Monday, July 26, 2010

Motivating Metrics

Pot of Gold If your employees are are not motivated to stay committed to contributing to the long term execution of a strategy that promises to have significant long term benefits, maybe they are looking at the wrong metrics.

Often the charts and dashboards that are displayed or presented publically are the ones the executive wants to see, however sometimes those are final output measures or lagging indicators. Lagging indicators often don’t work well as a motivating force. We are a society that favors instant gratification so motivation to continue on a given path is more likely to be positive when looking at leading indicators. Leading indicators are measures that are generally (and hopefully statistically) a short term predictor of the end result.


photo attribution / CC BY-ND 2.0

Friday, July 9, 2010

Guest Post: What to Do when there is More than One Boss to Please

Connecting People to Projects through Social Authority

Watch your head Dean’s note: This guest post is written by Craig Henderson, President of Systemental and a Thought Leader that blogs about Hoshin Kanri/Policy Deployment

You just took the handoff from the boss to start a new project.  You know you’ll need cooperation from a key stakeholder outside your function area who has already expressed a key concern.   How can you approach your conversation with the stakeholder to ensure you get the cooperation you need?

  1. Leverage the boss’s connection to the stakeholder in the right way:
    • If their relationship is good, start by saying so
    • If the relationship is neutral or rocky, start by saying you want to make this work for the stakeholder (note: you should sincerely want to do this)
  2. Get straight to the “heart of the matter,” don’t beat around the bush
  3. Discover the stakeholder’s point of view by asking questions and listening closely
  4. Tailor the description of how you can solve the problem to stakeholder’s preference
  5. Explain a high value, low risk, and low hassle first step to get off to a good start
  6. Assure the stake holder that it won’t be difficult, expensive, or time consuming to deliver the project so it meets the stakeholder’s needs

If you are naturally good at this kind of thing, then the above can serve as a guideline to keep your thoughts straight. On the other hand, if you feel uncomfortable, seek the advice of someone who will be friendly to you and also knows the stakeholder in question well. They should be able to help you think of objections the stakeholder may raise so you can think and plan ahead of time.

Lastly, make sure you keep your boss informed of what you are doing, whether it’s going well or not. Bosses like to know you are diligently working on their behalf and they don’t like surprises.

For a technique used to manage this same situation with an entire group, see Nemawashi

“Executizing” Academic Sounding Terms – Gaining Social Authority is a short story demonstrating how the language you use impacts your ability to gain social authority.

Photo attribution / CC BY 2.0

Open and Honest Feedback after a Scolding

tiger photo courtesy of A friend, Jaime*, recently sold his successful business to a similar, but larger corporation, ACME*. During the transition, he is helping them transfer and integrate the assets and processes into their existing business and support the retention of Jaime’s previous customers.

During a periodic review with ACME’s management, Jaime noted several practices that their employees were using that he offered to help them improve. A manager at ACME proceeded to scold the employees about their lack of process adherence and mistakes (mischaracterizing the suggestion). Jaime was disappointed about the way ACME handled the interaction. Jaime and I were reflecting on his frustration about the damage that behavior does to employee motivation, cooperation, and morale. After that incident, Jaime will get very little open and honest feedback from the front line workers about their challenges and opportunities when he visits.

Jaime isn’t continuing to help for his financial benefit; he wants the same thing the employees want. His interest is to see them take a previously successful business that was built over years of hard work and incorporate it smoothly and painlessly into their operation.


*Names have been changed to protect their identities.

photo attribution / CC BY-ND 2.0