OPD Articles / Summary: There is simply no other way


Summary: There is simply no other way

by Dr Graham Little PhD AFNZIM MInstD MNZIC

I have done quite a few articles. Of the last few, I have had some feedback, some said 'great' others have said 'deep' while others have found them too complicated yet others found them too wordy.

Let's start at the top: is getting best possible performance out of a team easy or hard? Every business person I have ever asked has said it is hard, even the hardest side of business. Second, the issue of getting best results has been discussed for a long time, and there is no solution that is reproducible, systematic, and exact.

Can you then sensibly expect a simple two minute, brief proposal that resolves that issue, when it has been discussed these last fifty years or more, with yet no solution that is systematic, thorough, precise and fully reproducible?

Seeing the way, seeing how, seeing what to do does involve some thinking, and some commitment to understand, and some wrestle to get out of our pre-existing views and look at the issues through the new eyes required.

Recently we recruited a new distributor who is very experienced in HR, and has been a trainer/HR consultant for twenty years. During the initial coaching sessions the new distributor seemed backward, argumentative, defensive of what they had done for twenty years, always saying 'but we do that now…' It took several sessions for them to unlock themselves from twenty years of thinking about key things in HR a certain way, and to 'see' from a different point of view. (Recall, 'seeing' is about the 'transparencies' in mind as discussed in earlier articles.)

How long have you been a leader? How long have you had staff reporting to you? How many books have you read on how to do it? How many management articles have you read? How many discussions or talks have you sat through?

How easy is it for you to 'see' anew'? How easy to let go of all that reading and talking and listening…if it has really, really worked then why let go at all…? But are you sure it has really, really worked…? On what do you base your judgment?

The new distributor also used the twenty years experience in relation to their judgment on what is, what can be, and what should be. Despite the grounding of judgment in their prior experience, they also were willing to agree that seldom if ever had they seen human performance in a business above 75%. Their experience and the adoption of the historical models and processes lead them to conclude that this was the best that could be expected. It took very lengthy discussion and debate before they finally came to see that the very basis on which they were making this claim of the upper limit was flawed. It is the whole issue of having poor to weak models, and those models being used in judgment and decision making resulting in limited and limiting standards.

The question of the upper limit of performance really becomes two questions.

1. Is it possible to identify more clearly the goals that need to be achieved, then the ideal actions that will best enable those goals?

2. Can we get people to deliver the ideals more often and more effectively than they do now?

When put to managers in this clear and direct form I have yet to have anyone state that improvement against these questions is not possible. How great? Hard to say would be the reply. But we can always get better and better at doing this. In principle there is no reason why we cannot get 10 out of 10 with these questions. Then, using previous models, 75% is 75%.

The only way it can be done

1. The thinking task of management: Build a clear and definite model of excellence right through the organization.
a.Ensure clear goals derived from the agreed strategy and aligned carefully right through the organization.
b.Ensure clear ideal actions relative to each goal that offers the greatest chance of the greatest success.

2. The interpersonal task of management: Gain maximum support from all staff to deliver the ideals to standard required and maintain that standard.
a.Establish clarity in mind of each person of 1a and 1b above.
b.Build base cultural platform of professionalism, namely willingness to do what is needed when needed.
c.Have all team leaders assume responsibility for goals and KPIs in each position in each team.
d.Have each team leader deal with each team member on following basis:
 i.These are stretch goals I have set.
 ii.We have together identified these ideals as offering the greatest chance of the greatest success if these ideals acted out. Do you agree? (Rework until it is agreed.)
 iii.Then what I expect from you is to act out these ideals to the fullest professional endeavours you can muster. If you deliver the ideals to the professional standard agreed and we get the results we both win. If you deliver the ideals to the standard agreed and we do not get the results then you did your part and I carry the can.
e.Do regular cultural audits that assess if the clarity and commitment is instilled in every team. Guide team leaders to take action to improve upon audit results as needed.
f.Do regular performance reviews where team members are reviewed against their delivery of the ideals, not against the results achieved.
g.Do regular review of the market, or systems, or processes leading to every team examining its ideals and revising them on the basis of latest insights and learning.

The whole structure is grounded in thorough social science…it is truly scientific, and if you can offer some other way where the results are assured and can be systematically achieved and monitored, then I am will be delighted to listen…but be aware the scrutiny will be scientifically thorough.