Planning for the new year – Part 3 (Managers as player-coaches)

In the first and second articles in this series, we walked through Guidepost statements, and how to talk to your employees. This post tackles managers as player-coaches — a key element to make sure you are ready for the new year.

Historically, service and operations managers were tasked with making sure the trains were on track and on time. If the global pandemic taught us anything, it is that the existing tracks are being shredded and we need to figure out where and how to lay new tracks.

Unfortunately, we have not yet given managers the freedom to operate in this new world—and it costs us a lot more than we realize. Customers hate the rigid rules that constrain our support teams in the name of efficiency. Employees hate the measures that demonstrate just their adherence to process, not their ability to work around the nuances. And managers have one hand tied behind their back by their inability to use judgment to resolve customer issues or help employees grow.


Read more

Planning for the new year — Part 2 (Ask your employees.)

In the first article in this series, we walked through Guidepost statements, and why they are so important to the success of your initiatives.

However, if you think of goals as your ultimate destination, it’s not enough to know that you are headed to Bangalore, Boston or Brisbane. First, you should know if you’re starting out in Copenhagen, Cambridge (US) or Cambridge (UK).

There are two ways to check your starting point.

Read more

Planning for the new year – Part 1 (Guidepost Statements)

Avoid detours: Smash your 2022 goals by following your guidepost statement

Halloween may be over, but for many organizations, the scariest time of year has just begun. As we march toward December 31st, we scramble to deliver on our goals for the current year. For many of us, it’s busy, it’s rushed, and often hard to keep straight what needs to be done next. It hardly seems like the right time to deliberately plan strategic initiatives that will support and elevate long-term business goals, but if not now, when?

Planning ahead is crucial in business, whether it’s laying out kicking off a new initiative or being part of a multi-year transformation journey. While leaders often specify the destination, they can forget to provide the details of the journey.

Read more

Want to be a true Leader? Let employees be your guide…

The key to successful workplace initiatives that create long-term change and impact is providing workers with the knowledge they need to do their best work. This is only possible when you “guide” employees rather than “grade” them.

While leaders—understandably—want high productivity from their teams, constantly checking in and monitoring their performance is not the way to get there. Rather, such a workplace is perceived as one where employees are graded – constantly watched and then judged. That environment offers no chance for building a high-trust culture, where innovation flourishes and everyone feels like they own the process and have a stake in the business.

Instead, the better way is to guide. Gallup research shows that only two in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.

Read more

Measures are more like taxes than you realize

As a leader, you can gain a new perspective on measures if you realize that measures are like taxes.

And like enlightened governments, we should be able to justify  the “individual cost” the way governments justify taxes: Take responsibility for your share, and you’ll reap the benefits every day.

First, like taxes, measures can be a burden.

Read more

Measures are for the team, not managers

In the last post, we walked through the importance of a guidepost statement that the team looks to for guidance, in the absence of clarity.

The next step in our journey to creating a modern set of measures is to make sure you have a set of “guiding principles.”

Guiding principles are the foundations you set as you build the measurement framework for your team. These guiding principles help you select the measures by which your team judges the success of their collaboration, processes, and initiatives.

Notice I said how “your team judges its success,” not how you judge them. That leads me to the first guiding principle I find especially effective in motivating teams to do great work: Measures are for teams, not managers.

What do I mean by that?

Read more

Guidepost statements – critical for creating modern measures that matter

The best-run organizations not only have a strategy everyone understands, but they connect employee behaviors to achieving that strategy. This becomes very powerful when each and every employee is engaged by a compelling purpose and knows what to do in order to achieve that purpose.

While vision and mission statements are great for calm, contemplative moments, these are few and far between for most people in the thick of a busy workday, particularly in the interrupt-driven world of Support and Shared Services. Today, with volumes of information available to both customers and employees, deciding what to do in the absence of clear direction can become paralyzing. If your team is in the middle of raging seas in a life raft in pitch darkness, with winds howling all around and no way of knowing which way to go, how do they decide what to do next? The guidepost statement will guide their actions.

Read more

Seek to Understand before seeking to Solve

Over the last few months, we’ve been working with a number of organizations that are fundamentally re-thinking what they should measure, and why. I’m amazed that, time and time again, organizations try to measure success with metrics that don’t align with what they’re trying to accomplish.

This often happens because the underlying issues you want to solve depends on what you see. Some people call this perspective; I like to think of it as your lens.

Phil Verghis

When our team works with clients on data-driven continual process improvement, we examine their teams and processes through a variety of lenses to gain a multi-dimensional view of how well they work together and how they function within the enterprise. That’s how we uncover unexpected truths.

Read more

See around corners with your Service DNA

We believe it’s always better to improve a process than simply follow it. But, many times, we see one of two things: First, organizations try to automate a process before optimizing it. Unfortunately, automating a mess simply makes it messier, faster. The second scenario, which is harder to spot, is when the process itself may be optimally designed, but it is unnatural for the organization to follow the process. There are too many obstacles that set them up for failure.

Over the years, as we worked with leaders to get a sense of their organizational capabilities, we really struggled to find this blind spot. We focused on the usual suspects—people, process, and technology—as we assessed the state of their business and their overall capabilities. But we found that these three elements weren’t enough to give us a sense of who they were and what they were capable of achieving as an organization.

Read more

Have you hugged your local consultant today?

There’s a dirty little secret in the world of independent consultants and startups: It’s feast or famine, even in the best of times.

The reason this is such a well-kept secret is that when people hear the term “consultant” or “startup,” they think of well-funded organizations like Deloitte, McKinsey or startup unicorns that dominate popular imagination. They don’t think of their marketing copywriter or the consultant with deep expertise who quickly solves specific pain points. But in 2020, it’s just those businesses—those “local” consultants —who are feeling the pain of pandemic shutdown. And may need a hug.

Over the summer, Comatch polled 1000 independent consultants to see how COVID had impacted business. While we may have guessed that travel and leisure consultants are expected to take a 51% hit this year, the numbers are painful for many others. The research estimated that marketing consultants would experience a 37% decrease in earnings; high tech and IT would drop 39%; and strategy consultants’ earnings would decrease by 44%. Since many expenses are fixed, these percentages translate to even more pain than the numbers show.

Read more