A classic case of win-win. This morning, as I booked a courier online, I noticed the option to select ‘drop at post office’. Clever – I don’t have to wait in tomorrow for the collection, the parcel is on its way a day earlier, and the courier has one less pick up in his already busy day. Everyone is happy.
This is just one example of how win-win solutions are woven into our day to day lives: look around you! The branded sports players providing the clothing companies with marketing; BBQ food discounted at the supermarkets in the hot weather; contractors rewarded with a bonus if they complete a project on time – I am sure you can think of many more examples, which show how advantageous a truly beneficial supplier-customer/ business-business partnership can be.
One of Schroder’s High Performance Leadership Behaviours is ‘Influence’ and it can be very powerful, having a positive impact on individual, team or organisational performance.
So what is influencing?
- It is the art of developing ideas and solutions that are mutually beneficial.
- The ability to affect another’s attitudes, beliefs or behaviours.
- Persuading without using exertion or force of formal authority.
- Allowing the ‘influencee’ to believe that they are acting in their own best interests.
What are the benefits?
- Strategic alliances, joint goals and shared interests which foster a positive climate of co-operation rather than domination or imposition.
- It builds confidence and excitement for the project or goal
- The formation of alliances to ensure long-term buy in.
- Socialised power (as opposed to centralised around one or a few people).
How to Influence?
- Define the situation and identify the goal.
- Identify who needs to be influenced and determine what makes them tick. The High Performance Behaviour ‘Empathy’ plays a key part here as it is vital to find out what is really important to the other party.
- With this knowledge the next step is to work out the most appropriate way to get their buy-in, and to know which skills or behaviours are best to employ: reason, friendliness and bargaining are primary strategies. Back up strategies include assertiveness, higher authority, coalition or sanctions.
“Work today gets done in an environment where people don’t just ask “What should I do?” But “Why should I do it?” To answer this question effectively is to persuade.” Harvard Business Review
Empathy and Influencing are two of the behaviours that we rate and coach at my360plus. For some more information please contact us.
At a conference recently the speaker was Sir Howard Davies, who we hear about most often as the Chairman of the UK Airports Commission, looking at options for Heathrow, Gatwick and Boris Island.
In the 1990s he was also a Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, sitting on the Monetary Policy Committee which sets interest rates.
He is a hugely informed and engaging speaker, and he certainly didn’t hold back from voicing his opinions on the current direction of the Bank of England, his former employer. He was particularly critical of aspects of the policy of ‘forward guidance’, where the new Governor, Mark Carney, has committed to give advanced warning of any future changes of interest rate.
He wasn’t so critical of the idea of giving advanced warning in principle, but rather the measure chosen: the bank has stated that interest rates would need to rise when the employment rate falls below 7%.
Davies’ view was that employment rate was a very poorly chosen measure for this purpose. He stated that historically the Bank of England has been very poor at predicting this rate. (Indeed this has turned out to be the case in the early months of the policy.) By very publicly hanging the policy on only one notoriously tricky measure the Bank, in his view, has made a grave error.
Listening to this it highlighted the importance of how essential it is for leaders to choose the right control measures to track and to steer their businesses by. This behaviour is called ‘Quality Measurement’.
Quality Measurement is one of the leadership behaviours that we rate and coach at my360 plus. It is a behaviour that has a proven direct correlation to performance. There is a specific focus on measuring things that lead to better value for the customer, and therefore greater long term organisational success.
Here are some of our ‘top tips’ to help improve your Quality Measurement:
- What can you do to better monitor the current project or work you are doing?
- How can you make sure you are making progress?
- Do you ensure individual, team and divisional objectives are regularly set?
- How can you improve the monitoring of your activities over the coming week, month and three months?
- What will success look like from this point over these time periods?
- How can you have a conversation with your key customers to understand how they really measure you?
- What can you change that will improve success against these measures?
- What are you measuring ‘because you always have’ that doesn’t really add any value?
- How might you replace these with measures that really matter especially to a customer?
- Do you value performance measurement – is it part of your everyday language?
I was just listening to the radio as they were discussing with bemusement a costly £40.6m blunder by French train operator SNCF. They have discovered that 2000 shiny new trains are actually too wide for many station platforms and subsequently work is now underway to chip away at the platforms so the trains will fit. Ouch.
Costly mistakes are fortunately quite rare, but an article by the BBC today discusses this SNCF tale of woe as well as some other embarrassing stories where a little error proved very expensive, or even fatal…you can read the article here.
I think my favourite is the story about how a bridge was built between Germany and Switzerland, but both nationalities used different benchmarks with relation to mean sea levels. Germany, for its part, measures height in relation to the North Sea, while Switzerland opts for the Mediterranean Sea. As two halves of a new bridge grew closer to one another, it became clear that, instead of being at the same height “above sea level”, one side was 54cm higher than the other!
One of the high performance leadership behaviours that we rate and coach is ‘information search’. The essence is that your information should be “rich and broad”. It is vital to gather a rich variety of information from many different sources about events, issues and situations occurring internally and externally to your environment. The importance of this behaviour should be ingrained throughout your organisation so that you always have a broad set of data in a continuously changing environment.
With this rich data at your fingertips, red faces can, hopefully, be saved!
My daughter is revising for her ‘A’ levels at the moment and I was struck by this colourful essay that I saw on the kitchen table – she had carefully studied the exam board marking scheme and had marked up her essay against each of the marking criteria to ensure she would maximise her grade.
This is a simple example of measuring the right things to maximise performance. As a high performance leadership behaviour we would call it ‘Quality Measurement’, which is all about making your measures outcome focused. This often includes setting interconnected goals, targets or measures to improve performance. Wherever possible in an organisational context, the focus is on making things better for the customer, whether they be external or internal. It is one of the leadership behaviours rated and coached in every my360plus profile.
What do organisations tend to measure?
Companies tend to measure what is easy to measure or what has traditionally been measured, without really considering whether the measures are appropriate and will help them towards their goal. Often, organisations have far too many measures, where reports are produced every month, but no one really reads them and very little action results from the review of the data produced.
Questions to consider when developing Quality Measurement:
- What can you do to better monitor the current project or work you are doing? How can you make sure you are making progress?
- How can you improve the monitoring of your activities over the coming week, month and three months? What will success look like from this point over these time periods?
- How can you have a conversation with your key customers to understand how they really measure you? What can you change that will improve success against these measures?
- What are you measuring (because you always have) that doesn’t really add any value? How might you replace these with measures that really matter, especially to a customer?
The key to Quality Measurement is to set meaningful measures that have a significant impact on your performance.
Let’s hope my daughter has pinpointed the correct measures for her exam success!
A County Council are looking to use smart meter technology to help look after frail and elderly people living on their own. It’s a great example of high performance Idea Creation
The my360plus ‘Idea Creation’ High Performance Behaviour is all about making connections and in particular coming up with bigger ideas that link simpler ones together. It often involves linking ideas from the wider environment to add real value to the task in hand. It is one of the behaviours rated and coached in every individual and team 360 development profile.
The council has responsibility for adult social care, including helping vulnerable elderly people in their communities. As well as the formal care they offer (visits from their care workers), they have realised that there is a wider network of support available, including neighbours willing to help out and charities who support the elderly in various ways. They realised that if they helped coordinate between these different groups, they could ensure more consistent care, and importantly reduce the gaps between visits. They now do this using coordinated SMS messages so that all ‘interested’ parties can keep informed and coordinate between themselves.
In a totally separate initiative, they are also working with the local power distribution company on the roll out of smart meters – electricity meters that report in very fine detail the power usage of households. They are using this data to help focus energy saving initiatives to poorer households with high energy use, thus reducing the overall level of fuel poverty in their area.
So far so good – two solid ideas – level 3 (basic high performance) Idea Creation behaviour, supported, as is often the case, by some wider Information Search.
But then came the level 4 (higher level) overarching idea.
What if you could (with full consent of the individual of course), monitor the electricity usage patterns of an elderly person living on their own, and flag any unusual breaks in that pattern using the text networks they had already established?
So imagine a vulnerable person living on her own with some supportive neighbours who pop in most days and keep an eye on her. She rises early each morning and puts on the electric kettle at around 5am. After a few days, this pattern is spotted by the system, and so if one day this spike in electricity usage isn’t seen at about that time, a text is automatically sent to the neighbour who can pop in and check all is ok. Smart, simple and effective.
There are lots of opportunities to use higher level Idea Creation behaviour, and it is a critical part of the my360plus ‘Think’ cluster, together with Information Search and Flexible Thinking behaviours. The key is to get in the habit of stepping back and making time to link information about apparently different topics to form powerful ideas and solutions. This skill of strategic thinking can form part of your 360 leadership development programme.
The article suggested that one reason for this reduction was better targeting of resources – fewer ‘random’ Police patrols (even though these are often called for by the public) and more focused attention on crime hotspots.
Interestingly, there was an example of some particularly effective information search in one project in Cardiff. Police worked with the local A&E ward to obtain anonymised postcode and time-of-admission data for victims of violent crime.
They were surprised just how this different this was compared to the reported incident data, probably as a result of the lack of willingness to report this type of crime to the Police.
This enabled them to identify ‘hotspots’ (and ‘hot’ times) so they could target the limited Police resources available. This brought about a considerable reduction in violent crime and injury.
The key to effective information search is to seek broad information beyond the obvious needed to complete the task at hand. Usually this requires a bit of lateral thinking when planning your information search. It also helps if you think about non quantitative data that might be available, such as how people ‘feel’ about a situation.
So the next time you reach for some data, have a think about how you can broaden your search. Research shows that this is key starting point for great planning and strategic thinking development.
Vary what you read and who you talk to – you never know where the next nugget of information will come from. Information Search is one of the 12 high performance behaviours that my360plus measures and coaches as part of its focus on leadership talent development. Like all the High Performance Behaviours, it is empirically proven to help you thrive and survive in increasing change and complexity. Get in touch to find out more.
Of course there can be perfectly good reasons, as anyone working in retail can tell you, but in many sectors the self-imposed ‘barrier’ is rarely challenged.
It’s a great example of the negative incarnation of the high performance behaviour Proactivity, where people resist or stop others taking action if it breaks the norm or is not ‘what is normally done round here’.
The Proactivity Behaviour is all about getting around or overcoming barriers that have been created by cumbersome processes, bureaucracy or inertia to change. It is key to positive change and getting things done. It sits in the ‘Do’ cluster of the Schroder High Performance behaviour framework and is one of the 12 high performance behaviours that my360plus measures and coaches as part of its focus on leadership talent development. Like all the High Performance Behaviours, it is empirically proven to help you thrive and survive in increasing change and complexity.
So next time you hear ‘let’s wait until after Christmas’ – challenge those who say it – especially if it’s you!
The reason is that many 360s have statements that ask the observer to ‘rate’ a particular quality in the delegate. For example observers might be asked, “Please rate this statement on a scale from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’: John makes clear presentations”. In simple terms, the observer is asked to state how good they think someone is at something.
The problem is that this creates a very subjective comparison in the observer’s mind. If the observer is a great presenter and they consider the delegate to be good, but not quite as good as themselves, there is a tendency for the observer to disagree with the statement – ie to imply the delegate does not make clear presentations.
It works the other way round, too. An observer who is appalling at making presentations may select ‘strongly agree’ for someone who is an average, but not outstanding presenter, but who they consider to be better than them. They’re therefore implying the delegate is better at making clear presentations than they really are. In neither case do we get an accurate picture of the delegate’s true ability.
Of course a range of other factors can also influence how one person rates another – hierarchy, personal agendas, grudges, fear, embarrassment and friendship are just a few. But they all make it hard for a 360 degree feedback tool to reveal robust, useful data.
my360plus is different. Using the objectively-defined Schroder framework, it asks ‘how frequently’ the observer sees a very particular behaviour. For example, “How often do you observe Fred facilitate discussions to ensure everyone has the opportunity to contribute?”
They are asked to rate on a scale of ‘Never seen’ to ‘Always seen’. This approach makes the feedback from my360plus much more objective and therefore more accurate.
Ratings (‘Strength’, ‘Developing Strength’, ‘Limitation’ etc) are then created by assessing how consistently all the observers report seeing that particular behaviour at its variously-described levels. And as the Schroder behaviours have been shown in multiple studies to correlate with superior performance, we also know we are creating ratings about behaviours that actually matter when it comes to performance.
The result? Far more accurate and meaningful 360 feedback which creates more value and gives proper value for money.