Key Steps to give up control but not influence
Richard Branson said, “Success in business is all about people, people, people. Whatever industry a company is in, its employees are its biggest competitive advantage “
But, why is having motivated and connected people in your business sometimes so hard to achieve? The process of creating a meeting of minds between leader and employee can be an enormously frustrating experience, from both perspectives.
Think about it...
From an employee’s point of view, if the leader requires something to be done but it just doesn’t feel particularly motivating or clear, well they’ll do what they have to do, but wouldn’t put discretionary effort or feel particularly great and fulfilled about doing it.
From a leader’s point of view, you are trying to articulate a strategy, a vision, and a pathway, and the people that you need to help you do it just don’t seem to quite understand what you’re trying to say or why and there’s a bit of inertia and negativity about the whole thing.
Of course you are the boss, it might even be your business, you give the orders, you tell people, you give strategy, and you give vision. But really how frequently is your vision or your requirement carried out to the full? So, it’s probably worth a quick checklist. Is this really you?
Leaders have to delegate. But sometimes, just simply delegating isn't enough. And so, here are 5 keys ways to effectively give up control but not influence: I.e. ENTRUST...where tasks are not simply delegated to employees but entrusted to them to carry out with a level of faith and respect.
Step 1. Create A Strategy On One Page
Do we have a clear strategy, vision, and a plan? And in order to articulate and share that plan it needs to be understood by and be meaningful for others. One way to think about that is to create the plan on ONE page, i.e. to be able to summarize specifically what the objectives and the strategies of the business
or the activity are so that it fits on one page and is meaningful. But critically, that plan needs to have actions, timelines, and owners.
So a simple way to construct a strategy, whether it be a business or a product or an activity strategy, is to use the 3 steps of NOW, WHERE, AND HOW.
NOW: This is a short but concise description of where your business or activity is today, and that can be both qualitative and quantitative measures. But a good way to think about the NOW, if you were describing to someone you asked outside your business ‘where does your business stand today?’ you’d be using these key points to describe that.
The next step is the WHERE. It’s where you want to get to. That timeline can be a week, months, or years. But the key thing to remember is that you need to define what the ‘WHERE’ looks like, i.e. where it is that you want to get to. Too often, we jump this step. We understand where we are today as a business, and we go straight into solutions and actions to try and get somewhere. But unless we are very clear what success looks like and where we want to end up, then we’re going to lose focus and waste energy. Most importantly the WHERE should also highlight where the employee fits into the process as a valued contributor to the strategy.
An important facet to the ‘WHERE’ is also the vision, and that sets up a very nice description of where the business or the actions needs to get to by a particular point in time.
The third step is HOW. The HOW is a bridge between where we are today and where we want to get to tomorrow . It’s made up of your key strategies (probably no more than 3) and then your actions that are used to determine your timeline, who owns it, and when it’s got to be delivered by.
So now we have the ‘Now’, ‘Where’, and ‘How’ tools that really construct your one- page plan.
Step 2. Build Motivation
Motivation is clearly critical and it is really simply about having people do stuff because THEY want to. People don’t do things unless there is something in it for them, i.e. ‘What’s in it for me?’ But also it‘s about understanding motivations. The old favorite, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a helpful tool. Motivation has impact both on self motivation and the motivation of others. Maslow stated that an individual requires lower level needs in the hierarchy be met before the individual moves to the next level. So you need to identify where things are currently so you can use appropriate strategies. If a person is currently at Safety and Security then using encouragement to reach one’s potential, i.e. self- fulfillment is wasted.
What is their ‘potential? And do they have a vision of where they’ll be in 5 years time, and what will motivate them to get there?
Motivation does not just happen. It’s not just something that you run into. You have to create it. Firstly in themselves and then in others. So as a leader what’s the benefit to you of being a motivator? How would it change your life? And what impact it will have on your relationships with your employees.
Psychological, food, air and water; these are the basic elements that need to be met to sustain life. Depriving a person of these will create a high level of motivation to satisfy the needs.
Safety and security, protection and peace of mind in the next needs. So job security, for example, would fit in here.
Love and belonging. To be part of a group or a team is the next highest need.
Esteem, includes both self-esteem and the esteem of others. Self-fulfillment, (or Self Actualization) the ultimate need is to use all of one’s talent. On the ground, this means if people feel they have a level of responsibility to carry out a task then this will build up their self-worth and they in turn want to be contribute more to the team.
A factor to consider however is when motivators from a higher level are used when needs at a lower level have not been met. For example if a person is worried about job security, and the leaders is talking about esteem that the person can gain, it will only have a minimal motivation impact. A person says ‘don’t tell me how good I am unless it means my job is safe!’
You can link an organization into the triangle. Where is the organization on the hierarchy? What would motivate the organization?
Step 3. Make Mistakes, think like a Start-Up
Making mistakes for many of us is not a comfortable thing. We are very aware of the organization around us our peers, our team, and significant others that we think may have a poor opinion of us making mistakes. However, to learn and to develop, we do have to build confidence in making mistakes and create a culture around us to make those mistakes. So it helps to think like a start-up.
To be prepared to make those mistakes and learn from them, create a way where they can be measured and fed back with a continual learning loop. In the book ‘The Lean Startup’, Eric Ries describes the importance of listening to customers, creating quick, validated learning so that when mistakes are made the learning is recorded and implemented in the next stage. This avoids spending excess time and money trying to make something perfect before launch. So a culture of being free to make mistakes, increases energy and reduces concern within employees because they know they have the freedom to experiment. Making mistakes is a skill and one that should be encouraged early in the process. If employees are on the look out for learnings then these serve as valuable inputs to improve and guide refinements. For example if a product or service needed improvement and adaptation in the early stages of its life using feedback from user groups and customers, is that a mistake or a gift? We say gift!
Step 4. Clarify Decision Making
So who makes what decisions in what different circumstances? As the leader, you probably want to make all the decisions you possibly can. But depending on the size and issue of the problem, if all decisions wrap up to you, then delegation doesn’t occur and you get overloaded. So it’s really important to understand what sort of decisions you need to be making and what decisions your team can make. But within that decision making environment, it’s also important to understand what some roles of decision-making look like.
A very good tool introduced by Bain & Co. is called RAPID®.
RAPID stands for Recommend, Agree, Perform, Input, and Decide.
Recommend: The recommender is the person who literally makes a recommendation to the decision maker about what should be done. Now that recommender would need to work with many people in the business to gain inputs, data, justification and the business case to make an informed recommendation so that the decision maker finds it easy to say yes or no.
Agree: This box doesn’t have to be filled, but if it is, Agree rights give that individual who has Agree rights the right of veto, the right to say ‘I am blocking this decision’.
Perform: This is the individual or individuals who actually implement the decision that is made by the decision-maker. So these are the people that get on with stuff. Some of these perform rights or recommend rights can overlap, but the more separate they are, the better. It makes for better project structures.
Input: This often is the hardest one to understand. Input means literally that you provide input to the recommendation and NOT decision-making rights. Input rights simply allow context and additional input to enable the decision maker to decide.
Decide: Who has Decide rights, Or D rights?
This is a single decision maker, senior enough for the issue to make the final decision. And there should only be one person in this box, you cannot have decision making across more than one individual. As a leader may feel that you need to have decide rights for particular projects. Or you could delegate decide rights to a member of your team, in which case you may choose to adopt an input status for yourself or perhaps an agree status in what you veto but the end decision you are delegating to a member of your
team. It is a hugely effectively tool, and we encourage you to try it in working through programs and projects in your business.
Step 5. Introduce The 8 Week Work Cycle
Now the 8 week work cycle utilizes 8 steps across 8 weeks. So why 8 weeks? Well, it has been proven that 8 weeks is an optimal period of time for teams to progress on programs but not get bogged down, and certainly allows time for leaders to change teams they working on in that particular 8 week project in case things aren’t working or the dynamics are wrong.
The basic steps of the 8 week work cycle are:
So we have covered a few things. We’ve helped you understand why sometimes progress with others is so difficult. We’ve looked at the different simple ways to take the pressure off yourself, to release the reigns of leadership control and help stimulate your company’s performance. We’ve also introduced tools such as the one-page plan, motivation theory, entrusted employees and the 8 week work cycle to allow your staff the freedom to succeed within the boundaries that you set.
People can do amazing things if we just let them.
Jim Parry, Owner and Principal Advisor, So-Brand
Jim is the Owner and Principle Advisor of So-Brand. So-Brand helps leaders and business owners create, articulate and implement strategy for growth, creating strong connections with staff and customers. www.so-brand.co.au
Dr Mark Glazebrook, Chief Purpose Officer, On Purpose
Mark is Chief Purpose Officer at On Purpose, a niche consultancy that helps organisations get to the heart of why they exist, enabling leaders to best harness untapped energies of their people to align around a greater good. www.on-purpose.com.au