Tag Archives: accountability

How a top team spent a little time and took a big step to the next stage of growth.

Skills by stageBackground

Leaders of fast growing, early-stage organizations operate at a fast pace. Often the last thing there is time to do is assess the top team’s performance to determine how to prepare them for the next stage of growth.

Most team members know each other pretty well. They have a good idea what each other is good at, has contributed, how they have grown, and what each should focus on next for success. However, team members rarely have the time, energy, training, or nerve to share what they know in a forthright, supportive conversation with one another.

Yet there are serious consequences to not providing feedback when it is needed most. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “How To Tell If You Are a Jerk in the Office” (C-Suite Strategies, Journal Report, Feb 23, 2015), for example, highlights the importance of confidential feedback for executives. Not only are leaders and co-workers affected adversely by dysfunctional behavior but business performance and customer service can be damaged, often permanently, if poor behavior continues.

IntelliVen, a San Francisco-based organization improvement firm, uses a proprietary approach to help leaders and their top teams address top executive feedback head-on. Early this year, for example, IntelliVen worked with a rapidly evolving, $10M financial analytics firm serving Freddie Mac, US Treasury, and Capital One among other leading US financial institutions. The IntelliVen approach was used to assess the top team of senior executives relative to norms for successful organizations at a similar stage of evolution and to identify individual and team opportunities for learning.

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How CEOs can use Accountability Boards and Subject Matter Experts to help their organization perform and grow.

Manage to Lead Board Development and Operations without survey questions - eBookEvery leader stands to benefit from the opportunity to regularly review with outsiders what s/he seeks to do, what has been done to do it, what has happened and what has been learned so far, and what s/he plans to do next.

It is harder to set up, operate, and benefit from outside help than it may first appear. Click on the image accompanying this post for a slide presentation of lessons learned and best practices that, if followed, will lead to improved performance and growth thanks to help from Accountability Board Members and Subject Matter Experts.

How to get back on track when a project goes awry.

Storyboard blocks_v5_finalWhen a project goes awry  and no longer performing according to plan:

  • Assign a single capable person to serve as Project Manager (PM) responsible for the entire project through to completion if one is not already assigned or if the one assigned has proven ineffective.  The PM should be someone who has previously been successful in similar circumstances in terms of project scope, scale, and complexity.  If someone with requisite experience is not available to serve as PM then arrange for the experienced person to serve as a close adviser to the PM until a new plan is in place and performance relative to the new plan is on track.
  • Have the PM work with the client, the project team, management, and advisers to pull together a revised plan. Review the plan thoroughly with the PM, the project team, and with outside stakeholders, including the client, to be sure the path to completion, all the way through to client acceptance, is well formulated, understood, agreed to, and sensible.

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How leaders can upgrade status report submissions with one-on-one meetings to increase the odds of better results sooner.

Stick Figures of Leaders in ActionLeaders whose direct reports submit regular (e.g., monthly) status reports on progress, problems, and plans should consider re-working their approach to include more frequent (e.g., bi-weekly), one-on-one meetings, real-time (in person or via the Web) meetings to discuss submitted progress reports and to collaborate and align on how things are going, priorities, and next steps. Specifically, top leaders ask each direct report to prepare and submit a day or so ahead of meeting one-on-one:

  • An update on progress since last time including a read-out of measures previously agreed upon to track progress.
  • A list of the top three or so things s/he is working on, and for each:
    • What s/he seeks to accomplish
    • What has been done so far to accomplish it
    • What has happened as a result of what has been done so far
    • What has been learned from above
    • What s/he plans to do  next.
  • What s/he needs from their leaders and/or from others in the organization to be successful. Continue reading

Introducing Manage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World as an interactive digital workbook.

Many intelliven.com blog posts are based on the slides and lecture notes from a masters class in Organization Development called Organization Analysis and Strategy offered at American University and taught by Peter DiGiammarino.  These posts and other material from class, including:

  • Work problems,
  • Templates,
  • Graphics,
  • Slide shows, and
  • Assessments

are available  from Amazon as a softcover workbook or from iTunes as an iBook titled Manage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World.

Selected intelliven.com blog content is now available as a workbook from Amazon or as an iBook from iTunes.

Whether one wants to change personal habits, implement a new information system, improve a business process, get team members to work together, increase a community’s appreciation for diversity, or even to topple a monarchy, taking seven actions driven by seven disarmingly simple truths will individually and collectively help achieve the goal.

Manage to Lead presents a framework to describe and assess any organization. It also provides a structured approach to plan and implement next steps for an organization as it strives for long-term growth and performance.

Readers are invited to select a familiar organization on which to apply the tools and templates introduced throughout the workbook. Exercises in each chapter produce essential elements for the organization’s annual strategic plan and lay the groundwork for implementing that plan.

Readers can package the key elements from Organization Exercises to form a strategic plan that communicates how the organization sees itself and where it is headed. At the end of the year leaders can compare actual results with what was described in the strategic plan to study what happened, why what happened was different than plan, what is to be learned from that, and what to do differently going forward as a result.

Repeat the process over several years and compare actual to planned results year-to-year to see the organization mature, perform, and grow to its full potential.

Four questions an organization needs to ask every performance period in order to perform, learn, and grow to its full potential.

It is impossible to control what you cannot, and what you do not, measure. For every important thing that the organization does, decide what is most important to monitor and then watch carefully to know how things are going.

If what to monitor is not known then:

  • Watch everything and whittle away what turns out to not be useful and keep watching what turns out to be useful.
  • Study similar organizations to learn what they track.
  • Look up industry analysts and market researchers to find out what they watch.

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How to contract and govern for success with each team member.

Contract and GovernOne of the leader’s most important jobs is to get and stay clear about what it is that s/he is counting on from each team member. Once the leader is clear, the message must be communicated to the team member. Often, the leader fails to engage in a rich communication apparently in favor of assuming that team members are somehow supposed to figure out for themselves exactly what is expected.

The steps presented in the slides available by clicking the above icon and in the following text make explicit a conversation that otherwise plays-out inside of the heads of those involved. When the conversation is explicit the leader and team member get on the same page and dramatically increase the odds of high-performance and fulfilled expectations.

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How leaders of early stage organizations should think about Boards to improve their performance.

Many CEOs and their leadership teams orchestrate meetings with their boards to:

  • Show how great they are and how well things are going
  • Avoid leaving the meeting with more to do than when it started

There is a lot more value that can be derived from working with the board but it takes a lot of work in building, cultivating, preparing for, and working with boards. Continue reading