fulfilled you.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com