It's the workforce, stupid!

It's the workforce, stupid!

Sacher Associates has identified what we call the ten essential components of team performance.

These are a unified sense of direction, strategy, outputs and performance measures, targets, performance feedback, communication, skills/knowledge, systems and processes, structure and job design and reward systems. These components are what we have been discussing in my blogs, once a month, from February to November. This month is about the implementation of these essential components.

While it is true that organizations are always working with these components to some extent, this is not enough. What really matters is the degree to which these components are being successfully and permanently entrenched in the work environment or culture. This is directly correlated with the highest levels of employee performance and job satisfaction.

There are, however, many people who believe that they have been there, done that or are currently doing all of this stuff. There are still organizations that are not implementing these essential components at the minimum standards required, particularly at the workforce and team leader/supervisor levels.

We are dealing with human beings, and therefore, the potential to improve performance is limitless, and the competition intense. The focus should be on the ongoing optimization of employee capability through the better implementation of these components.

Sacher Associates have been measuring the ten essential components of team performance in organizations of all sizes for the last 20 years. It is rare to come across an organization that has implemented these essential components at our targeted standards across all levels of employees. This runs contrary to the perception of some key stakeholders who tell us time and time again that they have these bases covered.

The secret to greater productivity is getting the basics right

For us, this means achieving the highest standards of excellence possible on all the components across all the teams in your organization. If you are not currently at that level, there is a definite opportunity to improve performance through the better implementation of these components.

A focus on the majority of people at the workforce level is, without exception, an opportunity to better implement the essential components of team performance. There are far more workers than managers. As a result, a manager’s attention tends to be focused on outstanding performers. The high-performers receive a lot of positive attention, poor performers receive a lot of negative attention, and the vast and silent majority of people at the workforce level are ignored. This can lead to apathy, cynicism, and alienation at the crucial point in the output chain where value is being added.

In the creation of workforce culture and the implementation of performance systems, the target should be the silent majority rather than the positive and negative minorities. In other words, be satisfied with systems that meet the needs of 80% of the target group, rather than 100%. The extra benefits to be gained from satisfying the last 20% may not be worth the effort.

As we have previously said: If you wish to know the road up the mountain, ask the man who travels it every day.

The what (outputs, performance measures, targets, standards, deadlines) are determined by management’s interpretation of what the customers, whether external or internal, want. However, the how, the best way to achieve what is required, should be left to the expert. The expert is the person doing the job. This is what General George Patton meant when he said: Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.

There is a story about a tennis player who kept hitting the ball into the net. Frustrated, he asked his coach what he was doing wrong. The coach replied that he was hitting the ball into the net. Even more frustrated, he asked the coach what he should do about it. The coach replied that he should hit the ball over the net. The tennis player already knew what to do. The only way to improve was by doing it.

Similarly, by systematically practicing and learning from our mistakes in business, we will get better and better, until we are among the best.

Systems should be implemented to create an environment in which people can take the plunge and learn from their mistakes, rather than one which teaches them to swim on dry land.

For more information, we refer you to our book: Success through team performance.

References and additional information can be provided on request, and questions are welcome. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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