Monthly Archives: May 2021

Building trust to achieve maximum potential: A 6-point framework for high performance at work

I see trust as a currency. Each one of us starts with a certain amount when we initiate a professional relationship. Whether it be with colleagues or customers, you either build on it or lose it. And building trust requires consistent effort. Any gains in efficiency can be decimated if you lose trust. Focusing on the dynamic between employer and employee, building the relationship is a two-way activity, but the onus falls on the employer if they want to achieve the high levels of engagement, productivity and retention that are characteristics of successful organisations.

Being a consistent performer at work not only achieves great outcomes for your employer. It’s deeply satisfying when we know we’re on top of our game. However, working to your full potential relies on your ability to perform at a level that results in a feeling of achievement. It is self-driven and allows us to move faster across our ‘to-do’ list, and attain quantifiable and positive outcomes for the organisation. Since it is self-driven, everyone has different motivators specific to their needs. An overarching critical factor that precedes all others is trust. The more I talk about it, the more I think people relate to it. Every possible factor of influence on performance spans from a level of trust. 

Now that we know trust is a key variable and a direct relationship exists with performance levels, I have developed a 6-point high-level framework that employers and employees can use together to build trust, increase performance and achieve positive outcomes.

  1. Financial – An employer needs to provide an opportunity for a stable future and advancement, without causing unwarranted economic stress to the employee; an employee needs to be trusted to look for the best financial outcomes and revenue opportunities for the business.
  2. Emotional and mental wellbeing – A feeling of positivity is extremely important amongst the people in a company. This helps foster camaraderie with all of the teams and individuals that interact with them at work.
  3. Physical – A positive mental and emotional state supports good physical health. Additional perks such as end of trip facilities for cyclists, discounted gym memberships, etc materially help to maintain a state of wellbeing.
  4. Social – A positive mental state supplements a sense of belonging, inclusion and an ability to build relationships beyond work. All of which play a key role in building trust.
  5. A sense of purpose – Making a positive difference is beyond just making profits or fulfilling the needs of oneself. Emotional fulfilment derived from purposefulness increases trust in the organisation and drives the people to be better.
  6. Employable – Enabling and assisting employees to build in-demand capabilities and skills to advance in their careers also builds trust. Professional development rewards employers by upskilling their workforce and nurturing innovation.  

Here some practical ideas for employers and employees to help implement this framework:

  • Policies and processes – support workforce well-being, foster equality and diversity & inclusion.
  • Openness and transparency – be accountable, take part in intentional conversations, adopt an open and transparent approach by default, use a merit-based decision-making process, involve everyone in the business.
  • Technology and innovation – flexible working, enabling technology, nurture creativity, bring together hybrid and dispersed workforces. This usually unleashes the best performance from people.
  • Information sharing – real-time data where it matters, empower employees at the frontline, thinking not from top to bottom, but from grassroots up.
  • Open and continuous learning – access to the citadels of industries and specialisations, ongoing professional development, a future-ready workforce that can shift at scale.

While all the 6 points are critical, finding the right balance depends on the nature of the people within the organisation. Identifying distinct groups, understanding their motivations and required trust level, then building standard policies with tangible benefits is key to building trust. These work wonders on performance.

Which business practices would you establish using my 6-point framework?

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Introversion v. Extroversion in leadership. Seems the jury’s still out.

Is it a hidden advantage to be an introverted boss, or as an extrovert do you have additional horsepower in the table stakes of leadership? Prompted by The Hustle’s weekend newsletter, Why Introverts Make Great Leaders, it’s interesting to discover the parrying continues. I continue to be confused by the debate, although often counsel interview panels not be swayed by the confidence-as-capability armoury of extroverted candidates. (The Hustle report cites a project where researchers analysed a database of 17K executives and found that, while a charismatic person was more than 2x as likely to be hired as a CEO, this didn’t correlate with a better performance once they were hired.)

For the affirmative: “Extroverts DO makes better leaders”

University of Toronto Scarborough has found that extroverts do have an edge that boosts their chances of success. The study reviewed existing scientific literature relating to extroversion in the workplace from multiple countries. If found that extroverts enjoy a distinct advantage in four categories: emotional; interpersonal; motivational and performance-related.

“These four appear to really capture the strongest positive effects of extroversion at work,” says Michael Wilmot, the academic who led the study. Wilmot argues that extroversion is linked with a greater motivation to achieve positive goals – for example, a desired reward through work. It is also closely associated with experiencing positive emotions more regularly.

  • They’re more motivated by rewards
  • They stay positive
  • They’re good schmoozers
  • They perform better on the job

(Source: Extroverts enjoy four key advantages according to a new UTSC study. Here they are)

For the negative: “Extroverts DON’T make better leaders”

A Harvard Study by Carmel Nobel a decade ago, found that  extroverts excel at leading passive teams (employees who simply follow commands), but are actually far less effective at leading “proactiveteams where everyone contributes ideas. Introverts are often more effective than extroverts at leading proactive teams because they don’t feel threatened by collaborative input, are more receptive to suggestions, and are more attentive to micro expressions.

Introverts are also…

  • Motivated by productivity, not ambition.

One of the most common misconceptions about introverts is that they aren’t as motivated to succeed as more socially driven people. The truth, though, is that they’re simply motivated by different factors, and they measure success by different metrics.

  • Able to build more meaningful connections.

While they may not be openly conversational in large groups, introverts are great at developing deeper, more meaningful connections with employees and clients in a one-on-one setting. This genuine relationship-building makes an introverted leader more in tune with each member of the team than an extroverted leader might be.

  • Less easily distracted.

Introverts aren’t exactly disconnected from other people and their environment, but they are better able to tune out the noise and concentrate. They draw their energy from within, and therefore they can easily focus on the task at hand without being distracted by loud conversations or other office noise.

  • Likely to solve problems with thoroughness rather than in haste.

Problem-solving is the crux of all good leadership, and according to research, introverts typically have thicker grey matter in the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain where abstract thinking and decision making happen. This leads introverts to make a decision after giving it great thought and reflecting on creative ways to solve problems. Research has also found that introverts are less likely to make snap decisions.

And because quality work is always the goal for introverts, they don’t settle for mediocrity.

For more reading, we recommend these two articles:

Why Introverts Make Great Leaders

Do Extroverts Make Better Leaders?

And just to continue the confusion, Ros Cardinal, managing director of Shaping Change, says “Studies have shown that most organisations favour logical and decisive behaviours in leadership, which are not correlated to extroversion or introversion,” she said. “As a general rule though, extroverts tend to have a higher capacity for sociability and social presence, which are traits often sought after in leaders.”

What are your thoughts about the extrovert v introvert leader debate in your world @work?

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Unravelling the Spaghetti Matriciana (aka the crazy labour market)

Three steps to hiring the best talent and at the right price.

Confused? It’s not just you. Right now the whole labour market is like a bowl of starchy spaghetti and you need to be super dextrous to unravel the threads to sate your appetite. You want the talent, but you and countless others can’t afford the premium. In this blog, we’re setting out the three fundamental steps to beating the competition in order to hire the talent you need. We suggest you don’t even try and make sense of the macro data – we’ve been listening to the economists too and none of them has nutted out the strange equation of the current Australian labour market.

Step 1.

Understand the value of high performing and high potential talent.

These two categories of employees are gold. Make sure you identify what you are looking for in a new hire – do you want this person to perform in the same capacity for ever after, or step up in the future? High performers are shown to deliver up to 4x the productivity of your lower average performers, but will your organisation be able to create the culture for a repeat of that high performance, or to bring out the high potential in an almost there candidate? Sort this out so you know what gap you’re filling.

  Low Potential High Potential
High Performers Regularly exceed benchmarks
Lack skills to perform at a higher level
Set standard of behavioural excellence
Model leadership and cultural values
Low Performers Little-to-no aptitude
Repeatedly fail to deliver
Have above-average aptitude
Show inconsistent performance

Step 2.

As we’re back in the war for talent, have a co-ordinated hiring (attack) strategy agreed and set.

Take it from the troops on the ground – too many hiring organisations are losing out on good talent because of one simple fact – disorganised, muddled hiring processes. Hope and winging it will not land you high performing talent. Time delays, poorly prepared interviewers, managers who don’t understand the current labour market, and poor engagement will set you back in the bunker time and time again while the good talent is signed up to your competition. Take extra time up front to prepare your approach and timeline. If you’re the Commander, bring your internal Officers in on your approach early, and then make military-style moves.

Step 3.

The salary package you have on offer is important but for some organisations, top quartile compensation isn’t an option. What to do? Our advice is have the remuneration and benefits conversations early on – it saves time, money and heart-ache when late on in a negotiation it’s a deal breaker. And again, salary is only one part of the equation – make sure you’ve identified all the attractive benefits of working with your organisation – some of which you may take for granted, but which are great attractors. What else do you offer? Extra paid leave days, a good workplace and amenities, tailored professional development, culture and values alignment, wellness benefits, clear career paths, flexibly work schedule, recognition and rewards etc. Write them down and share with enthusiasm.

Bring them in and they will build!

What is your world @work?

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