Performance Management Company Blog

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

Category: intrinsic motivation (Page 2 of 6)

How many people have seen Square Wheels illustrations?

Got a problem with motivation, engagement or productivity and looking for a simple and bombproof, proven tool? Take a minute and read this. And Think!

A team of us are working at building our online teaching resource wrapped around the idea of “stupidly simple facilitation” through the use of my Square Wheels® theme. The project has gone through a number of phases and Dan Stones in Melbourne has jumped in to help us drive all of this forward. Expect some fun stuff as we continue to rock and roll.

As we were chatting, Dan asked me the simple question,

“How many people have seen or used Square Wheels?”

That is a really good question, for which I have no clue. History shows I have been presenting the theme at conferences and workshops since 1993 when I started using the main cartoon, Square Wheels One, done in black ink by my friend Roy Sabean. A few presentations later and I had 4 and then 7 different illustrations. When I got to 13, people started asking me for copies to use and I started selling a set in a brown envelope as colored transparencies and black line art.

Then, they wanted me to explain how to use them. Really? “Just do what I do or do your own thing,” I said, to no avail. They wanted me to write that stuff down, which resulted in a book with photocopiable masters. That was back in 1993, with the first book published in 1994.

By 2004, we were in our fifth edition of The Big Book, a package containing descriptions for using more than 200 of the illustrations and for making transparencies. I am guessing that I still have a 3 or 4 foot stack of transparency versions of these materials in different places in the house!

The cover of the 2004 Big Book of Square Wheels

So, I did not have an answer for Dan. Since 1993, I have presented workshops in 38 countries and dozens of conferences, including more than 10 trips each to places like Singapore and Hong Kong. And we have sold a lot of a variety of books and electronic toolkits since we started all this more than 20 years ago. My squarewheels.com website went up in 1998!

But I just saw a statistic that is relevant, one that I blogged on in a different place. There, I said:

For what is probably my 40th year of viewing this same statistical reality, here we go again: Leadership Management Australasia’s LMA survey summary, April 2016 shared this stunning commentary:

Communication and connection are the cornerstone of relationships – a quarter to a third of employees believe their managers seldom or never listen to them, understand their issues, seek their input and ideas, or help them to resolve the issues and challenges they face.

Okay. So one thing I am pretty sure of.So, here is my tongue-in-cheek but serious answer to Dan’s original question:

Two-thirds of the employees worldwide have NOT had their manager use the Square Wheels theme in a discussion about improving their workplace involvement and performance.

If they did, things would probably be different. Square Wheels really are everywhere and the round ones are already in the wagon. Communications would have HAD to improve!

There ARE some things you can choose to do now:

Square Wheels LEGO poster of engagement and motivation

We believe that managers should be motivators, and that engagement comes directly from active involvement and communications about issues and opportunities, about goals and expectations. It is about teamwork and shared perspectives as well as about ideas for improvement/ We think “this engagement and motivation stuff” is pretty straightforward and that people are intrinsically motivated when they feel a sense of ownership involvement.

A solution? Consider using our $25 Stupidly Simple Toolkit to generate a conversation in your workplace. Or wait until we get our online MOOC up and running where we can teach and support you in your improvement initiative. The choice is yours and we will guarantee it will work for you to help involve and engage your people, improving communications in many ways,

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

 

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

 

 

 

Simple thoughts on Rewards and Performance

I thought to weigh in here with a few thoughts on reinforcement and performance. I am going to keep things really simple and straightforward and try to address a few misconceptions.

As background, a doctorate in behavioral neuropsychology and many years of working on animal behavior and rewards, plus 10 years of doing “behavioral consulting for organizational performance kinds of things,” both external and internal with small and big organizations. Add to that about 40 years of reflecting on organizational cultures and performance.

I view the issue in a very simple way: square wheels lego by scott simmerman

Simple Thoughts:

  • That which gets rewarded gets repeated.
  • Behavior is modified with things that are perceived as rewarding, be they rewards or simply feedback related to behavior.
  • Immediate rewards are far more effective than delayed rewards.
  • Most performance feedback is delayed and relatively ineffective – see these 3 posts (articlearticlearticle)
  • Contingent rewards are those that can be directly related back to behavior by the performer.
  • Extrinsic rewards are ineffective for most people in the workforce. What is an effective extrinsic reward varies greatly among individuals.
  • Punishment generates a wide variety of unanticipated (but expected) negative behaviors (including sabotage)
  • Like Punishment, extrinsic rewards can generate all kinds of unanticipated and negative behaviors among the body of the workforce, sometimes called Superstitious Behavior.
  • Negative Reinforcement is the removal of a negative stimulus — it is NOT at all the same as Punishment. (You behave and I get off your back is a negative reinforcement situation. You behave and I get on your back is punishment.)
  • The existence of other people in the workplace tends to complicate the simplicity – peer support is very powerful and maybe the most powerful reward system in place in the workplace.

People sometimes perform in the hopes that they will get recognized by the boss. In so many situations, that is superstitious behavior, like blowing on dice before throwing them or saying some kind of “okay baby” kind of verbalization which you link to the behavior.

What we know from 50 years of research is that intrinsic rewards are much more effective than any possible extrinsic ones. People do things mostly for their own reasons and all we can do is impact those things in some modest ways — they behave because of their values and expectations more than rewards, for the most part. We even know that small rewards are much better than large ones if they are extrinsic.

In so many workplaces, things are so bad that some managers think an annual appraisal of performance might be an effective motivator of specific desired behavior on a daily basis.

We also know that such formal appraisals rarely change actual performance; what is effective is the goal setting for the self-attainment of the individual and the issues around clarifying expectations and generating alignment to shared goals.

A post today shared the tweet that recognition should happen with 24 hours of someone accomplishing something. Sure, that is better than none or something a week later, but even 24 hours is not very good. Imagine learning to play the piano if you could not hear the notes for even 2 minutes!

Yes, something is better than nothing, but delayed reinforcement is hardly effective in any real sense, at least to reward some specific behavioral result.

What can happen is that people imagine that they will get some management or peer recognition, and that predicted result can be modestly rewarding. When that does NOT occur, though, expectations are reduced and the next occurrence will have less effect.

Far better than an extrinsic reward system is a solidly designed and implemented performance feedback system. Take a look at the simple feedback analysis that should generate some ideas about possible changes in performance management in the workplace. Changing the actual feedback in an effective way is a wonderful motivator for self-improvement and change.

Some Simple Ways to Motivate:

  • Involve and engage them in team-based organizational improvement initiatives or innovation initiatives where they have no fear of failure and get regular positive attention from the management team as well as each other.
  • Allow people to get actively involved and develop a sense of ownership in some aspect of their work that is important to them.
  • Be careful of not telling too much, Few people like to be told what to do – give them some framework and ask them for how to best approach things. Coach more than manage / manipulate. Nobody ever washes a rental car. Do things with them more than to them. People resist when pushed.
  • Clarify their roles and align them to shared goals and visions and help them to have clear expectations as to what is desired and feedback about how well they do on a constant basis.
  • Make them feel as if they are valued contributors to the work effort and have a positive impact on group results. Remember that 50% of the people in any workgroup will be above the group average but that 50% will also be below that average; note that ALL people contribute to results.
  • Look for ways to allow individual growth and skill improvement. People like to improve their competencies and performance. Support personal growth and allow for differences.

None of this is rocket science. Remember that YOU probably got promoted to management because you responded well to extrinsic motivators, which is the most common way organizations structure work environments. But also remember that not everyone likes extrinsic rewards in the same way. Extrinsic rewards are most likely NOT motivating many of those people in the lower half of the workgroup. (See more on extrinsic motivation here and here.)

These are my thoughts on the issues around motivating people and improving workplace performance results. Results differ based on any number of factors, but these are the basics. I hope that you got ONE good idea from going through these learning points.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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 quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

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

 

We sell a variety of simple Square Wheels® tools for improving engagement and communications.  Square Wheels Icebreaker is simple to use

 

Poem on Team Innovation and Motivation

Most of the time, I blog up my poems (and posters and quips) on my other blog, www.poemsontheworkplace.com. But, I thought to pop two up about motivation in here, since they impact on a lot of organizational realities of people and performance and to demonstrate my poetic genius. (grin)

My hat is off to the cat in the hat guy, who serves as a positive inspiration to a lot of us who don’t get iambic pentathlon and that other allegorical alliteration allusion stuff. Just keeping it simple and fun here, folks…

So here goes:

Square wheels image in LEGO by Scott Simmermanand, one of my favorites about the perceptions surrounding management and leadership:

square wheels poem by Scott Simmerman

If you are looking for some really easy to use tools to improve your communications, check out this $20 toolkit using the Square Wheels One image:

Square Wheels image Icebreaker icon

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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 quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

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

 

National Employee UN-Appreciation DAY needed

This will be a short post and one focused on something I see as a pretty important issue.

Today was apparently a National Day for employee appreciation here in the US, and maybe elswewhere. To some, that might sound like a really good idea.  But I look at a large body of data that basically supports the idea that a lot of workplaces are not all that great for engagement and motivation. 

So, the idea is that it is a good thing that we should spend ONE day and appreciate workers? One day of 220? 

poster of making every day a day of appreciating employees

In my way of thinking, maybe we need to spend ONE day when we do NOT appreciate employees, just to do something different. Every other day, we should go out of our way to recognize those people who choose to do more than that required of them, to those people who show inititive and develop ideas for improvement.

Ya think?

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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 quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

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

 

 

 

Beautiful Math – Euler's Law and Square Wheels

This post is a little off the beaten path for the blog but I thought that this article was really pretty interesting and easy to understand. I like it because of how cleanly and simply it explains some really complicated but elegant math.

Like my Square Wheels theme, I really like things that are simple and elegant and this little equation:

e + 1 = 0
(
e to the i times pi plus 1 = zero)

is pretty amazing, as well as very common in the world as we know it!

It is an equation about numbers, constants “pi” and “e” — you can remember the latter from Einstein’s famous equation. Both are transcendental in that they are infinite quantities when expressed in decimal form. You will know pi from the simple math about circles, though. “e” is about compound interest, Moore’s Law and everything that moves about and accelerates.

Leonard Euler figured this out in 1748. Basically, pi and e are connected in a dimension perpendicular to the world, a place that is measured in units of i (the square root of -1, an imaginary number which actually does not exist. But its expression in visual forms is amazing:

The_Baffling_and_Beautiful_Wormhole_Between_Branches_of_Math___WIRED

Check out this article by Lee Simmons for a more detailed explanation and some more graphic representations of how this simple equation explains so much about the world of math and physics and our understanding of how things really work. Beautiful stuff, for sure, like my Square Wheels representations of how things really work:

Square Wheels represent how organizations really work - by Scott Simmerman

In Square Wheels, things will just roll on and on and on and on unless someone takes the time to stop the wagon and look for opportunities for improvement and change the math. The round wheels already exist…

Euler’s Law and Square Wheels roll on,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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 quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

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

 

Note:

Pi goes on to infinity. A few digits are here and you can find it out to one million numbers at this website. Infinity is SO large that, when letters are expressed as digital numbers (a = 1, b = 2, etc.), you can find the entire contents of War and Peace expressed digitally in sequence within its string of numbers. In fact, infinity is SO large that you can find the contents of War and Peace along with all of my blog posts in sequence. It is an unimaginably large number…

3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384146951941511609...

 

 

 

Purposeful Meeting Openers and Icebreakers: Relevant and Congruent

In my experience, many trainers and consultants focused on involving and engaging participants use some sort of warm-up exercise, with the idea that getting people “warmed up” in some way will help them learn the material more effectively or bring more energy to the training itself.

One LinkedIn discussion had a trainer wanting to start a class focused on “workplace improvement best practices” and was looking for some relevant activity to get things started. The goal was to have something fast and simple but that would also generate some cognitive dissonance and frustration anchored to them not being able to finish a task on time. His goal was to use frustration to generate an initial motivation to correct their existing workplace issues.

In my experience, motivation already exists in most workplaces with most supervisors on performance improvement issues. There are often a variety of ways to identify and implement improvements and best practices but a key is to generate the intrinsic motivation to actually do something differently. I am also pretty sure that generating frustration as a desired outcome of this activity was not the best idea, since many of those attending were probably already frustrated by their workplace or by the fact that they were now in some “training program” when they should be working.

In other words:

  • He was asking for ideas about how to make the trainees frustrated because they could not get some exercise / task done well in the allotted time.
  • My thought is that their workplace was like most others and that the managers were already frustrated with these same issues of quality and timeliness.

My other thought was anchored to the simple idea that getting people frustrated may not be the best way for starting a training class. Beginning a program, negatively, does not generally get people positively motivated and the potential reactions can be somewhat uncontrollable.

Some other people in LinkedIn also elaborated on some of the possible unintended outcomes of such an activity, too. (The conversation got pretty bloody but we also think we saved him from a huge strategic mistake, on which he agreed!!).

The other half of my thinking pounded on the very common use of “irrelevant icebreakers” as a complete waste of time — you know, the goofy meeting openers that are not related to the issue or desired outcome of the session and play on people telling three truths and one lie about themselves or the most interesting thing about their hometown or stating something that no one would ever guess about them. (you can find a long list of such goofy actual activities here)
(http://performancemanagementcompanyblog.com/2012/11/02/motivation-training-and-icebreakers-keeping-it-real/)

I’m in agreement with a lot of other consultant trainers, especially about all that psychology stuff and what happens in training. One psychologist shared his approach of having people literally “draw a pig” that represented things in their organization. (The reference to “pig” as being too close to corporate operations and management these days with all those raises and salaries of CEOs in excess of 300 times the workers as well as the growing pay gaps, policy issues, etc.)

My psychology and engagement framework would use an illustration like that below as a tool to get people to project their ideas about how their organization really worked onto an image. It works like an inkblot test – there is no reality but people push one onto the image, one that also allows them to share some thinking about the issues and opportunities that already exist. And it is really fast and tight.

The image shows a wagon rolling along on Square Wheels® while the cargo is round rubber tires. (There are other aspects of leadership, motivation and vision along with best practices. Plus, the image and its discussion gives people an anchor point for focused conversation and discussion, present and future. The term “Square Wheels is simply shorthand for things that do not work smoothly.)

Square Wheels - How organizations really work Metaphor organizational improvement

The idea is to get individuals thinking about issues and groups collaborating and sharing ideas about the illustration – brainstorming with an organizational behavioral anchor. Groups can also be motivated through a little competition to make a longer list (facilitation) and what players do is to project their beliefs about their own organization onto the illustration (the Rorschach or inkblot effect).

If you are going to take their valuable time in a class, why not focus on issues of innovation and teamwork and involvement about their workplace, and not some completely unrelated thing like 3 Truths and a Lie or Dragon Tag or some such “energizer.”

Using the cartoon as an anchor to the reality of how things really work, we get them talking about their issues — the things that do not work smoothly — and the ideas that already exist within the context of making the wagon move more effectively. This approach also allows discussion without the attack on management or structures. It has proven itself to be “developmentally neutral” and non-political in that regard.

The behavior and ideas and issues in play can then be linked to a lot of different kinds of content for your training session, and the activity thus made congruent and relevant.That is something that cannot be done with so many of the very general icebreakers — it is hard to make the transition of doing one and then quickly linking to a real business purpose. (Sure, you can use some words but their actual behaviors are generally off target and non-congruent — how does making up a funny name relate to workplace improvement?)

Best practices are Round Wheels.

The focus on the training and performance improvement might be linked to making Square Wheels roll more smoothly. You can coach people on identifying SWs and generating round ones, while generating dissociation and second-position perspective. Issues of change and implementation (stopping the wagon and changing the wheels) can be part of your, “What are we going to try to do differently after we leave here?” discussion. Sharing round wheel ideas is easy and this begins a process of continuous continuous improvement.


Learn more about the Square Wheels Icebreaker.

You can find another article on this issue of effectively using trainee time and optimizing impact by clicking on this link:

Blog Icon for Icebreaker link

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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.

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
and on Google+ at plus.google.com/+DrScottSimmerman

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

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

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Getting the Cows to the Barn; Thoughts on Alignment and Performance

I am NOT saying that employees are cows.

Just the opposite, actually. Well, guess I am not sure what the opposite of a cow would be, but I have always been focused on issues of people and performance and looking for ideas and approaches to generate improved alignment and results.

Square Wheels image of Lego Team

In a LinkedIn discussion about motivation and alignment, I remembered an analogy that old friend Ken Junkins used when we were talking about people and motivation, so I thought to share it in that discussion as well as pop it into the blog. Here is the rough storyline as to how I remember Ken using the story of herding cows back 30 years ago…

I am reminded of the herd of cows wandering aimlessly in the pasture. You, the manager, need to get them to the barn, so how do you do that?

Some managers will go out and get their supervisors to shoot guns and ride around the back with horses, yelling and screaming. That will get some of the cows to move away from them, (hopefully toward the barn). But, it will not be a successful enterprise unless you have lots of those herders and those herders are all sharing the same goal of moving the cows toward the barn within a certain amount of time.

Another approach is to get some sweet feed and sprinkle it out on the ground between the herd and the barn. Not many of the cows will know it is even there, but the ones that do will begin to move in your desired direction.

As those cows move, more of the others will wonder what is going on and begin to also move in that direction. With some gentle prodding from the management team, after the cows are beginning to go in the right direction, the herders at the back can begin to gently motivate the laggards, at least getting their attention that something is happening.

It is a slow process and not nearly as much fun as riding around fast and shooting guns and yelling and screaming. But you will have more contented cows and need a lot less management overhead to get them to where you want to go…

Ya think?

You can read more on my metaphors of herding here, with a pretty funny and well-linked article on herding cats and frogs. Click on the image to go there.

Herding Cats - EDS Commercial

Managing and motivating people is seen to be a difficult task. Some people believe that aversive control and punishment are the best rewards, most likely because they think that this approach is what motivates them. (That is probably not true, but it is a belief.) The research shows pretty clearly that intrinsic motivation generated through teamwork, alignment, good feedback systems and congruent values is much more effective that extrinsically-driven approached.

Extrinsic rewards may work, and they may work better for some people than for others, but they are not generally effective over the long term.  And the use of aversive control generates all sorts of problems. (See the article on sabotage and defense, aversive control and punishment by clicking on the icon below)

Defense with © Square Wheels Image

The two articles linked to the illustrations share a good bit of research data about motivating and aligning people toward workplace improvement. I trust that they may stimulate some thoughts about what you might try do to differently or that they will confirm some of the things you choose to do now.

Let me update this with one other video, not about herding cows but about herding sheep. With the proper environment and the right support (think of a few well-trained sheep dogs to keep things under control, as you might with a few well trained and supportive and aligned supervisors), you CAN move sheep seamlessly. This is an amazing and lovely video that Tim Whittaker allowed me to share:

Herding sheep video

So, we CAN generate alignment and communal performance. We can move organizations forward with proper planning and training (and maybe some hiring). We can generate innovation and improvement.

Please note that we sell some simple to use tools for generating engagement and alignment at the front lines or for use in strategy implementation frameworks.

Square Wheels images by Scott Simmerman

And you have some fun out there, too.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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.

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

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

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

 

 

A Desk is a Dangerous Place – Thoughts on Innovation and Implementation

I responded to a LinkedIn post about the issues of innovation. It was started by a professor who deals with Very Senior Executives and who talked about starting their sessions with sticky notes and 5 minutes for ideas for improvement. The comment was that executives generate 70% of their notes about products.

That makes sense. I think that most executives think more about THINGS than they do about the process of making things better. Doing the latter will often involve change and structural reframing which are often problematic and involve all sorts of effort and involvement. Products? Yeah, that is a lot less complicated…

Let’s see, let’s do a new teambuilding board game focused on trust and zombies…

My thought was that the basic framework of the activity might change a little, to be more group-process focused and to use an inkblot of some kind to generate broader perspective around making organizational progress. It seems to me that a little restructuring of the activity might generate a broader picture of how things really work.

“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.”

That is for sure. The quote was embedded in a John LeCarre book I read a couple dozen years ago, but it stuck with me. You bring the executives together and you give them yellow stickies and ask what they would change. Of course, few will think about how things are working.

A different approach might be to show them a picture of a wagon rolling on square wheels with a cargo of round tires. The wagon pusher looks forward and pulls a rope while the wagon pushers look at boards and hands. That, many agree, is a much more representative model of how things work in most organizations. So, I would show this image with this question:

Square Wheels One Main Question How might this represent

  • Leaders lead. That is all they see themselves doing.
  • Pushers push. That is their job.
  • Few things seem to work smoothly from a hands-on kind of reality.
  • The view at the back is very much different than the view at the front.

So, asking people to project their ideas onto that wagon generates all sorts of ideas about issues and opportunities. Some might focus on the round wheels (products) but they simply cannot ignore the reality of motivating and engaging the wagon pushers if they are to make progress.

Plus, we suggest that the executives (or workers) work as tabletops of 6 so that the truly awful ideas get little support and the good ones generate some ownership involvement.

Plus, it is NOT simply about ideas. We know, based on all sorts of research, that 9 of 10 strategy or change improvement initiatives fail, often because of poor alignment and communications. And don’t push YOUR idea down and expect ME to support it — the reality is that, “Nobody ever washes a rental car” and if you do not share ownership involvement in the creation or at least the implementation strategy, you will simply generate all sorts of resistance.

I know that I do not have The Answer. But I do know that the round wheels almost always exist in the wagon.

Don’t just DO something, Stand There!

I make some supporting suggestions here in another blog on people and performance:  http://performancemanagementcompanyblog.com/2014/08/07/7-things-you-should-do-differently-to-build-better-teamwork/

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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 Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Square Wheels are a trademark of Performance Management Company

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Asking Key Questions to Generate Intrinsic Motivation and Engagement

If you are a regular reader of my blogs, you know that we write extensively on issues of teamwork, involvement, innovation and implementation. And we try to focus a lot on the issue of the interaction between the hands-on workers and their supervisors, since all the work gets done by the former and all the management of the working environment gets done by the latter.

This interface is a key one. It is influenced by all the other things up and about, but it is really that supervisor that controls most things, including the alignment of the workplace to the missions and goals of the organization, providing the feedback about performance to the people. It is the supervisor who controls the recognition and support for individuals and who handles the ideas that workers have for potential improvements.

For the past 20 years, we have been using the Square Wheels metaphor to better understand the environment and the interactions among the players. Workers push and Leaders pull. Things do not work smoothly and there are better ideas that could be implemented. Workers are more apt to understand many of those ideas but involvement of the leadership is critical to their implementation. Doing things the same way will generate the same result.

We use line-art illustrations for our workshops and toolkits, since the simplicity lends itself to higher effectiveness. The cartoons work as a Rorschach Test and people project their ideas onto the cartoons. (I will add abstracts of other blog posts at the end of this blog to support this thinking.)

A few months back, I started a conversation with Hakan Forss and we started playing with LEGO to help illustrate some of the ideas. So, a main Square Wheels image about how organizations really work now looks something like this, for blogging purposes:

How things really work in most organizations...

The reality is that the Round Wheels already exist as cargo of the wagon. The more of these IN the wagon, the more difficult it is to move forward; the message here is that unused and unimplemented ideas will bog down an organization, making even regular progress more difficult. And the related issue is the ROPE, which tends to isolate and insulate the wagon puller from the reality of the journey forward and which makes communication difficult.

Don’t Just DO Something, Stand There!

Occasionally, stop and take the time to involve and engage everyone in ideas for improvement and in alignment to the missions, visions, goals and objectives, since we know that those are critical aspects for generating motivation and engagement.

This morning, I generated 6 simple Posters that are anchored to the key questions we need to ask in order to keep things rolling forward. If you like them, I can generate a powerpoint set that you can use to facilitate some discussions around issues and opportunities.

(My plans are to connect each of these illustrations here to a one-page descriptive post in my poems blog, where I will expand on the idea and offer some tips. I have not yet done that, but I will… Right now, they will open the main home page of that blog. Soon, they will connect to their individual pages as I develop the thinking…)

LEGO SWs One Poster WHO

LEGO SWs One Poster WHAT

LEGO SWs One Poster WHERE

LEGO SWs One Poster WHEN

LEGO SWs One Poster HOW

LEGO SWs One Poster WHY

Who, What, Where, When, How and Why are generally the performance coaching questions we ask people (and ourselves). Asking them in a group will build better teamwork on creative innovation processes (lots of tools for this kind of thing) and will generate the peer support needed for generating ownership involvement and implementation of change.

Nobody Ever Washes A Rental Car!

We cannot expect people to be involved and engaged without a sense of ownership of the ideas and active participation in the implementation and testing of new ideas. People want to help polish the wagon and make things work better. But they are often risk-averse and want to get recognition for their efforts and ideas.

The supervisor is the only one who can manage the situation. PMC offers some simple tools for these processes of team building and organizational improvement.

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine THE Games for Teambuilding PMC Home Page icon 2

Annotated Abstracts of some supporting posts by Scott Simmerman

Square Wheels? What the heck are those engagement tools about… An overview of the tools with links do slideshare and YouTube resources about the tools. Plus connections to my thinking on managing and leading change.

Facilitation? Me, a Facilitator? Me, a MOTIVATOR? — Simple thoughts on manager as motivator and as a facilitator of ideas. An overview of a simple and bombproof approach to involvement and discussion as to why anyone can use our engagement tools.

Positive Possibilities — Square Wheels for Performance Improvement — a more detailed overview of how people think and how the cartoons help people frame their ideas. Some very simple ideas for facilitation.

Square Wheels — NOT some simple model of organizational performance — a somewhat detailed overview of how the illustrations work to involve and engage people, with typical reactions and responses to illustrate the depth of thinking that can occur.

Square Wheels go Thump. Round Wheels already exist. A quick overview of some of the main themes of the Square Wheels approach, illustrated.

Elephants, Line Managers and Workplace Engagement – My thoughts on why managers are the ONLY people who can involve and engage and motivate the people in the workplace, and how task interference is getting in the way of generating organizational improvements in most organizations.

I trust that you might find some of these tools to be of interest and that our approach to motivation makes sense. It is not extrinsic rewards that will drive positive long-term organizational performance but the continuous involvement and engagement of the people doing their work.

You might also find this article on Presenteeism to be of interest,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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 also reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on People and Performance is here.

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

 

Keeping It Stupidly Simple – Thoughts on Teams and Teamwork

In a recent LinkedIn thread on leadership, Bob Whipple posted up a short note on “4 Essential Elements for a High Performing Team.” Bob said:

There are four common denominators of high performing teams. When these elements are present, teams are almost guaranteed to be efficient and rewarding for the members. The elements are:

1. A common goal – so all members pull in the same direction
2. Trust – so members are not playing games with each other
3. Good leadership – so that the team is fully engaged
4. A Good Charter – so the consequences of social loafing are spelled out in advance

In my experience, most groups understand the need for the first three (although only a small percentage actually have all three), but the fourth element is often not in place. It is critical to have a Team Charter that spells out expectations and that all members agree on the consequences if a member does not pull his or her fair share of the load.

Pretty Darn Simple and to the point. The Rule of 80/20 and Occam’s Razor both focus on keeping things simple.

My post was actually the first one and very much supportive of Bob’s thinking, where I shared thoughts about how easy it is to form a team:

A lot is made about personal styles for personality or decision-making or astrological signs but the four bullets above will generate pretty solid teamwork. Sure, one can nuance things and add factors and frameworks, models and surveys and all sorts of other things that CAN be helpful.

But how many teams never get started because they have not been through the training programs or certified to be team leaders or (even) team members, as if HR is running the show? I mean, really?

Put a bunch of kids on a baseball diamond with a ball and a bat — heck, some of them might even have gloves — and they will start working together as a team. They may even FEEL like a team. They know the rules of play, share a goal, trust each other (more or less) to do their jobs of fielding and batting and come together a little better if one person serves as captain.

This team stuff ain’t rocket science, but so many sure try to make it an expensive and time-consuming proposition. Sure, we can make teams work better but let’s face it: with the incredible sorry state of engagement we see in today’s workplace, with 85% of employees saying their morale declines significantly after spending six months on the job (Source: Sirota Survey Intelligence March 2007), don’t you think that a little teamwork might help things just a little?

And ANY performance improvement is worth the cost of involving and engaging people in a shared mission with clear expectations and necessary resources.

Ben Simonton, who says a lot of really smart simple things, added:

But how does one do it like create trust or what are the actions that constitute good leadership?

The answer is simple – listen to what employees want and respond to their wants to their satisfaction or better even if it means telling them why they cannot have what they want. Only in this way can we make the corporate culture align to the values of employees.

But, as expected, the consultant gang among us starts posting up about all sorts of additional requirements for success including things like training in Emotional Intelligence (which should take a few weeks)

But what happens over time is that we begin, as they say in the South, “to pick fly shit out of the pepper.” The conversations begin to focus on narrow and even more narrower points, make the discussion overly complicated, add model after model after theory and personal experience to the discussion and muddy the water.

I tend to view things through a pretty simple lens and to me, a lot of potential organizational improvement and team building situations basically look something like this:

SWs LEGO Boss Gang with Skis and RWs 2 90

Am I that wrong about this view? Aren’t most leaders somewhat isolated and don’t most people have ideas that would make for workplace improvement?

Do we HAVE to make things complicated with models designed through rigorous testing by the best academic researchers in the world and published by HBR and the academic press in books we will never read before we simply ACT?

Give them a ball and let them go play!

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman, Surprised 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/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

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

Weed Killers, Bug Killers and Organizational Development

We spend a LOT of money on weed control and bug killers for our yards and gardens. We spend tiny amounts on things to actually help plants grow and to improve the environment. That seems exactly what we do in our organizations. Some thoughts:

The statistics on the workplace continue to worry me as it relates to the health of a country, including but not limited to the United States; this certainly appears to be a global phenomenon. Results show that people are finding work less and less rewarding, both in terms of income that it generates as well as the personal rewards gained from doing a good job well and feeling appreciation for that accomplishment.

The data continue to suggest that high levels of engagement and personal development have big impacts on organizational performance results and stock prices. In an excellent blog by Barbara Kimmel, she shares the following graph of stock performance tied to one issue around people and performance:  TRUST.

FACTS Kimmel Trust graph stock results

Click on the image to see the blog with stats and related information

There are similar solid statistical proofs for a wide variety of positive indicators of leadership and involvement and individual development / personal growth. Investing in people and performance has a positive impact on the bottom line and long-term success of organizations of all types.

Treating people well thus has a wide variety of positive impacts with only ONE seemingly negative issue: COST.

Yes, senior managers do seem to continually look at the cost of people to the organization and the cost of training and the cost of salaries and all that. Investments in people are on the wrong side of the financial analysis, IMHO. Nevermind the statistically solid reality that these kinds of investments can be easily linked to critical performance indicators. There is some apparent perceived risk in investing in people. So many organizations simply choose not to do so, or to do so half-heartedly.

When monies get tight, the first thing cut is almost always “training.” There is constant pressure to keep the costs of payroll low, to the point that people often cannot even take vacations because their job duties cannot be done by another.  (See my article on vacation and time off and the issue of continued connectedness of today’s worker and manager.)

What happened to me yesterday pushed me to create this post. I was in one of the Big Box home fixing stores, the ones that carry lawn and garden materials, tools, paints, appliances, and all that other stuff. I was looking for some indoor plant fertilizer and some electrical tape.

What I found was a truly amazing quantity and selection of things like weed killer, fire ant killer, bug sprays, fungicides, grub killer granules and similar. There were 70 feet of aisle space focused on negative control of things, with all sorts of impacts on the biological environment.

There was a small — very small — shelf allotment of things to actually help plants grow. Somehow, this seems out of kilter, in that a healthy environment will generally serve to keep the weed problem small. Heck, I pick the crabgrass by hand in my yard, since I never let it get started. I use corn gluten as a pre-emergent to avoid poisoning my worms.

Can’t we manage our workplaces with less toxic substance
and do more to help our people grow?

SWs LEGO POSTER - Create non-toxic

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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 Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

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

 

KISS – Keeping It Stupidly Simple – A Square Wheels Poster on Collaboration

Complex, convoluted and risky. That is today’s workplace for most people.

Nothing seems simple today and, frankly, the more complex and detailed the design, the more opportunities there are for failure and non-compliance, two words not totally appreciated in the workspace of today’s managers. Avoiding risk is a key issue and many a good training program is being met with a lot of talk but not a lot of change or improvement.

Engagement continues to be a main theme of workplace improvement and the reality is that few people are all that engaged. Those that are feel a strong sense of ownership and involvement, feel appreciated and supported, and will often generate those higher levels of performance that are so desired.

As it is my intention to put up a number of posts and illustrations and posters reinforcing the theme that we need to start looking for some SIMPLE solutions instead of increasing the increasingly complex. I wanted to add this simple notion of collaboration. The Big Idea is that we need to START working on trying to collaborate, take a simple look around to see if any new ideas or improvements might exist, and then implement those ideas.

LEGO POSTER - COLLABORATION really working together

Looking at the above as a representation of how a group of people is working together to make progress, doesn’t it seem obvious that some solutions are at hand and that the situation simply needs conversation and agreement about issues and opportunities? And doesn’t the above illustration really represent how things work in most organizations?

————–

I added another related cartoon to my poems blog – you can see the text of ideas if you click on the image of it below:

SWs LEGO Boss Gang with Skis and RWs 2 90How hard would it be to really generate some collaboration?

————–

If you want to  gain some simple ideas and access some bombproof simple tools for improving intrinsic motivation and involving and engaging people for collaborative workplace improvement, clicking below will share some of my posts on stupidly simple themes of COLLABORATION and TEAMWORK:

•Posssible Sideways GAMES link for homepage

At Performance Management Company, we sell simple tools and recommend simple approaches to generating collaboration, involvement and motivation for continuous workplace improvement,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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 Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

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

 

KISS – Keeping It Stupidly Simple – A Square Wheels Poster on Team Perspective

Conversations keep reinforcing the idea that everything is getting increasingly complicated these days. We have the paradox of training programs and assessments and similar tools being more and more complex and nuanced while, at the same time, none of us have much time to learn anything new. Where we used to be able to find three days for an off-site training program to learn and practice new skills, these kinds of development activities are now done online in 2 hours.

As I capture with some data and supporting materials in a blog linked to the icon below, managers are most definitely working increasing hours because of our continuous electronic connection to the workplace. Realize that almost half of us check email going to bed or at the dinner table.

working while not working

So, it is my intention to put up a number of posts and illustrations and posters reinforcing the theme that we need to start looking for some SIMPLE solutions instead of increasing the increasingly complexity. So here is a simple idea on the need to STOP working and take a simple look around to see if any new ideas or improvements might exist.

LEGO POSTER - Team Perspective with SWs

If you want to see some ideas and access some bombproof simple tools for improving intrinsic motivation and involving and engaging people in the workplace, clicking here will share some of my posts on the stupidly simple theme of Dis-Un-Engagement:

dis-un-engagement

At Performance Management Company, we continue to sell simple tools and recommending simple approaches to generating involvement and motivation for continuous improvement in the workplace.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. 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 Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Square Wheels are a trademark of Performance Management Company

 LEGO® is a trademark of the The LEGO Group

 

A Dance of Change – something new?

It was funny to read a little blurb in the ASTD Training & Development magazine about an article to appear next month. The abstract said that 70% of change initiatives continue to fail (which is on par with how many strategy improvement initiatives are not really successful) and that the existing change models are all pretty good.

What is suggested is that The Missing Component is now Emotional Intelligence, and that thoughts and feelings that emerge from the understanding for the need to change are all that needs to be changed. “When emotional intelligence is applied to change, we can think of it as change intelligence.”

I won’t mention the author of this, since I am basically panning this solution — Emotional Intelligence is not an easy thing to grasp, much less implement since it has so much to do with personal growth and personality. We’ve been fooling with EI concepts for 20+ years, just like we’ve been proposing 7 Habits and all sorts of other silver bullets to solve the problems of organizational improvement.

I’m one who very strongly feels that we just need to forget about so many complicated models of how things work and how things need to have some new Training Solution proposed by a cadre of consultants who will retire on these efforts.

The DATA say that not much has improved on the basic issue of employee engagement. The DATA say that lots of things are supposedly important, like Innovation (rated important 98% of survey respondents in another ASTD article (Patty Gaul, April 2014) while also finding that only 33% of organizations currently focus their innovation on small improvements and change. That article predicts a BIG shift toward radical changes / innovation — 66% in the future. (Right… Remind me to look back in 10 years… )

People suggest that we do all kinds of expensive and complex kinds of training on emotional intelligence or on innovation and creative thinking skills but I STILL think that the basic organization works like this:

Square Wheels represent how things really work in most organizations...

How things really work in most organizations…

and that what are needed are really simply solutions. Here are my 10 steps for improving motivation and organizational performance results:

ask

How do you implement change? Identify the Square Wheels and ask for some Round Wheel solutions. Do this in the context of moving from where we are now to where we want to go (in the near or far future). Celebrate small successes to generate continuous continuous improvement and allow people to work together in simple teams (with necessary resources of time and funding) to actually implement such changes and improvements.

Four Simple Factors for Implementing Change

Four Simple Factors for Implementing Change

The actual end result is also pretty simple to conceptualize:

Square Wheels and Intrinsic Motivation Celebration LEGO business image RW

I mean, this whole thing about involving and engaging people in workplace improvement is really the simple task of involving and engaging them in workplace improvement. Where is the rocket science in all this? Why do we keep adding so much complexity — other than for profit motives and self-aggrandizement — when the reality is really easy to accomplish.

The other key is also simple:

Square Wheels image of Ownership Rental Nobody Toolkit icon 2

This concept is also simple: Everybody needs to feel like they have an ownership stake in the ideas and the outcomes, even the management team.

So. Keep it Simple. And Just DO it!

We sell simple tools for involving and engaging people for performance improvement. Give the icon a click and check us out,

Performance Management Company and Scott Simmerman

For the FUN of It!

Elegant SolutionsDr. 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 Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

 LEGO® is a trademark of the The LEGO Group

 

 

Moron ENGAGEMENT, is it even possible today

The conversations about time availability for coaching and team building by supervisors continue to get interesting. There is an interesting article at the Washington Post called, “How a company weekly meeting winds up consuming 300,000 hours per year” and written by Fred Barbash.

He cites the authors at Bain, who said:

“As astonishing” as the figures are, say the authors, “300,000 person hours supporting one weekly excom meeting — it’s important to remember that it doesn’t include the work time [not in meetings] preparing for meetings. Research shows that 15% of an organization’s collective time is spent in meetings — a percentage that has increased every year since 2008. No amount of money can buy back that time….”

Go to the link above to find out more about his article and the original research.

My friend Steve Davis also writes about some of these same issues, but from a personal perspective related to values and goals. Life is not simply about how busy you are or how you want to appear. Read Steve’s perspective here.

These conversations and data from corporate research like the above simply seem to confirm that “meeting with people on engagement” does not seem to be one of the critical values of large organizations and thus we really cannot expect the supervisors to simply want to do that with what little time they have.

So, I guess things are simply supposed to look like this:

Square Wheels Rat Cage Haiku work hard

Or maybe more like this:

Square Wheels Rat Cage Haiku Poem Winter of despair

We have a need to Spring Forward and really make a difference with the workers in most organizations. They have ideas for improvement and we can dramatically impact intrinsic motivation if people felt like they were on the team and that management really cared.

That’s my view, and I am sticking to it.

Presently, supervisors probably do not have the time nor the inclination to rattle the cages and ask for ideas about workplace improvement. They are not empowered to form teams nor do any of these people have much “release time” in which to fine-tune and implement things.

You can find some more of my thinking at the blog I posted up yesterday:

Square Wheels One - if you always do done

Hopefully, we can find some ways to give supervisors more time and motivation and tools to better involve and engage their people in all aspects of workplace performance improvement,

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman, creator of the Square Wheels images and toolsDr. 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 Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

 

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