Performance Management Blog

Team Building, Leadership and Change

In my LinkedIn feed was a blog by Jacob Morgan about leadership in change. In it, he talks about the thinking of Simon Mainwaring, who thought that there are 3 transforming trends happening:

  1. Leaders are allowed to be more human,
  2. Cultures are more inclusive, and
  3. Leadership is much more collaborative.

His key point was that as leadership changes, the skills and mindsets of leaders will also change. Successful leaders are willing to adapt to best serve their organizations. This only makes sense.

My initial response to this was, “maybe.” I have been seeing similar thoughts for a very very long time, almost every time there is some paradigm shift like the move to “Excellence” and the move to “Quality” and so on and so forth. Maybe, “covid-driven remote working” is the next great new thing in the world of leadership to drive a focus on managing, or maybe not. I think that a lot of managers view the world pretty simply: …and this is NOT how to motivate them for good performance… I remember reading pre-covid that the workers that were remote way back in those good old days had more contact with their managers than the people who were sitting in the same offices, watching their manager walk by not saying much, multiple times a day. The managers apparently seemed to feel the need to keep connected to these remote workers and never bothered to bother the ones sitting in the workplace. And, I just read a great PwC survey of CEOs. In this broad-based analysis, one can see that Customer Satisfaction and Employee Engagement Metrics were the top two measures to which these execs were compensated and that they were the top two corporate strategies. But then you read nothing much about the people strategies of these CEOs and nothing about how they are communicating the criticality of managing the front-line workers and their supervisors to improve their workplaces. And it seems to me that if people are that important to their view of performance, they would be at least talking about that herein or maybe in their regular communications with their management teams. Now, you read the stories around The Great Resignation and see how so many people are CHOOSING to leave their companies. So much of that hangs around the issues of them and their supervision and management (training, compensation, engagement and similar). And if you read the survey, the word “people” was used two times and there was little recognition that improving the management of people on generating those desired results. And then I read a great and really well-written article by Ethan Burris about how to manage ideas around your negative boss and up the organization (https://hbr.org/2022/01/how-to-sell-your-ideas-up-the-chain-of-command) — which makes great points but which angers me because only the most motivated workers will choose to do something that risky within their own organization. How many workers are going to read the article to learn the strategies for working around their managers and how many managers will see this whole thing as needing change?

(This other article on employees speaking freely (also by Ethan Burris) is much better, and will be the subject of another blog post soon:  https://hbr.org/2016/01/can-your-employees-really-speak-freely)

WHY should workers even want to manage ideas around their manager? Why take the risk? Why not just go to another company which will probably generate a pay increase and the possibility that the manager really cares about their people? There is always hope, right? I’m an old geezer, 73, and recently un-retired and re-engaged in themes of people and performance. I’ve been reading about these same “better management practices” for over 50 years and some of those business writings are now about 100 years old. And little has really changed. METRICS have changed since we now measure engagement and quality, but the general interactions of managers and employees? Not so much.

BOSS spelled backwards is self-explanatory and there are still WAY too many managers who think they are The Boss. (And most would agree that they are!)

Going remote has HUGE potential benefits for people and performance. But how do we really implement improvements in organizations to make the workplace a real place for personal growth and family support? So, I am thinking of taking a back-door approach to changing supervisor’s behaviors and forcing them to be more engaging. We just released the online, virtual version of our team building game. It is designed to run with as many as 6 teams of 4 people in a pod, just a perfect size if we can get organizations to push their managers to do some actual teambuilding with their people. One or two supervisors could run the game, which is focused on, “Mining as much gold as WE can.”  If, we can teach these managers the positive facilitation skills needed to run the game as Expedition Leader, basic psychology says that their attitudes around the ideas of facilitation will change, that they will need to be in alignment with their actual behavior. The game is about getting people to collaborate within their teams and getting them to collaborate between their teams in order to generate to most gold that they can. Competition makes it more difficult and measurably sub-optimizes game results. Then, these Expedition Leaders generate a debriefing to get at the ideas the players have for performing better, and then discussing how some of those suggestions could be implemented within their workplace. Later communications done for teaching and around implementation would further the need for more engagement and more changes toward desired outcomes. We will move this way as we develop more of the game support materials. We will wrap the exercise around generating motivation and teamwork and improving how people engage and collaborate around their remote workplaces. If you want to see more about The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, you can click on the icon below and see a short overview video or to to our website to read about the exercise in more detail. The new, virtual version of the team building game for remote teambuilding — For the FUN of It! Scott Simmerman, Ph.D., CPF, CPT – “The Square Wheels Guy” Managing Partner, Performance Management Company – 864-292-8700 1520 S McElhaney Road, Greer SC  29651    USA [email protected] Visit our website at www.performancemanagementcompany.com See a 2-minute video of Lost Dutchman Virtual here:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cE6gDtZymwk

Dr. Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman CPF, CPT is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. -- You can reach Scott at [email protected] and a detailed profile is here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottsimmerman/ -- Scott is the original designer of The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding game and the Square Wheels® images for organizational development.

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