Using Peer Pressure to Create Alignment

How to design and create peer pressure to align people and efforts.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is a useful way to get people to work together.  A working definition of peer pressure for the purpose of this is:

“Peer pressure is the influence exerted by a peer group or an individual, encouraging other individuals to change their attitudes, values, or behaviors in order to conform to group norms”.

In other words, the group or individual(s) are looking for their peers to behave in a desired manner to achieve given outcomes.

Key Steps to Creating Peer Pressure

1. What is the peer group? – for what group of peers are you looking to create peer pressure for?  Be clear on who they are.  If the people identified to belong to different groups then you will not be able to work with a group who have commonality – these may be in terms of roles, responsibilities, position etcetera.

2. Identify the outcomes you are looking for – what is it you want the peer group to achieve?  Be specific.  The tighter the description of what you are trying to achieve the better.

3. What behaviors are you looking for? – this works in two parts:

a. Desired behaviors – what are the behaviors that you want the group to exemplify and demonstrate in working to achieve the desired key outcomes.

b. Undesired behaviors – what behaviors do you not want to see portrayed by the group which, if they occur, will be subjected to peer pressure from the group to make the individual(s) conform to the desired behaviors.

4. Determine the metrics:

a. Outcomes – how will you measure your progress in achieving the outcomes you are looking to realize; how will you know when you have got it?  The metrics used need to be meaningful, relevant and commonly shared and understood by the peer group.

b. Behaviors – what will people be doing that need to be exemplified and demonstrated in achieving the desired outcomes.

5. Establish the process – make sure there is a clear process to guide and assist the group to achieve the outcomes and exhibit the desired behavior.  This process should align people with what is wanted and set the desired expectations.  Furthermore, this process should help to make the situation visible and tangible so those impacted can see what is happening.  Furthermore, the process should make clear:

The benefits to every one of adhering to the process

A. The costs to everyone if one or more people do not keep to the process.

B. The costs to everyone if one or more people do not keep to the process.

Case Study

The Situation

A company I worked with had a number of teams working on a variety of different projects at the same time.  The reports that were written, based on fieldwork, took time and effort to develop and needed to be cross-checked and submitted to a quality control process.  This involved a small report processing team of people who liaised with the team leaders.  A key aspect of this was for all team leaders to inform the report-processing team on upcoming work for the next week.  This allowed them to schedule the workload and ensure that the work was properly prioritized.

The Problem

Several of the team leaders, despite repeated requests, were either late in submitting the information or did not pass it on at all.  This caused problems for both the report-processing team who were given the work at the last minute, with no prior consultation, and then had to try to fit it into the workload that had already been scheduled.  This caused them difficulties and could also adversely affect the work of those team leaders who had informed the report-processing team of their upcoming work requirements promptly.

Developing Peer Pressure to Help in Solving the Problem

Step 1: Determine the Peer Group

This is the team leaders in charge of the field teams which compile the information used to create the report.

Step 2, 3 & 4. What are the Desired Outcomes, Desired Behaviours & Metrics?

Creating Peer Pressure - Case Study

Step 5: – The Process

The report-processing team developed a report which highlighted who had submitted information, when (whether on-time or late), for which project and the principal responsible.  All information was to have been submitted by midday on Friday.  Anything coming in after that was regarded as late and was detailed in the report that was emailed to all team leaders, their reports and the principals to whom the team leaders reported.

Sample of the Project Information Update Status Report

Creating Peer Pressure - Case Study Report

The report was sent out with a message to highlight the benefits of conforming to the group and the costs of non-conformance.  This was to help stimulate and direct peer pressure.

Sample Text

“Please find below the information submission report.  As you are aware providing us with the necessary information when required helps us to schedule the resources to ensure that reports are produced on time and to standards.

Please note that delays in submitting your information will not only make it difficult to schedule your work, and may cause delay, but may also negatively impact the work of your colleagues.  Please help them by submitting the information on time.

Currently, 60% of projects are supplying information on time; this is a standard expected of 100%.  There are four projects for which we lack information, some of which are significantly overdue.  Please help us to address these outstanding projects so we can help you effectively”.

By doing this it made everything visible and tangible. It identified trends and patterns in what people were doing, created peer pressure by highlighting those who were not conforming against a background of everyone conforming, and made it difficult for people to maintain non-conforming behavior.

Try this for yourself.  Use the five steps to create the process to help you achieve the desired outcomes and behaviors which will be encouraged by the resulting peer pressure.

Share

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Putting Active Questions to the Test

A study carried out by Marshall Goldsmith and Kelly Goldsmith look at testing the effectiveness of active questions with employees who underwent training.

In short, a passive question begets a passive answer. For example, an answer to “Do you have clear goals?” might be “My manager can’t make his mind up as to what my goals should be”. In doing this the employee rarely looks to him or herself to take to responsibility and assigns blame elsewhere. By using passive questions when assessing employee engagement the company is essentially asking “What are we doing wrong?” They can also, if used exclusively, give employees implicit permission to pass the buck elsewhere and to avoid taking responsibility.

So what should we do? In short, we need to use active questions.

There is a significant difference between “Do you have clear goals?” and “Did you do your best to set clear goals for yourself?” The former is trying to assess the employee’s state of mind; the latter challenges the employee to describe or defend a course of action. A good example of an active question being asked was in John f. Kennedy’s memorable call to action: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

The power of active questions is that they engage the individual, they encourage the individual to think about the subject of the question, and to take responsibility for that which he or she is being asked about.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here.

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Shaping Your Future

What you can do to bring the future back to today.

In the current business environment leaders are subject to increasing demands on their time, requiring faster responses, with less information in shorter time-scales. In this age of infinite information and endless distraction, it’s easy to spend an entire day reacting and responding to what others want as opposed to what we want or need to do.

Here is a question for you.

Do a quick calculation of the percentage of time you spend responding to things in a typical day (answering email and phone calls, etc.). Compare this with the percentage of time you spend initiating actions.

Where do you spend most of your time? In most cases, a reactionary time greatly outweighs proactive time.

The problem is that you spend most of your time dealing with the past in the present, making it difficult to prepare, plan and act for the future.  And it is what you initiate today that will shape the future.  It might be a conversation that leads to a new friendship, sharing an idea that leads to a new product or service etcetera.  Your ability to create a positive charge for others is almost directly proportional to the amount of time you can spend initiating instead of responding.

Leaders look to the future, deal with people, and lead change. So, with your team, allocate time to reflect and look to the future to determine what you can and need to initiate that is aligned with your purpose and goals. Talk with others, and encourage your team to do the same, to gain insights into their perspectives and thoughts and to start the process of developing opportunities for the future. Look to initiate rather than respond, this will help you to be proactive and to take control of the future for yourself.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

3 Requirements for High Employee Engagement

Sustainable Engagement

Are your people really engaged in their work or not?  What does current research tell us? What are the implications of the results?

Falling levels of engagement are leading indicators that your business is likely to experience a fall in productivity, a decline in customer service, and increasing rates of absenteeism and employee turnover.

Disengagement, in all its forms, is a real risk to the organization’s productivity and performance. This is especially important in increasing competitive and volatile times, especially as organizations downsize with reduced workforces having to do more with less.

The 3 Elements of Sustainable Engagement

Tower Watson describes sustainable engagement describes the intensity of employees’ connection to their organization, based on three core elements:

  • The extent of employees’ discretionary effort committed to achieving work goals (being engaged)
  • An environment that supports productivity in multiple ways (being enabled)
  • A work experience that promotes well-being (feeling energized)

Traditional engagement

  • Belief in company goals and objectives
  • Emotional connection (pride, would recommend employer)
  • Willingness to give extra effort to support success

Enablement

  • Freedom from obstacles to success at work
  • Availability of resources to perform well
  • Ability to meet work challenges effectively

Energy

  • Ability to maintain energy at work
  • Supportive social environment
  • Feelings of enthusiasm/accomplishment at work

How Engaged are You & Your Team?

A study by Towers Watson in 2012 shows that only one in three employees are highly engaged – the rest are unsupported, detached or disengaged.  These types of engagement and whether people in each category are engaged, enabled or energized is shown below.

Types of Engagement & Attributes Mix

Types of Engagement & Attributes Mix

Global Levels of Engagement (Tower Watson, 2012)

2012 Global Levels of Engagement On average, only one in three of your employees are engaged – the rest are not sustainably engaged.

About one in five is engaged but lack the necessary support to perform and/or a feeling of achievement and support at work.

Nearly one in five is detached – they have the support they need to perform, and the feeling of achievement and energy, but they are not aligned and engaged with their work.

One in four is disengaged – they are not engaged, energized or enabled in their work.  As such they are unhappy in their work, and use your business as the means by which to share their unhappiness to other employees, clients and others.

What Does This Mean for Organisations?

Organisations need to take the time and make the effort to understand their people and where the engagement gaps are that need to be addressed.  To help engage people, and to create performance and the realization of the right outcomes and productivity you need to ensure:

  1. You have the right people
  2. Who are using the right tools, who have
  3. Access to the development of the skills and behaviours they need

So what are you going to do, and where can you work first to have the greatest impact?  Your people are your biggest asset not on your balance sheet – so invest in them!

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

3 Ways to Meet the Faster Pace of Business

It.is not how fast business goes that matters, it is how and if you can keep up!

The pace of doing business is speeding up not slowing down.

Each year the pressure grows on all areas of a business including its people, cash-flow, leadership, innovation, business models, technologies and ability to implementation strategies successfully. This pressure can lead to issues arising across the business that ultimately impact its overall growth and profit potential.

Standing back from all the specific issues stemming from this ‘high pace’ of doing business most can quickly be related back to the in-ability to implement ‘change’ successfully.

So what does a business leader or owner do? What are the strategies that should be implemented to ‘adjust’ the business and its people to this NEW normal environment for doing business?

Here are three strategies that can assist businesses and teams cope with the high pace of doing business:

Strategy 1 – Focus on Micro tasks
Think back to the last planning session you had or project team you were involved in. What was the nature of the strategies / actions that were set? Were they quite broad or were they very specific outlining the steps that need to be taken. Too often planning sessions lead to broad statements such as: ‘Do a marketing plan’, ‘Refine our sales process’ or ‘Fix that problem’ but rarely outline HOW to achieve those outcomes or the micro steps / tasks required. This leads to teams either heading down the wrong paths or not starting to change at all.

The simple solution when you see this occurring is to keep breaking down the broad task into micro tasks that highlight the HOW and the steps required to reach the desired outcome. Try this simple strategy in your next planning session and you instantly see the benefits.

Strategy 2 – Provide just-in-time learning
Sending teams to two day residential training sessions to learn new skills are slowly becoming a thing of the past. There is certainly still a need to hold those types of events in specific situation but 5-7 years ago every training event was a two day off-site with little accountability to the new learning acquired or how it would be implemented. The retention of new learning was thus very low and too often forgotten (until a need arose and the learning had to be acquired again!).

To obtain the skills to address specific issues in this fast paced business world you need to shift the thinking of your people to ‘just-in-time’ learning. This means that as a need arises to address a specific issue (such as understanding the strengths / weakness’ of your competitors as part of a marketing strategy) the focus should be on putting time in your schedule to learn that skill in 30-60 minutes via an online learning platform or quick internal training session and then applying it in the field quickly. The retained learning is much higher with this approach as there is immediately application of the learning. Best of all a solution to the issue is provided straight away to allow momentum to continue with the desired ‘change’ or ‘new strategy’.

Strategy 3 – Capture and track your strategies / actions using innovative technologies
How often have you gone to reflect on a strategy you development months ago and then had to spend hours searching through your emails, journals, files or go and follow-up a team member to get yourself up to speed again with the discussions that occurred and actions that were confirmed. Even if you have a good discipline of having ‘One Page Plans’ operating in your business (and even pasted to your office wall) it can still waste many hours in your day searching for the detailed plans you have developed or putting yourself back in the same ‘head-space’ you were in to reflect on the next steps you should take.

To assist this process and speed up your pace of implementing strategies it’s critical in any modern business to be using the latest cloud technologies / applications to help you track projects and tasks. What are you currently using in your business? Nothing? There are a lot of great, cost-effective options available. The time savings and productivity gains will be felt immediately and free you up to be focusing on the growth and profit of your business.

While these three strategies are not a magic bullet they do help you adapt both you and your teams approach to allow you to implement change much more effectively in this fast-paced business environment.

To assist this process we provide all our clients’ access to GPS-Mindshop Online. GPS-Mindshop Online allows you to capture and track in one location all your strategies, actions and professional development which are only visible by you and your advisor. Your advisor can then provide confidential support and solutions drawn from hundreds of tools, courses and resources within GPS-Mindshop Online.

GPS-Mindshop Online is a fantastic way to help leaders speed up their pace of implementation to give them back valuable time to focus on the growth and profit of their business.

If you would like to discuss how we can assist you implement change more effectively in your business please email us to arrange a call or meeting. In the meantime, check out the overview videos for GPS-Mindshop Online at http://www.business-gps.com.au/gps_videos.

 

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

How to Change Challenges into Questions to Find Solutions

The power of changing your challenges into questions

Tell me:  “What challenges do you face currently?”

Challenges AheadThis is not a rhetorical question, think about it and spend 5-10 minutes writing them down.  Do this with your colleagues.  As a group defines what your top 3 challenges. Only then read on. It will be worth it.

You now have a list of key challenges.  Look at them.  My money is on that most, if not all, of your challenges, are “out there” and not “in here”.  For example, we have challenges to do with the market, with senior management, our reports, our suppliers, our customer’s etcetera.

Funny that – have you noticed that we are never part of the problem?  If this is not ringing alarm bells for you then it should.  If we see our challenges as external to us then we are admitting two things:

  1. We lack ownership of the challenge and we are prepared to abrogate our responsibility in taking on the challenge, and secondly,
  2. We are adopting a fixed mindset in that it is the external factor that needs to be changed, not us.  As such, it reduces our opportunity to learn and develop from the situation, and to realize the associated benefits.

So how can we turn this around?

Using Questions

Take your top three challenge statements and change them into questions.  This has two powerful and helpful effects:

  1. Asking questions elicits answers – and within those answers are strategies for actually carrying out the work.
  2. Questions inspire thoughts about our intrinsic motivations for successfully meeting the challenge.  As such, intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic incentives in moving people and driving results or outcomes.

To do this is not as easy as it sounds, and it often takes longer to do than expected as there is a much sharper focus on the issue at hand. It also makes us responsible for the challenge and to identify, develop and implement the solution.

Question-Goals – Identifying Solutions, Not the Problems

Challenge Statement Challenge Question
Difficulty in retaining key skilled staff How can we use the skills of our key people so that they are engaged, challenged and contribute to our business goals?
We have too much to do, and too little to do it with What are our customers’ key needs and how does that affect our priorities?
Difficult to plan in such an uncertain business environment What are our core skills and competencies and how can we employ them effectively in a variety of alternative scenarios?

So, start the year, and continue to review during the year, by looking at your challenges and turning them into questions.  Cascade this approach throughout the business and you may be surprised at the impact!

Share

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Overcoming the Voice in Your Head

What to do when you become your own worst enemy, and how to win over yourself.

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

On average you speak sixteen thousand words, a day or nearly six millionemotional agility words a year.  That is a lot. What we forget is that this is a fraction of what we think – our inner stream of consciousness, your “inner chatter” that provides a running commentary whether you want it or not.

We are influenced by what we people say, how they say it, when it is said and the context. But we forget the first rule of influence – influence starts with you. As such we influence ourselves and we inform our own behaviour – primarily through our beliefs and attitudes which become apparent to us through our “inner chatter”.

How we behave, and the consequences we incur, occurs when we put a “story” around an event or experience we have just gone through.  We tend to behave in accordance with how we feel about this and then incur the consequences.  The flow looks like this:

SeeTellFeelAct

 

 

 

How many times have you had thoughts and feelings which have led to behaviour which has caused you problems? We see someone do something, or ourselves, and we create a story about.  For example, “He always takes credit for what was done, yet I did most of the work…” or “The same thing happened in my last job, I obviously can’t do this type of work…

What happens here is we get hooked by our thoughts in that we either treat these thoughts as facts and therefore true or, with help, we challenge them and rationalize them away which can lead us into situations where we act against what we feel are our values and best interests.

So how can we mitigate our “inner chatter”? How can we avoid either buying into it or suppressing it? How can we approach our “inner chatter” in a mindful, constructive way?

Four Steps for Building Emotional Agility

To do this we need to build emotional agility. This is the ability to free yourself from patterns of negative thoughts and feelings and move forward positively.  In doing this for yourself you:

1. Recognize Your Pattern

Notice when you are hooked by your thoughts and feelings – for example, your thinking becomes rigid and repetitive.  You are re-running past experiences, or seeing the same attitudes surface again.  Only when you realize you are stuck in a pattern can you break out of it.

2. Label Your Thoughts & Emotions

“Name them and shame them”.  By naming or labeling your thoughts or emotions you are able to see your thoughts and feelings for what they are.  They are transient and may or may not be helpful.  Doing this helps you to free up your thinking and begins to break the pattern.

3. Accept Them

Once you have labeled them then just accept them without judging them.  You experience your thoughts and feelings and take the time to see what is happening in the moment.  What is really happening in the situation and what do you need to do to take productive action?

4. Act on Your Values

You can now consider more choices, rather than going along with your “inner chatter” and you can choose to act in a way that is consistent with your values.

By providing yourself with emotional agility you have the opportunity to change the story you tell yourself which, in turn, allows you to choose to behave in a different way and obtain consequences which are both beneficial and less adverse.  Simple and effective.  Try it, use it and practice it and build your emotional agility muscle.

This article is partly based on the article, “Emotional Agility” by Susan David and Christina Congleton, HBR November 2013.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.