Well it’s the start of a new year. So, I’ll start with a confession to you all.
I’m a learning junkie. I’m a bit of a geek. Well, a lot of a geek…! I’m always reading books, articles, blogs, listening to audio books, podcasts and watching webinars, TedTalks etc…. I just love to learn and think about new ideas and, where I think they are useful; incorporate them into my thinking, way of doing things, training and coaching.
One of my (I won’t call them resolutions because resolutions are always broken by 14th February aren’t they…), things I’d like to achieve this year is to watch/listen at least one TedTalk a day. I find them inspirational and they certainly open my mind to new ideas, concepts and subjects. Best time for me to listen is as I’m getting ready in a morning. So, over the course of the Christmas and New Year break I have listened to a number of these and true enough, they have been amazing and set my mind to being ‘creative’.
One that I watched was a talk given by Yves Morieux (an expert in organisational transformation and who has pioneered new ways of organisational thinking) called ‘As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify’. Not the snappiest of titles but nevertheless Yves was very passionate about his subject. He made the case for what can only be described as crazy complexity that a business builds when people aren’t as ‘trusting’ of each other and not as connected with what each other does. What happens when people have ‘no skin in the game’ of others in an organisation.
He proposed these 6 steps to simplify a complex business and I thought I’d share them with you.
‘Understand what others do. What is their real work?’
I am often surprised when I work with clients how people within functions don’t really know what other people do in their ‘teams/functions’ or indeed what an individual does within any given ‘team/function’. If we don’t understand what people do how do we know how we can best help them and they us? This lack of knowledge and understanding frequently leads to the creation of silos where people start to look only inwards to their own role and, at best, that of their team/function rather than the needs of those who really rely upon them doing their work and the needs of the business as a whole.
So, start talking to people. Start asking them what they do and how you might best help them.
‘Reinforce ‘integrators’ (leaders and managers) who have the power to get people to co-operate. Remove layers so that the leaders and managers are closer to the action.
By doing this you give people visibility of what is going on. By people being closely aware of what is happening you give them the opportunity for creativity and innovation. You give them more opportunity to problem solve as a team and with other teams.
‘Increase the quantity of power – empower more people to make decisions. Remove too many rules and KPI’s.’
This is what David Marquet calls ‘leader-leader’ type of leadership in his book ‘Turn Your Ship around’. He turned around the worst performing nuclear sub in the US Navy to being close to the best in the fleet within 2 years. Some feat! And he did that largely by giving people the power to make decisions. To not cause bottlenecks for decisions that could easily be made by others but which had been passed up the chain of command ‘in the process or procedure’ whereby a very senior officer on the sub had to make decisions on holiday requests, for example.
Much research has been done which shows that people like autonomy; it reduces work-related stress, increases trust and hugely engages people when they are able to have as much autonomy as possible within their roles. It helps to reduce boredom and it also helps to remove overload for those more senior who get trapped into having to become involved in more mundane and trivial matters that could easily be deal with by others more appropriately. It also gives people a taste for dealing with more important decisions and tasks too.
‘Extend the shadow of the future. Create feedback loops that expose people to the consequences of their actions.’
So often, people do not know what the causes of their action (impact) has upon others. They are removed from what the end result is elsewhere. Dan Ariely speaks of how we are more able to do things which aren’t so good when we are more removed from our actions. Much of our work is with people helping them to become aware of how they impact upon others as a person and within their roles. You can, of course, extend this to teams/functions too. And we work with those too helping them to see the ‘eco-system’ that is the business and how all rely on others to make the whole thing work well.
By being unaware of their impact, people can blithely go around causing difficulties for others without really knowing it. It’s very much our belief that most people really do want to do their best at work and want to help. They just need to understand their part in the whole.
So back to Step 1 – Understand what others do. See what I did there? A feedback loop 😊.
‘Increase reciprocity. Remove the buffers that increase self-sufficiency which gets people to co-operate’.
So often we can become our own little islands and just get on with our own stuff because we can and because we are good at it. Of course, we WANT people to be good at what they do but we also want people to work with others and to create that co-operation which is so necessary for the excellent functioning of the business. So that people work together to achieve the common aims of the business which must always be about providing what the client or customer or end user wants in the best way possible. That way, everyone gets what they need and want and the business is successful with happy and engaged people.
Anyone not want that….?!
‘Make people aware that there is NO BLAME for asking for people to help them or for helping others when things go wrong, as it surely will at some point. Blame is only there when people fail to ask for help or to give help to others’.
Blame is a horrible thing and no-one wants to have a blaming or shaming culture. It is important that people realise that there is no blame or shame in asking for help. And absolutely none for offering to help others. Helping others and being helped is part of the reciprocity and co-operation we seek from everyone so that everyone is successful in what they do.
Being open and honest when we need help or we aren’t sure what to do next or when we need the creativity and thoughtfulness of others to get things to work and improve is great. To be open and honest there needs to be no blame or shame to create the trust needed for people to feel confident enough to ask for and offer help.
So, ask yourselves. Do we blame people? Do we make them feel ashamed when things go wrong? Are they likely to keep going wrong because people don’t want to ask for help because of the result? Just asking. For a friend.
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Jan Sargent is co-Director with Julie Hutchison of Transforming Performance, a consultancy which provides businesses with expert support in Leadership Coaching, Team Development and Performance Coaching, Executive Coaching, Mentoring, Training and Behavioural Profiling and help in getting the best from you and your people. If you’d like to have a chat and a coffee to discuss how we can help you, we’d love to talk. Call us on:
07947 823842 or 01722 484155