Here is a brief excerpt from an article co-authored by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. To read the complete article, check out the resources at their website, and sign up for free email alerts, please click here.
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If you’ve worked in enough jobs, you’ll know that cultures can vary dramatically. There are workplaces of outright dysfunction, of contention, of coasting, and even of backstabbing. There are some cultures that produce impressive financial results but also high employee turnover and burnout.
The most profitable, productive, enduring cultures are places where people lock into a vision with conviction, where they maintain excitement not out of fear but out of passion. And we have the research to back that up.
In 2009 and 2010, during the worst of the recession, Towers Watson conducted a global research study of 300,000 people to show the way the most profitable companies work—on the inside. These “high-performance” organizations outperformed their competitors in financial measures by as much as two and three times.
Towers Watson allowed us unprecedented access into this data to determine what levers managers of these organizations pulled. The core finding was that in the highest-performing cultures, leaders not only create high levels of engagement—strong employee attachment to the company and a willingness to give extra effort—but they also create environments that support productivity and performance, in which employees feel enabled. And finally, they help employees feel a greater sense of well-being and drive at work; in other words people feel energized.
This triumvirate of Engaged, Enabled, and Energized (E + E + E for short) was found in every highly profitable culture studied. These E + E + E cultures saw average annual operating margins twice as high as organizations with just high employee engagement and three times higher than those with low engagement.
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Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton are the co-founders of The CultureWorks and co-authors of several books including their latest, All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results, published by Free Press (2012).
How and why action learning “is truly the most powerful problem-solving tool of the 21st century”
Those who have read any of Michael Marquardt’s previously published books (notably Optimizing the Power of Action Learning and Building the Learning Organization) already know that he has an almost insatiable curiosity to understand what works, what doesn’t, and why in two separate but usually related fields: accelerated executive development, and, action learning. In his latest book, co-authored with Roland K. Yeo, the focus is on how to how to achieve breakthrough problem-solving with action learning.
To a much greater extent than ever before, in my opinion, problems in the business world occur faster and are more complicated. Therefore, Marquardt and Yeo assert – and I agree – that the process by which to solve problems, especially those that have great significance, must be completed faster and better than ever before. It must also actively involve more people. Efforts to solve problems — each best viewed as a precious learning opportunity — must “break through” complexity, bureaucracy, ambiguity, uncertainty, error, ignorance, and especially, resistance by those who fear the solution. In this volume, Marquardt and Yeo explain how.
They carefully organize their material within three Parts. First, in Chapters 1 and 2, they identify the need and the value of action learning during the process of solving complex problems. Next, in Chapters 3-11, they provide action learning mini-case studies of 31 quite different organizations (e.g. Microsoft and the Hong Kong Community Church, Lexus and HIV-Free Generation Partnership and Virtual City-Kenya) that demonstrate how action learning helped teams to solve real problems in real-world situations. Finally, in Chapter 12, they identify the key factors for success in breakthrough problem solving with action learning.
Here are a few key points of special interest to me:
1. Problems today in the business world have become much too complicated for one person or even a project team to solve.
2. Hence the critical importance of effective communication, cooperation, and especially, collaboration between and among those involved, within and beyond the given enterprise.
3. Problem finding as well as problem solving initiatives should carefully coordinated. Those who find them may not be best-situated to solve them…and vice versa. That said, everyone must be vigilant…and not only willing but eager to help wherever and whenever needed.
4. Action learning can provide metacognition and complex problem solving in five specific ways. (Please see Pages 35-37 for details.)
Marquardt and Yeo are to be commended on their skillful use of several dozen Tables throughout their narrative. These focus on key points and assemble essential information. Also, they will be invaluable for review later. Consider, for example, Table 12.11 (Pages 218-219) which juxtaposes entries in three columns (Breakthrough Elements, Common Challenges/Mistakes), and Corrective Actions) in a series of 10 separate but interdependent elements of the problem-solving process. Table 12.12 (Pages 222-223) should be frequently reviewed with 12.11. In fact, I think the two would be essential to the formulation of a game plan because they (a) identify most of the most important issues and (b) suggest how each can help increase awareness, focus on learning behaviors that will be most productive, and pose the questions that must be asked…then answered…during various stages of the process
Here is a brief excerpt from an article written by Geoffrey James and featured online by Inc. magazine. To read the complete article, check out others, and obtain subscription information, please click here.
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The best managers have a fundamentally different understanding of workplace, company, and team dynamics. See what they get right.
A few years back, I interviewed some of the most successful CEOs in the world in order to discover their management secrets. I learned that the “best of the best” tend to share the following eight core beliefs.
1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield.
Average bosses see business as a conflict between companies, departments and groups. They build huge armies of “troops” to order about, demonize competitors as “enemies,” and treat customers as “territory” to be conquered.
Extraordinary bosses see business as a symbiosis where the most diverse firm is most likely to survive and thrive. They naturally create teams that adapt easily to new markets and can quickly form partnerships with other companies, customers … and even competitors.
2. A company is a community, not a machine.
Average bosses consider their company to be a machine with employees as cogs. They create rigid structures with rigid rules and then try to maintain control by “pulling levers” and “steering the ship.”
Extraordinary bosses see their company as a collection of individual hopes and dreams, all connected to a higher purpose. They inspire employees to dedicate themselves to the success of their peers and therefore to the community–and company–at large.
3. Management is service, not control.
Average bosses want employees to do exactly what they’re told. They’re hyper-aware of anything that smacks of insubordination and create environments where individual initiative is squelched by the “wait and see what the boss says” mentality.
Extraordinary bosses set a general direction and then commit themselves to obtaining the resources that their employees need to get the job done. They push decision making downward, allowing teams form their own rules and intervening only in emergencies.
4. My employees are my peers, not my children.
Average bosses see employees as inferior, immature beings who simply can’t be trusted if not overseen by a patriarchal management. Employees take their cues from this attitude, expend energy on looking busy and covering their behinds.
Extraordinary bosses treat every employee as if he or she were the most important person in the firm. Excellence is expected everywhere, from the loading dock to the boardroom. As a result, employees at all levels take charge of their own destinies.
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Extraordinary bosses see work as something that should be inherently enjoyable–and believe therefore that the most important job of manager is, as far as possible, to put people in jobs that can and will make them truly happy.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Geoffrey James‘ “Sales Source” (formerly “Sales Machine” on CBS) is the world’s most-visited sales-oriented blog and has won awards from both the Society of American Business Editors & Writers and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. Sales Source is entirely independent and features the very best ideas from dozens of top sales experts and executives. To get column updates, sign up for his weekly “insider” newsletter or his @Sales_Source Twitter feed. His best posts, with many extras, are in his new book, How to Say It: Business to Business Selling.