Organizational Effectiveness

Organizational Effectiveness

“All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they get.”

Most organizations face stiff challenges in today’s marketplace. Changing demographics, new technologies, aggressive competition and sophisticated consumers demand that organizations constantly improve the way they do business or face extinction.

Too many organizations respond to these challenges by trying to do what they have done in the past. Those that thrive welcome change and renew themselves by aligning with current and future realities.

At Triangle Performance, we believe the words of Arthur W. Jones in the quote above illuminate the path to organizational effectiveness. Improving performance requires transforming your organization. It’s not simply improving results, no matter how significant. Organizational Transformation is about becoming a different organization, not just a better one. It’s change on steroids… that “step-change” that leapfrogs an organization into an entirely different—and better—place.

To fundamentally transform an organization, new leadership performance must be embraced in order to better understand and address challenges and interpret business movements.

How do you get there?

At Triangle Performance, we have found transformation needs three key elements to succeed:

1. A clear direction – With equally clear expectations and specific goals. If you don’t know—or can’t clearly articulate—where you’re going, don’t expect to achieve lasting results.

2. An engaged workforce – Massive quantities of discretionary effort will be required, and the ability to discern positive directions without incessant oversight. That only comes from a workforce willing and able to do the right thing for the organization, with or without your immediate presence. This includes culture, structure, and processes working congruently in support of the “clear direction” mentioned above.

3. Changed leadership – Changing a culture must start with its leaders. That’s just the reality. Leaders capable of moving the proverbial needle closer to transformation must first transform themselves, focusing less on operational leadership and more on focusing on flexibility, collaboration, and “collective” leadership.

Triangle Performance works with its clients to bring about the transformation and results necessary to compete and win in today’s economy. To learn how we can help you, call 281.257.4442 or click here.

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On Organizational Effectiveness...

What’s Wrong With Me?

… never mind, I already know. I’m gonna try to keep this upbeat, but the underlying issue is sad… and oh so preventable. So many of your employees have these 8-track tapes running in their head that say things like “what’s wrong with me?” “I screwed it up, again” and “I’ll never get this right.” That’s because all they ever seem to hear about is what they messed up, what they’re doing wrong, and what they’re not doing fast enough. You might hear it fairly often, too, but this isn’t about you. Want proof that’s what they’re used to? Spend the day doing nothing but walking the building, paying your employees genuine, heartfelt appreciation, and watching their faces light up. If you don’t know why you’d do that, you need help. A recent exercise with a client highlighted a problem in their – and maybe your – company that people aren’t getting the recognition they deserve for the hard work their doing. This isn’t a rah-rah speech; it’s an indictment that management by exception seems to have become leadership by exception. The goal of the exercise mentioned above was to demonstrate that difficult conversations were, in fact… wait for it… difficult. We helped them understand that the more often we’re honest in our conversations – without allowing negative emotions to creep into the difficult ones – the more effective we become at genuine communication, especially when our real motivation is to help the other person grow and improve. Practice may not make perfect, but it sure makes us a lot better. By the way, we sometimes forget that the...

Anchors Aweigh

… what’s dragging your team down? Last week, I had a great conversation with an old boss (and friend) of mine who’s known me for 3+ decades. As I was standing in the lobby of his building, I read the press release about his being named as CEO of the Year by the local business journal. In the interview for the article, he was asked “What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business, and what can we learn from it?” His answer, “My biggest mistakes have been not to get rid of a few sub-standard employees fast enough — those who have a corrosive or detrimental effect on good employees,” got me to thinking about some of my clients who just can’t seem to bring themselves to let people go. It’s never fun to fire people – unless you’re kind of twisted – but waiting around until it’s a clean kill hurts the organization far more than any temporary discomfort you might feel. And it’s not what leaders do. Now, I’m not talking about getting rid of the folks who broad jump across the line and violate clearly understood non-negotiable organizational policies like stealing, selling drugs at work, or sexual misconduct. That’s easy, because they kinda brought that on themselves. No, I’m talking about the employee who’s dragging the team down, probably doing just enough to keep his job, but not pulling his weight. Nice enough, but would rather talk about plans for the weekend than plans to accomplish the week’s goals. And always more willing to listen to other people’s problems than find solutions for his own. The...

Let’s Talk

—aka: Communication for Dummies Sometimes, I just plain suck at communicating effectively. If you doubt me, ask my wife, my girls, my best friend Kevin, or any of the bosses I’ve worked for in the last 40 years. If you take a quick minute to reflect, you probably suck sometimes, too. This has been on my heart lately because I’ve run into a rash of people who believe their team is singing off the same page when they’re not even in the same hymnal. Or maybe it’s the Christmas Crazies, I don’t know, but I keep encountering messages sent that are definitely not the messages received. So, you ask, if I help clients communicate more effectively for a living, why do I suck at it so often? Same reason you do. I wasn’t a communications major in college – I’m the engineer type – but I know that with those we know best, we seem to suffer from a familiarity bias that causes us to assume how our close relationships perceive our message… with predictable results. Kevin and I laughed last week that we would never allow a client to communicate as ineffectively as he and I have lately. Thankfully we knew how to fix it. So, being the leadership Sherpas we are, I’d like to help you look inside your organization and come face-to-face with what keeps your team from communicating more effectively. First, let’s assume positive intentions and dismiss the obvious reason: knowledge is power, and people on your team withhold knowledge and intentionally keep secrets to manipulate their co-workers. That actually happens more often than you...


— I hate to ask, but… “Can I do something to help?” “No thanks; I’ve got it.” Sound familiar? At the office? At home? Yes, that short conversation takes place millions of times every day across this country in the workplace, in stores, in the kitchen, between co-workers, bosses and employees (both directions), spouses, and parents and their children – basically anywhere there are two people interested in a particular outcome. Since this is part of a newsletter, let’s start in the workplace. We certainly don’t expect our employees to know everything, yet because many of them think and feel like we do, they’re hesitant to ask questions. As leaders, we get frustrated with team members who wait until the last minute to ask for help – or don’t ask for help at all – and things go to hell in a handbasket. What makes us think it’s any different for our boss? It’s not. Keep this in mind: you’re not a failure if you ask for help. You fail when you need it and don’t ask for it and the consequences create a crisis. If you don’t believe that applies to you, you might offer it as a piece of advice in your next coaching conversation. So, why is it so dammed hard to ask for help? Easy… we have egos. Successful people are helpers, not helpless, right? We think asking for help makes us look weak, undermining our credibility as a (insert self-description here). We may think that, but it’s not true! Pretending we don’t need help when it’s obvious that we do is what undermines our...

Competition vs. Collaboration

– “Can we all get along?” Rodney King III Late in my Air Force career, I had the great fortune to command a fantastic group of diverse, talented Airmen. The only downside was that we lacked sufficient personnel and resources to be fully capable of executing our assigned mission, which pitted me against my peers in a competition for more – more people, more money, more equipment, and more priority. I thought it was the perfect job for me, because I’d spent most of my career competing for more. Unfortunately (for me), my boss cared more about getting along and collaborating with each other. After a little attitude adjustment, I found that working with the other commanders, cross-training and developing people, and sharing the awards and recognition when their folks were involved made us all more effective and successful. Not surprisingly, I was raised in a performance review system that encouraged competition, not collaboration. After all, we only want the best to be the leaders of our military forces, right? And you probably want the best to lead your employees. Who doesn’t? But are you and your performance review system identifying the best leaders or the best doers? Are they being rewarded for their individual performance, or are they being recognized for how successful they’re making their team – or your organization – even if they’re not the leader? When the rewards system keeps them focused on what they do and not why they do it, they become more competitive than collaborative. They put a priority on accomplishments and technical competence and miss out on the people skills development...

Low Employee Engagement Isn’t the Problem…

  — Low leadership engagement is. Not long ago, I received a request for comment about employee engagement being at a record high. That seemed like an odd request, since almost everything I’ve read in recent memory was lamenting dismal engagement survey results. Poking around some, I found that employee engagement soared to its highest level in five years – a whopping 34.1% in March – only to fall back below 33% in May and June. In other words, it sucks. Thanks, Gallup, for keeping it real. We spend way too much time and effort trying to measure engagement, not to mention the money we throw at employee engagement programs, apparently without much result. I’m convinced it’s because we’re letting the wrong people lead – and take the blame for – our unsuccessful engagement efforts. News flash: Low employee engagement is NOT an HR problem. It’s a leadership problem. I’m not knocking HR–far from it. But much like with leadership development efforts, HR takes its cue from senior leadership. If there’s just lip service and no involvement at the top, employee engagement efforts are doomed. If your company is hiring consultants to find out why your employees aren’t engaged, you’re wasting your money. I’ll give it to you for free: your employees aren’t engaged because they don’t feel valued doing worthy work, and that’s a leadership issue. Most employees would love to tell you exactly how they feel about the workplace, but aren’t going to do it if they don’t believe you a) are listening to them, and b) will do anything about it. That’s a leadership issue, too. How...

De-mystifying Millennials

How many of you are growing weary of pundits and advice-givers obsessing over Millennials taking over the workplace? You can put your hands down. Me too. And we Boomers and Gen Xers aren’t the only ones. A very unscientific poll of 100% of the Millennials in my immediate family reveals that they’re both sick and tired of being stereotyped with the Millennial label as one big spoiled, needy, homogeneous cliché. Their reasons are valid: they’re not all the same, and they generally want the same things from work that generations before them have wanted. Whaaaat?? How can that be after all the experts have written about how to manage them in the workplace? After all, we all raised our Playdate Generation kids the same, didn’t we? Actually, no we didn’t. Okay, you say, but they’ve experienced an unprecedented rate of social, political, and technological changes since they came into the world. Myth buster: you can say the same thing about every generation born in the last 125 years. And they have more choices in the career landscape than ever before… with more evolving every day! Spoiler alert: so did we – and our parents, too, for that matter. In the past few years, just short of a gozillion dollars has been spent surveying what Millennials want from the workplace experience, creating a new breed of entrepreneurs uncreatively called Millennial Consultants. And they’ve brilliantly ascertained that Millennials want meaningful, impactful work in a respectful and appreciative workplace, and a competent boss who has integrity and shows compassion once in a while. Sound familiar? It does to me, because that’s what...

Where Is Everybody?

 –The war for talent rages on… Don’t get caught with your pants down. That idiom has its origins in the Roman Emperor Caracalla, later known as Marcus Aurelius. He was known as one of the bad-ass Emperors somewhere before 200AD. Legend has it he was killed while relieving himself, hence “with his pants down.” Though it may actually have been a robe. Or chainmail. Whatever he was wearing, he had it down and he was killed. Going forward, warriors took care of their business with sword in hand, so not to be “caught with their pants down.” So, what does this incredibly interesting trivia lesson mean to you? Funny you should ask… Simply put, in the people equation, demand has—and will continue to—outpace supply. Our recent 2016 Survey of Senior Leadership (SSL) ranked Talent Acquisition/Talent Management as the #2 Leadership Challenge today. Behind only Revenue/ Earnings Enhancement, the perennial #1 for many years. I know what you’re thinking… War for Talent?? Seriously? Oil is at or around $50. Global layoffs in oil & gas exceed 350k in the past 18 months. Article after article tells of the woes of recent graduates, unable to find anything but McJobs after incurring a bucket-load of student debt. I was born at night, you say, but not last night. Yeah well, listen up—it’s happening. We’ve got something of a perfect storm brewing for talent. Demographics: Baby boomers continue their exodus. And many are stepping aside from leadership roles even if not leaving the workforce. Millennials aren’t just looking for a job, they are seeking specific roles with specific returns and rewards. Simply “needing...

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

Several years ago, my sister gave me a book about how to deal with the controlling perfectionists in our lives. She said I might benefit from an impartial description of — get this — me. Ouch. Okay, so I only had two standards: perfect and unacceptable. That didn’t make me a bad person did it? It’s not like I imposed my unreasonably high standards on my family or people at work. After all, I’ve always said, “Don’t let perfection get in the way of good enough.” And I talked plenty about building a culture where failures are learning experiences and not short-cuts to the unemployment line, of embracing our own failures as stepping stones on the road to self-improvement, yadda yadda yadda. Other people’s failures, of course. So what’s the problem with having unreasonably high standards? The problem is that is makes us damned hard to work for. And guess what, as leaders it’s not about us; it’s about them. We don’t get the best from people when we bully them — yes, perfectionists bully, even if that’s not their intent. Perfectionists notice only what’s wrong and not what’s right. But if our feedback style doesn’t include some encouragement about the good while we’re delivering the bad and the ugly, we’re liable to stop seeing the good at all. It used to be a gold-star day when someone got a report past me without needing some re-work. Did that motivate them to try their best? Only initially, but when they learned their best would never been good enough, they started sending me crap knowing I’d put the effort into...

5 Ways to Deal with a Malcontent

— What’s that pain in my neck?? Note: This is updated from a 2008 article I wrote, same general subject. Seems the issue is still hanging around… You know who I’m talking about, too. Those people who just never seem happy; who always see the negative even when the message is positive; who suspect ulterior motives regardless of act. They are the literal “pain in your neck” (or some other anatomical part…). Personally, I frequently recommend you just whack ’em. That’ll please a lot of people working nearby, and you’d be surprised at the immediate effect that would have on other malcontents in the organization. The “Shoot the first one, word will spread” concept. But then, we wouldn’t need this article, so here we are. You’re stuck with them, or you’re keeping them for some reason unbeknownst to anyone else, or simply want to help them emerge from their dark hole. Here are some ways you can deal with these sourpusses: What attitude? Typically, when you try to address an “attitude,” you get a blank, puzzled stare, and some malarkey about how they “have no idea what you’re talking about.”And honestly, it’s not the attitude; it’s the observable behavior that’s a problem.“Sue, I hear you comment or complain every time we roll out a new initiative. Frankly, I want it to stop. Now. Keep it to yourself, or go speak with your supervisor. No more vocal whining to others.” Proselytizing may help. Try to convert them to your way of thinking. Be direct in your comments, and explain why it’s in their best interest to become more positive.Let these...

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