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Values can make or break your team, business or organisation.

How aligned are the values in your team/business or organisation?

Values, Team Values, Performance, Teamwork,

Often when we are managing teams, work groups, businesses or organisations we notice that things are not happening as we want them to.  The first thing that we should do is check that our expectations are realistic, sometimes the bar can be set so high that it is unattainable.  The second thing people do is to ensure that their instructions or guidance is clear and understood.  Where people get stuck is when the expectations are realistic AND the instructions and guidance are clear/understood.  What else could be causing the issues?  Aside from individual performance issues that I have covered within a separate blog there is one area that people often overlook.  That area is people’s values.

What have peoples values got to do with it you ask?  Simply put, our values are at the core of our behaviour and if the values of your people are out of line with yours, then dysfunctional performance can arise.  This can take the form of:

  • Performance spikes and troughs.
  • Surprise results and feedback.
  • Disagreement between colleagues.
  • Paralysis of the team or business
  • Poor sickness records
  • Dissatisfied customers or clients.
  • Under performance.

What can be done?

First of all, it is necessary to identify if there are any differences in business/team/corporate values between you and your people.  The Corporate Values Audit can help you with this.

The instructions are simple:

  1. Ask yourself what is important to you about the team, business or company?  This will give you your values.  If you have written more than five, just pick the top five that you feel are the most important to you.
  2. Ask one or two others within the team, business or company that same question and write down their top five.
  3. Compare and contrast.

When you see where the differences are, it is then necessary to investigate how these differences have arisen.  Alternatively, get in touch with us and we can deliver a Team/Business/Organisational Values Alignment Program.  This will identify not only how the differences have arisen but working with individuals we will help match their values to yours.  As well as this we will also make recommendations on how to ensure the values do not diverge in future.

When we have worked with you, you can rest assured that dysfunctional performance as a result of misaligned values will be a thing of the past.

Contact us today to ensure success for your team, business or organisation!

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Are you a good team player?

Being a good team member

We often look at others when things do not go as planned.  Often the cause of the issue can be within our own control.  Before we ask ourselves if we are being a good team player we need to know what this looks like.  To me, it is a simple combination of the following things:

  1. Positive attitude
  2. Being proactive
  3. Tolerance
  4. Collaboration

Positive attitude

Whether or not you know it, your attitude will reflect in your mood and behaviours.  When unhappy  your colleagues will know and can potentially demotivate and lessen team effectiveness.  Being positive will motivate and ensure you and your team members enjoy work whilst making good progress.

  • Focus on the good aspects of team working.
  • Learn from mistakes and do not dwell on them.
  • Forgive others and their mistakes, do not hold a grudge.
  • See the good in others and hold on to that.

Being Proactive

Are you the sort of person to let the waves of turmoil throw you around in the work place? If so, take charge, be proactive and not reactive!  Being proactive will enable you to anticipate and prepare, thus giving you and your team an advantage over others that wait for things to happen.

  • Identify opportunities and threats, search for potential problems, errors and issues
  • Raise the issue with the team as soon as possible and if you can, offer a solution at the time of raising the issue.

Tolerance

Teams can spend a lot of time, energy and effort in fighting themselves. Sometimes this can be as a result of believing so strongly in one course of action that all others are disregarded, others it can be as a result of simple intolerance.  Either way, this can lead to disharmony and stagnation within the team.  To avoid this ensure that you:

  • Offer suggestions with qualifiers such as, ” I see this as a solution ” or “We could try”.
  • Limit judgmental language.  You should be replaced by we.
  • Do not nit-pick.

Collaboration

A high performing team works in a cooperative manner, supporting each other and getting the very best from each other.  The opposite occurs where individuals fail to share information and ideas as errors can happen as a result of incorrect information.

To ensure you are collaborating it is important that you:

  • Share information or ideas as soon as you have them.
  • Accept work with grace.
  • Put your team ahead of yourself where not harmful to your wellbeing.
  • Recognise when someone else may be the better person for the job.
  • Give praise where praise is due.

The above is just the beginning of becoming a good team member.  Start off with this and you will soon see the benefits!

When a team is not working at its best, ask questions of yourself first!  Remember, when you point a finger, there are three pointing back at you!

 

 

 

 

 

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Managing emails effectively: save time, improve efficiency!

Managing Emails

In a busy workplace, if you are not managing emails properly, it can feel as though you are barely treading water: struggling to maintain the status quo, let alone making good progress through today’s to do list.  This can often be a symptom of your emails managing you, rather than you managing emails.  If your life seems to be spent dealing with things that were not on your agenda and that your emails are getting out of control, it is definitely time to:

Tame Your Inbox.

Managing emails

So, how do I take control of the email inbox?

The first thing to do is to deal with the email at the first read.  Do not read it, do nothing and then come back to it later.  You might be surprised how often people read an email, leave it to fester and then return later on for it to now become an urgent issue.  This read-forget-read again approach is wasteful and causes your inbox to grow and create some nice time-bombs for you to deal with at a later date.

OK, so you read the email, now what?

Do it

If it is something that you can do, is your responsibility, you can complete in under 5 minutes without assistance and that there is no-one in a better position to do it, then you DO IT!

Delegate it

If this is something that is better done by another person, whether it be they are better suited; more skilled, have more time, can complete it quicker (and with quality) then DELEGATE IT!

Delete it

If like quite a lot of emails that get circulated in a business setting, it is nothing but information you do not need to know, do not let it sit in your email system, just DELETE IT!

Defer it

If this is something that you need to do, but it will take more than five minutes to complete, then make sure you add it to your to do list for completion later: DEFER IT!

The outcome:

By dealing with the email at the first reading, then you are going to be more effective in the workplace as well as keeping your email inbox trim and under control. Managing emails by using the methodology above, can make you more productive and help ensure the work that you do is the work YOU need to do.

If you would like to know how else you could improve efficiency and effectiveness in your businesss.  Contact us for a free consultation.

 

 

 

 

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The power of self talk.

Are you your own worst enemy?

 

Success and Failure Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.

Over my lifetime I would hate to count the number of times that I have called myself, silly, stupid, an idiot or dumb.  You know, those moments that you leave the supermarket and realise that you have forgotten to get one item.  At these times it is all too easy to mutter something like “that was stupid” or “you idiot”. On other occasions when we are faced with a task that we dislike doing or feel we are not good at we will say something internally to ourselves along the lines of “I am so not going to enjoy this”, or “great, I hate shopping it’s always so boring”.

Right now you are possibly saying to yourself, “oh joys of joys another one of THOSE articles” and do you know what?  You are probably right!  Why? Because as Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t.  You are right!”

In essence he was telling us that what we believe is what will happen/be achieved.  Perhaps more importantly he was telling us also what what we think we cannot do, we will not do.  So what was he going on about?

Self Talk…

Self Talk is that inside your head voice, the one I talked about earlier, the one that sometimes even makes it into the outside world as you are cursing yourself on the way back into the supermarket for that forgotten item.  When the self talk takes this form or that of making an assumption that we are not going to enjoy something (or similar) is called negative self talk.

Without all of the neuroscience and put simply, when you say stuff about yourselves either in your own minds or out loud AND you say it often enough, then your brain starts to believe it.  As a result, your experiences will start to reflect this this new belief.

Here are a couple of  questions I would ask you to answer honestly!  How many times have you gone to an event or participated in something you knew before you attended, you were going to hate?  How many times have you said to yourself  “I was right, I thought I was going to get bored doing …..”?  I expect not one person can say they have never experienced this.  What I would ask you now to consider is: Did you actually create the negative experience through all of the negative self talk before it have even happened?

Similarly, when you have a task to complete that you know you are not good at, I am willing to bet you set about that task with a negative self talk.  For example, I know of people who just cannot get along with computers.  They come to me and say “I am so useless at using this machine, I am never going to understand how to use them!”  You know what?  They don’t. Again, they have talked themselves out of being able to do something that is totally within their ability.

So what now?

Now you know that experiences can be influenced before they occur and that you can talk yourself out of achieving things, it is time to make a change for the better.    Before I suggest how to make this change I would warn you that this does take time and effort.  There are no quick fixes in life as with any change it takes effort.  However, believe me, the benefits to your life can be amazing and it is worth the effort.

When you are about to say something inside your head or out loud then imagine a giant red STOP button in your mind.  Hit that button and say inside your mind, “stop”.   By doing this you have paused your brain and now you need to replace the impending negative self talk with a positive replacement.  If you cannot think of something immediately I would suggest you say to yourself, “I always say positive things about my self or my situation”.

Why did I not say you should replace it with ” I must not use negative self talk”?  Well, to be honest that is another blog all together but in essence our brains cannot think in negatives. All it would see is “negative self talk” and forget the “I must not”.   It is like if I say “do not think of a car”.

I bet many of you did, despite being told not to!

A better future!

Now that you are armed with the knowledge and power of self talk, it is time to put it into practice.  As I have said, it doesn’t happen over night, but the more you practice it the easier it becomes.  The more you use positive self talk and remove the negative, you can become more content with yourself and life as a whole.  Not only that but remember Henry Ford, and believe in yourself. There is very little that you cannot achieve!

This blog is a taster of how you can unlock your own hidden potential.  Performance Works can run half day sessions to help motivation of your workforce or arrange for personal coaching to help your business grow!

Contact us now for a FREE consultation

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The power of influence.

The power of influence.

Believe it or not there are numerous methods that we can employ to increase the chance that we get the response we want from people.  It is not magic and it is not jedi mind tricks, but if used properly they can help you get the answer you want when dealing with people.  The fantastic thing about these influencing factors is that they can be applied in all areas of your life, work, home and play!

The video above provides an insight into some of the reasons that we say yes.

Reciprocity.

Human beings have a hardwired nature to repay acts of kindness.  This stems from the fact that in times gone by we all relied upon each other for survival.  Early humans cooperated a lot more than we do these days and it was a case of I do “this” for you and you do “that” for me, together we will have “this” and “that”.  The process of one good turn deserving another ensured that society flourished and eventually turned into bartering and nowadays, commerce.  Instead of returning the favour we now use currency to reciprocate.  When dealing with people, you can make sure that you use this hardwired nature to your advantage by offering a free service or sample.  A free sample or a seemingly random act of kindness can trigger this natural reaction to return the favour.

Scarcity.

People will, believe it or not, pay more or buy more of products or services that are limited.  I expect that we have all seen a disaster movie where people are panic buying water and other life essential products.  Whilst the chances of an end of the world scenario are slim and pure fantasy, the psychology is very very real.  If you remember a few years back there was a potential for fuel tanker drivers to go on strike.  Then, there were queues of cars all over the areas likely to be most effected.   People want what is in scarce supply, this is tapping into our basic survival instincts.

When using this method, put a limited offer on the table, ensure it is exclusive and people will say yes!

Make sure that if you want to deploy this strategy that you limit what is available otherwise people will see straight through your efforts.

Authority.

This influence is an interesting one as it has a lot of science and research behind it.  Basically the more authority that a person holds (or appears to hold) the more likely y0u are to comply with a request.  One of the most important pieces of work regarding the influence of authority would be the experiments of Stanley Milgram.  His famous experiment tested just how far people will go when responding to instruction from authority.  In summary he showed that people would inflict lethal levels of electric shock on others because an authority figure was saying it was ok to do so.  The reality was that the individuals being exposed to the shocks were in fact acting and no shocks were being administered.  What it proved was that authority was an extremely powerful influence.  To read more on Stanley Milgram click here.

What we can take from this experiment is that the more authority that you appear to hold the more likely that someone is going to do as you ask or indeed recommend.  I am sure that if you were going to buy something you would purchase it from a reputable, upstanding, experienced company/individual as they hold more authority.

Consistency

Humans have a desire for consistency, we naturally seek stability and security.   However it is not only consistency we seek for ourselves, but we seek to appear consistent to others.  This stems from the fact that society views people that are consistent as stable, honest and trustworthy.  We all want to be perceived as such and so we adopt a consistent approach to our actions.  In fact, this desire to be seen in a good light can be a large influence on our decisions and actions.

As the video clip shows, when we make a small commitment to a cause then we are actually setting out our stall to support that cause.  When further requests for assistance follow it is in our own good to comply (even if we end up with a billboard in our gardens).  When we commit to something we don’t want to be seen as wrong and our brains even try and find ways to justify and support our choices.  Eventually even unwise decisions can grow their own legs and become a wise decision in our own mind.

Getting someone to agree to a small action will automatically mean that you have an in road for that next request (or sale).

Liking

This influence is quite obvious when you consider it.  When we like someone, we will be more likely to say yes to them.  Conversely, those we dislike we are more likely to say no to.  This principle is crystallised in the saying “people buy from people”.   For example, if you have a choice of buying something from someone you like you are going to choose them over another.

The interesting thing here is that “liking” comes in two parts, firstly there is the personality.  Secondly, attractiveness has a bearing on our likelihood to comply with the request of an individual.  Studies have even shown that politicians rated as more attractive get more votes!  This article from the Telegraph explains more.  Part of the reasoning could be due to the fact that our hardwiring is to seek out healthy people as they provide us with the best chance for survival.

To increase your chances of being successful when seeking compliance or sale, make sure you are likable and good looking.   One of these two are easier to achieve than the other.  This makes me think I really need to lose weight as that can even influence people when making decisions.

Consensus

Do not underestimate the power of social influences!  I remember being at school and I remember that football was very big with the group of kids that I hung about with.  All of them supported Liverpool, and as I really wanted to be accepted by this group I became a big fan of Liverpool too.  This was not only about me wanting to fit in but was also because of the fact that “how could so many other people be wrong?” and so I supported the same team.

This influence is also seen a lot on the internet in the form of reviews.  When booking a holiday, how many of us have read the reviews on the internet?  I know I have.  Similarly, when you look at websites for companies you will see pages of testimonies and comments from previous customers.  This is all geared toward convincing us that everybody else uses or buys this and as such we should!

 Conclusion

Be warned; just as you can deploy these tactics to assist you, others are using them for their advantage too.  The next time you are offered a free sample or are asked for a small committment then think twice, are you being influenced?

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New year, wipe the slate clean?

Happy new year to all and to all a happy new year!

Traditionally this time of year is dedicated to fresh starts and clearing of the slate, however speaking from a business perspective this is quite possibly the worst decision you could ever make.

In business it is vital to ensure that you have the upper hand, the edge or competitive advantage over your competitors.  To help you do this, would you not just love a crystal ball?  Sadly, I cannot provide that crystal ball but what I can do is give you the benefit of my years of experience leading a variety of teams in a large public sector organisation.

My advice to you is not to throw away the past 12 months, but to examine what went right, what went wrong and most importantly, understand why things happened like that.   Spend a little time making notes on what major events happened and what you did along with the outcome and what you would do differently.

Just like there is no such thing as a new idea, I would argue that once you have been running your business for a couple of years then it will be just as valid to say that there is no such thing as a new issue to deal with.  This is why you do not throw out the past.  It often contains the answers of the future.  As well as reviewing the past 12 months, best practice is to repeat the review process at least monthly and if you can, capture the issues and results live as they happen (this will ensure you do not forget things).

If you follow this advice you have just created an organisational memory.   This in all likelyhood will save you time, money and stress!

 

 

 

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More with less (part 2)

Developing your people

In my previous post regarding more with less I focused on the role of the manager and how there was a need to shift towards leadership.  In this post I will focus on how you can get the best out of your resources through using their strengths and as I like to think of it, placing round pegs into round holes!

When finances are tight and the pressure is on there can be a tendency to forget that your people are all individuals and that they will all bring different strengths to the team.  There is a desire to get the most out of people, pushing them and asking them to take on more work, often work they do not enjoy.  Be honest now, what is it that YOU dislike doing or just don’t have a propensity towards!  Is it gardening, DIY, cooking, washing up, ironing, car maintenance? Perhaps you are like me and would say all of the above.

Whatever you do not enjoy doing or lack the skills or desire for you can bet your last penny that you will not do a fantastic job of doing it.  This is where it is critical that each of your employees, partners, staff members, associates or whatever you call your people. know exactly what their strengths are and what areas they need to keep an eye on.  Not only is it important that they know, but I would argue, that their supervisors and peers know too.

Your people have more to contribute to work than just their qualifications or experience, this finds its basis in the fact that individuals at work have generally got two roles to play.

Firstly they have a FUNCTIONAL (skills, experience and qualifications) role and secondly they have a TEAM (behaviours, contributions and interactions) role.

TO ENSURE YOU ARE GETTING THE BEST FROM YOUR PEOPLE, DO NOT NEGLECT DEVELOPING AN INDIVIDUALS TEAM ROLE.

Peak Performing Individuals

An individual that knows the strengths of their behaviours in the workplace is more able to contribute to the product or service as they can play to their strengths.  It will also enable individuals to improve their ability to interact and communicate with others both inside and outside the team.  This can help individuals improve their performance, confidence and contribution in the workplace.

High Performing Teams

training-courses-panel

Many years of study by Dr Meredith Belbin has shown that a high performing team is a team that contains a balance of each of the behaviours he identified.

A team that was lacking in new ideas often lacked  a team role called “Plant” (the new ideas people).  However it was noted that a team with too many “Plants”, ideas flowed too freely, good ideas being washed away with bad and non starters were given too much air time.  Similarly, a team with no “Shaper” could see a lack of progress towards a team goal, however a team with too many “Shapers” could create an environment where there was a lot of in-fighting.

As each individual in the team posesses more than one team role behaviour it is relatively easy to create a high performing team, it is just a matter of knowing the teams Belbin Team Role make up.  Once you have this, you can make sure that individuals are maximising their potential through playing an appropriate team role.  This will lead to a happy team and sustained performance.

Contact us now for a free telephone consultation with our Belbin Associates Accredited Facilitator!

12998 Accredited-GREEN-HIGH RES

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Police Performance Targets

Today, the Home Secretary has cautioned Police against the use of performance measures (May warns Police over targets  BBC News).  I would support this to a degree.  I would suggest that Police should not use inappropriate performance measures.  Some of these inappropriate measures have led to very dysfunctional performance, for example, my blog entry of 26 February 2013.

What I would ask the Chiefs and Police & Crime Commissioners to consider, is:  Are you going to throw the baby out with the bathwater!

When performance measures or “targets” are well thought through and consequences considered they can become supportive of a positive user experience and increased productivity.

It just takes time and thought to create measures that are meaningful and a positive indication of what success looks like.

Performance Works has a wealth of experience in performance management, so contact us for more information or a free consultation.

 

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More With Less? (Part One)

Times are hard, especially if you are running a public sector organisation, including the NHS and education despite the ring fencing.  When the chips are down and the money is running short there is the usual mantra, more with less.  With George Osborne’s second round of spending cuts it is getting harder and harder to imagine delivering any more with any less.  It is a fact of current life that money is going to be reduced from budgets and organisations are going to have to find leaner ways of achieving desired outcomes.

I would suggest, that it is, in fact, impossible to do more with less.  I believe that all you can honestly achieve with less is, quite simply less.  However I also believe that it is still possible to deliver with less.

Fewer and fewer pieces on the board!

Fewer and fewer pieces on the board!

Managers need to become leaders

There are a lot of performance improvements that can be made and managers need to change too.

Traditionally the public sector has produced very good managers.  These individuals are very competent at keeping the status quo, staffing and resourcing, problem solving, scheduling and problem solving.  These skills and abilities have been developed over many years of attending management courses and watching countless other managers perform their role adequately.

However, now is a time for leadership, change is required not maintenance of the status quo.

So what makes a good leader?  Well, my view is that a good leader is someone that has a clear vision of where the organisation, business or team needs to be; but more importantly they know how they will inspire their people into following them in this vision.  Below are a few traits that I consider essential in a good leader:

  • A good leader is a relentless communicator, but not only letting people know what is needs to happen but perhaps more importantly they listen to what is actually going on.
  • Empower individuals to do their jobs and make meaningful contributions to change.
  • Removes barriers that hinder their people from doing their job.
  • Takes appopriate risks.
  • Reflects upon their behaviours and actions along with demonstrating humility.

Improve individual and team performance

With a greater emphasis on working smarter, there is a need to improve individual and team performance.  One way that this can be achieved is through the use of Belbin Team Roles.  Through maximising individual strengths and learning how to manage weaknesses individuals are able to contribute in a more meaningful manner.  By placing the correct individuals with the apporopriate balance of behaviours in a team, you can increase productivity.

An individual who knows and understands how best they can contribute to performance is able to identify opportunities to enhance results for your business.  Similarly, a team that has the correct balance of behaviours within it’s members is more likely to be able to deliver exemplary results.

With managers becoming leaders and individuals and teams becoming more self aware, delivering high performance levels is still a realistic expectation.

Perfromance Works, can deliver the necessary training to enable your managers to become leaders, the coaching to ensure your individuals become high performers and teams to succeed time and time again.

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Consultancy is dead, the Unipart Way: apparently!

I saw an advertisment in one of the broadsheets the other day that was proudly proclaiming that consultancy was dead!  This came as much as a shock to me as it probably did the individual consultants who work at Unipart, the very people proclaiming consultancy was dead.  In fact when you go to www.unipartconsulting.com it appears that consulting is very much alive but now living under a different name; The Unipart Way.

Intruiged as I was, I ventured into the brave new world of “expert practitioners” and “performance through engagement”, mainly to see if there was something I was missing out on or could I discover a better way to promote my own services.  However when I read the evangelical material it was apparent that I had nothing to gain from this revolutionary new Unipart Way, and here is why!

Working for a very large public sector organisation until July 2012 I have witnessed a wealth of changes (mostly enforced) as a result of a need to become leaner, both in terms of structure and working practices.  I was involved in two of the largest changes that that organisation had ever seen and had the pleasure of working with, wait for it, consultants.  They came from both Price Waterhouse Cooper and another nationally recognised company KPMG.

As far as I recall, when working on working practice change, KPMG delivered an academy to train our people to become change practitioners and guided them through the process of change on the first tranche of changes.  The number of KPMG people in the organisation was then reduced and reduced as the training cascaded and more confidence was gained by our own practitioners.

Similarly as far as I remember PWC worked closely and engaged with our own people training them to carry out an exercise called Priority Based Budgets.  Again as we became more confident in running the process ourselves the less involved the consultants became.

Creating a cadre of continuous improvement experts within an organisation that you work with is not new.  In fact having worked with KPMG and PWC I have developed my own model that generates peak performance that lives on long after I stop working with an organisation.

The Three E’s for Peak Performance

Our brand of consultancy uses the three E’s to improve performance:

 

Obtain Peak Performance

Obtain Peak Performance

 

To create Peak Performance it is crucial that people are Engaged, Empowered and Educated.  By working with your people Performance Works create effective, efficient and sustainable improvements, by educating your people this performance improvement becomes continuous and lives on long after we leave your business.

This way of working not only gives the client a better service, but for me it gives me a greater level of satisfaction.  I know that when I work with a busines, company or organisation, the changes are for the better and I leave a legacy of skilled expert practitioners to carry on creating peak performance.

I will leave you with this question: Is consultancy really dead, or are others simply playing catch up?

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