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Are we training our managers how to manage?

Posted by on Jun 27, 2018 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review about how we can better assess whether a candidate is ready for a management role. It also talked about some of the skills a manager requires that should be the basis for recruitment. Another article, the source of which I wish I could remember but can’t, spoke to the over-investment large corporations make in executive-level training. My recent observations (granted, not scientific), support the notion that we reward good performance with successive promotions, often to a management level, but that companies neglect to train those new managers how to manage.  It’s as though we believe that good management skills are somehow intuitive, or gained through osmosis. My observation is that these skills are gained through trial and error or worse, not gained at all, leading to inefficient, unproductive teams, poor organizational culture, unhappy frontline staff, and ultimately, high turnover rates. Christy DeMont’s article about effective leadership is great reading. And it caused me to reflect on the next level in the organization – the managers – those who are responsible for translating strategy into action.  It feels to me as though there’s a training void there; too many managers trying hard to manage people and budgets, relinquish their staff role, motivate and guide employees (who might have previously been colleagues) – all without any help in the transition. Failure to achieve corporate goals is typically not a failure of vision, and often not even a failure of strategy – it is a failure of execution.  Perhaps some of the resources dedicated to executive-level training might be more helpful at the management level. Visit Osborne-group.com for other Principals’ ideas and opinions on a range of topics. The Osborne Group provides interim executive management, consulting and project support across all sectors and over a broad scope of service...

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Not for Profit Mergers: When is it time?

Posted by on Oct 4, 2017 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

Boards of not-for-profit entities have a responsibility to steward and safeguard the programs, services, and resources of their organizations. Sometimes this work is straightforward; other times it is difficult and challenging. In changing or turbulent times, it is the latter. Challenging times can be the result of many factors including changes in policy direction, funding stresses, increased competition, or shifting public expectations. If you’re unsure about the right time for a Board to consider integration or merger options, these are some of the signals to look for: Declining revenues and/or increasing expenses are making it impossible for the organization to be sustainable (Does your organization have financial reserves? Do you have a long-term budget projection?  Do you have enough cash to meet all liabilities?) Funding levels that threaten the ability to provide expected volume and quality of service High administrative to service cost ratio Public and funding expectations for smoother, more integrated delivery of services across geographic boundaries, or across different service sectors (Is your organization aligned with current political priorities? Do you have a good sense of the landscape and whether/how it is changing?) Challenges of competing with larger, lower-cost organizations (Do you have a differentiated service offering? Do you know how your cost structure compares with others?) Failure to meet funders’ targets and expectations for service delivery (Have you analyzed your cost of service provision? If you are not meeting targets do you know why? Do you have a strategy to address service challenges) Challenges in recruiting and retaining the best frontline staff Inability to hire staff with the necessary functional expertise (e.g., human resource specialists, IT specialists, program specialists) Inability to offer programs and services that are innovative, leading edge, or best practice (Do you know what current leading practices are? Have you analyzed barriers to innovation?) Inability to attract and retain highly qualified Board members (Do you have a skills-based board? Are your governance practices and policy consistent with best practice in NFP governance?) There are a variety of strategies to address these challenges, ranging from improving current practices to sharing services with other organizations (e.g., back office) to complete organizational mergers. An effective Board will address organizational challenges through informed discussion, identification of options, and objective analysis. This should not be threatening to boards; on the contrary, board members should understand that they have a duty to act in the best interest of the organization and its clients and that in changing times this may require bold new strategies. By Melodie Zarzeczny NFP Governance & Project Management Visit Osborne-group.com for other Principals’ ideas and opinions on a range of topics. The Osborne Group provides interim executive management, consulting and project support across all sectors and over a...

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Fishing and the Art of Facilitation

Posted by on Jul 7, 2017 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

Firstly, I must declare I don’t really like fishing.  I can’t sit still that long.  But I have watched enough fishers to know two things: 1) how important technique is to a successful outcome and 2) it takes more skill than it looks. What I have done, is a lot of group facilitation. And, there are similarities that make a good facilitator resemble the holder of a fishing rod. Skillful facilitation is important. A good facilitator can build teams, bridge chasms, generate ideas, and achieve outcomes that individuals or groups alone might not be able to achieve. Facilitation is about guiding the learning process … from the sidelines. Fogarty and Pete (From Staff Room to Classroom: A Guide for Planning and Coaching Professional Development), suggest that there are 3 essential elements to skilled facilitation:  the ability to invite participants to engage, to involve them intensively, and to then foster their interpretation of the proceedings. Invite, involve and interpret – sounds easy, right? There are subtle techniques to facilitation, many of which aren’t evident to participants. Much like a good fisher isn’t just sitting in the boat, a good facilitator isn’t simply walking through an agenda. Here are a few tips: Firstly, know the audience and use the appropriate tools. Are they deep and complex?  Is there potential for rough waters and conflict? Facilitation techniques should reflect the group, the culture, the topic and the context. Constantly assess progress. If something’s not working, do a refresh. Don’t be afraid to stop, re-group, and change direction if the group isn’t responding. Change the lure; move the boat. Know when to let the conversation ramble, and when to reel it back in. This is probably the most important rule of facilitation. Most participants hate to follow strictly prescribed rules of engagement. They get frustrated by a leader who cuts them off, terminates conversations based on inflexible timelines, and cuts off a great conversation because it “isn’t on the agenda”. Conversely, they may also let an agenda get away. A good facilitator will know when to intervene, how to steer a discussion, when to let the discussion go, and when to reel it in. This is a valuable skill that supports participant engagement and can result in the creation of new ideas, stimulating and exciting conversations, and team building. Your tackle box is filled with all the equipment you might need for any situation you might face. Your choice of tools and technique will depend on the group, the setting, the mood, and the knowledge that’s in the room. Be patient, and steer gently. May you enjoy a summer of great fishing.   By Melodie Zarzeczny NFP Governance & Project Management Visit osborne-group.com...

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Dying of Loneliness…

Posted by on Oct 25, 2016 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

One can’t miss the massive efforts underway at all levels of government to make healthcare more efficient, and more effective.   Current buzzwords include “coordination”, “integration”, “innovation”, “navigation”.  Billions of dollars are at work creating technological gadgets and devices that will produce reams of data, connecting patients and providers and providing instant analysis.  Mobile apps will capture and track blood levels, oxygen levels, patterns of movement, sleep patterns, eye movements – if your body does it, it will be tracked. There will no doubt be many meaningful systems changes.  But my experience, based on daily visits with an aging family member, is that while these changes will be helpful, they will not address the pressing issue of social isolation.  More seniors are living at home longer.  Fewer seniors are living out their final years with family members.  Whether they are living in their own homes or in congregate settings, every day I see seniors literally starved for meaningful human contact.  A recent study by United Toronto & York Region (www.unitedwaytyr.com) does a great job of answering the question “Why Keeping Seniors Social Matters”.  And it convincingly demonstrates the link between social involvement and good health. The current focus on putting the patient and his/her needs at the centre of the care path is a good first step.  I expect many senior patients would indicate that they would do better (stay at home longer, get more exercise, remember to take their medication) if they had human interaction to accompany the gadgets that will remind them.  For planners and health agencies involved in system transformation non-traditional partnerships with community-based agencies may be an important strategy to achieving positive health outcomes. All of our efforts to improve care, whether clinical interventions or systems level changes, need to have as a basic criterion the inclusion of some level of human interaction.  Otherwise, we may be able to prolong life with a chronic disease, but we will die of loneliness instead. Melodie Zarzeczny NFP Governance & Project Management &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br /> &amp;amp;lt;div style=”display:inline;”&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br /> &amp;amp;lt;img height=”1″ width=”1″ style=”border-style:none;” alt=”” src=”//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/940422155/?value=0&amp;amp;amp;amp;guid=ON&amp;amp;amp;amp;script=0″/&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br /> &amp;amp;lt;/div&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />...

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The Personal Touch – Turning Good Service Into Great Service

Posted by on Jul 26, 2016 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

Earlier this week, when buying a birthday present for my husband, I just happened to find something for me.  Don’t know how that happens, but it usually does.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have my size (again, don’t know how that happens but it usually does).  The pleasant girl at the cash register offered to call their other stores to find what I was looking for. When the first 3 calls were unsuccessful, she told me to go do the rest of my shopping while she worked on it.  I left thinking I really didn’t need a new skirt anyway, so I probably just saved myself a bit of money. Half an hour later my phone rang with the news that the skirt had been found in an Edmonton store and would be delivered to my house, with no charge for shipping, within 5 days. And it was.  Very impressive.  Good service, I thought.  Until I opened the package, tried on my new skirt (fit perfectly!), and opened a nice little gift card with a hand written note from the store in Edmonton.  A hand written note!  I was so impressed I probably would have worn the skirt even it hadn’t fit!  Two days later I still have a warm and fuzzy feeling for this retailer.  The good service had just turned into great service. Now I don’t know if this was corporate policy, or if it was a particularly sharp sales associate who had some time on her (or his) hands.  But it worked.  I will shop there again, I will order from this retailer, and I might even follow them on social media. The lesson?  It sometimes doesn’t take much to turn good service into great service. The personal touch, the little extras, go a long way to creating customer loyalty.  And frankly, this will be as true in other sectors (think hospitality, health care, financial services) as it is in retail.  We all like to be treated as though we’re the one and only customer. Melodie Zarzeczny NFP Governance & Project Management &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br /> &amp;lt;div style=”display:inline;”&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br /> &amp;lt;img height=”1″ width=”1″ style=”border-style:none;” alt=”” src=”//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/940422155/?value=0&amp;amp;amp;guid=ON&amp;amp;amp;script=0″/&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br /> &amp;lt;/div&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />...

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