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...

The Trilogy: Responsibility, Accountability, and Leadership

I recently had a conversation with some really smart people around Dan Pink’s book, Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. Read the book, it’s a good one, discussing how intrinsic motivation trumps extrinsic almost all the time. If you were expecting me to now give you some detailed book review, you’re about to be disappointed. As these things often do, we ended up in an extended “bunny trail” conversation around the whole subject of individual responsibility and accountability, and what that really meant from a leadership perspective. Here’s what we discovered during our lengthy and oft-times pseudo-cerebral discussions: Responsibility–the easiest part. Responsibility is simply a list of things we do, tasks we perform, jobs we are given. Alan Weiss called this “inputs.” You can be responsible for myriad things, both that you specifically control, and some… well, not so much. In my world, I’m responsible for coaching, facilitating, consulting, providing proposals, answering emails and calls, responding promptly to clients, etc. These are all Responsibilities. Accountability–it’s not the same as “blame,” per se, though there is a certain sect of people who would ascribe such. No, it’s bigger than that, yet infinitely simpler. It’s the outcomes of our responsibilities. It’s the results expected from our inputs. For me, improved leadership behavior, demonstrably better skills, increased performance of a business, function, or enterprise (that actually follows my consulting or advice!) are all Accountabilities. It’s the results or outcomes of my Responsibilities. We often confuse these two, yet the differences are both clear and significant. Pay attention to them. Leadership–heavily influences both Responsibility and Accountability. For instance, we influence–actually determine–what...

Strategy is NOT a Four-Letter Word

            … but it leaves the same taste in my mouth Why do we make so many things harder than they have to be? If you think about it more than a nanosecond, that question applies to more aspects of our lives than just work, but I’m a consultant, not a therapist. So, I think I’ll stick to business and confront one of my least favorite subjects: setting strategy for next year. I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking forward to my next strategy session. I can picture it: a “retreat” with other executives, wishing we were anywhere else and wondering what’s for lunch. And that doesn’t actually sound so unattractive, unless you’re the guy or gal who has to keep everyone’s attention focused on the task at hand. So, as someone who helps others think about looking ahead, I’m going to give you a head start for your next strategic planning session. Take a couple of minutes and think about these few questions beforehand, and it will make the session more productive and less like a root canal: Are you just trying to document what you’re already doing, because you think tomorrow is going to look a lot like today (because today looks a lot like yesterday), or do you want to do something different in 2018 – maybe even visionary – and need to develop a roadmap to get there? Have you tried to do that before and failed? If so, do you know why? If you haven’t tried, what’s held you back? Have you shared your vision with your staff and those who will...

The Principle of Before

–Or, give before you get (Adapted from an earlier article) So, a physicist, a preacher and an Iman walk into this bar… Though that has all the makings of a great joke (appropriate apologies to those easily offended), I just wanted to highlight the diverse uses of today’s topic. The three characters mentioned above are the most frequent users–or at least, most frequently referenced–of the Principle of Before, also referred to as the Empirical Priority Principle. Seems physicists thrive on making complexity from the simple… but I digress. Defined, The Before Principle “…asserts that within the circle of the world, what comes before determines what comes after without exception.” Lots of examples for this. Battles before victories. Sweat before gains. Planning before execution. Investment before returns. So, let me add Management Consultant to the list of characters above (luckily, consultants are not easily offended). And let me better, more simply define The Before Principle: “You’ve gotta do this first.” And this applies to Leadership in a big way. For example… Feedback–you’ve got to give it first to others, before others may be willing to give it to you. And I don’t mean just criticism; positive feedback is information provided solely to help someone grow and improve. Are you doing that today? If not, don’t expect to receive valuable feedback for yourself. Respect–You receive respect from others, above or below you in the organizational food chain, after you first give them that respect. Listen. Show you care about them. Be courteous. Include when appropriate–or even close to appropriate. Give credit where due, and recognition frequently. Show gratitude, always. Keep your...

Pay Raise: I’m Thinking of a Number between 1 and 10

—  Yours may be “0” Picture the Amazing Kreskin with an envelope pressed against his forehead (if you’re wondering “who the hell…” ask someone old). We’ve all seen the surveys. “3.0% pay increases again this year.” Even we at Triangle Performance used to do one annually; we quit out of sheer boredom. An exciting year was when the data moved .1% in any direction. Like watching paint dry. Slow-drying paint. I’ve been asked by several leaders and managers, “How in the heck do I reward today’s performance, motivate future performance and retain those same performers with a meager 3.0%?? My answer…? “You don’t.” Here’s a recent WSJ article that speaks to this in a small degree. Sorry, you are probably not getting a raise next year. My favorite line: “40% said they would reduce or eliminate raises for low performers.” Somehow, this is cutting edge thinking. Are you freakin’ kidding me?? Listen up: if you’re still giving raises to low performers while wondering how to budget money for high performers… well, that’s an I.Q. test, and you’re not doing well. No one – and certainly not higher performers – will feel very rewarded or motivated by receiving a 2-4% increase in base salary. What…? Then why, Kevin, did you tell me to increase by 3.0%?? Short answer – I didn’t. I told you that payroll would increase by 3.0%. How you allocate that increase is an entirely different matter. Let me make a bit of an unusual suggestion… Average performers should receive slightly less than the 3%, unless the market range for their position has truly moved. And that...

Diversity in Tech: Dudes, you’re failing!

Warning: Fairly lengthy article, something of a rant, and I’m going to say “bullshit” quite a few times. Buckle up, buttercup… In Guy Kawasaki’s book, Reality Check, he claims “Silicon Valley is a meritocracy like nowhere else.” Bullshit. Look at the lack of women, minorities, over-40. If it’s a meritocracy, then explain statistically impossible under-representation. Tech companies aren’t examples, they’re poster-children for how not to “do” diversity. Diversity. Inclusion. As important as these words are, Tech just doesn’t get it. Even while company leaders tout the need to increase diversity for both business and social justice reasons and trip over each other trying to hire the biggest, baddest diversity guru, the better roles and big bucks are reserved for keepers of the bro culture. Considering that most of the industry is nearly evangelical about progressive change, it’s downright hypocritical. Tech (Silicon Valley and other) needs to stop with the PR eyewash and public pronouncements of “We’ll do better, starting now!” It’s bullshit, and it’s growing tiresome. And it can’t simply be accidental or even anecdotal anymore; no metric-driven problem that mattered would be allowed to go on this long in the measure-everything world of technology, particularly that in the investor-or-VC-backed space. Let’s start with some representative facts: The U.S. population is approximately 51% female; Silicon Valley employs just 20% of women in technical positions. African Americans make up 13.2% of the U.S. population; Silicon Valley employs less than 4% African Americans in technical positions. Hispanics make up 17% of the U.S. population; Silicon Valley employs just over 4% Hispanics in technical positions. Asians make up just over 6% of...

Delegate Your Way Out of the Trenches!

Leaders have got to get better at delegating. Intentional leadership takes time, and there are already plenty of demands on the 24 hours we have. Our jobs certainly aren’t getting easier, and I’m betting that most of your day isn’t consumed by core leadership tasks like motivating, developing and mentoring. So, how much of your job as a leader should you delegate? I would argue almost none of it, since leading more effectively will bring the most benefit to both your people and your organization. On the other hand, when it comes to management tasks, I think you should delegate virtually everything that someone else can do. This is how I learned it: Not long after 9-11, I was feeling a little overwhelmed juggling tasks as the commander of a little special operations flying outfit. Not only were we in near constant motion supporting the very young war effort, but we’d also just been told that our unit was closing in six months. The challenge: maintaining combat capability to the last day while working the not-very-responsive personnel management system to find everyone jobs. All while coordinating shut-down activities like asset disposition, facilities turnover, audits, ceremonies…you get the idea. One day, I caught my second-in-command re-typing (yes, typing) a flight authorization to correct some minor errors made by one of our young Airmen. I’m afraid I reacted poorly to his justification that he was just showing the troops he wasn’t afraid to get “in the trenches.” “Trenches, hell, get up here and help me lead!!” It was a watershed moment for both of us. When I started delegating tasks to...

Contact Center Leadership

The Unicorn of Continuous Improvement  — Two steps forward, two steps back…  Continuous Improvement… the unicorn of any contact center. Yeah, I know. Continuous Improvement is the wonder child of any measurement-driven organization. The Holy Grail. It’s how we make incremental improvements over time, increasing our productivity, effectiveness and profitability. “It’s what we do.” So, hear me out before you go all “what’s this unicorn crap?” on me. First, let’s define it. Continuous Improvement is best defined as: “An ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes; incremental improvement over time. It is based upon a belief that continual improvement can be brought about by a never-ending series of small changes.” Now, let’s unpack that a bit… An ongoing effort means that this isn’t a finite project or ultimate destination; that some level of attention is continuously applied. Improvement over time means that, over an extended period of time, the delta between starting point and now is demonstrable improvement, that we are on a journey. Finally, a never-ending series of small changes means just that; it space implies that we continue to make the changes necessary—not necessarily do the same things over and over. So that’s Continuous Improvement, you say?? Yeah, well, that’s not us. Not in most—if not all—contact centers. It’s not that we don’t support, believe in and attempt to drive toward this mythical beast called Continuous Improvement. We do all of that. We just don’t consistently maintain it. And Continuous Improvement is absolutely grounded on maintaining a level of improvement and then building on it. It does not mean improving, deteriorating, then improving again (which we...

You’re Not Leading… If They’re not Following

Thought I’d keep it light this month. It’s possible someone told me I’d been a little preachy lately… but what do they know? How do you know you’re leading? What do you measure? What do you look for? Consulting the great Google oracle, it looks like 73,300,000 people already know and have written about it. (Heaven forbid the Google breaks; how will I ever conduct my research?) Since I didn’t see what I was looking for, I thought I’d share a couple of lessons I learned about a decade ago, shortly after I’d taken command of a few hundred motivated and talented Airmen and was voluntold at the last minute that I would be leading the entire wing on its monthly run. Disclaimer: I hate running. I protested that while I didn’t mind if our group was first in the formation, I didn’t know the route, so someone else should take point. I wasn’t exactly reassured when I was told to just follow the security police car, but that’s exactly what I did, leading a couple thousand men and women on a short mile-and-a-half “spirit run.” Or so I thought. Disclaimer #2: Because I was in training to go to the Army’s airborne training school the following month, I was quite possibly in the best shape of my life. All pumped up and motivated, “we” took off at a brisk pace and I followed the pace car closely, fancying myself the poster boy for part Airborne Ranger / part Navy SEAL / part Chuck Norris. We finished the short distance in near-record time, and that’s when I discovered that...

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...

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