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.

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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.

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.

How Starbucks Demonstrated Leadership During Hard Times

Millions of people and businesses have been impacted, directly or indirectly, by the recent stockmarket drops in China and elsewhere. It is a cause of concern with over $1 trillion being wiped from Asian markets recently, the Dow Jones Industrial Average being sent plunging, as well as in other markets.

Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz decided to do something about it. He proceeded to address some major concerns – not directly to customers, but rather, to his employees (these are known as “partners” in Starbucks parlance).

All 190,000 of them.

Here is the brief memo that appeared in the Washington Post.

To: Starbucks partners; managing directors for company-operated and joint venture markets
Date: August 24, 2015

Re: Message from Howard: Leading Through Turbulent Times

Dear Partners,

During our 23-year history as a public company, we have experienced–and successfully navigated through–several periods of extreme stock market volatility. And although we are not immune from the global stock market selloff that has now made its way to Wall Street, my confidence in our company and in all of you has never been greater. We are in the midst of another record-setting year – combining our unique “third place” in-store experience with highly relevant coffee and tea innovation and differentiated customer-facing mobile and digital technologies. We are making a profound social impact in the communities we serve around the world, and will continue to do so today and into the future.

Our company has weathered many different types of storms. But our brand has never been stronger or more relevant. Our pipeline of new products and breakthrough innovation has never been more robust. And our long term commitment to delivering an elevated partner experience is unwavering. I can assure you that we will continue to lead and manage the company through the lens of humanity, doing everything we possibly can to continue to make your families proud of our company and all we stand for. You have my word on this.

Today’s financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty both at home and abroad, will undoubtedly have an effect on consumer confidence and perhaps even our customers’ attitudes and behavior. Our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern. Please recognize this and–as you always have–remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day. Let’s be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations.

Our growth plans for the future of our company will not be impacted by the turmoil of the financial markets. We will positively manage through today’s challenging environment just as we have positively navigated through challenging moments in the past. The experience we deliver in our stores, the strength and equity of our brand, and the primary reason for our current and future success is because of all of YOU. I believe in you and have never been prouder to be your partner.

Onward,
Howard

In this brief memo Shultz did a number of things:

  1. Expressed pride and confidence in the achievements of Starbucks and its employees (paragraph 1)
  2. Provided strong, unwavering leadership and personal commitment to all employees (paragraph 2)
  3. Encouraged employees to reach out and show special concern for customers , and that Starbucks earns success from its customers (paragraph 3)
  4. Reassured employees that Starbucks and its employees would weather the storm as it has weathered other storms previously, and that current future success is because of the employees (paragraph 4)

Shultz did this in just 382 words! Brief, concise and effective. If you were a Starbucks partner how would you feel reading this?

My question for you is this: what can you do for your employees and customers to provide them with the support, confidence and direction they need? How will you lead through turbulent times?

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.

Using the Leadership Grid to be an Adaptive Leader

The Trials of Leadership Styles

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Adapting your leadership style for effective results – balancing task- and people-oriented leadership.

Leadership Styles

When organizing a company meeting what do you, or the individual you have delegated to, do first?  Do you develop the timeline and associated task, or do you consider who would prefer to do what and then try to develop an approach and schedule around their needs?  And how do you respond if you fall behind schedule – do you focus on the tasks or the people?

How you answer the above can reveal your preferred personal leadership style, these can be:

  • Task-oriented – you focus on getting things done, you are more production or task-focused;
  • People-oriented – you want to people to be happy, you are more people-focused;
  • A blend of both.

Neither preference is right or wrong, just as no one type of leadership style is best for all situations. However, it’s useful to understand what your natural leadership tendencies are, so that you can then begin working on developing skills that you or your reports may be missing.

Understanding the Leadership Grid

The Leadership Grid is based on two behavioural dimensions:

  • Concern for People – this is the degree to which a leader considers the needs of team members, their interests, and areas of personal development when deciding how best to accomplish a task.
  • Concern for Production – this is the degree to which a leader emphasizes concrete objectives, organizational efficiency and high productivity when deciding how best to accomplish a task.

In the Leadership Grip below there are five leadership styles.

  Leadership Grid 2a

The Leadership Grid highlights how placing too much emphasis in one area at the expense of the other leads to low overall productivity.  However, when both people and production concerns are high, employee engagement and productivity increases accordingly.

The Five Leadership Styles

Impoverished Leadership – Low Production/Low People (A)

This leader is mostly ineffective. He/she has neither a high regard for creating systems for getting the job done, nor for creating a work environment that is satisfying and motivating. Often typified by a delegate-and-disappear management style, the leader of manger shows a low concern for both people and production. He (or she) avoids getting into trouble. His main concern is not to be held responsible for any mistakes. Managers use this style to preserve job and job seniority, protecting themselves by avoiding getting into trouble. The result is a place of disorganization, dissatisfaction and disharmony.

Produce or Perish Leadership – High Production/Low People (B)

Also known as authoritarian or compliance leaders, people in this category believe that employees are simply a means to an end. Employee needs are always secondary to the need for efficient and productive workplaces. There is little or no allowance for cooperation or collaboration. This type of leader is very autocratic, has strict work rules, policies, and procedures, and views punishment as the most effective means to motivate employees.  Although results may be achieved in the short-term it is not sustainable in the long-term as employees become disengaged and employee turnover increases.

Middle-of-the-Road Leadership – Medium Production/Medium People (C)

This style seems to be a balance of the two competing concerns. It may at first appear to be an ideal compromise. Therein lies the problem: when you compromise, you necessarily give away a bit of each concern so that neither production nor people needs are fully met. Leaders who use this style settle for average performance and often believe that this is the most anyone can expect.

Country Club Leadership – High People/Low Production (D)

This style of leader is most concerned about the needs and feelings of members of his/her team. These people operate under the assumption that as long as team members are happy and secure then they will work hard. The leader or manager is almost incapable of employing the more punitive, coercive and legitimate powers fearing that using such powers could jeopardize relationships with the other team members. The organization will end up with a friendly atmosphere, but not necessarily very productive due to a lack of direction and control.

Team Leadership – High Production/High People (E)

This is the pinnacle of leadership style. These leaders stress production needs and the needs of the people equally highly. The premise here is that employees are involved in understanding organizational purpose and determining production needs. When employees are committed to, and have a stake in the organization’s success, their needs and production needs coincide. This creates a team environment based on trust and respect, which leads to high satisfaction and motivation and, as a result, high production.

Applying the Leadership Grid

1.      Identify the Current Leadership Style

What is your current leadership style?  Review past and current situations where you have been the leader.  For each situation mark your position on the matrix.  What themes or trends can you identify?  Why have you put yourself there?  What was the outcome for using that style? Use the template below to assess yourself.

2.      Identify areas of improvement and develop your leadership skills?

Are you more task-focused or people-focused?  How effective are the leadership styles you are using?  Are you in the middle-of-the-road?  If so, do you need to operate outside your comfort zone?  Are you too task-focused?  If so, what people skills do you need to develop?  Are you too people-focused?  If so, what do you need to do develop task-related skills?

Leadership Grid

3.      Monitor, Review and Solicit Feedback

Get others to assist you in this and to share their perspective and reasoning in a constructive manner.  This is an on-going process, not a one-off event.

Summary

Being aware of the various approaches is the first step in understanding and improving how well you or your reports perform as a leader or manager. It can also help you to anticipate how you lead can impact the level of employee engagement either positively or negatively.

At different times and for different situations you will find that you will adapt your leadership style – there is no one style that can be universally applied to produce the results and the people that you want to develop and achieve.  However, the Leadership Grid provides you with a tool by which to assess the alternative styles that are available to you.

Don’t treat the Leadership Grid as the “ultimate truth” – it is only there to provide input for you to consider when trying to determine and understand what is the most effective leadership style for you to use given your situation, the context of the situation (including its seriousness, urgency and whether it will become more acute if left unaddressed), your current skills and capabilities, your experience and your people.

Finally, don’t forget to use this tool with your own reports – a great leader develops his or her people.

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The Benefits of Building Connection

How creating a “connection culture” can drive business results & the bottom-line

We are all living and working in an increasingly volatile environment where accelerating change is the norm. This, with the fact that most people like to live and work within their comfort zone, can cause problems for leaders and their businesses as people strive to cope with change whilst keeping some semblance of control.

As result of the rapid change people experience they often feel disconnected and disengaged in what they do. Unfortunately, since 2000 nearly 75 percent of people working in the United States have been disengaged with their jobs (Gallup 2013b). As leaders, to deal with this, we have to create an environment of connection where people can feel reconnected and they can choose to connect and engage themselves with those people around them, and in what they do.

Connection in the workplace is an emotional bond. It is based on shared identity, empathy and understanding that moves primarily self-centered individuals towards becoming group-centred members. As the connection is an emotional bond it is intangible, but we can sense it in our relationships.  When it is present, we feel the energy, empathy, and affirmation, and are more open; when it is absent, we experience neutral or even negative feelings.

When people look for connection, and they always do, they do so in a variety of ways including how they connect to other people (relational); to their work (task mastery); and to a sense of purpose (existential). These can be summarized below:

6 Connection Needs of People

Connection Needs Needs Type Description
  • Respect
Relational Needs Being around people who recognize us and who are courteous and considerate.
  • Recognition
Relational Needs Where we are recognized by other people for what we do, achieve and contribute; and the strengths and skills we use in doing so.
  • Belonging
Relational Needs Being part of a group or team helps us to be more resilient and better able to cope with unexpected or adverse events.
  • Autonomy
Task Mastery Needs The freedom to do your work in your own way, to be free of being told what and how to do the work.
  • Personal Growth
Task Mastery Needs Where you have the necessary level of skills to deal with the challenges we face and to achieve a state of ‘flow’ where you are fully involved and immersed in an energized way, in the process of the activity of the work,
  • Meaning
Existential Needs When you are engaged in work that is important to you in some way, you are energized and put additional effort into it. You feel a sense of significance from doing this work.

The Benefits of Connection

Benefits accrue to both the individual as well as the business. Research has found that businesses which create a strong connection culture, by fostering an environment where each of the six connection needs can be met, realize significant benefits over their competitors. Compared to business units with engagement and connection scores in the bottom 25 percent, the top 25 percent’s median averages were:

  • 21 percent higher in productivity
  • 22 percent higher in profitability
  • 41 percent lower in quality defects
  • 37 percent lower in absenteeism
  • 10 percent higher in customer metrics (Gallup 2013)

Employees who feel engaged and connected are

  • 20 percent more productive than the average employee
  • 87 percent less likely to leave the organization (Corporate Leadership Council 2004)

Connected employees are not only happier but are high performers. Again research has shown that:

1. Employees who feel connected perform at the top of their game.

2. Employees who feel connected give their best effort and persevere.

3. Employees who feel connected align their behavior with organizational goals, so their business has more people pulling in the same direction

4. Employees who feel connected help improve the quality of decisions as they are prepared to speak up and share information.

5. Employees who feel connected actively contribute to innovation as they actively look for ways to improve the organization.  As a result, new products, services, processes, and businesses will arise

So the question is not can you afford to create and sustain a culture of connection, but rather can you afford not to. Your people drive your competitive advantage, so help them to help themselves to do so.

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 Steps for Creating Meaning

What can we do to make work a place people want to be?

Too often we look at work as a place we go to, and where we can be found from Monday to  Friday for eight to nine hours a day.  This perspective, although true for the workplace in times gone by, is no longer valid or useful today.

Work or Vocation

Amy Wrzesniewski of Harvard Business School carried out a study of cleaning staff in a hospital. She was surprised at how people the viewed the same job differently. Some saw it as way to provide a pay check to pay the bills, while others considered their work to be a true calling. The difference lay in whether or not a worker had strayed from their formal job description and become involved in meaningful interactions and relationships with patients and visitors. Those who had done this found greater meaning in their work.

As one of the workers explained to Wrzesniewski, “I do everything I can to promote the healing of patients. Part of that is about creating clean and sterile spaces in which they can recover, but it also extends to anything else I can possibly do to facilitate healing.” When these workers identified with being a part of the overall care team, it completely transformed their work and identity.

Transactional or Transformational Staff

The two approaches above highlight the differences in the relationship your organization can have with your staff.

  • Transactional – here the focus is on being paid to do the work. Typically you have employees who show up to punch a time clock and who give only a fraction of their energy and effort to the organization’s mission.
  • Transformational – here the focus between the employee and the organization is on the relationship. The employees see meaning in what they do, and the employees go over and beyond what they need to do as they see what they do as contributing to something that is greater than just what they do.

Work for More Than a Living

Gallup conducted research on this topic. When workers across the United States were asked whether their lives were better off because of the organization they worked for, a mere 12 percent claimed that their lives were significantly better. The vast majority of employees felt their company was a detriment to their overall health and well-being.

Transactional relationships make it easy for companies to work someone to the point of burnout, knowing they can hire the next person in line. Everything from organizational hierarchies to compensation structures sends a simple message: you are replaceable.

Organizations need to move from a transactional approach to a transformational approach. We want engaged staff. The reality is this: what’s good for an employee is in the organization’s best interest as well. If you show up for work fully charged, it increases your engagement and leads to better interactions with your colleagues and customers. This is good for your peers, the people you serve, and the long-term interests of the organization.

A 2013 study of more than 12,000 workers worldwide found that employees who derive meaning and understand the importance of their work are more than three times as likely to stay with an organization. Author Tony Schwartz described how this one element has “the highest single impact of any variable” in a study that looked at many elements of a great workplace. Meaningful work was also associated with 1.7 times higher levels of overall job satisfaction. All of this delivers valuable benefits to the organization including the bottom-line.

So What Can You Do

Make your work, and that of your colleagues and report, a purpose – not a place. Help them understand what the greater purpose of the organization is, how they contribute to it, and how they can determine their progress in doing so.  You need to repeat this message continually, and you know they have begun to get it when they can articulate it for themselves.  Make the message clear, consistent and concise in language that they can both understand and relate to. Look to catch people doing the right things, and publicise their success. Most of all be prepared to let go so that they can work in a way that can transform themselves and your organization in successfully serving your customers.

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.