Susan´s research found that only 10% of workgroups were high-performing (Susan says that 77% of the higest paid best educated people think they are high performing. Interesting, huh?)
To reiterate a quote from yesterday: "To increase performance, companies need to focus on the single factor that is most critical to high performance – the environment of their workgroups."??
How do companies increase the number of high-performing teams? In Contagious Success, Susan recommends something called Moving the Middle. Susan´s research found that
10% of workgroups were high-performing (those that made money for the company and created something new, such as a product or service)
52% of workgroups were average-performing (able to provide evidence of performance in profit, revenue, process improvement, or one of the other five business measures)
38% of workgroups were non-performing (could not provide evidence of performance on any business measures)
Moving the Middle is an effort to move a portion of the average-performing workgroups to high-performing level. The book points out that for the average company with a distribution similar to what was found during their research (10%/52%/38%), bringing just 20% of the average-performing teams up to the high-performing level doubles the number of high-performing workgroups and will have a significant impact to company results.
"By moving the middle, you can get radical results – but the scope is more manageable than a transformation initiative, and the process can be scaled up as appropriate. The change agents are not outside consultants, but the high-performing workgroups within your own company."??
Here´s how Susan recommends companies move the middle:
"1. Identify the high-performing and average-performing workgroups in your company.
2. Choose the top 20 percent of the average-performing group – the almost there´s.
3. Create SWAT teams made up of representatives of high-performing and almost-there groups. Assign a member of the senior management team as an advocate for the SWAT team.
4. Set aside time on a regular basis for SWAT teams to meet.
5. Tell the real story of the SWAT team as it is unfolding."??
The book offers details for each of these suggestions, but a couple things will likely come to mind right away.
1. You need to be able to determined your high-performing and average-performing teams. Most companies have no clue how to do this.
2. You need to have open and candid conversations about what it means to be high-performing and why a workgroup is or is not performing at this level. Many leaders will need to strengthen their backbone to have these types of conversations. I have seen very few organizations that had this healthy of a dialogue.
And this brings me to the last bit I am going to share. I asked Susan what has been most satisfying about the work and what´s next.
Most satisfying: Susan shared that she has held a personal mission statement since she was very young that she wanted to demonstrate how and help companies to do business in ways that are morally, ethically, and fiscally responsible. And that these goals can coexist. She is very proud that she and her team were able to prove the connection between work environment and business results. The work has made a positive impact and many people have heard their message and are making changes.
What´s new/next: If you go to the Contagious Success website, you will see at list of the tools and services they have and are working on to help companies understand workgroup performance levels and increase the number of high performing groups. Their offerings include web enabled surveys, surveys, tools, training and consultation. Based on my conversation with Susan, it sounds like she and her team will continue to drill down on what current and future research findings mean and how this knowledge can be put to good use to improve companies.
By the way, Susan mentioned that they are seeing big differences in the survey results between high-performing and non-performing groups. Items on the survey are grouped into factors (clustered) and the factor with the most differentiation is taking risks. High-performing groups have a learning environment where they can try new ideas and learn from mistakes. They are not afraid to take calculate dricks. This is no so with non-performing groups.
Both high-performing and non-performing groups had strategic planning, but when this planning is coupled with a learning environment, the workgroup will more likely be high-performing.
And the the most highly differentiated single item on the survey? "People in our work group feel valued."
There´s a lot more meat in the book, so if you are a manager, leader, trainer, or HR or OD professional, you should get Contagious Success and check it out for yourself. I think the book can have a profound impact on how we run and develop our organizations.