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Organizational Development: A System for Achieving Excellence

We live in a world of automatic fixes. If your computer is acting up, you run antivirus software to fix it. If you don’t know how to get somewhere, your smartphone can give you directions while you’re driving—it will even make adjustments to get you back on track if you take a wrong turn.

Unfortunately, there is no such automatic fix to help your business strategy identify potential problems and the solutions that would best address them. In an automated world, organizational development is an area that still requires human ingenuity and ongoing effort to achieve excellence.

People, Process, and Tools

Since technology can’t do all the work, you must create an organizational development plan, establish regular checkpoints to assess your progress, and correct your course along the way. To execute excellently, try using an approach called “People, Process, Tools.” It works like this:

  1. As Jim Collins advises in his book Good to Great, ask if you have the right people in the right seats.
  2. Secondly, ask if you have the best process in place to enable people to optimize their performance. Are systems and processes fluid, or are they creating roadblocks to success?
  3. Finally, ask if your people have the right tools to operate at maximum efficiency. Remember that tools and technology make a great servant and a terrible master, so tools are only valuable if they support and enable better performance.

Picture this: You go for dinner at an expensive restaurant. You place your order and wait patiently for 45 minutes, only to have your meal delivered cold. Is this a problem with people, process, or tools?  In fact, it could be any or all of these. If you were the restaurant manager, you would need to dig deeper to determine which area is causing the problem and establish a plan to fix it.

Implementing a System in Your Organization

Even if you think you already know where the weaknesses are with respect to your company’s people, process, and tools, using a systemized approach to organizational development can mean the difference between achieving excellence and constantly patching the holes. Here a few steps to follow:


Evaluate all areas of your organization and ask the following questions:

  • People: What skills and competencies are necessary for each role? Do the people in each position have them?
  • Process: Are the processes that are currently in place working? Are there new processes that should be implemented to help you achieve excellence?
  • Tools: Does each person have the necessary tools to properly execute their role? Do those tools need to be updated?

Create a Path

After you have identified the weaknesses in each area, create a path forward by answering these questions:

  • People: What specific competencies does each employee need to develop or hone in order to be successful in his or her role?
  • Process: What steps will you take to improve ineffective processes and/or implement new ones?
  • Tools: What steps will you take to ensure that each person has the tools they need to succeed?

After you have generated your answers, create clear milestones, schedule training if necessary, create committees, and make the necessary purchases to help you achieve those goals in the stated time frames.

Use Checkpoints to Correct Your Course

As you create your organizational development plan, make sure you create checkpoints between milestones to assess your progress so you can make adjustments as needed. For example, you might find that a particular employee has a more robust skill set than you originally thought, making them a candidate for a future leadership role and putting them on a new training track. You might also discover new tools or processes that you were previously unaware of, making it possible to create a new milestone. Whatever the appropriate course correction may be, you won’t necessarily realize it unless you take a step back and look at the bigger picture of your progress.

Take a good look at your team. If you could improve in just one area, would it be the people, the process, or the tools? If you’re not sure how to get started, download our free resources, The Ultimate Guide to Organizational Development, to learn more about how to assess your current status and create a path to get from where you are now to where you want your business to be.


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How to Help Employees Struggling with Time Management Issues

Everyone, at one point or another in their career, struggles with time management and can benefit from planning their time better. In fact, one study found that employees can free up 20 percent of their week simply by exercising more discipline in how they manage their time. That’s reassuring news considering that, just as an example, the average corporate executive receives over 200 emails a day and meetings take up 35 percent of the workweek.

Here are six specific steps you can take to help employees who are struggling with time management.

1. Uncover the source of the problem (and try to minimize it)

Whether someone gets caught up in the details of lower-level priorities or they get overwhelmed and paralyzed by the volume of work, uncovering the source of time management issues can be the first step toward solving them. To get started:

  • Talk it through: Have conversations with employees to understand the cause of their time management issues. For example, when an employee complains that they don’t have enough time to complete work and they’re feeling burned out, offer reassurance and help the employee understand which responsibilities are a higher priority and where they should focus their efforts.
  • Minimize distractions: Identify distractions like white noise levels or inefficient workspace configurations and try to minimize them. A possible solution is providing flexible work arrangements that allow employees to work on larger, more complex projects from home.
  • Recommend a time log: Have employees fill out a time log for a week and then examine the alignment of their time with priorities, where they got derailed, and strategies they can use to get caught up. This is a useful tool that will direct their personal reflection and how they can improve going forward.

2. Make expectations and priorities clear

One of the best ways to ensure individuals meet deliverables on time is by making expectations crystal clear and repeating them as necessary in meetings and one-on-one. Some examples of how you can do this include:

  • Using direct language and project schedules to communicate goals, due dates, priorities, and accountability for assignments.
  • Talk about team culture when a new member joins. For example, during onboarding, stress that time management is important and employees are expected to be at meetings on time.

3. Offer a helping hand

Some employees may recognize that they need help with time management, while others may not. In any case, you can offer help and support to employees who seem to be struggling with organizing their time wisely. The following techniques are usually quite effective:

  • Checking in periodically with employees and simply asking, “What can I do to help?”
  • Putting employees in small teams that allow them to divide a large deliverable into smaller, more manageable tasks.
  • Meeting with individuals one-on-one to brainstorm ideas and create a plan that will help support more effective time management.

4. Model behaviors and coach employees

Employees take time management cues from their team leader. When you arrive at meetings on time and deliver on your commitments, they can see that you practice what you preach. Once you’ve identified that an employee is experiencing a time management challenge, you can also coach them to make the appropriate changes in their behavior through MCR (Model, Coach, Require) coaching, which is comprised of the following steps:

  1. Model: Leaders model the behavior they desire from an employee, so that the employee sees, understands, and believes in the change.
  2. Coach: Leaders assess employee behavior and provide coaching, ideas, and a plan for making the improvements a reality.
  3. Require: Leaders set expectations that require the employee to be accountable for making the necessary changes to their time management behavior.

5. Teach new techniques

An excellent way to help employees practice better time management at work is to teach them how. Effective time management training includes ways to effectively manage resources, as well as techniques for staying organized. Training in the following three areas will significantly support effective time management:

  1. Planning and prioritizing: Learning how to plan and estimate the timing of key tasks helps employees anticipate how their day will play out. Prioritizing also helps employees avoid playing catch-up on overlooked deliverables.
  2. Organization skills: It’s necessary to organize time, as well as the space around you. A disorganized work space can lead an employee to waste time looking for a lost item, which can result in a missed deadline or late arrival to a meeting.
  3. Communication skills: Training that focuses on improving communication skills teaches employees how and when to give updates on the progress of their work.

6. Recognize improvements

Positive reinforcement and recognition help employees understand that they’re meeting performance expectations by effectively managing their time. You can recognize employees who meet deadlines in one-on-one discussions and team meetings. Intentional reinforcement of what employees are doing right will inspire them to continue their efforts and strive for greater improvements.

Time management can be challenging for everyone, but it is a crucial skill in every industry, department, and role. There are many ways to help employees who are struggling with time management, like making expectations clear, providing them with coaching and skills training, and reinforcing their behavior when they master skills. The outcome is less burnout, improved productivity, and an organization full of teams and individuals who manage their time effectively.


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Teamwork in the Workplace: The Importance of Leadership

Discussions about teamwork in the workplace often revolve around a few central topics: effective communication, sharing a common goal, and solving problems. While each of these are absolutely essential in strong teams, one key often seems to be missing – Leadership.

We think of teams as highly democratic entities where everyone contributes equally to complete a project. However, just like the Presidents and Prime Ministers that guide the world’s great democracies, a leader is essential to team success. In fact, the team at Eagle’s Flight considers leadership one of the seven cornerstones of teamwork. Without a clearly defined leader, the whole team foundation will crumble. Here’s why teamwork in the workplace must start with strong leadership:

1. Team Leaders Keep the Team Accountable

It’s far too easy to dodge responsibility in a team setting, since you can “hide” among your sea of colleagues. That’s where a leader comes in. In a team setting, a true team leader takes full responsibility for the team’s final results. Since a leader has so much on the line, he or she is extremely motivated to keep team members accountable for the work.

2. Team Leaders Empower Team Members

Being a leader on a team isn’t about concentrating power — it’s about giving away power. Yes, team leaders are responsible for assigning tasks to the team. Even more importantly, leaders must trust the skills and expertise of other team members. Through trust, leaders empower teams to carry out assigned tasks in the way that they see fit.

Why is trust so important? When other team members see that the leader has put his or her trust in a colleague, they won’t try to undermine or question that colleague. Plus, studies show that employee engagement is closely tied to the level of freedom and ownership that individuals are given. If you want team members to be engaged and excited about the project, leaders must empower members by easing up the reins.

3. Team Leaders Simplify and Streamline the Decision-making Process

Teams can avoid the power struggles commonly found in “equitable” teams with leaders in place. In these “equitable” or “leaderless” teams, members actually compete to gain authority and assert dominance.
Team leaders also make the decision-making process far more streamlined, since they have the final say. Leaderless teams may get stuck on making tough calls when members can’t come to a consensus and there’s no “tie-breaker” to turn to. In the meantime, the entire project — and even teamwork in the workplace overall — stalls. Having a clear-headed colleague who’s clearly in charge simply makes teams simpler.

4. Team Leaders Keep Projects Moving Forward

It’s hard to keep a group of people focused, so having someone make it their mission to do so is crucial to team success. A designated leader will move past any hiccups by initiating conversations about potential problems and steering the team back on track during meetings that start to go off the rails.

How do leaders keep projects moving forward? They will:

  • Ensure all team members understand the project goal
  • Establish clear deadlines
  • Clearly define roles within the team
  • Describe how each role contributes to the project goal
  • Remind the team of the shared goal to keep the project on task

When members understand that the part they play on the team is critical to achieving the goal, they’re more motivated and engaged.


Team leaders are typically individuals who know the most about the project — which means they might not have extensive experience with leading. They might not even be the person with the most “senior” rank in the room. That’s why building in leadership skills exercises into your training on teamwork in the workplace is so important.

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The Importance of Delegation for Leadership

Delegation in leadership not only helps get things done, but it also empowers employees by giving them greater autonomy. No leader can do all things at all times, and delegation is a key tool for boosting team and organizational performance and efficiency. A Gallup study found that companies led by CEOs who were strong delegators achieved a higher overall growth rate compared to companies whose CEOs delegated less.

Great leadership has many components, and delegation is an important factor for maximizing employee contributions and increasing productivity among all members of a team. Here are four reasons why delegation is essential for effective leadership.

Frees up Time

Achieving the right balance between the strategic and the tactical is important for any leader to be effective, especially with the many demands on their time and attention. In a survey conducted by the Strategic Thinking Institute, 96 percent of leaders said they lacked time for strategic thinking. When leaders delegate certain tasks to others, they become free to focus on higher-value activities and use their time more productively. Delegation not only gives leaders time for strategic thinking, but it also allows them to focus on other tasks that only they can perform, such as leading and coaching their teams. As outlined in a Harvard Business Review article, one team leader adopted a strategy of delegation and made the shift from simply being busy to being productive.

Encourages the Prioritization of Tasks

Delegation starts with determining which tasks can be delegated and which can’t. Prioritizing tasks helps leaders determine the most critical items to be delegated and who should perform them. One tool for developing a prioritization system for delegation is the Urgent vs. Important Matrix. Using this matrix, leaders can categorize tasks based on their time sensitivity and importance. Tasks or decisions that are less important but urgent, such as responding to a routine request from another team, can probably be delegated. Tasks that are both highly important and urgent might also be candidates for delegation as well, but perhaps to a more experienced member of the team.

Empowers Employees

Delegation empowers employees by enabling them to demonstrate their capability to take on new work. When individuals step outside of their typical day-to-day activities and have the chance to take on new tasks or get involved in decision-making, they become more invested in the outcome of their delegated responsibilities. Delegation helps people recognize their importance to the team, which fosters a deeper sense of commitment and engagement. Leaders can build a sense of empowerment among employees by delegating in areas such as:

  • Project management—ask a member of the team to write the first draft of a project proposal.
  • Client relations—select a member of the sales team to gather client data and background reading ahead of a client meeting.
  • New system implementation—pick a couple of employees to test drive a new system and report back to the team with their findings.

Supports New Skill Development

Delegation builds new skills among team leaders and their direct reports. It gets newer leaders into a rhythm of accepting responsibility for outcomes without feeling that they must take on every single task themselves. When leaders learn how to delegate effectively, they are building competency in setting expectations, providing feedback, and ensuring accountability in others. For individuals who have responsibilities delegated to them, they have opportunities to learn a new process or interact with team members they might not deal with normally. These new experiences help them build skills in areas such as project management, teamwork, and communication.

Delegation involves more than just doling out tasks to other members of the team. Effective leaders carefully consider what to delegate and to whom, and understand how delegation makes their team more effective. Leadership development is a great way to teach leaders how to leverage delegation for improved productivity, empowered employees, and skill-building.



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The Importance Of Safety Leadership In The Workplace

Although they might not be directly performing the work that requires safety procedures, leaders play a significant role in safety performance. Leadership establishes the standards and values in an organization and has the power to enforce safety requirements. For these reasons, it’s critical for leaders to have a deep understanding of the day-to-day challenges employees face while doing their jobs.

In addition to the organizational leadership team, individual workers play a significant role in maintaining safe practices and cultivating a culture of safety. Because of this, natural safety leaders tend to emerge among the group. Recognizing these people and empowering them to take on leadership responsibilities in their teams will help your organization maintain a strong track record of safety in the workplace.

Understanding the importance of safety leadership is critical for any organization that wants to create a safe working environment. Learn how to nurture the natural leaders in your team to take your commitment to safety to the next level.

What is Safety Leadership?

A safety leader is somebody who not only exhibits personal safety behaviors, but inspires others to do the same. These are people who not only follow safety protocols to the letter, but speak up in a constructive way when they see that others could be doing something in a safer manner.

Who can be a safety leader? Anybody who demonstrates these behaviors:

  • Understanding and following safety procedures
  • Reporting safety issues when they arise
  • Proactively preventing safety issues
  • Implementing new processes to improve safety
  • Encouraging others to take safety seriously

Safety leaders don’t necessarily have to be managers or supervisors. It can be anybody who has positive social influence over their peers and an interest in improving safety across the organization. It’s important to note that a safety leader should be less like a hall monitor and more like a cultural influencer. The best safety leaders are the people who help their peers improve without them even realizing it’s happening. They are the people on the team who others come to for advice about best practices because they know they’ll get a response that is both correct and useful.

How to Cultivate Safety Leaders

Ideally, an organization has safety leaders across all teams and departments. This means that multiple individuals have to step into the role of safety leadership. Follow these steps to develop the safety leaders in your organization:

Identify the Naturals

Some employees are naturally inclined toward safety leadership. Identify these individuals and empower them to develop their leadership role. Look for the employees who have the best safety records and observe how they interact with their peers. They might provide gentle reminders to wear safety gear or offer advice about safer ways to do specific procedures.

Invite Ideas

Safety leaders are always thinking about how processes can be improved. When you have identified potential safety leaders, encourage them to share their ideas and implement them. These are the types of people that are willing to take on extra work if it contributes to a safer environment, so tap into that engagement to make improvements across the organization.

Provide Training

Anybody can improve their leadership skills with ongoing training. Provide your safety leaders with development opportunities so they can learn even more ways to engage their coworkers about safety. This might include experiential learning to help people become more comfortable with their new leadership skills before applying them on the job.

Remember that safety leadership is not a singular role. In fact, the more safety leaders you have in your organization, the more likely you are to achieve your safety goals. Always be on the lookout for people who are driven to go the extra mile when it comes to safety.


Achieving organizational safety goals requires leadership, both from executives and among the people doing the work. Be aware that safety leaders are not always in managerial roles and that often the people doing the work have a deeper insight into the steps that will improve safety. Cultivating safety leaders by identifying them, giving them a voice, and providing additional training will increase the motivation they already have and help encourage safe behaviors across the organization.


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