Category Archives: Performance Management

Ten Top Tips from Savvy CEOs

Last Tuesday, the PricewaterhouseCoopers  Master of Business Series hosted a panel discussion on ‘How can I harness the passion of my people to fuel my business growth?’  This is a topic of interest to all managers, so I’ve provided a summary below.

The panel members were:  Steve McCarthy (CEO, Adshel), Tracey Mitchell (MD, Mitchell Personnel Solutions), Paul Jury (National GM Recruitment, Talent2) and Kirsty Rankin (Joint CEO, Pinpoint).  The discussion was facilitated by Russel Howcroft, CEO Australia and NZ, Y&R (and ‘Gruen Transfer’ panelist).

A number of themes arose in the discussion regarding the expectations of today’s employees, including:  flexibility, community involvement and charity, training and development, a reputable employer, leadership aligned with their values.

Here are my top ten tips from the panel:

  1. Keep your promises, including clarity about what the role entails. 
  2. Know what kind of culture you want.  We don’t tolerate laziness, bullying or politics. 
  3. It’s possible to provide benefits that cost very little, such as flexible hours, but give great returns in loyalty and productivity.
  4. You can’t keep giving ‘trinkets and groovy stuff’ to motivate staff.  What they want is authentic leadership.
  5. Nobody wants to work on their birthday, so give them the day off.  Also, let staff take ‘odd job days’ from their sick leave instead of pretending to be sick and taking ‘sickies’.
  6. We found our problems managing ‘Gen Y’ ended when we stopped calling them ‘Gen Y’ and started treating them as individuals. 
  7. Paid maternity leave, followed by flexible work has been worth 100 times the cost because we were able to keep a valuable employee. 
  8. Interviewing is unreliable in selecting the right people because you will get those who look right but are wrong and those who look wrong but are right for the role.  More information results in better decisions.
  9. For innovation and improved processes, ask your staff “What are ten things you are doing that are time-wasting?”.  Then listen, acknowledge and implement!
  10. We want to be a ‘dickhead-free-zone’ because ‘dickheads are why people leave’. 

What tips would you give other managers in response to the question: ‘How can I harness the passion of my people to fuel my business growth?’  Please share your ideas below.

By the way, Steve McCarthy has agreed to be interviewed for a series we are planning for 2011.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy hearing his many insights on leadership.

The one thing you need to know about performance…

…and retention.

Warning:  What you are about to read is so obvious you’ll wonder why you haven’t already used it in selection and performance management!

Enjoyment Performance Theory states that an individual will perform more effectively in a job if that individual:

1. Enjoys the tasks required by that job;

2. Has interests that relate to the position and

3. Has work environment preferences that correspond with the environment of the workplace.

Assuming a person has the skills and experience necessary for the job, enjoyment of the various aspects of the job is a significant predictor of higher performance.

Because we tend to do the things that bring us pleasure and avoid things we don’t enjoy, we tend to do the things we like more often.  As we do those activities more often, we get better at them and our improved performance adds to our enjoyment of the task.  A virtuous cycle, if you like. 

Conversely, because we will be less inclined to do something we don’t enjoy, we fail to improve in that task and the lower performance reinforces our dislike of the activity – a vicious cycle.

Harrison Assessments’ 20 years of research has proven that employees who enjoy at least 75% or more of their job are three times more likely to succeed than employees who enjoy less than 75% of their job. That makes understanding factors related to work satisfaction vitally important for making the right hiring decisions, motivating employees, and retaining top talent. 

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

So how do you apply the theory to your team? 

Surprisingly, very few behavioural assessments or personality assessments measure work satisfaction, even though it is critically important to do so. As a result, assessments are limited in their ability to determine motivation or forecast whether an individual will prosper and stay with the company.

The Harrison Assessment questionnaire is designed to predict performance, work satisfaction and retention. This is critical when selecting new staff and also enables companies to motivate people and increase their performance by assigning the roles and responsibilities that give them the highest degree of work satisfaction.

To find out more about what we can do for you with Harrison Assessments, visit our website or contact us!

Can you deliver on your Client Value Proposition?

When you make a promise to a client, are you confident your staff can – and will – keep it?

Many businesses, especially in financial services, struggle to identify and define their client value proposition (CVP).  The AFA 2010 White Paper provides valuable insights from consumer research. 

One area covered in the research was ‘loyalty drivers’.   The responses to the question “Which of the following are important for choosing and staying with a financial adviser?” were:

  • Your adviser takes time to listen/explain things to you – 82.5%
  • Your adviser is available when you call and/or returns calls promptly – 75.7%
  • Your adviser resolves account issues/questions quickly – 66.9%
  • Your adviser proactively manages your account and/or suggests changes – 65.8%
  • Your adviser is affiliated with a reputable organisation – 43.7%
  • Your adviser is calls you on a regular/ongoing basis – 35.7%

(263 respondents, multiple answers allowed)

The first four are clearly the most important to the financial advice clients surveyed.  All four depend on you having the right people in the right roles.  These services are all time-consuming and unless you can rely on your staff, you are bound to under-deliver and disappoint.

Having staff who can deliver on your promises is a combination of your recruitment, selection, induction, training, performance management and coaching practices.  Any weak points in these practices will carry over into how you’re perceived by your prospects and clients.

Some questions for you:

  1. Are you confident you can deliver these loyalty drivers on a consistent and regular basis? 
  2. How much will you achieve if you don’t have skilled and productive staff to back you up? 
  3. How would you cope with client disappointment?

As you reflect on the answers and how they impact your CVP, we are here to help.  Extensive experience in people management, many year’s coaching financial advisers and cutting-edge tools mean we can identify issues quickly and set you on the path to your CVP goals.  Contact us here.

Postscript:  I recently left my financial planner because they provided only one of the above loyalty drivers.  Can you guess which one?  Hint:  Being affiliated with a reputable organisation is not enough on its own!

Communication failure

If I had to pick one issue that is the most prevalent in my work with teams, it is – without doubt – communication. Experience with our Team Health Check shows that this is the hardest thing for many team leaders to get right, despite their best intentions.

Here are some of the reasons why communication often misses the mark:

1. Lack of awareness about the impact of our communication style.  Unless you ask them, you are not likely to know how your style affects your team’s motivation and effectiveness.  

Solution:  Consider asking your team for feedback.  An effective way to do this quickly and confidentially is by using the Team Health Check.  Our clients are finding they get some surprising responses when their team ranks statements such as these: 

  •  Everyone’s input is listened to and appreciated by the rest of the team.
  •  We openly and constructively resolve differences and conflicts.
  •  Interactions within the team are respectful, open and honest.

(There are 20 questions in total, covering the full range of teamwork criteria.)

2. We communicate with our team the way we like to be communicated to.  For example, if you appreciate frank and straightforward information from others, you are likely to be direct in the way you talk to your team.  

Solution: Recognise that what works for you will not work for everybody.

3. Not understanding team members’ communication preferences. Closely related to the previous point, there is great value in having an insight into the different communication styles on your team. 

Solution:  Use a tool to diagnose the individual preferences. The Harrison Assessment system measures the following communication traits:  Frank, Diplomatic, Blunt, Evasive, Avoids Communication, Wants Frankness and Tolerates Bluntness..

4. Lacking a sufficient range of communication styles to be able to meet the needs of  team.  When you know what’s missing, it’s easy to fill the gaps with knowledge and practice.

Solution:  Coaching is available to help you use your communication strengths to develop more effective ways to communicate with the full range of people you will encounter in business.  For more information on our coaching systems, please contact us.

The final – and perhaps the most important – point is this: 

Just because you don’t think you have a problem, doesn’t mean there’s not an issue there.  Your business can only benefit if you take the time to find out.

To read more about the Team Health Check, click here.

Banking on your reputation

If your chances of being hired or promoted – or winning a new client – depended 20% on your qualifications and 80% on your reputation, would you need to change your behaviour?

I’m sure for most readers, the answer is ‘no’ because you are already aware of how important your reputation is to your success.

In this post we’re going to look at some of the things, beyond honesty, that contribute to a good reputation.  If you’d like to know more about how to get more insights into a person’s reputation, read this post.

These are our top five factors contributing to a high personal approval rating:

1.  Valuing others for the relationships you have with them, not just for what you think they can do for you.

2.  Positive interactions and communication with peers, managers, suppliers, clients and competitors. 

3.  Congruence or acting in ways that are consistent with your values and the values of your organisation.  This is ‘walking the talk’.

4.  Delivery – doing what you said you’d do, even if it will cost you.  Corollary:  Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.

5.  Consistency in how you act in the full range of situations you encouner in life and business.  People like to extrapolate from how they’ve seen you behave in one instance to how you will approach other situations and if you’re not consistent you’ll cause confusion, which can be damaging for you.

As an employee, consultant or adviser, be aware of how all these factors contribute to your reputation and the reputation of your organisation.

As a manager, you could use these five factors as a checklist when assessing candidates for employment or promotion, as you go through your interviews, reference checking and staff development processes.  Lack of clarity on any one of these factors is a signal that you may need to do some more research before making your decision.

Remember “You can’t build your reputation on what you’re going to do.”  (Henry Ford)

Why is it so hard to get lasting results from team-building activities?

Often when we think a team isn’t as productive as it could be, our first reaction is to spend some money on team-building exercises, often off-site. In my experience, your typical team-buildling challenge or social activity is great for getting out of the office and having some fun together…

What they’re not great for is creating lasting change and this is why:

  • Team building has to happen every day – in the reality of your work environment.
  • Team ‘issues’ are rarely about the team. To resolve them, you have to consider the individuals.
  • Generic team activities are unlikely to address the specific needs of your team.
  • Creating behavioural change requires insight, understanding and time.

 

What will work?

If you’re looking for a way to get your team to work more productively together, look for solutions that:

  • Start with an analysis of your team members’ perceptions of the team;
  • Are based on the realities of your workplace; and
  • Provide suggestions you can implement now for immediate – and lasting – impact.

 

What do you think?

Do you have ideas for effective and lasting team-building?  Please share your insights by adding a comment below.

When does a ‘group’ become a ‘team’?

This question came to mind last weekend, when I had the good fortune to attend ‘Wintersong 2010’ an annual choral workshop held in the Blue Mountains. The weekend revolved around learning and performing diverse works arranged for choir – with 90 other singers from all over the country.  

Composer and musician, Paul Jarman led us in an amazing workshop.  In around an hour, we composed and performed a choral work in 7 parts.  My first response when this was suggested was ‘this will never work’.  To my amazement, it worked brilliantly!

I think we were working as a team at that point.  (And arguably for the rest of the weekend, in producing some incredible sounds.)  

For this project we were a team and not just a group because we had:

1.  A leader who was very skilled and experienced;

2.  An intention to create something of quality;

3.  Goodwill and a desire to cooperate;

4.  Diverse ideas and abilities; and

5.  A specific goal, with a defined timeframe.

What do you think?

Do these things make a team?  Or am I getting carried away with the analogy?

Please post your comments below.

Have you booked in for our webinar ‘How to Make Your Good Team Great’ on 7 July at 12 noon AEST?  Click to register.

Could your team use a tune-up?

My car currently has a small niggling problem that’s not serious, but I know I should do something about it.  Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience, with a car, computer or other technology?

Have you ever had the same sort of nagging thoughts about your team at work?  Things are running smoothly, but you know they could probably be even better if you took the time to look under the bonnet and do some team maintenance.

You could be avoiding taking any action for one of the following reasons:

  • Time  “Sure, we’d like to do something, but we are always so busy.”
  • Uncertainty  “I really don’t know where to start.”
  • Fear “We are doing pretty well.  I don’t want to risk opening a can of worms.”
  • Scepticism  “We tried team building activities before.  It was fun but it didn’t really transfer back to the workplace.”

Sound familiar?  So why should you take time out to work on your team?

Teams that have been selected, trained and coached according to the strengths of the individual team members will always out-perform any teams composed and managed simply along functional lines. 

Teams outshine their competition when they –

  • Have shared goals and a focus on outcomes
  • Value cohesion, communication and collaboration
  • Recognise and share work according to their indiviual strengths

Any team building activity that contributes to better teamwork will focus on how these high performance team characteristics are applied in the workplace.  For example, read the case study of one team development process.

TIP:  Know how to get the best performance from your team with practical and meaningful team development.  Register for our webinar on 7 July at 12 noon (AEST).

Case Study: Team Tuning

Many businesses are blessed with highly motivated and engaged staff who are industriously working toward their strategic goals.  Working as a team comes naturally to these employees and they are keen to find ways to work better together.  I was fortunate enough to work with one such team recently to fine-tune their team performance.

Process

All five members of the team completed the online assessment of their behavioural and work preferences.  On the day before the team coaching session, they received their individual Harrison Assessments reports.

A team paradox report, displaying all team members’ scores for each trait on one graph formed the basis of our team meeting.  Because we had only two hours for discussion, the agenda focused attention on four facets of the team report:  Motivation, Communication, Innovation and Organisation.

For each of these areas, we analysed and discussed the relative strengths of the team members to determine what was important to the team, how the strengths have helped them to date and what difficulties were present now.

Brainstorming of actions that would help the team capitalise on individual strengths and achieve the organisation’s goals resulted in a list of individual SMART actions. (SMART = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-framed.)

Results

Several factors that could be used to bring the team to peak performance were uncovered via assessment and the team discussion.  Here are a few examples:

  • One team member is highly organised and this strength will be put to good use in developing systems and processes in the business.
  • There is a team member who is not always comfortable putting forward their opinions or giving feedback.  Once the rest of the team were aware of this, they were able to explore ways to make it easier for that person to communicate with them in productive ways.
  • Some team members require more structure to their work, while others find structure frustrating.  Awareness of individual needs made it easy for others to suggest ways to accommodate those needs.

Benefits

On completion of the team meeting, the team had:

  • A better understanding of each others’ strengths, values and needs,
  • New, more effective, ways to work together,
  • Individual and collective accountability, with each member of the team responsible for specific actions that would make the team more effective and
  • Renewed commitment to their common goals.

Could this work help your team? Call us on 1300 785 150.

 

What do you want?

Last week, our single question survey asked readers “What is the one people management issue that is causing you the most pain right now?”

The response was fantastic!  Thanks for all your contributions.

Didn’t see it?  It’s not too late to give us your answer and have it added to our list of topics for future webinars and articles. 

The first webinar is scheduled for 12 noon on Wednesday, 7 July 2010.  Topic and registration details will be posted in the next couple of weeks.

Here is a summary of the suggestions so far:

Team

  • establishing teamwork – working together on to meet organisational goals
  • culture
  • understanding what each person does and how roles work together

Motivation

  • rewards –  ideas on non-monetary rewards
  • getting staff to work in new ways in an industry that has been more reactive than proactive in the past

Delegation

  • effectively communicating what needs to be done
  • having tasks completed to your requirements
  • ensuring staff are productive when you’re not there

Training

  • developing teams to meet future needs
  • helping staff indentify skill gaps
  • making time for training

Recruitment

  • attracting the people with the right attitude
  • matching the right people to the role
  • having the right people in the right seats

Performance

  • meaningful annual reviews
  • addressing weaknesses without causing offence
  • managing underperformance

Why not take a minute to add your own or support one of these suggestions?

Click here to have your say or leave a comment below.

 

"The last couple of years at batyr has seen incredible growth and the Balance at Work team has supported us along the way. They have helped us improve leadership skills across the team by helping us source and manage mentors, and even engaging as mentors themselves. As a young and fresh CEO Susan has also supported me personally with genuine feedback and fearless advice to achieve great things. "
By Sam Refshauge, CEO, batyr
"We used the Harrison Assessment tools followed by a debrief with Susan, for career development with staff, which then allowed us to work with Susan to create a customised 360 degree review process. Susan has a wealth of knowledge and is able to offer suggestions and solutions for our company. She is always ready to get involved and takes the time to show her clients the capability of Harrison Assessments. "
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