Consider for a second what you believe to be the most important ‘people’ challenges facing leaders in the 21st century. Most CEOs I ask this question to usually come up with the following examples; improving employee engagement, creating a sense of purpose and the need to build a positive organisational culture. Then they sometimes say, “and we need diversity”.
This article is not intending to extol the virtues of diversity. I am a believer in the benefits of diversity and this memo assumes you too believe it to be important.
This article is about why you may be making little progress. read more…
Why is it that so many leadership teams go on their annual retreat, come back energised by stimulating discussion and mutual appreciation, aligned in their collective intent to change behaviour…but don’t?
Many leaders will reflect on why some individuals and teams are able to move beyond good intent to great execution and some aren’t. What is the magic dust that separates the talkers from the doers, the theorists from the implementers and the commentators from the players?
Beliefs. read more…
Why do so many organisations run annual employee engagement surveys and then do nothing with the results? It seems everyone knows they should be doing something about it, but it never quite becomes a priority. read more…
There is much written about employee engagement these days; most of it obvious and some of it useful. However, most indicators focus on outcomes that are at best ambiguous. One leading employee engagement consultancy focuses on what the company does to “motivate employees to go the extra mile”. In some cultures, threatening someone with the sack if they don’t deliver something will result in an employee “going the extra mile”. It’s probably not a sustainable strategy but it will have the desired effect. In other cultures, threatening someone with the sack in this way will result in litigation and inevitably not motivate anyone to “go the extra mile” except the lawyers. My point is that “going the extra mile” is not a relevant measure for employee engagement, it is simply a slogan that describes an outcome which may have been motivated by fear or goodwill.
We need to look through the lens of the employee! read more…
These days everyone is a culture expert. We use negative words such as ‘blame’, sexist’, ‘toxic’ or ‘disrespectful’ to describe dysfunctional or bad cultures; and words such as ‘innovative’, ‘agile’ and ‘inclusive’ to describe positive or aspirational cultures. But none of these words are ‘cultures’; they are outcomes. Outcomes can be positive (capabilities) or negative (dysfunctions) but they are not cultures.
A culture is by definition a set of values and beliefs.
Values and beliefs result in behaviours and behaviours deliver outcomes. Therefore, to build capability or eradicate dysfunctions we have to change our beliefs, we cannot simply ask for different outcomes.
‘Do your people execute your strategy?’ AND ‘Do your people love your business?’
If you can answer ‘YES’ to these two questions, congratulations, you have given yourself a great chance of success. However, if you read these two questions and think ‘if only’ then do not despair!
Success in today’s fast-moving technological age, where ‘millennials are different’ and ‘competition is fierce’ is not easy, especially if you operate in a ‘results needed now’ environment. Thirty-five years ago, when I embarked on my business career, my boss told me we were operating in a ‘new world’ where technology was ‘moving fast’, and competitors were becoming more and more capable and ‘aggressive’. He observed that the younger generation seemed to be more opinionated and purposeful than his, but reminded me that it was ‘results that mattered’
Nothing has changed.
Research continuously shows that employee engagement contributes to increased profitability, yet most organizations still have no formal engagement strategy in place and two-thirds of employees globally are disengaged. The key word in the previous sentence is ‘strategy’. Building employee engagement is on ongoing process that uses surveys to track and monitor progress but requires culture and engagement to be embedded in the role of leaders.
Anyone who has worked for a large organisation in the past 20 years has probably been exposed to the concept of a ‘core’ competence model or a ‘behavioural’ competence model.
These models come in many guises and are often accompanied by a very heavy folder (electronic or paper!) containing detailed and graduated descriptors according to your level of seniority. Everyone, from middle management upwards, has a similar set of competences and these are designed to help the organisation deliver its purpose and mission. Irrespective of technological advancements, competitor strategies or client needs, the answer to your problem lies in the model.
However, strangely, most of these competences are very similar everywhere you go and are therefore normalizing, not differentiating, your organisation from others. In other words removing competitive advantage not creating it.
And herein lies the problem. read more…
It appears that the topic of organizational culture has suddenly become fashionable and, to be honest, I’m not happy. As the owner of a company that specializes in helping leaders understand the organizational culture they both have and need, you would think this is very good news. However, the emergence of culture as a c-suite priority has created confusion about what we really mean by it. Every ‘consultant’ is suddenly an expert in this most intangible of topics and offering a different set of culture styles, dimensions, behaviours and models to help people ‘get it’. The problem is most of these experts don’t get it at all. Culture is not a set of observations and displayed behaviours. These are the observable consequences of your culture; the outcomes if you like.
But ‘culture’ is deeper read more…
Most large organisations have a Strategy Director who often acts as the right-hand man to the CEO. She/he may be tasked with developing a 3-year plan which will start with statements of Vision and Mission and definitions of strategic ‘pillars’, of which there are usually four. So far so good. When the 100-slide deck emerges just before (or usually just after) the start of the new financial year, it is cascaded top down with enthusiasm, clarity, excitement and sometimes realism. Lessons from the previous year are claimed to be learnt, new competences will be developed, and life is good.
But there’s often something missing. read more…