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...

Coaching Slugs …What if they just don’t get it??

Coaching Slugs… the uncoachable. Also sometimes known as: Light’s on, nobody’s home. She just doesn’t get it. How’d he slip through HR? The 80/20 rule… Or, my personal favorite… A waste of time. As egalitarian and “fair” as we sometimes hope to be, there’s no getting around it — some employees can be a waste of our development time, and we should stop doing that the instant we realize that condition. Make an effort, to be sure, but get better at knowing when it’s time to fish or cut bait. Perhaps they were mis-hired to begin with; perhaps they were promoted well past their ability to grasp new concepts; perhaps they simply don’t want to do what’s required… I don’t know, and at this stage I wouldn’t spend a ton of your time digging into the “why.” The “what,” is “I’m spending my time for no return, when I could be spending it on someone else for recognizable value.” Not really much of a choice, is it? Quality guru Joseph Juran said (loosely paraphrased) that we tend to spend 80% of our time on those things that deliver 20% of our aggregate value. I would argue that, when discussing employee performance, motivation, and one-on-one development or coaching, that figure is much closer to 90/10. Maybe even higher. Really, how much time do you spend with your highest performers… your top 5%? I’m not talking MBWA face-time, drinks after work, or breakfast forced-marches. Nor am I describing time spent at those infernal time-wasters called “staff meetings.” I’m talking about working with that A-player one-on-one, investing your personal time, counsel and...

Today’s Myth: Being the Best is the Best

A common narrative today tells us that everyone should strive to be the BEST at whatever they’re pursuing. Number One, the “go to” guy or gal, the Subject Matter Expert (SME for you acronym lovers). After all, who wants to be known as Number Two? My decades in the military taught me there was no better feeling than seeing the words “My #1 of __” on a performance review, being the distinguished graduate from some training course, or taking home the winner’s trophy from a competition – shooting, flying, it didn’t matter what kind. Corporate America doesn’t hand out near as many medals and ribbons as the military, so you can’t always tell who the best on the office team is by looking at their clothes. But it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out who the “go to” or the morning meeting SME is. Who got the biggest end-of-year bonus is harder to identify than the star ladder-climbers, but that information is often the worst kept secret in the office. So, what’s wrong with a little competition in the workplace? Nothing, so long as we don’t create an environment where people either feel like winners or like losers. Believe it or not, not everyone wants to be the “go to” problem solver, the SME, or even get promoted. Heresy, I know, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Some people just want to come into work and do their best until it’s time to leave. They don’t care about being a star performer, but they’re good, dependable teammates and willing to do more than the bare minimum...

Too Much Work, Too Little Time … Good Luck With That!

During my last stint in the Pentagon, I worked for more than a few senior executives who were notorious for wanting too much in too little time. High achievers learned very quickly that the reward for hard work was more work. In fact, my favorite quote (which I used like a club) was one attributed to the late Russian-born New York Times film critic, Abe Weiler: “Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn’t have to do the work himself.” One of our worst habits is to assume, and part of that involves assuming we know how much time and effort a task is going to take when we haven’t actually accomplished that task under the current circumstances. It’s good to get called out for that occasionally… we can usually use a dose of humility. My sister called me out yesterday for giving her unsolicited advice about how to ride her bike up a nearby steep hill. My suggestion that she just use a lower gear was met with a quick, “So says the man who doesn’t ride a bike.” Touché. And a couple of days ago, I was facilitating a series of Leader Reaction Course tasks for a group from the Wounded Warriors Project. One of the tasks involved horizontally traversing a rock-climbing wall. When one of the participants attacked the wall, he was especially challenged by the fact that he’d lost his left arm in combat. There was plenty of unsolicited advice from his teammates about his next best move. Needless to say, no one was too offended when he called down, “If you think this is...

Bob Fires A$$holes …and you should too!

Bob’s a client, the chief executive of a fairly large company in the Northeast. His name is not really Bob, but he really is a client, and a recent experience prompted me to share this (with Bob’s permission). At the beginning of my coaching engagement with Bob, I conducted a 360-degree survey so we could get an idea of how others see him in his day to day activities and interactions. If you haven’t had a 360 survey—a real one—done for you, you should. It’s almost always eye-opening. And sometimes a bit scary. But no one dies in the process, so you’ve got that going for you… Anyway, while doing the 360 survey on Bob, I was privileged to meet and speak with many of the direct reports on his leadership team. Without getting into details that would make Bob (if he’s reading this) squeamish, the results were insightful and indicated he’s clearly respected. Mostly good things, and nothing really out of the ordinary. Until I spoke with Jim (again, not his real name). Jim offered that Bob was direct, decisive, and had a low tolerance for incompetence. No real shocker, given Bob’s role. Then, he gave the “pièce de résistance” (that’s a copy-paste, I had no idea how to write that). “Bob fires assholes,” he said. So, that had me putting my pen down. “Do tell,” I replied. It seems that even more than incompetence, Bob has a crushingly low tolerance for anyone, particularly in any sort of leadership role, “being an asshole.” The culture of this organization doesn’t support that kind of behavior, and given their size,...

Don’t Tolerate Bad Behavior…

…or you’ll see a lot more of it! Have I told you about the time I got fired? I was a 25-year-old hotshot, fighter pilot wannabe stuck in west Texas as an Air Force instructor pilot. I’d had three bosses in 18 months and was still in the process of breaking the new one in. Yes, this is me. I was sure he was coming around when he made me his right-hand man, but apparently, he thought being in a leadership position meant I was supposed to be a good example for others. He expected me to – get this – be at work on time. I mean hey, if it was that important, my other two bosses would have said something. But this guy told me that if I was late again, I’d have to find a new job, and he wasn’t kidding. After three decades of reflection, I can clearly see my part in the career-altering episode. You have to ask yourself though, “why was I late so often?” The answer is simple: They let me be. I tell you this because I was recently facilitating a group discussion for some developing leaders and asked the question, “what are you biggest people-related challenges?” They enthusiastically started describing their problem employees much faster than I could write them on the white board. I didn’t think “useless, clueless excuse-makers” really got to the heart of the problem, so we drilled down a bit. It turns out they were challenged by people who: didn’t do what they were supposed to do, took advantage of their boss’ good graces, had their...

Imposters Among Us… and What To Do With Them

Seems like I’ve talked to an awful lot of imposters lately. Run of the mill people, important people, people who used to work for me, and people I’ve worked for. We laughed at “not getting found out” as our careers progressed up the ladder, feeling like we were faking our way through success. Classic imposter syndrome – successful from the outside looking in with a self-perception of barely-concealed incompetence from the inside looking out. I’m not going to get all soft and shrink-ish on you, and some of you may have never felt like a poser, but I daresay there are some who know exactly what I’m talking about. The recent conversations caused me to look back and think about how many jobs I had where I was an MSU (Making Stuff Up) pretending to be an SME (Subject Matter Expert). Note: in the Air Force, you have to have a TLA (Three Letter Acronym) for everything. In my experience, the military trains us to be one thing (i.e., pilot) and then gives you any number of “additional duties” which most often have absolutely nothing to do with your training. For instance, my first “additional duty” was to be the squadron’s Resources Augmentation Duty Officer. Even now I can’t tell you exactly what the job entailed (something about emergency preparedness, I think), but apparently if you could say the title, you could wear the title. No big deal, right? Right… until we had a big headquarters inspection, and my grade was going to be my boss’ boss’ boss’ grade, which increased the pucker factor significantly. A+, by the way....

Breakthrough Innovation Through Diversity and Inclusion Leadership

Written by Simma Liberman, The Inclusionist Creating inclusive workplaces where people love to do their best work and customers love to do business. According to findings of the Center for Talent Innovation “The engine for serial innovation is a diverse workforce that’s managed by leaders who cherish difference, embrace disruption, and foster a speak-up culture. Inclusive leader behaviors effectively “unlock” the innovative potential of an inherently diverse workforce, enabling companies to increase their share of existing markets and lever open brand-new ones. “By encouraging a proliferation of perspectives, leaders who foster a speak-up culture also enable companies to realize greater efficiencies and trim costs—another way that innovation drives bottom-line value.” That means that diversity alone is not enough, you have to have an inclusion culture; one where people feel comfortable participating, failing and succeeding. In addition, the study by CTI found that “when teams have one or more members who represent the gender, ethnicity, culture, generation, or sexual orientation of the team’s target end user, the entire team is far more likely (as much as 158% more likely) to understand that target, increasing their likelihood of innovating effectively for that end user.” This study along with one by the European Commission should eliminate any doubts or questions people in organizations have about the viability, necessity and relationship to profit of not only diversity with a culture of inclusion. In his article “Diversity in Tech, Dudes You’re Failing,” Kevin Berchelman makes the case for Silicon Valley and the tech industry to stop making excuses, doing feasibility studies or waiting for the right time. In this business era of speed, competition...

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...

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