When we learn behaviours and acquire habits, we don’t think about what to do, we just do it. In this post we’re going to be exploring desirable cultural behaviours specifically.
These learned and acquired behaviours guide both our personal and professional lives, most are likely to be healthy, but some are probably unhealthy, and you wish you could shake them.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ and the many variations that recognise its importance. When it comes to planning how we want to performance manage our companies we always need to balance the needs of the company with the needs of employees.
We want to build performance best-practices into culture, where what to do, how to act and behave is not thought about, it’s just done. We want everyone to thrive.
The end state of what we want as business leaders, managers and employees has commonality across all sizes of company and sectors. It’s what ‘good’ and ‘great’ looks like. Most of this is anchored in research but is also common-sense.
These are the skills, behaviours and habits you want your teams to have. None of which are hard to embed, but do take time and a commitment to achieve your desired end-state. They’ve been grouped under 3 headings that are proven to really matter.
It has been proven that psychological safety is what high performing teams have and low performing teams often lack. The behaviours and habits you need to have to ensure you benefit from this knowledge are:
- Employees share their opinions and ideas openly and feel heard
- When employees don’t understand something they say
- Disagreements happen in meetings not away from meetings in corridors
- Seniority does not correlate to the amount of talking and opinions shared in a meeting – everyone has an equal voice and speaks up
- Feedback is wanted and is also given frequently
- Help is asked for when needed and struggling alone and secretly doesn’t happen
- Mistakes are not punished but see as learning experiences
- You make an effort to understand and use everyone’s unique talents well
“A team feels psychologically safe to its members when they share the belief that within the team they will not be exposed to interpersonal or social threats to their self or identity, their status or standing and to their career or employment.
When engaging in learning behaviours such as asking for help, seeking feedback, admitting errors or lack of knowledge, trying something new or voicing work-related dissenting views.” Harri Kaloudis
Goal, role & plan clarity
Believe it or not, it’s common to work really hard and have no idea how you’re contributing and whether the work you are doing actually worked or even helped. Goals are unknown and there is no meaningful way of measuring success. Completing an activity is not a measure of success, it’s just a measure of productivity.
This is odd given that humans perform way better when we have a sense of purpose, and we have hard goals that act to prolong our focus, guide us towards relevant activities, and away from the irrelevant ones. Here are some behaviours and habits to acquire to give employees goal, role and plan clarity.
- Share your well formed company mission, vision, purpose and strategy – lot’s won’t have a clue what it is
- Involve everyone in goal setting – you want a top-down and bottom-up way that uses everyone’s knowledge and skills, and gets total buy-in from everyone
- Agree what success looks like and commit to a measurable outcome – often a KPI
- Use goals to spark conversations about new Initiatives
- Stay focused by reducing distractions and not being a distraction
You can learn more about goal setting and frameworks like OKRs – Objectives and Key Results. OKRs are how Google, Microsoft, Facebook and pretty much every tech company sets goals. It’s also how more traditional companies like banks, retailers and manufacturers are starting to set goals.
As it offers them more agile ways of planning and delivering shareholder value. It’s a step on from SMART and KPIs with targets, and way easier to use, more inclusive and agile than frameworks like Balanced Scorecard.
Commit to more agile ways of working
Having a plan, setting goals and then forgetting them until the end of the quarter, or working on initiatives that are not going to help the company sound so nonsensical that surely nobody does that, but you know they do. All the time.
Teams are often working in existing department / team structures when for some goals, cross-functional teams would have a far greater impact. How teams work with goals can also be sub-optimal, with progress towards committed goals and visibility of what’s being worked on and the challenges being faced being intentioned, avoided or hidden.
If you want to build on your Psychological Safety and goal clarity to really push ahead, commit to aligning your Goals with Initiatives, and meet weekly to discuss your plans for the week ahead, problems and wins. Make adjustments, share your learnings and learn from colleagues as you go. Commit to making a more agile workplace.
Working in a more agile way is not just about planning what to do more effectively, it’s running everyday processes more effectively, like effective meetings. Employees can find themselves spending lots of time in average and irrelevant meetings that go on too long.
Agile teams have well planned structured and collaborative agendas, and also check whether meetings are a good return on time invested (ROTI).
Productivity hacks can then kick in
Did you know that an employee that works full-time, and takes 4 weeks holiday a year is going to have about 1700 to help their company and team. Multiply this by 50 people and you have 85,000 hours. If you’ve 500 people in your company, that’s 850,000 hours available.
How you benefit from these hours is going to benefit from having great goals, agile ways of working and a culture where it’s safe to share ideas, make mistakes and be ambitious. Applying hours to goals that won’t make much of a difference is not useful for anyone.
The good news is that the wins don’t stop there. There are small, quick and easy wins we can all do to make everyday more productive and help us strike a better work life-balance.
Five fast ways of being more productive that are tied and tested include:
- Using time management techniques like Pomodoro
- Doing work that needs more brain power when you’re fresh
- Cutting out distractions like notifications and alerts
- Get enough sleep
- Look after your mental health
Making sure these tips, tricks and hacks are well known and discussed in an initiative well worth undertaking.
Getting a 10% improvement in productivity can be game changing for many companies. That company with 850,000 hours could not just get 85,000 hours back, but those hours would be spent on valuable activities. It ends up being a multiplier effect, and a race to the top.
About the Author
Matt Roberts is the founder of OKR software – ZOKRI. He has shared the benefits of OKR and OKR best-practices companies of all sizes, around the globe.