One of the most common consulting questions I get is: But how are we going to improve performance?
If there is one thing I have learnt over many years of consulting in performance improvement it is that: Exemplary performance and organisational effectiveness is the result of the persistent application of basic principles, or the essential components and systems of team performance
Sometimes my answer can disappoint clients who are looking for something new, quick and exciting. They view what I am offering as a little boring, - they have been there and done that! However, on the other side of the persistent implementation of essential components lies very interesting and exciting results!
Today, organizations of all sizes are faced with a stark choice – adapt or go out of business. Those organizations that can’t accommodate the competitive pressures that will be placed on them by all stakeholders, but especially customers and employees, will be shut down. On the other hand, those organizations that can create winning cultures, that can provide what we describe as total stakeholder satisfaction, will survive and thrive.Organizations throughout the world are undergoing extraordinary change. Advances in information technology, the changing labour force, and global competition are affecting the way both small businesses and large corporations operate.
The globalisation of world markets is facilitated by the ease with which buyers and sellers can now find each other. Never before has the communication technology been in place to aid business transactions on such a scale, and this technology is set to become even more sophisticated in the future.
Customer demands will be hampered less and less by the absence of information about the range, quality, cost, quantity and timeliness of the goods that can be provided by prospective suppliers. Customer expectations have been rising proportionately with the growing capacity of suppliers to deliver the right amount of quality goods and services at the right cost, on time, every time. So the competition is intensifying for customers’ hearts, loyalty and dollars.
Simultaneously, employee expectations have been rising. More and more, they are demanding quality of working life, greater meaning in their work, autonomy, and a small organizational team to which they can belong. This organizational team would serve as the organizational equivalent of the family unit. The most competitive organizations have incorporated the best aspects of home life into the workplace.
Success means different things to different people – job satisfaction, job security, more money or an ideal life style. Whatever success means to you or your organization, it can only be achieved through team performance, executed one day at a time.
The secret to greater productivity is getting the basics right, and to quote Michael Jordan, the basketball player :
Fundamentals were the most crucial part of my game in the NBA. Everything I did, everything I achieved, can be traced back to the way I approached the fundamentals and how I applied them to my abilities. They really are the basic building blocks or principles that make everything work. I don’t care what you’re doing or what you’re trying to accomplish; you can’t skip fundamentals if you want to be the best. But some guys don’t want to deal with that. They’re looking for instant gratification, so maybe they skip a few steps. It’s like they’re so focused on composing a masterpiece they never master the scales.
The essential components of team performance are simple, common sense elements strongly evident in all high-performance teams. All teams will have the components to some degree, but the better developed these components are, the better the team’s performance. These key components must be examined, and opportunities to improve them sought. However, don’t fix what is not broken – only work with those components of team performance which need improvement.
Once identified, an environment or culture in which the basic components can be implemented can be created. These essential components can then be systematically built into everyday activities, ensuring that performance is continuously improved. The philosophy is simple: do the basics as best as you can, all of the time, and you will inevitably improve. With these basics anchored into the workplace environment or culture, performance will continuously improve, and the improvements will be sustained in the long term.