Performance Management Company Blog

Ideas on People and Performance, Team Building, Motivation and Innovation

Month: June 2017

Disruptive Engagement – 6 Blogs and 4 Illustrations

Engagement is anchored to empowerment, and organizations need dis-un-engaged and dis-un-empowered supervisors in order to optimize performance and productivity. I say this simply because supervisors manage workers and workers do all the work and because data after data show that un-engagement and un-empowerment are two main themes of so many workplaces.Disruptive Engagement and Empowerment Square Wheels image

As I thought about how corporate engagement is generally run, it seemed to me that more local control would allow more impacts, that more supervisor control at the workplace level might offer more opportunities to impact active involvement and actually involve and empower people. Too much seemed to be driven tops-down rather than bottoms up. So, I detailed my thoughts in an article about thinking locally:

Engagement – Think Local, Act Local

And that writing started me thinking about the whole negative reality of tops-down, corporate “engagement” that my 40 years of business management work has never shown to work very well. The thought was that disrupting this approach might be interesting.

Corporate Engagement Hasn’t Worked – Why not try Disruptive Engagement?

So, what IS Disruptive Engagement? Nothing fancy. It is simply about allowing the supervisors and managers to remove the things that their people perceive to be getting in the way of improving their workplaces. Often these are perceived roadblocks, more than real ones and Best Practices will show that the solutions are often already in place and working in isolated cases.

Disruptive engagement supervisors and motivation

Well, That got me thinking about what to actually do to accomplish this kind of initiative. The ideas already exist and it is more about developing a culture that does a better job of minimizing fear and optimizing discussions.

Disruptive Engagement, Supervisors, Empowerment and Performance Improvement

But a reality are the issues of allowing the supervisors the time and ability to actually do things differently. There is simply so much task interference from meetings and reports and measurements and other factors to really allow them the coaching time or the time to facilitate implementation of ideas.

FREE The Supervisor – thoughts on Disruptive Positive Active Engagement

and

The Hubcap Report – a note on Task Interference and Supervisors

What we need are good conversations and the improvement of facilitation skills to better actively involve workers.

Radical Candor and Disruptive Engagement

The solution actually does appear to be relatively simple and straightforward, if organizations really consider these issues of engagement, motivation, empowerment, innovation, and teamwork to be of importance. It sure seems like they are important, so why do we choose to not do things differently? We talk and talk and measure and measure and meet and meet but seldom have any direct contact or influence on the workers.

Disruptive Engagement and Radical Candor by Scott Simmerman

Why can’t we do this?

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

 

Why I HATE Outdoor Teambuilding after 30 years

“Outdoor Teambuilding.”

For me, this phrase represents an oxymoron, two words that simply do not go together. Classic oxymoron examples include “jumbo shrimp,” “crash landing,” “found missing,” “student teacher,” and, being an old rock and roller, my personal favorite, “Country Music!”

Why do I hate outdoor team building events? Because outdoors represents a basically impossible environment to do much actual team building yet companies choose to do those things, get no results and then think that no team building is actually possible. And they waste money, time and energy and cast a pall on good, impactful programs.

With training outdoors, there are simply too many distractions and dissociations in how people are reacting to make good connections to workplace issues. Outdoors is simply a place full of distractions making it is hard to hear and easy to lose focus. Sure, who doesn’t like to go whitewater rafting*, but other than remembering the fun and a few crazy things that happened to a few people, does it apply to workplace improvement or innovation or discussing changes in expectations or alignment?

And let me note that a lot of “indoor team-building focused experiential training experiences” are often simply outdoor-type activities moved indoors. I do not include any of those in my framing of business simulations and business teambuilding events. Running around indoors is the same as running around outdoors, in my view and I would also not consider paintball and firewalking to be indoor activities.


The ROI on most of these activities simply cannot be measured. Sure people have fun and will talk about the experience afterwards, but will they really do anything differently to impact the organization? And isn’t that why we are doing team building in the first place?


(Okay, an outdoor adventure or some fun and games IS better than listening to a senior executive share critically important data using powerpoint. I will take a climbing wall over a slideshow on last year’s results for inventory turnover… But I am talking about team building activities here…)

Organizations spend a LOT of money on team building events, with the expectation that they will get some return on that investment and see some changes in organizational behavior such as increased collaboration between departments or better alignment to the organizational mission and goals. (And, yes, “Interdepartmental Collaboration” is another favorite oxymoron!).

Post program, you will find the attendees talking about the activity and the structure and not a lot about the debriefing or the business links. Navigating that high ropes challenge is a solid accomplishment. And, sure, solving The Acid River is an interesting challenge – now how does that relate either to solving interdepartmental issues? And, often, the solution comes from ONE individual and not the team – there is no real teamwork involved in the strategy and those not involved are often those same people who resist the changes being done to them. Being directed as to how to perform is NOT teamwork and will not improve collaboration.

Click on the image above to see another article on outdoor learning and change

CAN Outdoor Teambuilding work? Sure. But DOES it represent the BEST environment for involving and engaging the broad diversity of people within the group and generate sufficient critical thinking or shifting of perspective that could drive changes in behavior? Organizations pay for this stuff, but I am not sure if they are looking for “great fun reactions” or actual impacts and changes. Only you can make that judgement based on your personal experiences, but my direct and indirect experience would say, Nope. No way.

  • Generally, those kinds of activities offer no possibility of measuring or measurement of behavior of individuals or groups, unless you focus on timing, which is a focus on competition more than collaboration.
  • They make it difficult for the older, less athletically-able people to compete on equal footing (that is a pun because I have a bad foot in actuality). The older workers simply cannot run and jump with the younger ones.
  • The events are often exclusive to those with some kind of disability or infirmity, such as a bad back or shoulder or knee and, frankly, being an observer is simply reinforcing that they are different (and not included with the others).

Doing a Dragon Boat Race is seemingly pretty unrelated to improving customer service or implementing the new strategy to involve and engage everyone in a workplace innovation project. Going go-kart racing is a fun thing, but who wins is often the most common discussion along with who had the fastest kart or who cheated so they could win. Do you have a different perspective?

And there is Paintball. Paintball as a business exercise. Shooting at other people with hard projectiles with the goal of doing them harm (killing them out of the game?) but also demanding some high level of motor skills coordination and physical activity of running and dodging to succeed creates an unfair playing field.  Grandmother Susan in accounting is probably going to find it somewhat physically challenging to lie in the dirt and shoot at people.

This 30-second advertisement for Booking.com is an especially good one, I think. Click on the image below to watch it on YouTube – it is well worth the time (30 sec)!

Annual company paintball teambuilding retreat booking dot com

And I also still laugh at the Firewalking “training event” paid for by Burger King back in 2001, with 100 marketing employees participating in this “team building and personal growth” session. The result was that 12 people got their feet burned and Burger King generating a great deal of publicity — yes, even Dave Barry poked fun at them in an article and there were a ton of posts around “naming the event” in a couple of training discussion threads, as well as suggestions for potential theme songs like, “Light My Fire” by The Doors (grin) ).  You can read more about firewalking here.

(Dave Barry’s really funny article is here!)
(The organizer blamed the burns on people with incredibly sensitive feet!!)

Firewalking can be a legitimate (and costly) experience growth experience (www.skepdic.com/firewalk.html).
but does it really impact teams and help to improve company results?

One who suffered injury was Burger King’s vice president of product marketing. But, hey, she had no regrets, for she was filled with the corporate rapture. Walking across searing coals, she exclaimed, “Made you feel a sense of empowerment and that you can accomplish anything” (and she could accomplish that with only a few casualties and hospital and ambulance bills). (And one wonders how she is doing these days…)

…so the Big Benefit of Outdoor Training:  You do not have to rent a hotel room.
(Well, Booking.com suggests you do as the one main benefit in their ad!)

Sure there are things like whitewater rafting that need to be outside, but I encourage you to watch White Mile with Alan Alda (trailer is excellent!) about his mandatory whitewater trip and the death of some of his executive team. Sure, it is a movie, but being on the water is not really the cat’s meow for many people.

I can go on and on about the personal experiences (generally failures and mediocre learning situations) but those have been done in prior blogs. What we are talking about is team BUILDING activities and not the team BONDING kinds of things that might improve friendliness or improve personal interactions but that have only remote connections to organizational development.

You have alternatives. There are a lot of good team building simulations out there that focus discussions on issues and opportunities, programs that present actionable behaviors and cultural shifts in how things are done.

So when someone is suggesting an event, ask questions about what might result from the expenditures. Define the desired outcomes and frame up with the ROI should look like. Good events can generate a lot of positive outcomes and impacts.

See this post for how those discussions might be addressed in a conversation of two senior managers trying to impact their organization:

Many People Hate Offsite Teambuilding – A Learned Response

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
Twitter @scottsimmerman


Alan Alda’s movie, White Mile, was released in 1994: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8DIGIr8SiU

Booking.com’s advertisement on rewarding hotels after Paintball is found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZTgKU5KNTM

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building simulation can be found at: http://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/corporate-team-building-games-the-search-for-the-lost-dutchmans-gold-mine/

Many People Hate Offsite Teambuilding – A Learned Response

My teams don’t want to attend a training program or offsite meetings; the programs aren’t exciting enough and they hardly learn anything from the programs. In fact I haven’t come across many effective programs that can keep my people engaged and make offsite meetings interesting!

This was part of a conversation between two heads of an organization in India with my colleague Solomon Salvis. They were together to talk about a management development retreat and focused on teambuilding and one of these heads was quite reluctant to send his teams for any training sessions. He did not see value; he did not see impact. It was apparent that many of his past experiences showed such meetings to be fluff and low on the aspect of driving real change within his organization.And it is really too bad that such reactions are common with some many team bonding exercises that are presented as team building tools.

We designed The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine to be different, to make this business simulation challenging but also to change the behavior of participants. The difficulty comes from addressing the senior manager attitudes that events cannot be effective in driving new strategies or building real collaboration.

A very senior operations manager, who personally leads Dutchman, said this after one of her deliveries:

I’ve received tons of positive feedback about the exercise – that it was the best one that they’ve ever done, it was fun and they learned something, etc. While I’ve always had an open door policy, people are using it more now – I have heard about more issues unsolicited in the last ten days than I had in the previous five months, which of course means I can do something about them.  It’s been great.

With Solomon’s explanation, the learning head from the above conversation invited his team to conduct Dutchman at 5 different offsite venues to focus on strategy, implementation, taking calculated risks, decision-making in short periods of time, trust of leadership and teams, and collaborating internally and externally for optimizing results. He then had the opportunity to debrief with the two business heads on impacts and outcomes.

The Learning head had received a lot of praise for introducing simulations in the organization and thanked Solomon for putting in the effort to make offsite meetings interesting. The other head informed that the feedback from the participants has been highly encouraging, the participants were completely engrossed throughout the entire exercise, they loved the energy, the learning and the set up. Their teams are now more collaborative than ever before and are ready to take on big challenges at work.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building exercise

If properly focused and delivered, a well-designed team building simulation can provide measured results that can be compared to optimized potential performance and support a discussion around key learning points and the choices that were made and that might be made differently in the future.Testimonial about Lost Dutchman Team Building Exercise

In many deliveries, the teams choose to compete with each other, which is energizing and fun but which actually sub-optimizes performance results. This same dynamic is why “interdepartmental collaboration” remains an oxymoron in many organizations. So, one goal of a powerful debriefing and program delivery is to discuss considered alternatives that could lead to improved outcomes. This can drive real change.

If you are interested in learning more, contact me or Solomon for more ideas and information. One of us can certainly support your teambuilding and organizational improvement efforts with an effective half-day event,

 

For the FUN of It!


Solomon Salvis at Simurise Learning Solutions in Singapore

You can reach Solomon Salvis at Simurise Learning Solutions in Singapore.


Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
Twitter @scottsimmerman

 

The Hubcap Report – a note on Task Interference and Supervisors

These days, my focus continues to be on people and performance, with more consideration around The Supervisor and their work to dis-un-engage and actively involve their people in workplace improvements. I blogged last week about the concept of Free The Supervisor.

If we want to improve engagement, the only people who will do this are the ones that have direct contact with the employees. All the rest is window dressing and no amount spent on surveys will accomplish anything without the vesting of those front line managers.

The reality is that so many things get in the way of them doing anything differently. And I am actively collecting data in this regard, trying to identify some of the things they do that block them from doing new things. And a conversation with David Zinger of the Employee Engagement Network this morning got me thinking of one of those classic examples of this kind of meaningless required goop.

The Hubcap Report

Note: This actually happens to you, if you are a manager, but you call it something else and the names and faces are changed.

I am working with one of the Bell operating companies working on the outside plant that supports the telephone wires and all that stuff. In particular, I am working with one of the supervisors and his manager and looking at ideas for impacting motivation and performance results. We have really good support from the management team to try to do some things differently and I have good access to the managers.

So, early for a scheduled meeting and sitting in the District Manager’s office and talking with his secretary, I spy what looks to be an interesting series of notebooks labeled Hubcap Report. So, I ask her about them and she pulls the latest one down. Inside are a series of bi-weekly reports from all 12 garages listing the trucks with a check mark if they have hubcaps. Years of reports.

Digging down, one of the former DMs in visiting a garage noted that some of the vehicles were missing hubcaps so he had asked the garage managers to get them fixed and to send him a report. That request became a process, done by each supervisor every two weeks, signed off by their manager and forwarded to the District Office where they were stored in this notebook. The current DM never even knew they existed and the secretary simply filed them, not knowing how silly they were to keep doing.

How many of YOUR supervisors are completing reports and sending them upward, with no clear purpose and minimal impact?


And, on meetings and time and costs in general, HBR had a report about an analysis of a large organization and the costs to prepare senior executives for their peer-group weekly meetings. Note that little actually gets done from these meetings, other than the sharing of information and the occasional planning of a new strategy. THESE ARE COSTS, NOT IMPACTS:

In this particular company, a total of 7,000 person-hours per year were spent in weekly executive committee meetings at which 11 senior staff members provided updates on the business to themselves. To prepare for these meetings, these senior staffers held 11 of their own unit staff meetings consuming 1,800 person-hours each, for a total of 20,000 hours per year.

To get ready for the unit meetings, a total of 21 managers working for the senior staffers held their own meetings, 21 of them, for a combined total of 63,000 hours per year. Of course these unit meetings, being important, required “prep meetings” themselves, often involving supervisors.

There were thus 130 prep meetings in total, consuming a total of 210,000 hours per year. T0 summarize, it looks like this:

  • 7,000 hours: Weekly executive committee meetings.
  • 20,000 hours: Weekly senior staff unit meetings.
  • 63,000 hours: Weekly meetings of the staff to the senior staff
  • 210,000 hours: Weekly prep meetings for the staff to the senior staff.

FREE THE SUPERVISORS!

Help them to see out of the box they find they are in. Give them some perspective and even some hope that things may get better.

Roadbloc Management Square Wheels Toolkit for Managers

And look for simple solutions to some of the issues. Look at the things you can eliminate. Stop doing the things that do not have real impact. Maybe even BLOCK some of the extra-departmental information requests that will have NO positive impacts on YOUR team’s results. It is simply so easy for someone in staff to ask for information and so easy to take up your people’s time with those requests.

Start doing some active involvement. Start doing some team building — our Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine activity is fabulous. Take a look at the communications and engagement tools at The Square Wheels Project. But whatever you DO choose to do, do something that will improve motivation and performance!

Any kind of real collaboration and employee engagement at the front lines is likely being blocked by things that have little impact on your organization.

Use this process of facilitating dis-un-engagement to implement some real improvements,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

Managers – How Square Wheels can impact their workplaces

I got three fast notes from an HR director from an Indian company this morning. He and I had started chatting about organizational development and he wondered how my tools could impact the workplace, if they worked for managers, which one would be best and the difference between the downloadable and the LMS. And this happened in four successive short emails…

So, I started responding and realized it would make a good blog, since the focus is on helping managers impact organizational performance, and keeping things simple and straightforward.

So a few thoughts to frame this discussion:

  • All of my products are designed so that managers can deliver them without any support from Training or HR. That simply makes sense, given how isolated those departments can be from organizational reality. They are simply too busy doing other things of a higher priority to directly help managers.
  • Managers NEED tools to help them improve active involvement and clarify organizational alignment and deal with issues of people and performance.
  • Simple straightforward packages that do not require heavy train the trainer or psychological principles are much more useful than the complicated models that we often use in consulting or training. Simple tools to address real problems in straightforward ways are simply better, if they can be made available.
  • Tools to involve and engage workers for process improvement and innovation or to help actively involve and engage them in productivity increases are practical, and those that build teamwork and collaboration are even more important over the long run.

Managers need to be better motivators and workers need to be more innovative and productive and motivated.

But managers and supervisors are often incredibly over-burdened with other responsibilities and priorities that it makes their interpersonal communications very hard to accomplish. One survey said that managers have more contact with their remote workers than they do with the people who share office space with them.

What I have been writing about lately is the theme of Disruptive Engagement, with the premise that ideas coming from the bottoms up are so much more likely to actually occur than things driven from the tops down. You can read more about that in my other posts on leadership and innovation.

And managers have to be more actively engaged in their workplaces and with their people. To illustrate, Gallup found that managers working for engaged leaders are 39% more likely to be themselves engaged and that employees working for engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged, something they referred to as The Cascade Effect.

Of course this makes logical sense but the numbers are pretty startling if you consider the flip-side and the issues around working for UN-engaged leaders and managers. Gallup also reports that 51% of managers are not engaged and that 14% are actively disengaged. Scary.

With The Square Wheels Project, we offer an online training program that any supervisor can take to improve their group facilitation and team building skills and they also get a Square Wheels Toolkit of powerpoints and worksheet handouts to capture ideas and generate considered alternatives for improvement.

With the Stupidly Simple Square Wheels Toolkit, we offer a complete and easy to understand powerpoint-based training program, basically the materials supported by The Square Wheels Project but without the online training videos and other supporting modeling of delivery ideas.

The idea is to hold workplace meetings focused on identifying things that do not work smoothly for people and then identifying possibilities for improvement. I mean, what worker, where, does not have ideas to make things work more better faster? But nobody listens to them and few bosses seem to care, so those ideas simply languish. The beauty of Square Wheels is the generality of the metaphor – things thump and bump but Round Wheels are already in the wagon. Don’t Just DO Something, Stand There!

So, now that we have people talking, things can progress like this, with the first image representing a compendium of workplace realities, present day:

Square Wheels Project Motivational Reality in the workplace

But then we start talking and acting on ideas:

Active workplace improvement starts things rolling

And, if we follow through and keep communicating as well as involving and engaging other people (recruitment), we can see more of some things like this:

More weeks and more celebrations of improvements in organizational development

Idealistic? NO. There are thousands of examples of this kind of impact, person to person. While there is no silver bullet since organizational cultures and issues around trust and leadership vary so widely, the reality is that Ask and Ye Shall Receive actually works quite well when one involves and engages teams of people in the improvement of their own work environment.

Lastly, we need to upskill the workers and managers on their issues of Dis-UN-empowerment and Dis-UN-Engagement, which is otherwise called Roadblock Management. People need the tools to mentally manage the issues that appear when any kind of change process is happening and having peer support for improvement is a valuable factor. We have a simple toolkit and model for Roadblock Management, too!

Roadbloc Management Square Wheels Toolkit for Managers

As I said earlier, we do not believe that all this stuff is rocket science. There is an elegant simplicity in our approach, one that negates a lot of the apparent complexity that often prevents people from moving forward. Our tools are all about rolling forward more better faster.

My understanding, based on a doctorate in behavioral neurophysiology and early consulting work with people like Ed Feeney and Tom Gilbert and Ken Junkins drove me to believe that performance feedback is the breakfast of champions and that active involvement and ownership is what drives real motivation. Using Square Wheels® to create a perceptual gap between how things are and how they could be (Round Wheels) is simple cognitive dissonance.


For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

One of the best team building exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
Twitter @scottsimmerman

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

FREE The Supervisor – thoughts on Disruptive Positive Active Engagement

Free The Supervisor might be my new chant as I continue to research and discuss and consider the reality of most workplaces. In a simple phrase, “They Get Pressed.”

Remember – The ONLY people who actually produce any income for an organization are the workers. All of the management function as overhead costs. And who actually manages the workers?

Here is a defined, analyzed, job and task description of the job of Supervisor, from the ReferenceForBusiness.com website (abridged because it was WAY too long and detailed):

The Role of The Supervisor:

Supervisors play an important role in the business environment. Their primary job is to see that the work performed by employees is completed on time and at the highest level of quality. In order to complete this task, they must know the production process and have an understanding of human behavior. Theirs is a pressure-filled job.

It is their job to write reports, letters, memos, performance appraisals, and the gamut of documents that businesses need to operate. They must be equally comfortable in communicating with chief executive officers and assemblyline production workers. They must be able to run effective meetings. They must carefully monitor the organization’s goals, strategies, tactics, and production schedules. They must be cognizant of union rules where applicable. They must be trainers, confidants, computer experts, goal setters—in short, supervisors must be well-rounded employees who are willing to accept the responsibilities required to keep a company running.

Job duties include

Supervisor as Communicator.
Supervisor as Trainer.
Supervisor as Student.
Supervisor as Goal Setter.
Supervisor as Evaluator.
Supervisor as Human Resources Specialist.
Supervisor as Computer Expert.
Supervisor as Producer.
Supervisor as Adviser.
Supervisor as Idea Champion.
Supervisor as Environmental Watchdog.
Supervisor as International Manager.

But, as I shared in other articles and blogs, and despite corporations spending billions of dollars in survey fees and executive and management time focused on improving active involvement and motivating the workers to improve productivity and performance, the Supervisors still do not apparently get it, since results do not improve. Let’s blame them for the performance problems, right?

No! Let’s look at task interference, our measurement and expectation systems, what we give feedback about from the management team (if asked about engagement once every few months, you can expect a focus on engagement every few months…).

I keep hearing about EMPOWERMENT as a driver of engagement, yet a simple observation will show that most people in most organizations are un-empowered. So, who will do the DIS-un-empowerment and focus on the removal of perceived and actual roadblocks other than The Supervisor? (Certainly not HR!)

SO.

  • Why not try to make the Supervisors a bit less constrained and a lot more able to do what they want to do in regards to actively involving their people, building teams, solving workplace improvement issues and things like that?
  • Why not look to FREE them up from some of those duties listed above. Let’s do away with performance appraisals (by any name) and let’s reduce the clerical burden.
  • Let’s free them up from all the administrative minuscule and even give them some training. Let’s give them more skills and more confidence to use those skills through support from their managers.
  • Let’s make them more like Facilitators than Bosses (since BOSS spelled-backwards is self-explanatory).

Disruptive engagement supervisors and motivation

There is no one simple way to do this; there are lots of ways to do this but we have to make the choice to make things happen. Look, the very brave supervisors already do this now, and you know who they are. They are the ones with the exemplary results. I mean, how else can you explain those results?

Taking a quote from Conant, “Behold the Supervisor who, like the turtle, only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.

Let’s get the supervisors and their people to break the things that are already broken and get more motivated because they can fix things and make improvements,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

 

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

Simurise Learning Solutions enters the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine fray

For a number of years, we have been working with Solomon Salvis to deliver our team building and organizational development products in Asia and it is really great to have him come online with his new website. Now based in Singapore, he is expanding this teambuilding and leadership development work and product sales for that marketplace.

Simurise Learning Solutions is my exclusive distributor, worldwide. And while any of our users can resell my products to their clients, Solomon’s expertise and exposure should make distribution and development much more interesting.

Solomon is also a solid presenter and facilitator and is building his delivery and support teams to support a variety of workplace improvement initiatives and collaborative partnerships throughout the region.

If you want a reliable supporter for your teambuilding or organizational development / experiential learning needs and are in the Asian Marketplace, my suggestion is to contact Solomon.

It has been great fun to build the global network of users and to gain so much positive feedback about the exercise and it impacts. You can see a summary of user comments from a survey we did a while back; this is something I think we need to do with all of Solomon’s new user / customers. After all,

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine debriefing card

And, we are in the midst of rolling out a special version of our game to HRDQ’s distribution channel as well as upgrading all of our materials with various LEGO® scenes to add color and more impact to the presentations and discussions. It continues to be a fun as well as most excellent journey to impact workplace collaboration and alignment.

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine debriefing question

Rock and Roll!

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

The Christopher Columbus Award for Leadership

We were playing around with ideas for “Leadership Awards” a few years ago and I had my artist, Roy Sabean, craft up one for me. Since that time, there have been a lot of pretty negative articles written about this guy and a lot of discussion about removing his name as a national holiday. You can get into the history of why that day was named with a simple search…

Anyway, we have this award that you should find humorous. And it could certainly be a common one for a lot of people, but that is up to how you think about things.

So, here is the trophy and award and here is a poem for your enjoyment and edification!

and the poem to support the thinking:

Oh, and there is also another pretty funny thing about all this. There is a statue erected in his honor completed in 1888 in Barcelona, Spain. The belief is that he was born in Catalonia and thus Spain could claim him. At the top of the tall monument at the base of las Ramblas, he is pointing. People say that he is pointing to America, but that of course is not true. He is actually pointing south-east toward the city of Constantine in Algeria. Even in statue form, he is not sure where he is, apparently.

(I was there; saw the statue. And I should have taken a picture, maybe… Ah well.)

Have FUN out there, and try to do something to clarify where you are going, why you are going there, and how others can support you on your journey. Take some oranges along, too, and prevent scurvy!

At Performance Management Company, we play with metaphors and experiential learning tools such as our Square Wheels® images and toolkits and our team building games. Very solid stuff, very high rated and impactful, and relatively cheap.


For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

 

 

 

Disruptive Engagement, Supervisors, Empowerment and Performance Improvement

I listened to a great presentation yesterday by Mercer on managing engagement, the need to focus on key metrics but the reality of driving behavior at the very bottom of the organization, which is what engagement is. Nicely presented, with great graphics. And I look forward to getting a copy of the information, statistics and related materials.

On the other hand, it seemed to have nothing actionable. It focused on senior managers and HR and organizational statistics and surveys and never once directly mentioned the Supervisors, to my recollection, as being involved in this “involvement and empowerment and engagement stuff.”

It is totally clear that workers and supervisors and managers are basically un-involved and un-engaged in so many workplaces.  And it is management effectiveness AND the workplace environment that is behind this problem. It is NOT a “senior management leadership issue” that can be corrected with more surveys and more executive development.

To illustrate:

Gallup:

  • only ONE IN FOUR employees “strongly agree” that their supervisor provides meaningful feedback to them, that the feedback they receive helps them do better work.
  • Only 21% of employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.

DDI reported

  • 87% of first-time supervisors feel frustrated, anxious and uncertain about their new role
  • Only 11% said they were groomed for that role through some developmental training or program.

Rick Bell shared some statistics in the March issue of Workforce magazine about how badly workers are being supervised

  • 35% of US workers would forgo a raise to see their boss fired
  • 44% of employees say they have been emotionally or physically abused by a supervisor
  • 3 of 4 workers say that their boss is the worst / most stressful part of the job

Again:

It is NOT a “senior management leadership issue” that can be
corrected with more surveys and more executive development.

The issue here is basic supervision, basic leadership at the front lines. People are uninvolved and frustrated, so the solutions are about Dis-un-engagement and Dis-un-empowerment. *

The solution requires involving workers in workplace improvement for both process improvement and more self-determination and personal growth. It is about demonstrating that the supervisor is actively listening and helping to implement ideas. It is about the workers and the management team removing roadblocks that are perceived to be operating that are blocking engagement and the ability to act empowered. Simply, it is about facilitation and feedback.

*Note – I do not believe that it is possible to directly engage or empower someone else. You cannot change their internal workings, directly. What you can do is address their perceived issues and determine what they think blocks their acting in a more involved manner. Roadblock removal is kind of like coaching, only it can be done in a group or team setting. It is accomplished by ASKING FOR THEIR PERCEPTIONS ABOUT HOW THINGS WORK and what they might try to do differently. Remember that “Nobody ever washes a rental car,” and that “Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled.”

The Square Wheels Project is a simple online training program focused on using the metaphor of Square Wheels® as a tool for communicating about issues and opportunities, and it is accomplished by teaching the supervisor basic facilitation skills and providing a simple and bombproof tool for leading discussions. It also supports these supervisors with peer-level communications about issues and questions and dealing with problems and politics.

The Solutions:

We do not share any silver bullets about how to fix these problems. You can see some additional thoughts around implementation in this other blog post. Every organization has its own blend of communications and cultural issues. But the removal of perceived roadblocks to implementing ideas for performance improvement is intrinsically motivation and a way to address common fears around implementing change. (See Dan Stones article about overcoming team fears here)

But, operationally, it looks something like this: Let people play with Round Wheels since they are currently operating on Square ones…

positive disruptive engagement and Square Wheels becomming round ones

So, without cost or training or doing anything but downloading two pdf files, go play with this idea. Below is the really simple explanation of how it works.

Print out the two card-based worksheets. (SWs One 2017 What Might Be Cards to Print and SWs One 2017 How Does Cards to Print)

Square Wheels card

 

 

 

 

 

Cut each of the pages above into 10 relatively similar-sized “business cards.”

1 – Give a “how does this represent how things really work” card (left) to each person in your meeting and have them discuss the image in small groups. Let them consider possibilities. Ask them to share their thoughts.

2 – After discussion, give one “what might be some of our Square Wheels” card to each person and then ask them for some of their thoughts.

3 – Process the ideas as you wish. Do not defend the status quo but consider these thoughts and ideas as possibilities. “What else?” is a good response.

If you like what you see, which might start out with some discussion about the problems of processes and leadership and teamwork and ideas in a general workplace situation and the transition into what some of the issues might be in your workplace, you will get some idea of the power of this metaphor for changing thinking, language and goal-directed performance improvement.

We have a variety of workplace improvement tools available for purchase, all framed around the idea of changing people’s perceptions and behavior, driving improved teamwork and communications, and generally working to disrupt the way things are and create a more positive workplace.

 For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com


Scott’s blog on themes of People and Performance is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

Disruptive Engagement and Radical Candor by Scott Simmerman


The Performance Management Company blog is found at www.PerformanceManagementCompanyBlog.com

The Square Wheels Project is found on Udemy, and you can access this online supervisory facilitation skills training program, complete with downloadable powerpoint slides, printed handouts and other support materials at www.TheSquareWheelsProject.com

Dr. Scott Simmerman holds a doctorate degree in behavioral neurophysiology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a Certified Training Professional through the IAPPD and a Certified Professional Facilitator by the International Association of Facilitators. His LinkedIn bio is extensive and found at http://www.linkedin.com/in/scottsimmerman

Feedback, Team Building, Ideas and Accountability

Debriefing Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is where we continue to mine  organizational development gold. And there is plenty of gold to mine if we can act to do things more collaboratively and with better planning, alignment, and communications.

People have fun playing the Lost Dutchman exercise and problem solving and even competing but when the sugar hits the fan in the debriefing, they realize how they missed the message of collaboration and optimization, and that they played well as a team but not so well as a group. And it is the overall group results that are most important — who cares who won if our overall success was sub-optimized?

With that as a framework and because I am working up a new powerpoint debriefing toolkit for our game, my thought was to share a feedback mechanism that has a wide variety of constructs and applications for impacting accountability and collective engagement. Since I reference it briefly in the powerpoint, I thought to expand upon it in here for my general readers, customers and colleagues. It is a general tool for driving more active involvement and feedback, one you can easily adapt to any training program with a slight twist of metaphor.

The goal of the Dutchman game is simply expressed:

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine debriefing card

This message happens repeatedly in the introduction and this visual is printed on business card stock used during the debriefing. We give these cards out as a tool to reinforce the overall theme — note the WE, because the game is focused on optimizing overall ROI.

The predictable result of play, though, can be expressed with this illustration:

My Team - artwork from The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine

We call this, “My Team, My Team, My Team”

Tabletops often choose to compete and focus on their own results and thus they do not collaborate much and focus on optimizing ROI for the group, the WE part of this is bigger than that tabletop. If collaborating, they can often improve overall results 20% or 30% with no other changes. If competing, they do not help the other teams improve their results.

In addition to tabletop and group discussions around issues and opportunities, it is often useful to generate a bit more kinesthetic feedback and accountability from the post-game review of play, so we sometimes choose to have people write on the back of those cards. We can do things like this:

  • Pick someone in the room who you think could choose to improve their teamwork and give them a specific suggestion as to what they might do differently. Put their name on the top and an actionable idea in the body. You can be anonymous if you wish.
  • Select one good idea from what we discussed and write it on the card. We will collect the cards and summarize the ideas back to you as part of our followup.
  • Give ME (the actual company Expedition Leader and not the exercise facilitator) ONE GOOD IDEA about what I should do differently to help our organization improve its performance. It can be signed or anonymous but please make it valuable!
  • Write down one good idea that you want to implement in the next couple of weeks and put that card into your wallet. Expect an email from me on (date) to remind you to look at your card and see if you have been able to accomplish that idea.

The cards are thus a flexible tool for getting one more behavioral commitment to apply to the group dynamics, and followup is certainly the key to installing any kinds of organizational change from a training results.

The cards can be randomly collected or the collection assigned to the Team Leader for gathering so that you can get a card from each player. If everyone contributes, it generates a bit more social pressure to actually do something differently; it is one more grain of sand on the scale of commitment.

The idea is to use these cards to stimulate thinking about specific desired behaviors that can be changed or improved and that would have impacts on the collective, on the entire group so that it can operate more better faster to improve overall results.

If we continue to do things the same way,
we can continue to expect the same results…

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

See user survey results for Lost Dutchman here: http://performancemanagementcompanyblog.com/2016/02/15/lost-dutchmans-gold-mine-team-building-exercise-survey-results/

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

See Scott’s LinkedIn profile here:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/scottsimmerman

 

 

Thoughts on Facilitating Best Practices Discussions

The idea behind this post is to outline a process to actively involve and engage a group of senior managers in the effort to elicit, share, discuss and ideally implement some of their best business practices. We had the chance to involve 8 different companies operating under one parent organization with the goal of improving teamwork and collaboration, but to really look to generate commitment to change.

General thoughts and ideas:

  • The theme is the discussion of best practices and things that teams could implement after the session.
  • The thought is that best practices already exist, and that these people have some new ideas to discuss.
  • The reality is, seriously, that, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world” (John LeCarre) and that, “Nobody ever washes a rental car.”
  • Learning best occurs when one actively interacts in a collaborative intellectual environment and that one needs to look at things from a different perspective.

Framework:

My basic belief is that few things work smoothly and that there are always better ideas within the organization. People are working hard, often too hard, and seldom choose to step back and look for ideas for improvement. Fear is also an issue, in that people do not want to look stupid or be wrong. My colleague, Dan Stones, framed it up with this image and a solid blog post about overcoming the fears that are paralyzing teams (blog post is here).

Fear negatively impacts people, teamwork, and performance

One of Dan’s key points is that communications is critical to involving and engaging people for improved teamwork and the impacts on performance and things like innovation. And another is the fear is the mindkiller, that fear is what limits people from being involved and engaged and actively participating and thinking about improvements in their workplaces.

Square Wheels:

I’ve been playing with a metaphor about how organizations really work since 1993, using this in a wide variety of developmental situations globally. The idea is framed up visually and allowing people time to consider possibilities is very useful in changing thinking patterns, generating some behavioral flexibility and making it a reality that no one has all the answers, that the collective body of knowledge about how things work is what is important.

So, let me propose that people at a meeting like this take 20 to 30 minutes at the start of the brainstorming and best practice discussion session to look at an image and then do most of the following:

Square Wheels One is a metaphor for performance improvement by Scott Simmerman

  • Think. How might this image reflect on how things really work in most organizations?
  • Allow thinking time for personal consideration of issues and perspectives.
  • Change the language of continuous continuous improvement and best practices.
  • Put the leadership and support people in a proper place for perspective – not doing things but stand there, observing.
  • Share a metaphor and a simple language they can use with their people (and do a bit of train the trainer for their facilitation).
  • Produce and use a language of innovation and organizational improvement.
  • Model and teach an approach to facilitating discussions, and
  • Set the stage for a great deal of interactive discussion about possibilities and thoughts on what represent current best practices or possibilities.

The Tool and The Process — The process is deceptively powerful but is also straightforward and simple to execute:

   How might this represent how organizations really work?

Allow people to think for a minute without discussion and then have a discussion at the tabletops set for 5 or 6 people. To save time, instead of allowing each tabletop to share their key thoughts and ideas, you can give each table this image in the center of a sheet of easel pad paper and allow them 5 to 8 minutes to capture their ideas and post on the wall in one area of the room.

Someone from each table or the facilitator would then briefly summarize some key learning points and some main ideas, understanding that tables probably generated a lot more varied and different ideas, simply because each table and each person sees things differently.

Key points of the basic image –

  • Wagon works to hold cargo
  • Leader pulling efficiently
  • Workers pushing efficiently
  • Wagon rolling on Square Wheels, which work but not smoothly
  • Round Wheels already in wagon
  • Little communications, little perspective and everyone too busy to stop and LOOK at things

The next steps then become organizational, whereby the tabletops are asked to generate a list of some thing they consider Square Wheels, things that work but that do not work smoothly. A key here is for the understanding that, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world” and that they are typically VERY far from the hands-on experiences of the workforce; the reality is that they have a tops-view but not much actual knowledge of what can be addressed or done differently.

The goal is for each tabletop to generate THREE or four SPECIFICALLY DESCRIBED Square Wheels in a language that would leave no question as to what they were referring to if looked at by someone not at the conference 6 months later.

ALL those sheets get posted, all over the room (and away from the first sheets) and then we do voting.

  • Every person is given four green-colored stick-on-dots and asked to vote by posting on what would have the BIGGEST IMPACT on profitability if addressed.
  • Every person is given four red-colored stick on dots and asked to vote on what they think is the MOST IMPORTANT issue for the company over the next 2 years.

(The Rule is that they cannot vote on their own work)

Then, people are given a break time that is focused on “forced browsing” and looking at issues and opportunities and with a goal of finding something that they wanted to spend some time working on. They casually can individually review the thoughts or discuss ideas with others, un-managed and un-constrained. This can generate insight as well as continuing to enhance the ownership.

Then, when the group reconvenes, people are asked to self-organize into workable teams of no more than 5 to 6 people to play with ideas around the issues and opportunities they chose to work on. More than one group can work on the same problem. You can use SWOTS or other kinds of 4-frame worksheets or any other mode to capture ideas.

Each problem selected could be given a very specific hashtag (#sws-521-bxk for example, on the top of the final recommendation worksheet product) and people could be asked to post additional ideas as certain work is discussed on issues not their own or whatever. Thus, ideas could be shared through Twitter for later followup. (Note that there are lots of ways to do the back-end collection of information and to generate some collaborative team followup.)

But the idea is to teach them how to do an interactive facilitation of workplace ideas for improvement. The Big Idea here is to have them understand the process and for that leadership team to do a similar conference with their own people and organizations, with a broad mix of wagon pushers and pullers involved and focused on ideas for improvement.

Senior management facilitating ideas is a powerful additional way of Managing by Wandering Around, especially when they are facilitating and not forcing their ideas on the organization.

Basic Philosophy of all this:

A Desk IS a dangerous place for ideas to be generated, since front-end wagon pullers tend to be very removed from the hands-on operational reality of how best practices really work at the hands-on worker level. It is the exemplary employee who is using those best practices and who knows specifically how to optimize results and get things done at an operational level. We need more sharing at that level to make improvements in performance and to generate innovation.

  • IF there IS a good idea coming down from the top, we often miss the opportunity to involve and engage the people in workplace improvement to support it AND that idea is generally resisted.
  • In some workplace cultures, every idea from management will meet active resistance and sometimes even sabotage from the employees.

But, if that idea is from the employees, it is often pretty easy to support their ownership and give them what they need to manage roadblocks to implementation.

By involving people and gaining their perspective and ideas, we can go #morebetterfaster and increase motivation and engagement and drive down fear of contributing.

#morebetterfaster performance improvement poster by Scott Simmerman

Let me end with my favorite quotes:

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman, Ph. D., CPF, CPT – “The Square Wheels Guy”
Performance Management Company – 864-292-8700
3 Old Oak Drive    Taylors, SC 29687
Scott@SquareWheels.com

– Tools for Training and Development
<www.performancemanagementcompany.com>

Dr. Simmerman is a Certified Professional Facilitator (IAF) and a Certified Professional Trainer (IAPPD)


Performance Management Company (PMC) has no affiliation with the LEGO® Group nor does it use materials or methodology from LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® or other related organizations. None of our images knowingly reflect any copyrighted or trademarked materials of any other organization. The LEGO Group does not sponsor, authorize or endorse any of these materials. 

 

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark and The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine™ is a trademark  of Performance Management Company and all materials produced by PMC remain the intellectual property of PMC.


Additional information about improving facilitation skills and about using the Square Wheels image tools can be found at www.TheSquareWheelsProject.com

Dan Stones is the operational partner on The Square Wheels Project, a Udemy-supported course on facilitation skills and my general theme of Disruptive Engagement. (http://performancemanagementcompanyblog.com/2017/05/11/corporate-engagement-hasnt-worked-why-not-try-disruptive-engagement/ )

The url for Dan Stones’ blog post on “How to Overcome the Two Fears Paralysing Your Team” is https://medium.com/@dan_stones/how-to-conquer-the-two-fears-currently-paralysing-your-team-6becf1c13a13

 

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