Change Magician

June 23, 2021

Do you ever wish you had a magic wand?  I know I have.

Leading an organization through a complex change can sometimes feel as though it requires a magician, not just a manager.

The last 18 months have presented plenty of opportunities to test our skills at leading change. Everything, from how we communicate internally to what services we offer, has been affected by the pandemic.

How successful have you been as a leader in helping your team to navigate these last difficult months?

If you’ve sometimes stumbled, maybe it’s because your magic wand wasn’t loaded with all of the components that are necessary to accomplish lasting change.

One of the best-known models for managing complex change, the Knoster Model, identifies six essential components or ingredients for successful change:

  • Vision – the “big picture,” goal, or desired result of the change process
  • Consensus – agreement, endorsement or “buy-in” to the vision
  • Skills – knowledge, expertise and competencies required to accomplish the change
  • Incentives – benefits to the individual or team for supporting and accomplishing the desired change
  • Resources – structure, tools, finances, time, training, leadership, and staffing to support the effort
  • Action Plan – a clear, specific, process for accomplishing the change including goals, timelines, measurements, and problem-solving strategies.

The strength of this model is that it identifies some of the symptoms that arise when a change effort is going astray and ties the symptom to the absence of one of the six components.

As a leader when you hear the rumbles, feel the chaos, or see things come to a grinding halt, look at this model to see what you are missing. Add that component back into the mix and POOF! It’s like you’ve used your magic wand to get the process back on track.

Here’s what Knoster had to say about the symptoms of change gone awry.

  • Confusion – results from a lack of vision or poor communication of the vision
  • Sabotage – comes from a lack of consensus among the team
  • Anxiety – arises when team members do not feel they have the skills to be successful at change
  • Resistance – shows up when there is no incentive to change from the status quo; when there are no apparent benefits to making the change
  • Frustration – appears when there are insufficient resources to make the change process successful
  • False Starts and Mis-steps – come up in the absence of a clear action plan.

Did your business experience any of these symptoms as you tried to make changes during the pandemic? If so, go back and look at what was happening in your organization. Can you pinpoint what was missing?

More changes are likely on the horizon for your business as we emerge from the pandemic period. Use this model to make sure your magic wand is loaded will all the ingredients essential for your success.

People will think you are a magician – or a miracle worker. We’ll never tell them how you were able to make it all happen.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha and Chris

Saving Company Culture

June 16, 2021

It happens to all of us…that moment when we look around and say, “how did we get here, where did we go astray?”

You think you’ve created a great team, a positive company culture and things seem to be going along just fine and then BOOM! The train is off the rails.

This week, we’ve invited Ruth Mannschreck, one of our Master Coaches, to be our guest blogger. Here are Ruth’s tips for keeping your company culture healthy and on-track.


As a family, we are big fans of the Disney collection of movies.  Between my kids and my grandchildren, I have probably seen the Incredible series of movies 10 times.  My favorite line comes from Mr. Incredible in a moment of complete exasperation:

“No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back into jeopardy again.  Sometimes I just want it to stay saved!”.

Call it entropy.  Call it human nature.  But it happens everywhere in life and business.  Weeds take over the garden … rooms get dusty  … and sometimes team members behave badly.

I used to take it personally.  That they might believe I was OK with certain behaviors!  But over time I have come to realize that their behavior is a reflection of their perception of our business culture at that moment.  Right or wrong, team behavior is a tangible picture of their current understanding of my/your business culture.

And actually, this is quite a handy alarm system.  Culture (like a relationship of any kind) feels so good when everything is going well.  We get lulled into a false sense of security and sadly stop paying close attention to it.  So how can we get things back on track?

Prevention is always your best, first step.  You can talk about culture with your team until you are blue in the face … but if they don’t have tangible examples of your culture in action, it’s all wasted breath.  As the business owner, you have the perfect opportunity to lead them through these experiences.  Yes, I said experiences NOT explanations.

Less talking, more doing.  Many businesses use role-playing as a tool to clarify the effect of core values and culture on relationships with clients, relationships with other team members and relationships with you.  How else could you turn your values and your culture into tangible behaviors that make sense to your team?  Do some brainstorming … with your team.

Create a safe space for them (and you) to practice and experiment without fear of repercussion.  This is the perfect place to lead with vulnerability and courage.  Role model it for them.  Your team may never have experienced culture and leadership like yours.  You (and they) might not get it right in the beginning.  Progress is messy sometimes.  Make it ok to begin messy progress.

Reward all steps in the right direction (even the tiny ones).  Help them get used to being successful at this.  Eventually they will pick up momentum, but in the beginning support them in every possible way that encourages THEM.

Rinse and repeat.  Your leadership of your team is never done.  The weeds ALWAYS need to be tended to.  The house ALWAYS needs to be cleaned again.  But consistency will create an environment where you spend more time gently “reminding” instead of full-blown instruction from the beginning.

Catch it early, catch it fast.  This requires ongoing engagement with your team members.  You are able to delegate many things as the leader of your business … but connection and a relationship with your team members is not something to hand off.  BE the best visible embodiment of your core values and the culture you desire in your business.

Thanks, Ruth, for this great advice.

Readers, we’re curious. What’s ONE situation in your work environment that could use some attention?  Where can you put this into action, today?

Go forth and do great things,

Martha and Chris

Mind Your Ps and Qs

June 9, 2021

Father’s Day is coming up soon. My dad was a man of few words, but lots of wisdom. One of his favorite cautions to us was, “make sure you mind your Ps and Qs.”

He meant that we should be minding our manners, watching our behavior, and doing things right. We were to be acting according to our principles and values and contributing to the common good.

That’s what company culture is all about. When the culture in a workplace is positive, the company and the employees thrive. On the other hand, a toxic or dysfunctional culture shows up in high turnover and low profits.

Culture doesn’t happen by accident. It’s something that’s carefully cultivated and maintained. And, according to Sheila Margolis, President of the Workplace Culture Institute, it is literally about minding your Ps.

According to Margolis, organizational culture is the Five Ps of an organization:

Purpose – the reason why you are in business, why that work is important and what contribution it makes in the world

Philosophy – the fundamental principles and values that guide and define your work; the personality of your organization

Priorities – the strategic goals of the organization; the criteria used to assign importance to particular actions or decisions

Practices – behaviors and actions of the team and members of the organization, both internally and externally. Internal practices include organizational structure, communication, and human relations functions such as hiring and training. External practices include choosing a target market, customer service and business alliances.

Projections – the image the company presents to the public including marketing, brand identification, and leader visibility.

From the time your company is created, it’s your job as a leader to create and convey these five elements to your employees and to your customers. It’s not just about what you say, it’s also about what you do…and about how those two things match up.

When a leader “walks the talk,” the rest of the team follows more willingly and consistently. When everybody on the team “minds” their Ps, the organization is more likely to be successful.

When the Ps are not consistent with one another or when some members behave in ways that are not congruent with one or more of the Ps, problems can arise.

About now, you’re probably asking, “what about the Qs? Where do they come in?”

The Qs are the critical questions you ask to make sure that the five Ps are clear, consistent, held in common by all participants in the organization, and consistently demonstrated both internally and externally. When something is wrong in an organization, or when the organization is facing change either by choice or by chance, asking the right questions will help get all those Ps back in alignment.

So…are you minding your Ps and Qs?

If so, you and your team will be ready to…

Go forth and do great things,

Martha & Chris