Linking practice to results-There is no silver bullet

Originally Posted at www.thebusinessmediator.blogspot.com

In connection with a recent research project, I had the pleasure and opportunity to speak to some practitioners and companies about some key
drivers of results--at least according to "how to" books out there.

The first grouping of questions focused on alignment. There were
some themes that emerged in the answers. First, the CEO or
organizational leader needed to take responsibility and ownership for
aligning putting the right team in place and then working to align the
team. Second, the team or organizations need to work collaboratively to
create a vision, set objectives and make choices. Third, there must be
a structure in place to enable this collaboration. Effective team
meetings and interactions served this purpose for all those whom I
interviewed.

When I asked about the measurement of success of alignment, I heard “unity of action” and “goal
accomplishment” as worthy outcomes. Nevertheless, this was further tied
to profitability as the ultimate goal to be accomplished. The persons I
interviewed did state, however, that there are so many variables in
play in an organization that it is difficult to conclude that all
profitable organizations became profitable because they were aligned.

The second set of questions focused on emotional intelligence. Only one of the persons interviewed spoke of emotional
intelligence in those terms. Instead, the responses spoke of leaders
who were good listeners, willing to learn and had a general sense of
humility. How they interact with others is a good measure of their
“EQ”. Further, the tools used to measure emotional intelligence
included 360 degree assessments, “skip level” meetings, and employee
health surveys. When I asked about the effect on an organization as a
result of having emotionally intelligent leaders, however, the measures
were difficult to identify. This certainly paralleled the research that
I saw, although the business case would most likely focus on the costs
of employee turnover and lawsuits.

The third group of questions centered on team effectiveness. The answers I heard were
consistent with the research I have read. First, there must be good
team composition and members. However, only one of the organizations to
whom I spoke steps past functional expertise in forming teams to find
those who have the right “skill set” to create better team dynamics.
Finding the right team leader was also of great importance. Others
looked for experience, perspective, accomplishments as key attributes of
team members.

In terms of how to enhance team effectiveness, spending time together, active debate, performing team
assessments and individual personality assessments (DISC, TKI, MBTI)
were used. Further, shared learning as a team and personal time
together created a stronger bond among team members. These efforts
speak to forming trust among team members, which is foundational to team
functionality. The measure of an effective team includes growth and
financial performance. While no one spoke to these things, my
observation is that effective teams also help to create solid
institutional knowledge, engaged and energized employees, and better
alignment around organizational objectives.

For decision making, the flow of answers opened up. Decision making is impaired by:
lack of robust debate, incomplete information, low commitment, change of
mind/perspective, group think, unproductive conflict. On the other
side of the coin, structured and cadenced meetings, collaborative
inquiry, sound analysis and facilitator/advisor involvement are cited as
enablers to good decision making.

Finally, in connection with diversity, I received “diverse” feedback. A female interviewee was
of the opinion that traditional measures of diversity in the U.S., race
and gender, were important factors for hiring decisions. The reasons
for seeking demographic diversity included: 1. An expanded hiring pool;
2. Better quality of experience for other diverse employees; and 3.
Differing points of view. Others stated that diversity had little or
nothing to do with demographics, but rather, seeking diverse working
styles, behaviors, temperaments and cognitive thinking. One interesting
observation was that organizations should NOT be diverse when it comes
to their core values and they need to actively seek persons who “fit”
those core values.

My overall impressions of this feedback is that organizations are generally focused on the right things. Their
methodologies and tools are consistent with the research in the field. I
reviewed and they are aware of what it takes to create an aligned,
healthy and functional group of employees. 1. A shared vision; 2.
Clear and measurable objectives; 3. World class decision making
processes; 4. Cognitive diversity; and 5. An emotional intelligent
leader. These are disciplines that organizations need to keep top of
mind and on which they need to focus. There is no silver bullet.

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