• Scott Morrell
    Organization Development

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Is My Organization Aligned?

Bam! I hit the pothole hard. I had seen it coming and there was little to do but attempt to run over the chasm. I immediately felt the telltale sign of the car jostling; the front right tire must have taken a nasty blow. The technician at the auto dealer informs me in his own special way, “The tire is out of alignment. It will not go the direction you intend to steer the car. You’ll feel the vibration until you get all the tires realigned.” He got me to thinking.

How do we know that our organization is in alignment in 2010? While it is possible to measure alignment (data) most often we feel or sense when people, teams and leaders are not going the direction intended by the “driver.” One can continue to drive ahead and tolerate the bumpy ride in hopes another pothole will correct the misalignment. Or one can dig deep. Pause. Engage in objective tools from the outside who can bring a process for all the tires to become better aligned in 2010.

Are you in need of an alignment? Contact me for an exploratory conversation.


30 Somethings Struggling With Career Opportuntities

I wonder if there is an undercurrent taking place in the 30-Something workforce these days? An anecdotal conversation this week inspired the question. My colleague admitted to struggling with his/her career development in this economic climate leading to some deep questions.

It seems there is frustration with: a) no hope for internal promotion due to older workers staying in their careers longer, b) a workforce who is anxious with lay-offs, increased workload and little empathy from immediate supervisor, and c) little external hope for transfer to another industry in a turbulent job market. A paralysis seems to be creeping into the 30-somethings who are well experienced, committed to their careers and able to juggle multiple family and work commitments.

My recommendation to any 30-something feeling similar sentiments would be as follows:

  • Think long-term.  When possible recognize you will be working (fulltime or part-time) until 60-70 years old. Time is on your side for finding fulfilling work.
  • Reflect on your grandfather or grandmother. This generation weathered some amazing times where most were happy to just to have a job and seemed to relish every little victory they were able to achieve in their job or careers. There is some inspiration in this generation to pay attention to when we feel stuck. Keep in mind they had much less than we do today!
  • Take steps to plan. Intentional planning for internal moves or external career moves require strategic planning today. I believe we are in a “new norm” for awhile. The 30-Somethings will have to plan differently than when they entered the workforce out of college.
  • Daily Networking. Many seeking work today regret they did not build an effective network while employed. While you may be stuck in your career, consider actively networking (i.e. building your personal brand) with someone new every week. Imagine after 6 months of networking, you could have 24 + new professional who will no doubt speak well of you.
  • Refocus. Are there areas of your personal life that need more attention than your career? Maybe this is an opportune time to refocus and concentrate on home-life, going back to school, or finding a new hobby. Taking care of one’s life holistically may be the cure!

Are you a 30-Something? Do you feel stalled?


Job? Career? Calling?

Have you ever heard the question, “Are you living to work or working to live? I have asked this question to countless students, friends, and colleagues in an attempt of inspiring personal/professional analysis. Do you know the answer yourself?

Consider the following progressive illustration.

A Job – Meets the needs of paying for the mortgage, food, clothing, car payment, etc.

A Career – Meets the above needs, but additionally addresses the social-emotional realm.

A Calling – Meets a spiritual need of “doing more” or “something bigger than myself.”

Ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Am I ready for a job to career move?
  2. Is working a job good enough for this stage in my life?
  3. Is working in this career good enough for this stage in my life?
  4. Does the energy I used-to-have for my career seem a distant memory?
  5. Can I resurrect career-related passion?
  6. Am I being called to another role in this world?
  7. If I were to craft the perfect work-day what would it be? Be realistic and honest with yourself.

Scott Morrell


Toxic Team – Steps To Building Trust

Do you have a toxic team? Do you have a “difficult team member” contributing to a climate of mis-trust? What is a leader to do when a group stalls in progress toward goal(s)? How can the log jam be broken?

Stephen M.R. Covey in The Speed of Trust suggests where trust is present the organization (team) moves faster resulting in increased bottom line results. On the other hand, where trust is low or questionable, the organization (team) slows down dragging progress and sapping resources.

The following 13 Behaviors, arguably universal by Covey, stem from leaders who are known for establishing trusting cultures. Review this list, where does your toxic team need the most attention?

1. Straight Talk – tell the truth and leave the right impression. 

ASK YOURSELF: “Does my team avoid talking straight out of fear of hurting feelings?”

2. Demonstrate Respect  – show genuine care all around. 

ASK YOURSELF: “Is my team respectful of one another?”

3. Create Transparency – allow people to verify the truth.

ASK YOURSELF: “Do you model open access to team related information?”

4. Right Wrongs – apologize quickly.

ASK YOURSELF: “Have you observed a transgression gone unaddressed?”

5. Show Loyalty – give credit freely.

ASK YOURSELF: “Does my team credit one another for success or finger point?”

6. Deliver Results  – get the right things done.

ASK YOURSELF: “Does your team use time wisely, get the right activities accomplished?             

7. Get Better – be a constant learner.

ASK YOURSELF: “Does your team strive to improve?”

8. Confront Reality – draw out the “undiscussables”.

ASK YOURSELF: “Is there an ‘elephant in the room?'”

9. Clarify Expectations – revisit expectations often.

ASK YOURSELF: “Are assumptions the norm?”

10. Practice Accountability – hold oneself & others responsible.

ASK YOURSELF: “Are goals revisited? Celebrated?”

11. Listen First – listen before speaking.

ASK YOURSELF: “Does the team listen to one another well?”                              

12. Keep Commitments – under promise, over deliver.

ASK YOURSELF: “Are you focused on the goal?”

13. Extend Trust – demonstrate desire to trust first.

ASK YOURSELF: “Is the team suspicious?”

Leaders who take time, effort and energy to develop their teams will increase not only trust but bottom-line business results. The 13 Behaviors transcend profit, non-profit, education, and government organizations. For insights on how I have re-engineered trusting teams contact me for case studies and illustrations. I’d be delighted to share!

Scott Morrell


One thing I would tell my boss this week is…

I recently posted a question on my Linked-In profile“If I could tell my boss one thing this week it would be:”

  • They are inspirational (26%)
  • They need to delegate more (8%)
  • They work too much (0%)
  • They have some blind-spots to consider (52%)
  • They should hire a coach (13%)

Admittedly, I was surprised that 52% of respondents said they would tell their boss about “blind-spots” in their leadership. As I thought about this exercise a few questions came to my mind.

Do we tell our supervisors what we are really thinking about their leadership?

Do supervisors really want to know what their followers think about their leadership capacity?

What holds followers back from sharing constructive feedback to their leaders?

If a leader desires constructive feedback, are they prepared for the feedback AND will they do something about it?

I’d be real interested in your interpretation of this data. If you are a leader, how does this data sit with you? If you are a follower, what reaction do you have to this data?

Scott Morrell


10 Signs your career is stalling!

If you can answer yes to 5 or more of the following questions, you may be stalled in your career. Now, what are you going to do about it?

  1. Do you drive home on Fridays faster than you drive to work on Mondays?
  2. Do you get a sour stomach on Sunday evenings as you prepare for work the next day?
  3. Do you have negative self-talk?
  4. Do you have feelings of work related regret?
  5. Do you spend too much idle too much at work?
  6. Do you wonder what it is like to feel alive again?
  7. Do you think you can do more in this life?
  8. Do you feel like life is wasting away?
  9. Do you desire a life where life and career are balanced?
  10. Are you working to live or living to work?

If you’d like to talk to someone who has made a major career transition, is skilled on both counseling and executive coaching and is a seasoned leader, contact me. I’d be delighted to learn about your career related aspirations and begin to craft together a plan for transformational change.

Scott Morrell




Minnesota Nice

Minnesota Nice is a term applied to those raised in Minnesota and were taught to avoid conflict at all cost. Unfortunately, this conflict avoidant approach is not effective in the workplace. There is a theory that we develop a conflict management style (see Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument) that suggests we are more apt to prefer one or more approach when dealing with conflict.

When we perceive a threat in the work place, we may:

  1. Avoid – withdraw from the situation in hopes it will go away or someone else will deal with the problem. This is a difficult prospect no matter the role but especially challenging when one is the leader expected to make tough decisions.
  2. Control – take charge! In an effort to show progress one may seize control of the project no matter the impact on others.
  3. Accommodate – allow the dominate person to have their way. While not totally giving in one gives more than they honestly wish to provide. Resentment can build up over time.
  4. Compromisegive a little here, take a little there. This is the classic response to minor conflicts, although in reality accommodation is a mini-win and mini-loss.
  5. Collaborate – put both parties interests on the table in an effort to strengthen the desired outcome.

A deeper understanding of one’s dominant conflict style will go far in a fresh start in conflict management. Often times two parties will become deeply entrenched without realizing they have similar interests.

For more details on how to constructively manage conflict in your team see my work at www.scott-morrell.com.

Scott Morrell