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?
The result is usually a ‘deficit’-based approach where, at best, equal weight is given to strengths and weaknesses; at worst weak areas are highlighted. Without guidance the weaker areas are what people end up focussing on.
However, a deficit-base approach really is wasted effort – and therefore wasted money.
When being given the results of any psychometric intervention, it’s human nature to go straight to what you are ‘no good at’. Immediately that’s where we direct our attention which means there’s less energy or time left to focus on our stronger attributes. This is so demotivating. 360 feedback should be a positive experience – a chance to understand where our strengths lie and to further enhance our strengths.
The reality is human beings are hardly ever good at everything. But it is extremely powerful to understand what we are good at because we can then put those strengths to work for us to create the greatest impact on performance.
My360plus is a strengths based 360 that uses the Schroder framework which focuses on a person’s strengths. If we are already good at a behaviour – or are starting to develop a strength in that behaviour – research shows that a) we will tend to use that behaviour more frequently and b) we will get better results. Therefore the my360plus approach is to recognise your strengths – and play to them. Develop them even further perhaps.
If by contrast we focus on developing a behaviour where we are weaker, it may be some time before we are competent enough to use that behaviour at a level at which we can make any significant positive impression on performance. All that effort… for an average performance. Much better to put that effort into an area where you already make a positive impact and see your performance really go through the roof! Now THAT is enough to energise and motivate anyone – and never mind what it can do for the overall bottom line.
All the Schroder behaviours used in the my360plus framework can be developed, but people will find some behaviours easier to develop than others. And clearly we have to consider the payback an individual, team or department will get for their developmental efforts.
It is true that any ‘limitations’ in a person’s profile, ie the negative incarnation of a behaviour where the limiting behaviour has a detrimental effect on a person or performance, should be stopped as soon as possible. But if a profile shows a behaviour is simply ‘not developed’ it doesn’t mean it is immediately necessary to start developing it. It may be more effective (in terms of time, effort and results) to focus on developing Developing Strengths into Strengths, or a Strength into a Strategic Strength.
Here’s a question though: what if an individual really NEEDS a particular high performance behaviour for their role… and it is not a Strength? Well, if they have a Developing Strength in the behaviour, working on it to make it a Strength should be their focus. But if the behaviour is Not Developed or has a Limitation, perhaps that person is in the wrong role…