A good reminder from Bob Herbold that simplicity is the key.
What will you start today?
This reinforces my belief that there are great leaders at every level and we have to make sure we don’t get in their way and just let them get on with it.
Hope you enjoy.
Much of our working day, weeks, months and year is about getting the execution of the plan right to deliver “operational excellence”. This excellence will ensure that revenues are increased and costs controlled to deliver a better profit and of course lift customer satisfaction.
Some questions to help you answer check that it is the right plan:
So is it the right plan?
Clear and consistent values are an essential element of successful businesses. History shows that they truly live the values and bring them to life not through policies and procedures, but ultimately by what they do and how they do it. They are value driven.
Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness is a great read about how he successfully grew Zappos and worked to define the values, keeping them alive as the company grew and using them as a guide for everything the company did in interactions with customers, employees and suppliers.
So let’s not forget that whilst policies and procedures are important elements of an organisation, what counts is what we do and the intentions that underpin it as it is this that will be observed and replicated throughout the organisation. Enron and Lehman Brothers are a few of many examples where the stated values were not demonstrated by the company leaders and disaster resulted.
It is worthwhile regularly reminding yourelf and the team of what the values are and being clear about what those values look like in action. If people do not see the values in action then the piece of paper they are written on is both worthless and useless.
Wanting the focus of the organisation to be on customers, he ran an analysis of his division CEOs and board members Outlook calenders to graph how much time they were spending with customers. Sharing the results at a leadership conference he expressed his concern that he was leading the company with 50% of his time spent with the customers, whilst the people running the business divisions were some way behind.
He shares this analysis with the leaders every year and not surprisingly he is no longer at the top and the general results curve has changed with the bell shifting to the higher end with more people spending more time with customers.
If you looked at your own and your team’s time and how you spend it what would it tell you? Are they focused on the customer (internal or external)? Or are systems and processes created to make the business “better”, such as meetings, reports and e-mails, taking them away from their customers?
This story also reinforces the old saying “what gets measured gets done”. So are you measuring the things that really make a differnce to the business and are relevant?
Be honest with yourself, and if you are too busy in the business find a way to step back or ask someone else to look at it and tell you what they see. It may help you and your team shift the focus and be well placed for greater success in what will no doubt be a tough year in 2013.
I wanted to share one of the biggest takeaways I had from a “Rapid Consensus” facilitation workshop I did last week.
It was about the powerful synergy that can be achieved within a group by shifting their energy away from problems and problem solving, and focusing them on what they are trying to achieve, the options to get there and what they can do now to move towards the goal.
A good thought for individuals and teams!
It is a great reminder of the difference our approach to others makes. I am sure we can all find an example of somebody who has truly believed in us and the difference it has made to our own confidence and ability to succeed.
It is an engaging clip not only for the message but the way Frankl delivers it.
A few questions that I thought might be helpful as you reflect on what the video means for you:
Good luck with it, I hope it helps you make a difference.
Viktor Frankl was a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps where he formed many of his views including that we cannot avoid suffering but we can chose how to cope with it. His book Man’s Search for Meaning sets out his theory known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”). It holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit if what we personally find meaningful.
Scott defines a fierce conversation as “one in which we come out from behind ourselves into the conversation and make it real”.
I enjoyed how her passion comes out in the book and the way she challenges us to ask questions of ourself in the first instance and then to ask questions and listen rather than make judgement and give advice. The book is filled with examples illustrating her concepts and gives clear practical steps to follow.
A highly recommended read that will challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and bring about real change by making every conversation fierce.
Like any plan it is important to create the space for yourself to set some goals and think about what it is you want to achieve for yourself, your team and the business and how you will do it. Whilst this seems obvious in the calm of an ordinary day; in the roller coaster ride of taking on a new job it is easy to get lost, so a clear written plan that can be reviewed regularly will ensure you stay on track. The review should revisit the goals set as well as the actions and adjust as necessary.
One of the great things about changing jobs is the opportunity to wipe the slate clean. Start fresh and make sure we do not repeat any of those mistakes we made in the current job. The easy part is to sit down and remember all those mistakes we made and what we would do differently. But what about the things we don’t realise we are doing wrong?
Although you may have had 360 feedback, leaving or moving up is a great opportunity to get direct feedback. Think of a few people who are in the best place to know you, it may be your direct reports, your boss or one of your peers, meet up with them individually over a coffee or lunch. Explain that you would value their feedback and ask them two questions:
For this to be meaningful your question has to be genuine and you have to listen. Certainly ask for some clarification or examples, but it is about you not them, so do not respond to any criticism with justification or retaliatory feedback.
Take the feedback on board and thank them.
The thought of this may scare you, but you stand to learn a lot about how other people see you both the good and the bad. You may well take a mental note to do it with your new team after 3 months!
There are other options: I read of one leader who gathered his team in a room with two blank flip chart pads, one for each question. The task was explained then the team leader left the room for 15 minutes to give them time to write their feedback on the flipcharts.
In a new position we are often in a hurry to get things moving and prove ourselves worthy of the job. It is all about jumping in and getting things moving. However, for a team to be successful there has to be trust. Trust takes time to build but can be lost in a second. So in a new job be aware of this and be sure to put time and effort into building the trust between you and the individuals and between each other as a team.
Part of trust is sharing. Share your story and ask about theirs; where they have been and where they are going. Like many things, the more you invest the more you get back and it is better if it is an ongoing investment to reap long term returns.
Any new person in the job will explain what their expectations of individuals and the team are. Don’t forget to ask what their expectations of you are and discuss any areas where you cannot meet them, this is a particularly important conversation to have with your new boss.
Again, along the theme of getting into the job and proving our worth, we can be tempted to sit behind our desk and create a marvellous plan and strategy that we present to the team as the new way forward. Whilst as a leader you have to provide the overall direction, the team has to be involved at some point in the process and have the opportunity to contribute, discuss and challenge to have ownership of any final plan. Without this the commitment will be limited and when things go wrong it will be easy to say “it was his/her plan anyway”.
In the team forum it is a good idea to agree rules of engagement for working together; a set of guidelines for people to follow and hold each other accountable to in meetings. A good test of how “alive” the company values is how much they feature in the final list. Things
that are often included in this are listening, respecting peoples’ opinions, being on time etc. These rules can be reviewed regularly and added to or modified as necessary and are a good point of reference when tensions are high.
Having these rules is good, but the team must hold each other accountable to them to make them meaningful. Review them regularly and discuss how the team is performing against them and if not ask what is happening.
Our modern systems produce a lot of reports with a wide variety of data and measurements. It is easy to get lost in them and lose track of what you are trying to achieve. When the plan is done, it is then important to agree what keys areas will be focused on and will provide a meaningful measurement of progress towards the plan. Once the measurement of success is clear, then it will be simple enough to identify what each department or section’s contribution to the main result will be.
This seems straight forward, however, the point is, to get focus from everybody on the right things, ensure that the scorecard is agreed up front, is highly visible and updated daily, weekly or monthly as appropriate.