Monthly Archives: April 2018

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High Performance Cultures Reflect Better Change Outcomes

Primarily companies compete on the quality of insight they have about their own organisation. They understand what really happens in their organisation and how to organise its people, process and systems to get the best results.  The problem with most companies is that their leadership honestly believe we do not have the time or, money to invest in culture. They think it is a waste of time and resources. Yet, without a decent workplace culture, any change efforts will not be as fruitful as they otherwise could be and more likely to fail.
For other companies who talk about building a high-performance culture, they do not really know how to go about defining it. If you are interested in building a high-performance culture, start by reflecting on the characteristics of this post.  Oftentimes, when trying to cultivate a healthy culture, it always helps to look at what the best of breed companies are doing, to gain insight of what they get right and adopt some of their best ideas where these work in your own context. A change readiness diagnostic is a guided framework detailing the essential characteristics of a high performing organisation across key areas that gives the client a benchmark rating and change roadmap to drive their progress to focus on priority areas for key improvements.
High performing companies know the value of developing a high-performance culture that promotes employee engagement but, also empower their people’s performance that delivers business results. They know: if there’s a direct conflict between a change and the current culture, the culture will prevail.
Here are some of the signs you have a healthy workplace culture and a high performing team:
  • Turnover rate is low and people are in line waiting to join your team. It is not because you are offering more money than they could find somewhere else. Many times the pay is less. But people have heard about your company, and want to be a part of it. Then you are probably looking at a healthy culture.
  • Employees take ownership. When employees discover problems or issues, they take the initiative to ensure that they are resolved. They do not leave it for the next guy because it is not their job, not their fault, or, responsibility.
  • Staff are accountable. People say what they mean and mean what they say. They do not promise what they cannot deliver or, sandbag to get big kudos when they over-deliver. They tell you what they think they can do and are willing to be held accountable for the results.
  • Staff are engaged and feel they matter. They are not just people carrying out tasks. There’s a ‘how can I help’ attitude. People never act put off, defensive, or interrupted by requests from anyone inside or outside the company.
  • Staff have a positive outlook and energised by a mission. You hear leaders at all levels of the organisation talking about the mission. It gives staff energy, and they are constantly thinking of ways to get it done.
  • Perhaps the most evident sign of a highly effective organisation is that things just seem to get done.
  • Decision making is people-centred and democratised by giving people impacted in the business a seat at the table when making decisions that impact them,..
  • Leadership couple clarity of vision with an ability to steer dynamically, but do not bother creating long-term plans that are unlikely to materialise.
  • Fear is missing. People do not fret if they say the wrong thing in front of the wrong person. They are not hushed conversations because of the fear of what will happen if they are overheard. Employees in an organisation with a great culture can walk into the boss’s office with a concern and walk out knowing they were heard.
  • Communication is strong. From the top to the bottom, people communicate. The staff is not surprised with information. It is communicated well in advance, with leaders even asking the staff to help find solutions.
  • Gossip is not tolerated. It is not just the leaders calling for people to take the high road in their communication. At every level, gossip is shut down with an encouragement to speak directly to the individual.
  • Change is welcome. People are not afraid of change. It is not that everyone likes change, but most have been through it so many times and have seen the leaders manage change with care and dignity that they no longer dread it. Identifying the evidence of a great culture is all fine and good.
  • Low Absenteeism, people wake up every day looking forward to getting back to work on the mission with people you enjoy being around.
  • People are happy. It is not just a job, people enjoy the company of the people they work with.
  • The CEO or, the executive team are not insecure about others succeeding. In fact, they encourage it.
  • Managers are comfortable with their level of authority. They are clear on what their authority is and they are not resentful of what it is not. Managers are not afraid to be overruled or, second-guessed and work alongside their peers to encourage, or occasionally to correct and redirect.
  • There is staff development and effort to create opportunities for staff to advance through the ranks and into leadership.

That is not even an exhaustive list. Can a healthy culture that supports change be engineered? Yes, and this is the foundation for which, sets a company on a path to success or, failure on their change journey. Some companies in the rush to get results may think that people stuff or, addressing culture issues is is a fuzzy logic and a waste of resources, are sometimes the very companies whose quality of leadership or, lack thereof can least afford not to.  

If you are interested in building a high-performance culture, start by reflecting on the characteristics of this post. Avoid spending years and untold resources in vain attempts at culture change. We have the process, the tools, and the expertise to guide you to implementation success. Few will deny the value of innovation, collaboration, best practices, operational excellence or, a myriad of other cultural changes. Many have tried and failed. There is a diagnostic model that can be applied and map out key improvement areas to make sure you progress to become a high performer.

Do not think you have the time or money to invest in promoting a high-performance culture change?

Are you interested in having a high performance benchmarking assessment done to compare your organisational culture with the top performing companies in your industry and a report on key areas for improvement? Feel free to contact us.



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Case for Developing An Effective Change Approach

Developing new strategies or operational initiatives is the most important way companies renew themselves, by helping to preserve their competitive advantage and stimulating platforms for long-term success. Changing the existing way a business is run can be beneficial, but, it can also introduce a lot of risks. When it comes to making big changes executives know that the wild card is their employees’ capacity to adapt to a new order. Most people do not like change, especially when it comes to changes in the way they do their job on a daily basis. Preparing the company for a change by making any level of the organisation better able to deal with it may be as important as the details of the project. User adoption and business processes changes must be addressed in the change management plan. Fortunately, when companies attempt to manage people change, a little improvement goes a long way.

There are two components involved when managing a successful business transition and changing how people interact and accept those changes. Without considering both, the change initiative will most likely fail.

(1) Organisational change management focuses on the people side of change: how people’s behaviours influence operational changes, and how changes impact the intended audience.

(2) Operational change management focuses on the physical aspect of a change, for example, infrastructure, software, hardware, or environmental changes.

Chanage management has a significant impact on your ROI
McKinsey did a study to determine the role of people and process issues in change programs. They gauged the difference between the expected value of a project (calculated in the project business case for it) and the value (benefits plan) the company claimed to have achieved when program was completed. Each company’s strengths were weighted across twelve widely recognised success factors for managing change effectively, including the roles of senior and middle managers in the initiative as well as the company’s project-management skills, training, and incentives for promoting change. These two dimensions made it possible for them to compare patterns in change management strengths and weaknesses with realised returns. Not surprisingly, perhaps, companies with the lowest returns also had poor change-management capabilities, and companies that gained big returns had strong ones.

ROI Case For Effective Change Management

  • 58% of the companies failed to meet their targets;
  • 20% captured only a third or less of the value expected.
  • 42% of companies gained the expected returns or exceeded them (by as much as 200-300%).

For the  more successful companies in the study, effective change management engaged at every level: senior and middle managers and frontline employees were all involved, responsibilities were clear, and the reasons for the change were understood throughout the organisation.

  • On average 143% more of the returns they expected.

By contrast, in companies that fell short of expectations, we found a lack of commitment from or follow-through by senior executives, defective project-management skills among middle managers, and a lack of training for and confusion among frontline employees.

  • On average only 35% of the value they expected.

So what happens without change management?

This is very well illustrated taking a scenario from the McKinseys study that juxapositions the two hospital experiences both implementing a similiar change program but, applied very different methods. The contrast is quite stark and compelling for companies to ensure effective change management is integrated with their projects. At one hospital, the executive team communicated their bold expectations for the initiative, and stakeholders at every level were involved throughout it. At the other hospital, the executive team did not mandate the change and were described as ‘invisible’ during implementation, middle managers did not know who made the calls and frontline staff had no clear understanding of the new business changes or, of the reasons for complying with them.

The first hospital exceeded its expectations for the initiative (125% of the business case) in less than a year, while the second gained barely half of the expected savings. If any single level of the organisation of the second hospital had been better primed to implement the changes, it could have realised a better return on its change initiative, they would have had a much better outcome.

Firms with weak organisational change management skills have projects that unravel at both ends of the spectrum. Upper management quickly distance themselves from the project . End-users not understanding why their way of working is being changed, resist adopting the system altogether. They either do not pay attention (or show up) during training or, they continue to use outside systems and workarounds. And they encourage others to do the same.
There is a lot of work involved in making sure every person, inside and outside an organisation, it may be even harder than getting the ‘hard’ stuff right like the correct alignment of people, budgets and technology.  However, research findings focused on some of the top performing companies indicate that managing the ‘people side’ of change has set them apart from the pack.
Do not think you have the time or, money to invest in change management? Can you afford not to?
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