Promoting a consistent message and visual identity is critical to success

branding-art

Art source: www.aboutbranding.co.za

Most companies simply will not allow haphazard uses of their logos or brands. Break those rules and you are in serious trouble.

Promoting a consistent message and visual identity is critical to “branding” and maintaining controls around variance of messages.In fact, once we have standardized our systems (think purchasing,hiring, interviewing, community outreach, media engagement, crisis and issues management, communications) we are able to be more efficient, effective and save time and money.

When variances show up on the bottom line, we can check them against our standardized processes.This is what our financial people do on a regular basis. This brings standardization to the organization.However, most companies still don’t standardize their leadership best practices.

 

They may have dozens of ways to interview and hire, solve the same problem in five different ways in various divisions, and simply spend a lot of time and energy needlessly identifying and solving the same problems repeatedly in many different ways.

Those companies who do standardize their leadership processes and training create a path forward map to help every leader in the company to be successful. In simple terms: Develop your road map and follow it, or as I tell clients who seek strategic planning assistance from me, “Write your plan based on best practices and work your plan.”

Why don’t companies do this?

Research shows that many companies don’t have a unified leadership process in place because:

  • The leaders don’t have the training they need to succeed.
  • There is no objective accountability system.
  • The “dots are not connected” for employees in respect to purpose, worthwhile work and making a difference.
  • The companies are not using a sequenced mapped approach.
  • There is no process for managing high- and middle-level managers.
  • There is no process in place to address the problems with low performers.

To determine if your company needs to standardize your leadership system, Quint Studer in his book, “Results That Last,” suggests we ask ourselves such questions as:

  • How many different ways do we have to interview a candidate?
  • How do we know that when our leaders have left a meeting we have accurately and completely conveyed the messages we want them to carry back to the employees?
  • When employees are asked tough questions, how do we know they are not giving us just the answers they think we want to hear?
  • How do we measure the performance of our employees in such a way as we can determine they are low, middle or high-level performers?
  • What process do we have in place to assess the performance of employees and their accountability against the overall organizational goals?

Six ways to improve our leadership programs

Leadership programs can be standardized and improved.

When we standardize our programs, we provide a path forward map for all our leadership, which saves time and money and makes organizations more successful.

How do we do this?

1. Use a common agenda. While Studer recommends that all agendas be organized around his “Five Pillars of Excellence,” (People, service, quality, finance and growth) even more important is that for every meeting there is a standardized agenda used by all leaders in the organization. By using such an approach, we can align all staff to our organizational goals, which then allows us to help them connect to the organization’s vision and mission. This approach also gives us the means to communicate to our team the critical success factors within the organization and in their individual work areas.

2. Align your evaluation process to Studer’s five pillars or the organization’s critical success factors. When developing goals for our organization, they must be objective, measurable, meaningful and aligned with the organization’s pillars or critical success factors. They must also be focused on results.

3. Provide consistent packets of information. When leaders leave meetings, they should have a prepared packet of information they can share with their employees so that everyone hears the same messages. Studer notes that many companies use “Flip and Tell” books to package the information.

4. Choose a single method of interviewing and hiring employees. All applicants should be asked the same three or four behavioral-based questions no matter what job they are applying for in the organization. It would be prudent to choose questions geared toward values and ownership.

5. Collect tough questions from leaders. Every leader should be asked on a regular basis to share with the team the tough questions they hear from their staff. Then work with your leaders to develop a consistent set of answers that will be used by all leaders. This develops a consistent message that can be communicated by everyone. Consistency builds confidence and provides employees evidence that the leaders have the information needed to answer their questions.

6. Make sure your leaders are trained in basic competencies to perform. Many leaders are not comfortable delivering messages without appropriate training.

Those companies who annually train their leaders in such competencies as meeting facilitation, negotiations, conflict prevent and resolution and presentations skills are more successful because they are providing the essential training all leaders need.

Research shows that repetition is essential to build integrity and credibility within an organization. Great leaders never tire of repetition. When leaders become better at using their skills, they become more efficient and effective at doing it. They will get better with practice.

Organizations that use this six step approach have longer lasting results, improved organizational efficiencies and greater innovation.Key points to remember:

  • Stop the variances. When an organization has variance in its leadership approach it produces inconsistencies within the organization making it more difficult to achieve excellence. Alignment among the managers and employees improves performance and enhances customer and employee satisfaction.
  • Standardize behavior. Leadership behavior is challenging to quantify and many organizations find it a challenge to standardize behavior. Many organizations fear that by doing so they will intrude on the leader’s autonomy and creativity. However, organizational goals come down from the top and include clear visions and missions. Any single leader’s independence is less important than the organization’s mission.
  • Eliminate barriers. Barriers that can get in the way of standardizing leadership behavior include: Lack of critical mass; lack of a balanced approach; insufficient training; no objective accountability; no path forward map which connects the dots; no process in place to manage middle and high level performers; no system to address quickly and efficiently low performers; an inability or unwillingness to standardize best practices across the organization. These barriers must be systematically eliminated.n Identify and eliminate inconsistent practices.

Carefully scrutinize all your practices in interviewing systems, messaging to employees, leader responses to crises, varying leadership performances and ineffective leadership evaluations.

Every organization should strive to create a self-sustaining culture with energy and vision to achieve excellence, Studer says. This can be accomplished by renovating your leadership evaluation system, applying key leadership behaviors, which will inspire self-motivation (the most powerful motivator of all), and developing standardized processes which will hardwire excellence into your organization.

Sources: “Results That Last” by Quint Studer

Dr. L. Darryl Armstrong, Armstrong and Associates, is a consultant and counselor. He can be reached at drdarryl@aol.com or 1-888-340-2006 or http://www.ldarrylarmstrong.com

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Building Ownership in Your Organizations

Seventeen years ago, I started my own business,  L. Darryl ARMSTRONG and Associates Behavioral Public Relations. I have not had a 40-hour workweek since! I manage, market, sell, build and do the janitorial jobs in this company. I could not be happier.

When we have employees as dedicated as we are as owners they are worth our weight in gold. They believe in our mission. They hold our same values. They are “owners” whether they have stock in the business or not.

Organizations that achieve lasting results are staffed with employees of this type. “Owners” see the bigger picture. They understand what their responsibilities are and how they must meet them.

Building such ownership is not easy but the rewards are often immense.

Recently, I was at a new hospital facility as a patient. The place was lovely. It was decorated to the “nines” and a large and expansive facility for the small community.

When I entered the hospital and signed in I was greeted with a smile, had a private space to fill out my forms and when I had questions about those forms they were answered promptly and politely. When it was time for me to go to my treatment, I was escorted by a friendly and engaging member of the hospital team.

Why?

To ensure I didn’t get lost – an easy thing to do in this facility. It also put my mind to ease and it developed rapport with me as a patient. This employee was an “owner” in this organization – maybe not literally by holding stock but figuratively by being engaged and showing individual accountability.

Read more here: http://www.ldarrylarmstrong.co/11_2011_NOVEMBER_FINAL___Building_Ownership_in_Your_Organization.pdf

Hiring and Keeping Good Employees

Most of us know that Donald Trump is good at firing people. If you have ever watched The Apprentice, I suspect that at times you have cringed. What might not be known is he also is well known for his ability to find and hire good employees that help build a high performance team. His employees work hard, become successful and are loyal. What more could we ask for?

Trump says that the best way to avoid employee problems, and who among us doesn’t want to avoid problems and prevent conflict, is to make all your employees feel like they are part of the team. If they feel as if they have a stake in the overall success of your organization, then employee problems can be avoided – they simply won’t happen because the employee has ownership.

In the real world, not the one on television, Trump is known for building great teams by ensuring that employees have commitment to one another and the team. Everyone he says benefits from such an environment. He uses rewards and helps them focus on accomplishments. He gets loyalty by being loyal.

Read more here:  http://www.armstrongandassociates.org/10_2011_OCTOBER_FINAL___Hiring_and_Keeping_Employees.pdf

When Employees Are Happy

Employees want to believe that their company has a meaningful purpose, says Quint Studer in his book Results That Last.  They want to know that their jobs can and do make a difference. When all three of these conditions are met, bottom line results result as organizations create a climate of excellence.

Just as George Bailey learned in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, employees who know that their contributions are worthwhile can make all the difference.

Read more here: http://www.ldarrylarmstrong.com/9_2011_SEPTEMBER_FINAL___WHEN_EMPLOYEES_ARE_HAPPPY.pdf

Helping Leaders to Be Successful

Once a leadership evaluation system is in place, we must focus on helping our leaders be as successful as possible. Highly effective organizations – those who create and maintain a culture of excellence and success – invariably provide extensive training for their leaders.

I don’t know about you, but I never set out to be in management. I enjoyed being a “technician”, a “craftsman”, a person knowledgeable in my area of expertise. Once I became a leader, exemplary leadership training enabled me to excel in a way that would not have been possible without this training.   

 Quint Studer in his book Results That Last makes it clear that training is necessary if an organization is to succeed. So, if training is essential, why don’t we see better results from the training offered and why do so many organizations dump training when times get rough?

Read more here: http://www.armstrongandassociates.org/8_2011_AUGUST_FINAL_HELPING_LEADERS.pdf

Holding Leaders Accountable

When asked, leaders invariably tell us they need help in setting specific goals and identifying tasks and skills that lead directly to success of the organization.  The single most important thing we can do for our organizations  is this: establish an objective evaluation system, which holds all leaders accountable. Read more here: http://www.armstrongandassociates.org/7_2011_JULY_FINAL_-_LEADERS_ACCOUNTABLE.pdf

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it!

For years, I have been telling my clients that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it and although some of them get this sage wisdom – many never do. However, measurement and transparency drive accountability within organizations. It is that simple.

When our employees can see what their actions are accounting for within an organization, they can adjust their performance to get even better results. This allows all levels of our organization to focus on the same goals. When we recognize our employees achievements and recognize them, we encourage self-motivation. Excuses are removed.

However, any measurement must be objective measurement. The results of that measurement must be shared openly with everyone within your organization or, in the case of the chamber we mentioned a few columns ago, your membership and community. Objective measurement is not something we would like to have; it is a must-have because it is an essential part of achieving results that will last.

Read more here: http://www.armstrongandassociates.org/2010-UNITEDHEALTHCENTER.html

Leadership practices

Most companies still don’t standardize their leadership best practices. They may have dozens of ways to interview and hire, solve the same problem in five different ways in various divisions, and simply spend a lot of time and energy needlessly identifying and solving the same problems repeatedly in many different ways.

Those companies who do standardize their leadership processes and training create a path forward map to help every leader in the company to be successful. In simple terms: develop your road map and follow it, or as I tell clients who seek strategic planning assistance from me – write your plan based on best practices and work your plan.

Read more here Standardizing Leadership … http://www.armstrongandassociates.org/2010-UNITEDHEALTHCENTER.html

Excellence or perfection?

It seems that we often confuse the term excellence with perfection says Quint Studer in his book Results That Last. I agree. They are not the same thing. Perfection is simply not possible in any organization or person. However, striving for excellence is an achievable goal.

In a culture of excellence, we will make mistakes and have failures because they are unavoidable. However, when we are working within a true culture of excellence we recognize that mistakes and failures will be examined and learned from, and hopefully this will keep us from making those same mistakes in the future.

Working within the concept of creating and striving for a culture of excellence means that we will use the mistakes to help us better understand what it takes to achieve a higher level of performance. Within a culture of excellence employees and leaders are given permission to take certain risks, to make mistakes without dire consequences, and to demonstrate competency about making changes, which will help move the entire organization toward an even better culture of excellence.

 Simply, a culture of excellence creates an atmosphere that is supportive because without it, change will be hard, there will be employee and management resistance and there will be a likelihood of failure.

Read more here: Creating a Culture of Excellence – http://www.ldarrylarmstrong.com/2010-UNITEDHEALTHCENTER.html

Stopping the We/They in Organizations

Just what is the we/they phenomena?

Simply, it is when we are working within an organization and we make ourselves look better at the expense of others. We often do this because we don’t have the appropriate training to do otherwise.

Here is an example from my corporate days:

“Darryl, I am really distressed. I worked harder this year than I have in past years. I met all my deadlines on the projects. I just busted myself to get everything done BUT I got the same raise as everybody else.”

Now being the untrained manager/leader I was probably responded like this,” You know Joe I understand how you feel. If I had my way it wouldn’t be this way at al. But pay raises are out of my hands and in the hands of HR at corporate headquarters.”

Well, I may have made the employee feel better BUT simply I have shifted the responsibility up. I have turned HR into the bad guys at the expenses of creating the we/they phenomena in my own organization. I did this not because I wanted to put down HR, I did it because I didn’t know what else to do.

The we/they phenomena occurs everywhere. Need evidence?

  • You get your food at the restaurant and it’s cold. Not me the waiter says, that’s the kitchen’s problem.
  • Your computer doesn’t work right. Not me the computer repair guy says, it’s a software issue.
  • You car still has the rattle and cough. Not me the mechanic says, must be something they did in the body shop.
  • There has been a drop in sales. Not those of us in sales, top management should have predicted this!

The we/they syndrome comes naturally to all of us. However, this phenomena is the antithesis of teamwork. To prevent we/they leaders must step to the plate and show leadership and behaviors that prevent it from occurring. We do this by looking for ways to “manage up”.

Read more here:  http://www.armstrongandassociates.org/2010-UNITEDHEALTHCENTER.html