Organizational Excellence

People and Process Improvement

Posts Tagged ‘job expectations

The X and I

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There is a great whiteboard video from the originators of the “X” posted at the Employee Engagement Network.  Come back after you watch.

If we can tell our personal story, it helps make engagement more real. If something actually has deep meaning to me and I can relate my own experience to others, I become a more credible source.

This is my personal story–how I have mapped the “x” in numerous sessions of BlessingWhite’s Managing Personal Growth. The story ran long, so I am posting it separately at my blog.

Telling my “x” experience is critical right now as I am about to use it to introduce myself, to open a proposal to our chief officers that is heavily influenced by engagement factors-the soft stuff that can drive operations managers nutty. My leaders need to understand me, my perspective, and most importantly the power of engagement as presented through the “x”. I need credibility, and telling my story here is a good warm-up for me. The X and I.  I’d love to hear your story too.


How Countable Are You?

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“Countability” was coined by John Maxwell in The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork:

9. The Law of Countability. Teammates must be able to count on each other when it counts. Is your integrity unquestionable? Do you perform your work with excellence? Are you dedicated to the team’s success? Can people depend on you? Do your actions bring the team together or rip it apart?

My leader has asked the questions many times: what exactly is “accountability”? What does it mean to hold someone “accountable”?

It’s time to take a swipe at this snipe called accountability.

I am your leader, I am counting on you to make the best possible decisions within your area of responsibility. By the same token, you can count on me as your leader to clearly define what’s expected of you, and to make sure you have the information, skills and tools to deliver on those expectations. A good leader does not count on more than their followers can deliver. A good follower delivers no less than what they are capable of.

Don’t expect me to make decisions for you when you are capable of making the call yourself. That’s just abdicating your responsibility. And, no offense but I have more important things to do. If you make a decision to the best of your ability, within your defined area of countability, you will not be chastised if the decision turns out to be wrong. We need to figure out WHY it was a wrong call, and learn from it together.

We have more than enough definition and structure: work instructions, standard work, targets, ISO9001, leader certification, hourly associate performance expectations and assessments, salaried performance management, policies. All we need to do is execute consistently every day to the best of our ability. No exception to this is acceptable or justifiable on the leaders’ or followers’ part.

Our success hinges on clearly defined expectations and responsibilities and leaders supporting the team–providing what they need, enabling followers to get the job done. A leader cannot succeed without ensuring the success of their followers and having a team that is countable. That is a leader’s number one job.

A company cannot succeed without people who are countable, people who do what is expected of them, up and down the line. When people deliver the goods, they need to know it. When they fall short, they need to know it. And if they need help to pick things up a notch, they need to get it.

Countability applies to all levels of leaders and all followers. No rocket science, nothing more than fundamental chain-of-command.

How countable are you?

Written by Craig

July 2, 2012 at 9:42 am

The Formula-It Ain’t Rocket Science

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It should be easier than this…what happens to The Plan on the journey from the board room to the end of the year? Sure, nothing can be carved in stone and there are no guarantees. But still, where are the disconnects, what gets in the way of flawless execution of the plan?

The formula that follows is not rocket science. It’s fundamental management. But if you were to take a straw poll of your company to measure how well you are doing for each of the formula steps, how would you fare? I have a simple assessment in my pocket, if you dare…

The formula is based upon what people need to become and stay highly engaged and committed, highly satisfied high performers. Highly engaged people have bought into the company’s goals, and put forth the effort it takes to hit the mark. The formula also factors in those things the organization needs to achieve flawless execution: people on the same page, effectively cascaded and communicated goals. Finally, elements of change management are included that are essential for getting people comfortable with making the jump to the new world.

  1. Establish clear vision–line of sight to the top so people know what’s important and why, and understand their role in bringing home the organization’s top goals.
  2. Align: get on the same page, both publicly and privately. Leaders can’t be cowboys, their action plans and especially their daily actions must be an extension of the company’s top goals, and they must fully understand that connection and the importance of their role. It used to be called “company man”. But it’s simply being a team player.
  3. Set clear expectations so people know what to do, not just when it’s convenient but every time, every day. Constancy of purpose leads to consistency of effort and we need consistency. Deming was right–variation is Public Enemy #1.
  4. Ensure accountability to execute the plan. Chain of command must demand it. Expect execution, not when it’s convenient or only when there is 100% agreement, but every time.
  5. Provide support: (a) from leadership’s mentoring and modeling, which makes clarifying and reinforcing expectations much more credible; and (b) by providing systems and tools, information and skills needed to ensure the team can deliver on their accountabilities.
  6. Reinforce and follow-up by continuously verifying accountabilities are met and making sure the team has the tools they need to deliver the goods.
  7. Follow through. Make tough choices if there are still people who either can’t or won’t deliver on their accountabilities.

The Formula sounds heavy on Command and Control, which is more than a little out of character for me. But let’s go through the process from the top, slipping the John Everyman  hat back on…

If the vision is not compelling enough to me, then am I in the right job with the right company? Or, has the story just not been told well enough for me to buy in? I really do crave something a little more meaningful than just doing the same old stuff day in day out with little apparent purpose.

Don’t worry about how I’ll react if you lay out my expectations and accountabilities in no uncertain terms. I could stand the clarity, seriously–it beats the heck out of guessing what you expect me to do then being told later I guessed wrong.

Number 5 is my Ace in the Hole…that one is all on your shoulders. Like it or not, I watch you. And I tend to mirror your behavior and your attitude…it’s safer that way. “Do as I do” carries a lot of weight, can you handle it? As far as 5b goes, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you expect me to go out huntin’ grizz I’m going to get mauled if all you’re giving me is this worn out old slingshot. Don’t set me up to fail-it makes you look bad too.

It would be wise if you would check in now and then to make sure things are going according to plan. And if I’m not willing or able to deliver the goods even after you’ve made my expectations clear and made sure I have what I need to deliver, then we both have a problem.

And I deserve your solution.

Written by Craig

January 2, 2011 at 12:17 am

Good For You, Good For Me

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 Leaders Expect…

Diligent people who produce

Company goals to be met



Followers Need…

Clear expectations

A compelling reason to perform above and beyond the call of duty

A feeling of belonging and worth, and of contributing to the cause

The knowledge, skills, abilities, systems and tools needed to meet their expectations

These needs and expectations are not in conflict. Rather, one leads to the other. People find meaning and the means to make a difference through their level of contribution at work, and their efforts directly impact the profitability and success of their employer. Seems like a basic concept. But if it was that easy, why hasn’t everybody been doing it, and doing it well?

Written by Craig

December 28, 2009 at 4:01 am

What Gets Measured, Gets Done

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Einstein said: Only measure what is truly important. However, not all that is truly important is measurable. Some anonymous Einstein came up with a profound part two: But remember, not all that is measured is truly important.

How do you know if you’re winning or losing if you don’t keep score? People play better when there is a scoreboard, but what makes an effective metric? The ideal is for metrics to serve as a real-time indicator of how things are going, at an actionable level so those who are accountable can impact performance and improve real-time when needed.

The scoreboard is the performance management system, updated real-time so people can adjust their game plan in time to make a difference in the game.

People are assessed on how much they did or didn’t deliver on their accountabilities. Therefore, it is critical to establish objective, quantifiable ways to determine level of contribution toward goal attainment.

When people are told they must improve ROA and other lag indicators, they are understandably frustrated. Who among us can easily recognize the direct impact of our work on the bottom line or on market share?

Need Both

Connection between lead and lag goals and metrics is critical. Focusing on lead alone may give you good information on short-term performance. But how can you determine whether organizational goals are being met? And, focusing only on lag goals and metrics is not a good call to action for the first level, provides no indication of current status, and there are no early indicators that corrective action must be taken.

(For background on the work-in-process Flawless Execution project, go to the FE Home Page. For more information on performance management go to Flawless Execution Systems page)

A Roadmap to Alignment

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A Roadmap to Alignment

Alignment is a bit of a baby topic right now, but it’s critical and will be added to soon and often. As the sub-title of In Pursuit of Excellence is “Engagement > Alignment > Execution > Results” I am maintaining a Roadmap for each of the first three topics, posted under “Pages” at the top right of the Home Page.

Alignment, pet term “being on the same page”, comes in many shapes and sizes, the most critical being alignment…

  • Between the company’s goals and values and your own;
  • Of your position’s accountabilities to the company’s top strategies; and
  • Of your job and career to your personal strengths and motivators.

In A Roadmap to Alignment  are thumbnails for posts related to strategy and alignment. Scope of “strategy” includes vision, mission, guiding principles and how these are communicated and acted upon. Both personal alignment and business alignment are examined, per the three bullets above. NOT in scope is how to develop a plan. I’ll assume that your company already has a plan or you wouldn’t be here browsing around, you’d be on the street corner looking for spare change.

Written by Craig

May 8, 2009 at 10:07 am

What the Heck is an “Integrated System of HRD”?

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This post briefly describes the elements of a Human Resource Development (HRD) system (see diagram), and how the elements are integrated in an ideal system.

People flow effortlessly without friction through an integrated human resource development system, just like product and work flows through any production process. “Integrated system” simply means that all the processes and practices of the HRD system shown below cannot be stand-alone.

The critical input to the HRD system is the company’s strategy, and the most important element that aligns all the HRD processes to strategy is the job write-up, or position specification.

 HRD Diagram


 Integrated HRD Starts With Alignment, the Position Spec is the Enabler

What is the company’s strategy and what are the key challenges the company faces? How does each function and its positions support the strategy and help to address the challenges? The job write-up is the justification for a position’s existence. The write-up must clearly connect the position to strategy, and describe how the position helps support the strategy and achieve goals.

Strategy is cascaded down through the company, as goals are set with increasing levels of specificity. Accountability is established until each function and each position is clearly aligned with the top and is directly responsible for a portion of the strategy.

Promotions, hiring and placement decisions are driven by the position spec. The position spec serves as the basis for recruiting and interviewing, and eventually placing a person into a vacant position. If the company knows what positions will come vacant through known attrition (retirements, promotions, backfills). The write-up for the position being vacated is the list of qualifications the successor will need (succession management).

People are groomed for advancement ahead of the need and are ready to move up when the need arises, minimizing the impact of attrition. The performance management process is the planning and monitoring tool for development of employees, and provides essential input to the training and development function. Input from performance management plans is used to determine the curriculum for meeting the developmental needs of individuals and the position needs of the company.

For background on the work-in-process Flawless Execution project, go to the FE Home Page. For more information on this topic go to the Flawless Execution Systems page.