by Paul Kinvig and Susannah Brade-Waring – Business Coaches & Facilitators with Aspirin Business Solutions
The Scottish golf club Muirfield’s decision not to change its 272 year men-only membership policy has proved to be very costly, as it’s lost the right to stage one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world – The Open. By contrast, it came as a real surprise to us just how many world changing inventions/ discoveries/ innovations can be attributed to Scotland and its people. Here are just a few – pneumatic tyre, telephone, television, hypodermic syringe, penicillin, flush toilets and refrigerators.
Contrast that again to the high speed world of Formula 1, which has made a number of mind-blowing changes – for example moving from being predominantly funded by cigarette advertising prior to its international ban, and in achieving the seemingly impossible feat of a sub 3 second pit stop.
In order to survive and thrive as an organisation, the need to both embrace and drive change has passed from being an option to a fundamental requirement.
Racing drivers know that going slow into the bend allows us to be faster going out. Leaders who deliver change successfully, know the same holds true for organisations. So it’s in the preparation for change that the race is won.
Whilst every organisation is going through change, for some it is slow and predictable. Whereas, the retail market is moving so quickly it’s difficult to know what we need to change to, let alone how we do that. The best we can do is become more agile, leaner and well-equipped so we are fit and ready for change. And, the golden lining, when the team are ready, they’ll start to drive the change themselves.
So, how do we become more agile, leaner and well-equipped? Here are 3 things to consider:
We’re very familiar with re-recruiting for sporting teams, picking the players who’ll help us achieve our objectives for the next season. But what if we applied the same policy to our teams? After all, even if we are in the same role today as we were 2 years ago, it’s highly likely that the requirements of the job have changed. So bearing in mind the current and foreseeable future requirements of your team, who would you automatically re-recruit, who will make the grade given training, mentoring or coaching, and who probably won’t? We acknowledge that this idea will feel intensely uncomfortable to some, however we’re actually being much fairer to everyone if we acknowledge the likely struggle to keep up and, as leaders, to face this head-on. A good test of whether we need to think about re-recruiting is that when a vacancy comes up, do we just automatically use the same job description? And if someone is unlikely to ‘make the grade’ they may thrive incredibly well in a redefined job role.
2. Develop an ethos of team working
Change brings new challenges and uncertainty. Therefore, the need for people to work together as teams, with trust and appreciation for each others’ talents increases significantly. Consider, if you will, two examples – firstly that of a flock of geese who would never migrate if they couldn’t depend on each other, and secondly the F1 pit stops – where a sub 3 second pit stop utterly depends on having the right people, in the right roles with the right equipment.
Teams waste time and energy when there is an atmosphere of mistrust and blame and lose focus on achieving what is ahead because they are looking around and behind them. This is often exemplified by team members not believing that change is necessary, that there’s a hidden agenda or not trusting others to get their part of the work done. And, it can be easier to fail by refusing to participate, than to be seen to fail if we can’t deliver the new requirements.
If we are to build agility into our teams so that change is embraced and, in many cases, driven, we have to create this culture of trust by communicating effectively, being honest and authentic, sharing information and actually always ‘doing the right thing’, even when it is tough and has challenging implications. Being consistent in these areas creates that culture by demonstrating it in our behaviour as leaders AND thus demanding it from our teams.
However there is one more area that we need to examine and it is that of…
3. Create a culture of motivation and accountability
You have to expect that with a former Finance Director as our leader, we believe accountability is a critical success factor. And yet this issue of accountability is a thorny one in that knowing what to hold people accountable to, and how to hold them accountable can leave us scratching our heads (or walking away), and we sometimes think it applies to our team – but not us, as leaders. And yet if we want to make our teams agile and responsive then accountability is one of the keys to this.
It’s defined in the Business Dictionary as –
“The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.”
If we look at the definition, the words underlined give us an indication as to key areas of focus. Each individual within the team needs to know exactly what is expected of them in terms of their activities and to what level so that the results can be accounted for without ambiguity or confusion i.e. in a transparent manner.
Contrary to what you might think, research shows that this principle of accountability has a very positive effect in respect of accuracy of work, problem solving, decision making, colleague co-operation and team satisfaction. It’s our responsibility to be accountable ourselves so that that authenticity moves through the team….there is no blame or vindictiveness…it’s just the way we do things!
And whilst we firmly believe in the principle of accountability, we also firmly believe in motivation – of creating the conditions that create a great place to work. Being able to take pride in our work through a job well done, is a fundamental aspect of this.
At Aspirin Business Solutions, we take pride in creating great results for our clients. Helping leaders and their teams adapt to change successfully, is critical in achieving their wider goals – such as succession planning, increasing profitable growth and in ensuring organisations will survive and thrive in a changing marketplace.
Our Seven Factors to Faster Growth model fuses people and processes to release the potential in individuals, teams and organisations. It allows our clients to scope out the intended future through vision, strategy and mission and identify how to implement and deliver that through values, objectives and team performance – and then to define and increase the capability of leaders, managers and teams accordingly.
If this article resonates with you, we’d love to explore how we could help you achieve your organisation’s goals. Please get in touch and let’s talk.
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