Perfecting an 80/20 ‘balance’ that nurtures talent and celebrates success

Recently, I was speaking at an internal session on managing performance and explained why I believe the role of a leader is to help people be the best they can be.

The discussion began when we were asked to identify measures of staff satisfaction and organisational success.  One of the first things that came up was staff retention with many believing this this is a sign of problems.

Now, I accept that if staff start leaving in numbers then it can indicate that there is a problem which needs to be addressed but I asked them to consider a different possibility: perhaps it shows that people are being managed well, developing skills and progressing to the next level.

When asked, I explained to the group that I strongly believe part of my responsibility as a leader is to develop people.  This means that they should grow professionally during their time in a role, gaining new skills and enjoying a boost in confidence.  Ideally, they would then rise through the ranks and feel the satisfaction and fulfilment of working for an organisation that nurtures talent, utilises this appropriately and rewards people for their success.

However, in a small organisation, it can be hard to do this and so it needs to be OK to develop people so that they can move on.  If people move on to better things as a result of what they learnt with me, then I consider that a good outcome for the organisation.  I also find that it means we have champions in the wider world and many of my staff are still working with us in their new roles.

Doing things in this way creates ambassadors who can raise awareness of our work with their new colleagues and partners.

 

The 80/20 rule

In terms of how I ensure people are able to develop, I believe in an 80/20 rule.  Put simply, this means that individuals should spend 80% of their time doing things they feel they are good at and 20% stretching themselves.

To help me identify their strengths and development areas, I ask staff to complete a personal development plan which allows them to list their skills, achievements and goals.  We then sit down and have a discussion about what they have included and I might make further suggestions about anything I think is missing.  People don’t always see something as a strength or a talent so I might explore certain things with them to highlight any skills I think they have but don’t recognise.

This provides a framework for which they can develop an action plan to push themselves forwards.

 
The theory part

One of the key theories that underpins my leadership style is Dan Pink’s work on motivation which argues that the three things people need to be successful at work is autonomy, mastery and purpose.

The 80/20 rule means that they spend 80% of their time utilising their strengths and working towards mastery.  If their time is spent mostly on things they enjoy and feel they are good at, then they will feel good most of the time and will be doing things that fire them up, satisfy them and allow them to feel confident.

From that place, they can focus on the other 20% which should be about things they either don’t want to do (we all have those things) and things that they want/need to learn to be the best they can be.

The key to success with the 20% is to have a clear action plan which identifies skills and competencies that need to be developed in order to achieve career goals.  This should include steps that will be taken to ensure that individual can push forwards and make tangible progress towards their goals.

In terms of monitoring, I hold individuals to account for completing their actions by making sure progress is discussed on a quarterly basis and then on an annual basis, I ask staff to reflect again and complete a new plan for the year ahead.

 

Achieving ‘flow’

If you look through the stages, you can see that the method is based on the high performance cycle – Plan, Do, Review and Improve.  In following this process and ensuring the 80/20 ‘balance’, I believe people can be supported to achieve ‘flow’ which, in positive psychology, is:

‘The mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity’.

This has to be the state of optimum performance and exactly where we surely would want our teams to be so I challenge you to try a different way and see the difference it makes.

 

If you can see the value of this approach or have similar methods yourself, share your thoughts in the comments below.

Why diversity is more than demographics

When I first became a Manager, I had one member of staff in my team.  She was my antithesis.  Completely the opposite of me.  I didn’t understand her way of working or why it was so difficult and I found it very frustrating.  She would focus on the minute details, take her time over things and make sure everything was exactly right.  In contrast, I support the Facebook mantra of ‘done is better than perfect’.  That doesn’t mean a lack of standards but I’m not looking for the best piece of work ever but sometimes if you spend too long making it perfect, you end up missing the moment.

Not long after we had begun working together, I went on a training course about emotional intelligence and it was there that I had a light bulb moment.  We did an activity about working styles and in doing this, I realised that my colleague was a ‘be perfect’ whereas I’m a ‘hurry up’.  As soon as I realised that, my approach changed and we had a much more successful working relationship from there on in.  By the time she left the organisation, I had learnt that the opposite skills that she brought to the team were exactly what I needed and once I was back to working with someone similar to myself, I felt a loss of skills that had been extremely valuable.

Today, I deliberately look for difference when hiring people.  It might be tempting to recruit in my own image and it can be easier to work with others who think the same way that you do and take the same approach but I now understand the true value of diversity and aim to construct a team where each individual brings something different and can shine in their own right.  My current team is a fantastic example of this – individually unique and perfect together.  They each bring something to the party which makes for endless good times!

Often when we talk about diversity we think about demographics – sex, race, age, ability – and this is extremely important but I do think it’s more than that.  In my view, we need to think about difference more broadly and recognise the value of bringing people, views and skills together.  The reason diversity is said to be good for business is that it brings a variety of viewpoints and a wider range of experience which improves decision making and problem solving .  An article published in The Guardian claims that ‘unconscious bias and a tendency to hire in their own image can lead managers to bring in the wrong candidate for their team ’ and suggests that ‘a lack of diversity is one of the biggest issues threatening the advertising industry today, challenging the credibility of the industry and preventing businesses from being run as effectively as they could be’.   The advice in this article is to ‘consider each hire based on the value they can add to the team, rather than simply in a specific role. It is not always about hiring the best person for the role, rather the best person for the team as a whole’.

Keep an eye on the skills in the team and consider what’s missing.  Then when you recruit in the future you can look for someone who will add value to the team rather than bringing what you already have.

Have you got your own stories about the benefits of having a diverse team?  Can you relate to the experiences above or do you have your own which challenge this view?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

If you want to understand the roles in your team or find out if you have unconscious bias, try these tools:

 

www.3minuteleadership.org 

 

Photo: Pixabay.com

 

Courage, positivity & agility – how Disney’s ‘Frozen’ inspires leadership at all levels

On a flight out to Hong Kong recently, I was flicking through the films in the online entertainment centre and decided that the ideal thing to watch on a long overnight flight is the Disney blockbuster Frozen. After all, who doesn’t want to sing along to ‘Do you wanna build a snowman?’ when they are jetting off to warmer climes? Clearly, I thought, this was a nice easy watching film to pass the time and relax me into sleep.

As I was watching, I couldn’t help but notice the leadership messages that were present in the film. The most obvious is with Elsa who offers a powerful message about authentic leadership as she is forced to open up to who she really is and with that, realises her full potential, building a spectacular ice palace. Once she stopped trying to hide her uniqueness, she discovered the true power within.

The character I thought had the most to offer us though was younger sister, Anna, who really comes into her own a she ventures out to find the new Queen of Arendelle and end the eternal winter that has been brought upon the kingdom. What we see from Anna is a willingness to take responsibility and she shows great courage in heading off into the icy unknown to save the day.

In Wales, the public service has developed a set of values and behaviours to encourage leadership at all levels  and Anna demonstrates a number of these in her efforts to find Elsa and coax her back to Arendelle.

Firstly, she acts with agility to adapt her role and purpose as she steps up to the plate in an attempt to make things right, an aim that she achieves after plenty of Disney drama! Anna maintains a realistic and positive attitude to challenges, adversity and change, encouraging others to do the same as she meets a range of challenges and obstacles along her journey. She also encourages and supports Elsa to think differently, to question and try new ways of doing things as she encourages her sister to use her power for good and shows others that there is nothing to be afraid of.

A report published by Deloitte a couple of years ago claimed that the need for leaders at all levels is one of the 12 critical issues for human capital. Particularly in relation to the public sector in the UK, they reported that ‘the challenge is to deliver services through a motivated workforce in an age of austerity’ and argued that this ‘does not require recruitment or development of more leaders but is about exercising leadership at all levels’.

At the time of the article, leadership was the number one talent issue facing organisations and yet only 13% of organisations believe they do an ‘excellent job’ of developing leaders.

Deloitte suggest that the whole concept of leadership is being ‘radically redefined’ with a need for people who can ‘inspire team loyalty through their expertise, vision and judgement’ . This is a long way from leadership typical of hierarchies where the individual’s position in the company gives them authority.

With new generations coming through, there is call for a different leadership style. Millennials feel disappointed and underutilised when they are not developed as leaders .

According to a survey from Virtuali and Workplacetrends.com, the millennial generation isn’t attracted to the money or recognition associated with leadership positions. Instead, they want to be leaders to inspire others, make a difference in the world and lead companies that care about more than the bottom line.

Millennials care less about money, legacy and hierarchy, and more about being collaborative, empowering and transformational leaders. However, many are unable to access leadership training or demonstrate a new approach.

The challenge for today’s workplace is to harness the potential amongst this new generation and empower them to take responsibility and challenge the status quo.  Imagine what we would be able to achieve if we encouraged all staff to lead rather than making leadership something attached to promotions and power.

 

http://www.3minuteleadership.org

 

 

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