Last week I met with an HR VP to discuss lifting organizational performance through leadership and culture development. The company was doing well and growing through a few strategic acquisitions. Levels of customer satisfaction, service/quality, safety, productivity, and profits were good but not great. He and the senior team were looking for ways to boost performance and build a great organization.
The company was diligently surveying and tracking employee engagement and satisfaction with leadership behaviors, teamwork and cooperation, communication, performance management/coaching, and the like. He showed me an impressive set of data taken every six months for the past few years comparing results across divisions and corporate departments.
But nothing significant was changing. The survey scores were static across the last few years. While their measurements were well beyond what many companies do, their actions were way too typical — and ineffective. While we reviewed the data he quickly skipped over the stronger scores and zeroed in on the red colored numbers. These were the lowest or weak areas that he felt needed the most attention. He explained that managers in those divisions and departments would be meeting with their teams to review the data and develop “improvement plans.”
The vast majority of organizational “improvement plans” follow this well-worn path to mediocrity through finding and fixing weaknesses. This weakness-based approach is very effective for helping an organization move their performance from bad to good. This is linear development; focus on what’s not working very well and decrease or eliminate what’s clearly off track while increasing what’s needed to pull up performance.
But this company was doing pretty well. They were already good. Our research clearly shows that moving from good to great calls for a very different approach. We need to understand our strengths and figure out how to leverage them from good to great. That calls for a non-linear approach we call cross-training.
Joe Folkman presents a complimentary webinar on Building Organizational Muscle: Why Building Strengths Pay Greater Dividends than Fixing Weaknesses.
You and your leadership team don’t want to miss this rare chance to hear from two pioneers in the rapidly evolving strengths-based development revolution. You’ll learn about:
- What our research on 122,000 employees in 10,000 work groups from different organizations showed are the 18 Differentiating Capabilities contrasting the highest performing (top 10%) from the lowest-performing (lowest 10%) teams and organizational units.
- Data showing 8 times greater team commitment in organizations operating in the top 10 percentile versus the bottom 10 percentile.
- Keys to getting much greater value from employee surveys.
- Focusing on what are both needed and valued in organization improvement efforts.
- How building just three organizational strengths almost triples overall results.
- The astounding and exponential pay-offs that come from building powerful strengths combinations such as Ability to Execute and Positive Work Environment.
- A case study contrasting action plans — and vastly different results — for improving communication using a traditional linear approach versus building on and cross-training strengths.
- Creating ACTIONABLE plans using cross-dimensional research.
- Our Extraordinary Team development system.