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.

Why Is Coaching Becoming More Popular?

Why Is Coaching Becoming More Popular?

What is driving the uptake of coaching, and what are its benefits?

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Organizations are increasingly using coaching as a means by which to grow and growthandsupportdevelop their people and businesses. What is driving this growth?

For one thing, the ever-increasing pace of change requires organizational leaders to develop quickly, and in the context of their current jobs. Traditional training programs are often set up to train or educate large numbers of people, but not to focus on a specific individual’s development needs. Coaching offers an individualized development option without removing leaders from their work.

Second, the war continues for leadership talent. As the hunt to find and retain talent intensifies, many companies have viewed coaching as a way to compete in the marketplace to attract and retain that talent.

Third, organizations find that the feedback gained through coaching seems to stick better, and leaders liked the opportunity to work with an unbiased external professional. More leaders, as well as many intact teams, have found the coaching process helpful for their development—and as leaders grew as executives, they look to develop their reports and cascade the coaching process to them in turn.  This creates leverage and synergies over and above those realized from just coaching the leaders.

Coaching is used to assist high-potential or high- performing leaders, rather than those experiencing performance problems. Today, name-brand organizations such as Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart, and Unilever have large managed coaching programs serving countless executives and use pools of highly-screened coaches, in all parts of the world.

Coaching is also moving internally, with many organizations using external coaches to train internal practitioners to coach their leaders. This approach is especially useful for companies who view their organizational culture as highly unique, and are looking to build this into their culture and develop the necessary in-house capabilities.  Internal coaching is most frequently being implemented at the mid-manager and first-line supervisor level.  External coaches remain the most popular solution for executives.

Organizations are also increasingly looking to create a coaching culture. Companies are training their leaders to better coach others in work-related situations. As more organizations understand the results of coaching, they are offering leader-as-coach training.

The benefits include one-on-one focused development, specialized personal learning, confidentiality, and personal accountability for improvement. In addition, coaching provides leaders the opportunity to develop individual capabilities faster than most instructional programs can, and in areas where training programs do not exist.

So, coaching is becoming more important and intrinsic to developing a successful organization.  External coaches are increasingly used to assist in the development and retention of senior executives and leaders, whilst working with their reports to develop leaders-as-coaches and assist in the creation of a coaching culture.  This builds the capabilities and bandwidth to grow and develop their people and businesses, and helps organizational leaders to develop quickly against a backdrop of an ever-accelerating rate of change.

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

How to Hire for Attitude, Not Just Aptitude

How attitude is a good predictor of prospective employee success, and how you can identify those with the right attitude for your business.

The top challenge for CEOs according to a survey from the Conference Board (January 2013) is Human Capital – the ability to develop and acquire the right people, with the right skills needed to take the business to the next level.  But skills alone are not enough.

“Hire for Attitude, Train for Aptitude”

This is an old mantra which, if ignored, can be costly.  Companies I have worked with have found that recruiting people with the right skills can be costly if they do not have the right ‘attitude’, where there is a lack of ‘fit’.  This is reflected in a study by Leadership IQ of over 20,000 new hires over 3 years which found that 46% of the people about to be hired will fail within the first 18 months on the job. And they won’t fail for lack of skills but rather for lack of attitude.

Top 5 Reasons for Why New Hires Failed

The following are the top areas of failure (i.e., were terminated, left under pressure, received disciplinary action or significantly negative performance reviews):

  • Coachability (26%): the lack of ability to accept and implement feedback from bosses, colleagues, customers and others.
  • Emotional Intelligence (23%): the lack of ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, and accurately assess others’ emotions.
  • Motivation (17%): insufficient drive to achieve one’s full potential and excel in the job.
  • Temperament (15%): attitude and personality not suited to the particular job and work environment.
  • Technical Competence (11%): functional or technical skills required to do the job.

The key point from this is that when new hires fail, and 46% of them will, 89% of the time it’s because of attitude and only 11% of the time because of skill.

As such, the key predictor of a new hire’s success or failure is their attitude, not their skills.  As such we need to be clear on what attitude we are hiring for. To do this requires two steps:

  • Define the Specific Attitudes – what are the attitudes that make your business different from the rest.  This is both in terms of what is good (which you want) and what is bad (which you want to avoid).
  • Adapting the Hiring & Interviewing Process – you need to make sure that you focus on these attitudes, so adapt how you do this as appropriate.

How Do We Do This?

Define the Specific Attitudes

Attitudes in themselves are not visible or tangible.  Where they are made apparent is in people’s behaviors.  How people behave is an active display of their attitudes.  Their behavior should also be a reflection of the business’ core values which provides guidance to people in the business.  A good example of how the core values are made tangible, and the expected behavior (and hence attitudes) is shown below.

The US Marine Corp

The US Marine Corps has Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.  The concept of these core values runs throughout all aspects of Marine life, beginning in recruit training and continuing into combat. These “warrior ethos” provide guidance to Marines in difficult ethics situations and as a reminder to provide good order and discipline. These values are defined as:

  • Honor – integrity, responsibility and accountability.
  • Courage – do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons.
  • Commitment – devotion to the Corps and my fellow Marines.

Adapting the Hiring & Interviewing Process

Too often, when interviewing, we focus on prospective employees’ technical skills and competencies.  Why?  They are the easiest to assess but, as we have seen, they are a very poor predictor of the success or failure of a new employee.

When you look at jobs being advertised the experience, skills, and qualification that are detailed it can be seen that the business advertising the position has the expectation that a perfect candidate will apply.  This is about as far from reality as you can get.  Realistically, there is no ‘perfect candidate’ and, as such, there can only be attitudes that are right for your business – they will never be perfect.

Tests for Finding the ‘Right’ Attitudes

  • High Performers’ Test – what are the distinguishing attitudinal characteristics of your top performers.  List up to 10 responses that reflect your business.  For example:
    • They own the problem.
    • They always see problems as opportunities.
    • They are great listeners and communicators.
    • Etcetera.
  • Low Performers’ Test – what are the distinguishing attitudinal characteristics of your low performers.  List up to 10 responses that reflect your business.  These are not just the opposite of the attitudinal characteristics that make a high performer. For example:
    • They avoid responsibility and are quick to blame.
    • They focus on themselves rather than others.
    • They do the bare minimum work required.
    • Etcetera.

Once you’ve got your two lists, conduct a quick assessment to make sure every point is on target. This can be done by asking yourself the following two questions about each attitude listed:

  • How does this attitude add value or competitive advantage to this organization? (If the attitude brings no benefit to the organization, it doesn’t belong on the list).
  • Who cares about this attitude? (If the attitude doesn’t bring benefit to your customers, it doesn’t belong on the list)

Doing this provides insight into both what you want and what you don’t want in the terms of attitudes and the associated behaviors.  It then helps you to prepare for the interview by focusing on how they respond to questions around both these areas.  However, how the questions are phrased is just as important as what the question is.  You need to develop the question with the kind of response that you are looking for in mind.  But that is a separate article.

In summary, be clear on what values, attitudes and behaviors you want in your business, and which you want your new employees to exemplify in what they do and how they do it.  Get clarity by distinguishing the attitudinal characteristics of both your top and low performers – this helps you to identify what you want from a potential employee, and what you don’t want.  Around this then adapt your interview and hiring process to ask the kind of questions that will help you elicit answers which will help you determine the prospective employee’s values, attitudes, and behaviors.  Take this into account when you look at their technical skills, as it is their attitude that is a predictor of their skills – not their technical skills and competencies.

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,

Why You Should Measure HOW You Perform

Measuring Performance Doesn‘t Help! Measuring How You Perform Does!!

It is not what you do that matters, but how you do it that does!

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Significant effort, time and resources are spent by companies in assessing the Managing Performance 2current level of performance in order to be able to determine what we need to do to perform at the right level.  This focuses on the result.  This is backward thinking.  This is like managing for profit by measuring your profit.  Profit cannot be improved by managing profit, rather but by improving your revenues and costs.  So it is with performance.

To improve performance you need to understand what the three drivers of performance. Once we do so we can then start to analyse what we need to do to sustain or improve our performance

Andrew’s 3 Drivers of Performance

  1. Right People
  2. Right Tools
  3. Access to the Development of the Skills (Aptitudes) and Behaviours (Attitudes) Needed 3 Drivers of Performance

Right People

You want people who want to work for you, who are able to use their talents in the right role and find gratification and recognition in their work. Their values and approach match those of your business.

Right Tools

People need to have the necessary tools to enable them to do their work and to support them in doing so. For example, an architect needs to have the right software to design and develop buildings, the necessary space

Access to the Development of the Rights Skills & Behaviours

These are probably the most important drivers.  You may have the right people and the right tools, but it is the skills they bring to bear in doing the work, and their attitude they have to how they do their work, that will differentiate how they individually and collectively perform.

  • Skills – people have the necessary skills to do the work, or ability to learn the skills they need to be a high-performer.  This is the what of the work done.
  • Behaviours – this is the how of the work done.

You want people who have high-performing behaviours, that is the way they do their work creates synergies, opportunities and virtuous cycles – for example, they hold themselves accountable for their work, and look to remedy their own mistakes without being told and share lessons learnt with others.. You also want to ensure you don’t have people whose behaviours are those of low-performers (for example, they always find fault in others but never themselves, they are unable or unwilling to learn and develop (especially from their mistakes), they put their self-interests above those of the team etcetera).

Here you need to be able to provide access to the means by which people can develop the right skills for their job as their role and business conditions change, and to have the rights systems in place for recruiting, managing and developing the right behaviours – the high-performing behaviours which drive higher performance.

Next Steps

So stop measuring your performance in terms of what you have done – this is an end-result.  Rather, start measuring how you perform – look at how you have performed (or  failed to) in terms of each of these three factors, and how you can improve each factor both individually and in their interaction with each other.  Only by focusing on how you perform can you improve your performance.’

Look at your performance in terms of each of these three factors in term.  In doing so look at where you are performing now, and determine where you need to perform, and identify several strategies to help you bridge the gap. Look at how each factor interacts with the others, assess the gap in performance, and again identify several ways to bridge the gap. Once you have done this then identify the top three actions from the list you have created which, if you address first, will have the greatest impact on improving your performance.

Good luck and share your experiences here!

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

3 Ways to Help Change the Perceptions of Others

Perceptions of Business Growth – What is REALLY happening?

by  Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Is your business growing or not? Do you share the same view as your staff, your manager or your leaders?  How do you know if you do?  This article highlights the differences that exist, examines why they exist, and suggests ways to create a common understanding of the business’ growth potential and opportunity.

ImageA recent Australian study by Leadership Management Australia (June 2012) of over 2000 participants including Leaders, Managers and Non-Managerial Employees highlighted a major problem and disconnect facing business.  The perception as to whether their businesses were growing or not.

The Non-Managerial Employees firmly believed that their businesses were growing (71%) whereas Leaders and Managers have a considerably different outlook – with the belief that growth is declining. Only 47% of Leaders perceived their businesses as growing and 45% of Managers.  So what does this mean for business in dealing with the future?

An individual’s perception of a situation is their reality, no matter what you think.  It is how they ascribe meaning to a situation and is based on their beliefs, feelings, ideas and experience.  As such we are looking at how to overcome a clear difference of opinion and belief. Failure to do so can cause major problems between these groups.

So what can we do?

Firstly, the differences may be due to the time-scale that the respective groups look at the work of the business – employees focusing more on the immediate and short-term, managers for the mid- and short-term, and leaders for the mid- and long-term.  The longer the time-scale that you are working to the greater the level of uncertainty that you need to incorporate into your forecasts and plans.  We need to understand this.

Uncertainty comes from a variety of sources.  Externally to Australia there is growing uncertainty in relation to economic, environmental and even political conditions in a number of countries, whose ripples are being felt on Australia’s shores.  Within Australia there are internal uncertainties including the carbon tax and the mining tax which is exacerbated by a government suffering in the polls.

Secondly, employees need to understand the perspective of managers and leaders.  To do this the leaders and managers need to clearly and consistently communicate what the issues, opportunities and risks are and in doing so create trust.

Trust creates high-performing organisations (HPOs) and helps the business to achieve high revenues, profits and market share than low-performing organisations where trust is low.  These HPOs are also more effective at accomplishing their goals in critical areas including customer loyalty and retention; achieving predictable results; business agility and practicing innovation and creativity.

Thirdly, the business needs to actively engage employees in coping and dealing with these changes and engendering trust.  Key to this is establishing clear priorities and being able to cascade them to people so that they are meaningful, relevant and measurable; and building these priorities into their work creates alignment, traction and results.

To enable the business to grow requires more than leadership and good management.  It requires good communication, developing trust across and throughout the business, and the establishment of a commonly shared and understood perception of the business and its future growth. Creating this enables the business, holistically and at all levels, to engage proactively and develop opportunities and options for business growth.

Do you know how perceptions vary across your business and why?  What perception do you want to create for your business and how will you do it?  Share your ideas, experiences and examples of what has worked and what has not – ask your questions and let’s see what answers we can come up with.

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Risks of Conforming, The

Doing things with rigor takes effort, but not everything you put effort into is done with rigor. 

We often look at how hard we work as a measure of the quality of our work. But this is wrong. When you are looking at the quality of the outcomes you or your team produce you need to consider two elements:

  • Effort – how hard you work at getting the work done.
  • Rigor – how well you adhere to the process of getting the work done.

To be efficient and effective in your work you need to be high in terms of both the effort and the rigor which you apply.

An effort is focused on doing the best with the inputs (the tasks), it is about being efficient. Rigour is about focusing on the process of getting the work done, doing it consistently in the manner which has already been determined – this is about being effective.  You need to do both to produce long-term quality work outputs. As you can see in the matrix below the level of rigor and effort you make will largely affect your work outcomes.

The Rigor/Effort Matrix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Low Effort/Low Rigor – this is the worst situation where people, make little effort in getting the work done and when they do, they tend to do it in an ad hoc manner.  Processes and/or guidelines tend to be ignored, or not followed properly, and the work produced is poor quality, substandard, and costly (especially as work will need to be either redone or people in this quadrant will need a higher level of management oversight).
  • Low Effort/High Rigor – here people, make little effort in getting the work done, however, they do tend to follow the processes/guidelines that are in place.  So, although the work produced is of a suitable quality or standard, the work completed or produced does not meet expectations in terms of what need to be done or which has been planned.  Again this can result in further costs to the business as either more people are required to produce the necessary volumes, or those who are high producers are put under greater pressure as they pick up the slack.  This can lead to them being overworked, stressed and potentially more likely to want to leave for a less stressful job.  This can result in a business losing its best people and retaining the worst.
  • High Effort/Low Rigor – people make a lot of effort but do it in an ad hoc manner.  This can result in a lot of substandard or poor quality work being produced as they do not follow processes or guidelines. This can lead to a lot of waste, rework and may necessitate a lot of investment in quality control to try and manage the symptoms of low rigor.
  • High Effort/High Rigor – here people make a considerable effort, are engaged, and do good work on a consistent basis.  This produces great work for customers, improving customer retention, reducing costs, and improving revenue and profits.

Use this tool to assess where the individuals in your team are.  Assess their level of effort (1=very low, 10-very high), and the level of rigor they demonstrate (1=very low, 10-very high). From this plot them on the chart.

For each individual then determine where you want them to be and identify three actions that they can take that will help them bridge the gap.

So make the effort and be rigorous in doing it! Remember, doing things with rigor takes effort, but not everything you put effort into is done with rigor.

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.