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Optimising People Performance in your team/organisation!

Leap frog your competition through the only true competitive advantage you have - your team members
Dave Woods
1,736 students enrolled
English [Auto-generated]
Identify untapped competitive potential within your team and organisation for enhanced performance
Design a unique and customized engagement process for your own team/organization
Apply powerful tools and techniques in order to deliver improved performance across the entire organization

This leading edge course is designed to provide you with practical, hands-on knowledge and tools for any business or organisation to achieve competitive advantage. It focuses on optimising your only true source of competitive advantage – the people!

Designed and facilitated in an easy to watch style, it includes examples, tips, worksheets and exercises to customise the learning for your particular team or organisation or group.

The course consists of lecture videos and support materials such as worksheets, assessments and guides which will assist you step by step to achieve new levels of performance and results for your team and/or organisation.

The facilitator has over thirty years of global experience in implementing performance enhancing initiatives in many varied industries. His style includes many examples of his personal experience to illustrate important learning points.

The world of the 21st century consists of a complex and rapidly changing environment. Leaders of groups, teams, departments and organisations need to remain at the forefront of leading edge thinking in order to survive and remain competitive. This course will provide you with powerful insights, tools and techniques.

It is is a must for any group or team or organisation wishing to remain at the forefront in highly competitive environments.


Introduction - The Power of People in Performance - an Overview

Introduction and Understanding Sources of Competitive Advantage

Welcome to the course!

In this first lecture, we will be introducing the course and thereafter discussing competitive advantage. It is essential to develop a sound understanding of this concept in order to optimize those key areas where the best return for effort can be found. It is an intriguing and important aspect of any team or organisation!

Understanding Sources of Competitive Advantage

This is a short multiple choice exercise to consolidate learning

People and Performance – what makes this link critical

People are the key component of competitive advantage in any organisation. This lecture will explore the process individuals go through when joining a new organisation or team. It discusses how only with the passage time and investment do people become value-adders to the organisation. Further, it looks relevant research which gives some powerful insights into how to 'unlock' individuals and to encourage them to offer their discretionary effort!

Employees in organisations offer their skills and services in exchange for some form of reward or remuneration. This is a contractual arrangement and usually results in a ‘working’ relationship. A famous benchmark study by Elton Mayo early in the last century – known as the Hawthorne Studies – indicated two key facts about people, motivation and performance:

  1. People are uniquely capable of managing and regulating their personal commitment and involvement to a given task or goal.
  2. The true extent to which this involvement/commitment is given is driven more by attitude than by any other influence – including monetary.

This remarkable finding led to the term ‘Discretionary Effort’. This is defined as the difference between the level of effort which is minimal, and that of which a person is capable. Many have described this as the difference between being ‘coerced’ and ‘volunteering’; between being ‘managed’ and being ’led’.

The key point to note however is that this discretionary effort is effectively under the control of the person/employee/team member and not the manager or company. It is a matter of personal choice whether to offer any discretionary effort at all or, the amount to be freely given to the cause of the team or the organisation. It is argued too however, that when someone is employed, the expectation is that they will be and do the best they can anyhow. In other words, discretionary effort is more a case of the voluntary employee effort applied to make up the negative performance gap created by either lack of management ability or simply low expectations. Either way, the role of effective leadership and management is important to facilitate and motivate the employee.

As leaders and captains, we need to realise that we may have designed a brilliant strategy or plan or budget....but the degree to which it is executed and achieved lies in the hearts and minds of the people in the team. Only though ‘willing participation’, or discretionary effort can we achieve the goals.

The role of leadership and management takes on a new meaning when we realise this. The next lecture will address some important ideas and concepts around leadership and management before we begin learning about some useful tools and techniques to improve team member engagement and tapping into the magic ‘discretionary effort’.

People and Performance – what makes this link critical

This is a short multiple choice exercise to consolidate learning

Leadership and Management - what's the difference?

In order to optimise the capabilities, skills, talents and effort of all employees or team members, we need to understand the role of management and leadership. This lecture explores the similarities and the differences between them and presents some useful models to use as you apply the key principles!

Much has been researched and written about leadership and management as distinct aspects of the same function in teams and organisations. Historically, management was regarded as the domain of those at the top of organisations whose responsibility is to coordinate the various aspects of business in order to achieve a defined goal or outcome. The title of ‘Manager’ placed the individual in this position of command and control. Often attainment of a management position was achieved through time on the job and hence experience but with little or no consideration as to ‘leadership’ capability.

Leadership, as a concept apart from management, came about in the late 20th century and is an important concept to understand in the context of optimising people performance.

In order to understand the differences, it is useful to reflect on some comments and observations from research and reviews over the years – below is a table which summarises them:

Management function

Management is working within the system

Management authority is given by position

Management is goal-focused

Management is about efficiency

Management is about process

Management is about tactics

Management comforts and controls

Management is typically a responsibility

Management is about directing resources

Managers plan, organise and control

Management takes care of where you are

Management is a left brain (logic) function

Management focuses on the outputs – the ends

Management is about ‘doing things right’

Leadership function

Leadership is about working on the system

Leadership is earned by credibility

Leadership is vision focused

Leadership is about effectiveness

Leadership is about influencing change

Leadership is about strategy

Leadership inspires

Leadership is something anyone can offer

Leadership is about motivating others

Leaders set direction, align people and inspire

Leadership takes you to new places

Leadership is a right brain (creative) function

Leadership focus on the people – the means

Leadership is about ‘doing the right things’

It is clear from the table that both management and leadership are complementary aspects or components of a successful organisation. This course is largely about the leadership requirements in order to optimise people performance. Bennis once said that, ‘leadership is like beauty, it is hard to define....but you know it when you see it’.

It is important, if you recall the discussion in the opening lecture because all companies in similar industries have largely the same processes, materials and products...the only difference lies in the people and the way they are managed and led.

This will be discussed in more detail in the lectures which follow.

Leadership and Management - what's the difference?

This is a short multiple choice exercise to consolidate learning

Customer Drivers - The Power of People in Performance

Understanding the Business we are In

Many organisations forget that everything really begins and ends with the customer! Without a full and deep understanding of customer needs, requirements and expectations, it is impossible for people within the company or organisation to fully engage and contribute their best in service and delivery. This lecture will break down the classic key differentiators that customers typically look for in a service or product supplier. It is practical to enable you to determine the same for your team or company and be able thereby to unleash people power in an focused and aligned way!

Businesses fall into many categories and function within a multitude of industries. Despite this however, all have one thing in common – to exist and survive, they need to fulfil and satisfy a specific customer need – they need to offer a product or a service for which somebody is prepared to offer money to receive. Equally importantly, the offering must preferably exceed that of a competitor, or the potential customer will simply take their requirements to the competitor.

This really asks us the question about the VALUE we add to customers aligned to their needs and expectations. A customer does not want to pay for anything we do in delivering the product or service which does not add value to them – that is simply waste – and no-one wants to pay for waste.

We need to be able to answer the following critical questions:

  1. Are our efforts as a company delivering to the ‘right’ customers?
  2. Do they know and see what it is that makes us special to them?

These two questions will help us identify what it is that we need to work on in aligning our people efforts in the company – anything or activity or effort not focused on this is waste! And we need to know what we need to do to unleash the power of our people in the right effort areas.

The concept of order qualifiers and winners was originally suggested by Prof. Terry Hill at the London Business School. In simple terms, he argues that customers/the market place require two key criteria to be fulfilled; namely, order qualifiers (OQ) and order winners (OW).

An OQ is the characteristic that the product or service you offer a customer that must be in your offering to even be considered by the potential customer. Once in the running with competitors, the OW is that special characteristic that you offer which enables you to win the order! Typically therefore OQ are the ‘givens’ that the customer expects whereas the OW is the cherry on top which motivates the customer to come to you. Both OQ’s and OW’s are equally important to the business.

Both OQ’s and OW’s are market and time specific and can change – requiring flexibility from your company and particularly your people. You need to truly understand your customer requirements so that order qualifiers or winners do not become order ‘losers’ – for example where your product quality is an order winner and you consider it an order qualifier. It is possible you then put great effort and expense into producing a high quality product or service and over-price your offering – when possibly low cost is the real order qualifier and you therefore are not included in your customer’s short list of possible suppliers.

The exercise in the resources section will assist you in determining your customer’s order qualifiers and winners and also allow you to reflect on the strategic importance of them. This is a necessary step to identifying how to unleash your people resources in order to deliver to your customers and optimise performance which we will address in the next lecture.

Understanding the Business we are In

This is a short multiple choice exercise to consolidate learning

Empowerment - Defining and Understanding the How To!

Much is spoken about this word 'empowerment' . It forms a standard buzzword in the language of leaders and managers in the world of business. Typically however, it is used without people having a common understanding of its meaning, let alone how to bring it to life within the organisation. This lecture addresses this shortcoming with a powerful and easy formula against which you can measure the extent to which you truly 'empower' your staff and teams!

You will recall that we discussed the idea that the ‘people’ in your team or company or department are the only true source of competitive advantage. It is critical therefore that we enable and empower the people to unleash this competitive capacity. The importance of understanding customer requirements (as discussed in the previous lecture) becomes clear. For staff to align and focus their energies to best meet customer requirements necessitates deep understanding of the customer needs and wants.

Whilst strategy development and formulation forms a major component of the senior management and leadership function, the application and execution happens at the so-called ‘rock face’. This is where the customer experience of the organisation truly takes place and leads to either success of failure of the organisation.

Thus far, we have discussed the importance of recognising people in your team/organisation as the last true source of competitive advantage. We have seen how leadership and management are different but complementary functions for effective organisations. Finally, we have seen how critical reflecting on customer requirements are in order to strategically align people efforts in the right direction.

Now, we need to understand how to apply tools and techniques to enable that to happen and to tap into the discretionary effort each and every team member in your organisation is capable of delivering in pursuit of company goals. We need, in other words, to create the environment in which people willingly engage and contribute for competitive advantage.

Understanding empowerment is that challenge. A useful definition of empowerment is in the form of a checklist or the four legs (proposed by Human):

Able – does the person have the knowledge, the skill, the aptitude to deliver?

Willing – is the person truly willing to offer the extra effort and contribution?

Allowed – is the person free to do so or have we put some obstacles (real or not) in the way?

Accountable – is the person likely to be held responsible for their actions and decisions?

Interestingly and importantly, all FOUR of the above characteristics of empowerment MUST be present or else the individual (team member) is not truly empowered. If one is missing then sadly we have failed to empower!

Empowerment - Defining and Understanding the How To!

This is a short multiple choice exercise to consolidate learning

Engagement and Appreciation - Igniting Performance

"The greatest longing in any human being is the need to feel appreciated." This powerful statement is a key to human development and growth. It is true in families, in friendship groups and certainly in the world of business too. It provides a unique puzzle piece to staff engagement practices. This lecture address this central subject to optimise performance within your organisation!

In the previous lecture, we saw how it is important to ensure the four legs of empowerment are alive and well in our teams and companies. This lecture focuses on how we can optimise engagement and utilising appreciation as a powerful motivating driver for people participation and involvement in achieving business goals.

It is said that, ‘The deepest longing in any human being is the need to feel appreciated’ [Psychologist William James]. Reflect on this statement for a moment. Whether as a parent, as a growing child, as a student, as a partner, as an employee or indeed, as a manager or team leader – you will recognise its truth. There has been intensive research within the field of motivation and human psychology to understand the drivers and triggers for human satisfaction and happiness and ultimately, performance. Appreciation always ranks highly.

Appreciation can be shown and experienced in any ways and some examples of this are contained in the video lecture with real life examples. An entire discipline (referred to as Positive Organisational Scholarship) around appreciation as a cornerstone of human development and performance has developed in business since the early work of David Cooperrider in the late 1980’s.

In brief, the concepts are contained in the following factors:

  1. A focus on positive deviance – variations from the norm in a positive direction.
  2. A focus on affirmation – seeking out the strengths of a system rather than the weaknesses.
  3. A focus on a positive human condition – where considerations and actions focus on the good and where life is enhanced and not depleted.

This course and this lecture specifically, is about how leadership can create the conditions within the team/organisation for engagement and empowerment to thrive. It is about creating an environment in which people are willing and able to offer the best of themselves and who they are! A place where they are able to offer their talents and great strengths and significantly, offer their discretionary effort.

The real bonus and benefit for the team and organisation is a highly productive and performance driven environment. In such an environment, it is not unusual for people to manage themselves and the role of top management shifts more to the functions of leadership – see lecture 3!

Engagement and Appreciation - Igniting Performance

This is a short multiple choice exercise to consolidate learning

Putting it into Practice - The Power of People in Performance

Building on Strengths - Staying Fit for Performance

Leaders of organisations are constantly on the lookout for key drivers of performance. With regards to the 'people' resource, one of the best studies has been conducted by the Gallup Organisation over two or three decades. With regard to the answer to optimising performance through strengths, this lecture addresses some of their key findings and how they link with unleashing the power of the people in your company!

The nature of business is that we tend to focus on the things which go wrong, which are below standard. We then put great time and effort in fixing or correcting those things which have gone wrong. We have learned about and developed wonderful tools and techniques to solve problems – there is nothing at all wrong with this – however, there is much research now suggesting that we may achieve the same or greater results by focussing more on what is ‘going right’, or on our great strengths. The Gallup organisation for example, has dedicated much effort over many years in researching the benefits of focusing on strengths. They have analysed more than 20 000 interviews with senior leaders, studied over a million work teams and researched leadership attributes. They concluded that effective leaders tended to do three things:

  1. They always invest in strengths – employee engagement jumps from a poor 9% to 73% when employees are allowed to focus on and use their strengths.
  2. Effective leaders surround themselves with the right people and then maximise their engagement – the best leaders are not always well rounded...but the best teams are.
  3. The most effective leaders understand their followers’ needs. These needs summarised are: Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope – refer to the Gallup book Strengths Based Leadership by Rath and Conchie for further information.

Buckingham defines a strength as a combination of talent(naturally recurring thoughts and behaviours) + knowledge(facts and lessons learnt) + skill(steps of an activity). The combination these three components makes up a strength.

The significance of this is that the research indicates that globally, only 20% of employees in organisations feel that their strengths are engaged every day! The unfortunate assumption is that our weaknesses present our greatest opportunity for growth. Gallup research(2007 et al) has indicated that in fact, it is our strengths where we have the most to gain as we will achieve near perfect performance more readily using our talents+knowledge+skills – in other words, our strengths!

Building on Strengths - Staying Fit for Performance

This is a short multiple choice exercise to consolidate learning

Putting it all together - Sustaining Performance

This lecture concludes the course. It will take you through the journey we have walked together and ensure the links are drawn between understanding the business you operate in, your customers' criteria for selecting you, the role of leadership and management in aligning all staff in the organisation behind the goals and then finally some useful tools learned to make it all happen! Thank you for joining me on this journey - I hope you have found it stimulating, interesting, and most of all, useful in optimising the power of people in your team, company or organisation!

You can view and review the lecture materials indefinitely, like an on-demand channel.
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