The Ultimate in Mediocracy – The 2020 Organizational Health Report

The Ultimate in Mediocracy – The 2020 Organizational Health Report

Introduction

 

57 Organizations took the time to complete my complimentary Organizational Health Survey. It takes courage to be vulnerable enough to look into your heart and try and understand where you are.

This is a summary of all those completed surveys.

A healthy organization has fewer politics and confusion, higher morale and productivity, lower unwanted turnover and lower recruiting costs than an unhealthy one. No leader would dispute the power of these qualities, and every leader would love his or her organization to have them.

Unfortunately, most of us struggle with how to make this happen.

This report’s primary purpose is to provide a simple indicator of the relative health of the Respondents organization as well as help them interpret and act on the results. Hopefully, this will relieve some of the struggles.

The first step toward creating a healthy organization is to embrace the idea that, like so many other aspects of success, organizational health is simple in theory but difficult to put into practice. It requires extraordinary levels of courage, commitment and consistency. However, it does not require complex thinking and analysis; keeping things simple is critical.


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How did we do?

We Score LOW In Discipline 1: Building a Cohesive Leadership TeamCohesive teams build trust, eliminate politics, and increase efficiency by…

  • Knowing one another’s unique strengths and weaknesses
  • Openly engaging in constructive ideological conflict.
  • Holding one another accountable for behaviours and actions
  • Committing to group decisions

We Scored Medium In Discipline 2: Creating Clarity. Healthy organizations minimize the potential for confusion by clarifying…

  • Why do we exist?
  • How do we behave?
  • What do we do?
  • How will we succeed?
  • What is most important right now?
  • Who must do what?

We Scored Medium In Discipline 3: Communicating Clarity. Healthy organizations align their employees around organizational clarity by communicating key messages through…

  • Repetition: Don’t be afraid to repeat the same message, again and again
  • Simplicity: The more complicated the message, the more potential for confusion and inconsistency
  • Multiple mediums: People react to information in many ways; they use a variety of mediums
  • Cascading messages: Leaders communicate key messages to direct reports; the cycle repeats itself until all hear the message

We Scored LOW In Discipline 4: Building Human Systems. Organizations sustain their health by ensuring consistency in…

  • Hiring
  • Managing performance
  • Meeting structure
  • Rewards and recognition
  • Employee dismissal

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How to Build A BETTER Organization Culture

Discipline 1: Build the First Team-based Leadership team

Respondents’ score in this area is low, indicating that the respondent’s leadership teams need to become stronger by being more comfortable being vulnerable, engaging in ideological conflict, committing to decisions, holding team members accountable and driving for organizational results.

Respondents scored Low in building a cohesive team; they MUST begin investing in their teams by using the suggestions below.

Tips for Building a ‘First Team’ Leadership Team:

There are a few simple tools that serve to build a cohesive team:

1.                 Use a personality instrument:

A personality instrument (Like Steve’s proprietary Working Genius assessment) will help team members understand one another’s different preferences, skills and attitudes and identify collective strengths and potential blind spots. This will help team members avoid making unproductive judgments about one another and instead leverage the team’s diverse approaches and perspectives. It will also accelerate trust by speeding up the process of team members getting to know one another.

2.                 Spend time together:

Find opportunities to spend more time together, face-to-face. One of the biggest impediments to trust-building on a team is the lack of time spent working collectively. This can include off-site meetings, strategic planning sessions, and even social activities. Keep in mind that face-time will ultimately save time in the long run.

3.                 Share personal histories:

Sharing personal histories will help team members understand one another’s backgrounds. Just by having everyone describe relatively innocuous attributes or experiences, team members will begin to relate to one another on a more personal basis and see one another as human beings with life stories and interesting backgrounds. This encourages greater empathy and understanding and discourages unfair and inaccurate behavioural attributions.

4.                 Implement the team effectiveness exercise:

The team effectiveness exercise provides a forum for quick and effective exchange of feedback. Ask team members to identify and communicate one another’s positive attributes and areas of improvement. By doing so, teams can quickly and constructively surface issues that might take months to address using a more formal and potentially divisive 360-degree program.

For additional assistance on building a cohesive leadership team, be sure to read the following article: https://stevenarmstrong.ca/uncategorized/firstteam/


Discipline 2: Create Clarity

Respondents’ score in this area is Medium, which indicates that their leadership teams are not consistently on the same page regarding key issues such as what the organization believes, where it is headed, and what it needs to accomplish to succeed.

Respondents scored Medium in creating clarity; they should begin to facilitate sessions with their leadership teams to answer the questions below.

Tips for Creating Clarity:

Ask the team to discuss and come to a resolution around the questions below (which may vary somewhat depending on the team’s nature and its place in the organization). Before moving on, make certain that each team member understands what has been agreed to.

Questions include:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. How do we behave?
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed?
  5. What is most important right now?
  6. Who must do what?

If you need more detailed information on capitalizing clarity, refer to this article: https://stevenarmstrong.ca/uncategorized/capitalizing-clarity/


Discipline 3: Communicate Clarity

Respondents’ score in this area is MEDIUM, which indicates that communication may be an issue in their organizations. Leaders need to ensure that employees know what the organization stands for, where the organization is headed and their roles.

Because Respondents scored MEDIUM in over-communication, it is recommended that Respondents consider using many of the suggestions below.

Tips for Communicating Clarity

There are a few simple tools that serve to communicate an organization’s sense of clarity:

1.                 Repeat, repeat, repeat:

Repetition is one of the most powerful and underutilized characteristics of good communication from a leadership team. However, too many leaders shy away from it because they get bored saying the same messages repeatedly, and because they want to avoid criticism for appearing redundant and potentially condescending. Ironically, most leaders complain that employees do not remember or act upon the messages they deliver, yet they are reluctant to repeat that message.

 

2.                 Keep it simple:

Another key to effective communication is the ability to avoid overcomplicating key messages. Years of education and training make most leaders feel compelled to use all of their intellectual capabilities when speaking or writing. While this is certainly understandable, it only serves to confuse employees. What employees need from leaders is clear, uncomplicated messages about where the organization is headed and how they can contribute to getting there.

3.                 Use multiple mediums:

All too often, executives feel comfortable using just one particular form of communication to convey messages to the rest of the organization. Some leaders prefer live communication, either to large groups or in more intimate settings. Others feel more comfortable writing messages through e-mail or Intranet postings. Still, others prefer to communicate primarily to their direct reports, which are then charged with relaying messages to employees deeper in the organization.

Which of these methods is best? All of them. For example, live communication provides opportunities for meaningful interaction and emotional context; e-mail allows for more extensive information to be received and maintained for later review. Relayed communication from an employee’s manager creates an opportunity for an in-depth discussion about how the message will impact people’s daily jobs.

4.                 Cascade key messages:

At the conclusion of leadership team meetings, ask team members to agree on a common set of messages that they will communicate to their respective staff within a set period of time, usually between 24 and 48 hours after the meeting. Then, ask members of their staff to communicate those same messages to their staff, and so on until they have cascaded throughout much or all of the organization.

If you need more detailed information on communicating clarity, refer to this article: https://stevenarmstrong.ca/uncategorized/are-you-communicating-with-clarity/


Discipline 4: Build Human Systems

Respondents’ score in this area is LOW, which indicates that their organizations are not using the tools and systems to reinforce their culture, direction and priorities. Addressing this is critical to ensure the long-term health and success of the organization.

Because Respondents scored LOW in Building Human Systems, they strongly recommend using many of the suggestions below.

Tips for Building Human Systems

There are a few primary systems that serve to institutionalize an organization’s sense of clarity:

1.  Hiring:

Look beyond experience in job candidates to ensure a fit with the organization’s values and culture. Ask consistent, behavioural questions of interviewees and probe for evidence that they will thrive in the organization over time. Debrief collectively with all involved in the hiring process to determine if any additional interviewing needs to occur.

2.  Managing performance:

An employee’s performance needs to be measured beyond just the “feeling” of their direct manager. When evaluating performance, use a systematic, non-bureaucratic method that reviews progress against goals and behavioural attributes. Avoid the temptation to employ a generic, off-the-shelf program. Spend time developing a model that is specific and customized to reinforce the organization’s clarity.

3.  Meetings:

At first glance, meetings may not seem like a human system. In reality, meetings are one of the most important human systems that exist within an organization. Without effective meetings, an organization will waste time, make poor decisions and leave employees frustrated and resolved to work in silos. Put in place a meeting structure that delineates between tactical and strategic issues so employees can properly focus. Avoid the desire to fit everything into one big meeting.

4.  Rewarding:

Rewards and recognition should be simple and tied to organizational clarity. Reward employees for behaving according to Respondents organization’s core values. Hold up those stellar employees as examples that others should strive to emulate. Be cautious of rewarding only based on financial metrics, as this may send an inconsistent message regarding the expected behaviours.

5.  Dismissing:

While firing employees is never enjoyable, sometimes it’s necessary to sustain the culture of an organization. To avoid doing this, capriciously engage in clear and consistent conversations with problem employees. When an organization retains an employee who does not fit in, it sends a clear message to the rest of the staff that problem behaviour is acceptable. This ultimately erodes trust and credibility in leaders. Ironically, the clearer leaders are about expected behaviours in the hiring process, the more likely the “misfits” will opt out on their own.


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