One of the biggest challenges in fast-growing companies is silos. Imaginary walls spring up between departments. Before you know it, the sales team and the engineering team, for instance, feel like two totally different companies. They’re not meshing socially and — just as worrying — they’re not collaborating or exchanging information on projects. This lack of coordination inevitably hurts the final product and the customer’s experience.
This is a huge … [ Read more ]
Companies train people in their computer systems, HR policies, and more. They devote energy to optimizing production lines and supply chains. They invest in innovation workshops. Yet they seem to assume that the ability to effectively lead and participate in meetings is somehow embedded in the human genetic code. Perhaps it seems too basic a skill. However, if any organization adds up the amount of … [ Read more ]
This reminds me of something our leadership-development team launched last year with behavioral nudging. We created what we call “whisper courses,” which were based on the premise that, as leaders, we have the best intentions yet get so busy and forget to do the many little things that matter so much. I recall us talking about how nice it would be to have this invisible … [ Read more ]
High-performing managers create simple goals, make sure they are clear and transparent, and revisit them regularly. Google, for example, uses an agile goal-setting process called OKR (objectives and key results), which was originally developed at Intel. The process is simple and effective: Each individual (from CEO down) sets ambitious and measurable objectives (like “launch Gmail version X by year end”) and are asked to define … [ Read more ]
Involve a larger part of the organization in a discussion on how the company is doing on strategy and execution. Like the annual employee survey, organizations should take the pulse around the most important strategic topics. Such a survey provides powerful insights about how well your employees — the people who know the company best — think it is positioned for success, how well they … [ Read more ]
I’m a big believer in teaching leaders to fish. That’s why we’ve rolled out a weekly(ish) email for leaders … that summarizes all the things they need to be thinking about in terms of managing and messaging to their team. We break it down into a few sections: things to know, things to do, things to share. It sounds simple, but let’s be real, leaders … [ Read more ]
Managers must be evaluated both on what they get done and how they get it done. The “how” is often overlooked and undervalued. In terms of the “how,” determine whether the person works well cross-functionally, represents the company‘s values in both word and deed, receives strong upward feedback, and whether their team of reports has a high level of satisfaction working at the company.
To measure … [ Read more ]
If you manage managers, it’s very powerful to set up a recurring catch up with their direct reports. These are commonly referred to as “skip-level” meetings, and they’re the only way to get an accurate sense of how your direct reports are leading — and how people on their teams are feeling about the business and the strategy you’ve set. It’s also an efficient way … [ Read more ]
An excess of bureaucracy costs the U.S. economy more than $3 trillion in lost economic output per year. When you look at all 32 countries in the OECD, the cost of excess bureaucracy rises to nearly $9 trillion. To dismantle bureaucracy, the first step is to be honest about how much it’s costing your organization. These costs fall into seven categories:
- Bloat: too many managers,
… [ Read more ]
One of the first things I did when I joined [Philips], in late 2010, was to write an open letter to about 700 people—basically, the group we call the Consumer Lifestyle leadership and a layer below them. I invited them to tell me what they thought was working well in the business and what wasn’t. This gave me a pretty good idea of what was … [ Read more ]
Bank of America … has created an onboarding program for executives one to two levels below the C-suite. The program aims to ensure that the new executives understand role expectations, quickly develop a network among key stakeholders, build relationships with their team, and learn from other leaders what it takes to succeed, especially in their particular role. To achieve these objectives, the program must transfer … [ Read more ]
Many less-successful companies approach cost reduction with blinders on. They may look at only one part of the P&L, such as general and administrative (G&A) expenses. Or they may confine their efforts to individual business units. They fail to view the business as a whole, often because they rely on metrics that reflect part of the business rather than the entire P&L.
Consider an Asian telecom … [ Read more ]
At Honda, employees wear white pants and white shirts with their first names embroidered in red on the upper right side. It’s the uniform that every Honda Motor Company employee, whether pipe fitter or president, wears on the job at every factory or office. This is intended to diminish the influence of rank; in the moment-to-moment give-and-take of Honda workers’ daily responsibilities, all points of … [ Read more ]
As commodity prices increase, suppliers come knocking, pushing through commensurate increases. But what happens when those same commodity prices fall? Too often, purchasers fail to get a break. Consider the situation of an aerospace and defense supplier. As key metal prices rose, the company grudgingly accepted its suppliers’ price increases for machined parts. Trouble is, the company lacked good tracking data on commodity indexes. So … [ Read more ]
Organizations can become obsessed with short-term results. But Harvard Business School professor emeritus Michael Beer believes that the intense focus on quarterly results can impair an organization’s ability to create long-term value both for investors and society. By asking about a longer time horizon, you can encourage someone to contemplate issues and unintended consequences that could result from trying only to satisfy one group of … [ Read more ]
Develop your “stump speech” or “talking points” among your management team before any of you heads out to give your version to the rest of the organization. This generally includes messages around your Change Drivers, Focus and Context (vision, values, and purpose), key goals and priorities, change/improvement plans, and such.
Develop highly visible scoreboards, bulletin boards, or voice mail, electronic or printed announcements of progress toward team and organization goals and priorities.
Share all core strategic measurements (including “confidential” financial, and operating data) with everyone in your organization. Treat people like full-fledged business partners and they’ll act that way. But don’t snow them under with a blizzard of meaningless reports and numbers. Train everyone how to read these data. Show them how to relate the measurements to their daily operations and improvement activities.
Employee resistance is the most common reason executives cite for the failure of big organizational-change efforts. Companies need to develop strong change leaders employees know and respect—in other words, people with informal influence. But there’s one problem: finding them. How can company leaders identify those people beforehand to better harness their energy, creativity, and goodwill—and thereby increase the odds of success?
One way we’ve found … [ Read more ]
Not all roles are created equal. Many companies don’t take the trouble to understand which are their linchpin roles—as distinct from high-performing or high-potential people. These are roles that have a big influence on the customer experience or that provide critical support or coaching to employees who shape the customer’s response. Given scarce resources, targeting these roles can be an efficient way to raise employee … [ Read more ]