Leadership that Excelerates Performance
LEADERSHIP THAT EXCELERATES PERFORMANCE focuses on the critical relationship between leadership, employee engagement and delivering an exceptional customer experience as a competitive advantage.
Bill is recognized as the Performance Excelerator™ because of
his uncanny ability to create profound change and deliver extraordinary results
with the most demanding organizations.
As a senior executive with over 25 years experience, he works with senior leaders to navigate change and influence and inspire higher performing, customer-focused cultures that create long-term, profitable relationships with your customers and excelerate performance and productivity with leaders and employees.
Great leaders are always looking to improve, but getting feedback that can really make a difference in your personal growth can often be a challenge. Colleagues are often uncomfortable providing feedback they perceive as being unkind or critical (vs. constructive), preferring instead to sugar coat their comments to avoid the possibility of hurting your feelings — and potentially your relationship. But kindness doesn’t really help us break through to the next level in our personal development.
One technique for getting more constructive feedback is to phrase the question differently. Whether it be a presentation you are working on, or how you have handled a situation, instead of asking “how was that that?” try asking “what could I have done differently to make it even better?”
This type of question lets them know that regardless of how good (or bad) you are — you are looking to get better. By asking for 1 or 2 specific actions/tips you might use to improve, you are sending a clear indication you want honest feedback. Then when they provide input, receive it as a gracious gift with a thankful attitude.
My Perspective: This approach will significantly increase the chance that you will get actionable input that you can use to improve. Showing a sincere desire to hear honest feedback gives you a tremendous advantage over those less comfortable hearing the truth. When someone provides you with the gift of honest feedback, it provides an opportunity for you to grow to the next level of your leadership development.
This is the sixth and final article in our series that looks at Building a High Performance Work Environment. The full series is available to subscribers for download as a white paper at www.BillHogg.ca.
In the previous article we discussed the seven steps for creating behaviour and performance expectations that drive employee engagement. This article will outline a number of actions that you can immediately implement in your company.
Success starts and ends with the people in your organization. When your team is managed effectively and clearly understand their role and what is expected of them, good things happen. Good leadership shapes behaviour and increases an individual’s level of engagement.
Actions you can implement to increase performance in your company
There are a number of actions that leaders can implement to communicate that people are valued and create a high performance environment.
1. Make your team aware of company purpose and goals
People want to be part of something. This is why it is important for you to include the entire organization in what you are trying to accomplish. Share your purpose and goals with the team and make it clear to them the importance of their role in helping achieve your shared objectives.
This should be accomplished through regular conversations with your team. It is not a “set it and forget it” task. Regularly reinforce why people are valuable and how they will be recognized if they demonstrate desired behaviours and results.
You should make your team aware of company goals through daily conversations as well as internal communications, newsletters, during meetings, and when they take part on training activities.
2. Share information openly
Transparency is essential. Answering the question why and sharing information with your team about why they are asked to perform certain actions and how their role in the company contributes from a big picture perspective will help them frame things in their own mind. The better understanding a person has of the impact their role has, the more engaged they will be in that role — especially if they feel they are making a difference.
3. Promote open dialogue
Directing from above and not being open to input from employees will not inspire your team. Be open and actively create a 2-way dialogue about topics, issues, and processes within the company. For this to be most effective, the effort must be intentional. It should be planned and not happen by happenstance or in passing.
This can be accomplished by using a comment form on your company intranet, a simple suggestion box, or through informal kitchen table discussions.
4. Build engagement through creative thinking
Engaged employees will deliver better results. They will go above and beyond and will consistently look for new ways to achieve desired results more efficiently. This is why it is important to encourage creative thinking and strategic risk-taking. You need to create intentional opportunities to make innovation part of the organization.
Enhancing engagement, promoting creative thinking and encouraging strategic risk-taking can be as simple as making time to regularly talk to employees about their ideas. Or you could make it more structured by creating a process for submitting new ideas for the company.
5. Encourage and offer feedback and recognition
Feedback is an essential component of a high performance environment. Be willing to listen to what your employees have to say and consistently provide positive feedback to your team about how they are doing. Frequent feedback keeps people engaged. Provide updates about achievements, progress, developments, and reinforce your vision for the company.
Recognition, when done properly, is the most powerful tool for building an engaged work environment. So when you thank your team, make sure that it follows the 4 essential elements of effective recognition; frequent, timely, specific and relevant. Empty thank you’s come across as insincere and quickly lose their meaning. So make sure that you tell your team why they are being thanked. Be as specific as possible.
Focusing on these actions will assist in the development of a high performance environment. Clearly communicating your company vision and goals, and including employees in internal conversations through feedback channels will give them the incentive to go above and beyond in the role and help your company build a high performance work environment.
Change is an inevitable process that every organization must face and successfully manage if they want to remain competitive and grow.
Since most people are naturally resistance to change of any kind, it is a leader’s ability to effectively frame change will make a significant difference in how it is viewed and embraced by your team and is often the difference between success and failure when it comes to adoption.
Emotional triggers that will make change stick
Many organizations implement change — but the key is to introduce it in a way that will make it stick.
Naturally, leaders will deal with internal resistance — this is normal. If you want your team to accept change and make it stick, you need to frame it in a way that will tap into people’s emotions. This is why leaders have to make the concept of change real for people — it cannot exist as a conceptual theory.
You need to effectively communicate what change will be taking place, and how it will impact each member of your team from the top down.
How can you tap into people’s emotions?
- Inspiration: With change comes the opportunity to inspire. Use the prospective change to inspire your team about what is possible. The desirable end results will open them up to change, and also interest them in adopting change for the long term.
- Opportunity: When change is proposed, discuss the new opportunities that will be presented for each and every individual. Answer “What’s in it for me?” for each person so they start to see the personal benefits of the direction the organization is going.
- Input: Give your team the floor. Make it easy for them to openly discuss their concerns and raise questions about how change will impact them personally and professionally.
Give change time to stick
If you want change to stick you need to set a realistic timeframe. You cannot immediately expect everyone in your organization to accept it with open arms, even if it is a positive change. This is why it is important to make time for change:
- Set a realistic time frame and structure for change to take place.
- Schedule discussions, open forums, and meeting to help your team understand, accept, and adopt. Be ready and willing to have open discussions that raise concerns.
- Change is not a theoretical process; it needs to link directly with everyday activities. So set a series of mini goals or milestones to guide your team through the process of change and highlight how the
- changes you are undergoing are having a positive impact on every day activities and outcomes.
How to make organizational change stick
Here are a number of proven strategies that you can use to assist with making change stick in your company:
- Tie change into your vision and values: It is important to communicate how change reflects the organizations core values and how it supports the company goals and objectives.
- Make change matter from an individual perspective: When communicating change, tie it into what matters to your team. Depending on the individual, it could be an expansion of duties, increased responsibility, or personal growth opportunities.
- Find champions at all levels of the organization: It is important to identify people that champion the idea of change at all levels of your company. They can provide support and help motivate others to accept change so it will stick. They can also put out mini fires and address misinformation about the changes being made.
- Provide training to support the change: Offer training and information sessions to ramp up individual skills and knowledge that are needed for people to be successful in the new environment. Also, make sure that ongoing support is in place to reinforce the value of change.
- Expect accountability: You need to hold people accountable by tracking the success of implementation and through recognition and reward — offering rewards alone will not create the desired change in culture.
Making change stick is challenging. But, with the correct approach, and framing it in a way that will be accepted positively by your organization, transformational leaders can make change stick and have it become part of your company’s culture.
Guest Post: By Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author, public speaker, and organizational consultant; author of the newly released book Leading the Starbucks Way
Somewhere in our lifetime, most of us have run across Maslow’s theory on human motivation. In it the developmental psychologist suggests that humans have progressive set of needs beginning with physiological concerns and moving up through, safety, belongingness, love, esteem, and self-actualization. It is within this hierarchical framework that Maslow introduced the notion that people have to first establish that they are safe long before they concern themselves with issues like whether they are loved or whether they are realizing their potential.
In his book Peak, Chip Conley took a deep dive into how Maslow’s theory applies to the modern day work environment; particularly, from the standpoint of employee or customer brand engagement. In my recent book Leading the Starbucks Way, I took this discussion one step further by asking if consumers have a hierarchy of needs that must be met in order for businesses to achieve brand loyalty.
For example, imagine the relationship between a Starbucks customer and employee. Does that relationship strengthen to the level of customer advocacy if an evolving set of needs are met? From my vantage point customer/employee relationships evolve a lot like the dance that builds intimate relationships: there is the courting process, followed by steady dating and finally a real commitment to each other. The customer shops around until he/she finds what they are looking for (courting and establishing your competency), then stops in several times to fully explore the overall experience your company brings (dating or assessment of your consistent integrity) and then finally commits to a lifetime of double espresso shots and protein packs (cheap Starbucks plug, I know.)
Now, the customer/brand relationship could have ended in the courting process if the Starbucks employee (referred to as a partner) did not nurture it. A rude tone of voice or lack of effort to pull an excellent espresso shot could send a customer to an alternative coffee shop down the street, ending the relationship before it could gain traction.
This evolving customer/brand relationship typically moves through a pyramid of customer needs.
Not only do your customers have to feel safe (a result of your competency and integrity) before they feel loved (passion, if you will), but your team members have to experience the same emotions in order to become great employees. I spend a significant amount of time unpacking the dimensions necessary to leverage up to customer engagement and consumer love in Leading the Starbucks Way.
This is the fifth in our series of articles that looks at Building a High Performance Work Environment. The full series will be available for download as a white paper once it is completed.
In the previous article we discussed the four core areas of leadership focus in high performance environments. This article will look at the seven steps that are needed to create behaviour and performance expectations that are necessary in a high performance environment.
There is very little difference between most companies that compete in the same industry. In your strategy to achieve the highest percentage of the market you need to create differentiating factors that your competitors cannot match.
While most companies focus on tangible differentiators such as price, speed, delivery, and convenience, these are all things that your competitors can match. As an effective leader, you need to create an intangible differentiator that cannot be matched by your competition — and that is your people and your culture
A high level of employee engagement (see 8 Emotional Drivers of Employee Engagement) and achieving desired behaviours is something that companies often fail to achieve. These failures lead to a lower level of performance by your team — and missed performance milestones have an impact on your company’s ability to deliver what you have promised to your customers — creating a situation where customer experience will suffer as well.
Your ability to engage people will help you meet your corporate goals. And, you will be in a stronger position to exceed what you have promised and communicated to your customers.
7 Steps for creating a high performance work environment
As a leader you are responsible to develop the company culture and work environment. Here are 7 steps you can follow to increase performance in your organization:
- Identify values that guide your business: What are the core values that you want your business to be guided by? Is it collaboration? Openness? A team approach? Respect? Understand your values and communicate them to your team to set the tone for individual behaviour.
- Set clear and concise expectations: You need to set the bar high if you expect high performance. Make it clear, through regular communication, what is expected and how you expect things to get done. The clearer you are on what is expected, the easier it will be for people to follow through and execute.
- Expect accountability: Accountability is vital. What are the repercussions for missed performance targets? Holding people accountable for their actions will help ensure that the team performs at the level established for them.
- Build a culture of trust: People need to trust that their leaders and colleagues will do as they say. When people demonstrate trust they need to be rewarded with more responsibility and autonomy in order for them to grow within the company. Conversely, your team needs to believe that when they prove they are trustworthy they will be rewarded accordingly.
- Manage the Conversation: Be consistently positive and define exactly what the desired experience/culture you want to achieve is for your organization. This is accomplished through regular discussion and conversations — not special meetings. Leaders need to build ongoing dialogues with their team about culture. For this to work it cannot be a specific initiative, but rather part of daily conversations that builds over time.
- Monitor outcomes: If you want to achieve a high level of performance then you need to measure it. This could be in the form of sales targets, customer satisfaction, new customers, or anything that makes sense for your business. Think about what you need your team to accomplish to achieve desired results and then measure what will drive your business.
- Establish an intentional process to review/revise/reward behaviours: Create an internal process for how you will provide ongoing input with your team. How do you plan to review their performance? How are adjustments made? How are you going to reward desired behaviour? There needs to be both formal and informal process in place. A yearly review is seldom effective, especially when attempting to engage and shape behaviour internally.
These steps will help you to better frame a high performance environment for your company and determine actions that you can take to achieve a high standard for performance.