Value our People More or Social Enterprise will be Lost

This is the title of an interesting post by Adrian Ashton over at Social Enterprise.

Adrian cites major problems with both pay and prospects with 60% of those working in the sector expecting to leave it within the next 5 years.

there are various strategies and policies around how social enterprise is going to save the world, but in all the hype and excitement we must be careful to remember that it can only do so if our people feel valued in doing so and we can retain them for the journey.

So social enterprises must join the ‘War for Talent‘.

At the heart of talent acquisition and retention is a single, simple question.  What is our winning Employee Value Proposition (EVP)?  What value can we offer employees that means they will join us, stay and develop their impact?

And this is where the social enterprise sector has a potential significant advantage over many for profits.  But an advantage that many social enterprises squander.

A social enterprise can offer meaning, purpose, authenticity (the chance to do what I am ‘meant’ to be doing, to express who I really am through my contribution – to do ‘good’ work) and impact.  It is not about pursuing profits but pursuing social justice.  About building a better world.  Make sure that you build this into your EVP and there will be no problem retaining top people – even if you are not paying top dollar.

But I see many social enterprises lose sight of their purpose.  They become more interested in writing finding applications than in the pursuit of social justice.  They will do whatever the funders ask them to – even if this makes them dependent and compliant.   Working in the best interests of the funder rather than in the best interests of those whom they are meant to serve.

If social enterprise is to have a future then managers and leaders in the sector must learn how to:

  • put the mission above managerialism
  • establish a balance between the demands of funders and the best interests of those whom they serve
  • give EVERY employee the chance to talk openly, honestly and regularly about what matters to them and how their role can be made more fulfilling

They need to become Progressive Managers.

18 tips for Better Partnership Working

I have just completed a 2 day workshop with a great group of partnership managers.  Here is what I learned!

  1. Get really clear and comfortable about your self interest. Your personal  reaction to the opportunities and possibilities offered in your role.
  2. Communicate this powerfully in language that the recipient will understand and value.
  3. Develop your professional self interest – the overlap between your individual/personal and professional/organisational response to what REALLY matters.
  4. Build your power to influence what really matters through investing in person to person relationships. Invest in a series of 121s. Share what really matters to you. Be clear on how they will perceive you.
  5. Use the allies/opponents/adversaries/fencesitters/bedfellows model to help you structure this.
  6. Become power hungry (why wouldn’t you want power to make what you believe in happen? Don’t leave power for the bad guys of this world to grab!)
  7. Building a powerful coalition around your ideas inside the business is as important as building one externally.
  8. Know your reputation – find ways to find what people REALLY think of you and your agenda – but are too polite to say!
  9. Don’t be busy fools. Work on the most powerful relationships. That is the relationships that give you the most power – this has little or nothing to do with the ‘authority’ power of the other party. Think leverage. Think goals.
  10. Think ‘enlightened self interest‘  and here.
  11. Ring fence thinking time – 2 lots of 90 minutes a week – to develop your agenda – rather than respond to the needs and agendas of others. This will increase your sense of control and reduce your levels of stress – as well as making you much more effective and creative. GUARANTEED.
  12. Agree on the ends.   Be different, challenging, creative and risky when it comes to the means. You don’t always have to play by the rules. Think Mandela.
  13. If you play by the rules of bureaucracy it will find ways of stifling change.
  14. Don’t let years of socialisation in being helpful and humble result in you being a selfless partner. Nobody wants to partner with Uriah Heep – but they may just take everything you have.
  15. Resist the safety of bureaucracy – maintenance, safety, dependency (external locus of control).
  16. Pursue the entrepreneurial way – greatness, courage and autonomy (internal locus of control).
  17. Don’t waste too much time and energy on the difficult people. Invest it in those who share your self interest – life is just better that way.
  18. Always take your own chalk and be cautious in your selection of cues….(this is not a mystical metaphor – just a statement of fact).

Anything I have missed?

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

Carl Jung

More on 121s

The real pupose of 121s is to build a relationship.

An honest, robust, respectful constructive relationship.

This takes time, effort, curiosity, courage, honesty and a degree of self disclosure.

An effective relationship helps us to understand self interest.  Ours and the self interest of each and every team member.

Once self interest is understood we are in a position to make agreements that work for all parties – to establish win wins.

It allows us to provide support, encouragement, development and opportunities that helps others become much more powerful and effective in their work.

“Raising someone up does not reduce your stature-it exalts you in ways you have to experience to believe.”

Ken Blanchard

Measuring Management

Managers spend much of their time measuring – market share, year on year sales, voids, arrears, return on investment, customer satisfaction, orders fulfilled, calls handled per hour, orders placed, orders fulfilled (again), total invoiced, hours billed, attendance, productivity per employee etc

Why the obsession with measuring stuff?

Because it gives us the data to recognise what has changed, what needs to change, and when we make the change – whether it has had the impact we planned.

But none of these metrics are about US – the manager.  They are all about the performance of the system and the people that we manage.  And this often lets us of the hook for making real change in the way we manage.

What if we measured some more personal aspects of our management efforts?

  • how much time we spend listening in 121 conversation with team members
  • how many times we give REAL feedback – affirmative and adjusting – each day/week
  • how often we make sarcastic or cynical comments
  • how many times we interrupt others mid-sentence
  • how often we check our blackberry in meetings
  • how often we talk about values and vision
  • the amount of time we spend in meetings that are inefficient or worse
  • how many coaching contracts we put in place with our team members
  • what percentage of coaching contracts achieved their goals
  • how many significant tasks we genuinely delegated (rather than then allocated) because they provide great development opportunities
  • percentage of working time allocated to pursuing key objectives
  • how often we acknowledge our own development opportunities and make planned conscious change in our behaviours

I am convinced that if we started to measure our own personal performance in relation to some of these more personal aspects of management, most of us would we would pretty quickly get some powerful data on what we needed to change.  Measurement would also pretty quickly confront us with the fact that our perceptions of our performance are markedly different from reality.

As we make planned changes based on measurements of our own personal behaviours we will soon see a very positive impact in some of the more traditional areas where measurement prevails.  The act of measurement itself would also increase the likelihood of planned changes being implemented and seen through.  That after all is perhaps the main reason why we measure.

To make sure that important things get done.

Another take on 121s

Dan McCarthy over at Great Leadership blog has written a piece giving his own take on 121s.

Finding Feedback Difficult? Try Feedforward!

Great and very simple exercise from Marshall Goldsmith designed to help you get seriously useful ideas for your professional development.

Name the area in which you wish to improve. – e.g. I want to be a better leader.

Tell someone, almost anyone  ‘I want to be a better leader‘.

Ask them for two ideas for things to do that would help you become a better leader.

After they have offered their suggestions – simply say ‘Thank you‘.  No discussions, no debate, no analysis – just ‘Thank you‘.

This should work brilliantly in 121s as a way of getting information on how you can improve.

Pluck up the courage to try it.  It works.

Could 121s be good for you too?

The modern world of virtual social networking and relationship through e-mail could be bad for your health.  And more face to face communication could be the antidote – according to Dr Aric Sigman writing in Biologist, the journal of the Institute of Biology.

According to Dr Sigman we have NEVER spent less time in face to face commuication with other people, and this has a number of profound and dmaging consequences for our health.

Evidence suggests that a lack of face-to-face communication could alter the way genes work, upset immune responses, hormone levels, the function of arteries, and influence mental performance.

This could increase the risk of health problems as serious as cancer, strokes, heart disease, and dementia.

121s – good for you – good for your organisation!

Ten Steps to Better Management

Step 1: Clarify, negotiate, and commit to your role as manager.

  • Many management jobs will have changed priorities in response to the current economy.
  • Check with your manager that you are doing what is best for the organisation.
  • Check with your conscience that you are doing what is best for you and your team.
  • Check that you are prepared to do the work that will help others to be outstanding.

Step 2: Understand the results you are expected to produce.

  • If you are to be recognised as an outstanding manager you need to know what excellence looks like.
  • At the moment you might be expected to drive costs down while producing more value.
  • Watch out for mediocrity. Expect excellence. Don’t let the current climate be an excuse to cut corners.

Step 3: Know your business.

  • Know what excellence looks like. Recognise the behaviours and habits that lead to it.
  • Recognise behaviours and habits that undermine it.
  • Understand the metrics that are relevant to your part of the business. Use them to get better.
  • Understand what your organisation needs from you – now.

Step 4: Build a great team.

  • Recruit, develop and retain people who will take responsibility and work independently – within parameters agreed with you!
  • To make sure you retain your best staff in difficult times talk to them – give them control – give them the chance to shape the organisation and their future in it.
  • Build a team that you can lead – not a flock that you have to herd.

Step 5: Ensure your team knows what excellence looks like.

  • Feedback, feedback, feedback.
  • Coach, coach, coach
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate
  • If you are not sure what constitutes excellence in your business – FIND OUT QUICKLY!

Step 6: Plan – with flexibility.

  • Review and revise plans on a weekly basis.
  • Expect progress on a weekly basis.
  • 121s are ideal for this.

Step 7: Get out of their way.

  • Help them to do great work.
  • Listen to them.
  • Understand what stops them from being great.
  • Get barriers out of their way.

Step 8: Be engaging.

  • Be positive and constructive.
  • Smile a lot.
  • Be energetic and hopeful.

Step 9: Proactively manage progress.

  • While change IS inevitable – progress is not.
  • Make sure that everyone knows what constitutes progress and has their own plan to make it.

Step 10: Leave a legacy: develop people and the organisation’s capacity to produce results.

  • better meetings
  • more focus
  • more knowledge and skills
  • more professionalism
  • better execution
  • higher standards

This post was inspired by Lisa Haneberg over at Management Craft.

Managing for an Entrepreneurial Culture

Organisations fall somewhere on the spectrum between bureaucratic and entrepreneurial.

The bureaucratic end of the spectrum is characterised by control, compliance and dependence.  Dependence on the boss to come up with the right plan at the right time. In the bureaucracy we do as we are told.  In the bureaucracy advancement comes from compliance and avoiding failure.

The entrepreneurial end is characterised by influence, innovation and autonomy.  Relationships are used to broker agreements about what the priorities are rather than waiting for top brass to decide.  Decision making is a much more even split between the front-line and management.  It is real-time rather than locked into a plan.  Advancement comes from understanding context and making the right calls for the business – not from playing it safe.

For me, 121s are all about shifting towards a more entrepreneurial organisational culture.  Where everyone is forced to think every week – “what are the priorities?”, “how do I feel about them” and “what support do I need to deliver on the things that really matter for the business”.

These are great questions to help people to stay in touch with what they are all about – and how that fits with the organisation and its mission.  And employees who are in touch with these things are likely to bring passion, creativity, energy and commitment to the workplace.

Performance Management, Performance Reviews and Appraisals

I was asked by a manager yesterday to help to clarify the difference between performance management and appraisal.  I don’t think I did a great job  so I thought I would try again!

Performance management is a system with four parts:

  1. Specify the desired level of performance for the thing you are trying to manage (people, programs, products or services)
  2. Measuring performance – collecting and recording reliable data, both quantitative and qualitative
  3. Using data to compare actual performance to what is desired – recognising gaps between what is desired and what highlighting –  variances
  4. Communicating performance information – to those that are most able to use it to make progress

Performance management can happen at a number of different levels:

  1. The performance of strategies and plans at the organisational level
  2. The performance of products, services and programs
  3. The performance of teams, department or units
  4. The performance of individual employees

A key task for a manager is to decide at which level an investment in performance management is most likely to pay off.  In my experience an investment in the performance management of individual employees drives improvements at the team, product/service and organisational levels.

Performance Reviews and Appraisals are a small but important part of good performance management at the level of the individual employee and the team or business unit.  When aggregated they can also provide powerful contributions to performance management at the organisational level.

However these ‘one-off’ annual interventions need to be supplemented by more frequent processes for measurement, monitoring and change to keep up with the dynamic context in which organisations operate.  These interventions would include:

  • 121s and quarterly reviews,
  • feedback,
  • coaching and
  • delegation.

Collectively these provide a manager with a powerful framework for the performance management of individuals and teams.  Few managers that I meet consistnelty use these intervnetions with rigour, conviction and compassion. As a consequence they are at best ‘mediocre’.  Without them the likelihood of real progress being made is small.  Putting these simple interventions into practice can transform mediocrity into excellence.

Measurement is central to performance management, but it is a double edged sword that has to handled skillfully.

“People revert to metrics out of fear, not out of vision.”

(Patrick Lencioni)

Measurement is often about the minimum requirements and rarely helps to articulate a grand design.  It tends to lead to reductionist thinking and may have little to do with the ‘high ground’ of excellence.

“Managers who don’t know how to measure what they want settle for wanting what they can measure.”

( Ackoff & Addison)

Most managers spend to little time considering what they expect from an excellent employee.

  • What would excellence look like?
  • How would I recognise it?
  • How would I ensure that excellence was contagious?

Even if managers do have a conception of excellence they rarely build in the time to collect the data and establish the working relationships necessary to achieve it.  Typically this means observing people at work, giving feedback, coaching and so on.  What Tom Peters referred to as ‘Managing By Wandering Around’.

Instead managers retreat to the easy, low ground of using what they can easily measure as a proxy for performance.  They become mole whackers.  Things that are difficult to measure are neglected, while things that are easy to measure become important.

Performance management is just a tool. It can be used to

  • move your agenda forward – what is your agenda? What does progress look like?
  • provide powerful messages about what matters – it doesn’t have to be precise, just influential – what are you trying to influence?