Performance – habits for an effective workplace
The universal job specification for any business leader is to consistently deliver on-target business performance.
In relatively stable times getting your business to perform to its full potential can be a challenge, but in today’s turbulent economic climate, performance effectiveness can be as fragile as a snowflake in the palm of your hand.
When markets are tough, horizons are foggy and limited to an outlook measured in weeks. Leaders get distracted and immersed in day-to-day issues and decisions; their focus is hitting the month-end targets. Leaders can resort to behaving more like managers by chasing the illusion of control that hands-on involvement provides.
In these circumstances speed often becomes more important than direction; everyone is working hard but not necessarily productively. People get stressed, fatigue sets in, team working evaporates, sick days increase and the wrong people dust off their CVs to look for an escape route.
Good performance comes from:
Getting your business performing is about having a crystal-clear focus that can only come from leaders, balanced with flawless execution at the fingertips of the organisation, delivered by everyone.
Performance is a people issue. It’s about daily work habits and routines, and making the right choices about how we use our time effectively and what we put priority on, whether we are on the Board or on the floor.
So why is it such a challenge for most of us to put the principles of effectiveness into practice?
Challenge One: Busy-ness
– “We’re too busy getting this sorted out first!” (inbox, in tray, files, desk, to-do list, team, meetings, boss, priorities, family…).We delude ourselves with the belief that “if only I can complete these few things and get sorted then I will be able to focus on the really important stuff”.
The problem is that there is a never-ending supply of these small things and we never do ‘get sorted’.
Challenge Two: Goal clarity
– having a crystal clear view of what the priorities are for the organisation, our team, and ourselves.
Challenge Three: Measurement
– knowing how we’re doing, and having the know-how and attributes it takes to make it happen.
Stepping up to the challenge - getting the essentials of performance right
The first characteristic for success is knowing what the ‘Vital Few’ are – the things that must go right (goal clarity). These can be outcomes, e.g. for hotels this is occupancy and revenue per guest, for a retailer it’s sales per square metre. Or they can be enablers, e.g. for an online travel business measuring website availability. The ‘Vital Few’ are the defining goals and priorities.
As a leader it is important you communicate the ‘Vital Few’ throughout the organisation, doing this congruently through your words and actions. It’s ‘showtime’ every minute you’re at work – and for some, even when you’re not!
Measuring performance poorly can be the root of a person’s underperformance. For some, their underperformance is declared and then it’s a matter of providing the appropriate coaching, learning or knowledge. However, a far bigger challenge is when the underperformance is undeclared. Diagnosing the root causes and setting clear standards – ‘what good looks like’ – is the starting point. What gets measured, gets done.
How well do your staff understand the ‘Vital Few’?
How well is performance monitored and communicated to staff?
Does everyone understand what ‘good’ looks like?
Understanding these simple principles is a key starting point for performance effectiveness. Many organisations understand what they want to achieve, and they even have the potential to achieve it. However, more often than not, the problem is in the doing not in the thinking. Ensuring individuals and teams are performing effectively is about engaging new ‘productive habits’, being clear around expectations, and ensuring progress is carefully monitored.
We cannot manage time. Really! However, what we can manage is the sequence of our activities. It is how we use our time that decides whether we will reach our goals or not. It all starts at an individual level, but applies just as well to teams and entire organisation.
You will only achieve results if you spend time on the tasks and activities that lead to your desired results.
It sounds simple, but most people find it extremely difficult. From our 30 years of extensive work with clients, we have found that too many people spend too much time on things that add little or no value, because they don’t plan their time with their goals in mind and therefore are not managing their priorities well.
Time management is about doing the right things right:
Attending to what is important and not what is urgent
Effective management of meetings and projects
Managing emails and not being managed by them
Implementation and action
And, for managers, effective delegation, managing management time and collective time management
Time management is also about life management – creating a work/life balance.
TMI is a pioneer and world leader in the fields of personal and organisational effectiveness. In 1975 TMI developed the Time Manager™ results tool – the first in the world of its kind. The original concept has led to the development of a unique and innovative range of products, including Time Manager for Microsoft Outlook™ – designed for the world’s most popular email and calendar software.
In TMI language, a successful team displays Teamship
‘Teamship’ exists when everyone in the team:
is capable – has adequate skills and knowledge;
is willing – co-operates and brings out their best as individuals and team members; and
is allowed to take responsibility and initiative.
For 30 years, TMI has helped people work together to develop and sustain a true team spirit and become a real team – not just a work group. TMI’s team development offerings include a comprehensive range of tests, team development programmes and implementation tools.
TMI can help teams, team leaders and team members:
Become high performing teams
Engage, understand and commit to team objectives and their role. Align efforts of all team members, focus on the things that matter, and manage their time, activities and projects effectively
Solve problems and conflicts and make emotions in the team work for – and not against – the team
Build and maintain good relations with the team’s stakeholders
Dramatically improve overall individual and team performance.
While such competencies are based on personality, temperament and fundamental habits, we’ve learnt through years of experience that learning programmes have substantial value in raising awareness and helping to consciously change habits for the better.
TMI has a broad range of development programmes in communication, performance management, project management, business negotiations, emotional intelligence, personal leadership and more.
At TMI we believe that having the right attitude is halfway to success. If people are to learn and apply new skills we need to encourage them to care, and ensure they want to change. One of our core strengths is not only developing the relevant skills, but providing a healthy dose of inspiration that prompts people to fundamentally rethink and change their attitudes for the better.
After all, that’s exactly what we stand for: ‘Transformation Managed with Inspiration’ – at both the personal and the organisational level.