1. New study shows we work harder when we are happy

    August 25, 2017 by ahmed

    HappyPhoto by slalit / CC BY-ND 2.0

    Originally posted on University of Warwick

    Happiness makes people more productive at work, according to the latest research from the University of Warwick.

    Economists carried out a number of experiments to test the idea that happy employees work harder. In the laboratory, they found happiness made people around 12% more productive.

    Professor Andrew Oswald, Dr Eugenio Proto and Dr Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick led the research.

    This is the first causal evidence using randomized trials and piece-rate working. The study, to be published in the Journal of Labor Economics, included four different experiments with more than 700 participants.

    During the experiments a number of the participants were either shown a comedy movie clip or treated to free chocolate, drinks and fruit. Others were questioned about recent family tragedies, such as bereavements, to assess whether lower levels of happiness were later associated with lower levels of productivity.

    Professor Oswald said: “Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%, they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”

    Dr Sgroi added: “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”

    Dr Proto said the research had implications for employers and promotion policies.

    He said: “We have shown that happier subjects are more productive, the same pattern appears in four different experiments. This research will provide some guidance for management in all kinds of organizations, they should strive to make their workplaces emotionally healthy for their workforce.”


  2. Lots of Activity, No Progress

    June 18, 2017 by ahmed

     

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Harry Hertz

    I recently read an HBR blog entitled, “How Aligned Is Your Organization?” The authors attributed a lack of internal organizational alignment to four reasons. The last, and I thought very important one, was that activity is mistaken for progress. Measurement of activity rather than progress is a common problem in organizations. Frequently, it starts with a desire to measure and manage by fact, and the easiest measures to begin with are activity measures. Activity measurement is not wrong, if you are measuring the right activities. In this blog post, I want to explore activity measurement and the achievement of progress.Activity is undertaken with the intent of producing results. And the direct results of activity are generally easy to measure (e.g., widgets produced, calls answered, time spent). Activity alone generally relates to operations and the results generally answer a question that begins with “What did you do?” You may have made twice as many widgets in half the time. You may have answered twice as many calls in only 120% of the time it previously took to answer half that number of calls. However, what you did may not yield results that relate to progress. Activity alone does not get at progress.

    In the Baldrige Excellence Framework, Results are scored on four factors. The first three are: levels, trends, and comparisons. You can measure all three of these factors for the activities described above and be very proud of your accomplishments. So what is missing?

    What if all the widgets were defective? What if all the calls answered did not resolve the callers’ issues? “Positive” activity, but no progress. The activities were measures of output, but not outcomes. The outcomes, which are measures of progress, were negative. Furthermore, the widgets may not have had the features that customers want. And with the heavy focus on widget production, the company may have missed that a replacement product was coming from another industry (e.g. digital imaging and ink replacing film and processing chemicals).

    All the customer calls you answered may have been due to poor guidance your organization provided at the start, requiring the need for further information.

    The activity measures perfectly answered the “What did you do?” question, but did not address the important questions of how well you did it, why you did it, and how important those activities are. To answer those questions we need more information about organizational context, strategy, leadership vision, and customer desires or needs. We need a systems perspective. We need an integrated set of questions and not just questions about level of activity, no matter how positive that activity’s results may be. The activity you are measuring may not even be an important activity to measure. The Baldrige Excellence Framework provides this systems perspective, through an integrated set of questions that cause thought about key organizational linkages.

    So how do quality improvement tools fit into this whole equation? They fit in very well, if applied to the right processes. Otherwise we could spend time on PDCA cycles or having Kaizen blitzes on unimportant processes, wasting people’s time and organizational resources, both of which are precious. These tools display their great value when applied to important problems. They need to be used with the good of the organization in mind, with a focus on processes that contribute to progress. We can then link the activity measures to not only output, but to the outcomes that will sustain the organization going forward.

    Finally, let me return to Baldrige Results factors. As stated previously, three are: levels, trends, and comparisons. The fourth and vital factor is integration. Are you measuring the results that are important to customers, strategy, financial success, and employee loyalty? And to emphasize the importance of integration, it is the only results factor that is also used as a scoring factor for processes. It is the measure of an aligned and integrated organization. It is the measure of systems thinking on the part of the organization. It is what moves our organizations from activity measurement, to measuring the right activities, to measuring critical outcomes, to achieving progress.

    How is your organization performing on its integration factors?


  3. Gettging airborne: Cultural transformation in the Navy

    February 14, 2017 by ahmed

    getting airborne 01

    Originally posted on BTOES insights by Chris Seifert

    When Ernie Spence arrived as the new commanding officer for the Navy’s largest F-18 training squadron, he was met with disarray. Of the squadron’s 117 planes, most had fallen into disrepair – leaving just one plane safe to fly. As a result, the team responsible for training about 60 percent of Navy squadron pilots was more than a year and a half behind schedule.The maintenance and spare parts delivery schedules for the Navy aircraft had been planned back in the 90s. As American involvement in the Middle East began to ramp up a decade later, Navy missions required these planes in action far more than initially expected. The squadron quickly found itself going through its spare parts at a much faster rate than it had resourced for, forcing planes out of commission while awaiting components that never came. As time wore on, the squadron deferred regular maintenance on the idle aircraft, eventually even using them as sources of spare componentry for other planes in need of repairs. Soon, the amount of work it would take to bring any single plane back to service became far too daunting to take on.

    “While there were external pressures, the majority of the group’s issues were internal.”

    The way Ernie saw it, while there were certainly external factors that put the squadron in a difficult situation, the majority of the group’s issues were internal.

    “There are externalities that affect every organization,” Ernie says. “But does the leadership actually take stock and measure what the effects of those will be? Do they allow the cumulative effect to pile up to the point where they appear to be unmanageable? If so, what becomes the tipping point where they decide, ‘We have to start dealing with this issue?'”

    To remedy the mindset that made the squadron so vulnerable to change, Ernie set out to augment its culture.

    Implementing culture change in a complex environment

    The F -18 training squadron is the Navy’s largest, comprised of about 1,300 military personnel, contract partners and government civilian employees spread across multiple sites. Implementing deep and lasting cultural change is never easy, but it is made far more difficult in such a complex environment. To truly change the way the squadron approached its work, Ernie had to engage with people both as individuals and as a collective unit.

    “Every single individual in an organization has the ability to make a difference.” Ernie says. “But for the organization to truly be successful, every single person must contribute to making that difference.”

    “That was the fundamental difference in culture that the squadron was missing. It was the notion that of those 1,300 folks there, any one of them could have sent them on the path to making the squadron better and more capable of operating the way it should have been. But, in order to really get the results that were required, we had to get every single person on board and working toward the same collective goal, taking a very methodical approach to how we were doing business.”

    getting airborne 02
    Ernie’s squadron was responsible for training about 60 percent of Navy pilots.

    Seeking alignment through belief

    To align the group, Ernie’s first step was to decide what a culture of success would look like. What mission, vision and values did they have to embrace to better perform their jobs? Having defined these ideas, the next step was to figure out how to turn them into action. In Ernie’s squadron, this posed a particular challenge. Because military leadership is relatively transient, people who don’t agree with particular leaders’ strategies can simply wait them out, resisting change until the commanding officer is replaced. So, Ernie knew he could not be passive – he had to actively make sure every individual bought in to the new culture.

    What Ernie realized motivated most people was meaning. For the problem he witnessed wasn’t that people weren’t willing to work hard, but that they believed their jobs didn’t matter.

    “Once an organization starts to falter, it’s easy for folks to come to work and say, ‘It’s not important what I do today,'” Ernie says. “What I saw in that particular squadron is that a lot of folks were coming to work and they were working very hard, but they were working on things that were meaningful to them at a very individual level – they were not contributory and not focused or coordinated across the entire organization. You had a lot of folks that were doing a lot of things, but not working toward what the squadron existed for.”

    Before he could expect someone to get behind the culture, he had to demonstrate why the new mission was meaningful, then explain precisely how that person’s job would contribute to realizing the mission. Having inspired belief in the new culture, Ernie eliminated actions and processes that did not align with the squadron’s values or move it closer to its mission. In their stead, the leadership established a new set of fundamental expectations designed to guide future action toward the squadron’s mission.

    Cementing culture with constant communication

    To drive their importance home, Ernie made these expectations the focal point of every policy decision, newsletter publication, team meeting, performance review and hiring decision going forward. Every action the squadron took from then on was shaped by the culture it was striving toward.

    “Driven by a new organizational culture, Ernie’s squadron saw dramatic results.”

    After about six months of constant communication, every member of the squadron was able to repeat from memory the group’s mission and the expectations that guided their behavior. According to Ernie, this is when he truly began to see a shift in the squadron’s day-to-day productivity toward the goals they had set out to achieve. Rather than taking his foot off the gas when he smelled success, Ernie says the key to sustaining the new culture was working as hard to promote it after six months as they did on day one.

    Driven by a new organizational culture, Ernie’s squadron saw dramatic results. Within six months, it had managed to bring about 20 airplanes back into service. By the time a year went by, it had completely restored nearly 60 planes, returning about $3.5 billion worth of Navy aircraft to the skies. With a functional fleet back in the air, it took less than a year for the squadron to get on pace to complete its training schedule. Plus, the new operating models were more efficient, cutting maintenance costs by as much as 36 percent.


  4. It’s not how much you practise, but how often

    February 12, 2017 by ahmed

     

    Like many people, I like to make resolutions at the start of new year. New Scientist reported that only 10% of the resolutions made in January will survive until December. In many instances, it is because new habits were not formed so we can make the necessary changes to our lives.Lots of my resolutions involve learning new things – a language, a new way that I want to behave, a craft I have always wanted to master. I am not alone in saying that I don’t achieve mastery for every resolution that I’ve made over the years, and it’s not without the best intentions.

    Psychologist, Ebbinghaus observed that once we learn something, without practice we soon forget.

    Did you know that 70% of what you learn is lost within 24 hours after learning without practice?

    In 2008 psychologists at Carnegie Mellon University discovered that if you test your knowledge regularly at carefully timed and ever expanding intervals, new knowledge will be retained. The good news is that there is an easy way to retain 70% of what you have learnt for the long term. ?

    information-remembered

    How do you do this? The research suggests that to learn new things, you need to be able to recall and regularly use what you have learnt.

    But what happens if you take a break and don’t use this knowledge often? Will you forget? How long have you got before you need to completely re-learn what you have lost?

    he Carnegie Mellon psychologists found that to retain 70% of what you have learnt you need to practice within 1 hour after receiving the information, and then again after 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, and then after 6 months.

    My advice is, when planning to learn anything new that you want to become competent in, answer the following questions first,

    • Will I need to use this knowledge within the next few months?
    • Do I have time to practice within 1 day following the learning?
    • Will I be able to practice, or apply this new knowledge 1 week, 1 month and 6 months following the learning?

    Unless you answered yes to all, you may be wasting effort and you should change your current plan.

    This article has been provided by Michael Voss, Owner of PYXIS & Associate Consultant of COER (Centre for Organisational Excellence Research, NZ)


  5. Building employee trust: Tips validated by the Baldrige excellence framework

    January 19, 2017 by ahmed

     

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Christine Schaefer

    In an online Harvard Business Review article this month, Sue Bingham, an expert on creating high-performing workplaces, addresses a growing concern among business leaders today that employees don’t trust their organizations. She then describes four practices to build employee trust. Those who have already read the latest edition (2017–2018) of the Baldrige Excellence Framework will see that Bingham’s four tips align with the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence (part of the framework).

    Following are examples of the connections.

    1. “Hire for Trust.”

    In elaborating on this guidance, Bingham cautions, “Don’t assume that technical skills and knowledge trump character.”

    The workforce-focused section of the Baldrige Criteria (known as category 5) begins with this assessment question as a basic requirement: How do you build an effective and supportive workforce environment? An organization being evaluated against the Baldrige Criteria is expected to describe systematic processes in response to that question and to the more specific question How do you recruit, hire, place, and retain new workforce members?

    Baldrige evaluation factors include whether (and the degree to which) an organization’s process is deployed, improved, and integrated. In regard to hiring practices, organizations scoring high in this area of a Baldrige assessment often describe hiring processes that use behavioral-based and team interview practices, among others (though the Criteria do not prescribe particular approaches), as means to aligning hiring outcomes with the organization’s identified values and related organizational culture.

    In her HBR article, Bingham makes clear that in high-performing organizations, trust is a key part of the culture. Also emphasizing the importance of the values that define the organizational culture, the leadership section (category 1) of the Baldrige Criteria begins with questions that ask leaders how they set and deploy the organization’s vision and values.

    2. “Make Positive Assumptions about People.”

    Bingham points out that negative assumptions by leaders about employees lead to micromanaging, which conveys distrust. She counsels leaders to “give challenging assignments with the clear and confident belief that your expectations will be met” and also recommends that they “promote transparency.”

    In the “Workforce Engagement” section (item 5.2), the Criteria ask about fostering an organizational culture characterized by open communication. The Criteria also ask, How do you empower your workforce?, stressing that leaders should give people the authority and responsibility to make decisions and take actions. When this happens, decisions are made closest to the front line, by people who have knowledge and understanding related to the work to be done.

    At a more fundamental level, the 11 core values and concepts of the Baldrige framework (and Criteria) include visionary leadership, valuing people, and ethics and transparency. In describing the valuing people concept, the Baldrige Excellence Framework booklet states (on page 41 of the 2017–2018 edition), “Valuing the people in your workforce means committing to their engagement, development, and well-being.”

    In addition, in describing visionary leadership, the Baldrige Excellence Framework booklet states (on page 40 in the 2017–2018 edition), “Senior leaders should serve as role models through their ethical behavior and their personal involvement in planning, providing a supportive environment for innovation, communicating, coaching and motivating the workforce, developing future leaders, reviewing organizational performance, and recognizing workforce members.”

    3. “Treat Employees Fairly, Not Equally.”

    According to Bingham, a disciplinary policy that treats everyone the same “strips people of their individuality and unique abilities to contribute.” She advocates that leaders instead have supportive discussions with individual employees when there are concerns about performance, given that being treated with respect and support can make people feel safe enough to accept responsibility and motivate them to determine solutions to effectively address their problems.

    Again, in describing the valuing people concept, the Baldrige Excellence Framework booklet states (on page 41 of the 2017–2018 edition), “Valuing the people in your workforce means committing to their engagement, development, and well-being. Increasingly, this may involve offering flexible work practices that are tailored to varying workplace and life needs. Major challenges in valuing your workforce members include demonstrating your leaders’ commitment to their success, providing motivation and recognition that go beyond the regular compensation system …”

    4. “Create a Zero-Tolerance Policy for Deceitfulness.”

    Bingham states, “High-performance companies value trust so much that they implement and enforce zero-tolerance policies for betraying it.”

    Of course, to build trust leaders must be held accountable to the same values and policies. The Baldrige Criteria requirements in the leadership section (category 1) emphasize leaders’ personal actions reflecting the organization’s values and legal and ethical behavior. In the “Senior Leadership” section (item 1.1), Criteria questions include these: How do senior leaders’ personal actions reflect a commitment to [the organization’s] values? How do senior leaders’ actions demonstrate their commitment to legal and ethical behavior?

    What’s more, the Baldrige framework booklet’s description of visionary leadership states, “As role models, [senior leaders] can reinforce ethics, values, and expectations while building leadership, commitment, and initiative throughout your organization.”

    I’ve drawn out but a few of the ways the Baldrige framework aligns with Bingham’s expert guidance on building trust with employees. But from this sampling of material, I hope it’s clear that using the Baldrige framework to lead and manage an organization will put one on the right track to cultivating employee trust and high performance.