A lot has been written about generating higher levels of performance to produce better results. And a lot has been written about improving engagement and involvement to improve innovation and employee retention. A further lot has been written about improving teamwork among employees and management.
None of this is rocket science and none of this actually requires much of a budget or the involvement of the training department or human resources. None of this even really requires any support of senior management, although that should be an expected occurrence in organizations trying to implement improvements. What it does clearly involve is the active engagement of line managers.
Here are actually Three Big Simple Ideas.
- Build involvement and engagement by facilitating a series of meetings on visions, missions, goals, expectations and feedback. (also known as Alignment.)
- Create some teams and allow them to accomplish things related to that alignment.
- Improve facilitation skills and use involvement to generate participation.
Let me briefly expand and explain how you can take your people to a higher level of performance. And this will not cost anything. If you email me by clicking on this link, I will send you the free Square Wheels tool that you can try, with no obligation. But remind me of the offer from your reading this blog!
1 – Build involvement and engagement by facilitating a series of meetings on visions, missions, goals, expectations and feedback.
The statistics are clear: Some or most people in many or most organizations do NOT really understand the overall goals and objectives of the organization – at best, this is 4 of 5 people but it is generally not that high. Data are clear on this, even though most managers would say that it is not likely in their organization. Your people might know their jobs, but they often do not understand how what they do fits into the bigger picture. Thus, we often see departmental squabbles when the customer is the one who is really impacted, which indicates an alignment issue.
Let’s say that your company is implementing a new strategy and your group is part of that process of making some changes to better align with these new goals. What are reasonable expectations? My friend Robin Speculand at Bridges Consultancy in Singapore has some global statistics that are numbing:
- 90% of strategies fail to deliver even 50% of their objectives.
- Only 5% of employees have a basic understanding of the company strategy
- Only 2% of managers are confident that they will achieve 80% or more of their strategy’s defined objectives.
So much about the success of such initiatives are simply about facilitation and communications of visions, missions, goals, and expectations and changes in feedback and measurement systems.
This alignment process is not a difficult one, but it is something that really needs to be accomplished. And, you should do this through questions and tabletop discussions and not
2 – Create some teams and allow them to accomplish things related to the above.
You’ve got to have a problem that you want to solve;
a wrong that you want to right.
It has got to be something that you’re passionate about because otherwise you won’t have the perseverance to see it through.
There are dozens of ways to build teams. Basically, they need to have some kind of challenge that they want to address and some kind of organizational support that they feel will allow them to address the issue. We use the simple process of facilitating Square Wheels One to both involve them creatively as well as get them to share and agree on some specific Square Wheels that are operating.
This produces cognitive dissonance, a motivation to close the gap between the Square Wheel and some possible Round Wheels. One of the keys is their perceived likelihood of getting the support needed to address that implementation. Cultural and company cultural differences will lead to different strategies and tactics to address this opportunity. And I have written extensively around issues of implementation throughout the nearly 300 posts in this blog.
Teams will form naturally in most workplaces if they are allowed. And there are all sorts of models that can be overlaid for the long-term, like Kaizen or Lean. Find one that works already in your organization — no sense reinventing that particular wheel!
3 – Improve facilitation skills and use involvement to generate participation.
The issue is generally not one of compensation or similar cultural roadblocks to performance. The Kelly Global Workforce Index from in June, 2013 said:
- 45% of workers in The Americas agreed that they receive equitable compensation for their work.
- 44% say they would perform at a higher level if compensation were tied to performance / productivity.
- Reframing that, 55% of the workers feel that they do not receive equitable compensation (one can assume most feel undercompensated) and 56% of them are saying that they could accomplish more if they were better motivated.
If you are interested in more statistics on these kinds of issues, Part IV of my post on managing and leading change summarizes a lot of data about people and performance. You can find Teaching the Caterpillar to Fly – Part 4 here.
The issue is relatively simple. You have to stop TELLING them things and begin to ASK them more about their understandings and their ideas. You can save time by lecturing, but you lose all the energy that arises from involvement and ownership.
Lastly, remember that a transfer of ownership involvement is a key step in getting the people involved and the momentum for change. Make this improvement opportunity theirs, since:
Nobody ever washes a rental car!
I’ve said it a zillion times: People do not take care of things when they feel no ownership involvement. If it is their idea, they own it. If they talk in defense of a position, they own it. If you can get them sharing ideas and deciding to do things differently, they own it. And all you need to do is provide the support and resources to help them get things done.
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.
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