Is Productivity Killing Your Business?

Productivity is a hugely popular topic and there is no shortage of authors, teachers and ‘gurus’ out there to help you get more productive. You may be using Microsoft Outlook at work but if you do a search on ‘productivity apps’ you will get an avalanche of options for your laptop, phone and tablet. Productivity is a big deal and big business. It has advanced way beyond the days of sending people to a time management program and see them return with a paper planner in a binder. If you don’t remember those days you did not miss much.

Do you ever wonder why key strategic milestones and projects are not completed successfully and on time? Is your organisation slow to respond to changing internal external pressures? Are you only discovering failed or stalled projects when it is too late?

Organisational and team productivity is not always a sum of the ‘parts.’ Every person in a team may be highly productive but this does not always translate to overall productivity when measured by successfully achieving objectives. As a leader you need to take a deeper dive and build processes that will ensure productive activity achieves outcomes.         Strategy Cascade.001

Our process on a high level includes the following and we may go into a deeper dive in subsequent posts. In addition we have a number of tools to help teams and managers execute tasks and achieves tasks more effectively.

  1. Your corporate or organisation’s strategy must be clearly ‘cascaded’ to the individual level. Each person must have ‘line of sight’ from their role to the overall strategy.
  2. Your strategy should be broken down into goals, objectives and tasks in alignment with your structure and the strategic horizons assigned to roles and job titles in your business. This is a very simple structure.
  3. The most difficult phase of achieving excellence in execution is changing the way people work together and introducing systems and discipline in at least one management process. This process includes the following steps:
  • Weekly team meetings with a structure set of questions coupled with accurate note taking, task creation, task assignments and follow up. The manager meets with the team every week.
  • The agenda is fast and focused.
    • What are you working? Is it on your work plan and/or task list?
    • Is there anything or person disrupting or distracting you from achieving completion?
    • The manager asks, “What can I do to ‘clear the path’ or support you in achieving your tasks?” This is recorded as well.
    • The manager has one day or less to follow up with the person on actions taken.

4. The meetings are fully documented and retained. I have clients who use OneNote or          Evernote to record these meetings. The information captured is excellent for use in      management meetings, reporting up the organisation and for performance reviews with the manager and team members.

This can be a major change program depending upon existing systems and processes in your business and the culture you have. This type of process must be implemented at all levels of the organisation and not focused on one business unit or functional area. All managers who will be conducting the weekly team meetings must be trained in how to conduct them and record information. If a manager is away for any reason the weekly meetings must still occur.

The end in mind for this change initiative is achieving higher levels of engagement, adaptability and competitiveness. You achieve these outcomes by enabling people to work effectively to achieve your strategic objectives.

Big ROI for Employee Engagement Strategy

The Interview

Client: Charles Clayton, Learning & Development Consultant

Industry: Healthcare provider

Location: Dallas, TX, USA

Organization: Baylor Scott & White serves North and Central Texas through  46 hospitals, more than 500 patient care sites, more than 6000 affiliated physicians and 36,000 employees.

Current Situation: BSWH was looking to improve employee engagement and purchased Vado’s 85 courses specifically targeted to increase engagement and retention.  BSWH selected five units with high employee turnover and low employee satisfaction to pilot the courses.  BSWH conducted a pre-pilot survey to measure current employee satisfaction.  They analyzed the results and for each unit identified three areas to improve.  To improve in those areas, the managers were directed to the Vado courses mapped to the selected area.  After the managers implemented the courses, they re-surveyed to assess if employee satisfaction improved. One manager in the pilot commented that they liked having resources to address their challenges.

Customer Success: Across the five units, employee satisfaction improved across the three areas on average by 6.56%.However, for the lowest employee satisfaction score in the pre-pilot survey, the average employee satisfaction improvement was 12.65%!

Customer Comment: Charles shared that these employee satisfaction increases are “statistically relevant”.  Due to the success of the pilot, BSWH renewed their Vado license and will be rolling out the courses more broadly.

5 Tactics to Support Your Employee Engagement Strategy [Part Two]

Welcome Aboard.  Sink or Swim With On-boarding.

Imagine you are marooned on an island inhabited by a tribe of friendly people but culturally vastly different to what you are used to.  All of the norms of this tribe are not threatening but far outside your patterns of behaviours.  You can imagine how difficult and intimidating this would be.  Why do you think it is any different when people join organisations as new hires?

The experience a new recruit has joining a new organisation has an enormous impact on how soon a person ramps up to effectiveness and how quickly they become engaged with the organisation and its culture.  You can refer to the previous blog for a great definition of employee engagement.

If you have ever experienced a bad hire and either had to take action to remove a new hire or they leave quickly on their own accord, the impact goes way beyond the cost, pain and frustration of having to start a recruitment process again or settle for your second or third choice.  The ripple impacts of a bad hire hit your culture widely and deeply. You can reduce or eliminate these risks by developing a solid on-boarding strategy.

Here are some ideas that I have seen work well in some of my clients’ organisations. Some of these ideas work better for some organisations and less so for others depending upon a number of factors such as industry, location, resources and culture.  You should also consider the type of position you are inducting.

You may have a different style of on-boarding processes in your sales team as opposed to your finance team.  These differences take into account the type of individual[s] you are inducting and the culture of the team they are joining.

Here are some ideas:

  • Start the induction early using your LMS or other web based platform. Start the process before they arrive for day one by offering some online videos, courses and information they can review in their own time.  Make this fun, interesting and collaborative.
  • Include a social gathering either prior to day one or shortly after.  You can make it a dinner with their new manager or a small gathering of their manager and team members.
  • Make the induction a ‘high touch’ experience.  I am always surprised how often a new hire is sitting alone in their office or workstation going through induction.  This is sending all the wrong messages to the new hire.  Include different people to interact, support and coach the new person.  Do this even if you are inducting a number of people at once and use workshops to deliver induction training.
  • Include some online learning and collaboration to deliver a ‘blended’ approach.  You do not need to use costly learning content.  You can use some home-grown videos, presentations and links to other resources.
  • Add sense of achievement when a person completes their induction.  You can have a small team social gathering over coffee, deliver a certificate of completion or another gift or token signifying the completion of the induction.  Using a certificate or token item makes a great cultural ‘tradition’ and you can award them retro-actively if you want to.
  • Include some interface between the inductee[s] and senior management.  Choose the highest senior level leader you can but choose wisely.  Do not make the mistake of choosing a senior leader who does not have the commitment to successful inductions and culture required or is not reliable to stick to appointments.  This tactic can backfire if you choose a leader who considers this a nuisance and cancels appointments or lacks the EQ to conduct a meeting with new hires effectively.
  • After the induction process is completed include a meeting schedule for a month or two after.  I suggest a coffee or informal meeting of about 10 to 15 minutes duration and conducted by human resources or another manager; not their direct manager.  The purpose of these meetings are to get some feedback, check for any barriers to work objectives and be alert for some innovation.  It is surprising how a newly hired person will identify areas for business improvement and innovation.  They are not yet fully immersed in the role and the ‘third party’ perspective is priceless.

A great induction process takes work and attention.  The induction process needs to designed and documented.  The process needs to be aligned with the organisation’s strategy and supported at all levels including specifically the CEO and other ‘c’ level executives.

If you are considering developing a new induction strategy or re-developing an existing one, we can have a discussion and share some ideas.  You can keep your focus on your objectives and we can help you develop, implement and execute an effective on-boarding/induction strategy.

People Join Organizations and Quit Managers

We have heard this statement over and over “People join organizations and quit managers.”  But is there any truth to it?  According to two different research reports, one reason people leave organizations is due to the boss.  Kenexa research shows that 30% of turnover is due to the boss.  Forbes completed a study titled, “Why Your Top Talent is Leaving in 2014 & What It’ll Take to Retain Them” and they cite that 37% of top talent is leaving due to Boss’ Performance.

Research conducted by Gallup, Inc. supports the statistics from Kenexa and Forbes.  They go on to quantify the qualities employees want in a manager. The top four are:

  1. Managers who show care, interest and concern for their staff
  2. To know what is expected of them
  3. A role which fits their abilities
  4. Positive feedback and recognition regularly for work done well

One of the reasons employees leave is because of their boss.  So, to improve retention, we need to improve boss’ performance.  How do organizations improve management performance?  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Set clear performance expectations.  Your leaders need to know that you expect them to be good leaders and that you want them to show their employees that they care, are interested in them, provide feedback and recognition, to provide employees with a job that fits their abilities and that employees understand what is expected of them.
  2. Train your leaders. Offer your leaders management development opportunities on the qualities and capabilities you want your leaders to demonstrate.  Ensure that the courseware helps your leaders apply the training on the job. Remember – your leaders will only become good at being a leader if they practice the content in the courses they completed.
  3. Be a good role model.  Model the qualities you expect of your leaders.

Author: Cindy Pascale
Cindy Pascale is the CEO and co-founder of Vado and has 16+ years of HR, Training & Development and OD leadership experience and 12 years running talent management, development and assessment companies.  Vado is the e-learning courseware provider ‘changing the face of learning’.

3 Major Causes of Poor Execution in Organisations

One of the most commonly mentioned issues by leaders of organizations in my client community is the lack of execution and follow through.   This critical issue spans from lack of follow up calls by the sales team to entire projects stalled or abandoned due to lack of execution and accountability up and down the hierarchy.

There are a number of causes of lack of execution and accountability.  I will touch on some of them here as a primer.  Given the enormity of the issue across all types of organizations, I will devote more time in future writing to this set of topics and offer some real solutions.  These issues can be solved.  In the meantime they are costing your organization time and money.  Lack of execution and accountability also contributes to low performance cultures and morale.  Who wants to work with a team that never celebrates the victories of completed projects, big deals won and new initiatives delivering results?

  1. Communication lacks clarity and specificity.  This was really hammered home to me once when a colleague showed me a graphic illustrating how many people in an organization hear a message but do not retain it, how many understand the message and take no action, how many want to take action but do not know how and of course the smallest number of all; how many hear the message and take action.  It is scary and if you are a leader of an organization you should be scared.
  2. Top to bottom and bottom to top accountability is lacking.  If the senior leadership do not keep each other accountable then it is unlikely that middle management is accountable and if middle management is not accountable then the rest of the organization is not accountable.  Guess what you have?  A crappy paralyzed culture that will slip into to a ‘doom loop’ if it has not done so already.
  3. Nobody is listening.   We all remember the ‘voice of the customer’ as a big thing a decade or so ago, [it is still important].  How many leaders and managers really listen to their people?  I mean really listen.  I have worked with firms who have implemented collaboration platforms to try to alleviate this and the people are too shit scared to be honest enough to make a difference.  I bet most people doubt whether the leadership would even acknowledge, let alone, take action on input from employees.  If things are not getting done, it could be that people have some input and ideas on why this is happening.

There is another biggie that can be added to this list; the organization has not strategic objectives.   Most people would be amazed to realize that many businesses do not have strategies let alone a business plan.

I will dive more deeply into this topic area in future posts.  This whole issue of execution is a big deal and there are a lot of facets to the issue.  I will do my best to offer some ideas for solutions.