What's critical in tough, uncertain times? Julie Pigdon provides her top tips.
In September and October, 2012, TMS hosted four complimentary forums for the OD community Australia wide. The purpose of these forums was to facilitate a TMS community of practice and to collect techniques and tips on how organisations can do more with less in the current, tough economic times.
Many insightful tips were generated from the forum discussions. The salient tips most commonly agreed upon, across all forums nationally, were:
Innovation was seen critical to allow organisations to do more with less and remain competitive. It is a sound strategy to lower costs, increase quality, respond better and retain customers.
So how does one achieve this? To facilitate an atmosphere where creativity can flourish, leaders need to establish the following ground rules:
See the whole picture – surround yourself with a diverse team
Know your clients
Sell your vision of innovation to all stakeholders
Establish open communication channels, based on trust and respect
Encourage innovation by creating challenges at work
See mistakes as learning opportunities
Question the rationale for everything – challenge premises (often helps by showing issues to a child)
Establish efficient processes to capture, analyse and develop ideas
Lead by example – model flexible, agile and continuous learning behaviour
Communicating more effectively
Communication was seen as a major challenge for many in our forums. The November 2012 Leadership Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) Survey, released by Leadership Management Australia, highlighted the importance of receiving feedback as a positive influence on work performance. Good communication skills were also seen as pivotal, if leaders are to inspire and motivate others.
There are many reasons why communication often fails in organisations. Many times there is a lack of clarity, as assumptions are made about the audience and there is no capacity given for feedback. Thus communication is often unidirectional, resulting in little opportunity for learning or improving.
The perceptions and values of the individual communicating also affects how they communicate. So what they may think is appropriate and clear may indeed be very inappropriate and confusing to the recipient. It is therefore important to be aware of your colleagues’ perceptions, to ensure your message is clearly and correctly understood. This means adapting your communication style according to whom you are speaking, a communication technique called pacing. Others too, need to learn how best to pace with you.
Recognising that people are different and that different communication processes are necessary with different people is one of the key messages behind the Team Management Profile. It also allows you to give feedback non-subjectively and non-judgementally. Often behaviour at work is viewed as personal; that person didn’t respond to my email quickly because they don’t like me or that person was late for our meeting because they don’t care. These misinterpretations and misunderstandings at work often escalate into conflict, which can be avoided if you start by looking at work preferences.
Once understood, work preferences demonstrate that behaviour is often simply a result of individual predilections and not a reaction to the behaviour of others.
Working to strengths resonated with our forum attendees at all levels –organisation, team and individual. It’s all about identifying potential, developing this potential and harnessing its power.
Pivotal to this is identifying these strengths. Valid psychometrics and 360 degree feedback tools help you play to your strengths by providing objective data for you to benchmark, analyse, measure and monitor performance improvement over time.
It is these metrics which will help you calculate your return on investment and continue to adapt your strategic direction over time.
Not forgetting your people
It is often said that our people are our greatest asset. But how much of this is simply rhetoric? Which companies actually practice what they preach?
Well, it seems that those that do are laughing all the way to the bank. An extensive 2008 study in Personnel Today found that businesses with good HR enjoyed higher profit margins and productivity than those without. The study concluded that if an organisation increased its investment in HR by just 10%, it would boost gross profits by approximately $3000 per employee per year. A more recent extensive 2012 study by The Boston Consulting Group, reported that companies highly skilled in core HR practices experience up to 3.5 times the revenue growth and as much as 2.1 times the profit margins of less capable companies.
The 2012 Global Workforce Study of Towers Watson suggests that, when employee engagement starts to decline, companies become vulnerable, not only to a measurable drop in productivity, but also to poorer customer service and greater rates of absenteeism and turnover. It recommends that, to compete sustainably in the 21st century, organisations need to focus on:
More and more, company profits are critically reliant on people working well together.
So don’t forget your people! Recruit them effectively, develop them well, reward them accordingly and keep them.
About the author
Julie Pigdon is business development manager at TMS. For further information phone 07 3368 2333 or visit www.tmsoz.com