Reach - Resources & News for Evolving Organizations

Consultants to Organizations | July 2014


We delved into various aspects of trust in our last issue.  This time our focus turns to employee morale and organizational productivity and effectiveness with a third, new way to approach management.  We also have a great suggestion for those struggling with being stuck in trying to meet a goal.


If you missed our last issue, click here to read it.
Empowering Employees to Cooperate - A Third Way of Management


See if this sounds like your management style:  when you face an organizational challenge, you take the "hard" approach of developing new structures, systems, processes, teams or positions. And, when employee morale needs to be improved, you turn to a "soft" approach - warm and fuzzy activities like team-building retreats or on-site massages for employees. While this seems like a go-to combination to the various obstacles a manager or management team faces, it may actually be the exact opposite in terms of moving to success. 


Two prominent consultants, Yves Morieux and Peter Tollman, argue that in today's environment of competition and complexity, these tactics are outdated at best and prohibitive to success at worst (Stop Trying to Control People or Make Them Happy). Morieux and Tollman argue that the constant creation of structures and systems, year-over-year, has resulted in an exponential growth of what they term "complicatedness," which as you can imagine has a significant impact on productivity and, importantly, employee engagement. We feel certain that you can easily come up with an example of a process or activity that is part of your organization's structure but that feels pointless and does not add value.


In their book, Six Simple Rules, the authors offer a third way, neither "hard" nor "soft," that focuses on the intelligence of employees. The approach includes:

  • Gaining a true understanding of what your employees do, and why they do it.
  • Foster cooperation by empowering your employees to work this way.
  • Empower some more - builtheilthe "totaltotal quantity" of power in your organization by actually creating new power, not just moving authority around.
  • If you give autonomy, ensure it is used. 
  • Give and receive direct feedback in continuous loops.
  • Reward the right things: cooperation, transparency, innovation are great choices for your employees.  Put them out there and reward those who make the good choices of how to work. 

Employees face myriad problems every day at work and no combination of Employee of the Month certificates, new organization charts or task forces, or teamwork retreats will be the magic bullet.  Empowering employees to use their autonomy in cooperation with one another will foster an environment where critical decisions can be made and creative solutions developed.

Future of Libraries Summit:

Reflections from Behind the Marker

by Katy Berube

In early May the Singer Group provided me with a great opportunity to act as a table facilitator at the American Library Association's Future of Libraries Summit held at the Library of Congress.  As a table facilitator my experience of the summit was slightly different than that of a participant. Paula Singer, CEO of the Singer Group and lead facilitator, worked with myself and my seven other colleagues to ensure the deftly designed two day meeting process worked in the room with the participants enabling engaging participation while ensuring summit objectives remained on target. 


When you are focused on process you are fully present to others reflections of events as they unfold, so on day two when a participant who had been a member at my table on a few occasions asked me "What do you think about the future of libraries based on your experience at the summit?" I had to pause.  At that point in time the honest answer was "I don't know...yet." I went onto explain that a really valuable part of experiencing the Summit as a table facilitator was the benefit of reflecting on the group thinking occurring in the room in addition to the speakers presentations before processing events for myself. 

That participant's question has stuck with me.  It took a while but "yet" has arrived. 

So here are the first 5 of my Top Ten Future of Libraries Summit Reflections. Be sure to check back in next time for the top 5! ... Read More

Finding the Right Path Forward Can Be as Easy as Imagining Walking on It!

We all know what it feels like to be stuck. Stress, deadlines and burnout can all cause situations where we feel frozen in place - not able to see a successful way forward. Next time it happens to you, try this: think about where you are trying to go with your work or project and then write down your goal. Then, think about several different ways of getting there, of achieving your goal. Next, find a quiet place, close your eyes and see yourself achieving each of the options you've laid out. Imagining actual movement has been shown to stimulate the associated movement areas within the brain. By seeing yourself virtually taking the steps toward your goal, you can kick start your brain out of frozen status. As an added benefit, research shows that developing and concentrating on strong images can reduce unease or concern and bolster confidence. If you're tempted to say that this can't work if you're stuck because you don't know the steps you need to take to get to your goal, it's still worth a try. Sometimes the very act of imagination and visualization can spark the unconscious ability to map your way to success!

Congratulations to Skokie Public Library (IL)

We are pleased to congratulate Skokie Public Library on winning the Urban Libraries Council's "Top Innovator" honor for its "Realigning for Greater Access, Community & Learning" initiative. Skokie's ambitious new strategic plan, developed around core values of access, learning, and community involved much discussion about evolving roles for the public library and eventually led to a major organizational re-alignment. Working with Paula Singer, a design team of library staff created a realigned structure that included three new departments: Access Services, Learning Experiences and Community Engagement. The library is already reaping the rewards of staff engagement after only three months of implementation. Read the full submission to the Urban Libraries Council here.

We hope you enjoyed this addition of Reach. As always, please feel free to share your thoughts with us, as well as pass on this eNewsletter to anyone you think might benefit. 


To reaching success,

Paula M. Singer Lorraine Kituri






Paula M. Singer & Lorraine Kituri 


The Singer Group, Inc. | 410-561-7561 | |

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