Articles

Business Execution: Creating a culture of superior performance

Today business environment requires companies that act and not mired in endless strategizing. It is common knowledge that even with the greatest of all strategies, a company   would not success unless it executes well. Superior performance requires embracing those capabilities that are most essential to the realization of its strategy.

High performance is a result of both the usage of capabilities and core competencies by an organisation. Organisational capabilities represent the missing link between strategy and action. They broadly refer to social competencies like individual leadership abilities in setting direction, vision, mobilizing individual commitment, diversity and   leveraging organizational team work among others. These are mostly at the individual level. At the organizational level these will be defined as core competencies which may include adaptability, risk management, abilities in logistics as well as an organizational speed when working across functional geographical boundaries as needed elements. Core competencies also emphasise the technological and production expertise at specific points along the value chain. Core competencies put simply are the combination of individual technologies and production skills that underlie a company’s myriad product lines. What then distinguishes a business from another is not its focus on capabilities only but on both dimensions. Although the two are different they are complimentary elements of corporate successful strategy execution.

Capabilities are more broadly based encompassing the entire value chain and are visible to customers in a way that core competencies rarely are. Together with these, is a need for a compelling financial partnership that draws superior employees to the business which will reinforce performance expectations associated with their roles. These will then compel employees to stay and drive sustained success.

Organizations need to align closely with its strategy especially as it changes constantly to suit the new market demands. This is an imperative for superior performance. Strategic leaders need to know how to galvanize their teams around clear visioning while empowering them to assume a stewardship approach to their roles. Employees constantly need to be given a clarity of outcome for which they are responsible and feel a sense of partnership. Employees knowing their priorities and what is expected of them are clearly prerequisites to a sustained culture of super performance. Doing so nurtures a “WE ARE IN THIS ALL TOGETHER” attitude. This is where imperatives like employee engagement matters because they are critical for the success of any business. Cognitively engaged employees are aware of the impact of their roles in the business overall goals. They go an extra mile especially when they feel they have ownership of their work.

Creating a culture of superior performance requires businesses that are wealth multipliers who go beyond just wealth creation where primarily shareholders benefit from the company success. They work on enlarging the opportunities for their workforce also so that they enjoy the fruit of the company growth. They show commitment to standards of performance that they believe will have a positive impact on their customers, employees and communities in which they operate.

Pay strategies are another capability that help to communicate and reinforce to employees what is important for success. Effectively designed reward strategies create greater focus and they are precursor to execution. Superior performance results from an organization creating value on its market on a sustained basis. Once these are in place, a business is then set for a growth trajectory. Sustaining this supremacy calls for businesses that acts as a magnet to premier talent as well as creating an employer brand that every employee wants to be associated with. Organizations working on a culture of superior performance essentially have equitable and competitive pay structures. This ensures remuneration is commensurate with one’s contribution and skills set.

Other drivers to continual superior performance include adaptability in the face of face of change. Consistent growth requires businesses to adjust to a dynamic and competitive environment. Successful and best organisations of today are able to adapt quickly, they are agile, flexible and responsive. Capitalising on opportunities more quickly than competitors is also a critical executive skill of the age of superior performance. Fluidity where businesses get rid of old performance management systems opting for mentoring and coaching which keep their workforce and management engaged in an ongoing constructive dialogue area must.

Effective decision making is also a needed capability. Organisations that make better and faster decision and execute them consistently outperform those that don’t. Organizational self-assurance is the ultimate competitive advantage.

In conclusion, strategic plans maybe leather- bound blueprints, but will only remain plans. It will take the whole team to understand the why of an organization’s existence and their role in attaining that mandate. An equal investment to planning must be expunged to sell the strategy to all employees and reach NASA strategy integration with all employees. A janitor was asked by the then US president what his role at NASA was, and he jovially answered, “I’m helping put a man on the moon!”

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at www.proservehr.com

What really affects accountability in organisations

Accountability is defined as a personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and to demonstrate the ownership necessary to achieving the key results. Often accountability is confused with responsibility yet the two are separate roles. Accountability gives assurance that organizations are willing to be evaluated by stakeholders on their responsibilities, actions and behaviors. Accountability clearly is crucial to workplace success and without accountability organizations’ future and current goals are jeopardized.

The cancer in most organizations especially during times of economic recession is the “them” and “us” mentality. This is a cliché in most organizations which has resulted in blame games with no one taking ownership of anything and willing to go the extra mile. Oftentimes as leaders we complain about employees’ lack of accountability, but such problems are more likely due to lack of responsibility as the leadership. Once leadership shows signs of disengagement during challenging times this will result in the majority of the workforce not wanting to rise above these circumstances. Leaders must send clear and unequivocal messages to the team and show by example that achieving organizations’ goals is every team members’ responsibility.

Accountability in leaders requires a mental shift in the workplaces. Leadership needs to make positive choices/ decisions that they act upon. Employees need to feel empowered to make decisions within their role parameters to encourage accountability. Leaders, when we demonstrate accountability, we become an inspiration to others to exude the same traits.

When leaders embrace accountability to change those unfavorable circumstances in organizations productivity increases as teams view this as a commitment to overcome and achieve. However, we need to be cognizant that the key number one factor to change is yourself. If we are to continually think the little benefits realized by the organization should be for the top echelons only, then clearly, we are far from being accountable. With this approach winning with people remains a fad. Why, because for leaders to win with people there is need to celebrate success with the team.

It is also true in the world of truism that one cannot give what they do not have. This may mean that as a leader you are only able to take a person as far as you have gone yourself. This is precisely why developing accountability in leaders and even in employees remains the biggest challenge for most leaders. Leaders who do not know their values, resultantly breed unaccountability. Organizations are suffering from accountability challenges because leadership lacks it, do not believe in it hence fail to practice it.

In this game, being accountable has nothing to do with your level of confidence or the amount of salary you get – no its your value. What personal value do you embrace as a person? Who you are is the greatest asset you will ever possess. Lack of discipline in leaders is cited as another challenge to accountability. Once your personal values are integrated with corporate values, disciple follows as one tries to achieve desired outcomes. Disciple in itself can lead to accountability for leader because no matter how much power and authority they have they will demonstrate ownership.

Communication gap can be another contributing factor. Employees have witnessed leaders at all levels in organizations that do not respond to communication and starve the team of information. Meaningful communication inspires positive attitudes towards work. Some managers set unclear priorities yet successful enterprises need major objectives to act as beacons that guide all. Low morale can manifest due to lack of accountability in a variety of ways, but it normally stems from inadequate and ineffective communication. Accountable leaders make the workplace a more collaborative and authentic space where employees feel respected hence there is need to learn to communicate more effectively and often.

Disengaged employees fail to connect their day to day work with the organization key results. Usually where there is a gap between desired and the critical, it is only positive accountability that bridges it. In trying to bridge this gap avoid punitive and reactionary measures. Positive accountability champions individuals and teams recognizing them for their good work and encouraging everyone to work together to hit performance targets. A low level of trust contributes to negative relationships among colleagues and across the organization.

In conclusion, once we commit to accountability as organizations, we will make well informed decisions whose consequences we will try to anticipate. High organization expectations drive leaders to inspire their teams and when you know others are taking their lead from you; accountability ceases to be a choice. It is accountability that keeps our focus on customer satisfaction, staff engagement and the need to continuously improve. Leaders today should know that accountability creates a culture of trust and engagement and exceptional performance hence the need for effective practices and mindset change.

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at www.proservehr.com

Tips for setting organization goals

In business unless there are definite, precise and clearly set goals, there is no way a business will realize the maximum potential that lies within it. Without set goals all businesses no matter what size remain a wandering generality and will never make it. By setting goals an organization moves towards being a meaningful specific. The challenge however for most organizations is having the acumen ship needed to set better goals. With goals companies are saying we cannot   predict the future, but we certainly can plan for it.

In the world of sport, it has been established that an athlete will perform better against tough competition than against mediocre competition. Effective goals by their nature should be big because it takes a big goal to create the excitement necessary for accomplishment. Goals have to be powerful statements which focus attention on achieving the desirable outcomes. Business goals require you starting with questions such as sitting here in five/ten years what you would love to see.

The human brain has amazing problem-solving abilities and goals channel brain power towards finding a solution. BHAGs (Big Hairy, Audacious Goals – as they are commonly known) are a powerful way to stimulate progress. Companies have goals but there is a difference between merely having a goal and becoming committed to huge, daunting challenges. True, BHAGs that are clear and compelling serve as a unifying focal point while acting as catalyst for team spirit. No matter how much power, brilliance and energy businesses exude, without harnessing the people’s power to specific targets and holding them accountable will not yield desired results.

BHAGs engage people- they reach out and grip them hence the need for tangible, energizing and highly focused goals. Setting BHAGs that are far into the future require thinking beyond current capabilities of the organization and the current environment. Be always guided by your mission and vision to ensure every goal is oriented on the long term focus.

Whatever goals leaders choose, utmost care is needed not to confuse core purpose and inspiring goals. The envisioned future should be so exciting to continue to keep the organization motivated even if the leaders who set the goal disappear. Core purpose is the reason for existence and this is not completed like long range goals which have timelines. When implementing goals never bite off more than you can chew as well as aiming to challenge the champs of the industry at the outset. Work only on wanting to challenge that other player directly in front of you.

Once goals have been set, organizational leadership need vivid descriptions that are vibrant, engaging and specific, defining what it will be like to achieve the big goals. Clear finishing lines are necessary so that the organization knows when it has achieved. Employees like all people like to shoot to finish lines. Statements like ‘selling more, better’ -are not specific enough. Goals should be spelt out in minute detail.

In this game failure is a reality, but the answer lies in learning and at times reviewing the set goals. Success lies in building a clear common direction for an organization to create the future. Once these long-range exciting goals are in place, constantly look out for the stepping or stopping stones. Make use of those stepping stones to take you to the desired end or to amend certain wishful thinking you might have had. List all the obstacles that are likely to stand between the business and the set goals. Confidence remains the handmaiden of success. Then always act as if a business only has few days/months to work on the goals. Doing so will force all people to put on their thinking caps.

While many economies are undergoing rapid changes, long range goals are the best because without them, businesses are likely to be frustrated by short range goals and may lose focus. For a business setting, employees’ daily objectives are key, these become the best indicators and the builders of characters. With these in place, dedication, discipline and determination will always be the order of the day. As you reach daily objectives, you will be getting closer to the long-range ones.

‘Can goals be negative?’ Emphatically yes, especially if an employee does not accept that they are the architects of those goals. Also, if set goals are not in tandem with one‘s field of interest and one is working on them to please someone else. Those Leaders, who have a tendency of directing subordinates’ goals setting, are likely to experience a lot of resistance which hampers their efforts.

Finally, be aware of the We have Arrived Syndrome -a complacent lethargy that arises once an organization has achieved one long range goal and fails to replace it with another.

In conclusion always remember to complete your SWOT analysis, run internal and external competitive performance benchmarking, analyse and understand the market. Review your past performance to know where you are coming from otherwise your organization will be akin to a world map – it will not take you anywhere unless you know where you are.

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at www.proservehr.com

Why is attitude everything in a business environment?

People from all disciplines do agree that one’s attitude as you work or undertake a project is a dominant factor in its success. One of the most important steps you need to take towards success as a Leader is to learn to monitor attitude and its impact on work performance and relationships. Positive attitude as a form of a soft skill forms a trait expected in great leaders and must be developed as a habit. One’s altitude is determined by attitude and not just aptitude.

Positive attitude gives someone control and confidence to perform at their best. Positive attitude is a winners’ attitude. You develop a forward-looking mindset which serves as a muscle that needs to be exercised all the time therefore challenging you to learn something new every day. Good attitude provides the enabling platform. On the other hand negative attitude damages confidence, harms performance and paralyses your mental skills as well as impacting on your work.

Studies have proved that aptitude accounts for a paltry 20% of business success. It is therefore important to hire people with the right attitude because 80% of our business success is based on attitude. Having the right skills but lacking the will does not help overcome challenges and achieve success. With the right attitude an employee is both motivated and adaptable which makes them more open to learning new skills. With right attitude and enough effort new skills can be mastered quickly. Improving attitude is often about changing behaviors which is always much more difficult to do, but can certainly be done.  It is easy to get drawn into this negativity and feel very depressed about the future in our current economic situation. Challenge those negative thoughts into positives and focus on what has gone well and what you have achieved. Our minds are dutiful servants; they follow the instructions we give them. Positive attitude is that which makes one feel good even when they feel bad.

Attitude has many facets it can determine whether you work for a salary or for an organisation’s betterment and your growth. Tightly associated to attitude is enthusiasm. Nothing great will ever be accomplished without enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is to attitude what breathing is to life. Enthusiasm enables you to apply your gifts more effectively. It puts you in motion and is the burning desire that communicates commitment, determination and team spirit. It is one of the most empowering and attractive characteristics a leader needs. Real enthusiasm is not something you put on and take off to fit the occasion.  It should be a way of life not something used to impress people. In a work environment never let conditions control your attitude rather use attitude to control enthusiasm.

When people have the wrong attitude getting them to fit into the organization will be akin to fitting a square peg through a round hole. They can just clash with the culture of the organization disrupting team work, which cause unrest and impact overall performance. As leaders working to create teams where the sum of the whole exceeds the sum of parts; it is good attitude that makes this possible. We are always going to face challenges, difficult times and it is in those moments that traits like determination, tenacity and resilience come to the fore.

It is therefore paramount when hiring to focus on attitude just as much as the technical skill set. While most interviews questions are focused on aptitude there is always real need to make sure that we ask the right questions that uncover attitude. Ask candidates the ‘how’ questions, how they overcame challenges, how they have dealt with failure and their abilities to deal with situations which are beyond their current capabilities. Intensively probe those areas and listening to the language used will help understanding a candidate’s true attitude. Before hiring understand the attitude of your organization and look at the top performers and see what attitude they possess.

Attitude plays an important role in improving relationships with employees. People are reluctant to relate to colleagues with the wrong attitude as they are commonly perceived as difficult.  Positive attitude minimizes weaknesses and magnifies strengths. A positive attitude in a business set up is a good foundation to see the good in every situation and everyone. It is generally believed that all the positive aspects of a man and the values he respects will fall within the ambit of soft skills and attitude will inform how one will act and react every time.  To achieve potential greatness, learn these tips in life always tracking one’s attitude and its impact on work performance and relationships with everyone around.

Its leadership role to build a solid attitude foundation in employees, so that when things are good or bad employee perceptions are positive and can therefore take organisations further. Successful businesses know that by building their people they will be building their businesses. Life being an echo - what you send out always comes back -your attitude rubs off on your teams.

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at www.proservehr.com

How to prepare for your own Performance Appraisal

Performance appraisal time makes a lot of employees uncomfortable.  They can be an annual ritual where supervisors are critical of your weaknesses or a wonderful opportunity to discuss objectively about your job performance. Whether your organisation performance management system includes a self –evaluation step in the process or not, you do not have to be passive during your appraisal. To get the best out of this important performance evaluation meeting, you have to show some initiative by actually preparing for it.

Collect evidence of your job performance

The first step is to work towards your set goals throughout the period under review.  Along the way gather evidence of your work performance, milestones and challenges faced. It will help to create a folder for this information. For the interview, refer to your folder and use the appraisal form that your supervisor will use to help structure your presentation.  It will become easy to apply the SMART performance principles to your achievements. Also remember to refer to reports, the previous performance appraisal, job description, set goals, strategy, organisation’s goals, awards, training & development undertaken etc. This should assist you in avoiding a common mistake of focusing on the past few months and not the whole period under review.

It is also important to be able to understand and articulate the context of your performance. Ask yourself the ‘how?’  and not just ‘what’ you accomplished.  This will give a broad insight into factors that came to play. Always remember to acknowledge the support you got from your team.  You may make available your folder to your supervisor in advance. This will ensure your supervisor prepares for the session. It also demonstrates that the meeting is important to you.

Do a self-assessment of your performance

Based on the evidence you have collected; you can easily do a self-assessment against the set goals using the same tool your supervisor will use.  You would then go on to ask yourself of the challenges faced and efforts you made to alert the supervisor or solve them. When you have a position on your performance before the meeting, it will help you to be assertive as you become a participant too.  Your assertiveness will improve when you anticipate questions/issues that the supervisor may ask/raise. You may disagree with the supervisor but your arguments should be based on facts and evidence you have gathered. The goal of self-assessment is not to campaign for good performance but to be honest with yourself and discuss your perception of your performance with the supervisor.

Prepare to listen

Assertive also means you are ready to look at criticisms/negative feedback as opportunities to improve and this is done through listening. Before you rush in to defend your position, allow the supervisor to speak and support their position. Ask questions where you need clarification. Remember to focus on the outcomes.

Prepare for the coming period  

This interview is about your career and you have a big part to play in shaping it. Do not just wait for the supervisor to hand you your next objectives.  Prepare a list of possible goals to accomplish and be ready to discuss. It is also an opportunity to highlight possible blockers to performance to the manager such as system challenges, processes, organisation structure, and other tools of trade. Be ready to table out your suggestions in dealing with the blockers. Go on to arrange for scheduled progress reports to keep your supervisor in the loop of your performance. These regular performance appraisals will ensure you remain focused on your set goals and that you are well prepared for the next formal performance appraisal meeting.

Identify areas that need development 

As you prepare for your performance appraisal identify areas where you need further development. Be prepared to propose ways on how this may be done; is it training-on site/ off site or mentoring. Do not limit yourself to traditional methods but think of a bouquet of possibilities such as special assignments, project roles, reading, research, acting in senior roles etc. You may identify your areas of weakness from the tasks that you struggled with or from review from colleagues or clients. It takes open-mindedness to acknowledge that you are not perfect and there is always room to improve.

Be Confident

It is not unusual that the supervisor may not know the details of your job. A critical quality you need to convey here is confidence. Your gathered evidence choice of words and non-verbal communication should therefore reinforce your boss’s confidence in you. Remember to be calm so that you articulate your position well.

Prepare to get answers

Modern day work is making one-on-one time in the office very rare. Take time to prepare questions that you want answered by your supervisor. They maybe about work tools, systems, organisation structures/goals/strategy, career opportunities etc.  Such issues may help you understand your goals better and possibly provide some direction on how you can achieve them.

In conclusion you should emphasize the future by making a commitment to further develop yourself and meeting the set goals.

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at www.proservehr.com