Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Best Practices

Applying your Prosci Certification in the Real World

ADKAR, Best Practices, KAIP Academy, Learning, Managing/Leadership, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Prosci, Training

By Elizabeth Long

Having a certification like Prosci is valuable in terms of provide knowledge and framework around the Prosci ADKAR® Model. It’s also a great way to show your credibility as a practitioner of change management.

While the certification provides a good foundation—and is something I recommend my fellow change managers think about obtaining themselves—much of the work happens when you get onsite and observe and evaluate the organization with which you’re working.

I’ve seen my share of people come in to an organization with various degrees and certifications and while they can provide a lot of strategic or academic talk, their ability to recommend and implement the tactics is lacking.

If you simply take the methodologies and apply them in a cookie-cutter way, your chances of change management success are slim. Every organization or client is different. The people differ, the company culture differs—you need to be able to take these always-different environments and connect with people on a human level. That is when the action really happens.

So, with certification in hand, how do you integration that human connection into your work, so that people feel connected and valued (i.e., open to change?) Here are some of my best practices:

  1. Build Relationships. Determine who your primary stakeholders are and build relationships with them. Through these relationships, you’ll learn about the organization and its challenges; plus, these folks will also help guide you to determine which methodologies you should recommend to implement. By understanding what the organization needs, you can determine how to best apply the changes. Remember, nothing is cookie cutter.
  2. Be Authentic. You need to genuinely want to develop these relationships and get to know people. If you honor your word—when you say you’re going to do something, do it—then the people in the organization will see that and be more likely to take your recommendations and provide you the opportunity to do your work. Authenticity builds trust with your partners. The recommendations you make will be much more well-received if you have trust—trust that is gained by being authentic.
  3. Be a Leader.I’m currently reading the book, “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win,” by Jacko Willink and Leif Babin. Among other things, it’s about a Navy SEAL platoon and how they develop leaders within the SEALs. The ‘leader’ is a role on the team, everyone plays a critical role—it is the leader’s main job to communicate the ‘why’ of the mission and explain each person’s role and how it is critical to accomplish the mission. This helps the team develop a belief in the mission. While on a much smaller scale, change management works similarly. The most critical thing a leader can do is share the vision and the mission—the WHY we are doing something. (In Prosci terms, this is referred to as developing the desire.) Being a leader is learned from putting your certification knowledge into action in the field. Leaders make realistic assessments, acknowledge failures, take ownership of issue, and develop plans to improve. Prosci is the framework, but your experience is the engine that will drive your success on the ground as a Prosci leader!

As you begin applying your Prosci certification in your work, remember that it is a guideline—the desire to change and understanding the people you’re working with goes beyond methods and is all about understanding the real-world application.

About the Author: Elizabeth Long is a professional Organization Development Consultant and Curriculum Developer/Trainer. She received her Certification in Organizational Change Management from Prosci and is certified in e-learning development from Langevine Learning Center. Elizabeth has worked in many industries: High tech, healthcare, and state and local government. Currently, Elizabeth works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc. as a contractor working in a variety of California State Departments. Elizabeth has lived in Sacramento for the past 17 years and appreciates the history of Sacramento as well as its convenience to many well-known destinations like San Francisco, Tahoe, and Reno.

How to Make Your Career Reach Its Full Potential

Best Practices, KAIP Academy, Learning, Professional Development, Training

By Ryan Hatcher

Years ago, I received a great piece of advice from a former boss who started an agricultural services business in his basement with a fax machine and a phone. In just two decades, he built an international consulting powerhouse largely credited with opening markets all over the world to domestic apples, cherries, wine, and many other West Coast crops.

He claims the key to his success was something he learned from the apple farmers he worked with early in his career: “Plant today what you want to harvest in 4, 7 and 10 years.”

Strategic, long-term planning is both a necessary and common practice of any successful business, but what about a successful career?

Many in my parents’ generation didn’t need to plan their careers. My mother taught in the same school district for 39 years where raises, tier increases, and pension benefits were all set in stone. This kind of linear career path is still somewhat common in the public sector (albeit with more department hopping) but the days of the “Company Man” working his or her way up with the same private sector organization for 30 years and getting the gold watch upon retirement are largely over.

With the rise of professional and physical mobility fueled, in part, by increasing technology and connectivity, job hopping has become common among younger workers. Whereas the median tenure for employees 65 years and older is 10.3 years, the median tenure for workers between 25 and 34 is only 3.2 years.

As a thirtysomething consultant with an average tenure of less than one year per engagement, I help bring that number down (and terrify my stability-minded mother). For the first few years, I took jobs out of necessity, for pay/responsibility increases, or because they seemed interesting with only a vague idea of long-term benefits.

My friends in tech operate much in the same way. Silicon Valley companies are continuously rewriting the e-book on poaching recruitment, and qualified employees can switch jobs as easily as replying to one of the dozens of LinkedIn solicitations they get every month.

Besides opportunity, what drives most workers to jump ship? A recent LinkedIn study found that 59 percent cited a stronger career path and increased opportunity as their primary reasons for leaving; this narrowly beat ‘better salary’ (54 percent) and ‘more challenging work’ (47 percent).

This study demonstrates two things: The desire for career advancement is enormous and most employers do a poor job fulfilling that need. With this in mind, workers have little choice but to take matters into their own hands.

So, in a world where we are all trailblazers of our own career paths, how do we incorporate strategic, long-term planning?

  • We can start by thinking of our careers as long-term investments. Short-term gains in salary or titles are exciting, but leaving a job prematurely can sacrifice valuable experience and relationships.
  • Staying current on emerging skills and certifications will increase opportunity in whatever direction we decide to take.
  • Most importantly, as with any long-term planning, focus should be on a discrete and defined set of goals. Without a continuous focus on set objectives, we risk wasting years on dead-end tangents and getting bypassed by peers.

By devaluing short-term gains, investing in professional development and focusing on a defined end point, we can create the framework for long-term success. Then comes the real challenge: discipline.

Much like any strategic investment, resisting the urge to tinker and make changes, big or small, is the hard part. Distraction via shiny objects is the enemy of long-term success.

The whole process seems simple, because it is. The reason so many people find strategic career planning challenging is because doing it correctly requires sacrifice. Foregoing a higher-paying opportunity or spending weekends collecting certifications aren’t choices many people have the self-control to make.

However, much like farmers, the most successful professionals are the ones who can develop and execute 4-, 7- and 10-year plans.

It is only with discipline, vision, and patience that we can create the necessary environment for apple trees, businesses, or careers to truly reach their potential.

About the Author: Ryan Hatcher is a skilled communications and management consultant with over a decade of experience campaigning for government, public affairs, and political clients. A recent addition to KAI Partners, Ryan serves as an executive consultant providing communications support to one of California’s heath care agencies. He resides in Sacramento with his wife, Nikki, and their two dogs.

7 Tips to Work Successfully in a Virtual Environment

Best Practices, Employee Engagement, General Life/Work, Managing/Leadership, Team Building

By Angela Darchuk

We live in a world where most of us use technology to do our job, and often that can include being able to do our job from anywhere. With businesses offering work from home or flexible schedule options, many employees now have the opportunity to work in a virtual environment.

Since starting to work in a virtual environment four years ago, I have found ways to make sure working virtually is a success for me and the virtual team I manage. Working in a virtual environment has its challenges and it may not be for everyone, but with some self-motivation and these tips, hopefully you can make your virtual work successful:

  1. Be Open: If you are joining an already established virtual team, and especially if you have never worked on a virtual team before, be open to the process. Virtual teams require a lot of positivity—there is little worse than a team member joining a team and being negative to the process.
  2. Ask Questions: Ask questions about the process, what is expected of you on a daily/weekly/ monthly basis, and seek clarification if you don’t understand what is being asked. It’s a waste of time for an employee or a supervisor to do or receive unnecessary work, so make sure you understand the expectations from the start.
  3. Get to Know Your Team: Getting to know your team can be hard when working in a virtual environment. Talking about your life, your likes and dislikes, and your personality can help open up a dialog and make the team comfortable together.(Working in a virtual environment may mean working solo, but it isn’t just about you doing your job—it’s also about collaboration with others in different locations (and maybe even different time zones!) More tips for virtual team success can be found in our blog post, How to Create a Successful Virtual Team Dynamic.)
  4. Know the Roles Your Teammates Play: Knowing the role of each of your teammates is important. When you know what others’ jobs are, you can leverage their expertise when needed. Additionally, if you are familiar with everyone’s roles, you can start to anticipate what may be needed from/by other members of the team.
  5. Be Involved: Be involved by offering information, providing solutions to issues, and volunteering for action items. A weekly meeting—usually via conference call or video conference—is a must to make sure the team is involved, but if you need more frequent meetings, just ask.
  6. Show Initiative: Showing initiative can be difficult in a virtual world, but if you see something that needs to be done, talk to your supervisor about what you can offer. Your skills and abilities were some of the reasons you were hired, so offer up new ideas to help!
  7. Ask for the Proper Equipment to do Your Job: As a virtual employee, it’s important you have the tools to do your job. This can include software and hardware; in addition, you should have access to tools for conference calling, sharing screens, direct messaging, and project management. However, be mindful of what is a ‘need’ and what is ‘want’—equipment needs to be budgeted and you should be able to justify the request.

As a virtual employee, it is your responsibility to show your value so that you thrive—hopefully these tips help your venture into virtual work a success!

About the Author: Angela has a background in book-keeping and office management. She worked for several small businesses in the Sacramento area before taking a job with the State of California. She worked for Dept. of Child Support, EDD and the State Treasurer’s office before making the jump back to private sector where she feels more at home to voice her opinion and help grow a company. Angela is currently the Administrative Services Manager for KAI Partners. In her spare time Angela loves to read, dance, and go to Disneyland. When she goes to Disneyland, her favorite ride is It’s a Small World. She is a graduate of Penn State University, has been married for 18 years, and has two boys, ages 19 and 13 (who hate It’s a Small World).

Why you Should Document Business Processes

Best Practices, Business Analysis, Documentation, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Project Management, Small Business

By Denise Larcade

One thing I’ve seen in my 25+ years working in change management and business analysis is that documenting Business Processes and supporting documents like Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) adds value to a business in a variety of ways.

Unfortunately, some believe that documenting processes and procedures is not always the most exciting of tasks, and it’s often put off from one person to the next. Before you know it, the documented process for a task may be severely outdated—or nonexistent.

A lack of documentation can reduce efficiency of your business if, for example, someone goes on vacation. The back-up who’s covering for them should have access to the Business Process Diagram (BPD) and accompanying SOPs so they can do the job of the person who’s out. If there’s no documentation, the back-up has no idea what to do. The impact to the business is that while the process may be well-defined and streamlined, if it’s not documented, then time and labor is not utilized efficiently.

A complete lack of documentation can be a major problem if an employee leaves. Without knowing their day-to-day processes, it will be difficult to hire a qualified person to take over for them, not to mention keeping business running in the interim.

Luckily, documenting processes and procedures is not a daunting task. Businesses of any size can and should document their process. KAI Partners, a certified small business with fewer than 100 employees, regularly documents its processes and procedures.

When starting out, a good rule of thumb is that each WHAT documented in the BPD should be supported by some documentation on HOW (oftentimes an SOP). Further, when the Business Processes are updated, the accompanying SOP should be updated at the same time.

For example, if the diagram step in the BPD states, “Create Invoice,” there should be a manual/guide, SOP, or job aid detailing how to create the invoice. If today the invoice is created on a Mac and tomorrow it’s changed to a PC, the step in the BPD may not change, but the supporting documents will.

So, what do you do once you’ve documented your Business Processes? Stick them in a drawer and forget about them? No!

Depending on your current business state, you should look at your Business Processes quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. For mergers and acquisitions, I recommending looking at your processes quarterly. If your business is not going through a major change, you should check in with your Business Processes every six months or every year.

When you do regular audits of your business process, you’re checking for:

  1. Accuracy.Is everything the same, or have you made any business changes that should be updated? Think about the scenario above—if the software used to create the invoice is inaccessible due to a licensing issue, a work around may need to be created to keep the BPD current. If the work around does not have a solution date and may be a long-term work around, you should consider updating the BPD to reflect that. (Another reason why regularly-scheduled reviews are valuable—it forces the business owner to address something that was supposed to have been fixed by a certain date.)
  2. Improvements. Is there a way you can improve or streamline the process? What steps no longer need to be done or how can we automate? Perform a cost analysis to determine which step is most efficient.
  3. Future state. What may the future of this process look like? Look at how is the industry shifting or how have other organizations changed. If there’s a new system the industry is using, assess the initial cost to stand up using a new system, as well as the cost over time to change to the new process. This information will be helpful in the future, as changes start making their way down the pike.

I recommend every business—large or small—regularly document and update their processes and procedures. For those who are on the fence, just remember that while eliminating processes may eliminate roles, streamlining a business process means you can now put people in roles that need more attention. This will help your business running at its most efficient.

About the Author: Denise Larcade is an Organizational Development Consultant and Merger and Acquisitions Expert. She has over 25 years of experience in training, development, and leading companies through organizational change management. Denise has worked in corporate retail, technology, and government healthcare and most recently has experience with large-scale implementations nationwide. She currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., providing client support to one of KAI Partners’ state clients. Denise grew up in the Silicon Valley and relocated to Utah and Idaho before recently returning to her native California roots.

3 Steps to Achieve Work-School Balance

Best Practices, General Life/Work, KAIP Academy, Learning

By Danielle Cortijo

Congratulations, you’ve taken the first step in one of life’s major balancing acts called pursuing an academic degree, all while being an active full-time employee! You’ve earned this moment of celebration by simply making the decision to participate in this major undertaking for your future. It won’t necessarily be an easy one, but some would say that nothing worth having should be. The implication is that the struggle helps you to appreciate the journey and the result that much more. The reward of finally completing that final exam—turning in the last paper and receiving your coveted degree—will be the ultimate prize.

But remember, success requires balance. This is the voyage of the avid professional’s daily work life. The one-to-four year mission to seek out new degrees and new ways to handle it all…To boldly juggle responsibilities like no one has juggled before!

Speaking from my own past and current experience, discovering how best to squeeze it all in has been nothing short of some of my most challenging moments in life. If you’re someone who is constantly trying to outdo themselves academically like me, you may relate to my past and present battle of having a full-time commitment to work, all while maintaining a heavy school load and even higher GPA.

As we speak, I am an eager Analyst by day and a relentless graduate student completing her degree in medicine by nights and weekends. Sound daunting? Well, it doesn’t have to be—not completely. Achieving success is definitely doable and I’m here to share some tips on how to do just that!

  1. Support Team on deck: I can’t stress enough how important this particular factor can become for anyone pursuing their degree while working full time and doing their best to maintain some semblance of a regular life. It’s a challenge and sometimes you just might need a soft place to land. That can come in the form of support from incredible friends or family who understand who and where you are in life and help you to return to center. Don’t be afraid to lean on whoever you’ve chosen. You’ll be all the better for it.
  2. Scheduling is a MUST: It is so, so important to create a schedule for yourself that will allow you to keep track of everything you have on your plate. More importantly, it will force you to always be aware of assignment deadlines for both work and school. Find what works for you. Are you the weekend warrior, someone who can get it all done in 2.5 days? Or are you the all week guru, someone who needs to complete little by little after work during the week with a finale weekend? Whatever your preference and best tactics, be sure to put a schedule in place that works and helps you be the best school and work balancing champion you can be.
  3. Disconnect, Disconnect, DISCONNECT: This may sound like the opposite of what one would want or should do, but honestly, it is utterly necessary. You will need time to concentrate and focus on your work when it’s company time and school when it’s education central. At the end of the day, all stops begin and end with you when it comes to your final product. Your tasks at work carry an equal amount of importance as do your assignments for school. So, do yourself the biggest favor and let it be known that disconnect time is in full effect. You aren’t being selfish. This isn’t you ignoring life. Try to see it as you giving back to yourself by providing adequate time to achieve your dreams. Trust me, your GPA and daily work will thank you for it.

These steps can be the very things that preserve your sanity and help you to maintain both your stellar professional face and academic prowess. It’s true that we are perfectly imperfect creatures, but doing all you can to shine in all areas of your world can feel extremely overwhelming if the planning and consistency in the rituals you establish aren’t properly maintained.

It is indeed possible to successfully balance your work, home, and academic life all in one. Try not to let the stressful moments get you down. Create your own work and academic rhythm and achievement will follow! It can be done—I am living proof.

About the Author: With a Bachelor’s in Communications and actively pursuing her Master’s in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Dani has an extensive professional background in the public and private sectors focused in Contracts, Human Resources, QA, and Process. Currently the Procurement Specialist on the amazing Administrative team for KAI Partners, she is working diligently to assist in the successful acquisition of procurements for the company. When her world slows down a bit, she loves scouring for an incredible deal on retro sneakers with her partner in crime, listening to music 24/7, and laughing as much as humanly possible.

next page »