Focus on what’s important…

As a leader have you ever thought about what would help focus the team on the things that are most important?

With many competing priorities, and some diametrically opposed (cost versus quality, for example) the PMC TM, also known as the Business Review is the tool to help leaders focus the team and wisely use the resources available.  By shining a light on what is most important, the team has the freedom to systematically improve the performance of the organization, one step at a time.

Organizational leaders benefit from aligning the ability to act with the ability to measure through utilization of a scorecard-based PMC TM. The PMC TM is an effective solution to help focus a team, a department, division or service line on what is most important – strategically, operationally, or via regulatory requirements – helping to drive commitments and accountability to impact results.

A participant in a recent PMC TM launch commented, “This seems to be less about the mechanics of gathering and analyzing data, and more about changing to a culture of performance management.  In your experience, what are the biggest barriers to making that cultural change stick?”  It was an excellent question and one that I have thought a lot about during my time working with dozens of leadership teams. In my experience, the answer is really three things:

1.   Sponsorship – When I have seen this process fail, it has been largely because the leader of the organization isn’t engaged.  These leaders are going through the motions to satisfy an organizational requirement, but they find little value in the review.  If the sponsor doesn’t care, why on earth would the rest of the team?  Weak sponsorship spells an early death to a PMC TM.
2.   Metrics – Some teams create dozens of metrics for which there is no reliable data source.  Or they create metrics for things they think they “should” measure, not the things they are actively managing.  A good scorecard is full of the real measures that the leader and the team need in order to run their organization. 
3.   Improvement: The “So What” Factor – The purpose of the PMC TM is to pull together management teams to review performance, identify performance gaps, and take action to close those gaps.  It is really the “taking action” part that answers the “So What?” question.  Measuring for the sake of measuring achieves little.  The PMC TM is intended to drive accountability and improvement. 

Certainly there are other variables in the equation, but I consider these three the fundamentals.  Just as a basketball team cannot win games without a strong handle on the fundamentals of “pass, dribble, and shoot,” teams cannot manage performance effectively without mastering sponsorship, the metrics, and improvement. 

Read more about the Orion Advisory PMC TM 

Kara Carter is Director, Consulting Services at Orion Advisory.  Follow Kara on LinkedIn

When Teams Get Stuck

A client team facing a major organizational change is “stuck”.  They can’t move forward, they can’t move back…. Locked up in behaviors that slow the very changes they are moving toward.  Conversations focused on “my position” crop up in the boardroom and behind closed doors.  Heels start to dig in.  “Why are we having this conversation again?” asks the client. 

Those of us who facilitate or stand with teams reach into our toolkit for ground rules and processes. The leader of the group might fall back into command and control style and mandate a decision.  Dr. Roger Schwarz calls that “unilateral control”, a mindset that closes the door to new possibilities and learning.  Basically unilateral control is “my way or the highway”, and with a room full of leaders and bright, strong willed people, that can be a lot of highways! Schwarz reminds us one of the best things we as leaders or facilitators of teams can reach for when teams get “stuck” is our own mindset.

I recently had the good fortune to spend a week with Dr. Schwarz and his brilliant colleagues.  Working with Schwarz helped me characterize mindset for myself and the teams I help as; “How I want to be in the world”. Stepping away from the unilateral mindset and toward a mutual learning mindset allows room for listening to the internal voice that says; "I have information and so do others"; "Each of us sees things others don't"; "People may disagree with me and still have pure motives"; "Differences are opportunities for learning"; and "I may be contributing to the problem". 

Mutual learning embraces the values of transparency, curiosity, informed choice, accountability and compassion. It is very individual and personal work that needs to happen before we can help teams or individuals work toward change. It’s tough work. It’s daily, hourly conversation by conversation kind of tough but it pays off.  Mutually designed and agreed to outcomes, higher quality decisions, greater commitment and increased learning...richer opportunities and increased engagement. I call that real change. Here is a great piece by Dr. Schwarz on Team Effectiveness using the Mutual Learning mindset. I find it helpful.  Another “Schwarzism”..."Tell me how you see it differently”.  I am curious to hear your views.

Laura Grealish is Director, Consulting Services at Orion Advisory.  Follow Laura on Linked In

Increasing Revenue and Teamwork Through Collaborative Change

Within just three months, two teams, initially unwilling to sit next to each other in a room, shifted to a collective view of the patient care process and a self-sustaining program of innovation and improvement through collaborative change. Understand more about this team transformation here:

5 Steps to a Successful Customer Service Initiative

John DiJulius is the founder and CVO (Chief Visionary Officer) of The DiJulius Group, a consulting firm that works with companies to “Make Price Irrelevant”. Top organizations across the world use his philosophies and systems for creating world class service as part of what he calls a Customer Service Revolution. 
After years of researching the best customer service companies in the world, he has solved the mystery of why companies like Disney can get 50,000 employees to deliver legendary customer service on a regular basis, while other companies or departments can struggle to get a team of 12 to be consistent.

John has outlined 5 steps to a successful customer service initiative: Read the entire article here.

High Performance

One of the key tenets of our work is our belief that those closest to the work have the potential to make significant impact in day to day results.  Whether working with a team in a bank, a medical clinic, or a hospital environment, we have found this to be true. Here are a couple of examples that demonstrate the power of engaging frontline teams in managing and improving their work: An operations research team within a financial services company achieved an 80% reduction in the loss write offs and an 84% reduction in the time taken to respond to a customer phone call. How did this team accomplish these things?  Success was largely attributed to two factors:

First: Leadership sought to increase the employees’ level of ownership in day to day performance. 

Second: Leadership provided a structure and method to make performance improvements.  

This team, with leadership behind it, used the FasTrac TM collaborative problem solving process, and got to work identifying opportunities and solutions to improve its performance with loss write-offs and call response. The team successfully addressed these challenges, and job satisfaction levels increased by 17%, too. One leader shared:
“You have to let people manage themselves.  Management’s job is to stretch them… challenge them.”
A cross-functional medical team, made up of employees from Ultrasound, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Nursing, was brought together and given the challenge of improving on-time portable ultrasound exams by 33%.  This meant improving on-time performance from 57% to 90% within 4-months. The inability to complete the exams on-time reduced the Technologists’ productivity, led to employee dissatisfaction and frustration, and introduced the potential for risk to patients. Using the FasTrac TM approach, the team identified 13 potential causes for exams not starting on-time and eight solutions.  

The team had just 90 days to develop, investigate, and test these solutions. The team met the challenge and surpassed it by completing 100% of exams on-time within the 120 day target. One team member shared: 
“The FasTrac TM project exposed the group to tools, like mapping, which enabled the team to define the steps involved and assign accountability to ensure we met our goals.”
Involving the front line in managing and improving the work and results has been, and will continue to be, part of the equation in creating a high performing culture and successful bottom line.
For more information about Orion Advisory or to contact us, go to our website.

Mary Ann Yauger is Director, Consulting Service at Orion Advisory LLC. Follow Mary Ann on LinkedIn