Thursday, January 7, 2021

Change Your Habits

Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds

Every leader can improve their team’s performance and the team’s values-alignment by changing what they pay attention to.

Most people pay attention to what’s right in front of them. We track performance data, customer satisfaction, and the like. As leaders, we pay attention to what’s right in front of you. So, you need to put the right stuff in front of you.

What Do You Pay Attention To?

In my work with senior leaders and executive teams across a wide variety of industries, one of the most important questions I ask is to learn what those leaders pay attention to. Most of them tell me that they spend most of their time looking at performance indicators

-       Summaries of key metrics

-       Spreadsheet data

-       Other dashboard tools.

Monitoring performance metrics is a good thing. Yet sometimes internal systems present metrics that are easy for us to monitor but aren’t the right things for us to monitor.

Here’s an example. A few years ago a printing plant client installed a new $20M high-technology press which could deliver speeds of 50,000 impressions an hour. The dashboard built into the press software kept careful track of impressions per hour.

However, if the color scheme was off by just 2%, the printed matter would not meet their customer’s standards. The press’ dashboard did not monitor color requirements perfectly – only a human could do that.

A run of one million pages/impressions wasn’t uncommon. Every job was easy to monitor with the dashboard metrics. Systems and incentives were created to meet a certain target of average impressions per hour. Yet if the color balance was off, the job would have to be run again (creating waste and higher costs for the job)! It was vital to monitor – and incent – both impressions per hour AND adherence to the customer’s color palette.

You can see that what is easy to measure might not give you an accurate picture of reality.

Here’s What Leaders Must Pay Attention To

1. Strategic Clarity – leaders must constantly assess how well their organization’s strategy is understood across operations staff. Communication and reinforcement of the declared strategy will lead to a clear understanding by all staff.

2. Goal Alignment – Once strategic clarity is reached, leaders must constantly assess the degree to which projects, goals, tasks are aligned to your organization’s declared strategy.

3. Expectations Clarity – Next, leaders must ensure that everyone in the organization has formalized end goals (performance standards) and means goals (values defined in behavioral terms). Also, leaders must ensure that all staff proactively commit to their performance and values goals.

4. Consistent Accountability – leaders must hold all staff accountable, day in and day out, for meeting performance expectations and values expectations. Accountability means the prompt application of POSITIVE consequences (when folks do the right things the right way) and NEGATIVE consequences (when they don’t).

S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here

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