Thursday, 23 July 2015

#10 in How do we create a High Performance Culture?

Success = Having the Right People
“The success of an organization is dependent on the quality of its people and their commitment to excellence.” (Drucker)

It follows that to establish a high performing culture you have to be able to attract and retain the right people with the skills and character to take your enterprise forward. Of course, for organisations that are already “in the zone” it is far easier to find and keep people. They are known for being successful, having a positive culture supported by great leadership and management. But what if you are still trying to get there?

In this post I am going to talk about how you get the right people in the first place.

When the economy is growing good people with the right skills and abilities tend to be in short supply. Those in jobs, having gravitated towards good companies, are not looking to move (why would they?) and the small number of the candidates you want will look at well-known companies with a record of success. So what can you do when you are still on the road to success and at first glance do not seem to have much to offer? Traditional advertising, either in the media or on line, is not hugely successful. The result is often expensive, but wasted, effort getting CVs from pretty unappealing candidates often via seemingly expensive recruitment agencies.

One frequently underutilised and misunderstood approach is Search, or “Headhunting” as it is sometimes known.

Headhunting is usually perceived as a method only used by big companies to find top level executives via some mythical black book kept by a hugely expensive consultant sitting in plush offices in London! The reality could not further from this.

Search is research – it’s the process of selecting the environment within which the sort of person you are after might be found, identifying the actual potential candidates and making direct contact with them. This provides the opportunity to have a conversation as even well settled individuals are usually curious, you have connected to their ego and so will have that initial chat. Then it is possible to explain in far more detail what you have to offer than can be conveyed in a job ad. Following this process will invariably lead to the person you are after.

In over twenty five years of “headhunting” I have used this approach to find sometimes quite junior people, but with specialist skills and knowledge, for small companies without it costing the earth. Design Engineers, Flavourists and a Head of Retail in Italy are just a few of the roles where Search has worked when conventional advertised recruitment has failed. The cost – a lot less than not having somebody or employing the wrong person!!

So there you have it. To succeed you need the right people and sometimes that means adopting an unconventional approach to getting them. Headhunting is not just for the big boys!

(In my next post I’ll talk more about how you select the right people from your short list of great candidates to help build a great team - and keep it!) 


Thursday, 16 July 2015

#9 in How do we create a High Performance Culture?

Leadership. What is it?
If you look back at my first blog, I asked the question, “Do you belong to a High Performance Culture?”

I asked if you were a manager or a coach.
Now, for me one of the key characteristics of a leader is that they are a coach

Over the past decade a phrase has entered the HR lexicon of management speak - Authentic Leadership. It is a concept introduced by management expert Bill George in his 2003 book "Authentic Leadership" and developed further in the later book "True North." George describes authentic leadership as a leadership style that is consistent with a leaders' personality and core values, and that is honest, ethical and practical. (My emphasis)

Thursday, 9 July 2015

You’re probably getting the results your processes are designed to deliver.

I see it every day, in all walks of life – good people giving their all but not producing the kind of outcomes they, or anyone else, wants. Are they happy in their work? Of course not, most carry on and do their best simply because they care; they achieve what they do in spite of, not because of “the system”.

Adding insult to injury are those who, when looking for changes, focus on people – often by adding more targets and measures and then castigating those who “fail” to achieve them. The system is sacrosanct, “we have always done it this way” or “that is the way it has been decided”. People, however, are not responsible for the system in which they work, if the system is not fit for purpose then they cannot succeed. Deming1 summed it up nicely;

“A bad system will beat a good person every time”

Thursday, 25 June 2015

#8 in How do we create a High Performance Culture?

Keep it Simple, S...

In #7 I said “Keep it simple”, and I really do mean that!

What is it that we do in business day by day, week by week, month by month?

We do stuff, we look at the results, decide if they are what we want or expected and if not, see why not, decide what to do about it and carry on.

Of course the secret is in first having a workable plan, being able to put it into effect, know what results we should be able to anticipate and be able and willing to change if necessary.

The fact is we all too often think of Process Management, Process Improvement, Quality Assurance/Management, Compliance, Performance Management, Strategy Execution etc. as different topics when they are really all part of the same circle.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Task Management Tools versus Project Management Solutions: A Practical Guide

Task Management Tools versus Project Management Solutions
The abundance of online task management tools is both a blessing and a curse. Gone are the days of scrabbling around for the last functional whiteboard pen, or endless email chains chasing up rogue colleagues for their input. These tools have the potential to simplify, synchronise and speed up team tasks, crucial factors which contribute to a project’s ultimate success or failure. However, there are so many variations of these tools that choosing the right one for your needs is fraught with risks.

To make this choice much, much easier, ask yourself one basic question: Am I looking for help with task management, or project management?

Carol Crummey’s ‘Dangers of Confusing Task Management with Project Management’ tackles this conundrum. As she explains, whilst tasks are the ‘building blocks of projects’, not all tasks on your to-do list contribute towards a project. That’s why it’s important to differentiate between task management and project management tools.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Mastering Strategy Execution

Succesful strategy execution or strategy implementation is essential for the success of any organization. The successful implementation of strong and robust strategies gives any organization a significant competitive edge. However, most organizations fail at strategy execution. Strategy execution is highly complex and hard. The strategic management literature has traditionally focused on strategy formulation when the real challenge lies in strategy execution.

Monday, 27 April 2015

#7 in How do we create a High Performance Culture?

Top Performing Companies Make Strategy Live

Research has shown that Strategy Execution is the top priority for CEOs.

So how do we make a strategy really come to life and have a realistic chance of success?

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Which Types of Goals Are Worth Measuring, And Which Aren't?

Goals ain't goals. There's not really a single and definitive application of this word. And one messy consequence of this is that when we go to measure our goals, we can end up with very trivial and useless measures.

Here are four basic types of goals: actions, milestones, targets and results. I've seen all four used in strategic and business plans. And the amount of frustration people have with the meaningfulness of their performance measures is directly related to which type of goal they are setting.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Leading Performance Without a Title

Modern-day wisdom says that nothing changes without leadership from the top. And that's the excuse many give for not pursuing the changes they know are desperately needed. Performance measurement is one of these changes that is desperately needed, but rarely driven from the top.

Despite this modern-day wisdom, there is overwhelming evidence in support of the idea that anyone can be a leader, no matter their title or position or education or connections.

Let's hold this to be true. Let's explore what it might take to lead a performance measurement culture from deep within the bowels of your organisation, where right now you might be suffocating and stumbling around in the dark, waiting for the senior leadership team to open the doors and switch on the lights.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Managing risks and controlling costs, it’s a question of culture.

Risk, according to one dictionary definition, is

“The possibility of suffering harm or loss”.

Failing to manage risk hits the bottom line; contrary to widely held opinion there is no conflict between managing safety and quality and maintaining profitability. Relying on regulation, supervision and box ticking is extremely expensive and is not wholly effective; it is the decisions that people take “at the coal face” that affect results, and corporate culture and management behaviours influence those decisions. As Aristotle succinctly observed in 300BC,

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”