They found the genes that distinguish high-performing workgroups. They are:
Optimizing critical thinking
Here are a few choice quotes from the book:
"To increase performance, companies need to focus on the single factor that is most critical to high performance – the environment of their workgroups."??
"To achieve the best return on financial and human capital investment, leaders need to deliberately create workgroup environments that can sustain high performance."??
"If the best and the brightest people are not in the right environment, they will not do their best work."??
"Business is a team sport."??
"The work environment is linked to customer satisfaction. The right work environment results in satisfied employees and studies have shown a high correlation between employee and customer satisfaction."??
"The study provides, for the first time, quantifiable proof that there is a direct correlation between how you treat people and financial results. The best way to value people is to create an environment in which smart people are treated as if they are smart."??
"Our study also found that the single biggest impediment to high performance around the world is short-term thinking."??
Managers, leaders, and OD/HR/training professionals: What feelings are you left with after reading these quotes? Here´s what I get from them:
This work validates what we have been feeling and thinking – establishing the right work environment matters and is important. Susan told me that she often has people come up to her after speeches who share this sentiment. Her research has validated what they felt to be true. This information can be very powerful if we use it.
A company can have a world class hiring process, but if the newly hired super stars are put into non-performing work groups, they will not be able to do their best work.
Lesson for us all: Our focus needs to be on fixing the workgroup environment!
Here´s a question for my fellow OD and training professionals – how much of your work is focused in this area? If the answer is, "Not much,"?? it might be time to re-evaluate. Susan acknowledged that OD and training professionals are certainly one audience for the book because it can arm them with the data and proof they need to get support for the right work (and the data helps us look less like bleeding hearts).
Managers – Do you get it how important you are? I asked Susan for her advice for middle managers. She offered these two points:
"1. When you are in the middle – it is easy to look up and point the figure and say, "the company doesn´t let me do ___."?? The group that you run is YOUR group. It might be more difficult to do the right thing without support from above, but it is not impossible." Her research proved this, too. Susan said there were many high-performing workgroups that existed within companies that were not high performing.
2. Susan saw that many middle managers protect team members from others in the organization, they become a buffer so that the team can excel. The problem with this is that if the leader changes, team performance will suffer. And for the managers, this is not a sustainable model because they will get drained and lose the ability to continue protecting the team. Susan´s advice to these protecting managers?
"If you are one of the protecting leaders, there are likely others doing the same thing. Find two other leaders similarly impacted and, together, identify something tangible and specific that is getting in the way of high performance, and build a case to change that process or policy. Offer a solution and show how the change will impact results. As a trio, you are a loud voice.
Find a champion (one of the three bosses that´s a kindred spirit) to help support the change and pave the way."?? The champion should be someone who sits on the body that you are trying to influence. Susan added, "Being a Jerry McGuire doesn´t work – going by yourself to leadership will be heard as complaining. One voice alone is not loud enough."??
Tomorrow, in Part 3, I will elaborate on something Susan calls "Moving the Middle"?? and share how her research has expanded into some nifty survey tools.