Stake in the ground.

The novelty of the traditional ‘corporate wallpaper’ has long since wained. Posters across the land bestow the Values, Mission and even the purpose of organisations to capture peoples’ attention which then quickly fades amongst the tsunami of other messages that compete for employee attention. Whilst the intent and purpose of publishing these documents is, without question, an essential stage of communicating what is important and helps establish focus, it is our daily behaviours that will speak way louder than our words (or posters) ever could.

 

Calling out greatness.

The behavioural ‘itch’ can be a very difficult one to scratch. If you’re relying on intuition to identify something about your colleagues’ working patterns that are just not right, you can be puzzling this over for a considerable time, without really putting your finger on it. On the flip side to this ‘instinctive management coin’ spelling out what great looks like can also be just as tricky. In both cases, the opportunity to address behaviours goes by and nothing changes.

 

So are we missing a trick?

Whilst significant attention has been given to employee engagement, survey results are able to report the levels of Employee Satisfaction Index (OSI) or Management Impact (MI) and any number of indices but still leave you wrestling with the need to interpret the percentages and dig beneath the surface. What is really required and currently missing, is the ability to call out the behaviours that bring a great organisation or team to life. Because once you know what great looks like, you also appreciate the gaps and you now have a fighting chance of getting there.

Our programmes contain an interesting element that never fails to capture the imagination of participants and, for facilitators provide a little amusement, when the moment of realisation happens. In relation to the assessing team it usually starts off when the delegates are given a simple behaviour framework that highlights a range of ‘Ambassadorial’ through to ‘Detracting’ behaviours. Perhaps, for many, this is the first time that examples of behaviour are presented to them and they’re asked to assess those around them.

Unlike trying to read between the lines and interpret a percentage score, a well described behaviour, nails the matter firmly and squarely on the head (and this is where the amusement comes in for facilitators). For programme delegates, this activity is enlightening because they can identify with exactly what is being described, and most importantly, map the behaviour to the person they’re reviewing. The ‘Ta-Da’ moment of this exercise is sometimes even audible! Once you’ve named it, you know what you’re dealing with!

 

So if it’s so powerful, why do we give such little attention to behavioural qualities?

Well, simply put, it’s because it’s hard. Simon Sinek talks about organisations going from the easiest thing to the hardest thing (Start with Why, TEDtalks.com). Behaviours are amongst the hardest because they have to describe what you experience, see, hear and do, every day and then, if you want to do the job properly, you need to extend that to articulate what great and what poor looks like. In busy organisations, there seems little management capacity to simply deal with the day job never mind explore the ‘soft and fluffy’ behavioural components that make up our culture.

 

But when you do, is it worth it?

The research company Gallup has identified significant insight about the relationship between engagement (positive behaviours) and productivity. From their studies it is clear that highly engaged employees are those you want around, delivering 18% more productivity and 60% higher quality output of work. Calling out the behaviours that exemplify what great looks like is the surest way in establishing the right team dynamics that deliver increased performance. Consider for a moment your team increasing its own performance by nearly a 5th, what would the impact be? Would it be worth spending some time understanding what great looks like? Maybe behaving in the right way has more value than you first thought?

 

 

INPD is currently working with Origos Resources who have developed an online and mobile app based ‘Team DNAmix’ assessment tool comprehensively articulating behaviours against 7 key team dynamics. This will be made available to INPD delegates and alumni at a discounted rate and enable you to conduct a thorough team assessment of the dynamics at play in your team.

Steve Barry

Associate tutor of in>Professional Development