Performance - shifting 'the weight/s'
Updated: Nov 9, 2018
Starting with the end in mind is good advice, for use in a one to one coaching session right up to a more complex organisational development intervention, involving multiple stakeholders, across systems.
Focusing 'your' performance on what do 'you' really want to be doing, when, at what standard/measure and with what intended impact/outcome, is key.
You note I have highlighted & emphasised 'you' and 'your'. Even in individual 121 coaching sessions I provide I very rarely encounter goals that are solely for one person. The impact of the opportunity cost of spending time on a thing, meaning we don't have time for something (or someone) else, means few goals are ever truly solo ones, even at this simplest 121 level.
Across organisations it's of course far more complex. Requiring significant negotiation between multiple stakeholders, frequently with conflicting needs, differing expectations on timescales and standards.
Add into that overlapping systems, competing budgets/resourcing gaps, stress and rising consumer need and we start to get a flavour of how complex the discussion of just 'where that weight should go' can be. A community full of complexity where as we lever our wights we brush against or knock others levering theirs comes to mind - tricky!
Hold all that for a moment!
For whatever reason, politically and/or economically or by consumer demand, legislation or any range of others factors, performance needs to be varied.
Change is now needed, muscle memory and habit (culture/collective memory/self belief overlay all this - much more on these 'environmental aspects' in a later blog) can impede that occurring.
It is these system stakeholders that we will need to galvanise to:
Agree what we actually want to lift (if anything - choosing not do something is a choice).
To where (our shared ambition ) i.e. the height and position in three dimensions that we all wish to see it moved to.
Who, will then apply what force ('resource' the Change programme) to the lever (leadership) to actually deliver that ambition.
In the 3rd bullet point (above) remember our model relies on force being applied via a fulcrum (the engagement of our employees) - the force to change must exceed the weight, else it simply won't move.
Of course our employees will also need to 'stand steady' as a fulcrum for this to work. If they shift, slide or crumble then the lever simply won't be able to raise the weight high enough. That is (literally) the 'fundamental' aspect of your employees engagement it is the very basis of your performance.
Back to our model, beginning with the driver that something has shifted in the environment, or the climate (literally perhaps) generating the need to do things differently, the weight we placed somewhere, now needs to be moved to somewhere else. Simples!
Usually one (often, more than) one of these changes is needed: faster (or slower); to a different standard (price/time/quantity ratio sadly sometimes lower); more efficiently/economically; or not at all.
Played out in our example that might mean now carrying simultaneously multiple weights (complexity), weights that conflict with other weights (a screaming toddler and a puppy), 'a live load' (a container with fluid contents that shifts with movement), or perhaps the load is 'too hot to handle', sharp, dirty/smelly or possibly even 'explosive'! Bring in some environmental issues tried lifting anything large and heavy in high winds for example and we can see how tricky this gets.
Perhaps seeking to move multiple smaller weights to a number of more exact places, requiring far more precision is a solution. At some point the complications and implications of that need careful thought.
The properties of the load need to be taken into account, especially if multiple loads do conflict and one (more likely a number of loads) can really not be dropped.
Would you be clear on which weight can definitely not be dropped for your organisation? Are you sure all your stakeholders are as equally signed up to that same weight, as you are? What about what they are 'bearing' and if that changes?
Putting down a weight and 'walking away' is one of the hardest challenges for anyone who entered a public service career, committed to making a difference, to do.
"There must come a point though when the only way we can be sure of not dropping something is not to unrealistically elevate it in the first place."
Perhaps the hardest challenge we face (certainly in local authorities) - is to stop lifting some weights. To let go of our levers and support our communities with the adapting to the consequences and ensuring the loads we do bear are really the critical ones.
Might we better placed to consider who else is in the community is levering weights themselves and consider how we might add our support to them?
The topic for next weeks blog - the far more inspirational one (I'd suggest anyway) of Leadership! The 'lever' for change hmmmmm.