Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

Building a High-Performance Team

shutterstock_46846525I was recently asked to work with a team of 12 mid-level managers in an organization of about 250 people. As individuals they were an incredibly bright, competent, diverse group that are clearly dedicated to the success of the company, as a “team” they were a disaster. Prior to meeting with them I had everyone fill out a “Team Effectiveness Audit” and the scores were…not so good. However, we had a wonderful day together and I thought you might find value in some of the things they developed for turning their workgroup into a high-performance team.

The first workshop we did was to create a model of who they felt would be an “Ideal Team Member” to serve on this team.

Ideal Team Member

·         Excellent Communicator – superb listener

·         Highly competent

·         Action oriented – proactive – sense of urgency

·         People/relationship focused

·         Balanced view: strategic & tactical

·         Team-first attitude

·         Strong, self-aware leader

·         High integrity

·         Personal and mutual accountability

·         Delivers business results

After we created the above list I pointed out to them that in order to attract a team member like this, they would first have to be like this themselves. It’s one of the key ideas for effective teams; A-players only want to be on a team with other A-players.

We then worked on creating a set of rules, or a charter, for how the team would treat each other. I think they developed a pretty good list…

Team Rules for Behavior

NO games

Be fully present – no technology/be engaged

Be flexible/consider

Hold each other 100% accountable

Use retrospect and focus on the effectiveness of this team and adherence to the rules

Offer inspiration

Be constructive/solution focused

Treat each other with respect

Focus on the success of the company – not your individual departmental team

Over-communicate with honesty and transparency

Prioritize each other and this team

ONE voice

Deal with facts

Effective / valuable meetings

Have FUN!!!

Lastly, we developed a few action steps that they could begin taking immediately to start the slow and steady process of shaping them into a more effective team and hopefully, eventually, a high-performance team.

Action Steps:

Create team vision/purpose (in progress)

Define key goals that align with the team purpose and that strategy / guiding principles of the organization

Define key metrics for those goals

Define how to hold each other accountable to those goals / metrics

Create ways to force collaboration

Evaluate team effectiveness quarterly

Once they finalize the vision/purpose of the team, and define their goals and metrics I will be creating a survey to measure their effectiveness in implementing their goals and continuing to adhere to the team rules of behavior. I will be administering the survey every three months so that we can constantly adjust as they develop as a team. Based on the quality of the people on this team I have a lot of confidence that things are going to go well.

I welcome your thoughts on what this team created; do you feel that there’s something missing?


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

Three Fantastic Business Books

In this video I share with you three fantastic business books that I have read and used in my businesses. Two are very focused, detail-oriented books that will give you superb step-by-step instruction and lots of tools to help grow your business and improve your culture. The third book is one that I consider a true classic that focuses on how to make your business one of the best in the world in your category. I hope you find this video of great value!

 

Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t (Rockefeller Habits 2.0)

The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace

Lessons in Excellence from Charlie Trotter


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

The Three Archetypes of Business Culture

shutterstock_75020941Recently a colleague sent me a copy of The HOW Report: A Global, Empirical Analysis of How Governance, Culture, and Leadership Impact Performance,” by the LRN Corporation. As I read through the report I was delighted to see that their findings business culture were highly correlated with similar research I’ve been doing for the last 10 years, and also dismayed to see that so few companies were embracing these critical ideas.

Although I still do a fair amount of Fortune 500 work, for the last five years or so I have focused intensely on bringing the best ideas, tools and strategies to small and medium-size businesses in an effort to help them build and sustain success. What I have learned in working with literally thousands of businesses around the world is that: Culture = Cash. Organizations that can find, grow and keep top talent and then engage that talent to go out and take fantastic care of their customers will be the winners in the future. Here’s how they stated it in the report…

“CEOs increasingly are coming to believe that the traditional ingredients of success, such as a supportive board of directors, a strong executive team, clearly articulated corporate strategies, thoughtful resource allocations, differentiated product or service portfolios, elaborate control processes, and highly refined incentive structures, are no longer sufficient.

Of particular importance is the role of trust, company purpose, and core values as they harmonize with leadership and governance systems to help define unique corporate cultures.

In short, culture as a conscious, deliberate, long-term strategy can be the key to sustainable differentiation and success for companies in the 21st century. Companies and leaders who pioneer and forge ahead on a genuine journey of governance, culture, and leadership are the ones who will be around in the 22nd century.”

This research report postulates that an organization builds the foundation for sustainable success on a system of governance, culture, and leadership based on a clear set of fundamental values, fostering trust both inside and outside the organization, and embracing and pursuing a corporate mission that is rooted in a higher, enduring purpose, not simply here-and-now success.

The researchers labeled the management style of companies that met the above criteria as high in “Self-Governance.” These were businesses where the employees were proactive, with high levels of both personal and mutual accountability and were engaged and satisfied…exactly what I have been focused on when working with my clients. However the number of companies that actually met these criteria in this research study were shockingly low, which unfortunately mirrors what I see in the marketplace all too often.

Directly from the report…
Sample size = 36,280 employees / 18 countries

Blind Obedience = 43% of respondents

Organizations characterized by command and control, top-down leadership, and coercion. Blind Obedience organizations rely on rules and policing, are transactional, and focus on short-term objectives — there is little focus on building enduring relationships in the workplace, the marketplace, or society.

Informed Acquiescence = 54% of respondents

Organizations that reflect 20th century good management practices like hierarchy, structure, and control processes. Employees follow the rules, policies, and procedures established by what they believe to be a skilled management team. Managers rely on performance-based rewards and punishments to motivate people. Long-term goals are important but often give way to considerations of short-term success.

Self-Governance = only 3% of respondents

Organizations that are primarily values-based. The organization’s purpose and values inform decision making and guide all employee and company behavior. In short, people act on the basis of a set of core principles and values that inspires everyone to align around a company’s mission, purpose, and definition of significance. Employees at all levels strive to be leaders, and the company is focused on its long-term legacy and endurance.

On the other hand, highly engaged employees deliver…

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There were four major findings from the study that rose to the top:

1. Self-Governance is rare across the world. Only 3% of the 36,280 employees in this study observe high levels of self-governing behavior within their organizations — the extremely low rate of Self-Governance is consistent across every demographic category, including country, industry, economic environment, language, and ethnic culture.

2. Self-governing organizations in all 18 countries in this study outperform other types of organizations across every important performance outcome, including: higher levels of innovation, employee loyalty, and customer satisfaction; lower levels of misconduct; and superior overall financial performance.

3. There is a marked disconnect between the C-suite and the employees they lead. On average, the C-suite is three times — and in some countries up to eight times — more likely to observe their organizations as self-governing, more inspiring, and less coercive as compared to the overall employee population.

4. Trust, shared values, and a deep understanding of and commitment to a purpose-inspired mission are the three fundamental enablers of the self-governing behaviors that produce competitive advantage and superior business performance.

 

So why is this important to your organization? Here is what I’ve been jumping up and down about for years in trying to help organizations understand that there is a ton of money on the table around creating a winning culture…

“Statistically, our research shows that employees who experience a high trust environment are 22 times more likely to be willing to take risks that could benefit the company. Employees functioning in an organization of high trust are 8 times more likely to report higher levels of innovation relative to their competition. And finally, employees functioning in a culture of high trust, risk-taking, and innovation are 6 times more likely to report elevated levels of financial performance compared to the competition.”

For more than a decade I have been deploying my “Organizational Effectiveness Audit,” a 28-question survey I use to assess the health of an organization and here is what I can tell you with 100% confidence:

Most businesses, as reflected in HOW Report, have a massive opportunity to improve the culture of their organization and thereby significantly impact their financial success.

 

Here is a quick checklist of what I have developed as the key elements of winning culture, take a minute to score your organization on a scale of 1 to 10 – with 10 being “this describes our company perfectly.”

 

Elements of a Winning Culture

1. People enjoy the work they do and the people they work with.

2. People take pride in the work they do and the company they work for.

3. There are high levels of engagement, connection, camaraderie and a community of caring.

4. There is a culture of fairness, respect, trust, inclusiveness and teamwork.

5. The leaders live the values and communicate a clear vision and strategy for growth.

6. Lots of open, honest, robust and transparent communication across the entire organization.

7. The company invests back in employees; there is a commitment to learning & development.

8. There is a bias for action, employees have an ownership mentality and strive to give their personal best.

9. There is high accountability and a strong focus on delivering the desired results.

10. There is ample recognition and rewards and mediocrity is not tolerated.

 

** It would be my advice that anyplace you score a 7 or below would be an area to focus on for improvement, any score below a five should be considered an area of concern, and where you score a 3 or below should be considered an emergency.

 

If you were not particularly happy with scores you just got on my winning culture audit, let me recommend a few superb books that are the best I have ever read on how to build a great culture.

The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization

All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results

The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It, and Why It Matters

Here is a link to where you can download the HOW Report:  http://pages.lrn.com/how-report

Although it is about 50 pages long it does have some truly interesting and important findings and is definitely worth taking a few minutes to read. Also, if you know of any organization that might need some assistance in improving their culture please do not hesitate to send them my name and contact information, this is an area that my firm is strongly focused on and we are dedicated to helping businesses of every size become great places to work with highly engaged employees that deliver strong financial returns.

I hope you found this information helpful, I wish you every possible happiness and success.

 

Take good care – John


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

How to Attract Top Talent to Your Company

 

It has long been one of my core themes:

The success of your business is directly tied to the quality of the talent you can get, grow and keep on your team.

Think about this carefully, it’s a simple but extremely important business idea. If you agree with me, then you should be approaching talent acquisition, talent developemtn and talent retention as a key strategic objective in your company. Here is a video that outlines the six most important things that top talent looks for in the company where they work. I hope you find this helpful and that you share with your network – thanks so much – John


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

You MUST Learn to Delegate!

DelegateI was recently delivering a speech in Des Moines (great city – incredibly nice people) and one of the attendees approached me after my talk to ask for some advice. It seems that he had an employee that was very, very talented… except she could not (would not) delegate.

I had encountered a similar problem with a senior executive I was coaching at a Fortune 100 financial firm, he was a superstar, but was also doing everyone else’s job and working 100-hour weeks. Not only had it completely destroyed his personal life, but I was brought in because, in the words of his manager, “If he cannot learn to delegate this is the end-of-the-line for his career, he is totally maxed-out and I cannot give him any more work – or promotions.” I told the attendee in Iowa that I would be happy to put together a brief video that focused on: Superstar Who Cannot Delegate = End of Career. I hope you find this of value and share it with your network!

Three GREAT Business Success Books!

Three superb business books that will help you have more success.

 

Hope you enjoy these books!!!


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

Business Success: Four Key Ideas

defining-it-project-successMore than a year ago I ran a two-day “business excellence” retreat with the owners of 21 small to medium-sized businesses. Over the course of the workshop I helped them take a very hard, honest and realistic look at their businesses to discover their true strengths and weaknesses. As a takeaway from the workshop, each of them left with a list of three or four key areas to focus on in their business and a list of action steps that they planned to implement in the coming year.

We recently got the group back together to look at what they accomplished in the past year and set new goals and objectives for 2014. When I asked the participants what some of the most impactful things they did during last year were, almost the entire group said the same handful of key things:

  1. I upgraded my talent.  After the workshop I went back to my business and realized I had some mediocre employees that were not truly delivering value to the organization. I let them go and took my time to replace them with top talent, which has made a world of difference in the success of my business.
  2. I figured out what to focus on. Before the workshop I had a hard time understanding the real priorities of my business, where the leverage was…but in the last year I figured out exactly where my business adds the most value, where I can get the most profit, and have the most fun – and that is where I’m focused now.
  3. I figured out what to stop. In the workshop I realized that I was doing an awful lot of work in areas that were not in my zone of expertise. I figured out the places where I add the most value to the organization, the things that ONLY I could do, and delegated away everything else – or simply stopped doing it altogether.
  4. We got much, much, much closer to the customer. After all of the audits and workshops, I realized that we had a done a pathetic job of “owning the voice of the customer.” In the last year we have used surveys, focus groups, meetings, client councils…everything we could think of to get closer to our customers, build strong relationships and understand them at a deep level. It has been a game changer!

So there you have it, a great list of four absolutely critical ideas to help you run a more successful business!


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

Three Keys to a Winning Culture

Happy Business Team 3During the past year a great deal of my time has been spent teaching organizations around the world how to improve their culture, as many organizations (both large and small) are now realizing that Culture =Cash! They have finally accepted that if getting, growing and keeping top talent is a strategic objective (and it should be!!!), then having a superior culture is one of the main ways to attract that top talent. So to me, there are two sides to the culture coin… what employees look for, which is a Winning Culture, a place that’s fun to work at, with a family atmosphere, where they are treated fairly , have the freedom to do their without micro management and an organization that has created a culture of catching people doing things right!  However, there is also the other side of the culture coin that the employer looks for, which is highly engaged employees who have an Ownership Mentality…that is they show dedication, passion, creativity, pro-activity, a sense of urgency and high levels of both personal and mutual accountability .

These are all important factors, and there are several more key factors to creating a winning culture , but a few years ago I was talking to a good friend of mine who is a leading psychologist and he pointed out that a great deal of what I was talking about was exactly the same things that everyone looks for in the most important relationships in their lives … and when you think about it, your relationship to your job and the people there is absolutely one of the most important relationships in your life .  According to my friend, here are the three factors that everyone looks for in the key relationships in their life :

 

Safety: employees need to feel physically safe at their job, that they’re not going to get hurt by machinery or that it’s safe to walk out to the parking lot late in the evening.  They also need to feel emotionally safe, that no one is going to yell at them, embarrass them and their job will not be simply yanked out from underneath their feet with no reason.  Lastly, they need to feel psychologically safe, that they can express their opinion, share their ideas or disagree with a superior … without the fear of retribution, bullying or embarrassment.

 

Belongingness: people want to feel that they are part of the team, part of the group, part of the tribe.  They want to know that the people at work like them, like having them around and feel they are an important part of the organization. No one wants to feel like an outcast or that no one cares about them.

 

Appreciation: employees want to know that they are appreciated not only for the work they do, but also who they are as an individual, what they contribute to the team, and the ideas and diversity that they bring to the organization.

 

Safety            Belongingness          Appreciation

 

It is my strong belief that if you flood your organization with safety, belongingness and appreciation that you will build a framework for creating a truly a winning culture.  And, as with many of the other factors, these three are mostly what I call atmosphere issues…they cost no extra money to implement – it is simply the way you treat your people, the way you engage them, and the respect you show all of your employees that make them feel safe, that they belong and that they are genuinely appreciated.

So my question to you is: What can you do TODAY to create more safety, belongingness and appreciation across your entire organization?  


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

A Great Leadership Competency Model

10_examples_of_kick-ass_personal_brands

Ideal Leader?

I was recently serving as a lead instructor for the Florida Recreation and Park Association (my longest standing client at 17 years!!!) Joe Abrahams Academy for Leadership Excellence, an elite school for their emerging leaders. During the program I challenged the group to develop an “Ideal Leader” competency model and this is what the came up with…

Honest: authentic, humble, character, integrity to values, show and gain respect.

Communication: transparency, honesty, clear goals, collaboration, listener, storyteller, stakeholder input, open door policy, curious.

Compassion: community of caring, recognition and praise, shared credit.

Inspirational: positive attitude, accountable, passionate, lead by example, authentic.

Talent: empowerment, accountability, competency, training, lifelong learning, investment, get the right people.

Risk Taking: be decisive, have a shared vision, highly competent, innovative, embrace change, be connected, pursue the big idea.

That is a SIMPLE but very powerful list. Easy to talk about – challenging to live. Welcome to leadership! 24/7/365

I think they did a spectacular job of capturing some of the most fundamental and essential elements of being a truly successful leader. What do you think?  Did them miss something critical? I would LOVE your ideas and insights.