Kendall Barndollar
Kendall Barndollar

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Fri 9 February 2024
In 1998 Daimler Motor Company Group (now Mercedes-Benz) attempted a merger with Chrysler Corporation. On paper, Daimler-Chrysler was a perfect combination. Daimler and Chrysler brought price points for different target audiences and their respective leaders had high hopes for a successful merger of the companies. Internally, Daimler had a vertical structure with enforced hierarchical roles while Chrysler used a horizontal structure with less formalities. The two entities split shortly after because they could not find a mutually beneficial culture or compromise the two hierarchical structure approaches. 

Finding the perfect team culture is challenging as is. Combining with another entity only creates additional battles for managers to face. Finding ways to maintain team or group culture through organizational changes puts a further burden on executive leadership and team managers within companies. 

In learning to deal with this new, unique workplace challenge, here are ten tips for managers in leading their teams through organizational changes:

  1. Understand the Stages of Team Development
Using the four normative stages of team development, leaders should allow teams to autonomously develop and grow into a culture that fosters specific team values. Allowing teams the time to go through the stages of forming, morning, storming, and performing to find the best-fit roles can be a daunting challenge for hands-on leaders going through organizational changes. However, by enabling new teams to flow through these changes, they will develop a productive team environment that allows a team to be efficient and effective.

2. Practice Effective Communication
Effectively communicating in times of change enables leaders to collect feedback and grow from two-way communication with their direct reports. Leaders practicing active listening will be able to voice employee concerns throughout the process of organizational change. On the flip side, leaders effectively communicating with their direct reports will provide clarity and reduce resistance to changes within a company. 

3. Use Inclusive Decision Making
In management decisions, allowing direct reports to voice concerns and opinions whenever possible will improve adaptability and allow for creative solutions that will satisfy all levels within an organizational hierarchy. Ensuring that team members feel heard and valued will foster a team culture that is beneficial to employees and executive management. Inclusive decision-making empowers company leadership to adapt from direct reports' experiences when undergoing an organizational change in addition to whole team efforts to creative problem solving that will be most beneficial to sustaining the organization's culture. 

4. Develop Employee Support Programs
If managers find that certain employees struggle with organizational changes, they should consider developing an employee support program. This may be as simple as having a point person for employees to direct questions to or creating a guide of all expected changes and how the firm will adapt. Unexpected changes create anxiety for team members that some may struggle to overcome. In dealing with anxiety in crucial conversations and organizational changes, managers need to practice caution and 

5. Prioritize Psychological Safety
In addition to developing employee support resources, a necessary concern for management should be the psychological safety of all professionals in the organization. Psychological safety can be a largely impactful aspect of an individual's ability to adjust to organizational changes and to maintain the most beneficial culture for the company. To maintain an environment of psychological safety, managers should focus on clear communication and allowing individuals a safe environment to grow and learn with the company. 

6. Foster Cohesion
In going through a merger, acquisition, or general organizational changes, establishing an environment that fosters cohesion and camaraderie can make a drastic difference. Facing changes as a united front will communicate support and community to all direct reports, especially those struggling with finding their place in organizational changes. A cohesive group also creates a safe environment for direct reports to voice concerns, opinions, or opportunities for growth. 

7. Set SMART Goals
A smart goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Managers setting team-wide SMART goals will provide realistic and effective areas for professionals to concentrate on when undergoing hectic changes that frequently disorient teams' progress. Setting SMART goals with continuous feedback is essential for the stable growth of an organization undergoing foundational changes. 

8. Celebrate Success
Celebrating successes through an organizational change brings a variety of benefits to the team working to maintain their group culture. Specifically, celebrating success at all levels will boost team morale and work to reinforce the best practices before and throughout big changes. The ability to reinforce best practices will highlight values, behaviors, and achievements that are best for the organization. In addition to moral support, acknowledgments of individuals' hard work and dedication throughout the process.

9. Collect & Utilize Continuous Feedback
The collection and use of continuous feedback is crucial to sustaining an organization's culture through large changes, mergers, or acquisitions. In collecting this feedback, consider using a platform such as AIM Insights that will aid in setting SMART goals, finding measures of feedback, and collecting the feedback year-round to provide opportunities for continuous growth across all hierarchical levels in an organization. 

10. Seek Guidance
If a manager feels that they need additional support for guiding a team through a foundational organizational change they should consider finding additional support and guidance. First, leaders should consider joining a horizontal mentorship group that will create an environment for executives and managers to speak to other professionals at their level for collective feedback and learning. Additionally, if managers feel that they need additional guidance in aiding their team, they should reach out to their company's human resources department. The HR professionals will likely have developed guides or tools that will help teams practice flexibility and adapt to continuous changes within a firm. 

Addressing organizational changes is a unique challenge with unique experiences for every team. Although a daunting challenge, managers have the tools necessary to sustain organizational culture throughout times of change. It is crucial to collect and use feedback from direct reports as the most impactful tool for determining a team's next steps, growth areas, and opportunities for learning or development. In supporting teams through organizational changes, leaders can boost employee engagement, hopefully improving job satisfaction and commitment. 


Fri 26 January 2024
Everyone experiences times of nervousness and anxiety. It's human nature and, it's contagious. Many struggle to manage these feelings on their own and unmanaged anxiety can lead to rash and spontaneous decision making. Impulsive communication and decision-making will foster an internal feeling of urgency that others mirror which may spread across groups and offices creating immense stress and anxiety for all levels. 

Anxiety can stem from a variety of sources. Specifically in the workplace, anxiety can stem from: poor workplace culture, unclear expectations, too heavy of a workload, conflict with superiors, organizational changes, job insecurity, lack of control, or imposter syndrome. Additionally, managers' words and actions have a higher impact on creating or mitigating anxiety due to their hierarchical position and perceived power within an organization. Similar to the effect of stress or anxiety in an individual's personal life, workplace anxiety can cause a variety of problems such as sleep deprivation, poor work performance, body aches, or physical ailments. Within teams, managers may have a hard time identifying causes of anxiety, or worse, managers may be the cause of anxiety within a team. 

Leaders “venting,” gossiping, or complaining to their team members creates a different culture that fosters anxiety and worry for team members, usually leading to a counterproductive work environment. Once a team leader begins complaining to their teams about executive management, timelines, the work environment, or other team members, their direct reports become uncomfortable in the workplace and anxious about their performance. 

Similar to anxiety, gossip is a detriment to the work environment and is certainly contagious within the workplace. Both productive and counterproductive work cultures can foster and spread gossip across a team or office. Many feel the need to gossip to be “in the know” or to protect themselves from any potential conflicts within a group. Gossip encourages judgment, cliques, and toxic work behavior that may undermine the success, camaraderie, or expansion of teams. Moving into a psychologically safe and comfortable work environment, managers must reduce any occurrences of gossip and spreading of misinformation to create an environment that values every individual team member. 

To better understand the ripple effect of gossip and anxiety, consider Trish who is a partner at a large accounting firm. Trish has been facing struggles with the corporate office creating unreasonable timelines for completing projects and, Trish is becoming frustrated with a professional on her team, John who submits unfinished and unpolished reports. Trish is feeling anxious due to a heavy workload and a lack of support from her team. Trish decides to vent about her challenges with the corporate office to Leo, a manager in her team. Now, Leo is self-conscious about his performance and focuses on overworking and taking on extra responsibilities, eventually leading to burnout. Also after their conversation, Leo begins to lose faith in their company and has decreased organizational commitment to their firm. Throughout the next week, Leo discusses his feelings with other team members, leading to a spread of stress and anxiety in the workplace. 

As in the above example, venting and crucial conversations can lead to a spread of anxiety team-wide which exponentially grows, creating an unproductive work environment and negatively impacting the mental health, work-life balance, and personal lives of team members. If managers are feeling anxious or overworked, they should consider finding a new channel. Potential outlets may be horizontal mentorship, executive mastermind groups, or coaching opportunities that provide a safe space to share challenges. 

Horizontal mentorship enables leaders in similar positions to share issues they are facing in the workplace and creates an open environment to learn from peers in lateral workplace roles. Opening new opportunities to grow and learn in a dynamic environment catered to the specific problems faced in the workplace makes horizontal mentorship a great tool to reduce anxiety and gossip in the office. 

Executive mastermind groups serve as a peer advisory service that allows leaders to share a problem they are facing and receive feedback and advice from executive-level professionals. Through Ambition In Motions Executive Mastermind groups, leaders can find horizontal mentorship, peer advisory resources, and experiences that support individual and team learning which in turn, helps to reduce managers' stress and anxiety. 

Finally, managers may consider executive coaching opportunities to improve their team environment and mitigate causes of anxiety. Ambition In Motion offers both team and individual coaching to improve communication and productivity team-wide. In an executive coaching program, individuals are paired with an experienced coach who aids in setting SMART goals and, creating a process for collecting and analyzing measures of success for these goals. 

In working to reduce overall workplace anxiety, managers should concentrate on reducing gossip within the workplace. Gossip fosters cliques, damages professionals' reputations, erodes trust, and spreads misinformation which will eventually detriment workplace morale. Gossip in the workplace may also lead to unnecessary conflict and a decline in productivity. 

Even with understanding the implications of workplace gossip, it is still challenging for a manager to control or decrease gossip in the workplace. Managers working on decreasing gossip in the workplace should focus on leading by example. Building a cohesive team that promotes collaboration and communication will work to decrease gossip throughout a team. In having a more collaborative team, misinformation will be challenging to spread because direct reports will build a community and embrace camaraderie within the team.

Other steps to reduce gossip in the workplace may be to set clear expectations about professional behavior or to host a seminar explaining the negative effects of gossip. With clear communication, individuals will be less likely to spread misinformation. However, if a manager feels that their team needs additional guidance, they should always communicate with human resources and find out about other tools or resources available to leaders and team members for the betterment of the team.  


Fri 12 January 2024
Most managers find it challenging to build a perfectly harmonious environment for a team. Accounting for different personality types within groups is critical to creating an environment of success.

Developed in the late 1940s by Donald Fiske as a psychometric tool, the five-factor model of personality traits creates a guide for leaders to better understand dimensions that heavily impact the personal and professional lives of every individual. Commonly, managers will use an online platform to gauge these traits in their direct reports however, grasping the foundation of this model will allow managers to make informed decisions based on observed behavior in the workplace. Managers may gain a better insight into organizational culture, work-life balance, psychological safety, leadership styles, and decision-making processes through an improved understanding of the dimensions within the five-factor personality model.

Using the five-factor personality model, individuals' traits will be measured on five distinct dimensions: extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism. To better gauge individuals' on these dimensions, managers should consider utilizing a software or personality test that will provide a better insight into the makeup of a team. Additionally, in constructing a productive work culture, managers may consider a horizontal mentorship program that will expose them to other executives with invaluable experience. Horizontal mentorship will allow executive professionals to better connect with their peers and find innovative solutions for growth and change within a team. With clarity and identification of the five personality dimensions within a group, managers will be able to construct the culture most beneficial for their specific team. Here is how each of the big five personality dimensions impacts the workplace:

  • Extraversion
Direct reports ranking high in extraversion are outgoing, warm, and welcoming. These are great traits to improve camaraderie and community within a team. Those who are introverted may prefer to work independently, while extroverted individuals will seek work with others. However, managers should consider the efficiency of highly extroverted individuals who may err on the side of a relationship-oriented mindset. Many consider extraversion to be preferred yet, individuals on either end of this spectrum bring strengths to a team. Additionally, managers should be deliberate in the inclusion of professionals falling in either category. Managers should focus on personally engaging to ensure individuals feel satisfied and valued within a team. 

  • Openness
Highly open individuals are curious and independent. These individuals can be easily identified by their willingness to try new things and their innovative ideas. Individuals demonstrating high openness will strive in a culture that promotes autonomy. On the other hand, individuals lower on this scale may be more practical and conservative in their thinking. Both are great assets to teams. Those with low openness are generally task-oriented and will ensure a practical completion of a task. In contrast, those with high openness find new and innovative solutions to bring to a group. In considering different levels of openness within a team, leaders should deliberately search for a balance of openness and utilize feedback when implementing changes. 

  • Agreeableness
Highly agreeable individuals are trusting and compassionate. These individuals are great assets to improve camaraderie and the community feeling within a team. However, managers should be aware that individuals demonstrating high agreeableness may internally struggle with sharing their own opinions and speaking up for themselves. When working with direct reports that demonstrate high agreeableness, managers should focus on asking direct questions and communicating the importance of genuine feedback to these individuals. If an individual demonstrates low agreeableness such as being overly critical or harsh, their personality may detriment psychological safety within a team. To monitor potentially harmful personality types, managers should collect feedback and work with professionals to develop SMART goals in moving forward with a collaborative, productive, and compassionate team. 

  • Conscientiousness
Highly conscientious individuals are generally well-organized, dependable, and hard-working. These members are an incredible asset to a team and will likely improve efficiency and outputs. However, if a team member exhibits low conscientiousness, they may be more impulsive and flexible. Nevertheless, people with low conscientiousness bring strengths to a team. For example, these individuals may be more creative, outside-of-the-box thinkers and more willing to take risks than those who exhibit high conscientiousness. In working with professionals who demonstrate high conscientiousness, managers should promote a healthy work-life balance. Highly conscientious professionals may struggle with perfectionism, and extreme focus on details and may have a hard time walking away from tasks. 

  • Neuroticism
Individuals expressing high neuroticism may have a tendency to be easily stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious. With the factor of neuroticism, managers should be deliberate because topics of anxiety and mental health are personal and sensitive in the workplace. Yet, mental health heavily impacts the success of professionals. Although many think it unfavorable, individuals demonstrating high neuroticism bring invaluable strengths to a team. Generally, individuals ranking high in neuroticism are detail-oriented and, have a heightened sense of empathy for others. Additionally, professionals demonstrating high neuroticism have displayed a correlation with an increased motivation to change with feedback, which is an extraordinarily favorable strength in the workplace. Those low on the scale of neuroticism are calm and even-tempered but, may not be as prepared and cautionary as those with high neuroticism. In addressing neuroticism within teams, managers should focus on feedback and the promotion of work-life balance to ensure a healthy environment. 

Across the above big five personality traits, each dimension is good in moderation. To develop an outstanding team, managers need to find the balance and ideal work environment that accounts for the team chemistry of the above traits. Managers should carefully consider the big five personality traits when determining project assignments and task prioritization.

Furthermore, the most impactful measure in determining an ideally structured work environment for a team is gathering and analyzing feedback. The best method of utilizing feedback is conducting continuous reviews rather than an annual performance review. For an improvement in the feedback process, managers should consider using software such as AIM Insights that will provide continuous feedback across all levels. In addition to this software, AIM Insights provides executive coaching and tools for SMART goal setting that will drastically improve the growth of teams. 


Fri 15 December 2023
“Give a man to fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Learning has always been the foundation for success. In creating a successful culture of autonomy, managers must prioritize learning, development, and experiences to build a team of self-sufficient, well-prepared employees. 

Autonomy in the workplace may lead to improved engagement, job satisfaction, and productivity. Allowing professionals to be entirely responsible for their work will create a team of individuals committed to their work. Autonomy and task follow-through improve job satisfaction. Seeing a project from start to finish makes a role more meaningful, leading to increased job satisfaction and in turn, job performance. Finally, a culture prioritizing autonomy produces a highly productive team of well-versed individuals. By creating faster decision-making processes and well-prepared individuals, productivity will skyrocket in autonomous teams. 

As managers, many struggle to build a culture of independence for their direct reports. When managers do not promote an autonomous environment, their team members lose learning opportunities, and managers become overworked. A crucial part of learning is having the ability to make decisions that lead to mistakes. A crucial part of leading is learning how to be flexible in correcting these mistakes and learning from past experiences. 

A culture prioritizing autonomy teaches direct reports to be resourceful and thorough in their work. Rather than an individual asking their boss or team leader, they should first use every resource available as a tool in completing their task. Promoting a culture of autonomy continues beyond task performance and enables managers to build strong employees. As individuals gain decision-making experience, they grow into thoughtful, experienced, self-sufficient leaders. 

Managers commonly struggle with transferring decision-making responsibilities to other leaders in a firm. However, without autonomous professionals, managers become overworked and burnt out over time. To build a culture of autonomous employees, managers must consider the following factors' impact on the workplace. 

  1. Embrace Mistakes
It is impossible to grow without feedback. Creating a culture that embraces mistakes as learning opportunities will contribute to role autonomy. As managers, many will eventually forget the hard work, mistakes, and learning opportunities it takes to reach an executive position. Creating a culture that views errors as areas for growth is crucial for team success. To build an autonomous team, it is vital to cultivate a culture that approaches mistakes as opportunities for learning. In a culture that does not encourage risk-taking, emerging leaders struggle to get the experience necessary to succeed after making a poor decision. Most importantly, leaders need practice to efficiently and effectively identify solutions after making inevitable mistakes. 

2. Encourage Team Development
Encouraging team development produces autonomy within teams. Allowing independent development through the four normative stages of team development (forming, storming, norming, and performing) enables a team to succeed. Team development puts priority on direct reports working amongst each other, without consistent involvement from executive management. Teams foster a habit of learning from others, and communicating amongst peers, rather than relying on managers. Thus, enhancing the autonomy and capabilities of direct reports and, enabling individuals to learn from their colleagues. Although challenging, managers practicing limited involvement in team development enables professionals to make mistakes and rehearse the required skills to become outstanding leaders. 

3. Prioritize Psychological Safety
Prioritizing psychological safety in the workplace is crucial to building a team of autonomous and responsible individuals. Allowing employees to make mistakes and learn from them is what builds a resilient, sustainable team. Allowing for problem-solving skills to be practiced and rehearsed equips direct reports with the skills to succeed. These crucial skills develop with experience and time, allowing direct reports to practice in a safe environment and enabling great workplace success. Focusing on psychological safety creates an environment where it is okay to fail. While failing seems counterproductive to success, managers have to weigh the cost of a few failures with the benefit of building strong and experienced professionals in a team. 

4. Encourage Horizontal Mentorship 
Mentorship is a building block to a culture of autonomous employees. Building mentorship programs in a firm enables those with more experience to learn from others, rather than creating a dependence on executive management. Horizontal mentorship enables employees to learn from their peers at all levels, from entry-level to executive management. Building a mentorship program brings value to autonomous culture by teaching professionals the steps through a decision-making process and factors to be accounted for rather than relying on a manager to make the decision. Managers may also benefit from horizontal leadership by learning how others relinquish control and put trust in their team. 

In the aforementioned steps, managers need to be cognizant that building a culture takes time. Resistance to change is common, especially in transforming from a culture dependent on executives to a culture that operates independently from executives. Creating autonomy in a team is challenging when managers have been heavily involved in the day-to-day tasks of employees so, learning to delegate and trust team members is a challenging process for most managers. Prioritizing learning and development within a team will enable leaders to promote autonomy. Adaptability will lead to a thriving, autonomous culture in adjusting to change and promoting flexibility in the process. 

Throughout an autonomous culture, it is necessary to promote communication among team members. Without feedback and open dialogue, it is challenging to grow. As always in the workplace, it is imperative to establish systems for feedback. Rather than an annual performance review, consider using a platform such as AIM Insights that will provide continuous feedback at all levels to aid in the development of a strong team, prioritizing goal setting and achievement. 


Mon 4 December 2023
Good managers are good listeners. As a manager, it is crucial to practice active listening to make the best decisions for an organization or team. Rather than simply hearing the words an individual says, managers should practice active listening through demonstrating genuine interest and undivided attention with their members. In active listening, managers should focus on hearing the communication beyond the explicitly stated words but understanding feelings, intentions and underlying messages. In any industry, encouraging managers to practice active listening deciphers opportunities for growth and learning that may result in increased customer and employee satisfaction. 

Leaders must practice thoughtful, active listening to foster a collaborative and thriving work environment where employees feel valued. When employees feel that they are valued by the organization, they demonstrate stronger organizational commitment and job performance which leads to increased job satisfaction. With the necessity of technology in the workplace, work from home, and hybrid cultures of companies, active listening skills in the workplace have depleted. 

When communication habits shift from in-person to online chat, communications become far less effective. Without face-to-face contact, 93% of communication is lost from nonverbal and vocal communication, leaving a mere 7% left to recognize opportunities for growth and learning. Albert Mehrabian, a body language researcher, led a research campaign to discover what portion of communication is based solely on diction. Mehrabian found that 55% of communication is non-verbal cues, 38% of communication is vocal, and only 7% is from specific words.Through using video calls, individuals may be able to recover effectiveness in conversation through vocal and non-verbal cues but, most will continue to struggle with active listening. 

Although convenient, using online chats and emails as the primary conversation medium significantly diminishes the efficacy of communication attempts. Leaders must find creative ways to combat these changes to uncover hidden growth opportunities and team discrepancies. The subtle art of reading undertones and ensuring psychological safety to team members reflects within team culture. Managers can enhance their active listening in the following seven ways:

  1. Listen for the Undertones
As is human nature, it is expected that we hear an individual’s words but only sometimes comprehend the underlying objective or purpose of the communication. Managers should be deliberate in decoding communications to find the concealed message within an interaction or suggestion from employees. Additionally, managers should be aware of differences and communication barriers between cultures. When working in international settings, leaders must consider the cultural norms and barriers that could affect communication effectiveness. 

2. Be Present
Actively listening to direct reports requires undivided attention and devotion to hearing what employees are saying. This means minimizing distractions, eliminating interruptions, and thoroughly thinking and understanding not only statements made but also body language and verbal cues that showcase the intent behind the communication. Being a present and engaged listener will aid the leader's contact with the team by valuing thoughts, opinions, and experiences. 

3. Prioritize Psychological Safety
For a strong team, diversity of thought and diverging opinions are invaluable. To encourage these crucial conversations, managers must create an environment of psychological safety that will enable direct reports to come to leaders with ideas, suggestions, and experiences that managers may use to better an organization. Those who are unaccepting of others deteriorate psychological safety within a team. In creating psychological safety, managers need to focus on empathy, support and understanding amongst all team mates. 

4. Withhold Judgment
To be better active listeners, leaders should avoid instances of judgment by entering each conversation with an open mind. In these conversations, managers should avoid responding to suggestions with defensiveness or hostility. Instead, take each conversation as a learning opportunity rather than a personal attack. Open mindedness and improved relationships with team members will enhance problem solving and creative thinking team-wide. 

5. Cultivate Empathy
An essential part of active listening is cultivating empathy and understanding for those around you. Managers must prioritize a culture of empathy by being understanding and adaptable to their employees. Adding to a culture of compassion, leaders must focus on making every team member feel valued and welcomed. Once a team has established a culture of empathy, all members will grow as active listeners, streamlining communication for all parties. 

6. Ask Questions
In practicing active listening, asking questions is imperative to thoroughly understand the topic. Asking questions demonstrates genuine care and interest in the case, leading employees to feel heard and understood, even if their suggestion is not implemented. In asking questions, prioritize creating a conversation of open dialogue, with explanations and reasoning on either side, to encourage a culture that welcomes diverse opinions and embraces mistakes, allowing for further growth and success. 

7. Ask for Feedback
Managers seeking feedback on their active listening skills are crucial for team growth. Regardless of the industry or specific role, all leaders must be good communicators, meaning strong listening and speaking skills. One without the other will not foster the productive work environment that makes groups successful. Managers should consider their self-awareness and seek opportunities to grow in the communication field. To collect this feedback, consider using AIM Insights, which will provide continuous feedback for all organizational levels, enabling constant improvement.

 Leaders may encourage the process of prioritizing psychological safety for active listening by establishing group norms or policies within their team. For example, a manager may have an “open door policy” to welcome any concerns, questions, and suggestions from employees. Other managers may cultivate this through weekly team-wide discussion meetings that allow individuals to share their concerns. In determining which approach is best, leaders need to evaluate their teams  to determine which route is most impactful for their team.

Throughout the process of improving active listening skills, managers should remember that changes may take time to happen. It takes time for trust to be fostered within a team and psychological safety to develop. Growth paths may not always be linear, but should have ups and downs and obstacles along the way. By actively listening to feedback, managers can find the next step forward for bettering their team. 


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