Leadership

Get Comfortable with Change using this Strategy from the ReVisionary Thinking book

Author of the book ReVisionary Thinking Courtney Clark reads an excerpt from Chapter 1. Learn how to develop a “tolerance for ambiguity” that will help you be successful in uncertain and new situations. Tolerance for ambiguity is a key predictor of success even when you’re dealing with change.

How to Generate Solutions to a Problem

How do you come up with GOOD solutions when you’re faced with a problem? There’s a simple, 2-word question you can ask that’s guaranteed to help you be more successful.

Courtney reads an excerpt from her upcoming book, ReVisionary Thinking, that includes a case study from Procter & Gamble’s product development team, and how they broke the mold by asking questions.

The book is on shelves May 17th, 2022!

Could Adaptability Fix the Employee Retention Problem?

As the 2022 train pulls out of the station, one thing is clear: the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the workforce, possibly forever. Employees began resigning in droves early in the pandemic – dubbed the Great Resignation – and filling vacancies has been tricky ever since. Employee retention numbers still look bleak, and leaders are left wondering how to hire and maintain enough talent to complete the work that needs to get done.

 

One answer might lie in the concept of “adaptability.” Adaptability refers to a person’s willingness to change and adjust to the situation at hand. And many of us struggle with it. In a 2021 study I conducted of employees, 74% of respondents said they don’t feel able to “learn as they go” when presented with a challenge. That kind of cognitive inflexibility can easily make people feel more frustrated and less resilient.

 

When the word “flexibility” is mentioned in conversations about employee retention, it’s usually used to describe a workplace culture that accepts work-life balance. Employees can be flexible about when they arrive at work or leave, as long as they get their work done. Employee leave time could be less stringent, or work from home policies could be generous. Flexible policies are among the key perks leaders are told to use to attract and maintain team members.

 

But to really address the systemic employee retention issues, maybe the concept of flexibility needs to take on a broader meaning. Maybe the *humans* involved in the system need to be more flexible, not just the system.

 

By increasing individual adaptability in both team members and leadership, organizations may find their employees are better able to handle change, stress, and uncertainty without needing to quit. With increased flexibility and adaptability (what I call ReVisionary ThinkingTM), what previously seemed like brick walls for an organization can turn into navigable staircases.

 

Adaptability Counteracts Burnout

 

Burnout is a legitimate reason for employee turnover. Employees who are burned out are often not able to complete tasks or solve problems as well as non-burnt-out employees. But to adequately address burnout, we have to first address a fundamental misunderstanding about what burnout isn’t.

 

Most people incorrectly assume that burnout comes from being too busy (I admit to being one of them, before I did the research!). We tend to use “busy” and “burnt out” interchangeably to talk about stress. But they’re two very different concepts. Burnout specifically refers to a feeling of disengagement with the situation. It’s a shutting down that happens when your brain gets too overloaded. Burnout can certainly COME from being busy, but you can be busy without being burned out. The difference lies in motivation.

 

When employees feel motivated, they have a sense of purpose in their work. They understand how their tasks fit into the bigger picture of the problem their organization solves. These motivated employees don’t need to cling to “the way we’ve always done things,” because they understand that sometimes change, while uncomfortable, is necessary to move the entire organization forward.

 

On the other hand, employees who are stuck in their ways are more likely to experience burnout. The changes of the past 2 years feel overwhelming and unsurmountable.

 

In my 2021 study, we found 1 in 3 employees struggle to stay motivated when facing a challenging new problem. Those are the employees most at risk of burning out, because they don’t have the mental reserves to adapt and get on board with the “new normal.”

 

Adaptable Teams Have Adaptable Leaders

 

The onus for being flexible isn’t all on the individual contributors, though. Leadership plays an important role in building adaptability into the fabric of a team’s culture. A team can’t adapt unless they have an adaptable leader.

 

At some organizations, employees say they *would* have been comfortable with change, or even excited about it, but the change was handled in a way that meant the team wasn’t set up to succeed. Often, employees are being asked to change without being given the tools TO change. That may mean information, time, technology, or other resources were lacking, making the desired change nearly impossible. And in many cases, the transformation’s eventual failure is blamed on the employees’ inability to adopt the change, when in fact the change was doomed from the start.

 

Leaders who successfully lead through change make sure their employees have all the resources they need. How do they do that? They ask. They interview team members and other stakeholders to make sure the systems are in place to support the change as best as possible. The other secret bonus of asking? It’s only human nature to support what you help build. When leaders ask for input on the front end of the change, it’s more likely that those lower on the org chart will feel a sense of buy-in.

 

The Adaptable Employee

 

Higher pay and flexible hours will contribute a lot to workforce retention. Employees will naturally go where they are appreciated and rewarded.

 

But as we work to fill the workforce gaps, we should take a strong look at adaptability as a factor. Adaptable employees will be able to weather the uncertainty of our current situation. They will find purpose in their work, no matter their place in the company hierarchy. They’ll roll with the punches of 2022 and beyond.

 

For more information about my 2021 study and how you can increase adaptability in your team, visit CourtneyClark.com

Do You Know How To Brainstorm the Right Way? Most People Don’t.

Most people (and especially most organizations!) are brainstorming wrong. They aren’t giving themselves enough time to break through the boring ideas and get creative.
 
Why does it matter? Because you can’t pivot and solve new problems in fresh ways if you aren’t brainstorming well.
 
Learn the biggest mistake you can make in brainstorming solutions, and two suggestions for brainstorming better. Change the way you brainstorm, and change your future!

This is Why You Hate Receiving Feedback

There’s a reason you don’t enjoy getting feedback (and it isn’t because you have a big ego!) It’s because feedback challenges your mental concept of yourself.

Here’s what you need to know to be a little more flexible and get better at receiving feedback.

What Older Employees Get Right About Dealing with Change

Employees who have been around awhile can struggle with change. It’s harder to let go of “the way we’ve always done it,” when it’s been a long time.

But older employees don’t struggle with ALL of the change process, just that first step of letting go. Seasoned employees bring many benefits to the change process, including making successful decisions on how to move forward.

My research showed some surprising strengths that older employees have when dealing with change. If you’ve been in your position awhile, or you manage a seasoned work force, check this out!

What Should I Say to My Staff About Upcoming Changes?

So much is changing in our work lives right now!

If you’re wondering how to communicate with your staff about upcoming changes, there are two simple rules of thumb to follow:

More, and Sooner.

More info rather than less, and sooner rather than later. The “old” way of doing things used to be that managers only revealed information once it was all hammered out and set in stone. But if you wait until everything is finalized and about to roll out, your staff could feel blindsided and kept in the dark.

Especially after the past year-and-a-half we’ve all had, your team will appreciate the transparency of more information, sooner. Here’s how to do it…

Should I Hire an Industry Speaker or External Speaker for my Conference?

With COVID-infection rates dropping, associations and organizations are starting to gather together again at conferences. As your group starts to consider future events, should you hire an industry-specific speaker to keynote your conference, or an external speaker who doesn’t work in your industry?

 

There are pros and cons to both choices. (you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?)

 

If you choose an industry-specific keynote speaker, you’ll likely be working with someone you already know. They may even already be planning to come to your conference anyway!

 

Pros of choosing an industry-specific keynote speaker:

  • Relevant knowledge of industry keywords, acronyms, and issues
  • Case-studies from only organizations in the industry
  • The possibility of saving money, as many association members will present pro bono for organizations of which they are a member

 

If your organization and industry are in a stable position with very little change on the horizon, selecting a member of your group to deliver the keynote speech could be a smart decision.

 

But…

 

If your field has been facing uncertainty (like almost all fields have in the wake of COVID), it’s smart to consider bringing in someone from outside of your industry. Research shows that input from diverse fields helps increase creative problem-solving abilities. Diverse experiences and opinions leads to thought-provoking conversation and innovative ideas. When everyone at the table shares the same background, our choices and options can tend to stay close to status quo.

 

In order to break out of the rut of “the way we’ve always done things,” we need to gather ideas from people outside of our own industries.

 

Additionally, people are getting excited to come back to live events. They don’t want to see what they’ve seen dozens of times before. They want energy and interaction and excitement.

 

So…

 

The Pros of choosing an external speaker in 2021:

  • Your industry needs an outside perspective.
  • “The way we’ve always done it” is becoming obsolete, and you need to underscore that with a fresh voice
  • External speakers are professionals at crafting a participative (but safe!) experience that will bring the energy your people are craving
  • If your event will be hybrid, an external speaker will have the ability to engage both the in-person audience and the home audience at the same time, so no one will feel left out of the experience

 

For your post-COVID conferences, you’ll have lots of options (isn’t that a great feeling, after the year+ we’ve had?) To keep your attendees engaged and ready to move forward, consider a blend of industry-specific speakers and professional keynote speakers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Choose Courtney for a Keynote?

If you’re wondering “how do I choose a keynote speaker for my conference?” you’re not alone. It’s a tough job to find a speaker who will keep your audience engaged, teach them something, make them laugh, and motivate them – ALL AT THE SAME TIME!

 

Courtney Clark isn’t your average keynote speaker.

 

She’s inspirational, for sure. She’s high energy, interactive, and fun. But she also grounds all her work in research. She offers what she calls “content-based motivation,” so when you work with Courtney, you’ll create a customized blend of research, strategies, interaction, humor, and stories. Your participants will leave with both the *feelings* and the *skills* to be more successful in today’s fast-changing world.

 

If you’re looking for a keynote speaker on change, resilience speaker Courtney Clark will bring your group the tools and attitude they need!

How to Avoid End-of-the-Year Work Burnout (Part 2)

Tidings of comfort and joy may be what the popular song calls for, but they can be pretty hard to find during the stress-filled holiday season. Here are a few resilience exercises to calm the storm and get through the end of the year in peace. Missed Part 1 of this series? Check it out here!

 

Step 3 – Make Time For the Truly Important Things, And Ditch the Should-Be-Important Things

Along with setting realistic expectations, the holidays can also cause us to think we have to celebrate in a certain way.  Maybe because family tradition dictates it. Maybe because we saw a beautiful layout in a magazine. Maybe because we used to work somewhere that had an awesome Christmas party and wicked Secret Santa exchange, and we wish our new boss did that.

In your home life, sit down and make a list of the things that are the most important to you and your loved ones, and prioritize those things.  By making space for them, instead of cramming the holidays full, you will actually be able to enjoy them more and stress less.

At work, think through the most important, big picture pieces of what needs to be accomplished before year-end in order to start the next year strong. When I’m thinking of my to-dos, I like to picture a target. The outer rings aren’t worth nothing, but I get the most points for aiming toward the middle. What’s the middle of the target? What’s the highest value activity that will set you up for success moving into the new year?

There are only so many hours in the holiday season.  Trying to incorporate every single possible activity, tradition, and to-do into a few short weeks isn’t enjoyable, it’s stressful.

Step 4 – Seek Moderation

For years we’ve been hearing health professionals tell us that the holidays shouldn’t be an excuse to indulge. Whether it’s food, wine, shopping, or anything else, the end of the year doesn’t need to be a free-for-all, because having a “feast or famine” type attitude to indulgences means you’ll only rebound harder when the celebratory season is over.

That same attitude holds true at work. Don’t get distracted and let off the gas, or spend work time online shopping. But on the other hand, December isn’t the time to panic and try to get everything finished. You may be trying to show off before a December review or a January bonus, but the odds are good that the impression you made the other 11 months of the year is what really matters.

Just like your pumpkin pie intake, try to balance the last month of the year with work and play. Think “consistency” instead of “get it all done.”

By the end of the year, most of us are running on an empty gas tank.  But these four techniques for powering through December will have you avoiding stress and burnout, and feeling like celebrating by the time you ring in the New Year.