Why some organizations thrive, adapt quickly to change, and retain and keep talent while others struggle or just barely survive? How do you enhance organizational performance and create a healthy workplace where staff are engaged and inspired?
Over the years I have had the opportunity to lead transformational change at different organizations. In one case the need for culture shift was triggered by several external changes and increase demand for high standard of service. Additionally, as an accredited agency we were required to meet a certain level of service delivery conditions, monitor service delivery on a regular basis, and demonstrate the effectiveness of the programs provided through conducting ongoing assessments.
At the time I was aware that quality of service was satisfactory, but we had limited tools for measurement. I also knew as an organization we had to address some problem areas that were impacting program offerings one of which was related to lack of consistent feedback on performance. To address this issue, I had to first implement methods of measuring performance and supervising staff performance closely and of course this created a lot of anxiety.
Now we all have heard the legitimate advice about hiring capable people, making the job expectations crystal clear and then getting out of the way so people can perform. Fair enough, however, this does not mean you do not need to provide direction or, what is now a no no word, supervision. I have always hired staff based on their intelligence, their potential, and their ability to learn. Yes of course experience and relevant education/training has mattered, but in this age of access to information ability to learn has mattered more. I must say I was delighted when I read Robert Iger’s book, The Ride of a Lifetime, and learned that I had been following his motto of “Value ability more than experience. Put people in positions that require more of them than they know they have in them.”
I have also always tried to ensure that staff have had access to sufficient initial training and the resources they needed for the performance of their duties. Yet, everyone of them, including myself, has needed some guidance and supervision along the way. If you want your organization to perform at its highest level of ability and strive for the height of its potential you need to have the leaders, the feedback loops, and the supervision and guidance mechanisms in place to facilitate it. Much like when you want to reach the height of your ability. What do you do? You educate yourself; you seek guidance and advice from friends, family and colleagues; and you may even hire a coach or consultant to guide and support you.
So back to our anxiety ridden organization. How did I address this challenge? How did I incorporate a consistent and useful feedback mechanism to enhance the overall performance of the organization? My supervisor, the Executive Director, and I decided that what I needed to do was to implement a standardize coaching protocol at the organization, and this set the stage for a number of positive impacts on the organization.
- Use change as an opportunity for collaboration.
Involving employees in the creation and implementation of a coaching protocol presented an opening for collaboration. Providing the opportunity for members to clearly identify their needs and expectations supported the creation of a collaborative climate. It also enabled the organization to tap into its human capital and support members in expanding their ability to grow.
2. Engage in team learning
This collaborative approach presented us with the opportunity to engage in team learning. By team learning I mean what Peter Senge, in The Fifth Discipline, referred to “as the process of aligning and developing the capacity of the team to create the results its members truly desire.”
This is only possible if every member of the team practices curiosity, listens with openness and genuine desire to learn, and engages in dialogue. This sets the stage for the members of the team to think and learn together. This supports the team to achieve a new level of insight together that would not have been possible individually.
3. Prioritize engagement
Collaboratively identifying the characteristics of a standardized coaching protocol allowed for the creation of a learning environment in which engagement was encouraged. Members’ involvement in identifying the appropriate coaching protocol and their involvement in identifying how the protocol could be implemented affirmed that they had a voice and were viewed as partners in this process. In other words, for the staff team to know they were influencing this process increased the organizational effectiveness and engagement.
4. Utilize the data and feedback gathered
I used the change process as a tool in assisting the organization to start implementing the changes that staff had identified as necessary conditions for organizational improvements. In an annual workplace assessment survey, staff had identified feeling as valued members of the organization and utilizing their talents as areas of concern that needed attention.
Identification and discussion of implementation strategies for a standardized coaching protocol provided employees with the opportunity to participate in the organizational change process and offered the organization an opening to make use of staff expertise. For example, the first step I took was presenting staff with the option to use their expertise and their different perspectives to offer a variety of suggestions on what the coaching protocol should consist of, and how possible barriers to implementation could be addressed.
5. Stay open, authentic and curious
Finally, and one that its importance cannot be overstated, is that as a leader I had to commit and continually be challenged, reminded, and recommit to:
- listening with care and hearing what staff were sharing
- communicating consistently and continually
- being authentic and transparent and seek feedback and support from my supervisor
- and lastly build one to one connections with each member of my team to strengthen our relationships
So what does it take to enhance organizational performance?
- Establishing a culture of engagement where employees’ feedback and expertise is sought and valued.
- Building trust through communication, collaboration, and transparency.
- Utilizing staff talent and expertise and building on their passion for the vision and mission of the organization.
- Having leaders who are committed to accountability, authenticity, listening, and learning from their mistakes. Also ensuring leaders know, in practice, the difference between supervising and supporting their team vs micro-managing and controlling them.
- Creating a learning organization where growth is encouraged, mistakes are allowed, and change is viewed as vital to the success of the organization.
If you want support on how to manage change and transform your organization to reach its potential do get in touch. I would love to chat with you about how PossibilitiesUnlimited can assist your organization.