Leadership, Thinking differently

The Truth About ‘High Performance Culture’: Is It Just Buzz?

If I had a dollar for every time a manager said to me “I want a high performance team” I’d probably be on a beach somewhere…

Each time I hear this statement a few things run through my head (as I know they do other HR professionals):

  • How would you define a ‘high performance team’
  • Do you actually mean ‘I want to build a high performance culture’?
  • Do you know what you want that culture to value?

As with any buzz phrase in business, sometimes really worthwhile endeavours (like building a high performance culture) get lost in soundbites and false hopes of a ‘quick win’. Gallup research identified six key ingredients to achieve a high performance culture (HPC) and they are anything but quick fixes:

1. Implement an effective performance management process
This can be built using a merit based system to define high performers, setting clear standards and expectations, and articulating shared goals and objectives.

2. Create empowerment and authority
What you really need to make this work is trust and accountability as a good base to be able to respond to the market and drive innovation.

3. Increase leadership capability at all levels of the organisation
Think communication, communication, communication! Organisations with the highest levels of employee engagement share a common mission and purpose with accessible and visible leaders.

4. Develop a customer-centric strategy
How well do the organisation’s leaders connect to the wider business (including brand, people, mission & purpose)? What do they do to ensure everyone is engaged with a customer-centred worldview?

5. Increase communication and collaboration
How critical do your leaders believe people management is to their role? Or do they see themselves as operational managers with people management ‘add-ons’? For organisations to achieve effective communication and collaboration there must be two-way communication throughout the organisation and real intent by leaders to be truly engaged with their people.

6. Enhance training and development
Prioritising ongoing learning for individuals and the wider organisation is critical to continuously improve as a collective. Setting up employees for success is the best way to create a HPC and comprehensive learning and development plans that complement the organisation’s overarching objectives and direction is critical for this.

I’m really excited to hear from Gary Pert (CEO of Collingwood Football Club) speaking at the AHRI National Convention about creating a HPC because working as a team is a critical (if not the most critical) element of a successful sports club. In a sports team you know you have to have a HPC otherwise you may as well hand the win over – so what lessons can we embed in our organisations from those that do it well?

Whether you’re managing a netball or a marketing team (or you’re a HR professional who constantly has to field the question ‘how do I do this?’) what do you need to think about to embed a HPC?

  • Make it a priority. In sport you want to win right? So what do you want to do in your organisation? Is having a HPC essential to getting there? Yes? Prioritise it.
  • Define what a HPC means for you. Is it winning every game? Reducing complaints by 50%? Becoming an employer of choice? Once you’ve defined where you want to go it will be easier to zero in on what you need to focus on, whether it’s up-skilling your people, managing your environment or investing in a specific function.
  • Once you know what a HPC means then look at who is doing it well; suss out the competition, look within your ranks – what makes them a success? Is it replicable? Do they display the behaviours you want to embed? How do you emulate them?
  • Are you being realistic about what you’re already doing well? Have you identified a ‘high performing team’ that is actually just a team with a couple of superstars? If those people leave then what do you have left? Luck does not equate a HPC.
  • Plan. Plan. Plan. You can’t do everything at once and a HPC doesn’t happen overnight so where do you want to focus? How are you going to get there? Who do you need involved? How long is it going to take?
  • Get buy in. There are multiple times throughout this process where stakeholder management is critical but if you’re going to change focus or make changes ensure that you’ve got the right people on board. Your shareholders, directors, managers, clients or your fans – they can either support the change or destroy your efforts.

Reference: Gallup 2013 research on High Performance Cultures.

The author will be a guest of the AHRI National Convention and has been asked to write up her thoughts on the event.

This article was originally published on the Australian Institute of Human Resources (AHRI) website.

Leadership, Personal brand, PKM, Thinking differently

Psych Assessments and Personality Profiles: Worth It?


This week’s post is a result of a question submitted through Engage Learn Build. It’s a question I get asked frequently in various forms – from executives looking to evaluate their team or a new hire, managers who feel they should be using psych assessments but don’t know where to start, right through to friends who are wondering what on earth the correlation is between a seemingly random request for a psych assessment midway through the recruitment process.

My response to these questions varies greatly on the why:

  • Why is the decision maker wanting to engage in a psychological assessment or personality profile?
  • Will the tool that is being suggested actually help answer that question? (Quite often the answer is no…)
  • And finally, does the decision maker actually know how to interpret the results, or do they have someone on hand to walk them through the process? (Again, quite often the answer is no).

Question:

Hey Renée, as a leader, the most valuable learning I’ve done has been about myself. Tools like MBTI,  360 feedback mechanisms and TMI profiles (IE creator / innovator, concluder / producer etc) have all made me much more aware about how to get the best out of others, but most importantly made me much more self aware of my own strengths and weaknesses and helped me out plans in place to compensate.

How do you rate the different tools out there for leaders looking to be more mature and self aware in their approach to leading others and what traps and pitfalls should they look out for using those tools?

– Damo

Answer:

I totally agree, I think there is a time and place for these tools (which I geekily love) and I get heaps out of them too. I think for me the key is context. If you’re someone who can go out and take what they need from these types of tools, apply it etc. then it is less important, but I often see people engaging with tools (either themselves or with their teams/organisations) and then not contextualizing it and making it mean something for the individual/group.

Most people don’t naturally do this (it is a skill highly related to EQ) – but as a leader, when engaging others in this space, the context is everything. Ideally these tools should help inform a broader plan rather than be the plan. As for preference I personally have gotten the most out of 360’s, especially when it is a goodie. The Human Synergistics LSI tool is pretty decent and I really like Facet5. Although if you’re looking at team dynamics rather than individual development I’d lean more towards personality trait profiles (MBTI, DISC are all much of a muchness in my opinion) because they’re easy to understand and focus people on understanding how they relate to others – and others relate to them, which when you’re trying to get a team to work together is pretty critical.

The big trap is the idea that any one tool (or often, consultant selling that tool) has all the answers. While most tools are supported by good theory there is a lot of room for error and an element of subjectivity in analyzing results. Some assessments have been developed with sales people in mind for example, where extroversion is an asset – where someone who is trying to cultivate a collaborative leadership style might rate badly but actually still be really effective in their substantive.

My readers might have differences of opinion when it comes to some of the psych and personality tools I’ve listed. But I maintain the most critical part of the equation is the ‘why’, and if the organisation or the manager concerned hasn’t got that figured out then I’d suggest that any of these tools are next to useless.

Personal brand, Thinking differently, Uncategorized

Ugh: Networking!

Ok – so this is how I thought about networking most of my career: “Yuk! Guess I better go… wonder how quickly I’m going to be able to escape out of the door!”

Seriously – I hated it. The forced nature of everything. Meeting people who pressed you for meetings (or worse, work) incessantly. Engaging in awkward getting-to-know-you games after a dull speaker. The fakeness of it all.

But then I discovered I didn’t actually have to hate it. I realised it wasn’t networking I hated – because networking is, at its essence, just meeting people and getting to know them – it was that the events that I was attending were all wrong for me.

Just over 2 years ago I moved to Melbourne Australia from New Zealand. For anyone that has emigrated there is definitely a shift, no matter your industry: job titles don’t exactly translate, organisations you’ve worked with aren’t well known, the ‘nature of work’ can be different. Despite NZ and Australia having many similarities, I was definitely on the back foot when entering the Melbourne job market.

I thought I should just suck it up and get networking, I (luckily) found a role, but all of a sudden my wide network of connections in NZ didn’t count for much. I didn’t have many contacts in Australia who I could drop an email, asking how they were dealing with this law change, or that industry issue. I attending some great events, but I attended many more terrible ones.

I discovered that I have preferences when it comes to industry events and networking just like everyone, the key for me was figuring out what I wanted and who could provide me with that.

Some of my learnings have been:

  • I don’t need one event to do it all
    I love having the opportunity to hear someone speak I would never get the opportunity to otherwise, Commissioners, Head Economists, Politicians. A good breakfast event (because, coincidently, I also love food) with a great speaker is tops! What I don’t like is for an event to shoe-horn in a speaker with games and awkward conversation.
  • I like having unstructured talking time.
    I’m actually ok at striking up a conversation here and there. Often the best contacts I’ve made through various forums has been engaging in a great conversation and continuing it over dinner or drinks after the event has finished. If I’m not tied to a table or group I’ll mingle until I find interesting people who I can learn from.
  • I don’t like feeling like I’m being lined up as a client.
    The big divider between events where I feel engaged and those where I don’t is the authenticity of the conversation. You know what – if your company stumped up a lump of cash to make this event happen then that’s awesome! Good on you for investing in relationships. But I don’t want to sit through an hour of your MD telling us about how great their product is if they’re doing an ‘introduction’ for the speaker that got me in the door who then only speaks for 15 minutes.
    Likewise if you’re a consultant that is fantastic, I get that you need clients to make your business work. But I’m not going to become a client by you pressing me into a meeting. I’d like to actually connect with you as a person, and in exchange I won’t pretend like I might have some work if really I know there is no chance.

Recently I was flirting with the idea of reconnecting with a great group of people who I coincidently met at one of the great networking groups I joined when I first moved to Melbourne. I had a chat about it with a friend and thought ; well if I like the super unstructured drinks & a loose theme kind of networking event then maybe others would too’?

As a result of this, and subsequent conversations, with the original group I’ve set up a ‘People People Catch Up’ – for people whose business is people – People & Culture, L&D, OD, Projects, Change and everything in between. If this sounds like you and you’re based in Melbourne (or just happen to be here on August 13th 2015) I’d love to see you there!

For more details head to book into the #PeoplePeopleCU here or contact me via @ReneeRoberz

 

Thinking differently

HR Consulting: What Works (And What Doesn’t)

Over the past 6 months I’ve been talking to a few friends and colleagues who have moved (or in the process of moving) from internal permanent HR positions to the exciting world of consulting.
I must admit, there is a part of me that’s pretty jealous – I’m risk adverse in nature and love the idea of being able to stick with my employer for a long period of time. It does help of course that I have a great employer, but to be fair, a lot of these friends have come from really positive work environments as well and have still wanted to spread their wings.
It used to be there was some stigma around self employed consultants in the HR space – this largely wasn’t helped by (hopefully, now outdated) sales methods of trying to convince every potential client that they needed the package with all the bells and whistles coming to 3x the amount of budget available per year for such services.
The recent change towards conscious consulting – ethical consultants who are genuinely fantastic at what they do and are eager to make life better for the people that make up organisations – has meant a rapid change in the way I, as a permanent employee in a relatively small People & Culture team, engage with consultants.
No longer do I feel the need to decline every invite for coffee, terrified of being hounded for months on end for business that I genuinely don’t have the budget to purchase. I am lucky enough to deal with a variety of consultants who I can call on with a quick question, who value the relationship, and who – when I have a piece of work – I don’t hesitate in getting in touch and completely trusting their judgement as to the best solution for the issue I have.
It’s these types of consultants in the L&D, HR, Project Management and Change Management spaces that I hope signify a shift in the way that the industry is headed. I love the trait that so many of these people share which is a genuine desire to see people, and organisations, succeed and grow. Rather than being concerned with ‘filling time’ or ‘seeming busy’ they are results oriented – which can be a change from stagnant HR teams which seem to be focused on the rules and putting blocks in the business’s way.
I’m lucky to work in a dynamic People & Culture team with great people – but many HR roles do not operate in this environment. Some people (who are incredible operators) really flourish with the freedom (and associated risk) which comes from the nature of a consultancy role. The ability of great consultants to give difficult advice, effectively manage really difficult change process and focus on their real strengths means that those of us in internal roles can bring in a pair of fresh eyes when needed and target people with the specialist skills when required.
I can’t say I’ve got a desire to become one of these fantastic people – but it is time that those of us in internal roles really embrace the conscious consultant, and in doing so, ensure that the values our organisations live by are reflected the people that we do business with.
Thinking differently

Your Fuel Tank: Efficiency & Replenishment

Fuel Tank Empty?

On Friday I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to hear Denni Francisco (CEO of The Energy Project) at the first Vecci Breakfast seminar of the year.

Things started well – it was a breakfast seminar, and dammit, I love breakfast. What really made me excited though was the topic of discussion: energy and our capacity to manage our energy in work and life.

Since the industrial revolution everything has been about more/bigger/faster, and with the recent explosion in connectivity aided by the internet and mobile technology we are always ‘on’.

This is a topic many of us hear talked to death but The Energy Project’s unique take on things really resonated with me. I think the way this message was delivered would be a welcome change for executives who are often bombarded with these ideas, but often without real scientific backing and subsequently a lack of actionable items that are easy to embed into your life, or your business.

Instead of recapping all of Denni’s excellent points (of which there were many), I want to ask you to ponder just this:

You have an internal fuel tank. How efficiently are you using your energy?

Energy isn’t finite, it’s replenishable. What are you doing to consciously replenish yours?

 

I highly recommend checking out The Energy Project if you’re interested in exploring these ideas further – I will certainly be reflecting on how I can better manage my ‘fuel tank’ and encouraging myself to be purposeful with how I spend my energy – just like I am with how I spend my money and how I spend my time.

Thinking differently

Thinking about learning in organisations differently

So you’re in Learning & Development, or training, or Training and Development, or you are a proactive manager, business owner or a consultant… in fact, you could be just about anybody because that is who there are benefits for in understanding and taking control of you and your team’s learning in the workplace.

If you want to move away from ‘tick and flick’ learning and drive ROI (and ROE – Return on Expectation – as the knowledgeable Con Sotidis @LearnKotch puts it) then you need to start thinking about learning as an organic, ongoing, personal process that can help organisations get more out of their people (and have happier people).

Organisations that take a holistic approach not only get the feel-good-vibes associated with actually caring about their people, but they also have more committed, happier, more productive employees than other organisations. Increasing your organisation’s feel-good-vibes (and you know, that important thing that’s called your Employer Value Proposition) shouldn’t be the only thing that convinces you of this though, how about the fact that:

  • 40% of employees who receive poor job training leave their positions within the first year, that costs big bucks 1
  • Organisations in the USA that invest in learning outperform the market by more than 45% – 45%!!!!! 2
  • Your competitors are doing it – businesses increased training budgets by an average of 15% in 2013 3

Ok, so I make a pretty good case – but what does this mean for you?  

I’m all about evidence-backed change. There is no point jumping on the latest bandwagon in the interests of being seen to be doing the in thing, if that in thing doesn’t bloody work! A pet hate of mine is the overuse of the concept of ‘learning styles’ – yes learning should be enjoyable but I’ve yet to see any convincing research proving that learners playing with play-doh or throwing squishee balls at each other during a face-to-face training sessions helps ANYBODY!

Well it doesn’t have to equal a whole lot of effort. Advances in technology and the way people are using it mean that more and more there are cheap (and often free) solutions to problems that are pretty consistent across most organisations. What it does mean is that you and the decision makers that you work with, may have to readjust some assumptions you hold about learning in the workplace and how it happens.

Refs:

1 https://www.go2hr.ca/articles/employee-training-worth-investment

2 http://www.astd.org/Publications/Magazines/TD/TD-Archive/2012/11/ASTD-2012-State-of-the-Industry-Report

3 http://www.tlnt.com/2014/02/19/investing-in-employees-smart-companies-are-increasing-their-ld-budgets/