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EMPOWER SELF ORGANZING TEAMS

Posted By Fabiola Eyholzer, Friday, October 7, 2016

 

The digital age belongs to knowledge workers who think outside the box. No wonder, constricting processes and micromanagement are not going down well. Make sure to bring those talents together in collaborative, self-organizing teams and throw fast feedbacks, constant communication, access to data and knowledge, and decentralized decision-making into the mix. But don’t worry about accountability. Contrary to popular belief – Agile is a highly disciplined way of working. And agile teams proof that every day.

 

In developed and even emerging economies there is a strong emphasize on knowledge work over industrial skills. Consequently, employment in those knowledge-based economy are characterized by increasing demand for more highly-skilled knowledge workers.

According to Wikipedia that includes anyone whose job it is to solve “non-routine” problems that requires a combination of convergent, divergent, and creative thinking. In other words, those are the people responsible for exploring and creating new ideas, products, designs, and models – all that great stuff that keeps 21st century enterprises going.

As organizations (and in a larger sense as society) we depend on their ability to challenge, innovate and create. We employ them for their skills to think outside the box, yet we expect them to follow our predefined (industrial era) processes to a tee and we ensure compliance by controlling and micromanage them every step of the way. Even though we might not even know what steps are actually needed for a specific solution – because it has never been done before.

It goes without saying that this mix does not sit well. That’s why we need to embrace a different approach so that those intrinsically motivated and highly talented people can deliver the kind of performance we expect from them; the kind of performance they are capable of delivering. Because the growth of an organization is tightly linked to its ability to attract and engage the right talents and find a way to boost their performance.

At the same time, today’s challenges have a complexity and dynamic that can usually no longer be fulfilled by one person. Instead it takes a team to jointly create solutions. In Agile we bundle them into interdisciplinary power teams of ±7 people and connect them with other teams that work on the same epic. They collaborate, align assignments, identify and if possible eliminate dependencies and honor their commitments.

The teams benefit from transparency, access to data, constant communication, knowledge sharing and fast feedbacks. And inspect and adapt sessions are embedded into the workflow the same as joint planning and commitment and daily check-in standups.

That way everyone is highly engaged and involved in the definition of goals and it is up to each team to break down each objective into appropriate tasks and allocate them accordingly.

Giving teams all that latitude does not mean that they lack self-control or that we don’t hold them accountable.

Managers often have difficulties rapping their heads around the self-organizing and empowering part. They are afraid to lose control and open the backdoor to slacking – but the reality is far from it: Contrary to popular belief – Agile is a highly disciplined way of working. Agile teams proof that day in, day out.

By allowing the teams more self-determination, it is now up to the manager to become inspiring leaders whose role it is to mentor and coach, provide feedback and insights, facilitate and remove impediments, and above all develop people and unlock their intrinsic motivation.

 

 This post is the fourth in a series contributed by Fabiola Eyholzer, CEO of Just Leading Solutions, LLC.  More information about Fabiola and the services of Just Leading Solutions can be found at www.justleadingsolutions.com.

Tags:  Development  Leadership  Lean Agile  Performance Management 

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SHARE UNDERSTANDING OF VISION, SET INSPIRING GOALS AND CLARIFY EXPECTATIONS

Posted By Fabiola Eyholzer, Thursday, September 22, 2016

  

We operate in a complex and highly demanding world with an endless need for innovative and mind-blowing results. Being able to inspire people to greatness is imperative. It takes a strong vision – not just a nice plague on the office wall – but one that people share. This is your anchor for a roadmap with inspiring goals that answer the Who/What/Why (but not the How).

 

Regardless of your trade or company size, you are likely to operate in a highly demanding, complex, and fast-paced business world. Being able to set meaningful goals and inspire people to greatness is a key competitive advantage. That puts more pressure on Performance Management than ever before.

Unfortunately, years of mismanagement have led to Performance Management systems that are simply uninspiring, and they are a long way from the intended aim of sharing common objectives and channeling all the energy toward achieving those goals. Instead it has become a necessary evil, dreaded by managers and employees alike. And most organizations treat it as an administrative process rather than one critical to business outcome.

Studies show that 50% of managers have difficulty driving accountability; 87% complain their employees are not actively engaged in achievement, and 93% say their people cannot translate a goal to actions. [1]

It is not that employees don’t want to work on their given goals. But often they don’t really understand the goals or what their contribution is. Or they feel their goals are irrelevant. Then, when daily tasks take over, these goals are soon forgotten.

That means we start out with a half-hearted commitment and along the way, goals lose their meaning and relevance when they cross paths with additional client demands, shifting priorities, emerging technologies, new strategic focus – you name it.

Organizations try to respond by setting the right type of goals. But often the effort is in vain. They either set goals that are so abstract and overarching, that people don’t really know what to do with them or the goals get so very specific and detailed that they are outdated by the time you get to work on them. Even companies who have check-in(s) during the performance cycle don’t adjust goals, even though they the validity of the goals must come up when you discuss the progress.

Having said that, people actually do accommodate changing circumstances in their daily activities. But this adaptive behavior somehow changes towards the end of the performance cycle. That is when they feel the need to refocus on the original goals in order to pass their appraisals. Not because these goals are suddenly reasonable again, but because the system obliges them to do so in order to get a good performance review – and hopefully a bonus and a promotion with a salary rise.

That way your employees might achieve excellent level in their appraisals, but at what cost? The organization does not necessarily get the best results and resources might simply be wasted. Just because we have a system in place that measure them on something that seemed like a good idea some months ago.

How can we as organizations ensure people enthusiastically work on the things that matter if our processes encourage them to complete obsolete goals in order to be considered high performers?

Agile enterprises understand the power of inspiring goals and the need to understand, commit, review, and adapt those goals on a regular basis. It is an integral part of their workflow.

But it is not just the ‘what’ that matters. It is the ‘why’ that matters just as much or even more, especially for knowledge workers. And when they understand 'why’, they are more likely to offer solutions that are innovative and insightful.

Therefore, the way of setting goals must be done in a collaborative way rather than a top-down approach. Don’t get me wrong: It is still the task of leadership to give direction and align overall goals with the corporate roadmap. But there is a transparency, clarity, and interaction that enables a dialogue with the people responsible for delivering value.

But the conversation with the team is not just about communicating goals and getting their buy-in. It also includes clarifying expectations and defining how results will be measured. We discuss their leeway, potential dependencies and risks, and the teams consider their velocity. So that when the teams give their commitment they know exactly what they are getting into and they are confident that they will be able to come through. And that way you ensure your goals are understood and shared and that is when you get real commitment.

But we don’t stop at that. Performance management in an agile enterprise is an ongoing process of communication including clarifying expectations, setting objectives, identifying goals, providing feedback, and reviewing results.

And their constant companion is a strong corporate vision. I am not talking about a vision that is only a meaningless statement on a nice plague on the office wall – but one that employees understand, relate to and strive to follow in everything they do. And that will guide the results they deliver. But it takes inspiring leadership and a willingness to set your teams up for success.

 

 

This post was contributed by Fabiola Eyholzer, CEO of Just Leading Solutions, LLC.  More information about Fabiola and the services of Just Leading Solutions can be found at www.justleadingsolutions.com.

 

 

Tags:  Development  Leadership  Lean Agile  Performance Management 

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SHIFT TO ITERATIVE, INTERACTIVE PROCESS

Posted By Fabiola Eyholzer, Tuesday, September 13, 2016

 

The accelerated pace of today’s business world makes it increasingly difficult to think in multi-year cycles and set rigid top down goals on an annual basis. You can handle that by reducing the cycle time and implementing an iterative, interactive process. That way you can deliver results while being able to adequately adapt to internal and external changes.

 

The Performance Management cycle is typically aligned with the financial reporting and HR calendar, which are running on an annual basis. Consequently, most organizations set performance goals once a year. According to the 2014 ERC Performance Management Practices Survey only a small number of companies make it a semi-annual (7%) or quarterly (2%) occurrence. [1]

Yet, no matter what industry you are in, you are likely to experience the accelerated pace of today’s business world. It has become increasingly difficult to think in multi-year cycles and set rigid top down goals on an annual basis.

A Performance Management system that is set out to define and evaluate goals every 52 weeks is simply not able to keep up with the speed and demands of the digital age. This is especially challenging for agile teams working on a 1 to 4 week cadence.

The lengthy 1 year cycle robs you of the opportunities to learn and adapt to internal and external changes. However, you can respond to that by shifting to an iterative, interactive performance process and reducing the cycle time to best fit the flow of your value streams.

Getting the cadence right is the first steps to accomplish an optimal balance of responsiveness, predictability, and reliability. Make sure to understand the importance and impacts of varying times in order to establish the right cadence for your teams. You don’t want to have iterations that are too short (<1 week) for real achievement and learning nor do you want them too long (4 weeks +) with the risk of losing focus and agility. The majority of teams run on 2 week iterations. If in doubt about your flow, this might be a good starting point for you too.

Each iteration follows a clear path with the common ambition to deliver tangible results to the customer(s). This is the ultimate goal of lean | agile teams. And that makes Performance their key driver.

University of California, Berkley accurately defines Performance Management as an “ongoing process of communication including clarifying expectations, setting objectives, identifying goals, providing feedback, and reviewing results.” [2]

Agile approaches embrace all of those elements in such a way that they are not only the core parts of each cycle but are deeply embedded into the workflow and routines. But this is not done in a top-down approach. It is a collaborative effort involving each team member.

The shift to an iterative, interactive Performance Management process will give you a competitive advantage in a fast paced complex business world where the ability to learn fast and adapt swiftly is key.



 

[1] http://www.yourerc.com/assets/ce/Documents/survey/research-studies/14-Performance-Management-Practices-Survey.pdf

[2] http://hrweb.berkeley.edu/guides/managing-hr/managing-successfully/performance-management/concepts

 

This post was contributed by Fabiola Eyholzer, CEO of Just Leading Solutions, LLC.  More information about Fabiola and the services of Just Leading Solutions can be found at www.justleadingsolutions.com.

 

Tags:  Development  Leadership  Lean Agile  Performance Management 

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HOW LEAN | AGILE ENTERPRISES PUSH THE RESET BUTTON ON PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT

Posted By Fabiola Eyholzer, Wednesday, August 24, 2016

THIS POST IS THE FIRST IN AN EIGHT PART WEEKLY SERIES ON PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT.  

 

Traditional Performance Management systems are in deep crises. Their industrial era approach is unable to meet the demands and thinking of 21st century people and organizations. Lean | Agile enterprises set the reset button and move from an administrative Performance Management process to a successful iterative performance flow.

 

The results of the SHRM Survey ”HR Professionals’ Perceptions about Performance Management effectiveness” show the hard truth: Only 2% of organizations attest their practice a grade ‘A’. In other words: a staggering 98% of enterprises are not satisfied with their current solution.

ŸOther studies paint a similar picture and the list of complaints – from employees, managers, and HR alike – is long. Here are some of the most common ones:

ŸPerformance Management is driven by the need to calculate incentives not by defining meaningful and inspiring goals.

ŸGoals usually are quickly outdated, obsolete and simply forgotten.

ŸGoals cannot be translated into daily actions and don’t drive neither accountability nor engagement.

ŸCycle times are far too long for a fast-paced evolving business setting.

ŸReviews are all about appraisals and not (enough) about opportunities and development.

ŸAnnual appraisals are too ritualistic, and cannot keep up with the need for fast constructive feedbacks.

ŸBonus models undermines collaborative behavior and do not foster people values.

ŸReviews are wasted on explaining away a number and not used to reflect, learn, and grow.

ŸThe whole process is bureaucratic and time-consuming and yet organizational development is completely ignored.

ŸForced distribution/staked rankings are demotivating and wreck our best people.

So, no matter how you look at it: Current practices have long ago lost their intended ability to align goals, encourage joint efforts, and foster great results. They do not inspire meaning and growth, and there is no way they can keep up with the pace and energy of agile teams.

Rooted in the industrial era, traditional Performance Management approaches are not made for 21st century organizations challenges. We need to push that reset button – now more than ever! 

Here are 7 steps how to move from an administrative Performance Management process to a successful iterative and inspiring performance flow:

#1: Shift to iterative, interactive process aligned with your optimal cadence

The accelerated pace of today’s business world makes it increasingly difficult to think in multi-year cycles and set rigid top down goals on an annual basis. You can handle that by reducing the cycle time and implementing an iterative, interactive process. That way you can deliver results while being able to adequately adapt to internal and external changes.

#2: Share understanding of vision, set inspiring goals and clarify expectations

We operate in a complex and highly demanding world with an endless need for innovative and mind-blowing results. Being able to inspire people to greatness is imperative. It takes a strong vision – not just a nice plague on the office wall – but one that people share. This is your anchor for a roadmap with inspiring goals that answer the Who/What/Why (but not the How).

#3: Empower self-organizing teams to plan and execute and hold them accountable

The digital age belongs to knowledge workers who think outside the box. No wonder, constricting processes and micromanagement are not going down well. Make sure to bring those talents together in collaborative, self-organizing teams and throw fast feedbacks, constant communication, access to data and knowledge, and decentralized decision-making into the mix. But don’t worry about accountability. Contrary to popular belief – Agile is a highly disciplined way of working. And agile teams proof that every day.

#4: Embed individual and organizational learning and development into your workflow

Companies must constantly evolve to meet new challenges and opportunities. Learning and development is a key part to that equation – not only on a personal but also an enterprise level. You must provide the time and space for people to inspect and adapt in order to create a learning culture that is supported by work practices and daily routines.

#5: Motivate through mastery, autonomy, and purpose not cash incentive

Due to the industrial era belief that money is the strongest (and only effective) motivator for employees, traditional Performance Management approaches are strongly linked to cash incentives. But ever since Daniel Pink’s “Drive” (and decades of scientific studies) we know, that 21st century knowledge workers are in fact intrinsically motivated and driven by mastery, autonomy and purpose. It is time to rethink your motivational theory.

#6: Eliminate performance ratings and annual appraisals in favor of open dialogue and continuous feedback and sharing

Companies excel at calculating ratings. They judge, force rank, provide infrequent and limited feedback and assess outdated, obsolete, and irrelevant goals. And then wonder why appraisals are so despised! Forget performance ratings and annual appraisals. Instead create a culture of mutual respect where candid dialogues, continuous feedback, knowledge sharing and learning is an integral part of the workflow.

#7: Accept that handling (poor) performance is a leadership mandate and don’t hide behind Performance Management

Organizations misleadingly believe that their Performance Management will miraculously separate your people into groups and reward the stars and deal with the low performers. They might even apply forced rankings to guarantee an adequate separation between the two. Stop pretending! You don’t need annual reviews to know who your players. Accept that handling (poor) performance is a leadership mandate. And no approach will (nor should it) take that responsibility from you.

 

This post was contributed by Fabiola Eyholzer, CEO of Just Leading Solutions, LLC.  More information about Fabiola and the services of Just Leading Solutions can be found at www.justleadingsolutions.com. 

 

Tags:  Development  HR  Lean Agile  Performance Management 

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PROVIDING DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES DURING CHANGE

Posted By Karen Weeks, Sunday, May 15, 2016
Change can be scary, intimidating and frustrating to employees.   But it can also be exciting, rewarding and full of opportunity.  Recently, the Talent Development and Org Dev & Change SIG’s came together to share several case studies where companies found opportunities to develop employees during change initiatives. Below are some of the key learnings from the event.

            1) Know People's Career Goals - Whether it is because there is a change in leadership, an M&A event or a reorganization of a department, there will be opportunities for your strong performers.  It is extremely helpful to know ahead of time the career goals of those individuals so you can proactively work with them to help them find opportunities during the change.  Finding the right role or learning opportunity for an employee internally will boost engagement, performance and overall morale for the broader population.  It shows the company wants to invest in their people and not lose them to an external opportunity.  The best way to do this is through talent planning.  A program like talent planning will help avoid only listening to the loudest voice or being too reactive to a request before you know the full picture.  

             2) Be Willing to Think Outside the Box - The perfect answer is not going to be there during significant change.  One must be willing to take a risk both organizationally and with individuals.  If you have several hiring gaps, you may have to create an interim structure.  As long as everyone knows this is just a temporary solution, people will be less likely to think something is "being taken away from them" if the new responsibilities are reassigned once the environment settles.  Often you may find that something you didn't think would work long term, does, and you have added new value to the business.  Additionally, you may want to consider a stretch opportunity for an individual.  Especially during change, a team will look to people they trust and respect for leadership.  You may have someone who has never managed, but is interested in leading a team.  This is the time to give them that opportunity to spread their wings and take on more sooner than you would have normally planned.  It will either work out, and they are able to stay in the larger role, or if it doesn’t, it was only a temporary solution so it will feel like less of a failure.

              3) Watch for Burn Out...and Recognize Employees Who Thrived - Hopefully you have a team of people that are willing to do whatever it takes to make it through the change.  However, often people will lose sight of their own limitations and burn out.   Make sure their manager, or a trusted mentor, is keeping an eye on their stress levels.  The team may need to reprioritize projects or bring in temp support so you don't burn people out, and create more change through turnover.  And then don’t forget to recognize the people who stepped up once you have made it through the change!  It may be a promotion, a bonus or just a public form of recognition.  When you know what motivates your employees, you will know the most impactful way to reward them.

              4) Align Training and Opportunities with Strategic and Cultural Change - During change, a company's culture and/or values is even more important to people.  They see it as the foundation of the organization they love, so change will be less intimidating or less foreign if you can root it in some current values or cultural elements.  

If culture change itself is the goal (think less bureaucracy or silo thinking to become more customer focused and results driven), then training and development opportunities should reflect the new culture. In other words, it’s ok if that feels somewhat uncomfortable for employees and management to reinforce other behavior, especially if it is aligned with business needs.

Whether in a sales transformation, acquisition, departmental disruption, it’s important to relate the changing culture to the business strategy.  Most of us work in a for profit business and need to think about the needs of the business, strategy, markets, and shareholders first.  The rest will follow in providing development opportunities that match the culture.  

Lastly, focus on the positive and acknowledge that there are things that went well in the past that will remain important. If it is an M&A situation, find common language that ties the two companies together.  When changing a process, tie it to a successful change in the past.  In training on a new product or process, align the delivery of the training with your culture (live, webinar, follow up group work, etc).  
 
Additional take aways for this workshop can be found in a post by Ray Vollmer in the Organization Development and Change Management section of the blog.

If you would like to hear more about the cases or any of the specific take aways, please feel free to reach out to Karen Weeks, Jen White, Anita van Burken or Ray Vollmer.

Tags:  Change  Change Management  Development  Human Resources 

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