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Webster’s definition of brutal reads: “extremely ruthless or cruel, crude or unfeeling in manner or speech, harsh and unrelenting, disagreeably precise or penetrating”. Many of you know people like this: • Their words often reflect anger, resentment, intimidation, arrogance and/or impatience. • They hold others accountable for a level of perfection that far exceeds what is reasonable or necessary to do a job. • They believe that a brutal management style is THE ONLY WAY to motivate people. • They were similarly supervised by past bosses who were rewarded for their conduct. • They believe that their job title gives

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As a management consultant, I meet fear everywhere I go. I am not talking about the fear of change, but the fear of speaking the truth about a problem. Losses, sometimes in the millions of dollars, occur when people are afraid to talk about a problem or raise a concern, maybe because of company politics or what will happen if the problem is exposed. Examples of these losses include lost production, higher costs, errors in budgets or engineering models that cause bad decisions about equipment purchases or misplacement of expansion capital, projects that stall or die, departments that don’t work

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Have you noticed the high level of activity in switching out CEOs and other executive team and board members? It’s happening in large and small lmanufacturing and service companiess. This morning I reviewed one business  publication and saw at least 20 announcements about new executives that were expected to bring a higher level of performance than their predecessors. I wonder if the people coming in are aware of the barriers that prevented the last guy (or gal) from achieving the desired of performance? If the real barriers to excellence were understood, wouldn’t the prior leaders have addressed and overcome them?

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When hearts, and mindsets are impacted by the change process, expectations are high and the needs are great. People have many skills that can increase productivity, but culture change is the greatest challenge. Specific skills are generally lacking in this area. For those working at companies with a history, your needs may be the greatest. Chances are you have been through acquisitions that changed the face of your culture. It was up to you to adapt and no one made it easy to do so. Some people say it should be easy. Those people are usually several levels removed from

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Mixed messages are actions that don’t match words, promises made but not kept and expectations set but not met. Mixed messages occur at all organizational levels and damage the credibility of that level and the entire management team. When employees and people in management receive mixed messages about priorities and what is acceptable for problems not solved, their trust in higher organizational levels drops. After years of mixed messages, most people feel that al most no one can be trusted. They are not sure who cares about the status quo and are not comfortable bringing up problems that could have

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I recently watched tv’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” for the first time. Lionel Richey’s search for his family tree was featured. It was interesting to watch as his family’s past was revealed with each clue that led him to different cities and states. So, who do you think you are in the workplace? Do you believe that your role as a management team member has boundaries similar to your box on the org chart? Do you think “out of the box” but have been reprimanded when you share creative ideas? Do you believe that you have the power

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My experience with performance improvement and culture change has taught me that the potential for improvement created by great process work (defining and communicating customer/supplier requirements, control and response plans, key measures, delay management for mobile equipment, etc.) can be unintentionally “sabotaged” by poorly designed management processes and the words and actions of the management team. So what do we mean by sabotage? Improvement tools and processes are designed to deliver value to the bottom line – more production and lower costs. If the value is never reported as higher profit, something sabotaged (i.e., stopped the progress of) the flow

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The “unspoken” expectations of an organization’s hope for change are key to success with change, even though they are not documented in the scope of a change initiative. When an outsider (like me) shows up to lead and facilitate change, these expectations: a. Extend into lower levels of management and the workforce and are as real as the people who owned them. b. Are greater if morale is low. c. Involve hope for the lifting of spirits, speaking freely about problems, trusting people that have been “untrustable” for too long, working with people who believe your problems are just as

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When you think about sports, it is easy to list several characteristics of a team. Players have strengths in their areas of expertise. Teams have a potential to accomplish what individuals cannot – potential to score, potential to defend, potential to gain support. The coach and owners have a plan to develop a strong team. Each team has plays – strategies for winning, working together, combining strengths, overcoming a disadvantage, and coming from behind. Teams go to practice so they can make mistakes when it doesn’t count, monitor their progress, and demonstrate knowledge and confidence. Lastly, we come to the

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A friend was asked to provide feedback to management about suggestions for improving a process at the workplace. This particular process had been poorly implemented, so poorly implemented that it had divided segments of the workforce, torn apart well-functioning teams, and was intentionally biased towards some employees. He felt passionate about what had happened and the discord that could have been avoided with a different approach, but was struggling with the exact words to write and had not decided whether to sign his name (optional). Then he remembered that part of the mission statement was printed on the company shirts.

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