Performance Management Company Blog

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

Category: Engagement (Page 1 of 17)

Branding, Change, Marketing and Square Wheels

We sell simple tools for communications and engagement and have been doing it now for 25 years. We had a consistent brand image for 20+ but then decided to shift and now we are faced with the perplexing problem of shifting again. I am guessing that this is a common problem but also asking for some perspective and dialog, since what we do is about communications and engagement. (Can you see the paradox there?)

Stay tuned if you want to receive a free engagement toolkit!

My trademark is Square Wheels®. And started out using this image as an engagement and development tool in the context of,

“How might this illustration represent
how organizations really work?”

The original image, with so little context, works wonderfully as a Rorschach test, in that people projected their beliefs onto it and the responses from a group of people were pretty amazingly diverse and creative. It always worked to generate great ideas about issues of the things that did not work smoothly and the Round Wheels that already existed and could be implemented. The year was 1993 and the image looked like this:

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of PMC and © 119.This wagon rolled forward for a LOT of years and lots of miles, with me presenting sessions in almost 40 countries and initially selling transparency-based books and then powerpoint illustrations as toolkits for change, motivation, etc. It got me to be known as, The Square Wheels Guy.

But more recently, things happened and we started shifting over to using LEGO® blocks and Technics people to represent the themes and ideas, creating various scenes and frameworks that continues today and have moved into our other product designs and toolkits that continue to evolve.

Those images and scenes anchor to the same metaphor but represent themselves this way:

Square Wheels One LEGO image by Scott SimmermanAnd we think this is a big improvement. The goal of showing the image is to generate active involvement and diverse thinking about how things work and what things might be done differently. The key points are quite obvious and people project their thoughts about their workplaces onto the visual.

These conversations around what it might represent as an organizational reality tend to focus on people, engagement, active involvement, innovation, leadership, motivation and similar. They are about issues, opportunities and implementation. They are about innovation and best practices and collaborative dis-un-engagement.

And we package a number of very simple toolkits as well as an online course so that supervisors and team leaders can learn facilitation skills. We have also used the LEGO scenes to create some stop-motion videos, which are easy to do and which would be much harder with line art.

This is NOT rocket science, to show an image and generate a discussion. It is a powerful but elegantly simple tool to generate real discussions about perceived workplace issues.

In our efforts to broaden exposure, we engaged with an organization to sell an Icebreaker toolkit around this theme to their customer base, which is different than mine but very congruent. It is a framework for collaboration and co-marketing that seems to have no downside.

As the two companies discussed this Icebreaker possibility, her staff came up with the idea of using a different representation of the Square Wheels® theme and suggested using an image that looked like this:

An alternative version of Square Wheels OneSo, I am faced with a marketing decision with a variety of factors.

  • Does the above image represent an improvement or is it simply a dilution of my intellectual property?
  • Is the image itself going to generate better discussions about organizational reality and issues and opportunities, since it IS a very different scenario and has different features.
  • Is the last image going to get the positive reactions from discussion participants like the first two does?

And another set of questions:

  • If you were to change the latter image, how would you change it to improve its effect in generating engagement and ideas?
  • Which image do you personally prefer and why?

Your thoughts on the above would be most appreciated, and if you share a useful informative considered opinion or idea as a comment, I will send you a free toolkit to play with,

 

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.

Scott and Dan Stones built The Square Wheels Project as an LMS, sharing tools and training to support Disruptive Engagement in the workplace.

Visit The Square Wheels Project at www.TheSquareWheelsProject.com

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 T
he LEGO® Group®

© Performance Management Company, 1993 – 2017. All Rights Reserved.
PMC has no affiliation or relationship with The LEGO® Group®

Please Note: The offer of a free Square Wheels Toolkit is limited to the first twenty (20) people who share a relevant and useful comment about the image dilemma and its resolution.

 

 

“It makes sense to us” – Thoughts on disengagement and customer service quality

A trip to the library should be enlightening, and I read a lot of books so I go at least twice a month. I usually have my card and the transaction process for checkout works fine. That is unless you bang up into a dis-engaged person running a rigid transaction processing system that is NOT customer oriented.

I had a book on reserve that had a pickup deadline and I was returning that day from a camping trip, pretty scruffy as well as somewhat disorganized, but certainly relaxed. Then I made the mistake in thinking that just because I was a regular customer to this small branch, the transactions could be accomplished without my library card.

I thus went into the library with:

  • a book checked out in my name (it was a science book – who reads those?)
  • a book reserved on the shelf with my name
  • no wallet, it being temporarily lost among all my camping gear that was on the floor of the garage, so no picture ID or library card.

So, could we simply do this transaction? Nope. I was required to have a picture ID. They said that someone could have stolen the book I was returning to pretend they were me so that they could steal a book that no one would know that I had reserved. (That somehow made sense to them and I guess there must be a big black market in stolen library books by friends of people who get books from the local library that I am unaware of.)

They also call this their Privacy Policy, as if there was some aspect of my personal privacy that they were protecting.

And when I asked them to comment about the policy, one that focuses only processing and handling transactions and not on helping customers, one of them said that they like it as it is and that, “It makes sense to us.”

(The library management, BTW, drives the policy and the supervisor was no more helpful than the clerk. Even showing her a picture of my mother’s driving license (Mom is 98 and does not drive, but her ID is valid) and with the same last name was not sufficient to indicate my probable personal identity, nor was the fact that my phone list shows “OWNER – Scott Simmerman” as the first entry in the numbers and it requires my thumbprint to even open the phone!)

Image of customer dissatisfaction policy

“It makes sense to us!'”

Really? Does that process make sense to customers? I mean, what is my exposure here from a privacy standpoint? The Federal Government set up a commission that is demanding the states release voter names and social security numbers and addresses and voting affiliations and voting history to supposedly prevent future in-person voter fraud (which exists in a tiny percentage) but my LIBRARIAN is going to protect by privacy by not lending out a reserved book in my name without a picture ID?

How would any potential thief even know that the requested book was in my name on the shelf? And some internal thief could certainly just take the book and walk out if the marketplace was that lucrative for stolen library books, right?

Solution:

A simple solution is that the leadership of the library would be to get the clerks to improve their service by calling the customers by name.

I see the person that cuts my hair a lot less than my library visits and THEY always call me by name… That is a fairly common thing and positive thing for organizations with a small customer base and repeat customers.

The team should realize that some reasonable security is important, but that some judgement can also apply. I just put a picture of my drivers’ license on my phone (there was one on there but with 30,000 images, I simply could not find it quickly). And, I am asking each clerk to repeat back my account number when I check out a book. I am thinking of testing the system again without a proper ID…

The leadership should allow their people to act with judgement and sort through the situation logically and allow intelligent and reasonable deviations from their policies, procedures, rules and regulations. They could have asked me for some history of what I had borrowed in the past, or my address or phone. But they made NO attempt to think through how I might be verified. They simply said NO.

The library is not the DMV, where people might be trying to get fake IDs. It is The Library! They have books and tapes, not jewelry or gold coins. Nobody is trying to really steal from them, are they?

The leadership could CHOOSE to do things differently and the management could dis-un-empower the clerks to deal with their taxpaying customers in a bit more friendly way.They should not have stupid, inflexible systems that frustrate their taxpaying customers or their employees.

I am also publishing a short letter on this in the local newspaper, since I cannot be the only person this has happened to and we DO pay for their books, building and salaries, right?

I also came back to this and redid the graphic just a little. They really DO need to have some Disruptive Engagement and arrive at a  better customer service quality standard. Processing and handling transactions is NOT service quality, meeting expectations actually defines it. Managers need to have policies that empower people to make good decisions, not simply defend a bad policy!

positive disruptive engagement and customer service empwerment

 

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

 

 

 

Positive Disruptive Employee Engagement for Innovation and Motivation

It is funny, if you google the word DISRUPTIVE, most of the associated descriptive links will be on negative things and that the main positive framework is the link to Disruptive Innovation, where it spins around to be The Good Thing.

When I use the term, “Disruptive Engagement,” many people’s’ first reactions seem to be that it must mean chaos and that chaos is bad. On the other hand, what we are framing is the positive aspect of active employee involvement that will be generated from the bottoms up, from the interactions and ideas of workers and supervisors. Disruptive impacts are on the corporate control and management systems that are generally working against engagement.

 

Let me reframe that:

Positive Disruptive Employee Engagement will actually translate to active involvement, intrinsic motivation, facilitative behavior by supervisors and managers, and a broad swath of innovation from a wide variety of hands-on perspectives. If you will step back from your organizational wagon, you are likely to identify Best Practices.

Best Practices are those things that a few people are actually doing that makes them exemplary performers. Some people are exemplary performers because — wait for it… They do things differently than everybody else!

Translating to my lexicon, exemplary performers generally use Round Wheels in a world full of Square ones. They choose to do things differently. They have developed a more efficient or more effective ways to do things. Often, they break — sorry, BEND — the existing rules, policies and procedures to do things #morebetterfaster than other people. And the absolutely crazy thing is that most managers are not really sure what these performers actually do. And few other workers ever bother to try to model those behaviors and actions and processes.

Those old Square Wheels® continue to thump and bump, predictably and safely unless we decide to look about doing things differently. People cannot make different choices if they do not have considered alternatives, and those will not come from sitting around doing the same old, same old. The need is for perspective, along with a desire to do things differently, which comes from cognitive dissonance.

illustrated quote of Leonardo da Vinci using Square Wheels

Recognize that we need to actively search for opportunities for improvement and better ideas, and not just sit around expecting things to change because someone else will change them.

If not YOU, who? If not NOW, when?

“If it is to be, it is up to me,” should be the mantra of all supervisors everywhere, along with the recognition that there is NOT going to be a lot of help from elsewhere to get things done, to motivate people or to make the improvements that are necessary to continue the innovation and productivity improvement prospects. Supervisors are pretty much on their own when it comes to people development and process improvement and motivation in most organizations.

What I am proposing here is for people to step back from the wagon and look at how things are working and what possibilities exist. Supervisors can ask the questions and listen for the ideas, proposing that people consider different alternatives and choices in what they do.

But the ideas come from the people and are not simply more stuff rolling downhill from somewhere else. The supervisor facilitates, rather than lectures. The participants discuss their issues of possibilities, fear of risk-taking, problems of implementation and the issues surrounding peer support and teamwork.

The ideas are around changing perceptions about possibilities and about shared learning around choices. The skills needed are straightforward and focus on asking for ideas, asking for commitment and asking about progress as things roll forward. Problems are around generating active ownership of the improvement ideas and managing actual and perceived roadblocks to implementation.

Can’t we all just work together to get things done?

 

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.

Scott and Dan Stones built The Square Wheels Project as an LMS, sharing tools and training to support Disruptive Engagement in the workplace.

Visit The Square Wheels Project at www.TheSquareWheelsProject.com

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

 

 

 

Dr. Seuss on Disruptive Engagement

Even Dr. Seuss would understand about the issues and opportunities around the positive impacts of supervisors leading more active involvement to make impacts on people and performance. The data are simply so clear that people DO have ideas for improvement but that no one in the organization facilitates the process of capturing those ideas. Thus, there are large gaps in innovation and quality and productivity because possibilities simply are not realized.

I’ve blogged elsewhere about the general idea of Disruptive Engagement but I thought that one image, simplifying to the stupidly understandable level, might generate some actual thinking about choices and doing things differently! (grin)

The Square Wheels Project Dr. Seuss framework

People have ideas for improvement, the Round Wheels are already in the wagon. But they interact with their supervisors, who generally choose to NOT do things differently because of risk or time or task interference or the lack of collaboration from other departments. “I’m here from Human Resources to help you,” is such a “reality joke” in so many places because they are structurally unable to help, too.

If things are going to improve, it is going to be the people who choose to improve things. And it is going to come from increased collaboration and alignment to shared goals. Do some effective team building (see why I hate outdoor activities)!

Facilitate Dis-UN-engagement and Dis-UN-empowerment with your people by choosing to actively involve them in some workplace improvement activities. Visit The Square Wheels Project for some simple tools and support,

 

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.

Scott and Dan Stones built The Square Wheels Project as an LMS, sharing tools and training to support Disruptive Engagement in the workplace.

Visit The Square Wheels Project at www.TheSquareWheelsProject.com

 
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

 

Facilitation, Learning and Motivation: The Supervisor

Networking and Idea Sharing are keys to generating considered alternatives and there are a LOT of ideas about impacting people and performance when people start thinking together and sharing perspectives and support. My thought was to write about workplace applications of this idea.

A couple of good email conversations got me moving again on this issue of Supervisor as Facilitator and how little downside there seems to be to that concept of them being idea encouragers or coaches. This is really a main part of their jobs, yet one where we do not seem to be supporting them with skill training or with tools.

Who but the Supervisor can motivate the workers?

One of the email threads developed the idea that people hate training, which a bunch of us jumped on pretty hard in the conversation. There does not seem to be any data to support this idea that I could find, but it is true that a lot of training is wasted in training that has no visible impact or result. And a lot of people do not want to GO to training simply because there is no ROI for it in their view. Not a lot of training is something that people really want to just jump into, for a lot of reasons. “You are going to a training program” is often met with the comment, “Why? What did I do wrong?”

Some of the training is off-target and irrelevant or totally boring, done by people with good intentions but who are not SMEs (subject matter experts) or who do not have hands-on experience in the issues (it would be like me doing time management training or sales training or teaching people how to speak English!).

A lot of trainees either see little relevance of that training to their work or career or that the new things learned will not be supported in the workplace. Past experience can be tough to overcome. And the reality is that the work generally piles up when people are gone.

And sometimes training might cause people to feel like they are being appraised and tested, or that they will be potentially embarrassed when trying to put those new behaviors into real play in their workplace. I think the phrase might be “fear of constructive criticism” or some such thing.

And is it really a training need? Can they do it if you gave them $500 or put a gun to their head? So, are supervisors the trainers or simply the coaches and the people doing the followup to install the desired behaviors?

So, it should be obvious that supervisors should be trainers but also coaches and supporters, especially as training through LMS and smartphones becomes more and more the norm. Supervisors should be mentors and performance coaches, supporting the small changes in behavior that result in more small changes in behavior, something we call incremental improvement (or reality!).

Who but the Supervisor can implement training?

Supervisors can also address The Fear Factor that so commonly affects workers and workplaces. My colleague Dan Stones has addressed that here, for example. Fear is the Mindkiller, and supervisors are absolutely the best people to address those issues and impact their workplaces. We need to do things differently!

But what about the fear within the supervisor for doing something differently? Who but their manager is going to support them as they try new things and do things differently? Human Resources? And who supports them if they make a mistake?

Fear a Square Wheels image

So who is going to do this serious human resource development (training, facilitation and engagement) in the workplaces and what outcomes do we expect? What tasks and commitments do we remove or eliminate to free up the time to do the coaching and mentoring? What current systems and processes are we going to have to disrupt to make new behaviors appear both on the shop floor and among the management team?

So, the question you need to ask is what needs to be done differently to really impact people and performance in your organization? Our management team generally has a good perspective in how organizational change is accomplished. For many based on what people report about their experiences, it looks something like this:

Supervisory Skills Training, before and after

We can make the choices to really do things differently. Will We?

Square Wheels Responsibility for Implementation

PMC has some simple tools that can support your improvement initiatives. Check out The Square Wheels Project or investigate our team building simulation, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. But more than anything else, look at what needs to fundamentally change within your management team to allow people to make improvements,

 

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

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

 

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/

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

 

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

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

 

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

What is your reaction to these statements?

  • “I’m from Human Resources and I am here to help you.”
  • “I’m from Management and I am here to help you.”
  • “I’m from Training and I am here to help you.”

Most of us workers can probably name names and share lots of personal experiences about having received that kind of “support” in our workplaces, where all that help was not able to change much of anything. Outsiders cannot help insiders very much because of organizational dynamics, regardless of good intentions.

Tons of statistics show that engagement still stinks, workers feel un-respected and un-involved and motivation basically sucks in so many workplaces. We’ve spent 50 years trying to drive this stuff tops-down with little to show for it other than the costs of our good intentions. (And, sure, there are exceptions, but I am speaking to the generalities and commonalities so often observed and expensed.)

People are un-engaged, often actively so. What does it take to do some DIS-un-engagement? Not much, I think. Data says that people want to improve things. The manager should be the motivator, right?

We do lots of surveys with the intentions of making improvements – those initiatives are generally always positive. HR wants to have positive impacts, managers want to improve results and Training and Development really does want to improve skills., dynamics of leadership, and impact collaboration. But it is simply the case that few things driven from the top will make much of a difference at the bottom. Why?

“Nobody ever washes a rental car.”

It’s just basic human nature. Few people take good care of things that they do not own, and that same ownership applies to how they approach their jobs. Sure, if that rental car is completely trashed, they might clean it up a little so they are not embarrassed, but that does not translate to any kind of exceptional care. They would do things differently if they felt ownership. If people do not feel a sense of participative involvement, it should even surprise you that they do anything more than the minimum.

So, what DO you do? Maybe it is to look for ways to do things from the bottoms-up. Maybe that supervisor can change the nature of how they actively involve people in their workplaces, asking for ideas for improvement or for better ways to collaborate or share information or resources. They become facilitators, they involve and actively engage and support innovation and chaos.

People unmotivated for work

INvolving and engaging people for workplace improvement

Asking for ideas for workplace innovation and improvement

Implementation is chaos

There exists no proven process or designed formula for how to accomplish this; there are too many variables. But the simple, basic idea is that each supervisor take the responsibility for asking their people for workplace improvement ideas and facilitating discussions of possibilities. This generates ownership involvement and active participation. From those ideas, you then determine an approach or approaches to implement them, with the supervisor managing the resources of time and money and roadblocks and interdepartmental collaboration to allow the natural teams to generate some successes.

How to move forward? Do some facilitation skills training and discover and clarify how the best-implemented programs of improvement were accomplished within your organization in the past, since those best practices are more likely to align with the culture and feel more comfortable to people. (It is also useful to look at the failures and find the features of those initiatives that made it unsuccessful.) Learn from your organization and repeat the successes / avoid the failures.

implementation of disruptive engagement

I’ve been playing in organizational performance and people performance since 1978 with a degree in behavioral neuropsychology and I remain frustrated with how little progress has been made. We HAVE all the tools, but we do not seem able to get them into the hands of the people who need them most. Managers only manage, while supervisors supervise the actual work. It is the supervisors who need to understand the corporate goals and then have the ability to align the behavior of their workers to those goals and objectives.

Why is all this so hard? Why can’t we just ask for ideas and involve people in the improvements that they already want to make?

The Square Wheels Project is our newest attempt to put practical and effective tools into the hands of the supervisor so that they can involve and engage their people in the improvements that are possible. We have an online course in facilitation that includes powerpoints and handouts as well as a focus on teaching the skills.

Take a look at the opening page of the 30-minute course and see if something like this might work for you or someone you know. Consider trying the course as a pair of people to support each others’ learning and understanding and initial trials at generating impacts and conversations.

Contact me if you want a discount! Help me leave a legacy…

 

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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

 

 

 

 

Mini-blog on Employee Engagement and Active Involvement – Trust and all that

I generally post up pretty complete thoughts and frameworks but this one is more of a blurt. If  you want me to do more of these, pass the word.

My friend Frank Navran said, “Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled.”

And I think that employee engagement ties solidly onto the tail of trust, in that you need to feel that there is a peer-group safety net to take the risk of showing that you care about the job and about the organization in many organizational cultures.

Workforce said that 1/3 of all employees would forego their raise to have their boss fired. How might that reflect on the likelihood of employee engagement and active involvement, one might think…

Maybe we need to look to do something differently. I mean, does this REALLY need much in the way of New Thinking to generate some alternative behaviors in most workgroups? Is this a Training Issue, or could people simply CHOOSE to do things differently?

The Square Wheels Project and Disruptive Engagement

Don’t Just DO Something; Stand There.

Choose to do some things that will actually generate some active involvement among the people in your workplace. Allow people to address some issues and to successfully implement changes and improvements, Those Round Wheels ARE already in the wagon,

 

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.

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
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

Radical Candor and Disruptive Engagement

Reading a review by Ted Kinni on Kim Scott’s book, Radical Candor, pushed me to publish this short post on impacting workplace performance through conversation and engagement. Her book is well grounded in the nightmare of many typical workplaces and how a lack of good conversations causes such harm.

As Ted writes, “Radical candor stems from Scott’s conviction that interpersonal relationships are the currency of management. “They determine whether you can fulfill your three responsibilities as a manager: 1) to create a culture of guidance (praise and criticism) that will keep everyone moving in the right direction; 2) to understand what motivates each person on your team well enough to avoid burnout or boredom and keep the team cohesive; and 3) to drive results collaboratively,” she writes.”

To deliver that radical candor, a manager must care personally and challenge directly; it is about giving a damn and caring about impacts. It is about coaching for improved workplace performance and sharing observations and feedback.

And this meshes with my thinking in other posts about the issues around issues of personal accountability and action (see If not you, WHO? If not now, WHEN? here). People need to step up, and this needs to happen at the worker / manager interface, not just at some middle-management level or by one of the executives. The real work of involvement and motivation and performance improvement gets done at the bottom of the organization, not from some tops-down kind of communication. And a failure to execute at the bottom will not be corrected with another million dollars spent on some organizational attitude survey.

The real work gets done at the bottom of the organization, face to face, and not tops-down.

Tops-down, Big Corporate Solutions simply do not work to improve much. Sure, for implementing radical organization-wide changes, some percentage of tops-down strategy improvement initiatives are eventually successful (maybe 40% after 3 years of focus). But with my 34 years in the people and performance business, nothing seems to have worked over the years in actually improving active involvement and engagement of the front-line workers, who continue to be about 1/3 engaged. And this after corporations have spent billions on surveys and other tops-down tools and consultants and messaging.

What is needed is some chaos. What is needed is some Disruptive Engagement* at the front lines. Why not allow the people who know what they could be doing differently to involve themselves in conversations with their manager about issues and opportunities. Sure, some of those ideas might clang, or they might need some support from other departments or above to implement.

But if we are not looking for solutions or challenging the way we are doing things, we are simply dying a slow death, one that makes a workplace an insufferable environment and one that stifles innovation and creativity. Let people’s ideas count for something!

Disruptive Engagement and Radical Candor by Scott Simmerman

The Round Wheels are already in the wagon!

So, encourage your managers and those around you to have some candid conversations around issues and opportunities. Let people suggest ideas for improvement. ALLOW them to be more involved and to work together to make things better, even though there may be some disruption of existing systems and processes.

You can find some simple tools and elegant instruction at The Square Wheels Project.

Scott Simmerman's Square Wheels Project for Performance Manaagement

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

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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

* Disruptive Engagement can be loosely defined as allowing people to take a look at the issues and opportunities for identifying and implementing ideas for workplace improvement done at the very bottom of an organization, without the “helpful” control systems of HR or T&D or other more senior, bureaucratic groups. It  is somewhat analogous to Disruptive Innovation.

Links:

Review by Ted Kinni is here: https://www.strategy-business.com/article/Why-Managers-Cant-Skimp-on-Radical-Candor

Book by Kim Scott is here: http://us.macmillan.com/radicalcandor/kimscott/9781250103505/

If not you, WHO? If not now, WHEN?

Engagement – Think Local, Act Local

Trust in the Sand

My colleagues in Romania just sent me an email about one of their blog posts on leadership that had this image within it:

Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled

I thought it was pretty neat, and it reminded me of my friend and colleague Frank Navran’s quote that:

“Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled”

and how easy it is to simply wipe it away with some foolish behavior…

All it takes is a gust of wind to change things and we need to be reminded that trust is something we need to maintain, not just do once in a while.

Now Vio’s blog is written in Romanian, and even with translation services, I am not going to spend much time going through his key comments around the elements of trust; I simply reacted to his email and sent him the following:

“Trust is not just about writing in the sand. It is also about having perspective, moving about to see what is really happening around you and being willing to move about to potentially see things from other positions rather than from where you are standing. It is also about involving people with shared goals and acting collectively. I think it can also look like this:”

Footprints in the Sand and perspective on surroundings, by scott simmerman

We should also be reminded and mindful about the diversity of people within our organizations and about the reality that all of us know more than any of us when it comes to generating ideas and engagement for improving workplace performance.

Here at Performance Management Company, we sell simple tools for impacting teamwork (Vio at HumanInvest has our Lost Dutchman game in English and Romanian) as well as impacting innovation and motivation. We suggest that leaders work to actively involve their people in generating ideas for improvement and facilitating creative problem solving as well as generating alignment and collaboration.

We also have a simple online facilitation skills training course and toolkit (really cheap and highly effective!) at The Square Wheels Project.

Square Wheels - How organizations really work Metaphor organizational improvement

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

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