Jared Simmons shares key tips for the frustrated change agent to help overcome the most common obstacles faced.
When you’re new to a role, you’re often hired to change something. You may need to launch a new project, implement a new system, or improve the performance of an existing process.
At some point, you will meet resistance. The team that passive-aggressively ignores your emails; the organization that can’t agree on scope or timeline; the leadership team that asks for more output with no associated investment or compromise.
I’ve been there too. It’s the worst.
It’s draining, it’s completely illogical, and it’s annoying. You’re just trying to solve the problem. You’re just trying to do your job. And whether they get that or not, chances are it’s not you that they’re reacting to–it’s the change you represent.
Resistance that feels personal
I once spent months helping a team establish work processes, metrics, and decision rights for a new platform that would reshape their entire supply chain. Every step I took toward solving the problem was met with active resistance by certain stakeholders. It baffled me. The numbers made sense. We were making progress. I thought I was a nice guy who was pretty easy to work with. I put in extra hours with people who weren’t catching on as quickly. But some people never got on board. And I couldn’t understand why until, in a rare moment of candor between meetings, the two leads for the sales team said to me, “I don’t even think this is the right answer for the customer. I believe what we’re doing today is what’s best for them.”
Then it hit me. They’re not fighting me. They’re fighting change.
Key points include:
- Change triggers fear
- Meeting resistance
- Taking it personally
Read the full article, A Message for the Frustrated Change Agent, on Outlastllc.com.
In this article, Jared Simmons identifies the difference between intelligence and wisdom and how understanding the difference may improve talent management.
In large organizations, the nature of the work creates a natural tendency toward complexity. And as a leader, it can be very tempting to advance those who seem to have the intelligence to manage it. But complexity is not a symptom to be managed while you work–it is often the work itself. Its symptoms are a lack of a clear purpose, inconsistent strategy, slow execution, low morale, and missed opportunities. It takes wisdom to see the deeper issues in these situations.
The difference between intelligence and wisdom
Intelligence is the ability to adapt to and solve new mental challenges. Whether it is a crossword puzzle or a 5-year strategic plan is irrelevant–intelligence focuses on solving the problem. Wisdom focuses on meeting the highest need in a given situation, which sometimes means doing the simpler, less complex, more effective thing. Wisdom is about asking the right questions; intelligence is about having the right answers.
Why focusing on wisdom is hard
Hiring smart people requires a leader to sharpen her focus on the wisdom of the team’s actions, which takes humility. Organizations are made up of smart people who are struggling with the unconscious tension between the right answer for the organization and the answer that serves their career. That’s what makes external perspective so valuable.
Consultants aren’t necessarily smarter than your VPs and SVPs–they’re simply less invested in the status quo. It goes against human nature to recommend steps that cause us harm–physical, emotional, reputational. As a result, employees sometimes (often unconsciously) use their intelligence to craft a solution that minimizes personal losses while inching the organization forward instead of maximizing organizational progress. Smart people who are rewarded and compensated by the system have one more constraint than those who are not.
Key points include:
- The difficulty of focusing on wisdom
- The difference between wisdom and intelligence
- The possibilities ahead
Read the full article, Wisdom, Intelligence, and Talent Management, on OutlastLLC.com.
From Jared Simmons’ company blog, a post on why motherhood is a leadership development boot camp.
Motherhood builds skills that are competitive advantages in the workplace.
“Motherhood and apple pie” are meant to evoke an image of something universally good – something everyone can agree on. But, like most things about moms, this phrase has morphed into patronizing passive aggressiveness, at its best.
When someone at work says, “That’s just motherhood and apple pie,” what they are really saying is “That is a bunch of hot air and baloney. Where’s the real substance?”
I don’t like idioms, but I particularly dislike this one. Motherhood is a lot of things, but it’s usually not sugary fruit melting into a flaky pastry crust.
Motherhood is simultaneously sweet and gross. It is both life-giving and soul-crushing. It requires you to have vision, be resilient, and communicate with empathy. Motherhood is… basically, the most effective leadership training program available.
While these skills are recognized by colleagues, they are not appropriately rewarded by leaders in the workplace. The 2019 Modern Family Index study showed that:
- 91% of working Americans agree that working moms bring unique leadership skills (i.e., diplomacy, collaboration, calm in crisis situations, and active listening) and
- 89% of working Americans believe that working moms bring out the best in employees.
Despite this awareness, working mothers are denied advancement opportunities simply because someone at home calls them “Mom.”
Key points include:
- Motherhood skills
- Battle-tested experience
- Creative problem solving
Read the full post, More than apple pie: Motherhood is a leadership development bootcamp, on outlastllc.com.
Jared Simmons shares three quick tips that can improve relationships and move your career forward.
When you’re trying to build strong working relationships, sharing what you are hoping to achieve and get out of the work can be extremely helpful. What you get out of work is different from the project or meeting objectives. It’s not your departmental or functional mandate. It’s the professional development nugget that comes along with the entire working experience.
Perhaps you’d like to show that you’re ready to lead a global project. Or that you can work well with colleagues outside of your department. Perhaps you’re interested in learning about another part of the business.
Talking about your professional development goals builds strong working relationships in three ways:
Tips included in this article:
- How to establish trust
- How to make communication more efficient
- How to uncovers new ways to work together
Read the full article, Stronger Working Relationships and a Great Career, on the Outlast website.
Jared Simmons provides a concise post that identifies the three most common factors that impede progress.
Whether you are chasing profit or purpose, a team’s ability to make progress is critical to achieving its objectives. There are many obstacles that keep a team from operating at its full potential, but the three most common (and solvable) ones are ambiguity, apathy, and amateurism. The challenge is recognizing them in action.
Discover how the following three A’s impact your team:
Read the full post on the, Making progress: The three silent killers, on the Outlast website.
Jared Simmons explains why simplifying assumptions could be the key to unlocking value faster and freeing up your knowledge workers to innovate.
I learned the power of simplifying assumptions early in my career. As an engineering student, I watched my professors fill boards with Greek letters and symbols, exponents and integrals, constants and variables. Then, in the last 10 minutes of class we worked a real problem together. The first step of solving the real problem was always to use the context of the problem to apply simplifying assumptions to the theoretical equation. Things like material composition, physical location, and scale let us whittle that complex equation down to a more manageable size. Essentially, they allowed us to build real, specific things based on universal theories. Because we understood the theory behind it, we could quickly identify the right simplifying assumptions for each new practical application. An hour in understanding, 10 minutes in practical application.
The two main points discussed in this article are:
- Barriers to applying simplifying assumptions at work
- Why simplification matters
Read the full article, The power of simplifying assumptions, on the Outlast website.
Jared Simmons provides three meeting strategies to overcome stagnation.
We’ve all been there before. It took you three weeks to find a time on everyone’s calendar. You found the perfect room and showed up early to make sure the previous meeting didn’t run over. You’ve spent countless hours working on your agenda and slides and even reading articles like this on productivity. And then it happens–the conversation gets stuck. Your time is rapidly dwindling and you’re still on agenda item one. You simply cannot afford to have this group disperse to their thousand other priorities without covering these items. So what do you do? Here are a few techniques that can help you get your meeting moving forward again.
The strategies explained include:
- Restating the point
- Recapping the options
- Identifying the key factors
Read the full article, Three Meeting Strategies to Overcome Stagnation, on the Outlast website.