Every aspect of the business that touches people needs to take into consideration whether it is motivating the desired behaviors. This includes the way we interact with each other individually and in groups and the processes and systems that we put in place. The Business Design 2.0 framework addresses the following areas as part of its Organizational Health foundation:
Open and Honest Communication
It sounds simple but we all know it’s really tough because we learn as children the down side of being open and honest. To make matters worse, must of us (me included) never received any training on effective communication and there is a lot to learn. Learning the “hard way” means that most people learn to be quiet rather than speak-up.
One of the most important aspects of open and honest communication is not just the improvement in relationships and building trust, those are huge all by themselves. It is that open and honest communication can also mitigate the problems associated with cognitive bias, where we fool ourselves into thinking we’re right when we’re actually wrong. Progressive companies incorporate various types of effective communication training into their organizations. It’s part of the growth process.
Rules of Engagement
The Rules need to be clearly stated, if the organization really does permit anyone in the organization to speak-up, and the circumstances where it is considered appropriate should be outlined as well.
It should also be clear that all communication should be respectful regardless of anything else that may be going on at the time. Everyone has to be willing to live by these rules.
There should be a zero tolerance policy for bad behavior, regardless of title, otherwise the effort is wasted and no progress will be made. In fact, things will get worse, much worse…
Holding people accountable is essential and is easier to achieve in trusting environments with open and honest communication, where everyone is operating under the same rules of engagement. In cohesive teams, no one wants to let the team down. They step-up and pitch-in with all their energy and enthusiasm. Everyone wants to make a difference!
Create an Honor Code that addresses the accountability issues that each person agrees to abide by. Be sure to include behaviors that are associated with submitting honest and accurate Expense Reimbursements; company owned property; and any other areas that are prone to theft or other undesirable behaviors.
Open access to information adds a little per pressure to decision making. The neighborhood watch approach, in general, makes people think twice before behaving in questionable ways. Additionally, access to information helps people make better decisions because more information gives them a clearer picture.
Job descriptions should tie the position to the organization’s purpose and focus on the highest priorities and the desired outputs or results. Yes, having established procedure is important so the no one is reinventing the wheel, but everyone should be encouraged to identify process and system improvements. It should be abundantly clear that “staying busy” isn’t their primary objective.
Interviewing using off-the-shelf templates that everyone know how to “answer correctly” isn’t an effective approach to the selection process. Giving candidates a way to demonstrate their abilities through portfolios of their work (could be blog posts on pertinent topics, etc.) or some type of audition or group activity might be a better indicator of their capabilities. Including the rest of the team in the process improves the odds of finding the “right fit.” Determining the candidate’s values strengths, career objectives, and sense of purpose are an essential part of the process.
Onboarding is often a neglected process or thrown together as an afterthought leaving the new hire with high aspirations, with a bad first impression.
Acclimating a new hire to their new “home” should be a group project where everyone on the team plays a role ensuring the new hire becomes a productive contributing team member on their first day.
For example, each new hire could have 2 mentors from day one. The first might be someone that was hired within the last year and can easily relate to the new hire experience and support their transition.
The second mentor might be a person within their team that can aid in their understanding of the team goals, processes, and how the new person’s role fits in to their success.
Engagement is a result of many factors, including the performance of meaningful work, growth opportunities, autonomy in our work processes, and having trusting bonds with our team members. An environment that embraces the Business Design 2.0 elements will go a long way in stimulating engagement and the desired performance.
While I’m a big believer in using technology, there is nothing wrong with old school pen and note card. The investment in personal development is well worth the improvement in engagement and performance.
Never lose sight of the fact that there is a direct correlation between high employee engagement and customer satisfaction.
The real issue is not if we should have performance reviews, it’s how the feedback process needs to transition from an annual mechanical checklist mentality to one that meets the human need for continuous feedback.
People really want, need, and deserve immediate and continuous feedback on the good and “ways they can grow in their role.”
We all need to learn how to give and receive feedback. It’s essential that we remember that when we receive feedback, it’s just one person’s opinion. The key is in how the information is conveyed, including tone and intent.
When I understand why my performance matters in the big picture, as a team player (social being), I will usually step-up my game because I don’t want to let anyone down.
Feedback tips include:
Clear – the intent of the feedback should be clear, not vague.
Short – stick to one point, either what was good or what I can do to improve.
Specific – put it in context and give me the details so I know what behavior to repeat or modify and why. Help me see why a behavior is appropriate, relevant and how my performance ties into our purpose, values, and the rest of the team.
Timely – tell me about it today, in the moment if possible.
360 Degree Feedback
In an open and trusting environment, everyone should be encouraged to seek feedback from anyone in the organization to get a clearer picture of their performance. With training and practice it can be a welcome growing experience for everyone involved (giver and receiver).
When the method of data collection and dissemination is a burden, it doesn’t get done. Every organization needs to use the tools and techniques that make sense in their situation. While I’m a big believer in using technology, there is nothing wrong with old school pen and note card. The investment in personal development is well worth the improvement in engagement and performance.
Goals are essential in business but having everyone with a single focus on one aspect of the business without keeping the big picture in mind can be counter-productive.
Build goals that take into consideration the ebb and flow of the business as a whole. Having the guys on the shop floor produce tons of a product that’s not selling doesn’t help, it hurts the organization.
Make sure everything fits together in a meaningful way.
Pay can be a sensitive subject but it doesn’t have to be. Everyone wants to be paid fairly for their geographical region and their contribution to the organization.
The key is fairness. When there is disparity, that’s when employees disengage, find ways to “make-up” for the perceived disparity, or seek other options.
At a minimum be fair. If possible, pay above average to retain above average employees so money is no longer a concern so they focus on the business. It costs much less in the long run.
Rewards and Recognition
Rewards and Recognition is often an under-utilized avenue for employee engagement. There are countless low and no cost ways to show employees how they are contributing and their efforts are valued. Often the most appreciated are the most creative and/or spontaneous. The kind that legends spawn from.
Keep in mind that once you start paying hard dollars for something, people are usually not willing to go back to intrinsic rewards.
It’s also important to note that different people have different preferences when it comes to rewards and recognition. Some people like public recognition, while others prefer receiving quality time with the boss instead.
It’s important to know each persons preference so the desired result is achieved. Don’t let your preconceived notions backfire and alienate the very people you want to reward and retain.
Promotions often led to subject matter experts, with no people skills, being put “in charge” of others, resulting in frustration and lower team performance. Promotions should include an assessment of all the skills and abilities that a person needs to be successful in a new position and not limited to technical skills, particularly if the new position requires them to support and motivate others.
Thought should also be given to having two separate positions. One who supports employees and another who is the “subject matter expert.” Additionally, the agile & transparent organizational structure doesn’t require as many managers as a traditional organizational structure needs to operate.
Another suggestion is to provide effective communication and team building skills to all employees. Doing so would raise overall performance and better prepare everyone to advance as the opportunity arises. It creates a win/win/win situation for all.
Terminations are difficult to give and receive. For one thing, it means having to admit an error in judgment when hiring. Sometimes it’s a matter of whether the person is in the right position or not, or the dynamics of the team, or a mismatch in values.
Helping a person who is struggling find a way to meaningfully contribute can be very rewarding. It’s a two-way street though; the person has to put forth consistent meaningful effort as well.
Despite best efforts, sometimes there is no other viable option than to let them find success elsewhere. If that’s the case, be honest and direct, while using compassion, and help them transition the best way that you can.