Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to build a high performing team in your organisation? Or felt like it’s way out of your reach and control? Intellectually, we can all share opinions on how high performing teams are built and what great leaders look like.
Opinions are a dime a dozen especially with social media these days, and leadership as a topic has become like any other national sport or pastime, with many people chiming in on their opinion, criticising current leadership frameworks and sharing what it needs to look like. There is nothing wrong with that. Everyone is entitled to share their opinion and thoughts and many people genuinely do this to help others.
We do need to be aware though that it’s so much easier to look from the outside in and criticise, yet much harder to execute on and deliver results. It takes a special type of someone to gently put to one side people’s opinions and criticism, and focus on truly developing themselves as a leader to help build a high performing team.
In many of my previous articles that I have shared I discuss the importance of goal setting, working from the end in mind perspective, setting strategy and mindset. When working with businesses there are five main areas we focus on.
These five pillars are intertwined, and nothing is mutually exclusive. It’s a continuous cycle.
Within the leadership framework, where it all starts, there are critical elements needed to be created and established throughout the entire organisation. These elements include:
Once established, and please note there is detail in each of the above points, a very critical element needs to be introduced.
The Execution framework, the accountability and support piece. In other words, the Operating Rhythm. You really can liken this to the Maestro and their Orchestra.
Many organisations have great strategies and plans, yet it’s in the execution where it can all fall apart. Breaking it all down to its lowest common denominator is where the great work can come unstuck, whether you are a small or large team, or even a single operator.
We have this expectation that once we have the goal everyone should just be on the same page and forget that as a leader (the maestro), the most critical part is to disseminate all this information, break it down and execute it with seamless precision (The beat), that will eventually produce the beautiful piece of work called the music….
Developing the right operating rhythm for your organisation becomes the number one priority and will help you work out:
Defining the organisational and team’s Operating Rhythm?
According to www.whatissixsigma.net the “Operating Rhythm can be defined as a set of predefined processes of communication and interactions that should be present between different departments, to ensure that the flow of operations is not interrupted and is controlled as intended. It provides a structured way of communication through which the stakeholders communicate to the project team/operations and vice versa on items like roles, milestones, outcomes, targets, and so on that is aligned to the organization’s vision.”
As mentioned, the importance of an operating rhythm is critical for success regardless of the size of the organisation, department, or team. Much like an orchestra, setting in place the right processes and systems with the idea of helping every team member stay connected and aligned to the overall goal is critical.
Once this is established, and everyone is on the same page, training, coaching, and any form of team and individual support will have a much bigger impact on overall performance and results, as well as satisfaction and a sense of belonging. It creates that much needed harmony. This is the “How” that many organisations fail to see or don’t put enough emphasis on.
Merging your “Why” with “Effectiveness” – Humans are creatures of habit.
Given that 96% to 98% of our behaviour is on autopilot, without clearly defined goals and conscious creation of new habits, we will develop habits that are non-productive and limited.
How often do we see this in organisations or even in our own day to day lives? As an example, if you ask people/departments in organisations why they continue to generate reports monthly, who looks at the reports and of what value are they? Many people will not be able to answer the questions beyond, “this is how we have always done it.”
So, if we naturally create habits anyway in our daily lives and in organisations, why not create ones that will habitualise high performance? We do have choices. We can either allow habits to be created unconsciously or create the ones that will help us achieve greater results with meaningful growth. This is how you create Balance, Focus and Flow in your business.
Imagine how powerful it would be if you could automate the quest for excellence by introducing the operating rhythm that best suits your organisation. This would mean you are introducing both effectiveness as well as efficiency into your business, where every meeting has a purpose, and you create a cycle of actioning agreed upon tasks and delivery of results that stick. Each team member is in the right meeting, at the right time, with the right information, as well as support, to be able to deliver on what is agreed to in the right time frame.
This quote sums it all up beautifully:
“As a leader, you must consistently drive effective communication. Meetings must be deliberate and intentional. Your organisational rhythm should value purpose over habit, and effectiveness over efficiency. Just to pick up on these two points said, purpose over habit. If you are looking at your operating rhythm and it is just the rigmarole of every single week and you’re going through the motions, it’s time to change it up. Your operating rhythm, the purpose of it is to drive growth, focus, unity as a group. If it’s not doing that, then you need to change it up. Purpose over habit. Habit, if it’s a bad habit, is not one you want.” – Chris Fussell, President of McChrystal Group
What does this Operating Rhythm look like and how do you conduct meetings?
The key is to make sure that you have the right mix of meetings for your operating rhythm to run like a well-oiled machine.
The simple structure of meetings top line looks like this:
This is when you come together with your team every single year to develop and refine your why or purpose, your vision, your values, your strategy, tactical priorities, and goals that you are going to hit for the year ahead. Once you have your 5 to 10-year goal, it’s time to decide what your gaps are and your priorities for the next 12 months.
This is a one-to-two-day offsite meeting. It’s highly recommended having a facilitator for these meetings. You can add team building and any other professional development to the mix during this time. Remove yourself from office and head into the mountains, the countryside, or the beach for example. Get away from it all with your team.
This provides an opportunity for clear thinking with no noise. Never underestimate the power of taking your team away from it all, away from the office for one or two days a year. This is h
igh priority, one of the highest priorities for the year. During this time, a specific facilitators guide is produced to ensure you reach all your meeting goals.
If your annual meeting is a two day offsite, your quarterly meetings will be a half day to one day. It’s recommended to make your first quarterly meeting also a part of your annual offsite. The 2nd quarter meeting may be half a day, and then at the 6-month mark, you make it a one-day event.
For the third quarter, create another half day meeting. Your quarterly meetings are all about making sure you’re on track strategically and setting the priorities and tactical plan for the next quarter. It’s a reconnection to your vision, purpose, and strategy refinement, dealing with any major issues or changes, and making new decisions where needed. During this time, a specific facilitators guide is also produced to ensure you reach all your meeting goals.
Your monthly meeting allows everyone to report on your initiatives and tactical projects that you are running to execute the strategy. In other words, now you are starting to move from strategy down to tactics in your discussions. This is how you get to your goal. This allows you to do the small things in big ways, rather than constantly being stuck in doing big things in very small ways.
This is the execution piece and the steps you’re going to take along the way. You get together once a month with full transparency where each person/dept can report on time, budget, resources needed, actions, barriers, and challenges, as well as risks for each of the tactical initiatives with solutions to help improve overall team performance.
Weekly meetings preferably on a Monday morning by team and then reporting upwards to the leadership, team weekly meetings are essential. You can discuss operational improvements, as well as key issues of risks in prioritised activities. You bring your team together to solve things quickly, to ensure no initiative is stalled or put in the ´too hard basket´. This can be done by department and then by leadership team. The main questions for conversation to include are:
The daily huddle is very operational; and yet so critical. But this would be a daily stand-up – 10 to 15 minutes long maximum, with exception reporting only. You won’t be reporting everything that’s happening in your team, just the things that people need to know about, and the three things each person is focusing on for the day. The intention is to keep everyone focused, removing barriers that may get in the way and eliminating unnecessary meetings and issues that arise from lack of alignment and uncertainty in your team.
The questions are repetitive every day and designed to remove barriers standing in the way, including our own self-limiting barriers.
This is not a session to play blame games or test people. It is genuinely to help everyone understand what the other is working on and to help remove obstacles that may hinder delivery. It gives you the opportunity to understand what is happening in your team with little unwanted surprises popping up as you have full transparency. It’s very tactical by nature, yet so powerful. Constant spaced repetition is the key to developing the right habits and ensuring you get results that stick again.
Introducing this Operating Rhythm into your business is the ultimate gift of time. Most people are sceptical at first, understandably, as we often resist change. Once it’s in place though and people are used to the process, the results of the organisation, the motivation levels, and the sense of belonging to something significant will all speak for themselves.
If you are interested in a workshop or creating the right operating rhythm for yourself and/or your team you can contact me on [email protected]