Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Team Building

Why Successful Meetings Start with Stakeholder Management

Best Practices, Communications, Continuous Improvement, Employee Engagement, Managing/Leadership, Project Management, Sacramento, Team Building

By Stephen Alfano, PMP®, CSM®

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in a meeting that was derailed by a dominating or distracting stakeholder. Now, concentrate on that scenario: Do you remember how you reacted to the meeting going off track?

If you attended the meeting as a secondary stakeholder—in a role like a union representative or a regulator not tied directly to an outcome of the meeting—the event probably made you feel a bit confused or at the very least a little uncomfortable for the person running the meeting.

However, if you were a primary stakeholder—accountable for a project or an outcome tied to the meeting—you might remember feeling like you witnessed a total train wreck.

Regardless of your takeaway, I’ll wager that everyone—except the stakeholder at the center of the disruption—left that meeting shaking their head wondering why someone (anyone!) didn’t anticipate that the meeting might be at risk of being derailed. Better still, I’ll double my wager that the root cause of the derailment comes from insufficient insight and analysis on the stakeholder in question. In other words, I’ll bet the house that the meeting would have stayed on track with Stakeholder Management on the scene.

Stakeholder Management is an essential component in the delivery of business processes or activities.

Stakeholder Management identifies the needs of vested participants and helps rank (arrange and prioritize) their power, interest, and influence levels in context to one another and in alignment with the overarching strategic goals and objectives of the organization, program, or project driving the delivery.

That’s why a project owner or manager with a Stakeholder Management Plan in hand can anticipate and approach disruptive stakeholder behavior quickly and effectively—especially in a meeting.

The key to effective Stakeholder Management comes from a continuous, laser-like focus on the significant interactions between and impact on people—playing roles as individuals, inside groups, or within organizations.

Maintaining a high level of awareness and engagement with stakeholders to assess, analyze, and then align their needs and expectations—often referred to as providing “care and feeding” throughout the delivery lifecycle—is a demanding job.

It’s a job that requires masterful interpersonal skills like leadership, motivation, and active listening, as well as proven project management skills like risk management, negotiating, and critical thinking.

Of course, there are many other skills involved in stakeholder management that I could list here, but I wouldn’t want to get off track. 😉

For more insight on running successful meetings, check out these links:

How to Run a More Effective Meeting
https://www.nytimes.com/guides/business/how-to-run-an-effective-meeting

Five principles for getting more done as a team
https://slackhq.com/run-effective-meetings

7 Ingredients for Effective Team Meetings, Distilled from Two Years of Torture
https://blog.hubstaff.com/effective-team-meetings/

Do you have questions or comments regarding Stakeholder Management including best practices? Submit them in the form below!

About the Author: Stephen Alfano is an Organizational Change Management Consultant and Communications Expert. He has over 30 years of experience leading and managing internal and external marketing initiatives for both private and public-sector clients. His résumé includes providing both new business and business process improvement services to Apple, American Express, AT&T, California Department of Transportation, Chevron, Entergy, Levi Strauss & Co., Louisiana Office of Tourism, Mattel, Microsoft, Novell, SONY, Sutter Health, and Wells Fargo. Stephen currently works as an Executive Consultant—PMP®, CSM® with KAI Partners, Inc., providing change management and communications expertise and project management support services on several active contracts.

Reinforce and Reward for Change Management Success [INFOGRAPHIC]

Best Practices, Employee Engagement, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Project Management, Prosci, Sacramento, Team Building, VUCA

By Debbie Blagsvedt, CSM, LSSGB

It’s 6:30am, the alarm goes off, and I roll out of bed, jump in a hot shower, feed Emmett (a 48-pound cocker spaniel needs his breakfast), get ready, drive to work, and drive home. Next morning, repeat.

Sound familiar? Routines bring comfort and a sense of control in our lives in a volatile, uncertain, chaotic, and ambiguous world. Remember, VUCA? Humans are creatures of habit and we like to stay in our comfort zones.

As a change management professional, I’m supposed to embrace change. Honestly, I kind of like change, but I have to say, I’m often looked at with scorn even by some of my fellow change management peers.

What’s the real reason we want to stay in our comfort zones? One reason is that we are often not rewarded for going outside of them. This can be true at work, as well—a new change initiative occurs, and once staff is trained and the change is implemented, everyone moves onto the next project.

Oftentimes, mechanisms for sustaining the change aren’t built into the equation and don’t get established.

For a change initiative to have the most success, leaders should reward staff frequently in order to reinforce the new behavior.

So, how can you create mechanisms to sustain change by reinforcing and rewarding behavior? Take a look at our infographic for some ideas!

Why Change Management and Training are Critical in IT Modernization Projects

Communications, Employee Engagement, Government, IT Modernization, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Project Management, Project Management Professional (PMP), Prosci, Sacramento, Team Building, Training

By Tim Townsend

State and local governments in California face long-term cost pressures. Because of these fiscal constraints, government agencies are staring at a new reality of providing the same level of services with fewer resources.

So, how will government agencies respond to this challenge? Like their private sector counterparts, embracing new technology to increase productivity is crucial.

However, simply adding new technology for the sake of adding it is not enough on its own to increase efficiency. That’s where things like organizational change management and training come into play. Unfortunately, this important part of the equation often is not given the attention it deserves.

It’s not enough to just drop a new tool in a department and walk away. Employees should understand the need for it, how it can support them to do their job better, and, most importantly, be thoroughly trained to use it (especially if they have been doing something a certain way for a long time).

I saw many examples of this while working in the State Legislature, which, like many government organizations, is looking to incorporate new technology. However, when a tool did become available, the challenge was always getting employees to embrace it.

One project that particularly showed this challenge in action was an effort to create a new automated system to streamline making vote recommendations. This technology tool created for Legislative offices was extremely helpful and had the potential to save a lot of time if used correctly. It eliminated the need to print hundreds of pages of analyses and manually transcribe vote recommendations when preparing for Floor Sessions where large numbers of bills would be voted on. Prior to the creation of this tool, it would sometimes take up to eight hours to print and fill in the packets of information that Legislators relied on when it came time to vote.

Despite the potential to save time and free up resources to work on other things, few Legislative offices changed their internal processes to use it. Why? Because the organizational culture hadn’t yet adapted to the technology. Many preferred their old systems because it was what they knew. There were certainly efforts made to train all employees on how to use it, but it never got the traction that the technology deserved.

This same story can be seen in countless other IT projects in both the private and public sector. That’s why KAI Partners offers organizational change management and training as a component of our IT modernization project services.

People, process, and technology need to work together to achieve the desired results. This upfront investment into employees pays huge dividends down the road when technology delivers on its promises to save time and money. As I saw while working in the Legislature, the greatest technological tool is only as useful as how excited and willing people are to use it.

KAI Partners strongly values investing in organizational change and training for employees so they can make technology work for them and support their needs, not the other way around. As state and local governments across California look to technology for solutions on how to continue offering the public services with less funding, choosing the right approach on IT projects will be the determinant of success or failure.

About the Author: Tim Townsend is an Associate Consultant for KAI Partners and a communications specialist with on IT project developments. Prior to joining the company, he was a Chief of Staff in the California State Legislature, where he worked for eight years. He enjoys snowboarding with his wife and is a parent to two rescue dogs.

Increase Teamwork and Collaboration with Scrum

Agile, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Corporate Training, KAIP Academy, Learning, Professional Development, Project Management, Sacramento, Scrum, Servant Leadership, Team Building, Training, Workforce Development

By Shyanne Long, CSM

As a young woman entering the workforce, I want to learn as much as possible. After being hired on with KAI Partners as a Special Projects Intern, I was delighted to get the opportunity to attend the KAIP Academy’s Certified ScrumMaster® class.

From day one, the internship program was structured using Agile and Scrum processes. My intern partner and I acted as the development team while our supervisor was in the role of Scrum Master. We use a Sprint plan as well as a Kanban. In addition, we commence in bi-weekly stand-up meetings. Although I had a base of understanding and knew Scrum processes were helpful, I wasn’t sure how Scrum could be applied throughout my career. After taking the course, my outlook has changed.

A few of the most valuable lessons I learned in the class include sprint planning, how to organize a Kanban, and how to hold a sprint review and retrospective. In addition, I have a good understanding of the Scrum team roles and responsibilities. The Scrum Master acts as a servant leader to the group, ensures events take place, and helps everyone practice the Scrum theory, rules, and values. As the class instructor, Bernie Maloney put it:

“Scrum is lightweight and simple to understand but it can be difficult to master. To master Scrum, it will take continual practice.”

One thing I really appreciate about Scrum is that it’s very collaborative. Teamwork makes the dream work! The class activities were collaborative and included a lot of teamwork, which is similar to real life situations. We practiced timed sprints, sprint review, and sprint retrospectives. Bernie also encouraged the class to be self-motivated and self-organizing. It helped the class come together to figure out the best way we can complete the activity.

In my day-to-day, I enjoy doing a daily scrum meeting in the morning with my team. It is a quick, five-minute check-in and it sets me up to have a productive day. It gets everyone in the team on the same page and allows them to be “in the loop.”

I know that Scrum will be relevant throughout my career because it can be operated in almost any project you work on. It can be applied because Scrum is flexible and adaptive. According to the Scrum Guide, Scrum has been used worldwide to research and identify viable markets, technologies, and product capabilities and develop, release, sustain, and renew products.

Scrum’s values will also drive me throughout my career. Scrum’s values include commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect. I found it very interesting that these values line up well with KAI Partners’ core values as well. With these values in mind, I know that I can bring Scrum to the table wherever my career takes me and have a team of capable, respectful, and independent people.

Interested in taking our Certified ScrumMaster® or Certified Scrum Product Owner® courses? Visit our Eventbrite page to see our full schedule of upcoming courses!

About the Author: Shyanne is a Special Projects Intern at KAI Partners. She attends Sierra College and is exploring her career options. Ms. Long plans on transferring to a four-year university after completing her units at Sierra College. She has experience in customer service, childcare, assistant teaching, and is now in a business analyst role at KAI Partners. Shyanne is passionate about expanding her knowledge, working collaboratively, and making powerful connections. For fun, Shyanne enjoys spending with her family, reading, listening to podcasts, volunteering, and (attempting) to recreate home projects and recipes she finds on Pinterest.

3 Ways to be a Successful Change Leader

Communications, Employee Engagement, Managing/Leadership, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Project Management, Sacramento, Team Building

By Debbie Blagsvedt, CSM, LSSGB

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realists adjust the sails.” – one of many inspirational quotes by William Author Ward, whose words reminded me how difficult the winds of change can be for change leaders.

Change is hard. People like their comfort zones and take great measures to protect them. While there are those who get on board with the change, some people only adjust to it as time sails on. A change leader’s role is to influence and inspire people even though they may not support it.

Here are three tips for change leaders to help navigate the winds of change to ensure setting sails toward your destination.

1. Accept the impact of the change. When a change is announced, people may feel stunned and disillusioned, particularly when they feel the change is being done to them. People are not always equipped to deal with uncertainty while maintaining the job they were hired to do. What we know is that resistance is normal, and often people’s reactions hide their rational thoughts about how the change may be beneficial. Change leaders need to be cognizant of where people are in the change journey and know that individuals will not always catch the wind, but rather will set the sails when they are ready to embark on the change journey.

Be aware of individual’s concerns and take actions to address them.

2. Set sail with emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage yours and others’ emotions, as well as the ability to manage interactions and relationships successfully. Emotional intelligence helps change leaders manage people and themselves during change. Change leaders must be aware of their emotional impact and know how to proactively influence a project team’s emotional state though moving from pessimism to optimism.

Focus on sharpening your emotional intelligence to create positive emotions to help shape the organization’s climate towards change.

3. Head up the wind with strengths. Understanding, acknowledging, and building on the strengths of people who have contributed to past successes make change feel less like an imposition from the top and more like a shared goal. Successful change leaders know the value in facing those winds by focusing on the strengths of the crew.

When assembling a project team, make sure you have the right combination of people who have the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to sail towards a successful change journey.

Did you know KAI Partners provides change management solutions and services to clients in California and beyond? Interested in learning more? Contact us today at info@kaipartners.com.

About the Author: Debbie Blagsvedt is an Organizational Change Consultant with over 25 years’ experience in change management, performance management, process improvement, training, and facilitation. She has a worked in both the private, public, and non-profit sectors in industries that include health, legal, financial, social services, high tech, and transportation. She currently works as an Organizational Change Consultant with KAI Partners on assignment with a child welfare services agency. Debbie is passionate about collaboration among teams which she believes leads to high employee satisfaction and is equally fascinated with the rapid-fire speed of change and what it means for organizations today. Debbie grew up in the bay area but now considers Sacramento her home. She has many interests from home projects to wine tasting, volunteering, witnessing the changing face of Sacramento, and going on new adventures with her family and friends…Not to mention nightly walks and occasional mountain hikes with her dog, Emmett.

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