Assess Your Organization’s Bureaucracy Mass Index (BMI)

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:

  1. Bloat: too many managers,

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Questions to Facilitate Collaboration

Collaborating effectively requires helping others. And helping others requires compassion, which in turn means learning about who they are and what they want. So in order to help my clients, at the start of each relationship, I devote two or three hours to asking the following questions:

  • What are your proudest accomplishments and biggest disappointments?
  • Which activities energize you and which drain you?
  • How do other people

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Diminishing the Influence of Rank

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 ]

Displaying Progress Toward Organization Goals

Develop highly visible scoreboards, bulletin boards, or voice mail, electronic or printed announcements of progress toward team and organization goals and priorities.

Snowball Sampling: Identifying People with Informal Influence

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 ]

Switch Roles for Longer Staff Longevity

To foster staff longevity, organizations can arrange for group members to switch roles with one another. Google, for example, encourages employees to leave their positions and take on “bungee” assignments for three months to one year in different areas of the company. Employees can acquire new skills and find out whether they like a new job (or are good at it) before committing to it. … [ Read more ]

Understanding Your Employees’ Goals

Leaders can reduce the risk of losing good people for the wrong reasons by working with them to understand their passions and career goals and serving up challenging assignments that help them grow from where they are to where they would like to go.

Customizing opportunities to each employee requires understanding that person’s goals, motivations, and values. It’s a simple process, but very few … [ Read more ]

Job Hopping and Internal Job Fairs

It’s important for senior leaders to find a way that people can share information in reasonably efficient ways. I really like the example of Salesforce under Steve Greene and Chris Fry — they had a policy where engineers were free to change jobs within the company. So, every four months they’d have an internal job fair, like a bazaar with booths, where people would walk … [ Read more ]

Eliminate or Rewrite Unhelpful Policies

Two simple questions can help guide the process of eliminating or rewriting cumbersome policies. First, does the policy protect the organization from violating safety, legal, or regulatory standards? If the policy helps ensure compliance, leaders should still ask themselves if there is a better way to structure the policy to ensure compliance in the most efficient and effective way possible. Second, does the policy help … [ Read more ]

Reward and Recognition Program Ideas – Peer Recognition

One of the easiest and most effective programs to initiate is peer recognition. Peer recognition gives employees the power to reward each other for doing a good job. It works because employees themselves know who works hard and deserves recognition. After all, managers can’t be everywhere all the time, and employees are in the best position to catch people doing the right things.

For example, in … [ Read more ]

Minimize the “We-They” Syndrome

To minimize the “we-they” syndrome, have employees rotate jobs for one hour each week. For example, the person in the Sales Department works on the front desk. Someone from Maintenance will work in the Customer Service etc. This builds a stronger team and improves communication within the company.

Using the Net Promoter for Measuring Employee Engagement

Just as the Net Promoter approach has strong descriptive and predictive power with customers, it works just as well in the realm of employee engagement. Loyalty leaders measure engagement by asking a handful of simple but predictive questions: Would you ask your friends and family to work in this company? Why? And would you recommend our product or service to your friends and family? What … [ Read more ]

A Premortem for Contrarian Thinking

“The premortem technique is a sneaky way to get people to do contrarian, devil’s advocate thinking,” explains psychologist Gary Klein. “Before a project starts, say, ‘We’re looking in a crystal ball, and this project has failed; it’s a fiasco. Now, everybody, take two minutes and write down all the reasons why you think the project has failed.”

Take the Pulse of the Room

Ask participants to write down their initial positions, use voting devices, or ask participants for their “balance sheets” of pros and cons. “Frankly, I’m surprised that when you have a reasonably well-informed group it isn’t more common to begin by having everyone write their conclusions on a slip of paper,” remarks Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman. “If you don’t do that, the discussion will create an … [ Read more ]

Climate Safety is an Important Factor in an Innovative Climate

A fearless workplace frees people to take the risks innovation requires. At W.L. Gore, the Delaware chemical products company famous for Gore-Tex and other high-performance products, mistakes made in the pursuit of novel solutions are accepted as part of the creative process. When a project is killed, staff members celebrate its passing with beer and champagne. When a project fails, a post-mortem is conducted. Flawed … [ Read more ]

Gaining Clarity of Purpose for Leadership Teams

Accenture ran a workshop on how to improve decision-making for the CEO of a global manufacturing company and 10 of his direct reports. At the very beginning of the session, attendees were asked, “What do you do that no one else in the company has the responsibility to do?” After 30 minutes of vigorous debate failed to produce any consensus, the CEO intervened and gave … [ Read more ]

Tell Five Stories at Once

We typically see organizational leaders tell two types of stories to inspire their teams. The first, the turnaround story, runs along the lines of “We’re performing below industry standard and must change dramatically to survive—incremental change is not sufficient to attract investors to our underperforming company.” The second, the good-to-great story, goes something like this: “We are capable of far more, given our assets, market … [ Read more ]

Controlling Office Rumors

Office rumors can sap morale (do you think there will be layoffs?) and productivity (let’s ask everyone if they think there will be layoffs). And, of course, if everyone is talking except management, employees assume the worst. So instead of trying to stop the conversation, join it, advises Chip Heath, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Create a “Heard on … [ Read more ]

Reward and Recognition Program Ideas

The size of your organization and the age of your workforce dictates which type of rewards and recognition program works best. One organization improved motivation and almost eliminated turnover by creating a family environment including special incentives.

Every year employees celebrate their work anniversary with a cake and receive $100 for each year employed made out in a check.

Twice a year employees’ children receive a … [ Read more ]

Encouraging Promotion and Prevention Behavior

E. Tory Higgins, the Stanley Schachter Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, argues that one of two states tends to dominate the way we think: a promotion focus or a prevention focus. The basic distinction is really to do with when you’re pursuing goals or making decisions. The promotion state is when you think of your goal as something to accomplish, something to aspire to; … [ Read more ]