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Full Steam Ahead!

December 1, 2010

It’s that time of year again! However well we’ve done on meeting this year’s targets, 2011 looms large. So what does next year look like for your business? What fresh initiatives are you dreaming up to add impetus to your efforts?

If you are finding the challenge a bit uninspiring, it could be that others in the organization can provide some fresh insights.  TPC’s Excellence Audit is designed to do exactly that.

In one recent audit, the boss of a manufacturing organization that has weathered the recession surprisingly well was keen to build on the year’s success. He instinctively felt that he was getting moderate rather than excellent levels of commitment. As well as his executive team colleagues, he chose a broad range of people that he trusted from right across the organization, and asked them to complete the audit.

His data pointed him squarely at specific aspects of leadership in which he and his executive team were found lacking; in particular people questioned whether innovation and innovators were valued, and did not feel enough effort was put into their development

Here are some of the verbatim comments which put a bit more relief around their survey scores:

  • “Our Function doesn’t encourage us to think about self-development. This makes it hard to stay self-motivated.”
  • “Leaders give too much time to day to day and operating stuff (they generally “do” too much). A way should be found to dedicate more time to strategy, tactics and implementation around people”
  • “Although management gives the sales force the impression that they do not trust them, the salesforce has a very, very high level of self-motivation. Management should be happy having such persons.”
  • “Not everyone currently demonstrates high commitment. I see that we have departmental thinking and it seems that different goals among Functions reduce commitment.”

These audit results sparked a lively debate amongst the executive team. We discussed reward and recognition and whether their moderation in these areas was stifling innovation. We also debated their conservatism around investing in people; what kind of message was that giving about the confidence they had in people?

We went on to discuss how to incorporate the survey findings into their plans for the year. Times are difficult, and there is not much spare money around, but it turns out there is a lot that can be done at very little extra cost;) Here are just three of the decisions the team made:

  1. They will choose a small number of projects and use them as development for their people; invitations will go to people who don’t normally get considered, and they will encourage the team to be creative and come up with ideas outside of the norm.
  2. They will target themselves on regularly finding and acknowledging individual acts of excellence.
  3. They will host a meeting of all the survey participants to discuss the results of the ExAud and to make a commitment to act on the feedback. Who knows what else will surface as ideas for improvement from that meeting?

So, one way or another, next year’s plans will definitely have a different flavor.

How does 2011 look to you? What is going to be different about the plans you are making?

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