Developing Your Internal Dialogue

When pursuing career and other life-endeavors, our internal dialogue goes a long way in shaping our experience.  Aligning the direction we want to go with our internal drivers and dialogue prepares us to show up with confidence and to represent our best self!  It starts with cognitive discipline – paying attention to our thoughts and developing positive self-appraisal.  Actively engaging in this process builds confidence by reframing our points of reference and allows us to speak to who we really are at the core!  

Albert Bandura gave us the concept of self-efficacy and the idea that the level of belief in our capabilities is directly tied to the impact on our lives, our environment and our outcomes.  It’s not about ego – it’s about knowing our own unique gifts and how they can benefit the lives of those around us.   When we understand this perspective, and apply it to our actions, we squash those confidence-killing thoughts (like fear and anxiety) and replace them with a certainty of who we are, why we’re here, and how we bring value.   Think about this perspective when interviewing for a new position, or looking to move up the ladder in your organization.  It’s basic Psych 101, right?  Your self-perception and internal dialogue are going to frame the way in which you “show up”!  

One more thing before you go…don’t ignore the voices of others.  Find your mentors and role-models that will help guide your perceptions – those trusted advisors that provide honest feedback, a supportive stance and a genuine interest in helping you conquer negative self-talk and discover your very best self! 

Written by Shalyn Eyer

Shifting Focus to the Bright Spots

When we consider how we move the meter on change within organizations, human nature often leads us to focus on the things that are broken, right?? Let’s fix the inconsistencies…let’s align the misalignments. Unfortunately, that’s often the least productive model.  

To generate movement quickly, the focus needs to be on our “bright spots”.  Bright spots are places where things are going really well.  However, our instinct (and human nature) is to focus on the “hot spots”- the irritations that feel the most prevalent and painful.

To get a better picture of hot spots, think of our furry friends – our dogs and cats.  When Fido or Fiona has an itty bitty irritation, he or she starts to pick, lick or scratch at it almost obsessively.  They continue to give it attention and only make that small irritation worse, quickly turning it into a festering wound.  Likewise, at work, when we focus on what’s not working it’s very easy to get sucked into scratching at that small irritation, which makes the small to mid-size problems feel so much larger than they really are.  I’m not saying ignore the very real problems; however, creating buy-in to fix the problem because it feels the worst is not the most productive way to make change.

When trying to make changes in the culture it’s imperative to walk through what’s really working!  Identify success, look at which groups are knocking it out of the park - those are the bright spots where we create energy and engagement.  Looking for more ways to do this?  Consider taking some advice from GloboForce:

  • Emphasizing your core values: According to experts: “an organization that reinforces its core values is more likely to reach the kind of growth and success that nearly all businesses seek.” (Gallagher, 2003). Values which are simply imposed will not thrive. Values that are practicable and absorbable lead to impact.
  • Turn the blame game into the praise game: Help turn the negativity that can accompany change into positivity by encouraging employees to catch each other doing something right.
  • Stop the brain drain: One of the leading indicators of a coming failure is the departure of key leaders and managers from the company. This destabilizes the lower ranks and drains confidence—opening the door further for an exodus of your top talent. Make sure you are listening and responding to the concerns of this important bellwether group, and communicating those issues up the chain of command.
  • Find your biggest influencers and encourage their buy-in: Learn to identify those employees who are your most influential workers and managers, (Hint: peer-to-peer recognition data is a great way to do this) and spend extra time educating them, increasing their confidence and earning their enthusiasm. Their attitude will cause a ripple effect.
  • Facilitate communication across groups and divisions: Encourage the forging of relationships across the boundaries. Make it possible for employees to recognize and appreciate their counterparts in other buildings and countries and watch those bonds begin to strengthen—and with them, your merger.

Written by Sheila Repeta

Team Performance & Engagement: 6 Dimensions to Help Build Engagement and Align Internal Operations

Every team, even within the same organization, has a unique blueprint.  Comprised by the individuals involved, the tasks to accomplish, and the context in which it engages teams must work together to accomplish desired goals.  Several dimensions, as researched by the Center for Creative Leadership, can assist team leaders in both determining and measuring the effectiveness of their teams throughout its life-cycle, particularly as team dynamics shift.  These inevitable changes require a committed process to perform to expectations.  To build engagement and align internal operations with external stakeholder needs, an effective team should consider six dimensions for implementation and measurement:

  1. Establishing a Clear Purpose – When clarity exists motivation increases, even through setbacks and obstacles.  Often a lack of clarity around team goals, and delegation of authority and responsibility, can lead to team breakdown or failure.
  2. Empowered Team Structure – An empowered team model is the key to success -  allowing the team the structure needed to make the most of its resources - including team formation, member roles and team leadership.
  3. Strength from Above – Team failure can direct members to look within the organization for a place to lay blame.  The counter-balance to this behavior includes high-level support to drive effectiveness, and provide the required resources, training and team rewards.
  4. Positive Internal Relationships – Unique personalities, differing opinions and other team difficulties can strain relationships, leading to mistrust and power struggles.  Team leadership is mission critical to identifying unproductive behavior and implementing interventions that shift the dynamics and refocus team collaboration.
  5. Positive External Relationships – No team functions in a vacuum.  Understanding the needs and perspectives of all stakeholders will foster effective relationships required to meet the team goals.
  6. Efficient Information Management – Teams are only as effective as the information they utilize, and the process in which they communicate and make decisions.

Written by Shalyn Eyer

It’s a Process – Not Just a Program

Leadership development requires learning and applying “soft skills” within your organization -  among your team and those you influence – elements like reflecting discernment, applying fair judgement, and bringing a presence that motivates others.  And as you might guess, these areas are indeed impacted by the culture of the organization. What works with one group may not work with another.  So, the question is how can organizations support its leaders in a way that provides ongoing and impactful leadership development that’s directly connected to its unique needs?

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) provides us with a 3 x 3 x 3 model to support participants as they develop their leadership competencies, while creating an ongoing culture of development and a roadmap for the learning transfer of the leadership process.

  1. Think in 3 phases - Prepare the tools you need to involve participants in the process, and then engage in and apply opportunities to practice skill development and support new learning moments.
  2. Use 3 strategies – Identify opportunities for seasoned and developing leaders to apply training to leadership challenges, and create accountability and “at-work learning partners” to support one another through meaningful application.
  3. Create Accountability by applying 3 methods – Leaders have a responsibility to remain active, not passive, participants in the process.  Active and ongoing dialogue will further stimulate the culture in such a way that supports participation in the process; and remember to enlist others when you need help - access those outside the organization that can assist in this ongoing development.

Written by Shalyn Eyer

Leadership Development is Not a One-Time Deal: 4 Facts to Consider as You Manage Leadership Development

Leadership development and training has increased exponentially over the last 5 years.  Across all industries and in organizations of every size – companies get it!  Successful organizations recognize the pay-off of investing in their people. But many may not be focused in the right direction, placing their seasoned and emerging leaders in off-the-shelf leadership courses…and then that’s simply where it ends.  While courses can be valuable, it’s not the end-all, be-all.  Fact is – leadership development is not just a one-time deal!  Consider these facts as you manage leadership development in your organization…

  1. Identify your leaders at all levels - As organizations become flatter, less hierarchical, it’s important to identify both your current and emerging leaders – your champions and influencers across the organization.  Utilize the strength of assessment and conversation to find your rising stars.
  2. Start in the middle – here you’ll find members of your team that are feeling the pressure to align staff needs with the organizational direction of senior management. Investing in this group – developing their emotional strength, ability to influence and maintain resiliency – is where you’ll reap your greatest return.  
  3. Extend your training beyond the classroom – here’s where the rubber meets the road!  Investing in one-time leadership training, while a great place to start, is not where it ends.  This is in fact where it’s just getting started. Continued coaching, ongoing dialogue and measuring effectiveness are all elements of successful and ongoing transformation.
  4. Think outside the box (or just toss it out the window altogether) - According to a study by the Association for Talent Development, 72% of training is limited to an individual’s role.  This won’t cut the mustard for developing those impactful leaders – those that really need to understand the organization at large – and how their unique leadership profile meshes with the needs of the organization.  Ensure your leadership training and development is personalized to the individual, yet has a competency-based training roadmap aligned to the organization’s business strategy and culture.  This will allow your rising stars to implement training and tools that create immediate impact!

Written by Shalyn Eyer

Where Does Your Leadership Focus Lie?

In the words of leadership guru John Maxwell, “Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts.  It is about influencing others.”  These ‘leaders’ are found across the organizational lines, and possibly in places you never thought to look. According to a UNC Leadership Survey, 85% of respondents agreed that there’s an urgent need to develop their leaders, while only 40% stated that their “high potentials” are prepared to meet future business needs.[1]  It’s time to get intentional about seeking leaders out and providing opportunity for development!

- The more seasoned leaders are easier to spot – and are often referred to as “leaders of managers”.  But just because they’ve been knighted with a leadership title doesn’t mean they’ve honed those critical leadership skills…and this group can often go neglected. Busy schedules and conflicting priorities can hinder time for continued leadership development. This critical mass is subject to competing business priorities, pressure from leaders above and the everyday struggles from those below.  Managing organizational complexity involves strength in self-awareness, learning agility and the ability to think systemically.

- Here’s your sweet spot – your champions across the board!  Emerging leaders and individual contributors are critical members in shaping company culture and contributing to the strategic direction of an organization.  This group often needs assistance in developing their confidence, communication skills, influence and project leadership.  Investment in focused conversations, learning activities and development goals for these individuals equips them to show up as collaborative producers and leaders within the organization.

In summary – find your shining stars and seasoned leader - and support them in their continued success.  Your company, the culture, and the bottom line will thank you!


Written by Shalyn Eyer

Project Management: The Power of Three

Project work is busy work, especially for the project manager who labors tirelessly at overseeing the project and supporting its’ team members. With so much going on, it’s critical for project managers to focus on those actions that are vital to success.

If your organization has just launched a new project, consider these top three areas of focus that your project management resources can target to keep any project running smoothly.

Utilize standard project management methodology throughout the duration of the project

It’s common for projects to have multiple work streams that experience some point of integration or overlap. For example, when developing new business processes, multiple work streams may need to be involved due to down-stream impacts. Therefore, project managers should help point out areas of integration between project work streams, and provide integration tools to support the tracking and resolution of related areas of work.

Projects are typically broken into phases; Analyze, Design, Develop, Deploy. It’s important for the project manager to align project activities to these stages, as this will help guide the development of a thorough project plan and ensure that activities are done at the appropriate time.

Manage project scope! The scope of a project should never change unless it goes through the proper escalation and approval paths. Unruly scope changes can throw off work defined in a project plan and cause the team to miss milestones, and can negatively impact project performance.  And remember that project status meetings are needed to monitor status and performance of the project, and provide a vehicle to keep all team members on the same page. 

Focus on working effectively with the project team

Because projects can create significant change, they typically include a change management work stream, which is primarily focused on activities that support building adoption to change. Throughout the lifecycle of a project, it’s important to engage and communicate with all levels of impacted stakeholders; and therefore, project managers should look for opportunities to partner with this work stream in order to provide guidance on how they can align stakeholder expectations and communications with the activities of the project timeline.

Look for opportunities to support and even help facilitate project work streams with activities such as workshops for developing business processes, technical testing approach and tools, and go-live readiness planning. Project managers can offer a critical eye on these important activities, and afford the guidance needed to ensure teams consider all work required.

Focus on creating an effective partnership with project sponsors

In order to effectively present information and facilitate interaction, problem solving and decision making, it’s important for project managers to understand how key decision making bodies and project sponsors work together. Proactively anticipate decision maker and project sponsor needs in order to promote engagement and drive project progress.

Remember: The project manager is not the decision maker, but rather an influential partner with decision makers and project sponsors in resolving project issues or in finalizing key project decisions. Decision makers and project sponsors are very busy, so it’s important for the project manager to escalate issues on a timely basis. Timely escalation supports timely resolution and drives the project forward.

Focusing on these three elements helps project managers to strike a balance between the use of methods and effective people interactions, and ultimately keeps the project moving in its’ intended direction.

Written by Corinne Sinnigen


What Melts Your Employees' Butter? Understanding Their UMPs (Unique Motivational Profiles)

No law says you must like your job, but what is it that motivates people to get up everyday and go to work? If your employee population all won the lottery tomorrow and were all financially set for life, how many would show up the next day? Surveys have suggested that 95 percent to 98 percent would bail out immediately. Can you afford to not understand what melts their butter, floats their boat, and fills their sails? 

An Inspired Environment

Maybe it has to do something with the rewards, recognition and incentives that go along with people showing up and staying for years on end. Some will argue that the bona fide way to a committed and loyal employee's heart is solely through monetary earnings, not to mention the gratification of a steady income. 

Or maybe, it has to do with working in an inspired environment, where mutual appreciation and respect for fellow co-workers and the employer not only exists but is also the norm. People want to feel wanted and appreciated. It's only human nature. My sister, Judy, a highly decorated first responder (she has won Paramedic of the Year in her county twice) commented the other day that the handwritten personal note from her Chief complimenting her on a particular "save" was so motivational - even more inspiring to her than her awards. It is that simple. 

Preventing the Butter from Hardening

First, lets figure out what turns off employees. Performance appraisals are often top of the list. They are the quintessential "CYA" activity. But, why do people shun appraisals like the plague? Because it is highly likely that it is highly reminiscent of their worst nightmare - the continuous assessment of grades in school and ongoing parental haranguing. 

Do they have any redeeming qualities? The focus on monitoring and assessing performance should undoubtedly be placed on setting attainable and collaborative goals, making collective decisions, and being able to tackle and solve problems within one's own relative sphere of responsibility and authority along with one's colleagues. 

Performance appraisals shouldn't be feared. In fact, they should be welcomed with open arms. In an ideal world, employers wouldn't manage people like two-year olds. Rather, they would encourage skill development and offer training, mentoring and coaching to make that happen. This way, there would be much more empowerment instead of nitty-gritty micro-management. And, many of the performance appraisal systems, while claiming the importance of "robustness" make a highly valued conversation too complex. Rather than scrutinizing every little minute detail or skill involved with an employee's work style or work ethic or way of going about daily tasks, it's certainly more encouraging to ground oneself in the ethos of valuing, motivating and rewarding people. In this way, the focus of appraisals will be on the positives and be a catalyst to cooperation and communications. The butter will start to soften. 

Understanding UMPs

Increasing the value of people, and truly understanding why people show up to work and why they stay, is just as important as why they leave. 

The tricky part, however, is that not everyone is motivated by the same things. Motivation is an incredibly individual expression. Figuring it our might prove challenging in larger organizations, but probing and prodding for what melts your employee's butter -- their unique motivational profile ("UMP") -- is an expense that is certainly worth spending. 

People are inclined to leave their job because they: dislike their boss or co-workers, lack the tools to be productive and move forward or work in a toxic environment, for example. People can be motivated by a myriad of things:

• Excitement that one's work brings them
• Engaging projects
• Interesting environments in which people work
• Captivating people with whom they work
• Work-life balance that the job allows them to have
• Ongoing search for meaning and purpose within their life
• Passion for their work
• Compensation and benefits
• Rewards and bonuses
• Job security
• Opportunity to learn new skills

Do you really understand your employees?

Melting the Butter

Money is notoriously viewed as a motivator, but it is not the only thing that gets people (who have not won the lottery) to come into this thing we call "work." The anticipation that rests in such satisfaction through rewards processes (paychecks, raises and bonuses) is enough to coax employees to tackle mundane tasks and other things that they really could care less about. These are extrinsic (aka external) motivators -- or de-motivators when they are more punitive than rewarding in nature. 

Due to the constraints of our economy today, most motivators are intrinsic (aka internal) -- driven by pure enjoyment and interest in the work being performed. The rise in intrinsic motivators is due, in large part, to both the addition of the Millennials -- the youngsters with high ideals -- as well as the fatigued experience of the Boomers -- the older folks who were supposed to be gone by now who now feel stuck in their jobs. Money, while important, is just not what it used to be. 

For every 10 articles you read on motivation, five will say that money is key and five will say that lifestyle is key. Today, people expect both. And there are no best practices that apply across the board to all organizations in a world of diverse cultures, values and opinions. People want it all and are tuned into radio station WII-FM ("what's in it for me"). Thus, if you can tap into and listened to the music they enjoy, determine their UMP, and use the myriad of tools that are available, you can put together the right combination of incentives, rewards and motivation to melt their butter. 

It is not a trivial task. And, one size does not fit all. Your job is to find the right mix for your people. Let the melting begin!

Written by Jim Finkelstein

Addressing Sensitive Issues in Your Team

Addressing sensitive issues on your team can be a scary thing – and unfortunately many choose to navigate around or simply avoid them all together.  But doing so will continue to negatively impact the culture, break down trust among the team, and ultimately impede on forward growth and reaching your desired goals.  Intervention early on is key – building awareness and creating a safe harbor within the organization that amplifies it’s not only ok to have these conversations - but it’s encouraged and supported in a judgement free environment.  It sends a strong message the people, their ideas and feelings, are valued.

  • Start with Awareness – Are you noticing poor teamwork? Continually having to redirect the conversation?  Are there team dynamics, such as missing deadlines, that indicate stress among the group?  Identifying these areas can sometimes be more of an art than a science, but measuring your experience against your expectations is a good place to start identifying potential conflict.
  • It Takes a Village – While team leadership bares the initial responsibility of setting a tone to address conflict, team members are also responsible for engaging in the tough conversations.  Each person has a responsibility to address concerns and engage in active listening.  Often times issues arise through miscommunication or other unintentional breakdown; regardless though, feelings should always be validated and addressed to promote healing through the change process.  Leaders that establish an atmosphere of paying attention to what’s transpiring in the group and provide an exploratory environment to engage in honest dialogue, will shape a culture that supports team engagement and development.
  • Establish the Game Rules – As you develop a sense of awareness and openness, be intentional of the process.  Require that dialogue remains respectful – avoid inflammatory language and stay aware of the level of intensity.  Take a break, step back and then re-engage when necessary.  And don’t forget to address the impact – how the specific issue is effecting individuals and the team as a whole. 

Addressing team issues can feel daunting, but continually promoting an environment to do so will transform your culture to address issues early and promote a feeling of safety, mutual respect, and team collaboration.

Written by Shalyn Eyer

Your Leadership Approach

Question for you…are you intentional about developing your leadership image?  Maybe that question feels a bit daunting as you begin to ponder, “Where do I start and what’s that even supposed to look like?”  This is not the spot where you “insert here” with the name of a personality you want to become – and it’s certainly not about crafting a false image that looks good on paper…

Discovering your leadership image is about identifying those very real aspects of yourself and developing them to become an authentic leader – regardless of where you fall on the org chart.  You see, real leadership isn’t simply about what you do…it’s about who you are, how you show up, and how you inspire others to do the same.  And discovering these things, developing them further, doesn’t have to be an incredibly complicated process.  Consider these steps as you engage in the process, and remember to enlist others to help you in the journey:

  1. Consider what you want to convey – Being self-aware of your strengths, weaknesses and overall personality is mission critical to building your leadership image.  Talk to others, work with a coach, utilize assessments…whatever it takes to understand how you show up – and then identify the gaps to where you need to be.
  2. Pay attention to others – We all know individuals that stand out as authentic and effective leaders.  Pay attention to the way they show up – how do they communicate and connect with others, what is their approach to working through complex or difficult situations – and then apply those learning moments to develop your leadership competencies.  Learn from others – what’s working and what’s not working – to further develop our own approach.
  3. Focus on the group – Effective leaders are just as focused on the team as they are on themselves.  They are genuinely interested in the development and motivation of their team members so that everyone is showing up at their best to achieve collective goals.
  4. Practice, practice, practice – Be specific!  Once you’ve identified a leadership development issue, consider ways to improve and set specific steps and timeframes to reach your goals.  Finally, hold yourself accountable to your own growth – accountability is after all, a critical aspect to authentic leadership!

Written by Shalyn Eyer

Strategic Planning: Dreams, Nightmares or Reality? Final Day

Here’s an important question that I rarely see addressed: How will we respond to underperformance in achieving the objectives of our strategic plan? By not answering this question, there is no established accountability for the plan. Not establishing accountability makes it easy to sweep strategic activities under the rug, thus negatively impacting the credibility of the strategic plan and those who are responsible for championing it within the organization. If you fail to establish accountability for success, then your strategic plans face an almost certain risk of not being realized.

Tip #8: Know your obstacles and mitigation plans.

Even the best made plans can experience obstacles. Often, I see leaders plan for everything to go right. But if you want your plans to become reality, then you will need to know how to respond to obstacles when they present themselves. Obstacles can include budget constraints, competing priorities, organizational resistance to change, resources, lack of executive buy-in, lack of technical capabilities, or a deficiency in the standard methodologies needed to successfully execute work. Take the time to identify the obstacles you foresee as having the ability to impede your plans, and identify actions that can mitigate those obstacles. Incorporate the mitigation plans into your detailed planning activities to ensure your strategy continues to move forward.

 Tip #9: Build detailed plans to support the execution of your strategy.

This is where the nightmare often begins. Without detailed plans, your strategy is nothing more than words on paper. Think about it this way; each strategic objective in your plan involves categories of work, related tasks, resources and time required to actually execute your plans. Without this information, you will struggle to organize around your work, and ultimately find yourself stuck in the nightmare of underperformance or even failure in achieving your strategic objectives. The ripple effects of this nightmare destroy the credibility of your strategic plan, and can even harm your credibility as a leader.  Do all you can to avoid this nightmare!

Tip #10: Execute your plans.

Once your detailed planning is complete, it’s time to put your strategy to action! This is where all your hard work becomes reality!


So, if you follow these important tips, what’s in it for you? The answer is simple: You reap the benefits of demonstrating command in the development and execution of your strategic plan, which ultimately builds your credibility to gain buy-in, approval and ongoing support in future strategic planning efforts. Why would any leader want to miss out on that opportunity?

Written by Corinne Sinnegen and Shalyn Eyer

Strategic Planning: Dreams, Nightmares or Reality? Day 2

Tip #3: Create strategic alignment.

Consider these two important points when it comes to strategic alignment: 1) Make sure your plans are in sync with the mission, vision and values of the broader organization, as the strategy you develop should contribute to the organization being able to perpetuate these important points. 2) Develop a set of guiding principles to build and validate your strategic plans. Examples of some of the common guiding principles include building a strategy that:

·       Reduces cost

·       Promotes process efficiency

·       Demonstrates ongoing growth

·       Eliminates non-value added work

Developing guiding principles provides an anchor for you in the development and validation process when creating your strategy. As you develop your plans, it keeps you honest in identifying the right objectives and provides a check point for confirming your planned objectives are on the right track.

Tip #4: Complete a SWOT analysis.

A SWOT analysis is a very common and simple activity used to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your organization or department. It provides useful information to consider as you build your strategic plan. For example, your plan can include specific objectives that address known weaknesses or it can leverage objectives that will further enhance known strengths. Using information from a SWOT analysis further provides the focus needed to create a strategic plan with intent and purpose.

Tip #5: Use timelines for a reality check.

A realistic plan is a good plan that is more likely to be accomplished. One easy way to conduct a reality check on your plan is to align the strategic objectives (by year if you are creating a multi-year plan) to the four quarters of a year.

Tip #6: Identify and stop non-value added activities.

Consider the following questions: Which activities being done today are not adding value or are creating inefficiencies?  What activities will unnecessarily monopolize my time and prevent me from being able to focus on executing a strategic plan? In answering these questions, you have the opportunity to identify and weed out, or even delegate, time consuming activities so that you are freed up to support the execution of your strategy.

Written by:

Corinne Sinnegen

Strategic Planning: Dreams, Nightmares or Reality? Day 1


In the words of an old Japanese proverb, “Vision without action is a dream; action without vision is a nightmare”. Take a moment to translate this thought into your organization, particularly when it comes to strategic planning. If you are like many leaders out there, you are probably being asked to be responsible for strategic planning for your organization or department. Statistics show the percentage of organizations that actually achieve the goals of their strategic plans to be quite small. So, why is this true?

Although there are numerous factors that can impede an organizations ability to achieve its’ strategic goals, there are four common trends that I have continually come across throughout my years of consulting: Lack of Vision, Missing the Reality Check, No Plan of Execution, and Unclear Accountability.

So how can leaders build and move their strategic plans from dreams and nightmares – to reality?  Consider the top 10 tips we’ll look at this week:

Tip #1: Know your long-term vision.

Before you embark on any strategic planning effort, ask yourself this question: Where does the organization or department need to be in the next 3-5 years? Failing to determine where you want to be over time is like jumping on the next available airplane without really planning your trip, and as a result, regretting the destination. Know your long-term vision first so that you plan your strategic objectives with intent and purpose.

Tip #2: Be a proactive planner.

Get in the habit of pre-scheduling time in advance to work on your strategic plans. For example, if you know that during the same time each year executives will count on you for a new strategic plan, then make sure to calendar the time needed in advance for plan development. Be generous with the time you allocate, as you may need time to socialize a strategic plan draft with key stakeholders for feedback, and complete multiple revisions prior to review and approval with executives.  Strategic planning is an activity that is vital to an organization or departments’ ongoing success, and there’s nothing worse than being rushed in such an important process. Make it an ongoing priority and give it the time it deserves!

Written by:

Corinne Sinnigen

Six Critical Tips for a Collaborative Leadership Environment - Day 3



We’re talking this week about the continuous shifting environment in healthcare, and a model for success developed by the Center of Creative Leadership that may just help your organization proactively respond – building leaders today that make a positive difference tomorrow!

Leadership Tip 5. Capacity for complexity, innovation, and change

Effective leaders will shift the culture from dependence to interdependence – recognizing the value of and developing leaders throughout the organization.  That interdependence across the lines stimulates conversation around a collective goal, it excites the masses, and drives innovation.  The moving parts shift from being simply cogs in the wheel – to interactive and dynamic structures that improve organizational flow and assist all stakeholders in working together and supporting one another through innovation and change.  As you put the best processes in place, make sure you have the right people in place to implement them!

Leadership Tip 6. Employee engagement and well-being

The conversation around employee engagement is always on the checklist for discussion, but in your conversations around the table, has the word “energy” ever come up?  Energy among your teams is critical for engagement and employee satisfaction, especially in an industry that is 24/7 and emotionally charged!  The next time your leadership team gathers to address this topic, consider this…“Energy is optimized when both leaders and organizations value the whole person, linking individual health and wellbeing to organizational health and well-being through purpose, integrity, and accountability.”[1]  Use this insight to maximize your people-strategies and develop your A-Game culture!

[1] Browning, H., Torain, D., & Enright Patterson, T. (2016). Collaborative healthcare leadership: A six-part model for adapting and thriving during a time of transformative change. Retrieved from

Written by:

Shalyn Eyer

Six Critical Tips for a Collaborative Leadership Environment - Day 2

We’re talking this week about the continuous shifting environment in healthcare, and a model for success developed by the Center of Creative Leadership that may just help your organization proactively respond – building leaders today that make a positive difference tomorrow!

Leadership Tip 3. Talent transformation

Are you considering your talent pool – possibly even accessing talent beyond the walls of healthcare?  Responding to a new business environment, healthcare leaders will need to hire and develop those that recognize and proactively respond to what’s coming next…not simply what has always been done.  Rapid and continuous change is the new norm – requiring organizations to develop comprehensive strategies for hiring, developing and retaining top talent in business and clinical practices - building a culture steeped in continuous assessment, improvement, self-awareness and development. Consider this…do you have the right tools in place to make this happen?

Leadership Tip 4. Boundary spanning

As the saying goes, ‘there’s strength in numbers’ – but in healthcare, this can bring opportunity as well as challenge!  Leadership is challenged by the broad spectrum of healthcare layers (physician practices, private/public sectors, and the list goes on); however, as CCL reminds us, “leaders at all levels must have boundary-spanning capabilities [utilizing] support from multiple perspectives and stakeholders”[1] to co-create, innovate – and translate into real solutions.

[1] Browning, H., Torain, D., & Enright Patterson, T. (2016). Collaborative healthcare leadership: A six-part model for adapting and thriving during a time of transformative change. Retrieved from

Written by:

Shalyn Eyer


Six Critical Tips for a Collaborative Leadership Environment - Day 1


One thing is for certain in today’s healthcare environment – uncertainty exists!  As organizations grapple with unknown future shifts, minimal or ambiguous response will only slow down the success meter. Healthcare leaders must consider and implement forward-moving action within their organizations to thrive.  Based on extensive research, the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) has created a model that provides organizational tools for your leadership success!  Excited to be a part of the CCL family, and have these resources at our fingertips, we’ll focus this week on six critical organizational capabilities for a collaborative leadership environment. 

Leadership Tip 1. Collaborative patient-care teams

Nothing new to us, right?  We know that patient experience should sit at the heart of the organization; but are you really practicing it?  Success comes by engaging clinical and administrative staff – all those involved in the care-giving experience – in active and purposeful dialogue, training on listening and story-telling skills, and collaborating across the lines to ensure problems are solved and decisions are made in a way that engages everyone and ensures everyone gets the right message.

Leadership Tip 2. Resource stewardship  

Connecting the patient experience to the bottom-line, CCL reminds us that “hospitals need both patient-focused business professionals and business-minded clinicians who can keep patient care top of mind.”[1]  This means building a culture of accountability and transparency, innovative solutions, and an entrepreneurial spirit.  Effective resource stewardship requires strategic leaders that understand performance metrics, financial indicators, engagement, and patient satisfaction.  Like so many of our clients have discovered, a willingness to hold creative conversations builds a leadership team and employee-culture that engages everyone, doesn’t break the bank, and stimulates the bottom-line.

[1] Browning, H., Torain, D., & Enright Patterson, T. (2016). Collaborative healthcare leadership: A six-part model for adapting and thriving during a time of transformative change. Retrieved from

Written by:

Shalyn Eyer

Project Management: What's in your Bag of Tricks? - Final Day!

As a reminder: Tips 1-2...Tips 3-5...Tips 6-7

Thank you for the joining us the last few weeks! Here are your last group of tips:

Tip #8 Define Project Meetings

Define the various repeatable project meetings that will be required, who should attend, the purpose and the frequency of each meeting. The meetings you identify can be used to drive discussions that help reveal areas of project integration, resolve risks and issues, reinforce project manager responsibilities, or to identify opportunities for project work streams to partner with one another on various activities such as business process development or decision making. It’s much easier to define required meetings once you have an understanding of project structure.

Tip #9 Plan Decision Maker/Project Sponsor Engagement

Engaging decision makers and project sponsors really means three things:

  • Providing consistent project education
  • Providing tools that make it easy for these stakeholders to champion the project
  • Asking these stakeholders for feedback that can be incorporated into ongoing project and change management plans

In doing so, the project manager will be in position to lead from behind - meaning the ability to provide clarity on where the project is headed in order to continuously stay ahead of milestones and guide decision-makers and project sponsors through relevant discussions and decision-making activities, as well as adjust plans to ensure project success.

Tip #10 Create the Required Project Templates & Tools

Project templates drive standardization of project work by all teams. Templates can include the weekly status, meeting minutes (to document decisions made), Project Update template (for decision makers, project leaders), Monthly Leadership Project Dashboard Report template, PPT templates (to build project related presentations), etc.

Tools also help drive standardization and consistent project methodology. Tools include project team training documents (How to access and use MS project, how to update the project plan, how to use team repository sites such as SharePoint, etc), Action Item/Issue/Risk Reports, Decision Logs, MS Project (for project planning & tracking), or an Integration Tracking Log.

Develop the required tools that work for you organization, and store them in a location accessible by all team members. Be sure to drive consistent use of these materials throughout the duration of the project.

Organizations that are not used to following prescribed project methodologies typically are not used to the rigor and structure that they present. However, with a strong project management resource to guide them, project teams quickly adapt and eventually begin to appreciate the thoroughness that a good methodology provides. Taking the time to go through this level of planning is well worth the effort!

Written by:

Corinne Sinnegen


Project Management: What's in your Bag of Tricks? Day 3

As a reminder: Tips #1,2 & Tips #3,4,5

Yep – you guessed it!  We’re still talking about effective project management tips…it’s just that important!  If you are one of those organizations that lacks a standard project management methodology, then you’ve come to the right place!  We’re exploring the top 10 activities you can implement as part of your project management ‘bag of tricks’ when it comes to launching your next initiative.

Tip #6 Identify Project Team Skill Requirements and Create a Selection Process

The preliminary work of identifying roles and responsibilities should provide you with a good sense of the specific skills that each role will require to be successful on the project team. It should also help you when it comes to selecting individuals. Consider the amount of time required to select individuals, and the communications needed. For example, if your project is scheduled to start in the month of June, then plan to go through the selection process well in advance so that you have ample time to gain approval for and communicate team selections, and take your selected team members through the onboarding process.

Tip #7 Develop a Project Team Onboarding Approach & Materials

On-boarding is a critical activity, setting the foundation of knowledge and expectations for all selected project team members. It’s the one opportunity you have to start everyone on the same page. When it comes to the approach, consider providing separate onboarding sessions for the project manager and team leads from project team members, as it provides the education needed to position project leadership to help support the onboarding of team members.

When it comes to developing the onboarding materials, consider covering the following topics:·      

  • Project overview and scope
  • Project timeline
  • Project structure
  • Roles and responsibilities

The project methodology should cover:

  • Processes: Such as escalation, decision governance, risk/issue management, or deliverable approval
  • Project meetings & tools
  • Next steps for creating the project plan and RASIC document

Work with decision makers and project sponsors to obtain feedback on topics and content, and to determine which sections of onboarding they can lead.  Track onboarding completions and ensure that FAQs captured during onboarding are addressed and shared on a timely basis.

Written by Corinne Sinnegen

Project Management: What's in your Bag of Tricks? Day 2


As a reminder: Tips #1 and #2

Tip #3 Develop an Escalation Process

This is a really important step, and it should be done with decision makers or project sponsors in advance of assembling your team. The escalation process is critical in defining when project issues are escalated and to whom, for resolution. When building the escalation process, identify the key players involved, and collaborate with the decision makers or project sponsors on finalization.

Tip #4 Define Levels of Decision Making

This is really about establishing a decision governance process, as there will be times when teams are forced to make decisions that arise throughout the lifecycle of a project. Such decisions could impact project budget, scope, training, or even timelines - so you’ll want to think through who the players in the decision-making process will be, in the event your project is faced with the need to make adjustments. The decision governance process can be developed prior to the formation of your project team.

Tip #5 Create a Deliverable Approval Process

As in any project, there will be a multitude of deliverables. Given this truth, you will want to work in advance to:

  • Identify how deliverables should be vetted for approval
  • Identify those who have approval authority to sign off (This should be included in your RASIC document – check out the 1/24/17 blog)
  • Defining who on the project has approval authority is important, as it prevents team members from continuing work on completed deliverables, allowing them to focus on the work ahead.

Written by Corinne Sinnegen

Project Management: What's in your Bag of Tricks?


Effective project management requires a multitude of internal resources, including strong people and project management traits that support the organizations’ ongoing projects – along with methods and tools that serve as a driving force for project success. To my surprise, the majority of clients that I work with have no standard or preferred project management methodology that is used across all projects, thus, they experience inconsistent results.

If you are one of those organizations that lacks a standard project management methodology, then you have come to the right place. Stay with us over the next several days as we explore the top 10 activities you can implement as part of your project management ‘bag of tricks’ when it comes to launching your next initiative.

Tip #1 Establish Project Roles and Responsibilities

Before you even begin selecting potential members of a project team, define roles and responsibilities for team members, project sponsors, the PMO, project managers, subject matter experts, and any executive decision making body/group that you anticipate will be involved with the initiative. Defining this information up front with help you align the right people to each role. Work with key decision makers or project sponsors to finalize roles and responsibilities.

Tip #2 Complete a Project RASIC

A RASIC is a document used to define responsibility, accountability, sign off responsibility, who to inform, and who to consult regarding key project activities and deliverables. It is typically created once a project plan has been developed, as it should reflect key activities or deliverables. It’s best to work collaboratively with a project team to create this important document, as it helps the team understand levels of accountability, defines exactly what they are responsible for regarding activities and deliverables, and sets expectations for how and when they will interact with one another regarding project work.

Written by:

Corinne Sinnigen

Expertise in organizational change management, project management, professional facilitation, and executive coaching