The Need for Speed ~ Driving Pace in Your Organisation ~ Part 3

communication and collaborationIn part 2 of this four part series of blogs, I covered the importance of PACE to improve organisational effectiveness and speed and specifically Alignment:

PACE = Planning + Alignment + Communication + Execution

The third part of The Need for Speed ~ Driving Pace in Your Organisation will focus on Communication of your plan, your organisational structure, your people and your rewards and performance management capability.

Communication

a) Senior management creating a sense of purpose

All of us are in search of a clear and driving purpose for our lives; we want to contribute to something bigger than ourselves.  The workplace offers a great opportunity for people to connect with a purpose, your One Magnificent Goal, your OMG!

The reality is that people care less about working for a company and much more about working for a ‘noble’ cause. Without a purpose, your employees are just putting in time. Their minds might be engaged, but their hearts will not be. A team without a purpose is a team without passion. Your team members may achieve short-term results, but they won’t have the heart to go the distance.

The first strategy to satisfy this basic need is to give employees a ‘noble’ purpose and then help them connect with it emotionally.

Take a close look at what your people are doing day in and day out. You might find that their hearts are much bigger than their jobs. Get team members inspired about your OMG, and their hearts will follow.

Implementing improvement requires constantly reviewing the dynamic forces that drive an organisation. Understanding these dynamics, anticipating their consequences, and acting to accelerate, or redirect them is a complex task. The complexity is further compounded when companies engage in improvement efforts without viewing them as part of their strategic thinking. Assumptions as to what’s involved in change often understate the difficulty and miscalculate the amount of energy, preparation, and time required. Without proper attention, diagnosis may be inadequate and off the mark, leading to ill-fated plans.

Improvement efforts with an OMG often not only require readjusting the way that organisation leaders and employees think, they also require substantially changing behaviour. They require business leaders to manage energy in new ways and make difficult choices. Because these are often needed in the areas of employee empowerment and involvement, they call for new forms of courage. Many within the organisation have to make higher-risk decisions, requiring greater levels of personal development. Improvement efforts mean that cross-functional teamwork, innovation, and personal initiative become part of the defining values of the organisation.

To be successful, it is crucial that your senior management team are 100% behind your OMG, that they actively engage with their teams on a regular basis about your OMG, and that they make the OMG real for the people in their function – tailoring the messages for their people’s specific roles and responsibilities, and tackling the ‘What’s In It For Me?’ questions. They need to be passionate, committed and demonstrate the behaviours underpinning your OMG for it to be taken seriously by their teams. Paying ‘Lip-Service’ to your OMG will work for a while, but destroyed on the 2nd or 3rd occasion that a senior manager strays from this path.

b) Communication and Collaboration

Effective communication is vital in driving pace in your organisation. Improved communication and collaboration across your organisation represents your best opportunity to tap the full range of talents of your people, move with greater speed and flexibility, and compete to win over the next decade.

Building a collaborative organisation requires a transformative approach to culture, processes and technology—along with an unwavering commitment from top to bottom. The working environment is changing; there is an increase in flexible working, home working and mobile working and a blurring of all three. A clear collaboration strategy will ensure that productivity is not lost and employees feel as much part of the organisation as their colleagues based in head office. Optimising team performance can be achieved by building trust and strengthening relationships across geography and cultures; encouraging participation and knowledge/expertise through the use of communities; locating experts within real-time and accelerating decision-making; and using availability and presence tools to help reduce budget by meeting virtually. If you foster a culture that encourages collaborative behaviours, put processes in place to help people work better together and adopt technologies that facilitate collaboration, your efforts will be rewarded with an energised organisation that can adapt quickly to changing markets and deliver results.

c) Communications Approach

To achieve real organisational buy-in to your One Magnificent Goal you must inform, inspire and involve employees so they will choose to go where you are attempting to lead them.

Inform

Informing is the first step in aligning employees and getting buy-in.  It starts with sharing the why, what and how of your OMG.  Then discuss and get clear on individual roles in meeting the goals necessary to achieve the plan.

To feel informed, today’s employees need clarity on:

  • Why you exist as a business
  • How you will behave
  • What you offer to key stakeholders
  • Where you are going in one to three years
  • Key areas of focus for the entire organisation

Although the need to communicate has not changed over the years, the tools we use to communicate have.  Thanks to the internet and other new technologies, today’s leaders can (and should) communicate in many different ways.

The old standbys — memos, meetings and newsletters — still have their place, only in most cases these have gone digital.  In addition to these tools, today’s leaders and managers use e-mail, intranets and online newsletters to communicate quickly and effectively with employees.  They also use blogs, webinars and video clips to educate and update employees about company goals and objectives.

Companies with geographically dispersed workforces use conference calls and video teleconferencing to simulate face-to-face interactions.  And the more tech-savvy companies, especially those with younger workforces, are using instant messaging tools like Microsoft LyncTwitter and corporate social media tools like Yammer or Chatter to stay connected.  Whatever technologies you employ, the key is to communicate often in many different ways to ensure that all employees are focused and aligned.

Inspire

Today’s employees want to believe that their work is making a difference in the world.  To inspire others:

  • Share a compelling vision of what tomorrow looks like.  How will that vision make the world a better place and improve their lives?
  • Constantly discuss the aspirational components of your OMG.  Why should employees aspire to achieve it?
  • Share why you believe the destination is compelling.  What is it about where the company is going that inspires you?
  • Communicate with enthusiasm and passion.  Become an evangelist for the organisational goals.
  • Ask employees what the OMG means to them.  Share their responses via e-mail, intranet and in company meetings.
  • Share positive customer feedback.  Give people reasons to feel good about what the company does.
  • Celebrate achievement of milestones.  We all want to be part of a winning team, so recognise the progress and success along the way to your goals.

The ultimate goal is to get employees talking about what the OMG mean to them individually.  The more they focus on these areas, the more likely you are to get buy-in and alignment.

Involve

When employees feel involved and engaged in the delivery of your OMG, they bring more than just their bodies to work.  They bring their hearts and souls as well as their best thinking.

  • Spend time with your team regularly to check on their progress.  Make sure all individual goals remain aligned with your OMG.
  • Share stories of how teams are aligned and achieving goals.  Highlight team accomplishments and link them to the strategy they support.
  • To measure employee understanding, commitment, inspiration and engagement, take quick surveys following team or company meetings.
  • Solicit questions via email or intranet and address them in open forums.  Publicly thank employees for raising the issues.

So, you’ve now got your people on board, they’re informed, inspired and involved. In the final part of The Need for Speed – Driving Pace in Your Organisation,  I will be look at the fourth, and arguably the most important element of PACE, Execution.

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The Collaborator – Leadership Styles ~ Part 4

The CollaboratorIn the world of social media and ‘crowd-sourcing’, surely The Collaborator is the best leadership style for our times?

The Collaborator is a very open and collective leader in running a team. Ideas move freely amongst the group and are discussed openly. Everyone is given a seat at the table, and discussion is relatively free-flowing.

The Collaborator creates and facilitates dialogue, encourages people to share their ideas, and then synthesises all the available information into the best possible decision. They communicate that decision back to the group to bring unity once the plan is chosen.

When is it Used?

The Collaborator is needed in dynamic and rapidly changing environments where very little can be taken as a constant. In these fast-moving organisations, every option for improvement has to be considered to keep the group from falling out of date.

When situations change frequently, the Collaborator offers a great deal of flexibility to adapt to better ways of working. Unfortunately, they are also somewhat slow to make a decision, so while they may embrace newer and better methods; they may not do so very quickly.

This kind of leadership style can bring the best out of an experienced and professional team. It capitalises on their skills and talents by letting them share their views, rather than simply expecting them to conform.

If a decision is very complex and broad, it is important to have the different areas of expertise represented and contributing input – this is where the Collaborator shines.

Good environments for the Collaborator:

Creative teams or organisations: Ideas need to flow in creative environments to find create new concepts and designs.

Consulting: When paid to explore problems and find solutions, their role will be to explore the possibilities in depth, and that means there has to be a great deal of exploration and open discussion.

Service industries: New ideas allow for more flexibility to changing customer demands.

Education: Few places need to be more open to different ideas than education, both by educators and their students.

The effective Collaborator:

  • Keeps communication open – Everyone needs to feel comfortable enough to put their ideas on the table.
  • Keeps focus in discussions – It’s hard to keep unstructured discussion productive. It’s the Collaborator’s job to balance being open to ideas and keeping everything on track.
  • Must be ready to commit – Through collective discussion there may be so many possibilities and suggestions that it can be overwhelming and difficult to commit. But as the Collaborator, when the time comes, they must choose and do so with conviction. The team depends on the clear and unambiguous mandates to be committed.
  • Respects all the ideas – The Collaborator might not agree with every idea the team has, and that’s ok. It is important, however, that there is a healthy environment where all ideas are listened to and considered, not dismissed out of hand, or the flow of ideas will falter or stop altogether.
  • Explains, but doesn’t apologise – It is important that the initiators of ideas not selected, understand that their thoughts were considered and had merit, but that ultimately you had strong reasons to go a different direction.

Benefits of The Collaborator Leadership Style

Because group members are encouraged to share their thoughts, The Collaborator style can lead to better ideas and more creative solutions to problems. Teams feel more involved and committed to projects, making them more likely to care about the end results and in turn this often leads to higher productivity.

Downsides of The Collaborator Leadership Style

Whilst the Collaborator can be the most effective leadership style, it does have some potential downsides. In situations where roles are unclear or timing is critical, this style can lead to communication failures and uncompleted projects or at best, late delivery. In some cases, team members may not have the necessary knowledge or expertise to make quality contributions to the decision-making process, which may lead to dead-ends and re-work.

The Collaborator works best in situations where the team is skilled and energised. It is also important to have plenty of time to allow people to contribute, develop a plan and then vote on the best course of action.

If you’ve missed the other parts of the Leadership Styles series, please visit – The Terminator, The Coach and The Oracle.

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